Jazz pianist's court appearance — MONDAY, Sep. 14 2009 — 1998 Disney film set in China / Onetime center of Italian violin manufacture / Dabbling ducks

Monday, September 14, 2009


Constructor: Bernice Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Possessive misreadings — famous people whose last names start with "S" have their names reimagined as possessive phrases, e.g. WARREN SAPP —> WARREN'S APP (that's not a real answer, but I like it ... if you don't know who WARREN SAPP is, now you know how I feel about GEORGE SHEARING)

Word of the Day: GEORGE SHEARING (43A: Jazz pianist's court appearance?)Sir George Shearing OBE (born August 13, 1919, Battersea, London) is an Anglo-American jazz pianist who for many years led a popular jazz group which recorded for MGM Records and Capitol Records. The composer of over 300 titles, he has had multiple albums on the Billboard charts during the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s.

So his music career roughly coincides with the constructor's constructing career. That makes sense.



Note on the puzzle:

"HALF-CENTURY PUZZLEMAKERS' WEEK

All the daily crosswords this week, Monday through Saturday, are by puzzlemakers who have been contributing to The Times for more than 50 years. Bernice Gordon, 95, of Philadelphia, had her first Sunday crossword published on January 23, 1955. Her first weekday puzzle appeared three years earlier. She is the oldest known puzzlemaker in the newspaper's history."
-----

First, congratulations to Ms. Gordon. Is it OK to congratulate someone on being the oldest ever to do something? I hope so. Second, not sure why we need another gimmick week to rival last year's Teen Week. All I can hope is that next year there will be Middle Aged Person's Week and then maybe I can sneak a puzzle in there. Third, do not expect a decidedly negative review all week. I can describe highlights and (to some extent) lowlights, but I'm not about to tear into a puzzle that may be one of the last things the constructor ever does on this earth. No way, no how. Also, there will be no more mention of its being Half Century Week. Well, I may reprint whatever "note" comes with each puzzle, but that's it. We should focus on puzzles (one of the reasons I don't like stunt weeks (so far) — they have ZERO to do with content of the puzzles).

This seemed a very solid puzzle, with GEORGE SHEARING being a mystery to me (and at least one other blogger who wrote me out of the blue last night with a message that read something like "43A!?!?!?!?!"). Wife didn't know him either. He seems both exceedingly puzzle-worthy and completely inappropriate as a Theme answer on a Monday. But no matter. Puzzle conceit made him easy to put together.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Film director's sound (Oliver's tone) — OLIVER STONE
  • 26A: Birth control advocate's fury? (Margaret's anger) — MARGARET SANGER
  • 43A: Jazz pianist's court appearance? (George's hearing) — GEORGE SHEARING
  • 57A: Comedian's parents? (Tom's mothers) — TOM SMOTHERS

My favorite things about these theme answers are the birth control and the lesbian moms. Awesome.

Even without the SHEARING catastrophe, this puzzle seemed skewed *slightly* harder than most Mondays. Biggest hang-ups for me were ASPISH (24D: Venomous, as a snake) — I had all the middle letters and still couldn't see it — and ORNE (54D: French department) — one of those bits of (normally) late-week crosswordese that I always forget how to spell. I think I tried ORLE (kind of like the French airport ORLY), and ORME (kind of like nothing). DIVERGES (4D: Branches off) also held me up a bit, as the only word I wanted right off the bat was DIVERTS. Finally, SURE SHOT — or rather the SHOT part of SURE SHOT — took some hacking as well (39D: It's guaranteed to hit the mark). SURE THING and SURE BET came to mind, but not SURE SHOT.

Favorite answers of the day was, by far, CREMONA (10D: Onetime center of violin manufacture). A lovely word I don't see very often in crossword grids, despite its being half vowels. Cue violin music.

[LOVE this piece ... not sure about this performance, which I grabbed at random. It sounds fine so far ...]

No "Bullets" today, as I've pretty much covered all I wanted to cover.

