Why this puzzle is like Seinfeld / MON 5-5-14 / Dixie school affectionately / Political commentator Colmes / Traffic signaler near highway construction / Stan's partner in comedy

Monday, May 5, 2014

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

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

THEME: IT'S ABOUT NOTHING (61A: Why this puzzle is like "Seinfeld"?) — words meaning "nothing" are embedded (in circles) inside longer theme answers:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: 
  • WURLITZER ORGANS (17A: Instruments played at theaters during silent films) —
The Rudolph Wurlitzer Company, usually referred to as simply Wurlitzer, was an American company started in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1853 by German immigrant Rudolph Wurlitzer. The company originally imported stringed, woodwind and brass instruments from Germany for resale in the U.S. Wurlitzer enjoyed initial success largely due to defense contracts to provide musical instruments to the U.S. military. In 1880 the company began manufacturing pianos. Eventually the company relocated to North Tonawanda, NY and quickly expanded to make band organsorchestrionsnickelodeons and pipe or theatre organs popular in theatres during the days of silent movies. (wikipedia)
• • •

Though it probably should've been a Tuesday, difficulty-wise, this puzzle is nonetheless fantastic. I'm not even a "Seinfeld" fan, but I still found the revealer clever and charming. This is one of the only ways in which I think circles should be used in a puzzle—to highlight words "hidden" in puzzles. Also, I like that for once the "hidden" words follow the damned rule of touching all the elements in every theme answer, i.e. they all spell words that span two-word phrases or names. No answer part is without some circled element. So the puzzle is entertaining as well as structurally elegant. I think the puzzle gets away from Monday territory largely in the NE, where I definitely got slowed down by FLAGMAN (?) (not a word I'd use) and TIN MINE. At first I thought this corner was a bit aberrant fill-wise because the constructor was trying to shoehorn an "F" in there in order to complete the (ugh) pangram. But then I noticed that the (otherwise beautiful) grid does not contain a "V." So I don't know what's up with FLAGMAN and TIN MINE. Maybe they're perfectly fine terms that were just slightly harder than normal to come up with (on a Monday). But god bless that missing "V." Never ever ever let your (misguided) desire to use every letter of the alphabet dictate your fill choices. Ever.

Now that I think of it, some of this puzzle's (relative) difficulty may have been related to the core joke/concept's not being familiar to people, i.e. maybe there are people who don't know that "Seinfeld" has (pretty famously) been described as "a show about nothing." I never really watched the show, and I had no problem with the revealer. Still, it's the kind of pop culture revealer that could leave some solvers stranded and befuddled.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Update: while I still love this puzzle as a puzzle, I now despise it as a bit of corporate tie-in commercial nonsense. Check out this (I'm sure) Completely Coincidental juxtaposition in today's paper:


Mark 12:10 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle, with pleasing reveal, a tiny bit harder than your typical Monday. To tattle: commentator over at xwordinfo says, "TRINI LOPEZ wasn't familiar to me right away, but she should have been (chalk one up to the giant hole in my pop music knowledge base)." To add to his gender knowledge base, I sent a note.

jae 12:17 AM  

Yeah, cute!   Medium for me.  Only erasure was iSp before USB.  Fun puzzle, made me smile.  

Steve J 12:29 AM  

Agreed, this was a most excellent Monday. Nice use of circles (which I generally don't like), and a fantastic revealer. Theme answers were all solid (WURLITZER ORGANS standing out in particular), and fill was tight. A pleasure to solve.

This did feel slightly tougher than a typical Monday (I normally finish Mondays around 4 minutes; this took me 5), but I can't point to any particular reason. Part of it was starting with teal instead of AQUA at 13A, and not seeing USB or SQUIRMY at first. Had no problem with FLAG MAN (common on road construction warning signs when I was a kid; now they're indicated with a pictogram) or TIN MINE. I think it ultimately comes down to a little more chewiness for a Monday, which is totally fine by me, especially when nothing moved into ungettable territory relative to early-week standards.

Stranded and Befuddled 12:29 AM  

I'm supposed to know every piss-ant TV show of the past 50 years? Seriously?

