MONDAY, Jan. 5, 2009 - ACME! (Strom Thurmond follower of 1948 / Auto gizmo that talks, in brief / 2000 De Niro/Stiller comedy)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Three kinds of MEAT - three long theme answers all start with MEAT or a homophone thereof

This puzzle was delightful, and I'll tell you why - I realized just before sitting down to do it that Mr. Shortz had somehow neglected to give me the puzzles for this week to test-solve. Either that, or I mysteriously deleted them all. At any rate, after I got over paranoia that I was being silently black-balled, I opened the puzzle and did it fresh, at the same time as the regular puzzle-solving rabble (i.e. you). I flew through it in under 3 minutes (glad to see I could still go that fast - haven't timed myself in ages), and when I finished I immediately thought "Wow, that was a sleek, sassy little puzzle - simple, but clean, and not crammed with too much early-week junk fill. And it had DIXIECRAT (3D: Strom Thurmond follower of 1948)! Fabulous" (yes, I thought those exact words in that exact order). Then, and only then, did I look at who the puzzle author was - my beloved constructor friend and sometime blogging substitute Andrea Carla Michaels! It makes me very happy to be able to rave about one of her puzzles. I've said it before - early-week puzzles are tough to do well. This theme is not exactly memorable, but all the fill is solid and the experience of solving it was a genuine pleasure. This is all I ask from my puzzles: PLEASE PLEASE ME!

Theme answers:

  • 23A: 2000 De Niro/Stiller comedy ("MEET the Parents") - had to double-check the date, as the sequel "Meet the Fockers" also occurred to me
  • 35A: Basic, as issues (MEAT and potatoes)
  • 47A: What judges do in court (METE out justice) - this answer caused the only hang-up in my solving experience; I was moving so fast that I hadn't had time to register the theme, and I glanced at this clue several times, with various numbers of crosses in place, before the answer became clear

Here are some criticisms - they are minor. Did not like the back-to-back partials at A PAIN (15A: Be _____ in the neck) and AS WE (16A: "Even _____ speak ..."), though I did like that A PAIN was right up against the CACTI (5A: Desert plants). Furthermore, there seemed a slightly excessive reliance on foreign words today; in particular, there seemed to be a lot of (occasionally scary) German stuff - ESSEN (11D: German steel city), BONN (43A: West Germany's capital), and the name that slowed me down most because I you rarely see it, despite its (in)fame, ADOLF Hitler (52A: First name in W.W. II infamy). Andrea recently complained about HEBE sounding like a slur against Jews, so I have a hard time believing this is her clue, but you never know. French gets a workout too, with AMI crossing AMOUR (are they etymologically related?) and then there's Italian (ARTE), Spanish (ORO), Portuguese (SAO), and Orkan (NANU - 37D: Half of Mork's goodbye).

Andrea seems to have a real sensitivity for the way words play off one another in close proximity. Take CAPOTE APATHY (5D: Truman who wrote "Breakfast at Tiffany's" + 6D: Lack of interest). I have seen CAPOTE APATHY - it's withering. I have also read the Voyage of the Argo, so the whole southern region, with JASON (50D: Bourne of "The Bourne Identity") and PURSUE (44D: Chase) and ASTERN (45D: To the rear, on a ship), evoked the mythical pursuit of the Golden Fleece for me. Best of all, there is the actress Teri POLO (here, disguised as a 13th-century explorer - 25D: Explorer Marco), intersecting the very movie that she co-stars in - namely, "MEET THE PARENTS." Coincidence? Maybe, but I still say Andrea has a good ear and eye when it comes to the complementarity of contiguous and intersecting words.

And how do you not love BELTED (43D: Sang loudly, with "out") and HOPSCOTCH (32D: Sidewalk game with chalk)? Those words practically bounce off the grid.


  • 1A: Flexible, electrically (AC/DC) - this clue is great. I can't say why, but I know that it is. I think it's something to do with the way it sounds when I say it out loud.
  • 20A: Agent Gold of HBO's "Entourage" (Ari) - the clue of the moment for this very common bit of crossword fill
  • 31A: Auto gizmo that talks, in brief (GPS) - this vacation that I just finished marked the first time that I'd ever seen a nav system at work. It's pretty astonishing, but there were times around D.C. where I couldn't quite tell where it was telling PuzzleGirl to turn. I kept asking her "Is this thing going to make us drive into a lake?" (a la "The Office" - can't find the scene in question, but here's a deleted scene from the same ep, with more GPS humor):

  • 55D: Sgt. Snorkel's four-legged friend (Otto) - the Comic Crossword Dawg Pound includes OTTO, DAWG, ODIE, SNERT, and probably several others I'm forgetting. Not MARMADUKE or BARFY, sadly. "Simpsons"-haters should be glad that ACME didn't go that route here, as she easily could have.

Lastly, a couple of announcements. First, as many of you already know, I am going to be on a panel of crossword bloggers at the opening night of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in February. Registration details just became available recently, and once again I'm going to strongly encourage solvers of all skill levels to attend. I had a good time my first time and a great time my second. This will be my third time. I assume the trend will continue. You should come, if only to heckle me and/or ask me ridiculous questions. All I can say is that there better be a really skilled and entertaining moderator involved - that, or lots and lots of high quality liquor.

