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Monday, March 24, 2014

Constructor: Tom Pepper

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: DIRTY WORDS (60A: Curses … or the starts of 17-, 27- and 44-Across) — First words of the three theme answers are all words that suggest dirtiness

Theme answers:
  • FILTHY RICH (17A: Not just well-off)
  • GREASY SPOON (27A: Low-class diners)
  • STAINED GLASS (44A: Window material in many cathedrals)
Word of the Day: Treaty of GHENT (42A: Belgian treaty city) —
The Treaty of Ghent (8 Stat. 218), signed on December 24, 1814 in the Flemish city of Ghent, was the peace treaty that ended the War of 1812 between the United States of America and theUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The treaty restored relations between the two nations to status quo ante bellum — that is, it restored the borders of the two countries to the line before the commencement of hostilities. The Treaty was ratified by Parliament on December 30, 1814 and signed into law by the Prince Regent (the future King George IV). Because of the era's lack of telecommunications, it took weeks for news of the peace treaty to reach the United States. An American army under Andrew Jackson won the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815 . The Treaty of Ghent was not in effect until it was ratified by the U.S. Senate unanimously on February 18, 1815. (wikipedia)
• • •

Torn, once again. Fill is very nice and avoids most of the banality and ugliness that are the real dangers of early-week puzzles. But the theme is kinda soft. Only three answer … must be a million words that somehow suggest "dirty" … one of these is used in a way that actually suggests "dirty" (GREASY SPOONS), where the others aren't (not literally, anyway). At least the first two theme answers are colorful (ironically, STAINED GLASS, which is literally colorful, metaphorically isn't). I think my favorite thing in this grid is actually THE CLOUD. High contemporary quotient. But it's kind of a thin, throwaway theme. Well made, but with a theme that wasn't much to my liking. Still, I'm happy not to be groaning mid-solve, as often happens with easy puzzles and their multitude of short answers.

I flew through this in below-average time, which on a Monday is below about 2:50. 2:38 today. Felt faster, actually, but I am a stumblebum on the keyboard, and I tripped out of the gate on BY FAR, which I just couldn't see until I had all but one cross. Later, balked at both HEDGE (didn't fully read the clue, only registered the "fund" part) and couldn't come up with DIRTY without crosses. Would've liked to see a cleaner east, without the less-than-great ACNED and VAL, but those answers are hardly offensive. I seem to have the ILSA / ELSA thing down … or else I just lucky guessed it this time. Who knows?

Back to basketball. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Clean fill? Well maybe not. Between ILSA, OLEO, ARETOO, GHENT, ACNED, ERN, CHA, IRAS, GESTE, CELS, EINE, DER, ASNEW and NOLO, there just didn't seem to be any less of the junk than usual.

George Barany 12:14 AM  

If ever there was a puzzle in which a call for "cleaner fill" is uncalled for, this wonderful puzzle by my EDINA-based friend Tom Pepper is it.

After "Psycho" came out, with its famous shower scene, and in view of a movie called "Diabolique" in which a key scene involves drowning in a bathtub, an angry parent wrote to Alfred Hitchcock (BTW, 15 letters) words to the effect, "My daughter is now afraid to either bathe or shower."

The great director allegedly wrote back, "Then I suggest you have her dry cleaned."

Moly Shu 12:30 AM  

Wow, beyond easy for me. Just did the acrosses for about 75% of the puzzle then one pass at the downs, and then back to the unfinished acrosses and done. @anon/anytime, does that sound like bragging? It's not meant to, it's just that I found this one easy. Puzzle neither great or terrible,liked it well enough, but it was over quick. This did nothing to ease my self-loathing after yesterday's METALLICA debacle. In fact, I think I feel worse.

tom pepper 12:50 AM  

Point well taken on the east, Rex. I'd like a do-over with HEP, COMA and ABHOR to replace VAL, PEPE, and ACNED. And in the SE, how about VIM, GEMINI, BAIT and SLAY to replace CHA, GENDER, LOGO, and OMEN? I came up with that a few days ago ... a little too late. Trying to get better all the time.

