New Mexican pueblo dwellers / MON 3-20-17 / Computer program glitch / Jurassic Park insect casing

Monday, March 20, 2017

Constructor: Neil deGrasse Tyson and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (on the easy side for a Monday, slightly)



THEME: astronowordplay — familiar astronomical terms clued as if they were not astronomical terms, i.e. clued wackily, i.e. "?"-style:

Theme answers:
  • LITTLE DIPPER (20A: Toe testing the waters?)
  • GAS GIANT (24A: ExxonMobil?)
  • STAR CLUSTER (37A: Oscar nominees' gathering?)
  • RED DWARF (52A: Bashful?)
  • HEAVENLY BODY (57A: Total hottie?)
Word of the Day: RED DWARF
A red dwarf is a small and relatively cool star on the main sequence, of either K or M spectral type. Red dwarfs range in mass from a low of 0.075 to about 0.50 solar mass and have a surface temperature of less than 4,000 K. // Red dwarfs are by far the most common type of star in the Milky Way, at least in the neighborhood of the Sun, but because of their low luminosity, individual red dwarfs cannot be easily observed. From Earth, not one is visible to the naked eye. Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to the Sun, is a red dwarf (Type M5, apparent magnitude 11.05), as are fifty of the sixty nearest stars. According to some estimates, red dwarfs make up three-quarters of the stars in the Milky Way. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a solid Monday puzzle—simple concept, nicely executed. True, you can do it with any field with a specialized language: politics, baseball, spelunking (I mean ... probably). But so what? If you can find a set of (symmetrical!) terms that can be plausibly wackily reclued, more power to you. Bring on the wacky spelunking puzzles! As I was solving this, I was expecting to come in in slower-than-normal time because of the nature of the theme: "?"-clue themes add a layer (however small) of difficulty to themers. And I certainly didn't nail LITTLE DIPPER right off the bat; even with LITTLE in place, I wasn't sure what was going on, and ended up spilling down into the middle part of the grid and then circling back up to get DIPPER. But despite the tricksiness of the themers and the awkward solving path, I finished in 2:46, which is actually a good 10 seconds or so *under* my Monday average. The non-theme answers were *very* straightforward, and much of the fill was quite short, which tends to make a grid easy to blow through. It's a black-square-heavy grid, too (44 squares), so there were simply fewer squares to fill in than normal. Overall, a breezy, pleasing experience. Classic Monday fare.


My only issue with the theme involved the last answer: HEAVENLY BODY. It's too general, I think. All the others are very specific phenomenon, and then you get this general term for ... what? *Any* planet or star or other celestial body? Not the greatest way to end the theme answer sequence. Also, the clue was kind of icky in its slangy ogliness (57A: Total hottie?). To give you a sense of how cheesy the clue struck me, here: please watch this trailer for the 1985 movie "Heavenly Bodies." All will be clear.


Today's constructors, Dr. Tyson and Ms. Michaels, went to college together back in the day (HAH-vard, I believe, circa the 20th century). My knowing Andrea and Andrea's knowing Neil led to one of the greatest moments of my science-loving daughter's young life 5 years ago, when she got to meet Dr. Tyson following a lecture he gave in Binghamton. Hard to overestimate how important "NOVA ScienceNow" was to her early education. She brought her autographed copy of "The Pluto Files" in to show her 6th-grade science teacher the next day and kind of blew his mind.

 [April, 2012—my daughter is the one on the left]

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

100 comments:

Johnny 12:15 AM  


Now I totally want to watch the HEAVENLY BODIES movie.

George Barany 12:16 AM  
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George Barany 12:18 AM  

The stars aligned for this puzzle! Nice New York Times debut for @Neil deGrasse Tyson, and (according to information posted elsewhere), the 56th puzzle for our friend @ACME. The RED_DWARF clue was brilliant! Gracious review by @Rex.

Spoiler alert: Two days in a row for a certain Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

Off-topic, earlier this afternoon, we attended the Minnesota Opera world premiere run of "Dinner at Eight," based on the Kaufman/Ferber play. Afterwards, I was reminded to look up the closing line in the film version, which can be found by clicking here (30 seconds). Classic!

Brian 12:20 AM  

Yeah, not a whole lot to say about this puzzle beyond what Rex said. Nice and breezy, even for a Monday, and seeing NDT in the byline gave me an accurate tip-off about what the theme might be. It's an odd-looking grid with the cheater squares around STARCLUSTER, but nothing that detracts too much from solving.

I think this is the second of the celebrity co-constructions for the NYT crossword's 75th anniversary - Jesse Eisenberg was last month. Apparently Lisa Loeb is coming up, which will be a weird intersection of crosswordese (LOEB has been used 34 times in the Shortz era, although mostly not clued with her) and crossword reality. Kind of a neat idea.

