Slugger Carlos / MON 11-25-13 / Comedy Central cartoon set in year 3000 / Term of address for noblewoman / Italian city with semiannual fashion week

Monday, November 25, 2013

Constructor: Kevin G. Der

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Monday**)


THEME: Start of a bumper sticker … — all theme answers are common opening phrases from bumper sticker slogans.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite vacation spot (I'D RATHER BE IN …)
  • 29A: Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite hobby (HONK IF YOU LOVE …)
  • 45A: Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite (usually expensive) vehicle (MY OTHER CAR IS A…)
  • 54A: Start of a bumper sticker that may end with one's favorite attraction (WILL BRAKE FOR …) — I don't quite get "attraction" here. If I WILL BRAKE FOR turtles, I like them, I don't want to kill them, but "attraction" doesn't really get at it. Also, wondering if "I BRAKE FOR" isn't the more common phrase. Just wondering.
Word of the Day: KNISH (36D: Jewish turnover) —
n.
A piece of dough stuffed with potato, meat, or cheese and baked or fried.

[Yiddish, from Ukrainian knysh, probably of Turkic origin.]


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/knish#ixzz2lbzXHT3V
• • •

Looks like some of the best constructors are still submitting to the NYT—though with lag times that can run to several years, Lord knows when this one was submitted. At any rate, *this* is how to do an early-week puzzle. What a weird theme. As I was tearing through it (or trying to) I was wondering what I was missing … some connection among the left-off words? I had this sensation of being left hanging. But this turned out to be the point. Despite being incomplete thoughts, the set as a whole is drum-tight. Answers don't need endings. Fill in the blank. Use your imagination. We've all seen bumper stickers that open with these phrases. Hackneyed and lame, as bumper stickers (I think all bumper stickers are terrible and would abolish them if I were Emperor). But as a crossword conceit—all of a sudden this banal rear-of-your-car dumb-assery becomes a clever, and totally unexpected, set. The most fun part is just inventing your own bumper sticker in your mind. For instance, *my* bumper sticker reads HONK IF YOU LOVE SILENCE!


Allow me to continue. This thing has eight (8) 7+-letter Downs. You may have noticed that, generally, not always, but usually, the more interesting fill is the longer fill. The longer your answer, the more greater the likelihood you'll be able to break free of the gravitational pull of Planet Crosswordese and get to somewhere worth going. And look—all of today's are interesting, even downright creative. I will say that SANDPIT feels made-up. Is that really a thing? I mean, I can indeed imagine a pit made in the sand, but who would call that a SANDPIT? Not beaching-going child-me. Or maybe I would've. I probably wouldn't have called it anything. "Hole," maybe. That's possible. "What're you making there, Mikey?" "It's a hole, dad. What does it look like?" I was sarcastic at a young age. Aaaaanyway, SANDPIT! At least it's interesting! And DNA SAMPLING!? Fantastic. That's Friday-themeless good. But perhaps best of all is, in fact, the short stuff, and how well-managed it is. Crosswordese kept to a minimum, and spaced out so you don't notice it, and *none* of that awkward abbr. or plural suffix or other ^***ing nonsense that often tries to pass itself off as legitimate fill. And you also get some legitimately good shorter stuff, like VIPER and KNISH, and most of your short stuff is real words. Look, this is just Good. Stem to stern. Creative/loopy theme combined with real grid craftsmanship. Attention to detail. Even on puzzles that people are going to burn through in a matter of minutes, this stuff matters. To some of us, anyway.

Tomorrow: my recipe for VIPER KNISH. Secret family recipe. World-class. Until then...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

83 comments:

August West 12:07 AM  

Liked it. Believe the phrase is "I Brake For...," but I BET there's a few that start with, ahem, WILL.

Best bumper sticker ever: Country Music is an Oxymoron.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

Viper KNISH: A KNISH stuffed with rat meat for VIPERs, or a KNISH stuffed with VIPER meat for rats?

jae 12:12 AM  

Yes, an excellent  Mon.  Zippy theme, smooth grid, nicely done Kevin. Liked it!

Medium for me.

Surprisingly good bunch of 3s.

Erasure: Peon for PLEB.

Nice to remember Marcia Wallace. 

Steve J 12:15 AM  

Agreed that the fill - especially the downs - was quite good. Agreed that SAND PIT sounds weird or made up (when I was hanging out with friends last weekend at the beach and their 5-year-old was playing, she did not ask where the shovel was so she could dig a SAND PIT; she said she wanted to dig a hole). Agreed that bumper stickers are terrible. Agreed that the theme was weird.

Disagree that the theme ended up fine even with that sense of missing something. Maybe I'm less comfortable with bumper-sticker ambiguity.

This is one of the very few cases I can think of where the theme didn't resonate with me, but I liked the puzzle anyway. The quality of the downs really made it solid. Really rich with great fill: RHESUS, FUTURAMA, SIDE BENEFIT, KNISH next to SATAY. Very minimal crosswordese, and even the abbreviations/truncated terms - REF, CAF - are actually in the language.

For whatever reason, this one was very quick for me. Probably because I've seen all of these bumper stickers far too many times.

Aloha Chang Myothercaris 12:24 AM  

So glad this got therave it deserves!!!

I'd like to add to what @rex say and just point out all the subthemes:
ANTS, MITE, GNAT (VIPER)
ASIA, THAI, SATAY,TEAHOUSE...LAOS, CHANG

MENU: JAM, JELLY, KNISH, SATAY
(washed down with half CAF, TEAHOUSE)

And the fab bumperstickers plus REO, FINED

MILAN, el CID, REY, OLE!

BEFIT amd BENEFIT seem like the same word to me, somethingnthat BEFITS you BENEFITS you...

As @Kevin Der would say, "interesting"!

Anonymous 12:29 AM  

I grew up in south-central Nebraska, and the small man-made lakes that were formed during the construction of Interstate 80 were called sandpits... at least in that part of the country. So I'm okay with the word. At least I think it's better than last Monday's 'eye pit'.

Ellen S 12:57 AM  

I love bumper stickers so I thought this was a fun puzzle. My car is festooned with inflammatory political ones. I have been pleasantly surprised at how many times people have stopped me when I park and said they like my bumper stickers, and my cars have never been vandalized because of them. One time I returned to my car to find a note under my windshield wiper that objected to one of my bumper stickers. But I was really surprised that it wasn't an irrational rant. It was actually quite a coherent essay on why the person disagreed with the bumper sticker opinion. It gave me momentary hope in the possibility of civil discourse in this country, but only momentary, of course.

Uh-oh. I have no idea what the Captcha is...

chefwen 1:17 AM  

@Ellen S - Looks like you worked it out.

Many of my favorite things in this one. THAI food including SATAY is my #1 choice in cooking and eating. I have never turned down a KNISH. Being raised by the "original cat lady" has me forever hooked on KITTies. Love the dogs too, but KITTY has to take top billing.

Jon is strutting around like one of our wild roosters. This is the second time he has beaten me, time wise, in a Monday puzzle.

Our renter (23) is very fond of bumper stickers and loves to slap them all over the place. We have since broken him of the habit.

Benko 2:29 AM  

I've never heard a child call a hole on a beach a "SANDPIT" but British kids call a sandbox that.
Sandpits in America are are more of an industrial/construction thing, although I think I've heard of people digging a sandpit to build a fire in.

gifcan 2:48 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. But it is late and, as two well placed answers indicaye, I'D RATHER BE IN BED! Goodnight.

George Barany 5:05 AM  

The first time that I encountered the term "sandpit," it was over 30 years ago and I was being recruited to join the Chemistry Department at the University of Minnesota. Kolthoff Hall, which opened in 1970, was still a relatively new building. Apparently, during the construction, they had used up all of the funds appropriated by the state legislature. The huge unfinished area in the sub-basement was referred to as the sandpit, and--you guessed it--there wasn't much else there but sand. Lots of sand.

Conrad 5:27 AM  

I grew up on Long Island, near where sand was mined for construction projects. We used to say that our town's sand built Manhattan, because it was used in concrete. The place where they mined the sand was referred to as "The Sand Pits" (always plural).

MetaRex 6:09 AM  

Nice pairs of down fill in the middle...MILADY RHESUS, TEA HOUSE IN HEAVEN, FUTURAMA EXPELLED.

The eseometer count = 54 = medium-low.

Agree w/ Rex and commenters that the ESE today isn't hard to take...still, as always, it's there...consider, e.g., the row featuring (EL) CID (2), PED (2), OLE (2), BED (1).

loren muse smith 6:18 AM  

Kevin Der on a Monday?? Cool! I enjoyed it, but I suspect Dad will have some choice words on the level of difficulty.

I'm with @Ellen S – bumper stickers amuse me, though our cars don't have any. When my son and daughter were new drivers, I threatened them (I was serious) that the first whiff I got of any monkeying around while driving and I would fashion my own bumper sticker:

How's my driving? Call my mother. 304 555 1212

So which is it? SOL or SO? SOLA gets clued a lot as variants of "notes after fa." @sanfrannam59?

Ok – THY used to be a version of English's familiar "you." Every language I've studied has had a formal and familiar "you." Japanese takes it several steps further, and one formal "you" is actually the word for "house," to be even less direct with "(your) most honorable house." Do most languages make a distinction? I googled briefly, and it seems Arabic and Chinese have only one "you." This is the kind of thing I would wonder out loud about, and my kids would head for the car and take a drive.

I noted SANDPIT, too, in my margin. "Sandbox" and "sandtrap" are more in the language for me, but I didn't see if as a full-blown roll-thine-own. I'll take the @M & A amused approach and file away for future reverence that if I'm in trouble, take a noun, add PIT and boom. There you go. EYEPIT was just one week ago today. Considering it next to SANDPIT, I get a whole 'nother mental image. (I just worked ORBPIT into a grid yesterday.)

Kinda cool that KITTY is lurking right next to the SANDPIT, though.

PIT VIPER. Just sayin'.*

Rex – your recipe for VIPER KNISH comment almost made me spray my coffee. Hmm. So my laptop would have become a, uh, coffee, as it were.

@jae – me, too, for "peon" first.

@Andrea – I had the same thought for BENEFIT and BEFIT. It's, uh, fitting that they cross.

And doesn't INNIE have an unfortunate cross?

*@Bob Kerfuffle – I bet you can answer this. In American English, the period goes inside the quotation mark. Does the same apply for apostrophes? So it would be Just sayin.' I've always been wobbly on these rules.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

Agree it is "I brake" as in "I brake for hallucinations." Also, 20 across ends typically not in a place, but an activity, as in the classic "I'd rather be fishing." And 29 across is most famously not used for hobbies, but for deities: as in "Honk if you love Jesus" or "honk if you love the Great Pumpkin."

jberg 6:54 AM  

It is a fine puzzle, but somebody has to mention INKS at 35A. OK, I got that over with.

I think 54 A is a hybrid of "I brake for ..." and "Will .... for food." (or "Will work for ... (beer, etc.))

@Loren, nope. Apostrophes go where the letter or letters they replace would have gone. Since it's not "just sayin"g, the apostrophe comes before the quotation mark.

Great start to the week -- carry on!

Gill I. P. 7:04 AM  

Fun...! This got me remembering some of my favorites.

WHERE ARE WE GOING?
and why am in this handbasket?

MONICA LEWINSKY'S
Ex-boyfriend's wife
For President.

Really like JAM/JAR CHANG/THAI and the BEFIT/BENEFIT already mentioned.

Great Monday puzzle; I hope the rest of the week is as good...
Thank you Kevin Der...

Rob C 7:37 AM  

Surprised to see the med/chal rating on this one. I thought it was easy for a Mon. Occasionally, I'll give my non-puzzle wife some of the easier early-week puzzles trying to spark an interest. I gave her this one, we'll see.

Theme was ok, fill was superb. INKS was a sore spot.

One of my favorite bumper stickers is "You're unique...just like everyone else."

Glimmerglass 7:40 AM  

The bumper sticker says I BRAKE FOR yard sales. @Conrad is exactly right. A SAND PIT is where one mines sand, either to sell (Sand and Gravel Co.) or in a back corner of one's farm. Didn't find this one hard, even for a Monday

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

"the more greater the likelihood..."?
"I'd rather be in" Rex's English class listening to his explanation of that usage.

NCA President 8:19 AM  

according to studies, if you have bumper stickers on your car, you are more likely to engage in road rage. something about those bumper stickers helping you to identify closely with your car and so take things more personally out there.

it's why i drive a crappy purple scion. when people cut me off in traffic, i say "good on ya, mate, i'd do it too."

xwordinfo has will's take on PLEB...evidently he's been suppressing his feelings about including uncommon words in monday puzzles and getting panned on certain :ahem: puzzle blogs because of their inclusion. he responds by claiming that we NYT solvers are "educated" and "perfectly capable of handling an occasional bit of new vocabulary."

so there's that.

Norm C. 8:28 AM  

1) You might not like SANDPIT, but you've got to admit it's better than sandsocket.

2) I figured that IBEX could be spelled yBEX if it lived in Ybor City, FL.

3) @MetaRex - FWIW I don't see why BED is ESE. Looks like a perfectly ordinary everyday word to me. Guilt by association?

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

INKS stood out, probably because it was more or less the lone bad in a sea of good.

pmdm 8:41 AM  

What fills magic marker pens? Different color inks. INKS is not a problem.

Susan McConnell 8:41 AM  

What a fun Monday. And easy enough to do after staying up late watching the Pats win. What, me gloat?

Yes, SANDPIT brought me right back to last week's EYEPIT, but other than that, there are only good things to say about this one. OFL had me chuckling with "HONK IF YOU LOVE SILENCE" and especially with "rear-of-your-car dumb-assery".

More popular than bumper stickers now are the stick figure families on the back window. I saw one yesterday with a dad, mom, four kids, two dogs, and a cat. Sadly, the oldest little girl had lost her head.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Benko is right, sandpit is a word connected with making a fire on the beach, usually for cooking. Surprised to see the "medium-challenging" rating - even for Easy Monday I tore through this one.

Newbie 8:47 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Had a smile on my face throughout the solve. Top-notch!

joho 8:49 AM  

Such an original theme ... demanding audience participation ... loved it!

I agree with @anon 6:22 that HONKIFYOUYOU usually ends with JESUS around my parts ... definitely not a hobby.

@jberg and @RobC, I think if INKS were clued as "Signs a contract" or "Fills in a comic's panel" or anything other than "Pens' contents" (where "oinks" is a funny answer) ... it would not be as jarring. Regardless, if that's the only thing that sticks out at you, that reinforces how clean this grid is. Plus the cross there, SATAY, is a great answer.

@Rex, I had the same reaction to WILLBRAKEFOR one's favorite attraction. My made up answer for that one is "pedestrians."

Great Monday puzzle, Kevin Der! You have set the bar very high for this week!

Sir Hillary 8:54 AM  

The full bumper stickers are all in the grid...provided "one" is a chivalrous Tarheel with a sportscar jones pining for a trip aborad.

IDRATHERBEIN MILAN

HONKIFYOULOVE UNC

MYOTHERCARISA VIPER

WILLBRAKEFOR MILADY

Laurence Katz 9:44 AM  

I'll pass on the viper and have a satay knish.

chefbea 9:45 AM  

What a yummy puzzle to come back to. Had a great time and unfortunately did not do many puzzles.Look forward to Rex's recipe for viper knish!!! We'll see if it's as good as mine.

retired_chemist 9:53 AM  

Good one. Glad to see Rex's favorable comment - they have been scarce lately. SAND PIT is a quarry from which sand is excavated, according to my dictionary.

INKS is indeed bad - had pigS and was prepared to change to hogS but the actual answer surprised me. "HONK IF YOU LOVE INKS" would be met with dead silence in this crowd.

Easy - my time relative to the NYT was faster than my usual expectation.

Thanks, Mr. Der.

capcha NAIRMAT - hardly breakfasty.

quilter1 10:04 AM  

I found this to be easy as well as fun to do. No problem with SANDPIT for this Des Moines native. Many times was warned as a child not to wade or swim in the SANDPIT. I liked, along with others, VIPER, KNISH, IOWAN, SATAY and DNA SAMPLING. Thanks, Kevin, for a Monday worth solving.

John V 10:09 AM  

Favorite bumper sticker, from a million years ago: ESCHEW OBFUSCATION

r.alphbunker 10:24 AM  

Calling this a challenging Monday misses some of its brilliance. Great fill, great clues and it still played time-wise like a regular Monday.

Nice to see RP's grid rage subside.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:35 AM  

A very pleasant puzzle indeed.

I hope I am not missing Rex's deadpan humor, but as others have indicated, the I (or WILL) BRAKE FOR . . . sticker means that one will slow down or stop to appreciate the object of affection, not that it is crossing the road in front of one.

And, @lms, it might not be the best idea to make me the go-to guy for grammatical questions. After all, my bumper sticker, if I had one, should be DON'T FOLLOW ME, I'M LOST!

lawprof 10:46 AM  

If memory serves (and it often does not), wasn't a recent pen inhabited by a CON?

Any nits picked at today's wonderful Kevin Der effort have got to be really nitty. So here goes: It's "Mi Lord" but "My Lady." If there's any doubt, just watch an old "Upstairs, Downstairs" episode.

The first "My Other Car is a...." bumpersticker I ever saw ended with "Mercedes" and was attached to a beat up Ford Pinto. Then came the variations. My neighbor had two Mercedes automobiles.* On each he had a bumper sticker, the contents of which one might readily guess. Hint: no, it didn't end in "Pinto."

*I added "automobiles" because I don't know how to pluralize "Mercedes."

Benko 11:02 AM  

@LMS--
(With apologies to law prof.)
@jberg is right about the apostrophe rule. But, in addition, not all quotation marks go after the period. If you are using them for a purpose other than directly quoting someone's speech, in order to set off a certain word as a word or a title or to indicate irony, you put the quote marks before the period. Hence in the post above, the quote marks should technically go before the period when using "Pinto" and "Mercedes".
I feel like the rules of grammar can mostly be discarded in informal settings, but this is what I remember from my Strunk and White.

Steve J 11:17 AM  

@lawprof: You remember correctly about CON. It was in last Thursday's puzzle.

Regarding MILADY: Both my dictionaries have it listed as a word. I think either MILADY or "my lady" is acceptable.

@Benko: Technically in most American English style, the period goes inside the quotation mark 100% of the time. It's a terrible rule. Your use makes much more sense.

I've adopted the British style in most cases (other than some things at work where I need to conform to American style in order not to look like an idiot), which treats quotation marks like parentheses. If they encompass a full sentence, the punctuation goes inside the marks; if they encompass a portion of a sentence, the punctuation goes outside the marks. It makes much more sense.

The reference to Strunk and White, and style manuals in general, brings to mind this gem from the Onion.

Two Ponies 11:27 AM  

Great start to our week.
I love everyone's bumper sticker suggestions.

AliasZ 11:45 AM  

I BET when you saw the mountain goat clue you weren't sure how to spell it: IBEX, ibis or oryx. A SIDE BENEFIT of being NERDY is that some of you knew it.

It would have been perhaps beneath Kevin Der to clue 16A as "Contents of some 12D's" as @lms hinted at. Do IOWAN explanation?

What do you get if you fill an eyepit with sand?

25D calls to mind (to use an expression from yesterday) a fascinating TV program on the National Geographic Channel: Cat Clues. To use their own words: "Scientists use DNA SAMPLING to locate the origins of domestic cats." They go all around the world from Egypt to Japan to collect saliva samples from cats for DNA testing. Anyone interested, it will be showing again on December 16th, 10PM ET.

Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) was a French organist, composer and pedagogue. He composed much organ and chamber music, but his Requiem, Op. 9, is considered perhaps the most inspired religious work written in the 20th Century. The last movement is called In Paradisum (IN HEAVEN). It is a powerful work of transcendent beauty, worth a listen.

HONK IF YOU LOVE Jesus / J.S. Bach / Otters / THAI food / RHESUS monkeys / Parasailing - not all of these are hobbies, but besides this tiny nit, today's puzzle sparkles in more ways than one. Thank you Kevin.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 11:47 AM  

har. Could hardly believe my eyepits this mornin... 4-Oh flat out **loved** a MonPuz. Three days away yet, and I'm thankful already.
The love is well-deserved. Master class puz. Jedi Knight stuff. thUmbsUp with a Standin O. Bob's yer uncle.

Groovin on this accumulation of special -IT-words we're experiencin lately. @muse's poems will soon be barkin ITs like a truck loada flea-bIT kowts.

Looked at wrong clue for one of the long words. Saw "Jewish turnover". Wanted NEWRABBI. Wrong again, M&A breath...

Top other bumper sticker startup winners...
* DAYUM YOU ALL MUST BE FROM
* BACK OFF DUDE I JUST ATE
* YOU ALL DRIVE LIKE I
* US HERE DONT BRAKE FOR
* CRASH IF YOU VOTED FOR
* NEXT TIME TAKE
* PEWITS: THE NEW
* HAR! AND THEY SAID I NEEDED
* BORN TO
* DON'T HONK IF YOU SMELL LIKE

Oh, yeah? Y'all got better suggestions?!

M&A

Nick 12:01 PM  

Now THAT was fun. At (long long long) last.

Carola 12:10 PM  

Very clever theme, a treat of a puzzle. In addition to the crossword felicities others have pointed out, I liked IBEX over LEAP, as I imagine that's what they do, and INK(S) over PEN(A). AVES have their French counterpart RUE.

Anoa Bob 12:34 PM  

I had a 1960 Corvair van when I was in grad school (paid $250 for it) with a "Ralph Nader's Other Car" bumper sticker.

@lms, your "threatened" bumper sticker reminds me of a more ribald version "How's My Driving? Call 1-800-EAT-SH*T"

@August West, your wickedly clever dis will be lost on most of us who like Country Music because we wont know what "oxymoron" means.

Honk If You Honky Tonk. Don't If You Don't"

M and Also 12:38 PM  

p.s.
In case y'all are profilin me (hi, @fbi), here are my gut-reaction answers for the top bumper stickers list I had above...
* Outa State
* Yer Dog
* Had Nightmares About
* Varmints
* Legalizing Pot
* The Slaussen Cutoff
* Thanksgiving Fowl
* Restraints
* Water Board
* I Do

Oh, yeah? Got any better suggestions?!

M&A

r.alphbunker 1:15 PM  

A NERDY bumper sticker:
"Jesus saves but the Buddha does incremental backups."

Traditionalist 1:16 PM  

JESUS SAVES
MOSES INVESTS

Sfingi 1:22 PM  

Loved it. I agree with everyone.Had Peon first, didn't like INKS, Still lovin' eyepit.

I brake for garage sales.

I don't care for the stickers which represent family members, including pets, in stick figures. Something about advertising to criminals, so I guess I'm paranoid.

@Anon 1229 - our pits formed by glaciers in upstate NY are called pot holes or drumlins.

Never heard of SATAY, but Binghamton, NY, (Rex's neighborhood)has a Spiedie and hot air balloon festival. Soiedie is short for spidini, the skewered Italian specialty.

cascokid 1:23 PM  

When I did the puzzle last night and spent time reading and largely just solving the fairly easy clues reflexively, engaging only a modicum of actual reflection every third or fourth clue, I solved the puzzle in 19 minutes.

When I did it again a few minutes ago, using the NYT web site java app and basically reading and recalling almost all the answers (and solving a few crosses to remind me what I had forgotten), I did it in 5:20.

So how do you guys enter the solutions in under 4 minutes? Telepathy? A different app? Wizardry with keyboard? Even if you receive the right solutions by divine revelation/cosmic intuition, the times seem unrealistic.

What am I missing?

Bird 1:37 PM  

A straightforward easy Monday puzzle with a good theme. However, I think 35A (clue and answer) are a cheap way to finish that area. Also – I’ve only seen bumper stickers that say, “Honk if you LIKE . . .” and we have “love” in the clue for 53A.

Excellent extra-long downs.

If you can read this, then you’re too close.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

@loren and others who have commented on the question: Aren't all the comments on the placement of punctuation with quotation marks beside the point? It seems to me that in Just sayin' what looks like a quotation mark is actually an apostrophe indicating that sayin' is a contraction. I don't see any indication of the phrase starting out as a quotation, so I don't think it is a quotation.

Evan 1:46 PM  

@cascokid:

Have you never seen "Wordplay"? Here's a video of solving speed demon Tyler Hinman, taking out a Monday NYT grid in just over two minutes. Some solvers really are that fast.

I can usually solve a Monday NYT in under four minutes while typing. It's the later-in-the-week puzzles where I'm nowhere near the top solvers. Speed has a little to do with being able to type quickly (if you're solving on a computer), but most of it comes from having a lot of practice with crosswords.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

@cascokid

You are missing Rex's recent explanation of how he speed solves.

Lewis 2:14 PM  

After I finished the puzzle I wondered what Rex could possibly go off on -- and for the first time in a long time, he didn't. And he even laughed at himself at one point (talking about how he was sarcastic as a little kid), a rare event as well. Excellent writeup, sir!

Instead of "pens' contents" as the clue for INKS, it could have just been "Pens".

I like the words that sound similar in ways, like MILAN/MILADY, and AWAIT/BEFIT. The long answers were interesting and had spark.

Sounds pretty unanimous that this was one of the very good ones.

Benko 2:25 PM  

@SteveJ-- Maybe I misremember my grammar lessons. Apologies to @LMS and @lawprof.
I still think that usage makes more sense, too, though.

loren muse smith 2:45 PM  

@Benko, Steve J, et al – thanks for the discussion. The "Mercedes". version makes total sense, though before today, I would have gone with "Mercedes." And not liked it.

@M & A – some more to finish. . .

CAUTION – DRIVER IS. . .

. . .YOUR HONOR STUDENT

WATCH OUT FOR THE. . .

I'M ONLY SPEEDING BECAUSE I . . .

wreck 2:57 PM  

I think the most common use of "sand pit" is for the track and field long jump landing area.

itsakev 3:18 PM  

The Calgary Vipers logo! It's been so long!

Snark 3:20 PM  

I hope you don't get anything in your EYE PIT when playing in the SAND PIT.

R. McGeddon 3:25 PM  

This is certainly one of the best Monday puzzles I've ever seen.

And there's a Wikipedia article on "sandpit" as the non-US/Canada word for sandbox.

mac 3:39 PM  

Wonderful Monday puzzle!!

I spent my youth digging holes in the sand of the North Sea coast and we never….. Of course not, we called it een kuil.

No bumper stickers for us, but around here they are mostly parents bragging about their kids' academic or athletic prowess. Then I saw this one: "My kid beat up your honor student".

Favorite crossing: LINT and INNIE!

Last Silver Bumper Stickers 4:02 PM  

p.p.s.s.
har! Contest! I like games almost as much as puzs.

CAUTION - DRIVER IS ... Not Of This Earth.

Our El Flunko Students Do Not Brake For ... YOUR HONOR STUDENT

WATCH OUT FOR ... Falling Rock Stars

I'M ONLY SPEEDING BECAUSE I ... Like To Plan Ahead

Now U finish these:
BABY PEWIT ON BOARD ...
I DON'T DO TURN SIGNALS ...
PASS ME ONLY IF...

M&A


sanfranman59 4:06 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:30, 6:07, 1.06, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:18, 3:46, 1.14, 93%, Challenging

Norm C. 4:07 PM  

@Sfingi - Drumlins are the whale-shaped hills left behind by the glaciers, not the pot holes.

loren muse smith 4:17 PM  

BABY PEWIT ON BOARD ...AND HE WON'T STOP PULING HIS EYEPITS OUT.

I DON'T DO TURN SIGNALS ...I'M TOO BUSY FARDING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR

PASS ME ONLY IF...YOU CAN THROW SOME VIPER KNISH MY WAY.

Hey – by the way – Food Grade Flea Killer Regimen Update. I no longer ingest it because Mom, who had been taking it longer than I had been, started growing hair where she had never had it before: up on either side of her forehead. Sheesh. Who wants forehead hair??

Blue Stater 4:18 PM  

Hate to rain on the parade of a good puzzle, particularly for Monday, but SATAYs are Indonesian, not THAI.

Z 5:09 PM  

What do you call a pewit with one eyepit flying around a sandpit?

No stick figures, politics, or pithy sayings on my bumper. I have two or three Ultimate stickers (one may even be a UPA bumper sticker) and one of the Great Lakes (people often think it is a Michigan sticker, but it really is the Great Lakes).

Beer Rating - A Founders Breakfast Stout, "The coffee lover’s consummate beer" - a great way to start a Monday morning (if your bumper sticker says "I brake for Microbreweries").

(see how I did that - quotation mark, close parentheses, period)

Answer - Thanksgiving Dinner - Har.

Z 5:10 PM  

Two SpellCasters -OMFG

LaneB 7:14 PM  

AGree that it was tougher than the usual Monday, but managed to finish it anyway. Had some trouble In the SE. And PLEB--which I guess is short for plebian.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

In Brazilian Portuguese we used to have 3 forms. I thing Portuguese from Portugal still kept some. The Brazilian kept form is você.

Z 7:50 PM  

For some reason I thought of this group when I saw this comic.

sanfranman59 10:04 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 6:29, 6:07, 1.06, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:08, 3:46, 1.10, 85%, Challenging

@Loren Muse Smith ... It's definitely sol that follows fa and precedes la in the solfège scale. But I think lots of folks pronounce it 'so'. I blame Oscar Hammerstein ("Do-Re-Mi" from the "The Sound of Music") ... "sew, a needle pulling thread".

acme 12:07 AM  

@Mac
LINT crossing INNIE...ewwww, but fabulous catch!!!

Love that there is such outpouring for a perfect puzzle!

Anonymous 8:14 AM  


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spacecraft 11:01 AM  

The E! A! G! L! E! S! won last night, so you can't fail to please me today! Original, fairly dense theme, and the SIDEBENEFIT of some cool longer fill, will more than fill the bill for this happy fan.

I agree with most of OFL's comments: is SANDPIT a thing? But all in all...a lot of the latest crop have been going to bull HEAVEN earless and tailless, including this one.

Not sure about BEFIT crossing SIDEBENEFIT, but that's minor. Can't believe he resisted cluing JAR as "1-down container." And: thanks to @lms for pointing out the bellybutton LINT for an extra laugh.

Come and get us, Saints!

Waxy in Montreal 1:09 PM  

That was fun. Bright, breezy start to the week.

As Canada converted, sorta, to the metric system, oft-seen bumper sticker was STOP METRIFUCATION.

Why do I always want to spell IBEX as IBYX? Is it the fault of ONYX?

Solving in Seattle 2:31 PM  

"Visualize Whirled Peas"

Liked this puz almost as much as the Hawks' victory over the Rams yesterday. Seattle is INHEAVEN...

"My kid can beat up your honor student"

More puzzez from Mr. Der.

Capcha: Meaniah. Carey's nasty sister?

Dirigonzo 5:01 PM  

I unhesitatingly wrote in JokeS at 1 across, where JESTS was needed, and that kind of set the tone for my solving experience - wrong guesses. MadAme/MILADY, Peon/PLEB, well you get the idea. All easily fixable and none detracted from the elegance of the construction, it just sucks to guess wrong most of the time.

rain forest 5:56 PM  

This pen contains ink. So does this pen. These pens contain INKS? I don't think so.

Other than that, and perhaps SANDPIT (I think a sandpit has sand in it, rather than sand taken out of it), this was a very nice puzzle from Der Meister, Meister Der.

Nice sunny write-up and lots of chuckles re bumber stickers. One wonders if those who hang signs that say "Baby on board" think that I'll drive differently...

'Hawks, Eagles, Patriots. There's still a lot of fun to go through...

@Diri - you sounded a little bit like Eeyore there :-)

Ginger 7:08 PM  

@SIS Yeah Hawks
@Spacey Like them Eagles too (until they play the Hawks) Think Chip is a genius.

Now the puz....loved it...except I DNF (Grr). And on a Monday (double Grr) Never heard of SATAY, and didn't know Carlos PENA. Learned 2 things today.

Former license plate holder: 'My other car is a Cesnna'.

Dirigonzo 7:30 PM  

@rainey - I think (hope) it's a seasonal thing. I'll get better when it stops snowing. Thanks for noticing.

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