Superdome player / MON 9-20-10 / My cousin in 1992 film / Corner sitter's headwear / Anouk of le cinema

Monday, September 20, 2010

Constructor: Bernice Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: People who have ... adjectives? ... as last names ... have their names turned into sentences via the addition of "'S" to their first names ... and then those sentences are clued as if the sentence were describing said people? Yes?

Word of the Day: Chic Young (50A: "Blondie" cartoonist is not old?) —

Murat Bernard "Chic" Young (January 9, 1901 – March 14, 1973) was an American cartoonist known primarily as the creator and original artist of the comic strip Blondie. His 1919 William McKinley High School Yearbook cites his nickname as Chicken, source of his familiar pen name signature. (wikipedia)

• • •

Well ... I don't know how to say this any other way: this theme is mystifyingly weak. I don't know what else to say. I'm actually stunned this was accepted. I have no idea why there is an apostrophe-S added to these answers. I have no idea why these people were chosen, as opposed to any of the many, many other people in the world with adjectives as last names. I'm just completely at a loss. Wife doesn't see how it's any lamer than any other lame theme, but I believe it is. [And I just got an email from a good friend who agrees, so at least I'm not utterly alone in this...] Complete lack of logic and coherence. Stunning. Trust me, there are soooo many constructors doing this puzzle this morning, people who have had puzzles rejected over the years for whatever reasons, who are going ".... Really? REALLY? ... Wow."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "Designing Women" actress is intelligent? (JEAN'S SMART) — lost a lot of time here, first bec. I thought JEAN spelled her name JEANE or JEANNE, and second bec. ... well, WTF kind of theme is this, really, I ask you?
  • 11D: "Fatal Attraction" actress is nearby? (GLENN'S CLOSE) — see, I thought that at least the "S"-last name would be consistent, so that that apostrophe-S would not be audible in the new formations ... but no. MARTIN'S SHORT!? RICH'S LITTLE!? KAREN'S BLACK!? ANNE'S FRANK!? SHELLEY'S LONG?! There's an ungodly Sunday puzzle in here, if you look hard enough.
  • 25D: "White Rabbit" singer is smooth? (GRACE'S SLICK) — here, the apostrophe-S adds an extra syllable. (Not) nice.
  • 50A: "Blondie" cartoonist is not old? (CHIC'S YOUNG) — OK, so clues are consistent in one way, in that they all begin with titles. That may be the nicest thing I can say, theme-wise, about this puzzle.

Now, outside the theme, the grid is Great. Solid, interesting, cool. Really like RATFINKS (9D: Squealers) and DUNCECAP (36D: Corner sitter's headwear) and GUTSY (39A: Daring) and IPSWICH (!) (44A: Capital of Suffolk, England) and VINTNER (27A: Person producing Bordeaux or Beaujolais). Really nice, clean work in every corner of the grid. The theme is simply a non-starter for me.

Difficulty arose first from the confusion about the theme, then from the name-spelling issue (CHIC YOUNG will be an unknown to many today—not that he's not completely puzzle-worthy). Then there was the clue on DOGGIES (23A: Little pooches). I call my (non-little) dogs DOGGIES all the time. Little pooches are PUPPIES. A chihuahua is no more a DOGGY than my lab. [Pooches] would have worked just fine (better, even) on its own. What else? Wanted SPAM for SCAM (7D: Many an e-mail "click here" offer). Then, like an idiot, I saw "Superdome" (18D: Superdome player) and thought Seattle (SUPERsonics + KingDOME = me, confused), and so SAINT took me Way longer than it should have. Still a reasonably easy puzzle, but with enough little stumbling blocks to make it more Tuesday- than Monday-level for me.

I would like to say that I Love JEAN SMART. She was especially fantastic on the recent, and lamentably bygone, "Samantha Who?":

  • 57A: Anouk of le cinéma (AIMÉE) — "Anouk" is enough of a clue. You know she's French or you don't; "of le cinéma" is piling on.
  • 1D: Nickname of a 6'7" former basketball great (DR. J) — what the ...? Why not just clue this as [Nickname of a basketball player who is of average height for an N.B.A. player]? Why in the World is "6'7"" in this clue? When you think of DR. J, 6'7" is about 218th on the list of traits that define him.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Tobias Duncan 12:19 AM  

So glad to see this get the medium-challenging rating as it took me much to long for a Monday.My sports trivia is so bad that even with DR. I ran the bloody alphabet and passed J without stopping. The actress crossing the good doctor was also unknown to me so I had to fill in the whole corner before I could make a decent guess.
If I had the same weakness with geography (actually ,I am weak there as well) I could feel good about boning up and working towards constant improvement, but lord help me I just dont want any sports info in my brain !!! Geez what a crappy attitude ...

acme(s) 12:35 AM  

Not that you care, but I didn't think this theme was weak at all! I loved it and would have loved the ones you came up with: Martin's Short, etc. I think that's fun. yes, there could be 50 others, but why not look at this as the first one to do this and the other ones are sequel. i see it as a never ending fun game.

