Muslim headdress / SUN 8-4-13 / 1972 musical or its 2013 revival / Column on Clue notepad / Much-hyped Google product / High Muslim honorific / Car make whose name sounds like Cockney greeting

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Constructor: Steven Ginzburg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Should I Call The Repairman?" — clues are objects that might break followed by ellipses; answers are continuations of the clues that create a punny sentence about how the objects are broken:

Theme answers:
  • 27A: The jigsaw ... KEEPS CUTTING OUT
  • 40A: The elevator ... JUST WENT DOWN
  • 53A: The mosquito zapper ... HAS STILL GOT BUGS
  • 77A: The quiz-grading machine ... FAILED SOME TESTS
  • 89A: The crosswalk signal ... IS ON THE BLINK
  • 104A: The film-processing machine at the movie studio ... DEVELOPED A SHORT

Word of the Day: W.E.B. DUBOIS (33D: "The Souls of Black Folk" author, 1903) —
William Edward Burghardt "W. E. B.Du Bois (pronounced /dˈbɔɪz/ doo-boyz; February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963) was an American sociologisthistoriancivil rights activistPan-Africanist, author and editor. Born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Du Bois grew up in a relatively tolerant and integrated community. After graduating from Harvard, where he was the first African American to earn a doctorate, he became a professor of history, sociology and economics atAtlanta University. Du Bois was one of the co-founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. (wikipedia)
• • •

Someone wrote me the other day to ask me if the Sunday puzzles had, as she suspected, gotten easier lately. I said probably not, or if they had, it was standard variation—perhaps a patch of easyish puzzles, but only in the way we might have a patch of cold or warm weather, i.e. it would all norm out over time. But then I did this puzzle in under 9, and now I'm thinking there may be something to this theory. They have been playing rather easily lately. Someone who tracks times assiduously will be better able than I to see if there is a large-scale trend. I'd still bet against it, but part of me wants to sign on to the conspiracy theory.

I don't have very strong opinions about this puzzle. There are only six theme answers and they are punny in that way that I don't enjoy that much (i.e. they are punny). But the puzzle is what it is, and as this type of puzzle goes, it seems just fine. Easy, but fine. Fill is no worse than most Sundays, perhaps even a little better—lots of longer non-theme answers helps keep the fill from being completely ordinary and dull. ASSYR and OATY and ABAA (an answer I'd totally banish if I could) are weak, but that's not much to complain about. The STNS EEO ASSN block there in the middle is yuck, but again, it's a small patch. Overwhelmingly, the fill is rock solid. I didn't struggle much, but there were a few places that caused me some relative slowage. HAVEN'T was remarkably hard to come up with (67D: Lack). The vague clue (noun? verb?) is likely to blame, at least in part. Also, nobody expects a contraction. No One. Also struggled mightily to come up with THE RAMS. In what sense might they be said (straightfacedly) to be a "pride" (90D: Pride of St. Louis). The Cardinals fit that clue, but THE RAMS? Not lately. Or is a pack of rams called a "pride" now? If so, why are rams hanging out in packs? End times?

  • 52A: Column on a Clue notepad (ROOMS) — flashback-inducing clue. I haven't played this board game (or any board game) in years.
  • 58A: He said "Every great film should seem new every time you see it" (EBERT) — interesting assertion. I'll have to test this out in the near future. 
  • 75A: Muslim headdress (TAJ) — Did not know this. Better than [___ Mahal], I guess.
  • 98A: 1972 musical or its 2013 revival ("PIPPIN") — couldn't tell you anything about either. I just keep picturing Pippie Longstocking. Is she involved?
  • 6D: High Muslim honorific (AGA KHAN) — I thought this was a specific guy, but apparently not. I was probably thinking of (Prince) ALY KHAN (the son, it turns out, of AGA KHAN III). KHAAAAAAN!
  • 55D: Much-hyped Google product (GLASS) — if this is the future, I'm out. Nice knowing you all. 
  • 78D: Car make whose name sounds like a Cockney greeting (AUDI) — "Howdy" is a Cockney greeting? I get the dropped "H" thing, but "Cockney greeting" is surprising to me. Either "howdy" is a Cockney expression or there were Cockneys in the Old West. Either way, color me surprised. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Lollapuzzoola 6 crossword tournament is coming up on Saturday. If you can't make it to NYC on Saturday, there's a solve-at-home option. Here's a message from tournament co-founder, Brian Cimmet:
Lollapuzzoola 6 is happening in New York City on Saturday, August 10. A day of all-original puzzles designed just for the tournament, bonus games, great fun and friends, and all for just $25 (optional pizza party not included). Or, if NYC isn't in your travel plans, sign up for the At-Home version for just $10. For more on Lollapuzzoola, visit, find us on Facebook, or contact tournament co-director Brian Cimmet at P.S. Rex Parker once described this crossword competition as "easily the best tournament experience I've had to date," if that sort of thing holds any sway.
- Brian


jae 12:06 AM  

Easy-breezy cute Sun.  No WOEs, a couple of minor erasures...AREtoo to ARENOT, ABAb to ABAA, STa toSTN..., one obvious cringe...ASSYR..., but nothing to impede the solve. 

Mini hat theme...KEPI, TAJ, TAM

Everyone should know MSRP by now. 

Liked the theme, pretty smooth fill, nice one Mr. Ginsburg!

August West 12:10 AM  


Is it Thursday yet?

Serious question: Is it just me or has the Sunday NYT purposely become significantly easier on a relative scale than it was decades ago? In college and law school (early-mid '80s), the Sunday would take me at least an hour, sometimes two, oftentimes DNF. Granted, I've become a much better solver over the course of 30 years as, of course, practice and familiarity breed expertise. Still, I recall the Sunday's of yesteryear being filled with brutally obscure esoterica, while those of today seem, more often than not, to be just "big Tuesdays."


Auggie 12:16 AM  

@jae: Same rewrites here. Yes, re: MSRP, heh, and all of yesterday's disappointed got to write OREO today.

retired_chemist 12:16 AM  

Medium here. Liked the puns better than Rex did.

Toughest part was the NW. Refused to give up on ABAB for the rhyme scheme (2D). It is the usual one, after all. Kept me from seeing almost all the other entries for far too long.

Liked the long downs even better than the theme answers. Agree the fill is overall solid.

Good job, Mr. Ginzburg. Thanks.

August West 12:25 AM  

Egad! Just went and actually read @Rex's write up. As the clock struck midnight, I immediately clicked the comments link and started tapping away. I am *not* the one who wrote him to ask the question posed in my first comment tonight, but glad to see others are on the same wavelength.

JFC 12:26 AM  

Rex, I'm sorry but once again I agree with you. And the Pride of St. Louis was about a movie about Dizzy Dean, a famous Cardinal pitcher and why that is clued that way is bizarre. In fact the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams will likely be leaving St. Louis in a few years.


Dylan "2D:ABAA" Th. 1:44 AM  

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

paulsfo 2:17 AM  

I didn't know KEPI or TAJ but the crosses were fair.
Enjoyed the cluing (by far my favorite part of a puzzle) for ELEGY, SLOPE, and HEXES quite a bit.

chefwen 2:53 AM  

Sunday puzzles usually take me a long time to complete, mostly because of their size and the teeny, tiny little spaces to fill that don't agree with my eyes. Had dinner guests arriving and wondered how I was going to sling hash, set table, polish silver, and do the puzzle before they arrived. I had three hours to spare, no problem!

@August West - is making some sense!

Loved the puns. Hard to pick a favorite, maybe 40A JUST WENT DOWN. 104A was really cute also.
Oh Hell, liked all of them.

evil doug 5:04 AM  

I see it in the 'damning with faint praise' that's become so common among the more adept puzzlers that have been here a while---including you, Michael---trying desperately to find something positive to say about a generally popular or at least serviceable constructor, or even making excuses for a less-than-stellar effort. That's the best the Times can offer? That's the best we can say about it?

"Most of the American Values Club puzzles are simply head and shoulders above the average NYT." That's you, Michael, and it's not an unusual commentary anymore.

Meanwhile, new waves of blog participants are cautiously dipping their toes in the water and taking the risk of offering an opinion suggesting that what many of us find to be a sadly easy puzzle was a challenge for them, and they're thrilled to finally finish a Monday with only limited google help....

I rarely discover anything in the puzzle itself worth commenting positively about---usually I derive more pleasure in debating some corollary issue that a puzzle suggests, or teasing a poster who's becoming monotonous, or offering an anecdote (or, yes, a Seinfeld dialogue) that is peripherally sparked by something in the grid.

Maybe it's like the end of a semester, Michael: One class has successfully incorporated all the knowledge you can share and is ready to move on; and a fresh group full of eager anticipation is waiting in the wings.

Perhaps some of us who are growing increasingly cynical and bored should step aside and let the novices run the show here for a while. Perhaps you would be re-energized, Michael. Of course, then the question becomes: Are you the teacher to carry them through the course, or are you equally fatigued and unwilling to bring another class from a to z?

Now and then I see value in the 'empty chair' gambit in group dynamics---in absenting myself here and watching how things progress without my participation. Maybe this is an opportune time to give that another try....


Masked and Anonymous, RSS 7:59 AM  

it kinda figures that the puzs would seem to be gettin easier for a solver, as the solver became better at solvin and wiser in the words of the world.

Only 134 words. Uses all the letters, except leaves Q in the holster. Average word is wider than STOUT by half a square. Add 11 U's for garnish. KINGSIZE(d?)BED. RHUBARBPIE. ATADISCOUNT. These are the good ol' days, dude.


Glimmerglass 8:07 AM  

I guess this was easy for me, but I found myself stuck several times. Not "in my wheelhouse" I suppose. For example, I didn't know GLASS (or is it G LASS -- find a girl?). Then to me the SLOW LANE is the inside track (I pass on the outside); so that confused me. I get Nineva and Tarshish mixed up. OATY is just plain ugly. Eventually I got it right, so I guess it wasn't so much hard as crummy. In general, today's Sunday puzzles (with some wonderful exceptions) are just long Wednesdays. I too remember them from my youth as long and tricky, but I'm a better solver now.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Thank you Evil! I struggled with a lot of the puzzle, as a relative newby, and was gutted to find all the posts saying what a piece of cake it was. I live in a multicultural society but had never heard of TAJ - even now I can't find it on Google search. Pride of St Louis? The RAMS? Come on! GLASS? What is that? Am I the only one living in a parallel universe? Admittedly the long clues were easy, but some of the little ones were more dreadful English than obscure.

Tita 9:11 AM  

I was on the hallowed ground where the OREO was invented yesterday!
Out-of-town friends dragged us on a tour that began at Chelea Markets ,which was the original home of the NAtional BIscuit Company, as many of my fellow NYers probably already know.

Our fun-fact-filled and fabulous tour guide told me something I didn't know, and can't corroborate - the name comes from the "E" of "crEam" sandwiched between the two "O"s of cOOkie.

She is a native NYer,, and occasionally does the puzzle, so she was equally delighted to learn from me about its special place in crossword puzzlers' hearts.

The puzzle? It was OK... Honestly, the themes weren't sparkling, but still fun to use to help solve.

Loved clue for ABVIL, and for BROOM (Hi, @Karen, our resident curler!!)

POURS crossing OREO was apropos, as when we were standing on the High Line (fabulous space - do go...), it POUR[s]ed.
(I recommend the Foods of NY tour of the Chelsea Markets - ask for Cindy - she was great!)

Thanks Mr. Ginzberg.

(Capcha=scanmen - describes both google & NSA employees. Oh - and how ironic is it that Google has their NY offices just across the street form the OREO birthplace?

Joe The Juggler 9:18 AM  

"GLASS? What is that?"

Google Glass:

"I live in a multicultural society but had never heard of TAJ - even now I can't find it on Google search."

The meaning of "taj" in question comes up as the first sentence of the firt hit (the Wikipedia disambiguation page) in a Google search. I have no idea what you're doing wrong.

"Taj (Persian: تاج‎) is a Persian word that means "crown", and may refer to:"

However, I admit I didn't know either of these two things until after I solved the puzzle. You can get these kind of answers from the crosses. I agree with Rex that it was an easy Sunday, and I'm nowhere near the class of solvers that include the likes of Rex. For me "easy Sunday" means I finished it without outside help in under 20 minutes.

Joe The Juggler 9:20 AM  

But I totally disagree with Rex on puns. (There are good ones, and there are bad ones, in my book.) I liked this puzzle.

De gustibus non est disputandum.

loren muse smith 9:31 AM  

Ok – let’s address a real “corollary ISSUE” here. As someone who TRIES to be all fancy schmancy when I entertain, I like to offer not the requisite grapes on the pretty cheese display, but rather fresh figs and dates A lot of the time my plans are thwarted because I can’t find either anywhere, let alone the CORNER STORE!

@Tita - interesting about OREO!

@jae – you stole my hat line. *And* I always make the same mistakes you do. Always. What’s worse, I see now that I have a big dnf because I accepted “tonaes” as some obscure London weights. Sheesh.

I had “hora” for a while, trying to search my memory and make sure I was INDEED sinuous enough whenever I did it, but then I first had to look up “sinuous.” I’m pretty sure I don’t have that gear when I dance.

Mom won’t like the GOT in HAS STILL GOT BUGS.

I grew up at 3112 OZARK Circle in Chattanooga. “Ice cream truck” had me back there even before OZARK fell. Funny how jarring it is to see that word after all these years. I tell you, remembering the feeling of hearing that LILT stirs a deep nostalgia in me that makes me briefly understand why people write poetry.

Perched in a Sweetgum just climbed
I prick my ears to the distant LILT
Overcome with thrill, then frantic ecstatic panic. No time!
Jump down! Quick! Find her! Scream, “MOM, GIMME A DIME”!!

@M&A - I had the same thought. Did you “iced tea people want KING SIZEd? On a similar note – ever notice how in some states the sign says “Reduced Speed Ahead” kind of like a description, and other states have “Reduce Speed Ahead”- an order?

I’m usually too impatient to finish a Sunday that gives me trouble, and I think that’s still pretty common. Yes, this was EASY, but I’m ok with that. Alert the presses. I don’t know, ED – I inferred from your post that you thought today’s puzzle was bad? I just did an honest INNER questioning, asking myself if I’m always positive because I really feel that way or because I simply can’t bring myself to criticize. My conclusion is that it’s the former 99.99% of the time. Very, very RARELY, there’s a puzzle that I think is kind of bad and on those days, I probably just don’t post anything. But today I studied this grid and I truly think it’s fine. The weak part – ISSUERS, ELITES, GLAZERS, ATTN, PROG, SSRS I’ll forgive for the TASTING, KING SIZE BED payoff. What is more, Steven seems to have channeled Jeff Chen with his terrific long downs. They’re all excellent!

Starts with a PURR and ends with ESTOP. Thanks, Steven.

joho 9:56 AM  

@Rex, your write up today is a perfect mix of praise, negativity, humor and WTF: "Also struggled mightily to come up with THE RAMS. In what sense might they be said (straightfacedly) to be a "pride" (90D: Pride of St. Louis). The Cardinals fit that clue, but THE RAMS? Not lately. Or is a pack of rams called a "pride" now? If so, why are rams hanging out in packs? End times?"

I totally agree about AUDI not being a Cockney "Howdy." I wrote a great big, HUH? in margin. Probably should've written UH?

Ebert's comment is provocative and I believe it's true. Once I get caught up again in an great film it's just as riveting, if not even more so, than the first time I saw it.

This puzzle was cute but over too quickly. I did it last night and, believe it or not, said to myself, "Sunday puzzles just aren't what they used to me. They're too easy, don't have enough fight."

Personally I love a struggle on a Sunday with lots of twists and turns and real AHA moments. Maybe even some circles or connect the dots and ultimately a picture! I'm always looking for something special.

Actually isn't that what we're all looking for every day of the week?

joho 10:06 AM  

@Tita, that *is* interesting about OREO. I worked on Nabisco cookies and crackers for years and never heard that explanation, though. And every year we'd have a big push to come up with bigger and better OREO campaign. That usually produced a great, catchy jingle or a heartfelt ad with adorable kids unscrewing the OREO for the cream inside. We should've been singing about the name and how it was created!

Back then we had to drive to their offices in New Jersey. Your tour in NYC sounds fascinating ... I want to go!

Carola 10:19 AM  

I guess I'm an outlier - not easy for me and DNF - could not give up ABAB. Part of the challenge came from my self-imposed Sunday solving rule that I have to build from the first cross I get (no skipping around), so that always keeps me in the SLOW LANE. But still couldn't crack the NW no matter how long I stared.

Thought the theme was clever - the devices need repair when they're doing exactly what they're supposed to do - and enjoyed the long downs. Thought the pride of St. Louis would be THE ARCH.

joho 10:50 AM  

Is anybody else having trouble connecting with Cruciverb?

chefbea 10:51 AM  

The puzzle was OK. Had trouble in the north west. Had frets for 1A and flea for 1D.

Of course wanted cardinals for pride of St. Louis. The Rams weren't even there when I was growing up.

Z 10:53 AM  

@Tita - Oreos are imitations of the original Hydrox cookie.

49 minutes on an iPad, with both the NW and SW being especially slow for me.

@Rex, I bet SanFranman59 has an answer. @Auggie, 30 years ago puts you in the Maleska era, where trivial trivia ruled the day. Shortz introduced all sorts of wordplay and tricks into the puzzle. Some commenters miss Maleska, but they are as rare as transuranium elements.

Rob C 10:55 AM  

Easy-Medium for me. After the first pass through the puzzle I had very little filled in. On second pass, it all just came together. Puns were fine, no real stretches. Fill was good too.

Rex points out only 6 theme answers. I seem to recall, W Shortz put a call out on one of the puzzling sites for Sundays with less theme and more quality fill. This seemed to fit that mold.

I also notice that Sunday's have gotten a bit easier lately. Though as Rex says, it's difficult to tell whether it's simply an easy batch or a real trend. Wonder of sanfranman's stats tell a tale?

Agree with LMS - Date at the CORNER STORE. Huh? I thought I was missing something.

Anno Domini 11:00 AM  


Ray J 11:01 AM  

About 157.5 stones/tonne. You’re welcome.

I can’t add much to the Sunday difficulty debate. I’ve been solving regularly for about a year now. At first they all seemed hard and I frequently DNF. Now I usually finish them without refilling the coffee cup. I imagine that’s got more to do with practice than with the puzzles themselves.

Also, I feel like I usually enjoy the puzzles more than some here. Is that because I’m still a relative newbie? I don’t know.

loren muse smith 11:03 AM  

@Anno Domini, @Ray J

Thanks! Biggest aha moment of my career. So a double dnf. HAH! But I sure feel a lot better about that clue!

retired_chemist 11:32 AM  

@ Dylan - yes, there are many ABAA quatrains. I didn't question that or the correctness of the answer. There are many beautiful AABA quatrains in the Fitzgerand translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

However, I stand by my assertion that the majority of quatrains are ABAB.

retired_chemist 11:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 11:34 AM  

Oops - AABA in the first line above. And Fitzgerald.

DBGeezer 11:42 AM  

What does MSRP stand for?

Bill Ford 11:45 AM  

Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price

retired_chemist 11:46 AM  

Did no one else besides me and @Carola try THE ARCH for 90D?

600 11:56 AM  

Just can't figure out 38D. Why is "___rock" PROG? I know I'm gonna do a head slap, but help, please.

Gill I. P. 11:57 AM  

I didn't find this puzzle that easy at all...I just could not get on SG's wavelength for some reason.
Had SUNNITE instead of AGAKAHN so that whole area was screwed.
There are two foods on this earth that I won't eat - one is RHUBARB and the other is okra. I misspelled RHUBARBPIE so that held me up.
Loved the clue for PERU (16D) instead of the old "Lima is its capital." Marmalade sandwiches!!!!
A Sunday struggle but I did like the puns.

sandy 11:58 AM  

I thrive on puzzles that allow me to conquer the theme so I can manage the esoteric facts.
But this was just too easy.
No fun even for someone who is not in the same league with the rest of you.

Z 11:59 AM  

@600 - PROG Rock is short for "progressive rock." Are you an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer fan?

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

please tell me, what is a corner stone?

Rob C 12:15 PM  

@Ray J & Anno Domini

Thanks for correcting my CORNER STOrE. DNF...damn!

@ LMS - I guess we think alike, i.e., wrong.

I.M. Pei 12:16 PM  


Good Person 1:20 PM  

I read your comments with some amusement.

Sabbatical ? Wow, a little egotistical don't you think ?

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.


Sandy K 1:22 PM  

I'm with those who liked the puzzle and did not think the puns and the long downs needed a REPAIRMAN.

@Rex has a picture of "Gilda". Is that the film he will watch to test out the validity of EBERT's quote, or is it there because Rita Hayworth was married to Aly KHAN, or because she and Glenn Ford were such a hot item that they were paired in "The Loves of Carmen" two years later in which Glenn Ford played Don Jose (but was not a TENOR)??

Karen 1:24 PM  

Thanks Tita, I was excited to see a curling clue too!

Someone gave me a book of Maleska Sunday puzzles, and they were not possible for me to solve. I'm much happier with the Shortz era.

chefbea 1:31 PM  

@ret chem..I did think of the arch!!!

Malodorous Funk 1:44 PM  

Evil. I read your comments with amazement that people still do that sort of thing: exit a newsgroup in a holier-than-thou, self-righteous, sanctimonious, and worst of all - condescending way. I can't tell you how many newsgroups I've participated in and witnessed someone doing this, but maybe not with your erudition. It's almost like you're trolling for comments. So I'll bite.

You're obviously a talented, savvy guy, with a twinkly off-beat sense of humor, I always read your posts. Sorry I won't have that opportunity in the future.

Good luck in all your future endeavors.

Z 1:54 PM  

How does one get "holier-than-thou, self-righteous, sanctimonious, and worst of all - condescending way" from "Now and then I see value in the 'empty chair' gambit in group dynamics---in absenting myself here and watching how things progress without my participation. Maybe this is an opportune time to give that another try...."? Or am I mis-assigning your observation to @Evil Doug?

I skip M-W 1:59 PM  

Usually, I take a brief look at Sunday and decide it's too easy to bother with. (enjoy cryptos)There used to be occasional hard ones. (maybe I should rename self S-W.)

I did this just to put myself to sleep while watching a dull movie that worked by itself for my wife. Puzzle eventually worked.

Puns were mildly amusing. Hands up for the Arch, and for struggling with NW. Even considered abac.

@tita thanks for Oreo story and @z for reminding of hydrox

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

To Sandy K: I had some of the same wonderings about GIlda/Rita!

@ret chem: Yes, I thought "The Arch"...but I never write in till I'm sure of some crosses. This may be why a fast Sunday for me is 45 minutes.

To Everyone: I still don't understand "Lilt." I think of melodies as "lilting."

Do people really call some types of music "Lilt" or is this one of those crossword-y syntax-ish things?

To Rex: Still don't understand how you could experience "slowage" or "struggle" when finishing in under 9 minutes!

600 2:32 PM  

@Z--Thanks. And you bet I'm an Emerson, Lake, and Palmer fan. Told you I was gonna do a head slap.

Steve J 3:38 PM  

I'm generally not a fan of puns, unless they're especially clever, but most of these were fine an (very) mildly amusing way. In initially had a WTF on 77A because I somehow kept reading it as "the quizzing machine", which, of course, isn't a thing.

I was another person who had CORNERSTORE rather than CORNERSTONE, and also had the same thought as Loren in wondering on what corner is there a store that sells dates?

Perhaps because of the corner store/date connection, I had a hard time with the NW (I didn't help myself with having ABAB instead of ABAA). RANGE was not coming to me as a synonym for span, and I couldn't look at UBO_T and not think "u-boat".

Also struggled with the AUDI/RUBLE zone. You know a clue is bad when someone who's an Audi owner (me) can't think of it because, as has been said, "howdy" and Cockneys are not a good fit.

Questinia 3:56 PM  

Hand-up for CORNER STOrE before STONE thinking "getting a date at the bodega?!". But after AUDI for ~cockney greeting car~ I figured it anything was possible.

Found this medium as opposed to yesterday's easy.

Cluing. The cluing here was neutral enough to infer too many possible answers. Also I may have been reading too much into them.

Re quality of Sunday puzzles: Perhaps Sunday puzzles have become a NYT gateway drug. Lolling on a weekend with others, doing a puzzle, getting hooked, subscribing. On what other day would people be apt to do the puzzle?

I was introduced to the crossword puzzle via the Sunday edition... pretty hooked.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Apparently, not everyone here, including our seasoned solvers, thought this one was so easy- even some DNFs.

@anon 2:02
LILT- a light, happy tune or song;
Irish traditional music or dance;
brand of soft drink manufactured by the Coca Cola Company.

It's all on Google!

LaneB 4:37 PM  

Slogged thru another Sunday and didn't have to admit ti a DNF. Finished in 5 minutes. Oh, pardon me-- that was just for the NW corner( STONE) .I do these puzs partly because I enjoy some challenge and success and partly because I am kind of OCD. Accordingly, a DNF puts me in a bad mood for a while-- but nothing too serious.. I like getting on the blog and seeing how seriously many take some of the posts. I much prefer the very clever and humorous contributions, don' t you?

wa 4:41 PM  

When I hear about any Khan including Madeline Kahn , I think of Dylan:

Genghis Khan and his brother Don Couldn't keep on keepin' on
I guess you can have a corn beef sandwich in a kig size bed.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

What happened to jackj and where's Sparky?

I miss them.

Dick Swart 5:54 PM  

At the risk of complaining because I don't do the puzzle on-line, but print it out to have with morning coffee, the Sunday is a bugbear for the way it pronts!

1. Two pages so have to reference.

2. Numbers above 99 show as 10 or 11. The botton third is a slog as i try to count where I am and what a number might possible be to match to a clue.

This seems minor but it also really slows down perception of what an answer might be when the old sub-conscious is working for me in the squares above.

Could one of you nabobs of crosswordistan pass this along to the Aga Khans at the NYT?

Questinia 6:01 PM  

CORNERSTOrE too. Also tapped into the collective consciousness of "why would I go to the bodega for a date?". Went with it temporarily after the cockney/car/greeting/ AUDI clue because I figured anything was possible after that.

Easy puzzle made more medium because of the bland cluing opening up too many possible interpretations, i.e. my first word went down late for a Sunday puzzle.

Re Sunday puzzles in general. I think they're a gateway drug to buying an online subscription to NYT puzzles. More accessible puzzles on a day more people are apt to do puzzles yield hooked puzzlers and ka-ching.

DigitalDan 6:26 PM  

I would suggest an alternate description of the theme than has been proposed here: The theme answers are phrases that normally apply to things or processes that are broken, but that in the context of the clues are working perfectly. I thought it was interesting that several examples could be found. Kind of inverse irony or something.

August West 6:26 PM  

@I. M. Pei 12:16P: Heh!

Just curious 7:44 PM  

@lms et. al. - So DIr seemed OK?

Susan McConnell 9:15 PM  

I enjoyed the puns but struggled in the NW. Just couldn't see PACES or PURR or ABAA. Had to move on and circle back to it after everything else was filled in. HEAVEd a heavy, self-disappointed sigh upon seeing it rated so EASY by Rex and others.

sarah 9:23 PM  

Corner stoRe: Deli that sells stuff like nuts, raisins -- and dates! At least that was how I justified it to myself. I had not quite figured out how a diR can impede a conversation, but I was working on it.

I agree with DigitalDan's generous interpretation of the theme -- that is much cleverer than it seems at first glance. I really liked this puzzle, and for me it is nice to have a fairly easy one once in a while, so I do not feel so clueless.

loren muse smith 9:45 PM  

@just curious- I never saw DIR. I just thought I had finished. Oh well.

Rob C 9:57 PM  

I wish I could claim I didn't see DIR. I convinced myself that DIR had to do with the theater, director or direction, which could inhibit the conversation on stage. Sure, it sounds dumb now...

retired_chemist 10:17 PM  

@ lms - DIr is the error you made if you found your dates at the CORNER STOrE.

Joe The Juggler 10:28 PM  

chefbea said...
"wanted cardinals for pride of St. Louis."

I wanted "The Arch" but figured it wouldn't be right (maybe "Gateway Arch" or something else that was too long to fit).

sanfranman59 12:38 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 6:01, 6:04, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Tue 8:49, 8:13, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:35, 9:43, 0.88, 24%, Easy-Medium
Thu 16:43, 16:29, 1.01, 58%, Medium
Fri 20:03, 19:58, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Sat 28:53, 25:40, 1.12, 82%, Challenging
Sun 27:42, 28:35, 0.97, 47%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:45, 1.00, 49%, Medium
Tue 5:29, 4:57, 1.11, 76%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:02, 5:35, 0.90, 26%, Easy-Medium
Thu 9:59, 9:30, 1.05, 61%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 12:16, 11:52, 1.03, 57%, Medium
Sat 17:36, 15:28, 1.14, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Sun 19:20, 19:51, 0.97, 44%, Medium

There are certainly some trends in puzzle difficulty based on the stats that I record. But it's not unambiguous, in part because the sample is not scientific. Here are the trends over the 4 years I've been tracking the data:

Monday: Pretty consistent over all 4 years.

Tuesday: Slight increase in solve times over all 4 years, but quite consistent since last September.

Wednesday: Slight increase over all 4 years, but decreasing steadily since peaking last October.

Thursday: Kind of similar to Wednesday except not as much of a decrease since last fall.

Friday: Decreasing trend in solve times over all 4 years. However, there was a pretty significant increasing trend from about May 2012 to March 2013. Since that peak, there's been a sharp decreasing trend in solve times.

Saturday: Overall decreasing trend in solve times, but there's been somewhat of an increase in solve times since the beginning of 2013.

Sunday: I've only been tracking Sunday puzzles since March 2011. This is the one day where there seems to be no trend. The trend line is remarkably flat.

Anonymous 1:05 AM  

Rex completely missed what @DigitalDan pointed out (finally!, I kept trolling the comments for someone else to notice) that the themed answers all describe something that's actually working fine (and therefore needs no repairman). Pretty basic stuff....
Steve W.

Z 6:36 AM  

@Sanfranmsn59 - Not random, but the most objective data we have. I believe your data is a fairly reliable surrogate for the purpose we use it for, puzzle relative difficulty.

Maddiegail 8:46 AM  

I think they give us a break during the summer ... other things to keep us occupado. Have noticed this for major holidays, also.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Weren't most of the NYT Sundays in the '60s, 70s, and before 23-square? I remember 'em as being all-day battles.

Stefi 12:21 PM  

Does anyone remember Margaret Farrar? Now those were some great puzzles!! She was a long ago editor who really knew how to stump even the wiliest solver!

Ginger 10:26 AM  

Easy? Not when I'm operating on 3 hours sleep in 2 days. Worked on this sporadically while killing time in 2 different airports after a cancelled flight (we were taking off when screech....the brakes came on) and many delays in 're-booking'. Home now, and the NW that had eluded me practically filled itself in.

As to the puzzle, had AyAtola for too long (yeah, I know, spelling is an issue). I love puns, the cornier the better. The oh no head slap groan response tickles me.

Sheetal Mishra 7:03 AM  

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Anonymous 11:57 AM  

CORNER STOrE didn't seem quite right. When the N in DIN became apparent I briefly considered CORNER STaNd, because CORNERSTONE didn't seem right either. Until the aha.

Also briefly considered DEVELOPED A hitch. As in a Hitchcock film. Obviously too clunky, though.

Some good jokes, but I got my biggest laugh from 74d; you real time solvers (and bloggers) probably hadn't been exposed to the viral video yet, but I can't be the only Syndisolver who got a chuckle out of RHUBARB PIE.

spacecraft 12:12 PM  

I didn't find it all that easy. A bit of a slog, actually. Even by the usual 21x21 standards, this grid is exceedingly choppy. The resulting high word count simply has to engender some icky fill, so I won't browbeat Mr. G. on that score. The theme entries are very clever; thumbs up on all--save for the awkward construction of "...HAS...GOT..." in 53a. Long downs are marvelous. The slog factor was, mostly, a result of typical endweek cluing. I do NOT agree that recent Sunday fare has become soft (MELTed?). I think it pretty much hits the mark: doable enough to enjoy, but no pushover.

I did note a THE/THE crossing at sq. 90, but one's part of a familiar phrase and the other precedes a team name, so the flag stays in the pocket today (If it was Chicago, though, it'd have to be DABEARS). @ed, don't go! I'm not ready to accept full curmudgeonship yet!

BedfordBob 1:06 PM  

I just love this kind of puzzle!

My favorite are the themes on Sundays with plays on words. I laugh when I get them and run in and tell my wife how funny they are.

As a semi retired engineered I prefer puzzles that require logic and yes "guessing" to complete the fill. Despite the fact I have been doing them for years I don't have a good memory for obscure poets, directors, authors, actors, music or mythology.

I discovered this blog some weeks ago and enjoy the comments. I wonder if some people get so good at the NYT puzzles they bored and drop out? Do the participants change a lot?

I doubt ever to get that good and in the meantime - keep up the good work Mr. Ginzburg

Dirigonzo 1:38 PM  

I haven't started the puzzle yet (I'm still working on yesterday's prime-time puz - it's not looking good for the home team) but I just wanted to drop by to remind syndi-sky watchers that the Perseid meteor shower peaks early tomorrow morning through Tuesday morning. Forecasters predict up to 100 meteors per hour so get out there to watch for "shooting stars". (Apologies if anyone has already mentioned this but I can't read the comments lest they spoil the puzzle. I'll be back!

Dirigonzo 6:24 PM  

I love punny puzzles - I usually look to Frank A. Longo's Premier Crossword to provide my fix but he's been playing it straight lately so I was glad to see some in today's NYT puz. I finished with the CORNERSTOrE error that plagued others - I blame the recent puzzle that had that as a theme.

Cary in Boulder 8:14 PM  

What is it about the Great Northwest that turns my mental gears to mush? DNF'd there yesterday and worked oh so deliberately through it today while watching the Rockies eke one out from the Pirates. My very last fill was square 1, and that was at least a half hour after getting the DIN-DIR-CORNERSTONE thing sorted out. Both PURR and PACE were out in the void circling Neptune until I ran the alphabet.

Guess everyone else knew that ESTOP is a legal thingie, and I'm sure I've come across it in xwds before. I was thinking some kind of foot rail to rest on while slugging your G&T. When I was a kid KEPI meant head, as in "Careful, don't bump your kepi." I figured it was Yiddish. Had STONES for TONNES. At 98A I thought, "Did they do a remake of POPEYE"? Made sense for a while, anyway.

Roger EBERT did a 5-day Cinema Interruptus for close to 40 years at the Univ. of Colorado's Conference on World Affairs -- even after he'd lost the ability to speak. His favorite movie was "La Dolce Vita" and he screened it numerous times and talked about how its meaning changes as your age and situation change. I went to a whole lot of these and learned a whole lot from him. We really miss him.

@Diri -- Thx for the kind words

lodsf 12:51 AM  

Hand up for the St. Louis Arch - my iniital fill-in in that spot until crosses knocked it out. And hand up for the DNF at CORNERStORE -- I thought it was a clever answer about buying food and possibly running into a beau Although I wasn't sure what 'din' was wasn't!

Anonymous 5:00 AM  

Just did the syndicated one
I struggled
45 minutes
Across Lite score of 2340
I'm in the minority

J.aussiegirl 9:58 AM  

Loved loved the puns, and their relationship to the question posed, so was impressed with S. Ginsburg's construction.

However, did not finish....... my 47a was Attain so brain could not get around what needed fixing until coming here. Also, me too, for cornerstore as I know some cornerstores here do sell dates among other things such as halva, etc.

Perseids, for us,was last week and, for another year, we were in a place with too much reflected light. Next year we are camping out in the bush.

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