Bandleader Glenn / MON 10-14-13 / Title beekeeper in 1997 film / Rum drinks for British sailors / Jamaican sprinter nicknamed Fastest Man on Earth / Simba's best friend in Lion King / Benevolent club member / Teen hanging out among shoppers

Monday, October 14, 2013

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel and D. Scott Nichols

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*) (I solved it in 3:01, so, again ... *relative* difficulty)


THEME: US OPENS (43D: Annual tournaments ... or a description of the starts of 16-, 20-, 37-, 53- and 60-Across) — five theme answers "open" with "US-"

Theme answers:
  • 16A: Jamaican sprinter nicknamed "The Fastest Man Earth" (USAIN BOLT)
  • 20A: Nothing daring in terms of offerings (USUAL FARE)
  • 37A: PC outlet (USB PORT)
  • 53A: Service charges (USERS' FEES)
  • 60A: Heralded, as a new era (USHERED IN)

Word of the Day: DANSK (46A: Brand of dinnerware with a Scandinavian design) —
Dansk Designs (also known as Dansk International Designs starting in 1974) was an American distributor and retailer of cookware, tableware, and other home accessories based in Mount Kisco, New York. As of 2011, the brand is called Dansk and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenox Corporation with headquarters located in Bristol, Pennsylvania. (wikipedia)
• • •

Somewhat tougher and more interesting than the USUAL FARE (an answer that was at least partly responsible for my 20-seconds-slower-than-usual time). The double long Downs in every corner meant that traction was somewhat harder to get than it would've been in a more conventionally segmented grid. Dimensions might not seem that unusual, but 5x5(+) in the NE and SW, and then 4x4 / 5 / 9 / 7 in the other corners puts a lot of white space in your face and fewer 3- and 4-letter answers with which to get your grip. In return, the middle is super-segmented—entire 3-to-5-letter answers. It's an interesting trade-off. Clues are still pretty easy, but the shape of the grid, and some slightly unMondayish fill (i.e. DANSK) added some resistance to this Monday puzzle. Theme is not that interesting to me (don't really like USOPENS in the plural, and the theme answers themselves aren't terribly original or flashy). But I like the interesting grid shape and the long Downs. So, mixed feelings, but I'd say ... a slight thumbs-up, overall.


Some of the fill is pretty crosswordesey. EDINA, in particular, reeks. Its letter combinations are highly useful, but a suburb known only by Minnesotans and crossword aficionados? Thursday or later, please. Then there's the twin / symmetrical French rivers (LOIRE fine, ISERE less fine), IRAE YEE ESAU ATTAR TNUT. And what the hell is that clue on ABA. ABA is not good fill, and that "Flintstones" clue isn't helping redeem it. It is "Flintstones," isn't it? Otherwise, I have no idea what's going on there. Just looked it up and, ha ha, no. No "Flintstones." It's a "popular" song written in 1914. Yikes. Well, at least it's somewhat inferrable from its nonsense / sing-songy title. I really, really wish it had been something from "The Flintstones." But I guess Glenn MILLER fans need something up their alleys every once in a while (48A: Bandleader Glenn).




Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

66 comments:

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Grid just feels like a mess to me, answer-wise. Lots of high-level crosswordese, and then just millions of low-level crosswordese. Not many normal answers like SOAP, MOTOR and NOBLE.

Steve J 12:11 AM  
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jae 12:12 AM  

Unlike Rex this was an easy Mon. for me.  Pretty smooth grid with some zippy fill...TALK RADIO and PIANO BARS where aging MALL RATS hang out...and a solid theme. The rivers were a nice touch.

Just about what a Mon. should be.  Liked it!

Steve J 12:13 AM  

Bleh. While there were some interesting bits - USAIN BOLT, USUAL FARE, and especially MALL RAT - it didn't make up for a blah theme and stuff that just feel flat.

For one, the theme revealer is clunky. Yes, technically there are multiple US OPENS, both in that one occurs in two different sports, and that there's one in each sport ever year. Yet it's rarely said.