Maybe I'm just drunk on the fact that ACMEs is crossing JEAN(s)SMART, as I used to write for the show and LOVED her (tho the other characters were MUCH easier to write for.)

I also think it's more Tuesday than Monday, esp with that odd 'S in the middle, but also IPSWICH) I thought great!

The only thing I might have done differently, is since they are all women over 60 (which perhaps Bernice is as well?) I would not have included CHICSYOUNG.
a) bec he's 100 years old and rather obscure, tho Blondie is also une femme d'un certain age.

As is AIMEE...

And yes the grid was solid solid solid with such fun words as DUNCECAP and RATFINKS and SOUSES (tho again they smacked of the 1940s)
but this seemed like a nice pendulum swing back from young college week.

So from this non-young chic(k)
I say brava brava!

Steve J 1:11 AM  

One of my favorite things about reading Roger Ebert's reviews over the years is reading his reviews of movies he hates. The rants are remarkably entertaining.

I found the same sort of enjoyment from today's writeup.

I did find today's theme hanging off of a rather thin hook, but I fall more into Rex's wife's point of view that it's no more lame than other lame themes. Other than the fact that once I sussed the trick, everything came too easily.

Found the clue for AERATE odd: why call out CO2 specifically? It's simply adding air (and the instances I know where it's called for, such as gardening, beer- or wine-making, etc., it's done specifically to add oxygen). But I definitely liked RATFINK and SOUSES, and I enjoyed the relative lack of three-letter fill (and am impressed that it was relatively free of bad crosswordese).

And any use of ESE that doesn't clue it with reference to an ordinal direction wins points in my book.

ArtLvr 1:22 AM  

I agree with Andrea Acme(s) that this was more fun than most early-week efforts! Bravo, Bernice and many happy returns onwards from your current 96 years... I don't use "brava" though, even if Europeans do, since it sounds as odd to me as "chairwoman" and the like.

The theme-people came mainly from crosses, but it was the fill that was spicier than Monday's norm. It took me a moment to recall Viva VOCE, but the rest fell very smoothly. I especially liked MINCES.

I did a double-take at RATFINKS, however -- this strikes me as a tad DICEy! The dictionary doesn't give an etymology for Fink except "possibly from underworld slang", but my own feeling is that it may be a euphemism for the Other F Word. LOL


John 2:29 AM  

It's SOUSE'S, Accent Grave over the E, from "THE BANK DICK".

I thought the puzzle was fairly entertaining. It's monday after all.

Mabye that's why so many people think the USA Today puzazle is just fine,all they want to do is solve it. I know, I know, it's the NYT.

@ArtLvr, FINK, Really. Sounds more like a mix of the Fword and Think. Can you hear somebody (guy) say " Man, I'd really like to FINK that?

edith b 4:33 AM  

I always thought of the word FINK as having a union connotation, meaning strikebreaker: one who crosses a picket line to go to work and putting ones own interests over the group. When I worked for the NYC Public School System 30 or so years ago I heard that word a lot.

And like @Rex I refer to all dogs, regardless of age or size, as DOGGIES. My husand said that was just me trying to be cute. I did find this puzzle a little schizoid, full of interesting fill and standard crosswordese at the same time.

CaseAce 5:06 AM  

Whoa! Rex, old man,'re NOT old, surely you're aware you've been just a tad hard on Lady Bernice, who has not only hung in there, as it were, but is still pretty darn swift in the second story.
Here's wishing we could all live long and prosper as has this Living Legend of Cruciverbalism!
Please assiduously save your harsher criticisms for others far less Spring Chicken like, for instance, like the Brownies from last week who can learn from a less than stellar outing and will try harder the next time around.
Thank you Sir Rex, and all the best

CaseAce 5:09 AM  

Oops, meant to type, far MORE Spring Chicken like

r.alphbunker 5:13 AM  

I really, really, really wanted spam instead of scam. So much so that I googled the capital of Ghana to see what was going on. First time I have ever googled a Monday puzzle!

I really, really, really liked the fact that the constructor might have been born in the same year as my mother. The NYT crossword was one thing that she and I could do together that we both really enjoyed. I still have the Tuesday puzzle she was working on the day she passed away.

Warren Howie Hughes 5:18 AM  

That death scene from "Fatal Attraction", was anything but a Close Call for Glenn...pretty horrific stuff, as the clip so graphically reminded us.

r.alphbunker 5:26 AM  

@CaseAce We can only assume that RP was unaware of Lady Bernice's stature. And I am sure that she has a perspectve on life that the Brown students have not achieved yet. That perspective will help her get over the review :-)

shrub5 5:45 AM  

Had the same thought re the clue for DRJ specifying height -- well, that really narrows it down!

