Northern Florida county seat / WED 1-3-18 / Lead-in to cumulus / Longtime Boston Symphony maestro

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy (I think ... I stopped in disappointment / disgust after the first themer, and then came back to it, so I don't have a valid solving time, but it felt fast)

THEME: some stupid ****ing food puns 

Theme answers:
  • 16A: "Don't worry about my cheesy chip"? ("IT'S NACHO PROBLEM")
  • 24A: "We should discuss your Qdoba order"? ("LET'S TACO BOUT IT")
  • 42A: "Should we settle this dispute over toppings outside"? ("YA WANNA PIZZA ME?") [YA????? man, that is weak]
  • 55A: "That Italian dessert truly boggles the mind"? ("I CANNOLI IMAGINE") 
Word of the Day: CATO the Elder (23A: "Elder" Roman statesman) —
Cato the Elder (/ˈkt/; Latin: Cato Major; 234 BC – 149 BC), born Marcus Porcius Cato and also known as Cato the Censor (Cato Censorius), Cato the Wise (Cato Sapiens), and Cato the Ancient (Cato Priscus), was a Roman senator and historian known for his conservatism and opposition to Hellenization. He was the first to write history in Latin. // He came from an ancient Plebeian family who were noted for their military service. Like his forefathers, Cato was devoted to agriculture when not serving in the army. Having attracted the attention of Lucius Valerius Flaccus, he was brought to Rome and began to follow the cursus honorum: he was successively military tribune (214 BC), quaestor (204 BC), aedile (199 BC), praetor (198 BC), junior consul (195 BC) together with Flaccus, and censor (184 BC). As praetor, he expelled usurers from Sardinia. As censor, he tried to preserve Rome's ancestral customs and combat "degenerate" Hellenistic influences. His epithet "Elder" distinguishes him from his equally famous great-grandson Cato the Younger, who opposed Julius Caesar. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a genuine train wreck. Puns are one thing—they may not be my cup of tea, but if done well, they're certainly a legitimate form of crossword wordplay and a fine concept to hang a puzzle on. But these ... this ridiculous, motley assortment of nonsense ... I'm at a loss. The first pun is so tired, so dumb, so old, I actually lost the will to go on once I filled it in (and I filled it in with just IT'S NAC- in place). "That's nacho cheese!" hahahahaha we all laughed in 3rd grade, which for me was the late '70s. So I literally took a time-out—something I almost never do mid-solve—and came back after a few minutes of trying to regain my will to go on. The next themer almost made me walk away again. It stayed in the Mexican food arena, so that's good, I guess, but in the process it just invented a word like it was no big deal. BOUT? You can't have BOUT just sitting there on its own. NACHO = "not your"; PIZZA = "piece of"; CANNOLI = "can only"; TACO = "talk a-" ... what the hell is free-standing BOUT supposed to be. LET'S TACO BOUT IT sounds like you're challenging someone to a fight using only hurled tacos. TACO BOUT! And then somehow, in the bottom portion of the grid, the food puns go Italian. Why? Who knows? They just do. Unbelievable how dashed-off, dumb, and lazy this is. Again, to be clear, this is not about whether pun puzzles are good or bad—they're totally acceptable as a form. It's just that *this* particular version of the form is an abomination. Puns are lazy / nonsensical, theme assortment lacks any kind of reasonable coherence. Blech.

How is VARIABLY the answer for 8D: Hit or miss, say!? I don't see how you get to an adverb from that clue.** I also don't get how CHIMP is acceptable as an answer for 26D: Pioneer in space. I mean, I know that we sent a damn CHIMP to space, but ... just CHIMP? Is [Pioneer in space] also an acceptable clue for DOG? HUMAN? Was anyone on duty when this thing got edited / proofed? The fill on this one is largely unremarkable. Dull, but not abysmal. Can't believe INONE couldn't have been avoided. You can see how INANE would get you TAN crossing TANS, but ... I mean, that's a problem *you* created, and one that you could *uncreate* if you really wanted to. But I don't feel like anyone involved with the creation of this puzzle *really wanted* anything except to just crank another puzzle out and hope no one notices the shoddiness.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

**someone looked it up and :(

Huh. OK.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Whirred Whacks 12:05 AM  

Another gem from the amazing Bruce Haight. Clever theme.

I think Michael Sharp is jealous that Bruce has had so many puzzles published in the NYT in the past six months.

Attaboy Bruce! Keep ‘me coming.

Geo 12:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thomaso808 12:18 AM  

TACO BOUT = talk a-bout works for me. I love pun puzzles. Loved this one.

tbd88 12:21 AM  

My partner and I try to come up with the worst puns possible as it gives us some kind of perverse pleasure, so I enjoyed this a great deal even as I was groaning. Definitely easy for a Wednesday, though.

Dave Hogg 12:25 AM  

I did the Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles back to back, so OZAWA was fresh in my mind when I got there. Will he show up again tomorrow?

I usually enjoy pun puzzles, but those were terrible.

Tim Carey 12:27 AM  

Absolute Crap.

TomAz 12:30 AM  

This wasn't the best of puzzles, but it wasn't the dreck Rex makes it out to be. Yes, the themers were a bit strained in places, and the switch from Mexican to Italian food felt odd. But the review feels like an overreaction to me.

Liked: SALTY, TUB, RIDEUP, SIP, all because of their clues rather than their actual word-worthiness. Disliked LULU (more crosswordish than in-the-language -- does anyone actually use LULU in this sense? or in any sense?), GENEPOOL (is the clue really accurate? We inherit traits from our parents GENEs, right, but not the GENEPOOL at large), and VEEP (dunno who Selina Meyer is, don't watch much TV).

I found the TACO answer the most contrived of the themers. Which is a little odd, really, since it is the one that the constructor's notes say got this whole thing going.

