TUESDAY, Oct. 30, 2007 - Gary Steinmehl

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Scary sounds - familiar phrases have their final words "misspelled" as sounds one might hear in a haunted house

Well, it was scary alright.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: Scary sound from the ocean? (humpback wail)
  • 28A: Scary sound from a war zone? (battle creak)
  • 37A: Scary sound from a cornfield? (farm groan)
  • 50A: Scary sound from a steeple? (bell and howl)
  • 57A: Misspells, say, as a ghost might at 20-, 28-, 37- and 50-Across? (makes a boo boo)

I haven't disliked a Tuesday puzzle this much since the great PFUI debacle of early 2007 (see sidebar). We will name this one "The Great ARDEB debacle" and then we will never speak of it again after today. Actually, ARDEB was only the tip of the debacle iceberg.

Top 5 reasons this puzzle was terrible

5. It's a Halloween-themed puzzle. Today's date: October 30.

4. The worst set of paired answers in recent memory:

27D: _____ Irvin, classic artist for The New Yorker (Rea)
38D: Name that's an anagram of 27-Down (Rae)

First off, even though I'm almost certain he (he?) has been in the puzzle before, REA Irvin means Nothing to me. Second of all, you couldn't even bother to write a clue for RAE? Your clue is like parenthetical information in search of an actual clue. RAE is not nearly strong enough a name to be clued simply as "Name." Not by a long shot. Now, I pieced these together reasonably easily, but with absolutely no pleasure. I could handle the REA clue, but to have to be forced to return to it by the second abominable non-clue. No, that's just too much to ask of me on a Tuesday.

3. Gobs of terrible clues:

  • 11D: Helpless? (unaided) - if you're going to use the Question Mark, make the clue truly Question Marky. I understand that these are not normally considered synonyms, but one literally means "without help" ... and so does the other one.
  • 59D: Styptic agent (alum) - look, you can have "styptic" or you can have "ALUM" - pick one. I am only vaguely certain of the definition of either one. I'm looking them up now ... OK, I was right about "Styptic," but I thought ALUM was a lily, which it is not - that's ARUM (thanks for the help there, Orange). Ugh. ALUM = college grad. Try that one next Tuesday.
  • 36A: Theory's start (idea) - I HATE (62A: Abominate) this clue most of all. First, I wanted a prefix. That's what "start" often means in clues. Second ... IDEA? IDEA!? In that any thought one has is an IDEA, then sure. In that Anything One Does starts with an IDEA (besides, perhaps, fighting or flighting), then yeah, great, IDEA. How about [Brooklyn Bridge's start]. I'm sure IDEA is an accurate enough answer. This answer is hereby formally invited to go to hell.
2. One of the worst stretches for a Theme Answer I've ever seen:

50A: Scary sound from a steeple? (Bell and howl) - This was the site of my total wipeout, for a number of reasons (see especially #1, below). BELL AND HOWL = Scary SOUNDS, PLURAL. That is just ... fact. Indisputable. I sat there forEver trying to figure out what word HOWL could be a pun of. Over and over and over. Me, to myself: "It wouldn't be the proper noun "HOWELL," would it? But all the other puns are puns on actual words. Further, what is "Bell and Howell" anyway? Are they anything like Belle and Sebastian?" Etc. Actually had to look up "Bell and Howell" when all was said and done to find out that they are some company - founded in 1907 as a motion picture camera company. I have literally Never Heard Of Them. My bad, I guess, but my strident criticism of this so-called "Theme" answer stands.

1. Absurd Crutchword 5000

40D: Egyptian dry measure equal to about five-and-a-half bushels (ardeb) - more post-puzzle Googling. 32K hits total, the first handful of them dictionary sites. I haven't seen such a blatant non-word ... well, in a long time. I'd gripe about this on a Saturday (though I might grudgingly accept it as valid). On a Tuesday. No. Bite me. It's an anagram of BEARD. That's about the nicest thing I can say about it. Speaking of BEARD, I have to shave mine today - it's a World Series BEARD, and I no longer need it.

