Actress Graff / MON 7-19-10 / Location in Donizetti opera / Environmentalist in Dr. Seuss story / Citi Field player for short

Monday, July 19, 2010

Constructor: David Blake

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: -MORE "rhymes" — even though "MORE" rhymes with only one of these endings ...

Word of the Day: LAMMERMOOR (62A: Location in a Donizetti opera) —

Lucia di Lammermoor is a dramma tragico (tragic opera) in three acts by Gaetano Donizetti. Salvadore Cammarano wrote the Italian libretto loosely based upon Sir Walter Scott's historical novel The Bride of Lammermoor. The opera premiered on September 26, 1835 at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Donizetti revised the score for a French version which debuted on August 6, 1839 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance in Paris. The story concerns a feud between two families, the Ashtons and the Ravenswoods. When the opera begins, the Ashtons are in the ascendancy and have taken possession of Ravenswood Castle, the ancestral home of their rivals. Edgardo (Sir Edgar), Master of Ravenswood and last surviving member of his family, has been forced to live in a lonely tower by the sea, known as the Wolf's Crag. The Ashtons, despite their success, are threatened by changing political and religious forces. Enrico (Lord Henry Ashton) hopes to gain the protection of the important Arturo (Lord Arthur Bucklaw) to whom he intends to marry his sister Lucia. (wikipedia)
• • •

As rhyming goes, this is pretty (read: very) inexact stuff, but the lively (mostly proper noun) theme answers make for a very interesting grid indeed. That LAMMERMOOR / AMALIE (47D: Charlotte ___, capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands) / ILENE (65A: Actress Graff) bit alone make this a bit gnarlier than the average Monday. Also thought the clue on RIVALS (48D: Coke and Pepsi, e.g.) was pretty tricky. Not the word that first comes to mind. COLAS? SODAS? Etc. Not RIVALS (though clearly, they are, in fact, RIVALS). [Michigan and Ohio State, e.g.] I'd have gotten right away. But I'm not complaining; just explaining the (relative) difficulty ranking today. JAY MOHR is certainly crossworthy, but not a household name for a lot of you, probably. BENJAMIN MOORE is familiar, though my mind went "SHERWIN-WILLIAMS" and then went blank. I have never seen ENDIVES before (49A: Salad greens), but that's one of the few really fishy answers in the grid (see also REEDIT57A: Go over again with a blue pencil). Longer stuff is really lovely, esp. POLEMICAL (3D: Tending to cause an argument) next to SILLY ME (4D: Words before "And here I thought ..."). PLETHORA too, and I have a soft spot for the word STEVEDORE (34D: Longshoreman)—no idea where I got that! So I was entertained, even though the theme seems awfully flimsy.

Speaking of ENDIVES (i.e. odd plurals), when we got back from our walk in the woods with the dogs today, I looked over and noticed that the treats we've been giving the dogs lately are called PURE BITES. Before she could get out of the car I said, "Hey honey, you know what that anagrams to?" Her: "Tell me." Me: "PUBERTIES!" Her: "I love being married to you." I think I detected a *slight* tone of mockery in that last bit. Less adoring wife, more patient woman humoring man with persistent and only occasionally amusing behavioral disorder.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "Yes, go on" ("TELL ME MORE")
  • 24A: 1969 Stevie Wonder hit ("MY CHERIE AMOUR")
  • 38A: Former host of TV's "Last Comic Standing" (JAY MOHR)
  • 51A: Big name in paint (BENJAMIN MOORE)
  • 62A: Location in a Donizetti opera (LAMMERMOOR)
  • 15A: Environmentalist in a Dr. Seuss story (LORAX) — blanked. Wanted HORTON.
  • 19A: William ___, Hopalong Cassidy player (BOYD) — I'm sure I've seen this clue before, and I'm equally sure it made no difference today. Blanked. BOYD is a character on the fantastic F/X drama "Justified":

