Newswoman Mitchell / MON 4-28-14 / Sneakers since 1916 / English cathedral town / Roush of Baseball Hall of Fame / Hamburger chain that offers the Baconator

Monday, April 28, 2014

Constructor: Jim Modney

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: BODY DOUBLES (35A: Star stand-ins … or a hint to 17-, 25-, 48- and 58-Across?) — "body" parts that are "doubled" in expressions related to competition

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Direct, as competition (HEAD-TO-HEAD)
  • 25A: 17-Across, literally (Fr.) (TÊTE-À-TÊTE)
  • 48A: 58-Across, literally: Sp. (MANO A MANO)
  • 58A: Direct, as combat (HAND-TO-HAND)
Word of the Day: CAIRN terrier (15A: ___ terrier (dog breed)) —
The Cairn Terrier is one of the oldest of the terrier breeds, originating in the Scottish Highlands and recognized as one of Scotland's earliest working dogs. The breed is commonly used for hunting and burrowing prey among the cairns.
Although the breed had existed long before, the name Cairn Terrier was a compromise suggestion after the breed was originally brought to official shows in the United Kingdom in 1909 under the name Short-haired Skye terriers. This name was not acceptable to The Kennel Club due to opposition from Skye Terrier breeders, and the name Cairn Terrier was suggested as an alternative. They are usually left-pawed, which has been shown in dogs to correlate to superior performance in tasks related to scent. Cairn Terriers are ratters. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a very clever theme, with one major problem: TÊTE-À-TÊTE does not express competition or combat, in English. It is a private, face-to-face (hey, more body doubling!) conversation. So the puzzle gets a bit lop-sided there. Otherwise, I like the way the revealer works—snappy phrase repurposed as a literal expression of the theme. Also, the fill is good. Puzzle is well put together, and the non-theme fill is even somewhat interesting in places (especially for a Monday). Not to fond of ESQS, but it's probably worth it for that nice double-Q action in the longer Downs. Lots of Scrabbliness in this one, but fill quality is not sacrificed (I'm just looking the other way on ESQS). See the "J" down there? In the NINJA / ANJOU crossing? No fill was harmed in the making of that crossing. Approved.


The nature of the theme, with all its doubling, made it especially easy. I walked to a 2:42 solving time, and the people whose times are usually closest to mine on the NYT applet actually beat me. Main hold-up came while I was trying to exit the NW–couldn't get the first themer off of HEADT-, for some reason, so I just whacked at the rest with crosses til it was obvious (at that point I hadn't seen the revealer). I was helped along by some Super Solver Secret Weapons, i.e. knowing ELY right off the bat (29D: English cathedral town), as well as EDD (53A: Roush of the Baseball Hall of Fame), ANIME (51A: Japanese cartoon art), and a few other assorted answers. Hey, did you know TOADS hibernate? Yeah. It's true. I just learned that … somewhere.

À demain.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

77 comments:

Benko 12:18 AM  

First?
Satisfactory Monday for me, but I feel like there's some difficult fill for non-regulars. Love GELATO, it's better than ice cream!

Casco Kid 12:32 AM  

I managed to cross 1A meat with 4D teats so I was down a rabbit hole out of the blocks. SANKA and CAIRN weren't immediately apparent so ESQS/EAR was my first non erroneous entry into the puzzle. manga before ANIME as the clue was for cartoons not animation. bearS before TOADS. OUTDO was clued with "best in competition" as a verb -- a misdirect on a Monday. It played medium challenging for a Monday. 23 minutes, so a bit on my slow side. But not a DNF. Phew.

Moly Shu 12:44 AM  

I thought the theme was very snappy. Liked how they all fit. Didn't know CAIRN either.

@CascoKid, I'm with you, I'd much rather eat meat than TOFU

jae 12:50 AM  

Medium- tough Mon. for me too. More like an average Tues.  Knew it was going to take some extra time when meat @Casco wouldn't work for 1a.   Very little dreck and a clever theme, liked it. 

NAVI and CURB (as clued) seem a bit obscure for a Mon. 

Ellen S 1:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellen S 1:09 AM  

Gotta disagree re clever, non-drecky fill. The puzzle's got an EEL in it! You let one in and next thing, there goes the neighborhood.

okanaganer 1:14 AM  

The clue for 51A is wrong: ANIME is animation (video) while MANGA is comics / cartoon art / graphic novels.

From dictionary.com:
ANIME: "Japanese motion picture animation... Origin: English 'animation' "
MANGA: "Japanese graphic novel...comic book... Origin: Japanese, literally, cartoon, comic strip"

Jisvan 1:35 AM  

TOFU was my first word in, California born and bred! This one went so fast I had to go back and read it after it was done. Liked SINLESS SQUEEZES, perhaps ON A DATE! Also ONE TWO over MANO A MANO. Say, is a TETRA TÊTE-À-TÊTE when four people are having an intimate conversation? I seem to remember more of that sort of thing back in the 70's, when I was eating a lot of tofu...

Benko 2:19 AM  

@okanager: Animations are called "cartoons" by most people. It is a form of art. No need to be so literal!

chefwen 2:35 AM  

A lot of FEASTing going on in this one, from TOFU to EEL (hi @Ellen S) You got your MILANO cookies to go with your GELATO (you're right @Benko, it is better than ice cream) KRAUT with HONEY, YEECH! ANJOU pears to round it out. WENDY'S for lunch tomorrow, another YEECH, they won't even give me a discount, the bastards.

Easy and tasty Monday puzzle, liked it column.

David Krost 3:25 AM  

I also found this one to be quick and easy. I don't understand Rex's objection though ("TÊTE-À-TÊTE does not express competition or combat, in English."} That's not what the clue said. The clue for "head-to-head" (17A) was for competition, while the clue for "tete-a-tete" (25A) simply asked for the literal French translation for head-to-head, which it is. It never associated tete-a-tete with combat.

JTHurst 6:34 AM  

I hope I am not being offensive and I hope @Benko meant it as a joke as I laughed and laughed at his admonition to crossword aficionados, "No need to be so literal."

Maybe someone can coach me. I noticed in Sunday's NYT's puzzle there was an abundance of clues followed by a comma and a subjective word. For example, today's clue was Memorial day race, informally. Other ones seem to be perhaps, maybe, etc. When I see this comma at the end of a clue should I be alerted to something?

loren muse smith 7:06 AM  

TOFU was the first/only thought for this dyed-in-the-wool carnivore.

I see Rex' point about TETE A TETE being a bit different from the others in terms of combat. I liked this because it had me considering all the other BODY DOUBLES in our language: heart to heart, nose to nose, ear to ear, cheek to cheek, eye to eye, mouth to mouth, shoulder to shoulder, pancreas to pancreas, back to back, toe to toe. . . cool.

LEGATO, GELATO. Now there's your anagram fix for the day. @Benko - I don't think LEGATO and GELATO are words I could use in the same sentence. Since I'm constantly trying to eat more slowly, I probably take the first couple of bites of ice cream largo go right to the accelerando gear and end up shoveling in the whole damn bowl molto vivace. Sheesh. And while I'm on eating treats, the best cookies on the planet are the Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux. MILANOs aren't even in the same league.

Cool crosses: CAIRN/SCOT, WENT/ON A DATE, TOFU/FEASTS (right), ESQS/SQUEEZES (hey – I married one.)

I cannot spell NIECE. Or siege, seize. Weird, huh. And it just occurred to me last week that the sign right at our front gate admonishing people not to hunt, fish, etc. has "tresspassing." I didn't make it.

Jim – nice puz!! And, yeah, I sniffed around for that X. Herculean restraint?

jberg 7:16 AM  

@David -- I think what @Rex meant is that all the other theme answers did mean some kind of conflict, so Tete-a-tete was out of place in that respect.

@jthurst, ", informally" means it's slang or a nickname - here, the official name of the race is The Indianapolis 500, but it's often called the INDY.

At first I thought having an English expression and its translation into another language was lame, but I see now it's a further iteration of the doubling theme, which is nice.

But why all the rage ANIME and none on NO HIT at 52A? A NO HIT game need not be perfect, and most are not -- there's usually a walk or error in there some place.

Enough nitpicking, gotta work!

evil doug 7:20 AM  

"Being born after our space program began is no more a legitimate excuse for lack of knowledge on these guys than it would be for FDR, Poe, or Otis Redding."

Evil, 4/23/2014

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

TÊTE-À-TÊTE is fine.

It clue asks for "17A [HEAD-TO-HEAD] literally. TETE-A-TETE literally does mean HEAD-TO-HEAD.

It's not asking for a figurative definition of either HEAD-TO-HEAD or of TÊTE-À-TÊTE

Susan McConnell 7:49 AM  

This one was so easy that I finished without seeing a lot of the clues. A good Monday for new solvers, for sure.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

There really are no nitpickers today. Otherwise they would have jumped on "not to fond of ESQs". Obviously, Rex's light double-tap on that "o" key just didn't register.

chefbea 8:14 AM  

Haven't done the puzzle and haven't read the write up or comments. I'm not able to down load the puzzle from Crossword Fiend's site so I can print it out. Any one else have the same problem??? Send me an e-mail and let me know...maybe even send me the puzzle. thanx

Z 8:22 AM  

I'll take Hudsonville's over GELATO every. day. of. the. week. GELATO - Bah. Maybe youse guys just don't have a good local ice cream to compare GELATO to?

@evil doug - You know the old saying, being right and $1.50 will get you a cup of coffee. Or is it up to $2.00 now?

@JTHurst - yes, that comma is a big, flashing, neon sign that something a little different is expected. An abbreviation, a shortening, a pun, a misdirect. Generally, if you see that comma it will be a good time to not be too literal. Watching a Bugs Bunny cartoon right before solving helps, too.

@Casco Kid - re:manga/ANIME - one of the fascinating (to me) things about xwords is that they require such broad knowledge but at times too much knowledge causes a solver problem. I've never thought about the distinction between ANIMÉ and manga before. Knowing just enough (Bugs Bunny cartoons) helped while knowing too much (you and @okanaganer) caused problems. Cool (in a schadenfreude sort of way).

Today in Foreign Words: CAIRN, AQUI, GELATO (Italian for "meh ice cream"), ANIMÉ, ANJOU, LEGATO, AVANT, and Two of Five themers. Yep, that there foreign word thing in a puzzle is a bad bad bad thing.

Sir Hillary 8:30 AM  

Nifty grid -- not used to seeing corners like that on a Monday.

@jberg - Good call. The NOHIT clue was my biggest gripe today. Perfect games are by definition no-hitters, but not the other way around, as the clue implies.

Sticking with baseball...what would constructors do had EDD Roush never played?

joho 8:37 AM  

Just about a perfect Monday level puzzle.

Loved Mom's gentle SQUEEZES that QUIETED the frightened child. Nice corner there.

How interesting to learn that Cairn terriers are left pawed! My dog is also left pawed!

We're off to a great start, thank you, Jim Modney!

Andrew Morrison 8:41 AM  

Finished as fast as I could type. Too bad - I use the daily puzzle to delay my rentry into reality. This one went by too quickly!

Andrew Morrison 8:42 AM  

Make that "re-entry."

mac 8:56 AM  

@Andrew Morrison: I like that "rentry".

Good Monday puzzle, played easy/medium to me, and a fun solve.

RickA 9:13 AM  

Not to be pedantic, but... "Sister's girl" or "Brother's girl" would be NIECE, but my "Aunt's girl" would be my cousin, no?

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I'm so jealous! I sure wish I had written something once that was, simultaneously,

a) Worthy of quoting,
b) So far over the heads of all those around me that I had to resort to quoting myself, and
c) So generic that it seems to apply anywhere, in any context.

Good on you @ED!

Hartley70 9:21 AM  

Casco Kid, this isn't the first time a commenter has told you that you're too smart for a puzzle. Things could be worse! You're just too cool for school :-)
Great Monday for me. Took 7 minutes poking away on my phone. I will never understand how it can be done in one or two. It must take really nimble fingers like the guys who solve Rubik's cubes before your eyes.

Hartley70 9:24 AM  

Ellen S you gave me my first LOL of the day. Thanks!

Ludyjynn 9:30 AM  

This one went so quickly, as @AndrewM noted above, that I could not decide whether I actually liked it until I reviewed it after the fact. Now I appreciate all of the secondary themed food references. I counted TEN!,@ChefWen; correct me if I'm wrong. Sorry, @LorenMS, IMHO, MILANOs beat all other Pepperidge Farm offerings by far, although the Chessmen rate a shout out. I wonder what the all-time best- seller is.

Very relaxing start to what looks to be a wet and rainy week ahead in the Mid-Atlantic.

Ellen S 9:46 AM  

@Loren, you still use a bowl? I only do that in a pathetic attempt to slow down my consumption.

@Sir Hillary, I keep waiting to see EDD "Kookie" Byrnes from "77 Sunset Strip" show up instead of Roush.

I'm still thinking about left-pawed dogs. I know males sometimes have a strong preference which leg to lift when they pee. Not long ago I saw a three-legged dog, missing his right hind leg. But apparently he liked to lift his left leg to pee, so he did a handstand when he anointed the fire hydrant! But is there some other behavior to watch for to tell if a dog is left or right pawed? Like, hand them a chew toy and see which paw they reach for it with?

Beadola 9:47 AM  

Reminded me of a great memory of a fun song that starts out: Back to back and belly to belly:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yasin1ULLvI
Sorry I don't know how to imbed.

lawprof 9:52 AM  

@SirHillary: They could always turn to Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, who, by the way, is now 80...can you BELIEVE it?

Re Rex's observation that TETE-A-TETE is something of an outlier because it's the only theme answer that does not imply some sort of combat. To my ear, the term implies something more than a conversation; rather, it involves a more confrontational discussion, such as an argument, debate or negotiation. If I'm right (and maybe I'm not) then the answer works at all levels.

Nice Monday. Good one, Mr. Modney. Hey, almost an apropos anagram...almost.

lawprof 9:56 AM  

@Ellen S: Sorry I stepped on your toes; you got there first. Mea culpa.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:06 AM  

Fine puzzle.

As several have noted by now, interesting to learn that dogs have right or left pawed-ness. I never knew!

chefbea 10:14 AM  

First of all..thanks to @Z for sending me the puzzle.
@Chefwen - I agree..a very tasty puzzle.

Had a Cairn terrier years ago when the kids were little

And didn't we just have toad and kraut!!!

ArtO 10:16 AM  

@ellens, wouldn't a dog reach for a chew toy with his mouth?

Z 10:20 AM  

Pawedness relates to door-opening, I'm sure.

@Rick A - My NIECE is "my girl" as in "that's my girl." Not every clue is definitional/literal.

joho 10:21 AM  

I just figured that because Riley only offers his left paw for "shake" that he must be left handed. Isn't that how you'd determine if he were?

Carola 10:23 AM  

Very clever theme and such a satistying reveal. After the HEADs and TETEs, I went and filled in the HAND/MANO pairs and....couldn't think of anything to put in that center Across. Needed the O, then suddenly the delicious mental treat of seeing BODY DOUBLES. AAH, crosswords.

Loved the two ends of the palatability spectrum, GELATO and TOFU. As others have noted, so many different food items to stuff in one's MAW. Wondered if NINJAs appear in ANIME? I liked that international "J" cross of NINJA and ANJOU. Many pleasures in the puzzle, great start to the week.

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Great Monday. Thanks Mr. Modney. I don't recognize the name. A debut?

When I comment from my home computer the adorable face you see is my Cairn terrier. Biggest little dog in the world. When I go home today I will see if I can determine his preferred paw.

quilter1 10:39 AM  

My NIECEs are my girls. Now I have to buy some cookies, too. Didn't know dogs have dominant paws. Nice easy puzzle that wasn't boring. Not a Miss Eyre in sight.

voiceofsocietyman 10:39 AM  

Great Monday puzzle -- just right. I'm slow, and it only took me 8 mins (on paper). I thought it was going to be one of those puzzles that uses every letter, but alas the X didn't make it. Still, I'm glad the fill wasn't sacrificed on its behalf.

jdv 10:53 AM  

Med-Challenging. Struggled a bit in the upper half. Had CORGI instead of CAIRN which forced me to erase SANKA. Couldn't recall ANDREA Mitchell.

Joseph Welling 10:54 AM  

"It's not asking for a figurative definition of either HEAD-TO-HEAD or of TÊTE-À-TÊTE"

That's not the criticism. It's fine as a clue/answer by itself. The criticism is that it doesn't fit the theme the same way the other theme answers do.

It's like we learned in Sesame Street: "One of these things is not like the others. . ."

Joseph Welling 10:57 AM  

As for the ANIME clue, it's defensible. There's no reason "cartoon art" doesn't include animation, even if it doesn't specify animation. (That is, ANIME is one type of cartoon art.) Similarly, I would consider, for example, a Bugs Bunny cartoon to be a piece of cartoon art. (Surely "art" doesn't limit the term to non-animated art.)

Jisvan 11:12 AM  

It would be so much easier to determine pawedness in a cat, just dangle anything in front of them, but a dog... My dear old lab always offered her right paw for a shake, but I thought that was just because I am right-handed, and I taught her that way. Hopefully I didn't make her switch paw dominance just for me! Interesting topics today, almost a shame to go to work...Hello Monday!

JTHurst 11:50 AM  

I did not want to become involved in the anime/manga discussion but the misconceptions espoused herein are too egregious to ignore. I am not disputing the clue nor am I trying to be too literal. But neither of these art forms are cartoons. Cartoons are usually meant to have some humor associated with them. Saying manga and anime are similar is like saying hockey and baseball are the same because they are both sports using sticks with objects that are hit.

Anime and manga are both Japanese in origin and deal in stylized provocative art portraying sex and violence. One is a graphic animated movie and the other is a graphic novel. There are whole subcultures in Japan which live and portray, daily, the traits of each of these art forms. For the followers of these life styles to mingle would be like staunch supporters of Liverpool (EPL soccer) getting together at a Trekkie convention.

If you know someone who subscribes to Animax channel check it out. You will see where all of the Asian singing groups get their hairstyles from. As far as manga goes compare it to Frank Miller's The Dark Knight comic book series.

Matthew A. Harmer 11:52 AM  

First time out on the website game, and I did it in 8:25. I'd put myself at a 7:25 if you account for my having never used it before. (I just got the subscription instead of the paper version.)

I liked the BODYDOUBLE theme as well, but kept wanting to put FACETOFACE in. Got smart and crossed the translations to derive the English versions instead.

I liked the OTIS clue ("Redding of R&B") just for the fact that the constructor avoided the obvious elevator connection, and also that I now have "Try a Little Tenderness" playing in my head.

retired_chemist 12:02 PM  

Easy. Nice simple theme, good Monday level overall, give or take a NAVI and a couple of others. No particular hangups, though I first put in sOya for 1A. Needed the crosses for ANJOU, even though I love them and buy them every couple of weeks.

Agree with those who are satisfied with TETE-A-TETE. And with EDD Byrnes as an alternative to Roush. Both answers are now pretty long in the tooth and I wonder if there is an EDD less vulnerable to the ravages of time. I don't think EDD Dumbill(googled) will cut it, but the NWS Enhanced Data Display or the CA Employment Development Department acronym may help. Best is the degree Doctor of education, Ed. D., IMO. Been here for almost a century (1921) and isn't going anywhere. You can take that last comment two ways....

Bur my BIG nit to pick is the clue for 52D. As pointed out by jberg, Sir Hillary, and joho, a NO HIT game is not a perfect game. It just isn't. A perfect game has NO HITs but a perfect game also means there were no base runners. No walks or errors.

Generally a good Monday puzzle. Thanks, Mr. Modney.

Casco Kid 12:18 PM  

I'm now in a debate with my expert solver buddy over whether meat is the "Monday" protein source and TOFU is the later-in-the-week source, or if you can have TOFU on Mondays. He, @jisvan and @LMS went with TOFU first. @jae, @moly and I had meat. We here do you stand? (My expert solver buddy is a retired priest, so he prefers fish on Fridays. He says TAHITI was so crosslessly screamingly obvious (was it? Really?) that 1A had to be TOFU.

@Z, @Hartley70 it is a kind of intellectual deficiency to overinterpret questions and then answer the question not asked. Forgivable, fortunately, as I was the all time regrade point champion in college. (I'm pretty sure I forced more than a few rewrites of exams.) But I'd rather just read the questions *as they are intended* and do well on the test. ANIME was intended and sort-of clued. That should be enough.

Lewis 12:20 PM  

Speaking of ANDREA, I miss you -- especially on a Monday. Come back!

Also I see ANOA in 48A -- hello Bob!

Then there's that TEAT in 25A.

Must be a good puzzle when the only complaints here are nitpicky, and it is just right for a Monday. As Rex mentioned, the fill is higher quality than the typical Monday, too. Good one, Jim!

Z 12:36 PM  

@Casco Kid - It ain't just you, I've commented on the phenomenon before. As to your question, TOFU confirmed by TAHITI before I had the paper folded.

@JTHurst - for the vast majority of Americans flipping past animé on their TVs the thought will be, "What cartoon is this?" That the cartoon is a specialized style, that the dialogue and plots give melodrama a bad name, that Japanese youth obsess over it like 19 year-old girls regret doing over Bieber, all lost on them.

Arlene 12:53 PM  

Definitely a happier discussion today - even with the presence of foreign words. No objections to GELATO, evidently!

I had to go back and look over some of the clues, as I solved without needing them all.

I was hoping for SQUISHES rather than SQUEEZES.

Mohair Sam 1:26 PM  

Great Monday puzzle -easy, breezy, clever theme. What more can we ask?

Rex's write-up right on the money.

Can't believe the "foreign language" complaint. CAIRN terrier is the breed of dog in every language, it is well-known. ANIME is all the kids talk about anymore and it's all over TV. GELATO is being sold all over the USA these days, and it is considered kinda hip. Sheeeze.

AliasZ 2:02 PM  


A lovely Monday puzzle by Jim Modney after a 30-year absence. I hope we won't have to wait another 30 years for his next one.

But what us that KRAUT doing here after yesterday's SIEG?

There was plenty of other good stuff to like in this one, my favorites being COME NOW and BLENDS IN.

Isn't Italian a gorgeous-sounding language? It is an UDDER delight to UDDER the words LEGATO, GELATO and MILANO.

Speaking of which, let's enjoy a brief piece from the opera ANDREA Chénier by Umberto Giordano (1867-1948).

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

The Indy 500 is usually run on the day BEFORE Memorial Day. The only time they would actually run on the holiday is if they get rained out on Sunday and the opt not to run it the following weekend.

Benko 2:19 PM  

Crap, now I have to get over literal and definitive. But calling anime a "cartoon" isn't egregious when you consider that Merriam-Webster defines cartoon as, " a film or television show made by photographing a series of drawings; an animated film or television show."
geez, I hate quoting reference books. But why do people have to nitpick every clue they don't like in the puzzle? It's supposed to be fun--you know, wordPLAY, not wordWORK.

Joseph Welling 2:37 PM  

JTHurst said:

" Cartoons are usually meant to have some humor associated with them."

Even if this is true (and it's not, according to my dictionaries), "usually" isn't the equivalent of "always". For the claim that ANIME is not a type of cartoon would require "always".

Ludyjynn 2:47 PM  

@CascoKid, If you take a moment, before filling in an Across amswer, such as the erroneous "meat", and review one or two intersecting Down clues, you should see that "Tahiti" and "udder", which are gimmes, both lead you to "tofu" at the Across. Try this technique across the grid before rushing to judgment and I think you will get better overall results for each and every puzzle. And yes, from reading your comments daily, I feel you are still over-thinking, esp. for a Monday! RELAX and enjoy yourself. Try it, you'll like it!

Ludyjynn 2:50 PM  

oops; I misspelled 'answer'; sorry.

ahimsa 3:03 PM  

Very nice puzzle! I thought it was going to be just a list of things like HEAD TO HEAD until I got to BODY DOUBLE - so that was fun.

I'm enjoying the discussion about pets being left- or right-pawed. My cat was left-pawed. It was easy to tell because she almost always attacked toys with that paw.

But that makes sense since she was polydactyl -- had an extra toe on her left front paw! Smart kitty! (polydactyl cats can have extra toes on multiple paws but she just had one extra)

GELATO has me craving an affogato ("drowned") which is gelato with a shot (or two) of espresso poured over it. Yum!

Masked and Anonymo6Us 3:33 PM  

Modney on a Monday. His first NYTPuz in about 30 years. None of his other 14 before that were MonPuzs. Big lag was on accounta he was abducted by aliens. Welcome back, dude; still like yer work... er... play.

Evidence for the defense:
* Six U's. This buys the constructioneer quite a bit of immunity.
* Definition of TETE-A-TETE: "A face-to-face meeting, or private conversation between two people, usually in an intimate setting; a head-to-head."
* Definition of HEAD-TO-HEAD: "a conversation, confrontation, or contest between two parties". Ahar! So the two can be the same, provided one people can constitute a party. I know a gal named Connie that would qualify. Ergo QED.
* Definition of ANIME: "Japanese movie and television animation".
* Definition of CARTOON: "a motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects". Ahar! They're mostly the same, as long as not seen on TV. Kinda like our Senator. QED2.

fave weejecta: EDD ("Eki initials??") TOA ("60% of TOADS??")

fave moo-cow MonPuz clue: "Sauer hot dog topping" = KRAUT.

fave absent commenteer: @ACM&E. Maybe she is super busy makin puzs. Just hope she's happy in all her campins.

M&A
"The doggy door of enlightenment"

p.s. @Q: Check out 61-A in today's BEQPuz.

ahimsa 4:09 PM  

M&A, enjoyed your QEDs. :-)

I'm fine with TÊTE-À-TÊTE. The theme is BODY DOUBLES, right? Well, all four entries theme entries have a repeated word that is a body part. QED again! :-)

Why does there need to be an extra layer of theme where entries are also about fighting or confrontation? It's Monday. A simple theme is fine with me!

Two Ponies 4:16 PM  

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned that one of our most frequent canine visitors to CrossWorld is a Cairn terrier.
Toto!

sanfranman59 4:27 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 5:46, 6:04, 0.95, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:55, 0.97, 28%, Easy-Medium

jae 4:53 PM  

@Casco - just to be clear I never wrote in meat. It was my first thought, but a quick glance at the downs showed me that it wasn't going to fit. I also started to put in Corgi and had to back track when that wouldn't work. Then I momentarily blanked on AQUI, MILANO, and GELATO all of which pushed my Mon. time into the tough zone. Perhaps I should do Mondays before having a cocktail (or two) instead of after?

Dick Swart 4:56 PM  

A pleasure to read a pleasant writeup!

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 5:47, 6:04, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:55, 0.94, 18%, Easy

Fred Romagnolo 5:16 AM  

Cairns and Norwich terriers are pretty close to each other; mine is golden whereas Toto was black. I just assumed that manga was "dirty" anime. Tofu isn't exactly tasteless since it takes on whatever flavor it's cooked with. Gelato is to ice cream what a Mercedes is to a Ford.

Dr.CBecker 2:06 PM  

I'm a day late to this puzzle, but I had to share that today is my first ever NYT completion without a single spelling or google check! I balked and nearly blew it with CHIRN and AHH... but decided CAIRN sounded more reasonable. I think I would frame the grid if I hadn't initially made such a mess with MEAT and TEATS in the NW corner (1A & 4D).

Z 2:23 PM  

@Dr.CBecker - Congratulations!

David Moorman 10:34 PM  

Your aunt's girl is your cousin, not your niece. Just plain wrong!

spacecraft 10:43 AM  

I see Mr. Shortz has given us the old ONETWO with the old...yeah. Reminds me of the Carroll classic

One two, one two, and through and through the vorpal blade WENT snicker-snack.

Galumphing back to the puzzle, I liked it; if a debut, a promising one. At last we have a product that OFL doesn't trash. Jim, you're already way ahead of the game if you can do that!

Hey, is it allowed to use "best" as a verb before Wedensday?

@anon 7:24 makes a good point. Including the word "literally" (which seemed oddly unnecessary when reading the clue at the time) gets him off the hook with OFL's criticism. Oh well, @Rexie, we all miss 'em now and then.

And at last! I'm shoving the rest of my meager stack all-in with the old twin pianos: 8888.

Solving in Seattle 2:02 PM  

Nice debut, Mr. Modney - positively SINLESS - you TOSSed a NOHIT game. OK, I'll stop.
I especially liked the South Pacific theme in the NW. A naughty luau.

Capcha: Ecysis from. The beginning of an ET introducing himself?

Dirigonzo 5:10 PM  

My first run through left me with one blank square - I'm never certain if the satisfied sound is expressed as ahh or aah. As I was considering those two possibilities I remembered the CAIRN Terrier breed which is a good thing because I was otherwise inclined to go with AhH. Other than that, UDDER contentment.

My boat won't float today.

DMG 6:19 PM  

Been one of those days and so I'm late to the game. Enjoyed the puzzle. Like others, I usually write AhH, but ChIRN couldnt be. Then like@Diri, CAIRN popped up from somewhere. Only write over was SINLESS where I had Sterile.

Won't even mention my hand!!

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