Finally, apropos of nothing, here is a video that Sarah K Silverman posted to Twitter yesterday. It is a British game show that involves the arrangement of letters, so puzzle types might find it interesting. If you are morally opposed to the accidental construction of naughty words, then you DO NOT want to click through. You've been warned. (oh ... uh ... it looks like the naughtiness is in the video title and in the preview picture, so ... if you object, just hold your hand up to the screen and cover it now)



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

P.S. best actual Google search to result in a hit to this website in the past 24 hrs: kneehole stepmother leg sex film

76 comments:

Michael Leddy 8:41 AM  

A lot more fun than Sunday's puzzle. Really exceptional for a Monday puzzle, I think.

Rex, you didn't mention ELIEL, so I'm wondering: does everyone else already know about him? I was only familiar with EERO.

dk 8:48 AM  

No doubt this puzzle may give rise to comments on the constructors context/frame of reference. Solid references into the 70's with a potential nod to Grandchildren in MULAN. Nary a rapper or Simpson to be found.

Used to do SEPIA tint on the cheap with coffee back in the days of B&W and film.

Great puzzle and as Rex notes a little challenging for a Monday. I wonder if the "dated" fill will be a constant, inquiring minds want to know.

PIX 8:50 AM  

George Shearing/Ezio Pinza/Eliel Saarinen/Deng Xiaoping

Hard for a Monday...and just sort of feels old, like the puzzle was made many years ago.

@31A: "bacteria in breakout"...nowadays we say an outbreak of E.coli not a breakout...again, seems very dated.

Jim inChicago 8:56 AM  

Congratulations, Bernice.

I agree on the challenging for a Monday, since I actually had to think.

Can you still send something COD? I thought that was a thing of the past.

I'm also confused about Tom Smothers having two mothers??? Or is this part of the Lesbian subtheme? - Anything we know about St. Teresa?? Ooops, now I've gotta go to confession.

Doug 9:02 AM  

Hard Monday for me, too. Did not know who Margaret and George were or are? Eliel appears for the second time in a month. Needed the crosses to finally get them. Nice touch with the US-USSR clues. Gave the puzzle some historical context. Most of us will be happy to wake up at 95, let alone construct a puzzle. Hell, I'll settle for just solving one at that age.

ArtLvr 9:18 AM  

Very pleased with today's puzzle, and delighted to hear of the older pros who'll be showcased all week! I knew all easily except MULAN, which came with crosses without my noticing till afterward.

A "shout out" to MARGARET SANGER is always apt, since the lingering lunatic fringe against women's rights is still with us now in proposed legislation regarding health care reform... Sanger was jailed for promoting contraception, never mind abortion.

∑;)

Anne 9:18 AM  

Congratulations, Mrs. Gordon, and thank you for a lovely puzzle. It had some snap or a Monday which I like a lot.

I hope it's okay to comment on Saturday's puzzle which I finished last night after I did Sunday's. I could not let go of low expectations for the longest but I thought it was doable for a Saturday.

Due to some family issues, I'm going to New Jersey for the rest of the week and will be doing the hard copy. I always miss this blog when I'm away.

Morgan 9:20 AM  

Brutal, for a Monday! It took me 7:00, which is about 3 minutes longer than usual. But a very impressive feat of construction for a constructor 71 years my senior!

Kurt 9:22 AM  

Great work, Bernice Gordon. Thanks.

I thought that this was a great Monday puzzle. And it certainly was not very hard. But then too, I'm older than many/most who hang out here.

I saw George Shearing perform at the Cafe Carlyle in New York on several occassions in the 80s and 90s. I still listen to his CDs with some frequency. Lullaby of Birdland is a classic.

joho 9:29 AM  

Brava, Bernice!

I was away and missed last Saturday and Sunday's puzzles, so was very happy to solve a most interesting Monday on my return to blogland.

I thought the theme very clever, not old. I was thrown by Tommy Smothers having two mothers then thought, why not?