Charles Flaster 12:52 AM  

Totally agree with Rex and @Brian. Normal cluing and fill for a Monday.
No CROSSWORDease and no write overs.
LITTLE DIPPER was my favorite themer.
Thanks NDT and ACM

wgh 1:21 AM  

Not so sure ADZ / ZUNIS is Monday fare.

Larry Gilstrap 1:50 AM  

My insistence upon using naTAL and not FETAL resulted in some head scratching. But, then RED DWARF came over the horizon and I was done.

I spend most of my time in the desert in a community which is actually recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association, so Polaris the North Star seen at the tail of the LITTLE DIPPER, Shakespeare's "ever fixed mark," is pretty much visible every night. As is a STAR CLUSTER like the Pleiades which is also clearly visible, except the summer months. To see a RED DWARF or a GAS GIANT, better drag out a telescope. A six inch Dobsonian should work. To see a HEAVENLY BODY I suggest a two hour drive to San Diego; rent a bike at Mission Beach and ride up and down the Strand on a warm day.

I haven't seen his shows, but I have nothing but admiration for Neil deGrasse Tyson and I hope you know why. Living the scientific method involves making observations, coming up with an hypothesis, and submitting it for peer review. It takes guts to stand up to the anti-science trolls, but then again, I could be wrong because I was an English major.

Anoa Bob 1:59 AM  

Good Monday fare. I think the theme clues would work just as well, maybe better, without the "?" at the end. That question mark signals that something more than just a straight forward clue and answer format is involved, and that makes the puzzle slightly less puzzling, less challenging, and possibly less satisfying or interesting to solve.

Carola 2:17 AM  

A stellar Monday puzzle. I love BIG crossing DIPPER!

@Larry Gilstrap, I envy your dark sky. I miss being able to see the wash ot fhe Milky Way.

Loren Muse Smith 2:26 AM  

What a terrific theme idea for our guest constructor! When my first themer, STAR CLUSTER fell, I 1D’ed. Astronomy. Perfect.

I’ve never heard anyone ask a dog to BEG. I guess it’s a party trick – to make the dog go back on its haunches and put its little paws out front, beseeching…

I noticed the GAS GIANT/LIE/ALLEGE area. Ahem.

Also noticed the much better spelling of victuals. And with Granny and Jethro firmly in my mind, I filled in “fer” instead of FOR. Oops. I hear fer and agin out in the wild here in the dialect, and it always thrills me for some reason.

The clue for RED DWARF should get an award.

@Carola – “stellar” – well played.

HOOVES and PUMICE. I’m trying, man, but my feet are just becoming frightening.

@Evil et al from yesterday. Honestly, I pictured Geraldo at that vault and didn’t think beyond that. I really didn’t.

@Bill Feeney from yesterday – I agree with @Nancy that your “snake killed the turtledove” mistake was a hoot!

Earlier this year, my class read an essay by Neil deGrasse Tyson, and I poked around looking for some of his great quotes to share before they read it. Here’s the one that showed me he has a constructor’s brain:

Need a distraction today? Not only does 12+1=11+2, but the letters “twelve plus one” rearrange to give you “eleven plus two.”

Put that one in your pipe and smoke it.

Thanks, you two. Very nicely done.

jae 2:41 AM  

This played tough for me. Maybe because @Larry G I had naTAL at first too. Or maybe because I also had inre before ASTO.
Or maybe because I kinda stumbled around this one instead of going after it. Anyway, what @Rex said. Liked it a lot!


@Larry G. again, I was a science major and you're not wrong.

Anonymous 2:57 AM  



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/neil-degrasse-tyson-trump-budget_us_58cf30dce4b0ec9d29dcf741?

chefwen 4:28 AM  

This was one of the most enjoyable Monday puzzles I can recall. The cluing for 20, 37 and 57A were very clever, total hottie made
me laugh out loud.

Great Monday offering. Thanks Neil and Andrea.

Lewis 6:03 AM  

A relative rave from Rex, and well deserved. This is a great intro puzzle for newbies, where even on Monday some wit shines through, in contrast to so many easy puzzles out there in books and newspapers. Even in the clues (SEW, DOuBT, RED_DWARF, LITTLE_DIPPER). Light years better.

Not as Scrabbly as Acme's typical puzzle, but the grid is very clean, as usual for her. PSYCHO graduated from yesterday's cluing to being placed in the puzzle today. If you anagram that HOP, it sounds like the answer FOE (okay, not as mind blowing as Loren's "distraction").

And that slipper above the DIPPER is cool.

Aketi 6:07 AM  

At least the ECOLI isn't touching the FOOD, merely hovering over it.

When I saw that Neil deGrasse Tyson coconstructed this puzzle I SMILED. My son was heavily influenced by him since we live less than 10 blocks from the American Museum of Natural History and his elementary school was a block away. He knew about the event horizon at the age of two having BEGged me to watch the black hole movie every time we went which was at least once a week during his preschool years.

