Dark European thrush / TUE 11-1-22 / Big name in water purification / On-demand digital video brand / Russian waterway famed for its sturgeon fishery / 1960s film villain with prosthetic metal hands / Sweet sweetheart in a barbershop quartet standard

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (***for a Tuesday***)

THEME: LINKING VERB (59A: Grammatical connector like "is" or "seem" ... or a connector found literally in 16-, 24-, 35- and 49-Across) — the letter string "VERB" can be found inside the theme answers, "linking" the first word in the answer to the second word in the answer:

Theme answers:
  • NEVER BETTER (16A: Upbeat response to "How are you?")
  • RIVER BASIN (24A: Central Brazil, for the Amazon)
  • COVER BAND (35A: Musical group that doesn't play original songs)
  • OVER BUDGET (49A: Costlier than projected)
Word of the Day: ECOLAB (28D: Big name in water purification) —
Ecolab Inc. is an American corporation that is headquartered in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It develops and offers services, technology and systems that specialize in treatment, purification, cleaning and hygiene of water in wide variety of applications. It helps organizations, both in private as well as public market treat their water, not only for drinking directly, but also for use in food, healthcare, hospitality related safety and industry. Founded as Economics Laboratory in 1923 by Merritt J. Osborn, it was eventually renamed "Ecolab" in 1986. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey, this is a pretty good theme. Now take literally every single answer that is not a theme answer out of this puzzle and start over. Please. I'm begging you. The fill on this one was so rough, so old-fashioned and stale, so head-shakingly unsmooth, that I don't know why ....  I don't know how ... I don't ... know. The red lights and alarms went off very, very early when I realized (with a start) that I was seeing MERL on a Monday. Like the canary in the coal mine, the MERL is a harbinger of doom, specifically the kind of doom that befalls you when you wander innocently into a Monday puzzle and get buried under a mountain of crosswordese and old world fill. I may have literally said "uh oh" when I hit MERL. Then ADELE ... crossed the "barbershop quartet" ADELINE ... which seems like a lot of ADEL-action, especially for crossing answers, but OK, you make it out of the NW alive, fine. Maybe things improve. But they do not. ACTIV TRE OER ... and all the time, you're getting what feels like a heightened number of cutesy "?" thrown at you (17D: Frequent flier? 7D: Coffee in the milky way? 27A: Slept soundly?). You really should earn that cutesiness. In a smooth grid, fine. In a mirthless, olden grid, the "?" are less welcome. As for the fill ... it gets worse. O'ER / ORE pair is unwelcome but looks harmless and quaint next to the *crossing*  EERIE / ERIE pair. How in ... why ... why does no one balk at that, at any stage of the puzzle-making? Baffling. "IT" is here, twice. The proper noun "I" is here, twice. Even the acceptable stuff in the grid is pretty standard and stale (TEL OGLED (ugh) IRE DRNO EEO SAN ODE, those last three all stacked together). I don't know why greater polish is not required of the early-week themed grids.

Then there are the answers from outer space. First, VUDU, lol, I think maybe I kinda heard of that? Maybe? (36D: On-demand digital video brand). I had HULU in there, as people use HULU, and HULU seems the more Tuesday answer. But fine, sure, VUDU, whatever that is. Moving on, ECOLAB (28D: Big name in water purification) "Big name"? My dumb ass has been solving crosswords for 30 years and generally paying attention to the world for a good chunk of that time, and yet here it is, a Tuesday, and I get VUDU (faint bell) next to ECOLAB (literally no bell at all), back to back, side by side. And it's not like ECOLAB looks great. It doesn't look like cool, imaginative fill. It looks like product placement for a brand with an unloveable name. It looks like Yet Another ECO word. So it's both unfamiliar (to me) and unexciting. Last and possibly least in the "what?" department was MOVIE AD (39D: Trailer in a theater), an answer that is stunning in its failure to recognize that it is a clue, not an answer. That is, [Movie ad] is perfect for TRAILER. The reverse, much much less so. They're called TRAILERS. I saw about six of them before "TÁR" on Sunday. I might have accepted TEASER or even TEASER AD. Maybe. But MOVIE AD feels so completely tin-eared that I ... am out of words to describe how out of tune with the editorial process I am today. You've got a good theme. Seriously, simple concept, right on the money. Themers are all solid. All you've gotta do is fill a 76-word grid cleanly (and you could've made it 78 if 76 was too hard—no one would've blinked). But instead we get this. I have adored early-week puzzles in recent weeks, so if you wanna believe that I'm just "being a grump" or whatever, have at it. Or you could go back and look at *those* grids and acknowledge the overall quality difference. There's weak stuff in every grid; I only spend time enumerating it at length when the puzzle's not really giving me much else to do. This (clever) theme deserved (much) better fill.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I did (very much) like seeing ["Rumor has it..."] in a puzzle that also contains ADELE. Don't know if that was an intentional little wink, or an accident, but either way: nice:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


The Joker 5:39 AM  

I'm bummed. I wanted "Go Mudhens!" for 19A, Toledo cheer.