A big "Awww" for the pic of the DOGGIES. Just gotta love those two cuties.

Thought the theme was OK and liked the many lively fill words. Had to get the crosses to fill in ACCRA and VOCE. Loved DUNCECAP, GUTSY, MINCES. One more hand up for SPAM before SCAM.

Rex Parker 7:09 AM  

I evaluate the puzzles, not the ages of the constructors.

I think it's condescending to focus on a constructor's age.

Further, I praised the grid forcefully. I stand by everything I said about the theme, and assume Ms. Gordon either doesn't care at all what I think or has enough spine to deal.


The Big E 8:45 AM  

Like Rex, I didn't like "Little Pooches" answer. In fact, I had "Toy Dogs" as my answer at first, and it caused a brief stumbling block, especially as once I realized it had the form _o_gies, I tried to fit in "corgies" and was againt rebuffed.
Doggies is ill-clued, I agree.

Otherwise was relatively blah about the puzzle. Nice write-up.

Happy Monday!

dk 8:51 AM  

ACME'S SMART now I would have loved to have seen that in the grid/\/\ wait I did.

I would have clued PACER as an AMC car from the 70's that looked like a gum ball machine.

Side with Rex on the puppies DOGGIES issue.

Boring dk story: Upon seeing fatal Attraction for the first time I turned to my friend and said "These are the types of movies that bring families together." Apparently I was louder than I thought as I received a brief round of applause and my comment appeared in the local paper's movie review.

*** (3 Stars) Interesting theme and great fill (e.g. VINTNER and LEAPT). Thanks Bernice (forever young) Gordon.

chefbea 9:02 AM  

@ Rex here's another one .... Michael's Sharp!!!

Liked the puzzle and remembered Chic but thought it was Chick

Mince for taking little steps???

David L 9:03 AM  

I agree it was a pretty weak theme, because once you've solved one the rest are too easy. Even for a Monday.

Agree too that DOGGIES and AERATE are poorly clued. For the latter, if you're talking about adding CO2 to a drink to make it fizzy, the correct word is, um, let's see, SPARKLIFY. Yeah, that's it.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I was sure it was CHIPYOUNG, so I couldn't figure out (1) why a nervous person at a hospital was a "paper" (thought it might be a variant of papa) and (2) why the site wouldn't accept my solution.

Norm 9:37 AM  

@ chefbea Good one! ROFL.

hazel 9:47 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Thought this fill was feisty, and the theme fine; it may have seemed more LAT than NYT to me, but the rest of the grid screamed New York.

The fact that it was produced by a charming 96-year old just adds to its likeability factor for me - which I hope isn't interpreted as condescending or demeaning - it certainly isn't intended as such. I liked the puzzle regardless and look forward to seeing BG break the record again next year.

jesser 9:51 AM  

Any puzzle with GRACE SLICK and ALICE in it is going to have me humming Jefferson Airplane all day.

Like Andrea, I thought the theme was clever and funny.

Only writeover was at 39D, where I put in pAce and the crosses had to lead me to GAIT. Most embarrassing admission is that I did not writeover the damn P in SpAM and never looked at 15A to see the error. Rex showed it to me, and in doing so stepped on my gouty toe. Ow!

Michael's Sharp. Loves it!

Speaver! (a cross between a sparrow and a beaver, which is incredibly dangerous as it drops bigger turds and occasional whole tree limbs. Wear a hard hat.) -- jesser

Aunt Hattie 9:54 AM  

I thought this was terrific for a MOnday--clever and interesting and though I have a strict rule against Googling on a Monday I came close--Rex, you must have had a bad weekend!

Because I like to google 9:59 AM  

for those who wondered:

Definitions of FINK on the Web:
•take the place of work of someone on strike
•confess: confess to a punishable or reprehensible deed, usually under pressure
•someone acting as an informer or decoy for the police

FWIW: The Rat Fink is a green, depraved-looking mouse with bulging, bloodshot eyes, an oversized mouth with yellowed, narrow teeth, and a red T-shirt with yellow "R.F." on it.

and for @Chefbea:

Definitions of Mince on the Web:
•make less severe or harsh; "He moderated his tone when the students burst out in tears"
•walk daintily; "She minced down the street"
•cut into small pieces; "mince the garlic"
•food chopped into small bits; "a mince of mushrooms"

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I wanted Rex to be the answer for Cross and Parker.....

