Cacophony / MON 8-4-14 / German state whose capital is Dresden / "Exodus" hero / India's capital before New Delhi / Plant bristles

Monday, August 4, 2014

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Monday (*for a Monday*)

THEME: They haven't been called stewardesses for like 30 years — The last word of each theme answer describes a type of seat on an airplane

Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here with you for your Monday puzzle. Rex is traveling today so asked me to cover for him, which I'm always happy to do because I love you guys! I also love "Orphan Black," which I've been watching with my whole family so I was basically forced to watch two episodes tonight and now it's almost 11:00 which is past my bedtime. So let's make this quick is what I'm saying. Good thing it's Monday.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Lets some air in, say (CRACKS A WINDOW)
  • 26A: Compromised, as two parties (MET IN THE MIDDLE)
  • 42A: Get hitched (GO DOWN THE AISLE)
  • 48A: What the ends of the answers to 20-, 26- and 42- are (AIRPLANE SEATS)
Simple concept today. Perfect for a Monday. Let's see what there is to talk about.

  • 10A: "___ out of your league, man!" (SHE'S). I swear my first thought was I'M. Not sure what that says about me, but it's probably not flattering.
  • 18A: Muppet with a long bluish nose (GONZO). I don't get this clue. Does Gonzo have a blue nose or not? If not, maybe he should have been described some other way.
  • 30A: Actor Damon (MATT). This video right here is the best thing I've ever seen Matt Damon do. Don't watch it if you don't like F-bombs though. They're bleeped out, but still.
  • 53A: Mideast's ___ Heights (GOLAN). Quite the Mideast flavor today (see also: GAZA (8D: Mideast's ___ Strip)).
  • 59A: Horror film assistant with a Russian name (IGOR). I can never remember if this name is supposed to start with I or Y.
  • 62A: Word that's only coincidentally made up of the four main compass points (NEWS). I really don't understand this clue At All. Is there some reason the word "news" would be made up of the four main compass points for a reason other than coincidence??
  • 4D: Sheer awfulness (ENORMITY). Great clue.
  • 12D: Shout after the band leaves the stage (ENCORE). My first thought? FREE BIRD. But I guess that's shouted before the band leaves the stage.
  • 34D: Facetious fall guy for one's wrongdoings, maybe (EVIL TWIN). Speaking of "Orphan Black." If you haven't seen it, you probably should. Great show.

Love, PuzzleGirl


jae 12:08 AM  

What PG said. Solid Mon. with a bit of zip.  Medium for me. Liked it.

@PG - I'm still POed about the Emmy snub for Tatiana Meslany.

Whirred Whacks 12:23 AM  

Hey Puzzle Girl: great stuff. Is that a picture of you as the flight attendant in the cabin of the airplane?

I thought of a fun clue today. Here goes:

"Day to do cannabis in Germany?"


retired_chemist 12:24 AM  

Yup. Nice puzzle, basically easy. Took me longer than it should have because I didn't want to think about the theme answers until I had a bunch of crosses. That took time.

Should parse 42A as GOD OWN THE AISLE. It's His church (or temple etc.), right?

3D reminds me of one of the few clean Limericks I know:

There once was a man from CALCUTTA,
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Reducing his snore
From a thunderous roar
To a soft oleaginous mutta.

Timely since my wife complained about my snoring last night.

Thanks, Mr. Fagliano.

Steve J 12:41 AM  

Decent Monday. Found the third themer a little off. Is GO DOWN THE AISLE a thing? I've always heard "walk down the aisle". My first thought when reading the clue was to enter "tie the knot", but that didn't fit.

OWN A GUN felt a bit like OWN GREEN PAINT.

Those couple things that sounded odd to me aside, there was definitely some good stuff, with EVIL TWIN being the best.

BIG CAT and "feline" have the same number of letters. That slowed me down in that block for a moment.

Thanks for the entertaining (as usual) writeup, PG. Totally forgot - and loved - the Matt Damon clip. And the NewsRadio picture (still one of my favorite shows ever). I share your bafflement over 62A's clue.

My captcha is literally a block of purple color, with nothing else. What am I supposed to enter for that?

Phil 2:54 AM  

Hmm, PG, you said it, whats the question? Re 62a:
It is the only reason ergo 'only coincidentaly'

Good one @whirred

Phil 2:59 AM  

The right side orphan is suppose to be blond not wigged.
Bad day for makeup person i guess.

chefwen 3:01 AM  

Hi PG, nice to see your pretty little flower again.