Man, I miss the days of Maleska where all you had to know to solve a puzzle was all the words in the complete OED that were not in Websters.

Jisvan 12:38 AM  

There were circles? Had to go back and look at Magmic to be sure, but yep, there they are! Even nicer puzzle now. Played easy here. Loved ITS ABOUT NOTHING sharing the south with LAUGHTRACK and SPONSORS, that's your sitcom trifecta right there.
Now Rex, what on earth would you call the guy directing traffic though the road construction zone except a FLAGMAN? Even if he is holding that two-sided stop/slow sign, and not a flag at all, he's still a FLAGMAN. OK, she could be a flagperson, I suppose.
Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. Now have a happy Cinco de Mayo!

okanaganer 12:48 AM  

Using only the across clues I solved this cleanly, probably because the answers were nice and clean. Plus the theme, which I got as soon as I saw the AUGHT in LAUGH TRACK, helped a lot with the first 3 theme answers which I did not have a clue for. (American presidents from 200 years ago other than George Washington? Brutal for a clueless foreigner like me. For a moment I thought it was SAM'L ADAMS, but would they really name a beer after a president? Oh wait...Google says it was indeed named after a founding father...wow!)

My only complaint is a couple of awful abbrevs: ALG and TPK, which--because I wasn't allowing myself to see the down clues--I couldn't for the life of me think what they could possibly stand for.

Brian B 12:51 AM  

Interesting that people are saying this was harder than a usual Monday; I had my fastest time ever. Normally it's the opposite, I plod along when other breeze through. It was fun in any case.

chefwen 12:52 AM  

Loved this puzzle, but medium challenging just baffled my mind. I chalked it up to "super easy". Jon finished his copy before I did, I will chalk that up to "I had to feed Paddy the Super Cat".

@Mark - Trini Lopez is a he, not a she.

I have a friend in CA who has a PEZ collection. Odd thing to collect, but fun.

The Queen of Mondays strikes again. Where is our other "Queen of Mondays"? I miss ACME, as I know others do too. Let's start a campaign! "Bring Andrea Back"

Moly Shu 12:55 AM  

I'll probably be in the minority (again), thought this was easy and not much fun. Never watched Seinfeld either, but that's not the problem for me. It's the ECO, ECON, ERGO, SNIT, SARIS, AMT, INIT, etc., that put the damper on it for me. Did like WAFTS and OLLIE. Fine for a Monday, just not my taste.

@SteveJ, me too for teal before AQUA.

@Mark, funny. I'm sure if TRINI knew you were defending his manhood, he'd applaud you all over this land.

Colin 1:07 AM  

I cut my teeth on the USA Today crossword in junior high, and Lynn Lempel was always my favorite constructor who regularly showed up there. Glad to see her here years later with a delightful Monday! (I also cut my teeth on Seinfeld as a kid, which explains why my sense of humor has always been pretty inappropriate.) TIN MINE is awkward but the rest flowed so nicely -- great theme, great revealer, solid fill. Maybe this bodes well for the coming week!

Mark 1:11 AM  

@chefwen "@Mark - Trini Lopez is a he, not a she." That's what I said, or at least that's what I meant. After I informed Jeff Chen, he thanked me and corrected the pronoun in his commentary at xwordinfo.

Elle54 1:19 AM  

Rex, you need to go watch Seinfeld ... Should be on several times a day! Love(d) that show,
Great Monday, tons of fun!
@chefwen where did acme go?

Anoa Bob 1:19 AM  

I've given up on finding a Seinfeld episode that I haven't seen at least twice, so the reveal put a big smile on my face.

I can assure you from experience, one thing you don't want in your "Hand-held Mexican food" is a SQUIRMY BURRITO.

I don't think of AUGHT as being a synonym for NOTHING. I can IMAGINE ZERO, NIL, & NADA being used in a sentence as a synonym for NOTHING, but AUGHT used in a sentence would mean "Anything at all", right?

Couldn't help but notice WURLITZER ORGAN got a little boost to make it a grid-spanner.

Mark 1:26 AM  

@ Anoa Bob "I don't think of AUGHT as being a synonym for NOTHING."

