Executioner in Mikado / MON 12-23-13 / Texas city on Brazos / Young Indiana Jones portrayer / Dry-ice contraption for theatrical effect / Newspaperman Ochs /

Monday, December 23, 2013

Constructor: Michael Blake and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: TAKE IT TO THE BANK (39A: "Believe you me!" … or what you can do with the start of 18-, 24-, 53- or 63-Across) — first words of theme answers are kinds of banks:

Theme answers:
  • SPERM WHALE
  • PIGGY BACKING
  • RIVER PHOENIX
  • FOG MACHINE
Word of the Day: GREGG Allman (13D: Allman brother who married Cher) —
Gregory LeNoir "Gregg" Allman (born December 8, 1947) is an American rock and blues singer-songwriter, keyboardist, guitarist and a founding member of The Allman Brothers Band. He was inducted with the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995  and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2006. His distinctive voice placed him in 70th place in the Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time". (wikipedia)
• • •

It's a Monday puzzle. It is pretty average in that regard. First-words-have-X-in-common. Pretty standard fare. Valiant attempt at interestingness with the, let's say, revealer, but it doesn't really make sense. I "take" the RIVER to the "bank"? Like, the word? I take the word "RIVER" and put it next to the word "bank"? Yeah, that makes no sense. I see that the revealer is a "?" clue, which does give you some leeway, but … still. Doesn't work. Also, this pangram stuff is strictly amateur hour. I saw that "Q" at COQ/QUOI (!?) and I was like "Whoa! That is some serious Scrabble-f***ing. Why would you do that?" Then I finished, and sure enough—all 26 letters. Ugh. Surprised anyone still thinks this is a feat. Three extra foreign words just to get your precious "J" and "Q" (and "U", actually)?—patently not worth it. Of course who really cares on a Monday when it's easy? (This must be the rationale—people will tolerate sub-optimal fill 'cause they've seen it so many times and it didn't create added difficulty so why not?). But, again, for the millionth time, puzzles should be filled with quality, smoothness, and sparkle being the highest ideals. The pangram ideal is … not one. O'NINE? Come on. It's a Monday. The theme is not taxing. Fill the grid with real stuff. OOOH? Jeez louise. EIEI-no.


Hoping for somewhat more professional holiday fare,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. where's BLOOD? Not good to have one of these types of puzzles and have such an obvious candidate missing. It's not like there are infinite candidates. BLOOD is more common than FOG where "banks" are concerned. BLOOD is a weird omission, in that it's the one "bank" you'd *expect* to see. One of the first that is going to come to mind when confronted with "___ bank." Also SNOW. Also, re: FOG, at least RIVER, PIGGY, and SPERM had their contexts changed in the theme answers. Something like "FOG OF WAR" might've worked here (i.e. not a literal "fog"), but FOG MACHINE doesn't offer sufficient recontextualization.

95 comments:

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy-medium for me too and I liked it a lot more than Rex.   Fresh theme entries and interesting fill.  I mean you got TOMCATS in AMOR sipping MOET and passing THE HAT to get something to TOKE on in their BOMG.  Works for me. The only iffy thing in the grid is OOOH and that's actually my reaction to this puzzle.  So, very nice Michael and Andrea!

Benko 12:14 AM  

Easy Monday for me. Breezed through it without too much thought, then went back to look at it more closely afterwards.
@rex has a point about EIEIO, OOOH, and the partials. But I thought there was a fair amount of liveliness for a Monday as well. An air of decadence with TOKE, BONG, MOËT, SPERM, BREASTS, etc. RIVERPHOENIX would have been proud.

ESP 12:22 AM  

An Allman Brothers clue seems stale in light of Clark GREGG.

August West 12:36 AM  

What jae and Benko said.

Loved the GREGG/BONG cross. Hundreds of times.

Steve J 12:40 AM  

Very easy here, too. Yes, the theme doesn't work if you take it literally regarding RIVER, but I got a chuckle out of it nonetheless (especially since I had already filled in SPERM WHALE). And while blood and snow would have been very good theme terms, I find nothing wrong with FOG (then again, I live in a place often referred to as Fog City).

Some nice fill: TOMCAT, SCRIBE, AXIOMS.

Didn't notice that this was a pangram because there's no possible way for me to care less about pangrams, but I've seen pangrams that led to worse fill than happened here.

COQ/QUOI didn't bother me near as much as MASC/COQ. At least the abbreviation is in some use, but it's still a pretty unattractive one. Too many partials as well (O'NINE being the most egregious), but I found the good stuff outweighed the less-good.

Questinia 1:23 AM  

COQ QUOI/KOKO COLA

Nigh perfect Monday puzzle.

JFC 1:39 AM  

You know, Rex, one of these days you are going to hurt Acme's feelings. I'm surprised you didn't ask why it took two people to make this puzzle.

Chefwen, never fear. If Cutler starts for the Bears next week, your Pack are in the Play-offs, regardless of your QB. The Bears, their QB and their Coach just plain suck, even more than Rex thinks this Monday puzzle sucks....

JFC

Anonymous 2:10 AM  

Fill that needs to be eliminated from crosswords: WACO. Population of 250,000 does not make it notable. Needs at least double that.