Second, nearly eight months after I suggested that I would redesign my site, that redesign is finally going to happen. Sometime soon. Probably before the end of the month. There will not be a lot of new bells and whistles, just a more streamlined, more easily navigable site, and a more user-friendly look. I am doing none of the technical stuff myself, which is good news for all of you, as I clearly have no idea what I'm doing. I mean, come on. You've seen the blog, right? You're looking at it right now. You know what I'm talking about.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


nanpilla 9:54 PM  

I also loved this puzzle, and didn't even notice who the constructor was until you pointed her out. My favorite words were dixiecrat and hopscotch. How do you even begin to think of ways to put words like that into a grid? After a superfast Sunday, this was a superfast Monday, but very enjoyable.
One little quibble. Not all show horses wear shoes. Just depends on how good their hoof wall is, and of course, what discipline they are being shown in. Jumpers often have studs in their shoes (like cleats for humans) to help with traction. Many Arabian horses don't wear shoes, because they naturally have great feet.
Sorry, I meant to keep this short!

jae 10:16 PM  

Yep, what Rex said. Liked it. Easy breezy.

janie 10:42 PM  

swift solve, SWEET puzzle.

one of the most curious stories to emerge from broadway this season concerns the rather abrupt departure of ARI gold portrayer jeremy piven from a successful and riveting revival of david mamet's speed the plow. seems his sushi-eating ways caused the mercury levels in his blood to soar, prompting mamet to quip:

"My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."

this link will take you to far too much information...

and ditto what rex said about the acpt. it's just *fun*. no matter what your solving level is!


Anonymous 11:08 PM  

Maybe it's left-over x-mas bah-humbug, but I found this puzzle much too easy, even for a Monday - and I'm not that good a solver (I rarely can get through Friday).
I'm glad for Andrea that Rex had such a great vacation he was able to enjoy it.
Welcome back - and Happy New Year.

Greene 11:13 PM  

@Janie: Thanks for the Mamet story. Too funny...well, not for Mr. Piven I suppose.

I had a solving experience quite similiar to Rex's. I too neglected to look at the author's name before starting in. Learning about puzzle constructors and their respective styles has been one of the many instructive things I have picked up from this blog. Anyway, as I zipped through the clean and tasty grid I started to think "This feels just like an ACME puzzle." I was, therefore, quite delighted to look up at the end and see Andrea's name. The perfect ending to a perfect Monday puzzle.

@Rex: I look forward to the upcoming changes in the graphic layout of the blog. I'm sure they will be terrific. Just remember we (I think I can speak for many on this point) come here for the engaging content and the witty banter, so please don't ever change that!

Unknown 11:47 PM  

The acme of Acme? I think not, but very good and very fun all the same.

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

SHIV on Monday, and nobody's complaining?

Easy puzzle, breezed through it ..


santafefran 12:35 AM  

Just one misstep here--typed in FOCKERS for PARENTS but quickly realized that Marco FOLO just wouldn't do.

Liked the intersection of PREEN with PRADA.

Thanks to Andrea and Rex.

PurpleGuy 1:34 AM  

Happy New Year to all !
Very enjoyable puzzle, for a Monday.
Knew it would be entertaining when I saw
it was by ACME. Love her puzzles.
I've been doing the NYTpuzzles since the 60's.
Really enjoy this site, and everyone's comments.
Hope Ican contribute something.
A shout out to Shamik- I'm in Phoenix since 74.
How about our Cardinals ?

Keepupthe great job, Rex.

Shanti11 3:21 AM  

Here is a link to that clip from the Office that I think you were looking for, Rex. God, they're idiots.

Great job, acme! I got part way through the puzzle and went, "Wait a minute, is this... Yes, it is Andrea Carla! Yea! Fun, snappy, current puzzle. Makes you think, "If Monday started off this well, then what else but good things can happen to us all at our happy little blogoshere nestled deep within the Internets.

I had no idea Truman Capote wrote Breakfast At Tiffany's. Or I did, but that particular brain cell has long since dissolved.

I liked that GPS came after REO (Speed Wagon). Because it did.

ArtLvr 4:22 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle, and I liked the dogs at opposite corners, NW and SE... Other PAIRS too, like PAL next to AMI, besides those noted by Rex. Agreeing with everyone, nice theme and it was all very smooth! Many thanks, Andrea.


sillygoose 7:09 AM  

Fast. Fun. Gave me a the nicest rush of everything just falling into place perfectly, which is a first for me. Maybe thats what it is like to be a gifted solver? Usually I'm plunking in wrong answers with confidence and re-writing and re-righting, so thanks Acme for this little treat.

joho 7:56 AM  

Such a fun Monday! For some reason I started at PRADA (great, new word) and sailed on from there. To me the crossing of PRADA/MEET THE PARENTS brought back memories of two very entertaining movies, a wonderful way to get back to work on a Monday, my most unfavorite day of the week. I loved DIXIECRAT! Liked the fresh clue for USER. Was stunned to see ADOLF (Hitler) in an ACME puzzle.