OffTheGrid 5:55 AM  

I don't worry about fill quality, at least no where near @Rex's level of disdain. I don't like forced plurals or invented spellings, stuff like that. My complaint about this puzzle is the word "literally" in the reveal clue. WHY?! This has been occurring quite frequently in the LAT puzzle, too. I really hate it.

Loren Muse Smith 5:57 AM  

Serendipity – I sat in my classroom feeling low yesterday morning and wondered if it was too early to play Christmas carols while I worked. Silver Bells was I think second in the mix. I ended up feeling stupid, so I went with some George Winston. Ah me.

What a perfect reveal. I loved NEVER BETTER, though in my experience this response always feels forced and shrill. Like the person is determined to feel this way come hell or high water. I guess I admire that, but it’s not the way I roll; I prefer to publicly wallow in my misery. Every Monday we’re supposed to fill out this Monday Check-in Survey to report our mental state, and I always check the one that says I’m overwhelmed and need help. I add in the note that I cry all the time. No one has touched base with me, so why are we even being asked? (If you happen upon any TikTok teacher clips, please know that they’re all on the money. The workload, the expectations. . . beyond staggering. If I could find a job with benefits that paid the same, I’d probably jump ship and never look back.)

Speaking of English teachers . . . I’ve been noticing that feel as a LINKING VERB is fading. Most people say they feel badly for someone to show their sympathy. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m gonna instead posit that we’ve just created a new adjective, badly, maybe? You’re still describing a state of being (a LINKING VERB’s task) and not the manner with which you feel. That state of being is badly, or roughly, sorry (for someone). I checked to see if Merriam-Webster added its adjectiveness yet. Nope. But it did have this:

(From Merriam Webster) What to Know
“I feel bad” or “I feel badly” can be used to mean the same thing. Feel is what is called a linking verb, and with most linking verbs, we would consider the use of an -ly adverb to be an error: “smell delicious” but not “smell deliciously”; “taste sweet” but not “taste sweetly.” Similarly, “feel sadly” or “feel angrily” would be considered ungrammatical. Badly, when used with feel, is an exception to this rule, and is standard.

I guess purists would still argue that to feel badly would mean that you’ve burned your fingertips on the stove and hence can’t appreciate how soft that cashmere sweater is. You feel bad that your friend can’t afford one. Me? I don’t care; just reporting the changes I see, people.

@The Joker – good one!

Bruce – always a pleasure. I was instantly reminded of the recent hover bike we had. Hah.

PS – loved the clue for LATTE (completely disagree with Rex) and the two “rumor has it” clues.


Conrad 5:59 AM  

Had the same hUlU/VUDU issue as @Rex, and ECOLAB was a WOE, but I liked it much more than OFL did. The only thing that bothered me (a little) was that all the VERBs were broken the same way VER/B. I guess either V/ERB or VE/RB would pose a bit of a challenge.

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

It's Tuesday.

OffTheGrid 6:40 AM  

VUDU Hear This (first 40 Seconds)

SouthsideJohnny 6:56 AM  

Theme was fine, and I’m not as down on the fill as OFL - ECOLAB and VUDU ruined the whole experience. Maybe just a wheelhouse thing - but seems a little unwelcoming to the early-week guests to blast them with a water cleaning company next to what appears to be a niche digital streaming company like that. Hulu, Netflix, even ROKU would be fair game, but VUDU ? Definitely scratching my head on that one.

Phillyrad1999 7:07 AM  

VUDU is one of the 50+ apps I am never going to open on my smart tv.

S McDowall 7:10 AM  

I actually worked at Ecolab - and I said to myself "They can’t mean ECOLAB in the NYTX - on a Tuesday?"

Also Rex .. you mention twice in the top that this was a Monday puzzle .. it’s obviously Tuesday 😊

Cheers all

Wanderlust 7:11 AM  

Well, I don’t personally feel Rex’s high dudgeon (IRE) over this - more like a medium-low dudgeon. Not my favorite puzzle, theme-wise or fill-wise, but liked it better than Rex. I look back at the grid now, and I see plenty of nice fill along with the crossword-ese, and I absolutely disagree about the ? clues. The clues for SNORED, LATTE and DOG BED make fill that would otherwise be meh pretty fun.

I didn’t really know what a LINKING VERB is, so it seemed a little weak for a theme but I guess now I know. And yay for @LMS for explaining the nuances of linking verbs and how the language is changing.

SCARY and EERIE are nice for the morning after Halloween (and the actual Day of the Dead). It’s my favorite holiday. We resurrected our annual Halloween party Saturday after a Covid hiatus and had a great time. On Halloween night, we put the costumes back on, build a fire in the front yard and welcome literally hundreds of trick or treaters. Our neighborhood goes big, and kids come from all over the city to clean us out of candy. Always a little sorry when October is over.

A SMEW earlier this week and a MERL today. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s ERNE.

bocamp 7:15 AM  

Thx, Bruce, for this non-VERBal SCARE! :)

Easy-med-tough (Wednes. time).

NEVER started a xword BETTER; tore thru the top, but nearly DIED in the OVER BUDGET section.

Couldn't see COVER (wanted CybER); didn't know VUDU, ECOLAB, HOT PAD (not enuf cells for HOT PLATE).

Disremembered GEKKO); bEta before DEMO.