Although probably very few people have ever called the year 2008 "twenty aught eight," if you go back another century, many did say, "nineteen aught eight" to refer to the year 1908.

Steve J 1:31 AM  

@Anoa Bob: In yet another example of English's only consistency being its inconsistency, AUGHT means both "anything at all" and "zero". The zero use is most commonly seen in, as @Mark mentioned, years: The 1900s (and, to a considerably lesser extent, the 2000s), were often referred to as the aughts (akin to the 20s, the 60s, etc.). The zero usage also shows up in some firearms nomenclature, such as "thirty aught (or ought) six" for a .30-06 shotgun.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

@Elle54 - Acme is still around, she just had some hurtful comments made and thought that she should "take a break". But, she needs to know that we still admire her and want her back. C'mon ACME, return to the fold.

mac 4:15 AM  

Excellent Monday, alright! The tin mine was the hardest for me, but flag men are still used consistently in CT, no problem there. I once read it's the most dangerous profession in the U.S.

@chefwen: yes, I miss Acme and her fun stories and knowledgeable parsing of the puzzles!

mac 4:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Conrad 4:59 AM  

Add me to the "Bring Back ACME" movement. Anybody creating a petition?

Stuart 5:26 AM  

Isn't doing crosswords a pasttime about nothing? Or do we think that they are educational and that we are learning who Mel Ott and Bobby Orr are and for that matter where the "Aar" (var: Aare) runs.

If we are lucky, a good portion of our lives is about nothing and not having to spend nearly 168 hours a week making ends meet and feeding ourselves and our families.

Seinfeld hit on this in a big way and so do crossword constructors, doers and bloggers.

So to all have as happy a Nothing Day as you can!

PS It was a fun Monday puzzle!

JTHurst 5:41 AM  

This puzzle was easy and wonderful. Thanks LL.

All of the words seem to be self evident and I know Rex values his ratings based upon the day but rating Sunday as easy and this as med-challenging demonstrates that puzzle solutions depend upon a combination of interests and experience. On Sunday's puzzle the only answer I easily got was 'Magilla' the gorilla. I guess that shows my interests.

I have a theory why this was so easy for me. Excepting for theme answers I have never been comfortable with multiple word answers and this puzzle only has one; 'at it'. Answers like 'laconic' would usually be 'not too wordy' or 'squirmy' would be 'cant sit still'.

Trini Lopez was great in one of the top ten movies of all time "The Dirty Dozen", even got to play the guitar.

Danp 5:47 AM  

On one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry and George are proposing a sitcom pilot to a TV exec. When asked what the show was about they answer, "It's about nothing. Don't ya get it?" (Or something close to that). So the expression starts as a quote from the show, not about the show.

George 6:41 AM  

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying Nothing

Glimmerglass 7:18 AM  

"Gee, Dad, it's a Wurlitzer." Nice Monday.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

My best Monday time ever, mostly because I enjoyed the puzzle so much. WURLITZER ORGANS, TRINI LOPEZ, LACONIC, LIPREAD. What's not to like? Fun and different.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Easy for me. 77th out of 6700 or so. And pardon me, but for the person who said Seinfeld was a piss-ant show, puh-leeze! If you don't like pop culture in your puzzles, fair enough, but Seinfeld was far from just another of the "piss-ant shows of the last 50 years." It happens to be one of the most successful and loved shows ever, as well as a cultural touchstone for millions.

Mohair Sam 7:49 AM  

Oughtn't AUGHT be naught?

Fun Monday for sure. Loved both the 15's. Great fill, and yeah - it coulda been a Tuesday too, but was plenty easy just the same.

AlsoAnon 7:50 AM  

What Anon7:35 said! Amen.

Z 7:55 AM  

A little double or nothing action in honor of the Kentucky Derby?

Med-Challenging here. lan before USB got me off on the wrong foot, but I recovered. Otherwise, a fine Monday.

Re: ACME - the Commentariat comes and goes. Many decide to pursue other activities and I respect their decisions. She will be back if she decides it is the right thing for her.

I watched Seinfeld for the first two seasons, but I lost interest. I thought the final episode was spot on, they really weren't very nice people and jail was where they probably belong.