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Zipped through it remarkably fast but with smiles at each theme answer and much of the fill. For me, delightful.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

What I like about Rex is his talent for making the easy seem obscure and the obscure seem easy. Monday’s are easy but Rex makes them seem more challenging than they are. As everyone knows, the puzzles get progressively harder and the clues more obscure as Monday turns into Saturday. Sunday follows no particular pattern in this respect but is built around a theme. So in yesterday’s puzzle we have “Diner fixture, informally” as a clue for JUKE. Was the clue obscure? Rex apparently thought so because in his experience there are no jukes in diners he visits. Was the clue obvious? Not really, but the clue was more readily grasped by the older crowd who associated jukes with diners they visited years ago. But because it was Sunday a “maybe” tagged onto the clue was unnecessary. Besides, it is difficult to think of another clue for JUKE. So we were left with an obscure clue to an obscure answer that obscured the theme of the puzzle, a theme which in its own right was obscure to some people who don’t slur their words like a drunk. All of this really shows that it is better doing the NYT puzzle slopping down some Jack than sober. That way the easy seems obscure and the obscure seems easy….

PS. @ Anonymous who wanted Rex as the anser to Cross and Parker: Had the identical thought and yesterday it might have fit.

PuzzleNut 10:23 AM  

Hand up for SpAM, although I have ACCRA stored in my "Useless crossword information" file, so easily corrected.
Had the same question about MINCE as @chefbea and was pleased to learn something new from @Because..
The theme was not that exciting, but I've seen worse.
Without wanting to seem too fawning, I love that Rex can write up an interesting review of these puzzles day after day, especially the early week ones. Like a good caricaturist, he always zeros in on the most interesting features of the puzzle. It seems that his criticisms garner the most response from the bloggers, but I like that he also finds the positives in each puzzle. I also know that when he really gushes about a puzzle, it is rare and truly deserved.

Two Ponies 10:27 AM  

I liked this one just fine.
The creative fill was worth the price of admission.

Basketball back in the days of
Dr. J was much better for me because the uniforms were SO
much more flattering. Give me cute short shorts over the current ghastly baggies any day.

Thanks to the anon. googler for the Rat Fink. I remember that cartoon character. He usually drove an exaggerated dragster if I remember correctly.

I'm going to get some funny looks if I'm ever in Ghana (fat chance) when I ask to exchange my dollars for Acpras.

If you look closely at my avatar you will see some cute doggies.

Jim 10:27 AM  

Enjoyed yesterday's slog. HATED this puzzle. One should never HATE a Monday. After all, that's where you're supposed to rope people into being puzzle people. Bland?...sure. Safe?...absolutely. This? friggin way! Beyond the theme, which Rex pilloried nicely (Anne's Frank, indeed), I need to comment on the way-beyond-Monday clues and answers crossing other, way-beyond-Monday clues and answers.

To wit: I literally laughed as I entered HIE at 51D, saying "Well, that's not a word, but nothing else makes sense". Except that even HIE didn't make any sense, because they wouldn't put a completely obscure CHIC in on a Monday, would they? Would they?!? Yes, they did. Which brings me to PEERS. Didn't make sense, even after I figured it was the only possible answer here. How does 'Lords and ladies' beget PEERS? It doesn't, esp. on a Monday. You mean, they have equal standing in the aristocracy? Well, if that's what you're going for, 1) it should have been clued as 'Lords, to ladies' or some such, and 2) it's got no goddamn business in a Monday puzzle!!!!!!!

Neither, incidentally, does ACCRA crossing ACMES (?!?!), especially when I'm sure EVERYONE went with SpAM. ACCRA is the kind of name I recognize when I hear or see it, but couldn't tell you the 'p' was wrong when I didn't know what the hell ACMES was.

Asinine--absolutely asinine puzzle.

'Infuse with carbon dioxide'?? You mean 'Blow up, like a raft'? Well then say so!! Not to mention this is a highly questionable meaning of the word AERATE. Again, it's not a fucking Saturday, or even a Wednesday. Maybe blame should be equally apportioned to Will for this asinininininity. Maybe Ms Gordon intended for this to be a Wed or (maybe defensibly) Tue puzzle. It takes a village to fail this miserably. Worst...Monday...ever. .

Have a good day everyone.

mac 10:38 AM  

Teriffic Monday! "Weak theme" also crossed my mind, and the clue for doggies not great, but the number of great words made up for it easily! My favorite was "minces".

@chefBea: good one!

balto 10:38 AM  

I'm mystified by the criticism -- for me only slightly above average time. They're just people with adjectives for last names with an extra S -- to me, it's simple enough and that's Monday. Got theme in NE on Glenn's Close and proceeded with little trouble. I'm not a "pro" for sure, but the art of crossword criticism ranks even about film critique in it's obtuseness.

As far as constructors being annoyed at their "better" puzzles being rejected -- really? As if there's no subjectivity in choosing these things? Is there some sort of differential equation that defines the quality? Newton's Law of Crosswords?

I loved "rat fink" -- in 1966 it was a major curse phrase for me and my fellow 8 year olds. Got Ipswich on the cross -- but recognized it so felt OK. Got Chic on cross as well.