Other stuff to avoid on a Monday includes ABO, MASC, OJOS, QUOI, MOET, OOOH, MME, ADOLPH (as clued). ESME, CCS (I've heard of the whole e-mail angle which isn't very good anyway, but WTH is this?), ONINE, COQ, EIN, EIEIO, KOKO and GREGG.

17 pieces of crosswordese/non-Monday fill with 59 theme squares; needs to be cut by half before I can call the fill anything but bad. Ugh.

jae 2:50 AM  

Oops, that would be BONG not BOMG...l@@$ ing fat fingers.

Evan 3:41 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 3:43 AM  

Good that all the theme phrases are solid ones -- and I'm sure @acme must be pretty tickled that Will Shortz described her as the most "promiscuous" of constructors on a day when she co-wrote a puzzle with the word BREASTS in it.

Still, I have a few quibbles. I didn't mind the strangeness of the theme revealer that Rex noted, but one thing that seems inelegant about it: the word THE appears in both the answer and clue. A repeated word in an entry's clue -- that's something you almost never see. Speaking of definite articles, I found THE HAT to be a little arbitrary. I know it's a thing that one can pass around to collect funds, but I'm not sure how well it works as a phrase on its own, except maybe as the end of The Cat In.... Does this open the door for other definite articles opening entries like THE CAR or THE STREET or THE UMBRELLA?

I've never heard of the term FOG BANK, so that was a little confusing. Of course, I didn't really notice the theme until I was done, so it didn't slow me down at all.

@Anonymous 2:10 (pretty sure this is the user @Sarah):

WACO is bad fill now? Using your "city needs 500,000 in the metro area" rule, that would take out cities like Reno, NV; Erie, PA; Flint, MI; Green Bay, WI; Peoria, IL; and the recently used ANCHORAGE ALASKA.

Evan 3:43 AM  

@JFC:

I was at the game. That walk I took from Lincoln Financial Field after that bloodbath was over was the biggest walk of shame I've ever taken as a Bears fan.

Axiom Cola Mica 3:47 AM  

@jae
I just thought you were stoned! ;)

Here are my thoughts on today's construction:
xwordinfo.com

Anonymous 4:27 AM  


Just the right amount of cowbell for a Monday.

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

"Waco" remains valid fill as long as there are people alive who remember the Branch Davidians--so another 40 years, I would guess.

loren muse smith 6:49 AM  

Congrats, Michael and Andrea! When Andrea said on FB that she and Michael had today's, I was bound and determined to participate, even though we're travelling all week and my puzzle access will be spotty.

(Note to Liz about yesterday's – I was in a car all day and couldn't comment, but I absolutely loved it AND was able to solve it – well, me, too for that NE corner- without seeing the blurb. I was kind of stuck and thought, "Hey. This is Gorski. Let's look more carefully at these circles. . ." And an angel was born. I'll remember that one for a long time. Had to show my family, and they admitted it was cool.)

Earlier, everyone was asleep, and I couldn't get my pc to connect to the internet, so I could just look at today's grid on my phone. I made myself see SPERM, PIGGY, RIVER, and FOG and then the reveal, which I like. Since Andrea was my initial, main mentor in constructing, I've always accepted, no,* liked*, reveals that aren't really literal so much as a gentle nudge to get you to see the main word. I think that allows for more wordplay. She and I have constructed at least two puzzles with revealers along the same lines, and I was quite happy with them.

I thought the fill had lots to like – (BREASTS – gasp!)

And the pairs:
ORCA, JAWS
EYES, OJOS
BONG, TOKE
VEGAN, ORZO
PIGGY, OINK
TOMCAT, SPERM

And what's more – the clue/fill "You can count" ON IT means TAKE IT TO THE BANK!!

Did I like this puzzle? WII, WII. OOOH so nice. (FWIW, I always like OOOH and EIEIO).

Thanks, you, two!

George Barany 6:53 AM  

@Acme, congratulations on this puzzle! Also, on the fascinating notes over at xwordinfo.com. @Acme and I communicated earlier and she reassured me that the "promiscuous" comment had been run by her first, and that she was OK with it. The spanning reveal phrase of the puzzle has quite a different meaning here in the Twin Cities, and was used as the title for this sports-themed puzzle. In another puzzle, a tribute to a regular @Rex-ite, my friend @Martin Herbach came up with perhaps the greatest clue ever for the word SPERM (91-Across). Rather than have me spoil it here, have a look!

Glimmerglass 7:27 AM  

I tried two of the puzzles Rex recommended yesterday. "Cunning Linguist" was a fun 23x23, not terribly offensive (except perhaps the pun in the constructor's handle). It's worth the time. Patrick Merrell's 15x15 was less exciting, but a good puzzle. It had a clever gimmick, but one I think I've seen before (CCCCC = seas, sees, or seize).

jberg 7:28 AM  

First of all, I loved this puzzle. I loved getting SPERM WHALE and wondering how that would lead to a theme that was printable; loved seeing FOG MACHINE, a theatrical staple rare in puzzles; and loved the fact that the first time I was the clue for 1A I was totally stumped (probably because I'd just made a mocha cappuccino with Girardelli COCoA, which just framed my thoughts in the wrong direction). I didn't even mind the two sports clues.