Anonymous 6:23 AM  

My son loved the Nova Science now and also this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVc7u8owW8g

Passing Shot 6:58 AM  

Tripped on the ADZ/ZUNIS crossing, but the rst of the puzzle was smooth, if a bit on the easy side (even for a Monday).

evil doug 7:15 AM  

"God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on."
~NDT

God created science, and--just as he shared his son with us--he's happy to grant us more knowledge of our universe....

If it was a bigger grid, a more accurate answer for 37A would be STAR CLUSTERF*CK.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

I think this shows why the idea of celebrity constructors can work, given the right celebrity. Other than ITOO, the puzzle was fun and interesting.

Not sure what @Rex's objection is to the movie Heavenly Bodies - a classic tale of a small business threatened by a mega-chain moving in and throwing money around to squelch the little guy. It happens to be about a health club, but the story is just as relevant to your local hardware store or butcher.

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

In today's anti-science delusional politics, it's nice to see a little plus for science. However, I suspect that the trolls don't do the NYT puzzle, not even on a Monday ("fake news" and too intellectual).

Beaglelover 7:46 AM  

@evil doug God is not male!!!!!

chefbea 8:09 AM  

What a great Monday puzzle!!! Loved it. Thanks you NDT and Acme

r.alphbunker 8:23 AM  

NDT's star power added a nice touch to this puzzle. My first pass through the puzzle was to show one clue at a time and record my answer but promptly erase it before moving on to the next answer so that there was no help from the crossing answers. These are the plausible wrong answers I got from doing that.

15A. {"___ girl!"} ATTA-->ITSA

5A. {"Get cracking!"} STAT-->ASAP

29A. {Command to Rover} SIT-->BEG

41A. {Vittles} CHOW-->FOOD

41D. {Debate position against "against"} PRO-->FOR

70A. {Regarding, in a memo} INRE-->ASTO

69A. {Exuberance} ELAN-->GLEE

68A. {New Mexican pueblo builders} HOPIS-->ZUNIS

60D. {Woodworking tool} AWL-->ADZ

Detail are here.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

Give not what is holy unto beagles.

Roo Monster 8:34 AM  

Hey All !
Science meets puns. Result: this pretty nice puz. Always enjoy an ACME puz, usually clean fill like this one, but a couple of nits, though, (because what would life be like if we weren't allowed to complain?) (spontaneous combustion, probably, from all the anger turning in a GAS GIANT bubble inside you) 8 threes Across, but 19 threes Down. 27 total. Yowza. And as mentioned before, 44 blocks. High on both counts. Just sayin, as I'm not an astrophysicist, or a published puz constructor, so weigh my nits appropriately! :-)

Actually did have two writeovers, aTtA-ITSA, sit-BEG.

ALOTOF reminds me of an Austin Powers movie. Remember those, spy spoofs with Mike Myers? A female characters name was Alotta Fagina. Classic stuff!

No DOUBT I TOO SMILED with GLEE ASTO taking NAPS. I KNEAD to use my OWN BED, not LIE on a FRAME AS BIG as a BARN. And hope no PSYCHO OWL TWEETS! (Bedtime story? Thankfully not going for a Pulitzer.) :-P

ITSA LOT OF NOPE
RooMonster
DarrinV

QuasiMojo 8:46 AM  

I know I complained loudly before about the decision by the NYT puzzle editor to inflict celebrity guest constructors on us. But I have no qualms about Mr. Tyson lending a helping hand. I don't really think of him as a "celebrity" although one gets that sense reading Rex's write-up. He's a scientist and from what I've gathered a good one. Great Monday puzzle with "a lot of" fun answers and clever (not contrived) puns. Cute to include "Stud" and "Heavenly Body" -- (hat tip to @Loren Muse Smith for her "pumice" joke) -- and quite a lot of challenging stuff such as "Abu Dhabi," "Zuni" and "Maori" for a Monday. No typical TV dumbing down here. Touché Andre!

John Child 8:55 AM  

@kitshef, but the butcher and hardware store employees don't wear ALOTOF spandex...

Et tu Brute? ITOO Caesar old pal.

Good fun all a round. I would have played RED DWARF differently...

GILL I. 9:11 AM  

I'll take Mondays like this every Monday.
Some nifty crossings: AMBER/BUG...AS BIG/LITTLE DIPPER...LIBRA/STAR CLUSTER.
The ZUNIS, noDOUBT, were able to see lots of HEAVENLY BODies under the beautiful New Mexico skies.
My only WTF was reading 1D as "wore an upside-down frock" and thinking Uh Oh.
Dr. Tyson has a wonderful SMILE as does you daughter, @Rex. Happy Days.

pmdm 9:11 AM  

Loren Muse Smith, if you really want to blow your mind, try to find information on how J. S. Bach used numbers in his compositions, especially his late ones. Leonard Bernstein once showed how, if you convert the letters of Bach's name to numbers, and if you convert the notes in the theme of his Musical Offering to numbers (a theme, by the way he didn't compose), the set sets of numbers totaled to the same sum. Too involved to go into more detail in this blog.

Lewis 9:13 AM  

Four answers sound like the start to a joke: A MULE, an ELK, and an OWL went into a BARN...

Z 9:17 AM  

@Evil Doug - The full quote is less "atheistic" than your shortened version:
"Does it mean, if you don't understand something, and the community of physicists don't understand it, that means God did it? Is that how you want to play this game? Because if it is, here's a list of things in the past that the physicists at the time didn't understand [and now we do understand] [...]. If that's how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that's getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on - so just be ready for that to happen, if that's how you want to come at the problem."*

See? Quite different in meaning than the abbreviated version.


*I haven't had the chance to watch this but it is apparently the source of the quote. Interesting that Wikipedia provided a source while none of the quotation sites did.

Pete 9:19 AM  

@Evil Doug - Talk about taking something out of context and choosing to take offense to it. The whole quote is:

Does it mean, if you don’t understand something, and the community of physicists don’t understand it, that means God did it? Is that how you want to play this game? Because if it is, here’s a list of things in the past that the physicists at the time didn’t understand [and now we do understand] [...]. If that’s how you want to invoke your evidence for God, then God is an ever-receding pocket of scientific ignorance that’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as time moves on - so just be ready for that to happen, if that’s how you want to come at the problem.

God's existence or not is quite independent of our understanding of the physical world, there's nothing in NDT's statement that belies that. It's simply that our ignorance of something, yet our insistence of denying that ignorance and insisting we have any answer, doesn't make god and answer. When I watch a magic show and don't know how the magician did a specific trick, I don't actually believe it was magic - I'm content to admit my ignorance.

If you believe in god, that it created the universe/stars/light/earth in 3 (human) days rather than 13B years, that he created flora/fauna/man in another 3 (human) days rather than 3B years, that our scientific knowledge to date shows this, and that this knowledge offends your understanding of god, you have a very petty view of god. All this knowledge shows is how it was done. If you don't believe in god, then you know how it came to be.

Pete 9:22 AM  

@Z - Damn you and your flying fingers!

evil doug 9:38 AM  

Looks like the same meaning to me. Believe I'll stand by my position, thank you. And I think NDT sees himself as agnostic rather than atheistic. My belief in God isn't mutually exclusive from my belief in science. That "ever receding pocket" will still disclose a supreme being when every scientific discovery is exhausted.

Mohair Sam 9:42 AM  

Groaned when I saw a celebrity tag, but was pleasantly surprised. Not only did we delve into Dr. Tyson's bailiwick but we had some clever cluing with the LITTLE DIPPER and RED DWARF (we stumbled a bit there).

Believe it or not "HEAVENLY BODIES" was on Turner Classic Movies a few months back in the middle of the night. I got through about ten minutes of it, the flick was worse than the trailer Rex posted.

@Rex - I'm with your daughter's teacher in being more than impressed with her autographed book (and photo).

@Pete - Thanks for clearing up @Evil's misdirection.

Fun Monday puzzle Team Michaels and Tyson, thanks.

JC66 9:54 AM  

It appears @Rex and @ACME have buried the hatchet. GREAT!

Nancy 9:59 AM  

Like @Larry Gilstrap and @jae, my prebirth was NATAL, not FETAL. And that gave me no end of grief on this otherwise easy puzzle, as I struggled to figure out how the letters REDDWARN could possibly mean bashful. Was Redd Warn a person like Redd Foxx -- one who happens to be unusually shy? I think, btw, that RED DWARF is the most difficult theme answer in the puzzle, because it's the one most obliquely clued.

Whenever I see a simple life form, whether in a pond or anywhere else, I think AMEBA. (Or sometimes amoeba, which wouldn't have fit.) I wrote it in before checking any of the crosses -- always a mistake, even on a Monday -- and then had to quickly change to ALGAE. This was mildly cute, but I do think that a man of as much intellectual firepower as Neil deGrasse Tyson deserves to be involved in a more challenging endeavor than this one.

Joe Bleaux 10:21 AM  

(AND guts to stand up to the devoutly religious, which NDT does with class as well as science.)

Tom4 10:47 AM  

Not a fan of HEAVANLYBODIES and its clue

mac 10:52 AM  

Excellent Monday, and perfect subject!
Felt harder than usual on this day, but that is not a bad thing in my book. Good thing the adz was automatic, because the Zunis surprised me.

