Sarcastic comment about task ahead / MON 4-20-15 / Tribe traditionally living around Lake Superior / Chivalrous rule obeyed in this puzzle / Mr. Jock TV quiz bags few lynx classic pangram / Lord of Rings baddie

Monday, April 20, 2015

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (**for a Monday**) (Time: 3:08)

THEME: LADIES FIRST (59A: Chivalrous rule obeyed in this puzzle) — familiar male/female pairs have their order reversed in keeping with the "Chivalrous rule" in question:

Theme answers:
  • JANE AND DICK (17A: Classic learning-to-read series (hint: 59-Across))
  • MARY AND WILLIAM (23A: Virginia university (hint: 59-Across))
  • GRETEL AND HANSEL (37A: Grimm fairy tale unit (hint: 59-Across))
  • JULIET AND ROMEO (52A: Shakespeare play (hint: 59-Across))
Word of the Day: GAH (57A: Cry of frustration) —
  1. used to express exasperation or dismay. 
    "had to go the dentist this morning (arrived late—gah!)" (google)
• • •

See, I use "GAH!" all the time, but would never have thought it crossworthy! But here we are. It's a new day. A new era. It's morning in America. Again. But better this time. Because GAH!

"Chivalrous" has taken on a weird meaning in modern parlance. "Chivalry" was a code of conduct for medieval knights, as well as knight wannabes and knight cosplayers and others fantasizing nostalgically about a time that probably never was and certainly wasn't as genteel as Victorian chivalry enthusiasts imagined it to be. But even that phony Victorian version of "chivalry" doesn't quite get us to men holding doors open for women. Medieval knights would not have held doors open for ladies and said "LADIES FIRST," mostly because no doors*, but also because chivalry tended to be concerned with bigger, broader, more fundamental issues, like Not Raping Women. That was a biggie. Seriously. They codified that *&%^. Well, Arthur did, at any rate. They had to Write It Down (or at least proclaim it) because it was very much not a given.  Holding doors (or its equivalent) would not have rated mention. And yet somehow these little faux-deferential gestures that keep gender hierarchy firmly in place have come to define with we call, mostly ironically now, "chivalrous." This is all to say that the revealer clue is perfectly appropriate for our modern, fallen, big dumb world that's bad at history and feminism. Here's the main thing about old-school chivalry—you didn't get to do it. And by you, I mean yeah you. It's a class thing. So expecting Bob from Accounting to be "chivalrous" at Applebee's is perhaps not fair. It's certainly anachronistic.

["Those that don't know how to be pros get evicted!"]

The revealer is the thing in this puzzle. It's everything. It's the punchline and the raison d' … raison d' … seriously, no ETRE today? The one day I need ETRE, and no ETRE? Fine. Lower-case "d'être." It's a nice, easy, entry-level puzzle that makes up for a certain straightforwardness in the theme with some pretty bouncy and daring moments in the fill. The most noteworthy patch in the grid, for me, was the GAH / "OH, FUN!" meeting place. Frustration *and* sarcasm. I know these things! How are you, old friends? I soooo didn't expect to see you here today, especially not holding hands like this. What a pleasant surprise. That "H" in the GAH / "OH, FUN" crossing was my last letter, mostly because I couldn't believe either was real. "Really?" I probably quickly asked myself. And yes: Really. [Actually my main issue down there was SNAP ON. Apparently I don't SNAP anything ON. Now STRAP ON, sure, we've all been there. But SNAP ON … not in my repertoire (of whatever it is we're talking about)].

This puzzle has 14s. Two of them. You so rarely see 14s. So that was refreshing, if probably utterly unnoticed by 98% of solvers.

  • 12D: Tall Paul (BUNYAN) — completely blanked on how to spell the second half of the name. "Canyon" was like "Spell it like me!" Stupid "canyon."
  • 35A: Bundle up (WRAP) — I had -AP and wrote in REAP. Something about sheaves, I think.
  • 28D: Boise's state (IDAHO) — fun fact: half my family is from IDAHO—grandma still lives there—and I've been to the state many times. Yet I've never been to Boise. We're a panhandle people. There was that one summer we were Sun Valley people. But mostly panhandle.

Lesser: A DUE, AWS, SNO
Greater: SCALY, "OH, FUN!", OJIBWA

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*Of course doors existed. But they were not so common an architectural feature in the Middle Ages, particularly of home interiors, as they are now.