One tiny nitpick, shouldn't bedsheets be LINENS?

@Rex, very appropriate to use a Beatle's clip for ACME.

Thank you Andrea Carla Michaels for making my back-to-work Monday better than bearable!

evil doug 8:18 AM  

When 1D is "Asta", and the puzzle is deemed easy even for a Monday, that's a good day to save my money. I sat in Starbucks with a "borrowed" paper and solved the crossword in my head.

On the other hand, I thought ACME's Wall Street Journal puzzle last week was a pleasant pastime.


Chorister 8:26 AM  

Easy & delightful. Kudos to Andrea.

I also liked all the clever pairings.

Didn't know REO Speed

Chorister 8:29 AM  

I don't know how I keep posting when I haven't even finished yet. Sheesh.

REO Speed Wagon - didn't know it was an actual vehicle until today.

There. I think I'm done.

JannieB 9:19 AM  

The Queen of Monday is back - long live the Queen!

Great puzzle, perfect start to the week!

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

This was really easy (no mistakes). I grew up in the Appalachian Mountains (21D) in Virginia. We definitely have our own culture but we are not the people depicted in the media. Plus, it's a beautiful place.

mac 10:19 AM  

Very fun Monday, smooth and elegant. The French quarter has not just amour and ami, but passe as well. Loved Dixiecrat, was wondering what that would be after I got dixi... (Dixi Carter?). Cute, West German capital, just German would have been Berlin. As Artlvr said, the two dogs placed diagonally opposite! And Edith sure belted sometimes. And even I have heard of "Casey at the bat".

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Please someone answer- I asked yesterday and got no response-

Quick question- are the Sunday puzzles progressively more difficult as you move through the month?


Shamik 10:26 AM  

@PurpleGuy: On to Carolina for the win!

@evildoug: In your head? Borrowed? Hmmmmm....

@Anne: I've hiked the first 750 miles of the're right. The people there usually have all their teeth, do not all play the banjo and will not make you squeal like a pig. Had a lot of folks be very friendly and helpful while I was on that journey.

Easy puzzle and I was so smug about my "fast" time that when I compared it, I just have to figure that I get comparatively faster towards the end of the week when my solving outpaces my obviously slow fingers.


Loved DIXIECRAT, HOPSCOTCH and APATHY. Good solid Monday puzzle, Andrea!

Rex: The "AC-DC Stud" truly challenged my breakfast test.

JoefromMtVernon 10:26 AM  

@anonymous JimG - I had snee until I did the downs....

I started at 1 across and finished at 59 down. One time, straight through. A first for me.

You need a puzzle like this every so often. I guess after a dismal 2008 (for most people), Will wanted to give us something to feel good about.

Very Germatic puzzle today (Otto, Adolf, Essen, Bonn) and we almost made it without French (until the amour/ami crossing).

When I go to the batting cage, while the high mph cage may be challenging, I like the slo-pitch softball cage every now and then.


foodie 10:31 AM  

I just figured out why I love Andrea Carla's puzzles. They remind me of good modern design-- simple, sleek, restrained, with perfect proportions, all of which spells elegance. Quite hard to achieve, but you'd never know it because of the way it resonates, as if it was always meant to be.

@evil doug, this might be a different perspective from yours, but if you want a great dessert, you can spend your money on a fancy french confection or on fresh plump strawberries. As you can tell from my name and avatar, I appreciate both-- I believe there's room in our combined tastes for an easy monday, a hard saturday and everything in between. It's the quality that counts.

JoefromMtVernon 10:34 AM  

@adam...based on my times, I would say no...I find that they tend to be relatively the same. But, in the words of Warren Buffet, I'm not an expert.

Just letting you know you're not alone out there...


PuzzleGirl 10:36 AM  

For the first time ever, PuzzleHusband completed a puzzle all on his own. So, while some of you gripe about how easy it was, we are celebrating here at the PuzzleAbode.

@Rex: Damn! I can't believe I never turned the GPS sound on for you. My kids Love the way she talks. She drives me so batty that I just turn her off.

@adam: I don't believe they do. At least, I've never heard that. Orange?

@Andrea: You're awesome. But you knew that.

Rex Parker 10:41 AM  

A Sunday puzzle is a Sunday puzzle is a Sunday puzzle - no difficulty progression throughout the month.

My sister's kids died laughing at their GPS's pronunciation of "Crested Butte."


Josh 10:45 AM  

Like (almost) everyone else, I just want to rave about this puzzle. The construction is just shockingly good.

The two dogs on the corners, as ArtLvr pointed out. The minor homophone play of A PAIN and PANES. MATES and TONTO near PAL and AMI. HOPSKOTCH next to ERECT made me think of playing with Erector sets as a kid.

And if you have to stick ADOLF in a puzzle, crossing him with ALOOF is appropriate, if not nearly severe enough.

Such thoughtful construction!