Malsdemare 11:05 AM  

I loved HEAVENLYBODY. This whole puzzle reminded me of lying on the hood of my explorer on the road between Farmington NM and Crownpoint, absolutely stunned by the clarity of the sky, the sheer madness of the Milky Way and the bitter cold in the High Plateau in January. I'd been teaching at Navajo College for a week and fallen in love with everything.

@beaglelover. If God were female, women would have zippers for childbirth. Certainly no woman would say, "Oh sure, it'll stretch to let a cannonball out."

@Evil, perhaps you don't see how the context changes the meaning of the quote, but I do. I'd never seen it before, and understood your snippet quite differently once I saw it in situ.

Great puzzle, just over too soon.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@Evil - If you think that science is disposetive about the existence or not of God, you understand neither science nor God.

Joe Bleaux 11:12 AM  

Do any of the capable constructors among us have any firsthand information on how the non-pro participation thing works? I'm presuming that in this case, NTD put the three theme answers in an empty grid, and that ACME took it from there (which, I imagine, would make her work more challenging, thus impressive). Would anyone who can talk "inside baseball" on crosswords please hold forth a bit (on such partnerships in general, not just this one in particular)? If it's a dumb, too-broad question, please ignore and forgive.

Today's new one on me: ZUNIS. One and only nit: LOSE for "Finish second" -- not always. Maybe "Finish last" woulda been better. Today's "Say what?" is Rex's comment on the puzzle's being on the "easy" side "for a Monday." Huh? And finally, apologizes to @Gill I -- I, too, read "frown" as "frock"'! And upon realizing it, said aloud, "What kind of IDIOT ... !?"

Hartley70 11:14 AM  

@Anonymous 8:24, are you a cat? 1a is always a consideration, you know. The beagle is worshiped around here. There are at least two "beaglelover"s who read Rex regularly. Grrrr.

@Rex, could your daughter get any cuter? Not possible. What a thrill for her! I'd be kind of chuffed myself.

This was a terrific Monday and I didn't click on the info button until I was finished so the star power didn't overwhelm me. To get Acme and NDT together exceeded my expectations. The year of the celebrity co-constructor is a celestial conceit.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

I believe the Zunis were the basis of the great symbol on the New Mexico flag that makes it so unique from all the others. New Mexico seldom gets the attention it observes especially for Hispanic and aboriginal influences. It has a lot of great selling points but few people are moving there to appreciate it. I do remember walking into a Walmart and asking a question of someone stocking the shells. Her reply: "I don't speak English". Nuclear tests, white sands, aliens, Mexican food in Santa Fe, beautiful pottery, what more could a state ask for??

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

"[April, 2012—my daughter is the one on the left]"

Finally - a comment from Rex that made me grin.

Tim Aurthur 11:25 AM  

I wasn't bothered by the lack of specificity of 57A; I thought of it as a revealer, referring to the previous 4 themers. Although I'm not sure constellations and clusters can be defined as "heavenly bodies" - as opposed to single objects.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

OBAMA didn't "win" the Nobel Peace Prize, he was handed it. Making the prize a joke.

Norm 11:34 AM  

@George Barany: thank you for the morning chuckle.

evil doug 11:34 AM  

"If you think that science is disposetive about the existence or not of God, you understand neither science nor God."

Maybe. But I know how to spell dispositive....

kitshef 11:37 AM  

@John Child - maybe not YOUR local butcher...

Anon 11:11 11:46 AM  

@Evil - You caught a typo - You're a hero. I actually looked up the spelling to make sure it was correct and fat fingered it anyway. But, way to deflect son. In your mind, a thoughtful post is nullified by a typo. Feel good about yourself?

evil doug 11:56 AM  
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Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Those who can't defend deflect. If we've learned anything from Trump, it's that.

evil doug 11:59 AM  

Yes. And you should feel good about yourself, too. I don't ordinarily waste my time with anonymous assholes. But your abject arrogance--judging my faith and knowledge without knowing me--was inspirational....

Numinous 12:09 PM  

@Beaglelover and Doug. I really prefer the Roman form so if I pray I address "Jupiter Optimus Maximus, if indeed you are male and that is what you like to call yourself." I believe that all the gods are one. Do I think they hear or that they have a plan for each of us? How could I possibly know?

My nick comes from the idea of the ancient Roman spirits, before a supreme god ever occurred to them. They were genderless and formless which, to me, seemed perfect for chat rooms where everyone was eight pixels high, formless beyond that and genderless until you got to know them. The were, more or less, the Roman's leprechauns. Twenty years ago, I used to think of myself as capricious as they.

Whan I saw Dr. Tyson's byline on this puzzle, I was rapt. I was afraid the co-constructors was going to be a list of Streeps and Coolios. Dare i hope that Noam Chomsky might appear?

I think it is fascinating that Dr, Tyson shares his initials with the National Debate Tournament. Something I believe is starting on a truly national scale. Like, E.G, the fallacy of global warming vs, evidence. One could spend an entire day on YouTube watching nothing but Neil Degrasse Tyson videos to discover what a brilliant and witty mind he has. I am so jealous of ACME having him for a pal.

This exceeded my average Monday time but, in my defence, I was enjoying almost every clue. When I lived in the desert I loved lying out in my yard staring at the Academy Award nominees. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the six exoplanets recently discovered around the 34 light-year away RED DWARF. HEAVENLY BODIES may well be worth watching not only for the Spandex but for the notion of Mom and Pop beating out the arrogant Big-Money-Bulllies.

I will remember this puzzle, not for the brilliance of the cluing and the answers but for the brilliance of the constructors. For me, this really stands out. Thank you, Will for bringing these two together for us.

Numinous 12:20 PM  
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Numinous 12:25 PM  

@ Joe Bleaux, head on over to xwordinfo to read Andrea and Neil's comments on the construction of this puzzle. You'll get a better idea.

@Tim Arthur, yes, of course, HEAVENLY BODIES functions as a revealer for the previous themers. But with the comments of @Rex and others, it seemed to take on additional significance.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

When I saw that Neil DeGrasse Tyson was a co-author I expected it to be enjoyable and it was.

Kudos to him for all he does to bring science to the masses.

Joe Bleaux 12:42 PM  

Excellent! Thank you!

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Hey themers,

What about Libra?

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Anon@2:47

Thanks for the link. NDT is politely brilliant.

Anon 11:11 1:09 PM  

@ED - You're right, I know neither your understanding of science nor of god. I can, however, read and was commenting solely on your statement: That "ever receding pocket" will still disclose a supreme being when every scientific discovery is exhausted.

God exists, or not, independent of our understanding of the physical world. God created humankind, or not, independent of our understanding of evolution. God created the universe, or not, independent of the truth or fiction of the Big Bang. God exists, or not; just not in the limitations of scientific discovery. God will not be "disclose[d]" by our limitations. Surely you really didn't mean to assert that God exists solely in our ignorance do you? God, if there be such a thing, isn't a magician who's diminished when we figure out any one trick, and whose validity as a magician is dependent upon whether we figured out all his tricks.

God exists, or not, transcendent of time/space/human understanding. If you don't get that, if you think science proves or disproves, ignorance proves of disproves such existence, I stand by my comment that you just don't get it.

Oh, I forgot, good job being civil there.

DBlock 1:12 PM  

What's a gas giant??

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Like @r.alph, my puzzle wanted to "sit" up and BEG at 29A. And in my solving rush, I saw "bowling unit" in the 34A clue and put is spArE. I totally blew off reading "The Scales" part of the clue for 21D so that whole section was a STAR CLUSTER for me briefly, costing me almost a minute over my Monday average.

I liked the clue for 9A's AMBER, which had me picturing a prehistoric insect's molted carapace. And MULE being a "pack animal" had me thinking "wolf". Lots of TANGY offerings in this puzzle. Thanks, NDT and ACME.

Don McBrien 1:31 PM  

@DBlock: It's a type pf planet comprised of mostly gas, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

"Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" you Heavenly Body

Charley 1:44 PM  

I too? Is that even English?

ArtO 2:12 PM  

Thanks to George Barany for the "Dinner at Eight" closing remark. A genuine classic. And to Larry Gilstrap whose starry nights are the envy of us city (or suburban) slickers.

A most enjoyable puzzle but do agree with the minor quibble on "heavenly bodies."

Masked and Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Grid space … the final frontier. This was a blast.

44 black squares, or as NDT might call em, Dark Matter.

80 words, or as NDT might call em, high density universe.

27 weejects, or as NDT probably wouldn't call em, warp-27.

fave moo-cow MonPuz eazy-E clue (or as NDT might call it, Milky Way): {Mai ___ (cocktail)} = TAI.

Nice weeject cluster stack in the SW corner: two U's, there.

fave weeject spiral galaxy: OWE/OWL.

Thanx, Mr. Tyson and Ms. ACME. Fun MonPuz.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

I'm embarrassed to admit that I stared at the answer REDD WARF and scratched my head at what that could possibly be
.

Ebenezer 4:41 PM  

That was a lot of fun, which I was hoping for, with NdGT as co-author. If you pick the right "celebrities" (a general term for well-known people who don't normally create crosswords), you can get some interesting choices. We were watching a Bill Bryson extended interview on YouTube last night - I'd like to see him do one of these. I'd also think people who can rap and think quickly on their feet, such as Hamilton's Lin Manuel-Miranda, Renee Elise Goldsberry, or Daveed Diggs, would be good at collaborating on crosswords.

@Anonymous 3:13pm, it's very close to RED WORF, which would be a Communist Klingon. Which Worf may have become in one of those alternate universes where the Borg kills Captain Picard.

