British truck / MON 4-8-13 / Cabinet department since 1977 / Europe's longest river / Author of "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" / Work by Karel Capek / Jason's wife in mythology / Singer Lavigne

Monday, April 8, 2013

Constructor: Janet R. Bender

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: O.S. — Common two-word phrases where the first word begins with O and the second begins with S.

Word of the Day: INNES (54A: Hammond ___, author of "The Wreck of the Mary Deare")
Ralph Hammond Innes (15 July 1913 – 10 June 1998) was a British novelist who wrote over 30 novels, as well as children's and travel books. He was married to fellow author and actress Dorothy Mary Lang in 1937 who died before him, in 1989. He was awarded a C.B.E. (Commander, Order of the British Empire) in 1978. The World Mystery Convention honoured Innes with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bouchercon XXIV awards in Omaha, Nebraska, Oct, 1993. (Wikipedia)
• • •

Hello, CrossWorld. Evan Birnholz here, pinch-hitting for the King.


No no, not that King. That one's busy making everyone's life hell in "Game of Thrones." (NOTE: Do NOT give any spoilers to last night's episode in the comment section -- I ain't seen it yet). I meant this King:


Damn it! Wrong picture again. Whatever, you know who I'm talking about. Onto today's puzzle.

This was your average Monday. The theme is very basic, and the fill is alright, but nothing really stood out to me. The theme entries are okay, but with one exception, their clues are a little on the dull side. I thought there might be a little more to it than just "phrases with the initials O.S.," but nope. There's no revealer or anything....it's just, name the phrases and that's it. I doubt a revealer would have done much good, though. If O.S.S. had been in the grid, it might have been clued as [C.I.A. predecessor....and a hint to this puzzle's theme], but that would mean you'd have to parse it as the plural OS's, and that'd be pretty lame. I guess if there were ten O.S. phrases you could make it a tribute puzzle to Apple's OS X -- and OPERATING SYSTEM would work well for that -- but I digress.


Theme answers:
  • 17A: Words from Ali Baba (OPEN SESAME) — Well, this does remind me of the classic Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck cartoon "Ali Baba Bunny."
  • 25A: Beavers' school (OREGON STATE)
  • 37A: Windows or Unix (OPERATING SYSTEM)
  • 47A: What Jesus is said to have been born without (ORIGINAL SIN) — The best answer (and most colorful clue) of the bunch.
  • 57A: Cranberry juice brand (OCEAN SPRAY) — Just bought some yesterday, actually. I'm drinking it now, too! (While I was writing the post, that is. Not every minute that you're reading it.)
As for the fill: It's pretty clean, but the longest non-theme answers are six letters long, and there are only six entries of that length, which doesn't leave a lot of room for fresh, original answers. I like the clues for FRONTS (10D: Is the lead singer of) and AFRO (64A: Hairdo for any of the Jackson 5), but everything else is pretty straightforward. INNES was the only real stumper -- I needed every cross for that one. It hasn't been used in a New York Times puzzle since 1999, which is a little surprising given its entirely Scrabble-friendly combo of letters, but regardless, it's definitely not a Monday-level entry. I suspect that the actress Laura Innes who played Dr. Kerry Weaver on "ER" is more well-known than the novelist Hammond, but I can't say -- I didn't watch much of "ER" in my formative years!

For what it's worth, this puzzle's constructor has done similar "two-word phrases with the same two initials" themes before -- see here, here, and here for examples. There's nothing wrong with reusing a simple theme idea for an early-week puzzle, though if there isn't going to be a couple of long, interesting fill answers, I'd prefer those theme entries (or at least their clues) to have some real sparkle to them.