Secondly, the theme just isn't interesting. US plus whatever is a really thin peg to hang your hat on.

But what really got me was the ugly USERS FEES/UNRESTS crossing. It's USER FEEs (nearly 1.2 million Google results, vs. 92,000 bears that out). And UNRESTS is not a word in any kind of general use (furthermore, it sounds less like civil disturbance and more like what I'm experiencing as I fight jet lag following my vacation). If your theme hinges on an entry that's not in the language, crossed with another expression that's not in the language, you need to start over.

(Also agreed on a lot of non-Monday fill. I like chewy early-week puzzles, but this was pushing it, particularly the NALA/ATTAR crossing. I had to guess at the crossing A to get it, as neither term is familiar to me - although I really need to commit NALA to memory, as it appears often enough in crosswords.)

chefwen 12:18 AM  

Did anyone else see @M&A's ear to ear grin while he was solving this one.

I thought it was super, Monday easy. We are still using our DANSK stoneware that we got as wedding gifts 42 years ago. How Rex got 1974 is a mystery to me, they've been around longer than that.

Loved it, thanks C.C. and D. Scott.

Gill I. P. 12:37 AM  

USAINBOLT? NEIN! Well SCOLD that ARTSY MALL RAT MILLER! NOT FAIR BLARED DANSK, ABA will REAM YEE! SNAP ATTIC, I EAR EURO SPY! Did MUGGY LET ON? ISERE ULEE be SARI...!
GET IT? OINK, OINK.

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

I crushed this one. Couldn't write down the entries fast enough. US OPENS was fine with me. Lots of good stuff, so was able to ignore the crosswordese.

USERS FEES, a theme entry no less, stood out, and entirely in a bad way. UNRESTS right there with it didn't help.

The sort of person that would actually go with USERS FEES is exactly the same sort of sad sack that would be an apostrophe abuser at the same time.

mathguy 12:57 AM  

No fun. Didn't learn anything.

NYer 12:59 AM  

So easy for me I hardly looked at the Down clues.

@Rex, this song's for you:

http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_uri=%2F#/watch?v=VJHJAkhacGU

Aesop Carla Millers 1:16 AM  

Five US phrases that had nothing to do with USA is pretty great!
Plus that they were all acrosses with the reveal going down was cool.

EDINA is in Minnesota where the constructor lives...so there is no reason to believe others don't know it. I'm biased too as I grew up next door...tho didn't learn till this year it was named for Edinburgh, the mill founder's hometown. Was just discussing that with a gentleman from Glasgow not two hours before solving this.
All to say it's a dog...we don't know that folks outside Minnesota and crosswordsolvers (for whom this puzzle was presumably made) don't know EDINA.

I only know the ALOU brothers from crosswords... Maybe 10-25% of my overall knowledge is from puzzles.
I only know IRAE, ISERE, NALA, BOSC from crosswords
(i used to know ESAI so I don't count him!) so What's the point? Half of my Simpsons knowledge is from puzzles.

Why is learning something only from puzzles any worse than learning it from a cartoon, a trivia game, a cerealbox, a Scrabble dictionary, a conversation at a coffeeshop, a Harvard lecture, my grandpa, a map while travelling, an article from NY Times or People Magazine more valid?

Yes, I can see questioning the extra S in USERFEES/UNRESTS but this is a nice solid puzzle. Fresh theme entry, fresh theme entry, fresh theme entry, fresh theme entry + clever reveal!
Nice, uuuus guys!

Acme 1:18 AM  

Um, a NONBARKING dog a la Sherlock Holmes

jae 3:53 AM  

@Andrea - Amen!

Z 6:46 AM  

I was wondering why USERfeEs wasn't long enough. Ouchy.

EDINA is Ouchy, too. Definitely a CrossBurb. Not Monday fare. Then there's ULEE, the member of the Lee family that only M&A could love and Ug's younger sister.

Flew through this in my minimal time (around 7 is still the fastest I ever I go), but understand @Rex's rating.

@Gill I.P. - Nice avatar. down right isoteric if you ask me.

@GAR - Initials, eh? Serendipity. You're not from EDINA, are you? At any rate - no need to be shy. With initials like those, you are fated to become a member of the commentariat.

Elle54 7:10 AM  

Aba daba daba daba daba daba daba says the monkey to the chimp!

loren muse smith 7:11 AM  
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loren muse smith 7:13 AM  

I agree with Rex – harder than normal for a Monday. I always think of Dad on Mondays and Tuesdays, and recently when we've discussed these past tougher ones, I've been so pleased that he got most of them. So maybe he'll join @Steve J and start to "like chewy early-week puzzles." It just might give him the confidence to sit a while with a Wednesday before looking to Deb Amlen for some toe-holds!

@Steve J - "Secondly, the theme just isn't interesting. US plus whatever is a really thin peg to hang your hat on." I'm happy to be so easily entertained by almost every single theme. Give me four 9-letter phrases and two 7-letter ones, all that begin with US, but only the reveal using the US as its most immediate and obvious meaning, and I'm satisfied to have been shown this group.

And @Steve J and (@Anoa Bob) – sometimes plurals of themers don't bother me in the least. Today is a case in point; USER FEES does not feel desperate or unnatural. (Not with POMPS in the grid!) Who knows – I haven't sniffed around OneLook to investigate, but it could be that without that plural, this puzzle wouldn't have happened. I was once working on an idea and needed the 10-letter CEDAR TREES to conceal the word DART. In my head I was already hearing everyone complaining about the plural. (That's not why I didn't see it through, though.)

I liked the restraint shown in the not-full-blown cross reference for MOORE and SPY.

MALL RAT makes me miss @Ulrich – remember that discussion we had about MALL RAT, book worm, gym rat. . .? Good times, right, all you blog RATS?

@Z - so you have a Shiba Inu? The dog in your avatar looks like a Corgi. (Do you capitalize dog breeds' names? Inquiring minds want to know.)

On a completely unrelated note – I spent five hours yesterday in MUGGY weather helping stir apple butter in a huge cauldron over a fire – I swear- with this long wooden home-made stirrer that was a pole with a paddle-like thingy connected perpendicularly at the end. The point was to stir it continuously and scrape the bottom so it didn't burn. We put away 90 pints. Man, it's a different way of life out here!

Ms. Burnikel and Mr. Nichols – nice one. I enjoyed it!

MetaRex 7:19 AM  

In a scary alternative world in which MR had supreme power, guess this gets sent back to fix up the SW...gotta be somethin considerably better than USERS FEES...personally like US AND THEM, but maybe that's better as a reveal for a different puzz.

What we don't see unless we submit ourselves are puzzes in which Will is tough and rejects clean stuff...am not at all sure that Will is in fact a looser editor overall than any of us who are occasionally grumpy would be.

Lookin at this again and seein somethin that might make me say yes to the puzz as is IIWW...there's a lot of nice implicit American buzz in the downs in this one...MALL RAT, TALK RADIO, OIL RIGS, PIANO BARS, and yep, I guess ya can add NOT FAIR and UNRESTS if you're so inclined.



joho 7:57 AM  

I grew up in EDINA so easy for me. But, really, I think it's better for a beginner to learn this city sooner than later, why not on a Monday? Plus the crosses made it easy to get.

No ENIGMAS here.

Thanks, Zhouqin and D. Scott!



Z 8:02 AM  

@LMS - That is Axel. Axel had a degenerative nerve disease that is not uncommon in Corgis. We had to put him to sleep earlier this year. My new Avatar is Samurai, our Shiba Inu. We got them both as pups about six months apart. Other than going gray around the nose and getting pretty deaf, Sam is doing great. He was a little wiggy for a couple of weeks and still seems to resent that Shadow (our cat) isn't a dog, but has otherwise recovered.

loren muse smith 8:34 AM  

@Z - sorry about Axel. I never met a Corgi I didn't like. And I've never even met a Shiba Inu, but Sam looks like a good boy.

@MetaRex - I don't mind USER FEES, but US AND THEM is fantastic!!!

Captcha is "unski." Hmmm. I guess there were some beginner slopes I wish I could unski. Tore a knee up on one.

Milford 8:42 AM  

Pretty typical Monday, time-wise. Figured each themer started with a U, didn't really see until the end that it was actually US, so that stepped it up for me.

Only write-over was that my horn BeepED before it BLARED. Loved MALLRATS.

I fear I am never going to memorize these Euro-rivers. I got the Arno, the Seine, the Rhine, the Rhone, the Tago/Tagus, the Danube, and then I stall out. Thank god for crosses.

EDINA was fine with me - I believe Frances McDormand mentions the city in "Fargo". I get way too much of my knowledge from movies.

@lms - I have never stirred anything over a caldron. Sounds like something I should do, just to say I did it.

@Rex must have finished the puzzle and written the blog before the Tigers played. He seemed like he was in too good a mood.

jberg 8:43 AM  

I don't time, but starting with 1A and working the crosses in order, there were only two answers I had to come back to: UNRESTS and NALA. For me, that makes it easy.

@Loren - the objection isn't to USER FEES -- that's not the entry, it's USERS FEES. That is so much not a thing that @Rex got it wrong when he listed the theme answers -- he just automatically typed USER FEES instead. But it's not as bad as POMPS, imho.

UNRESTS is OK with me -- we could speak of "the UNRESTS of the past century," for example. And US OPENS could refer to all the different competitions named that: in golf, tennis, chess, probably bridge as well, and no doubt more. But I can't imagine POMPS in a sentence.

Like whoever posted that Debbie Reynolds video on Youtube, I thought it was ABbA DAbBA, but Google says we were both wrong. I could hear the song in my head right off, so like @Rex says, this one is for those of us old enough to have a couple of DANSK glasses in our kitchen cupboard. But probably lots of us have never seen "The Lion King."

To end on a positive note: I loved crossing USAIN BOLT with T NUT.

Shamik 9:07 AM  

Fastest time ever. Only ever broke 3 minutes once before.

dk 9:11 AM  
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dk 9:13 AM  

As Andrea, Joho and I know EDINA the world should know it as well.

DANSK used to have a store in Freeport ME across from the venerable LL Bean. Until I went to Denmark I never understood the thin candle holder things sold in the DANSK store. I had a DANSK espresso cup set for years but former spouse who allegedly hated them insisted on keeping them.... I am over it now... no really I am...

Come on kids this puzzle was just fine. Just because Rex honks (as he should as it is his job for which he is paid handsomely) does not mean we need to BLARE in unison. I was happy to see NINA. It was one of the first x-word clues I filled while sitting with dad circa 1959 or 60.

���� (2 Stars) POMPS?

Now if you want to complain about something... there is a new Bridget Jones book who along with Allie Mc(shall not be named) and my ex with the espresso cups (that I am totally fine with, I mean they are just cups, the fact that I rode my bike from Gray....) should be shot.

chefbea 9:28 AM  

Easy fun puzzle which I solved while eating my cereal with my Dansk spoon. Have had this set of stainless flat ware which I bought at the Dansk store in Norwalk Ct. many moons ago. Use to have all the skinny Dansk candles as well.

Hand up for not liking users fees.

Flyover Dave 9:36 AM  

I'm always happy to see a geography clue yield an answer that is west of the Hudson River. Edina is perfectly legit.

quilter1 9:40 AM  

Know people who lived in EDINA, Glenn MILLER is just fine on my Ipod, quite familiar with DANSK, USBPORT and MALLRAT are modern and I also liked USAINBOLT crossing TNUT. I liked the whole thing and it went smoothly with no hesitations.

balanchine 9:50 AM  

I solved this from the bottom up, or as you all would say, from the south, since I was stumped by proper names at the beginning. New solver.

Rush Limbaugh: my son named him
The Human Steak during the '08 campaign. Now he says he named him The Human Steer. I insist it was The Human Steak. In any case, it is an insult to the cow. As is the steak.
Certainly RL is. As he is an offense to the 75 % of the country.

Steve J 10:30 AM  
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Steve J 10:33 AM  

@Loren: I agree that USER FEES is perfectly within the language, not desperate, not forced and appropriate for a puzzle. The problem is, that's not what's in the puzzle. It's USERS FEES. That is not natural (as I mentioned, it has a mere 96,000 results in Google, compared to 1.2 million for USER FEES). USERS FEES feels very desperate and unnatural.

I don't object to plurals out of hand, and Anoa Bob and I do not share the same view on them (and we've had some back-and-forth on that). He objects to them structurally, like cheater squares, whereas I'm perfectly content with plurals when they're natural and unforced. My problem is when they're not, such as making something plural that essentially never is. Like turning USER FEES into USERS FEES. Or yesterday's TETE-A-TETES.

@jberg: The example you used for UNRESTS still feels forced to me. I would expect to speak of the periods of UNREST, or the instances of UNREST, not UNRESTS. But I agree It's not as egregious as USERS FEES; however, since it's the cross that gives us that gem, it's part of the problem in that corner.

Regarding EDINA: It's easy for me as I also grew up in Minneapolis (spending some time in the same adjacent suburb Andrea's from), but I also recall seeing it regularly in crosswords from the time I started doing them as a kid. There are lots of words I know only from crosswords, and most of my opera info comes from crosswords, so I don't see an issue including any of those types of words early in the week if the crosses are easy and gettable. Yes, it pushes the difficulty of the puzzle a bit, but there's nothing wrong with being stretched a bit early in the week. That's how people get better.

Z 10:37 AM  

To quote OFL: Some of the fill is pretty crosswordesey. EDINA, in particular, reeks. Its letter combinations are highly useful, but a suburb known only by Minnesotans and crossword aficionados? Thursday or later, please.

In other words - yes EDINA is legit, just not something you expect to see on a Monday.

Steve J 10:51 AM  

@Z: I was aware of Rex's statement. I'm saying I disagree.

I don't see what makes EDINA off limits on Monday through Wednesday, while the other bits of alphabet soup Rex noted are ok early in the week (many of which I've also only known through crosswords and are not in most people's general knowledge). Any of them, when crossed with appropriately gettable items, is fair game for any time of the week (with the caveat that they're not used to excess, like they were today).

Bob Kerfuffle 10:58 AM  

Fine with me.

(Just signing in so I can get the follow-ups.)

Z 11:14 AM  

@Steve J - EDINA is a suburb with a population less than 50,000 people, considerably smaller than Orem's 90,000, and a third of the population of, say, Warren, MI. I would say that none of these fine city's are Monday fare. They all exist, but Monday is supposedly about new solvers and not esoterica that most people only know because they do crosswords.

It feels to me like EDINA was fairly crossed, so in that sense it was okay. But I'm not a new solver anymore, so maybe some of the newer posters want to weigh in.

Three and out (counting is so over-rated)

Carola 11:29 AM  

SARI, but I didn't think this was up to Ms. Burnikel's standard. For me, the theme had little sparkle, and I wanted to RAIL against some of the plurals - the reveal itself and the themer USERS' FEES, as well as POMPS and particularly the UNRESTS/ GROGS cross (a heading in sailors' cookbook?). I did like the long downs PIANO BARS, MALL RAT, OIL RIG, TALK RADIO, but thought that much of the shorter fill lacked SNAP (ULEE, ESAI, STE, SPA...).

Thanks to those who pointed out the USAIN BOLT/ T-NUT cross!

@acme - I agree about learning words from puzzles. It's how I learned enervate, etiolate, clepsydra, and haboob. Not that I have A LOT of opportunity to use them, but nice to know.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I'm a freelance editor, and USERSFEES would have generated a crazy discussion with my boss. I can imagine it being appropriate (”The company complained about the amount their employees were charged to access the equipment, claiming that the users' fees were exorbitant.”) but I imagine I'd edit it to eliminate the apostrophe. However, I completely missed it, having filled in the answer with the crosses.

Hated POMPS; no way does that get used in real life.

Jake 11:34 AM  

Overall, I enjoyed the puzzle. Low on lower grade crosswordese along with exciting answers like USAIN BOLT, USB PORT, MALL RAT, etc. Even USUAL FARE seemed above average. USERS FEES was the only eyesore in the theme answers. Not because it's not used but because it's less common. And even when it is used, it's probably got an apostrophe which can't be shown in the puzzle and makes it even less legit. The connection between US Open and the theme answers is direct and there is no clunkiness in the revealer. (I don't think it matters that different sports have US Opens; the phrase is a semantic clue cuing us into the fact that these words open with "us." The cultural referents drop out. If the puzzle makers had been able to link the theme answers with various sports that hold US Opens, that would've meant uber kudos to them. The fact that they didn't isn't grounds for criticism in my book, since the theme wasn't sports related, it was words-opening-with-us related.) The only quibble I have with this puzzle is the unfairness of the ISERE/GET IT crossing. I didn't know ISERE (though it's going to be in my crosswordese database henceforth) and the clue "Dig?" could correspond to GET IT or GOT IT. I went with the latter without thinking and was baffled when told my puzzle was incorrect (not that this doesn't happen often). Alas, another Monday puzzle solvable (for me) only through google. When will it end!

Masked and Anonym007Us 12:00 PM  

Jeff Chen is my fave constructor, but C.C. Burnikel gets a mighty high honrable mention. She has the LA Times puz today, also, btw.

The Shortzmeister (u.s.)opens up what is, no doubt, "U Week" with a sparkler of a MonPuz. Don't get many puzs where all the themers start with the Rodney Dangerfield of vowels. I shall cherish this moment always. MOORE, please.

So, what's wrong with USERSFLEAS?

31-Down will return, in "EDINA Royale"...

Bird 12:18 PM  

Not bad for a Monday, but . . .

I finished with an error because I never went back and checked ARTSH crossing HEE. Dumb mistake.

Compound-plural USERS FEES? WTF!

When I’m out playing golf, my target is the cup. Why would anyone target PAR when they can do better?

However, I do like FARE crossing FAIR.

John V 12:29 PM  

Fun, but way, way easy. Good Monday fare.

LaneB 12:39 PM  

Except for the NALA/ATTAR. Cross, it was easy I had oTTAR since it is a flower oil. Didn't know Simba's pal so....

Susan McConnell 1:12 PM  

Easy for me too. Like someone else, I enjoyed TNUT crossing USAINBOLT. Things I didn't like: USERSFEES, POMPS, and the clue for OINK.

I've gotta agree with @acme about learning from crosswords. All of my non-Patriots sports knowledge comes from puzzles. And yes, that was just an excuse to bring up yesterday's amazing Pats win!

Lewis 1:18 PM  

Mini theme: ATTAR, ETTU, ATTIC
In addition to those, there is a double letter thing going on: ULEE, MILLER, MOORE, USERSFEES, YEE, MALLRAT, MUGGY.

USOPENS doesn't bother me, as it is used commonly, i.e., "In past U.S. Opens, Borg showed more consistency."

As Rex has pointed out, too much grid gruel. But I liked as answers MALLRAT and USAINBOLT.

Even for a Monday, this went down fast.

Notsofast 1:22 PM  

"USOpens" is clever, but the fill was unclever.

Anoa Bob 1:31 PM  

POMPS, SEAS, USERSFEES, IPADS, GROGS, YEN,S, PIANO BARS, ENIGMAS, OIL RIGS, NAPS, UNRESTS, SIBS, POLS, & US OPENS.

None of these by itself is false, even USERSFEES, as freelance editor @11:34 nicely shows. (Okay, POMPS is a stretch).

What they all do, from my perspective, is make it easier to fill the grid, here excessively so, to the point of being POC marked.

Ray J 2:04 PM  

I took my niece to the Apple Store at a mall yesterday because the touchpad on her iMac went kaput. A blue-shirted dude disappeared through a door with her computer in hand and reemerged five minutes later with the thing all fixed up. Turns out she just had a screw loose. It runs in the family.

Anyway, turns out this mall has a Must Be 18 (MB-18) policy on the weekends. Kiddos not allowed on the premises except for the movie theaters without a parent or guardian. Take that, MALL RATs!

I too thought POMPS looked funny but my Oxford reference dictionary lists definition no. 2 as: (often in pl.) vainglory (the pomps and vanities of this wicked world).

Yep, lots of plurals, but I liked it just fine. I imagine there are some newer solvers learning Dies Irae today. Definitely something I learned from crosswords.

retired_chemist 2:14 PM  

Nothing wrong with learning from crosswords - but if you stop once you have your answer you only have a trivium. The real fun is when the answer is a teaser which makes you look something interesting up. Unfortunately I found none of those today, although I do appreciate ACME's explanation of how EDINA got its name.

Middling Monday. I went in tired, expecting a slowish time, and it came to pass.

Thanks, Ms. Burnikel and Mr. Nichols.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

My golf partner today is from Edina. Readers of Lucas
Davenport novels ( John Sandford's "Prey" series)1 will have heard of Edina as an upscale Minneapolis suburb.

retired_chemist 4:23 PM  

Re 6D: what do the constructors have against Felipe ALOU that made them exclude him?

loren muse smith 5:13 PM  

@Steve J – First chance all day to give you the apology I owe you. A friend emailed me this morning pointing out my mistake - I absolutely did not notice the S on USERS. I thought your beef was with the S on FEES. Big fat mea culpa, man. So all the way into town, I was saying USERS FEES, and I agree it's not great. I like MWAH better. I still stand behind what I said about plural themers in general, though.

Mike 6:32 PM  

@dk - Funny. I've only been to Maine once, and I remember stopping at the Dansk store. Yet I didn't get that answer until I had 3 or 4 crosses.

Harder than average for me for a Monday, but I'm not quite sure why. Enjoyed it overall.

mac 6:33 PM  

Easy Monday, and I also didn't like pomps and users fees (or user's fees).

Thought of M & A 007 with all the Us at the start!

Ray J 7:58 PM  

That’s odd… I just did a Patrick Berry FriPuz from the archive and today’s most pooh-poohed answer showed up (minus the last s). I believe that makes USER’S FEES off-limits to criticism. Doesn’t it?

OISK 8:39 PM  

Val d'Isere is a pretty important French ski resort; I have been there. Love geographical clues anyway. This was an average Monday for me, about 6 minutes. My fastest ever is just over 4, I don't think I could COPY the answers to a puzzle in under three minutes! I knew Usain Bolt, and while I never heard of Nala, that small bit of pop culture was no problem since I do know Attar. After last week I am so grateful that the music clue was Glenn Miller, and the song was "Aba daba" No rock! No rap! THANK YOU!
I loved @Aesa Carla Miller's comment about how much she has learned from crosswords. I agree! There must be at least 20 Rock and Rap artists who are totally unfamiliar to me outside the puzzle. And they just keep piling up

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

@Ray J

That was 6 years ago. Fill quality has certainly gone up since the introduction of Crossword Compiler. Higher standards now? Yeah.

All we've really done though is go from 3-5 entries in a 15x15 to 4-7, which ultimately has put us back where we started fill-wise.

sanfranman59 10:02 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 6:13, 6:07, 1.02, 61%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:46, 0.99, 38%, Easy-Medium

acme 12:53 AM  

@ret chem
Felipe is the Gummo of the ALOU brothers.

It will be funny if one day @Rex makes good on his threat to move to Minneapolis and ends up living in EDINA!

acme 12:55 AM  

@ret chem
Felipe is the Gummo of the ALOU brothers.

It will be funny if one day @Rex makes good on his threat to move to Minneapolis and ends up living in EDINA!

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Here we go again, with OFL BLARING out his solving time, which is faster than most of us can copy an already-filled grid. I DO wish he'd stop that.

This puzzle suffers from a severe case of pluralitis. PIANOBARS POLS SEAS POMPS (?) OILRIGS IPADS GROGS (?) YENS (??) UNRESTS (???) and the sockdolager: USERS (?????) FEES. I'd rather see cheater squares.

Strange that someone mentioned the natick at NALA/ATTAR. My thought was that it might be next door, at the L. Not for me, but all you had to do was miss seeing "The Lion King" and not know European geography. Seemed a tad much for a Monday. Not that anyone would cry NOTFAIR, though.

Scanning through the blogs, I wondered if you all missed the USAINBOLT held firmly by the TNUT. Finally, @jberg did GETIT. For a minute there, solving from the NW, I thought the theme might be entries fastened together like that.

STE is one stale bit among generally fresh answers. Seems every time I turn around lately, the ol' French saint is looking at me. STE-RIKE one!

SyndicateBod 11:56 AM  

@ret chem
Felipe is not used as part of the clue because that would make it a gimme, even for a Monday.

@acme
Felipe is the Groucho of the Alou family.

But then why nit pick? Because that is all we do here, almost. And why did no one notice that Rex typed ESAU instead of ESAI in his comments? Doesn't that undermine everything else he said? Isn't this an indication that he is off his game?

By the way, nothing is more boring than mistakes one makes in solving puzzles. To prove it: Today I
wrote USUALFATE which gave me the river LOITE so I got a DNF. Facinating, right?

Finally, some Saturday some evil someone is going to clue a four letter word as "One of three brothers who played in the outfield at the same time in the same game in the Sixties."

For you it will now be a gimme. Don't bother to thank me.

SyndicateBob 12:12 PM  

@ret chem and @acme

Looking back at your comments I realize that both of you were only trying be funny.

Funny how one reacts to mild sarcasm directed at ones childhood baseball heroes. I wonder if Rex is offended by my (hopefully) obvious sarcasm about being off his game?

Cary in Boulder 12:58 PM  

Am I really going to have to watch "The @#$@%! Lion King" just so I can keep up in the xword world? Well, at least I learned a new word in ATTAR, which seemed like the only possible way that one could go.

The rest was the USUAL FARE, without anything NOT FAIR about it.

So, how do you pronounce EDINA? I always thought it would be e-DEE-na, but from Acme's origin story maybe it's ED-in-uh. Underutilized minds want to know.

rain forest 1:39 PM  

Almost a typical Monday: easy, bland theme, one pocket of odd plurals (USERSFEES, UNRESTS,GROGS), and some nice longer entries.

Yes, there are words I've only seen in crosswords, but that's a given. One day I'll look up DIES IRAE to see what it means, but for now, I'll just accept it as the USUALFARE in crosswords.

@Rex can't help himself. If he says "medium-challenging", he's afraid we Rexites will think he struggled, so he *has* to add his time to assure us he didn't. I think he's getting a little needy.

DMG 3:02 PM  

I'm a fan of Mondays. Need the ego boost after the beating I've been taking lately on the Saturday gems! For me, the only "what the?" was USAINBOLT, but it filled easily from the crosses.

Couldn't agree more with ACME,s comments on the amount of stuff we acquire from doing puzzles. For me EDINA and IRAE were drop ins. Not so when I first started solving. Hope she tries a BOSC pear someday. This is the season for them, and they are so good!

Once, in the 40's my grandmother took me shopping and let me pick out a beautiful, pink rose decorated, tall white jar of Attar of Roses bath powder for my very own! This ten year old couldn't have been more thrilled! I saved the jar for years, until it got lost in one military move or another.

Did no one mention that singing ABA Daba Honeymoon is what got a young Debbie Reynolds a jump start on her fabulous career?

Dirigonzo 6:29 PM  

I have absolutely nothing to add to the commentary on the puzzle (unless I'm the only one who tried GAwk for GAPE)so I'll just make two observations: I shed a tear of happiness for @Masked and Anonymous when I saw all the Us in the grid; and I absolutely love the syndi comments lately - you folks rock!

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