@Jim in Chicago ... I have several clients who request I send their order COD. This practice is not antiquated. As I think this constructor's brain is not as well.

Thank you Ms. Gordon for a most enjoyable Monday!

Bill from NJ 9:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SethG 9:42 AM  

I assumed the theme answers referred to Oliver Drake's Tone, Margaret Pyke's Anger, George Cables' Cables', and Tom Lehrer's Mothers.

Happy Birthday Margaret!

PlantieBea 9:49 AM  

Congrats and thanks to Bernice Gordon! Agree Rex's writeup. This was a more challenging Monday with a clever theme.

PurpleGuy 9:57 AM  

Very solid Monday solving experience for me. Sure was a relief from yesterday's painful experience !

@Bill from NJ thanks for that memory from "Picnic.' My reaction also !
@Kurt- I think I'm somewhere in your range,as the fill was readily familiar to my brain.

Brava Bernice ! Excellent puzzle.

Bill from NJ 10:02 AM  

This is probably too obscure a recollection about George Shearing but he wrote the theme to the movie "Picnic" in the mid 50s and it played famously behind William Holden and Kim Novak dancing among Japanese lanterns out of doors at a small-town Halloween party, him in a torn shirt and her snapping her fingers as she approached him in a sexy red dress. Wow! I saw it at a replay house in 1960 and to a naive 13 year old boy like myself at the time, it was the steamiest scene I ever saw and, to quote Roseanne Roseannadanna, thought I was gonna die!

Elaine2 10:06 AM  

I didn't have any difficulty with this; maybe the "dated" references helped! Got "Eliel" and "Orne" -- my only ??? answers -- easily from crosses. Loved Tom's two moms....

Pleasant Monday puzzle -- Thanks, Bernice!

Susan 10:10 AM  

I found it a little harder than the usual Monday, too, but I liked it.

LOVE that the contestants in the game show clip are both vicars.

@Rex, I never know the "French department" clues, either, and I work in one.

You wrote: "P.S. best actual Google search to result in a hit to this website in the past 24 hrs: kneehole stepmother leg sex film" Completely awesome, but how do you find that out?

Finally, re: Half-Century Week. Aren't the other 51 weeks of the year already Middle Aged Person's Weeks?

fikink 10:13 AM  

Rex, the FIL just wrote you off for not knowing who George Shearing is. I had convinced him to stick around despite your being unwilling to read Yeats, but - alas - this was the last straw.

@Kurt, as did we! and Bobby Short and Marian McPartland AND Brian Torff.

@Bill from NJ, nice! Kim Novak and Rosanne Roseannadanna in the same paragraph!

Bernice, thank you for warming the cockles of FIL's heart!

Dough 10:15 AM  

Bravo Bernice!

A fun puzzle. There is a very clever hidden puzzle here, all referring to death:

• "Oliver Stone" contains "ERST"

• Margaret Sanger was a great champion of eugenics, encouraging the development of a master class of humans by promoting killing off the underclass

• "George Shearing," obviously rearranges into "Agers ere go nigh"

• And of course the obvious "Smothers," as a painful method of death

I loved the puzzle!

Crosscan 10:18 AM  

ok, no mention of 44 Down.

Excellent Monday puzzle.

mac 10:20 AM  

Wow, I would like a chewy puzzle like this any day! When you take a good look, there is a lot of very contemporary fill: e-file, sync, ecoli, yeah. Thank you Bernice Gordon! Now I'm curious about all the other constructors this week, could be very interesting.

I completely agree with Rex's write-up, followed the same path.

When I lived in London, I used to watch this quiz-show sometimes, it's on in the afternoon. The presenter and the participants are usually very serious, with pained expressions when someone makes a mistake. This was a riot.....

Mom Loved Me More 10:37 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Yeah, the Tommy has two mommies was a tad off, but better than clued as "Comedian commits murder?"

retired_chemist 10:37 AM  

Did seem a tad harder that Monday's usual. I enjoyed it. Impressive that a 95 year old constructed it. I too, as a card-carrying geezer, look forward to the rest of the week.

