In ___ (existing) / MON 6-24-13 / Tibia or fibula / Light horse-drawn carriage with one seat / Japanese sash / Ranee's wrap / Steve Martin's "King ___" / Sharer's word / Brit's toilet / Draper's material / Drive-___ / Blade in a boat

Monday, June 24, 2013

Constructor: Robert Seminara

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "S'MORE" (38A: Sweet treat) — the cookie, the ingredients, the get it

Word of the Day: BANE (41A: Deadly poison)
The term bane (from Old English: bana, meaning "thing causing death, poison"), in botany, is an archaic element in the common names of plants known to be toxic or poisonous.

In the Middle Ages, several poisonous plants of the genus Aconitum were thought to have prophylactic qualities, repelling and protecting against that which they were banes to (e.g. Henbane, Wolfsbane). (Wikipedia)
• • •

Guten Tag, KreuzWelt. This is Bryan Young – longtime reader, first time blogger. Like my illustrious cohorts, I'm filling in for Rex while he's "on vacation", which is a euphemism for "participating in a coup d'état in a small Banana Republic down south". I can understand why he would need a break from this gig given that he does this every da*n night, while I just used several hours and several more Alka-Seltzers to plough through it and am ready to collapse. But enough about me. 

It's a Monday, folks, so if you keep your expectations low you won't be disappointed. A pretty run-of-the-mill "category" puzzle – this time "stuff associated with S'MOREs", which are admittedly delicious enough to be long overdue for a shout-out in the NYT.

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Original maker of a 38-Across (GIRLSCOUT) - I don't like that this is singular, but I guess I don't have the history to prove it. Maybe it was a single scout acting alone who invented the first S'MORE, but I suspect it was at least a team effort.
  • 26A: Ingredients in a 38-Across (GRAHAMCRACKERS)
  • 38A: Sweet treat (SMORE) - Like GIRLSCOUT, I want this one to be plural, although I know it can't be because it needs an odd letter count to fit symmetrically in the grid. Maybe it's just a preference thing, but it seems like too important of a spot to allow in even an whiff of impropriety.
  • 46A: Ingredient in a 38-Across (HOTMARSHMALLOW) 
  • 63A: Ingredient in a 38-Across (CHOCOLATE)
  • 52D: Place to eat a 38-Across (CAMP) - Like Barry Switzer in his OU days, this one detracts from the victory by running up the score. Would have been fine if it hadn't been clued as such an in-your-face theme answer.
Warning! Warning! NSFW! NSFW!

  • 5A: Amorphous mass (BLOB) — Possible candidate for a stealth theme answer, especially if you melt the chocolate a little too much.
  • 15A: Singer Abdul (PAULA) — Given that Ms Abdul shows up in far too many crosswords (i.e. "more than one") due to her felicitously spelled last name, couldn't we have used a different clue? Say, "Newsreader Zahn"? Or "Comedienne Poundstone"? Or "Racist chef Deen"?
  • 20A: Light horse-drawn carriage with one seat (STANHOPE) — Everything I ever needed to know about horse-drawn transportation I learned from crosswords. And Oklahoma!
  • 45A: Lone Star State sch. near the Rio Grande (UTEP) — Go Miners! Go Paydirt Pete!
  • 7D: Burden (ONUS) - Would have been much more fun if the answer to 5A had been BLAB.
  • 23D: 200 in the Indianapolis 500 (LAPS) - What a dumb clue! There are obviously 500 laps in the Indianapolis...oh wait. They're 2.5 miles each, so...who knew? I'll bet YOU didn't. Anyway, NASCAR isn't exactly in my wheelhouse.*
  • 26D: Gadget (GISMO) - I call foul. Proper spelling is GIZMO. Ask this guy.
  • 29D: Draper's material (CLOTH) - Am I the only one who expected this to be a Mad Men clue?

Crosswordese name-and-shame: ESSE, SERA, ABA, OBI, ERATO. Bonus points for two broadcast networks - BBC and CBS! And finally - SMEAR, SEEP, and CRAB all in the same grid? Yuck.

Thanks for reading, friends. I promise that tomorrow's entry will be back up to the quality you expect from this illustrious column.

* I know. Formula racing. Not NASCAR.

Signed, Bryan W. Young, Maharaja of CrossWorld


Evan 12:24 AM  

I had S'MOREs just last week while spending a weekend at a cabin with some friends. Neither time nor any DIET will teach me not to love those things.

I didn't even notice CAMP while solving since I just got all the crosses and left it alone, but I appreciate the Barry Switzer reference (I still don't know if Cowboys fans love him or hate him, and he won a Super Bowl). I had the same reaction with GISMO....I thought it was a variant spelling. And though I appreciate the clue for CHESTNUT, that seems like a toughie for a Monday.

My biggest problem is that HOT MARSHMALLOW feels a little forced as a phrase -- it gets less than 14,000 hits in quotations marks on Google (fair warning for anyone who does same: a NSFW video is the first video hit that comes up). Yes, the marshmallow is undoubtedly hot, but TOASTED MARSHMALLOW feels a little more natural when talking about the S'MORE.