Other stuff, mostly bad:

  • 10A: TV horse introduced in 1955 ... or a Plymouth model introduced in 1956 (Fury) - I really should read the clues all the way to the end. I entered MR. ED without blinking.
  • 17A: Drug-yielding plant (coca) - don't most drugs come from plants? Spice the clue up.
  • 34A: Kodiak native (Aleut) - officially banned from the puzzle until 2008. Twice in one week = too much face time for you.
  • 53A: Tedious (prosy) - you're with ALEUT, PROSY. Twice in one year is too much for you.
  • 3D: Cane cutter (machete) - yay, a good (and scary) answer
  • 29D: Cowlick, e.g. (tuft) - I guess. In honor of Tintin, I'll let this pass.
  • 52A: Musically improvise (noodle) - had TOODLE, a misspelling of TOOTLE. That didn't help me with the whole "BELL AND HOWL" situation one bit.

Signed, R. Deb., Evil Halloween Eve Crossword Sprite

74 comments:

cparkhurst 9:53 AM  

I agree with all your comments, but you forgot "YAP". Didn't like that one at all.

Marcie 10:03 AM  

I'm in on this one. Ardeb feels like a leftover, which googling shows "aha it is a real word so we can keep it" (I know nothing of puzzle construction but... ARDEB???)

At least we didn't have perennial Stephen for the Rea clue...

I did once use a Bell and Howell movie camera but it just felt incongruous with the other theme answers... I'm not sure why.

I don't care how many times it is clued that way, prosy will not mean tedious to me. I balked at it until the final letter had to be dropped in. That's my stand and I'm stickin' to it.

Joe S 10:12 AM  

I agree with cparkhurst. Yap is crummy. Maw or even yaw seem better suited to a big fat mouth.

Orange 10:28 AM  

I wouldn't say that anyone has a yap, but "Shut your yap!" flows well enough.

Beata 10:39 AM  

Can someone explain 50D ? "tournament pass" = BYE ?

baby 10:43 AM  

beata-it's when a high ranked team doesnt have to play in the first round of a bracket style tournament. they have a "bye"

bradle 10:46 AM  

beata - in certain tournaments (first round of the NFL playoffs, say), the top teams do not have to play a game, they automatically advance. you would say they have a "bye" in the first round...

This puzzle may have been the worst one I have ever solved. Bell and Howl? sucks and sucks.

Mary 10:52 AM  

ditto ARDEB.

I thought the rest of it was pretty amusing but I like groaners. Which shoe maker had an elf assistant?

Penny 10:58 AM  

Yes. Yes. It's true. BELLANDHOWL truly sucks. And I am not one to say that anything sucks because somehow the word sucks just sounds worse than any of the other totally offensive words that I am proud to call my own. Sucks. Yes it does. It is probably the AND which makes the answer totally meaningless. And what's a camera doing in there anyway?

As for the crossing with the Egyptian whatever. What day is it, anyway?

Really too bad. There would have been a lot to enjoy in this baby and I was having quite a good time until I got you know where.

Gonna shut my (perfectly good word) yap now.

marcie 11:10 AM  

Mary... uh... the (unnamed) Shoemaker had the elves for assistants. From the Grimm fairy tale "The Shoemaker and the Elves" or "The Elves and the Shoemaker". I don't know that we ever learned his name.

I don't know how to do links here, but a c/p of the url should work

http://www.authorama.com/grimms-fairy-tales-39.html

Robert 11:19 AM  

Mary,

Kenneth Cole uses all-elf labor to make his shoes - it is quite controversial.

Just kidding - there is a children's story involving a poor shoemaker, and every night elves come and make wonderful shoes for him, giving him the reputation as the world's greatest shoemaker - http://www.juntosociety.com/christmas/elvesshoemaker.htm

profphil 11:20 AM  

Rex,

Just when I was feeling like a failure at crosswords, you saved me with your blog --thanks. It was the first Tues. in decades that I did not finish it: I had BELLADEHOWL instead of BELL AND HOWL. Per your critique, the clue had sound and not sounds, so it therefore could not be Bell and Howl. I had the Bell and the Howl but was trying to turn Bell into Belfry or beller but nothing worked. Crossing that with Ardeb made me Howl, what the Bell!Also was not thinking of a company name nor am I sure that I know the company Bell and Howell. Although, it doesn't sound as foreign as ardeb though. I will ask my Egyptian friend what she thinks of ardeb.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

To Mike S: Obviously, since you never heard of B&H, you are too young to remember home movie projectors. Even if you are old enough (like myself), it's tough to get the pun unless you say it aloud so you can actually hear the pun. It's all a matter of taste: when I heard the pun, I had to laugh. It might be an OUCH but I think it is kind of funny. To each his (her) own.

