Hoosier university / MON 6-13-11 / Man in Iron Mask role Jeremy Irons / City midway between Dallas Austin / Tribe allied with Missouri once

Monday, June 13, 2011

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos

Relative difficulty: Medium (strictly time-wise, this might skew slightly harder)

THEME: PING / PONG (23A: With 57-Across, game that includes the starts of 17-, 29-, 48- and 64-Across) — self-explanatory


Word of the Day: ARAMIS (2D: "The Man in the Iron Mask" role for Jeremy Irons) —

C. René d'Aramis de Vannes (born René d'Herblay) is a fictional character in the novels The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père. He and the other two musketeers Athos and Porthos are friends of the novels' protagonist, d'Artagnan. // The fictional Aramis is loosely based on the historical musketeer Henri d'Aramitz.

• • •

I've got a house guest, so can't spend much time writing today. I was put off by this puzzle almost instantly because it seemed so nakedly ass-kissing, i.e. it's about PING PONG, which is Will Shortz's most favoritest thing in the world besides crosswords. PING PONG might even trump crosswords, I don't know. I noticed recently on Facebook that someone had tagged Will in some photos—they were PING PONG-, not crossword-, related. So I was audibly booing the theme, which is Totally unfair, but I'm just being honest. The grid is actually very interesting, and strangely wide-open-feeling for a 78-worder. Banks of long answers crossing other long answers in both hemispheres of the grid. Finished in 3:07, which is well within the bounds of normal for me on a Monday, but it definitely felt chewier than your average Monday as I was doing it. Theme didn't do much for me, but the grid is actually very nice.


Theme answers:
  • 17A: Laundry that's often food-stained (TABLE LINEN)
  • 29A: How much you really earned (NET INCOME)
  • 48A: Hoosier university (BALL STATE)
  • 64A: Lakeshore rental, perhaps (PADDLEBOAT)
There's one clue that seems wrong to me: 28D: Putting women down, e.g. (SEXIST). The clue is a nominative phrase, which is to say, it should have a noun as an answer. Putting women down is SEXIST, and the moon is spherical, but [The moon, e.g.] cannot clue SPHERICAL. It can clue SPHERE, but not SPHERICAL. SEXIST is an adjective. The clue is not an adjective. Clue and answer must match in terms of parts of speech.



See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Tumblr]

-----
[The following announcement will be up all week the week of July 18, 2011]

I'm coming to NYC for the Lollapuzzoola Tournament on Saturday, Aug. 6 (you should go—info here). But you know that. What you don't know (yet) is that I'm coming several days early to do some interviews for a crossword project I'm working on, and I'm hoping to interview some of You (New Yorkers) about your xword habit. I'm especially interested in talking to people who think they are unlikely solvers, or who solve in weird / interesting / iconic places, or who have good solving anecdotes, or who are famous / prominent in their fields, or any combo of the above. I'm also interested in ordinary everyday solvers. I'm not looking for fast or accomplished solvers. Just interesting solvers. If you live in NYC, this (probably) means you! If you are going to be in town on Aug. 4-5 and are willing to talk to me for a few minutes, drop me a line at rexparker at mac dot com. I'll be exceedingly grateful. I'll see what kind of response I get and set up a schedule from there. If I don't hear from you, I'll just have to wander the streets harassing anyone I see solving a crossword, even though this may result in my getting punched, or worse. So help me out. Thank you!

79 comments:

CoffeeLvr 12:28 AM  

I wanted to do the Monday puzzle tonight to get the bad taste from the three Sunday puzzles I attempted out of my mouth. Somehow, this did not do it.

@Rex, I agree, pretty crunchy for a Monday.

foodie 12:41 AM  

I thought it was a weird theme, but it never occurred to me that it had something to do with Will's passion for Ping Pong! I found it relatively easy, but did not love it.

Not sure about Will's statements about the brain and how much PING PONG engages it. You can't image the brain in a freely moving person, playing a physical game, and I can't find any studies that approximate that. If I've missed them, I'd be grateful to have them pointed out. There are some studies about the impact of doing crossword puzzles on cognitive aging, and some brain imaging studies on insight and deductive reasoning. But I would take Will's rendition of the scientific evidence with a grain of salt...

Or may be this is yet another case of being too close to the topic.

acme 1:08 AM  

what what what?!!!
This comes close to pretty much a perfect puzzle! And I say that not as to whether Alex V is kissing Will's (or my, for that matter, see 22A!) ass!!!!

Smooth smooth smooth, great words
(AIOLI, AOKI, SEXIST, ROCKSTAR, COCOON(I could go on...OK I will!) WISP, SKELETON, STACCATO, ANECDOTE, ZEST...

Ohmygosh, what is not to love?
Bravo!!!

retired_chemist 2:15 AM  

It was foretold by the puzzle. 41A NBA - well, 41 is Dirk Nowitzki's number and as of today he OWNS the NBA after the Mavs' 105-95 game 6 victory over the Heat.

Now that that's over: it was a nice puzzle. I'm pretty much on the acme side of this one. Last fill was fixing the typo to fix RECED/ERAMIS. Last serious square fixed was the M in SEXISM. Agree with Rex that SEXIST is wrongly clued. But it's pretty clear that Cheerios are not made from OAM.

Thanks, Mr. V.

Tobias Duncan 2:30 AM  

I am with ACME, loved it, I think I remember from a weekend puzzle* years ago that Will hates the nickname ping pong for table tennis so the asskissing is mitigated a bit.
Loved seeing ATHEISTS in the grid and the clue made me smile.
Hand up for having to change OAm

*This weeks NPR puzzle is so mathy I did not even give it a go :(

chefwen 2:55 AM  

I'm in the liked it column. Took me a tad bit longer than your usual Monday, and that is good in my book.

We had a ping pong table in our basement and I loved whooping my brother's butt (he was a little slow on the uptake) little sister relished in that.

Only write over was TABLE cloth before TABLE LINEN.

Good start to the week.

imsdave 6:05 AM  

I agree with 22A. Excellent Monday.

Unfortunately, I also agree with our host. I solve on paper, and as such don't get 'happy pencils'. Never saw the Cheerios clue, so finished with SEXISM.

C'est la guerre.

Vega 7:14 AM  

I am so glad you said that "nominative phrase" thing about SEXIST. And glad others winced about changing the m to a T as well. That was the one low spot in an otherwise really fun puzzle for me. The whole thing made me smile, especially ATHEISTS.

SethG 7:46 AM  

SEXISM.

Andrea, the cluing. RETAPE and RETILE. NEZ and OTOE. AXED as Chopped Down. A raft of initialisms. Not a bad puzzle, but there is definitely some stuff not to love.

efrex 8:42 AM  

I'd nitpick the OTOE and NEZ (why not clue the latter as pince-NEZ to avoid multiple tribe names?), and I'm not a fan of XES, but I'm much closer to Andrea than Rex on this one. Nice open grid (first reaction looking at it: "This is a MONDAY grid?"), good helping of interesting words, and the PINGPONG theme just makes for a nice in-joke for those of us In The Know. It's not like it's a horrible puzzle that Will just threw in because it referenced his sport of choice.

Oh, and is VRATSANOS a name that belongs in crosswords or what? Bravo, sir!

OldCarFudd 8:44 AM  

I generally liked this, but have the same cavil (and rewrite) about sexist. And what I really earned is my gross income. My net income is what the bastards let me keep!

jackj 8:45 AM  

Put me in the liked, not loved camp for this one. The same fill which made it interesting for me will, no doubt, drive early-weekers up the walls.

The fill we like, such as IONIZER, CHLORIDE, STACCATO, WARP, ANECDOTE, etc. might prompt some head scratching amongst the Monday solvers while the fill we revile, RETAPE and RETILE for example, will be happily accepted as gimmes by the same group.

Such is the problem of constructing for Mondays, (ACME notwithstanding).

Brian 9:00 AM  

I liked clipping through it, but I found the cluing a little uninspired. I like it when an answer triggers the thought: "Ah, clever." Liked CHLORIDE, ATHEISTS, ROCKSTAR.

male chauvinist 9:01 AM  

Not that facts will change anyone's opinion, M-W Online, Wikionary, Cambridge, and several other dictionaries all show SEXIST as both a noun and adj.

P>G>

GLR 9:02 AM  

Generally pretty smooth here. Hiccups at SEXISm and STACCATO (didn't know if the latter had a double-C or double-T). Also had a brain cramp on CHLORIDE - got it entirely from crosses.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

Tobias, can you link to the NPR puzzle please?

GLR 9:06 AM  

@male chauvinist,

Sexist can certainly be a noun, but its noun form doesn't mean "putting women down." More like "one who puts women down."

mac 9:13 AM  

Good Monday but no real sparkle. My longest hesitation was at ASCII and ISP, my brain just doesn't want to retain that sort of thing. And look at that pile-up: ICBM. NBA, MRI and the two I already mentioned!



Never heard of Ball State before, but the crosses forced it in.

joho 9:14 AM  

Fun Monday. My only write overs were TABLEcloth to LINEN like @chefwen and SEXISm to SEXIST like many here it appears.

Knowing about Will's affection for table tennis I was a little put off by the theme, but, what the heck, why not?! And if it helps get your puzzle published, I'm thinking, the more power to you, Alex!

Loved seeing ACME on a Monday.

quilter1 9:15 AM  

I rate this one easy. I agree with @jackj's comment re solvers. My only write over was evade before ELUDE.

Tobias Duncan 9:20 AM  

You got it anon, I hope you want this weeks puzzle and not the one where he corrects Liane Hansen for saying pingpong, because I doubt I can find that one...

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/12/137129959/its-lonely-at-the-top



Next Week's Challenge: This Hat Rack Puzzle by Sam Loyd was published 100 years ago in Woman's Home Companion: A hat room contains a wall with 49 pegs, arranged in a 7-by-7 square. The hat clerk has 20 hats that are to be hung on 20 different pegs. How many lines, containing four hats in a straight line, is it possible to produce? A line can go in any direction: horizontally, vertically or obliquely. To explain your answer, number the pegs in order, from 1 in the upper left corner to 49 in the lower right corner; list which pegs you put the 20 hats on, and give the total number of lines containing four hats in a row.

This puzzle just does not interest me at all, while I adore math and science as culture, I dont like actually having to do any. I much prefer to cheer from the sidelines and listen to ANECDOTES from my scientist friends.

thursdaysd 9:32 AM  

Found this pretty easy. Didn't need the theme, which I thought uninteresting - but had no idea about Will Shortz' proclivities.

Liked MOSAICS, ANECDOTE, WISP, AIOLI (yum), bit surprised to see ASCII, and not pleased by RETILE, RETAPE, OTOE, not to mention ESSES and XES.

A little puzzled by the angst over SEXIST - I took the clue as defining sexist behavior - but as I grew up doing cryptics I probably have a more relaxed attitude to cluing.

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Easy puzzle and yes.. good to see Acme on a Monday.

Don't most dresses have seams??? Not just A-lines???

slypett 9:38 AM  

"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent." --Wittgenstein, mystical logician.

In other words, I had no intention of commenting on what had been done to death. On the other hand, I had nothing else to do.

Fine puzzle.

B Russell 10:05 AM  

@slypett - You're mis-interpreting Wittgenstein. That comment was about the limitations of language, not keeping quiet when you've got nothing to say.

Matthew G. 10:14 AM  

Pretty nice puzzle for a Monday. Felt kind of like a Monday themeless. Was aware of Will's passion for ping pong but it didn't register with me as I was solving.

I finished with a Medium time for one specific reason: I put TABLECLOTH instead of TABLE LINEN and didn't question it for a while, or at least for long enough to push my time to middling for a Monday. I've heard the term TABLE LINEN, of course, but does anyone other than, say, Macy's, actually say it?

Wasn't bothered by the clue for SEXIST, though I suppose it would have been better without the "e.g."

male chauvinist 10:15 AM  

@GLR 9:06

Your "Sexist can certainly be a noun ..." seems to be at odds with Rex's final paragraph, but goes on to be supportive of the first part of mine ;)

P>G>

jesser 10:16 AM  

I had no idea about Will's love for table tennis, but I love that he calls it that, just as I call pocket billiards what it is rather than that other word for it. Snobbery is a good thing!

I only knew BALL STATE University because David Letterman won't shut up about it being his alma mater.

Hands up for both TABLE cloth and SEXISm before the lights shone.

Let's do the Time WARP again, shall we?

jesser

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Bertrand Russell speaking from the grave???? Speaking of those in disbelief....

slypett 10:41 AM  

Dear Mr. B. Russell,

You put your finger right in the middle of the pie. The beauty of language is that a misinterpretation is not necessarily an error.

Yours,
Slypett

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

No mention that this is Alex's first and today is his graduation from high school -- all in all pretty remarkable. Agree with Acme. I'm willing to chalk Rex's comments off to being rushed with house guests. I trust his crankiness did not affect his hospitality.

Two Ponies 10:50 AM  

I had no idea about Will and ping pong so I just sat back and enjoyed the lively vocabulary and ignored the rest of the fill.
Like @ mac I stuttered a moment at the ISP ASCII cross.
As an ex-Hoosier I had no problem with Ball State.

Wittgenstein 11:03 AM  

@Bertie, @slypett, what I said was:
"Worüber man nicht reden kann, darüber muss man schweigen." (whereof one cannot talk, thereof one must be silent)--an admonition to talk only about things that are the case (facts upon which one can agree)--not because the other stuff is unimportant--it may be MORE important--but b/c one cannot talk about it in any fruitful way.

anecdote cocoon michaels 11:07 AM  

@sethg
Ha! OK, I see what you are talking about, but it did not diminish it for me even slightly...
I never even got around to mentioning the position of PING and PONG as if they were on both sides of a table, over the NET with the BALL, with PADDLE on the end!
Now THAT's construction!

@jesser
I too only knew BALLSTATE from Letterman, what an awful name for a college, but I love that Letterman is so proud :)

And the fact that Will NEVER calls it PING PONG does in fact mitigate the paddle-kissing, I believe.
And that it was a first puzzle from a highschool student did not show at all, but that makes it all the more sweet to me!

Now to get over my weekly shock that some folks don't notice the theme!

syndy 11:21 AM  

Lovely Monday puzzle! plenty of entree but a whole lot of fresh fun things!I tend to across first so I had OAT before SEXIST-yes Mondays are usually clued more literally only write over MANET to MONET (I always confuse those two)

Two Ponies 11:24 AM  

@ Andrea, Yes, Ball is the subject of many jokes in Indiana. The Ball family funded the college. If anyone out there does home canning you are no doubt familiar with Ball jars. That's part of where they made their fortune. Their lovely mansion is in Fort Wayne and is now a library.

Sparky 11:26 AM  

Missed on A-OLI/B-O. I must remember how to spell that upscale mayo. Blanked on I-P/AS-II. Don' know my AOL from my IPO. Liked the puzzle. CLoth before LINEN. I was solving all across and then all downs. I can see that is not good for speeding up.

Alex graduating from High School eh? Hmmm, I think I need a cookie and a little rest.

Old cartoon: Holdup man in a museum. Curator: Do you want Manet, Monet, or money? Have a good Monday.

bko 11:32 AM  

Moths come out of cocoons. A butterfly emerges from a chrysalis.
I found this puzzle was very easy. It's always interesting to note how they are graded- some Rex calls easy are tough in my book. Crabbiness and crankiness frequently have much to do with my finding a puzzle more difficult.

Lewis 11:40 AM  

The constructor said that his goal was to have a puzzle published in the NYT before he finished high school, so he just made it, as today is his graduation. I'm guessing he did all his assignments at the last minute also.

Congrats Alex on your first puzzle published in the NYT!

PlantieBea 11:42 AM  

Congrats to Alex Vratsanos on the debut puzzle and high school graduation! Although I RACED through the puzzle, I enjoyed the solid grid. And, if Mr. Vratsanos by chance happens to visit RexWorld, a note...after seeing some of the the clues and your distinctive name on top, I have to guess that I used to work with your parents. Best wishes and congratulations, again.

Arundel 11:43 AM  

Wow - I thought this was very good Monday, and that was before I found out that it was a first, never mind being the first of a newly minted high-school graduate! Any Monday that has ACME, ATHEISTS, PING, PONG and a PADDLEBOAT is fine with me. There might be minor cavils but none worth mentioning.

Congratulations, Alex!

Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Heck of a debut. Didn't know ping pong was such a touchy subject. Ooooh. Controversy! Lit up the snark line in CrossWorld! Thumbs up #1!

Grid layout looks like a SatPuz with a couple extra black squares thrown in. Fill so sweet and fresh, it even got 31's attention. Thumbs up #2.

One U on either side of the net. No doubt meant here to signify the two players in the match. Thumbs up #3. But keep that U-count up, when not resorting to symbolism, kid.

Clearly I've long ago used up all my thumbs, so I'll close with my no doubt highly-valued take on the SEXIST-Gate subject. Since when can't "putting women down" be a descriptive phrase? Use it in a sentence once. The film is clearly putting women down. The film is clearly sexist. QED.

retired_chemist 11:55 AM  

@male chauvinist - I agree with @GLR and @Rex. A SEXIST (n) is a person. A person is not correctly clued by an action, albeit they both may be nouns. A sexist (adj) is how @ Rex used it (modifier of the gerund ), hence his (accurate) spherical moon analogy.

Hand up for TABLECLOTH.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

@M&A - You might want to read Rex's explanation of his objection to SEXIST, if only to see where you're off-base in your "proof".

chefbea 12:09 PM  

Congrats Alex!!!

@two ponies Thanks for the info on Ball jars. I have so many cuz I make green tomato relish at the end of the season!!!

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

When it's the male we call it sexist. When it's the female we call it what, feminist?

@Matthew, I understand that where soon-to-be-ex-Congressman Weiner is going for rehab, they also have a 12 step program for crossword addiction.

Where is Evil Doug? Surely he will note that Will was kissing Alex's ass by publishing his first on his HS graduation day, not the other way aound as Rex suggests.

I still defer to Acme on this puzzle as she is the Queen of Mondays.

Masked and Anonymous II 12:25 PM  

@M-less A (11:56AM): Did it before doin' my "proof". I'm pretty dense, so had to look up "nominative" in my dictionary, to grasp 31's SEXIST-Gate complaint. Grammar relating to or denoting a case of nouns, pronouns, and adjectives (as in Latin and other inflected languages) used for the subject of a verb. Now what? Still feelin' like I'm sailing on the QED2.

JenCT 1:01 PM  

One mistake for me: ended up with SCOULS instead of SCOUTS - bah!

Tried PONTOONBOAT before PADDLEBOAT.

@bko - I learned that it was moth/COCOON, butterfly/chrysalis also, but I guess maybe there are exceptions?? (Whenever I think something's wrong, it turns out that I'm the one who's wrong!) Anyone know?

foodie 1:03 PM  

As part of my continuing crossword education, I went back and looked at the puzzle keeping in mind what Andrea and others said about it merits. I can now definitely see why it's admirable. I had noted the position of PING and PONG on my own, but the way the solid squares are aligned like a net in between is cool indeed. BALL and NET being in the center of the puzzle and TABLE and PADDLE being more peripheral is very elegant. And the non-theme longish words are excellent-- ANECDOTE, COCOON, STACCATO, SKELETON, IONIZER,etc.

I remember the first time I tasted mole poblano-- I liked it but did not love it. But it seemed theoretically appealing because of its complexity and unexpected ingredients (including chocolate and chili peppers). I went back to savoring it, and I now love it. May be for some of us, this puzzle is like that... you need to go back and appreciate it in a different way.

fikink 1:07 PM  

@retired_chemist, well put.

And @foodie, thanks for weighing in on Will's comments re: brain function. I have given his comments their due (why I love this blog!)

@Alex, an impressive Monday puzzle, although I, too, do not think the SEXIST clue should have gotten through the editors. Congratulations on two fronts, debut and graduation.

@Wittgenstein, thanks for the clarification ;)

lit.doc 1:10 PM  

Solved last night but then actually went to bed for a change, so late for the Burning Controversies of the Day.

What Rex said time-wise. Weird. Felt nice and smooth as I solved, and then I saw that it had taken me about two minutes longer than usual. Weird.

I’m with @acme et al. on this one—what’s not to love? Speculative crucipolitics aside, it was a clean grid with straightforward, non-Martian fill. Certainly Rex is correct about the grammatical disjunction of “Putting women down” / SEXIST (how did that get past the editor?!), but the very gettable OAT crossing deISM’d it easily enough, I thought.

@P>G>, indeed, SEXIST functions as noun or adjective. But the problem here is that the clue is inapt for either POS. “One who puts women down”, fine—a noun. “Behaviors that put women down”, fine—an adjective.

@slypett et al., our utterly picayune point of history for the day is that Wittgenstein completely disavowed his earlier writings—to wit, the Tractatus, whence that famous quotation—in his later writings. FWIW. But then, he never was all that stable…

Stan 1:44 PM  

The need to start words with vowels (which often leads to the dread EZINE, etc.) has been handled especially well here. ARAMIS, IONIZER, ANECDOTE, and ATHEISTS are my faves.

Thanks for unpacking the theme, Andrea. I did not notice the word placement.

Congradulations, Alex!

Matthew G. 2:08 PM  

@Anonymous: I wish I understood your new running joke, namely, that I am somehow more of a crossword addict than anyone else here but ... I don't get the joke. Sorry.

Masked and Anonymous Shootin' Last Silver Bullet 2:12 PM  

The clue for SEXIST was grammatically OK in my book; but perhaps a little wobbly for a MonPuz clue. Probably part of what 31 mighta been worked up about. But he was kinda distracted by the house guests. Har...

Friend Connie had house guests (HusbandRelatives, I think) once. Wife guest brought her pet cocker spaniel with. Gave it a bath in their bathtub. Then the mangy mutt proceeded to pee all over the living room carpet. "She's just a little nervous," was GuestWife's take. Connie plum lost it; threw 'em out.

retired_chemist 2:23 PM  

@ M&ASLSB - bad of the guests. Most dogs ought not to be (short term) house guests for this reason. Canine syllogism:

I may not pee in my house.
This is not my house.
Ergo, the prohibition against peeing is null and (so to speak) void.

It doesn't take long to re-housebreak, but I'd bet more than a weekend.

Sfingi 2:52 PM  

@Rex - Puzzle could be your excuse for getting away from said house guest.

SEXIST - I don't always use same part of speech to test the validity of crossword answer. Replacing both in some same sentence often works, as Masked and Anonymous said. They're putting women down? They're sexist.

ksquare 3:12 PM  

@REX: Speaking of both hemispheres of the grid, the grid is flat and rectangular and has no hemispheres.

sanfranman59 3:48 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 7:21, 6:52, 1.07, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:09, 3:40, 1.13, 90%, Challenging

XWDer 4:29 PM  

Definitely not with Rex on this one.

Now to the puzzle - very well done, as many have mentioned.

Alex, keep on constructing, don't move on just because you got the first one in. The next few are more fun!

quilter1 5:00 PM  

I wasn't going to tell this story but I must. One of my Drake professors, Bud Fanning, had taught at Ball State. He said when the founding family donated some art to the college gallery it was labeled "hung by the Balls."

I think women can be as SEXIST as men can be, so I don't think of the word as gender specific in meaning.

retired_chemist 5:27 PM  

"when the founding family donated some art to the college gallery it was labeled 'hung by the Balls.'"

Now, that's just nuts.

And here I thought that Ball State had to do with Hoosier basketball mania, and the reason for it being in the puzzle today was that the NBA championship was decided last night. Did I mention that Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are the 2011 NBA champs?

captcha nogrande - a phrase I sometimes use, followed by "venti, please."

chefbea 5:38 PM  

@Quilter1 and @Retired chemist LOL

Will Shortz (yes, it's really me) 5:49 PM  

Regarding today's clue for SEXIST, which I'll take credit for, I think it's fine. The phrase "putting women down" can be either nounal or adjectival, depending on its usage.

If you say, for example, "Putting women down is boorish behavior," then it's being used as a noun, equating the two halves of the sentence.

But if you say, for example, "John is always putting women down," you're not saying that John is the same thing as putting women down. In this case "putting women down" works adjectivally, modifying John, just as "John is smart" or "John is ridiculous" ends in an adjective.

So I stand by the clue.

Also, for the record, Alex says he thought of this puzzle's theme when he joined his high school's ping-pong team. I don't think he was aware of my interest in the game when he submitted the puzzle, and my interest in the game had nothing to do with my accepting it. It's a good puzzle, period.

retired_chemist 6:05 PM  

No, Will. In "John is always putting women down," it is the present participial form of the verb "to put." It is the predicate, not an adjective.

captcha rundr - what @Ulrich takes at a spa.

GLR 6:13 PM  

Since @quilter1 and @retired_chemist have broached this line of thinking, I'll mention that when I was in school at IU, BALL STATE was (affectionately) referred to as "Testicle Tech."

Stan 6:28 PM  

@retired chemist: I think it's a 'predicate adjective' -- a special case requiring a linking verb like 'is'. (Or more precisely a verbal phrase functioning as a predicate adjective). But in any case, it works as a substitution in Will's example. I hope I'm being sufficiently ass-kissy here!

The Ball State stuff is too funny...

male chauvinist 7:15 PM  

As I said this morning, nothing's going to change the mind of those upset that the answer that fit the grid was SEXIST not their first choice, SEXISM ;)

P>G>

Two Ponies 7:27 PM  

I was okay with the sexist clue.
I think it's very cool than Will chimed in. Thanks.

chefbea 8:17 PM  

Will - thanks for coming by. You should do it more often!!!

michael 8:33 PM  

Found this hard for a Monday (but still easy of course). Agree with Will on the sexist controversy. Rex is unusually (even for Rex) cranky today.

Clark 8:39 PM  

@Stan, @retired_chemist -- Agreeing with r_c here, "John is putting women down" uses a present (tense) progressive (aspect) form of the verb "to put". This is not an adjectival form.

sanfranman59 10:00 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 7:23, 6:52, 1.07, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:08, 3:40, 1.13, 90%, Challenging

Jonathan 12:22 AM  

Did anybody else really want NES for "Wizards and Warriors Org"??

jberg 9:15 AM  

I was at the Boston Early Music Festival most of yesterday, solved this fun puzzle on the way in, but had no computer access until just now. I had OAT before SEXIST, so that didn't bother me; writeover for TABLE CLOTH > LINEN, and also PUFF for WISP, which doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone else.

I don't think I'll jump into the controversies over predicate adjectives or what Wittgenstein really said - just observe that it seemed to me Rex was saying that it was a good puzzle objectively, but the theme grated for him personally. Nice work, Alex, keep it up!

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Hello from syndication land. I think cocoons protect moths and a chrysalis would protect a butterfly, no?

Dirigonzo 3:26 PM  

Wow, the posts (five weeks ago) today cover a little of everything - science, philosophy, grammar, doggie syllogisms, and Will chimed in, too!

My favorite clue/answer was 58a, because Rex and some other prime-timers solve at WARP speed, while we in syndicationland solve in a time WARP, so it was a shout out to both groups.

Deb @ RoomscapesDecor.com 3:31 PM  

How fun to see Will Shortz pop in! And use the term "ping-pong!"

I see what Rex is saying re SEXIST, but I think he's being overly nit-picky. If clue and answer meet the basic x=x, where the = equates to IS, it's good enough for me. Putting women down IS sexist, and the moon IS spherical, and Rex IS curmudgeonly. :)

As to the cocoon/chrysalis question, perhaps Alex V got The Very Hungry Caterpillar confused with his grade school science textbook. I hold Eric Carle and the many people who vet each puzzle before publication more responsible for that error though.

Dirigonzo 4:00 PM  

@Deb - The Very Hungry Caterpillar as a science textbook makes me think of another certain volume that is being touted as the source of material that should be taught in science class. Reminds me of a comic strip I saw recently where a science teacher was explaining to the class how Noah had forgotten the dinosuars when he loaded the Ark, but somehow he managed to get all the microbes. Funny stuff.


Beam me up, Scotty!

Tetatango 10:32 PM  

Butterfly = chrysalid and moth = cocoon

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