  • 33A: Famed '50s flop (EDSEL) — this, I knew. I appreciate the alliterative cluing.
  • 9D: University attended by J.K. Rowling (EXETER) — I had no idea. And I thought EXETER was the equivalent of high school. EXETER Academy. Crap, that's probably a U.S. prep school. Yep, Phillips Exeter Academy. Never mind.
  • 12D: Louisiana waterway (BAYOU) — balked at this one, as I always think of BAYOU as swamp, i.e. not moving, i.e. not a "way" to anywhere in particular. Seems I'm mistaken.
  • 61D: Card game based on matching groups of three (SET) — never heard of it or seen anyone play it. I know I've encountered it in xwords, but since it's a perfectly ordinary word, it never sticks as a game. Unlike NIM. Bah.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Steve J 12:52 AM  

Definitely agree with the medium-challenging rating. I thought the AMALIE/LAMMERMOOR crossing was awfully Naticky for a Monday. Later in the week, I wouldn't have thought twice about it, but I can't imagine a lot of people who stick with early week puzzles being happy with that one.

At the risk of getting really minute, I think they rhyminess of the theme depends somewhat on dialectical differences. In at least my North-Central dialect, there's no difference between "more" and (BENJAMIN)MOORE. I've also heard plenty of Americans say "mores" rather than moo-r for (LAMMER)MOOR (although I do tend elongate the vowel myself, I no longer remember if that's typical with my native dialect or if it's something I picked up along the way), and JAYMOHR pronounces his name such that it's an exact rhyme with "more."

I didn't really notice any issue with the near rhymes while solving it, but I can't say the theme excited me much. Rhyming in and of itself isn't that thrilling, and the theme answers just didn't grab me. Don't get me wrong, I didn't dislike what was going on here, but it just didn't spark any sort of reaction from me.

Liked POLEMICAL (although I can't recall running across that form of the word often) and STEVEDORE. PLETHORA was nice, too. Didn't like BOB and BABA crossing. Even with (actually, because of) the near-rhyme.

Pretty solid for a Monday. But it just didn't happen to be a lot of fun for me.

Rube 12:52 AM  

This was definitely trickier than the usual Monday. Being a 60+ opera buff, BOYD and LAMMERMOOR were gimmes. Writeovers were JoeMOHR for JAYMOHR, (never heard of him), and mrMET fro NYMET, (dumb).

It's interesting how, although I've been to Florence several times, it wasn't until I started seriously doing xwords that I learned about the ARNO.

No new words here unless ILENE Graff qualifies, (it doesn't).

Probably nothing controversial either. Polemical is a sophisticated word for a Monday puzzle.

chefwen 1:07 AM  

POLEMICAL was a new word for me, got it with crosses. Where I really screwed up was at 5D, I had orate at 5A, it didn't feel right but I had the RATE in place, so what the heck. 38A I plopped Joe Mohr, we have a Joe Moore here as a news broadcaster so I had Joe on the brain, never hear of JAY MOHR, so 5D was olethoro. Well that certainly did not make sense, so I broke down and Googled the last comic standing guy, I never, ever have Googled on a Monday. AHA, PLETHORA, one of my favorite words. DOH!

operapianist 1:15 AM  

Finished this in 4:30 with no errors-- strangely enough, I'm musically preparing Lucia di Lamermoor RIGHT NOW at a summer opera festival in the Shenandoah Valley of VA. Enjoyed this puzzle a lot...

foodie 1:32 AM  

Definitely on the challenging end for a Monday. For me, AMOUR and MORE are miles apart. But I'm a darn foreigner (sorta).

Rex, there can be layers. There is the adoring statement, but that's monolayered. But underneath the statement of the "more patient woman humoring man with persistent and only occasionally amusing behavioral disorder", there's affection coupled with appreciation of uniqueness. It could turn someday into: "You're driving me crazy!", but there's even a smile buried underneath that. Marriage is a multilayered thing.

CoolPapaD 2:00 AM  

Wow - Wednesday already? Guessed wrong on the "L" at the LAMMERMOOR / AMALIE crossing ("T", anyone?), but I really enjoyed the challenge so early in the week. Having hearty fill (POLEMICAL, STEVEDORE, PLETHORA) was pretty satifsying. Like @chefwen, I had ORATE for the longest time, and then finally saw PLETHORA, though I've never heard the word PRATE before.

We need more / moore / mohr / moor puzzles like this one! Great write-up as well.

Greene 5:03 AM  

SILLY ME, I had A IS "for apples." Well, only for a few seconds. Also had the pesky ORATE instead of PRATE until the bitter end when I realized I was making up words again with OLETHORA (malaise over morning bread spreads?).

I was somewhat flummoxed by the clue involving RCA and Sony being rivals since the RCA trademark is currently licensed to Sony Music Entertainment. I don't pretend to understand all this licensing business, but I do know that all my old RCA Broadway show albums are now on the Sony label, so this clue made no sense to me. Also, why is RIVAL both a clue and an answer? I know, I'm just complaining to complain at this point.

Did not know Charlotte AMALIE, so that crossing with ILENE made for a fortuitous guess. Loved seeing LAMMERMOOR in the grid, although, as usual, faulty spelling on my part slowed me down.

All told, fairly challenging Monday for me, but a good experience. I enjoy learning new things on Monday.

Falconer 5:11 AM  

Stevie Wodner trivia: The song "My Cherie Amour" was cowritten by Sylvia Moy, who was the first woman to write for Motown. She is the one who is said to have gone to bat for Little Stevie (who started at the label at age 11) after he grew up and was in danger of being kicked off the label. Moy told Berry Gordy she would write a special song for Stevie to make him a hit as he transitioned into young adulthood at 19, and that song was "My Cherie Amour."

Strangely challenging for a Monday. Loved the Lorax. Hated, and must be the worst answer I've ever seen in the grid, "ency" as a suffix for depend. Seems like Will could've made it a little more palatable as the Abbr. for "encyclopedia."

Too bad the first theme entry prevented use of the most famous line in literature involving this homophone: When Oliver Twist asks, "Please sir, I want some more.":

joho 7:20 AM  

Definitely a meaty Monday and I loved it. Some wonderfully fresh new words in the grid along with fun colloquial phrases like TELLMEMORE and SILLY ME crossing each other. Also included scrabbly letters with not only U,V, X, Y and Z but 2 J's.

We off to a great start! Thanks, David Blake!

dk 7:34 AM  

Ha! Filled B IS for Apples. Then as I knew it was OMAN and BOYD smote the foul instrument which erred (poser for chucked my pen) and continued merrily along.

A big word day brought to you by the letter J.

*** (3 Stars) A spunky Monday, had no clue on the theme... as always.

Random neural firings:

Spring Dandelion greens are great in a salad get them early as they SAUER.

BENJAMINMOORE was my paint of choice while I worked my way through college painting walls and pounding nails.

Acme causes me to COO

Jo 7:54 AM  

I really need an eye exam, consistently read "sorry" for "sony" even after getting RCA, simply thought there was another brand name I didn't know. A bit too gnarly for a Monday for me; never got the E and N of BENJAMIN never heard of the paint, never heard of so much in this puzzle I stopped timing myself. I have trouble with ANDOR as a compound conjunction. I don't know whey STEVEDORE came so easily, intriguing word I guess.
As I look at it now I like all these characters in a puzzle together, Lucia and Benjamin and Jay, all headed by MY CHERIE AMOUR.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

just for the record, "LOMAX" is an environmentalist salesman. it's what i had first and then realized i just need the environmentalist part (and that AMOAR made no sense)...thus, LORAX. (not to be confused with LOJACK, of course.)

the town in utah OREM is one of those words that just won't stick in my head. i see the clue and i know it is OR--. OREL, ORON-o, OMAN (oh, wait, that was already in this puzzle...). everytime this word is in a puzzle i tell myself i will remember it...but i don't.

ZEST is one of those onomatopoeia type words that seems to match perfectly what it is. love it.

anyway, i too raced through this puzzle until i hit the south, then with heat and humidity both in the 100s, i slogged down and began to move very slowly for a monday.

btw, was amalie a virgin so that she got to be named a capital of the virgin islands? seems weird they would name a capital in the virgin islands after someone who wasn't...


CFG 8:32 AM  

Not happy with today. I like a quick Monday puzzle, and this one had gaps and mistakes all over the place. Didn't know the "L" at LAMMERMOOR; had "orate" instead of "PRATE," which led to all sorts of trouble; didn't know JAY MAHR, so I wrote in JOE--just one disaster after another this morning.

David L 8:34 AM  

Nice! My only stumble was ORATE, which led me to wonder what an OLETHORA might be -- but saw my mistake and was done. Never heard of ILENE Graff -- isn't the clue for ILENE usually some other actress that I also haven't heard of?

I don't know what Rex's problem is with the alleged lack of rhyming -- all the theme clues rhyme just fine for me. If I were saying AMOUR in a Frenchified way it wouldn't rhyme with MORE, but since Stevie and I sing it US-style, not a problem...

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

btw, wouldn't this puzzle's theme technically be "homonymns" rather than rhymes?

retired_chemist 9:15 AM  

Enjoyed it. Especially liked the exchange between Rex and Foodie on marital bliss and the subtleties underlying it. I can relate. More memorable than the puzzle IMO.

edwords 9:27 AM  

BTW, Set is a really terrific game, in that it can be played by anyone of any age. The game consists of a deck of card. One each card are either 1-3 shapes, each of which comes in 1 of 3 colors, and filled in with 1 of 3 patterns. So, each card has either one, two, or three shapes, each with a pattern and a color. A grid of cards is laid out, beginning with 9 and adding three until someone finds a "set" -- that is, a group of cards in which ALL of the variables match except one (for example, the same shape, pattern and color, but one card has one shape, one has two, one has three), or NONE of the variables match. It's easier to demonstrate than to explain (as my attempt clearly illustrates!).
It's pattern recognition pure and simple, but you don't even have to be able to read to play. I've played this game and gotten roundly bashed by a five year old. There's a version for your iPhone, but I'm too cheap to buy it. Anyone else know/like this game?

ArtLvr 9:30 AM  

@ Greene -- I hope Will notes your clarification of the RCA/Sony connection, finally! Too many constructors keep treating it as an independent entity, and it gets rather annoying!

I'm very fond of ENDIVES, both raw and cooked... I always get asked what they are by the check-out person at the grocery store! I usually pronounce it in the French way and then remember to give the English way too, just adding to the confusion...

Loved the puzzle, found it easy and much more interesting than the usual Monday! Thanks, David Blake.


p.s. Basement flood's over: I had to have a plumber in on Sunday to fix the leaking pipe, hidden in plain sight over a drip pan. Too bad it took so long to discover the problem! Off to Michigan, MORE moderate weather -- NEAT!

jesser 9:31 AM  

I'm glad there are others who had to guess at the _AMMERMOOR/AMA_IE crossing. I guessed r. I was wRong.

I also screwed up 5A with dRonE before PRATE appeared later.

No more time. Houseguests have extended their stay until tomorrow night. Any talk of extending it further than THAT will result in my likely imprisonment for violent crimes against humanity.

Veright! (Some joke about the Verizon corporation that I'm too lazy and sleep-deprived to come up with this morning) -- jesser

CaseAce 9:44 AM  

Thank Heavens for Dear Old Rex'es blog, as he constantly trounces the WP crowd by posting comments that are routinely snubbed over there!
NEAT debut by David Blake and oh so colorful, thanks to painting a lovely grid via good old BENJAMIN MOORE!

Van55 9:46 AM  

Puzzle is made by POLEMICAL, PLETHORA and STEVEDORE and not quite undone by MNO, ELOI and REEDITS for me. Very nice, toughish Monday entry and, it is said, a NYT debut by Mr. Blake.

Tinbeni 9:49 AM  

Thanks for the SET card game explanation. Sounds too hard for me, I'll stick with Bridge, Poker and Gin.

Testy little Monday offering.
Not an Opera fan so LAMMERMOOR was all by crosses. WOD learning moment.

Maybe its because I grew up in Florida, but the themes all seem to rhyme to me.
TELL ME MORE had me humming that tune from Grease all through my solve.

Can't wait until sunset when I can have some Avatar, NEAT !!!

John V 10:07 AM  

Yep, bit more challenging than a typical Monday. Screwed up 38A, had JAEMOHR, reflecting my usual pop culture brain gap.

chefbea 10:11 AM  

Thought the puzzle was very easy. Thought the theme was different ways to spell more.

Did everyone see the recipe in the New York Times magazine yesterday??? Yummm

Two Ponies 10:27 AM  

Very nice collection of words in this al dente Monday.
The homophones, to me, were "close enough for government work".
I can relate to Sandy since Puzzle Mate has his own brand of humor as well.
I didn't care for Amoco so close to the bayou.

joho 10:43 AM  

@Foodie ... I think your line, "Marriage is a multilayered thing" is so much better than that corny song, "Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing."

Bob Kerfuffle 10:48 AM  

If youse lives in Noo Yawk (and some other places as well, apparently), all the theme answers end with the same sound.

Nice puzzle.

Stan 11:00 AM  

An excellent debut -- LOTS of Mondays can be finished with EASE, but this had some ZEST as well.

The theme answers are slant rhymes.

I wanted RIVERS for Coke and Pepsi, FIR TREE for what boys want to be when they grow up, and CHENEY for BP partner. Waking up slowly today.

JenCT 11:41 AM  

@edwords: I LOVE the SET app for the iPhone! It's more of a "teachable" tool than the cards - it'll tell you when your SET is incorrect. Well worth the money - we play it all the time.

Liked this Monday - only mistake was the L for LAMMERMOOR - I guessed a T incorrectly.

Parshutr 11:43 AM  

another old fogey/opera buff who enjoyed this one immensely. Actually got PRATE and SILLYME on first guess.
The theme reminded me of Moore's Law:
If some is good, more's better.

nyt website 11:58 AM  

doesn't anyone look around before starting the xword app? There are SET puzzles online every day in multiple difficulty levels. Find the link at the bottom of the center column, below the daily xword times.

Doc John 12:06 PM  

I had no issue with the theme but definitely call a Natick on that AMELIE/LAMMERMOOR crossing. It's Monday, for god's sake! Why not use a reference to that Amelie movie instead?
As for JAY MOHR, he's in one of my all-time favorite movies, Pay It Forward. Yes, I know it was kind of schmaltzy and the Field of Dreams ending kind of ruined it but the theme and the acting were so great that it saved it all for me. When James Caveziel said "Save my life" to the woman on the bridge it just did it for me.

Van55 12:13 PM  

I tried twice yesterday to chime in or Rex's challenge to discuss whether, and to what extent, there should be standards of "good taste" when it comes to crossword clues and answers. In the first case, my try was rejected because my daughter was already signed in to her gmail account. In the second case my entry was rejected as too long. I hope it's ok to try again today and to divide it into two posts.

First, matters of good taste are largely subjective, so no universal bright line test can be forumlated.

Second, the recent examples of "bad taste" are all the result of cluing. One would hope that a writer of clues faced with options, one of which might be deemed offensive, would choose the non-offensive one.

fikink 12:14 PM  

@foodie, in these parts you are a "fer-ner."
Re: "marriage is a multilayered thing," I ran into related wisdom in an ethical directive this morning: 'Be your OWN compost." Indeed, the key to many a happy marriage!

Pretty fun puzzle for me today - Have a hat I got in Charlotte AMALIE, so that was a serendipitous. And BENJAMIN MOORE enamel and China bristle brushes were a necessity when I redid the kitchen.

@Greene, Catch him! Snatch him! Hold him! Scold him! Pounce him! Trounce him! Pick him up and bounce him!

@Tinbeni, I might join you tonight with some JW Red NEAT, but, of late, my first sips cause me to flush CRIMSON!

@Two Ponies, "al dente" is a wonderful description of this puzzle.

Hats off, David Blake!

Cathyat40 12:35 PM  

Hand up for JAeMOHR crossing DEPENDENCe. I've never heard of him, either. Must google him now.

syndy 12:56 PM  

Put in ebro first and although I knew lucia d'lammermoor i couldn't spell it same with jaymohr! but the downs fixed me up.Nice wednesdayish monday I hope Will keeps it up the rest of the Week.I quess a homophone is in the eye of the beholder.

retired_chemist 1:12 PM  

AMALIE was recently clued as the first name of a nineteenth century Norwegian feminist novelist, last name given but I have forgotten it. It was crossed with another name I didn't know. I'm going to remember AMALIE henceforth and use it in Naticks whenever possible.

CrazyCat 1:13 PM  

I too thought this was a little chewy for a Monday. Enjoyed it, nonetheless. I also had ORATE instead of PRATE and ended up with OLETHORA. PRATE and POLEMICAL are my WsOTD. Also had A IS for apples at first. Really dumb mistake was throwing in FOREMAN instead of FIREMAN @45D and thinking hmmm - do young boys really want to be that? ENDIVES cleared up that idiocy. Belgian Endive spears when stuffed with curried shrimp salad, blue cheese, etc. make a great hors d'Oeuvre. By the way, most ENDIVES are more white than green, at least the ones I've seen. That AMALIE, ILENE and LAMMERMORE section was tough for me too. Just made a lucky guess with ILENE.
@Tinbeni - thought of you at NEAT.
@RP Nice write up.

Hey mon, 1:19 PM  

This is the 12th appearance of AMALIE, appearing on every day but Wednesday, and clued basically the same way 11 times.

The execption, Saturday, June 12, 2010 it was clued as "Norwegian novelist/feminist ___", to the dismay of many.

Time to add it to your repertoire.


Skram I am 1:27 PM  

make that AMALIE Skram...


Steve J 2:25 PM  

@Greene & @ArtLvr: While Sony owns the RCA trademark for recorded music, they don't own the consumer electronics trademarks. So, in that arena, they do indeed remain RIVALS, as they go head-to-head in products such as TVs, DVD players, etc.

Van55 2:32 PM  


Yesterday's suspects were DER, clued by reference to a 1940's Disney cartoon title "The Face of Der Fuhrer" and TREATABLE, clued by reference to diabetes. Each of these answers could easily have been clued differently -- DER is usually clued simply as "German article" or "___ Alte." TREATABLE could have been clued, "Like non-fatal diseases."

Earlier last week the controversy arose from NIGHT RIDER clued as "Certain vigilante." Rex wasn't familiar with the phrase (nor was I), looked it up and found it defined as the name given to a group of KKK terrorists in the late 19th century. Thus informed, Rex was vocally offended. As I pointed out, NIGHT RIDER has since taken on many, many non KKK meanings. Interestingly the very day the puzzle was published the front page of the Washington Post Style section had an article on skate boarders with the headline, "Night Riders." As I pointed out on the blog, the whole controversy could have been avoided if the answer had been clued "One who takes the redeye."

I am not a proponent of "anything goes." I hope constructors/cluers use good judgment. When they don't though, I don't get my knickers in a knot. I might just go listen again to George Carlin's routine on the 7 words you can't say on radio/TV and have a laugh again. After all, crosswords are mere diversions.

Tinbeni 2:50 PM  

"You had me at Hello." spoken by Renee Zellweger. From the movie, "Jerry Maquire."

Hmmm, I wonder how many who have never heard of Jay Mohr have seen this movie?
He was the other Sport Agent (Tom Cruise's nemesis) trying to sign the character played by Cuba Gooding Jr.
Yeah, that JAY MOHR.

Last year there was a clue that yielded the answer BCE,
"Before the Common Era."
There was a brouhaha about how this usage, instead of BC, was trying to take Christian values out of everything. Yaddie, yaddie, yadda!
I thought it was a three letter answer in my crossword puzzle. Just like "Night Rider" last week.
Nothing more.

Dan 2:52 PM  

I always hate opera clues, and was wondering why "Lammermoor" came so easily. Then I remembered; it's the opera in The Fifth Element.

Cool Dude 3:04 PM  

A bayou most certainly is a waterway, which, by definition, is a navigable body of water. You suggest that waterway implies that the water is moving. On the contrary, strong currents hinder navigation, so the more stagnant a body of water is, the more apt it is to be a waterway.

Also, let me second what an individual above said: the main crossword screen has a handful of other games to play, including Set. I'm not a big fan of that one, but I LOVE another one on the same page, KenKen. This is, in my estimation, the closet that Sudoku-type games get to the claim that they're "crosswords with numbers". I also love the second Sunday puzzle: I'm always game for an acrostic, diagramless, or cryptic.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

When I put in plethora, I thought "this is not a Monday word" Good to see I'm not alone in thinking this was a tad more challenging than we are used to.

sanfranman59 4:14 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Mon 7:56, 6:57, 1.14, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:18, 3:43, 1.16, 95%, Challenging

As of now, only three Monday puzzles out of 56 in my spreadsheet have higher median solve times than this one. My own solve time was about average for a Monday, but thought some of the cluing was tough and I agree with others that the LAMMERMOOR/AMALIE/ILENE section seemed more Tuesday- or even Wednesday-ish.

michael 6:07 PM  

In 1988 Michael Dukakis came to Iowa (where I live) and advocated that famers diversify by growing endives (actually I think he said "Belgian endives"). He was roundly mocked for this comment.

Nonetheless, Dukakis carried Iowa that year (from Bush the first) probably because the farm crisis of the 80s had been economically devastating.

And of course nowadays, many Iowa farmers are diversifying with assorted foods for CSAs, farmers' markets. etc.

andrea mor michaels 6:35 PM  

loved the theme, but five? five on a Monday?
Bar is officially raised too high...
for me, the fill etc was tu tues tuesday goodbyeeeee

Till today I thought it was "MA cherie amour"

have to run...

Greene 7:38 PM  

@Fikink: Where is love?

@Steve J: Thanks for clearing up the licensing question. Appreciate the clarification.

Sfingi 10:01 PM  

I think last year I would have thought this too hard for a Monday, but not any more! Zipped through, even though this was the first I heard of IRENE, JAYMOHR or SET.

My Iowa sister is visiting for a few days and she zipped through the KenKen though she has only done Soduko (she's a left-hander). So very satisfying all around. She had bought me some mechanical pencils, but it seems I don't press hard enough anyway, so I still have to get a white-out pen for use on my colored flairs and gels.

Oh, we both said "calico" before I put in OCELOT.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 8:00, 6:57, 1.15, 95%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:12, 3:42, 1.13, 93%, Challenging

fikink 10:09 PM  

When I was a child, many referred to a part of the metroplex as the Bayou. Confused, I told my veil-of-tears mother that I thought The Bayou was in Louisiana.
She said, "No, Honey, the bayou is where they say, "How's by you?"

@Greene, the love is in owning your own issues, not expecting your partner to carry your water. As Dylan wrote, "I wanna be your lover, baby, I don't wanna be your boss - don't say I never warned you when your train gets lost."

Citizen Dain 7:11 PM  

"Set" is a wonderful game. We got a Set deck and my mother and I used to play all the time late afternoons after I got home from elementary school. Fond fond memories brought back by just that silly piece of short fill when I filled out this puzzle yesterday.

Larry 5:23 PM  

I was working this on a train from Newark Airport to NYC, and no paint company was springing to mind. Couldn't get past Sherwin Williams not working. I looked up on the East side of the train and saw an industrial warehouse with the name BENJAMIN MOORE spelled on the side. Had to be my all time most serendipitous crossword moment.

acme 1:30 AM  

I LIVE for those moments!!!!!!!!

Am THE worst SET player EVER...but I tell myself it's bec I like to see how everything is linked not have nothing in common...

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