Puppeteer Lewis / MON 7-27-20 / Boozer's binge / Trojan War king

Monday, July 27, 2020

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium, Medium, somewhere in there (2:50)


THEME: "Hi there!" — theme answers all begin with "hi" sound, with that sound (the first syllable) spelled differently each time:

Theme answers:
  • HIKING GEAR (18A: It may include a backpack, boots and a water bottle)
  • HAIKU POEM (24A: Japanese verse with 17 syllables)
  • HIGH END (39A: Expensive, as a product line)
  • HEIGH-HO (41A: Seven dwarfs' cry as off to work they go)
  • HEIDI KLUM (52A: Supermodel and longtime "Project Runway" host)
  • HYBRID CARS (61A: Toyota Prius and Honda Insight)
Word of the Day: Haiku (24A) —
Haiku (俳句,[...] is a type of short form poetry [ed.: hmm, right there in the definition, interesting] originally from Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consist of three phrases that contain a kireji, or "cutting word", 17 on (a type of Japanese phoneme) in a 5, 7, 5 pattern, and a kigo, or seasonal reference. However, modern haiku vary widely on how closely they follow these traditional elements. 
• • •

The Friends of Will / Boys Club power is relentless. Over and over and over we get puzzles that reek of last century, that are minimally competent but that don't bring any cleverness or currency, that just take up space, and in doing so continue to groom solvers to expect that "this is just the way puzzles are." I am all for a good, simple sound-based puzzle. Why not? I've seen same-sound, different-spelling puzzles before (a bunch). Make the answers fun, make your grid sparkly, give us a surprise here or there, and you're good. But this puzzle does none of those things. It crowds the grid with themers, none of which are that interesting, two of which are really too close IMHO to be truly *different* "hi-" spellings (HIKING, HIGH-END ... just a long "I"), and one of which is absolutely, puzzle-murderingly not a thing. I direct your attention to HAIKU POEM. Just ... gaze upon it ... in all its luminous, absurd redundancy. To state the obvious: a haiku is, by definition, in all cases, a "poem." There is no need to specify POEM, as there is no non-poem form of haiku. There is no HAIKUPROSE or HAIKUESSAY or HAIKUOPED or HAIKUDOG. So here you have someone who (wrongly) thought, "I need another 'hi-' answer" and then (much more wrongly) thought "I got it, HAIKU POEM!" You'd almost have to hate words to do this kind of thing. So ... the old-fashioned, very well worn concept that *might yet* be done in a pleasing way is instead driven into the ground and lit on fire. NEATO!


The one site of relative slowness for me today was in the NE and E, starting with JOCK, which feels both too slangy and caricaturey to fit the straightforward clue (10A: Varsity letter earner, say). You can letter in bowling, you know that, right? But sure, JOCK. Not getting that one straight off meant I couldn't just fire off the Down crosses. And even when I worked that corner out, I couldn't see OVERNIGHT for some reason (11D: Like some FedEx or DHL service). Clue is reasonable enough there. I just ... I had the OVER- but a couple of the NIGHT crosses were also proving problematic. First, MSN (27A: AOL alternative), which ... is that still a thing? Is AOL? Again, please see my first paragraph, where I talk about this puzzle's belonging to the last century. Speaking (again) of last century: "Snow White!" I had trouble with the spelling of "HEIGH-HO"—tried to write in HIHOHIHO, but ... thwarted by an insufficiency of boxes. But I worked it all out and came in with a pretty average Monday time. Only other place I even hesitated was at MOOSE (55D: Glacier National Park sighting) because of vagueness and "OH, GEE!" (67A: "Well, golly!") because of not knowing what the hell Wally or the Beav or whatever were going to say before "GEE" (I thought maybe "AW"?). Feel the freshness! I gotta go. Take care.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

115 comments:

Joaquin 12:02 AM  

A toast to today’s crossword: l’chaim!

Ellen Leinwand 12:41 AM  

Strangely, all of the themers are NYTX debuts except for HEIGH HO.

jae 12:51 AM  

Easy. Six homophones, pretty smooth grid, liked it more than @Rex did although HAIKU POEM does grate a bit.

I did not know that the dwarves were singing HEIGH, always thought it was HI.

Pamela 12:54 AM  

Easy peasy. Cute, fill-in-the-blanks. I never time myself, just don’t care, but this felt fast so I noticed- 8 minutes. For Rex, that’s a month. For me, it’s like finishing before I started.

Looking forward to @Frantic’s rating!

SB ALERT***

Sorry I missed all the late posts.

@TTrimble, Congrats! It feels extra good after a break in the streak, doesn’t it. And that one word was odd to me, too, when so many others I thought more legit were rejected. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as whatever that word was that I missed the other dayYTT——- forgot the rest of it but it went on for a while, with L’s and I’s and maybe ended in M. Or was that the other one I didn’t get?🙄

@JC66- I think you got there before me, and I think I already said Congrats! But just in case, here it is again: Congrats!

Unknown 12:55 AM  

Take a break, Rex. I’m feeling your pain, but sometimes when you get on a roll like this, it just seems like it’s time to bring in someone from the B-team for some playing time. I bet Annabelle is standing by with her sweats off, ready to buzz in and take on an early-week puzzle. Let’s give her a chance!

Michael Page 12:57 AM  

No kidding. Do you write your haiku poem with an ink pen while savoring a steak with au jus sauce??
Jeez.

Alyssa 1:45 AM  

For once I agree with Rex’s sentiment, and alas, it’s on this awful waste of space of a puzzle. Wow, this was bad. All I can say is SEE YA!

EV 1:50 AM  

Haven’t done today’s puzzle yet, and find no comments. Could I be first?

This may not be the time or place, but it’s a common theme here.

For all you critics of constructors and editors (@Rex), I just finished Anna Schechrmann's puzzle of June 22 2020.
I recently recommended the New Yorker Xwords to a friend; “cleverer and fresher.”

