Sunday, August 30, 2015

NYT 7:49 (Amy) 
LAT 5:54 (Andy) 
Reagle  8/23 “Things Are People, Too” untimed (Amy) 
Hex/Hook untimed (pannonica) 
CS 22:44 (Ade) 

Don’t miss Merl’s last (as I understand it) puzzle, “Things Are People, Too.” We’ll review it Sunday.

Edited to say: Apparently that is the one that ran last Sunday in newspapers. There’s also a puzzle called “Wiseguy Studies” that is running today. Here’s the link to the puzzle at the Washington Post’s Sunday puzzle page, currently hosting “Wiseguy Studies.” We can’t blog two Merls in one day, or their star ratings will be combined.

Lee Taylor’s New York Times crossword, “Conflicting Advice”—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 8 30 15 "Conflicting Advice"

NY Times crossword solution, 8 30 15 “Conflicting Advice”

Fun and breezy theme—familiar adages that give conflicting advice are paired up, one in the clue and its opposite in the answer.

  • 24a. [“He who hesitates is lost, but …”] LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP.
  • 111a. [“You can’t judge a book by its cover, but …”] CLOTHES MAKE THE MAN.
  • 3d. [“Birds of a feather flock together, but …”] OPPOSITES ATTRACT.
  • 6d. [“Great minds think alike, but …”] FOOLS SELDOM DIFFER. Not sure I’ve ever heard the one in the grid.
  • 34d. [“Slow and steady wins the race, but …”] TIME WAITS FOR NO MAN. I’m not troubled by the use of MAN in two sayings.
  • 38d. [“Knowledge is power, but …”], IGNORANCE IS BLISS.

So basically, all such sayings are B.S. and should be taken with a grain of salt.

With just six theme answers, you might expect smoother fill than usual. We do get nice bits like BAGATELLE, HOME FRONT, VOLCANO, and STILETTO, but there’s also some crosswordese (OGEE, AARE, SABOT, ARA, and AMAH, I’m glaring at you). Not a ton of blah stuff, mind you.

Five more things:

  • 84a. [Steer closer to the wind], LUFF. Is this nauticalese/sailing terminology? Have never, to my recollection, seen the word before.
  • 93d. [Comedian Daniel and musician Peter], TOSHES. Plural last name? *scowl*
  • 59d. [Port on the Panama Canal], COLON. Less familiar to non-Panamanians than the large intestine and the punctuation mark. It’s not technically duplicative to have APORT in the grid at 10d, is it?
  • 48d. [Michael Sheen’s character in “Twilight”], ARO. Yes, I know millions of people saw that movie, but I’m not sure there’s a tremendous overlap between Twihards and NYT crossword solvers. Anyone who doesn’t know their crosswordese rivers (AARE!) or this character may wind up with a DNF (“did not finish”) on this one.
  • 51a. [___ Soetoro, stepfather of Barack Obama], LOLO. Lolo is also the Filipino word for “grandpa.” My son has a lolo and lola.

3.66 stars from me. Enjoyed the theme, had markedly less fun with the fill (as is the case with most 21×21 puzzles).

Pam Amick Klawitter’s Los Angeles Times crossword, “Male Bonding”—Andy’s review

LAT Puzzle 8.30.15,  "Male Bonding," by Pam Amick Klawitter

LAT Puzzle 8.30.15,
“Male Bonding,” by Pam Amick Klawitter

I apologize in advance for the rant I’m about to unleash. Let me preface it by saying that I enjoy Pam’s puzzles, and to the extent possible, I’ve tried to prevent this from being ad hominem. This certainly isn’t the first puzzle where I’ve seen the problems I describe below. I’d also like to say that I think this is a fun, clever, well-executed theme, so let’s talk about that first:

In this puzzle, everyday phrases get “MAN” bonded to them, and hilarity ensues. Now, often when I say “hilarity ensues,” you understand that I’m being facetious. Here, I truly enjoyed all of the themers! They were as follows:

  • 27a, QUOTATION MARKSMAN [One whose citations are always on target?]. 
  • 47a, MIDDLE MAN SCHOOL [Where go-betweens learn their craft?]. 
  • 63a, FRIENDLY FIREMAN [Civil civil servant?]. A legitimately funny clue!
  • 74a, LETTERMAN OPENER [Show segment that included shots of New York City?].
  • 94a, MANPOWER FAILURE [Work force breakdown?].
  • 114a, MANHANDLE WITH CARE [Ambiguous packing instructions?].

Only six theme entries, but (a) they’re all long, and (b) they’re all funny. I appreciate when a theme knows its limitations and gets out quickly rather than including one or two misfits while striving for density. Brava.

What really pisses me off, though, is the presence of lazy fill throughout this puzzle. Let me clarify what I mean by “lazy fill.” What I don’t mean is the standard junk that comes with the territory. I always make a note of bad fill, but if the grid necessitates it, I totally understand. I’ve been there. I sometimes have to put entries in my own puzzles that make me wince. I also understand the school of constructing that is willing to throw in a few ugly entries to make room for truly jaw-dropping stuff elsewhere (I’m looking at you Quad-Stackers, Scrabblef****rs, 60-word themeless makers, etc.). It’s not the route I tend to go with my own puzzles (wherever possible), but it’s interesting and cool and fun to solve and God bless.

That’s not what I’m talking about here. The best way I can think to explain it is to give you three concrete examples of lazy construction from this puzzle and explain why I am led to believe that they are the product of laziness.

Figure 1: Changing LEGO to FERN gets rid of the ugly AGENA.

Figure 1: Changing LEGO to FERN gets rid of the ugly AGENA. LAME becomes FAME, and SOAP UP becomes SNAP UP.

Example 1: 72d, AGENA. I don’t know anyone who thinks AGENA is awesome crossword fill. To wit, despite its incredibly crossword-friendly letter pattern, AGENA has only been in the NYT 6 times since 2002, each time in a much more restrictive grid than this one (that is, all of these AGENA appearances were in Thursday, Friday, or Saturday puzzles). The obvious replacement here is ARENA, which I’ve shown how to incorporate at right.

Figure 2: Refilling the SE corner to get rid of ARENA.

Figure 2: Refilling the SE corner to get rid of ARENA.

To be fair, there’s a fairly obvious reason AGENA is used here instead of ARENA: ARENA appears elsewhere in the grid, at 109d. But here’s the thing: the ARENA at 109a is in an extremely unrestricted section of the grid, and ARENA isn’t doing anything for that corner. It’s clear to me that the constructor filled that corner, got to 72d, couldn’t use ARENA again, and decided to use AGENA instead of refilling the SE corner to get rid of the first ARENA.

I refilled the SE corner in under a minute, giving myself the restrictions that (a) the resulting fill had to be cleaner (really, the only way to do that was to make sure I had no plural abbreviations like PSAs), and (b) I had to include either a Q, a Z, or an X. The result is featured at left. It was Not Hard.

Figure 3: Refilling the SW corner to get rid of HOSP.

Figure 3: Refilling the SW corner to get rid of HOSP.

Example 2111d, HOSP. The SW corner of this puzzle is incredibly easy to fill. The only restriction is the terminal -NLY of SOLEMNLY, all of which are lovely ending letters for the across entries. There is no excuse for HOSP. in this corner, which, again, nobody I know thinks is excellent crossword fill. The only two reasons I can think of for including HOSP in this corner are (a) the constructor filled it as quickly as possible, found something that vaguely worked, and decided to say “Good enough” instead of trying to make it better; or–and I sincerely hope this isn’t it–(b) the constructor thought HOSP was legitimately good crossword fill, and that the corner simply could not be improved.

This time, I gave myself a two-minute time limit, and the restrictions that the fill had to include no partials or abbreviations, and that the fill had to include at least two “Scrabbly” letters (F, V, K, J, Q, or Z). I managed to clean it up and put in four Scrabbly letters. The result is pictured at right. It was Not Hard. (If you don’t like FAVE, replace OFF with SET.).

Figure 4: Refilling the NE corner to get rid of ELLAS and ALEE.

Figure 4: Refilling the NE corner to get rid of ELLAS and ALEE.

Example 214a, ELLAS. Again, this would be fine if ELLAS were necessary to make the corner work. But it’s not. Not nearly. What’s worse, it crosses the completely avoidable crosswordese ALEE.

This time, I gave myself a two-minute time limit, and the restriction that I had to have an X somewhere in the corner, no matter how bad it made the fill. The result is pictured at right. It was NOT HARD.

What makes me so, so angry about this is that with just five extra minutes of care, this puzzle could have been so much cleaner. If you are unable to fill little corners like these cleanly, then your puzzle shouldn’t run in a mainstream outlet. End of story. Work on it, and resubmit the puzzle once you’ve mastered it. In the alternative, if the problem is that you’re too lazy to fill little corners like these cleanly, the result is the same: your puzzle shouldn’t run in a mainstream outlet.

Maybe I misunderstand what the job of a crossword editor is, but I don’t understand why puzzles with careless fill like this aren’t sent back to the constructors, or in the alternative why an editor wouldn’t take the time to refill these easily fixable corners themselves before publishing them. Or maybe I misunderstand what “good fill” is, in which case the entirety of this post is rendered null and void, and I’ll see myself out.

That’s all. No rating. See you next week.

Hrendan Hammett Higley’s CRooked crossword, “Tea Party” — pannonica’s write-up

CRooked • 8/30/15 • "Tea Party" • Quigley, hex/hook • solution

CRooked • 8/30/15 • “Tea Party” • Quigley, hex/hook • solution

In which Ts are liberally sprinkled into phrases to create wackified ones.

  • 23a. [Really big place to take college placement exams?] PLANET OF THE AP TEST (Planet of the Apes).
  • 41a. [Fabric in the town’s center?] TEXTILE ON MAIN ST (Exile on Main St).
  • 49a. [Shaped like an iPad?] TABLET-BODIED (able-bodied).
  • 68a. [Rich German cake that’s tough to eat?] IRON TORTE (iron ore).
  • 70a. [Girl who communicates 140 characters at a time?] TWEET LASS (wee lass).
  • 88a. [People who can get clean with just a drop of water?] STUNT BATHERS (sunbathers). My favorite of the news.
  • 96a. [Radical colorful fish?] POSTMODERN TETRA (postmodern era).  I wouldn’t have thought this was a common phrase formulation, but the internet seems to disagree.
  • 115a. [Strict student of the life sciences?] MARTINET BIOLOGIST (marine biologist).

More specifically. What the theme entries do: add precisely two Ts to a single word of the extant phrase. What the theme is agnostic about: whether the original phrase already includes the letter T, rebracketing of constituent words, Ts elsewhere in the grid.

The mood of the crossword is self-consciously hipper than either Hook’s or Hex’s offerings at this venue—or BEQ’s for other mainstream outlets such as the New York Times—but less so than those on his own website. Examples: 17a [“That so?” in IMs] O RLY, 28a [Geek blogger Wheaton] WIL.

    • 8d [Did an extra car wash job] HOT-WAXED, 24d [Guys driving the train] ENGINE MEN … O RLY?
    • 78d [“Mock” architectural style] TUDOR.
    • 16d [Lincoln cap] TOP HAT; the stovepipe hat is a subcategory of TOP HAT. 47a [“I’m not impressed”] MEH.
    • 55d [Grow pale] WAN; did not know it was also a verb.
    • 116d [Ques. opposite] ANS. I’d call it a complement, but either way it’s rather ugly.
    • 21d [Landing pt. in “Genesis”] MT ARARAT crossing 48a [Two by two] IN PAIRS.
    • Dupetastic: 38a [Biological halo] AREOLA and themer 115-across, and—of course—85a [Gunpowder, e.g.] TEA and the puzzle’s title; perhaps the idea was to riff on 75d [Red sticks] TNT?
    • Row 15: 92a [Back end of a cassette] SIDE TWO, 94a [Nanki-__ (“The Mikado” role) POO, 95a [Small morsel] NIBLET. Is this some kind of corny inside joke?
    • Favorite fill? 62a [Process of consuming again, as a cell] REUPTAKE. As in Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). Lamest clue? 119d [Gull’s night out location] SEA.
    • 39a [“Madly  for __” (1952 slogan)] ADLAI Stevenson. Wow, that doesn’t scan well at all. They really used that? Seems better suited to that other crossword-favorite, the UK’s postwar prime minister, Clement ATTLEE. … consults pronunciation guide … oh! it seems I’ve been mispronouncing ADLAI all this time. Wow. Still, not a perfect rhyme (long-a vs long-e; my longstanding mispronunciation was as a long-i). And now I’ve discovered that two musical artists sharing a certain birthday both have songs called “All This Time”.

Decent theme, clean fill overall, solid crossword.

Merl Reagle’s penultimate syndicated crossword, “Things Are People, Too”—Amy’s review

Merl Reagle's crossword solution, "Things Are People, Too" 8 23 15

Merl Reagle’s crossword solution, “Things Are People, Too” 8 23 15

I’m grateful to Sam for taking over the Merl-blogging from me this year —his breed of whimsy is so perfectly suited to writing about Merl’s whimsy.

In the 20×21 “Things Are People, Too,” Merl collects a batch of colorful terms for people that sound more like inanimate objects:

  • 22a. [Work shirker *], GOLDBRICK.
  • 24a. [Non-mixer at a mixer *], WALLFLOWER.
  • 32a. [Timid type *], CREAM PUFF. “Timid” feels a little more wallflowery to me than cream-puffy.
  • 35a. [Newsroom figure *], ANCHOR.
  • 50a. [Doofus *], DUMBBELL.
  • 52a. [Gangly guy *], STRING BEAN. Or a gangly gal.
  • 67a. [Statuesque stunner *], TALL DRINK OF WATER. I have multiple tall drinks of water every day. Keep the kidney flushed and busy!
  • 85a. [Attorney, for one *], MOUTHPIECE.
  • 88a. [Energetic type *], LIVE WIRE. Shocking!
  • 101a. [Vivacious person *], PISTOL.
  • 104a. [Cartoon mother-in-law *], BATTLE-AXE. No idea how this word came to be gendered thus. Dictionary says “formidably aggressive older woman.” Certainly there are also formidably aggressive men. Do they just get called “men”?
  • 115a. [Sissy *], PANTYWAIST. I loathe this term, and sissy too. There’s room for all sorts of men, and all sorts of women, anywhere on the spectrum from mild-mannered to aggressive.
  • 118a. [Unconventional type *], SCREWBALL. Man, I used to love getting a Screwball from the ice cream truck—some sort of gross sherbet with a stale, wet gumball at the bottom.

No wordplay in this theme, just a collection of lively phrases and words with something in common, a category theme. Works for me.

You know what I just noticed for the first time? That 47d: METER MAID is MERMAID with E.T. stuck inside it. I assume this has been used in cryptic crosswords before. I also assume that Merl noticed this decades ago.

Names I didn’t know:

  • 57d. [Original Mouseketeer Burr], LONNIE. More my mother’s generation than mine. Bluesman Lonnie Brooks, I know. I think he played at my college once.
  • 70d. [Comedian who’s the subject of “The Joker Is Wild,” Joe ___], E. LEWIS. Never heard of the comedian, don’t care for middle initials bundled with a first or last name in the grid.

Five more things:

  • 83d. [Sue Ellen Ewing portrayer on “Dallas”], LINDA GRAY. Couldn’t figure out why LINDA EVANS wouldn’t fit. Yes, I got my Dallas and Dynasty Lindas mixed up.
  • 86d. [Rose and rows, e.g.], HOMONYMS. I like clues like this.
  • 75a. [Waterfall jumper], SALMON. My first thought was of people going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Wrong direction!
  • 68d. [Father of Xerxes], DARIUS. A classical clue for DARIUS—the more modern approach would be country star Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish rock fame.
  • 100d. [Cry over spilled milk?], MEOW. I’m assuming it’s a happy “meow” as the cat rushes to lap up the milk on the floor.

Four stars from me.

Doug Peterson’s Sunday Challenge CrosSynergy crossword —Ade’s write-up  

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 08.30.15

CrosSynergy Sunday Challenge crossword solution, 08.30.15

Hello everyone!  How are you all today?

My apologies for being late on here, but a busy sports weekend leading up to the U.S. Open is causing scheduling chaos. So I can’t give today’s puzzle, brought to us by Mr. Doug Peterson, the justice it deserves in terms of breaking it down, which blows since it’s a great puzzle with some great fill.

Being in media communications for over a decade, the clue to FCC was down my alley, as I have remembered that logo for a good while now (5D: [Its seal features an eagle clutching lightning bolts]). Another clue down my alley that helped open things up was PENTATHLON, though I always fall into the bad habit of spelling it, along with biathlon, with an extra “a” before the “lon” at the end (28D: [Contest that involves épées and pistols]). Those three Ls in I’LL LIVE were fun to see, and I know I like to say that a lot anytime I suffer a minor knock (62A: [“It’s only a scratch”]). Time to head to bed, as I’ll be up first thing in the morning to head to the U.S. Open.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: YOKE (7D: [Joining device])– For many years, the Super YOKE was a staple of the World’s Strongest Man competition. The strongmen carry a massive amount of weight supported by a yoke which, usually, is on the backs of the competitors as they walk as far as they can before having to place the weights down on the ground. This looks like a walk in the park, right?!


Thank you so much for your time, and I hope to see you tomorrow!

Take care!


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41 Responses to Sunday, August 30, 2015

  1. Martin says:

    In my word world, I don’t usually consider the word SABOT to be crosswordese.


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      If you ask 100 non-crossworders what that word means, or give them the clue [Clog] and ask for a 5-word answer, I’m fairly confident that no more than one or two people might have a shot at nailing SABOT. Quite possibly zero.

  2. dr. fancypants says:

    I scowled at the MAN dupe in the themers.

    • pannonica says:

      Beyond that, I felt a prevailing sexist vibe. But as Amy didn’t remark on it, perhaps that was just my experience.

  3. Jan says:

    In the LA Times, I wasn’t a fan of funny word plan on Friendly Fire.

  4. Pauer says:

    My local “Twilight” expert says ARO wasn’t in the first film, and a quick glance at IMDB seems to confirm. #teamedward

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hmph! That would seem to constitute a factual error. If Aro is in the first book, well, it wasn’t quite Michael Sheen’s character, as he wasn’t in the movie and actors aren’t in novels.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I enjoyed Pam’s LA Times puzzle for it’s theme. I think few solvers really pick apart a puzzle because of some fill words and crossings. I guess bloggers need to make points, but should be careful when they hurl stones and give lessons in “better” fill because there is a lot of subjectivity here. Consider a 15-worder with ALA,EDO,OBJ,REC,ALT,AJA,ASKA,ULA,IAM. It’s from a recent LAT puzzle by the blogger. Don’t get me wrong – I liked that puzzle a lot too. Bloggers can say what they want about a puzzle, its construction, its theme, its fill. Constructors must have thick skin and take the good with the bad. But they don’t need to take “lessons” in how to fill their puzzle from other constructors, only from their respective editors. They (the editors) have the final say, and they are paying the bills.

    • placematfan says:

      I thought Andy’s rant was thoughtful and relevant.

    • Papa John says:

      I’m with you.

      Furthermore, I don’t’ think I’ve ever met a puzzle that “really pisses me off”. Mother-in-laws, traffic tickets or our psycho neighbor, maybe. Crossword puzzles? No.

      How is “lazy fill” not ad hominem? The fill, itself, cannot be lazy, so it must mean the constructor/editor, no? As Andy goes on to say;

      “The best way I can think to explain it is to give you three concrete examples of lazy construction from this puzzle and explain why I am led to believe that they are the product of laziness.”

      According to this, “lazy construction” must come from lazy constructors.

      You’re also right about this not being the place to be schooling other constructors. I should think there’s a code among constructors that would advise against such public displays of one-upmanship.

    • Jim Firenze says:

      When he calms down, hopefully his arrogance embarrasses the hell out of him.

      A more cringeworthy post here I’ve never seen.

      If you truly think you’re better than someone else and want to be instructive, there are ways to go about it. This wasn’t one of them.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        Crossword blog posts can also serve as tutorials for the broader community of constructors. Andy’s construction skills are superb, and less experienced constructors would do well to absorb the examples here. Sure, many solvers don’t care if a puzzle has ELLAS crossing ALEE, but a crossword is more admirable and more elegant with fewer plural names, crosswordese answers, and abbreviations. It’s not bad to strive for elegance and always push to make a grid a little better. You know how we rave about Patrick Berry’s smooth grids? Patrick has incredibly high standards for fill, and I don’t know anyone who dislikes the results. Not everybody objects to crosswordese, but nobody takes issue with smooth fill.

        As for the AGENA/ARENA thing: In my editorial work with Trip Payne for Daily Celebrity Crossword, we often smooth out one section and introduce a duplicate word that’s already in the grid—but edit the dupe out of the other place when it’s easier (as it often is) to wrangle that section of the grid.

        • Jim Firenze says:

          Hey, there you go. Maybe Andy should have said “less experienced” instead of “lazy” and “careless”. Did you catch how you toned it down, or were you being lazy in your response?

          ANY puzzle can be ripped apart on any given day, if you really feel like it, as evidenced by Rex Parker. Even Andy’s.

      • janie says:

        but some solvers *are* constructors. even perpetual tyro constructors, like myself. when i can learn something about constructing here, i’m a happy camper.

        it’s all so subjective the way we read a blog post. i thought andy was constructive throughout. i heard no arrogance, no one-upsmanship in his words nor did i see anything cringeworthy in ’em. his delight in the theme was palpable (to me) and the tone of the critique just right.

        strictly fwiw!


        • Jeffrey K says:

          FWIW, I had the exact opposite sense, janie.

          • janie says:

            as i’m sure you know, that’s what i mean about the subjective part of reading and grokking the writer’s tone.


        • Jamie says:

          “[T]he rant I’m about to unleash”
          “What really pisses me off, though,”
          “What makes me so, so angry about this is that…”

          I (subjectively, of course) find the tone offensive, not constructive.

    • Avg Solvr says:

      The expert’s perspective is different. I don’t think most solvers are concerned about, or even often aware of, many of their criticisms.

  6. Norm says:

    Merl’s “Things Are People Too” is up as an 8/23 puzzle (although I don’t think it appeared until a few days later). There’s an untitled one today, which the SF Chronicle has in print as “Wiseguy Studies” and the paper’s obituary last week said IT was his final puzzle.

  7. Norm says:

    re the NY Times, LUFF is a real thing — and an important one. Among other things, it’s a way of heading into the wind and bringing the boat to a halt to rescue who went overboard. I think I’ve got that right. Haven’t been sailing in years, but luffing and let your sails luff are things that come to mind.

  8. Mark says:

    In checking for my mistake on-line, I noticed that 14, 15 across are Ivana Ump. Cool.

    • Jamie says:

      Ivana upvote you for that comment. Although I think you should know that online is not hyphenated anymore.

  9. Papa John says:

    Amy, I’d like to know your rationale for scowling at plural names. They certainly are viable words in common usage, as in, “The Smiths are coming to dinner next Saturday.”

    Luff is great word, no? from Urban Dictionary:

    ‘The way idiots talk to try and sound cute to their friends but really everyone is laughing at them unless they are 9 years old.

    “To love in such a way that it’s not considered to “be in love”, but to be connected enough to a person to share conversation about anything with. Greater than a best friend, but also lesser than a lover.”

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      “The Ellas are coming to dinner” is far less natural, no? Plural names aren’t verboten, they’re just awkward and often feel contrived.

      • Papa John says:

        Do you mean “Ellas” as a first name plural? If so, I can naturally say, “I had two Ellas in my thrid period class.” If you mean it as a last name plural, it seems fine to me. Once again, you seem to be tapping some nuance that escapes me. (Is there such a thing as a nit nitpick?) I’m not bothered by plurals. In fact, sometimes they can add extra (and often devious) degree of difficulty to a fill.

        • Sarah says:

          Unfortunately, “Two girls in my third period class” would not be an acceptable clue.

          Plural name clues tend to be clunky, especially for an unusual first name like ELLA (Fitzgerald is the only Ella that comes to mind).

          • Bencoe says:

            But there is no connection between Daniel Tosh and Peter tosh beyond their last name. They would never naturally occur in a sentence together.

  10. gail labman says:

    Just finished Merl’s last crossword puzzle in the Washington Post, ‘Wiseguy Studies’!
    Enjoyable & challenging! I’m a visual person, have the puzzle in front of me, my husband just listens to the word & letters I need. We work together in our different ways to solve the challenge of the day! We’ll miss humorous Merl! Also, thanks to Crossword Fiend Ade !

  11. Christopher Smith says:

    NYT: Have to agree with Amy on the forced plural of TOSHES. Seems OK if it actually is a couple or family, but not a disparate coupling like this. Although it came as a surprise to note the surname shared by a frat comedian & the great reggae musician (sadly gunned down in his Kingston home 30 years ago).

    Speaking of plurals, kudos to this puzzle for maintaining Latinate consistency (NOVAE, AURORAE). Mixing plural styles to suit the fill is a pet peeve. Really enjoyable puzzle.

  12. Karen says:

    Amy, I hope you plan to review Merl’s “Wiseguys Studies” puzzle!

  13. Norm says:

    Dear Andy,

    Maybe if you’d paid more attention to your OWN work, you would have had examples 1, 2, and 3 rather than 1, 2, and 2. Just takes a little bit of attention to detail, right?

    Your solution for the AGENA corner is fine — IF one accepts your objection to AGENA, which I do not. So … crosswordese is bad because it’s trite and used too much, and AGENA is bad because it’s seldom used? So … it has to be more than 10 uses and less than a 1000 or what? That just seemed stupid to me.

    Your solution for the ELLAS section (example 2 [sic: 3] was fine, although I really doubt you would have bothered to chew out the constructor’s ass for that one if you hadn’t gone off half-cocked on the others.

    And, then you want to trade a perfectly inoffensive HOSP down in the corner for KVELL? Give me a break.

    • Sarah says:

      AGENA isn’t bad because it’s trite or used too much….it’s bad because it’s obscure garbage. I don’t care about it, and the rest of the world doesn’t either.

      The KVELL fill seemed poor to me. I managed to find dozens of other options for that section that I felt were superior.

      • Norm says:

        I’ll have to disagree. AGENA was a major part of NASA’s moon project. It is no more obscure than Gemini or Apollo or Neil Armstrong or any other references to major events of the 60s.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          No way! I just asked a smart, educated 49-year-old who’s been to Cape Canaveral if he knew the Gemini program. “The space program?” he asked. Yes. And Apollo? “Yes.” How about Neil Armstrong? “Yes.” And the AGENA rocket? … Blank stare. A-G-E-N-A? “Never heard of it.” Your own personal familiarity with the name or word (I’m not even clear on which it is) is far from the norm, Norm.

  14. Tammyb says:

    I’m a paper & pencil person…and probably on a vastly outmoded desktop iMac. does anyone know if Merl’s final puzzle “Wiseguys” is or will be available in a PDF? I just tried accessing the link provided, and I wound up at the Washington Post puzzle page, looking at a blank box.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Do I need an “app” or something? Thanks!

  15. Karen says:

    Trivia: The word sabotage comes from people throwing their sabots into machinery to sabotage the industrial revolution.

    A sabot is also a small boat which kind of looks like a clog.

  16. Joan Macon says:

    Amy, thank you for blogging Merl’s “Things are People too” this week and promising to do “Wiseguy Studies” next week. My computer won’t open the link you posted. I’m so glad you are feeling better and back among us!

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