SNL: Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan & Avril Lavigne - MyVideo

Bullets:
  • 7D: Arboreal ape, informally (ORANG) — This shows up a lot in puzzles, but no matter how many times I see it, I still don't like it. I'm yet to hear any parent at the zoo say "Hey kids, let's go look at the ORANGs!" 
  • 9D: Go from blond to brunet, say (DYE) — I had no idea you could spell "brunet" that way. It's the correct spelling when referring to a male's hair color, whereas "brunette" is for females. I learned the same thing last year about the other hair color in this clue.
  • 10A: Whip (FLOG) — Yeesh.
  • 20A: Assassinated (SLAIN) — Yeesh, part II.
  • 22D: Test versions (DEMOS) — I had BETAS at first before catching onto the theme.
  • 29D: Work by Karel Capek (R.U.R.) — This might be tricky for novice solvers. It stands for Rossum's Universal Robots. This 1920 play introduced the word "robot" to the English language. In other words, Karel Capek gave us this:

  • 39D: Animated character (TOON) — Perfect opportunity to say that the best internet cartoon that ever was, bar none, is Homestar Runner.  It's too bad that the creators went on hiatus and haven't updated the website in several years, but I could still spend all day watching their short toons. If you've ever met crossword speed demon Tyler Hinman, you might know that he likes to wear his Trogdor T-shirt for good luck at the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.
  • 45D: Unreturned tennis shot (WINNER) — Somehow, I had a feeling the answer wasn't AAAACE.
  • 48D: Event with barrel racing (RODEO) — I had ROLEO at first. I thought that made perfect sense: log-rolling competition....maybe the competitors use barrels instead of logs sometimes....right? Unfortunately, ELIT didn't make sense for 56A: Prepare for publication like EDIT did. Fortunately, that mistake gives me an excuse to tell you the following: Using a non-mobile browser, open Google and type the words "do a barrel roll" into the search bar. It's probably a little strange to a lot of people who didn't come of age in the mid-1990s, but anyone who's ever played the game Star Fox 64 will instantly find it hilarious.
Signed, Evan Birnholz, Earl of CrossWorld

p.s. If you haven't done so already, I highly recommend reading through Rex's and Matt Gaffney's conversation about a Sunday puzzle from October 1989 when Eugene T. Maleska was the Times's crossword editor (you can try solving the puzzle itself here, and check the solution here). It's very funny and gives you a good sense about how much crosswords have improved in the last twenty-four years.

p.p.s. I also recommend checking out the "Twenty Under Thirty" crossword collection if you haven't gotten around to it yet. I plug it a lot in the comment section for obvious reasons (it includes my first-ever published puzzle, so I'm very excited about it), but I can tell you for certain that it has fantastic work from some very talented young constructors under the age of 30. It's only $5 for the entire set of 20 puzzles.

58 comments:

retired_chemist 12:55 AM  

What Evan said about the theme and the fill. Good enough but nothing outstanding.

Drove 280 miles from Houston and did this puzzle at 11:30 while dog-tired. perhaps that accounts for my first answer to 47A, BELLY BUTTON. Tita?

Caltech and MIT both have a beaver mascot but I couldn't make any version of either fit 25A.

32A OSSIE => GEENA. Fair enough.

Thanks.,Ms.Bender.

jae 1:22 AM  

Easy except for tracking down a typo.  The Stand Alone Inc. interface can change letters on you if you are typing while the cursor is moving.  So, even though I typed ENERGY I some how ended up with ENEeGY.  Only other problem was Ossie before GEENA (I know, an Emmy not an Oscar, but Bette would have worked). 

Evan called it...pretty smooth gird, but a tad meh.  Is OS it or am I missing something?

Gill I. P. 1:33 AM  

FOO, didn't really DIG this. Lots of VOCAL gals - ROSIE, GILDA, LINDA, AVRIL and I bet someone has named their daughter VOLGA.
OMOO and RUR should go in @Ellen S's list of YOW words.
The clueing for Beaver's school did bring a smile though. I used to be the Ass't Admissions Counselor at Beaver College in Glenside Pa. At my very first staff meeting, an elderly professor went on and on about how we should change the name of the college. I had no idea what he was talking about. (Mind you, this same professor pronounced Magna Cum-Laude as "magnum come loud").
Anyway, after a year of telling everyone that I worked at a prestigious all girls college who proudly called themselves BEAVERS, I decided to move to San Francisco.
I always want a zippy word for Monday and the only one I found was NUN!
@Evan, good write up you NAVE you...