8 Down is the most egregious example of “obscure” I’ve ever seen.

I'm in my late 50's, I believe.
I know the most impotant Civil War Generals.
I have visited Little Big Horn and walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge.


I’m a proud illegal Immigrant//Greencardholder/Citizen.. From Liverpool, @Gill!I)
I know who Cardii B is (and that she named herself after a certain anti-Castro Rum company.)
I'm not a big fan, but sometimes I ask the kid in the store “ who is that?”
Range of knowledge is important, and in short supply.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with the most “obscure” clue I’ve ever seen:

“Teenage micro-demographic based on use of a photo-editing app”

Best
EV

Coniuratos 2:12 AM  

I'd argue that - at least in my Ohio accent - there's two different sounds starting the themers. HIKING and HYBRID are slightly different from HAIKU, HIGH, and HEIGH. HEIDI can go either way.

chefwen 2:22 AM  

I thought it was a fine Monday puzzle, liked all the different HI, HAI, HIGH, HEI, HY’s. No complaints.

Staying up to see what Douglas has in mind for my little island. Will he stay on pattern and head north or have a change of mind? A couple of hours will tell. He has been kind to the other islands, we’ll see.

JOHN X 3:41 AM  

You tell ‘em, Rex!

BarbieBarbie 5:19 AM  

@chefwen, I saw you didn’t get a direct hit but did get the wrong side. How is everything?

I agree about today’s puzzle in general and HAIKUPOEM in particular. It’s a Monday, designed for people less familiar with the NYTX, so maybe it’s ok to hit us over the head with the theme. But then it should have been consistent. Fewer, please.

Dale Gribble 5:22 AM  

I am pretty liberal when it comes to crossword answers that stretch the limits of acceptability, but I have to say that "haikupoem" hit my limit. Utter tosh.

ChuckD 6:17 AM  

Homophone puzzles on a Monday can be cute - we’ve definitely seen enough of them over time. This one is not cute or enjoyable. Stuffing 6 different ones in there is a feat no doubt - but they need to be supported by decent fill which never makes it here. HAIKU POEM will be lambasted here and rightly so - the other themers are fine. Other than the fact that the fill includes no Harry Potter references - nothing really was AGREEABLE to me. JOCK, PORN and PYLE ?? This is one where Rex’s conspiracy theory about the Times’ white guys club actually holds water.

Have to go get my run in now - supposed to be the hottest day of the week.

Lewis 6:31 AM  

@rex -- I winced at HAIKU POEM, because, like you, I simply say "haiku". But to investigate further, I Googled "haiku poem" (in quotes), and saw that while far less common than simply "haiku", it is used plenty in its own right.


Monday is the perfect day to introduce new solvers to an often-used theme genre, and to introduce the rest of us, to a new iteration of it (I think), using the HI sound. A junk-lite grid, as this is, is welcome on any day. And (as @Ellen pointed out earlier), five of the six theme answers are NYT debuts.

Furthermore, the puzzle has a SLIPS up and a DEEP down, and an echo of the theme in NEHI. That word made me think of "knee-high to a grasshopper", one meaning of which is very short, and when my eyes fell to YODA, for a moment, I felt the interconnectedness of the universe.

So, a solid and enjoyable Monday. Thank you, Alan!

GILL I. 6:37 AM  

Well, it was kinda HI HAI HIGH HEI HY in a way. Does anybody every UTTER EGAD, NEATO, OH GEE or SEE YA any more?
The only JOCK I know wears a strap and never once in my life have I EKE OUT a living. I like that EAT HEIDI KLUM crossing. TMI?
Hope you are OK @chefwen.

Hungry Mother 6:44 AM  

Super fast and fun this morning. I briefly forgot how to spell what I thought was “hi ho”, but quickly got it.

Lobster11 6:51 AM  

Like Rex, I felt like I'd done this puzzle 100 times. I feel that way every Monday. But in defense of this and other Monday puzzles, just how much sizzle and cleverness is it possible in a puzzle with Monday-level difficulty? I don't mean this merely as a rhetorical question: If anyone (especially Rex) can point me to some Monday-level puzzles that will wow me, I'd really like to see them!

Z 7:15 AM  

23A for the SBers!

I got to 24A and thought to myself “the theme had better be repetitive redundancies.” Sadly, it wasn’t.

I see we got a modern SARA clue. Anyone got a modern SHARI clue? And why are there no famous puppeteers anymore?

Looking back and can’t help but wonder when we are going to get the HAIKU PORN puzzle.

Best part of the write-up was the Elvis Costello video. That boy could Dance!

SAY AH, SEE YA, OH GEE, the puzzle seems, I dunno, inarticulate (Hi SBers).

HAIKU WIND seems like it should be a thing.

I like this for the most part. A balanced PPP day, a Monday worthy theme. None of the short fill made me cringe. And I barely noticed that not even YODA would call it a HAIKU POEM. I can’t wait until Sonnet Poem makes an appearance.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Puzzles based on sounds are always a bad idea (due to regional variation), and this puzzle in particular needed some extra work before being published.
- NO one says “HAIKU POEM”. Meanwhile HAI KARATE would have fit perfectly.
- Two “Gotta go”s – and one, CIAO, is not equivalent
- A “Swell”, a “Well, golly” and an “Omigosh” – and GREAT is not equivalent to “Swell".
- With that theme, you simply can’t have another “H” word among your acrosses; you have to get rid of HENRI, no matter what it takes.
- When was the last time you saw Santa with a pipe? 1972, that’s when.