Welcome and well done, Bryan.

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

Surprising that GIRLSCOUT is a debut.

Given what I've done in CC, fill could be better. SAREE yuck

Gill I. P. 12:26 AM  


Another fun Monday.
PSST, you're a PAL Bryan Young...

Steve J 12:59 AM  

Yep, I expected a "Mad Men" clue with the Draper clue. (I'm still processing tonight's season finale, by the way.) (Also by the way, the nonsense word in my captcha is "liesDon" - it's even capitalized exactly that way.)

Decent enough Monday puzzle that I breezed through quickly. Had the same quibbles Bryan noted in his entertaining writeup: GISMO looks wrong, as do singular GIRLSCOUTs and SMOREs, and CAMP felt forced (it would have been different had there been another, symmetrically placed, theme answer in the downs). (Also, agreed with Evan that HOTMARSHMALLOW falls flat. It sounds like a phrase some hack writer would use to describe a woman in his horrible and hackneyed Raymond Chandler knockoff noir story.)

And while I'm agreeing with everyone posting before me: indeed, massive "ick" for SAREE. Robert and Will should be sorry for allowing that in the puzzle.

(Lastly: Bryan, I'm guessing the footnote is meant to further the joke, but in case not, formula racing is also a miss.)

jae 1:31 AM  

Medium.  Cute and pretty smooth.  

Erasure: DIRT for DISH

@Evan -- Toasted, d'oh, of course!  That's why HOT seemed weird. 

Liked it.

Benko 1:38 AM  

Actually, I bet plenty of us knew how many laps were in the Indy 500.
And though SAREE is possibly a variant spelling, the spelling of "Ranee" in the clue rather than "rani" was a major tipoff.
My fastest IPad solve in a while, at 2:15.

Astir Chocolate Marshmallows 1:49 AM  

wow, I have to listen to George Harrison over and over to wash that KING TUT video out of my brain...
Yikes! He wrote that, PAULA DEEN???

@Bryan W. Young, fabulous write up, you either channeled @Rex, have the same sensibility, or have studied him carefully to write what seems to be an homage.

I don't think CAMP needed a parallel theme response in the other would have been more elegant, but in this case it was atmospheric and less is SMORE.

One shouldn't start a Monday puzzle with "In ESSE" in my opinion... Nor have STANHOPE.
However, there were lots of other things that made this puzzle perfect for summer!

The huge number of parallel words in the grid: IMAM/SHAH, CBS/BBC, RELET/RENEW, BLOB/SMEAR, OBI/SAREE, CEDAR/ELMS, GLEE/SMASH
(I wonder if those last two both had TV clues originally?)

Had a British vibe with LOO/BBC/RELET/TOG

And I really liked the "atmospheric" food inclusion of DIET DISH, EGGS, SALT, EELS (for the Japanese SMORE).
Perhaps CHESTNUT as well, bec like a SMORE can be roasting on an open fire.

I do think folks should relax much much more about the forced plural, lack of plural thing...
MANY a puzzle would not have been able to come into being without an added S here, a lack of one there.
It's a constructor necessity and it would be lovely if we could retire that criticism and enjoy the resulting creation.

Was just telling friends at dinner tonight about my mother's obsession with Mallomars and how she would smuggle back boxes from NY to Minnesota which we were not allowed to touch...and how she bought out the entire inventory the local Lund's one year. When she went back for s'more the manager told her some nut had bought out the entire errant shipment...and she stood in the aisle declaring SHE was that nut!

Anyway, yummy puzzle.
(Much funnier if you knew my mother)

chefwen 2:40 AM  

I have to go with the roasted marshmallow, toasted I think would render a hot mess in your toaster or toaster oven.

Never would have gotten 52A had it not been in the LA Times puzzle on 6/13, now it will be forever etched into my brain.

Other than STANHOPE, is that one or two words and CHESTNUT, pretty easy Monday.

Mentioned it late today, after many of you were already in bed, but there are a couple of cute pics of @ACME & @dk in Sundays write up at LA Times Crossword Corner. Check 'em out.

Anonymous 3:17 AM  

No, it's not Formula 1 racing, it's Indycar racing. And there are plenty of people who know that The Greatest Spectacle in Racing (which has taken place since 1911 when Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis 500) consists of 200 2.5-mile laps.


Robert Seminara 3:59 AM  

So, I wrote the puzzle and this was my first published puzzle after numerous attempts.

A few comments:
- Originally, 12-down read "FIRE", such that the answer was a combined parallel "CAMP FIRE" which is where you cook a S'more. I agree--there should be a parallel clue. I guess Will didn't in his editing. He's done this many more times than me, so I defer to him.
- Originally, SMASH was clued as a TV clue.
- As for hot marshmallow, you can actually make a S'more in the microwave, so technically, it works. That being said, of course TOASTED would be better. It doesn't fit. Also, with CAMP FIRE gone, it takes away how the marshmallow got hot in the first place. I think HOT is more acceptable if CAMP FIRE is there.

Lastly, I'm totally psyched that my puzzle got included. It took six or seven tries, wasted enormous time, but I've done it. I encourage all to try. I'm framing my $200 check from Will rather than cashing it.

Regards (and keep bringing the comments--good and bad).

Mike Ben-Ari 5:16 AM  

Robert, thanks for stopping by, i admire your efforts and perseverance. Kudos to Bryan too... yummy Monday

Milford 6:59 AM  

Fun Monday! And the three ingredients all made it in, so I'm happy. We have made S'MOREs at least 3 times already this summer, so I thought it was a nice, seasonal theme. We use cinnamon GRAHAM CRACKERS for ours. I probably wouldn't bother to make a microwaved S'MORE, but my kids would, so HOT MARSHMALLOW seems fine.

BANE I did not know, nor STANHOPE. Isn't STANHOPE also a NY hotel?

Thanks for the comments, Robert, and congrats. And thanks for the write-up, Bryan. I only made it through about 12 seconds of the TUT video.

loren muse smith 7:05 AM  

Hey, Robert! Congratulations and thanks so much for stopping by! Nice puzzle. Funny to slip DIET and SLIM into the grid, though the BANE of my diet existence is SALTy food rather than SMORE-like stuff.

Bryan – how brave to step in. You did a good job. “Guten Tag, Kreuzwelt. . .” Sie sprechen Deutsch? Then you’ll appreciate the irony that PAULA Zahn’s teeth were some of the best teeth on CBS. Seriously. I couldn’t take my eyes off her teeth. Yes – “blab” would have been funny, so close to LOO.

My daughter makes SMOREs sometimes in the microwave, so HOT MARSHMALLOW is ok for me. Yeah, “Roasted” (I agree, @chewen) is better.

@Acme – I have tossed aside countless theme ideas because just one themer had to be a plural. I agree that we should lighten up on that! Maybe I’ll revisit some of those ideas. . .

TOG/ CLOTH cross – nice. Near malaplop with RELET where RENEW is; probably not alone with that one.

BLOB, SMEAR, BASH – this has one HOT ADO feel to it.

I find it really cool that languages have words like GIZMO, whatchamacallit (a 15 fwiw), thingamajig, doohickey, thingy, Dings bums (German), machine truc (French) . . . Kind of an argument that our thoughts are not couched in language per se. Like the “tip of the tongue” syndrome – we have that idea there in our brain - ambivalent, say, but we cannot access the word, even though we know exactly what we want to communicate . . . and possibly say amphibious instead. (And yes, there is a real-life funny story there. He totally dove head first into that malapropism.)

Mitzie 7:39 AM  

@Acme and @LMS:

I personally find plurals off-putting only if the theme answers are all nouns (which is the case here).

If there is a mixture of parts of speech, I think plurals are fine, personally.

Still, there are many instances where a plural either just makes sense in context, or enables a great idea to get out into the world.

But only the puzzling elite CRABs about this stuff, anyway.

Nice, easy puzzle from a first-timer!

Z 8:07 AM  

@Robert Seminara - Congrats. A fine effort. I certainly don't think you wasted your time.

Lots of Latin lately. I wonder if it is more than usual or if we are seeing a Via Appia pile-up. Or maybe there's been a crash on the Circus Maximus. I don't know since I don't follow NASCAR.

My kid played soccer with a STANHOPE for several years. I presume there are carriage makers in their family tree.

Re: POCs - I was a little surprised that it took this long for a constructor to rebut this complaint. Especially as a new solver, plurals and past tenses were often my toeholds. Nevertheless, like EELS and ENO, use if you must but avoid if you can would be my hope.

As for today's absent plurals, While the idea may have been collaborative, one GIRL SCOUT was undoubtedly the first to make a S'MORE. And she made one. Both are perfectly Okay my book. No Indy Car was involved.

joho 8:16 AM  

This puzzle painted a cozy little scene around the fire for me with the CAMP counselor instructing everybody to:

SMASH that HOTMARSHMALLOW on those GRAHAMCRACKRS! See how the CHOCOLATE melts into a gooey BLOB of pure heaven. What d'ya want?

GIRLSCOUT(s)in unison: SMORE!!!!

Thanks, Robert!

MikeM 8:34 AM  

I dint know STANHOPE but I got it from the crosses. There is a Stanhope Hotel in NYC where friends of mine meet each St Patrick's Day for a drink.

My daughter just had a S'mores party Saturday night with her Girl Scout troop. Not kidding. I will have to show the puzzle to her.

jackj 8:47 AM  

It was inevitable.

Knowing that Keats blazed the trail when he celebrated pottery with his “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, it was only a matter of time before the NY Times crossword puzzle decided to present its own tribute to a deserving legend, “Ode on a Girl Scout’s S’more”.

And, where Keats grandly pronounced:

“ “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Hershey’s Chocolate can proudly piggyback on that thought and proclaim:

“S’mores are sweet, sweet S’mores—that is all you need to know to enjoy one.”

Hey, PAL, yes, you MERLE, please bring my STANHOPE round, I’m getting out of here……!

Welcome to Robert Seminara on his Times debut; the sweetest in memory.

jberg 9:02 AM  

I don't know how I knew STANHOPE, but somehow I got it from the STAN. I bet there's one in Jane Austen somewhere. So that was all right, but GISMO was really pushing it. Still, congrats to Robert, and thanks for stopping by!

Congrats to Bryan, too, esp. for starting the whole car-racing thing in a very Rex-like way.

I'm just saying... 9:41 AM  

It was an easy puzzle, but I enjoyed all the g's andd b's. Do you give credit for use of letters? I though Dish for Gossip didn't make much sense. I had Dirt down first.

quilter1 10:10 AM  

I bet that GIRL SCOUT made more than one once she tasted it. S'MORES rock. The best ones are made with a CAMP fire, but we'll try with the grill as we can't have fires. I'm aiming for the 4th of July. Good puzzle and I'm glad the constructor added his comments. Thanks.

retired_chemist 10:12 AM  

In honor of today's theme I have changed my avatar to a photo of S'MORE, GCh Ch Glengowan's C-QUEL, one of our Grand Champion golden retrievers.

So how could I not like this puzzle, with the entire theme a shout-out to S'More?

In any case there is much to like abou this easy-peasy puzzle. Tight theme (I like the CAMP/FIRE version better, Mr. S.), decent fill, solid Monday. Once I saw the theme from 16A and 38A, a LOT virtually filled itself in.

It was about to be my first-ever sub-4 minute Monday but it took me a full minute to find one error. I had BETTER for 8D and didn't find EBI a problem - it means "shrimp" in Japanesse, and I just glanced at the clue and noticed "Japanese" but not "sash." Oh well.

Hand up for needing all crosses for STANHOPE.

Thanks,Mr Silvestri. A good debut.

Carola 10:13 AM  

Licked this one up. I spent many lovely summers at GIRL SCOUT CAMP as a camper and a counselor, where I made a steady DIET of S'MOREs.

I also enjoyed the bonus theme answers - though I associated the BLOB with the roasted marshmallow that's about to sag off its stick into the (FIRE) and SMEAR with the melted CHOCOLATE that gets all over your fingers.

@Robert Seminara - Congratulations on the puzzle and thanks for your comment. Would have been nice to have that (FIRE), I also wished that "Hershey Bar" could have fit where CHOCOLATE is, but it has one too many letters.

@Sandy K - Update from my post late yesterday on the cryptic. There were 3 or 4 I needed to keep circling back to, but I eventually got them all. How about you?

@Brian - Thans for the great write-up!

Carola 10:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen S 10:23 AM  

@Steve J, according to Wikipedia, IndyCar racing is the leading type of Formula Racing in North America, while Formula One is pre-eminent in Europe. And Super Formula in Japan. A multitude of lower-tier formulae allow a toehold for drivers at various levels of the sport. So the Indy 500 seems to be legitimately a formula race.

Speaking of sports, the Stanhopes didn't build carriages, seems they drove them (perhaps the Unsers of their time):
The stanhope was a gig, buggy or light phaeton, typically having a high seat and closed back. It was named after Captain Hon. Henry FitzRoy Stanhope (ca. 1754 - 1828, son of William Stanhope, 2nd Earl of Harrington), a well-known sportsman of his time, and built by the London firm of Tilbury, coachbuilders in Mount Street[1][2][3]. -- Wikipedia

Perhaps early S'MOREs were made by running over EELS with a STANHOPE and SMEARing them on SMASHed CHESTNUTS.

Sandy K 10:42 AM  

Sweet puzzle.

@Robert Seminara- agree CAMP FIRE was BETTOR. Congrats on debut puzzle!

Nice write-up @Bryan! Smiled at "Oklahoma" reference (with the fringe on top?)

@Carola- Grandkids + PB Puzz = GLEE! Struggled with Cryptic. Still stumped on 5D.

chefbea 11:07 AM  

Yummmmy puzzle. Very easy.

Use to stay at the Stanhope Hotel when visiting NYC.

Never heard the word chestnut referring to a joke!!! What is the reasoning behind that??

@Robert thanks for stopping by and hope to do more of your puzzles

Benko 11:10 AM  

@Z--Good point that plurals and past tenses (don't forget superlatives, with that great "-est") are toeholds for amateur solvers. I know I used to rely on them when I started the NYT in the Maleska days.
I just saw the newest batman movie on HBO and yesterday made my wife laugh with a pretty good BANE (sp.?) impersonation. His speech pattern has been stuck in my head.

Z 11:10 AM  

@Ellen S - Was the EEL SMASHing done with NASCAR or Indycar STANHOPEs? One also wonders if the resulting EELy S'MOREs were garnished with BORON.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:21 AM  

Yesterday, For Better . . ., today for BETTOR . . .

Fine puzzle, but I must be honest and say that I do not enjoy s'mores. Marshmallows in their native state, I find barely edible; heated over a smoky wood fire, totally inedible. And to subject a scrumptious, cool, delicately textured Hershey bar to the heat of the fire - sacrilege! But as one whose camping was almost entirely with Boy Scouts, I rarely if ever met any s'mores enthusiasts. :>)

Sfingi 11:23 AM  

Never heard of UTEP - U Tex at El Paso. Their symbol is a miner, working hard.

@Benko - had no idea. Ask me tomorrow, I still won't know.

@Chefbea - CHESTNUT only used with old. No new CHESTNUTS. Perhaps something that is squirreled away and brought out?

Very nice theme, Seminara.

mac 11:25 AM  

Congratulations, Robert and thanks, Bryan! Good start of the week. Hand up for dirt before dish.

The only time I notice plurals is when there are an unusually high number of them, or you have to really think to make sense of a particular one. Other than that, don't let it stop the constructors from giving us a good theme.

Rex Parker 11:31 AM  

I genuinely LOL'd 3 times at this write-up. FYI that is a very high number of times. Bryan Young is going to be very high in the next RP Blog Substitute Power Rankings (which come out in the next issue of ESPN: The Magazine, I think).


Masked and Anonymo7Us 11:39 AM  

@Bryan: Yep. That's what the Warren Commission said. One GIRLSCOUT, actin alone. har. Excellent writeup, maharaj.

Feel sorry for Robert the Constructor, that the Shortzmeister took his FIRE away. thUmbsUp, on yer debut. Liked it.

Two Ponies 11:42 AM  

Nice debuts today by our constructor and guest host.
Well done to you both.
Stanhope certainly was unexpected.
Same malapop as someone else with relet before renew.

Dick S 11:57 AM  

Robert (... if I may presume),

Great review/dissection/essay!

The only Stanhope I know is the former hotel at 995 Park across from the Met. Now luxury condos, the last one was going for 30 million.

As a hotel, they had great music and were the fiorst to break the $200/night rate in NYC (i know... this is a fleabag rate now)

The architect Rosario Candela designed this and many more NYC apartment buildings (as it was originally purposed)
that set the tone of the city in the 20's, 30's,40's.

Rob C 12:10 PM  

Fun puzzle...nice debut. Easy as pie, er, SMOREs. Wasn't bothered by the HOT marshmallow. Would it really be a SMORE if it wasn't hot?

STANHOPE is a non-Monday word, but that's what makes it all the better today. As @Z points out, there's probably some connection with the STANHOPE he knows and their ancestor's trade. Someone in my Company has the surname of Cockburn. I still feel sorry for his namesake ancestor even though I don't know the story. Apparently, they were the BAKER's until...

Liked the alt. clue for CHESTNUT also.

@Robert Seminara - not wasting time at all - think of all the enjoyment so many got from doing your puz today. And it took all that learning from trail and error to get here. Agree that everyone should try to construct a puzzle. Even if it's not publish-worthy, it's still a great excercise using surprisingly different skill sets than solving. It'll give you an enhanced appreciation for what constructors do too.

loren muse smith 12:11 PM  

@Ellen S, @Z, and @retired_chemist - if we're revisiting BORON Friday. . .


Steve J 12:25 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alban Berg 12:27 PM  

As far as I'm concerned, the constructor can shove his "Three B's of classical music", while me and my pals Anton Bruckner, Bela Bartok and Max Bruch sit around the camp fire making fun of them...sheesh!

Steve J 12:28 PM  

@Ellen S: Thanks for the info on Indy Car racing. The various governing bodies, etc., in motorsports seem to be more convoluted than the alphabet soup of federal government agencies. Colloquially, it's rarely if ever referred to as Formula racing, so that's what I was going off of.

@ACME: I understand your point regarding plurals: sometimes it's necessary to make a puzzle work. That happens, and every puzzle is going to have some degree of fill that's going to represent compromise needed to make the overall grid work (like SAREE here, which bugged me less than my punnish attempt at comment would indicate). But, I do think it's a legitimate point of critique when something that's nearly universally in the language as singular or plural gets flipped for purposes of construction. The construction necessity is a legitimate counterpoint to the critique, of course.

@Robert: Thanks for the info on originally including a parallel FIRE to match CAMP. Agreed (without knowing how it would have affected the rest of the NE, of course) that that would have been nicely elegant for the theme. And congratulations on your first NYT puzzle!

Sheila Ryan 12:36 PM  

"Racist chef Deen." I like it, Bryan. My first spit-take of the day.

Georges Bizet 12:37 PM  

Mon cher Alban: May I join you with my pal Hector Berlioz?

John V 12:47 PM  

Good one, Robert. Fun, easy Monday. Congrats on your debut.

JHC 12:58 PM  

I wonder if the NW was an intentional extra theme? GLEE above GIRLS above SMASH = TV shows that New York theater people inexplicably keep watching?

LaneB 12:58 PM  

The above comment is mine. No big deal

Lewis 1:26 PM  

Never heard of that definition of BANE. How do you use that in a sentence? "Pity about Dan, who accidentally sprinkled bane on his blueberries." I like ALI next to OBI. Zippy little solve. After my horizontal pass, there was still quite a bit of white, but after the downs, it was practically fully filled in. Never have seen GISMO spelled like that, thought it couldn't be right.

Happy neighbors include the MERLE CRAB SHOP, the GIRLSCOUT SMASH, ATOM REPS, an AUTOCLIP, an AUTOBASH, HARE SEEP (which I don't want to think about), AUTO ERATO DAHL (which I also don't want to think about), SHAH LAPS IMAM (likewise), the BBC LOO (which Acme has pointed out), and EELS in GLEE.

Nice writeup, Bryan. Congrats, Robert, and thanks for your insight.

Bird 1:33 PM  

Nice and easy. Theme is OK, but singular GIRL SCOUT and HOT MARSHMALLOW? I don’t believe there was a lone GIRL SCOUT sitting at a CAMP fire thinking, “What do I do with the leftover GRAHAM CRACKERS, MARSHMALLOWS and CHOCOLATE?” Then we don’t get a 38A referenced clue at 12D to go with the 38A referenced clue at 52D (shame on WS).

LIFE before ESSE, BRO before PAL. The only slang for gossip I know is DIRT.
TOG is a new word for me as are the definitions for BANE and CHESTNUT.
I spell 26D as GIZMO.

S'More M and A 1:36 PM  

OK. So after s'more thinkin, I have concluded that the original NE corner musta been somethin like this:
Which mighta tipped the moo-cow-meter just a smidge too far away from Monday fillins, with yer PAULI (St. Pauli beer), yer GAFF (big hooker) and yer STANHOPE (Hershey Stanhope, who acted alone in makin the first S'MORE, when she stumbled into a camp fire in 1927, while carryin some random supplies). QED. What a shame. If only she'da laid off the flea killer, that night.

fave moo-cow Monday-clue: "Weight loss program" = DIET. Close call. Most of these clues are almost TuesPuz difficulty. Soooo...

fave too-cow clue: "Heavens to Betsy!"


Random thoughts 1:46 PM  

A van for a local heating/airconditioning/refrigeration company just drove by. The company's name was Ambient Air.

Isn't that the antithesis of what they do?

Carola 2:05 PM  

@Sandy K - 5D was the one answer I penciled in with ???, as I didn't see how it fit the clue....until way later. Like, right now, in fact - I thought I'd understood it before but now I see I had it a bit wrong. Let me know if you'd like a hint.

Sandy K 2:44 PM  

Yes, I would love a hint! I got all the rest, but this one is driving me nuts...

SPOILER ALERT- this is about the Cryptic puzzle-

I have P_S_E_. Thought it might be pester (like to rail is to pester?) But what's the 'Lots go by?'
Yesterday had PLENTY (lots) until I worked out 10A and got the S.
Could 11A end with -ANT instead of -ATE?
You can more than just hint, cuz soon I'll be needing a 16D!! ; )

That'll Flat Git It For Today 2:48 PM  

The NE corner: the corner of 'NHOPE!

For those that have been askin me, over there on Tweeter:
Hershey Stanhope's full name? Accounts vary widely on this. Most common anecdotal references are to:
1. Hershey Graham Stanhope
2. Hershey Muse Stanhope
3. Hershey "Evil Duck" Stanhope
4. Hershey "Hot But Mellow" Stanhope
5. Hershey "Fireball" Stanhope
6. Hershey "Kisses" Stanhope
7. Hershey "Flea Killer" Stanhope

y'all heard of any other possibilities...?


Anoa Bob 3:01 PM  

Massaging the letter count for potential entries to a crossword grid is part of the constructors bag of tricks. One of the easiest of these devices is the POC.

I don't think I've ever seen a puzzle without a POC or two in it. Of the 16 I've snuck past the editors when they weren't looking (nom de puzz=robertfisher), all had at least one POC.

For me, the critical factor is how much does this shortcut compromise the puzzle's overall integrity. A single POC for an entry off in a corner? Inconsequential.

Several POCs, with some of them for longer entries? I think this would have a much more significant negative impact on the puzzle's overall quality.

And for me, playing fast and loose with the singular/plural status of theme entries just to make the letter count fit the slot is a deal killer. Too much of a short cut. Too much of a compromise on the puzzles's quality.

I think this issue is just as legitimate in discussing a puzzle's quality as are partials, abbreviations, and crosswordese. Why "retire" POCs from the mixture?

Benko 3:02 PM  

@Sandy K--
The answer is PASSEL.

Carola 3:24 PM  

@Sandy K -
Oops - just saw that Benko beat me to it...but anyway...

--SPOILER ALERT for yesterday's CRYPTIC--The letters you have are correct. "Lots" is the definition part of the clue. The riddle part is made up of two words, one a word meaning "go by" + the other, a kind of "rail." For rail, think of the kind in Chicago's Loop.

On "lots" - in my experience, the answer word is always used with "a," like other expressions for "lots" - "a ton" or "a boatload." So it seems to me the clue is a little off. I just checked the Wordplay blog to see if anybody there commented on it. No, but there was discussion of the 9A, 13A, 14A mini-theme, which I hadn't noticed. You could add 10A and 11A for an S&M vibe.

Sandy K 3:50 PM  

Thanks @Carola and Thanks @Benko

Oh, EL!! I thought of a PASS-L of penguins, but dismissed it cuz I didn't see the EL! I also thought it was spelled PASSaL...

Carola, I noticed the pair of 13A and 14A, but yes, 9A, 10A, and 11A DO add a 50 Shades of Grey tinge to it.

The comment that I read pointed out a criminal mini-theme, eg 1A, 10A, 11A, 18A, 26A, 3D, 16D, maybe more...

Anyway, thank you!

loren muse smith 4:08 PM  

@M & A - You *always* brighten my day. C'mon - who are you? Really.
You refuse to email anyone. . .

sanfranman59 4:38 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 (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:46, 6:12, 0.93, 17%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:38, 3:49, 0.95, 21%, Easy-Medium

Z 4:52 PM  

@lms - Maybe Andy Kaufman?

Mr. Benson 6:04 PM  

The singular/plural choices seem perfectly kosher to me. One HOTMARSHMALLOW + some CHOCOLATE + two GRAHAMCRACKERS = one S'MORE. What's the problem?

Ulrich 6:42 PM  

@Bryan Young: Da Sie offensichtlich Deutsch sprechen, kann ich meinen Rätselbesprechungsantwortkommentar in dieser, meiner Muttersprache verfassen: Eine sehr lustige Montagskreuzworträtselerstbegutschtung!

retired_chemist 6:50 PM  

Had theS'MORE dessert at Houlihan's in honor of today.

Sfingi 8:24 PM  


Something can be the BANE of your existence; or, there are plants called henbane or witches' bane, lion's bane, etc.

mac 9:22 PM  

@Ulrich: LOL! He'll never speak/write anything in German again... Erstbegutschtung is a new one to me.

Ulrich 9:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulrich 9:32 PM  

@mac: Ooops, there is a typo: I hit the s key instead of the a key: It should read Erstbegutachtung. Anyway, it's new to me, too--that's the beauty of German: You can make up those words as you see fit!

mac 10:12 PM  

@Ulrich: again, LOL!

JenCT 11:08 PM  

@ACME: Mallomars in my house were always in the refrigerator, and were for my Dad ONLY.... we didn't dare touch them! I still buy them seasonally...

@retired_chemist: what a beautiful dog!

Congrats on the debut puzzle, and on the blog write up.

retired_chemist 11:32 PM  

@ JenCT - thanks.

MaharajaMack 12:07 AM  

@Ulrich and @mac - Actually, I had eight semesters of German in college, a summer studying in Vienna, and easy access to Google Translate, so I'm keeping up with your Hoch Deutsche Scheisse.

Don't worry about correcting my spelling. College was quite a while ago. ;-)

MaharajaMack 12:14 AM  

To those who said kind things about my write-up, thank you. To those who said unkind things, thank you.

@Robert the Constructor - it was a very nice puzzle, and I'm jealous that you got your work published in the NYT. I'm still trying to achieve that. I hope you understand that even a near-perfect puzzle would get critiqued in this forum because that's what makes reading this fun. These people are sharks and they go mad for the smell of snark in the water.

@Steve J, regarding formula/IndyCar/NASCAR - in your FACE!

@Rex Parker - I had a blast doing this and reading everyone's comments today. Thanks so much for giving me my 24 hours of fame, no matter how little it impressed my wife, mother-in-law, friends, colleagues...I could go on.

sanfranman59 12:51 AM  

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 5:42, 6:12, 0.92, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:27, 3:49, 0.91, 6%, Easy

@Ulrich ... My chorus is doing Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten in German (for the uninitiated, that's The Seasons). In spite of the fact that my family name is about as German as one gets, I struggle mightily with my ancestors' mother tongue. Care to come to SF for some tutoring?

Ulrich 1:39 AM  

@sanfranman59: This is the best I can do from a distance (note the shout-out to a famous SanFranciscan!)

Auto Clip s'Mear 1:42 AM  

@Robert Seminara
Ha! I suspected about SMASH... COngrats on the debut, sorry your FIRE got put out.

Take a picture of the damn check and send it to Chase... Frame the one you have, but for godssake CASH IT!!!
NYT is counting on us to be so grateful that we frame not cash...You are so underpaid, at least use it for an online puzzle subscription, plus at least one for a friend, postage for the year and a few boxes of GIRLSCOUT cookies!

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

Tasty theme; wish the fill of the puzzle were up to the fill of the SMORE. I kept looking for HERSHEYBAR but I guess any ol' CHOCOLATE will do.

We start right out with a big HUH?!? at 1a. "In ESSE?" Ne. Vah. Hoidofit. With PSST, ESSE is way too often used as an easy-letter copout. But to clue it with the lead-in "in" goes beyond the pale--and we're still at Monday!

The west central box is a down-disaster. The ATEAM is fine, but the plan for the rest of it did NOT come together, and I did NOT love it. DISH as "Gossip?" Another HUH?!? GIsMO? Where's the "(var.)" in the clue? And RELET? That's not a huh, that's an UGH. It's a good thing that HOT sensibly modifies MARSHMALLOW. Me? I'd RENEW that box, or at least DISH out some new clues.

Speaking of "var.," I agree that the "ranee" of the clue is a broad hint, but still, SAREE is a spelling I've never seen.

In addition to the delicious crunch of GRAHAMCRACKERS, I like the crunch of KABUL and STUCCO. Also like the pairs alluded to by ACME (except for RELET/RENEW) and the theme itself. Yum!

Easy--but in a couple of spots only because the crosses were easy. I'd say, stay with it, Robert. I imagine your original NE was BASF/PAULI/SLIP/FIRE. Nothing wrong with that, IMO. Will shoulda left it.yraske 192

spacecraft 11:58 AM  

Oh. Now I understand why I was rejected. Forgot to move the cursor! Stupid captchas. And now they've rehired the World's Worst Photographer for those numbers. I could give a camera to a CHIMP--with NO training--and get better shots.

rain forest 1:01 PM  

I couldn't do this fast enough. My pen nib was red hot as I absolutely tore through it. Didn't notice almost all the downs except for the NE where STANHOPE was unknown, but fell quickly, and I continued on unabated to the end.

Didn't notice GISMO or DISH until after finishing, and those two are either iffy, or wtf. Is DISH a verb in this usage? SAREE is strange.

I don't believe I've done a puzzle this fast, and maybe that is why I can't say there was a high enjoyment factor. I don't even like SMORES.

CaliTina 1:54 PM  

I liked this puz. When I got GIRLSCOUT I put SAMOA for 38a- the Girl Scout cookie we can't get here anymore.
When I changed it to SMORE I did a little cheer. Throughout this summer my town has been fighting with the wealthy beach town down the road regarding beach fire pits. They claim the smoke coming from 10 miles away might be too unhealthy. But the fire pits prevailed and I can finally have a SMORE before summer ends.
Hangups: my mascara had a CLUMP before a SMEAR.
Loved: 50a the cluing for Egypt's boy-king!

DMGrandma 2:59 PM  

A fun start to the week. Wrote in STANHOPE off the clue, wondering how I knew that. The brain is a strange place! . My only write-over was DISH over DIrt. To answer @rain forest, what tale tellers do is "DISH the dirt". See you tomorrow!

Texas Syndy Solver 3:30 PM  

I have heard DISH regarding gossip forever - as both a noun and a verb. My problem that few mentioned was a natick at the R in SAREE. I have never seen that spelling before and the double E in RANEE was no help. My thought was french - like Renee. And I am not cultured enough to know "Muse of poetry." Give me a rapper anytime. It was an easy Monday except that one D*MN letter.

Dirigonzo 3:50 PM  

I reluctantly concluded that IzLA was not the word for "island" in any language and so changed the gadget to GISMO, even though that looked more wrong than izla.

ALI/IMAM seems appropriate in view of his conversion to Islam many years ago, before it became fashionable among some celebrities.

@Texas SS - ERATO and a couple of other muses show up often enough to eventually become "gimmees"; "culture" is not required (I'm something of an authority on lack of culture).

Waxy in Montreal 4:12 PM  

As kids in Old Blighty, we mostly used the term LAV rather than LOO for 6D purposes causing a very minor delay here. Otherwise, an extremely easy puzzle, just about right for this time of year. Not quite sure what problem the shortzmeister had with @Robert Seninara's clever CAMP/FIRE combo but it certainly would have not been out-of-place here.

Don't want to CRAB but I thought that was a particularly brutal video imbedded in the write-up by our guest blogger; would certainly have been more GLEEful with some BACH or a song from MERLE or PAULA!

DMGrandma 4:24 PM  

Came back to read newer postings and discovered mine, which was here once, has been eaten, By the Captcha bug? At any rate, here it is again. This is why I always copy before I post!

A fun start to the week. Wrote in STANHOPE off the clue, wondering how I knew that. The brain is a strange place! . My only write-over was DISH over DIrt. To answer @rain forest, what tale tellers do is "DISH the dirt". See you tomorrow!

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

Gismo. No. No.

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