NCA President 7:57 AM  

Wow, I felt like Rex today and blew through this puzzle, answering just about as fast as I could read the clues. Got WURLITZERORGANS right off the bat and never looked back. I feel like a...um...hero.

Also, can anyone confirm this: but I understand that OLEMISS is actually a reference to what slaves called the wife of a plantation owner rather than any reference at all to Mississippi. Is this true?

Now excuse me while I go back and watch a bunch more Schoolhouse Rock videos...

joho 8:03 AM  

This puzzle was every bit as delightful and entertaining as "Seinfeld" was and still is!
I loved it and was so happy to see Lynn Lempel at the top of the puzzle again.

I wonder if the show had a LAUGHTRACK? It sure didn't need one.

It would have been fun to fit in SOUP NAZI but it might have interfered with the wonderful ITSABOUTNOTHING theme. Again, as original and fresh as the show!

Loved, loved, thank you, Lynn!

Casco Kid 8:06 AM  

My reflex for the Wanted poster was dead-or-alive: DOA, but that rang false, for obvious reasons. Still, DOA blanched my memory so AKA turned out to be a strangely deep dig. Memory is funny.

TINMINE and TRINILOPEZ are both new to me. I had wanted Peter, Paul, and Mary, naturally, whose conjectured activities with a hammer, etc., were more widely appreciated than Trini's, I guess. Nice to learn something on a Monday. Clever reveal. No googles. No errors.

AliasZ 8:10 AM  

SESTETS are the units of six lines that form the closing segments of Italian sonnets. The musical ensembles for six instruments are called sextets. Sestetto is the Italian word for sextet, and to the best of my knowledge it is not used for the musical ensemble anywhere except in Italy.

Here is the Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34, written for a sextet consisting of string quartet plus clarinet and piano, by Sergei Prokofiev.

Sir Hillary 8:12 AM  

In my print edition of the NYT, this puzzle ran below an article (about a Seinfeld parody video game) whose headline includes the phrase "a show about nothing." The other article on that page is a review of Louie CK's sitcom and mentions that Jerry Seinfeld appears as himself. So, pretty funny for those of us solving in the newspaper.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Pissant? Puhleeze, yada yada yada!

And a note to Will Shortz - puhleeze stop with those pissant pop-up ads that dim the puzzle and annoy those of us who already pay dearly to subscribe to your puzzles. And while your at it, FIX the coding so that such things as "skipping to the next word" work with consistency. If you apply just a "shtickle" of effort, I can refrain from being such a puzzle-nazi.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

LMAO, I'm a terrible googling neophyte. This puzzle was an instafill for me. NEVER happens for me with the NY Times puzzles, but it did today and probably never will again.

Perhaps because my Dad supervised road crews, I'm a little incredulous that someone could have trouble with flag man.

Susan McConnell 8:36 AM  

Pretty darn perfect Monday puzzle, adjacent articles notwithstanding.

andreaomn 8:37 AM  

Burritos are NOT mexican. People should start getting to know real mexican cuisine and stop with the yex-mex, cheesy nonsense.

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

The only thing that might've been tricky in this puzzle in the past for me was Trini Lopez, but now that I've been doing the NYT for a couple or three years, I've run across the name several times. Usually the answer is just her first name, though, not the full.

@mohair Sam: I was thinking the same about "aught." Having picked up Manchester slang and usage from Coronation Street, I'm more used to "aught" in the sense of "anything" rather than "nothing." As in, is there aught decent to drink in this tatty boozer? But then I remembered hearing the year 1907 described as "aught-seven", and a decade as the "aughties". Made sense to me.

P.S. Anon 7:35 here

andreaomn 8:38 AM  

*I meant to say Tex-Mex, sorry.

TokyoRacer 8:43 AM  

Trini Lopez was a man!

I'm terrible at these puzzles, and I zipped right through this one, so it must have been *really* easy.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Sorry, Trini! This confusion is the unfortunate result of a combination of factors: being quite obscure, having a name that fits well in crosswords, and having an abbreviated name that unfortunately looks like a woman's name in English! I'll try to remember next time. So is it short for Trinidad?

