Amerika novelist / WED 10-8-14 / Big 1975 boxing showdown / Beatle George's sitar teacher / Maker of Aibo robotic pets / Dr Pepper Snapple Group brand

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: THE DESCENT OF MAN (11D: Darwin work … with a hint to three consecutive letters in 3-, 4-, 7-, 9- and 11-Down) — the letter string "MAN" "descends" the grid, starting at the top of the first long Down (3D) and then inching its way down the grid one three-letter stretch at a time with each successive long Down (4D, 7D, 9D), til it hits the bottom of the grid in the last long Down (11D).

Theme answers:
  • MANIFEST DESTINY (3D: Expansionist doctrine)
  • "I DEMAND A RECOUNT!" (4D: Election loser's cry)
  • TEN COMMANDMENTS (7D: Text on tablets)
  • THRILLA IN MANILA (9D: Big 1975 boxing showdown)
Word of the Day: SAC (50A: Onetime tribe of the Upper Midwest) —
The Sauk are believed to have had their original territory along the St. Lawrence River. They were driven by pressure from other tribes, especially the Iroquois, to migrate to Michigan, where they settled around Saginaw Bay. Due to the yellow-clay soils found around Saginaw Bay, their autonymwas Oθaakiiwaki (often interpreted to mean "yellow-earth".) The Ojibwe and Ottawa name for the tribe (exonym) was Ozaagii, meaning "those at the outlet". From the sound of that, the French derived Sac and the English "Sauk". Anishinaabe expansion and the Huron attempt to gain regional stability drove the Sac out of their territory. The Huron were armed with French weapons. The Sac moved south to territory in parts of what are now northern Illinois and Wisconsin.
A closely allied tribe, the Meskwaki (Fox), were noted for their hostility toward the French, having fought two wars against them in the early 18th century. After the second war, Fox refugees took shelter with the Sac, making them subject to French attack. The Sac continued moving west to Iowaand Kansas. Two important leaders arose among the Sac: Keokuk and Black Hawk. At first Keokuk accepted the loss of land as inevitable in the face of the vast numbers of white soldiers and settlers coming west. He tried to preserve tribal land and to keep the peace.
Having failed to receive expected supplies from the Americans on credit, Black Hawk wanted to fight, saying his people were "forced into war by being deceived." Led by Black Hawk in 1832, the mainly Sac band resisted the continued loss of lands (in western Illinois, this time.) Their warfare with United States forces resulted in defeat at the hands of General Edmund P. Gaines in the Blackhawk War. (wikipedia)
• • •

Thought I'd just rest my eyes last night and when I woke up it was 6:30. So it was an early-morning solve for me, and my mind was apparently grateful for the rest because even though I was yawning and  slumped over with tiredness, I blew through this puzzle without a hitch. It was weird to see the theme answers unfold, as I thought they were all quite nice, but I had no idea what could be holding them together. This meant that the revealer did its job exactly as it's supposed to—it came at the end and it made me see some cool aspect of the grid. Revelation. I've seen variations on this theme many times before—the descending letter string—but this one is executed perfectly. All the Downs are perfect grid-spanners (five 15s). They all actually go Down (you could technically run these themers Across and the theme would still work, but Down is so much better). The "MAN" inside the theme answers stays hidden til the end (i.e. MAN never refers to a human MAN until the revealer). And all the themers are rock solid. This means that I don't care as much about the rough fill too much. Theme is dense and (more importantly) well done, so OUTA ATUNE ESSES EZINE all lose most of their capacity to irk.


Bullets:
  • 1A: Try to sink (RAM) — I needed every cross to get this. I don't know why.
  • 50A: Onetime tribe of the Upper Midwest (SAC) — I needed every cross to get this. I do know why. I … well I was going to say "I've never heard of this tribe," but I knew as soon as I looked them up that this was déjà vu all over again. Apparently I'm doomed not to remember this tribe, possibly because SAC is a perfectly good baseball term. SAC space in my brain (!) is already taken. [Tribe that invented the bunt?], I would get.
  • 57A: All, in Alba (TUTTO) — had TUTTI. Seemed reasonable.
  • 16D: Poison sci. (TOX.) — short for "toxicology," I guess, but I don't remember ever seeing such a thing, in my grid or elsewhere. Roughly seven years since its last appearance in the NYT. It's tucked out of the way, and it's holding "OH THAT!" in place, so I don't really mind its weirdness.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

101 comments:

Glimmerglass 7:43 AM  

Good morning, Rex. You picked a good day to do a morning solve.

Hungry Mother 7:43 AM  

Took me a while to realize the plural rulers of Syria.

joho 7:51 AM  

MAN oh MAN oh MAN oh MAN oh MAN what a stunning puzzle!

RAD2626 7:51 AM  

Really terrific theme made even better by the revealer being the bottom MAN in the DESCENT. Overwhelmingly clever. Lots of s's in ASSADS and ESSES, the latter being the only irksome word in the puzzle.