Ellen S 1:36 AM  

Hey, @Ret_Chem, my first thought for 47A was also belly button, but that was Adam & Eve, no?

Zipped through this (okay 11 minutes, but for me that's zipping). I knew OREGON STATE with just the "O" (of course I never saw the theme until @Evan 'splained it) even though I totally did not know it.

Oh, speaking of @Evan, your link to the AVRIL LAVIGNE video has a problem. Get to the site and the video window says, "Dieses Video ist momentan leider nicht auf diesem Endgerät verfügbar." Google Translate says that means, "This video is currently not available on this device," which I kind of could have guessed. And there's nothing at all for the Karel Capek link. Forbidden Planet maybe? Or maybe Blosgspot is not displaying correctly on iPads today. (the earlier photos looked right - just like @Rex.)

For a good 40 years I have been skipping over the Hammond INNES novels and going for Michael. Maybe this is a sign I should try something new.

chefwen 1:38 AM  

@retired_chemist - I think that one will get you top billing.

A good beginners puzzle. sLEepY before BLEARY was my only write-over. Husband also ripped through his copy without looking back.

Ellen S 1:42 AM  

@Gill I.P., except for Hammond Innes, the whole puzzle was full of old friends. But newcomers to the puzzle world need something easy. This one would be a nice non-scary intro to the sport, and if the new solvers just memorize all the non-theme answers here, they'll have a leg up on the later-week puzzles.

Evan 1:47 AM  

@Ellen S:

The videos work fine for me, but I'm using a PC. Don't know how to change the embed code for iPad users.

Andes Cfo Menus 1:58 AM  

I saw OPENSESAME and got excited, wondering if the theme was going to be something with SESAME but it was just OS.

Neat that @Evan stepped in and included links to some of Janet Bender's other puzzles, so one could see two letters is justified if they are hard or fun letters (she has made CC, PR and EE as a pangram! All fun)

This one surprised me that it was enough, and I think it is if there are FIVE.
When I see OS, I go blank, other than OJ Simpson, ick.

Anyway, Orange will be pleased there was a female constructor, since she pointed out there had been but 8 in the first 100 puzzles of this year!
I don't know Janet Bender, but thumbs up for representing, and maybe unconsciously including a female vibe:
GEENA Davis, AVRIL Lavigne, ROSIE O'Donnell, GILDA Radner, LINDA Ronstadt, MEDEA and I'd throw in NUNS and BROAD ;)

The clue for ORIGINAL SIN might be open to interpretation, I read somewhere that some Catholics believe it's MARY who was born without ORIGINAL SIN which is why she could have an immaculate conception.
There was a big controversy about this on "Win Ben Stein's Money" or some other show ("Jeopardy!"?) bec some believe it refers to Jesus, others to Mary.
(In any case, not something for a Jewess from Minnesota to sort out!)

By the way, ROSIE O'Donnell wrote the blurb on the back of the new book of essays called "No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Motherhood" being published this week (I'm 1/37th of it!)

http://www.amazon.com/No-Kidding-Writers-Bypassing-Parenthood/dp/1580054439/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365399694&sr=8-1&keywords=no+kidding

(Warning, I may plug it from time to time, so proud of it, love the essays I've read so far and fingers crossed it will be a huge success and wish it had been around when I was younger)

Ebenezer 2:01 AM  

Fine for a Monday - the only tough ones for me were RUR, LORRY and INNES, but they were easy enough with the crosses. (Unlike the tough ones in last Monday's crossword). I would have preferred Neil INNES of the Bonzo Dog Band and the Rutles.

Like others, I thought of OSSIE before GEENA (who won the Oscar for "The Accidental Tourist). I enjoyed OREGON STATE, and seeing ORIGINAL SIN always brightens my day.