Arlene 8:53 AM  

I also wondered about the Seinfeld app article adjacent to this puzzle - coincidence? (I doubt it.)

As for AUGHT - when the Class of 2000 came to be (beginning in 1996), there was great discussion on what it should be called. Class of "AUGHT AUGHT" was definitely one of the options tossed about


Gubdude 8:59 AM  

As someone who still watches Seinfeld everyday, I approve this puzzle.

Went down pretty fast, few write overs. I did like LAUGHTRACK being included, although I'm pretty sure Seinfeld did not use one.

And I agree with the posters above - This is one of the greatest shows of all time and definitely warrants crossword attention.

gdadtraveling 9:10 AM  

Found this to be much easier than most of the posts I've read. Went straight through, start to finish, with no write-overs, without stopping. Very simple Monday puzzle.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Love Seinfeld and loved this puzzle!!! I remember growing up in St. Louis and going to the Fox Theater to see a movie. There was a man playing the Wurlitzer before every show.

Bring back Acme
Bring back Acme

retired_chemist 9:30 AM  

Easy here. Maybe one Monday in 5 is below 5 minutes and this took me 4:46. Good theme, lots of good fill.

No problem with FLAGMAN and TIN MINE. LAN before USB. If I had a Hammer was a Weavers (led by Pete Seeger, also 10 letters) song, before it was covered by peter, Paul, and Mary. Trini Lopez indeed had the most popular version but - bah. The others are my favorites.

Add me to the list of those who want ACME back.

Good puzzle, Ms. Lempel. Thanks.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I'm with AliasZ: sestets are poetry, SEXTETS are six-person ensembles. The other rewrite was PETE SEEGER for TRINI LOPEZ; even though I balked at the 1963 year, it's Seeger's song that became a hit. Apart from that, easy Monday for me, and I've never seen Seinfeld.

jyocum3 9:40 AM  

I like most of this puzzle, but having never heard of a Wurlitzer Organ (or whatever the hell it is), it was a really unfair crossing with "Detroit Labor Org" which I've also never heard of. So there's a foreign manufacturer's name crossed with an acronym, making it pretty much guess-any-letter-in-alphabet for me. That paired with crossing the same across clue with ALAN, and of all of the Alan's out there, "political commentator Colmes"? Seriously? This is a Monday puzzle. Put in a reference to Alan Alda or something, not some obscure political commentator (which is a redundant phrase in my book).

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Totally agree with Brian!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:59 AM  

One write-over, 44A, HAFT before HILT.

JC66 10:00 AM  

come back, andrea

Mohair Sam 10:02 AM  

@anon 7:35. Yeah, hung out in a pub in Stoke Newington (London) back in the '60s. An older patron and friend, when asked about anything about pop culture, would reply: "Don't know, I was born back in naught six." It's always stuck.

@andreaomn. There's a food show on the Live Well network that originates in Mexico showing real Mexican cooking. You're right, nothing they cook is seen at Taco Bell.

Trini error in talking about a puzzle constructed by a Lynn. Is today "It's Pat" day?

Joseph Welling 10:04 AM  

This was super easy (even for a Monday) for me, I think mostly because of what it didn't have. The only two pop culture references (Trini Lopez and Seinfeld) were right in my wheelhouse. I also grew up referring to aluminum foil as "tin foil."

Doug 10:14 AM  

I solved this rather quickly, and I'm just an average puzzle type. I was sure of two things: that Rex would find it incredibly easy, and that he would hate it because the theme was about nothing. So much for my Monday morning....

Steve J 10:32 AM  

@Danp: The "it's a show about nothing" comment actually predates the episode where George and Jerry are pitching the sitcom. The idea that it was a show about nothing had been floating around for a while, and Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David decided to play off of that when they wrote that story arc.

@Anon 7:35 a.m.: I'm pretty sure the comment about Seinfeld being a "piss-ant show" was meant satirically.

@NCA President: OLE MISS appears to have the origins you stated, but it's been used as a name for the university since the late 19th/early 20th century.

John V 10:37 AM  

I thought this easy enough. Could not get excited about the theme. Meh, here.

Dawn 10:37 AM  

@George: ROFL!