Hoo Boy, it's good to be home after 2-1/2 weeks of Window, Middle, Aisle choices. Not going to call it a vacation, more like a "tour of duty" stint. As my buddy Murphy said "what can go wrong will go wrong". Anyhoo, not leaving the rock again for a while, I will spare you details. You're Welcome!

62A baffled me also. So?

jae 3:54 AM  
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jae 4:40 AM  

@Steve J & PG -- Loved NewsRadio. I need to pay more attention to the pics. My only problem with that show is that Dave Foley and Maura Tierney didn't end up together. I still miss Phil Hartman.

Lewis 5:49 AM  

Hardly any grid gruel, extremely clean puzzle, which I thought was easy (*for a Monday*). Not a lot of pop, but a quick, satisfying solve, solid and respectable, terrific for a newbie. PG, your comments had mucho pop!

I guess it's not reasonable for a person to conclude that NEWS was an invention incorporating the compass points, showing that it covers the world, so it's a bit of news itself that it is not.

RIM over AMMO makes me think of rim shot.

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): Two embedded words in this puzzle make a two-word phrase that means "moderate". What is the phrase?

(Embedded words: Intact words found within answers or are a word in a multi-word answer.)

If you wish to post an answer, so as not to give it away, just write the second letters of the two words, or use . I will post an answer later this afternoon.

Glimmerglass 6:51 AM  

@PG: Welcome back. NEWS could, for example, be an acronym (Nauseous Every Week Stories), but it isn't. A local news show here started with a weather vane shown at an angle that put the letters spelling NEWS.

James Dean 6:58 AM  

An above average Monday puzzle that was fun to solve. EVILTWIN and MISUSAGE were great answers, and the cross os STONED with CRACKSAWINDOW made me smile.

loren muse smith 7:37 AM  

I'm reporting an easy Monday here. My one mistake was putting in BIG "game" for BIG CATS and thinking, well, I know lots of people who own a gun and hunt bear, too. And this sadness washed over me. But then I'm the one who sneaks out of the kitchen when there's a spider in the sink, hoping against hope the little guy makes his escape before anyone else notices.

@Steve J – OWN A GUN feels like it's firmly in my language.

I've learned a heck of a lot on this blog, and today when I saw ENORMITY and its clue, I silently thanked @Dictionaries for pointing out that I had been using it incorrectly. Today's MISUSAGE reminded me to thank @Tita for sending me off to look up "egg corn." I had never seen that expression before, and I love it! I know a very, very smart guy here who regularly uses them, and their beauty is that they make total sense: one of our ponds has allergy instead of algae, and sometimes our water has settlement instead of sediment. Oh, and my daughter is in school in Pitchburgh - surely that makes sense on some level.

@Whirred Whacks – we're on the same page today! Early on, I had CRACKS A WINDOW and saw the beginning of MET - - - and vaguely wondered if it would be something like MET HALFWAY. Then maybe POTTED PLANT, BLOWING OFF STEAM . . . Nah. Shortly afterwards I got SNOWS IN and STONED. Hah!

I didn't have a problem with the clue for NEWS because of the word "coincidentally." "Ironically' would have had me raising my eyebrows.

@retired_chemist – loved the limerick!

@chefwen – welcome back!

@Lewis – I stink at the PPPs. Hint? Verb or adjective?

PG – thanks for filling in! Enjoyable as usual! (FWIW, I kept thinking "you're" for SHE'S, but your "I'm" is funnier.)

And Joel – always a pleasure.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

What does Elvis impersonation have to do with SNEERS? Anyone?

Leapfinger 8:06 AM  

A better than OKAY Monday puzzle.

Still, it's odd to think that 12 years ago, it would probably have been thought "too soon" to have a puzzle about AIRPLANEs, and now we get one with OWN A GUN and AMMO on the side. Time wounds all heels, huh? No problem here with hunting as a sport, but odd that buying one new firearm every MONTH would be thought a reasonable limit. [Apparently the state just north of mine does, or did.] Maybe fishing rods, or footballs, or power tools could substitute for whatever NEED that meets... Maybe IOWAN apology to anyone who thinks I'm GUILTY of putting LUBRICANT on their slippery slope, so SCUSI!