Van55 10:41 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Maybe the theme is not the most inventive ever, but it's just fine for a Monday, and is certainly no lamer than the plethora of substitute a letter or add a letter themes that we see repeated ad nauseum.

As for Rex's claim that he doesn't consider the age of the constructor, based on my observations I call shenanigans.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Well, here I am back for day #4 on this wonderful site after my 3-day hiatus from the impossible (for me) Friday-Sunday puzzles.

I again contratulate Brown U. for their enjoyable week of puzzles, a week that they topped off with Saturday's 33-30 OT win over Stony Brook on another type of grid! Hail Brown... from the grid paper to the grid iron.

I am in fine bragging fashion this morning, having knocked off this puzzle in 16 minutes, certainly a "Times" record for me, and perhaps a record for any puzzle I've ever done. Everything just fell into place. Frankly, I marvel at many posters here who solve even Wednesday puzzles in the 5-7 minute range. HOW? I did today's puzzle without a bump, and it took me an amazing (to me) 16 minutes. You guys do not realize how good you really are because you are all amongst each other. Perhaps perspective is lost.

Now for my Monday comments. The theme was easy and fun. I've seen this kind of "name play" before. In fact, I've even made up some that are marriage combo names that could be a good theme somewhere. Example: marriage of Angie Dickinson and Otto Graham: her new name? : Angiograham. Or one that I did not create: marriage of Tuesday Weld and Hal March's son: her new name? : Tuesday March 11. Just one more... marriage of Shakespeare's Ophelia and John Payne: her new name? : Ophelia Payne.

My favorite answer was RATFINK. I'd not heard the expression in so long. I always loved to say it and hear it. It just has a real ring to it, especially with "lousy" or "stinkin'" in front: LOUSY RAT FINK!

Then Ms. Gordon balances her juicy RATFINK with a cute and cuddly DOGGIES. I love that!

DUNCECAP is going the way of telephone booths in the USA. They both really don't exist anymore. Could you imagine a grade 4 teacher placing a kid in the corner and making him/her wear a DUNCECAP? That's a sure way to the ad pages to find a new job.

It's been a confidence-building day. I'm rapt in my 16-minute effort. I'm still swelling from it with pent-up energy to come back for more tomorrow.


Lahazo 10:44 AM  

For some strange reason, the clue for 1 Down in my Across Lite version reads Nickname for a 67" basketball great, so I'm digging through my vast fund of 5'7" basketball greats, looking for a three-letter nickname.

archaeoprof 11:02 AM  

I would like to disagree in a POLITE way with Rex and others who criticize today's theme.

Maybe it wasn't AGAS, but it doesn't deserve to be BASHED.

I do agree with Rex that it's condescending to consider a constructor's age.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

Good grief you are a whiner.

Ulrich 11:04 AM  

To me, the apostrophe s turns a name into a complete sentence, as in "Michael's sharp", and this makes the theme at least OK with me. It may have been too obvious for my predecessors here to mention--or I may have overlooked someone who's [sic] said it, in which case I apologize...

At least there was much less groaning going on on my part than yesterday.

LMAO 11:07 AM  


If you were for real, you would be scary!

joho 11:18 AM  

I really liked this puzzle both the theme and fresh fill.

@dk ... I thought of the AMC PACER, too. I dated a guy who drove one so I took a spin in it. Amazing how well you could see out!

Thank you, Bernice Gordon, for a fun Monday!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:20 AM  

One write-over, fell for the SPAM SCAM.

Everything else has been said, so I will sit back and listen to 37 D, "Anything GOES".

SethG 11:20 AM  

Think how much fun we could have with nouns, too! Joyce's Brothers! Jerry's Rice! Vanilla's Ice! George's Bush!

Rat Pfink A Boo Boo.

Masked and Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Yep. Really wanted "REX" for 4-Down. But that X just wouldn't play nice with others. Too bad. Liked the puz just fine, otherhoo. Not hardly lookin' for rocket science in the MonPuz, IMHO.

U-U-U-You must remember this . . . a kiss is just a kiss . . . a sigh is just a sigh . . . the fundamental things apply . . . as time goes by . . .

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

Who among you critics would ever click on an offer for spam? You don't receive enough? Has anyone ever received an e-mail offering spam? I Loved this puzzle.

Also Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt of "The Fantasticks" fame wrote a musical called "Ratfink" and
yours truly played the title role.

ArtLvr 11:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 11:33 AM  

p.s. For those who like to google, check out "Don Segretti ratfuck" for more on Nixon's "USC Mafia" buddies who coined that term for dirty tricks, from rigging the election of RMN as their senior class president onward through sabotage of the US Presidential opponents (Canuck letter) to the ultimate Watergate debacle. That's what I was thinking of, and many of the slimy cabal are still alive, like Karl Rove. Yes, RATFINK was coined much earlier -- especially for union sabotage in the early 1900s.