Also, why is NEHI always clued as a “classic” soda? It’s still sold, and it’s not particularly old, at least compared to the Cokes and Pepsis and Dr. Peppers of the world

Dewey, Cheatem and Howe 7:22 AM  

A crossword answer
Redundancy calls to us
Stand alone Haiku

Z 7:27 AM  

HIGH END HIKING GEAR
HEIDI KLUM drives HYBRID CARS
HEIGH HO HAIKU PORN

EJames 7:31 AM  

I want to scream every time I see AVIA in a crossword puzzle. Especially bothered today when it was listed as "big name in running shoes".

I'm a runner. I coached cross country for over a decade.

You want to know what brand of shoe I have never, in all my decades of running, seen anyone wear?

Why do crossword constructors love this brand so much?

Spatenau 7:33 AM  

@Michael Page, I believe for the people who say "ink pen" it's not a redundancy because their regional pronunciation lacks a distinction between "pin" and "pen." If they don't put an "ink" in front, people won't know if they are talking about a pin or a pen.

rjkennedy98 7:35 AM  

Something not right about this puzzle. I get trying to get new "fresh" fill in, but the mood of this puzzle was very much high school drama (which most Nerds like me don't particularly want to remember). Wearing high-end clothes, watching Heidi Klum on Project Runway or Who Wore [the Dress] Better, being a jock, watching porn, worshiping Elle. Send me via Fedex overnight so I can get out of here.

SVaughn 7:47 AM  

@EJAMES (7:31) re Avia

They don't love the brans; they love that it is a four letter word that has three very useful vowels.

Nancy 7:50 AM  

I won't say "ode poem" -- no I won't!

And "sonnet poem" is awful, too.

You don't say "verse poem" -- hope you don't!

Well, HAIKU POEM is just HAIKU.

Lou 7:56 AM  

Said “Hello, Puzzle,”
Puzzle just said, “Hi.” — So I,
smoked a joint, got high.

TTrimble 8:10 AM  

@kitshef
"HAIKarate" -- now that would have made me laugh! Same vintage as your pipe-smoking Santa.

And speaking of classic sodas, there's (Mr.) Pibb which I recently found out is moribund. (Never heard of it? Must be a Southern thing.)

The puzzle was pretty easy, even in spite of PRIAM (which is not that obscure, if you're an xword aficionado). It felt pretty meh, although I'm not necessarily saying on a Monday, "c'mon, puzzle, you can do it! Make me happy! Wow me!" Overall it was solid and workmanlike.

---[SB Spoilers Ahead: Heads up!]---

@Pamela
YTTRIUM from a few days ago... def obscure, but at least I'd heard of it. It would be the kind of thing that would stick in the brain of a nerdy 15-year-old who read the dictionary for fun, along with "ylem" and "yclept" and "Yggdrasil". But BEGEM? Ugh. It looks like "beg'em", as in, "I beg'em to use "bejewel" instead."

Okay, let's see what today's crop brings.

George 8:21 AM  

I always conflate HEIDIKLUM with Heidi Fleiss

Hi-dee-hay 8:25 AM  

Best Haiku Poems Ever

Here are some of the most famous haiku poems that were written by some of the best haiku masters of the world like Kobayashi Issa, Matsuo Basho, Shiki and Buson. Generally and historically, a haiku poem is a japanese poetry form who consists of three lines, with the first and last line having 5 mora, and the middle line having 7.

The above is an excerpt from https://100.best-poems.net/

A very well respected repository of poetry...haiku+poem mentioned thrice.

MKyr 8:33 AM  

Never would I think to read HEIGH as hi. What about neigh? weigh? hmmf. An easy puzzle of course, but that did bother me.
M

mmorgan 8:37 AM  

When I see HEIGH HO I automatically think “Hey ho” due to Noel Coward’s “If Love Were All” — the Seven Dwarfs notwithstanding.

Mega WTF wince on HAIKU POEM.

RooMonster 8:39 AM  

Hey All !
Why are the themers
Not in alphabetical
Order in this puz?
That's my summary HAIKU POEM on this here offering. Seems like every different vowel sound thingie follows the AEIOU route. My "Nit For the Day".

Squeezed six themers in, which for me is nice. I like a lot of theme, in case you didn't know (or care!) Resulting fill not terrible, which is also nice.

It's Monday, I don't share Rex's vehemence towards this puz. Also don't share his hatred of all things White Male. Dies he hate himself?

I know, I know, no Rex bashing/trashing. Sorry, but he kinda does it to himself, no?

Back to puz, some nice clues sprinkled in this one. Clean fill, letter run of NKJ in INKJETS unusual. I give this puz a rating of NEATO.
OH GEEz!

No F's (awww)
SUDDEN MOOSE
RooMonster
DarrinV

JD 8:48 AM  

Looked it up. Turns out Heigh is an "exclamation, expressing encouragement." They were saying keep your heads up fellows, we've got a job to do!

Heigh ho Rex writers
Make Monday haiku happen
Hilarity time

Ernonymous 8:50 AM  

@EV If the answer is TIKTOKERS it's not obscure at all. This demographic has been very much in the news, especially after they organized to order hundreds of thousands of tickets to Trump's idiotic Tulsa Corona Rally. They tricked the campaign and the Whiner in Chief into bragging that they had 1 million ticket requests. The campaign set the arena up for at least 100,000 with outdoor overflow event. Only 6000 of the stupidest MAGAts showed up to infect each other. A lot of this was attributed to the TIKTOKERS efforts. Is that the answer?

bauskern 8:51 AM  

I've started trying to create my own 17x17 puzzle, and boy is it hard to do. Going through that exercise gives me a lot of respect for the NYT constructors. I didn't grok the theme to today's, so I credit Rex for pointing it out, but beyond that - his constant negativity is almost pathological. Or masochistic. I agree w/ a previous poster who suggested maybe it's time for some of the guest bloggers to fill in for a week or so. Give everyone a bit of a break.

Petsounds 9:03 AM  

No love for a crossword that includes HAIKU POEM as an answer. Not unless it also includes SONNET POEM, ODE POEM, ELEGY POEM, and LIMERICK POEM as some sort of wacky theme. Terrible.