I don't fly much anymore, since security measures have GONZO overboard; when I do, I like the SEAT by the WINDOW (no CRACKS), and make sure I know where the EXIST are.

Liked the NW start with I RAN a MILO RACE and the MALE ALES pair. SKEWS me, but is that Doug's EVIL TWIN snugged up beside MIS (MIz/ MRS?) USAGE?

PG, that sure was an R-rated clip of MATT, much WARMer than the original!

A good Monday, JoelF. GOLAN or go home!

chefbea 8:14 AM  

Fun easy Monday.
@PG thanks for the write up. Good to see you
I too don't understand sneers

And didn't we have uplift recently?? and Mrs. Fields cookies??

Welcome back to my favorite chef!!!

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

PG's comments much more interesting than the puzzle today, but it is a Monday after all.

Thanks for the Damon/Silverman clip. Anyone watching that should watch Kimmel's response with Ben Affleck. Probably funnier because of its "We are the World" rip-off; and Josh Groban's appearance - shocking his fan base I'm sure.

NEWS clue was just fine, btw - disagree totally with PG on that one.

Another "Orphan Black" junkie! Welcome to the club. Man, that show can hook ya.

Mohair Sam 8:23 AM  

@chefbea and @Anon - Elvis had a way of curling his lips to the side while singing that was often interpreted as a sneer. That look is a key tool for Elvis impersonators.

dk 8:35 AM  

OOO (3 Moons)

Very solid puzzle for any day of the week.

Whose brain is this? (Dr. F)
Abby Normals. (IGOR)

Begin tirade by Dr. F. Speaking of tirades...

Given my recent plane travels I would also add cramped and uncomfortable. My other travel experiences include hotels that believe attitude is more important than the room (yes W and Aloft I am talking about you). All of which was trumped by swimming at the Blue Hole and Austin's Barton Spring -- Did I mention the SaltLick Bar-B-Que?

I would like to resurface my theory that Burt and Ernie are named after the cabbie and cop from It's a Wonderful Life…. I shan't.

Perhaps an Acme sighing this week.

Craig 8:41 AM  

I believe 57A is not correct -- there's a difference between and etching and an engraving.

RAD2626 8:41 AM  

Neat puzzle. Started at top and just kept going and had no clue what the theme was until the revealer. Very cute. Clue for EVILTWIN was great. Mideast flavor Monday basic. Nice way to start the week.

joho 8:50 AM  

Easy, breezy perfectly pitched Monday puzzle.

I loved the clue for NEWS! To me it meant that NEWS is gathered from all points around the world.

If I had any nit to pick I'd like a more interesting phrase for the reveal than AIRPLANESEATS -- but I can't imagine what in the world that would be! That's what they are, simple and straightforward.

Thanks, Joel and you, too, PG for another entertaining write up!

NCA President 9:05 AM  

Just watched Scott Pilgrim vs. The World yesterday (don't judge)...and he ends up fighting his EVILTWIN in the end...[SPOILER ALERT: but he ends up making friends with him instead].

Only came here to post that...nothing stands out particularly about the puzzle. If you looked up "Monday NYT Puzzle" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of this puzzle as the example.

Lewis 9:23 AM  
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Lewis 9:25 AM  

@LMS and anyone else interested...

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP) hint: The phrase consists of two four-letter words, and another definition for it is "make less strident or offensive".

Bob Kerfuffle 9:27 AM  

One write-over: Had 20 A as CRANKS A WINDOW, you know, as you might have cranked the car window open a bit before they were all electrified, or like that type of window which you have to . . . well, crank open. Made filling in BIG CATS surprisingly difficult!

RooMonster 9:30 AM  

Hey All!
Nice Monday puzzle. I wonder if PG was trying to say something with her Monday *For a Monday* review! I thought It waz easy-medium *for a Monday* Good clean puz, no dreck.

@Leapy, loved your infusization of the answers. Of course, now you all have to deal with mine!



Z 9:34 AM  

What - No CALCUTTA comments? Otherwise, the ENORMITY of the puzzle might ruin a Monday, GAZA, OWN A GUN rights, a TASED GUILTY STONED HANDEL blaming it on his EVIL TWIN. The potential DIN is deafening. As TUPAC CHOPIN once said, arguing politics is like playing chess with a pigeon; No matter how well I play the pigeon is just going to knock over the pieces.