Emily Gordon 11:31 AM  

You may not have heard of Rea Irvin (pronounced "Ray"), but you'd recognize his work. He was responsible for creating the look of The New Yorker as we know it, and also for inventing the tongue-in-cheek dandy Eustace Tilley. Definitely someone worth knowing about!

Steve 11:31 AM  

Ardeb aside, and I didn't mind it in the least, one of the easier Tuesday puzzles that I can remember in a while. I don't keep times, but I breezed through it with hardly an erasure. No, I don't use pens. Loved all the puns!

Le Master 11:35 AM  

I couldn't get the cross at 14A and 2D for the life of me because I was reading "Partiality" as Partially.

I stared at B_AS for about five minutes before it struck me.

Yeah, what the hell was up with RAE? What a poor excuse for a clue. How about changing the A to a U or an O and have RUE or ROE? That would leave 44A with UAA or OAA and a multitude of clue possibilities.

dk 11:50 AM  

Under 9 minutes and no boo boos.

I wanted Mr. Ed as well but remember I made a model of a Plymouth Fury.

I only got Ardeb the hard way.

JJJ 11:56 AM  

Loved it, loved it, loved it. I'm a novice solver and I had sooo much fun working through this one. Best solving experience in the six months I've been doing them.

I liked the puns - liked how it made the back half of each theme answer a gimme but made me work for the front half. Bell and Howl wasn't consistent with the others, but the phrase was familiar enough to me that I knew it was right once I got enough crosses.

Got stuck in the deep south at the eland/alum cross, but styptic sounds like a chemestry word so I thought alum was a good guess. I was delighted when it turned out to be right.

Finished up in "maine". Once I dumped Mr.Ed and went back to blanks there, unaided came to me. My cousin Vinny deposited Plymouth Fury in my brain years ago for just this occasion. I had MAW for a bit but much preferred YAP. Anyone who likes maw does too many crosswords and goes to too few happy hours, and should probably shut their yap.

My favorite part of the experience was clicking on my Rex link with my fingers crossed saying "please say challenging, please say challenging" and then getting my wish. Like Will says - the universe of solvers is diverse. Love you guys.

JJJ 11:57 AM  

one last thing - my daughter's name is Rachael (Rae for short), so that one made me smile too.

Orange 11:57 AM  

Actually, le master, on a Tuesday, ["Norma ___"] would work fine for RAE, and UAA or OAA are nowhere near as familiar as AAA, so solvers would howl over either of those. And bell. They'd bell and howl.

penny 12:00 PM  

Mea culpa, Rex. I arrived here in full howl and areel as well and skimmed your excellent elucidation of everything that was wrong about 50A. I experienced the same stuff but still feeling slightly sucker- punched I failed to absorb what you were saying. It was profphil's comment that sent me back to carefully read what you had said. And you said it all. Nail on head. Perfect.

Thanks.

Eric 12:12 PM  

Well... I kinda liked it. Farm Groan, Humpback Wail... c'mon that's good stuff. I can let Bell and Howl go because they are still in business making (very cheap) digital cameras.

Speaking of which, nice shout-out to Belle and Sebastian, Rex. And they always remind me of the song Telephone by the Stratford 4. If you haven't heard it, give it a listen. It's the best song about a son calling a mom ever.

Kumar 12:18 PM  

I am surely out of the mainstream here. Found this easy and solved it in my usual time for a Tuesday, about six minutes.

What was so hard about styptic and alum? A styptic helps staunch bleeding; my father used a styptic stick when he cut himself shaving. Alum has been used as a styptic agent for ages.

