Quirky bandleader with City Slickers / MON 11-11-13 / U-shaped bend in river / Shakespeare in Park founder/producer Joseph / Domelike top / Volleyball star Gabrielle

Monday, November 11, 2013

Constructor: Elizabeth C. Gorski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium



THEME: HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL — first words of three theme answers form this famous phrase coined by 18th-century English poet ALEXANDER POPE (56A: Author of the verse that starts with the beginnings of 20-, 34- and 42-Across)

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Friendly comment after providing information (HOPE THAT HELPS)
  • 34A: Goes "pop!," as a jack-in-the-box (SPRINGS OUT)
  • 42A: Rome's nickname, with "the" (ETERNAL CITY)

Word of the Day: SPIKE JONES (29D: Quirky bandleader with the City Slickers) —
Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones (December 14, 1911 – May 1, 1965) was an American musician and bandleader specializing in performing satirical arrangements of popular songs. Ballads and classical works receiving the Jones treatment would be punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells, and outlandish vocals. Through the 1940s and early 1950s, the band recorded under the title Spike Jones and his City Slickers and toured theUnited States and Canada under the title The Musical Depreciation Revue. (wikipedia)
• • •

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

"Hope springs eternal…" is the most famous phrase from Pope's "Essay on Man" (which is a poem, not an essay as we understand the term, but whatever). I also recall "The proper study of mankind is man" and "Lo, the poor Indian something something," but "Hope springs eternal" definitely wins, fame-wise. This is a cute, simple theme—no great "wow" moment, but it's Monday, so an "oh, hey, whaddya know?" moment seems perfectly acceptable. I cast a side glance or two at the fill (mainly when I encountered OPEL *after* having encountered OREL, which is a bit like encountering AFTA after having encountered ASTA, only worse somehow), but for the  most part everything is solid. Long Downs give the puzzle added color and oomph—big ups to FLIP BOOK and SPIKE JONES in particular. I wanted B-SIDE instead of SIDE B and had a brief brain malfunction while trying to recall the word OXBOW, but other than that, everything just went right in. CREPE PAPER off the "C." CUPOLA off the "C." CLOCK off the "C." CEDE off the "C." You get the picture.


Quick and enjoyable. Thumbs up. Onward.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

84 comments:

Steve J 12:06 AM  

That's how to do a Monday puzzle. Interesting theme that wasn't immediately obvious, some zippy fill, clever cluing that was easily gettable but not painfully obvious. Plus a few unknowns (to me) - PAPP, Handy ANDY, the fact that the original spelling is BRIER and not "briar", which is the variant and which is how I've spelled it my whole life - that were all very fairly crossed.

Long downs were especially good: CREPE PAPER, FLIPBOOK, SPIKE JONES. Partials, crosswordese, etc. kept to a bare minimum. Breezed through this, but it still felt like there was some good meat on the bones. Excellent puzzle.

jae 12:14 AM  
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jae 12:14 AM  

Easy-medium for me too, but it seemed like it might be a bit tough for a beginning solver...PAPP, TOSCA, REECE, NATE, OXBOW,  SPIKE JONES ( a geezer friendly clue), LE ROI...

Liked it a lot.  Smooth grid and a refreshing theme.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

There's a fair bit of stuff here that's not beginner-friendly: PABLO (as clued), TOSCA, PAPP, LEROI, REECE, BRIER, OPEL, OREL, OXBOW, UZI and CUPOLA. Plus some undesirables: AGER, SIDEB, ONA, ONOR and UPONE (you'd object to UPFOUR, wouldn't you?)

Nothing special, methinks. I'd say just average.

Gill I. P. 12:45 AM  

PABLO! ALEXANDER! I HOPE THAT TOSCA LENT OPEL SUSHI....ONO! ANDY will PROCLAIM ANTI AU JUS! BLAH! PAPP! LETS FLIP SIDE B - SPIKE the UZI - OPEN the GATE - BLESS the GENOA POPE!, LETS BOOM you LAZE WASPS....

Andy Crepepaper Mires 1:12 AM  


Monday theme, Tues fill made it hard.

MANY Many folks in this puzzle, which I think made it difficult, but it nicely reflected Ms Gorski's musical background:

Quartet for FOUR, ALTO, PABLO Casals (not Picasso), Paganini (not Columbus), ENYA, ONO,
SPIKEJONES, LENA Horne.