Don't think I've fulled grokked the theme; can see VERB in all the themers, but don't get the LINKING part. [ok, I think I see it now: all the themers' first words end in 'VER' and the second words start with 'B', thus VERB 'links' the phrases.] Cute! :)

A fine puz and enjoyable mental workout! :)

Sat. Stumper: 4 3/4 hrs. (most gratifying solve ever!) / NYT' Cryptic: just over 2 hrs. (as per @TTrimble dbyd: enjoyable! :).

On to Croce's 756. 🀞
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

@lms: Tough times indeed for all y’all teachers. (“All y’all” being the extremely plural form of “you,” of course.) I feel sorrily for all y’all.

Bob Mills 7:37 AM  

I ignored the theme and still finished it, but only after dealing with the COVERBAND cross with VUDU, neither of which I'd ever heard of. Otherwise a nice puzzle of average difficulty for a Tuesday.

Doug Lassirk 7:53 AM  

Among the great vexing questions facing humanity...

If a trailer is a MOVIE AD, why do have have to sit through ads before gaining access to the trailer?

Son Volt 7:59 AM  

Elegant theme - and nice revealer. The overall fill did not seem as rough as the big guy claimed - played like a normal Tuesday.

Wanted trivet before HOT PAD and had to look twice at the EERIE x ERIE cross. Our big boy’s DOG BED is truly his MANOR. Have a friend who sadly just went through STEP ONE. BLANCH is crying out for an E.

Will you come again - I surely HOPE SO

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

pabloinnh 8:07 AM  

No idea about VUDU or ECOLAB but now I feel better knowing I have lots of company. Otherwise I found this very easy with only a couple of snags. Nice to see old friend MERL again (hi@wanderlust). I thought they had become extinct. See also EGGO, which has been off the breakfast menu for some time.

Most depressing answer for me was IHEARD, which seems to pass for evidence these days. Busloads of illegal voters here in NH? How do you know that? Well, that's what IHEARD. I mean, come on man.

Liked that I missed the VERB part of the themers and had to go back and find them, which was a nice little aha!

Saw your name on this one and knew the knives were coming out, BH. But Hope springs eternal, and maybe OFL will like the next one, and maybe I'll flap my arms and fly to the moon. Thanks for all the fun.

Ilyak 8:12 AM  

As someone else wrote, you implied this was a Monday puzzle, but today is, in fact, Tuesday.

Joe R. 8:15 AM  

Given that the clue for ADELE was “‘Rumour Has It’ singer”, I don’t think the clue “Rumor has it…” was a little wink so much as a glaring neon sign declaring, “Look at me! I’m so clever!”

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Does anyone actually include CDs in their 401K?

Greg 8:34 AM  

Yup, fill on this was absolutely trash. I have a hard time believing this is what comes of the NYTXW especially given how many crosswords they cut for every one they accept, but I really did not like filling up this one.

Barbara S. 8:38 AM  

CLUE: “Working for the Weekend” group

Hey! For once I got 1A first thing, but didn’t believe in it so checked all the downs to confirm. Right this way, MADAM! It was a thrill.

OK, I admit it. I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of the LINKING VERB (hi, @Wanderlust). Truly, I had no idea what that meant. “LINKING VERBs are verbs that don't show an action but rather describe the subject. Example: Alan is a vampire.” How have I missed this for 60-something years? Crossword puzzles (and Rex and the posters on this blog) teach me cool things every single day. As I was solving, I did notice the presence of the string V-E-R-B inside each themer but the revealer was a complete mystery until I looked it up.

I discovered that “trivet” has the same number of letters as HOT PAD (hi, @Son Volt). And another thing: does everybody but me say HOT PAD? My mother always called them HOT mats. I wonder now whether that was regional or whether she devised the term herself. It’s interesting, though: when you google HOT PAD you get equal numbers of the kitchen kind and the kind you’d apply to parts of your body for pain relief (which I’d call a “Heating PAD”). Whereas, if you google HOT mat, you get almost exclusively the kitchen accessory, but it’s never called HOT mat in the accompanying description: I’ve seen HOT PAD, of course, and heat resistant mat, trivet mat, counter mat. And then there are pot holders. Man, don’t get me started. No, actually, I have nothing to say about pot holders. But over the years, I have noticed that I seem to be unique in using the term HOT mat.

Unlike Rex, I was fond of most of the ? clues. [Slept soundly?] SNORED, [Coffee in the milky way?] LATTE, [Creature comfort?] DOG BED, [Frequent flier?] BIRD. That last one made me laugh out loud – it’s so simple, obvious and blunt. I also appreciated SCARE and EERIE on the day after Halloween. Nope, never heard of ECOLAB or VUDU, but thought they were easy to get from crosses. I made another discovery: “preview” has the same number of letters as MOVIE AD (and as trailer, for that matter). And I think “preview” is a better answer to the clue. Mind you, PRE is also an answer close by but, as noted many times, duplication doesn’t seem to be the bugbear it once was.


Hey, I just noticed @LMS's avatar! I mention Loverboy as a little Canadian rock content – a band out of Calgary with some big hits that I suspect also got a lot of AIRplay in the U.S.A. I feel ”Working for the Weekend” was probably their biggest song, but “Turn Me Loose” was right up there and the video is a hoot because of all the clips from silent-era movies.