Thought Rex was upset about advertising link to Wurlitzers. No problem there!!

11:11 was good time for me.

Two Ponies 10:44 AM  

Love Seinfeld and loved this puzzle.
Very fun to solve.

I remember aught from Jethro showing off his math "skills" on The Beverly Hillbillies.

quilter1 10:52 AM  

Easy for me. I think FLAGMAN is pretty common, although nowadays it is as likely to be a FLAGwoMAN. TRINI LOPEZ was a gimme as were most of the other long answers. Very enjoyable solve.

re: ACME I have never known her to be anything but kind. Why hurtful remarks? I miss her comments.

Carola 11:56 AM  

WURLITZER ORGANS - fantastic...in the theater or in a puzzle. Unlike the other show accompaniment, the LAUGH TRACK, fun to see in a crossword, grating in real life. What I know of "Seinfeld" is only slightly more than NADA, so I missed the kick of the reveal, alas. But the 7-letter entries were treats, especially LACONIC crossing NOTHING.

@acme - I look for you everyday.

@Rex - I folded the paper into a "crossword quadrant" I never saw the article - thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

I didn't see anything challenging abut this one, Rex. I did automatically write in PETESEEGER for 23-A, although I wondered what significance the circled letters ESE could have. Easy enough to back off from that when the crosses didn't work at all. Otherwise, it was (for me) just as much smooth sailing as the usual Monday puzzle.

jdv 11:59 AM  

Challenging. Mostly in NW. Had same problems of @jyocum3. I don't mind learning about Wurlitzer Organs, I would just rather learn about them on Friday instead of Monday. The other problem I had with the puzzle was the overabundance of abbreviations and acronyms; it felt more like a crossabbreviation puzzle instead of a crossword puzzle.

Lewis 12:33 PM  

I think it would be funny to have a themeless that still has this reveal...

@CascoKid -- you need to write down what you ate before doing Friday's puzzle and start eating more of it. It brought your brain into the zone.

ACME, can you feel the love?

I liked the puzzle a lot. I agree with Rex that the construction was solid, not much grid gruel (maybe four answers). It was zippy.

Masked and Anonym8Us 1:08 PM  

@ACM&E: We feel like nadirs raiders, without U.

Lynn Lempel does excellent work. Glad @63 went all great guns and roses for this MonPuz. Any grid that opens with the Ultimate display of vowel respect, and then chips in seven more, aught to get the royalthUmbsUp treatment.


NYTPuz submission masterpiece update:
* Selected my fave grid alternative. Worked on it some more, to make it look extra good. Did not do a lot of scrabble-twerkin. So, ain't quite a pangram.
* BobK reminded me that I need to guess what day the puz will run on. Must plan for this, before I can clue er up.
* After much sole searching, decided to make all the Across clues real tough. And the Down clues all real easy. That way, the Shortzmeister is bound to use a few of M&A's clues, no matter what day the puz drops on. This is know in the PuzBiz as: "Clue Insurance".


Hartley70 1:10 PM  

Now I want to meet Acme! This was a Great Monday...lalala! I'm a Seinfeld junkie who remembers wurlitzers and laughed outloud at the idea that Trini is a girl. Of course now I'm going to go count my wrinkles...506, 507, 508..

Karen Munson 1:23 PM  

Liked the puzzle, never liked the show. Didn't get the humor. Ok, time for the haters to go on the attack...

Jisvan 1:36 PM  

Add me to the ACME adoration society!
@Casco Kid: Didn't know about DOA as Dead Or Alive. In my world it's Dead On Arrival. Which saves a lot of time and paperwork compared to Slightly Alive On Arrival. (I made that one up.)

Dick Swart 2:46 PM  

Blogger chefwen said...

I have a friend in CA who has a PEZ collection. Odd thing to collect, but fun.

Yes, you can leave the car at the station to take the train into SF. An amazing collection that gives you a sugar high just walking in the door.

Every Pez model ever made! And the original Pez sign from the original building.

I met him and his mom. he claims that the Pez popularity was one of the categories that helped to build ebay, But still smaller that Barbie!