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Fun theme/reveal which made the grid easy to fill quickly. 

GAH surprised me too.

All the theme answers are proper names plus BUNYAN, OTOOLE, NOAM, KENYA, OJIBWA, PURINA, OREO, CBS, DOWNTON, ELIOT, ALBA, ALI, IDAHO, ELLEN... That's a fair amount of trivia.  

Liked it.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

GAH was the first thing I thought of on seeing the clue, but couldn't believe it to be true, so didn't write it in to my rue.

Great Monday puzzle, the best in a long time.

Also, nice job pointing out your minor PC disagreement with the theme--one never knows when or where the perpetually aggrieved SJWs will next strike.


RAD2626 12:57 AM  

Thought this was a fine Monday puzzle. Easy with a fun theme and enough interesting fill and cluing to make it more than just fill in as fast as you can write. Wanted TOsSLE but it looked wrong as did ADsE. So switched to TOUSLE but ADUE did not look so good either. Fortunately it all worked out.

Steve J 1:10 AM  

Very nice Monday. One with an actual ah moment (not aha), when I figured out why Jane was preceding Dick (at first I thought maybe the actual title had them in that order) and especially why Mary was before William. Monday's rarely have ah moments (let alone aha moments), so that was nice.

Fill was solid, even with so many threes (AWS aside), and there were a couple nice Monday clues. Nicely done.

(Apropos of nothing: I always want to S's in TOUSLE. Weird how some words can look wrong even when you know they're right.)

chefwen 1:39 AM  

One of my easiest Mondays ever. Had the JAN in place at 17A , read 59A and filled in LADIES FIRST right off the git go. Too easy, even for a Monday.

Hoping for a little Tuesday trickery.

Anonymous 2:29 AM  

Rex wrote:

"Medieval knights would not have held doors open for ladies and said "LADIES FIRST," mostly because no doors... "

Ok Rex, either I'm misreading you here or something's going straight over my head (not an infrequent occurrence). But are you really saying there were no doors in medieval times? There sure as heck were. In my homeland (England) there were/are plenty of medieval castles and cathedrals with doors. Many of them centuries old. Damn heavy too!

-Martin Ashwood-Smith

Anonymous 6:10 AM  

Not only that (re:MAS@2:29), but the puzzle says nothing about anyone saying "LADIES FIRST." The clue is "chivalrous rule" not "chivalrous utterance." But rather than take it at face value, rex extrapolates to change the meaning to something that isn't there, then criticizes this incorrect interpretation. "Knights would not have said LADIES FIRST" has nothing to do with this puzzle. (And you're right, the thing about doors is insane.)

Anonymous 6:20 AM  

What a fun little Monday. This continues a nice Monday trend of "easy, but not a waste of time."

Lewis 6:21 AM  

Mini theme: Long O endings -- HERO, WOE, SNO, LEO, OREO, OBOE, AMMO, and ROMEO.

Still keeping with a slightly more difficult Monday than how it was last year, with words like ADUE and OJIBWA (which crosses easily yielded). This extra thin layer of difficulty should be more attractive to the new solver than having the puzzle be ridiculously easy. Keep that up, Will.

A cute theme, using a common expression and extending it to some "violations". Made me smile when I got it. GAH has been used once before in the NYT. The fill is clean. This is an excellent Monday puzzle. Rex, out of this whole review of yours, you only had two positive sentences about the puzzle, and in one of them you dissed 98% of the solvers. GAH!

GILL I. 6:25 AM  

This was one nice Monday puzzle. Lots to like here....
I think chivalry is sexy as hell. The last time my heart went pitter patter was in Wyoming while entering a gas station convenience store. This charming cowboy tipped his hat and opened the door for me and gave me a million dollar smile. It made me happy and humming all the way to Charleston.
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Navarro, at Cathedral School in Havana thought JANE AND DICK was probably the worst book in the entire world. I think she hated Spot as well. She said only dumb people read that book!
Fun, fun Tom McCoy... I'll take some more.

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

Seriously, haters? Rex's review was one of the most positive I read in a long time. Funny, witty a little bit of sarcasm. It was a delight to read as the puzzle was a delight to solve. Lighten up.

Thomaso808 6:47 AM  

Very good, easy Monday. I think it's hard to be good and easy, so we'll done Mr. McCoy!

I was expecting Rex's word of the day might be OJIBWA because I don't recall seeing that tribe in the NYT (yes, not a Ute or an Oto). So here's my word of the day:

The Ojibwe (also Ojibwa), or Chippewa are a large group of Native Americans and First Nations in North America. There are Ojibwe communities in both Canada and the United States. In Canada, they are the second-largest population among First Nations, surpassed only by the Cree. In the United States, they have the fourth-largest population among Native American tribes, surpassed only by the Navajo, Cherokee and Lakota.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

The ability of people on this board to cut and paste from Wikipedia never ceases to amaze me. What a talented bunch!

jberg 7:22 AM  

Gee, I thought @Rex's analysis of the changing meaning of "chivalrous " was subtle, witty, and informative. The doors thing, whatever it's accuracy, and whether or not he added the footnote later, was just an aside.

I liked the puzzle, but would have liked it better without all the hints. It's more fun to let the revealer come up in its own due time.

But what I really liked was YOKEL.

Danp 7:22 AM  

@Lewis - You think @Rex dissed 98%. I couldn't imagine 2% caring about 14-letter answers. That said, I love your observations, so focusing on trivial details can't be all bad. :)

Thomaso808 7:32 AM  

Anon 7:02 yes, Rex's words of the day are almost always a cut and paste from Wikipedia. I thought was understood.

Aketi 7:33 AM  

Nice way to start my week with an EASYA gold star, forcing me to get out of bed and get in my run before it rains (which is a good thing after a long cold winter). Count me among those that wants another S in TOUSLE.

@GILL I , what a nice image for the morning. Your cowboy could teach the manspreaders on the subway a thing or two. Although I have to say that I've seen just as many women use up an extra seat with their bags and glare at everyone with that "I dare you to ask me to move it" look.

@Steve J, I think this puzzle proves I'm a hypocrite on the proper nouns issue,

@Nancy, in case you're checking to see whether or not the puzzle is worthy of your time, this was a half cup of coffee solve for me. So I'd say at your black belt level of xword skill compared to my white belt level, it might take you two sips of coffee to solve it. Hardly any of your time would be wasted.

In grad school we concluded that PHD meant Permanent Head Damage. I still have nightmares that the dissertation secretary sent it back for a rewrite because my graphs and diagrams weren't perfectly centered.

Glimmerglass 7:44 AM  

Nice write-up, Rex! Witty and sometimes sarcastic, but kind and helpful. You might have mentioned Sir Walter Raleigh, but then, he was just toadying to the queen. When I was a lad, helping women was only considered polite, not especially chivalrous. Now, some women are offended by the treatment. "Chivalry is [not] not dead."

NCA President 7:44 AM  

I read just recently the real historical meaning of chivalry. The knights were essentially war loving mercenaries...not unlike our modern day pro football players. And while a knight may have not actually said "Milady first," the code was definitely to think twice about milady and realize her no meant no. I don't think it was out of line at all for Rex to bring this up for this puzzle. Does it mean the puzzle shouldn't exist because it's completely mythological? No. But it does bear explaining because we tend to think of chivalry in terms of men opening doors, taking off their jackets and laying them in the mud so the lady won't get her high heels dirty, and so on. But it just isn't so, so...there's that.

I liked this puzzle too. Challenging but not hobbling. Took me a while to get the theme, but once I saw it...BAM...everything fell into place.

I clicked on the Sizzler link and now I regret very much the 2 minutes that I can't ever get my credit, I stopped half way through. The sap was overwhelming.

Someone needs to make cookies and cream ice cream with Chips Ahoy cookies. I know, they'd get soggy...but I don't care.

Loren Muse Smith 7:47 AM  

All the talk/disagreements about chivalry is interesting.

Perfect Monday, if you ask me. I was surprised/happy to see the "medium challenging" rating. I was filling in words very fast, and toward the end, I was messing around, trying to fill in blanks without even looking at the clues. And, hah! I got GAH, RASPS, and OH, FUN this way. Not really anything to write home about, but still.

MARY AND WILLIAM was my first themer (Rex – I noticed the 14's right off) and thought maybe the reveal would be LEADING LADIES. Funny how weird these all sound when the lady's first.

I can't quote much poetry, but I did have to memorize, "For never was a story of more WOE than this of Juliet and her Romeo." Good stuff.

PHD and DOC, SCALY TOAD, June and WARD, those DOWNTON YOKELs – what’s not to like/appreciate here? (All of the sudden I have this irresistible urge to use slashes wherever I can.)

Good one, Tom!

joho 7:56 AM  

@Rex & @Danp, the first thing I noticed were the two rare 14s. Mr. McCoy wove these -- supposedly awkward lengths -- seamlessly into this theme dense and totally delightful puzzle! Smoothly done, Tom!

Loved LADIESFIRST which has to be fresh first!

Chivalry is not dead but alive in this lively grid!

AliasZ 8:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:04 AM  

Clue on 30 across was incorrect: a taod is not a lizard. It's an amphibian. (I did enjoy Rex's mini- discourse on chivalry, doors or no doors.)

Lewis 8:12 AM  

Factoid: Mark Gruenwald, a writer, artist, and editor for comics like The Avengers, Captain America, and Thor, made it known that when he died, he wished to be cremated and have his ashes mixed into the INK of a comic book. After he died following a heart attack in 1996, at age 42, his request was honored and a little bit of him was stirred into the ink of an issue of Squadron Supreme, one of the titles that he authored in the past.

Quotoid: "You have to stay in shape. My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is." -- ELLEN DeGeneres

Marc 8:32 AM  

Rex often criticizes words in the puzzle because they are old fashioned or haven't been seen, outside of crosswords, since the 1920s. Now he's criticizing the puzzle because of the modern usage of chivalrous rather than the way it was used hundreds of years ago?

Z 8:35 AM  

@NCA Prez- I watched the entire thing. WOW. Freedom. Patriotism. Implied sex. American values. Choices. And everyone dresses up to go to Sizzler. I don't know which is worse, that some ad exec thought people would believe their load of horse hockey or that they were probably right.

As for Rex, get him going on something in his specialty and the funny sarcasm hits a real high. I was chuckling and laughing the whole way through. I saw that asterisk and thought to myself, "really, someone took that seriously?" I was surprised to discover that it was @MAS. Of course doors, and yet not like today. His take on chivalry was hilariously spot on. It was not "be polite," it was "don't be an ass just because you are armed and everyone else isn't." Seems we could use something similar today in America.

I liked the puzzle a lot. I got the conceit immediately, getting JANE from the crosses and seeing that it had to be AND DICK. I imagined crossword solvers everywhere experiencing a little frisson every time they had to undo the "men are first" construct. I wondered at the editorial decision to reference the revealer for the themers. Seriously? Flipping the woman's and man's name was going to be so confusing that the solver needed a reminder. It seemed excessive, even on a Monday.

I've no idea on difficulty since my paper copy had a print run error so that the left most clues were very light, which led me to looking at the wrong grid number multiple times.

Ludyjynn 8:52 AM  

TSKTSK, those of you who took Rex to task on his commentary. His take on 'chivalry' was interesting and FUN to read on a dreary, rainy Monday.

I liked the themers, esp. MARYANDWILLIAM, reminding me of my visits to Williamsburg, Va. and this historic academic institution. Would give more background, but fear the Anonymice might accuse me of plagiarizing Wiki. So go Google it yourselves!

Thanks, TM and WS, for an EASY start tto the work week.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Two erroneous clues today:

It's physically possible that one STEAMS vegetables in a wok, but that's not what a wok is most characteristically for: it's for stir frying, i.e., sauteeing.

And calling an OBOE a "relative" of a clarinet makes exactly as much sense as calling the Honda a relative of Toyota: there are some vague historical points of contact, but the thing itself is entirely different.

Rex seems less interested criticizing poor clueing than (what he considers) weak fill, but these things are worth noting. Thanks, however, for the insightful picking-apart of the "chivalry" thing.

Jlb 8:58 AM  

Anon 8:04, a toad is not a lizard, but a horned toad is. It's misnamed .


dk 9:09 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Seldom seen slim here. I had to tip back my Resistol (dove gray) as I read the comments on common curtousy. Rex is right in that it is a "way" not a series of acts. A way we might all ponder as we consider what we post.

The puzzle was fine but seemed off in some way. No doubt my issue as I fried up a mess of plantains in coconut oil last night tossed them in maple syrup and added a little red pepper. The plan was to eat a few and save some but... The best laid plans of mice and men....

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

In days of old,
when knights were bold,
and toilets weren't invented,
they dropped their load
by the side of the road
and walked away contented.

pmdm 9:14 AM  

Anon 8:57: Oboes and clarinets are both woodwinds and they are both grouped together in orchestral scores. Since they are grouped together, they must be related somehow, so you might as well call them cousins. I suppose the clue could have read "cousin of a bassoon" and you would not have objected, but since bassoons and oboes are both double reeds (you can think of a bassoon as a bass oboe and both are combined into one program on General MIDI) they are more like brother and sister.

Thought today's puzzle was much better than average for a Monday puzzle.

chefbea 9:29 AM  

Great easy puzzle although I never heard of Ojibwa,
As the other great chef said..I too got the theme with just Jane...then knew it would be ladies first

I make steamed veggies all the time...but never in a wok.

@NCA Pres. I'll be glad to make you some cookies and cream ice cream using chips ahoy!!

Z 9:30 AM  

One might want to look up wok on Wikipedia or some other reference source before declaring a clue "erroneous." Personally, I haven't used a wok in ages, but once upon a time it was my go to pan for steaming fresh asparagus.

Roo Monster 9:35 AM  

Hey All !
While I don't share the combined enthusiasm for todays puz, I did think the theme OK. For a puz that apparently excited Will (as it obviously is in the NYT), for me there are too many blocks (42 (regularly 38 is max)) and threes (28 (regularly 18 is high)). Just sayin.

The pangram saying was odd. I'm sure one of us can come up with a better one? Did like OJIBWA, and had area before EDGE.

Like how 1A coulda been tsetse.


Norm 9:36 AM  

Chivalrous has been used in the sense of politeness and courtesy since the 1800s. It's not a creation of "our modern, fallen, big dumb world that's bad at history and feminism." Do your research before you rant, please.

Teedmn 9:42 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle, thanks Tom McCoy!

Obviously @Rex never vacuums off the coil under his refrigerator. The front grill is supposed to just SNAP ON but I usually wrestle with it a lot more than would seem necessary.

I had an average Monday solving time but there were a few SCALY parts. Liked it!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:44 AM  

Good puzzle, and Rex's write-up was a pleasure to read.

Co-incidentally with Rex, I had the "H" in GAH as my last letter, but in my case it was because I had somehow latched onto the clue for 67 A, "Sorrow," instead of looking at 57 A! Because, failing eyesight?

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Nothing better that watching people who think they are cleverer than crossword constructors and editors make asses of themselves by incorrectly and confidently pointing out things they think are incorrect.

Don McBrien 9:46 AM  

Having heard of the show, but never watched it, I have to admit I thought it was called DOWNTOWN ABBEY. Reall took me a minute to come around to that one. Enjoyed the puzzle.

Sir Lancelot 9:48 AM  

I personally prefer "chvalric" to "chivalrous." If one is going to be old-fashioned, one may as well be old-fashioned about it.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

Gah????? Really???? Live and learn.

Because it's pouring right now in NYC, I did a Monday puzzle, which I seldom do. And if I were trying to introduce a friend to the wonderful world of puzzledom, this is the puzzle I'd choose. It's easy enough to be encouraging, yet very cute and perky, with a quirky theme. A nice job. For me, I knew the revealer was going to be LADIES FIRST, even before I saw the clue or the length of the answer. But still, solving it sure beats walking around in the downpour.

Because of the comments here, I was curious about Rex's write-up. So I went back to read it. I found it colorful and thought-provoking -- the most enjoyable write-up I've ever seen from him. I have absolutely no idea if any of it is true, mind you, but the idea that: "YOU, my poor man, can't be chivalrous because you're not high-born enough" is certainly an interesting one.

Sir Lancelot 9:58 AM  

GAH I forgot an "I"! "Chivalric."

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Happy 4/20 everyone! Smoke em if you got em. I guess it would be too much to ask for the Times to have a pot-themed puzzle today...

Arlene 10:11 AM  

What struck me was why all these famous pairs have the male names first. I think this puzzle is on to something here - and not just gratuitous chivalry!

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Grammar Nazi, where are you?

Steve J: "I always want *to* S's in TOUSLE" and he used an apostrophe for the plural of Monday.

And then we have the shocking "All of *the* sudden" from non other than LMS, who is a PARAGON, a PARAGON of proper English usage. I don't expect much from Steve J, but LMS?!

Oh, my head.

Joseph Michael 10:12 AM  

Liked the theme, though it made for an awfully easy solve. Made me think of other famous duos and how often LADIES are not FIRST. Otherwise we would have had, for example:

Eve and Adam
Delilah and Samson
Isolde and Tristan
Cher and Sonny
Harriet and Ozzie

Fill was mostly OK except for the unbelievably bad GAH, AWS, and, of course, OREO. Liked TSK TSK, SNAP ON, and OJIBWA.

Are woks used to STEAM veggies? I thought they were were for stir frying.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Anonymous @ 10:12: You forgot to put a comma before a conjunction linking two independent clauses. And surely you meant "none other," not "non other."

John V 10:41 AM  

Just to say that I found this very challenging for a Monday. Felt more Wednesday-ish, IMHO. Consider: how often do we see the letter J on a Monday, especially twice, up against the Western wall?

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

A DUE was pretty obscure, even for a music writer like myself, and it stumped my orchestral woodwind playing spouse who is often in the exact situation described. Instrumentalists usually have their own written out parts. TUTTI might be better for "together." And only in the most general sense is a clarinet related to an oboe.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

In days of old
when knights were bold
and condoms weren't invented,

men wrapped a sock
around their cock
and babies were prevented.

AliasZ 10:57 AM  

Count me among the 2%. It was the two 14s that I noticed second after the center grid spanner. The placement of the 11s and 14s were more-or-less forced by their lengths, thus the presence of the higher-than-usual count of threes -- 28 of them, my only complaint about this otherwise excellent Monday puzzle by Tom (the real) McCoy. While 28 threes in a 15x15 is about double the average, all of them worked well, and there was only one awkward plural (AWS). Excellent work, Tom.

TSKTSK is another matter. TSK doesn't sound anything like the sound I make or I hear everyone else make to express displeasure or reproach -- that sucked "cz" or "ts" sound, like the recording of the word "its" played backward. I know, it's the accepted spelling for that peculiar sound, but I can't help myself cringe every time I see it, especially when repeated. As far as I can tell, the K sound does not appear in "its" waveform spectrum.

@Rex, why pick on poor SNAPON? There are SNAP-ON tools, visors, ski latches, bibs, etc. etc. Perhaps you were thinking about a specific kind of strap-on toy. TSK TSK.

The chivalrous theme was much appreciated by Echo and Narcissus, Syrinx and Pan, Galatea and Acis, Chloe and Daphnis, Euridice and Orpheus, Mélisande and Pelléas, Delilah and Samson, Cleopatra and Antony, Héloïse and Abelard, Bastienne and Bastien, Lyudmila and Ruslan, Béatrice and Bénédict, Isolde and Tristan, Josephine and Napoleon, Judith and Bluebeard, Bacall and Bogie, Hepburn and Tracy, etc. etc. To celebrate this loving theme, let us listen to this seldom played or heard symphonic poem by Danish composer Carl Nielsen (1865-1931) titled "Syrinx and Pan".

Chivalry is dead. Long live chivalry.

mathguy 11:31 AM  

@anon at 10:42 refers to his-or-her "woodwind playing spouse." Since "woodwind playing" isn't hyphenated to indicate that it's an adjective, it makes me wonder what games anon and the woodwind are into.

old timer 11:36 AM  

Easiest Monday for me in a long time. I got JANEANDDICK right away, and when MARYANDWILLIAM came along, I *knew* the revealer had to be LADIESFIRST, even though I had not seen it yet.

It was only after I finished the puzzle that I examined the many Downs that I had not needed to solve. I noticed that the Down fill was sharp and clever, nary an etre or Esso to be found. "I actually think Rex is going to like this one" I said to myself. And he did.

My only WOE: starting to write "Cressida" where Juliet belonged. I was soon set straight.

I, too, did a double take at the "no doors" bit. But it's basically true. Important buildings had exterior doors, for security and defense. But few if any interior doors. In the late Middle Ages, an Earl and his lady might have a four-poster bed, and could pull the curtains round themselves for privacy (and warmth). The knights, the servants, any other guests slept on the floor, and relied on the fireplace to keep them warm. Or if some did have a private chamber, it still might not have a door instead of a simple curtain in the doorway. Doors mean hardware, and hardware was expensive.

dick swart 11:42 AM  

55 Down really got me! I kept coming up one letter over ...

old timer 11:45 AM  

The first dirty joke I remember hearing and almost understanding:

"Once upon a time, a bold knight came upon a lovely lady. "Sir knight,' she said, 'I offer my honor.' "Dear lady', he replied, 'I honor your offer.' And that's the way it went all night long. On her, off her, on her, off her....."

(Probably inspired by the King Arthur tales -- didn't Arthur's Queen fall in love with one of the knights?)

P.S. I've cooked with a wok for many years. You can put vegetables or other food in a set of little wooden steamers. And even in a stir-fry, if some vegetables need a little more time, you can add liquid and cover the wok with a lid and finish by steaming them a little. Water does no harm to the metal surface if you promptly clean and dry the wok after use.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Thanks for the Queen Latifah and Monie Love vid! That was my JAM back in 1991!

AZPETE 12:00 PM  

First time ever...all downs! Yeah!

Carola 12:03 PM  

An advantage of being a little slow on the uptake: the reveal is such a delightful surprise. One do-over: OH boy before OH FUN - which is what this puzzle really was. Thank you, Tom McCoy - superb Monday.

Craig 12:18 PM  

Fun puzzle, I enjoyed Rex’s write up, but I do beleive that anyone that wrote in “Gak!” should get full credit.

@anonymous at 8:57 10:42 clarinets and oboes are both in the same “family” (to use the common term): woodwinds. Also both are reed instruments, both have similar fingerings, both are made of the same material: silver keys, a bamboo reed, cork gaskets, and what used to be ebony wood. Both share most of the same register. If they ain’t family, what else is they? Sister and brother? Amphibians?

@math guy at 11:31 um … go on … ? Please?

chefbea 12:48 PM  

@old timer...good one!!!

mac 12:53 PM  

Very good Monday puzzle. Odd how the "ladies first" change makes them sound so unfamiliar.

Woks can be used to steam, with a little rack inserted to keep the food out of the water, or, and this I see in many take-out places, a stack of bamboo baskets on top.

Very enjoyable write-up, Rex!

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Here's a story on why people making mistakes in writing when they know better:

Zeke 1:06 PM  

This is why I love puzzles and this community - here I thought that doors were invented by Eli Whitney in 1801, but MAS came to my rescue me from my ignorance.

PS As always, Wikipedia is the source of everything interesting. Not only did I find Whitney's heyday at the click of a button, but just by glancing at the home page, I learned that Tom Selleck is in fact Günter Grass's illegitimate son. There's no other possible explanation for their looking so alike.

Z 1:54 PM  

BTW - "Modern", as in "modern parlance" or "modern era" is understood to mean "after the middle ages," with the renaissance and enlightenment in Europe being the start of the "modern era." Chaucer? Medieval. Shakespeare? Modern. Nabokov, Eco and Vonnegut? Post-modern. Rex Parker? Neo-Retro-Cross Modern.

Nancy 2:36 PM  

@OISK -- I just bought a ticket for 5/16. Letting you know, in case you come to this site on Mondays, which I sort of think you don't. I'll leave another message for you on a harder puzzle day, like this Thursday. If you do pick this up, pls let me know. I'll check back here tonight.

wreck 4:57 PM  

ACPT FiveThirtyEight Article.

wreck 4:59 PM  

Well, that failed miserably!

Z 5:36 PM  

@wreck - Thanks for the article. Here's the link.

wa 5:44 PM  

The sentiment for a sinking ship, "Women and children first," really stemmed from the fear that the lifeboats were rotten and not seaworthy, so let the women and children try them first.

A medium Monday.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

Never mind grammar nazi. Where's Rex Porker? I feel less of an urge to respond when he's on board, He's spot-on, thrashing that one-dimensional professor.

LindaPRmaven 7:56 PM  

I was overjoyed to see Ojibwa in a puzzle. If you want to see Ojibwa inspired design and have a great meal at the same time, try Naniboujou Lodge near Grand Marais MN. Way up on the north shore of Lake Superior but worth the trip.

Ludyjynn 8:11 PM  

@oldtimer, I just got home exhausted from a long day of medical care and read your "dirty joke". Thanks for cracking me up and bringing me back to life!

I use a Teflon-lined wok to deep fry Chanukah latkes. The shape helps prevent oil splatter and the large vessel holds a lot of batter pancakes, evenly heating them. I would join the consensus that typically a wok is used for stir frying, but I also have steamed asparagus in mine.(@Z, you're starting to scare me)!

Carola 8:16 PM  

@wreck, thank you for the article, and @Z, for the link

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

I just stumbled upon this blog. you're an angry man. why not blog about something you don't hate? it's just "hey, I could do so much better." lighten up, sir. seems like you could use a hobby that doesn't infuriate you. just my two cents.

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

Rex, check out Snap on Tools (geddit?) a big company.

Mr. Mojo Risin' 1:02 AM  

Rex is right. There. Were. No. Doors.

andy 11:21 AM  

Agree... I thought it was a guest blogger until seeing the signature at the bottom.

Burma Shave 9:05 AM  


TSKTSK, Ted Turner, KENYA not end with so EASYA PLOY?
It STEAMS me you TOAD, WOE to you, bad little boy.
You had such APIECE, your LEI was SOME looker,
INALL, how could you dump JANEANDDICK SOME YOKEL hooker?


rondo 10:09 AM  

This was a nice little diversion, not much to RIP. Since expectations are usually low for Mondays, this puz was OK. Save for GAH, and maybe Wizard of AWS.

Tall Paul BUNYAN is still “big” in northern MN. We gave Babe his blue ox a tummy tuck a few years back so there wouldn’t be faux oxen guts falling out for all the tourists to see. OHFUN!

So a couple of days back we had SELA, today we get to finish Ms. WARD. With a side order of Jessica ALBA; yummy yeah babies.

Old joke punchline: “You da John, IDAHO.” SOME thing like that.

When it’s LADIESFIRST, you da HERO. Nose back to grindstone, no holiday for me. Have not RUNLOW on work. Decent Monpuz.

8824 not very good

spacecraft 11:30 AM  

Tom must be a Garfield fan; Jon often yells "GAH!" As to the difficulty rating, well, there he goes again, a slave to the stopwatch. So it took a few precious seconds longer than SOME others. That does NOT make this "medium-challenging." It did not tax my brain past "easy" (WITHOUT the "A" please!). 21-across wouldn't be so bad, except lately it's become overused.

Looking at the first clue across, I thought, "Please don't tell me this is gonna be TSKTSK." AWS, no such luck. But the rest of it wasn't all that clunky.

I agree with @rondo about the yeah babies: note that they appear in symmetry, like the two chorines on Oscar Goodman's arms.

Once I had JANEAN_____, I peeked at the referred clue and in an instant the revealer plus all the themers fell into place. Nothing mysterious about the fill, so to my mind this was even easier than usual. Then again, I don't own a stopwatch. I rate difficulty, not time.

A plethora of 3-letter entries strain the soul, but Mr. McCoy pretty much gets away with it, AWS excepted. Very surprising clue for OIL: I always thought it was "Oil Producing and Exporting Countries" instead of the correct "Organization of Petroleum..." etc. Learn something new every day.

I like that pangram in the 7d clue; it uses each letter only once, something the brOwn fOx can't claim. Cool Monday. For us syndilanders, it appears on Memorial Day, so a tribute would have been nice--although HERO does appear front and center. Nice. B.

Syndicate Bob 12:29 PM  

Allen and Burns
Meara and Stiller (God rest her soul, RIP)
Elaine May and Mike Nichols
Bacall and Bogart
Eve and Adam
Clyde and Bonnie
Jill and Jack

DMG 2:26 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Never "peek ahead" at revealers, so I just worked out the reverse order thing, and let the revealer be the surprise. Is there a famous duo where the lady comes first? Only slow down here was AhS to AWS. also GAH was new, but nothing else fit. Miss M&A.

Enjoying our slight touch of rain, but send condolences to hard hit Texas.Wish Mother Nature would balance things out!

1273 @Rondo wins!

rondo 2:57 PM  

@DMG -
Bonnie and Clyde, or
Bruce and Kris??

rain forest 12:24 AM  

It's late, and no one will ever read this, but I just want to say:

Nice puzzle, especially on a Monday.
I think we syndies are a salacious lot.

That is all.

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