Another nice pair: Auld Lang SYNE while sipping MOET and Chandon.

I never saw the pangram -- and I usually look for them. I think that was because it was so smooth. Nice work, @Acme and Michael.

James Dean 7:43 AM  

A fill in the blank on "Van Winkle" is barely worthy of a kid's puzzle.

AliasZ 8:02 AM  

Nice Monday diversion by Michael Blake and Amor Cinco Methane.

I expected someone to point out that a PIGGY BANK has the same contents as the BANK in the revealer: money, while all the others don't. So besides blood bank and snow bank, the theme would have been better served by data bank, a bank shot in billiards, an airplane banking on takeoff, a bank of relays in a switchboard, a bank of tools in a SHED or a bank of OARS on a galleon. Next to banking, splitting hairs is my favorite pastime.

Some of the fill: TOKE, BONG, METHANE, BREASTS, HORN, AMOR, MATE, OINKS, cat-O'NINE-tails etc., could have been suggested by that MASC. TOMCAT, Howard STERN.

But there is a musical sub-theme running through this puzzle as well: Isaac STERN, PSALM, IVORY, KOKO from Mikado, two works by Manuel De Falla: THE[Three-Cornered]HAT and El AMOR brujo, the HORN concertos by Mozart and Richard Strauss, and the pièce de résistance: the opera Le COQ d'or by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

Michael and Andrea, thank you for including COQ and OJOS. They give this puzzle that certain je ne sais QUOI.

Milford 8:25 AM  

Easy, least Monday. I think the only time I paused was at spelling QUOI.

Liked the randy feel of the puzzle. Didn't notice the pangram at all, which maybe is a good sign it wasn't too forced, as @jberg also noted?

A couple summers ago we visited Martha's Vineyard and my kids and husband all jumped off the JAWS bridge along with every other tourist, despite the many signs forbidding it.

FOG BANK is the least familiar of the theme answers. Maybe I say BANK of FOG instead.

When all the Anon/Sarah folks complete their list of fill to avoid on a Monday I'd love to see what's left of words, and the resulting puzzle.

The captcha looks like a phone number. Is this new? Wait, is that my phone number...?

Carola 8:26 AM  

Easy and fun - and I learned a new phrase in the reveal. Besides the grid treats already mentioned, I liked the cross RIVER RAFTS and the other sea-faring-related words: NOAH, MATE, OARS, STERN, SPERM WHALE, ORCA, JAWS, and the huge wave CRESTs encountered when going round the HORN.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Bah Humbug to you too Rex....loved this puzzle....

Susan McConnell 8:30 AM  

In addition to the raucousness implied by TOKE, BONG, BREASTS, SPERM and OOOH, we also have the very fresh clue at 42 Down.

I thought this was delightful, and I don't care what Rex says, I do think a pangram is fun. Were I a constructor I would find making one a powerful temptation. If that makes me a juvenile, so be it.

Milford 8:30 AM  

That should read "Easy, peasy Monday". I usually try not to correct my typos, but I was afraid it looked like an insult otherwise :)

r.alphbunker 8:31 AM  

What the Internet needs is a kindness filter that preserves the insight but removes the meanness.

Here is an example of what a kindness filter would do to our host's comments on this puzzle:

I find Monday puzzles challenging to review. Because of their intended audience, they are rarely ground-breaking. The first-words-have-X-in-common theme is getting a bit old, but as they say, there are no old themes, just old people.

I did not know what a FOG BANK was so it was nice to learn that it is "A dense mass of fog defined against clearer surrounding air, often as viewed from a distance at sea."

The revealer did need the "?" clue since with the exception of SPERM, the other theme entries are not literally brought to a bank. A reference to a BLOOD bank would have been nice.

Andrea is a valuable contributor to this blog so she knows that I do not like pangrams. However, I do not mind a pangram if the puzzle does not bring attention to the fact that it is a pangram as this one did with the appearance of COQ/QUOI, OJO and ORZO.

Danp 8:40 AM  

As Jim Carrey once asked, "Would it kill you every once in a while to play a little Foghat?"

It would have been fun to see FOGHAT cross BLOODYHELL at 50D and 63A. It also would have been easy to make SHOD SNOW. Even though it wouldn't fit the theme, it would be a little bonus.

Overall, a cute puzzle for beginners. I do sometimes wonder, however, why anyone other than constructors would do NYT puzzles all seven days. The difference between Monday and Saturday is too great. Wouldn't it be better to have a rebus day, a themeless, a quote, etc.?

joho 8:59 AM  


3:47 AM

Anonymous said...

Just the right amount of cowbell for a Monday.

4:27 AM

Andrea and Michael, this is the first "Cowbell Approved" puzzle of the year!

I for one love a pangram, noticed this one and enjoyed every single letter in the alphabet, all 26 of them!

And, yea, definitely a "cheeky" grid with lots of colorful innuendo: fun!

Thanks you Andrea and Michael for a great start to what I hope will be a solid week of holiday "gift" puzzles all being a delight to "unwrap!"

joho 9:02 AM  

That should be "yes" not "yea" -- I have not started talking in biblical terms ...