Congratulations Ms. Guizzo and Mr. Chen on a great puzzle.

George Barany 7:52 AM  

Taking a break from watching a magnificent lunar eclipse to check in here. This was an elegant puzzle by Mary Lou and Jeff, and I also liked Hayley Gold's web-comic based on it over at http://acrossanddown.net/

I did have one amusing hiccup with the leadoff single clue for 23-Down. MAN_ON seemed just as reasonable as the actual answer, ONE_ON. Of course, MANON would be more reasonably clued as an opera title character, just as SAC should have had a baseball clue, but it all sorted itself out.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Great theme, great construction, slightly too much junk (I would personally prefer fewer OH THAT's along with fewer TOX), average clues, very easy - the grid-spanners were all close to gimmes. All in all, a very nice mid-week puzzle that will be remembered because of its sparkling theme. Bravo!

wreck 7:54 AM  

Very well executed puzzle! It was easy, but enjoyable and the theme didn't jump out until the very end. Nice write-up today!

JohnV 8:08 AM  

Fabulous! What @Rex said. Beautiful grid, esp with the four 15s constraint.

Bravo!

Lewis 8:09 AM  

That's quite a feat, finding five grid spanners, all in the language, in which MAN appears in spaces 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15. Bravo on that! I hope for some tricky cluing on Wednesday, and didn't get that, but that's my only nit. I think easy is a good rating; it went fast (for a Wednesday) for me.

I also liked the answer where if you double an inner consonant you get a completely different answer.*

My lesson from Rex -- sometimes ugly fill is okay.

*STIRUP

Mohair Sam 8:11 AM  

This was fun Wednesday. Rarely enjoy easy puzzles this much.

What @Rex said right down to his bullets, except we got RAM off the R and our TUTTO mistake was TUTT(e) not (i).

Tremendous theme and reveal. Thank you Mary Lou and Jeff.

JohnV 8:13 AM  

That would be five 15s, of course.

dk 8:22 AM  

🌒🌒🌒🌒 (4 moons eclipsed)

Plus 1 🌞. A selenelion morning and a rare puzzle as well. Some strained fill (29d & 56d) but no matter.

Thanks Mary and Jeff.

ArtO 8:22 AM  

Blew through it so fast didn't bother with the theme until coming here. Really clever tour de force.

LHS 888 8:24 AM  

I agree with all of the comments thus far. It was a beautiful puzzle. ASADA was my entry into the grid, followed immediately by MANIFESTDESTINY. Off to a great start, and it just kept going.

Write-overs: apply > HITUP
TUTTi > TUTTO
I confidently entered originofspecies on seeing "Darwin" (without registering the rest of the clue and before checking any crosses). Deleted that right out, reread the clue and entered THEDESCENTOFMAN. Whew!

For the life of me I couldn't remember MONA (D'oh!)
Plural others might not like, but I did: SAXES
I loved the 15s.

Thanks MLG & JC!

Lewis 8:27 AM  

Factoid: RAVI Shankar is the father of performer Norah Jones.

Quotoid: "Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a MEAL." -- E. O. Wilson

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

FABULOUS puzzle! BRILLIANT construction! Yes it was a bit too easy but so superb in every way. Embarrassed to admit that I had to guess the A in Mt. Ida- I spent one week of my honeymoon on Crete!

joho 8:30 AM  

Or better said:

MAN
oh MAN
oh MAN
oh MAN
oh MAN
what a stunning puzzle!

Thank you, Mary Lou & Jeff!

Susan McConnell 8:31 AM  

Seriously biting my tongue....so easy to go blue on this theme. Needless to say I enjoyed the puzzle very much.

Leapfinger 8:32 AM  

Exactly what Rex said, from the eye-closing to TUTTI to TOX! [But not SAC.]

Like @Lewis, saw the STIRRUP, and wanted the Positron to be in the brain, a la Asimov's robots. Iwas all very KAFKAesque.

MAN
-----
Bored

Not!

Andrew Morrison 8:32 AM  

Easy and fun. All the long downs were, for me, gimmes, so that was a treat for once. Great theme. Great theme answers. I am just glad I had so many crosses because the singers? Don't know their work. I am vaguely aware of ASHANTI and NAS but I don't know their music or song titles.

Boy do I get angry when a puzzle mentions Clinton. That philandering SOB really gets me...........blah blah blah.
(Tee hee!)

NCA President 8:34 AM  

Weirdly for me, all of the acrosses in the NW (RAM, USA, IDIOM, and KAFKA) I got by filling in the downs. That doesn't happen too often for me especially later in the week.

IDEMANDARECOUNT should have been clued as something a sore loser would say....in fact, did Al Gore even have to say this to get a recount? He probably just politely asked for one, or someone asked on his behalf. Anyway, this is one of those phrases that is in our lexicon that probably isn't said very much. It kind of reminds me of the dog name Fido. That name is universally accepted as a dog name but no one names their dog Fido unless they are doing it ironically...and then it doesn't count. (I guess you could demand a recount ironically too...)