Bake before BOIL ... I was thinking it was a dry heat... gave me some problems. I also wanted TUrn oN before TUNE IN, preferring the potential double entendre every single time. No issue with "GO" instead of "WALK" DOWN THE AISLE, seem pretty interchangeable to my ear. As for NEWS, the clue seems spot on to me so I am puzzled by so many people's puzzlement. Perhaps the redundant "only" in the clue is throwing people off. It is only unnecessary, not wrong.

Regarding unreadable captchas - I always try 42. Works most of the time and if it doesn't I usually get a readable one the next time.

AliasZ 9:47 AM  

I like Joel Fagliano's puzzles, and this one was no exception *for a Monday*. A super elegant Monday puzzle *for a Monday* with an unusually low word count *for a Monday*. I enjoyed it a great deal *for a Monday*.

- CRACKS in A WINDOW reminded me of an old fraternity prank perpetrated by some cowardly guys who, when having to turn around and face the music, run and hide like a bunch of BIG CATS.
- ME TINT, HE MIDDLE did not make any sense to me. Visions of crayons and sugarplum fairies in the aisle... Now I am more confused than ever.
- GOD OWN THE AISLE, me OWN A GUN. With gun me can own the aisle.
- The Black Hole of CALCUTTA acquired an entirely new meaning since the recent CUL incident.
- EXIST is just one tiny little letter away from sexist. ["That's so deep!"]

I'll have this all SEWN up [made up of the four main compass points] in another minute with this delightful, humorous ENCORE by Percy Aldridge Grainger (1882-1961) titled HANDEL in the Strand.

The above was conceived in a STONED state by my EVIL TWIN. Do not hold me responsible.

John V 10:07 AM  

This is a fabulous Monday puzzle. As Jeff Chen elaborates elsewhere, this is a 70 word puzzle, folks, 70 words on a Monday, a themed puzzle fit into a themeless grid, but with Monday difficulty and with only AWNS as so so fill. I finished and said, something is going on here. I counted words three times and could not believe what I found. From a constructor's perspective, this is a perfect masterpiece. As noted elsewhere, "How the heck did he do that?"

As a novice constructor who has attempted themes where the theme word is at the end of the phrase, I can say that is a hard trick to pull off.

Great stuff!

Steve J 10:17 AM  

@Loren: Of course OWN A GUN is in the language. The "green paint" comment was noting that it felt like that answer was essentially OWN A whatever fits. Own a cat. Own a hat. Own a Photomat.

@Z: The 42 trick stopped working for me when the captchas went to single numbers. Apparently Google tired of people like us refusing to take seriously our responsibility to teach its robots to read.

r.alphbunker 10:18 AM  

I would like to say that I flew through this puzzle but given that it took me longer to do it than it took Rex to finish the Saturday puzzle let's say that I took the Acela Express through it. It was an enjoyable ride.

I love trains. Once the ETA into Chicago was severely impacted by an ice storm. My plane arrived at 2:00AM and I slept on a bench. The next day, the airport was chaos and I decided to take the train home. What a beautiful experience! The ice storm that had cause havoc at O'Hare and create a beautiful sparkling landscape that I enjoyed for the whole trip.

I have decided that there are siren clues that slow down the unwary solver. {Lions and tigers, but not bears} had that affect on me today.

I stared at this grid for 21 sec before getting AWNS {Plant bristles}

The filled in grid was:
METI_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Compromised, as two parties
_ I_ _ A_ _ Lions and tigers, but not bears
CR_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Lets some air in, say
_ W_ _ Plant bristles
_ A_ _ Mideast's ___ Strip
_ O_ _ Corner chess piece
_ N_ ___ Taylor, women's clothing chain
_ N_ _ _ _ _ Strands at a chalet, say

{Plant bristles} is a total gimme so why did it take 21 seconds to enter it? Because I was trying to figure out how lions and tigers are different than bears, that's why. I had to leave the sport's team domain before I had a chance at the answer.

jberg 10:18 AM  

I'm with @Craig -- an engraving is printed from a plate with the design scratched into it with various tools; an ETCHing is made by painting the design with a substance that resists acid, then dunking the plate into a acid bath where the acid eats away the unpainted parts. And SEVENTY is certainly not a common speed limit anywhere in the East.

Very minor quibbles, though, and I was glad of the focus on GAZA at this troubling time.