Jim 11:36 AM  

I stand corrected on AERATE. I assumed the intended meaning was to blow something up, like an inflatable mattress (after all, exhalations are CO2). It seems the act of carbonating a drink, like soda, is to AERATE. Touche (looks like douche, but can't accent acute).

I stand by my other comments.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Maybe you should look up 'peer' and 'acme', then.

Clark 12:00 PM  

I thought the theme idea was ok; I just didn't know Jean Smart or Chic Young, which made this a tough Monday. I scratched my head for way too long before getting ACMES. (Please don't take away my ACME Fan Club card.)

The Online Etymological Dictionary says about ‘fink’ (supporting much of what has been said above by esteemed Rexites):
“1902, of uncertain origin, possibly from Ger. Fink 'a frivolous or dissolute person,' originally 'finch,' which also gave it another sense of 'informer' (cf. stool pigeon). The other theory traces it to Pinks, short for Pinkerton agents, the private police force hired to break up the 1892 Homestead strike.”

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

@Two Ponies, Accra is not the money kind of capital, it is a city.

syndy 12:23 PM  

left in the spam-so got me!theme isn't strong but if it was it wouldn't be a monday!Actually wasn't RATFINK more a Logo for the dragsters than a cartoon character? Saw an exhibition in a small art gallery in Newport Beach of all things ED Roth including about six of the dragsters and a couple of bikes. Little doggies are surely a little doggier than big dogs?(course all big dogs think they're small and all small dogs think they're big)

mac 12:24 PM  

Now I'm sorry I never watched "Samantha who?:, I loved that best-of clip!

Nice w.v.: typerica

Tobias Duncan 12:49 PM  

Lots of anons today , c'mon guise this isn't 4chan, take five min and create a profile.You dont have to give us your real name but at least maintain some sort of persona.

Anonymous 12:52 PM  

@Jim - Except that HIE is in fact a word which means hurry, Lords and Ladies are PEERS of the realm, and ACME is a fine word which fits the definition exactly.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

@ All Anonymous except me -- I agree with Tobias. All youse guys sign up so I can remain Anonymous....

PS @ Tobias -- I always end with .... so that is my persona....

Sparky 12:58 PM  

Wow, everybody's adrenaline is up today. Wanted Rex for PEN, and Pekes or some such for DOGGIES. Liked VINTNER. Hercule Poirot MINCES because he is vain and his shoes are too tight. Thought theme was okay and helpful once you got it. Mad Men has jumped the shark IMO. I'm off to Staples, computers cost $$$.

Cathyat40 1:05 PM  

I left SpAM in.

Any puzzle that spawns a discussion of the work RATFINK is a good puzzle.

CoffeeLvr 1:06 PM  

I agree with the overabundance of anonymice. And I am sick of the only cookies in puzzles being OREOS, which I dislike. (I know, I know, three vowels.) OK, got the crabby comments out of the way.

Last letter in was the C in ACCRA, I guessed right. Although, SpAM is the email, which offers the link (click here) to the SCAM. I thought it was tougher than a usual Monday, but completed with no errors, no assistance. I did look at the globe before I came here, to verify ACCRA.

I solve by area, using both the A and the D clues and entries, so I waited to put in puppIES until confirmed. GRACE did it.

Mini theme: GAIT, REIN, PACER.

is iPswich the new name for the capital of Suffolk?

As I solved I thought that perhaps the secondary theme would be strong women: Jean, Glenn, Grace, and ACME. But MOORE ended that thought.

imatera = the big blue marble

Two Ponies 1:09 PM  

@ anon 12:22,
Well, I guess I'd better stay away from Ghana. I'd not only be broke but lost as well!
With Ipswich being clued as a capital I figured the Ghana clue was the old switheroo of capital and currency.
Fooled on a Monday.

Likes to Google 1:12 PM  


Rat Fink is one of the several hot-rod characters created by one of the originators of Kustom Kulture, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Roth's hatred for Mickey Mouse led him to draw the original Rat Fink. After he placed Rat Fink on an airbrushed monster shirt, the character soon came to symbolize the entire hot-rod/Kustom Kulture scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Although Detroit native Stanley Mouse (Miller) is credited with creating the so-called "Monster Hot Rod" art form, Roth is accepted as the individual who popularized it. [wiki]

Tinbeni 1:12 PM  

@ACME'S and @Van55 and anyone else who enjoyed this offering:
I agree. For a Monday the theme was just fine. This may have been my quickest NYT ever.
(Not a personal priority).

Then again, if Rex BASHED a puzzle, clue or theme, I can understand the need to jump on the bandwagon.

I put in SCAM and never even thought of spam until I read the write-up and comments. So I guess your "everyone" comment is moot.

FUN beginning for the week.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

Q: What is the difference between dogies and doggies?

A: One is a real word about a motherless calf in a cowboy song and the other is a doggy, which is a little dog.