Agree on the obscurity of Prosy and Ardeb, and did not know the reason why Bye fit. Got those the hard way.

Bell And Howell? One of the most popular brands of movie cameras for those old enough to remember what those were. Had an 8mm camera once.

Would have thought everyone knew Rea Irvin of The New Yorker.

rafaelthatmf 1:23 PM  

Love the blather but disagree with the challenging rating. Maybe ardeb desrves the wrath but styptic/alum has to have appeared in this puzzle dozens of times. I would grumble more about gentlemen/hes than big fat mouth/yap.
Anyway glad to have found kindred souls as my family thinks me nuts for complaints akin to Rex's.

barrywep 1:49 PM  

At the Westchester tournament lasr Friday explained that he had already accepted a Halloween themed puzzle for athis year when he received this entry, so he ran it on Tuesday. It was obviously written with Wednesday in mind. It was definitely hard for a Tuesday. Most solvers at the tournament found it harder than tomorrow's puzzle.

Annielee 1:50 PM  

I'm with Kumar on this one, thought it was easy, and zipped through quickly. Didn't know ARDEB and had never heard of REA Irvin. Other than that, I hesitated briefly over BELL AND HOWL. Yes, it's a bit lame, but it made me smile.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Completely agree with the evaluation. For Bell and Howl I had "Bella _ _ Howl" and I couldn't get past the mispelling/pun of Bela (Lugosi) and wondering when he might have howled. Great film, great name, great tie-in with the non-holiday of Oct. 30, but still a terrible terrible answer. Ardeb did not help.

Orange 2:04 PM  

Rafael, according to the Cruciverb.com database, ALUM hadn't been clued as the astringent in the NYT crossword since 2001—about 25 times, the word appeared with a graduate-related clue. In the late '90s, though, the split was about 50/50, so perhaps Will Shortz and his constructors decided that the styptic sense was passé.

With a subscriber base of about 1 million in a country of 300 million, I suspect Rea Irvin's fame is teeny. The magazine's signature display font is named Irvin after its creator, though. I love that font!

Fergus 2:24 PM  

RafaelthatMF (for today), I got another good chuckle from that reference to the out-takes from Peter Sellers' performance in "Being There." In fact, I let out a BELLFRY HOWL upon remembering that scene. As others have indicated BELL & doesn't fit in with the other Scary sounds. Doesn't even make sense. Which is why BELLFRY at least could have gone somewhere (batty as it turned out). Still have my first camera (from 1969), a B&H instamatic!

With you Rex, on your firm vigilance concerning the when a question mark is appropriate at the end of a clue. And to further your thoughts on the generation of a Theory, I would say that any Theory worthy of its definition requires some EVIDENCE to begin with. IDEAs can arise after the pattern of evidence arises, but if you start a Theory with a mere IDEA, you are probably a Crackpot, espousing a similarly labeled notion.

PuzzleGirl 2:27 PM  

Liked the theme. Hated the BELL AND HOWELL / ARDEB cross. Not fair! Agree 39D could/should have been Charlotte Rae, John Rae, or Norma Rae instead of that lame excuse for a clue. For some reason I loved 46D, PO BOXES. Maybe because I got it right away. I was reviewing some puzzles from earlier this year (don't ask -- suffice it to say I would have no trouble qualifying for the Dorkfest) and came across a clue involving the French word JUILLET. Had to look it up and finally figured out it means July, so I was happy to be able to use that knowledge on this puzzle.

orange: Yes! That font rocks! (I love fonts....)

Fergus 2:31 PM  

It must be clear by now that Will Shorz has some fixation on Moo Goo Gai Pan. Is it the dish itself, or merely the delicious, euphonious simplicity in the sound of the words? Maybe it's time to find something else to stir up in that WOK?