On the lighter side, I'm just as glad 62A wasn't WENS.

Great write-up, @PG!

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

AWNS must be acceptable * for a Monday* because an awfully easy fix if it is not: BloGS/oWNS. No disruption to the puzzle or theme at all.

Casco Kid 10:35 AM  

Curious how ENORMITY is not the noun of enormous, but rather means something enormously bad, while "awesome" -- which connotes "enormous" before anything else, has mutated to mean something enormously good.

"Honey, do I look awesome in this dress?"
"Absolutely not, dear! You're svelt as ever. "
"Thank you, sweetie. I'll buy it."

@Z my viscerals were the same as yours. ARI EXIST STONED. OWNAGUN. UPLIT GAZA GOLAN IRAN. GONZO TANK RACE. IGOR DYES. This puzzle is going to war, AISLE, MIDDLE, and WINDOW.

Zeke 10:46 AM  

The use of ENORMITY to mean enormous has always been a pet peeve of mine. Whe Bank of America ran a series of adds where the catch phrase was "get to know the ENORMITY of Bank of America" I was sorely tempted to contact their head of advertising to alert them to the grave mistake they had made. I didn't do so, only in the hope that there was some ultra sly writer at the advertising agency that produced the ad who slipped it in on purpose, and didn't want to get her fired.

Arlene 10:53 AM  

Thanks for pointing out the construction feats this puzzle represents. Makes me appreciate it all the more.
I was wondering about the GAZA and GOLAN references. I guess it's on everyone's minds these days.

Mark 10:55 AM  

Re NEWS, I think that "only coincidentally" is in the clue because it's a common myth that the word NEWS originated as an acronym of the four cardinal directions. I couldn't find citations for the claim, only for the debunking:

Carola 11:07 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle very much, and your write-up, too, @Puzzlegirl. Solving started out as a RACE, but I found things got tougher in the lower tier. Last letter in was the U in MISUSAGE x VALUES.

MET IN THE MIDDLE reminded me that the Metropolitan Opera has been in the MIDDLE of a labor dispute - I haven't checked the NEWS yet today, to see if the two sides have yet MET IN THE MIDDLE. Hope so!

@retired-chemist - Loved your parsing and limerick.
@chefwen - Nice to see you back!

jdv 11:26 AM  

Challenging. I think Monday puzzles are little harder today than a year ago. My only nitpick today is that the clues seemed a little bit wordier than usual, which may account for my sluggish pace. The fill is above average. I liked it.

mac 11:39 AM  

Monday Monday all right. The main thing I noticed t was that it's more or less 2 puzzles joined just by the word "din". Isn't that unusual so early in the week?

We've seen some of the answers in the last couple of days, I think. Oddly timely to have Gaza and Golan.

I'm a good customer of Ann Taylor. Stuff fits me.

@dk: who is going to do the sighing?

Thanks, PG, see you next weekend?

Masked and Anonymo4Us 12:20 PM  

Terrif writeup, PuzGirl.

Really drawn, like a moth to flame, to ARI LEAK. This just screams neat puz theme idea, to me.

Didn't we just have a JoelPuz very very recently?... The dude is hot, hot, hot.

Fave moocowMonday clue: "Horror film assistant with a Russian name". Would accept either IGOR or YGOR.

Fave nonmoocowMonday clue: "Becomes an Elvis impersonator?" This clue both stumped and intrigued. A SNEER or two will do it? Never thought of Dick Cheney that way, before...

Best wishes to all ailing cats, BIG or otherwise, in the SE. Best wishes to all snarkin travelers headed west.


Numinous 12:59 PM  

I had already known this, but when I took Linguistics in college it was pointed out to those who didn't know that the primary purpose of dictionaries is descriptive rather than prescriptive; basically, the impression left on one in eighth grade English is worong. Language is fluid. It is the task of lexicographers to illustrate that fluidity.

One of the two standard reference works used by the American publishing industry, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition contributes these snippets:

: a shocking, evil, or immoral act
: great evil or wickedness
: great size
Full Definition
1 : an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act
2 : the quality or state of being immoderate, monstrous, or outrageous; especially : great wickedness
3 : the quality or state of being huge : immensity
4 : a quality of momentous importance or impact
Other forms: plural enor·mi·ties
the enormity of the crimes committed by the Nazis
the enormity of the canyon can only be grasped by taking a trip through its entire length . . .