This is a test....

MBG 1:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tobias Duncan 1:25 PM  

Anon @ 12:54 PM.
You shall henceforth be know as 4dought.

Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Cross and Parker: Whose ox is being Gordon by Bernice?

Moonchild 1:53 PM  

I'm with @ acme and the others who liked this one.
Only one sport clue and I knew it.
Did not know viva voce. Something new on a Monday. Several clues were certainly a notch above Monday level.
@ Jim, I can't believe you got yourself so worked up, shot your mouth off without doing some research, and even cursed. Too much coffee this morning?
@ BOB, I know you are new here but if you would cut your novels down to short stories I might have time to read them.
I remember the Rat Fink hot rod stuff too.
I don't know what was wrong with the pooches clue. Clue and answer are both affectionate slang.
Thanks Ms. Gordon.

dk 2:18 PM  

Acme is a goddess not a word.

Back in the old days one could put together "Big Daddy" models with a RATFINK character behind the wheel. Note I am not referring to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Brick.

Sparky 2:55 PM  

I'm back. Actually this troubled me when I did the puzzle. Chic Young hasn't drawn Blondie since 1973. After his death it was continued by his son, Dean Young, who signed it. He stepped down around 2005 and, today, it is signed by John Marshall who lives in Binghampton, NY. I know it's a quibble. Plese don't hate me because I am beautifu.

the redanman 3:03 PM  

Not-so-clever but certainly "medium"

the redanman 3:08 PM  

@steveJ as I did not read all comments on my device today

CO2 specifically is PLANt FOOD, but the pinko-liberal eco-terrorists want us to think otherwise ...


Meredith Vieira (sorta) 3:18 PM  

If you like Jean Smart, be sure to watch her play Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for the fight against Alzheimer's this week.

sanfranman59 3:28 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 8:14, 6:58, 1.18, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:23, 3:43, 1.18, 97%, Challenging

So far, this is the third toughest of the 65 Monday puzzles in my spreadsheet. It currently slots as an Easy-Medium Tuesday puzzle.

maggiejiggs 4:20 PM  

In total agreement with you on the theme...lame, lame, lame.

Matthew G. 4:24 PM  

I'm with Rex. Didn't enjoy this one. I was initially thinking, "Wow, a rebus on a Monday?" because I thought it would have to be GRACE iS SLICK. Indeed, that was one of those occasions where I spotted a long clue before I even sat down in my chair. Thought to myself, "Grace is slick, easy, off we go." When I realized that it wasn't a rebus but done with a contraction -- and I consider using 's to shorten "is" to be the most ugly of contractions -- I was deeply dissatisfied. Just not my kind of Monday puzzle, I guess.

At least it contained a shout-out to my favorite comedy of all time, "My Cousin VINNY"!

Dashiell 4:32 PM  

Baffled by this puzzle. Not finishing a Monday is seriously embarrassing but I just found this puzzle so infuriating that I gave up with a handful of blanks. The theme was awful and the people chosen are just bizarre. "Designing Women"? Is that a movie? A play? a TV show? Never heard of it. I don't read many syndicated comics. I know about Blondie but expecting me to know who writes it is just nuts, especially on a Monday. Could not for the life of me get 1D or 4D or the 57A 43D cross either. DARNS for "does some mending" is weird and overly difficult for Monday and DOGGIES for "little pooches" is, I would argue, just plain incorrect. The word's aren't even close to being synonymous. MORSE for "man with a code" was clever but again, not Monday material I don't think. Ditto with SCAM instead of SPAM for 7D. And what the hell is a RATFINK? This whole puzzle felt like a mix of bland clues (fifth avenue landmark), clues that didn't fit the day (as already mentioned)and the aforementioned totally head scratching theme clues. Lame.

Ulrich 5:24 PM  

Among all the gripes about clues today (most of which I find misguided) I miss the one that's (and no, this is NOT an ugly contraction!) most obvious to me: Since both Bordeaux and Beaujolais are French wines mentioned in a clue, we should expect the answer to be French, too--no?

And a thought for all who start their comments with "I did not read (all of) the comments today": Would you listen to someone who starts by saying, "I won't listen to you, but I expect you to listen to me."? I wouldn't and therefore stop reading as soon as I see that sentence.

Evgeny 5:33 PM  

no way it'd ever gonna be in the puritan NYT puzzle, but I still wanted "ALEC'S BALD WIN" clued via "Kim Basinger"...

shrub5 5:55 PM  

Agree with @mac: The "Samantha Who?" clip was very funny; sorry I didn't ever watch the show. Love Christina Applegate; the co-stars are good as well.

Sfingi 6:09 PM  

I had a couple errors, in spite of it's being a Monday.
Did not know DRJ (sports) or JEAN SMART (a show I didn't like), so I threw in a D.
Further, I had SpAM instead of SCAM, and didn't know the capital of Ghana, so I had ACpRA.
Apparently, so did others, so I feel better.