Just for the record, TUTTO/a means all in the singular, TUTTi means all in the plural. For example singular "all" would be "it's all mine" and so would be "é tutto mio," and plural all would be "all of the instruments" and so the tutti would be used thusly: "tutti gli strumenti." Hope that clears that up.

Otherwise, fast Wednesday for me...though I don't really keep track of such things. I judge my time based on how much coffee is drunk during the solve. Today was a half-cupper.

Just a head's up 8:38 AM  

For those who solve using Across Lite, without giving anything away, the NYT has been printing for the past days a heads-up warning stating that there is a display issue with tomorrow's crossword in the Across Lite version, suggesting that solvers should use some other version to solve the puzzle (such as printing out the Replica Edition version).

Charles Flaster 8:45 AM  

EZ .Absolutely loved it as theme was gotten after TEN COMMANDMENTS and THRILLA IN MANILLA as the "man" just hit me.
Did think there might be a "man to man defense".
Writeover with manifold destiny--ugh but cute.
CrosswordEASE---ESTD,UTAH,NEHI,OKRA,ERNE and MT IDA.
Just a fun solve and very clever construction.
Thanks a uriah heep to MLG and JC.

evil doug 8:49 AM  

Sure hope we have someone whose family suffered genocide under Assad so we can sidetrack the blog into a discussion of the inappropriateness of co-mingling that with the Ten Commandments in a crossword....

Evil

r.alphbunker 8:49 AM  

Great theme. All the theme answers have already been discovered by other constructors. The genius here the arrangement of them.

This puzzle joins Sunday's Timber! puzzle where the "downness" of the answers contribute to the theme.

SECULARHUMANIST and GIANTSALAMANDER have the MAN in the right position to replace THRILLAINMANILA

Doug Garr 8:50 AM  

Nice puzzle. Got the MAN theme half way through and used it to help me get the long 3D. Had two mistakes -- ESTB first, and STARS. And I should have had STATS right away because I was in the third Rotisserie baseball league ever formed back in '82 when 36 people in the world played instead of the Fantasy craze of millions today (and more football than baseball). That's why I thought STARS first because most leagues are panzy; i.e. not the real thing. You could look it up.

jberg 8:59 AM  

I got THE TEN COMMANDMENTS right away, and I DEMAND A RECOUNT soon after -- so I knew soon that the theme had something to do with a MAND string. Close enough, it happens, and it was my MANIFEST DESTINY to be corrected quickly. Great theme, and put me with those who though OH, THAT, as clued, was excellent. (But then, my wife teaches TOX, so I didn't find that out of the way at all).

The other neat thing was that the DAZE/EZINE crossing gave me my entry to the puzzle -- couldn't think of RAM without a cross, don't know who rapped what, nor hor Fantasy Leagues work, and there are so many 3-letter networks.

And if you are going with cross-referenced clues, HIC is pretty good.

evil doug 9:00 AM  

... and I'm going to key every Syrian car I see....

Evil

Z 9:08 AM  

ToTTO before UTAH cleared that up. Just how many possible ways are there to err on TUTTO.

I opened the paper and saw the grid and though "uh oh." Banks of three everywhere. I like this a little less than Rex because of all those threes, but only a little less. Since STATS was my first word, THE DESCENT OF MAN was my first themer. I thought I was just looking for MAN going down. Discovering that each MAN is successively lower was my "aha" moment. Very nice.

@Susan McConnell - and they stick SMUT right there. Just too easy.

@Evil Doug - I was wondering if there are any SAC left to complain about crossing MANIFEST DESTINY.

Chris Rea 9:20 AM  

Blew through this one in near record time for me, with one glaring error that still irks me.

An Italian sandwich (singular) is a panino. Panini is the plural version, i.e. Sandwiches.

So I had POT instead of PIT.

As an Italian speaker, this irked me. Especially because the constructors correctly clued TUTTO. 'Tutti' means 'everyone'.

Small complaint. I enjoyed the puzzle and the revealer at the end.

mac 9:23 AM  

Fantastic puzzle. 4 moons from @dk! And deserved.
It was easy, alright, which made me do it NW to SE, leaving the reveal for the end.

What a pleasure, thank you Mary Lou and Jeff!

Now to see Haley's take on it.

Leapfinger 9:28 AM  

As noted elsewhere, this puzzle has "intelligent design"; thought that too good not to share.

I was going to suggest to @Evil that we could work up something with MANIFEST DESTINY and the SAC, etc, but dang if old @Z didn't beat me to it.

Lewis 9:36 AM  

goodMAN


@leapy -- I liked the word picture. Here's one, right above this, and here's another below.

MAN





(Can't keep a goodMAN down; A MAN of few words.)

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Great puzzle!!! No more to say

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

I agree with Chris Rea. Panini should have been panino. One could argue that it has become sufficiently Americanized as panini, except that the clue specifically references Italian.

Z 10:02 AM  

Old?

quilter1 10:02 AM  

The SAC and Fox run a casino here called Meskwaki, so SAC was a gimme. Just flew through this, less than half a cuppa. Very elegant.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

I don't usually complain about this, but the puzzle was just too easy. It's no fun when I'm filling in a bunch of the answers without even having to look at the clues.

Rex Parker 10:07 AM  

Go into virtually any sandwich shop / cafe / etc. (in America) and order a PANINO and see what happens…

RP

Arlene 10:16 AM  

I loved this puzzle - everything about it. I got the theme before filling in all the down answers, so filled in MANIFESTDESTINY and IDEMANDARECOUNT with barely any crosses.
Loved the checked CAB clue - brought back memories.
And the symmetry was simply perfection!

Leapfinger 10:17 AM  

uh, Worthy of veneration?

Ken 10:22 AM  

Chris Rea is correct, of course, but Rex has a valid point.

I also speak Italian; from time to time, in sandwich shops, I have deliberately "tested" the word "panini" on the menu. After asking for a panino (singular), the server has invariably said, "Okay, a panini."

By the way, Chris, I presume you often chuckle or cringe at some to the pigeon Italian on menus in Italian restaurants in the U.S. I do.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

I've always wondered why Darwin chose "The Descent of Man" to describe the evolution of humans - Why not Ascent?

Steve J 10:26 AM  

Liked this well enough when I did it last night. The downs were all really solid (if a bit easily gettable), and they were tied together nicely with the revealer (properly at the end of the sequence). But I didn't notice until reading Rex's commentary this morning that all the MANs go down the grid sequentially when read left-from-right. Really impressive. And strong enough to make me not mind things like TOX.

@Chris Rea and @Anon 9:48 a.m.: I hesitated at the end of PANIN-, on the off chance PANINO was being sought (it's showed up before in the NYT). But I figured it would be PANINI, because that's become singular in American usage, and the clue didn't indicate we were in Italy, merely that it was an Italian sandwich (which it is, in the same way some delis are Jewish, and we don't expect everything to conform to Yiddish grammar there).

Horace S. Patoot 10:28 AM  

I really loved this puzzle too. I hate to voice one quibble, but at least it's a complaint about the cluing and not the grid.

You won't find a positron inside an atom, at least not in this part of the universe. A positron is the antimatter counterpart to an electron, so the two mutually annihilate. "Antielectron" might have been a good clue, or maybe "Electron after attitude therapy?"

Carola 10:31 AM  

I noticed each MAN appearing in the Downs but not their DESCENT. Really fabulous.

The SAC live on, in name, in Prairie du Sac, WI, a favorite place to view bald eagles along the Wisconsin River.

retired_chemist 10:37 AM  

Agree with Signor Patoot - the worst thing about this puzzle is the incorrect clue for 54A. NO positrons in atoms in this universe.

Great theme, some unpleasing short fill. Overall solid work.

Thanks, Ms. Guizzo and Mr. Chen.

Sir Hillary 10:42 AM  

Great puzzle, for all the reasons noted by @Rex and above. My only minor nit is that saying THRILLAINMANILA is kind of like saying "Old Man and the Sea" -- i.e., it needs the "the". I suppose one could argue the same about TENCOMMANDMENTS, but that bothers me less for some reason. Again, a minor nit, far outshone by all the good stuff.

Whirred Whacks 10:50 AM  

Really nifty idea well executed.

If you're looking for a good TV series to watch, I can heartily recommend Jacob Bronowski's 1973

"The Ascent of Man"


about scientific and philosophic discovery through the ages. I watched it on PBS when it first came out, and again on DVD several years ago. It still holds up pretty well. Good viewing!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Unless you're Mary Poppins an Rx amt. is not TSP. Ok, maybe if you're 8 or downing cough syrup. Still I would have preferred Amt. of medicine.

And while I knew of The Descent of Man, until this puzzle it never dawned on me how apt the title is - even better named The Descent of Mankind. It is the watershed moment of dehumanizing mankind and making us little more than bright bipeds. Prior to the book mankind had a greater sense of it's role and purpose. Now we're just apes trashing the planet.

evil doug 11:01 AM  

Ooooh, Michael, you better groom those successors well; the unholy runtian triumvirate of r.alph, manda and the grim leaper have their own designs on your empire:

R.alph: "A plugin interface would strengthen our claim that we are serious contenders for taking over when RP retires. I view RP as Charlemagne and the crossword blogosphere as Europe. I want to get France not Luxembourg."

Stay well, my liege! Beware the ides of March!

Evil

Moly Shu 11:04 AM  

Late to the party and in a very very small minority, evidently. Did not like it at all thanks to @Z's mention of all the 3's and no clue on TUTTO. No idea where Alba is. Not even ICET and NAS could rescue it for me. I did not see the downward progression of MAN until coming here, and have to admit it is impressive. Still, just not my cuppa.

wordie 11:09 AM  

I agree with all the kudos for this puzzle. One nit: fill beyond full is not SATE. Sate is fill just right, not too much. I went out to dinner last night with my husband and a dear friend we hadn't seen in four years, and, caught up in the conversation, ate too much of the filet mignonette I had ordered. Afterward, I did not feel sated. I felt uncomfortably overstuffed. Not the same thing. And sate is a great word that deserves some respect.

jae 11:27 AM  

Very easy, clever and fun. Excellent!

Ellen S 11:31 AM  

@wordie, I had the same thought about SATE, but maybe it's evolving (descending?) same way as EKE OUT. As I've groused before, once upon a time that meant "supplement". It wasn't always followed by "a living", but often enough that now it means "barely scrape by" and no longer conjures 19th century ... what are they? rentiers? Anyway, people who have inherited a small store of stocks or bonds which, divided over the generations no longer return enough income to actually live on. So the descendents of the idle rich find they are the working poor, taking in washing or making cut-paper greeting cards to EKE OUT the income from their inheritance.

SAC was a gimme for me because in college I took an anthropology class from Sol Tax, who had secured his reputation working with the Sac and Fox (not just observing). I remember not one thing about the class itself. Well, okay, I remember one thing, but it might not be true: the class was a new one and advertised as an EASY A (or at least B) on that account. I don't know why it would have to be easy just because it was new. I also took a Latin American Civilization survey course the first time it was offered, taught by a faculty member who was said to not have a PhD, but rather its overseas equivalent, a baccalaureate from Oxford. It was graded like any normal course and it was glorious, for the first time placing events in context, the wars in the colonies connected to their counterparts raging on the European continent. (In contrast, the American (that is, US) History survey was pretty much like my high school history classes: the "French and Indian Wars" were just a colonial thing; back home, for all we knew, the French and English were great pals.

A pop-up notification tells me that the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the US has died. That was the guy they sent home from the ER, right? Anyyway, maybe this will satisfy Evil's apparent bloodlust. (Hey, don't worry about the Syrians. We're bombing them into democracy. It'll all be fine.)

Anna 11:32 AM  

@Evil Doug = "Sure hope we have someone whose family suffered genocide under Assad so we can sidetrack the blog into a discussion of the inappropriateness of co-mingling that with the Ten Commandments in a crossword".

Truly, it must be relatively pleasant not to have had your life and your soul permanently scarred by someone else's evil. May I suggest that in the future, if you cannot find it in yourself to thank whom or whatever you're inclined to thank for your own dumb luck, you merely revel in your own dumb luck and STFU.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:33 AM  

I was a little bothered by the clue for 54A also. A quick look at Wikipedia shows, "Positron emission [. . .] is a particular type of radioactive decay [. . .] in which a proton inside a radionuclide nucleus is converted into a neutron while releasing a positron and an electron neutrino." The Zen question becomes, can a nucleus release a positron if it wasn't (at least potentially) in there in the first place?

Masked and Anonymo6Us 11:49 AM  

Wow -- This is a really, really classy crossword.

Inspirational. Next up, for the unholy runtian empire (yo, @EvilD): THE ASCENT OF MANDA. har. Actually, no worries -- anything that smacks of "empire" sounds like far too much work, for an undependable lout like m&e. QED.

Live long and prosper, @63.

M&A

p.s. I might have a soft spot for @muse and Annabel stagin a coup, tho. @muse would hopefully put me in charge of Dept. of Cinnamon rolls. With @r.alph on tech support + Minister of Minis + KF Control Center (No lout, that @r.alph. See runtpuz.blogspot.com for the KF manifesto destiny-yo) @EvilD needs a position, also.


**gruntz**

The Venerated Z 11:57 AM  

I'm a descendant of my parents, not an ascendant.

evil doug 12:02 PM  

I know your emotions are legitimate, Anna, and your 'soul permanently scarred,' and I don't mean to diminish that reality in any way.

But the simple word, Oktoberfest, is not Kristallnacht. And this is a crossword blog, not the Eichmann trial. The simple existence of l'chaim in a grid with the harvest celebration that is enjoyed around the world---in fact, the largest Oktoberfest in America is right here in Cincinnati, and I'll guarantee you that you'd hear l'chaim and every other conceivable toast here---seems like an unnecessary statement of your pain in an inappropriate forum.

No matter how much I share in your hatred of the Third Reich and the horror of its acts against your people, I of course understand that I'll never be able to match your personal anguish. I merely suggest that this is not the place to make your fully legitimate case.

Doug

AliasZ 12:14 PM  


THE DESCENT OF MAN into Hades. It all started in the garden of Eden, and look where we are now.

Loved this puzzle! You did good, Mary Lou and Jeff, with nary a HIC here and an ICET there.

SAXES, you wanted to hear SAXES? Here are some SAXES for you.

And a special gift for someone: Jaj, Katica.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

M and Also in Descent 12:26 PM  

p.p.s.s
Forgot to ask Jeff and Mary Lou...