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

A tiptop puzzle from our own ACME! 'hopscotch' was a sweet reminder of simpler times . . but what happened to the constructor bylines at the NYT blog? last week they were big, now they're puny and hidden. corporate downsizing, bah!

thanks, ACME for a super Monday kickoff to 2009!

Ulrich 10:59 AM  

I join the chorus of applause. I particularly liked HOPSCOTCH--I regret not seeing the typical chalk drawings on sidewalks anymore--they reminded me so much of my childhood.

I was, of course, thinking about "Adolf". There is one other famous Adolf (with the "f", as opposed to "ph"), the great pioneer of modern architecture from Vienna, Adolf Loos. But he may not be known enough outside arch. circles for reference in a Monday puzzle, and besides, a clue referring to him would look like a strained attempt at avoiding the clue we had. BTW the name Adolf has, of course, all but disappeared from German birth records after 1945. Conversely, if you meet a German who was born between 1933 and 45 and who calls himself Addie, or Ady, or something like that, you can be pretty sure that his parents were fervent Nazis and that he is trying to disguise this as best as he can.

@foodie: I agree with you completely w.r.t. modern design, but then again, I almost always agree with you.

@Canadian Doug (from last night): I appreciate your appreciation of German beer and the rituals surrounding it.

Jeffrey 11:01 AM  

You know its going to be easy with 10 fill in the ____ clues.

What does ACD - hundred, SHI-five and TAX-one mean?

HMS Pinafore, REO Speed Wagon and EDITH Piaf, some missed clip opportunities there.

Harpo Marx was born Adolph before he changed it to Arthur, but said little about it.

HOPSCOTCH! ACME rules Mondays.

That is all. It's Monday. Go back to work.

Parshutr 11:14 AM  

Very easy. I didn't even notice ADOLF, but there is one very well-known person with that first name, disguised as the sports shoe company ADIDAS (Adolf Dassler). And Adolf's brother founded PUMA. could you leave ASTA and FALA out of the doggie xword pantheon?

jeff in chicago 11:28 AM  

Excellent Monday, Andrea. And I finally got to your WSJ puzzle yesterday. Loved the concept and the grid!

BELTED and HOPSCOTCH do jump off the page today. If only CASEY had BELTED one out that fateful day. CAPOTE and EDITH BELTED us in their own distinct ways.

Adolph Coors = crappy beer
Adolph Ochs = owned the NYT
Adolph Rupp = famous UK basketball coach

Cartoon dogs: Ren, Bandit, Mr. Peabody!

Margaret 11:33 AM  

Add my kudos to the crowd, ACME. Great Monday solve. The fact that it was my fastest time ever only added to the enjoyment.

Andrea, did you write the "Bank No." clue for ACCT or did Will? It seems too coincidental (coincicrosstic?) that it should appear again so soon...

Welcome back, Rex. Thanks for the Beatles clip. (Was that song considered scandalously sexually suggestive when it came out -- or is it just me?)

mac 12:19 PM  

@puzzlegirl: I love our GPS. In our current Acura we call her Margaret, she sounds a little stern, but in our former one we had a Japanese girl's voice, speaking excellent English, and we named her Kiomi, after a Japanese friend in Hamburg.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Nice, easy, enjoyable puzzle. I knew every single answer in the fill after a single cross. Six minutes in AcrossLite, three of which were spent stumbling over my own fingers. I don't normally time my solving, but since I've been subscribed to the NYT puzzles, I've been doing them online in AL, which has the little timer thingy, so I always know my elapsed time. I'm sure I could solve faster on paper, but who cares? Well, I guess speed is important at the ACPT--which I may attend this year just for kicks. Daughter lives in Brooklyn, I [heart] NYC, so why not?

mac 12:22 PM  

Oops, hadn't seen a Margaret commenting right before me.... Let me rephrase, the voice is a little more formal compared to the girly voice in our former car.

ArtLvr 12:35 PM  

Ach, the name Adoph/Adolf -- I had a great-grandfather with that name, born in Berlin but US-raised... His son, my grandfather was a Charles.

As for the ober/uber choice yesterday, I decided on OBER because of the Bavarian town famous for the medieval passion play performances there -- Obergammerau. Have no idea what the rest of that name means. Ulrich?


Doug 12:37 PM  

@ulrich: I just checked the Display Email box in Blogger. I am a big fan of German ESSEN und Trinken. Obviously I'm a MEATANDPOTATOES man.

Ineresting trivia: ARI Gold's character is based on Rahm Emanuel's brother ARI, a talent agent in L.A. Talk about kids going separate ways, with the same skill set.

A real mutltlingual puzzle particularly if you include proper nouns. English plus -->

Romani: SHIV from "Chiv";
French: Taxamètre(from German Taxameter), PASSE, AMOUR, AMI
Hebrew: ARI ("lion")
Japanese: MOTO ("origin")
German: Taxameter, ESSEN, BONN, ADOLF, OTTO
Norwegian: ASTA ("love")
Latin: CVI, STET ("let it stand")
Carib: CANOE (from "canoa")
Italian: PRADA, POLO
Orkian: NANU
Ojibway: TONTO ("scout")

13, how about that. Harold Williams (NZ, d. 1928) holds the record of fluency in 58 languages.