Gary Jugert 8:45 AM  

There's another themeless Tuesday, or at least I needed πŸ¦– to explain it to me. It's pretty sneaky. And the rest of the puzzle was a delight too.


1 "Either bring me another one of those little bottles of wine or I swear I will break out in song."
2 Pink Floyd "The Wall" boxed set.
3 Dredge it.
4 Punny answer to "where does Bobby Flay live?"
5 I think we all can agree destroying NASA wasn't going to be cheap, certainly more than he anticipated.
6 Embrace that giant rusty contraption in the parking garage for an Instagram challenge.
7 What an editor did while cleaning out the slush pile.
8 Those fancy houses in the posh neighborhood you drive past and think how much you'd like to live in, and knowing full well you'll never crank up the gumption to earn.
9 ... to be fair, he did put a lot of cheese on his asparagus.
10 She pulled the plug.
11 Our current decorating scheme now that we're foster fails.


Anonymous 8:50 AM  

I had HOTPAD before trivet before HOTPAD

Liveprof 8:58 AM  


Agreed. Sometimes it's best just to turn the other cheek.

Only sighting today: ARSENAL (HA)

IKE 9:01 AM  

33D: Every time one pluralizes a unit abbreviation (e.g., lbs vice lb), a puppy dies.

Barbara S. 9:04 AM  

@Aelurus (from yesterday)
Thanks for the special Jack o’ Lantern greeting. My avatar shows my favorite of all the pumpkins I’ve carved over the years. Yesterday’s wasn’t a patch on it. I tried to do something fancy with the eyes and poor Jack looked like he had ocular disease.

[SB: yd, -1. I missed this. Didn’t really occur to me that it was a thing.

TTrimble 9:12 AM  

Egad, I didn't enjoy this. Many answers were weird as noted by OFL. I'll add to that mix with FACES IT. I'm having trouble thinking up a feasible sentence with FACES IT as a usage -- overwhelmingly, what one hears is the imperative "FACE IT".

To be honest, I had a bit of a struggle with that corner. Is it "NIH"? No. "CDC"? No, it's FDA. I don't associate a CD account with a 401(k), but just with a type of banking account, so I stumbled there as well. Even FETE posed a problem: by now I'm so used to that being clued as a VERB that I was thrown, and at first wanted GALA instead.

Nitpicking, I know, but something about ER NURSE put me off; I guess it was the cluing. Too wordy. So much work in a hospital is life-saving; if the work is hospital-specific, then almost by definition it can be construed as life-saving. "Hospital worker" would be equally informative here.

HOTPAD is fine; I've just never used it. ("Trivet", yes.) So for me it wasn't a great help for completing ECOLAB (sheesh) and VUDU (ditto).

This took me much longer than an ordinary Tuesday. I chalk it up to a wavelength thing.

@LMS: I do hope you can find a different job. Some of your reports are hair-raising, and crying all the time is a terrible sign. Your students are very, very lucky to have you.

Unknown 9:18 AM  

@LMS: The "feel badly" thing has been going on for at least 70 years. There's an exchange in the 1949 Joseph Mankiewicz film "A Letter to Three Wives," where an English teacher, played by Kirk Douglas, corrects his wife's radio advertising executive dinner guest, with a visual aid.


Beezer 9:21 AM  

Today I learned about Ecolab. Seems like it’s existence was somewhere in the corner of my mind but after todays solve I looked into it. Wow. Here is a news headline in the website: Ecolab Large Fly Program Reduces Large Flies in Quick Service Restaurants
Need I say more? No, seriously I was amazed at all the things they are involved in.

I always say how unobservant I can be in general but am I (and Phillyrad 1999) the only ones whose smart tv has the VUDU app automatically installed? And I’m not trying to be tv snooty…my current television would likely come in with a low score on a smart tv IQ test.

@LMS, seems to me that your only problem with getting a different job is that your excellent skills make you over qualified for many positions. My guess is that in many other jobs you WOULD look back. But…Have you ever thought about “foundation” work?

Oh. The puzzle! I liked it just fine for a Tuesday and learned about Ecolab.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Being a linguistics major did NOT help with this. I put COPULAR VERB for the revealer, thought “How is that going to be integrated into a theme?”, shrugged, and moved on.

RooMonster 9:36 AM  

Hey All !
Thought for a nanosecond Rex wouldn't tear apart a Haight puz. Lasted for one (small) sentence. Good times.

Strange how the ole brain processes stuff. I looked at the first three Themers, saw the RB together, said "Hmm", then looked again, saw the ERB together, said, "Ah, more to it", looked at the Revealer, already having in L ___ ERB, said, "Is it LINKING VERB?", then looked one more time, finally seeing the VERB. Silly brain.

VUDU looks like a truncated spelling of VOODOO. Haven't heard of said TV app.

Wasn't a fan of MOVIE AD either, but not paragraph-rant worthy. BLANCH a word haven't seen in forever.

So a good TuesPuz. Rex writes his toughness scale as (for a Tuesday), but calls it a Monday twice in his write-up. I'd really like to cut him a slight bit of slack on his screeds if he thought this a MonPuz, not a TuesPuz. It is a Haight puz, though. YMMV. Har.

Two F's

NYDenizen 9:41 AM  


Wordle 499 3/6*

⬜R🟨A⬜ I ⬜S⬜E
🟩A🟩P🟩T 🟩L🟩Y


egsforbreakfast 9:56 AM  

Writing this before reading Rex, and wondering what he’ll seize on to tear it apart. It is a Bruce Haight, after all.

I’m guessing that he’ll point out that the first three themers lead into the VERB with EVER, IVER and OVER. The 4th also uses OVER. Couldn’t it have been AVER? Clue: Substrate below patio stones. Answer: PAVERBASE.

Strange (but not Dr. Strange) to see DRNO twice in six days. Having just now re-read a synopsis of the Dr. No plot, I wonder how many of you know Dr. No’s first name. Hint: He shares his name with Dagwood’s boss.

An easy puzzle that felt like rolling in a cloVERBed. Thanks, Bruce Haight.

One HAE (Hidden Ass Equivalent): ARSENAL

mathgent 10:10 AM  

Another day where I got nothing from reading Rex. Pure self-indulgent drivel.

Diego 10:19 AM  

Record time for a Tuesday. . . pure chance. VUDU is a regular on my TV app screen plus I get emails from the folks, yuk. Loved seeing ADELE’s name. Rumor Has It,is not one of my favorites of hers, but what a breath oh fresh air she can be, such an authentic personality and irreverent star. I agree that the fill was rather tired but it was a pleasant-enough solve.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

When I saw LINKING VERB and applied it to NEVER BETTER, I thought of a verb that linked NEVER and BETTER that was implied but not stated. NEVER [WAS] BETTER. NEVER [BEEN] BETTER.

But that sure didn't work for RIVER BASIN et al.

Oh, right. I see. VERB is embedded in all the themes. But what's it "linking"? NE-ETTER? RI-ASIN? CO-AND?

Don't think this theme makes a whole lot of sense. Also the puzzle was pretty blah.

Mary McCarty 10:20 AM  

I didn’t get huffy about ECOLAB and VUDU (tho I’d never heard of either) because all the crosses were “gimmes”.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? It’s when the crosses *don’t* help that I hit HIGH DUDGEON (which I’ve been sorta familiar with, it with no idea what it meant…thought it had to do with dungeons!)
And, being a Tuesday puzzle, standards like ALTO, ERIE, OER, ODE, EPIC are to be expected.
Quite a lot of V’s in this puzzle, due to the theme, requiring 5 more answers with V’s…pretty challenging, I think.

Tom T 10:21 AM  

This played easy for me, kinda whooshy in that fun way, and I got the theme gimmick before I reached the revealer. (My thought was "connecting VERB," so I didn't completely nail it, but close enough.)

About halfway through, I thought we were lookin at a large number of C's (5, after BLANCH/CITE went in), but none were added after that.

Liked the fill a lot more than @Rex; thought three of the four corners (NE, SW,SE) had nice vertical stacks, with FACESIT, DIDTIME, & ARSENAL (notice the ARSE) the strongest.

MERL was a WOE, but easy crosses. Good Tuesday with excellent theme device.

GILL I. 10:44 AM  

I might join @Sun Volt in wondering why a perfectly nice word like "trivet" wasn't included in @Rex's "what?" department. Why would you want to put a hot dish on a HOT PAD? Out of the fire and into the frying pan?
I want to congratulate myself for seeing VERB in NE[VER B]ETTER and RI[VER B}ANK. It helped me with CO[VER B]AND. What is that? I suppose I should've consulted with my VUDU doll. Another pin in her eyeball wouldn't hurt.
I thought this was a fine little whimsy of a Tuesday - even though I have no idea what a LINKING VERB would do to me should I ever throw it out into the wind. I can mutilate the English language like no other. I will tell you, though, that OER and ORE are best friends with EERIE ERIE..... Does that count?
I liked the MERL GEESE BIRD joining a GEKKO. The ER NURSE VET would give a HUG to all and share the DOG BED with her BAND of RAGA friends.

JC66 10:50 AM  


Until reading @Tom T"s 10:21 post, I didn't notice FACE SIT.

J.W. 10:51 AM  

Good theme. Not indulgent or ostentatious. Just rock-solid.

I'm not really a stickler for fill quality. As always, the fact that our brains can construct these puzzles with any degree of cohesion at all is a remarkable feat. But I will say that almost every answer under five letters made me go either "oof" or "hm". ERIE/EERIE was pointed out, but EPIC/ERIC is kind of sus too.

Answers like VUDU and ECOLAB don't faze me much. They sort of collect like barnacles on the hull of my brain. Either I know them and don't think much of it, like recognizing VUDU off the V in COVER BAND, or I do a kind of trust fall and let the crosses do the work.

39D might have been better if the clue had just said "Trailer". You might get misdirected into thinking it's about hauling stuff, then it would dawn on you, "OhI, like a movie tr—okay, yeah, cute." Though MOVIE AD is awkward phrasing no matter how you slice it.