Otherwise fill was ok, not bad really. the few proper names were not wholly unfamiliar.

jae 12:35 AM  


Anonymous 12:42 AM  


Bruce Haight 12:48 AM  

Ouch - one of my many train rex on this review site.....I'm going to romaine calm's no big dill...there's always next thyme!

alexa shortbush 1:08 AM  

What's bothersome is having puzzles rejected because the theme isn't "tight" enough and then having to solve puzzles like this.

Appetizers, Mexican, Italian, dessert ?

mathgent 1:14 AM  

Wonderful puzzle. I loved all four of the pun themers.

Happy to see that Bruce Haight wasn't hurt by Rex's nonsense. I'm beginning to wonder about Jeff Chen's taste, too.

I was happy that the down fill wasn't too hard. I needed the letters to figure out the puns running across.

I can't remember any of Bruce Haight's puzzles being less than excellent. And he seems to love putting them together.

Paul Rippey 1:25 AM  

I try to predict what Rex is going to say after I finish. Got this one completely wrong. I enjoyed the puns, wasn’t bothered at all by the shift in origin of the dishes, and noted the clean fill and lack of crosswordese. Fun, easy, got some chuckles. Thanks Bruce Haight.

phil phil 1:47 AM  

Isn't @LMS from northern midwest ...Minnesota?
Anyway there’s suppose to be quite a large hmong presence in that area. Kind of interesting that they’re an immigrant bloc yet do not have a country identification, like laotian vietnamese etc. Quite widespread in northern parts of thailand, myanmar, and LAOS, as well as china.

Maybe @LMS has had a chance to see their beautiful fabric they create.

phil phil 1:50 AM  

Was the tub sailing rigged? Or is that abad clue?

chefwen 1:53 AM  

Place me into the loved it camp. Love puns and food is food, Mexican, Italian or whatever, it’s all good. All of the items mentioned have the tendency to OOZE, I’d tie that into the theme. Only trip up was sOarS before ZOOMS, took me a while to sort that out.

I usually cringe when I see a Bruce Haight puzzle, but I figured “it’s Wednesday, it can’t be that tough and it wasn’t, it was just a lot of fun”.

CDilly52 2:16 AM  

While the craftsmanship was a tad loose, the theme was legit, and the fill appropriate to mid-week it possibly a bit on the easy side. To each his own.

Melrose 4:22 AM  

To Phil:

Three men in a tub

I think that's the reference. Not sailing rigged, unless you choose to imagine it that way. Not a great clue.

Thomaso808 4:50 AM  

I only knew of the Hmong because of Clint Eastwood’s film Gran Torino. Tough to be a distinct ethnic group without a country to really call home.

TonySaratoga 5:19 AM  

Excellent repast.

Loren Muse Smith 5:41 AM  

Man oh man oh man. Bruce Haight + puns + Rex. His perfect storm for a bout of laughtose intolerance.

The theme is tighter to me than Rex feels. These are not just food puns like the ones in Bruce’s gracious comments here (when they go low, we go high) – “maybe next thyme, no big dill”… Each pun in the grid is a Mexican or Italian prepared dish.

The BOUT tirade - huh?

I agree with the majority of the commenters so far – this Tuesday was all that and dim sum… four Z’s, LOO dropping a LOAD, the clue for RIDE UP. (Would the Some Like it Hot star call that a Lemmon wedgie?)

Speaking of underwear riding up… I always liken people pointing out grammar “mistakes” on this blog to calling attention to someone’s panty line. Some people corrected Annabel for using like as a conjunction. Get with the times, people. Using like as a conjunction is so widespread now in English that it has settled in quite comfortably. (@Kevin – thanks for stepping in there to defend it.) Do you people still insist on I shall instead of I will? The word nice used to mean foolish, stupid, senseless. Our language is an ever-evolving, beautifully dynamic elastic magnificent wonder. (Oh, and spelling? Thanks, @QuasiMojo for clearing up the mystery to everyone that I was talking about the NYT when I spelled it Grey Lady. Nice.)

@phil phil – no – I’m not from Minnesota, but I’ve said that Ely, Minnesota is my favorite place on earth.

Bruce – I’m registering for the ACPT today. I hope. If the site’s up and running. Let’s do lunch. Maybe Indian. We can kick the meal off with a naan starter.

Aketi 5:44 AM  

Very punny.
I’m trying to envision which type of TACO would be a better weapon in a BOUT. Seems like the soft ones would be better for slapping and the crispy ones would be better for poking. Then again, maybe the BOUT would be more like a hot dog eating contest.

Lewis 6:06 AM  


@lms -- Great post, once again!

I like DARN near RIPS, and the PEEP/VEEP cross. Would have liked some more clever cluing, as should be there on a Wednesday.

Rex, these theme answers are "an abomination" *to you*, but apparently by the comments so far, not to everyone, and they weren't to me. A good theme will engender people coming up with other possible theme answers or theme-answer-like spinoffs (see @ LMS), and it did with me, as well. (The following are too long for a puzzle, but I don't care.) To wit:

Plaint upon discovering a flat beer: THEBRUCHETTAFOAMED!
To someone leaving a party: YOUFOCCACIACARKEYS!

the redanman 6:24 AM  

Unimpressive middle school nonsense. Trump-like quality.

BarbieBarbie 6:42 AM  

@LMS, sorry we disagree about our language, but no need for Unhip-Shaming, just as there was no need for Kevin’s snark yesterday, which was why I weighed in. Some things are commonly used in spoken English but still go Klank to a copy editor’s ear, and to mine when I read them, and if for example they’re included on a resume I’m reading, they can help paint a negative picture. Hope your students get that. Yep, maybe a blog post can be written as spoken language. Like the comments. So, okay on Like.

England, huh? They do odd things over there. Open their tins in the garden with a spanner, close it again with cellotape while the lorries pass as they wait for the lift. Use collective nouns as plurals (“the board are meeting today”). Weird people. We should all speak and write exactly like them, because they’re in England and we are 100% Anglo-worshipers here, or we will be when Bannon and Sessions are finished.