Benko 2:22 AM  

I also thought of "betas" before DEMOS and "roleo" came to kind when seeing the clue "barrel racing".
Don't know this INNES fellow either. I too prefer Neil of Bonzo, or Andrew from Primal Scream.
Also, like everyone else, confused why OS is a theme.

jae 4:40 AM  

@ r_c -- I did something I almost never do.  I posted with out reading all of the previous posts.  In this case, there was only one (yours),  but I had an episode of The Wire on pause (HBO Go is amazing)... so, anyway, I should have said "me too for Ossie" ...sorry.

MetaRex 6:33 AM  

The short stuff apart from RUR AMA STS ARE is punchy: FOO IMP JOE ARM DYE DIG LAD OAT CFO RFK YOW together could make up a hard-hitting football team.

More reactions along w/ a pointed question for the Earl at Evanescence

Anonymous 6:53 AM  

I expect the Catholic Church has always held that Jesus was born without original sin. The belief that Jesus's mother, Mary, was without sin was not established as church doctrine until the mid-19th century. There is still a tendency to confuse "immaculate conception" (i.e. Mary's sinless conception) with the virgin birth, i.e. Mary's impregnation without the involvement of any human male.

I used to wonder, in the days when I believed in these things, why there wasn't an infinite regress called for. If Mary had to be an untainted vessel to carry her baby, why didn't her mother, Anne, need to be untainted also, and so on?

Well, believe it all or not, the 1943 movie Song of Bernadette with Jennifer Jones and Vincent Price is a wonderful hoot; well worth watching.

Liffey

loren muse smith 7:01 AM  

Nice write-up, Evan. Thanks for pinch-hitting.

For me, this was not some BLEARY-eyed SLOG with no ENERGY; I’M Pretty sure I dispatched this as fast as any Monday with nary a hiccough. Didn’t even see the one woe – INNES - because the crosses were so easy.

I was certain that I would come here and have this explained – beyond just the OS initials. So seeing that a theme can be simply initials if it’s good enough (I did enjoy solving this) is encouraging! Off to the drawing board. . .

ROSIE, LINDA, GEENA, GILDA, AVRIL –what a dinner party *that* would be! (@Acme -I’ll refrain from inserting BROADs here somehow. @Gill I.P. – I had the same thought for VOLGA, (and LORRY) ). Persons of the Opposite Sex stay away.

For some reason I’m craving an Orange Soda now. And remembering that my son suffered mightily from Osgood Schlatter’s disease as a LAD, even Off Season. And I’m glad I’ve never been up close and personal with an Oral Surgeon.

Since I was killing time (waiting for my car) and staring at the grid, I made up more themers: OVERT SNARE, OCTET SKEW, ORANG SPAS, OAT SNO, OMEGA SLOG.

@retired_chemist and @Ellen S – funny about “belly button!”

@Gill I.P. – great Beavers story!

Oh Shoot – I just noticed I dnf because I had “mess” and not MUSS. I should have NODE that “nens” were not teachers.

Thanks, Janet – Outta Sight!

Z 7:03 AM  

Quick, easy Monday. OS is pretty standard shorthand for OPERATING SYSTEM, so I took that to be the theme with the centrally placed 15er as confirmation.

@Evan. I have the same issue with your images/links. I'm leaving my iPad for my laptop to see if the same is true there.

Z 7:08 AM  

@Evan- My Macbook displayed everything fine, definitely some sort of ipad issue.

Carola 8:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 8:20 AM  

I liked the puzzle's OPERATING SYSTEM that could unite the Arabian Nights and the Old Testament, along with Beavers and cranberries. Struck me funny.

Sea-faring mini-theme with OCEAN SPRAY, FIJI, OMOO, ATOLL, Puerto RICO. Also liked SNO x WOOLEN, though I've had my fill of cold FRONTS at this point.

Funny coincidence with yesterday's hitherto unknown-to-me ORNIS. After doing the 1989 puzzle that @Rex linked to, I went into the archive and did another Sunday puzzle, from 1988, one clue of which was "Avifauna," 5 letters. Wrote it right in.

@Even, thanks for the write-up!

joho 8:33 AM  

Excellent write-up, @Evan! I also agree with you that Laura Innes is a more familiar Innes, if by a only a bit.

I thought as a theme OS was OK. As someone has said, this is a nice and easy Monday, great for beginners, so that's a good thing. I just wish the answers had been more exciting. Perhaps I just need more coffee!

I did chuckle at FIJI, FOO, OMOO ... a fun and silly start.

Tita 8:41 AM  

Sure, a tad ho-hum theme, but I think some great fill, starting with the images that FIJI evokes right off the bat.

@Gill - thx for sharing your work history. Makes my years at WANG pale in comparison.

@Ret_Chem - definitely one of the prime contenders for the Hall - I may have to start an annual awards show. Can't update it now, but will, for sure!

At ACPT, I drank ORIGINALSIN cider, and Loren something called Trouble(?)...
We made a great team ;)

@Acme - I admit I had to google the term - my Chatechism NUN would be mortified...but it did resurrect the idea that Mary was born without it, as was her son.
I do know that the "Immaculate" part relates to her not having original sin - the virgin part is a whole other story.
As @Liffey says, those details were all made up 1800 years later, so...

Is this a debut for the phrase? I love it!

INNES the painter I know, the writer, not so much.

LORRY was a gimmee - PS's Irish family uses the term.

I MUSSt object to DEMOS - they are not tests. Betas are tests. Demos are just that - demonstrations. You demo something to show what it can do. If, as a result of seeing a demo, someone wants to test it, you do a pilot or proof of concept. In all my days in the software business (which predates even afore-mentioned WANG), I never ever had anyone ask me - hey, can I DEMO that?

Thanks for an easy Monday, Ms. Bender.
Your puzzle is definitely inspiring some great stories here.

Mitzie 8:42 AM  

Not bad, but not great. Basically, this puzzle was a grilled cheese sandwich.

Tita 8:45 AM  

Oops - upon scanning my comment, I see that it isn't quite long enough.

Anyone else see GOO__ for Silly bird and pop in GOOny?

Color me GOOny today.

Unknown 8:47 AM  

From the NYT crossword to StrongBad emails in one morning - EPIC WIN!

evil doug 8:52 AM  

Tita,

Speaking of original sin and your former company: Did you know that Eve was the first computer expert? She had an Apple in one hand and a Wang in the other....

Evil

chefbea 9:15 AM  

Good easy Monday - nothing special. Never heard of Innes but got it from the crosses.

Great write up @Evan!!

BTW...my RED bulgar salad was yummmmy

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

I approached 47A with __GINALS__ and my first guess was VAGINALSEX. Right idea, wrong letter count.

jackj 9:28 AM  

OS? OS.

That’s it? That’s it.

OH SHOOT! No, OCEAN SPRAY.

OHIO STATE? No, OREGON STATE.

OLD STYLE? No, ORIGINAL SIN.

OPERATING SYSTEM? Better than an OPEN SORE.

OCULUS SINISTER? No, OPEN SESAME.

OMOO!!!!

Such is the theme and if ever there was a NY Times puzzle geared to convincing the great unwashed that they too can conquer the scary dragon, (the one that lurks in every unchecked square ready to pounce whenever a Philistine picks up a pencil), this one fills the bill and keeps the fire-breather at bay.

What does one do with a shovel? DIG. What does one do with a whip? FLOG. With what does one trap? SNARE. Who teach in parochial schools? NUNS.

And so it goes, but, shades of the Perils of Pauline, one clue, one word, five little letters, could prevent the neophyte solver from getting Mr. Happy Pencil, “Hammond______, author of “The Wreck of the Mary Deare”. Oh, my, what to do!?

But, fear not, the clever ones realize they are doing a CROSSword puzzle and the solver friendly down entries cross the troubling across blanks and complete the clue to get INNES and Voila!, they’re done; time to mail in their entry for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.

jberg 9:34 AM  

Hohum. What everybody said, including bEtaS before DEMOS. It started off strong with all that South Pacific stuff in the NW, but that was about it. A quick solve, at least.

dk 9:48 AM  

Evan, Give Potter Puppet Pals a look. In complete agreement about Homestar Runner.

Ok, ok I kept trying to put in reef for ATOLL even when I had the first 4 letters.

Also, I read somewhere that Oregon State t-shirts are the largest selling college item with most of the sales coming from outside the school and state.

On that note @evil I have shared your historical artifact with my colleagues and it seems you have now been damned to the hot place. Sorry man, I thought it was funny.

Evan great wire up Janet a fine Monday puzzle.

������ (3 Honey Bees - just for fun)

dk 9:50 AM  

Evan the wire up was great and so is the write-up

Rob C 9:55 AM  

Nice write up by Evan. Not much more to add.

Re: the discussion that there's no non-theme fill greater than 6 letters and therefore not much zip. If you eliminate the block under 9D (DYE) and it's corresponding block over 57D (OAT), these would become 8-letter entries. I searched for some words that fit (keeping the grid and 3 themers these would cross the same). Came up with BEERNUTS for 9D and TURNCOAT for 39D as the most interesting fits.

PS-Not second-guessing the constructor, just food for thought as to how the grid might have been opened up. The fill is pretty solid as is, and there's no telling whether such a change would lead to problems and less than ideal fill in other places.

Milford 9:57 AM  

Quick, easy Monday. In fact, my fastest Monday solve ever, but I think that is in part because I am just getting a little faster, not that this puzzle was the easiest. Because now that I read the review and comments, there were some tricky words, but i must have just glided pass them and completed them on the crosses.

Actually sounded out the theme entries, in case I was missing a more subtle theme, but nope, just OS. I agree with @Z that the OPERATING SYSTEM is the main theme that the others are based off of.

Liked the clue for FRONTS.

Is a LIE-IN different than a sit-in?

AGATES is a word that I more often associate with something else, as in "that guy sure has some agates to try that".

Thanks Evan and Janet! Evan, you are a great Rex stand-in, except that your references make me feel like an old lady.

Susan McConnell 10:08 AM  

Easy Monday. Bit of a yawner of a theme.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:08 AM  

@Tita - Re: DEMOS - If you are a skier (as I barely am/was), you might often have a ski shop owner ask if you would like to DEMO a new pair of skis, i.e., try them out for a day, test if they feel good to you.

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

OK puzzle, no complaints.
@ r_c, Your comment made me laugh but I think @ Ellen S is right about Adam and Eve.
@Andrea, Thanks for the book recommendation. I'm part of that club too (with no regrets).
@ Milford, yes a lie-in is different from a sit-in. It is also the term the Brits use for sleeping late, as in "having a lie-in". Speaking of Brits and their trucks. I always liked my first name until I moved there and discovered my name meant truck. Yuck.

Sfingi 11:04 AM  

Good puzzle - Didn't notice theme, which seems to be how I operate on Mondays.

Still believe TOON is and abbrev. and should be so clued.

Has a Natick at WINNER hits INNES, the first being sports and the second some dude I never heard of.

Lying in also meant awaiting one's delivery (of a newborn). And OS is also the ostium of the uterus. And good old vaGINAL Sex.

Did notice lots of women, and add the above.

@Evil - but she didn't know what one was til she bit the other. You figure it out.

@Anon653 - Very well put. I also saw the Song of Bernadette recently on the tube. I believe after she went into the convent, they weren't so nice to her.

Masked and Anonymous 11:31 AM  

24 O's. 2 U's. sigh.

Hey! Bullets! Evan!

Thought Beaver went to MAYFIELDHS, or some such. Was girdin self for a M.F. puz. (Monday Fare, of course)

If you tied me up and waved a big OS sign in front of my face, several things would happen...
1. I'd say "Ooh, look at the time! I really must run!"
2. I'd say "Spoiler alert!"
3. I'd, of course, say "OPERATING SYSTEM.". What else are you gonna think, when you see OS? I mean, day-um, M.F. (Samuel L. Jackson should be flown in, to deliver that previous line.) So 37-Across is yer theme revealer. No OSS bailout necessary. QED.

NYer 11:46 AM  

One of my fastest solve times.

Only writeover was BETTE for GEENA. Knew it was wrong when it gave me NUtS for "some parochial school teachers".

Although come to think of it....

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Jesus was not born without original sin. The virgin birth is a completely different matter. Mary was conceived without the original sin of man so that she was worthy of bearing the son of god.

Sparky 12:27 PM  

Words start with O and S. That's it. Don't over think.

Per my School Sisters of Notre Dame education: it's Mary who had to be the perfect vessel. Jesus doesn't even enter to the sin question since He's God you know.

Great job Evan. So how is the robot thing dub step? And what about Lilblack? I think I'll go have a cookie. I am still migraneish from LARGE PRINT.

Lewis 12:40 PM  

This easy level is what a Monday puzzle should be, to draw in new solvers. ASSAY a job well done on that front, Janet and Will!

Thoughtful writeup with some good spark, Evan. I hope all is okay with ofl...

Evan 1:17 PM  

Thanks, all.

@MetaRex:

I clocked in today at 3:36. I'm usually pretty fast on Monday-Wednesday, but from what I can tell, your times are usually faster than mine later in the week. Of course, I also solve on paper from Thursday-Sunday, so I don't know how much faster (if at all) I'd be if I did the puzzle on Across Lite all week long.

@Rob C:

Good call. I was looking at some possibilities for removing a black square, too. I think the square beneath JOE (and the corresponding one above RFK) might have been a decent choice since the resulting nine-letter entry would only cross two theme answers rather than three, and both --E----E- and -T----R-- offer some good options (FRENEMIES or GREAT IDEA for the former, STAG PARTY or STAGE CREW for the latter).

@Milford:

If it makes you feel better, there have been plenty of times lately that I've felt pretty old myself. This fall, there will be kids all across the country entering high school....and I think they were born in the year 2000.

mac 1:25 PM  

Nice, Evan, thank you!

I got the theme early for a change, and put in a couple of Os. Time-wise easy-medium.

Bleary-eyed because of allergies, what a misery...

LaneB 1:49 PM  

Never timed myself before thereby avoiding possible humiliation, but decided to do so this once. You pros out there race through these things, and I am amazed. My time, doing it on paper, was 21:40. Now I thought this was pretty fast, considering it took me hours to do Sunday's. However, I know the pace was glacial compared to many others. No matter, of course

@Loren Muse Smith: I had Osgood's disease about 65 years ago and I can certainly sympathize with your son. Happily, it does go away with maturity leaving only a bump of apparent bone just below the kneecap. Patience and care not to hit the knee anywhere are obviously a must.

okanaganer 2:29 PM  

13D: kOOko (fixed as soon as I did the acrosses; probably wrong spelling anyway)
30A: MeSS (had it til the end--good thing than NeNS as teachers doesn't sound right.

DBGeezer 2:38 PM  

The comments on Mary and ORIGINAL SIN are interesting. I find of greater interest that if Jesus was born without a human father, then he had no Y chromosome and was therefore not male.
It is also interesting that in Matthew's genealogy of Jesus, among the many men listed, four women are found. The first was Rahab a prostitute. Next is Ruth, a Gentile. Next is Bathsheba, an adulteress. Finally there is Mary.
Was she another woman who would have been unclean under the law of the Torah? Is it conceivable that Mary had been raped by a Roman soldier, became pregnant, and that Joseph decided to preserve her dignity by marrying her?
This may well be an illustration of the way in which across history God takes garbage and turns it into glory.
I don't present this theory as dogma, but as an illustrative possibility of the way in which God shows Her mercy and redeeming love and grace.

Eric 2:42 PM  

Very standard Monday fare. Theme is old, but passable.

Started at Grand Central, ended by Queensboro Plaza ~~ 4.5 mins.

NOTE: If anyone else here takes the 7 train in the morning and wants to have a crossword-off, let me know!

Davis 3:15 PM  

This was a good Monday for me -- I absolutely destroyed this puzzle with my second-best time ever (3:10!). This is one of those rare occasions where my clumsiness with the iPad on-screen keyboard may have actually impacted my solving time.

The theme barely registered with me. I noticed the O S thing happening, but in the back of my head I was thinking there had to be more to the theme than that. But apparently not.

Solid fill quality overall. I can definitely see the trickiness in some of the fill that our substitute host identified, but I never saw most of those thanks to easy crosses. I sympathize with the complaint about ORANG, but if we're going to start quashing ridiculous crosswordese that one is pretty far down my list.

sanfranman59 3:30 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Mon 5:33, 6:10, 0.90, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:26, 3:42, 0.93, 15%, Easy

Wizard of Oz 3:46 PM  

@DBGeezer - The first law of Oz is to not look behind the curtain.

MetaRex 5:06 PM  

Thx, Evan, for yr solve time...it was exactly one minute faster than the time MR was kinda proud of. Thx also to LaneB for yr time report...keep on truckin'. As someone who cared too much about being smart back in the day, I enjoy the time stuff as a way to remind myself how much smarter some people are at solving CWs than I am. And do I enjoy my occasional wins over my pace cars and betters like tushnet, sanfranman59, etc.?! (Never won yet over OFL...) Well, yeah...

Rob C 7:44 PM  

@Evan - Frenemies is the hands down winner

Tita 8:31 PM  

@ED...
We had a million of 'em. I, of course, have forgotten most, so thanks for that refresher.

It was impossible to work there and not develop a thick skin and a twisted sense of humor. Oh, to be mortgageless, 20-something, and selling plenty of Wangs - and WangCare too.

Hey @Evan - nice writeup - though I do wish I had never seen thse pics...

(Now pl

sanfranman59 11:54 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 5:33, 6:10, 0.90, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:22, 3:42, 0.91, 9%, Easy

Nigel 1:43 AM  

I know you folks all did this speedy quick but for me 5:59 is probably my fastest online since I got my subscription last October. I'm on a MacBook not an iPad. I expect to improve when I finally get an iPad. I would have been faster if my typing fingers didn't keep making typos. And I never think I'm that old until I see clues like Hammond INNES - whose books were at my public library when I was 15 years old. A pretty boring puzzle by the way. When I'm popping in OPENSESAME and OCEANSPRAY without a second thought, it's just not a challenge.

Spacecraft 11:24 AM  

Oh S**t! Obvious; Simplistic, including Old Standards like OMOO and RUR. However, I give this puzze my Official Sanction because it contains two of my most bestest favoritest women: LINDA Ronstadt and GEENA, far and away the first Davis who popped into this LAD's brain.

And then there's ROSIE. Oh well, as Mr. Loaf says, two out of three ain't bad. It's amusingly true that LINDA FRONTS her band; too bad the Stone Poneys were a trio and not an OCTET (Well, later on I guess there were six, but not the ORIGINAL act. Also amusing that GEENA is positioned right where the bullseye would be if this grid were a target; the expert archer wouold agree.

Ginger 2:10 PM  

Easy Monday which I zipped through as though it were a themeless. Only slow down was at 55-D which I mis-read as messages, so was looking for pdAs. INNES fixed that. Shout out to the northwest with OREGON STATE. Sis-in-law went there.

@Evan - Thanks for the write-up.

Dirigonzo 5:08 PM  

If you stare at the grid long enough you will discover a hidden word ladder from FOO to YOW. I don't understand how everybody missed it.

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