ONly problems were in the SW and as usual of my own making. No clue about MULAN - had HULAN until I realized I was confusing it with HULEN Mall near Fort Worth. Thinking wye in 47A was somehow British (cf. the River Wye) made the answer ZED momentarily, which made 39D SURD SHOT. That seemed irrational.

Ulrich 10:41 AM  

Great puzzle, no more to add on that score.

Reminder: Eliel is Eero's father. He designed Cranbrook Academy, if I'm not mistaken (and the main railroad station in Helsinki).

Bernini's St. Teresa reminds us how sexy religious extacies can be...

Hobbyist 10:53 AM  

Loved this one. Bring back the gimmick-free days of yore, the intelligence, the repartee. Avast with the dumbed-down present day!
Let's be stimulated and open minded.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:59 AM  

Is it just a coincidence?? Today is MARGARET SANGER's 130th birthday! (Born Sept. 14, 1879.) (I would not have known this except that it was mentioned in Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac.)

Very nice puzzle, agree a tad more difficult than the usual Monday.

If the constructor's age had not been mentioned, there might have been more of an outcry about ASPISH, but, hey, it does cross two theme answers, which doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room.

MikeM 11:02 AM  

Thanks Bernice... More difficult than the usual Monday. I have never heard of Margaret Sanger and had DIVERTED for DIVERGES for a bit to complicate matters. George Shearing is well known in jazz circles... tremendous talent. MikeM

XMAN 11:12 AM  

For me, this one went smoothly.

It was a pleasant experience. Ms. Gordon has a lovely mind.

Gina 11:24 AM  

Intelligent puzzle. Negative comments (if I had any about this puzzle) needn't be softened for this lady. Ms. Gordon wouldn't care. We dined with her at the ACPT one year.

This is one gutsy, adventurous lady. Well-travelled, multi-lingual, with friends like Xaviera Hollander. People who live long, fully- engaged lives are too busy to read blogs. Gotta love that. Brava, Ms. Gordon!

foodie 11:36 AM  

I loved seeing I MISS YOU in the middle of the puzzle : ) awww

A lovely puzzle and a very cool theme that makes you think about funny stuff that happens when you're parsing puzzle answers. So has this puzzledom self referential vibe.

My dad is in his nineties and just completed his 30th book. He's very excited and can't wait for the publication date.

I totally agree with Rex that the puzzles need to be judged on their own merit, but I also see the value in making a conscious effort to show case "non-standard" constructors. It's part of appreciating diversity in the world. I'm wondering whether Ulrich, Mac and I should campaign for English as a Second (third?) Language Constructors... Are there any?

Stan 11:43 AM  

Delightful puzzle with a very funny theme. The bar for the week is set high!

Crosscan 11:43 AM  

@foodie: Michael Shteyman has constructed many puzzles since immigrating from Russia as a teenager.

Z.J. Mugildny 11:52 AM  

How about: Justice's elected official of an American Indian tribe that frequently shows up in crossword puzzles?

SONIASOTOMAYOR

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:57 AM  

Throwing it out there: "Countdown" is a spectacularly shitty mid-afternoon game show, and I love it. Who's got the nerd crush on Carol Vorderman? This guy here. And that clip: A+

mac 11:58 AM  

@Foodie: Great idea. I've been trying to have the powers that be add a new category at the ACPT: solvers who speak English as a second language. Let's see what happens.... I think we will have a lot more participants. Oddly enough, the few friends I know do the NYT puzzle are in that group.

Emily Littella 12:02 PM  

Foodie - I just read your post, and said to myself big deal - I'm only 53 and I just finished my 35th book. Then I realized you meant he just finished WRITING his thirtieth book.

Never mind.

obertb 12:12 PM  

I guess that I'm of a certain age that made this puzzle easier for me than it was for some younger solvers. No prob with George Shearing, et. al., but never heard of MULAN, the Disney film. Agree that it was a tad harder than the usual Monday, though.

I'm simply astounded by the quiz show video. Can you imagine that happening in the United States? How can the Europeans be so...I don't know...grown up? Oh, now I remember...they sent all of their religious wingnuts over here back in colonial times.

Greene 12:13 PM  

This was an intelligent, well constructed puzzle -- and we can never have too many of those. I too thought it was a bit hard for Monday, but it didn't bother me in the least. I totally like @MAC's adjective for the puzzle: chewy. To which I might add savory. Loved it. More like this, please.

@Bill from NJ: In an era when filmmakers still had to hide sexuality in the veils of subtext, the Dance Scene from "Picnic" kind of sticks out as an overtly sensuous sore thumb. I remember being riveted by Kim Novak and that dress of hers the first time I saw this and I'm pleased to report that time has not lessened her allure one bit. These two sizzle and the pauses in their dance are, shall we say, pregnant.

PlantieBea 12:18 PM  

@Greene: Thanks for the link to the Picnic dance scene. Beautiful!

Nebraska Doug 12:20 PM  

George Shearing was a gimee as I'm a thrift store/garage sale record collector junkie. Fun to think on a Monday for a change. Much harder than normal for a Monday puzzle.

Karen from the Cape 12:21 PM  

I thought the cluing on this was harder than a usual Monday, and I liked it. The only answer I didn't know was GEORGESHEARING; I don't listen to much jazz. I like this theme more than others I've seen in the past few weeks, it's the right level of wordplay for me.

bluebell 12:23 PM  

For me an easy puzzle is one I can do all by myself with no help from Google or this blog. So today was easy. What I didn't know--i.e. Orne--came easily through crosses.

The theme answers were so clever. I'm trying to analyze for myself the difference between the clever and the mundane. I presume the longer I solve the more I will get that answer.

mac 12:59 PM  

@Greene: thank you for that clip! Were women built differently then, or is it the corset?

william e emba 1:20 PM  

The SMOTHERS brothers' father, by the way, was killed during WWII.

In other news, Dame Vera Lynn, whose music career started before WWII, has set the record for oldest #1 artist on the UK charts. 92!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

George Shearing is a legend.
Nice puzzle Bernice!
Congrats!

--Zorro

chefwen 1:37 PM  

What, you're making me think on a MONDAY??? I loved it!

Kurt 1:47 PM  

@fikink: I saw all that you mentioned as well. Wasn't Brian Torff Shearing's bass player?

@Bill from NJ: Thanks for the George Shearing story about Picnic. That was really neat.

@Greene: Thanks even more for the Picnic clip. That was really, really neat.

chefbea 2:19 PM  

What a great puzzle. I do remember George Shearing, and I loved the smothers brothers.!!

Something I don't understand..Purple guy posted at 9:57 "thanks Bill from NJ". Bill posted at 10:02... 5 minutes later????? How is that possible???

mmorowitz 2:36 PM  

For some reason, I have no problem remembering EERO. I cannot, for the life of me, remember ELIEL.

Excellent Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Fun, tough puzzle for a Monday. I really liked the theme. It was bugging me for a long time before I finally got LASS added on to the TONE in OLIVER STONE, then the rest fell into place (with the exception of the now infamous GEORGE SHEARING!)

The only clues I couldn't get were ELIEL and MEDE? Not sure about those.

capesunset105 3:03 PM  

needless to say quite unhappy to have to erase COD to correct with ANN but got my COD back eventually, so all is forgiven Ms. Gordon.

a better than average Monday puzzle makes up (just a touch) for yesterday's misery.

foodie 3:09 PM  

Aaah, that Picnic clip! When I was a little girl, we would get American movies but years after their release in the US. I don't recall when Picnic hit Damascus, but I must have been at an impressionable age. I thought this was what American life was like, and wanted to be there in the worst way! I remember asking my dad what a picnic was (I mean in truth people have them, but it's not framed the same way. Neither is a cookout). Picnics, cookouts, weekends (as opposed to having only one day off) and movies like this one are the reasons why everyone wants to be an American. Forget Democracy...

@chefbea: I'm guessing Bill from NY posted, then removed his post to correct something (there is one post removed at 9:33) and re-posted later. In the interim Purple Guy saw the original post and commented...

fikink 3:13 PM  

@Kurt, yes, indeed! Torff collaborated with both Shearing and McPartland. (Toured with CLEO Laine when he was only 20!)
Wiki tells me he is at Fairfield [Conn.] University now.

XMAN 3:50 PM  

capesunset105: To a Cape ANNer, you are the other cape.

Bill from NJ 3:55 PM  

@chefbea-

I made an error of fact in my original post, deleted it and corrected it. I didn't notice that Purple guy had commented in the interim. Sorry for the confusion.

Charles Bogle 3:58 PM  

Agree w jiminchicago, plantiebea, doe, mac...a hearty congratulations to Bernice Gordon and thank you for a particulary challenging and rewarding Monday. Funny, as I was having trouble getting through it, particularly the area where retired_chemist struggled, I looked at the name of the constructor; being a relative newbie, it didn't register; given the challenges, I knew she had to be a real pro so I had better sharpen the pencil and buckle down, even if I couldn't see Tommy Smothers having two mothers or seals being ducks or what a foofaraw is..well, now I know! And did you notice the total absence (except maybe for GTO) of Mon/Tues/Wed automatic pilot hackneyed fill (same is true of today's LA Times)...evidently back "in the day," under Will Shortz' famous predecessors, "fill" really took some noodling-

chefbea 3:59 PM  

@foodie and @Bill from NJ thanks for clearing that up

sanfranman59 3:59 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 8:13, 7:00, 1.17, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:21, 3:43, 1.17, 85%, Challenging

Today's puzzle definitely seems to be more challenging than the typical Monday. FWIW, this also seemed to be the consensus at Saturday's 2nd annual Bay Area Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

archaeoprof 4:13 PM  

Congratulations, Bernice Gordon!

@Ulrich: your note about Bernini's St Teresa reminds me of the joke that begins, "What's the worst thing about being an atheist?"

I imagine a lot of people here already know the punch line.

nanpilla 4:23 PM  

Wonderful puzzle - always nice to have a little meat on a Monday.
Only nit - a roan horse is never speckled. The white has to be evenly distributed throughout the coat with the exception of the lower legs and head, which retain the base color without the white. After an injury, the hair grows in black (as opposed to white in most horses), so there can be black spots due to injuries, but they aren't speckled like a fleabitten gray or appaloosa.

retired_chemist 5:23 PM  

@ archaeoprof - I'll bite. What's the punch line?

PurpleGuy 5:47 PM  

@chefbea, foodie &Bill from NJ -Hah !
That was super sneaky cyber time warp that gotme in ahead of time ! The Purple Ray from AZ!!!!!!!

Seriously, thanks for beating me to the explanation.
Are we all ready for the pot luck dinner, now ?
I can show "Picnic" while we dine !!!!!!!

Clark 6:24 PM  

I just returned from a few days in Crivitz, Wisconsin -- almost the UP. I am happy to report that Left Foot Lake has become the ABODE of a family of otters. Nothing puts a smile on your face like a merry band of otters gamboling its way across the lake. Apparently whooping cranes are showing up there these days also. No PANDAs however.

Enjoyable monday puzzle. Go Bernice!

archaeoprof 6:28 PM  

@retired_chemist:
Q: What's the worst thing about being an atheist?

A: Nobody to talk to when you're having orgasm.

Shamik 7:13 PM  

Nice puzzle. Bravo Ms. Gordon! And it seemed like it was challenging while in process, but then turned out to be an easy-medium.

Shamik...skewed towards the 44-D

Sex Porker 7:27 PM  

Time for me to rant and create a foofaraw..35 years ago george carlin said there were 400,000 words in the english language and 7 of them you couldnt say on TV...if you add acronyms /phrases /wordplay you can get 1 bajillion ( or for she who knows me so well 1BZ) combinations....How many times does ROAN and RNA have to be the endproduct of my mental gymnastics? The answer my friend in NOT ro-an in the wind.......

chefbea 7:54 PM  

anyone watching tennis??? what a match

obertb 9:08 PM  

I'm watching. Been watching since the first round. The Fed just lost--damn! But what a match by the young Del Potro! Anyway, now I can have my life back. And--here's what I love about sports--even though my guy lost, the sun will still come up tomorrow, the birds will still sing, life will go on as if nothing had happened, precisely because nothing did.

Sfingi 9:37 PM  

My husband saw George Shearing perform Up North in Old Forge or Hinkley Lake in the 50s. Shearing's blind, you know. Just turned 90 (yesterday).

When my son, the product of 5 years of RC school, announced he was an atheist, I suggested he not tell the nuns since there are no atheist scholarships.

I agree with @nanpilla. The answer annoyed me since those white hairs are hardly noticed in a roan.

The difficulty of the puzzle was reverso for me, since I'm an oldster/oldstress. I thought it was very clever.

sanfranman59 9:38 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 8:16, 7:00, 1.18, 92%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:14, 3:43, 1.14, 83%, Challenging

For all solvers, this is the 8th most challenging puzzle relative to the day of the week in the 15 weeks I've been tracking the stats.

andrea orne-ry michaels 12:39 AM  

I'm trying to imagine still writing puzzles 45 years from now...
suddenly turning 50 next month doesn't seem as mindblowing as it has been lately.

Now I feel mean for thinking this was way too hard for a Monday (cf MEDE/ELIEL/ORNE)!

@Greene
Thanks for the clip! I wish I could learn to embed.

@Gina
Let's hope Ms Gordon IS too busy to read blogs...imagine deciding to for the first time and googling her own name and having it linked to CUNTFLAPS!!!!
(I don't get it, were they supposed to anagram that? Or find antonyms? FLUNCT/PAS is as close as I get)

@Bob Kerfuffle:
Not only is it Margaret Sanger's today but, I just googled...
Oliver Stone's bday is tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!9/15!!!!!!
Let the conspiracy theories begin!

retired_chemist 1:25 AM  

CALF PUNTS.

andrea fun scalpt michaels 1:55 AM  

@Foodie
Keep those memories coming!

ps BOTH of the mothers liked Tommy best

Bob Kerfuffle 6:40 AM  

I just read the Writer's Almanac for today (9/15), and came here to add the news that it was OLIVER STONE's birthday, but @Andrea Quick-on-the-draw Michaels had beaten me to it.
Then I went further in the overnight comments, and saw @Sfingi's note that yesterday was also GEORGE SHEARING's birthday! What an unbelievable coincidence! Alas, since it was unbelievable, I checked myself on Google and find they list GS's birthday as August 13. Not quite a coincidence any more.

Glitch 9:12 AM  

... and I thought the worst part of being an atheist was no holidays.

.../Glitch

Singer 11:58 AM  

I either am getting better at doing crosswords, or have been really lucky. Saturday's puzzle was easy for me (for a Saturday) taking only about 20 minutes. Todays puzzle took about 3 1/2 minutes. Could be because I am old enough to know both the "old" clues (Shearing, Sanger) and the newer ones (GTO, efile). I did enjoy the punny answers, and Tom's two mothers (did they both love Dick best?). I know there are two Saarinens, father and son. I remember Eero, but Eliel I always have to get from crosses when he shows up. Maybe because he doesn't show up as often. I have always loved George Shearing. I have an album of his, Ivory and Ebony, that is marvelous. I never even read the Orne clue, but if I had it is standard crosswordese. Great puzzle, and all the more marvelous constructed by a 95 year old with the good humor to include many "old" references in the answers.

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