I liked this puzzle, thought it was easy but wasn’t crazy about TACO (you have to stretch to make it work) or TUB (no sail, as already pointed out). Solved it fast and just for the halibut. Orange we glad he didn’t say banana?

'merican in Paris 6:54 AM  

Still getting accustomed to the iPad version, so it took me 42 minutes. I'd rate today's GAME puzzle closer to a medium.

I like my puns to be groaners, so wasn't bothered by the themes. I assume that the second one is parsed either as LET'S TAC OBOUT IT, or LET'S TACO 'BOUT IT. Either way, it's meant to be groan-worthy.

Actually had to struggle with the far NW. First entered Jive, then JAZZ, then erased it. Took getting the themer and then realizing that the clue "pokey" could mean JAIL as well as "slow".

Thought the fill was pretty good, albeit at times they were clued in a rather straight-forward manner.

< rant > Regarding word use, grammar and punctuation, I don't recall ever correcting any of the commentators', but I've learned that even pointing out stuff in @Rex's write-up seems to get people upset. That said, I don't buy into the "anything goes, language is always changing so live with it" school of thought, which seems to me more aimed at placating the writer than looking after the interests of his or her readers, the constituency who I would have thought matters most. As with so much in life, there are trade-offs. So nobody cares about maintaining the distinction between "imply" and "infer" any longer? Sure, it makes things easier for the writer, but forces readers to spend more time figuring out which of the opposite meanings the writer intended. As a critic of a recent book on Putin wrote in a review for The Economist magazine recently, "Sloppy use robs terms of their meaning". And that robbery makes all of us, as readers, poorer. < /rant >

John Morrison 7:06 AM  

I hated this theme.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

All of the foods have cheese.

Hungry Mother 7:08 AM  

I had lUV instead of GUV for a while; otherwise, no problem. Interesting theme. A little silliness doesn’t hurt.

Glimmerglass 7:12 AM  

I love puns, but LET’S TACO ‘BOUT IT would make even my late father blush.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

One of those days when I completely failed to anticipate Rex's reaction. Thought he'd complain about how easy it was and about DATE NUT and TOAT. Thought he'd be happy there were two Mexican and two Italian themers.

While I myself have ranted about YA recently in other contexts, it is absolutely OK in YA WANNNA PIZZA ME. 'You' would sound too formal there.

Funny how your tastes change. I used to drool over CANNOLI. Now, it's not worth the money nor the calories.

sidneyellenwade 7:25 AM  

I laughed out loud when I got the first themer. Groaned, too, but boy, was it fun. In general, loved the silliness. Lighten up, Rex.

BarbieBarbie 7:25 AM  

But surely, if the puns make this puzzle too hard to finish, you can solve it parsley?

'merican in Paris 7:30 AM  

By the way, are there any other current or former Floridians out there for whom OCALA wasn't immediately obvious in response to the clue for 14-A: "Northern Florida county seat"?

As somebody who lived at different times in both southern (Miami area) and northern (Tallahassee) Florida, folks (during my time at least) divided the state into at least three parts: southern (Lake Okeechobee and points south), northern (Jacksonville and westward along the panhandle), and central -- i.e., everything else. Some people considered the Keys to be a fourth distinct region. A nit, but to me OCALA is and always has been a Central Florida city.

Lewis 7:34 AM  

@merican -- Re OCALA, true that. (I'm a former Floridian.)

Loren Muse Smith 7:37 AM  

Ok. Let me get this straight. Some people, on a blog where people come together to discuss the puzzle and thoughts some entries evoke, decide to publicly pick* on a college student for using the word like as a conjunction. I defended her, and I’m doing the unhip shaming?

Copy editors, explain to me how changing a sentence like the following:

He sings like a wounded hippo wails.

to the “correct”

He sings as a wounded hippo wails.

clears things up. In fact, the “corrected” version is now not clear at all, even comically ambiguous. So, @’merican, if you’ll indulge me, this proper version “forces readers to spend more time figuring out which of the . . . meanings the writer intended."

I realize that I’m never going to convince purists how silly your rules are. Sure, you can show me a couple of examples where the “correcter” version’s meaning is clearer. But if you’re trying to convince me that reading something like She inferred that I’m overweight! is truly confusing to anyone, I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

My bigger fight is the public correcting of someone. To what end? To this end – to show everyone that you’re educated, you’re to be admired. I do the same thing - shamelessly, early, and often - but my showing off, as far as I can tell, does not involve innocent victims. And people publicly shaming other people's grammar are not innocent victims.

And yes, I split that infinitive up there.

Suddenly, I need a Winston.

kitshef 7:44 AM  

@BarbieBarbie - sellotape. 'cellotape' is used only on bowed instruments.

Spelling/grammar/usage - we all fall somewhere on the spectrum between pure descriptivism and pure prescriptivisim - we just draw the line in a different place. My biggest nit is when someone claims there is an error in grammar when they mean an error in usage. That and literally/figuratively, because the meaning is unclear. I mean, if you say "I was so scared I literally died", I know you are using literally to mean figuratively. But if you say "I was so scared I literally peed my pants", I have no idea if you are being literal or figurative. So ... literally, don't do it.

Birchbark 7:46 AM  


During the Vietnam War, the Hmong fought in LAOS on the US side. They disrupted the supply chain along the Ho Chi Mihn Trail, which went from China through Laos to North Vietnam. After the US withdrawal and the rise of a Communist government in Laos, things did not go well for them. Many families, including friends of mine, fled through the jungle to the Mekong River, where they crossed into Thailand on whatever would float. They lived in Thai refugee camps. A large number immigrated here and made homes in Central California, Denver, and St. Paul.

chefbea 7:57 AM  

Love puns and of course love food !!! Too many posts to read...will read them later

What in the world is Qdoba????