Usage: Enormity, some people insist, is improperly used to denote large size. They insist on enormousness for this meaning, and would limit enormity to the meaning “great wickedness.” Those who urge such a limitation may not recognize the subtlety with which enormity is actually used. It regularly denotes a considerable departure from the expected or normal . When used to denote large size, either literal or figurative, it usually suggests something so large as to seem overwhelming and may even be used to suggest both great size and deviation from morality . It can also emphasize the momentousness of what has happened or of its consequences .

It would appear that both senses for the word ENORMITY are valid. While the pedants among us may despise it, language is constantly evolving and while in the 15th century ENORMITY may not have connoted tremendous size, 600 years later, it does.

I was bemused by GOLAN TANKS and GAZA AMMO as I read last night that Bolivia has declared Israel to be a terrorist state. I'd have thought that issue a bit touchy for an NYT puzzle.

All that aside, I agree with @puzzlegirl and everyone else who found this to be a near ideal Monday, Monday effort

Numinous 1:04 PM  

In the above, the cited examples did not make it because they were surrounded by greater or lesser than symbols common to HTML. I expect that if anyone cares, they can look them up for themselves.

NCA President 1:22 PM  

if "ENORMITY" is a noun meaning grave crime or sin, what is the noun for "enormous?" Enormousness?

fvigeland 1:27 PM  

@Anon 10:33 a.m.: Joel points out in his XWI notes that OWNS is a dupe with OWNAGUN. He originally had BLOGS/LOOK/OWNS.

loren muse smith 1:47 PM  

@Numinous – amen, brother! I had considered responding in the same spirit to the clue for ENORMITY but I'm a big weenie and choose my battles here. True – someone in Rexville recently pointed out to me the "correct," traditional usage of ENORMITY – one that I had not been aware of – and I appreciated learning something. I learned that that's how ENORMITY is viewed by many - but that like a gazillion other words, phrases, etc., its meaning is either shifting or broadening.

Just look up the word nice in the OED if thou wantest to see just how drastically a word and its meaning can change over time. (Grammar changes, too. Ask any linguist and they'll probably agree.) Hopefully that begs the question of what changes are "acceptable" and when these changes become "acceptable." For a while now, dictionaries have had "imply" as a possible meaning for infer, have shown loan to be a verb, too, and even have the speaker standing behind a podium rather than a lectern. And we see every single day here that the difference between its and it's is disappearing; I know their's a time or two here recently that I've goofed typing it.

Z 1:47 PM  

ENORMITY (with a good usage note)

@NCA President - Does an adjective have to have a noun form? Even "ENORMITY" is always used in an adjectival phrase, "the ENORMITY of (insert modified noun here)." I can't think of a situation where one would say, "The ENORMITY is...."

Sfingi 1:51 PM  

@LMS - I never kill spiders. They kill other things, like flies and skeeters. It's considered bad luck to kill a spider in some ethnic groups.

Like @Z, had TUrn oN before TUNE IN. Do youngsters still "turn on" a TV?

For EVIL TWIN, I wanted "whipping boy," but it didn't fit.

@Ret Chem - don't you have that machine, yet? Hubster does, so I don't call him "Snorehead" as much. But, in the living room, he still insists he's watching tv while he snores.

Ever since the movie, Exodus, people my age have named their kids ARI.
My friend in the GOLAN introduced me to Hubster, when she worked at the Utica Public Library. In the days of index cards. Then, another friend visited her and reported she had an M-16 slung over her shoulder. One of the few times I cried. Maybe when someone recognizes Israel's right to exist...

Let me end on a different note: There was a young man from Racine.

RAD2626 2:04 PM  

The discussion of ENORMITY is very interesting. Virtually the same dichotomy exists with the word "fulsome" which can be used to denote either copious or morally offensive. No wonder English is such a hard language.

Leapfinger 2:32 PM  

@sfingi, spiders are our friends.

There was a young man from Racine
Who invented a flying machine.
It wasn't too wide,
One SEAT on each side,
And only the AISLE in between.

[Special adaptation for NYT JFagliano puzzle]

sanfranman59 3:55 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 6:25, 6:01, 1.07, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:25, 3:55, 1.13, 89%, Challenging

Lewis 4:51 PM  



Steve J 5:11 PM  

@Z: Plenty of cases where one can use enormity/enormousness as a noun: "The first time I visited the Grand Canyon, I was struck by its enormity." Or: "He was shocked by the enormity of what he'd done." Or: The enormity of the situation wasn't lost on them. It's unlikely it'd be used as a subject, but it can be - and frequently is - used as an adjectival noun.