Anonymous 9:11 AM  

Mr. Bunker: One of the best comments posted ever.

Z 9:25 AM  

Smooth, easy, mellow, with just enough HORNiness to make it interesting. You can feel the AMOR.

I didn't notice the pangram, so it must have been smooth. COQ, QUOI, and OJOS have all been fair game in the past, so nothing to criticize unless they overwhelm the puzzle. They don't. EIEIO is right there with yesterday's two part golfer, minus the RRNness of yesterday.

250,000 is an arbitrary cut-off point for cities. More relevant by far is making the news in a big way or being home to a fairly well-known university.

@Evan and @JFC - Hey, it could be worse. You could be Lions fans. Oh, wait, I think that species went extinct in the fourth quarter yesterday.

@Milford - I'm with you on trying to ignore my typos, but I'm glad you clarified today's - "least" did make it look like a dig.

Beer-Rating - an Oberon draft with an orange slice - smooth, easy to drink, mellow. A nice diversion.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Where;s blood, you ask? ABO.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Thank you Andrea and Michael for a great puzzle. I always have Moet Chandon with my Coq au vin!!

@Rex what do you mean by "First words have X in common???? Can someone explain?

Z 9:40 AM  

How time passes, eh? @r.alphbunker's comment inspired me to go back and look at earlier reviews.

mac 9:40 AM  

Nice Monday, Andrea! Somehow I got the reveal right after sperm whale, and it's a good thing I had swallowed my tea already!

Coming from the foggy North Sea coast, I'm very familiar with fog banks, no problem there.

When I finally emerge from the kitchen on the 26th I want to see that Coen brothers' film.

Pete 9:43 AM  

@R_alphbunker - My wife once explained to me the difference between kindness and niceness. Kindness is speaking the truth, niceness is an unrealisic attempt to find good just so you don't risk offending anyone.

What you're suggesting is niceness, avoiding the objective truth just to avoid seeming unpleasant.

It does no one any good.

r.alphbunker 9:57 AM  

@Pete
I would say that kindness is speaking the sweet truth.

I doubt that anyone would call today's blog entry kind.

I would be interested in seeing your rewrite of the blog so that it is kind rather than nice.

quilter1 10:17 AM  

I've got no problem with it. It played fresh and a little naughty for me and I appreciated a Monday that was not pure crosswordese. Thanks, Andrea and Michael.

@chefbea: Rex means you can take the first word of a phrase and change them to fit with a theme such as bank.

@Rex: I thought FOGBANK was fair. I have heard it many times, usually when it is foggy.

John Child 10:26 AM  

Thank you @r.alphbunker. It needed to be said. And heard.

MetaRex 10:27 AM  

Personality in puzzes v. good...if constructors are ever gonna get paid real money, it's gonna be b/c people say stuff like, "oh good, here's one by the Queen of Mondays!"

This puzz has personality plus...makes even a dedicated non-toker like MetaRex think it'd be fun to enjoy the louche life on a boat one afternoon w/ RIVER PHOENIX...

I appreciate efforts to harmonize grid gruel...OJOS ain't good, but it works better paired w/ EYES...COQ is Scrabble f--ing, ok, but it also has a pretty good smutty alignment w/ BREASTS, TOMCAT, and SPERM WHALE.

So how are the metrics today?...the answer's here

John V 10:33 AM  

Nice, perfect Monday, notwithstanding the FOGBANK enveloping lower Fairfield County this morning.

Here's the funny thing: PROMISCUOUS has never appeared in a NYT puzzle. Nice 11 letter word like that deserves a chance, is what I'm saying.

OT, the Westport, CT, library's 15th annual Crossword Puzzle Contest on Feb 1 is open for registration, here: Westport Crossword Contest

Lots of fun, usually a handful of Rex-tillians show up, hang out for a bit afterword. The puzzles have been the upcoming NYT M-Th puzzles. Will is to be in attendance. In prior years, he has put on the equivalent of his NPR puzzle contest while the semi-final puzzle is being judged.

The library is convenient to the Westport MetroNorth train station, a bit more than an hour from Grand Central Terminal.

My email address is on my blogger profile, if you need/want more info.

Am-Stat 10:52 AM  

Combining elements of Acme's review of Rex's puzzle cited by @Z and today's puzzle, we have this, from the Coen brothers' "Blood Simple" :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3dXA0Vnzmo

Not your standard holiday family fare. Always liked American-Statesman hitting the door early in the movie.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:54 AM  

Fun puzzle.

One write-over, 37 D, had "You can count ON ME" before " . . . ON IT", had me looking at some very strange chicken pieces.

In some states it would still be BONG, TOKE, OOOH, RAID!

retired_chemist 11:05 AM  

Enjoyable and medium. On target for Monday. Didn't find the theme stale or the revealer confusing. You just take the first word and prepose it to bank to get a common two word phrase. Yes, "prepose" is in the dictionary and means just what I meant.

Nice to see METHANE, even if I myself would have tried the clue,"chief component of cow flatulence." Apparently there is some talk of EPA charging a farting fee to cattle and hog producers, since methane is a greenhouse gas.

Final fill was BONG. Had tick and needed the crosses to fix it. Not sure why I resisted BONG.....