Why didn't U go with SAXON, instead of SAXES, in the SE corner? No big deal, but it'd kill off endin the puz on a plural of instrumentation (POI). Anyhoo, congrats on buildin a primo puz. thUmbsUp.

M&A
Just Wonderin

Dick Swart 12:35 PM  

An absolutely elegant puzzle:

Fun to precede inexorably across the gris w to e instead of my usual n to s

The 15s were quick hits with the question being 'what holds them together?'.

The revealer was my first real glimpse of the answer and then I had to run the letters on each 15 to see.

When I had them circled the descending pattern was a perfect representation of 11 down!

I call this an elegant puzzle for any day of the week! Hats off to Ms Guizzo and Mr Chen!

Gill I. P. 12:58 PM  

The first thing I could sense was that a ton of clever work went into this puzzle. I think you have to be artistic to pull off this mind boggling wonder. Good for you Mary Lou and Jeff....
I remember my first PANIN[O] in Italy. My girlfriend and I rented a Fiat in Rome (back in the early 80's) and decided to drive all around and end up in Madrid. Our intention was to stop along some small "cittas", pick up some bread, salami, olives, fruit and the required red local bottle of vino and maybe have a snooze under an olive tree. Instead, nature called a few miles outside of Rome and we stopped at a "bridge" restaurant. Inside, we were enticed by some of the best aromas this side of the Ponte Vecchio. I looked at the array of sandwiches and my salivating eyes ordered about 2 of each thinking we would never see them again! In Cuba we ate sandwiches like that with pork and I never thought I would see them again. Viva puerco panino and long live Highway restaurants in Italy!

Anna 1:12 PM  

@Evil Doug - I can't imagine the courage it took on your part to come out against the evil of the Third Reich. What insight.

Yesterday many people independently noted the incongruity of L'CHIAM in relation to Oktoberfest, a quintessentially German festivity. It evoked responses and on one or two occasions, comments explaining these responses, not comparisons to Kristallnacht. People reacted with insightful humanity, that's all.

As for why Cincinnati has America's largest Oktoberfest, try considering that Cincinnati has an extraordinarily large population of German Heritage. Please attend, and note the presence of people wearing traditional Bavarian costumes. Note also the presence of Orthodox Jews, and report back to us on the ratio of the two.

nemo paradise 1:19 PM  

A positron is the antimatter counterpart of an electron. We have no evidence that it exists outside of an experimental environment; i.e., a particle collider, although some theories postulate that antimatter may exist elsewhere in the universe, but thus far no antimatter "atoms" have been detected or created. Positrons have been detected individually in some types of galactic radiation ("cosmic rays").

Therefore, "atom" does not work very well for "positron's place."

nemo paradise 1:22 PM  

A positron is the antimatter counterpart of an electron. Some theories postulate that antimatter may exist elsewhere in the universe, but thus far no antimatter "atoms" have been detected or created. Positrons have been detected individually in some types of galactic radiation ("cosmic rays").

Therefore, "atom" does not work very well for "positron's place."

Casco Kid 1:22 PM  

Great puzzle. I couldn't help but sense a Biblical allusion to the Fall of Man echoing behind the Darwinian descent. This puzzle shimmered.

But the positron clue for ATOMS really rankled. Why was such a wrong clue necessary? "To let the evil spirits out?" I bet that even David Woolf, who conflated energy and momentum last week under the guise of plasticity of language, would balk at this one. Fine line between clever and wrong just got crossed again.

[Labels on pre-registered check-in desks] ATOMS

Charles Flaster 1:23 PM  

Agree to the nth!!!

Ludyjynn 1:43 PM  

@Anna, Thank you!

Beautiful construction of this easy midweek puzz., but I appreciate the nits pointed out re PANINI and ATOMS. That is one reason to read this site; I constantly learn something new coming here. However, I do not appreciate comments by negative energy vampires, even as Halloween approaches. (You know who you are).

Thanks, constructors and WS.

Martin 2:47 PM  

Unless Geneva is not part of this universe, all the pronouncements that there are no positron containing atoms detected or created are just not correct.

CERN keeps antihydrogen atoms atable for 15 minutes, and uses that time for very important studies.

Science marches on, as do clues.

sanfranman59 3:42 PM  

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

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

Wed 7:47, 9:30, 0.82, 10%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:08, 6:12, 0.83, 7%, Easy

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

@Martin - Sure, but is it a Hydrogen antiatom, or an Anti-Hydrogen atom?

Martin 3:54 PM  

The Wikipedia article uses "antihydrogen atom" exclusively. That's good enough for crossword subatomic physics.

Unknown 4:07 PM  

Sorry, but the CERN justification is idiotic. A clue doesn't get to point to an exotic state of matter created at the bleeding edge of science without mention. All the atoms you will ever see in your life - and you'll see a lot - don't have positrons in them.

The clue is clearly wrong to anyone with basic physics knowledge.

Davis 4:30 PM  

All the atoms you will ever see in your life - and you'll see a lot - don't have positrons in them.

Similarly, all the positrons you'll ever encounter in your life won't be in atoms.

Finding a couple of positrons in ATOMs does not make an ATOM a "Positron's place".

wordie 5:04 PM  

@Ellen S, I always enjoy your comments. Do you by any chance have an advanced degree in French? And, yeah, maybe it is a descent in usage. Still, I'll stick up for the original, for sate, slake, and satisfy, etc. regards,

Wordie

Joe Dipinto 5:26 PM  

Panini is not "a sandwich", I don't care how many restaurant workers and customers incorrectly think it is. The heading "Panini" on a menu means "Sandwiches"; the clue should have been written "Italian sandwiches"

Z 5:33 PM  

Hmmm:
Stable in a vacuum, positrons quickly react with the electrons of ordinary matter by annihilation to produce gamma radiation. Positrons are emitted in the positive beta decay of proton-rich (neutron-deficient) radioactive nuclei and are formed in pair production, in which the energy of a gamma ray in the field of a nucleus is converted into an electron-positron pair. They are also produced in the decays of certain short-lived particles, such as positive muons. Positrons emitted from man-made radioactive sources are used in medical diagnosis in the technique known as positron emission tomography (PET). (from the Encyclopedia Britannica

I don't know what the experts will say but this sure sounds like stuff that is happening inside an atom.

Is it just me or was anyone else bothered by the swearing (STFU) and the name calling (negative energy vampires)?

OISK 6:19 PM  

Lovely puzzle, despite the legitimate nits that some have picked. It played like a Monday for me, despite Ashanti, NAS, and IceT, one which is a semi-familiar name, one which I have never heard of, (although it may have been in the crossword before) and the third which has appeared many times, but I wouldn't know him from Snow-Cohn. Pop rock hip-hop, meaningless to me, but when as well placed as it was here certainly not objectionable. Happy Sukkoth.

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

If everyone only realized @Evil is just cracking wise on the side debates of certain things in certain puzzles, you might have actually gotten a chuckle out of his first post. Lighten up, y'all.

sanfranman59 10:12 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 5:51, 6:03, 0.97, 35%, Easy-Medium
Tue 6:59, 7:50, 0.89, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:59, 9:30, 0.84, 13%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:57, 0.98, 36%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:42, 5:21, 0.88, 10%, Easy
Wed 5:00, 6:12, 0.81, 4%, Easy (11th lowest ratio of 249 Wednesdays)

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

An overstuffed theme resulting in far too many 3-letter words.

I can be Anon, also 12:02 AM  

@Anon 7:54, had Evil-D been just 'cracking wise' in his first two posts. it seems he would have mentioned that in his reply to Anna, rather than getting all A**-holier-than-thou about Kristalnacht and et ceterae. So no, I don't think so.

Mind if I peek behind your Anon-mask, see if I see a pair of horns?

Anonymous 3:33 AM  

@Chris Rea and others...

In Italian, "spaghetti" is plural too. But in English, it's a singular collective noun, like "lettuce".

If you compliment a cook by saying "The spaghetti were very good today", you just look silly.

By the same token, as an English word "panini" is singular, and the original Italian is not relevant to its English usage.

JenCT 7:25 AM  

@Z - It's not just you...

I always enjoy the differing viewpoints here, whether I agree with them or not. C'est la vie...

Great, great puzzle, with a refreshing theme.

Unknown 2:38 PM  

"I don't know what the experts will say but this sure sounds like stuff that is happening inside an atom."

Sigh. Ok, here's a closer-to-human-experience analogy. Suppose your clue was "Airplane's place", and the answer was CITY. Because airplanes come from cities, right? That's about the same thing. Positrons are created from radioactive decay of atoms, or energetic collisions of particles/photons, and there are even "virtual" positrons spontaneously appearing and being destroyed in the quantum "foam" surrounding us. But at no time are they in the stable arrangement of particles that forms an atom. That's reserved for electrons, protons, and neutrons.

Z 4:44 PM  

@Unknown - Rather than "airplane" let's use "airport." Where is Detroit Metropolitan Airport? Detroit. Even though it ain't there, it's in Romulus. As I was saying to @Casco Kid in a different forum, I wish we had a name for this type of clue that fools people who know "too much." Since I get my particle physics from Science News, the clue didn't irk me. Those more in the know about the specifics are troubled by the non-scientific cluing. I'd argue that clue is no more wrong than asserting that when you land at DTW you have arrived in Detroit. Besides, if something is created during the radioactive decay of an atom one has to cut a very difficult line to measure to assert that something is never in the atom. Maybe Schrodinger's cat has that answer.

Unknown 5:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 5:27 PM  

Would you accept "Touchdown, e.g." as a clue for HOME RUN? No? But hey, I don't know anything about sports, and they're both sports-y words. When I think of words related to "Touchdown", HOME RUN is right up there. So hey, the clue is just fine, and I'll come to Rex's blog and argue with a bunch of sports aficionados that they're being way too picky for complaining about it!

.....except, no, I wouldn't do that, because that would be silly. :) "Positron" and ATOM are both science-y things, and saying one might evoke the other in your mind. That doesn't make the clue correct.

Jeffrey Dowling 8:32 PM  


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Anonymous 6:35 PM  

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spacecraft 11:24 AM  

Hey vampire: go suck some spellcaster blood! And both of you: LEAVE US THE HELL ALONE. PLEASE!!!

Now. Silly me, I went right to the revealer clue--11d--and immediately counted out ORIGINOFSPECIES: bingo! 15! And quite naturally, it followed that the other long downs would contain the letter string SPE! Fortunately, before I committed 15 squares to ink, I "discount daah-ble-checked" in the NE.

Oops.

Looks like we're starting with THE...but my count was arrived at without said article. What was up? Then as I worked my way down the east coast it soon became apparent: OHTHAT Darwin work! So My aha! moment was different. After finishing, it was easy to notice the "descent," a sort of echo-aha. The Chen touch, for sure.

Notes: ESSES: handy in crossword as well. Two rappers: Augh! But at least they were short, crossable--and even I manage to know who ICET is. Modern one-named singer between 'em: by the time I had ANTI crossing ANTIS (ugh!), I somehow came up with ASHANTI. Must be some subliminal thing. Finally, if we absolutely must have "eke," at least today it's in the clue. But OUTA is much better served by "I'm ____ here!" RIP, Harry.

Those were my nits; like for many others, these did little to diminish a brilliant theme and execution for me. It's incredible the way the nitpickers "descend" on Italian number endings, or quibble about nuclear physics. So the cluers got a mite careless here and there. Their job is tough enough. Cut 'em a break.

If I thought Charley Weaver might have been Cretan (with an "a," folks!), The peak could have been MTIDy, for all I knew 71a.

5620: IDEMANDARECOUNT!

rain forest 12:59 PM  

The appearance of the grid reeks of "descending" and that goes well with the theme and the descent of MAN. Very elegant and clever. One completely overlooks any crosswordese with such a grid/theme/construction, or should.

Delving into quantum physics is dicey, remembering that Einstein once said, "I don't believe in a dice-playing God". It seems that without atoms, there couldn't be any positrons, and maybe vice-versa. It's like the saying, "if your parents didn't have any kids, it's unlikely you will." In any case, I noticed that "nuclear reactor" wouldn't fit, and so, without even a shrug, wrote in ATOMS.

PANINI, PANINo, argue all you want. There's an Italian section in Vancouver where I once ordered a panino, and the guy behind the counter, said, "nice try. I'll make you a panini". He's from Napoli, or is that Napolo?

Excellent puzzle.

5441. Not so excellent.

rondo 1:28 PM  

Didn't feel as much love for this puz as most everyone else seems to have had. Possibly because of the 20-some 3s created by those good long downs. Here in MN it's Sauk not SAC, so that one was a bit strange to me. Cringed putting in NAFTA; can still see H. Ross making that "sucking sound", and he was pretty much right.OKRA isn't "necessary" for gumbo, one can use file' for thickening, if you can find it. ICET, ASHANTI, NAS: hoo boy, thanks for crosses. And back to Crete again. OK, but not all that.

1229 - I'm OUTA here

DMG 2:14 PM  

Enjoyed this one, even if I didn't see "man descending" until I came here. Worked out most of it, including those rapper names. But, the SW was a bear. No idea what they speak in Alba, some how mixed up my clues and thought "sociable" referred to 66A. Also sorta guessed an Indy service area was some kind of a cell phone thing. ACK! Somehow eventually worked it out. Rereading the clues helped transform my "mingle" into a(???) PANINI and I was done! Tomorrow I'll start with the coffee!

@Diri: Nice catch on yesterday's "cookies".

15108 All that and just a 6, but it seems good so far.

Pays to edit my comments. While I was SOINGNEE that Captcha became 40986 or 9. Am I allowed to use this one?

DMG 2:17 PM  

No idea what SOINGEE means? Must be Captcha speak!!

Waxy in Montreal 2:39 PM  

@DMG, as soignée means elegant or well-dressed, guessing that Captcha knows you better than you might think!

Puzzle left me indifferent - lacked much excitement or any AHA moment.

Minor quibbles with the clue for 18A (believe it's usually Ould, not Auld, Sod) and the answer at 41D (my preferred loan IDIOM would be HIT ON).

@DMG, you win and I'm OUTA here.

LongBeachLee 4:08 PM  

@Steve J. This one solved left to right for me. Like when I was halh done, the left was full and the right empty. Anyone else?

Dirigonzo 6:27 PM  

I plunked down 2 of the grid-spanners with no crosswords and managed the others before I had the grid half done, so the descending "man" was apparent. Loved it.

@Rainy wins the comments, IMHO.

@DMG - thanks.

@Waxy - it's good to see you back!

3025 - great "Limbo" score, as low as you can go.

Anonymous 5:14 PM  

Syriously?
Have some baba ghanoush!

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