@Numinous and Loren: Yep, language constantly shifts and changes. Loren called out a few things where today's common/standard use is yesterday's non-standard use. There are many, many more.

That said, we all (well, most of us), have our shifts we resist and fight against. I know "literally" has been used as a synonym for "figuratively since at least the 19th century. That doesn't stop me ruefully shaking my head over sentences such as what I once heard a sports announcer say about a player who was having a very good game: "He's literally on fire out there today!" And yet, no one ever hosed him down. Poor guy.

Incidentally, this discussion can also be somewhat applied to the etched/engraving comments. One of my dictionaries begins its definition of etch thusly: "to engrave [a material] by coating ..."

Carola 5:42 PM  

@Steve J - re: your remark above on "literally," I thought you might get a kick out of this - a couple of days ago, my 5-year-old granddaughter, having only heard the word but not seen it, asked her mother, "Mom, does 'literally' mean, like, throwing trash around?"

mathguy 6:10 PM  

I thought that the puzzle was a bore but I really enjoyed today's comments.

I just put Orphan Black on my Netflix queue.

@retired chemist: How cool that you memorize limericks. I'll try to memorize yours if I can learn how to pronounce oleaginous.

I was reminded of how much I enjoyed News Radio. I'm going to try to find it somewhere.

@jberg: enjoyed learning how etching is done. Addition by subtraction.

@Numinous: "Definitions are descriptive not prescriptive." Nice.

@loren muse smith: "Begs the question" used to mean a fallacious argument in which the statement to be proved was used as an element of the argument, as I remember. It's never used in that sense any more.

Barkle 6:14 PM  

Another word that needs to go: Thumb. Why not do what we do with our toes and just call it a big finger. We can all throw our dictionaries away -- words mean what we mean them to mean. Period. Why look anything up? There may be people who care that they're is a difference between etching and engraving, but they're probably either overly particular or maybe artists, so lets us, the great mass of talkers, let them know we don't give a damn about what screwy thing they do with a metal plate. We don't! Somebody has a dictionary that says the etching is coating? Let's start with that one.

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

@Mohair Sam : Thank you.

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

Gonzo does have a blue nose in the animated spinoff though in "real life" his nose appears to be a kind of violet to me. So maybe this clue isn't entirely off the wall.

Anonymous 8:58 PM  

Too funny about Gonzo's nose. Do Muppets have a 'real life'? At least we know the nose isn't a 'shrinking violet'

Immensely enjoyed all the language discussion, the various perspectives. It pays to know the meanings and subtleties of words but you can't preserve the language in amber.

Ain't that right?


Numinous 9:55 PM  

Probably nobody will get around to reading this but . . .

@mathguy, "Begging the Question" is used regurlarly in formal debate. It's taught as one of the other eight or nine falacies of argument in the Speech curricula of universities and colleges. Sadly, the vulgar usage loses much of its original elegance. As a 50 year old, I had the honor of debating in the 50th NDT. Perhaps we begged the question to the point of sending us down the slippery slope to last place. Oh well, it was my first year of policy debate. I did, however, at least in my own eyes, gain the distinction of being "the worst of the best instead of being the best of the rest."

On an entirely unrelated note, WOHOO!!!, the stupid NYT iPad app has finally instituted bluetooth keyboard functionality. That really reduces my solve times a lot. :-)

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 6:25, 6:01, 1.07, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:22, 3:55, 1.11, 87%, Challenging

Tita 10:40 PM  

@lms - another eggcorn I learned today - one of my Italian colleagues wrote about how we were "pathing the way" for a breakthrough in customer service. Perfectly sensical...
Watched Kill Bill 2 last night, so ELLE was timely.

SEVENTY? Common??!! In which states - tell me, so I can move there. I know Montana, Colorado, any where else? 2 does not "common" make. Unless Mr. Fagliano is talking of SAXONY and other German states. Sigh - I miss the Autobahn.

@Z - your chess comment - a perfect explanation for why I feel the way I do at work sometimes. Thanks for helping me understand.
And for 42, you're welcome.

@SteveJ - there is generally one part of the capcha that is not checked - whether it is a house sign or not. While I am glad to be part of the crowd sourcing the greater good of getting all books digitized, I draw the line at the purely mercenary agendas. Hence, the universal 42 still works for me.

@r.alph. I had a similar experience taking the train from NYC to Rochester NY. Up along the Hudson, turn left at the Mohawk and follow it west. When we stopped in Albany to change engines, the engine and cars looked like a scene from Dr. Zhivago - completely and perfectly rimed. Breathtaking!
And while we were moving, caught glimpses of the poor bastards on the turnpike spun out in the drifts. Other trips, those poor slobs were us. We love trains too.

BTW, "Siren clues" is an excellent coinage. Thank you. There are many examples, none of which I can think of right now.
But some made up examples would be "Word with Swiss or Chalet", or "Word with Foggy or Bottom". It becomes impossible to extricate the words into their stand-alone parts.

The whole enormity/literally/its/it's etc., etc., etc. - part of why I love it here.
And why solving the puzzle without Rex, Rexville, and great subs like you, Puzzle Girl, just ain't the same!

And thanks Mr. Fagliano - had fun with this.

Oh, and, for the record, I always take the WINDOW seat - in the immortal words of Chance the Gardner, "I like to watch."

I'm not a robot, I swear 11:03 PM  

I think PuzzleGirl has a point regarding that "coincidence" that "news" is made up of the compass points. Even if it's true, even if it seems unnecessary, even if some tiny few might think the word was once-upon-a-time actually made up of compass points, even if the clue would be fine with out that bit, there must be some particular logic behind the clueing -- that is intriguing as a minor riddle, and I can't get it.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

@I'm not...I swear

I think the logic behind the clue the minor riddle you cite, is the apparent tendency of some humans to look for pattern, meaning, reason where none exists.

How likely is that there'll be takers for TASE starting in the EAST and STEW coming from the WEST?

Caught in the Web.

wrollinson 3:23 PM  

I was hoping for BUGALOO instead of BUGABOO...

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

Okay, is ANYBODY bothered by the clue for MALE? What is "D?" What does that letter have to do with MALE????

Typically Monday easy, except for the above and the SE, where neither EVILTWIN nor MISUSAGE (?) came right away.

Working from the top down, I paused after doing the first two long acrosses. Hmmm, CRACKSAWINDOW and METINTHEMIDDLE. I thought and thought. A THEMELESS? On a MONDAY??? But then with GODOWNTHEAISLE I saw it and so could fill in the revealer. But I gotta admit, just looking at those first two...

So, typically clean Fagliano fill (not perfect: AAA, but darn close!) and a nice aha! moment. Can't ask much else of a Monday. A-.

900: A+!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:47 AM  

According to my sources, the clue for 36D is "Like guys", which seems a fair clue for MALE. What are you looking at?

DMG 1:55 PM  

A smooth Monday. Seems 36D was clued differently in different media. Hi @spacecraft and @Bob Kerfulle. My paper printed a symbol, a little circle with an arrow poff to the NE. Dont know how to reproduce it here, but it's a standard one. At any rate the problem it temporarily presented for me was that I interpreted it as meaning Masc, even as I wondered why no abbreviation was noted! However, cross clues straightens out that minor glitch. So a good Monday.

Even better: 540

Bob Kerfuffle 2:27 PM  

@spacecraft and @DMG - Looks like the accepted name for that is the Mars Symbol!

Dirigonzo 4:13 PM  

It has GONZO so of course I love it! In my paper the clue for 36d was a very tiny, barely discernible Mars symbol that almost looks hand-drawn - I wonder if their software couldn't reproduce the symbol correctly?

@Tita - (if you still check in on the syndi-comments) Maine recently raised the speed limit on the interstate to 70, except north of Bangor where it's 75.

The full moon tonight is another "super moon", reportedly the brightest one of the year. I do believe I'll drink a toast to that.

2952 - 9 the hard way!

rain forest 5:05 PM  

36D in my paper was the accepted pictogram of the MALE gender: a circle with an arrow presumably in extremis.

In my experience, 70 mph in Wash, Ore, Cal, Ari, N.Mex, Mon, N.Dak, and I'm sure in others.

Can't appreciate the ENORMITY of the discussion about ENORMITY.

5833 NOPE If we're playing Baccarat, do we accept 0 as a card? If not, then @Diri, you win!

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