Thanks, Michael and Andrea.

Sandy K 11:13 AM  

Filled in SPERM WHALE and thought surely WHALE was the theme part! OK- It's animals- which held up thru PIGGY-BACKING...but nOOOH!

Couldn't believe my EYES when I saw BONG, TOKE, giggled at COQ, and then BREASTS? Wow! Thought there'd be a RAID by the puzz-police...

Yes, it played a bit naughty. But I liked it. It was a fun-Mon solve. Good one, Andrea and Michael!

PS- Glad to see CROP minus the LAND...will forever think of Aaron @AliasZ.

Steve J 11:16 AM  

@Anon 2:10: I won't belabor the WACO point others have made other than to say I agree. And I think you're far too picky with your "fill to eliminate on X day" standards (EIEIO? Not attractive fill, but that refrain is known to everyone who grew up in the States.) The key thing is how well it's crossed. Other than some potentially challenges with the MASC/COQ/QUOI triad, all of the crosses should be easily gettable by beginning solvers.

As far as CCS? Cubic centimeters. Common measure of volume for liquid medications, the size motorcycle engines are stated in, and other uses even in metric-impaired America. In other words, common enough for a New York Times audience.

Tinbeni 11:45 AM  

r.alphbunker @8:31
Your comment is perfect ... but you seem to forget Rex does his critique to "prove" that he is "Holier-than-thou" ... and we who ENJOY crossword puzzles are just plain stupid.

Michael & Andrea: Thank you for a FUN Monday puzzle.

Any grid with BONG & TOKE is OK by me.

Michael Hanko 12:24 PM  

Jaunty puzzle, Andrea and Michael!

I would've said "collaborative". I wonder if a male constructor would be tagged with "promiscuous".

By the way, I am with this comment trying out my new defiant quotation mark policy. I wish from here on out to follow logic rather than (American) custom. Symbols not a direct part of the quoted material are going to be left outside the punctuation where they belong.

I feel so naughty! (Though perhaps not as naughty as the previous poster @mac, who managed to get two s-words into a spunky proximity in his second sentence.)

Kim 12:31 PM  

@Tinbeni & r.alphbunker:

Thank you for perfectly expressing my feelings. I'm kind of getting tired of Rex's repetitive theme of "Let's complain about the puzzle every day."

Lewis 12:39 PM  

Well of course the puzzle had zip -- that is Ms. Acme's forte. I learned GEST. This one did not seem unprofessional to me, as it did to Rex.

Miss Sunshine 12:52 PM  

I liked this puzzle a lot because I could do it, and derived a sense of satisfaction from having done it. Isn't that what it's all about? Or is that just for me?
I really appreciate the easy or gimme words. They make the difference in getting a puzzle solved.
I didn't notice the panagram until it was pointed out. I appreciate how difficult that must be. But then creating any crossword puzzle seems difficult to me.
I really enjoy reading everyone's comments.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Just so we don't unnecessarily insult cows: the primary release of methane from a cow is in burping, not farting. It's because they are ruminants.

Tita 12:59 PM  


This was a very funb puzzle. Got to snigger at all that brash bawdiness (my heavens!)

I do not pay close enough attention to know when it's OK to say "I don't know this so it'sw lousy fill", or "I don't know this, but ut IS very much a thing, so - cool!

Well said, @r.alph!

Today my office overlooks a major FOGBANK. Normally, it's ong Island Sound.
@Rex is hopelessly landlocked, and hasn't done much sailing, I'm guessing.

I too don't give a whit about pangramness. Yes, I like learning the subtleties of construcion from OFL and others here, but thankfully, a little knowledge rarely gets in the way of my enjoyment.

No one has said it yet, so I will - this community exists because of @Rex and his "snarkiness". (Snarkiness being a euphemism for the very wide-ranging and often inexplicable reviews.)
Anyhow, yup - it's his blog - but in the same spirit, there's nothing wrong with being reverse-meta and reviewing the reviewer.

@acme - loved it. Hilarious, on so many levels, that everyone else has mentioned.,
Plus, it was just chock-full of life - GNAT, PIGGY, WHALE, SPERM, ORCA, TOMCAT, COQ.

Thanks!

Benko 1:00 PM  

@DanP--Loved to see your reference to FOGHAT as I have a very personal connection to that particular band.
@Michael Hanko--Very good point. I do not believe that a male constructor would have been tagged with the specific word "promiscuous". It seems to be a kind of gibe reserved for a woman you know well enough to deliver it to, but not a man.

Benko 1:02 PM  

@LMS-- You forgot one pair--MOËT right across from BREASTS, ready for a scene straight out of a strip club or rap video.

Um, Actually . . . 1:05 PM  

@Michael Hanko - Not to compromise anyone's anonymity, but @mac is actually a lovely, refined woman.

Z 1:07 PM  

@Anonymous 12:54 - Since you speak for the cows, I assume you are the Lorax's brother, perhaps the Borax...

@Benko - You can't put a teaser like that out there and not explain.