Love date nut bread!!!

Jon Baum 7:57 AM  

For “British term of address” went from SIR to MUM to LUV to GUV. Crikey!

Isaac Mayo 8:04 AM  

Leave the gun. Take the CANNOLI

RJ 8:21 AM  

Puzzle was easy if not my cup of tea - so to speak. I'm not a fan of puns. Bothered most by "variably" - I kept thinking that it couldn't be a "y" at the end because how do you get there from the cluing?

Two Ponies 8:23 AM  

@ Bruce Haight,
You are a class act with a great sense of humor.

@ BarbieBarbie (6:42), Perhaps you got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and ought to go back there. You insulted Loren and certainly pissed me off. Your comments about England are so derisive and racist. Those are my people you are talking about and I am insulted.

Eric NC 8:26 AM  

Today’s blog more funny than the puzzle.

Ann 8:29 AM  

I’m a crossword novice, forced to start doing the crossword instead of reading too much news every morning. I really enjoyed this one. I was tickled when I got the theme for the long clues and enjoyed completing the puzzle once I’d figured them out. It must be difficult to be original when you make up a puzzle but it should help those who make up the puzzles to know that some of us are new to the game and not quite as picky as those who’ve been doing the puzzle for decades.

Non Somuchski 8:39 AM  

Someone please explain the difference between an adverb and adjective for that poor guy Dan.

Rex, medicate.

Chow, it's been fun.

John Child 8:44 AM  

Monday easy for me, so an upside down week so far. As someone on Wordplay asked, will Thursday solve itself? Har.

@mathgent - really? None “less that excellent”? De gustibus and all that...

Regardless, I echo what @Two Ponies said about class. Three cheers to Mr Haight for weighing in.

Wm. C. 8:45 AM  

Yep, I too put Ocala in Central Florida, just a bit north of Disney World. Interestingly, when you're there, you'd swear you were in Tennessee or Kentucky -- beautiful horse country!

Anonymous 8:45 AM  


"...but my showing off, as far as I can tell, does not involve innocent victims."

Was her name Tacky Jackie?

Marshoschref 8:48 AM  

I think Rex needs to find a different puzzle to blog about. He clearly despises the NYT - they are not up to his standards, he hates puns, he hates the dated fill, he hates the proper nouns, he hates the lack of creativity in the fill, on and on, we get it.

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot and I thought the puns were clever. I started the puzzle in bed this morning, and ran back to the puzzle from the shower happy because I figured out "You wanna pizza me". I can't ask for a better way to start the day than that.

Passing Shot 8:49 AM  

Mr. Haight — I can’t say I liked your puzzle much but you, sir, are a class act. Thanks.

ArtO 8:53 AM  

Puns are made to make you groan. If you think these are bad, you should hear my friend Alan's.

There is no doubt that @Rex just keeps losing it for reasons that go beyond reasonable criticism. Enough already! It's a new year. Some folks vow to be more kind, more forgiving or more tolerant. I guess not OFL.

Unknown 9:03 AM  

My ten-year-old daughter has a t-shirt with three of today's themers, accompanied by cute cartoon illustrations, so subsequently the puzzle played pretty fast for me. Sorry Rex, but I still chuckle every time she wears the shirt, and the puzzle like-wise made me smile. I don't really understand the rant about BOUT - the t-shirt from Target commits the same offense (though perhaps it shouldn't be held to the same standards as the NYT puzzle)

Sir Hillary 9:05 AM  

I'm not usually a huge fan of @Bruce Haight's puzzles, but I really enjoyed this one. Sure, ITSNACHOPROBLEM is an ooooold pun, but the others feel fresh. I strongly dislike cannoli as a food, but ICANNOLIIMAGINE is awesome!

And to boot, the constructor comes here and ups the ante even more. Fantastic!

As usual, the commentary here is half hilarious, half sad. Someone should archive this blog's contents for use in psychology education.

Hartley70 9:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stuart Showalter 9:11 AM  

No puzzle is EVER the dreck Rex makes it out to be.

Stuart Showalter 9:12 AM  

LOVE this!!

Mr. Benson 9:13 AM  

I thought it was just fine, but maybe the theme would have cohered better if it had stuck to one nationality and made up a whole meal from start to finish (e.g., an appetizer, a drink, a main course and a dessert). Not that I can think of any "cerveza" or "flan" puns, but maybe someone else can.

GILL I. 9:21 AM you glad I didn't carrot all what anyone said. I get eggcited bout imaginutive food puns.
I haven't read anybody yet since I have to run out for a sec but I did read @Rex. Yikes.
Wish there had been a Q somewhere... that really would have started the pangram war.
I enjoyed this, Bruce. I bet you'd be fun to have some lunch with.

Mohair Sam 9:22 AM  

If Rex had Will's job we'd have seen our last pun puzzle and our last Bruce Haight puzzle - two of my favorites. Chuckling here that Rex got himself wound up about the mix of Mexican and Italian foods - a takeout place opened near us last year offering both Tacos and Pizza on its menu. The place closed last month - but hey, there's your Italo-Mex restaurant Rex.

Too easy for a Wednesday, otherwise lots of fun. But then I'm a lover of hideous puns. ICANNOLIIMAGINE the favorite here. And "YA" before "you" always in the PIZZAME pun.

@LMS - Great write-up today, those puns left us laughing like hell. And a big "hear! hear!" on your comments on changing language - and your rousing defense of our buddy Anabell.

Read a newspaper series about ten years back about the interesting relationship between the HMONG people and the Old Order Mennonites in Lancaster County, PA. Many HMONG families settled in Lancaster after being sponsored from camps in Thailand decades back by the Mennonites. Their sewing skills it seems are at least equal to those of the Amish and Mennonites. Chances are that if you purchase a genuine Pennsylvania Dutch quilt today some of the stitching has been done by HMONG hands.