AliasZ 3:02 PM  

Speaking of PEZ (and Trini LoPEZ) reminds me of this episode of the sitcom about nothing.

sanfranman59 3:17 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:23, 6:04, 1.05, 78%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:10, 3:55, 1.06, 80%, Medium-Challenging

Z 3:18 PM  

@jyocum3 - I did not realize that Cincinnati was in a foreign country, I always thought that was just Wolverine propaganda. I also thought that "Detroit" in the clue was a big old red flag waving in my face that the labor organization was the United Auto Workers, a group with some million members (active and retired), so pretty crossworthy even on a Monday. Heck, we even have the Walter Reuther Freeway in my neighborhood, named after one of the UAW's most effective presidents.

Just because it seems that some might have forgotten or never known, just about everybody here rates difficulty of the puzzle against day of the week. My 8:30 is longer than usual for a Monday, but would be a record for a Thursday and would be my time for a corner on an easy Saturday.

FWIW - I am in beautiful ACME Michigan for the next few days.

dk 3:38 PM  

000 (3 moons)

Today is some Seinfeld anniversery. I have seen the show 3 times and each time it was the same episode.

Cue the last scene of Shane and substitute: ACME

Nice puzzle. Paper version had no circles.

NYer 3:52 PM  

I love ACME! Please come back and enlighten our befuddled minds with your expert and always uplifting commentary!

Oh, the puzzle....easiest in quite some time.

Ludyjynn 4:24 PM  

Easy, peasy Monday here. My paper version in MD did have legible circles, @dk.

Favorite Trini Lopez hit song: "Lemon Tree" (very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat...).

I am noticing more comments being posted lately trying to justify one's lack of knowledge by throwing snark at the constructors. For the last two days, someone, not our fearless leader, Rex, has posted remarks referring to puzzle clues and/or answers as "crap", "unfair", "obscure" and the like, when there was no factual basis for the jibes.
It is discouraging to read and not productive behavior, IMHO.
I feel better now!

Thanks, LL and WS for a lovely Monday.

OISK 7:18 PM  

Enjoyed this one very much, and have watched every Seinfeld episode, probably most more than once. Some people don't like it; that's fine. I seem to be one of the few that gave up on "Friends" after a couple of seasons. Very nice puzzle, but not particularly easy for me. 7 minutes - slow for a Monday.

Fred Romagnolo 8:32 PM  

What does IMHO mean? I noticed the Seinfeld article on the same page, but unless Shortz is in cahoots with the layout man, it seems just a coincidence.

Ludyjynn 8:44 PM  

@Fred R, in my humble opinion = IMHO.

chefbea 8:44 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo In My Humble Opinion

Z 9:06 PM  

Since you got such a quick answer - here are some more commonish ones:

TTYL - Talk to you later
IMO - In My Opinion
WOE - What On Earth
WTF- Same thing with profanity
FWIW - For What It's Worth
AFAIK - As Far As I Know
BTW - By The Way
LOL - Laugh Out Loud
ROTFL(MAO) - Rolling On The Floor Laughing (My Ass Off)
<3 - Love (as in "heart")
ICYMI - In Case You Missed It
NSFW - Not Safe For Work
CRTLA - Cant' remember the Three Letter Acronym

And if you run into something really unfathomable look here:


Anonymous 9:26 PM  

@Fred Rom - in my humble opinion

Dang! All y'all must be some kind of city folk, who don't know about tin mines. Where would all those tin cans come from? Didja think they grew on trees?

Segue to poor ole Trini, neutered so many times today. Don't know if that's abbrev for Trinidad, but I do know a woman goes by Trina. In her case, abbrev for Latrina, right hand up.

@Mohair Sam: There's a Live Well network? My well ain't Live, but it's Artesian.

Hand up for 'Gee, Dad, it's a WURLITZER!'...Organ meats, otoh...