If I recall correctly, SPIKEJONES is who Paul McCartney and John Lennon listened to and was influenced by, but I may have that totally wrong.
I just have a vague memory of them listening to him on the radio, but maybe it was SPIKE Milligan.

Anyway, from REECE to OXBOW I'd give this a way harder rating for a Monday.
French undercurrent with LEROI, AUJUS, NOIR.

Plus 12 Fill-in-the-blanks which is a bit odd.
But glad folks liked it with little to no snark.
HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL!

Ellen S 1:21 AM  

Wow, @Gill I.P., You're on a roll! I got tricked into thinking this would be super easy by 10A, number in a quartet. FOUR? Really? I expected a trick and was disappointed.

But then I had all kinds of fun problems with the remaining clues so I guess I can live with FOUR. PAPe before PAPP, but I was heading in the right direction.

So, fun puzzle. I liked it.

retired_chemist 1:31 AM  

Enjoyed it but I didn't find it special. No especially clever clues, no cool answers, just sort of meh.

Thanks, Ms. Gorski. Oh to Tuesday.

Carola 2:23 AM  

Very nice - brought a smile. After HOPE THAT HELPS and SPRINGS OPEN, I wondered how Ms. Gorski was going to make a theme out of "OPE." So it was funny that it showed up in ALEXANDER POPE without having anything to do with the theme.

@acme - I also liked the melodious background for the theme. We can add TOSCA, the opera singer, and SIDE B, too.

acme 2:37 AM  

@Carola, yes definitely forgot to list TOSCA (OPEra), SIDEB!
That makes it at least 10 musical references...
but that OPE trOPE is a good find!

gifcan 3:50 AM  

It begings with ORCS BLESSing and finished with WASPS ASEA. One of these is more likely than the other.

loren muse smith 6:41 AM  

Agreed – CREPE PAPER, SPIKE JONES, and FLIP BOOK are good.

I spent four years in high school and four years in college running and ducking from poetry. I'm missing the chip in my brain to make sense of anything other than limericks, and, well, maybe Ogden Nash. So I'll publicly admit here that I knew the name Alexander Pope, but I didn't remember that he was a poet or that he coined HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL (which was also at least on my radar screen). So I found this crunchy for a Monday but was able to finish it with no problem. Dad, on the other hand, well, I'll have to check in. I'm sure he's like tons of solvers who anticipate the Mon and Tues NYT and are discouraged when they're not as accessible as hoped. Hey, but many times he surprises me. . .

Andrea – maybe the numerous fill-in-the blanks cushion it for green solvers?

Rex – I always want "B-Side," too.

@Carola – kudos on spotting the theme OPE triumvirate. I'll add OPEL and still feel childishly jealous that I didn't spot those.

Look, I try not to complain about clues here, but you could eat SUSHI for the rest of your life and never, ever eat fish.

I always hold back before writing SERTA because I think it could be "Sealy." It's usually SERTA, though, and I promptly forget that.

Our farm is in an OXBOW of the Little Kanawha River. Great word. I like RIGOR, too.

Aside from New Orleans, GENOA was the single most humid city I've ever been in. It was there, mysteriously, that I decided to watch Italians eat spaghetti and determine that their way was the correct way. (No spoons, twirl it on fork, bite the forked glob, and let the rest fall back down.) Hmm. Comments, anyone? Do y'all use spoons to eat spaghetti? I think the Protocol School of Washington says no spoon, if I remember correctly.

Liz – always a pleasure! Good, clean grid.

Doris 6:50 AM  

Haven't checked YouTube yet, but Spike Jones's version of "Cocktails for Two" does what should be done to that song. Truly memorable.

@Andrea: It was Spike Milligan of "The Goon Show" fame who inspired John Lennon and a lot of other people, such as the Monty Python Crew. Spike Jones, also a genius in his own right, predates Milligan.

Doris 7:23 AM  

Addendum: Intentional or not? Pope was known as "the WASP of Twickenham," a reference possibly to both his caustic wit and his tiny stature. Was the inclusion of 67A done on purpose?

Z 7:24 AM  

Agree completely with @Andy Crepepaper Mires. This played more medium challenging for me, with the mid-Atlantic states taking me the longest. Thinking "Bay City Slickers" for no reason other than it's early made it tougher.

Missed the OPE trOPE but did notice the bevy of O words; ORCS, OMAHA, ON A, ON OR, ONO, OXBOW, OREL, OPEL, OARS, and UP ONE. 9.5 has to set some kind of "O" record.

Signed,
Your Beautiful and Just Creep

Glimmerglass 7:24 AM  

I thought this was too easy for the NYT, but Rex and the comments have convinced me it's an okay offering. Some of the clues (FOUR) are more appropriate for a puzzle for youngsters. Therefor, I sort of like the symetry of PAPP across from KIDD, a kind od commentary on such clues.

Z 7:29 AM  

The Bay City Rollers. Hardly Spike Jones or PABLO Casals. I hear TOSCA is on SIDE B, though.

AliasZ 8:11 AM  

Any puzzle that has an OTTER in it cannot be bad.

What a refined, genteel puzzle by Liz Gorski. We can add "Put ON A Happy Face" to the musical references, as well as NILE, the setting of Act 3 of Verdi's opera Aida, and with a little stretch, sonic BOOM.

To pile on the music, French composer Léo Delibes (1836-1891) wrote incidental music for a play by Victor Hugo titled LE ROI s'amuse, consisting of arrangements of antique dances and airs. This same Hugo play was also the basis for another Verdi opera, Rigoletto.

Happy Monday.

August West 8:48 AM  
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August West 8:51 AM  

Echo @ retired_chemist.

@Andrea, sincere question, prompted by recent discussion re: verb choice usage, gerunds, and my own uncertainty: should it be *were*, where you mention Spike Jones being "who PM and JL listened to and *was* influenced by...?" I would write "PM and JL listened to and *were* influenced by SJ..." but in reading the last days' comments of linguists more learned than me (I?), I'm not sure of anything anymore. This is not Auggie being snarky. This is Mike being honestly inquisitive. @ lms, feel free to add your observations.

TIA!

joho 8:53 AM  

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL is one of my favorite sentiments so I naturally loved the theme. I also admire the way Liz infuses her puzzles with little hints to her artistic side, here all the musical mentions.

I PROCLAIM this puzzle anything but BLAH! Thank you, Ms. Gorski!

jberg 9:06 AM  

Definitely easy. On the one hand, I was more bothered than some by all the partials, and FOUR. On the other hand, there was at least a somewhat tricky clue for LPGA, and I agree about the OTTER. Finally, I don't think you can really solve puzzles if you don't know TOSCA--just one step below Carmen, Aida, and Butterfly in opera fame-- and UZI. And you don't see me complaining about OREL, whom I know only from crosswords. REECE is another story, I'll give you that.

Finally, sailors don't go ASEA. They go to sea -- and they are ASEA once they get there. Go figure, but that's how it is.

80 hiscopme

Joe The Juggler 9:20 AM  

I liked the puzzle except for the clue LOANED for the answer LENT. Using a noun as a verb so that a cognate isn't the same word in the clue as in the answer doesn't seem right.

Susan McConnell 9:21 AM  

This one seemed to be made for me. After getting HOPE THAT HELPS and starting to fill in SPRINGS OPEN, I knew we had HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL coming and the puzzle practically filled itself in.

Gosh I love Glen Hansard. Great way to start the day.

Joe The Juggler 9:24 AM  

For me, HOPE THAT HELPS was ironic since I didn't read the theme revealer until after I'd gotten all the theme answers without it. . . so it didn't help.

Amanda 9:28 AM  

I completely agree with Joe The Juggler with the Loaned Lent thing only I don't know all the grammatical rules he stated. But I thought lent as a possible answer and then said "No, it can't be that. That's just a variant past tense of to loan."

chefbea 9:34 AM  

Good easy puzzle..no complaints..but I was hoping for a Veteran's Day theme!! Thanks to all the Veterans out there for what you have done and for all servicemen for what you are doing!!

loren muse smith 10:01 AM  

@August (and Andrea) – Hah! Do you think I never feel free to add my two cents on things linguistic and grammatical?

Andrea - you said you have trouble knowing when to use "if I were and "if I was. In a nutshell, the were (subjunctive mood) is used to indicate the condition/situation you're talking about is pretty much not possible.
If I were you. . .
If I were a billionaire. . .
If my dog were able to speak. .

Was is possible, too in stuff like
As a child, if I was hungry, I ate cheese toast with sugar on top.

I agree the was/were in question today, though has nothing to do with the subjunctive. I had to squint and stare for a while, but I think you're right, @August – it's were, but the was feels ok because of the ".. .Spike Jones is who. . ." imho. Kind of reminds me of the always troubling

The group of students (was/were) becoming raucous.

The choice between was/were that I think about a lot, though, is quantity:

There were six garden gnomes on the ground.
*There were six inches of snow on the ground.

There were four feet sticking out from under the bed.
*There were four feet of dead grass in front of the house.

And what about the were in the phrase as it were? And where does werewolf figure in? That last one is probably well known. I never got into etymology.

For the record 10:14 AM  

@lms wrote "... but you could eat SUSHI for the rest of your life and never, ever eat fish."

True, but if you're served "fish-on-rice", it may well be sushi.

btw - "sushi" is the rice part, fish or not is the optional "toppings".

August West 10:23 AM  

Thanks Loren. For was/were, particularly as used by Andrea today, I have always been guided by the quantity of individuals/things subject to the verb, using "was" in the case of one, "were" in the case of multiples.

old lady Sheila 10:33 AM  

Once again, ease is predicated on your age group. I, (at 84) , could not enter letters fast enough. The puzzle took me back to my teens, Spike Jones for instance. On the other hand, there are days when I tear my hair out because I can not get a toe hold, try as I may to be au courant.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:37 AM  

Speaking of 28 A, TOSCA, you have the opportunity to see an HD encore presentation of the opera, recorded at the Metropolitan Opera, at your local cinema this Wednesday night, November 13, at 6:30 PM. Check your local listings.

And speaking of 29 D, SPIKE JONES, @Doris has already mentioned it, but here is a link to Cocktails for Two.

L 10:38 AM  

Agree 100%!!

Milford 10:56 AM  

Lovely little Monday puzzle, thought it was a bit chewy, but time says it was average. The theme was sweet, I've often used the phrase HOPE THAT HELPS, sometimes on this blog!

Loved CREPE PAPE, AU JUS, and FLIP BOOK (I am thinking of @lms as I place that second comma...).

I am more familiar with the video/movie/Jackass director Spike Jonze, but SPIKE JONES was interesting to learn about today.

We have an OXBOW Lake near us - never heard of the term with regard to water, but now I am guessing it applies to this lake, as it is part of the Huron River system. Interesting to learn new stuff on a Monday!

@jberg - I had the same feeling about ASEA as clued - felt off.

@Z - I saw that you have an Anon admirer, you lucky dude.

Steve J 11:02 AM  

@Loren: Good explanation of was/were, but I'll quibble with one thing: The subjunctive does not entail only things that are pretty much impossible. It's simply anything that's speculative or hypothetical. For instance, I could say "Were I to skip breakfast this morning ..." or "If I were to go to the concert Friday night ...". Both are entirely possible, but they're not reality as of yet.

There's also one area that further complicates was/were: Different dialects have different rules, particularly when it comes to collective nouns (i.e., a noun that sounds singular but represents a group). I encounter it all the time when reading about English football (soccer) teams. For example, "Arsenal were on an 8-game unbeaten streak until this weekend" in the UK, while we'd say "Aresnal was ..." here.

@old lady Sheila: I don't think this one necessarily skewed to a given age. I'm 43, and I blew through this. I just happened to be familiar with most of the people/items in the puzzle.

Which brings me to something I've been thinking about as I've read through the comments. There are a number of comments saying that because there were some terms/words that are less used or clued in a way that wasn't the most obvious, this could be tough for early-week solvers. I know I've said the same thing about puzzles in the past, but I'm coming around to the idea that this is a bad assumption to make. We don't know what knowledge someone brings into a puzzle. And we all obviously know a lot of things we encounter in puzzles from the world outside of them. If the crosses are fair and easy to get, then I don't think we can just assume the puzzle's tough for early-week solvers because the fill isn't just simple nouns. The only thing that jumps out at me today as potentially being sticky is the REECE/CUPOLA crossing, as REEsE is a more typical and familiar spelling, and if you don't know architecture, you may not pick up CUPOLA. Beyond that, there's not stuff you only get from crosswords, and the crosses are all easily inferable (at least from my perspective). That's how an early-week puzzle should work.

Early-week does not have to mean only simple and incredibly obvious. That's what the USA Today crossword is for.

quilter1 11:13 AM  

This was a day when I really was a know-it-all without being obnoxious. Always like SPIKE JONES' Cocktails for Two so thanks for the link. So many interesting words on a Monday. I think even if this was the first crossword I had ever tried I would have finished easily and been hooked. As it is, too late.

Alexander Pope, Off his meds 11:19 AM  

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come

Except for those whose mind is a beast;
Never seeing, feeling, touching the blessed:
The soul, aggonizingly and totaly alone,
Sees noting but pain, isolation and agony to come.

loren muse smith 11:23 AM  

@Bob K – before I headed over to GENOA to sweat and spy on Italians eating spaghetti, I had the pleasure of seeing TOSCA in the ARENA de Verona in Verona! It was unbelievable. And seeing everyone arrive in their (his? ;-)) finery was really fun.

@For the record – I see what you're saying about SUSHI – So it's just like cluing, say, HAMBURGER as "beef on a bun serving," when actually it could be a French dip sandwich with AU JUS! FWIW, Many times in Japan, I had fish (teeny-tiny whole fish) sprinkled over rice. And it wasn't sushi.

@Steve J and August – excellent points about were. That's why I love it here – all the wered nerds!

mr b 11:30 AM  

Thank you Ms. Gorski for a perfect Monday puzzle for a Grade Monday/Tuesday, maybe Wed solver. Liked seeing Hope Springs Eternal on a Monday facing a hard few weeks, with optimism.
Loved seeing one of the greats, Alexander Pope, with fond memories of H.S. English teacher, Mrs. Rogers, teaching Rape of the Lock, throwing her eraser across the room if someone looked out the window at the La Crosse game. She was excellent w Beowulf and Keats. too.
Also @ Gorski- Liked the French tilt- LE ROI, NOIR, AU JUS. Pierre Maubray, head of the dept. at Georgetown, spent the first 10 mins of class explaining to all French majors that no one in France spoke correct French. He was serious and wrote his own text book to prove it. i.e. Je ne le sais pas.

BTW France was downgraded by Standard and Poor, see Krugman, in today's Times. Another political move. The Austerity Junkies are everywhere...

MetaRex 11:32 AM  

Ese count is lower than usual at 49...today is the second lowest of all the themers rated on the MR Eseometer.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

@ Steve J - Yeah, but what do the British know about English?

@Milford - Yep. But what can you expect from someone who chooses to remain Incognito? (Now I've probably cursed everyone to having to skip derisive comments about me. Apologies.)

Z 11:38 AM  

Oops - different browser and I am not logged in. Anon 11:36 is me.

LaneB 12:11 PM  

When I race through one in a few minutes, I know it's an easy one. A pleasant way to start off the week

Lewis 12:36 PM  

@metarex -- can you explain what your ese count is for those of us that missed earlier explanations?

@doris -- two good posts

Speaking of French, for some reason when I see LEDUP, what I see is LE DUP, which looks to me like French for an idiot.

Quality puzzle, too easy for a Tuesday, and took me down Memory Lane with CREPE PAPER, SPIKE JONES, and FLIPBOOK.

I like OXBOW adjoining NILE.

LaneB 12:41 PM  

RTM@lms I always enjoy reading your comments. They are both personal and informative. I'm sure it's why you get so much response.

And that's the way the true Italians eat their spaghetti not withstanding that some restaurants with Italian names do serve a large spoon with their pasta. Also look forward to your punti grammatacali [My spelling here is a bit suspect, I fear.]

Linguist, fishing boat sailor, cocktail waitress, x-word puzzle constructor, dogsledder, cha cha dancer [spectacular photo in your facebook page], wife and superMom--sheesh, as you might say. You're one of the few people whom I've never met [and likely will not] that I'm sorry to have missed.

Rob C 1:12 PM  

All my points have been stated already. So, I'll just say this was med/chal Monday for me. Surprised to see the many easy/med. ratings. No one area was especially difficult, but slow all the way through. I find I'm very rarely on the same wavelength as L Gorski. Oh well.

mac 1:16 PM  

Nice Monday, no problems here at all. Seemed to need a few crosses in the NW, but I got myself out of that corner and the rest was smooth sailing.

@loren: just cooking spaghetti as I read your post!

dk 1:31 PM  

Fastest Monday ever: woo woo!

������ (3 Stars)

Dick S 1:36 PM  

!. Spike Jones with Der Fueher's Face for Veterens Day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZlFBSRrSR0

Donald Duck in Der Fueher's Face.
This is a great example of wartime propaganda made in 1943 by Walt Disney to help sell War Bonds.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KA6HHgJC5BE

2. "Hope springs eternal" used by Ernest Thayer in 1889 in his poem "Casey at the Bat":
… leaving there the rest, with that hope that springs eternal from within the human breast. For they thought if one;y Casey xould get a crack at that. Yhey's give even money now, with Casy at the bat ...

Bird 1:42 PM  

Nice and easy puzzle. Well, except for 38A crossing 33D. I never heard of either, but before I guessed I noticed I had LA ROI. That correction made it easier to assume it was NATE The Great and not NITE (was also thinking Joseph was perhaps related to Wally PIPP).

40A was also the birthplace of my mother-in-law.

Liked the long downs, especially the hilarious SPIKE JONES.

Didn’t mind OPEL and OREL in the same grid.

@August Wset – It was ugly, but a win is a win. Looking forward to when the avatar is right-side-up. Perhaps today’s theme applies to Big Blue?

allan 1:48 PM  

Fun for Mon. Does anyone remember if Spike Jones was a regular on The Red Skekton Show? In my muddle mind I seem to picture him there.

@acm: yes, it was Spike Milligan who influenced L&M, but a lesser known fact is that Spike Jones did as well. His influence is most noticible on Revolution (Number 9), Penny Lane and A Day in the Life.

MetaRex 2:06 PM  
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MetaRex 2:11 PM  

For @Lewis and anyone else who's interested, the explanation of the ESE count aka the Eseometer is here...

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Seem to me that fun such songs such as "Octopus's Garden" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" were influenced by Spike (either one).

Lewis 2:22 PM  

Thanks, Meta. So I take it, the lower the number the better...

AliasZ 2:34 PM  

Feast your eyes on some CRÊPE, PAPER thin.

Speaking of CUPOLA, this is the view of Rome from the CUPOLA of St. Peter's Basilica. Click "Play" and for full effect, click on the "Full screen" icon. And this is the interior of the Basilica from the viewpoint of the amazing Baldacchino di San Pietro designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680).

Enjoy the virtual tour.

retired_chemist 2:39 PM  

@ Loren - fish scattered over rice is chirashi sushi. See here for the subclasses of sushi explained.

jae 2:52 PM  

@Steve J – I’ve two perspectives on beginning solvers that I use to judge how tough an early week puzzle might be for them. One is my 15 year old granddaughter who does an occasional Monday during her summer vacation. She gets to look stuff up so my toughness assessment comes from how much looking up she might need to do (she tries to get as much as she can on her own). OPEL, PAPP, NATE, LE ROI section would have sent her straight to Google, as would TOSCA, PABLO, LENA, SPIKE JONES and REECE among others.


The other perspective is me as a beginning solver around 10 years ago. I would not have known LE ROI, NATE, OXBOW, REECE, or RES. So, while I’m not disagreeing with you, I do have some subjective criteria for make that sort of call.



That said, I don’t think having a tough puzzle with some crossword only stuff on a Monday is bad thing. Getting better at this requires being challenged.

Rob C 4:04 PM  

@Meta - did you get rid of the theme density differential for your eseometer? I thought it added context to the number. It provided some measure of the price the constructor paid for incorporating more theme material into the puzzle.

Acme 4:36 PM  

@jae @stevej
As it "were" I'm indeed basing what is considered tough for early week solvers based on 20 years of what I've had to rewrite or been conditioned out of by Will and others... It's about as objective as I can get.

Just like on this blog, some constructors are allowed more leeway than others. I personally would not have gotten away with LEROI, SPIKEJONES (nor SPIKEJONze), REECE, CUPOLA...
Not complaining, just stating.

If only ETERNALmope (and I can think of a few this opprobrium would fit) were the third themer, ALL four would have had OPE in them!!!!

@lms
Thanks for the were/was lesson tho I still don't completely get it!

MetaRex 4:43 PM  

@Lewis--yep, the lower the ESE count the better...

@Rob C--good point on the value of other factors such as thematic density...stopped putting that in cuz I got to Friday and Saturday, but I agree it's relevant. One case for an ESE-alone number is that evaluating puzz quality numerically in general as opposed to in regard to one limited thing is really hard. Some other relevant factors like scrabbliness and word and block numbers are measured by the xwordinfo metrics...not thematic density, though.

loren muse smith 5:44 PM  

@Lane B – thanks! You cheered me up! The cool thing is that we all bring different experiences, insights, etc. to the table – lawyers, doctors, product-namers, retired_chemists, judges, interpretive dancers. . . this site is full of interesting people, and I always tell people that my best friends are here.

Get your ticket to NYC for this March's ACPT, and I'll buy you a drink!

@retired_chemist – no, my host family made chirashi-zushi several times with much, uh, fanfare. (My job was fanning the sushi rice.) What I'm talking about is different – occasionally there would be two or three bowls of stuff on the table to sprinkle over the rice that came straight out of the cooker. I usually jumped at the dried shisoo (sp?), but I would sometimes opt instead for these tiny little amber fish – about the size of an elongated BB – and they were whole. I would eat them thinking, "I'm eating fish eyes." I. Love. Chirashi. Zushi. And Hiyashi Chuuka Soba.

And I was kidding about the interpretive dancer. But maybe there is one here?

Alex Vratsanos 6:09 PM  

Two years ago today, I had my second New York Times puzzle, which I regret not using to thank our veterans.

One year ago today, I posted a message on Dictionary.com thanking them.

And today, I will post that same message: though I don’t see myself joining the military, today I salute all the men and women who have served, and are serving in, our military, and keep all 300 million of us safe day in and day out. Whether we realize it or not, we all owe them a debt; and today, Veterans Day, we pay some of it back. Thanks, veterans… we love you.

Joe The Juggler 6:12 PM  

August West said...
"Thanks Loren. For was/were, particularly as used by Andrea today, I have always been guided by the quantity of individuals/things subject to the verb, using "was" in the case of one, "were" in the case of multiples."

That rule only works in the indicative, not in the subjunctive. "If I were a rich man. . . ."

It's as Loren described it: "were" when it is contrary to fact.

Brandy 7:01 PM  

If by "interpretive" you mean "pole", then yes, yes there is.

Brandy - Hey, just 'cause I'm a pole dancers doesn't mean I can't speak properly 7:05 PM  

@Joe - No, fact has nothing to do with it: "If I were to got to the masked ball, I would go as a ..."

HANDY ANDY from bawstin 7:28 PM  

Our family had Norwegian Elkhounds (less hair than a Chow Chow, less active than a Husky, curly tail) when I was growing up. My dad used to say:

Hope springs eternal in the Elkhound's head
Always wanting but rarely to be fed


Good times.

PS. I know it's Monday, but "Number in a quartet"? Really, Liz?

August West 7:51 PM  

@Joe the Juggler: Understood (now, I think, thanks to Loren's explanation). Unless I'm wrong, though, Andrea's sentence, "If I recall correctly, SPIKEJONES is who Paul McCartney and John Lennon listened to and was influenced by...", is an expression of the indicative mood.

As regards choosing the proper past form of the verb "be" (when used in the indicative), I recall a high school English teacher counseling that we first ask which pronoun best replaces the subject(s) of the thought or action as originally expressed, and using the verb form that appropriately corresponds to that pronoun. In the example sentence, PM and JL may be replaced by the pronoun "they". I wouldn't write, "They *was* influenced by SJ", but "They *were* influenced by...", leading me to wonder if I've been wrong all these years, and to make my initial inquiry.

chefbea 9:17 PM  

@Alex glad someone else mentioned the Veterans

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 6:03, 6:06, 0.99, 45%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:49, 3:46, 1.01, 54%, Medium

Steve J 10:46 PM  

@Acme: Agreed, since you're someone who has published a lot of early-week puzzles, you'd have a better sense for what flies and what doesn't related to a lot of solvers. At least you've had direct feedback in that regard, while the rest of us are left with anecdotal experience and impressions. I just think we can often give newer solvers more credit than we do sometimes. (And when I say "we" there, I am including myself; I know I've made the same sorts of assumptions before.)

Acme 10:52 PM  

@august
Don't know how my off the cuff comment became focus of your grammar lesson, i write on this very quickly, tons of typos, left off parentheses, overuse of exclamation points, etc.
Of course that should have been "were" , not that it matters, but as long as you keep zeroing in on an offhand comment, let me clarify...
i had orig written just Paul Mc and then thought it might have been both, so added John Lennon's name after the fact...THEN thought i might even have the wrong SPIKE, but recalled a scene from a Beatle bio-pic of the young Paul listening to some Spike on the radio.

(Better to use my posts as just a perspective from an early week constructor who is also an avid solver...
And altho i've been an ESL teacher and a writer, I'm not THAT careful on this forum about my grammar, punctuation, etc.
The times I've tried to spellcheck and edit, I've ended up doubleposting or erasing the whole thing inadvertently)

Acme 10:56 PM  

(in other words...I sit corrected)

August West 12:25 AM  

@Acme: I apologize for making you feel as if I were "holding you out" for scrutiny when I was, sincerely, only interested in the was/were discussion of the last few days, and better understanding the criteria in play when choosing one verb form over another. It is because I greatly admire the intellect of those who actually construct puzzles, which I have never been so bold as to even attempt, that I thought you *must* be correct in your sentence construction, unless merely a typo, and, so, inquired of you for enlightenment. You didn't respond. I was satisfied by Loren's insights, and only "picked it up again" in response to JtJ's late comment. I feel terrible on the realization that I've made you feel picked on, or belittled, and certainly annoyed, which was never remotely my intent. I'm truly sorry.

Peter Green 6:04 AM  

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spacecraft 10:55 AM  

"This puzzle has been brought to you by the letter P, and by the number FOUR." It indeed seemed like a kiddie grid, looking at some of the clues:

"Number in a quartet:" FOUR
"Lock unlocker:" KEY
"Shallow's opposite:" DEEP
"Loaned:" LENT

Duh.

That last one just about gets the flag: a different conjugation of the same word. Look, I know it's Monday, but really. If you can clue LPGA as "Org. for women drivers" you can upgrade some of those others.

This is not in any way to criticize the grid construction itself; Ms. Gorski is one of the best, and does not disappoint here. The crossing of AUJUS with SPIKEJONES is absolutely priceless! Also interesting is the top center word, BLESS, vis-a-vis POPE. I did think BRIER was spelled with an A, but find on lookup that either spelling is OK. "Oh please, Bre'r Bear, don't throw me in that briar patch!"

I believe SPIKE JONES must have inspired another great musical satirist, Stan Freberg. His recording of "The Banana Boat Song" is hilarious, and his takeoff on Lawrence Welk was positively side-splitting.

"Turn-a off-a the bubble-a machine-a..."

Gee, Dad, it was a Wurlitzer.

DMG 1:45 PM  

Agree with @old lady Sheila, this was a fun trip down memory lane. Only ? for me was the volleyball lady, which filled itself from the crosses. So, a day with no write-overs! Must remember that come the Friday/Saturday posers!
I seem to recall Spike Jones had a great number about horse racing. Think I'll dig out the old vinyl LP and have a listen!

rain forest 3:12 PM  

@DMG - "Beetlebomb" is the horse racing number you're thinking about. Good ol' Spike Jones.

Very nice Monday puzzle ranging from very easy to somewhat more difficult, but basically just a smooth, enjoyable effort.

'Hawks are rollin'!

Solving in Seattle 5:18 PM  

I actually thought this was a tough Monday. My SPIKE was owens before JONES. I drove an audi before an OPEL. My French king was LEReI, which meant I PReCLAIMED.

@August West, terribly sorry about your NY Giants and the whoopin the Hawks put on 'em. Eli definitely needs some help. The Cardinals are next.

Dirigonzo 6:19 PM  

My completed grid was messier that usual for a Monday - that must mean something but I'm not sure what?

Red Valerian 7:45 PM  

I thought it were fun enough...was fun enough. I thought it fun.

Very late to the party, and with a link from the weekend. An article in the Globe and Mail ("Canada's National Newspaper" but we all know it's Toronto's National Newspaper).
John Allemang at G&M on 100th anniversary of the crossword

Happy holidays everyone. We're off to Ecuador!

Solving in Seattle 8:23 PM  

@Red V, have fun in Ecuador. Are you going to the Galapagos also? Say, is it Summer or Winter on the Equator?

@Diri, it just means you're messy on Mondays.

Gill I. P. 10:04 PM  

Hi Red V....I hope you do a Cotopaxi run....Been a while since I've been in that neck of the woods.
Try the llapinguachos but you might stay away from cuy...-;)

Red Valerian 10:29 PM  

Hey @SIS and @Gill I.P.. Not going to the Galapagos. Don't have enough time. Quito and "The Avenue of the Volcanoes".

Cotopaxi is an option we've decided to forego, though we will be in a refuge partway up for one night. Neither of us has technical experience, and I am (stupidly!, given how much I love the mountains) afraid of heights. (DOH!)

I'll leave the llapinguachos to my partner. I'm a vegetarian, so I was spared the cuy when last we were in SA. Looked sadly lacking in actual food value.

I ate rather more eggs than I would have liked (both times--once for five weeks to Peru and Bolivia, and once for a little over two weeks to Argentina), but I LOVED the lupins in the soups, and all the quinoa. And potatoes and oka.

But enough about me--thanks for asking! (We leave very early Wednesday, so I should be quiet, as of tomorrow, until the New Year.)

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