@retired_chemist - as long as it's just bovine methane. Mine smell like roses, so are non-taxable.

retired_chemist 1:44 PM  

@ Z - the methane doesn't smell. It's other stuff that does.

chefbea 1:50 PM  

@Tinbeni welcome back…let's all drink a scotch to you!!!

Masked and AnonymoUs 2:02 PM  

@r.alph: U are a kind, gentle soul. 4-Oh, while havin his kind moments, seems to be a bit more of the "where's (the) BLOOD?" kinda dude. A snarler at the ultimate futility of existence, pangrams, and regular dental visits.
So be it. Like yah both.

Like the puz a lot. And i am sayin this on a single U and a prayer. Like @Tita said, it was "funb"*. It's got BREASTS, and it's promiscuous. And it brought TOKEs and BONGs. Well, there's yer rodeo!

Thin selection of only 11 weeject candidates. Guess I'd hafta go with MME. Valuable nanopoints off, tho, for not usin a clue such as: "Answer to Who wants mmore mmammosa??"

Decent moo-cow MonPuz openin clue, with "Coca-___". Doesn't leave even dumb old m&a much wiggle room to go astray.

Are you Joe? Joe Banks?!! [as the Big Wu burps]

Peace on Earth, Good Will toward Fog Machines.
M&A

*funb: short for fun but only one U. <:(

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

I should have clarified my WACO point: while population does matter, it of course isn't the only factor. While JUNEAU only has about 33,000 people, it is the capital of Alaska, making it fair game. RENO is well known for its casinos. But WACO, on the other hand, doesn't have a high population, nor it is significantly well known for anything. The only thing I can find is a siege where 76 people got murdered. Not exactly in good taste.

Gill I. P. 2:06 PM  

Late to the puzzle and the good stuff has been SHED.
This was a fun, clean (hah), cute puzzle for a Monday.
Did you know that each cow emits between 250 and 300 liters of pure METHANE a day, enough energy to keep a refrigerator running for 24 hours? That sure is lots of belching and farting in order to keep my milk cold. Does the farmer say let her RIP?
CINCO OJOS AMOR...I sais QUOI.
Andrea, by herself, or with a co-host always amuses. Even if I didn't see her name I bet I would guess correctly that she is the constructor. I love that some always leave some sort of a mark of recognition.
I think I started reading this blog back at the beginning of 2009. I remember @Rex had nothing but praise for Andrea. Yes, at times he would criticize a word or two but it would be in a civil way. Now, if it's an ACME creation I can guess what the critique will be....[sigh].
P.S. I too didn't notice it was a pangram until coming here. AMOR de pangrams say I...
As Pickles said this morning: RELEASE MOMMY DOT!!!

Acme 2:07 PM  

@anon 9:29
Good EYES/OJOS! Ding ding ding you spotted the bonus answer! :)

@michael hanko
I've known Will a looooong time, so I took his comment in the spirit it was given!
( by the way, fwiw, a third of those "collaborations" have been with women)
I've known @rex only about five years and am trying Not to take his in the spirit it was given!

Boink 2:10 PM  

Hey @Anon 2:03:

There are many, many, many of us for whom that "siege" you speak of is a permanent fixture in our minds. Huge news item for a long time, and a very real piece of American history. I would bet that you're under the age of 25, based on your ignorance of it.

I'm not saying you don't have a point, but it's always good to remember that just because you don't know something, doesn't mean it's bad to have in a puzzle. Learn it.

Sfingi 2:26 PM  

Good Monday quickie - and clever stuff from Michael and Ms. Michaels. I did picture them almost done and looking for some quick fill from last week's stuff - though everyone says they write puzzles weeks, even years, ahead.

Also picture SPERM WHALE: "I'm so tired of hearing about my sperm - finally noticing my brain!"

I disagree with Rex about Blood - too much in the category of SPERM, and the Michael's' kept the types discreet. Same with FOG vs. Snow. Unless the 4 were SPERM, blood, FOG, snow, 2 of each.

And so, so happy - no sports at all!

@Anon210 - Sorry for another kick, but puzzles use my town all the time - Utica, pop. 60,000, down from 110,000. Love to see it.
Everyone has heard of Whacko WACO.

@RetChem - I would nominate sulfur dioxide, but would hate to avoid eggs or garlic.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Welcome to "Crossword Idol" with your judge Rex Cowell ;)

Eck S. Factor

Acme 2:38 PM  

I do wish folks wouldn't give that anon nag who likes to poison the waters here such attention or credence, but ii will point out that WACO was the perfect word to connect two really fun theme answers that we felt were wonderful and fresh.
It is also the only possibility for W-C-. Other than WaCs.
We discussed it and decided WACO is well known to those who lived thru that, ( as is the town Newtown or Columbine), which is why we chose to use it, but not to define it that way...
A less negative take is use can be an effort to normalize it, recast it so it can be known for something other than the tragedy.
It was also a light callback to RIVER bank.

RIVERPHOENIX also tragically died 20 years ago, but we defined him with a nod to his great body of work in his life, not by the tragedy of his death.

As for fill like EIEIO, that is just plain fun, has been used in NYT over 40 times (including a couple of times by the likes of Liz Gorski, Peter Gordon, Manny Nosowsky, et al.). Will use it again. EIEI-Oh, yes!