I'm sure some are grateful for the simplicity of DOG BED after CAT CONDO a few days ago.

Ellen 10:54 AM  

Liked the ERIC-EPIC cros

Newboy 11:03 AM  

Yep, it’s Tuesday, but at least it’s a clever Bruce Haight Tuesday. Like @Barbara I was distracted by that pumpkin pie sitting on its trivet while I returned the HOT PADs to their hooks. And MOVIE AD having the same space as preview made that the only trap so carefully laid by Mr. Haight that I fell into. Having to rethink that SW quadrant was a delightful diversion for a second cuppa, so that made the grid head & shoulders above most early week fill-in-the-blanks efforts. NEVER BETTER, yeh, I’d say soπŸ‘πŸΌ

Sara 11:07 AM  

Do you mean you liked seeing "I heard" along with "Rumor has it"?? I thought that was cute and wanted more!

lodsf 11:20 AM  

5D alt clue: “Given name of late legendary crossword constructor”.

Tom T 11:23 AM  

I thought COVER BAND was a thoroughly "in the language" thing, something that's been around for many, many moons. So I'm surprised at the number of folks who had not heard the phrase. In more recent years, more and more bands have emerged as "tribute bands," who only sing COVER versions of some famous group (Eagles, Beatles, Queen, Grateful Dead, etc.).

JC66, FACE SIT -- good one!

egsforbreakfast 11:28 AM  

@JC 66. I considered that filthy Face Sit, but decided that, bottom line, .I wasn’t really behind including it in the DAW (Daily Ass Watch)

Whatsername 11:59 AM  

I was late solving this morning because I needed to bake a cake and do a load of laundry. By sheer coincidence, while I had DENIM jeans in the dryer and my cake cooling on HOT PADs, I looked out my kitchen window and OGLED some GEESE flying over. I am not making this up. There is a pond right behind my house and this time the year the migrant game BIRDs are very active. They often swoop in and spend an entire day sunning themselves. Maybe it’s a rest stop on their way to Canada.

The puzzle. Pretty straightforward theme and certainly didn’t meet with much resistance. No complaints but slight eyebrow raised at 38 across. Seems to me that Facebook messages are primarily referred to as PMS/Private Messages since you go there to say something you don’t want others to see on a FB post.

jberg 12:16 PM  

Rex only says it's Monday in the first part of his writeup, later on he calls it Tuesday. Obviously he started to write last night, but midnight chimed before he had finished.

I figured out the theme before I got to the revealer, rare for me, so I feel good about this puzzle. (Full disclosure: when I learned how to diagram sentences in school I thought it was so neat that I used to do it for fun, so LINKING VERBS don't frighten me.) And I didn't mind the fill nearly as much as Rex did -- I actually enjoy seeing crosses like EERIE/ERIE and EPIC/ERIC. As for VUDU, somehow I'm on their email mailing list -- I suppose I must have bought a movie from them long ago -- so I thought of them right away. MERL, though -- I'm a birder, and I still think it's ridiculous. (@lofsd, great idea -- if it had been clued that way Rex would have reversed his opinion.)

What did bother me was infelicitous cluing. I know it's supposed to be an easy puzzle, but telling us what letter ERIE starts with is a little too much. I suppose if you don't know what HOMES is you still have some thinking to do, but you can't do many of these puzzles without learning that.

Then 24A, "Central Brazil, for the Amazon" would be its BASIN. Being a river, RIVER BASIN is the only kind of basin the Amazon has. The clue needs to be more general; e.g., 'milieu for the Amazon, Orinoco, or Missouri.'

I didn't like 47-A either, because the clue is present tense and the answer is past tense. But I think I may be wrong. You can say "I hear" or "I heard" interchangeably--but no! You'd say "I've heard" to get the same meaning.

Growing up, we put our hot dishes on the table with pot holders under them. But now that we are grown and sophisticated, we leave the pot holders in the kitchen, where they will be handy for holding pots, and put trivets on the table. No problem with HOT PADS, though. If you have been following the Pennsylvania Senate campaign, there was some controversy over crudites vs. veggie platter. And my son thinks you are a pretentious snob if you watch a trailer for a film instead of a preview for a movie. I'm more ecumenical.

After writing above, I got curious and decided to search the web for 'merl.' I got a lot of acronyms, suggestions that I really wanted 'merlin,' and two photos of birds, both the European blackbird -- which is a thrush, and is certainly dark. But neither of the European bird books in my possession even lists MERL in the index. Merriam-Webster gives me the definition, but spells the word MERLe. The bird in question is Turdus merula, so I guess that's where merl comes from, it just doesn't seem to be a word actually used by anyone.

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Well, I don't think the fillins were too exotic, since the only (non-themer) debut words in the whole puz were VUDU & DOGBED. If U like real long non-themers, you'd be disappointed, since nuthin is longer than 7. Also, there were more 3-letter weejects than any other single length of word. Sooo … could see why some, like @RP, might find the fillins a wee bit bland.

staff weeject picks: ORE & OER. Woulda been impressive, if the puz also had OAR & ORR in it.

The theme was ok. Probably easier to pull off than one with a SAUSAGELINK revealer would be. Tho themers stuffed with sausage woulda been far more raised-by-wolves entertainin.

Thanx, Mr. Haight dude. And congratz to bein the first constructioneer to apply VUDU to yer puz.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


JD 12:28 PM  

Just north of the South, did my weekly grocery run at WalMart this morning (oy! the prices). Lo and behold there was a Vudu gift card on the gift card rack. Would've struggled with it even if I'd seen it yesterday.

You'll find colorful quilted Hot Pad(s) in a wide variety of sizes and colors on Etsy. Start your Christmas shopping today!* It's gotta be a midwestern thing.

My Aunt Libby sang with the the Sweet Adelines, "ladies barbershop quartet" several eons ago. It's an international organization. She was the complete opposite of my mother's friend Blanch, who smoked cigarettes, and drank beer at summer picnics. From a bottle. It was impressive. Somehow I felt a closer kinship with Blanch even at 6 years old.

Cover Band = Tribute Band.

*Worked my way through college senior year writing radio commercials. Think I just had a flashback there.

A signature Bruce Haight puzzle followed by the anticipated Rex review.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Rex hit this one on the nose.

Joe Dipinto 12:38 PM  

Clue: Figure of speech represented in "I loved, loved, loved this puzzle!"

Actually I didn't literally lovelovelove this puzzle. It was kinda meh. Bruce Haight says at XWord Info that he never heard the word "dudgeon" before the editors put it in the IRE clue. That seems (<<linking verb) strange to me. Guess he literally never played Dudgeons & Station Wagons.

Carola 12:39 PM  

Easy, liked it: a nicely hidden theme (in my case) embedded in solid phrases and some other pleasures, too - the VOLGA getting its RIVER BASIN and a COVER BAND covering LUTES - and it's not every day we see BLANCH. I just didn't notice the fill @Rex found objectionable.

Having learned and taught grammar in a foreign language, I wasn't familiar with the term LINKING VERB, but certainly knew the concept. I tried to convey it to students by likening these verbs to an equals sign. In English it's not necessarily easy to see the difference in structure between, say, "Steffi has a dog" and "Fido is a dog," but in German, for example, you need to differentiate between "Steffi hat einen Hund" (direct object) and "Fido ist ein Hund (linking two "equals"). For many students a tough nut to crack.

@Gary Jugert - LOL and I mean it.

jae 1:06 PM  

Medium. This would have tilted towards easy if I hadn’t held on to beta before DEMO for way too long. Solid and pretty smooth but a tad meh, liked it more than @Rex did.

Me too for ECOLAB as a WOE and trivet before HOT PAD.

Masked and Anonymous 1:20 PM  

Sample themer clues to go with a SAUSAGELINK (11-long) revealer theme:

1. Employment opportunities at the taco wagon? (11)
2. Is carrying our own home-grown virus? (11)
3. Bushy Bahamas sight? (15)
4. Intending to visit brother Jacob in the Bible? (15)

Answer themers for the above clues:



M&A Committee for Funkier Puzthemes

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

I live in St. Paul....Ecolab? Beats me.

okanaganer 1:43 PM  

After getting NEVER BETTER I thought the theme was going to be some oddball ---ER ---ER pattern. So for the Amazon, RIVER ----- just had to be RIVER WATER which is pretty blah. The real theme is much better.

[SB yd pg-3; just couldn't concentrate what with replacing my back door, preparing for Halloween, then handling about 200 trickortreaters. Missed these 3; the first 2 were should'ves but like @Barabara S I have never seen the last one. In fact Google ranks NAPTHA, which was not accepted, about 8 times higher than it.]

pabloinnh 2:04 PM  

@jae-Thought the 756 was on the easy side for a Croce, but it still put up a pretty good fight.

CDilly52 2:19 PM  

@LMS-I don’t know a devoted teacher who doesn’t share your frustration. Thank you and all those teachers out there who do not jump ship. I am but one voice in a large coalition here dedicated to continuing the fight for top quality public education: better teacher pay and benefits, better facilities and on and on and on. Our nation’s children depend on you to be the great equalizers. You open the doors to students whose only option is public school, and you (under dire constraints) muster up the extra energy and creativity and drive to provide your kids opportunities to thrive. As a product of a huge public school system under the first forced bus mandates following Brown v Board of Education, I can say with certainty that I am better for those experiences and remember at least twenty teachers whose passion, creativity, and determination contributed directly to my adult success. Thank you teachers!!

I tend to like puzzles like this, and found the theme clever and confusing. I whizzed through the solve and then spent a good couple minutes trying to figure out what the answers had to do with a verb! Just didn’t see it. At all. Until coVERBand finally jumped out at me. Not a lot of strong fill, but quite an entertaining feat of construction.

old timer 2:40 PM  

I normally scoff at OFL's HAIGHTred, but in this case, the criticisms (and praise) are right on. It would have been nice if the first clue had been _____ I'm Adam. Which has to be the oldest palindrome there is. MERL has no place on a Tuesday (MERLe, however, is always welcome in my songbook). A DEMO us not a trial version, in the only version I ever see (DEMO tape). The Amazon is not in Central Brazil, it's in the north (you can actually travel by water from the Amazon to the Orinoco, via Rio Negro and the Casiquiare).

We eat in the kitchen almost always, and use HOT PADS sometimes to put oven dishes on. But holiday meals, or big meals with grandchildren and their parents, are in the dining room, and there we have trivets. HOT PADS just seem too informal for that room.

I was very grateful Bruce H did not call a MANOR a manse today. A Manse is not a mansion, it is the home of a Scottish minister. MANORS are not really houses either, they are demesnes, but many stately homes are called MANOR, and I spent a couple of semesters at one near Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Joe Dipinto 3:26 PM  

@M&A 1:20 – those are great! You've inspired me to try my hand at some BOBOLINKS.

1. Treat for an endangered ape? (12)

2. Requests for skewered meat? (11)

3. Nerdy reed player? (11)

4. Disillusionment with one's fitness program? (12)

••••••••••answers below•••••••••••


PHV 3:32 PM  

An arsenal is a place where arms are manufactured. Arms are stockpiled in an armory.

Masked and Anonymous 3:35 PM  

@Joe Dipinto: Primo bobos.


Anoa Bob 3:45 PM  

I think the prevailing NYTXW editorial attitude is totally theme oriented. If the puzzle has a theme that passes muster, the fill is pretty much just perfunctory glue to hold it all together. Abbreviations, partials, plurals of convenience, crosswordese, random play acts, popes and Roman numerals, alphabet runs and the like are fine.

@old timer the connection between the Orinoco and the Amazon rivers by way of the Rio Negro and Casiquiare was established by Alexander von Humboldt and his co-explorer AimΓ© Bonpland in 1800. I'm a long time reader of adventure and exploration literature and Humboldt's "Personal Narrative..." of his travels in South America is one of the best ever. Incredible, really.

Newboy 5:12 PM  

@CDilly52 Amen to your @LMS response …. Prompt enough to send me off to YouTube for a rewatch of my favorite slam poem

Anonymous 5:12 PM  

Yes! Being from Toledo, I concur.

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

SO much bad/ugly fill & bad crossings!
Thank you for exposing them.
Badly constructed Tuesday fill.

Aelurus 6:18 PM  

The puzzle took more thinking than usual for a Tuesday, but I liked it more than Rex and others did, especially the clues for SNORED and LATTE (hi, @Wanderlust, @Barbara S).

When I finished, the music failed to play and I figured I had two choices: my faint memory of the, um, “VOLTA” (SCARE quotes!) or the unknown VUDU. Knowing my somewhat rocky geography knowledge, I stared at VOLtA crossing RAtA and finally saw it’s VOLGA/RAGA, and the app agreed. On paper that’d be a DNF, but at least an unknown one! I rather like the silent way of alerting, though, because I get to learn new things, or relearn old things.

Didn’t get back to the blog yesterday but read through most today and appreciated @Whatsername’s and @albatross shell’s mention of the Halloween scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. Had forgotten that; it fit right in, another wink to the theme.

And @Barbara S 9:04 am – It’s nice to have your year-round Great Pumpkin in the blog! And it’s fun to switch mine out every year.

Unknown 8:34 PM  

Rex's implication that the constructor slapped in the themers and then let the computer fill in... whatever, seems sound. With my humble wordlist the grid with themers as published was unfillable. I swapped RIVERBASIN and OVERBUDGET and found endless fills with bonuses like POOLGUY, IVOTENO, ALIBABA, LIVEONE... on and on. Most of the fills were superior (IMHO) to the published puzzle. This took me 5 minutes. It seems clear the constructor did not even try this very, very standard construction step.

Anonymous 11:29 PM  

Filled in the themers with no crosses and then struggled through the fill. Weird experience in that regard.

John Face 11:59 PM  

There’s a pretty sexually explicit term in this puzzle (NE corner). Not intentional, but I noticed it when reading the blog.

kitshef 8:22 AM  

Greatly amused at "big name" clue for ECOLAB. On the other hand, I liked seeing MERL in the grid.

thefogman 10:13 AM  

Nice and neat. Wll done Bruce Haight.

Burma Shave 11:44 AM  


IHEARD she SNORED, SO I let her,
she DIDTIME after TIME like that,
the NURSE said she DIED too FAT.


spacecraft 12:40 PM  

I have to agree with OFF on this one. A serviceable theme buried in...I'll just mention one that he didn't...ERIE crossing EERIE (!).

Yet even in the theme, though VERB is broken across two words every time, it is also broken at the same place: VER B, though I admit it would be hella tough to break it anywhere else. And yo, @LMS, it should've included SILVERBELLS, given the season.

Oh that's right, syndication: this was a month ago. I get so confused. Anyway, double bogey.

Wordle par.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

@PHV - Dictionary: the meaning of ARSENAL is an establishment for the manufacture or storage of arms and military equipment.

I agree armory is likely more precise, but I think we can give arsenal a pass.

Diana, LIW 2:33 PM  

Quite sub-tull!

Didn't even notice that BH was the constructor until I came here. He is either too tough or smooth as ice in my experience.

Hope your Tuesday is as subtle as this theme.

Lady Di

rondo 5:38 PM  

Serviceable Tuesday puz, but the Universal Xword was as good or better.
Wordle par.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP