Algerian port / MON 2-4-13 / Battle of Normandy city / Casablanca character Lund / Hamlet's word before perchance to dream / Tobago's island neighbor / Sarah Terminator heroine

Monday, February 4, 2013

Constructor: Randall J. Hartman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (3:48)


THEME: body parts on high — theme answers are phrases that follow the pattern [body part IN THE welkin]

Word of the Day: ORAN (41A: Algerian port) —

Oran [...] is a major city on the northwestern Mediterranean coast of Algeria, and the second largest city of the country. It is closely associated with its neighboring city, Aïn Témouchent.
It is the capital of the Oran Province (wilaya). The city has a population of 759,645 (2008[1]), while the metropolitan area has a population of approximately 1,500,000, making it the second largest city in Algeria.[3] Oran is a major port, and since the 1960s has been the commercial, industrial, and educational centre of western Algeria. (wikipedia)
• • •
Not tough, but tougher than normal for Monday, largely do to fussiness and ambiguity. I think this theme is dead in the water. EYES IN THE SKY just doesn't work, for a couple of reasons. It's very much the odd man out. Plural EYES should've disqualified it immediately. Also, the other two phrases are metaphors that describe types of human beings. EYES IN THE SKY ... isn't. Not even close. Fill-wise, this was just fine, though I could do without crosswordesey geography like CAEN and ORAN. You gotta wonder if the awful partial IS TO over the not-great French place CAEN (64A: Battle of Normandy city) could've been avoided if the constructor hadn't been so compelled by getting KNUTE in there as well as ROCKNE (48D: With 9-Down, Notre Dame coaching legend). Oh, and ILSA's in there too. Strike three. Slowed down ... where? Let's see. Not sure which spelling (-ER or -OR) of CONNOR was in play (5D: Sarah ___, "The Terminator" heroine). Clue on RAT was crazy—I liked it, but it was Saturday-hard/complicated (13D: Singer who doesn't want a hit?). Fumbled HEAD IN THE CLOUDS when it looked like the phrase was going to be HEADING ... something. Couldn't process what was meant by "station house" in 34D: Took to the station house (RAN IN). No way I could get "I'M OKAY" from that clue without a bunch of crosses (44D: "No harm, no foul"). I'm not even sure that answer goes (well) with that clue. Lastly (and this has nothing to do with difficulty, just my own inept typing), I had to spend many seconds tracking down a typo—at bleeping CONNER! I remember thinking as I was solving, "oh, it's MOE, so CONNOR has an O not an E," but apparently my fingers did not follow through on the realization.


Theme answers:
  • 20A: Overhead security devices (EYES IN THE SKY)
  • 37A: Lack of contact with reality (HEAD IN THE CLOUDS)
  • 52A: Sign of haughtiness (NOSE IN THE AIR)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

73 comments:

Etiquite Maven @Amsterdam and 125th 12:19 AM  

No harm no foul really means if you ain't bleeding quit whining.

Evan 12:22 AM  

Huh, I hadn't even given the EYES IN THE SKY a second thought as being problematic. In fact, I had no idea that's what those security cameras you see on the ceiling were called. But yeah, I guess I can see Rex's point on the plural being awkward, though EYE IN THE SKY CAMERAS wouldn't be too great of an answer -- on the "green paint" level. Still, somewhat cool that CAMERAMEN crosses it.

I liked seeing CONNOR in the grid -- two days in a row with a NYT debut of a word made up mostly of 1-point Scrabble tiles. Among things I wasn't crazy about, I kinda wish that there hadn't been another IN outside the theme answers (for RAN IN). Both CAR and RAT crossing CARAT isn't spectacular either. CARAT is one of those words I'll never be able to sort out properly, given its homophone twins KARAT and CARET.

My sympathies to @Rube, but what a game!

jae 12:32 AM  

Medium for me.  Very solid grid with some nice long answers...JANEEYRE, TRINIDAD, STRATEGIC... Not much zip unless you count The Stooges clues, but still a good Mon. , although I agree the theme seems a little loose.

Aorta Connor Mets 12:32 AM  

I liked it, but then, I would... ;)

I mean, it works in a straightforward sort of way and the theme helps with the other theme answers.

Truthfully, I didn't know EYESINTHESKY so shaky start for me.
If the lengths had worked out, maybe EYESONTHEPRIZE might have worked better, but then you'd have the IN/ON nonparallel.

I certainly didn't LOATH it, and yet, I don't totally disagree with Rex...
ie cluing harder than usual Monday, and totally agree that the RAT clue was Friday/Sat level...

BUT

I liked the simplicity and the bounciness of the corners:
SLAP, ZAP, BAM!

(ps If you are out there, will the Thurs @anon 12:19 with the 100 yr old Aunt Kate person contact me offline?)

Rube 12:35 AM  

Just did the puzzle, trying to get my mind off the game... tx @Evan for your commiserations. Well, there's always next year.

Re the puzz, had CarteR before CONNeR/CONNOR.

Got ORAN from the crosses... I guess this is a reasonable WOTD.

I can't go on. Congratulations Ravens.

Greg Charles 1:12 AM  

I came in at just over 6:00 where my typical Monday is more like 8:00. But I have no idea why.

retired_chemist 1:54 AM  
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retired_chemist 1:55 AM  
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retired_chemist 1:56 AM  

Fastest Monday EVER (4:21). Started with 1A and filled in the acrosses one after another, skipping the theme answers. Didn't get 58A GLUT on the first pass and had ST LO for 64A. Guessed, arbitrarily but correctly, that 36A was BRIE instead of EDAM and 35A was SIMI instead of NAPA or OJAI. A few downs got me each theme answer and fixed 58A and 64A.

Someone please explain RAT (13D) to me - I totally do not get it. Actually, just writing that made me see it - the RAT is a stool pigeon, not a rodent. The hit is getting shot by a hit man. OK, yes, a Saturday clue, but the crosses were easy, so so what.

Too easy IMO but maybe it was just almost all smack in my wheelhouse.

Thanks, Mr. Hartman.

Captcha madgov 42 (because why not 42?)- we have a mad gov here in TX.

Davis 2:25 AM  

This one fell into the easy bin for me — second fastest solve ever (3:39, which is close to the fastest I can possibly type in on the ipad screen).

Didn't see a substantial number of the clues because this one went so smoothly for me, but I actually liked today's theme. I don't see a problem with EYES IN THE SKY being plural, nor did I find the human/non-human metaphor problematic.

I agree that the fill is just middle-of-the-road, though.

Anoa Bob 2:34 AM  

EYE IN THE SKY I've heard since the early days of spy satellites, so going with EYES for me falls into the category of gratuitously using the plural, when the singular would be better, solely to bump up the letter count so it will match that of another theme entry.

Don't want to go on a JIHAD here, but gratuitous plurals anywhere, but especially in the theme entries, seems, well, suboptimal.

I thought that were a lot of names and proper nouns for a Monday offering. A quick count came up with 28.

Good thing I knew NOAM Chomsky or else that upper middle area with CALC, LEAH, CONNOR, MOE and IMPEI, might have done me in.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Geez ret-chem - I was all ready to splain it to you and you figured it out yourself. RATS!

@Rube - I tried my best. But don't be talking smack about next year, cuz we're takin' you down.

@Rex - Thanks for the Alan Parsons, one of my favorite bands and one of my favorite songs. I try singing along to it but the animals always run out of the room. Wonder why.

Agree with 20A being somewhat clunky with the plural EYES. Maybe because of the Parsons song. Enaway, enjoyable Monday.

Ellen S 3:07 AM  

So @Rex does it in 3:48 and says it's medium-challenging and I did it in 14:36 (minus whatever it took to refill the dogs' water bowl) and thought it was the easiest one I've done in ages.

Only one writeover -- I stupidly put in Oman at 41A, but immediately realized my error when I saw 35D, the STRATEGIC (Arms Limitation treaty).

I hardly needed any crosses to get the answers, no problem with the cluing of RAT. @ret-chem -- yeah, there should be a law that WWII French four-letter city has to be St. Lo. What's with CAEN? I didn't fall into the trap, but it's just wrong.

The captcha is Zeachin. Is that a really boring 1960s anti-war workshop where all the protesters fall asleep? or am I just zeachin'?

jae 3:53 AM  
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jae 3:56 AM  

Hand up for STLO.

loren muse smith 6:02 AM  

HEAD IN THE CLOUDS is great! Hand up for not being familiar with EYES IN THE SKY.

@Anoa Bob - I agree -lots of proper nouns, but since I found this easyish, I’M OKAY with it.

I once had to spell JIHAD onstage in the Broadway show Twenty Fifth Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and I’m not making that up. I nailed it. Misspelled the next word, “cenacle.” Now there’s a late week word for you!

I’ve met ChomSKY. Twice.

Ate too much BRIE watching the Super Bowl and couldn’t SLEEP.

@Andrea – thanks for pointing out SLAP, BAM, ZAP. Thou SEEST much that I miss!

I keep seeing some kind of noodle novel, CAME RAMEN.

I enjoyed this one, Randall.

MetaRex 6:30 AM  

Thx to the Westport tournament, I knew Randall Hartman's puzzle in advance. Eyes in the sky, indeed!

The mismatch between EYES IN THE SKY and the other thematic answers is made up for me by the long down CAMERAMEN, which forms a nice implicit thematic pair w/ EYES IN THE SKY--agree w/ Evan on this--and also by the rich assortment of names of people portrayed in books or movies who might be taken to have their HEAD IN THE CLOUDS or NOSE IN THE AIR. There's ANNA (Karenina) --definitely yes as to the former trait, probably also yes as to the latter one...JANE EYRE--not so much, but v. nice associations given the "governess getting rich and marrying up"plot of the novel...ILSA (Lund)--not sure, but Ingrid Bergman w/ her beauty is a nice "nose in the air" association...PATTON--a snob I think...and KNUTE ROCKNE--don't think so for either trait, but maybe I'll watch the movie one day and find out...anyway, he's a good name to have in the puzzle the day after the Super Bowl.

OTD 6:42 AM  

Easiest Monday in a long time. Record time. Some good fill--which I did with mostly across clues alone. Unlike Rex, I had no problem with the theme answers.

Did have a lot of crosswordese.

evil doug 7:04 AM  
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evil doug 7:06 AM  

It was "The Three Stooges", but the number of Stooges was >3. Larry, Moe, Curly, Shemp, Joe, Curly Joe...

EyeS in the sky? HeadS up his ass.

Evil

John V 7:08 AM  

Yep, this was puzzle #1 at Westport. Kind of flew by, of course, but I think most at the tournament found it very easy. Only spot I fussed over was CALC, wanting TRIG initially. Pretty sure my time came in well under 5 which is about as fast as I can write.

Good puzzle, Randall.

Milford 7:16 AM  
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Milford 7:39 AM  

I also had my fastest time ever (7:40ish) - its funny how it is playing differently for people. I guess the proper names just all fell for me, miraculously.

Liked how the theme had two parts, so I didn't so much mind the plural EYES. Amusing how the clues kept jumping from slapstick THREE STOOGES to the dignified JANE EYRE and ANNA Karenina.

CAEN wasn't an issue for me - I always think of it before St. Lo.

Nice, easy Monday.

Z 7:43 AM  

Easy for me (7 minutes). Lots of clues I didn't see during the solve, CAEN, IS TO, RAT, UMA, JIHAD, SEEST, PAR, ROO, ORS, I just didn't need them to solve. When you don't notice the crosswordese the puzzle seems better...

A little religion today, with LEAH, SIN, quoting Revelation, JIHAD, and, of course, KNUTE ROCKNE. Speaking of which, I'm pretty agnostic on football (the Lions will do that to you) so I only flipped by the game to try to catch the ads, but the little I saw made me wonder when being offsides stopped being a penalty.

The Bard 8:03 AM  

Hamlet ,Act III, scene I

HAMLET: To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

Glimmerglass 8:21 AM  

Monday easy with a few little hot peppers scattered here and there -- always easily gettable from crosses.

Susan McConnell 8:25 AM  

Kinda blah. Best part for me was learning the word "welkin".

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

Very surprised to read Rex's review and rating difficulty. For me it was one of the easiest Mondays ever. I don't clock myself but I must have broken the 10 minute mark which would be a record for me. In every puzzle there is going to be some crosswordese but I thought that this one had plenty of answers to like.

joho 8:32 AM  

@Milford, not only does the theme have two parts but the second part: SKY, CLOUDS and AIR all relate. I also like that EYES look to the SKY, ones's HEAD could touch the CLOUDS and a NOSE not only can be in AIR, it breathes it!

I loved seeing all of JANEEYRE in the grid.

@Andrea, I missed the BAM but wrote in my margin SLAP, KAT, ZAP!
Fun!

Thanks, Randall Hartman!

Milford 9:00 AM  

Yes, exactly! I tried thinking of another head body part that fit the theme and couldn't. The closest I came was "ear to the ground", but that's going the opposite way!

jackj 9:06 AM  

THREE clues stressing “IN THE” as the theme, make for another shrug of a Monday puzzle. Wrapping facial parts, EYES, HEAD, NOSE around the theme phrase and having those body parts directed into the ozone helps strengthen things a bit but it still needs the verbal equivalence of a “5-hour-energy” drink.

And because of that it’s more fun to embrace the other theme that graces this Randall Hartman construction, the tribute to the Slapstick Kings, the THREE Stooges.

Two of the clues go directly to the point with THREE clued as “Number of Stooges” and standing nearby, plotting nonsense is “A Stooge” and of course that is the one of a kind, MOE. Also, the THREE Stooges were signaled at 1 Across with a trademark SLAP and the connections were further strengthened with BAM and ZAP, making the zany group the puzzle’s prime focus by virtue of showing more clues than the draggy alternative of IN THE.

There was some nice fill for a Monday, CAMERAMEN and STRATEGIC being two stand outs along with my favorite, LOATH and, also, MOSSY was nice but might have been better clued as a descriptor for harrumphing, bewigged members of Britain’s House of Lords.

On the iffy side, the question arises, “If we can clue Spring to be SPR, can we clue Fall to be AUT, Summer to be SUM or Winter to be WIN”?

This puzzle is by one of the most accomplished constructors and hopefully he’ll forgive my having a bit of fun with his work; it is, more or less, a perfectly acceptable Monday puzzle.

God 9:32 AM  

Well, I do have two EYES, but I prefer the 'royal eye', as I am the EYEINTHESKY

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle.
Thanx @Ret chem for the explanation of rat.

What a game last night...an what good food..especially my peanut butter football.

Milford 9:39 AM  

@jackj - to answer your question, it works on mah jongg tiles...
http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=2253649

Notsofast 9:44 AM  

Maybe a tad too easy. Lacked zip. Just, well...pleasant. C

quilter1 9:46 AM  

Easy and fun. I started from the bottom today and so EYES IN THE SKY dropped right in when I got up there. I didn't mind the plural. Also liked all of Miss EYRE's name included. Cute RAT clue. Overall a good Monday puzzle.

evil doug 9:50 AM  

[Jerry’s apartment---Jerry has the hots for Gina, the foreign-sounding girlfriend of a comatose neighbor....]

GINA: I do not like your toothbrush. There are no bristles.

JERRY: You can say what you want about me but I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand here while you insult my toothbrush.

GINA: It is too small for someone with such a big mouth [kisses Jerry]. Let me ask you. What will you do if Martin wakes up? Run away like a mouse?

JERRY: No, more like the Three Stooges at the end of every movie.

GINA: Who are these Stooges you speak of?

JERRY: They’re a comedy team.

GINA: Tell me about them. Everything.

JERRY: Well, they’re three kind of funny looking guys and they hit each other a lot.

GINA: You will show me The Stooges?

JERRY: I will show you The Stooges.

GINA: When?

JERRY: Well, I don’t really know where The Stooges are right now but if I locate them you will be the first to know....

Not a stooge (hopefully) 10:05 AM  

Methinks Evil Doug is is being perhaps too literal. While it is true that more than three actors starred as Stooges over the years, there were only three Stooges at any one time, which is how I read the clue. And in the only short that four of the actors appeared together, only three of them were playing Stooges.

I'm a little surprised at the complaints about EYES IN THE SKY. Probably the clue should have been "spy satellites" which is less clunky. But the phase itself is perfectly fine to me.

Sparky 10:23 AM  

Hand up for STLO. Trig before CALC. Pretty easy. The proper names also crosswordese--ANNA, ILSA, UMA, MOE, EWOK, ROO, NOAM. But I guess that may make it hard for a beginner. Like IMPEI and JANEEYRE full names.

EYES didn't bother me at all.

Happy for easy one. Last week skewered me. Ouch.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

As a mathemacitian, I hesitated at CALC for "Advanced math class, for short". CALC seemed too elementary for me.

I just said this because I know how much Rex likes the phrase "As a mathematician" as the initial clause in a sentence.

evil doug 10:35 AM  

{Kramer---in Hollywood trying to make it in pictures---encounters Helena, a dotty old neighbor, in his boarding house hall...]

Helena: Hello, Kramer.

Kramer: Oh, uh, Helena, how are you?

Helena: I haven't worked since 1934, how do you think I am?

Kramer: Well, that's only uh, 58 years.

Helena: It was a Three Stooges short, "Sappy Pappy." I played Mr. Sugarman's secretary, remember?

Kramer: Yeah, right, right, yeah, yeah, that was a Shemp, right?

Helena: No, a Curly. The boys played three sailors who find a baby, the baby's been kidnapped and the police think that they did it.

Kramer: Uh huh, right...

Helena: But, but of course they didn't do it, the police had made an awful mistake.

Kramer: Right.

Helena: Moe hits Curly with an axe...

Kramer: Uh huh.

Helena: The Stooges catch the kidnappers...

Kramer: Right.

Helena: But it's too late.

Kramer: Really.

Helena: The baby's dead.

Kramer: Really?

Helena: The boys are sent to Death Row and are executed.

Kramer: Well I don't remember that part.

Helena: I play Mr. Sugarman's secretary.

Kramer: Oh, yeah, yeah, you were, you were very good.

Helena: Yeah, it was sad for a Three Stooges, what with the dead baby and the Stooges being executed and all.

Kramer: Well, that was an unusual choice for the stooges....

DJG 10:39 AM  

I was really confused by the "Singer who doesn't want a hit?" clue. I saw the initial R and thought, wait, RIHANNA is more than three letters.

Carola 10:54 AM  

For the overhead security devices, I wrote in EYES ON THE prY - thought it would be a "drop the Z-sound" theme. Corrected it to SKY with the crosses.

Then I thought that JANE EYRE was the second theme answer but couldn't figure out why SKY was spelled correctly but EYRE only sounds like "air."

Anyway, got it all worked out. Can't decide if EYRE echoing AIR is a bonus joke or a distraction.

@loren - Came Ramen, LOL!

mac 11:25 AM  

No idea about this Knute Rockne. I guess that's why I spelled Caen Caan, and didn't get a certificate in Westport....

Joe The Juggler 11:30 AM  

" In fact, I had no idea that's what those security cameras you see on the ceiling were called."

I thought the term referred to aerial or satellite surveillance.

syndy 11:34 AM  

I would have to agree with medium/challenging if only because I miss spelled STRATEGIC! I don't have a Problem with EYES as a Plural because oddly enough while I have One nose One head I have Two eyes!But I can tell nowthat I never read most of the down clues-so not too challenging!though yes-pleasant.

jberg 11:39 AM  

Well, as @God said, we've got 2 eyes, but only one head, one nose, so I thought the plural was OK.@Rex's point about the last two being types of person, the first not, is more telling - but hey, it's Monday.

I never saw the clue for RAT, or I would have wondered. Never saw KEDS either - this was just too east to get all from crosses. I was in a hurry (until my appointment got cancelled) so that was OK with me.

'trig' definitely wouldn't work as 'advanced math.' I understand that CALC isn't all that advanced either, but since it's more than many people ever learn, the clue seems OK.

But let's hear it for SONIC, second day in a row!

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

For those who can't wait for, or are worried about ED's health and ultimate demise, you can find all your Seinfeld related puzzle tie-ins here.

Lewis 11:57 AM  

When I first saw EYESINTHESKY (left it blank at my first pass and got it totally from downs so wasn't even aware of it until after I finished the puzzle), it sounded weird to me, but a few moments later it sounded perfectly fine. How else would you refer to the plural of eye in the sky? And what's wrong with pluralizing it? And if the constructor needs that s to keep the puzzle symmetrical, let's cut him some slack!

jackj 12:02 PM  

Milford@9:39AM-

Thanks for the link to the picture of the Mah-jongg tiles. Obviously, they have no qualms about using the seasonal abbreviations!

Evan 12:06 PM  

@Joe The Juggler:

From casinossecurity.com:

"The eye in the sky is just a term given to the closed circuit security cameras which are used in casinos today to ensure table games protection. These cameras are positioned in the casinos in such a way that the security personnel can monitor the elevators, restaurants, hallways, tables and seats closely. These cameras work so efficiently that the security personnel can even make out the expression on the face of a player. An industry standard term used for these kinds of cameras is the Pan Tilt Zoom camera."

M and A in the Sky 12:36 PM  

First three themers were just fine by me, but really wanted the grand finale to be MINDINTHEGUTTER. Considered FOOTINONESMOUTH, also -- great, other than it makes no earthly sense for the theme. Makin' sense has never stopped true visionaries, tho.

Nice, wide open MonPuz. But easy pickins. Suggestion: next time, make all the MonPuz across clues super easy, and all the downs super tricky. Visionary.

Want the recipe for the peanut butter football. And who threw it the furthest?

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

I have one head, one nose, but two EYES

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

@Anon 1:12 - So does @Sydney

Nameless 1:25 PM  

@Rex - Get your damn NOSE out OF THE AIR. This puzzle was just fine. Plural EYES? SO what. Metaphors versus things? So what.

It's Monday. Relax a little.

Rex unwad those panties 2:19 PM  

Actually better than average Monday, no real blips & some chew to it.

chefbea 2:24 PM  

@Mand A e-mail me and I'll send you the famous peanut butter football

Sile Convery 3:05 PM  

Medium hard for me. But.... Did not enjoy it."Oran" had me puzzled and the "rat" answer? Ugh

retired_chemist 5:17 PM  

@ Loren - hand up for CAME RAMEN parsing whenever I reviewed my down answers.

JenCT 5:52 PM  

Thought of @retired_chemist when I wanted SODIUMsomething for 35down - got totally sidetracked by that one.

The game was 21-6 when I fell asleep; I woke up & it was 28-23! Congrats to the Ravens.

I'm emailing you too, @chefbea...

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

In addition to Ilsa, Oran is in the opening sequence of Casablanca.

ANON B 8:03 PM  

When I started commenting on this
site I complained about all the
nitpickig.(That was before someone
nit picked and told me it was two words).
It's here again today. What was the constructor supposed to do when
the puzzle couldn't accomodate
"eye in the sky'? Shoot himself?
Tear up the puzzle? No. Just leave
it as it was, an interesting Monday
puzzle.

LaneB 8:50 PM  

Any time I finish relatively quickly without googling for any help,it cannot be a medium/challenging puzzle. Always gratifying to finish on any day.

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:58, 6:08, 0.97, 36%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:34, 3:39, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium

Anoa Bob 10:19 PM  

I'm guessing that those expressing no problem with the pluralization of one key element of this puzzle's theme while using the singular for the others are not (or at least not yet) constructors who have had a puzzle or three rejected because of an inconsistency in the theme entries.

Those who have tend to become more sensitive to or focused on the issue of theme consistency, and are less likely to let such things as using one number (singular vs plural), tense, gender, etc., in one theme entry and something different in the others slide.

Doesn't mean that I think this sank the puzzle. On the contrary, it's a quality puzzle from a top constructor in the NYT.

I sought the wisdom of the arbiter of all things, Google, and the singular EYE IN THE SKY out hits the plural version 40 to 1. So the singular would have been preferred, except for one problem---letter count. It has to be the same as at least one other theme entry. It wasn't. Solution? Pluralize EYE.

Problem solved. For some, not an issue, for others, a suboptimal inconsistency.



Zack 10:44 PM  

Anoa Bob - You mean a person of experience and insight might see something I didn't see, and dare to mention it? Have the temerity to point out that three metaphorical answers might, just might, be preferable to two metaphorical answers and one literal one?

I didn't notice these items. I probably wouldn't have cared (mid solve) had I noticed them. But I am grateful that someone takes the time to notice them, to point out ways things could be better.

There's tons of mediocre crap out there. Hell, this comment is mediocre crap. It's nice, every once in a while, to see someone pointing out that all things (except Patrick Berry) could likely be made a little better. I need reminders of that.

Ellen S 3:26 PM  

Here's my mediocre crap that I forgot to post yesterday. I liked the puzzle.

@The Bard, thanks for the soliloquy. Wonder if we'll ever see "fardel," "orison," "quietus" in a puzzle.
@Mac, I knew KNUTE ROCKNE but didn't know he was a coach. I thought Ara Parseghian was the only coach Notre Dame ever had; everything I know about sports I know from crosswords -- same as St. Lo is the only city in France that was part of the Normandy invasion. And there have only ever been two jockeys in the history of horseracing: Willie Shoemaker and Eddie Arcaro, both of whom used to appear in Xwords as often as St Lo, KNUTE and Ara.

Tita 5:16 PM  

Aaaaaaaaaaaargh! Now I know where I got taken down in Westport. MOE will forever be my personal crossword bane.
I was so all-fire sure that it was Sarah CONNeR, that I never questioned (or barely even saw) that little-known stooge, MeE.

I can't believe that it was a Monday that done me in.

The theme was alright - not a standout, but solving it fast in Westport, then again today, found it had some fun fill. Dunno - just sour grapes, becausee my stupid mistake kept me from a perfect score.

@chefbea - that football looked awesome!

@mac - ironic that the same puzzle got us both, in different places.

Spacecraft 11:31 AM  

Two surprises this morning. First, the comment window is twice as wide--but there's nothing on the right half of it, go figure; and second, OFL rates this, inexplicably, as medium-challenging. Even "for a Monday" this is hard to understand. Today's grid filled itself in, every square, without the slightest twitch of a problem.

Nor do I object to the theme. The THREE phrases are perfectly OKAY, avoiding the theme GLUT that winds up ruining the fill in so many cases. As an extra bonus we get IMPEI and JANEEYRE where we usually see just fragments of them.

Spacecraft 2:29 PM  

P.S. It is really, REALLY annoying when the click to "syndicated" does not bring up the correct day. Last week we were stuck on Wedensday for the whole week, and today we're stuck on Sunday. Then I have to pick out some clue unique to that puzzle and feed it in. Come on, people, get the syndi-date right, PLEEEASE!

Dirigonzo 5:08 PM  

@Spacecraft wrote: "Then I have to pick out some clue unique to that puzzle and feed it in." Or you could just go over to the archive on the right side of the blog and click on the date of the puzzle, which is indicated by the puzzle's no. (0204 for today's syndicated puzzle). Works every time.

Has there ever been a more puzzle-friendly president than OBAMA?

strayling 7:47 PM  

The crossword was perhaps a bit easy, but finding this syndic page was a very satisfying challenge. Thanks, Rex.

Ginger 1:55 AM  

Well, It's really late, so this comment will more than likely end up unread in cyberspace. EYESINTHESKY remind this heavy footed driver of 'bears in the air'. I'm afraid I drive with one eye on the rearview mirror, with a frequent check on the sky.

The puzzle seemed tough for a Monday, but all was fair and the crosses easy.

I was hoping for some pictures from Westport.

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