Rikki 2:47 PM  

I always look forward to reading Rex's comments and have learned so much about puzzle construction... the good, the bad, and the ugly. Though I heartily agree on prosy and the ? on helpless, I was surprised today that you so vehemently abominated this one. With a bit of a twitch here and there, it all came to me. I'm sure having seniority helped me to know Fury and Bell and Howl and what a styptic pencil is. Sera is usually boring, but it helped me with alum and eland and being a jazz pianist (of a sort) atonal and noodle came easily and I liked them together. Also liked earmark and croatia, ripple and arabic, unaided and replete, and had no problem with yap, which might also harken to an earlier time. I distinctly remember being told to shut mine. So, the theme was a bit cutesy and bell and howl was a stretch, but it is Tuesday and All Hallows Eve Eve. As to ardeb, it was the only stinker and to me the rest was a camel load (see Orange's blog) of fun!

Hank Heijink 2:49 PM  

Sorry you didn't like the puzzle, Rex! I had fun with it, although I'm with you on ARDEB and on BELL AND HOWL. Took me forever, if only because after I got BELL I couldn't rid myself of Vertigo associations with someone being thrown off a Bell Tower by a BELL THROWER (not that that makes any sense or fits with anything).

I'm always confused by ELAND. In Dutch, it means Elk. Not African. Oh - my dictionary says it comes from the Dutch word for Elk. Hm. Guess we got confused when we got to Africa.

Jonny 2:58 PM  

Funniest comments ever. Keep it up Rex. Loved the insertion of Belle and Sebastian. And the part where you rant...well pretty much that's happening throughout the whole post.

And Kumar at 12:18, why would 'everyone' know some arstist for the New Yorker. The New Yorker is an esoteric magazine as it is. Their employees are even more foreign to the non-socialite.

Jim on the left coast 3:30 PM  

Great blog today, but a bit unfair. Bell and howl would have been a good answer for "scary sounds from a home movie theater". I have never heard of "ardeb", but it fell cleanly out of the crosses. Other than 50A, it was a great puzzle.

rick 3:35 PM  

Blew through this one pretty easily. Didn't even notice ARDEB until until I read Orange's blog this morning and went back and checked. I got it from crosses and never read the clue.

Only slight stumble was an "S" to end 58D (looking for a plural) and had SMB to state 71A. Then I remembered SERA is standard crosswordese for "Hospital supplies".

I stopped doing the Mon - Wed puzzles and started up again after I found this blog. I now remember why I quit doing them. It's not the ease but the crosswordese.

In today's puzzle alone we had:

ACME
BIAS
IRATE
ONEA
AVE
ALI
ETE
ERG
SECT
SLY
OAR
SERA
ALUM
AXLE

ATONAL and ALUET are getting there.

I have my fingers crossed. There hasn't been an ALEC since my last rant.

Jim on the left coast,

Loved your clue for "Bell and howl"

EricG 3:43 PM  

Atta boy Rex, I was expecting some fire and you didn't let me down! I almost reached for the Ardbeg, but nine am was a little early...........

David 4:08 PM  

Gotta go with Rex, and say you folk saying "Ahhh...bell and howl is OK" are cutting the constructor way too much slack. Regardless of whether a pun on 'Bell and Howell" is a reasonable clue for a Tuesday, as written it makes absolutely no sense. BELL HOWL would fit the clue. Making the clue plural wouldn't even do it, since last I checked BELL is not a sound!

David 4:10 PM  

PS. And was so disappointed because the 1st two I got, HUMPBACK WAIL and FARM GROAN were great theme answers!

jilmac 4:26 PM  

Found this puzzle as easy as Tuesday's usually are. Didn't have to Google anything and finished it quickly. Didn't paricularly care for it, though. Although I am certainly old enough to remember Bell and Howell, it was such a clumsy fit into the theme that it took me a while to get it. What is AFL-CIO by the way - never heard of it.

jae 4:30 PM  

Didn't like the puzzle. Rex already explained why.

rick 4:34 PM  

American Federation of Labor - Congress of Industrail Organisations.

Two labor organisations that merged

Anonymous 4:41 PM  

Bell and Howell made the filmstrip projectors that all of us clamored to operate in grade school. Funny the things you remember from your childhood.

green mantis 5:08 PM  

The only thing that gave me pleasure during this puzzle was my anticipation of Rex's disgust. I hated, hated, a million times hated this puzzle. I was actually yelling at it.