All to say there was not a word nor phrase that was not given thorough thought. To call our work unprofessional makes as much sense as a literal cry for blood! ;)

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Ditto, what Acme said.

-MAS

Michael Hanko 2:53 PM  

Oops! Sorry, @mac--I made an inappropriate assumption from your screenname.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

WICK fits W-C-. So does WACK, as old school rappers spell it, but we know what kind of a reaction that would get!
Not to say that WACO is bad fill. It's famous for lots of reasons--Baylor comes to mind, and there is the interesting (to me) fact that it is the only US city to have a radio station with call letters which are the name of the city.

--BritishKnight

Anoa Bob 3:04 PM  

It would need to be a 16X15, but I think Tallulah Bankhead woulda made a great reveal. It would be more literal and consistent with the starts to the four theme entries, but maybe that's not such a good thing these days.

With quotes like

"I'll come and make love to you at five o'clock. If I'm late, start without me."

she'd also fit right in with the naughty-but-nice tenor of this puzzle.

retired_chemist 3:09 PM  

@ Sfingi - sulfur compounds, yes, but IMO mostly reduced ones, i.e. I think SO2 is unlikely. Hydrogen sulfide, alkanethiols, and some amines come to mind.

Tita 3:10 PM  

@M&A - thanks everso for pointing out *only* one of my many typos...

As for you -MME- alternative, reminds of of a story from an erstwhile colleague, the Mamaroneck, NY Chief of Police...

A man with a stutter came in and, with enourmous difficulty, asked for directions to MMammaroneck Rd. Unbeknownst to him, the Chief was also a stutterer. He tried his best to respond - the poor directionless guy, taking this as a GIBE, turned and left, with a "FFF@%k you!" tossed over his shoulder on the way out.

George Barany 3:55 PM  

I try to limit my comments to no more than a few per week, but since reading this blog is still less stressful than my day job [just because it's officially a University holiday, there's still work to do and "not nice" e-mails to contend with], so let me offer a few more random thoughts. (1) I confirm that METHANE is odorless. When you smell a gas leak, it's due to mercaptans (including a compound similar to what gives skunks their unique boutique) that are intentionally added for safety reasons. (2) WACO, Texas is the home of Baylor University, a great school and for many years the professional home of the legendary heart surgeon Michael DeBakey. It certainly crosses the threshold of acceptability for a NYT puzzle. (3) I completely agree with the call for a higher degree of civility in the critique and commentary, but am puzzled at the call for a higher degree of professionalism. It has been well established on this blog and elsewhere that the vast majority of constructors are in this as a labor of love and cannot make a living out of it, so perhaps the call should have been for a higher degree of amateurism?! (4) Earlier today, I alluded to a great clue for SPERM. Here it is "Kind of bank where you lose interest after making a deposit?" Again, thanks to Martin Herbach for this.

The Most Interesting Man in the World 4:37 PM  

Re: Martin "... making a deposit"? I invite his wife to spend some time with a real hombre.

M and Amature 4:44 PM  

@Tita... har. If I had a dollar for every typo I'd made, thxn U kna betz y?er boopii tihz shtuuuf wood bb eavin hurdr to reednfx.

Been watchin "Joe vs. the Volcano", one of my alltime fave movies, which I always play on my birthday, as it really has a way about celebratin the livin of each day.

Also wrappin Christmas presents. Just started on the "steamin piles" of schlock movie dvds for the bro-in-law. Been tryin to write a lil "Pop Sensations"-like blurb on each movie, usin a postit.
example: "Bottom Feeder": Coming soon to Broadway as the musical "Rock Bottom Feeder". yeh. Needs some polishin.

@Andrea darlin: Ain't nothin in the whole wide world wrong with EIEIO. Luv yah just the way U are. Bein both promiscuous and professional might be a bad combo, anyhoo.

M&A

Two Ponies 5:01 PM  

I thought this was a fun Monday from our own Andrea and her friend. The microscopic thrashing it got was uncalled-for. I enjoyed EIEIO and all. Waco is completely fair and etched into my memory. I also see it in other puzzles all of the time. So why is it wrong today?
You have plenty of fans here, Andrea.

quilter1 6:21 PM  

Also in WACO's defense it is the home of the Texas Rangers Museum. Been to many a basketball game there at Baylor, too.

acme 7:49 PM  

@two ponies 5:01pm
it's wrong today bec it's ME! And some folks can no longer get past that. Whatever. So off-based today could barely take it personally.
Wish I could have spent the day simply thanking folks for doing and enjoying!
I'll start with you... Thank you for doing and enjoying! :)

mac 8:35 PM  

Thank you, @Um, you made my day!

I also made the connection with ABO/blood, and I remember that disaster in Waco very well, no matter how few people inhabit the town.

River Phoenix died 20 years ago? That, and Lockerbee 25 years ago, and Morse died in 2001, make me feel so old…..

Last Silver Waco 8:43 PM  

WACO is way bigger than EDAM or PISA, which are fine fill, too. I've been thru WACO a bazillion times. Never been to EDAM or PISA. Have had the cheese, and also have worked as a tower once.

Dead seriously: It'd be a real shame for @acme, Mr. Blake, or any other nice constructioneer to feel bad in any way about a fine puz of this caliber or its reception. Kinda breaks my heart.