Stuart Showalter 9:25 AM  

Rex hates EVERYTHING Will Shortz has a hand in. It seems to be a personal vendetta.

As others have said, he needs to either (a) lighten up, (b) medicate, (c) stop this blog, or (d) all the above.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Qdoba, chain of Mexican restaurants

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Went back and reread yesterday’s comments. It doesn’t seem to me that Annabel was being picked on. I wouldn’t be surprised if she were embarrassed by the passionate “defense” that was mounted.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Awful puns, awful fill. Easy to the point of being insulting. One of the worst Wednesdays I've ever seen. Did I say awful?

Banya 9:49 AM  

This was delightful, you grumpy old man.

andy 9:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mathgent 9:58 AM  

@John Child (8:44): De gustibus, indeed. A good example is the movie we saw last night, Maudie. Our local critic called it the worst movie of the year. Worse even than the latest Pirates of the Caribbean. We thought that it was one of the five best movies we've seen this year. Sally Hawkins was awesome.

Charles Flaster 10:02 AM  

Agree with top half of Rex but not the bottom half.
Started the solve from the bottom and got theme at CANNOLI which was my favorite.
Liked both clue and answer for SCHEMA.
Thanks BH

RAD2626 10:04 AM  

Well, getting back to the puzzle, I liked it but made hash of the final themer: GReW gave me ZOeyS for ZOOMS and LUV for GUV really threw me. Not Mr. Haight’s fault - all mine. Only proud moment was getting DATE NUT BREAD off just the D. Yum. No problem with Chimp clue; I was a J. Fred Muggs fan.

QuasiMojo 10:07 AM  

So @LMS would you let a student of yours writing a book report about "The Picture of Dorian GREY" go without gently pointing out to him or her that the title is spelled GRAY? I meant no harm. I was just trying to be helpful. Not snarky. It's hard sometimes to read the tone of your dry humor. I wasn't sure if you were doing it on purpose. Oh, and I agree with you about some of the comments yesterday regarding Annabel. Have a NICE day.

As for this puzzle, the less said the butter.

evil doug 10:08 AM  

Can spaghetti witness?

John 10:12 AM  

Easy, but not enjoyable.

pmdm 10:15 AM  

Like Jeff Chen, Mike Sharp and many others, I did not like the puns that much. But I do believe the puzzle passes muster.

'American in Paris: I think I've seen OCALA in many crosswords, which is why I, a person who is bad at proper nouns, knew the answer. I guess that's why Mr. Shortz let it pass. I very much agree with you about language. One should use the English language properly and bad usage ought to be pointed out. however ...

Loren Muse Smith: Your example is quite good. Language is changing (as William Safire always acknowledged) and at times what used to be OK an sound awful. What sounds better: "We smokers" or "Us smokers. [Am I showing my age?] Probably the grammatically incorrect version. Ain't that sad.

Marshoschref: If Mr Sharp replaced Mr. Shortz as editor, we probably would only have puzzles a couple of times a week because be would not judge enough puzzles publishable to fill up all the week's slots. (That's not a rant but a joke.)

Whirred Whacks: Funny comment perhaps too close to the truth.

Bruce the Constructor: You made me laugh at your punny comment. Jeff Chen was a little more gentle to you. What I say: keep the humor coming.

sanfranman59 10:18 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See yesterday's post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 5:00 4:03 1.23 88.3% Challenging
Tue 4:29 5:35 0.80 9.5% Easy
Wed 5:45 5:57 0.97 49.6% Medium

Hartley70 10:23 AM  

I'm a proud LULU user although in my head I spell it LooLoo. I sometimes add a "bel" on the end (no slur intended to my favorite reviewer, Annabel) You can correct me, but I probably won't like you as much as I did before you opened your big trap.

DATENUT bread sent me off on another tangent. Where did it go? I haven't seen it since I was a kid. I mean that figuratively, not literally.

These were wacky puns and I am really, really bad at sounding them out. I spent a lot of time on TACO. I think I remember a puzzle early last year where you had to answer clues in Bugs Bunny or Elmer Fudd speak. It's entertaining and is proof that you don't have to excel at something to have fun in the process.

Roo Monster 10:26 AM  

Hey All !
I thought Rex would like it a little bit, but that was before I saw who the constructor was. Rex usually rips Bruce's puzs. I'm just jealous he gets so any puzs published! What's your secret, Bruce?

I thought the puns were funny. Puns are groaners. Some like, some Haight! My only trouble was VARIABLY. Had VAReitLY, VARIetLY. Sure, those aren't words, but who cares? :-)

Speaking of words, I know I'm not the best speaker out there, pretty much forgot all the grammar usage that you're taught in school, but I like to think I speak properly enough. (Take apart that sentence!) Hey, to each their own. Some people either didn't get the same kind of a good education that others did, or just didn't pay enough attention in school. I had a friend once who spoke properly, had a decent job, but couldn't read. If he didn't tell me, I never would've known. Just sayin.

Rex was so upset at the puz, he didn't mention the closed off NW and SE corners. Only nit for me. Gotta be one somewhere!


evil doug 10:27 AM  

I don't mind 'like' as a conjunction. I can't stand it as a vocalized pause, a la 'er', 'um', 'y'know'....

I'm married to a retired English teacher, so I have to be on my toes. We do most of our correcting aimed at the TV set. Misuse of 'less' and 'fewer' is our fave target--and easy pickins among the talking head morons.

I try to be tolerant of those who struggle with grammar. I have less use for those who know better but get lazy with language. And I worry about, for example, job seekers who may have the unfortunate luck to interview with a grammar hard-ass....

And we don't correct anyone in public-- except, of course, our 36-year-old daughter, who always rewards us with an eye-roll....

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Eggsactly! Mr. Haight has class, rex has egg on his face.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Rex is to Will as Trump is to Obama.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

I think @LMS is going to be more fixated on panties that RIDEUP. She seems to have a thing for underwear.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

@LMS, I'm inferring that you're kind of a bitch.

True Grits 10:34 AM  

What a train wreck. The themers weren't in alphabetical order, nothing rhymed, there was no Greek food included, and the menu choices were nutritionally abusive. And this is supposed to be the "World's Greatest Crossword Puzzle'?

GILL I. 10:36 AM  

Wow...The comments are fun today.
@BarbieBarbie....Loren...unhip shaming? You picked the wrong person to bitch slap. Loren doesn't need anybody to defender her, but I'm going to. You're fairly new here while @Loren has been posting for quite some time. If you followed her at all these pass years, you'd know she is the champion of the underdog. Anyone that has been shamed by poor grammar (your standards) on this blog, usually gets the eyebrow raising, poor English defense diatribe and, well, you get the gist..
English was not my first language and I was kicked up the arse (publicly) as a young un. Still get it but it doesn't hurt me anymore. @Loren is the champion of "What's now in the language" and I, for one, agree. It evolves. Remember ain't? Iv'e said it before, I wish I had had @Loren for a teacher.
@Bruce. Thanks for showing up. You DO have a sense of humor and I'd like lunch. Lettuce pray?
@Stuart...No on C. Where would all the fun grammar nazis go?
Here today, gone tomato.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Anyone else find it ironic that @LMS is accusing others of showing of for its own sake? What a wanker.

kitshef 10:42 AM  

Great post, @True Grits.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

@gill, one of the many ass-kissers on this site. Good way to get a disease.

sanfranman59 10:51 AM  

I sure wish there were a way to get Blogger to not show me all the Anonymous comments out here. While some post thoughtful and/or humorous comments, most are snarky trolls trying to raise hackles. Thank goodness most folks out here know not to feed them. What possible enjoyment can one get from such behavior? Yeesh.

Whatsername 11:10 AM  

Isn't the whole idea of the Wednesday puzzle to make us think a little and smile a little? I'd say mission accomplished.

Lewis 11:34 AM  

@truegrits -- Good one!

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Someone’s got her knickers in a twist this morning. RIDE UP indeed!

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

"LET'S TACO 'BOUT IT" was a sign that the Haightman saw elsewhere, that inspired him to do this puz.
I guess 'BOUT is kinda slangy, but then, so's YAWANNA. Theme gets a passin grade, from m&e. I understand that food puns ain't rocket science, but shoot … YOGURTWHATYAPAYFOR. (around 10 cents or so, by my calculation.)

fave long-balls: VARIABL(E/Y). FABFOUR. GENEPOOL. JAZZ/JAIL start-up. VEEP/PEEP finish-up.
staff weeject pick: GUV. fave ow de speration: INONE. Lotsa ways to fix the lil INONE area, while addin extra life-generatin U's…

32. Like chickens with no peckers
36. King Tsk relative??
40. Egg wannabe
27. Ryan's daughter
28. "Two extra U's! Yay m&e!"
29. French Mensa's head?

Thanx for the Pfun, Mr. Haight. Look at it this way: U made @RP stop and smell the ruses! [Holy matzoballs, Haightman!]

Masked & Anonym007(or 9, just sayin')Us


Brett 11:44 AM  

Puns are truly the Haight of humor.

Brett 11:49 AM  

@Anonymous 7:06

As do the puns ;)

jb129 11:50 AM  


Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Rex calls the theme answers a "motley assortment of nonsense."

That about covers this one for me. I'm now with those who feel NYT crosswords have gone off the deep end.

Masked and Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Oooops… For completeness's sake...
41. The ___ican

2 cents, please.


boomer54 11:59 AM  

RE: Grammar and Usage ...
Listen to interviewees on radio and tv and notice how frequently the response to questions is inVARIABLY ..." SO ..."

old timer 12:00 PM  

I agree with OFL. This was an awful puzzle. I gave up finally and left "luv" were it seems GUV is. The English haven't used "guv" or "governor" for a long time and when they did use it its primary meaning was one's father. "Luv" is still common though.

OFL usually hates Haight . Except for last time out, when he praised the puzzle.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

I infer that a lot of commenters here remember the days when you listened to music on a radio. And you had a favorite station. And once in awhile you'd tune in another and see if you liked it. If you didn't like it, you probably didn't rave about how awful the station was and what an idiot the DJ was; you just tuned to another station you DID like. Even then they'd sometimes play a song you didn't like, but you just waited through that one without blowing your lid. Ya dig, man? (knock yourselves out over the writing errors) by the way, if you're still reading, Mr. Haight, how do you pronounce your last name? and I liked your puzzle

G. Weissman 12:13 PM  

I disagree. This puzzle is crap.

Mohair Sam 12:16 PM  

@True Grit - Great stuff.

@Bruce Haight- Thanks for dropping by. Good to see thin skin is not a problem. Always enjoy your work, keep 'em flying.

G. Weissman 12:19 PM  

What a dumb, painful puzzle to solve. Aside from the asinine puns, and CHIMP, the reliance on crap like OCALA and OZAWA is tiresome in the extreme.

G. Weissman 12:24 PM  

Wow, a series of goofy puns really CAN substitute for a thoughtful engagement with criticism.

Blackeyedsusan 12:35 PM  

Always love your posts but loved this one even more. Thanks for the joy.

alexa shortbush 12:38 PM  

cheese gives me gas.

Malsdemare 12:39 PM  

Ooh, this was fun! Yup, I groaned and moaned, but it was all to the good. Of course, I had to kick myself for having GaZA for GIZA (a case of completing an answer from the visual G and Z), but I smiled at the clue for RIDEUP and slapped myself on the back that I actually knew VEEP. I was slowed down a bit at first because I thought all the themers would be Mexican food and couldn't think of anything Mexican that started with PI. I was very relieved when I saw PIZZA; loved ICANNOLIIMAGINE.

I agree with Loren AND Barbie. I'm a socioliguist by education and career, copy editor in retirement, and nodded in agreement with barbie about that CE reflex upon seeing rule violations. Editors are rule-bound; we don't get paid if we approach grammar, spelling, and usage as evolving.. My publisher subscribes to the Oxford/serial comma, and The Grey Lady (Loren, I have to look up the grey/gray distinction any time Iuse it) doesn't. So I hiccup every time a series shows up without the squiggle. However, that is my problem, and I try not to inflict it on others (except my kids and grands, Hi! ED). I know I make mistakes, here and elsewhere, and would prefer that others assume I'd have corrected the error had I proofed just one more time.

But language is a living, breathing entity, and I rather enjoy watching its evolution. However, I'm unlikely to incorporate those changes into my formal writing — and my publisher surely isn't going to allow me to applaud treating infer/imply as synonymous — until the larger community formalizes usage. And that takes time, though it does happen. My publisher's style guide changes continually, and there's a reason that the Chicago Manual of Style is in its 16th? 17th edition. The problem arises when folks use the casual, non-standard language in places that critics might find it. I'm thinking of Facebook and Twitter, where many former students post a LOT. I cringe at some of the truly egregious errors they blithely make, knowing as I do that prospective employers will read their dreck and be put off by it.

Mr. Haight, you are a brave and noble man to appear here after such a drubbing by Rex. I loved your puns, in both the puzzle and your post.

Masked and Anonymous 12:45 PM  


yo, @sanfranman59! As my old tennis coach used to say: "Turn around, dude … It's great to see you're back!" Always enjoy yer stats, and "Challenging+Easy+Medium" sounds spot-on, for this week's whelps, so far. U do excellent work. Thanx!

I got this rebus-ish feelin in my bones, for the upcomin ThursPuz …

And meanwhile, C.C. did the WSJ puz today. day-um. Does she just do em all the time, for a livin?

This here NYTPuz's got a lot of Z's, today (5). Yet on the other hand, a lotta folks liked it, too. [har]

But … this puz definitely had m&e at JAZZ. Made m&e stop, in mid-real-early solve, to admire what a brave opener that was, until I realized what a closed-tight-assed NWcorner it was scrabble-twerked into. Anyhoo … primo first impression, IM&AO. Lost valuable nanoseconds becuz of aforesaid contemplation. And more when I saw the first themer, the constructor's name, and the @RPmeister all alignin, in a vision of multiple unstoppable planet-killin meteors. Hid under the coffee table.

M&A the third
"An eel frattata wind never blows any good"

GILL I. 12:52 PM  

There's a huge difference between making a comment on a blog and submitting a curriculum vitae. The bigger issue, and sometime wrong, is the usage of "in the language."
Rule-bound can be pompous as well as off-putting.

travis 12:53 PM  

My local mexican restaurant is called Lets Taco Bout It. It made me groan when it opened, but it has sort of grown on me. They have a thumb wrestling thing on the salt and pepper shakers[you put your thumb in where it rests on the shakers and thumb wrestle] as well as mexican wrestling posters so Bout may be intended as a double reference to About/Bout as in a fight.

JC66 1:00 PM  

@True Grits

Good one.

@Bruce H

I thought the puzzle was good and your response to@RP better. Count me in on the lunch, too...if only to meet the women. ;-)

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

I thought @Rex's take off on TACO BOUT as a Mexican food fight was kind of fun, but dude, the rest of the themers are pointing right at your hyperbolic riffs. I can see saying IT'S NACHO PROBLEM, I CANNOLI IMAGINE or YA WANNA PIZZA ME as a reply to any number of @Rex's over-the-top review points today. Thanks, Bruce Haight, for your grace under fire - most of us appreciate your constructing skills.

With 40D having been in yesterday's puzzle, you might think I would have had no problem with it but I initially put in OkAWA so trying to parse YAWANNAPIZkAME was causing some head-scratching as to where the words even split.

This was lots of fun, a nice Wednesday pun-fest.

Cato Rosenbaum 1:54 PM  

Stuart Showalter hates EVERYTHING Rez has a hand in. It seems to be a personal vendetta.

As others have said, he needs to either (a) lighten up, (b) medicate, (c) stop commenting on this blog, or (d) all the above.

'merican in Paris 2:02 PM  

Lettuce give thanks for this puzzle. After yesterday's off-shoot discussion about the celery of constructors, this one was a sight for sorrel eyes. Rather than squash the impulse to pun, we should cultivate it. I rest my queso.

semioticus (shelbyl) 2:13 PM  

I love puns. There are days when I'm in a great mood and I would appreciate even the shittiest pun. But, there are also days when bad puns really bother me. Today was one of those days.

Thinking about it, my problem wasn't with the puns necessarily but the overall feeling of... laziness. YAWANNAPIZZAME calls for a harsher clue, not "should we settle this dispute..." imho. And YAWANNA looks bad. Also didn't like the cannoli clue.

Calling CHIMP "a pioneer" was weird. OCALA, OZAWA, TOAT, GUV were answers that I didn't care for really. The puzzle felt haphazardly put together overall, I guess. I really don't know how to better explain it. I'm prejudiced against puzzles that contain a ton of short answers, and 3-4 letter answers made up 65.7% of this one. Yuck.

I mean, it seems that some commenters loved it -but then also it feels like some people love the puzzle even more if Rex really hated it- so I guess it had an appeal. Not to me. But at least some clues were funny (SALTY for example)

GRADE: C, 2.55 stars.

apuzzler 2:23 PM  

Liked it.

Joe Bleaux 2:35 PM  

What does a nosy pepper do?

Hartley70 3:04 PM  

I'm in for the lunch with Bruce Haight. Where and when? We might have to rent a hall he's so charming.

gloriosky 3:05 PM  

And “cute” used to mean “ugly, but endearing.”