Pythia 12:38 PM  

A lovely way to start the week. Easy and breezy, as a Monday should be.

Larousse shows AMOUR to be derived from the Latin "amor," and AMI from "amicus."

Just for grins, I sometimes set my GPS to speak to me in French.

Close encounter of the b**t kind worthy of reporting: roasted yellow and red b**t salad with savory Humboldt Fog "cheesecake" and citrus-tarragon vinaigrette. Also offered "In the Middle" was a golden b**t juice "shooter" with a vanilla-sugar rim. OMG.


Orange 12:56 PM  

@Adam, no, I've never observed any weekly progression in Sunday puzzle difficulty. I think the Sunday puzzles randomly bounce around the difficulty meter.

A friend of mine calls her GPS lady Agnes, so we've picked up the name for ours. Man, I wanted Agnes to shut up yesterday. She gets so fixated on her particular route, and seriously, if I need to exit in 9 miles, it's OK for me to use the express lanes. I won't miss my exit in 9 miles just because I'm not in the local lanes. She worked herself into a tizzy every time I ignored her instructions to get over to the locals. Then she's frantically "recalculating," as if she's trying to figure out what to do with this rebel who refuses to listen.

Food topic (not that anyone needs one): If you're a frugal type, do you refuse to buy raspberries when they cost five bucks instead of three bucks? I once read an interview with a millionaire who said the advantage of having wealth was that he could buy raspberries without looking at the price. Yesterday, my aunt said she wouldn't pay five bucks for the berries even if she were loaded, just on principle. I think she's high. If the berries look good and money's not an issue, I'm having the berries.

Doc John 1:00 PM  

A fun start to the week, Andrea!

Nothing to add except that my visiting Brit friends called their GPS a "sat-nav".

Unknown 1:03 PM  

Another fastest Monday solve here, finally broke the 5 minute barrier.

And it was a fun solve, for all the reasons already mentioned. I enjoyed taking the time to read all the clues and answers after solving to make sure I hadn't missed anything.

I looked up linen and the dictionary does have a listing for it as a collective noun without the s.

Ross G-Whiz 1:14 PM  

In the spirit of Rex's New Year's request for us frequent lurkers to start participating in the comments section ...

I really enjoyed how the pups OTTO and ASTA got sent to the corners in this puzzle. Was there some sort of scuffle over the MEAT AND POTATOES?

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Elegance - from the aspect of the solve, the layout and the construction. No ridiculous clues/answers and much quirk - love the foreign answers, an answer with X and hopscotch. Sweet. Others have already pointed out the nits but surely this puzzle approaches transcendence.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:39 PM  

Oops! I didn't look at the constructor name before starting the puzzle, then went through it so fast I never looked back. So before I came here I had already formulated two snarky remarks:

1. "Wake me when the puzzle starts."

and 2. "The one bit of somewhat cleverness was the cluing for 43A, West Germany's capital, BONN. And that was a gimme for me because my sister lived there for seven years when her husband was assigned to the American Embassy there."

Of course, now that I know it is by ACM, I take that all back. (Well, my sister really was in Bonn as stated.) (And I'm still a bit taken aback by ADOLF.) I am glad others pointed out the beautiful canine symmetry and the graceful crosses, which I missed in my haste.

@ArtLvr - The name of the town of Oberammergau seems to mean "the region above the Ammer River."

joho 2:07 PM  

@Cheryl: thanks! I should have known that kind of sloppiness wouldn't appear in this puzzle!

@RT: great comment! Keep them coming!

Unknown 2:08 PM  

RT et al newbies...Welcome
Thanks for your comments. All of these comments have been in the spirit of the site. Here's the rest of the quotation started at 65A...Oh, to be in England, Now that April's there, And whoever wakes in England Sees some morning, unaware, That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf, Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough In England--now.
Author: Robert Browning
Source: Home Thoughts from Abroad

My favorite quotation about England has been paraphrased and used to mock almost every Prime Minister, but here is the original:"This island is made mainly of coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organizing genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time."
Author: Aneurin Bevan

chefbea 2:23 PM  

What a great puzzle. Thanks Andrea. I did it while eating lunch as usual but finished the puzzle way before I finished my salad.(no meat and potatoes for lunch)

@orange I love raspberries and will eat them at any price.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

I really liked the oh-so-subtle misdirect on 52A clue, because "infamy" evoked the attack on Pearl Harbor, so at first glance I expected a Japanese name.

As long as Im chiming in, let me join those exasperated by the over sensitivity to Adolph or Hebe or Idi Amin or whatever. As a Jew, there is certainly enough genuine anti-Semitism without having to conjure some based upon the juxtaposition (or pronunciation?!?) of answers in the grid. Secondly, I actually read the NYT - so I sure ain't looking for a sugar-coated view of the world. Finally, if you start disqualifying unsavory answers, where do you draw the line? Is Dixiecrat ok because it is a fun word? Interesting that no one today objected to this answer based upon their abhorrent segregationist platform.