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:20, 6:04, 1.04, 74%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:04, 3:55, 1.04, 67%, Medium-Challenging

Fred Romagnolo 2:43 AM  

Thanks to all who explained, and @z for further elucidation; I'll try to remember.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  


actually the JUXTAPOSITIONS are quite commonly found, it's just hardly anyone does the puzzle from the paper anymore


Anonymous 5:03 AM  

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Robert A. Simon 9:57 AM  

Just did this puzzle today (5/11) thanks to Parker's note. As good as he said. Thank you. One thing, please The only reason you had trouble with "tin mine" is you're simply too young. Before it was "aluminum foil," what we wrapped leftovers in was "tin foil. The switch was made simply because aluminum was much easier to find and process.

spacecraft 11:03 AM  

Our syndi-linker has fallen asleep AGAIN. Today, no problem; the archive to the right led me here...but yesterday? There was NO WAY that I could discover to get to the "ALADDIN" Sunday puzzle page. I simply could not find it. As we know, the time gap for Sundays is, inexplicably, different from that of weekdays, so there's no extrapolating from the date. If the Sunday syndilink is not updated, that blog is lost. I can tell you that I used some very UN-Sunday language.

So I'll have to give a severely abridged comment on it now. I thought the theme answers were mildly humorous, the best being SPRINGFALLING. I remember my slinky as a kid; I was fascinated by the way it moved.

On to today. Drawn to the first long across, I saw that Peter, Paul and Mary weren't going to fit. These are the "Hammer" singers of my memory (though Pete Seeger wrote it and first performed it with The Weavers), yet somehow the name TRINILOPEZ tugged at my brain--and that one DID fit. (He covered it a year later.) The circles were around NIL, so I thought right away: synonyms for nothing? Turns out I was right, so this one played a lot easier for me than for OFL.

The NE provided a better starting place for the top than the NW, go figure, so when I got to ORGAN I thought "ZERO." But what...then I recalled the hilarious Stan Freberg sendup of Lawrence Welk:

"Turn-a off-a the bubble-a machine-a." "Gee, Dad, it was a WURLITZER-a!"

Ah, Larry. Who could forget Big Tiny Little Junior-a--or those sisters who first made the Lennon name famous. And thus we come full CIRCLE: there's John in the clue for his best song ever, IMAGINE, just a couple of columns away from his wife.

Satisfying all the way around, though I wish the revealer could have referenced Shakespeare instead of Seinfeld.

Please, PLEASE wake up the syndilinker BEFORE the weekend!

rain forest 2:03 PM  

I think it must be quite a challenge to construct a Monday puzzle that is easy, yet satisfying. Lynn Lempel manages to do that every time. Same with ACME, and it's too bad that commenters have driven her away.

SQUIRMY, FLAGMAN(yes there is such a thing/person), SURGED next to PREOP, DORMANT, LACONIC, all were nice, as was the theme. I wouldn't have minded a "V" in there, but as it is, great puzzle.

DMG 2:09 PM  

Liked this one. Only slow-up was knowing the ORGAN, but not how to spell its first name. At any rate, the crosses gave me that, as well as USB. (Computer things are one of my many blind spots.) Also was glad the crosses fed me the Seinfeld clue. Tried to watch his show a couple of times, but didn't get it. Now I guess that's because there wasn't anything to get?

Address captchas sure don't keep out the love lorn. Did you know you can eliminate the comment from the comments blog by tapping on the comment title? Sure shortens things up.

Solving in Seattle 2:50 PM  

This Lynn Lempel monpuz was a tasty little BURRITO with RICOTTA and BEANs, washed down with EAU.
My only tripup was OLdMISS/dCON. Headslap.

@Rainy, because of some negative Realtimer comments I've been taking a hiatus from reading them. Saves time and angst.

Z 2:59 PM  

@spacecraft et al. - Five weeks in the future OFL is on vacation and apparently @treedweller and @puzzlegirl don't know how or forgot to update the link. The Sunday syndicated puzzle is only one week behind.

rain forest 5:51 PM  

@SIS And here I thought you were out sailing around the Gulf Islands. Actually I spent 5 wonderful days on Savary Island last week. Anyway, I think it's healthy to take a break for the reason you gave.

Dirigonzo 6:12 PM  

My road trip to the VA Center at Togus took me through two construction zones with signs cautioning "FLAGger Ahead". Still when I did the puzzle I just filled in FLAG and let the crosswords provide the correct suffix. It's one of those occupations where the best man for the job is often a woman.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

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