Steve J 12:53 AM  

Thought this was a really well-constructed and fun Monday puzzle (at least as fun as any easy Monday would be: this probably was in my top 5 in terms of quickest finishing times). The theme answers were all solid and lively, there was some nice fill outside the theme, and dreck was kept to a minimum.

@George Barany: That's one of my favorite quotes of all time. I tell that at story whenever appropriate, and sometimes when it doesn't really fit but I want to amuse myself with it anyway.

JFC 1:45 AM  

I am losing faith in you....


jae 1:53 AM  

What @Steve J said.   Zippy theme, minimal dreck, liked it.   Had trENT before GHENT and still finished in the easy zone. Nice Mon. Tom!

chefwen 2:10 AM  

Neighbors were due to come over for a little wine tasting about 5 minutes after I printed out the puzzle, thankfully they were a little late, but I managed to bang this puppy out in about 8 minutes. Surely a record for me.

No write-overs. Just zipped right through it. Maybe I work better under pressure.

The wine was great, Neyers Chardonnay. I still prefer Rombauer, but this one was good too, not as buttery, and I like buttery in a Chard.

Carola 3:05 AM  

Witty and fun. I especially appreciated STAINED GLASS, as I'd never appreciated the double meaning before.

I liked FILTHY RICH crossing HOARD and got a smile from that stinker PEPE Le Pew adding his miasma to the DIRTY theme (amorous as he was, OGLED might fit with him, too, except I don't think he wasted much time on that but rather cut right to the chase after the object of his desire, who did her best to SPURN him).

jae 3:10 AM  

Check out 60 Min. tonight. Will is playing ping-pong with Bob Mankoff.

Gill I. P. 7:42 AM  

Fun, fresh, smile inducing puzzle - from BLOW to OMEN.
CHA PEPE, ADIEU (although I say a bientot) DER LOIRE EINE GHENT. NOLO ESAU, GESTE ANG STEIN? Is YERTLE foreign as well?

jberg 7:46 AM  

I liked the opening allusion to King Lear, Pepe le Pew, The Cloud, and a lot more. It's a Monday, gotta have some standard fill or it won't be easy enough. Another theme answer would have been nice, though.

My problem isn't ILSA/eLSA,it's ILSA/ILSe. I liked crossing her with ESAU, though.

@Tom Pepper, thanks for stopping by!

evil doug 7:54 AM  

Clever misdirection on the eye/makeup following word.

Susan McConnell 7:59 AM  

I thought everything about it was just right for a Monday. I wouldn't change anything that would cause the loss of PEPE Le Pew! And CAPN Crunch snuck in there, too? I feel like a kid again. I thought the theme was funny, and it started my Monday off with a goofy grin.

joho 8:12 AM  

Loved that the dirty words weren't actually dirty words. Super cute theme!

Definitely on the easy side which makes this a great puzzle to give to a newbie.

@Rex, yes, THECLOUD was so contemporary and unexpected: great!

"Burning issue?" is a wonderful clue which I don't think I've heard before for ARSON.

@jae, what a fun surprise to see Will and Bob going at it on "60 Minutes" ... that was some mean ping pong!

Tom, I like your changes but I also liked your puzzle without them. I know there's a tournament in Minneapolis sometime in the year ... is it in Edina? I'd love to come back to my old stomping grounds and get to meet the Minnesota contingent!

L 8:35 AM  

Great Monday puzzle. No nitpicking required. Well done, Tom.

loren muse smith 8:44 AM  

Rex and @jberg – I don't have the ILSA/Elsa thing down yet. It's always ?LSA until later.

Two German articles, French ADIEU, modern RAE, THE CLOUD, and (for Dad, I thought) CD ROM. . . I always have him in mind when I'm doing Mondays and Tuesdays because he looks so forward to them. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I called him this morning. But. . . his only hiccough was around the SPURN/YERTLE area – the rest he got pretty easily. Yay!

ACNED crossing NAPE. Makes you want to reconsider the merits of the mullet, huh? Sorry, breakfast test people. Still. . .

I agree with @ED – really clever clue for EXAM. I totally fell for it.

Stan Newman has kinda asked for additions to his collection of memorabilia with words he's retired. Wonder if this'll result in some OLEO LOGO OGLErs. My advice – plead NOLO.

Been SPURNed, got STUNG. It just stinks. Speaking of which, @Carola – great catch on PEPE's being a periphery themer. With THE CLOUD, I thought of Charlie Brown's friend, Pig Pen. . .

Just for the record this southerner-(and-yea-still-a-Tar-Heel-fan)'s GREASY rhymes with EASY. Always has, always will. I think for my kids, though, it rhymes with fleecy.

Kids for children - I know it bugs Mom and others to hear kids, but, really, what is a better word? They're 21 and 19. Offspring? Progeny? I'm too impatient to type son and daughter.

In Chattanooga, there was this huge Old English SHEEPDOG right next door named Chaucer, and we would climb the fence to romp with him. And then we'd run in exaggerated terror back to jump the fence when he paused to drink some water (the fur all around his mouth would get sopping wet), shrieking "Refill! Refill!" We lucky, fast ones made it safely, dryly back over. The slower ones just got tackled and drenched.

Speaking of being slow, in NJ, my, uh, kids, were in 1st and 3rd grade. Right out in front of my daughter's friend's house was one of those signs, "Slow Children Playing." I told my kids if they didn't add a little pep and speed to their playing in our front yard, we could very well get one of those signs in front of our house, too. I think they fell for it for a while. I've had great fun at their expense over the years.

Tom – terrific job. Always a pleasure to see your name at the top!!

Joseph Welling 8:46 AM  

Speaking of basketball. . . the ZONE clue was very timely.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  


Kim Scudera 9:06 AM  

Liked it, although it went by awfully fast; gotta learn to linger over a Monday... Thanks, Tom, for the puzzle and for stopping by!

@LMS: I've always harbored a desire to engage in some guerrilla editing of those signs: SLOW -- Children Playing! Great excuse to dress up in ninja gear and wield a black broad-tip Sharpie for the good of the language.

Speaking of which, here's one of our favorite family stories:

The kids (sorry, LMS-mom!) were 7 and 3, and we surprised them with a short trip to Disneyworld. My daughter was over the moon -- she was obsessed with "Dumbo" and had been for some time. So, naturally, the first thing we did upon arrival was high-tail it over to Fantasyland. Waiting patiently on a very long line for the ride, we heard over and over, at the end of every ride, "Thank you for RIDING, Dumbo!" NOT "Thank you for riding Dumbo!" but "Thank you for RIDING, Dumbo!" No one else seemed to notice, but it sends the four of us into gales of laughter to this day. The joys of punctuation!

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

I liked it

chefbea 9:09 AM  

@anon 8:52 I was about to ask @Rex why are BOLT
LESS POO ASS PIE in black letters???

Easy puzzle and I too saw the ping pong game!!

Z 9:14 AM  

So...Why are those letters in the grid highlighted?

Wasn't it very recently where someone commented about picking the wrong horde? Dope slap upside my head. I also managed to put SLED in 33D instead of 32D. Those two mistakes took my time into the medium-challenging range. Easy enough to fix but totally unnecessary and self-imposed so they STUNG.

YERTLE comes from Dr. Seuss, no more foreign that our own M&A.

Shocked my wife by ordering a snifter of 18 year-old Glenlivet at dinner after seeing The Grand Budapest the other night. The IPA was fine, but neither the blonde ale nor the pilsner sounded all that interesting to me. Nothing buttery about it, but it was yummy.

Casco Kid 9:31 AM  

I blanked on ADIEU. All I could think of was au revoir until the crosses. Also I had gILTedRICH, a melange of guilty and gilded. It was fun while it lasted. One solver's ?LSA us another solver's ONE?L. CavED before CEDED. I can create drama in even the easiest puzzles. ;) 17 min. No googles. No errors.

quilter1 9:48 AM  

Really liked this. While not crunchy it was also not cliched. A fine Monday solve.

mac 10:06 AM  

Very nice Monday, good words both old and modern.

@loren: in CT we have signs for ducks, children, even a blind and deaf child. My favorite one:


designed by kids in Norwalk.

Danp 10:11 AM  

Dirty words, Slow Children playing:

One reason Xwords are so much fun is that English is such a flexible language. I was in a European hotel and found a plastic bag in the bathroom with instructions in 5 languages. In English it read, "Please leave tampons in the toilet. Our maids wash them daily."

Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

Fine Monday puzzle. And I'm not just saying that because I had a nice Thai lunch with Tom Pepper and a certain Language Meaning Specialist in Brooklyn three weeks ago.

wreck 10:33 AM  

Snappy Monday that went by quickly!

Has anyone on the magmic Ipad app had any trouble with it hanging up in the past few days? There was an upgrade recently -- maybe on my end only?

chefbea 11:27 AM  

@Danp...good one

chefbea 11:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gareth Bain 11:29 AM  

What if it avoids most of the banality and ugliness >because< it only has 3 answers!?

@Anon: I'll give you ACNED, ERN, OLEO and ASNEW. The rest, I don't see any reasonable way to object too... Is "How they Brought the Good News From Ghent To Aix" no longer required high school reading?

@LMS: spawn.

Hans 11:30 AM  

Not a bad Monday, but I have to take issue with a couple of clues:

A GASP is a sharp inhale; it's non-verbal, so if one is saying "Oh... my... God!" then one is not gasping.

And a CD ROM is a digital storage medium and an optical storage medium, but nothing about it is electronic.

Z 11:44 AM  

@Gareth Bain - As a former middle school principal, ACNED doesn't seem hackneyed to me at all.

I follow the OED on Twitter. Why? I just learned that spiflicate is an actual word.

Tita 11:49 AM  

@Tom Pepper - aka King of Mondays...
Loved it - a great start to the week.
You had me at GOCOMMANDO, and you haven't let me down since.

Liked clue for LOGO, and really love how are brains are so resistant to extricating two words who are so hard-wired - like eye makeup. That you recognize that, nad use it to torture us, is notable!

Puzzle-related tangent:
When someone asks me "What time ISIT?", i will sometimes ask them back, about 2 minutes later - "Hey - what time ISIT???"
99/100 times, they won't know.
When you ask, you don't really care what time it IS - you care what time it is NOT.

You care if it's time to leave for the airport, for your favorite show, for your next meeting.
So if it's not that time, you discard that tiny bit of now useless info.

At least, that's what happens to me.

Hmmm - ISIT lunchtime yet?

Thank you Mr. Pepper!!!
Try it -

Ellen S 12:07 PM  

I agree the fill today was solid, very low on junk or arcana; easy, like a Monday should be. I feel a little uncomfortable saying it was too easy, considering that the Sunday puzzle took me from Saturday evening until this morning to finish. So I'm not exactly an ace solver, despite the 34 years of training, but I like a little more challenge. That's why I never used to do the early-week puzzles until I started coming here.

Oh, those highlighted words in Rex's grid: made it all okay. I'm not sure if BOLTLESS actually means something, but POO and ASS PIE definitely qualify as dirty words. Thank you @Tom, for a nice clean puzzle. Thank you @Rex for bringing it down to my level.

p.s. Speaking of ILSe/eLSA, did I tell you that I finished reading A Bell for Adano? It ended better than I feared it would, despite a surfeit of morons in high office. Just a lovely novel, completely worthy of its Pulitzer, and now I spell the damn town.

Jisvan 12:11 PM  

@wreck: I solve on Magmic, no hang ups, but I was unable to download and install the latest update, I think it's IOS 7.1. Now I shall avoid doing so, thanks for the warning. I think it's all a plot to try and make us buy new i-devices. And speaking of conspiracy theories, add me to the ones asking for clarity re BOLT LESS POO ASS PIE! I looked for other hidden diagonal words, but didn't see any. (As if across and down aren't enough directions...)
About the non-meta puzzle: liked it, second fastest for me, which is about Rex's time, x 4 or 5... And it's always special when the constructor drops in. Thanks, Mr. Pepper!

Ludyjynn 12:15 PM  

Easy peasy. Only complaint--TP and/or WS could have made some clues less obvious, even for a Monday, to have the solve take a bit longer. Take PEPE, for example, which did not need the extra help "of cartoons", or HEDGE, with not one, but two giveaway clues.

Dick Swart 12:24 PM  

Now, at eighty, I love a Mondau that I can do from square one to filling in the last bottom square, last. It reassures me my mind is still there. It usually takes some time on Saturday and Sunday.

But this one was too easy and started off with all crossword clichés.

Still, I am reassured but I wish I had to puzzle out one or two answers.

Nick 12:27 PM  

Super easy and mostly fun -- just wish the clue for CD-ROM had been preceded by the word "bygone", particularly in a puzzle with "the cloud".

tom pepper 12:33 PM  

Trust me, it's hard enough for me just to fill a puzzle with Monday-level words. Adding in hidden diagonal theme words is way beyond my skill level. And what are BOLT and LESS anyway?

Lewis 12:36 PM  

@solid Monday -- thank you, Tom!

@rec -- if this were a Boggle grid, the puzzle also has a couple of tits and a dong.

Lewis 12:37 PM  


palomarPuzzler 12:55 PM  

@wreck, didn't know there was an update recently but yes, my Magmic has been acting up. Keep getting a "loading" box and have to close the app fully and reload to get it to work correctly, but it only seems to happen when the puzzle is finished. Don't know why those guys can't seem to get it together, went 3 months last year back and forth with them about my subscription which they canceled by mistake even tho I've been a subscriber since it first camy out in 2010 or 2011....

Easy Monday here too, two passes to fill in and no woes.

@evil, good to see you back.

Tom, thanks for the puzzle and stopping by.

wreck 12:59 PM  

@ palomarP

That is what mine is doing as well except I have to re-boot my ipad completely when it hangs. On Sunday it acted up for no reason when I was about 80% through. Luckily, it saved my already entered data!

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Am I the only person who enjoyed the timeliness of "CEDED" as an answer for 33 Across?

Fred Romagnolo 2:49 PM  

Dick Swart: I beat you by two years; there's nothing wrong with a mind that can finish a Saturday puzzle - no matter how long it takes! We may be slower than the (kids), but that also means we enjoy things longer. I got caught with the eye and makeup thing too, and I was a teacher who wears glasses!

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

Thanks, Tom Pepper. I would have liked one more dirty word---like mucky muck. Very clever puzzle. It made my day.

loren muse smith 4:06 PM  

@Kim Scudera – great story about the Dumbo comma!! I'm wearing a t shirt as I type that says

Let's eat grandma!
Let's eat, grandma!
Punctuation saves lives.

@mac – "this means you." Now that's a funny sign!

@danp – you should check out this site

I'll have the "Barking deer meat fried breast Agency." Can Chef broil it, or does it have to be fried?

@Bob – Yep – you, Tom, and I were the only ones game enough to face the wind and cold in Brooklyn. Nice lunch. Two very nice guys. Good food, good time.

@Gareth – I almost sprayed my water at PF with your "spawn" suggestion. I may try that one out! Wait 'til you have teenagers. . . .

@Z – I had meant to try to form some kind of Cockney" hackneyed" ACNED quip but I forgot. Thanks for your comment! And I had to run look up spifflicate. Thanks! I would try to use it casually in a sentence but am at a loss.

@Tita – for your enjoyment:

Does Anybody Know What Time IT IS?

@Gareth, I don't know why, but after your post my mind was drawn back to the Old English SHEEPDOG. I did point out to his owner, Mrs. Dotson (supremely exotic with her fancy updo, heavy make-up, Shalomar perfume, and coffee-flavored candy on the coffee table in her living room), that "Bede" would have been a more appropriate name as Chaucer's works were Middle English. . .but, well, actually I was only in about third grade, so even the humor of the name "Chaucer" was lost on me. My inner smart-ass had not yet spawned. Been spawned. How the heck do you use that word as a verb?

retired_chemist 4:23 PM  

Easy, fun, and you can count me with those who liked it a lot. perhaps my view is colored by this being my fastest ever NYT solve, and my first under four minutes.

Thanks, Mr. Pepper. I do have the urge to call you Dr. or Sgt. but I shall abstain.

sanfranman59 4:44 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 (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:18, 6:13, 0.85, 2%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:58, 0.90, 5%, Easy

Z 6:30 PM  

@LanguageMeaningSpecialist - I like this example in Wiktionary, "So out with your whinger at once, and scrag Jane while I spiflicate Johnny." Since the quote is from 1837 I very much doubt that it means what it looks like it means (A Clockwork Orange wasn't published for another 135 years after all). The OED tweet said it was used in the 19th century.

chefbea 9:27 PM  

Hope to find out why those words were hi-lited when I check back tomorrow morning. G'night

sanfranman59 10:10 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 5:18, 6:13, 0.85, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 221 Mondays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:58, 0.89, 4%, Easy (8th lowest ratio of 221 Mondays)

Phil 4:57 AM  

Yes problem with update

When in it just use airplane mode or go off line some how

Troublesome but not as much as the download freeze.

IPad airplane mode is in bottom lift up screen

I read the clue and filled the answer . Fast as i can do it and still takes me 14 minutes.

Haven't a clue how to do it faster than that. I must be a slow reader

spacecraft 11:22 AM  

The fill, though better than average for earlyweek, is not totally DIRT-free. I didn't much like ARETOO and other jejune shouts the first time, but when they appear over and over... hey teacher! Get out there and break it up already! If they keep at it too long, excessive stress will leave them ACNED. ACNED?? By golly, it's a word! Blemished, or, how Jeff Dunham mouths the name of his dead terrorist (can't do the "m" because of lip movement).

But minus those two, some nice work. I particularly like ARGYLE. Theme is fine, three long examples and a revealer. Not overly dense, but I'd say average. I'll give it a thumbs-up.

Two low pair again, I'm out.

Solving in Seattle 12:33 PM  

Just for fun I thought I'd time myself today, then an interesting segment happened on the CBS morning news and I forgot about the puzzle. Oh, well, maybe another time.
I agree that this was a pretty clean puzzle. And who doesn't love SPLITPEA soup at a GREASYSPOON? ANYONE? And we have the old CDROM versus THECLOUD.

Capcha: odiuita. Little smelly things?

DMG 2:32 PM  

My kind of Monday. I finally remembered ILSA with an "I", and the pop singer filled from the crosses. What more can I ask? I even got a full house, 8's and 5's.

Dirigonzo 4:39 PM  

I ran out of empty squares before I ran out of clues - that never happens, not even on a Monday.Oh, I had a mis-spelling or two along the way - USHuRED - really? - but the crosses cleaned those up for me. I recently read a piece that distinquished between "The Rich" and "The Filthy Rich" in political terms and it actually made a certain amount of sense.

I guess I'm not allowed at the table today.

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