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

Stags and other animals bell when they make noise. I guess it sounds bell-like, I've never heard it. Merriam Webster defines it as "to make a resonant or baying sound."

Annielee 5:22 PM  

"since last I checked BELL is not a sound"

It can be, and is by definition.

Bell = the stroke or sound of such an instrument

On navy ships the time is told in bells.
Bell = each individual ring of the bell counted with others to reckon time

penny 5:44 PM  

Also agree with Rex about the Noodle crossing. I think what really hurt the puzzle today was the cluing. Bell and Howl was the weakest and most far-fetched entry in a pretty good puzzle otherwise and then to use a musical clue for noodle AND have that Eqyptian thingy hanging around AND a singular clue for a plural entry was simply too much. The unkindest cut was the fact that you actually had to stumble on Bell and Howl because if you were thinking about it, entering AND did not seem like a reasonable choice at all. I could accepted that bell was a sound but rejected the AND because the clue was singular. But you know that.

NJPhil 5:53 PM  

As a mail 18-25 in 1970, 1-A was anything but a prime draft status.
I got stuck on what 13D, what is YHP got to do with a big fat mouth?

Dean 5:54 PM  

The Alutiiq are natives of Kodiak not the Aleuts. The Aleuts are from the Aleutian Islands further west. Need to email the Times about this. Someone should be checking for errors of fact. Arrgh.

the big fat mouth 6:01 PM  

YAP

Fact Checker 6:05 PM  

Dean

Another view of Kodiak Aleuts.

Anonymous 6:29 PM  

Agreed that the main problem with BELL AND HOWL was the clue (and think that Jim on the left coast's clue was much better/more fair). I've never heard of Bell and Howl, but I think it's the steeple part that was really misleading. Because humpback whales live in the ocean, things in cornfields are farm grown, and there was once a war zone (or a skirmish) at Battle Creek. Bell and Howell has NOTHING to do with steeples. Sure, bells do, but we're looking at the entire phrase.

rick 6:39 PM  

It just didn't seem that bad. The only thing that might have made it better is if it said "Scary sounds..." in the plural.

They may PMO but the curve balls are what make the NYTP fun.

penny 6:44 PM  

It's Tuesday. Slow accurate curve balls on tuesday, if you please.

nitpicker 6:50 PM  

I was ok with this puzzle because I expect a scarier puzzle tomorrow - the real Halloween monster! I think this was a set-up .... we shall see.

nitpicker

Orange 6:57 PM  

Nitpicker, the Mon-Thurs puzzles for this week were used at the Pleasantville crossword tournament last weekend. Folks there thought the Wednesday puzzle was easier than the Tuesday, so you may need to scare yourself tomorrow.

mac 7:09 PM  

Agree with Rex about the weaknesses of this puzzle, but didn't find it difficult. How about two boot parts in one puzzle??
Mijnheer Heijink, it's always risky to compare Dutch and Afrikaans, they went their separate ways many years ago.....

rick 7:31 PM  

Orange,

Were the Pleasantville XW in color?

olde school 7:43 PM  

One man's ceiling is another man's floor. I thought there were some terrible weaknesses (ARDEB especially insane), but got Bell and Howl instantly and got a chuckle out of it, too. I think if you're from Chicago, this company would be very well-known, having been founded here and famous for being led by former senator Charles Percy, who became CEO before he was 30.

Aaron 7:48 PM  

I also did not like this puzzle. The theme was not great. I want something cleverer than a bunch of puns. I feel like the recent NYT puzzles (past few months or so) have really been going downhill. I do the one in my school paper (which I think is the same as the one in the LA Times) and I generally like the NYT one better, but at this rate it won't last.

PuzzleGirl 8:28 PM  

I don't think BELL has to be a sound to fit in this theme. HUMPBACK is not a sound. I mean, there are plenty of things wrong with this clue/answer, but the fact that BELL is not a sound is not one of them.

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

And don't forget Chuck Percy became the Republican Senator from Illinois --- I think he defeated Paul Douglas. And on a darker note, one of his twin daughters was murdered. Don't think they found the killer.

mydogischelsea 9:11 PM  

Amen, Rex! This puzzle was ridiculous.