Before I read the clue properly I had MORal Code. Oh, Mr. MORal thank you for your code of living! Reminds me of the official NYS Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers. It's a pamphlet. Seriously. Wonder who to thank for that.

@Moonchild - there were 2 sports clues, 1D and 18D. I got one of them. Didn't know either.

@Ulrich - I always read them all - even if there are 75. I loved all the extra clues for the Sunday special of our dreams. So, what's the French word for VINTNER? Is there a VINNY the VINTNER?

@Tobias - I'm still trying to learn about Hawaii, let alone Ghana, or some other place the President is supposed to be from.

I heard FINK was not named from the bird, but after the Pinkerton Agents who used to beat up strikers in the old days. When people had unions. My father-in-law would have been killed by one if he had shown up at a certain "job" in his younger days. His buddies were.

Also, MINCE was often used to refer to characterize the actions of a certain group, about 10% of the population, that is recently winning their equality.

What's lame is Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse is lame, and Bugs Bunny, the rascally rabbit in the age-old tradition of the trickster, this time stretching back to Africa, rules.

RATFINK sounds interesting.

Ulrich 7:11 PM  

@Sfingi: My own French dictionary is too crappy to have an entry for "vintner"--so, I googled, and the Google translator says "vigneron".

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

Does anyone else find it odd that Rex knows 218 things about DRJ and doesn't know the Saints play in the Superdome (like when they won the Super Bowl this year)? This might explain why he chooses to eat at diners without juke boxes....

still life angie 8:08 PM  

I think what bothered me about the puzzle theme is the apostrophe, or lack thereof, means that basically there is a misspelling in the crossword. Not that punny misspellimngs aren't always used, but come on-we are puzzlers. We like rules and grammar and things that follow patterns. *end rant*

I didn't find the theme clues difficult, just eye-rollingly annoying.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

So by "way longer than it should have", you realize this probably means like 5 seconds, right? He likely finished this puzzle in just a bit over 3 minutes. How long did it take you?


Sfingi 8:43 PM  

@Anon807 - I can't speak for Rex, but I don't know sports stuff atall atall. Further, I believe:
1. there should be no sports scholarships; there are no sports scholars.
2. God gave us Scrabble; that should be enough.

@Ulrich -Thanx, as usual.

CrazyCat 8:48 PM  

Wow 81 comments on a Monday! I'm with those that found this puzzle just fine and Monday easy. The only theme answer I had an even slight issue with was GRACE'S SLICK because of the extra syllable. And maybe an itsy bitsy problem with CHIC'S YOUNG because he's a guy and all the others were women, right? Loved the DOGGIES picture. It's wine (by a special VINTNER) and NYT puzzle time here on the west coast. Oh yeah, I too thought of Rex at Cross and Parker. Funny! So many anonymouses today - no wonder people have their claws out.

Squeek the Anonymouse 9:20 PM  

Odd puzzle that led to an odd day in Blogville. Personally I love days that divide the camps and cause sparks.
It's too late for anyone to notice but yesterday the juke answer made me think of another phrase that could be a clue. Am I the only one who likes to have a cold one in a
juke joint?

Anonymous 9:35 PM  

@Sfingi -- I have you down for a No....

sanfranman59 10:04 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 8:15, 6:58, 1.18, 97%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:19, 3:43, 1.16, 97%, Challenging

@Rex ... I don't know if you're still paying attention, but I meant to mention in my earlier post that I saw a terrific trio from your neck of the woods in my neighborhood Irish pub this past weekend. Their called Driftwood. If you get a chance to catch their act, be sure to do so.

hazel 10:57 PM  

@Sfingi - my guess is there are both a lot of scholars and a lot of athletes scratching their heads over the statement that there are "no sports scholars." I understand that you don't like sports, but....

Maybe I've misinterpreted your point, though?

Robin 2:10 AM  

So, yesterday was so hard that it should have contained a major Black Box warning: 99% of Solvers will be unable to complete this puzzle. If you have suicidal thoughts, consult Rex Parker's blog for reasons to carry on.

Then, slammed again on Monday! Monday! So yes, I fell for the spam scam and had an error. On Monday. The shame is almost unbearable.

Tomorrow is another day.

Jim 12:48 PM  

To all humorless denizens of RexWorld:

My comments spoke to the PROPRIETY of putting such clues / answers in a Mondaypuzzle, not the ACCURACY thereof. The one exception was AERATE, which I retracted.

It was simply not a Monday puzzle, that's all.

Dirigonzo 4:39 PM  

When DOGGIES replaced puppies, my first thought was, "wait - that can't be right, "doggies" are wayward calves in cowboy songs." Thanks to @anonymous 1:13 for straightening me out on the distinction between "dogies" and "doggies".

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