Carola 9:19 AM  

Fun with vowel sounds, fine with me on a Monday. I was also put in a good mood by the clue "Diminutive Jedi master," a wee replica of whom stands on my kitchen windowsill, lending the power of the Force to my cooking efforts. I wasn't crazy about the TEENAGE JOCK PORN JAG, but HENRI and PRIAM did elevate the tone a little.

Sir Hillary 9:20 AM  

This was pretty grim.

@Rex is right that there's too much theme density and not enough theme fun. Why not lose HIKINGGEAR entirely, use HAIKU, HIGHEND, HEIDIKLUM, HYBRIDCAR and HEIGHHO, and then SAYHI as the revealer.

And the fill -- EGAD! Having that entry in the same puzzle as OHGEE, NEATO and SEEYA feels like parody.

Since there's so little to enjoy today, I am forced to rely on gimmickry. Inspired by @Z's HAIKU PORN, here are some amusing things I found when "turning right" from an Across to a Down: SLINKJETS, JOCK ART, ADORN, DREDS, HEIDI KLANKY (or HEIDI KLUTTER). Terrible I know, but it's all I got.

@Nancy -- Well done. I would much rather read your poetry than those tortured anagram poems that run every Saturday next to the NYT crossword. Maybe Will can hire you?

KnittyContessa 9:30 AM  

It wasn't a great puzzle but it wasn't that terrible. It was a Monday. HEIGH HO and the 7 dwarfs made me smile and on a Monday morning that's enough for me.



Lewis 9:36 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week
(in order of appearance):

1. Smoking hot Italian? (4)
2. Trying to untie? (2)(8)
3. Was on eggshells? (7)
4. It's a big whoop (3)
5. Group who ought to know better? (5)


ETNA
IN OVERTIME
BROODED
OLE
MENSA

Evan 9:51 AM  

@EV

Was the answer VSCOGIRLS?

Nancy 9:56 AM  

@Sir Hillary (9:19) -- Many thanks for the lovely compliment. Coincidentally, a few years before this Will Shortz "Wit Twister" feature began appearing in the NYT, I had the exact same idea myself and wrote 41 anagrammed poems of my own. Just like the ones appearing in the Times, only mine scanned perfectly and hers don't -- not always. My first thought was to send them to the book publisher of Will Shortz's Times Crossword Puzzle Collections -- where I have a friend at the very top of their firm from early publishing days. Her comment to me: "Anagrams don't sell, Nancy, they just don't. We've tried. We'd sell only a couple hundred copies at best." I then sent a hard copy by snail mail to Will Shortz, suggesting them as a new kind of feature for the Variety page of the Sunday Magazine. He declined, showing no interest whatsoever.

When this new feature suddenly and unexpectedly appeared in the Times a few months ago, I typed up some of my shorter poems (on the computer this time) -- shorter since many of mine have more anagrammed words and are longer than the poems that are appearing in the paper. I emailed them to him with the note that I had already sent them to him at an earlier date. He emailed me back that they were pretty good, that he had a contractual arrangement with the woman who's doing them now, and if that were to change, he'd get back to me. Since I don't see any reason why that would change, I'm not holding my breath.

I don't have your email, @Sir Hillary, so even if you wanted to see some of mine, I can't send them to you. However, if you're interested, you can always get my email address from @Lewis, @Teedmn or @mathgent.

Thanks again for your nice comment. And, as I've said before, timing is everything.

Sir Hillary 10:25 AM  

@Nancy -- That's a great recounting and a pretty remarkable coincidence. No need to share your anagram poems with me; hang onto them, and maybe you can monetize them if Will changes his mind. Just throw us a poem here every once in a while, when the puzzle inspires you to do so.

Dom V 10:25 AM  

The clue for 41A is incorrect. It should be “Seven Dwarfs’ cry as HOME FROM work they go”
I’m not kidding...look it up.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@EV @Evan @Giovanni
I looked up the answer; it is VSCOGIRL.

It's not part of my world, but apparently, VSCO girl is a real thing, with its own Wikipedia entry that lists about 10 references to mainstream media articles that mention it. The listed NY Times article from 2019 says that there are 400 million TikTok videos that are tagged #VSCOgirl. The definition used in the puzzle isn't great; it's apparently a fashion/style subculture. The VSCO app has 20 million active weekly users.

I think it's a legit entry, although I think it's going to be yesterday's news quickly, if it isn't already.

pmdm 10:34 AM  

Sometimes I think the purpose of this site is to inform solvers why they should not like the NYT crossword puzzles. The purpose of a Monday puzzle is to be easy for new solvers to sole while being enjoyable for them. New solvers have not encountered this type of puzzle many times before (I guess that would be the definition of the experience of a new solver), so lot of the wrath aimed at this puzzle iseems to me to be misdirected to this puzzle. I understand that a personal assessment is necessarily egotistical and personal. But if the puzzle is not aimed at you, aren't the complaints a bit off the mark?

An oft-repeated theme genre can become dull for older solvers. Been there, done that. And it is possible sometimes to have your cake and eat it too. But I don't think the NYT puzzles are aimed at a specific group. Old solvers, new solvers speed solvers, expert solvers. Solvers who respond similar to Mike Sharp and solvers who respond similar to Lewis. The puzzles have to aim at all groups. Which means everyone is guaranteed to experience a range of emotions (love to hate) at the puzzle set. As long as the puzzle generates income for the NYT (whose purpose is not to satisfy puzzle solvers but to publish news) there is no justification to switch gears to satisfy a specific group.

My reaction to the puzzle? A shrug of the shouldrs. Not bad, but not astonishing. Thumbs up for recalling a childhood memory. Shari Lewis chose her family over her career, a choice that thankfully most women today don't have to consider. I'm sorry her comeback was so short as the result of her untimely illness and death. I suspect many new solvers might not have ever heard of her, so I wonder if she belonds in a Monday puzzle. But her memory did bring a smile to my face.