--------> Joe in NYC

fergus 2:49 PM  

Good point on DIXIECRAT.

All the great content makes the blandness of the theme inconsequential.

Was Rex referring to the awkward German exchange student, or is there a canine Simpsons OTTO, as well?

Rex Parker 2:55 PM  

The exchange student (who enjoys "Joy Joys" "mit iodine") is UTER.

The bus driver is OTTO.

That is all.


Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Would cluing ADOLF as Eichmann been any better? Probably not.

How about "Name in virtual disuse in German for the last 60 years"?

It doesn't bother me. It's a valid clue. There's no reason to get into a tizzy because Hitler was a madman. It's just a crossword.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

To add to the previous post, if any of you have done the Brendan E. Quigley puzzles on his site, you've discovered one of them has as part of an answer an intensifier that would never be found in any part of the Times, much less the crossword puzzle. No chance that one would be accepted. And what a shock to see it! Yet, as a viable part of the larger clue (a step-quote), it makes perfect sense. So beauty is in the eye of the solver, I guess.

chefwen 3:31 PM  

Sweet little puzzle however, a little too easy, even for a Monday. GPS systems are fun but somwhat annoying, the last one we had got so snippy when we second guessed her that we named her Connie after my Mother in Law. My husband then ordered one for us to take on foreign trips and had it programmed with the voice of John Cleese, histerical.

fergus 3:42 PM  

Oh, of course. UTER also enjoys a Flavor Bar, if I recall properly now.

chefwen 3:59 PM  

Someone needs to take a spelling lesson, how about hysterical? DOH!

joho 4:20 PM  

@Ulrich: Vielen danken!

Köln is your hometown!!!

SethG 4:22 PM  

I think the GPS voice in Jill's mom's car is named Jack, but I called him David. It was fun to listen to him try to pronounce Sahuarita, and I played a game of trying to predict how far in advance he'd warn us about an upcoming turn. I was rarely right, and once he seemed to prefer that we drive across a pitted dirt field rather than take the presumably slightly longer street between the two roads.

At the Oscars John Stewart made a Gaydolf Tittler joke. I started here with ENOLA from the xxOLx.

Andrea, did you cross AxI and AxOUR just for me? Très injuste!

mac 4:41 PM  

@Orange: interesting question. I don't think I would buy something that was overpriced even though I could easily afford it. Must be my "Embarrassment of Richess" background. We eat blueberries almost daily, and there are a few months when they are out of season everywhere and the price is astronomical. I will pay a little more for this "power food", but I've also bought the Trader Joe's frozen ones, they are pretty good.

Ah, we're talking food again. @Jane Doh, that was quite a B-fest. May have to have something like that this evening!

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

Loved the puzzle for a Monday. Easy but very well constructed.
Also love my GPS except when I don;t follow directions and she says in a VERY disapproving tone "RE-calculating". She does this so often that my better half has christened her "Gabby"

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Hey Rex -- I just wanted to say that think your blog is better when you haven't test-solved the puzzle first.

Bill from NJ 5:17 PM  

Smooth as silk. Good fill with a well-varied theme.

I hope you get a Sunday sometime, Andrea.

archaeoprof 5:21 PM  

@Rex: I agree with anonymous 4:53.

@ACME: I agree with Bill from NJ about Sundays.

Re: ADOLF. My godson (Patenkind) in Germany is named Benedict. At his christening his parents asked me why no American boys are named Bendedict. When I explained they said, "It's like that with Adolf here."

Ulrich 5:50 PM  

@archaeoprof: Interesting--I wasn't aware of this Benedict thing. In the case of "Adolf", I think the disappearance of the name is no great loss. With Benedict, I'm not so sure. I consider it beautiful, not the less b/c it derives from Latin "Benedictus" (the blessed one). Plus, Benedict and Beatrice in Much Ado... are my favorite couple in all of Shakespeare.

ArtLvr 5:51 PM  

@ Bob Kerfuffle -- Many thanks for the rest of Obergammerau. I didn't know there was an Ammer River, but now we all know it we can probably see it in a puzzle! (What happened to the G, though?)


hazel 5:57 PM  

@ Joe in NYC - I'm a Dixie chick and think you make an excellent point about Dixiecrat usage - the word may be cool, but its history not so much.

@ all cartoon dog lovers - how about adding Mr. Magoo's dog McBarker to the list? Enough with Asta already - who I'd never heard of before starting crosswords last year.

jeff in chicago 6:09 PM  

@Ulrich: Not to quibble (which, of course, means I'm about to quibble) but it's Benedick in "Much Ado," not Benedict.

I've never been in a car with a GPS and I've always wondered what it does if you don't follow its directions. It says "Re-calculating"? Weak. It would be more fun if it said, "Hey dumbass. You missed the turn."

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

I have my GPS doing the voice of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It says, "Dave, you missed your turn...Dave, what are you doing?" Freaks out the passenger, so I miss turns on purpose now, which defeats the whole purpose, I guess.
I made no wrong turns on the puzzle, hoWever. Now a GPS that could talk to me about Saturday puzzles would be my idea of a great present.


Doug 6:39 PM  

Hear Ozzy and other celebs put their own spin on your GPS voice at You've reached your f'ing destination, mate.

- Marilyn Monroe
- Dr Evil
- Michael Caine
- Kim Cattrall
- Tony Blair
- Knight Rider - KITT
- HRH The Queen
- George Dubya Bush
- R2D2 - Star Wars
- Arnold Swarzenegger
- Austin Powers
- Clint Eastwood
- Darth Vader
- Homer Simpson
- Joanna Lumley
- Lady Newsreader
- Ozzy Osbourne (Bleeped)
- Ozzy Osbourne (Swearing)
- Patrick Stewart
- Sean Connery
- Sharon Osbourne
- Yoda
- Andy Siddell
- Justin Moorhouse
- Liz Whitaker
- Robot
- Stephen Hawking
- John_Cleese (Metres & Yards)

edith b 7:00 PM  

These kinds of themes are always best when they are homophonic. It's like you can read the mind of the constructor on this kind of puzzle.

I knew about Benedict Arnold fouling the nest for all future American namesakes just like Adolf did for the Germans. I'm just wondering if the new Pope will help resurrect the name Benedict in the years to come.

foodie 7:56 PM  

@ orange and mac--How can I resist a discussion about berries? I decided to splurge on some beautiful looking organic raspberries over the holidays. I also bought a more standard type to make a pancake sauce. My 17mo old granddaughter was in the shopping cart and she pointed at them and asked for "Blueblue" (her name for blueberries, which has generalized to all berries). So, I gave her a choice of the two types. After tasting them, she picked the fancy ones, consistently. I even tried to trick her in terms of containers. No way. So, I'd say the extra price was worth it, although hardly any were left by the time we got home :)

@mac, I put fresh blueberries in my wine and eat them at the end. I'm sure it's against some rule in the sky, but both the wine and the berries taste great for it!

@ulrich Thank you! I usually agree with you too.

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

HI! You didn't think I wouldn't respond did you!??!! :)

this might be a bit long, so for those of you uninterested in the deconstruction, pls scroll down.

First of all, thanks everyone for being so supportive! I'm sure all the folks who hated it/me are in Thumper mode... ;)
I feel like quitting while I'm ahead!

First things first: This puzzle's "bounce" I owe to Will.

This puzzle had to be rewritten a few times.
The original impetus was noticing the homophone MEAT/METE/MEAT.
Started with MEETMEINSTLOUIS, a natural 15! MEATANDPOTATOES too! BUT the only METE phrase I could think of, METEOUTJUSTICE, was 14 letters.
So I had to change one of the other phrases to 14 letters.

Luckily MEETTHEPARENTS fit the bill
(I don't think the NY Times is ready to meet the FOCKERS anytime soon!) but I lost the original
STLOUIS which was to be an homage to my writing buddy Patrick B!

POLO crossing was an accident!
I know not Teri POLO.

Nor can I take credit for sending the pooches to the corners...bec my original first word was...ACME!
(Just as an inside joke)

But then everything was changed around...So, here is where Will played a big part.
I was visiting NY when I submitted this, I think it was during or shortly after the ACPT.
He said I had too many short words bec of "cheater" squares
(I had one at 27A making 3D into two short words...and one where 44A crosses with 32D)
Will insisted I could easily have two 9- letter words going down, thus making the puzzle more elegant.

I actually fought him on this!!!!!
I'm always worried that long words will be read as part of the theme and that solvers don't distinguish between 9 letters "regular" fill and say, 11 letters in a "theme".

Well, Will was 100% right as DIXIECRAT and HOPSCOTCH seem to be today's favorites!

He literally sat me down and was very sweet and patient.
I had to do but a minor tweak to come up with HOPSCOTCH, and he came up with DIXIECRAT, which I'd never even heard of.

@hazel, Joe in NYC
I don't like Strom and felt iffy about the inclusion of his politics, plus it seemed too hard for a Monday AND I had never heard of it...I liked the X, tho! ;)
But you know what? Will was TOTALLY right.

He sat there with me, patiently showing me that I COULD do it, it would make all my puzzles better and the overall puzzle would then sing!

We've been friends for many years, he's been my editor forever...and as I've pointed out, he still thinks nothing of rejecting 19 of 20 of my ideas!
Tough tough tough, but fair!

@Bill from NJ
I had indeed hoped PB's and my WSJ puzzle would be my first Sunday NYT, but it didn't "tickle" Will (too many short words!) and no amount of my whining could change that!

Happily, it found a home right away as Michael Shenk felt it was one of the most original puzzles he'd seen, thanks to Patrick's amazing I feel very grateful AND it spurs me to keep trying...

(I love the WSJ, but the NYT is the NYT...Why, rumor has it there are even blogs DEVOTED to it!)

yes, I wanted to totally avoid does seem ironic given my pointing out everything even remotely anti-semitic!
(Swastika-shaped grids, NAZI crossing MEIR, HEBE... to name but a few this year) but I'm a total hypocrite as there was no way around it puzzle-wise...believe me, I tried!

The whole German feel was a secret shout out to my Uber-man Ulrich...

Actually, I love all languages so am pleased as punch with your list. Orkian...ha!

@Jane Doh
Merci for looking up in Larousse! I wondered myself! AMI and AMOUR are indeed different roots, but feel nicely related.
Here they crossed, (as French lovers often do), when one wants to be an AMOUR and the other wants just an AMI/PAL.
(Hmmm, PAL are the first three letters of PLA-tonic!)

At this point, I'd love to claim credit for ANY of the cleverness (or, in your case private torture) but really, mon cheri, it was just how the letters fell.

Thank you thank you! Not only for your nice words, but the Beatles video!
You never made it to my apt. in SF
or you would have seen that I have a life-sized poster of the boys from that era...(OHTO be in England in those days!)
AND it's hanging over my bed!!!!

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

My usual strategy on Mondays is to write in the first thing that pops into my head. I therefore quickly wrote in "meet the fockers" and thought "the Times wouldn't do that, would they?" The backtracking slowed up what otherwise would have been steady filling-in.

Usually I don't have anything to say about Mondays, but this was a nice one.

hazel 9:07 PM  

@acme - thanks so much for those constructor comments.

And, just so you know, i wasn't quibbling with the use of Dixiecrat - i thought it was fabulous word - and think that crossword puzzles are excellent places for such words, regardless of their potential to be considered politically incorrect by some - noone here, though (I think)...

joho 9:19 PM  

@andrea carla michaels ... your matter of fact disclosure of how your puzzle was created is fascinating. What a process it is! No wonder we are all mesmerized by not only the product, but the person who created it. You!

archaeoprof 9:41 PM  

@Ulrich: I agree. The name Benedict is rich with meaning, and I am pleased that mein Patenkind bears it. But very few Americans know any Latin, and everybody knows Benedict Arnold. Schade.

@ACME: you are the queen of Mondays. All others are your servants.

foodie 10:09 PM  

Andrea, it was very interesting to hear the evolution of this puzzle at two levels: a) how seamless it is even though it was reworked. I think it takes great talent to do that; and b) Will Shortz' role.

It's very generous of you to be so open about it and it's wonderful to hear how Will contributes. Before reading this blog, I used to see his name on every puzzle and wonder what his role was. Over time, it became apparent that he selects the puzzles and fine tunes the clues. But it was really you who have made it clear to me the full magnitude of his influence-- how he evaluates the structure, consistency, gestalt of the work and actually makes active suggestions at each level. It's a fascinating collaboration. Thank you once again!

green mantis 10:34 PM  

Yay Andrea! Lovely.

Anonymous 11:37 PM  

Any puzzle with ASTA in it is okay by me.

Orange 11:56 PM  

@steve l: This is off-topic for this place, I know, but that BEQ puzzle you're talking about just has a quote theme. "Step-quote" is an old theme variant from the Maleska or Weng days, I think—a quote traveling from upper left to lower right, stair-stepping its way down. Puzzles in which the theme entries make up a quote or quip are simply quote- or quip-themed.

Anonymous 12:08 AM  

This one was butter. Rex, I think you
are a little giddy from being home after
your own odyssey. I'm from GA and
Dixiecrat is new to me. Glad. You're
back. Send Puzzlegirl a bottle of her
favorite libation. Superb she.

Larry 1:18 AM  

No one has raised this quibble, but the first two clues were Meet/Meat paired with Parents/Potatoes, so I felt let down by the third theme pairing with Justice. Don't know of a third P, but breaking the pattern didn't feel right.

Rex: Although Otto is very crosswordese don't you think that Asta is the all time crossword favorite dog?

Anonymous 3:46 AM  

@LinSouth - Don't know Dixiecrat? Your age (or lack thereof) is showing! :-)

Josh 9:13 AM  

I need to get started on Tuesday's puzzle already, but just wanted to say a quick thank you to ACME for her in-depth response. It's really fascinating to hear the behind-the-scenes details of puzzle construction.

I'm glad you listened to Will's constructive criticism! Not everyone handles their editor's feedback so well. HOPSKOTCH AND DIXIECRAT were excellent clues, like everyone's been saying.

Also, speaking personally, having Adolf in the puzzle didn't bother me at all. As the grandchild of survivors, I think it's important we don't forget. Even if that means a crossword puzzle reference.

mac 9:17 AM  

@Larry: how about Boxing Day activity = mete out parcels?

Unknown 2:26 PM  

Berlin, not Bonn, has been the capital of Germany since 1999.

Why no comments?

Bob Kerfuffle 7:42 PM  

@wrb - Berlin is the capital of the re-unified Germany. But during the time that West Germany and East Germany were separate entities, Bonn was the capital of West Germany. Hence my acknowledgment of that as the one creative clue!

mac 10:00 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: I did too......

Anonymous 4:23 PM  


OK, I don't get it: "I have seen CAPOTE APATHY - it's withering." Nor do I get the accompanying photo of the boy staring up from his bed, or is that just an apathetic youth? Driving me nuts and the comments didn't help.

Fine puzzle though...

- - Robert

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