John Hoffman 3:08 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. I thought a bit easy for a Wednesday.

TCProf 3:11 PM  

Been down on Rex's negativity, but this one did suck.

Blue Stater 3:51 PM  

Of course there's no one home at the NYT Xwords, Rex. Hasn't been for years. We deserve better.

alexa shortbush 4:12 PM  

Grammar is the message that is important not the style in which it was sent.

If you get the poster's point, then that is all that matters.

Nancy 4:19 PM  

Oh, dear. Have I inadvertently excluded myself from the upcoming group lunch with Bruce Haight because I didn't like this puzzle? If only I'd known ahead of time. But, Bruce, I'm sure there were plenty of your other puzzles I have really liked, and if I had a memory like everyone else, I'd remember what they were. I agree with everyone here who says you have class and humor for showing up on the blog, and I would love to join the lunch that my pals @GILL, @HARTLEY and @JC66 are planning to have with you. Besides -- I saw your profile photo -- and think you are absolutely ADORBS. And who knows if I might need cataract surgery someday?

@kitshef and @'merican in Paris -- Amen, amen!!! "Like" vs "as" is one thing. "Infer" vs. "imply" is a whole nother kettle of fish and they must never be confused. I will stand on the barricades until the cows come home to defend the distinction. THEY ARE TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT WORDS THAT MEAN THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF EACH OTHER. We can't let this slide; we just can't. And bless you, @kitshef, for your very funny send-up of the "literally"/"figuratively" confusion. (It only goes in one direction, btw. No one says "figuratively" when they mean "literally." But millions of people do the opposite -- often, as you point out, with quite comical results.

Robert A. Simon 4:21 PM  

I solve on my computer. So it and I were across the street at a neighborhood coffee shop this morning at one of those long community tables. When I finished, I said, not quite under my breath, "What a crappy puzzle!"

The guy sitting across from me smiled and said, "The Times, right?"

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

Guv is still in use @ oldtimer, An affectionate but subservient address to your boss or other superior.

Z 4:39 PM  

@unknown9:03a.m. - No more searing indictment of these puns was written today.

@sanfranman59 - Good to see you back. It's been too long.

@Wm C. and @Lewis - I translated the clue into "five letter crosswordese town in Florida" so no problem with putting in OCALA. Similar to "Five letter ese suburb in Minnesota" (Edina), "four letter town when the constructor is sick of 'ores'" (Orem), and "five letter ese in Maine" (Orono). Sometimes knowing too much or reading too closely slows down the solve.

What @Evil Doug said, "And we don't correct anyone in public," should be taped to all of our computer screens near the "publish" button. Yeah, Yeah, I will correct anyone who avers a "fact" that isn't a fact, but we'd all get along better if we focused on "understanding" instead of "correctness" in grammar. If the reader knows what the writer means then the usage is correct. What's truly troubling and worrisome is when the writer doesn't know what they mean.

@M&A - I think I'm hurt ("This here NYTPuz's got a lot of Z's, today (5). Yet on the other hand, a lotta folks liked it, too. [har])*

@mathgent - The Shape of Water is outstanding. It has a certain graphic novel quality to it that we loved. I thought the Richard Strickland character was maybe a wee bit too obviously drawn, but all the better for the visceral joy when he gets his. @everyone else - you should go see it.


Anonymous 4:49 PM  

Anonymous, you're aiming at the wrong target with these comments. You know the commercial lyric 'nobody doesn't like Sara Lee'. Think of that lyric the next time you step up to make obnoxious comments about LMS.

KRMunson 4:57 PM  

Today’s puzz was silly and fun. I got no problem with that.

Rusty Penguin 5:09 PM  

Really disliked this puzzle and I love bad puns.

GILL I. 5:14 PM  

OK...Who's bringing the wine. Pinot, please. @JC66...Scotch.

Malsdemare 5:23 PM  

@Gill and all. I'll happily bring copious amounts of wine. Much preferable to bringing anything people might want to eat. Count me in for the BH lunch!

mathgent 5:25 PM  

@Z (4:39): Your comment about The Shape of Water agrees with my opinion exactly. Also, I also "translate" a clue in my head when doing a puzzle. Like "A seven-letter word with an r in it that has something to do with the internet." So I'm not bothered when the clue isn't strictly correct.

JC66 5:57 PM  

@GILL Thanks for remembering.

Pet Monkey 6:26 PM  

9:38 Awful puzzle.

Later, that same day:
Ooh, there's a hen party?
Can I come? Ooh, can I come?
I didn't really mean it,
honest, I didn't.

What has been said can never be unsaid.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

hot garbage, and the fact that it's not nearly unanimously thought of as such is why we continue to be served this drivel. once again, failed by populism

Joe Dipinto 8:25 PM  

"Would you like some ham or egg?" "Uh, no, I'm good."

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

@Nancy - me terrifically amused by the idea of people misusing figuratively as described! Figuratively!

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

@seasick - blessed are the peacemakers.

Anonymous 9:40 PM  

I didn't mind it this one. Groany puns remind me of my late dad.

Hartley70 9:45 PM  


Bruce Haight 9:47 PM  

@Loren......lunch with a naan starter- hilarious. Count me in!

Anonymous 10:46 PM  

Corny but funny puns! Enjoyed it, Bruce.

Jeff Lewis 12:13 AM  

So much fun. Thanks Bruce.

Joan Weisblatt 1:12 PM  


Michael Haight 2:26 PM  

And Bruce’s brother lives 1/2 hour from Ocala. He should know better... :)

iamjess 4:56 PM  

@phil and @Birchbark: Anchorage AK would not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about refugee resettlement, but we are always on the list. We also have a significant Hmong population.

I...I love puns. But these were too groaner-y even for me. But a quick and easy Wednesday puzzle for my lunch break. (I'm a day behind because of the holiday.)


Why are you so mean and unhappy?

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