Aphrodite of Knidos 5:28 PM  

Is admiring and commenting on the attractiveness of a human body necessarily sexist? Asking for a friend.

jberg 6:49 PM  

The whole comments box just disappeared -- trying again! Mainly, @Charlie, here's a good example of I TOO in English.

I got the theme right away with LITTLE DIPPER -- but then put in REticent for 52A, saw it was wrong with TWEETS, but still didn't realize it was a theme answer until I had all the crosses, so that slowed me down.

I loved ALOTOF for some reason (common Russian name); and liked thinking how I could OWN an OWL but still OWE on it.

My only mild complaint is LIBRA, a non-theme astronomical entity cluttering things up. But still a very nice puzzle.

Nancy 7:49 PM  

@jberg -- But LIBRA isn't astronomical, it's astrological.

Billfishco 7:52 PM  

ADZ/ZUNI was an easy one for me, as a woodworker and retired naval officer-- John McCain was nearly killed when a ZUNI rocket exploded on the flite deck of the USS Forestal during Vietnam...

NYer 8:15 PM  

Great to see Acme in the NY Times again!

Aketi 8:22 PM  

@Ebenezer, I was disappointed for a nanosecond that the constructors added a D and misspelled WORF.

Rita 8:32 PM  

@jberg - Thanks so much for the Langston Hughs link!

@Nancy - Libra is a constellation that is visible in our sky. The constellations of the zodiac are positioned where the sun is in their well-known months. This is bona fide astronomy. Astrology is the invention of the idea that the movement of these real heavenly bodies somehow affects our lives.

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

@Doug

I saw you winning the bet in yesterdays posts. Very funny. I looked for a e-mail for you on your profile but didn't find one, so here it goes. Again, I only get the "live" NYTX on Sunday's but the rest is syndicated, (i.e.-today was from 2/13/17). Wanted to check today to see if there was any follow-up to yesterday. Sadly no. Regarding today, just my opinion, you MAY be wasting your time with folks on this blog who don't share your faith. I refer you to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, specifically 1:19. Not to say to quit trying, but you may performing an act described in Matthew 7:6.
Thank you for your service.
GWood

Anonymous 9:16 PM  

Oh, but McCain is not liked by T since he prefers military who did not get captured.

Anonymous 9:19 PM  

Hey!! You're posting and anonymously. How embarrassed can you be?

Nancy 9:44 PM  

Oops. Thanks, Rita.

Leapfinger 1:14 AM  

It's kind of heartening to see how many people will still try to SPAY a MULE. Great bloggery, y'all.

Was delighted with the stark luster of the puzzle, and humbly grateful to the collaborative stark lustees.

Celestial Tease 1:16 AM  

If you thought this MonPuzz was meaty, you're right!!

Neil deGrasse Tyson 1:23 AM  

FYI: The quote is out of context, and so is easily misinterpreted by all who read it. It's found here, offered as I intended it:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nikg4hMRjs -NDTyson

BarbieBarbie 6:04 AM  

Love you, @Neil. Nobody will read this by now, but I have to defend science for Rex's daughter's sake. What was described by @LarryGilstrap and applauded by @jae isn't science. Here is science:
1. Ask a question.
2. Collect a pile of all the facts and informed assumptions relevant to that question.
3. Use INductive logic to form a hypothesis that's consistent with all that.
4. Don't stop here, Larry.
5. Design an experiment to test the hypothesis. Do it.
6. Use DEductive logic to analyze your results. No cheating. Consider everything to be equally valid unless you can defend ignoring it.
7. Form a conclusion from your experiment. Evaluate your original hypothesis and assumptions against that conclusion.
8. NOW is the time for peer review. Of all of it.
9. And now the pile from (2) is bigger. Start again at (3). Lather, rinse, repeat.

Too many "scientists" stop after forming a hypothesis and go around chest-beating about how ignorant everyone else is. They are not doing good science. The truth is that the right answer is almost always "we don't know, but it might be like this."

That goes double for junk science like evolutionary psychology and pretty much anything concluded from FMRI data. And it's sadly what makes the climate change "debate" so contentious. Lots of junk science muddying up the conversation from any point of view.

BarbieBarbie 6:09 AM  

Oh, and as long as nobody is looking anymore: @evilDoug, we are all Anonymous here except Rex/Michael and (unwisely, in my opinion) now, his daughter. Do you think my name is BarbieBarbie?? Or even Barbara? How do I know yours is Doug, or that you're a retired military pilot? Don't pick on the people who use Anonymous as an ID. It's allowed by the site.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

@BarbieB, not everyone's Anonymous, e.g./c.f.
George Baranyi
Loren Muse Smith

I'd consider it might be a constructor thingy (Martin Ashwood-Smith, DamonG, PB2 etal), but for the likes of Larry Gilstrap, Andrew Heinegg, Joseph Michaels and Fred Romagnolo who seem to post under real-worid names and haven't ID'ed theyselves as constructors.

Personally, I'm in favor of the interesting/clever alternatives to 'Anonymous' thatshow up on these boards. My vote's for floating your boat.

Tita A 9:28 AM  

Now THIS is a celebrity puzzle! I admire NdGT for his personal success and how he got himself there. And for his passion for giving other kids that same passion.

I truly hope that he can influence others the way Carl Sagan influenced him.

@Rex...seems like faint thanks...it was way more than the passive your knowing ACME and her knowing Neil. Seems she went out of her way to call in a favor from a very sought-after person.
I can readily imagine the utter joy your daughter experienced from that meeting. What a treat.

Great fun, Acme and Mr. deGrasse Tyson. Inspire on!

Dan 11:40 PM  

"Well, that's funny, because I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here, so..."

Burma Shave 10:12 AM  

ALOTOF GLEE?

That PSYCHO, the REDDWARF, had the ODDEST LITTLEDIPPER,
no DOUBT ASBIG as STUD MULE in the BARN, that li’l nipper,
SEW he would BEG with AMBER and RUBY, FOR to be naughty.
“NOPE! PAY,PAL, if you KNEAD to LIE in BED with a HEAVENLYBODY.”

--- LAURA LOGAN

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

Two of my favorite people-that-I've-never-actually-met-but-would surely-call-friends got together for this one, so I knew I'd like it. I did.

The NW contains one of the ODDEST partials I've ever seen, but it was actually funny. I thought, somebody just threw me an ALOTOF cocktail! There was nothing tired or tiresome about this. It was fun, and that's in keeping with Dr. Tyson's mindset that science is fun. I write this just after a national movement to embrace science; I hope it wasn't just a "science day."

How we got into a discussion of the existence of God I'm not sure. Most of us view science and God as mutually exclusive, like hydrogen peroxide and blood. Maybe the truth, as someone once said, "is always somewhere in the middle." How often, in literature and real life, have people gone down on their knees before beings so advanced that they appeared as gods? Has an Earth--an Eden--been crafted for us? If so, by whom? I am reminded of the famous two-edged Voltaire quote: "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary for man to invent Him." Written by a man who was by all accounts religious, it nevertheless lets atheists in the back door. My own view is that at its present stage of development the human mind cannot stand the finality of death, and so we have "invented" a device by which we can live forever, and we call this concept "God." We are still in our infancy; we understand nothing. If we can last until we've grown enough (DOUBTful in the extreme!), we may eventually see the light--and it may show us a God...or not.

We now return you to the crossword blog you thought you were visiting. One saying I never understood: "Who goes there, friend or FOE?" What are you going to answer?? Duh! DOD is HEAVENLYBODY Amber Heard. Like Neil says: keep looking up! Birdie.

rondo 12:36 PM  

ITOO think ITSA really nice puz. Like ALOTOF Mondays, there were more than 20 threes, but a good job done to stay away from abbr.s.

ASTO the God talk, I DOUBT anyone wants to hear my opinion.

ASTO the HEAVENLYBODY talk, newswoman and yeah baby Lara (not LAURA) LOGAN can’t LOSE.

Fun, quick puz to start the week; one of the GOODS.

leftcoastTAM 1:05 PM  

Nice collaboration between Neil and Andrea.

Isn't there a song about LAURA being "only a dream"? Actually, she shared the White House with her husband, and she may qualify as a real-life HEAVENLY BODY. (So would Melania now, but her husband is a GAS GIANT.)

This was an enjoyable walk in the part after yesterday's exhausting uphill trek.

Diana,LIW 1:42 PM  

I, too, came up with the fatal natal answer. I finally saw the DWARF, but left the "a" in HEAVaNLYBODY. So y'all know the "f" that I get - a dnf.

So a good Monday. Hey @Rainy - it's ok to read Rex today!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 2:17 PM  

So, a famed astrophysicist and a crossword maven walk into a bar. Fun Monday puzzle ensues.

I enjoyed all of this, primarily because it set a higher-than-usual standard for a Monday. The theme answers were great with a touch of humour. HEAVENLY BODY worked as a "revealer", though none was needed.

The Science/faith discussion was totally unnecessary. There are too many obtuse people who think that Science is an enemy of faith, and so benightedly refuse to believe what Science has revealed to us; about our origins, our path, the environment, our future. How wrong-headed.

There. That's my contribution. Gotta go.

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

You finished this in under 3 minutes? That is very impressive. It took me about 11-12 to solve it. Knowing the author helped guessing the theme. You knew it had to be astronomy related.

Mark

Anonymous 9:10 PM  

16 and 19 across make Laura Logan. Is this on purpose? She is a CBS 60 minutes British Anchorwoman. Is there some connection? I know 60 minutes did a segment on Tyson last year but is there any other link between her and the puzzle?


Mark

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