Dan (Formerly) Tan Man 10:47 AM  

It’s getting to the point that I just wonder how Rex will rip that day’s puzzle/constructor. It was kind of amusing at first. Now, it’s just getting old. Lighten up. It’s only Monday.

Lewis 11:01 AM  

@pmdm -- Well put!

Nancy 11:10 AM  

Amen!

johnk 11:12 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle. Quite AGREEABLE. Say HI to the week! Stay high! SEEYA!

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Crossing SHARI, HEIDI KLUM, and HECHE was cruel.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Spelling HEIGH HO was a bitch

I guess there needed to be some resistance

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

@Hi-dee-hay While you copied the blurb correctly, did you try to click on it? I'm guessing not, because if you did you'd have notice the link failed, I believe with a message "you know HAIKU POEM is redundant, don't you?" OK, maybe not that notice, but your "very well respected repository of poetry" doesn't even work for the instance you cite.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

There may not be a HAIKUOPED, but there is a HAIKUPEDIA, interestingly enough (haikupedia.org)

JD 11:36 AM  

@pmdm, I think that people forget or don't notice the blog title is Rex Parker Does The New York Times Crossword Puzzle.

There's a YouTube video of him solving a puzzle as he voices his thoughts. Here, when he addresses 27A: AOL alternative, and writes, "... is that still a thing? Is AOL?" He may have thought that very thing as he solved.

If I were managing this site, I'd suggest video screen capturing/recording once or twice a week, or voicing/recording the thought process and running it as a podcast (yes, I'm finally freaking missing my job).

I rarely agree with him. I don't like the personal attacks. Frequently I skip his opinion or skim for confirmation that I might be overreacting (e.g., Haiku Poem).

But at the end of the day, he's doing what he set out to do. Understanding that is, as someone here wrote, "the price of admission to this theme park."

Whatsername 11:48 AM  

A pleasant enough Monday and I only had a little struggle with the spelling of the elves’ chant. Plus I don’t know one stock market from another so I had RISE instead of DROP in 32D and wanted something like HIHOHOS. But OHGEE, that wouldn’t work. I liked all the four and five-letter names in the answers. I remember SHARI Lewis with Lamb Chop and JAKE Gyllenhall is one of my favorite actors. I though this was a nifty idea for a theme and well executed. Nice start to the week.

Blessedly cooler temperatures have arrived where I am today with much needed rain in the forecast for the rest of the week. That’s great news except that my grass needs cutting and since there are no tall, lean LANKY JOCK types offering to do it for me, I gotta go before the rain moves in. SEEYA.

Ernonymous 11:58 AM  

@anon @ev I'm also familiar with Vsco girls. They are cool! They wear big baggy tee shirts, they have special water bottles and backpacks. Their style is completely different from "wear the tightest sexiest clothes you can that show your boobs and booty" I love them, they give me hope for the future. I watched some videos about them sometime back.

Joe Dipinto 11:59 AM  

@Z – SHARI Belafonte. Harry's daughter, working actress.

Nancy 12:04 PM  

From the "You Can't Go Home Again" Department:

I went to YouTube to find a clip of Shari Lewis, who brightened my childhood with the hilarious hand puppet Lamb Chop. Lamb Chop's contorted facial expressions -- why I just thought it was visually the funniest thing I had ever seen. I remember just laughing and laughing. One of the best things ever on early television. Did I mention I was very young?

Anyway, I wanted to share Lamb Chop with all you poor, benighted people who grew up in a Shari Lewis-less era. Now which wonderful clip would I choose to share with you?

I chose none of them. It turned out I couldn't watch. I didn't find it funny anymore, I found it really dumb. And that made me sad. Because what happened to that child who once was so charmed and amused? Obviously Lamb Chop hasn't changed.

gregg 12:12 PM  

We're from Ohio but have lived in that state up north for 30 years. We don't pronounce the words you cite any differently. What part of Ohio? NE, NW and SE all have different accents in my book.

jberg 12:20 PM  

I am going to quit reading -- three people have already posted spoilers for today's New Yorker puzzle. Please don't do that! Not everyone solves these puzzles in the same order you do.

@Lewis, now try searches for "ode poem" and "sonnet poem;" the results are similar.

pmdm 12:23 PM  

JD: The 1st Amendment does not give a person the right to shout "fire" in a crowded movie theater (an anachronism?). The 2nd Amendment does not give you the right to bear every form of Arms (something seemingly disputed by the NRA). And ownership of a blog should have its own limitations. It should not give the owner the right to bully someone to suicide. It should not give the owner the right to willfully disseminate inaccuratev statements without proper caveats (something Mike odes not do)." The fact that so many people use blogs for immoral purposes doesn't justify their actions or make it right.

So the fact that Sharp owns the blog is not the issue. Hlding him (or any other blog owner) accountable for statement made on the blog (as well as comments) is appropraite. And if a blog owner oversteps the boundaries, that person should be held accountable.

As Z pointed out (Sunday, I think), Mike does at time amend inaccurecies in the writ e up (silently. And it is appropriate for Mike to accurately state his reaction to a puzzle. But no one has the right to present a subjective statement as an objective statement. (See Eduard Hanslick's late 19th century music reviews, if you can find them, for fairly non-controversial examples.)

Many of the write-ups and comments should be preceded by IMHO, which can be found in today's write-up. Z has every right to hate crosswords that contain quotes or anagrams, but that doesn't make those puzzle objectively horrible. But he is absolutely right to state his reaction (as long as he does not force his reaction on others, which he doesn't).

I think I am belaboring my point. Without even making that much clearer.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

@jberg The comments about the New Yorker puzzle are for the puzzle from June 22, not today. That puzzle is over a month old at this point, and i think it's fair game at this point.

old timer 12:33 PM  

A Monday DNF. Rare! I had "goose" instead of MOOSE. You surely have geese at Teton as well as the Great Blue Herons and everything else. I think the MOOSE are more likely at Yellowstone.

I thought it was a poor puzzle for many of the reasons OFL cites.

Doc John 12:42 PM  

You can also letter in band. Just sayin'.

JD 12:45 PM  

@pmdm, Sorry. I think that we'd all look back at what Holmes meant by crying fire in a crowded theater, rethink it's original application, and then hardly apply it to a blog about crossword puzzles. That falls squarely under the first amendment.

However, I completely agree with you on the second amendment, and the facts that having a blog (or other social media platform) doesn't the give the owner the right to bully someone (to suicide or not) or to willfully disseminate inaccurate statements without proper caveats. I know that's our new form of federal government but I'm not sure this blog has plunged to that level yet.

Bill 12:53 PM  

I’m old (71) and this puzzle seemed even older than me

mathgent 12:55 PM  

Vowel-rich words. Constructors love them. EKE and EKEOUT, 67%. AVIA, 75%. The highest percentage I can think of is AEOLIA, 83%.

Pleasant and ultra lightweight. Almost 2/3 of the entries, 51/78, are four or five letters.

Pete 12:56 PM  

@pmdm - Go back and read what Rex actually wrote as if it were written by anyone other than he. What did he say? That the homophone thing is an ole trope, but that it still could be useful if there were accompanied by sparkly or surprise entries? How dare he! That HIKING and HIGH just have the same sound with no difference in of the HI sound? What problem do you have with that objective fact. That HAIKU POEM is an absurdity? We're all pretty much in agreement here. That a lot of the fill is last-century? It is. The only 21st century stuff I see here is SARA Bareilles and HYBRIDCARS. The clue for Sara was so convoluted that it should have been "Type in S, then A, then R, then A". It would have been shorter. Oh, I'm stupid, the Prius was introduced in 1997. Maybe the Honda dragged it into a 21st century clue.

None of this was overly critical, overly strident or mean. It was just a puzzle that could have been made better (hi Sir Hilary), but wasn't.

You like that 5 of the 6 theme entries were debuts? I'm currently making a debut sandwich, Bologna, shredded Brussels sprouts & peanut butter on pumpernickel. I can make you one if you want, but not all debuts are worth the price of entry. Some things that have never appeared in print before are that way for a reason.

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Well, HI there.
M&A has no big problem with HAIKU POEMs. … Plus, otherwise, I'd have no idea what the plural of just HAIKU would be.

staff weeject pick: SHH. Hard to beat a good, solid, desperate sound effect.

fave fillins included: INKJETS. OVERNIGHT. MOOSE. The last one mainly becuz of its reference to the primo Glacier National Park -- a Montana HI-light, along with a fun relative who lives in Missoula.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Juneau is its capital} = ALASKA. Never been to Juneau. Made it to Anchorage, one time.

Thanx for the easy fun, Mr. Arbesfeld. 129 NYTPuzs and countin. Impressive.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

Pamela 1:07 PM  

SB****

Whoo-eeee! QB!

@TTrimble- YTTRIUM, that was it. Not in my wheelhouse. Lucky you!

Taffy-Kun 1:19 PM  

Because it has 3 vowels? Also why Ulee’s (Gold) is so popular

pmdm 1:37 PM  

Pete: To be a little more clear, my comment was not aimed at what Mike wrote, but a reaction(perhaps) to the tenure of the all that you can read on this blog. There are enough of barbs aimed at him (I think both justly and unjustly) to suggest at least some of them are justified. But I really don't want to dwell on any one specific statement. It is a typical trait for many in this hyper polarized world to try to contradict a general statement by diverting attention to something more specific. My original comment is trying to deal with generalities. And I think the generalities do have merit, even if they may not be true all the time.

The issue with Haiku is complicated. The term Haiku poem uses Haiku as an adjective. Perhaps Haiku-poem would be considered a compound noun, but I would find that way of looking at it "absurd." I think the issue here is that the entry treats Haiku as an adjective, which is dictionary wrong. But crossword editors deal with connotation as well as denotations. Use of the word as an adjective may be wrong, but crossword editors often let entires that are not 100% correct slide into puzzles. That irritates me. But, when searching the internet you find enough incorrect usage to suggest it has somewhat slipped into the common vernacular, that is enough to make the term crossword worthy rather than absurd. My uncle thought split infinitives were absurd. The creators of Star Trek did not. When common usage is changing, there will be gray areas for a while when usage shifts from absurd to accepted. Looking at what appears on the net has convinced me that usage of Haiku as an adjective has slipped into the vernacular. Not that I'm happy about it. But sadly reality is what it is, even when that irritates you. Anyway, this is a discussion that the Pythons would enjoy very much.

chefwen 1:40 PM  

@BarbieBarbie & GILL I. All is good. “Much ado about nothing”. Still pretty wet and wild out there but I think we can safely return the Lanai furniture to the great outdoors.

@Nancy - Lambchops was also my all time favorite, loved that little guy.

Frantic Sloth 1:40 PM  

I read Rex before commenting, which I haven't done in a long time. Since I'm here so late (for me), it felt like the thing to do.

Problem with that is, I ended up thinking I hated this puzzle way more than I actually did. This is why I can't read anything/anybody before spewing my very own brand of word vomit - my opinion spine just turns to this.

Whatever. I'll do my best to meld.

HAIKUPOEM is pretty dang ridiculous. How ridiculous? I didn't even notice until reading Rex, so still not as ridiculous as me - BUT, it's ridiculously close and that is pretty dang ridiculous.

Hated HEIGH. Just because. It was plain old "HI" being all snooty and lah-di-dah "look at me - I'm HEIGH-falutin'!" Get outta here with that.

Rex points out the dastardly similarity between HI KING and HI GHEND, but neglects to mention HEI GHHO and HEI DIKLUM.
Far be it from me to defend that ignominious HEIGH, but I believe the theme means for one to take the first word, in its entirety for the "magic" to work.
Sim-spells get a pass if one does this. I am one, so I allowed it.

And to that end, I will say that while Rex makes some very valid points about the overall stodginess and last-centuryness of this puzzle, I'ma give it a not-my-cuppa-but-thumbs-up-for-new-solvers rating.
This is becoming my new Mondee-Tuesdee standard. I don't necessarily like that, but there it is.

🧠
🎉

Now, to read you all!

Frantic Sloth 3:14 PM  


@pmdm 1034am Well said. I feel duly (and gently) chastised; however, I am also in the "see @JD 1136am" camp. Rex is allowed. Perhaps the commentariat is not so much? I don't know, but I enjoy it all just the same!☺️

@pmdm 1223pm Aaaaaand you lost me, for the simple fact that Rex never approaches the level of inciting violence, bullying someone to suicide, or shouting "fire!" in a crowded anywhere. Not even close. He's cranky. About crossword puzzles and their peripherals (constructors, editors, etc.). I'll allow that he crosses some imaginary line when he wanders into political territory, but even at his most extreme, I don't believe he causes any harm of the intensity you mention. And the IMHO at the beginning would surely be redundant, IMHO. 😉

@pmdm 137pm And now I read you were talking about the commentariat, and not Rex? I can't keep up, so I'll shut up and point once more to the link in my original post. 🙄

Regarding the HEIGH HO lyrics "controversy" (which had me burning down the Google):

Almost every result proved @Dom V 1025am right. But, then my home coworker insisted "millions of people can't be wrong about this." Disregarding the presumption of ever uttering such a statement, I persisted in my attempt to find some indication that she was correct and lo and behold, enter this old and dis-pictured except for one very important video BuzzFeed post from 2015.

And now, our heads rest easy. Whew!

@chefwen Happy to see you're still with us! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

This is the second time recently that a clue has referred to DHL. DHL doesn't compete with FedEx and hasn't offered overnight delivery service for 10 years. They are for express international deliveries, which aren't overnight.

And if you're looking for MOOSE, there are far better national parks to go than Glacier. Grizzly bears sure; moose, try Yellowstone or Grand Tetons.



Ann Hedonia 4:59 PM  

EGAD this is bad!

Bonnie Buratti 5:01 PM  

OK, I do the NYTimes XWord almost every day, blog very occasionally here, but I don't read the blog, so forgive me if this is a thing that everybody already knows.

There seems to be a new "crosswordese" that has crept into the puzzles. Adit, aril, etc. are not acceptable, but what about all these made-up words like seeya and ohgee? Seems to be just as bad. Or are these "words" considered clever?

Z 5:15 PM  

@M&A -
Haikuopodes*
'cause every plural is Greek
even Japanese

*Hi Cue Oh Pod Ehs

Dom V 5:17 PM  

@Frantic Sloth Thanks for the clarification of the HEIGH HO lyrics. I wouldn’t have believed it without seeing the movie clip. Gonna sleep like a baby tonight!

the eye of the beholder 5:19 PM  

Not to upset anyone, but are there people who think emojis are as plug-ugly as I do? And that the plug-ugliness increases exponentially the more emojis you have on the page? Just wondering.

Anoa Bob 5:19 PM  

One of the major challenges in constructing a themed puzzle is coming up with themers that have matching letter counts. It's one of the restrictions that makes crossword puzzles difficult to construct and elevates constructing to a craft/art much in the same way the strict syllable pattern does for HAIKU construction.

So I always notice how and how well that matching letter-count restriction is dealt with. Like many of yous, I gave the side-eye to HAIKU POEM. And one of the themers was different from all the others. The base phrase, HYBRID CAR is one letter short of its symmetrically matching themer HIKING GEAR, 9 vs 10. Getting around that restriction by gratuitously sticking on an S at the end of HYBRID CAR is equivalent to fudging the syllable pattern in HAIKU. It becomes HAIKU LITE.

That's the essence of a plural of convenience (POC). It's a short cut, it makes constructing a puzzle easier, and methinks lowers or dilutes the puzzle's quality.

Z 5:26 PM  

@Bonnie Buratti - Individually those bother me less than adit or aril, but today struck me as excessive. Not clever in my opinion, but also not awful in small doses.

@anon4:29 - Would next possible business day work?

Frantic Sloth 6:02 PM  

@the eye of the beholder 😱🤔💪😜

You realize you were asking for that, right? LOL

And considering that I am nearly the only person (save for @Pamela) who is using emojis today, I will choose to not be upset.

Instead, I'll take a vote: If my emojis are bothersome to more people than not, I will cease and desist.

Voting can carry over into tomorrow since it's already so late in the day.

Frantic Sloth 6:12 PM  

@Z 515pm LOL!! (Sorry - no emojis until the vote is in).
Why do I always gravitate toward the incorrect pronunciation of "opodes" with long Os and only two syllables?? My theory is that it sounds stupider and therefore, rolls with me.

JC66 6:15 PM  

@FS

I vote 👍👍👍👍 on emojis.

The Bard 6:56 PM  

As You Like It, Act II, scene VII
AMIENS: Blow, blow, thou winter wind.
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
That dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remember'd not.
Heigh-ho!

Brian 7:32 PM  

Found the whole thing pretty dull and unremarkable, until I tried to figure out “HEIGH-HO”. Now I’m just pissed off. No one in their right mind would choose to spell it like that. Off to the trash bin...

chefwen 7:32 PM  

@Frantic - Emoji away 👌

JD 7:39 PM  

@Frantic, They're punctuation on steroids in communicating intent and tone online and they're week control on verbosity. I'm just too lazy to use them.

Xcentric 7:49 PM  

Haiku poem not
Nor D.H.L. Overnight
Eke out is so old

Smith 8:17 PM  

@frantic

👍👍😁👏

JD 8:47 PM  

Weed control!

BarbieBarbie 8:57 PM  

@chefwen so glad to hear you and your lanai furniture are all in their original spots! Maybe a few chickens blew out to sea?

GILL I. 9:06 PM  

@Frantic....If I could use them on my MacBook, I'd be fired from the Emoji Nazi. Go for it, amiga....

Nancy 9:11 PM  

You're really conducting a poll on this, @Frantic? Well, I cannot tell a lie. I find emojis rather childish and more than a bit distracting: i.e. they distract my attention from what the writer is actually saying. And I'm much more interested in what a writer is saying than a bunch of dumb, cartoonish pictures. Or should I say "pictoids", emojis being to pictures what factoids are to facts.

Aren't you glad you asked? :)

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

I like Lewis, Joe DiPinto, pmdm and a few other random posters, but the excess postings of frantic sloth and Z (plus his sock puppets) make this site hard to enjoy. Learned to skip Rex’s comments years ago. What an...

TTrimble 9:29 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

And now I'm QB as well. Whoopee! These things can be marvelously difficult.

Richardf8 9:59 PM  

Personal Best for me on this. AOL/MSN is timeless. Once they were both low-end minimally viable ISPs and now they’re both DEFUNCT low-end, minimally viable ISPs. Still equivalent, see? So the clue still works as well now as it did in 1997!

I can’t say this was in my wheelhouse. It hardly needs a wheel house. As for Shari Lewis - I never was a fan, but the tragically named “Lamb Chop’s Passover Surprise” is indelibly stamped in my head. I’ve never watched it, and I feel very certain that it doesn’t end with “guess who’s getting eaten tonight?!?!” But still. Sheep eating is central to the Passover story.

TTrimble 10:14 PM  

Personally, I've found emoticons (emoticons, not emoji) to be helpful for purposes of netiquette -- internet communication is full of landmines and emoticons can help to succinctly convey humor, self-deprecation, good will, irony, etc., much as nonverbal cues do in face-to-face conversations. On the occasions when I use emoji, as in FB coments, I use them the same way, but they tend to call more attention to themselves than emoticons do (as pictographs they are larger, more colorful, flashier). So I'm less fond of them. But I tend not to mind them if they generally convey good will or are used in service of esprit de corps, etc.

All of which is to say: go for it. But keep it classy! :-)

(Funny how we form mental pictures of each other. Or at least I do. I had pictured Frantic Sloth as a male, but now I see Gill I. calling FS "amiga", so I guess my picture was wrong!)

Monty Boy 10:34 PM  

Hello,
I'm from the Department of Redundancy Department and I approved of 24A.

Aslo, I agree with lmdm 10:34 and Lewis.

And I like this one a lot.

GILL I. 10:49 PM  

@TTrimble. Pure guess. All I know is that @Frantic is funny - cold be a he/she. Someone once thought I was a he and I was fine with that. I guess I grew some pelotas along the way..... Insert emoji hahahahahah.

JC66 11:02 PM  

@GILL I & TTrimble

I vote for she.

Carrot 11:43 PM  

Love the Emojis! Very clever !

kitshef 7:31 AM  

@Frantic - probably too late for my vote to be counted, but absolutely detest emojis. In part because I do not speak the language. For example, I've never understood why your ratings consist of some number of clouds and some number of pizza slices. And what is that haggis-looking thing in @Smith's reply? Smiley face; fine. Thumb up; fine. Pretty much anything else - no.

Burma Shave 10:03 AM  

UTTER TEENAGE PORN

OH, DROP AMISS IN my KART,
IN a HIGHEND DRESS so tight -
or a SLIP or APRON TO start -
with HEIDIKLUM OVERNIGHT.

--- JAKE "JOCK" PEER

thefogman 10:46 AM  

This is Alan Arbesfeld’s 129th NY Times crossword in the Shortz era. They can’t all be gems.

rondo 11:44 AM  

HI. Or HIGH. Or, well, you know. Go to the 4 corners to put on your KEDS or go to your DESK. Not much of a contest when supermodel HEIDIKLUM shows up; had the HEI_K___ and was thinking it might be HEIneKens, gladly not. OFL rails about a Mon-puz? Run-of-the-mill. SEEYA.

spacecraft 12:13 PM  

In and of itself
The HAIKU must stand alone:
There is no "POEM."

EGAD and OHGEE! Wait a sec, here comes Gomer: "Goll-leee!" And the NYTXW SLIPS another notch. I guess there was a dearth of submissions, so Will had to EKEOUT one for publication. I think you get where I'm gong. No, that was "goimg," but on second thought, I recall the Chuck Barris show...yep, "GONG!"

Today's DOD STAGE is rather crowded, but the wonderfully talented SHARI Lewis gets the nod. There were a couple of amusements here; the SARA of ALASKA had an H, but the image does arise. Then we see the lagniappe of NEHI DROP in there. But OVER all, nope. Bogey. CIAO, SEEYA!

leftcoaster 2:57 PM  

Theme lacks some zip, but fine for a Monday. HEIGHO required a bit of extra attention. Might also note the boozer on a JAG, high as a kite, and the abstainer who settles for a NEHI.

wcutler 6:56 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 6:02 PM, how do you even get an emoji in here? I'm so jealous. I am well into senior years and I like them, even when I don't understand them. I remember that you explained yours one day, but I can't remember the explanation, so I don't totally get them, but I'm pretty sure more are better.

What I don't like are photos posted in comments on someone else's photo posting - this applies more to Flickr comments. But I make an exception if it's a photo that makes an interesting point about the original posting.

Diana, LIW 7:21 PM  

Always good to start the week with a Monday high note. Yes, little zip, but worth the effort and fun for a Mon.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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