Anonymous 9:38 PM  

Orange

"Nitpicker, the Mon-Thurs puzzles for this week were used at the Pleasantville crossword tournament last weekend. Folks there thought the Wednesday puzzle was easier than the Tuesday, so you may need to scare yourself tomorrow."

If you already did the puzzle last week why did you do it this week on the NYT Aplet for time?

Curious

Michael 10:38 PM  

I thought the puzzle was hard for a Tuesday and was pleased to see that in some sense it is really a Wednesday puzzle.

I don't share the vehement dislike of others for this puzzle and enjoyed some of the puns. But like many others, even after getting Bell and Howl (and knowing about Bell and Howell), I just stared at ardeb and wondered if that could possibly be a Tuesday answer.

Orange 10:52 PM  

"Curious," I didn't attend the Pleasantville tournament, nor have I done the puzzles before. I merely read about it on two or three of the blogs I follow. And no, nobody gives away spoilers about the puzzles. Are you the same person who keeps accusing me of cheating? It's really quite tiresome, you know.

T. rex

Fergus 11:40 PM  

A nice, polite denunciation, Miss Orange, and all the more cutting for being stated as such. I sorta miss your occasional award for the most crudely senseless comment of the day.

PS -- your site is a lot of fun, but the navigation for submitting commentary is surprisingly obscure.

Orange 11:54 PM  

Fergus, I don't understand. Click "Comments," a comments window pops up, you write your comment and type a name and (optionally) e-mail address and URL, and click "publish." It's scarcely different from Rex's Blogger comments window. (P.S. That's Ms. Orange, if you please!)

Michael5000 12:40 AM  

"Absurd Crutchword 5000"?

Fergus 1:52 AM  

Ms. Orange,

The last time I tried I went into an illogical loop; must have been on my end, since I'm not very consistent in the choice of available browsers. Infuriating little protocol differences keep screwing me up.

Dean 7:30 AM  

This is a follow-up to fact-checker's reply to my post about Aleut/Alutiiq. Figured I'd go to the source and find out what they have to say.

Dear Mr. Bouler -

Both terms are correct in some ways, and wrong in others! Alutiiq is the common choice on Kodiak today, but it is derived from the term Aleut, introduced by Russian colonists throughout south coastal Alaska. Actually the least ambiguous term is Sugpiaq - the indigenous name for Kodiak's Native people. It means "real people."

Amy Steffian
Deputy Director
Alutiiq Museum
215 Mission Road, Suite 101
Kodiak, AK 99615
907-486-7004 / Direct Line 907-789-3365
amy@alutiiqmuseum.org
Http://www.alutiiqmuseum.org

There's actually more to her reply which goes into the origin of the name in greater depth but figured this part covered the topic well enough. Could have found a better clue is all...like maybe "bear with camera?"

Anders in syndicationland 3:09 PM  

Urgh! This is the first NYT puzzle of any day I couldn't complete in some time, and it's a Tuesday! Like so many others, I died at the corner of ARDEB and BELLANDHOWL. Comforting to see company for my misery.

"Bell and Howell" is certainly familiar enough to me, but I wound up thinking the pun must be on some unknown-to-me species of OWL named for inhabiting bell towers. I guess I have only myself to blame: I had filled in TOOTLE rather than NOODLE (even though an old music teacher always used to silence the class with "No Noodling!") because it seemed more commonplace. Also forgot ELAND, even though it's essential crosswordese I've seen before. Usually when stuck I keep going over and over a filled-in grid until I turn up the mistake, but that Arabic unit clue sapped my will to persevere.

PS. I liked YAP! It came instantly and confirmed that, mirabile dictu, a 4-letter 1950's TV horse could be other than MRED.

Anonymous 5:50 PM  

Did anyone else want 'EARYGROAN'?

No?

All right then.

Waxy in Montreal 9:48 PM  

From futureland:

Other than ARDEB, IMHO this was quite a good puzzle. In fact, almost too simple for a Tuesday. BELL AND HOWL I thought was extremely clever.

The only real problem I encountered was the SERA/ELAND cross. I can't really understand the intensity of the complaining 6 weeks ago.

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