Now leavin the dead seriously zone...

I'd Have a Blue Christmas without U,
God Rest Ye Merry Gentle Wacos,
Rock'N Around the Christmas Tree,
Chet's Nuts Roastin on an Open Fire,

Sleep in Heavenly Peace,
M&A

I'm just a poor girl, nobody likes me 8:52 PM  

The paranoids are after Andrea.

acme 8:54 PM  

@BrithishKnight 2:55pm
You're right about WiCk and WaCk!
As for the radio call letters being WACO, now THAT is a fun fact!!! Same call letters as the city!!!

KFOG comes close tho! ;)

sanfranman59 10:00 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 5:54, 6:13, 0.95, 25%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:49, 0.98, 32%, Easy-Medium

OISK 10:15 PM  

Glad a few people knew that Baylor is in Waco. They had a very good football team this year. On the other hand, I have no idea what River Phoenix is, although I think I have heard the phrase before. Not familiar with the Allmans either, and had no idea that Cher married again after Sonny. I forgot you babe….

Nice puzzle.

LaneB 2:37 PM  

Agree with the 'challenging' classification (for a Tuesday.) Not so bad if you know a good amount of Mandela hisToRY--which I more or less did. Did have to look up his prison, ROBBEN ISLAND,however. Also the spelling of DE KLERK.
Theclue for TWOD?
Liked the plural of BASSo, Oo.l

spacecraft 10:59 AM  

Sorry, but five vowels in succession is a crutch, pure and simple. Same with Romanumerals, and--ever more increasingly--WII. How fortunate for constructors that WII's a real thing.

It jarred me that while you can TAKE SPERM TO THE BANK, you can't do that with the other three; they're merely a KIND of bank. To my mind, you really ought to have it one way or the other, so as not to jar the solver. So OK, SPERM is also a kind of bank--but then the revealer is erroneously clued. It just...doesn't work.

The pangram thing: beside the point. Use of the X is so brilliant it is the highlight of the whole puzzle, for me. The rest of 'em, not so much.

METHANE: What Tarzan says when he is reincarnated as Macbeth.

I always enjoy your comments here, @Acme, and I just know I'd enjoy your company if we ever met. So please forgive my criticism today; I'm only striving to make things better.

Beside the X-xing, I also liked the PIGGY/OINKS duo, with the added clue for OOOH (Ouch! Two O's is plenty) being a "squeal." And now for a 30d on my 10a while contemplating 51a.

Just joshing. Haven't 30d'ed in decades and never owned a 10a. As to contemplating 51a...that, as the bartender in "Irma La Douce" would say, is another story.

4's full of 3's.

Solving in Seattle 2:02 PM  

Thank you Andrea and Michael for a fun and frivolous monpuz. Acme, you have one of the most peripatetic minds I've encountered.

I'll never forget having ORCA ORSO in WACO with COQ BREASTS on the TexMex religious holiday, CINCO de OJOS.

Tip fives loses to @Spacey.


Ginger 2:17 PM  

I knew when I saw the by-line, that I'd like it, and I did. You can 39-A that a puzzle by @Acme will be a fun, irreverent ride!

FOG bank is an apt term for something real. Perhaps those who hadn't heard of it live inland, away from large bodies of water.

@LaneB Please note, you're posting the Tuesday Puz, on Monday's blog. Most of us haven't had a chance at the Tuesday entry yet.

@DMG The tennis from down under was pretty spectacular. The match between Fed and Rafa was great. The final not so much. I really admire Rafa for holding in his emotions the way he did.

four 3's and a pair of 6's

DMG 2:59 PM  

A good Monday puzzle, geared for a tyro, but with a bit of spice, QUOI. Enjoyed it, liked the theme. Only problem was writing one answer in the wrong space, but don't think I can blame that on the constructor.

@Ginger: a bit stunned by all the new names I'll have to learn if the "newbies" trend continues. I like watching Fed play, and am always amazed that everything seems to break down when he faces Rafa, who certainly won that match hands down, despite all his problems. Wonder if Li Na (?) is still thinking about retiring after this victory? On to Indio.

Only a triplet of 6's!

rain forest 4:10 PM  

It's all been said, and either supported or shouted down, and I won't bore with more of the same.

Let Rex be Rex.

Let ACME be ACME.

Dirigonzo 4:17 PM  

TOMCAT that I am, of course I have plenty of AMOR for the puz (and one of the constructors).

@spacy - re: "...you CAN TAKE SPERM TO THE BANK", while I can't speak from personal experience it seems to me that one doesn't so much "take" it to the bank as "leave" it there. I suspect there's no drive-up window, either (and I won't even mention the ATM possibility).

I do believe my four fives (and three sixes if we're holding 7 cards) is the high hand?

acme 5:12 PM  

chiming in to thank constructive comments from syndi-land!
Also odd coincidence... today would have been my dad's 83rd bday and I have his initials in the puzzle MME, which was unintentional, unnoticed when first published five weeks ago...
(It was on his knee I learned to do crosswords.

Solving in Seattle 9:04 PM  

Acme, what are your plans for your half of the $200?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP