Pepper between jalapeño and cayenne on the Scoville heat scale / THU 4-29-21 / Addison high-earning Tik-Tok personality / A group of them is called un archipel

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Constructor: Adam Wagner

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: it's a "poem"  — "IT WOULD BE A SHAME / IF MY / HAIKU WERE / TO BE / ONE SYLLABLE TOO [LONG]" ... where "LONG" appears in its own square, making it, on the one hand, three letters (*not* one syllable) too long, and, on the other hand, not too long at all (i.e. you fit it in the grid) ... I get that it's "too long" in haiku terms, but what this "LONG" gag is doing at the end, I have no idea

Theme answers:
  • PRO[LONG]ED (47D: Extended the duration of)
Word of the Day: HILDA Solis, Obama-era secretary of labor (27A) —
Hilda Lucia Solis (/sˈls/; born October 20, 1957) is an American politician and a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the 1st district. Solis previously served as the 25th United States Secretary of Labor from 2009 to 2013, as part of the administration of PresidentBarack Obama. She is a member of the Democratic Party and served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009, representing the 31st and 32nd congressional districts of California that include East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. (wikipedia)
• • •

Just an awful chore. Super hard, for various reasons, and then with the worst kind of corny humor (i.e. it's not funny and it doesn't quite work). This is the puzzle that wants to do a magic trick for you at parties. This puzzle likes "jokes" that you get out of "1001 Jokes" book. There is nothing charming or amusing about any of this. *And* it was extra-hard. Difficult and completely unentertaining—there's a winning combination. Further, this grid is gruesomely trivia-ridden. Just name after name name. In a puzzle where I'm already struggling to put together your made-up poem, taking a trivia test just added to the pain. The single worst part of this was where the totally unfathomable "word" from a non-famous Queen song title was sitting right next to a "high-earning Tik-Tok personality" (there's not one word of that phrase that isn't glistening with inanity), and then both of those ran straight through The Crucial Word in the damn "poem" (i.e. HAIKU). The very worst fill at the most important point in the puzzle—again, winning. I resent this kind of self-indulgent, no-concern-for-solving-pleasure, make-your-theme-work-at-all-costs construction. I would've been somewhat quicker getting through this section if I could've remembered SERRANO sooner (31A: Pepper between jalapeño and cayenne on the Scoville heat scale), but the real added difficulty whammy came from *two* wrong answers that seemed to fit their clues perfectly: ICE for 28D: Finalize, as a deal (INK) and (worse) SHYER for 38A: Less forward (COYER). Actually that last one just ended up making the SW harder—didn't really have an effect on the RHYE / RAE section. But ICE, wow, that one was stuck there, and really made seeing HAIKU impossible. Had ADIEU in HAIKU's place for a bit. Later considered AEIOU (!?). Just no idea. There is simply no pleasure to be had in working that section out because your "aha" involves RHYE and RAE, meaningless pieces of trivia. A huge HAIRBALL, that part of the grid.

I also had ERUPTS before SPOUTS because of course I did, it's the better answer (20A: What Yellowstone's Old Faithful does about 17 times a day). Here's Old Faithful's official web page, see how long it takes you to find the word "erupt" ... now try "spout" ... the prosecution f***ing rests). And wow did SPOUTS mess up the NW. Had me doubting even KURTZ, which is not a great place for an English professor to be (23A: "Heart of Darkness" character who cries "The horror! The Horror!"). Found every single answer in the NW hard to get (except KURTZ and STS and UTZ). And then SHYER for COYER really made the SW a struggle. This took me way way longer than my average Saturday. Didn't time it, but I could feel it. The fact that the "LONG" bit at the end, with its attempt at bonus humor that totally misses the target, just put a miserable exclamation point on the whole thing. As I say in the theme description, nothing about that rebus square adequately represents the poem's being one syllable too long. It's either three letters too long, or not too long at all (fits neatly in a square, inside the 15x15 grid structure). This puzzle made me yearn for a "quip" theme or a word ladder or any of the AGEOLD themes that I normally don't care for but would have been glad to see today because at least they work. Totally made-up corny poems, please keep them to yourself, especially if you want to also do a final trick but have no ability to stick the landing. Thank you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:20 AM  

Hard puzzle.

But I think you are completely missing the gag, and revealing that you don't know the structure of haiku. 5-7-5 syllables. This is 5-7-6, with "long" being the final (extra) syllable.

English prof.


Zwhatever 6:22 AM  

Rex was too kind.

Conrad 6:32 AM  

What @Rex said. And what @Z said.

Oren 6:55 AM  

What @Rex, @Z, and @Conrad said

TTrimble 7:11 AM  

DAMN, Rex, tell us how you really feel.

(@Anonymous 6:20 AM: I imagine he got the gag.)

I don't know -- to me this felt about Thursday hard, maybe a skosh harder. Finished in a time about Thursday-normal for me.

Agree with him about this RHYE. And Addison RAE, I couldn't give a whit about (substitute your own favorite word for "whit"). Also agree about it not being "erupts" -- I mean, COME NOW. Tried SPurTS before SPOUTS -- seems just as good. The slightest imaginable wriggle of a smile at WOOF.

Some difficulty coughing up HILDA (Solis); I was thinking something more exotic like pILar. And also ELLA -- the artist known as Lorde has about 16 names in her name if I recall. Well, no, not 16. But well more than three. With the number she has, she could be a Royal.

Archipel, oof. New to me. Looks short for "archipelago", which helps some. Being a good boy growing up in Virginia, where we learn about John ROLFE the tobacco farmer marrying Pocahontas, the ILES eventually came to me.

Running through my peppers... Habanero? no, one letter TOO LONG. Is it poblANO? No, that 'p' doesn't jibe with 2D. Ah, SERRANO.

Well, it was diversion enough. It gave me pleasure to get through.

amyyanni 7:14 AM  

Usually appreciate the puzzle with coffee as an easy way into the day. Having collaborated on one NYT puzzle, also appreciate how hard it is to create one. Still, actively disliked this for all the reasons Rex described. Happily, both cats are here cuddling and the coffee is good.

ncmathsadist 7:15 AM  


nevercared 7:21 AM  

The point of his entire post is that all their ridiculous backflips to make their dumb haiku joke "work" was not worth it.
The crossword sucked massively.

Joaquin 7:21 AM  

There was a young man
From Cork who got Limericks
And Haikus confused

David Sinclair 7:24 AM  

I guess I’m just not as sophisticated as the folks who didn’t like today’s solve. I thought the puzzle was hard but really cute. There’s a place in this world for corny humor - especially as set in the doomsday-laden NYT.

Mark 7:25 AM  

As I solved this, I wondered at one point if it was Will Shortz thumbing his nose at Rex. How could this be unintentional? But even if thumbing one's nose at Rex might sometimes seem justified, it's also nose-thumbing at the rest of us. Miserable.

Xworld pleb 7:25 AM  

Usually think Rex is too critical. Today he is too kind

bocamp 7:30 AM  

Thank you @Adam for this challenge. I'm in the process of learning a whole bunch of stuff via your amazing Thurs. creation. :)

Super tough un-solve. LOL

I was nearly 4x over my Thurs. avg when I packed this one in last night. I'll give it another shot this AM. It's one 'hot' some kind of pepper crossing two short totally unknowns that is holding me up. I think I finally managed to get the rest of the puz right. Will be running the alphabet, looking for something/anything that may 'spark' a glimmer of hope.🤞


A very tough, but entertaining Freestyle; and, as you always say: 'doable'. Thx, again! :)

yd pg -2 (I errantly indicated -1 in my last post yd)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

OffTheGrid 7:33 AM  

DAMN! I should have SPED BY this one. I RUE that I let it USE UP my time. It did not HUMOR ME at all. I really can't COPE with this. WOE is I. 'Twas anything but SWEET. I want to HURL OUPUTS of HAIRBALLS. I guess I can't SUE Shortz but I wish he would RID the NYTX of this puzzle style. Well, at least writing this was fun.

Cheers! Have a great day.

Anonymoose 7:38 AM  

What @Rex, @Z, and @Conrad said.

Son Volt 7:39 AM  

KURTZ he dead - and so is this puzzle to me. Take the very worst kind of theme - add mostly garbage fill and a smarmy trick and you get this - an unenjoyable slog.

Cassieopia 7:40 AM  

I loved it. Yes it was slower than average but the payoff and the concept brought me genuine delight and an actual smile to my face when I “got it”. That one lone rebus, at the end, because the haiku was too LONG - ah I loved it! Creative and enjoyable and a great payoff. 1A was my favorite mid-direct (had What for waaay too long) along with PINESAP. I’ll say it again - loved it. A brilliant, unique, enjoyable theme. Well done Adam Wagner!

DeeJay 7:44 AM  

Was it an unpleasant challenge? No, it was a good one. Did I make some annoying errors that slowed me down? Yes. Did I get the rebus very early on, pat myself on the back and then look in vain for a length-related rebus? Yes. Do I rue the 22+ minutes I spent on this? Not at all.

Unknown 7:50 AM  

I can't wait for @Southside's take on this one!

tb 7:51 AM  

Awful, hateful puzzle.

John H 7:59 AM  

Erupts and shyer were probably near-universal mistakes. Verse puzzles are the worst because they require so many vertical crosses to get right. This only came together when I was able to see "syllable" and the K and the U at 37A. Then there was a brief "oh" and much to my surprise I was able to finish the thing. I really didn't expect to.

I did enjoy learning that LPs outsold CDs last year. That would be among the few dozen people in the world who still have the equipment to play them.

oceanjeremy 8:02 AM  

He gets the "joke," Dude.

The point is that the rebus is dumb. Cramming "LONG" into one square doesn't keep it from being an extra syllable. It's still one syllable too "LONG." It doesn't work.

It's a bad "joke."

oceanjeremy 8:11 AM  

Hate, hate, hate this puzzle. 'Twas a DNF for me (only my second in 105 days). Part of this is my fault: I was so angry at "Seven Seas of _____" that I couldn't for the life of me see LOUPE and my brain just couldn't remember HMS (I kept thinking "HRM," for "Her Royal Majesty's"?).

But RHYE is just inexcusable. It took me five minutes of googling to discover that RHYE is a fantasy land that Freddie Mercury made up with his sister when they were children. This fact isn't even in the Wikipedia page for Seven Seas of Rhye. While this is a very cute story, it nevertheless means that the answer is not something you can infer from non-Queen knowledge. It means the only way you will know this crossword answer is if 1) you happen to know some obscure Queen trivia or 2) you did the Sunday NYTimes Puzzle on September 12th 2010 and you remember this one answer.

So yeah, I had to look up RHYE. And it ruined my morning.

taylorevan 8:23 AM  

The worst was SPOUTS. I mean, come on. ERUPT, SPURTS, and SPRAYS were all better fills for that

CS 8:29 AM  

Well, for once I am in complete agreement with Rex. I am usually a big fan of Thursday puzzles but this was just ridiculous. Trivia names abounded (Kurtz, Rolfe, Rhye, Brent, Rae, Ella, Erle, AliG). I'm not above a look-up if it gets me unstuck (for me it's not a competition) and I know it's on me to be familiar with well-known culture, but this was just too much.


RexNotRex 8:31 AM  

This is the first time I abandoned a Thursday puzzle out of sheer boredom. Throw in some frustration at trying to gronk a stupid “poem” while dealing with an abundance of inane trivia. My streak is over and I don’t even care.

mmorgan 8:36 AM  

Wow. Sorry, not feeling the hate here. I thought it was just fine. Had no clue about RHYE or RAE but got them fine from crosses. When I have words in place like shyer and erupts (as I did) that I’m sure are correct but aren’t working, I eventually just take them out and wait for the fog to clear, as it did here. Not the best puzzle I’ve ever seen but I’m frankly not sure why the response here is so negative.

William of Occam 8:38 AM  


Anonymous 8:40 AM  

So understandable why this is the probably the one blog Will Shortz says he doesn't read.
You try constructing a puzzle and see how far you measure up to Michael's idiosyncratic standards of perfection.
I thought the puzzle was challenging and fun and cute.
Googled the Queen and Heart of Darkness clues because I was running out of time.
Also had SHYER, ERUPTS, and - at first - RIFF -- for 15A 'totally improvise'.
Also had -- as usual -- ERLE for EROL Stanley Gardner, because I always do that at first. Obviously haven't watched enough Perry Mason reruns to keep that in my head.

Unknown 8:49 AM  

Anyone bashing this puzzle should actually try constructing one first . . . . .
This was clever and artfully done.
The theme puts a lot of constraints on the constructor, so yes, you're going to find a few answers that you might not be crazy about, but all in all . . . a job well done!
Rex needs to take up a new hobby!

JennyO 8:50 AM  


Mary Beth 8:54 AM  

I found this one enjoyable. If I cared about my solving time I probably wouldn’t have since it took me ~2X my average Thursday time. Thanks Adam. Don’t listen to the haters.

Tim Aurthur 8:56 AM  

The Tik-Tok clue is a major crime. There are plenty of alternatives, starting with RAE Dawn Chong.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

No one ever spoke or wrote the word COYER. Queen (of) TikTok -- I'm not expanding my trivia "knowledge" in that direction, the song or the person. As for ASH, let it be noted "The emerald ash borer, an exotic beetle imported accidentally from Asia, has killed more than 50 million trees and now threatens groves in New York's Adirondack Mountains that are used to make baseball bats.[15] Global temperature rise likely allows the beetle to survive in what was once too cold of a climate." Wikipedia "Baseball Bats"

JD 8:59 AM  

Woof. It Would Be A Shame if all you wanted to do was solve fast and the wit, cleverness and humor of this puzzle were lost on you. The Horror! So far I disagree with almost everyone here.

What a refreshing change from the NYT's frequently same-old. One Damn Sweet puzzle. A deep dive into memory, with a lot of head scratching, brow furrowing, and watching answers emerge from the fog on the crosswork.

Pulled Kurtz out of the deep (Apocalypse Now, worst movie from a book ever made … feloniously bad). Rolfe also took some digging. And if you're going to throw in Iles on a Thursday, Archipel is a great think-provoking clue. Same with Pine Sap and Hairball (hilarious word that reminds me of my favorite episode of CatDog).

A Thursday with no look-ups. Loved it.

pabloinnh 9:01 AM  

This one made me miss my printer more than ever, and we're setting it up today, I hope. I'm pretty good at trivia, but several answers here, which others have pointed out, are not important enough to be trivia.

Took a break right in the middle to go get breakfast with our granddaughter, which was the sole redeeming feature of this slog.

Finished with no cheating, so there's that, but even that was not very satisfying.

And sticking an L in for the last square is not as much fun as jamming LONG in there.

Back to unpacking.

TheMadDruid 9:04 AM  

My thoughts exactly.

Tim Aurthur 9:06 AM  

I also thought there must be better ways to clue 27A than a fairly obscure cabinet member from a decade ago. But decided that the great American poet H.D. would not want to be any part of this puzzle.

Kevin 9:12 AM  

The joke (a self-referential poem that claims to be a haiku but which is not) isn’t really all that funny. It’s like those inane lists of pointers writing that actually demonstrate the very things they are cautioning about.

But more specifically, it is odd to have the rebus-shortened word be LONG. I still would be blah about it, but it seems a better joke would have been:


Or something like that.

BlueStater 9:13 AM  

I heartily agree with OFL. Stinkerissimo, but Thursdays often are. Went out of its way to be nasty. A complete waste of time and a morning-ruiner.

Sarah Prineas 9:16 AM  

Agree. And the trivia fill:

Kurtz, Rolfe, Rhye, Brent, Rae, Ella, Erle, AliG

How many of these are male, vs female? Yeah. Another sexist crossword from the NYTimes.

Mr. Grumpypants 9:20 AM  

What a piece of garbage.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Agree with @mmorgan. Cute and totally gettable with crosses. Yes shyer and erupts but easily seen as wrong. The blog post is overly nasty and reaching a point of not wanting to read it any more

Barbara S. 9:20 AM  

Wow, this was hard. This type of puzzle is my least favorite and I let out a groan when I read 17A “First line of a three-line poem.” WOOF. I had to look up three answers, RHYE, BRENT and ROLFE, something I hate doing. And, about ROLFE, can anyone explain why I was absolutely convinced that Pocahontas’s husband was John Smith?? I would have categorized that as a reasonably well-known fact. Huh? Anyway, while I didn’t particularly like this puzzle, I didn’t hate it with the vitriol of some. I thought the joke did work and I did have an Aha moment when I finally finished. But, yeah, definitely not a stand-out Thursday for me.

I think FLOUT means something more specific than simply “Scoff at”. It means in some situation to deliberately ignore the rules (either explicit or unstated), and make up your own. I’ve never seen Old Faithful, but I was mesmerized by Strokkur in Iceland. We were told that neighboring Geysir, which gave geysers their name, isn’t particularly active anymore due to seismic shifting underground. I liked the clues for WOOF, BATHS (Pet peeves?), OWLS (Real head-turners), HAIRBALL (Kitty litter?) and BUSES (Certain ways to work). Coincidentally, I’d just watched a TV show which featured a hot-pepper-eating contest. (Weirdly, it was a science program on reactions.) I don’t recall any mention of SERRANOs, though.

Today I have a poem by C.P. CAVAFY, born Apr. 29, 1863.

Waiting for the Barbarians
Translated by Edmund Keeley

What are we waiting for, assembled in the forum?

The barbarians are due here today.

Why isn’t anything going on in the senate?
Why are the senators sitting there without legislating?

Because the barbarians are coming today.
What’s the point of senators making laws now?
Once the barbarians are here, they’ll do the legislating.

Why did our emperor get up so early,
and why is he sitting enthroned at the city’s main gate,
in state, wearing the crown?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and the emperor’s waiting to receive their leader.
He’s even got a scroll to give him,
loaded with titles, with imposing names.

Why have our two consuls and praetors come out today
wearing their embroidered, their scarlet togas?
Why have they put on bracelets with so many amethysts,
rings sparkling with magnificent emeralds?
Why are they carrying elegant canes
beautifully worked in silver and gold?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and things like that dazzle the barbarians.

Why don’t our distinguished orators turn up as usual
to make their speeches, say what they have to say?

Because the barbarians are coming today
and they’re bored by rhetoric and public speaking.

Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
(How serious people’s faces have become.)
Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
everyone going home lost in thought?

Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven't come.
And some of our men just in from the border say
there are no barbarians any longer.

Now what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
Those people were a kind of solution.

QUOTER’S NOTE: This is a terrific article about Cavafy, the poem, historical context and contemporary relevance.
Daniel Mendelsohn. “’Waiting for the Barbarians’ and the Government Shutdown.” The New Yorker, Oct. 1, 2013

GILL I. 9:21 AM  

I guess I'm officially saying I don't like Thursdays anymore.
Please tell me how WING at 15A is totally improvise.....Doesn't it need an IT at the end? Who on god's green earth says WOOF as a knock at the door? My husband SPOUTS platitudes about the heat in SERRANO peppers and he isn't COYER about it....he's shyer. Yellowstone erupts. End of discussion.
Dear lord...HUMOR ME. Make me like one thing about this HAIKU. Nah.
My HAIRBALL runneth over. WOOF. I need a BATHs.

Bill Kilgore 9:24 AM  

@ JD 8:59AM

Apocalypse Now (1979) is not only Francis Ford Coppola's greatest film, it is one of the greatest films of all time. I've read the Conrad book more than once and the movie is better.

If you've only seen Redux, the 2001 re-edit that added back the horrible French plantation scene and turned Willard from a burnout into a frat boy, then maybe your criticism is justified.

But not for the original (and definitive) 1979 cut, which is the masterpiece of cinema masterpieces.

Piano Phil 9:29 AM  

Thanks ,Rex, for ranting on my behalf. I needed that.

Zwhatever 9:32 AM  

I once had an IPA where the brewers had used something like 23 varieties of hops. It was a real challenge to brew. It tasted awful. OTOH, Two-Hearted Ale uses one type of hops. It is excellent, by far still the best IPA.

The next quote/quip puzzle that I like will still be the first quote puzzle that I like.

I am no more upset with today’s PPP than with any other. PPP always has an element of nichedom to it. Going with a TikTok clue is no worse than an opera, musical theater, or classic rock clue.

PuzzAzz has a whole set of quote puzzles for sale. I did not purchase them.

Anyone else seeing all the Old Faithful suggestions and wondering why it hasn’t been used in a Viagra ad yet? “Men! You can be Old Faithful again!”

Harry 9:35 AM  

Sounds like this grid hit more than a few of Rex's blind spots. That always makes him a little grumpy ;)

I was tripped up much like Rex (although he seems to have struggled more with the NW corner). But patience and the "cross-es" saw me through.

Not at all charmed by the "too long" haiku. Grid as a whole lacked finesse, but a respectable challenge overall.

WA 9:37 AM  

Woof? And just a gratuitous "long" jammed in?

Go bother someone else

Brian 9:38 AM  

1A bark woof open come hide bolt ...

Nancy 9:38 AM  

I got the joke long, long before I was close to getting the entire quote or solving the entire puzzle. PRO-ED had to be PROLONGED -- it just had to be. But everything else...

As devious as much of the cluing was, it was (as per usual) the PPP that almost did me in. I wanted to make some trades today. I would have given you a KURTZ, a ROLFE, and an ERLE if you had given me a RHYE, a RAE, an ELLA, an ALIG, a BRENT and a HILDA. And I needed them all in one way or other. But I didn't cheat -- pulling the truly odd name ALIG out of my you-know-where from other crosswords.

BUSES was a devious clue -- and boy did I need that answer. WOOF was also impossible to see at first -- and it's delightful. I pretty much struggled everywhere because quote puzzles provide such little help in so many important places.

Normally, I hate them all. But I forgive this one -- sort of --because the TOO LONG trick is so DAMN funny.

Birchbark 9:48 AM  

COME NOW, IT WOULD BE A SHAME to overlook two of the better clues in recent memory (for HAIR BALL and PINE SAP).

I liked the TOO LONG rebus at the very end -- it reminds me of myself, when I write a letter or card, USE UP all the space, yet just keep writing in ever shrinking, crowded words. Inspiration comes too late, but we do what we can to make it fit. Like closing time in a museum, right when we've discovered a new WING, the one that really matters.

I also like that Lorde's name is ELLA.

Chris 9:52 AM  

Also agree with @mmorgan. It was harder than a usual Thursday, but do-able.
But I call absolute BS on Rex: he would have stroked out if ICE was offfered as the right answer. It makes almost no sense and is much less fitting in that context than INK. He made a mistake, couldn't get away from it, and it make him sad. Happens to the best of us, happens to the rest of us.

RooMonster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
WOOF is right. Put me in the tough crowd. Wowsers. Starting "cheating" after a while. "Cheating" meaning use Check Puzzle feature to see just what in tarhooties was wrong. Had erupTS like a lot of y'all, plus not knowing KURTZ was really holding me up in that NW. Actually hit Reveal Word on that one. Also Reveal Word for HILDA. Politician knowledge is not high on my priority list. Had _I_DA, and couldn't LINDA out of the ole brain.

Took me to only having the Center themed unfilled at Rex's RHYE and RAE whos? to finally realize the theme was a HAIKU. Dang.

Kind of a weird ThursPuz. One REBUS square. Tough clues. FLOUT, although having an F, is a wha? See also PIP. Had PIt, natch.

Did like the consecutive "Yesssss!" and "Nooooo!" clues, though. ☺️

Missed the mark for me today. It happens. Wondering if Adam said to Will, "HUMOR ME". Har.

Three F's

Frantic Sloth 10:00 AM  

Not sure how I feel about this one. Let me process...

First of all, it's basically a quote puzzle (my least favorite), and therefore employs the lookie-loo clueage, which is a close second.

Then, there's the ffrebus (false falsus rebus) residing in just that one square.

And much of the fill was a wavelength too far.

So, why didn't I hate this?
One reason: I thought the "LONG" haiku joke was just goofy enough to amuse me, thereby negating every nit but the fill, which really isn't a nit anyway.

This constructor had his debut on 4/20/21 and already he's back with what I consider the antithesis of a "sophomore slump".

Guess I figured it out to be a thumbs up.

Well done, Mr. Wagner - keep it up!


Sir Hillary 10:01 AM  

Hardest NYT
Thursday I have ever done.
All for no payoff.

Liked the HAIRBALL clue
But not much aside from that.
(shYER didn't help.)

I'll wrap this up now,
As I've nothing more to say.
Have a great day, all.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

came to complain about rhye/rae. i had to look up that queen song to see if it was even recognizable, nope.

eMeLiA 10:03 AM  

Anonymous is correct. A haiku is 17 syllables, so one with 18 is a syllable too LONG. The theme might be obscure but it’s not corny.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

@GILL -- It's your dog's response to a knock at the door! (Or were you just kidding?)

@Barbara S. Everyone who's anyone at all thinks John Smith, not John ROLFE, was the Pocahontas husband. Including me, of course. Why is that? Beats me.

Oh, and Barbara -- Your wry poetic quotation today sure beats the one in the puzzle. It speaks so aptly to our own time and shows that plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. (I'd include the accent marks if I had any idea how to do that.)

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

This was really difficult, probably more so because I’m coming off tripping on mushrooms lol.

Paul & Kathy 10:15 AM  

First comment got it right. The theme was accurate and good, and actually kind of clever, other than the fact that it was pretty much unguessable. It paid off for me. But the fill was far, far, far too hard. I was not in any way on this puzzle's wavelength. Glad to see it wasn't just me.

sixtyni yogini 10:16 AM  

Yes. 5-7-5
This was in my house of wheels, so got the gist at haiku.
Very clever. IMHO. But in the crit style of Rex... why not have the 5-7-5 in three parts?
Otherwise - agree -somewhat difficult.
Did enjoy it.

sixtyni yogini 10:18 AM  

Ps only got the L - and thought it just dropped the 6 th syllable.

Tim Aurthur 10:19 AM  

According to a story we all learned in school, Pocahontas rescued John Smith when he was captured by the Powhatans who were (according to the story) about to bludgeon him to death.

For someone who died at 21, she got around.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

Is there a marina in RHYE?

TTrimble 10:33 AM  

@Nancy 10:06 AM
Harrumph! Wells, I says that everyone who's anyone and a Virginian knows that it was Captain John Smith who was saved by the intercession of Pocahontas (a young teenage girl at the time) from being killed on order from her father chief Powhatan, but John Smith was not the man she married. Gee, don't you Northerners know anything? ;-)

That's the story, anyway, the we young'uns all learnt. Who knows how much fabrication there is to it. I could go to the internet to see what the scholars currently think, but I think maybe I'll persist in my childhood bubble a spell longer. Besides, I've got work to do. This is me goofing off.

Whatsername 10:39 AM  

IT WOULD BE A SHAME IF MY Thursday puzzle turned out TO BE a disappointment.

Adam, I loved your debut nine days ago. DAMN, that was SWEET! And I liked the concept of this one. But it was really hard and for me, the HAIKU theme made it WORSE. But it didn’t make me HURL either, so I’ll consider myself the WISER for having figured it out and look forward to your next one.

Newboy 10:40 AM  

I want to like this
But how could FU haiku
Tickle my punny bone

Yep, Rex nailed this one—as in crucifixion?—hard for the sake of being hard? Some wonderful misdirection in clues that SPOUTED instead of erupted or subsided into the grid. And whooo couldn’t appreciate that limber necked OWL, but geeze those names! Not my most enjoyable Thursday, but I’m glad Adam was able to squeeze into Mr Shortz’s mailbox no matter how L(ong) it took.

Steve M 10:47 AM  

Oy vey

Steve M 10:47 AM  

Oy vey hope this isn’t a harbinger for my day

bocamp 10:56 AM  

Final result: 2 cell dnf

Seldano just sounded right, and LHYE and DAE seemed possible. I had considered RHYE and RAE, especially given that RAE is a not uncommon name. RHYE also looked better than LHYE. So, whye did I choose to go with Seldano? It just sounded better than SERRANO. Ah, the mysteries of the mind. Nevertheless, not time wasted; stuff learned, and the muscle between the ears well exercised.

I never fail to marvel at, and appreciate the diversity of the NYT xword, as well as the amazing construction abilities of the puz creators.

Also appreciated are the efforts of the editor (and staff), the unfailing labor of love that @Rex devotes to this blog, and the wide-ranging, thotful input of the commentariat.

Yesterday's discussion of 'the' was most interesting and instructive. I Wiki'ed Talking Heads and was fascinated by the use and non-use of 'The' and 'the' in the article. I sympathize with both @SharonAk and @Z. I can see and understand both points of view.

In the PINES ~ Bill Monroe

td pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ~ Woof 🕊

Crimson Devil 10:56 AM  

Not enjoyable at all.
Was hoping for gaucho PANTS and ensuing palaver...whassa difference with HAREM?

jae 11:07 AM  

Beyond tough! This reminded me of why I’m not particularly fond of quote/quip/adage/knock-knock joke/famous sayings...puzzles. Some of the fill was fun, but man what a slog, so I’m going with the “what @Rex said” chorus.

Frantic Sloth 11:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary McCarty 11:13 AM  

Hated the puzzle. Obscure names to look up, unnecessarily obtuse clues...the only fun came from the haiku comments, especially Joaquin’s.

Carola 11:13 AM  

On the "Yessss!" side: the clues for WOOF, OWLS, BUSES, HAIRBALL, BATHS; on the "Nooooo!" side: the unholy HILDA, RHYE, RAE, BRENT assembly; teetering in the middle: the rebus trick. For me, the payoff came up a little short.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  


Frantic Sloth 11:17 AM  

Reposting, because anal.

LOL! All you haters and especially Rex bemoan so much of what I despised about this puzzle.

And yet...and yet...

Someone once told me that a certain brand of butter substitute was just one molecule off from plastic. I'm not sciencey, so take that with a grain of NaCl.

Similar vitriol is exactly what I felt at the beginning, during, and for a time, post-solve.

But that dumb joke. That pesky molecule.

Haven't we all been - at one time or another - residents of "I-don't -know-why-it's-funny-it-just-is-land"?
Well, I might not live there year-round, but I have a time-share.

I think @Birchbark 948am explained (brilliantly, as usual) why it's such a metaphor for much of my life. Tooling along, blithely ignorant of that wall...and...
My hubris was too LONG.

But, but I can stand in my yard and still see all of yours through the hole in the fence.

Your property may be precisely manicured, but mine has (what my father defended as a lovely alternative to a neatly mowed lawn) a natural meadow of wildflowers and bugs.

It's where I live. 🤷‍♀️

Liz1508 11:18 AM  

Not fun.

Joe Dipinto 11:24 AM  

Second shot Wednesday
Arm in pain, now this puzzle
Could it get much worse?

TJS 11:28 AM  

Well it was hard,I'll give it that. Put in and took out more words than I have in a long time. Blanked on Kurtz, thought much of the cluing was too cute by half, but there was also some great, rarely if ever seen fill. Absolutely hated putting in that "y" for coyer. And a rare one square rebus.This Wagner guy is not afraid of pushing the envelope. (Is that the phrase? Doesn't feel right.)

All in all, a good Thursday challenge, once I realised it was Thursday.

egsforbreakfast 11:28 AM  

Agree that this was a very hard puzzle. But that only in creased my satisfaction at finally finishing it. I’m amused at the consternation engendered by cluing a TikTok personality. Why, you’d think the NYT cares about the loyalty of people under 30. Please, let’s stick to pre-interwebs cluing. And GET OFF MY LAWN!

Great puzzle Adam Wagner.

TJS 11:30 AM  

BTW, would have enjoyed @Lewis take on this one. He sees stuff that I miss.

Wee Willie Keeler 11:37 AM  

Sadly, most bats are no longer made of ash. The ash borer bug is sending these noble plants to land of lost trees, like the elm. Maple is now the primary choice

JC66 11:37 AM  

Do the puzzle's plusses offset it's minuses?

Not for me.

Unfathomable theme whose punchline landed like a lead latke.

Cluing that's more murky than cute.

Obscure PPP that no one cares about.

mathgent 11:47 AM  

@JD (8:59). I'm with you. I thought it was great. But we are definitely in the minority. The people on Diary of a Crossword Fiend rated it below average.

Why did I like it when most of you did not? One reason is when I did it. Not in the morning when there are things to do (like checking out this blog). I did it last night about 8 PDT, on paper sitting in my comfortable chair. No hurry. If I wasn't able to finish it by bedtime (around 10), I'd work on it again in the morning. I did finish it last night before my eyes started watering. Then I checked out what Jeff Chen had to say and climbed into bed.

Cliff 11:51 AM  

I'm sure I set a record for the longest Thursday solve ever ... and not a bit fun. Just "LONG"!

The first comment from "Anonymous" called Rex out for not understanding the joke about the 5-7-5 Haiku structure. I thought Rex's commentary made clear exactly what his objections were, and that, of course, Rex "got" the Haiku structure "joke".

Masked and Anonymous 11:54 AM  

OK. Listen up. Only gonna say this here a few times. Good puz. Its theme was funny, in a cool wordplay way, usin a lone-rebus-square mcguffin with LONG crammed into a short space. Sorta like an extra (LONG) word addendum, at the end of the haiku verse line. Different. Like very much.

Of course, other real smart folks here are certainly entitled to their own opinions about the puz, even if wrong. [har]

Some great bonus fillins in this rodeo, includin: HAIRBALL(!). PIEHOLE. WHISKS/TEAROFF. HUMORME. COMENOW. AGEOLD. PONCHO/SERRANO. WOOF [who drew first blood with a primo clue].

Response when U ring the doorbell at my bro-in-law's place: WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF. WOOF.

staff weeject pick: BLM. Debut weeject meat. About time.

Puz was a bit challengin, becuz U had to figure out the haiku poem's text, along the way. Also had a few tough-ish names, especially in the RHYE & RAE & BRENT zone. Certainly worth it tho, to get HAIRBALL.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Wagner. Outstandin work. Hey -- (long) time no see, dude! … It's been over a week since yer last one.

Masked & Anonym8Us


johnk 11:59 AM  


Oh Please 12:01 PM  

I thought it was fun figuring out the poem. And it was mostly Thursday-tricky, not hard.

I'm apparently in the minority!

Unknown 12:06 PM  

If you want fresh filler, don't complain when tik tok shows up

A 12:10 PM  

Ugh. This puzzle is that guy with the fake tan in the plaid leisure suit who writes a HAIKU to ask you out but hides it someplace and then hides half a dozen other notes, each with an extra-clever hint for where to look for the next one. (It PROLONGED the “fun.”) He’s not all bad but he likes his own jokes too DAMN much, has awful taste and smells of hair tonic.

Speaking of sticky stuff, I’ve seen a lot of pine cones but never one with PINE SAP on it.

Rex nailed this one, though he missed the chance to either praise the inclusion of BLM or rail against it crossing DAMN.

Could not recall KURTZ or HILDA, and didn’t know RHYE so cheated on those.

One unexpectedly bright spot was the transparency of APPARENT as the answer for “Seeming.” A rare moment of enjoyment.

The clues for BUSES and WOOF were great - too bad the first is a POC and the second is what revealed FLOUT, which seems too strong for “scoff at.” Clues for OWLS and SERRANO also pretty good. WING was missing its “it” and most PONCHOs aren’t rain gear. HAIRBALL an example of too cute by half.

OUTPUTS - just word abuse.

It’s A SHAME the HAIKU is too LONG - it’s Poem in Your Pocket Day but this one won’t fit.

Thanks, Mr. Wagner - maybe try less Brylcreem?

CuppaJoe 12:11 PM  

The app puzzle accepted “L” in the rebus square so I remained baffled until I read some blogs published before Rex.

Yep, hard trivia. I hit reveal square a couple of times. Tool.

Uke Xensen 12:12 PM  

The John Smith part of the story is false or exaggerated -- Smith was a notorious braggart and lier -- but the marriage to Rolfe (after she was kidnapped by the English) is amply documented.

nunya 12:12 PM  

Tough but fair.

johnk 12:14 PM  

REC? Whose colloquialism?

Birchbark 12:18 PM  

@Frantic (11:17) -- Amen to meadows. Well thought and well said.

Douglas 12:22 PM  

Didn’t think this was as hard as most people. Five minutes below my average. Maybe because I am a big Queen fan and knew Rhye right away. I have watched the office countless times and David Brent is one of the all time great sitcom characters. While I usually don’t like poem type clues this one ended up filling in pretty easy with the downs.

Tim Carey 12:25 PM  

I only count 16 syllables...

I don't get it...

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Crossword solving joy

Eluded me this Thursday

Friday tomorrow

Tim Carey 12:30 PM  

Yes! Exactly!

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

Kidnapped? Nah. She was captured in the Anglo-Powhaten War. The English tried to trade her freedom for the freedom of their countrymen who had likewise been taken prisoner. And of course it's seems unlikely that she held any ill will toward the English given the fact that she married him and sailed to the Island to be received by English society.
As for Smith being a liar. Again, doubtful. He's the guy who wrote to Queen asking that Rebecca-- the name Pocahontas took at her Christening--be treated as royalty.

Great puzzle Mr. Wagner. Thanks much.

jb129 12:34 PM  

Isn't today Thursday?

Awful, terrible didn't finish & didn't care to

jb129 12:40 PM  

And to "unknown" - it's only "clever" & "artfully done" if the majority of us solvers & bloggers actually ENJOY it which, obviously, we didn't.

Glad you enjoyed it tho

The Joker 12:41 PM  

Isn't it -the Queen-?

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

@Tim Carey, you forgot about (43 across) TO BE

— ctdawg

TTrimble 12:45 PM  

@Tim Carey 12:15 PM
You missed TO BE in the second line. Follows the symmetry of the puzzle as well.

JD 12:46 PM  

@Bill Kilgore, Now we disagree on two things! His greatest movie was The Godfather (part 1). But you've read Heart of Darkness so count me as one of your fan.

@mathgent, You may be right about the night solve. Our solving experience was the same.

@A, The guy this puzzle reminds you of? You need to write a short story about him.

@Carola, Why do we love hairball? Is it just a funny word or does it conjure that moment when the snobbier pet coughs it up and still walks away with dignity?

faber 12:53 PM  

At least you guys were able to solve it. I got the haiku part right away but the whole western side was impossible. Too much of the fill had other answers which didn't work.

chance2travel 12:53 PM  

Gonna pile on here with my disappointment. Art flourishes in having boundaries - and for Thursday that means having more than just a single rebus at the end of a poem. When I got to the TOO LONG PROLONGED crossing I actually perked up hoping there would be more rebuses in other parts of the puzzle that I hadn't filled in. Nope. Just the one.

I was fortunate to have remembered Addison RAE's name from a few late night shows youtube clips. Also fortunate that Austin has a restaurant chain called SERANNOs that I enjoyed back in college (though my tastes have outgrown it)

Got stuck for a while thinking that archipel referred to a group of animals. Kinda embarrassed how long it took for me to recognize it as French

I'd rather never see a poem as part of a crossword theme ever again. That said, I can tolerate it once or twice a year.

Final Verdict - If you must run this, then the concept deserves to be a Wednesday puzzle. Change a few answers to be less obscure (RAE, RHYE) and bring down the cluing difficulty a notch.

old timer 1:03 PM  

I may be the only person here who got the joke. Because when I needed LONG as in proLONGed, just put in an em-dash, which I remembered from long ago Latin classes, was a way of indicating a LONG vowel, when put over a vowel. So when I finished, what I saw was a dash, which our Haiku composer was left with when he realized his poem was ONE SYLLABLE TOO ___

I wonder if AP English students still read Heart of Darkness. Probably not, as Conrad must be banned by the racism censors. Heck, there are some who believe To Kill a Mockingbird is racist, due to language.

RHYE and RAE were both unknown to me, and it took way too long to remember that relatively gentle SERRANO pepper. Pro tip: If you need SERRANO flavor but not the heat, you can split the SERRANOs lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a small spoon. Be sure to wash hands immediately when you're done!

WOOF is definitely a typical response to a knock on the front door, if you have an indoor dog. Better than yip yip yip!

Has PIEHOLE been used in previous puzzles?

Chip Hilton 1:06 PM  

Welcome to Love It or Hate It Thursday. Put me firmly in the Both category. I’m not a fan of multiple verse puzzles but I found the one-box rebus clever. Am I shocked that humorless Rex didn’t find it amusing? Hardly.

johnk 1:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anoa Bob 1:19 PM  

SERRANO was a gimme. It's one of the primary ingredients, along with onion and tomato, in pico de gallo, a condiment that will kick the flavor of just about any TexMex food up a notch or three.

I went through a tree climbing phase when I was a lad growing up in rural Tennessee. I would never climb PINE trees mainly because of their super sticky PINE SAP (40A). Once you get some on you it's near impossible to get it off. PINE cones, however, don't have PINE SAP. If they did, they would not be used in decorative wreaths and such around Christmas time. I appreciate the attempt at misdirection in the clue "Sticky stuff that drips down the side of a cone" (Oh! That would be ice cream, right?), but of all the PINE cones I've seen and handled, none of them had any PINE SAP on them.

I wondered if this puzzle would be another opportunity for crossworders to FLOUT the misuse of the Latin rebus. We should be the last ones to use a Latin word that means "with or by way of things" for a puzzle that crams a word or in other cases multiple letters into a single square. If anything, this would be a verbis puzzle, meaning "with or by way of words".

Our H.S. Latin teacher Mrs. Albritton told us that Latin is a "dead" language and is no longer constantly changing and evolving like present day "living" languages and that this chiseled-in-stone permanence is why many institutions and organizations use Latin words and phrases for mottos, key concepts and the like. Using rebus to mean "with or by way of letters or words" is a blight upon crosswordom because it violates this permanence-of-meaning of a word that meant "with or by way of words" in its original Latin usage. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Mark 1:20 PM  


burtonkd 1:21 PM  

I was unusually outraged at traffic this morning, must have been the same hour most people were working the puzzle. Maybe it's my pleasant trip down memory lane by solving on paper, but I rather enjoyed it. WOEs RHYE & RAE were at least fairly crossed - SERRANO showed up recently enough to jump in out of my short term memory bank. A kid walked into study hall declaring that the poetry assignment is easy if you just use HAIKU form since it's only 3 lines long; perhaps that helped.

Thanks, blog, for clearing up Smith vs Rolfe.

@TTrimble - You beat me to it. I can't remember where Lewis is, but the blog definitely needs his input to restore us to our proper balance today. Unless this is the puzzle that breaks him, lol.

Agreed that the theme is a bit old corny humor, but just considered it a framing device for some mostly solid fill and clues.

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

Holy guacamole Batman, this was hard! I have black ink SPOUTing all over my grid. I usually don't like quip puzzles but I'm going with @Cassieopia's take on this - the hard work paid off with the darling LONG rebus.

Did anyone else notice that poblANO works great at 31A and makes 2D seem reasonable to end in "up"? Gah.

@Barbara S, I was at the Geysir site in Iceland in 2019. I loved the list of do's and don'ts on a sign near the path which ended with the ominous warning, "The nearest hospital is 60 km from here."

I have never read "Heart of Darkness." I read "Lord Jim" and that's all the Conrad I think I could take.

Adam Wagner, this was a SWEET surprise for Thursday, even with the tough names.

TJS 1:39 PM  

By the way, the Smith/Rolfe confusion we all share is the fault of Peggy Lee:

Captain Smith and Pocahontas
Had a very mad affair,
When her daddy tried to kill him
She said "Daddy oh don't you dare".
He gives me fever...

Zwhatever 1:39 PM  

@Anon10:32 - 😂🤣😂🤣😂🤣😂

@Frantic Sloth - De Gustibus and all that.

@bocamp - Yah. That capitalization convention seems a little like cheating and doesn’t work orally. But you know how “wrong” sets my hair on fire.
@The Joker - 🤣😂🤣

@Anoa Bob - I’ve been known to replace bell pepper with SERRANO. I have a really tasty arugula and grilled corn salad recipe, for instance, for which they are perfect. Still took me a few crosses because I didn’t know the Scoville rating.

In my other life a raging discussion over whether or not to require vaccinations for people to play in our organized leagues is going on. The RHYE Marina is looking real good right now.

My Insufferable Blog 1:42 PM  

It's hypocritical to bemoan the NYT's history of making puzzles by and for old white men (as Rex does) and then to scoff at a clue about the highest paid internet celebrity, followed by more than 79 million accounts, on an immensely popular platform.

PhysGraf 1:47 PM  

Loved the puzzle, hated the "influencer" reference. Seven Seas of Rhye is a fun, catchy song and may brighten up the complainers' days. Never heard the song on the radio but it is on Queen' Greatest Hits. There will always be an obscure reference or ten but no one is expected to know everything. I don't know a damn thing about Shakespeare or biblical/mythical names but I am usually able to suss these things out. I never heard of the Tik Tokker (and refuse to know the name of any Tik Tokker, Tweeter, Instaer(?), etc.) but I had the R and the E so it was a good guess that the middle letter would be A. By then "haiku" would be pretty obvious even if you didn't know "rhye".

I cheated on and am more annoyed about "Kurtz"... never heard of Heart of Darkness but, as most people, know Apocalypse Now. The clue would have been easier if no movie name was referenced and the quote stayed. That being said, I had the Z at the end and know that Kurtz said "the horrors", I should have figured it out without cheating. Therefore, I should be annoyed at myself and not the clue. I still got a new film to add to my watchlist out of it.

GILL I. 1:48 PM  

I wrote a Haiku
It was very hard to make
Now I hate Haikus. joke. My pups would never WOOF at the door. They BARK like 9A intended.

@A 12:10. Thanks for that god-awful mental image. :-)

JonP 2:05 PM  

@johnK REC as in recommendation. ... "Oh you live around here? Got any restaurant recs?" (Not saying I like it, but there it is.)

This puzzle was full of crimes. The nonsense theme with a made poem. SPOUTS. RHYE. RAE.

Masked and Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Meant to mention KURTZ's "the horror … the horror". And I see @PhysGraf (1:47pm) just mentioned it.
I was a bit confused at first, since I remembered Marlon Brando (in the role of Colonel KURTZ) utterin that line in the "Apocalypse Now" flick. Turns out the flick was inspired by Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" story. Soooo … ok, M&A wasn't completely wrong again.

Pretty day here. Think I'll go outside now, and take a long haik(u) ...


Dan 2:07 PM  

Unbearable. Boring and difficult. I gave up 2/3 of the way through.

CDilly52 2:16 PM  

Did anyone else have the odd experience I had? My last entry-the one remaining square was the L in LONG. And when I typed “L” the happy music played and said I was done! Never got the chance to fill in the rest of the word.

Accordingly, I laughed getting (I think?) the joke as (perhaps?) our constructor intended, i.e. could t fit the word in because it would have been TOO LONG??? Anyway, I liked it more than most and until the SW corner, I found it easy. But I can absolutely see some spots to get hung up. I was just fortunate today to remember HILDA Solis, and a couple others that seemed to prove problematic.

Liked it. Maybe it’s just how happy I am to be feeling better.

pmdm 2:24 PM  

Regardless of the day of the week, how hard a puzzle seems has no relation in my world to how good the puzzle is. I tend to have a similar feeling about humor. I would have been happier adjusting a few a the clues and publishing this as a rare themed Friday puzzle. But despite giving up on this puzzle, I do believe the problem is myself, not the puzzle. So I'll give the puzzle a pass, but barely. And some of the comments I'll give a tsk. But gently.

CDilly52 2:24 PM  

@Nancy. I agree and actually had a LOL moment when I discovered the trick!

And thank you so much fir your way too kind words on Tuesday.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

The only good part of this $#!^show of a puzzle was knowing that your review would make it at least partially worthwhile. Halfway through I turned on autocheck and just brute-forced my way through. Fun fact: the NY Times app will mark you correct if you just have an L in place of the rebus. I had no idea what PROLED was, but ONE SYLLABLE TOO L at least makes the joke sort of work (you don't have the vowel, so you don't have the final syllable).

Definitely the worst puzzle I've done in years. And that's saying something.

BarbieBarbie 2:32 PM  

What @JD said. What @mmorgan said. This was a fun puzzle, and I laughed out loud when I came to the rebus. No matter how hard you try to pull yourself up short at the end of the last line it’s never going to make it... which was a great visual, and the whole point of the joke, a pretty darn good one. Though now rendered a bit musty by all the mansplaining first from @Rex and then from his acolytes.

Time maybe 5% over average for Thursday, which I also appreciated- getting tired of all the softballs we’ve been getting. I like having to rip out words to be able to see the alternatives.

The geyser slowed me down too, but not because I wanted ERUPTS (that’s for volcanoes). It was because SPEWS was too short. Other perspectives!

More from this constructor, please, and I just won’t read the blog on those days.

DigitalDan 2:35 PM  

Particularly hard if you have never heard of UTZ (NY thing?) and don't know KURTZ. And Old Faithful ERUPTS. That's what Wikipedia says, and that's what I say.

albatross shell 2:45 PM  

Rex does not like the theme. Too muddled and confused. Not precise. Rebus box unnecessary. I thought he was going to suggest putting TOOLONG or OLONG in a box would make it better. Too funny, not funny, nor a haiku. Some such nonsense. Never considered INK over Ice would be the issue.

Pretty good I thought. WOOF hard to get, easy to see after the fact. Look-ups were HILDA BRENT. Doubtfully put in smith and corrected it on my own. My stupidity point was 8D. ARE OLD. Stared at _ INr for eons until I saw AGE WIMG OWL.

Clues were lever and not too.

TAINT ASS PIEHOLE. A 3 day roll. Have enough for a limerick if this keeps up.

I like haiku. And meta haiku and metaphysical haiku just cause they aren't suppose to be. I wrote a bunch of short poems that were metaphysical, punny, with circular imagery and concerned bodily functions. And designed to have a haiku feeling to them. Anti-haikus. They were modeled on this one:

God plays dice in spades,
And shovels in the crap
My brain spits out

Oh no, it's a quote anti-haiku.
And fails the breakfast test.
Not for this crowd.

Well actually nobody much likes them but me.

Charles Emerson Winchester III 2:48 PM  

Thank you for both the poem and the link to the New Yorker piece. I love Cavafy and have enjoyed books by Mendelsohn, so just perfect!

albatross shell 2:49 PM  

UTZ started in Hanover PA. Pennsylvanians are fat for a reason.

Rube 2:54 PM  

Yep. I had adieu before I got around to haiku. And I didn't get HAIKU until I got nearly the entire bottom, got the ___SYLLABLETOO_ and then long. But even then that same area was a mess. RAE, RHYE, KURTZ, were all killers and bad clues. SPOUTS is on us if we put in erupts or spurts instead. Same for at worst before ORWORSE. In the end this was as close as I have come to a real DNF IN forever. This is the kind of challenge we want.

albatross shell 2:57 PM  

Wing v. Last definition in M-W:

speak or act without preparation; improvise

No it need for "it", just an object: the talk, the presentation, the day.

american glasser 3:04 PM  

: )

CLB 3:06 PM  

I think that the trick might work if the LONG were in parentheses, so "(LONG)". Then it's kind of funny because if the LONG is not actually part of the haiku then the haiku is not too long. It's just cut off in a nonsensical way, which is kind of funny I guess. Does that make any sense? Anyway to pull that off you have to have the parentheses make sense in the down as well, and they don't. But maybe that was the intention? IDK It's a fail as is.

What? 3:45 PM  

Jeez, I thought I had a stroke before I read the blog. WOOF, COYER, SPOUTS, UGH. I got LONG from the cross but there was a joke? Humor, wit, something? Maybe Shortz felt sorry for Adam, who knows.
Crossword construction is difficult- I’ve had two published but many more rejected. This is no excuse. Shortz claims he gets over 200 submissions a week. 199 were worse than this dreck?

TTrimble 3:57 PM  

Taking a little break from work...

I regard today's puzzle as... not exactly a litmus test, but somewhat telling in how the reactions are divided. My speculation [not a strong or heavy one, just a light speculation] is that those who naturally enjoy solving puzzles are more likely to like today's puzzle, and those who aren't are likely not to.

By "natural puzzle solver", I mean someone who generally enjoys solving puzzles of whatever sort. I don't think @bocamp will mind if I place him in this camp (perhaps we could call it "the bocamp", just because it sounds humorous and I want to avoid sounding like there's value judgment here). I've gotten to know @bocamp a bit over email. So: crosswords, acrostics, spelling bee, cryptics, Rubik's cube, various chess puzzles, logic puzzles, etc. -- these seem to appeal to @bocamp as a person, he has fun solving them, and it's typical that a "bocamper" will like these and many more. Color me a bocamper. I suspect @mathgent might be a bocamper (it's often the case that mathematicians are naturally puzzle-solving sorts of people).

Rex is, I very strongly suspect, not a bocamper. He doesn't exude joy for solving a puzzle for its own sake. He seems grouchy when a puzzle seems harder than usual.

I won't name others on this commentariat that I think are not in the bocamp, but I think I know who some of you are. Again, it's not a value judgment. A non-bocamper may be erudite, highly intelligent, intellectually curious and alive, etc., etc. But they probably don't have the same "puzzle drive" that many bocampers do, or perhaps their taste in puzzles may be a bit specialized. Most of us here do like crosswords (duh), but a generalized taste for puzzles is rather a smaller subset of people here.

Having a puzzle drive is nothing to be proud of. My puzzle taste is quite indiscriminate and I waste a lots of time doing various sorts of puzzles. But people in the sciences who in a sense solve puzzles for a living are often of this sort. (Not all of them -- far from it.)

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

DNF and absolutely not worth the time I wasted on this heap of $#&%.

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

DNF and certainly not worth the time I wasted on this piece of $&!#.

What? 4:24 PM  

You couldn’t be more wrong. I enjoy solving all kinds of puzzles but not bad ones.
Maybe I’m unique but I don’t think so.

jberg 4:27 PM  

So, I'm no expert on HAIKU, but I'm pretty sure that they have to include some kind of seasonal reference, e.g. if it's spring mention crocuses or plum blossoms. But I know, it's a joke, and while as old as the hills, I did like the one-square rebus.

For a town of 16,000, RYE is pretty busy, fitting in not only a marina but an H -- or is that the name of the marina?

The answer was obvious from the length, and I don't know my Scoville ratings, but I would have thought jalapenos were hotter than SERRANOs. Live and learn.

I did like the paired clues at 62 and 63A.

Oh yeah PINE SAP? I'm pretty sure that sticky suff is pitch. The kind you rub into your Louisville Slugger.

JC66 4:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 5:11 PM  


We all eat, and most of us like to eat. Some of us can discern the difference between a steak at Peter Luger and a hamburger at Burger King.

TTrimble 5:13 PM  

A light speculation. Today's surely isn't the best example to gauge such tendencies. But that some people are natural bocampers is, I think, indisputable.

Will Shortz is, I think, strongly in the bocamp.

Unknown 5:39 PM  

Loved what you did here. More creative than the puz

Anonymous 5:47 PM  

Sore loser. Oooh. It was too hard. Wimp.

Zwhatever 6:10 PM  

@BarbieBarbie - You will never guess who wrote Uneven, perhaps, but enjoyable. Cluing was so much better today. Snappy, current, playful. about this constructor’s first puzzle.

@TTrimble - Hand up for loving other types of puzzles but still disliking this. Specifically, quote puzzles (by which I mean any theme that is an unclued phrase) are just a form that is uninteresting to me. There’s no aha, no real wordplay. Occasionally a joke or quip might land, but it would land just as well without a crossword around it. If there were such a thing as a mini-acrostic this quip would be perfect. For quote based puzzles I think the acrostic form works better. I think you’re spot on about Shortz being a bocamper. I think one of Shortz’ shortzcomings is liking other types of puzzles too much and trying to stuff other types into the crossword form. Sometimes it works, but too often it fails. This isn’t quite that, but it suffers for the same reason, not being best suited to the crossword form.
That’s not to say that every crossword must, or even should, be pure “crossword.” But it feels like the quality bar is lower when something tickles Shortz’ funnypuzzle bone.

albatross shell 6:15 PM  

Pine sap: the sap in pine tree that oozes out especially when the tree is injured.

Pine tar or pitch: sap collected from pine wood by heating but not burning it. Further heating creates varying degrees of solidity. Pitch thicker than tar.

Pine resin: same stuff made solid.
Use a resin block to rosin up your bow. The same stuff powdered is in baseball's rosin bag.

Let the sap sit around for eons
and you get amber.

That's my strategy for getting Amber.

Tony M 6:16 PM  

If I only had a dollar for every time Rex said he “didn’t time” a puzzle that took him longer than usual. 🙄

Amelia 6:32 PM  

Well, I LOVED it. Wouldn't have weighed in but there are so many negative comments that I felt the constructor, if he's reading this late in the day, deserved it.

Not only did I like the gag, I loved the fill. I had trouble all the way through!

Clever, well thought out, fun to the last square.

So there.

Amelia with an A.

Bax'N'Nex 6:57 PM  

Always positive,
Lewis...where were you today?
Please, please return soon.

jonkotaco 7:24 PM  

Sadly a rare Thursday DNF for me because of the NW. I don't think I would put in SPOUTS in 100 years. A made up poem spanning so much of the grid is a bad look in the end. Just end up ignoring it until I have 75% or more of the crosses.

As my cats like BATHS that was a tough one for me in the top right.

The RAE hate is way off base. She has massive name recognition. I find her inane and possibly exploitative of her 80 million+ followers and black creators but she is not obscure. She has over 5 billion likes on TikTok (a platform I do not have because I'm 34).

bocamp 7:26 PM  

@Amelia (6:32 PM) wrote:

"Not only did I like the gag, I loved the fill. I had trouble all the way through!
Clever, well thought out, fun to the last square."

So glad you posted. I echo these sentiments exactly! 😊

And I hope @Adam does read your comments.


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all ~ Woof 🕊

Anonymous 7:53 PM  


both when I lived in Bryn Mawr, and watched 'Witness' (and she turned out to be gay! what a waste), lots of skinny Amish.

Unknown 10:05 PM  

I agree with Rex. Everyone knows the structure of haiku. The puzzle was not clever--just annoying.

Anonymous 11:04 PM  

Dumb. The haiku is technically correct, 5-7-5, but only because the LONG is not spelled out. It's like improvising a haiku, coming to the end and realizing one is in error, with one too many syllables, and stopping mid-sentence (mid-haiku). Again, dumb. Arriving at the solution brought me no joy.

And, then, PROLED. Got that only by brute force method. Looked it up and there is no such word!

Charles Flaster 11:40 PM  

Go figure

Scott 11:41 PM  

The Queen song is unforgivable and I'm not on TikTok but Addison Rae was in the news VERY recently after Jimmy Fallon had her on the Tonight Show three weeks or so ago. And as noted earlier, she does have 80 million followers on the TikTok. I decree it's a fair clue

Anna 12:02 AM  

Anyone else think this one had a charmingly silly 12-yea-old's sense of humor? I suggest the following:
sweet damn reed
come now
Make of those what you will. i guess you could agree with Rex that it feels really "hard".

albatross shell 12:33 AM  

@Anonymous 753pm
I enjoy being a wee rascally and dancing cross the line of good taste once in while, but calling a woman a waste because she is lesbian in a gratuitous aside seems a little too much. Maybe if it had some satirical purpose. I don't want to call out the mods. As a name in black you do not have the power to self delete. Maybe you can ask the mods to delete it yourself. I do not like seeing my name in that comment. Thank you in advance.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Hated this puzzle. Had my second covid shot on Wednesday so yesterday was my sick day, and I was surprised when I woke up today to see that I never finished the puzzle yesterday. Then I looked at the fill and remembered why. I NEVER fail to finish the crossword ... even if I use the app for a little help. So that told me something about the lousy solve.

One thing I will disagree with you all about though.... and that’s the Tik Tok fill. Come on, boomers. Tik Tok is a massive social media platform, and anyone under the age of 35 spends a ton of time on their. My best friend from college is a tenured professor at a top university and it’s how she’s stayed in touch with her students this year. I don’t follow TIk Tok at all, but I recognize that there are people younger than me and I want to be someone who is flexible to new ideas. Not an old fart. I don’t really know that person (Rae), though when I got it from the cross fill, I recalled reading it in article headlines in the times and elsewhere. Because she is a superstar. Do you really want to be someone who makes fun of something because the world is passing you by? And Rae Dawn Chong as a better alternative? Come on, that was 80 years ago.

Cassieopia 10:01 AM  

This boomer agrees with you on RAE and while I don’t “do” Tik Tok, I knew the name. It’s hard to wander through the Internet and not pick up some of this stuff. (On the flip side of opinions, I was one of the rare posters who totally loved the puzzle.)

Georgia 12:07 PM  
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Georgia 12:09 PM  

I loved the "aha" rebus ending. Hard for a Thursday but clever.

EJ 3:23 PM  

And I thought the boat puns Thursday was bad...

Sandy McCroskey 11:28 PM  

Someone has mentioned that more is required of a haiku more than the 5-7-5 pattern Westerners think of as definitive, but it seems that no one has remarked that ONLY is added here solely for the syllable count, as it is utterly unnecessary for the meaning and in fact a bit nonsensical.

It would be a shame if my haiku were one syllable too long.

Adding "only" seems to imply that it might not be such a shame if the haiku were more than one syllable too long.

The RHYE RAE SERRANO patch held me up forever too.

Impycat 1:32 PM  

Really don’t get Rex’s grading system or how he decides a puzzle is clever or stinks. Seems to have as much to do with his mood as anything else. Also, whether there are baseball-related clues, which he seems to love as a baseball fan, and usually is cause for him to celebrate. Finally, there is obvious grade inflation if the puzzle was designed by a woman. Prefer when Rachel Fabi subs for him, as she is much less of a grouch.

I thought this crossword had a lot of clever clues, like for BATHS, HAIRBALL, PINESAP, and BUSES. Then there was a fair amount of easy fill - BRENT, ALIG, BONUS, CNBC, PONCHO. Thought the rebus was clever. Overall, liked this puzzle, as it offered some “Aha” moments. And I often dislike the occasional puzzle that Rex raves about.

kitshef 7:04 PM  

A fine example of it not being the quantity of the PPP, but the obscurity of it. HILDA, RAE, RHYE, ELLA.

The lowest form of puzzle (a quote job) added to that. Well, this was not my cup of tea.

I did like the gimmick, though.

Burma Shave 10:47 AM  




rondo 11:04 AM  

I did get the gag. Made me gag. poblANO before SERRANO and then erupTS would not go away so a rare and major DNF in the NW. Don't care. Hand up for shYER before COYER. KURTZ seems rather obscure, ORWORSE. No BONUS commentary from me.

spacecraft 11:16 AM  

I somehow got through this, but only with pure guesses. Not knowing my peppers, or Queen's obscure songs, or anybody on Tik Tok, you get the idea.

But one thing I knew: LOUPE, and as the solve progressed and I worked out the first part of the "poem," it became evident that the letters after the U spelled "WERE." That left me with few possibilities for a five-letter word ending in U--but as I continued wading through the PINESAP that was this puzzle it leapt out at me: the poem was gonna end in -TOO? and the ? had to be a whole word LONG to fit the down. The whole thing just SPEDBY. I immediately filled in HAIKU and ONESYLLABLE and that helped immensely.

As for the plethora of PPPs, this had to hit hard on many solvers, me being one. Nor did Mr. Wagner try to ease our pain with Thursday clues: "The 1, in 1-0" for WIN, e.g. That's not a WIN unless it happens to be the final SCORE.

So many easier ways to clue RAE--but after guessing that R as my last letter in the grid, I Googled her. DOD. Wouldn't have known ALIG but for his unwelcome appearance in a recent crossword. Out our way, the acronym BLM has another translation: Bureau of Land Management. These are the fine (?) folks who round up wild horses and send them off to the slaughterhouse. It's been an ongoing feud for decades, that and the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage kerfuffle. One or the other pops up in the news any time things get slow.

Digression over. Challenging; I get the point, don't object to the single rebus square; but geez, it's only Thursday! And those names! Bogey.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

This pisser infested mess is rejected with extreme prejudice.

leftcoaster 3:20 PM  

Not into quippy puzzles, especially this one, thank you.

thefogman 4:34 PM  

This puzzle beat me up real good. The NW corner is what killed me. KURTZ and SERRANO were WOEs. Loved the clever gimmick with the tricky rebus (LONG) hidden in the last square of the themer.

Uke Xensen 4:35 PM  

This is all incorrect. Pocahontas was lured to the colony and kidnapped because the Virginia Society wanted an "educated savage" to parade in London. (Where she developed Stockholm Syndrome.) As for Smith, he changed his story multiple times, each time raising the young girl's age to make his fantasy less prurient. He also told similar tales about being rescued by young women in France & Turkey. See 1616, by Thomas Christensen, & many other books on this topic.

Waxy in Montreal 6:40 PM  

PROLONGation is French for overtime which describes well the amount of effort required to wrestle this faux-Haiku to the ground. Ugh! Fell into the same traps as OFL (erupts, shyer) slowing this solve to a crawl. Thank goodness for the epigraph "Mistah Kurtz – he dead" at the start of T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" which i've never forgotten or it would have even more WOEful.

sdcheezhd 12:20 AM  

I agree completely with Rex and the vast majority of posters here. I've been doing these every day for about 15 years now so over 4000 puzzles and this was clearly the worst of the lot (with the possible exception of the one that had an ethnic slur that Will kept doubling down on). I literally screamed obscenities (fortunately my wife doesn't get back in town for a couple hours) about 10-12 times. There was nothing satisfying about finally wresting the answers out of the annoyingly opaque and misdirected (in a not at all clever way) clues. And having 2 obscure names next to each other over the revealer, ugh as stated above. Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck.

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