Tenet of chivalry / MON 10-4-10 / FF's opposite / Early synthesizers / Sicilian spewer / Drinker's next day woe

Monday, October 4, 2010

Constructor: Adam G. Perl

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Flip-Flops — theme answers are two-word phrases; phrases in top half of the grid are reversed in bottom half

Word of the Day: MOOGS (36A: Early synthesizers) —

Moog synthesizer (pronounced /ˈmoʊɡ/, mohg; often anglicized to /ˈmuːɡ/, moog) may refer to any number of analog synthesizers designed by Dr. Robert Moog or manufactured by Moog Music, and is commonly used as a generic term for analog and digital music synthesizers. The Moog company pioneered the commercial manufacture of modular voltage-controlled analog synthesizer systems in the early 1950s. The technological development that led to the creation of the Moog synthesizer was the invention of the transistor, which enabled researchers like Moog to build electronic music systems that were considerably smaller, cheaper and far more reliable than earlier vacuum tube-based systems. (wikipedia)
• • •
Barely noticed this one. I felt almost guilty about how easy the theme answers were to get in the bottom half. Theme is cute, though STATE POLICE (23A: Highway troopers) and POLICE STATE (45A: Oppressive regime) aren't divergent enough for my taste—both firmly in the realm of law and order, while the items in the other pairs are from fairly different universes. Despite little oddities like SAPOR (6A: Taste) and the hard-to-parse DOORDIE (that's DO OR DIE, 28D: Like a dire situation), I flew through this in record time. Under 2:30, which, for me, is insane, even on a Monday.

Other theme answers:
  • 17A: Michelle Obama and Laura Bush (FIRST LADIES)
  • 56A: Tenet of chivalry (LADIES FIRST) — keep thinking this is "LADIES' NIGHT," probably because I want to play the Kool & the Gang song ... maybe I can find the Queen Latifah / Monie Love song "LADIES FIRST" ... yep, there it is. Mmm, college:

  • 31A: Drinker's next-day woe (HANGOVER) — I've had a beer and a scotch today. HANGOVER unlikely.
  • 39A: Eave (OVERHANG)
Love gin & TONICs, so it was with great irony that I blanked at 12D: Gin's partner until I had something like three crosses. FLOOR IT (22D: Put the pedal to the metal) [and not the PETAL to the medal] is probably my favorite non-theme answer of the bunch. Grid is a bit dull overall. A little heavy on Wheel Of Fortune letters (RLSTNE). I mean, just look at the SE corner, for example. Cheater squares in the east and west help keep the answers short and (largely) uninteresting.

A note on the clue for LADIES FIRST — [Tenet of chivalry] is an example of how debased the concept of "chivalry" is in contemporary culture. The paradigmatic example of "chivalry" now is a man's holding a door open for a lady. That's pathetic. Where are the elaborate rituals of courtesy!? The armor!? The horsemanship!? "Chivalry" when used in the modern sense is always at least mildly ironic. The word "tenet" makes the clue doubly laughable: "Thou shalt hold a door open for a lady, lest thou be thought a beast."

  • 40D: Drunk's outburst (HIC!) — I was expecting this to be a lot more profane.
  • 55A: Beachgoer's shade (TAN) — that's one of them. I prefer to stay pasty white—perhaps a mild ECRU, at best. Some people I've observed (namely Scandinavians on Greek vacations) go for red.
  • 20A: Sicilian spewer (ETNA) — and not your uncle Tony after he's had too much to drink (speaking of [Drunk's outburst]...)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:06 AM  

Rex, it's interesting that you chose FLip-Flops as the way to summarize the theme. I just said on Orange's blog that since FLIP is in the puzzle, I wished for FLOP to be there.

Please also note 1A is SETUP and 64A is UPSET. Does that count as part of the theme?

Steve J 12:17 AM  

@foodie: I hadn't even noticed SETUP/UPSET. Nice catch.

While this was ridiculously easy (under 5 min for me, when I average about 7 min for a Monday; I think it's my second-fastest puzzle since I started tracking), I enjoyed it. I thought the theme was a very clever play on the symmetry inherent in crosswords. It did make for very easy fill, of course, but I still enjoyed the concept.

SAPOR is an awfully Saturdayish word for a Monday (the built-in Mac OS X dictionary, which is based off the American OED, doesn't even include it).

One thing I always find interesting with the NYT puzzle: there always seems to be a run of a somewhat obscure word, or form of a word, that coincidentally occurs in close proximity. Today's is MOOGS, which last showed up Friday, and before that, Aug 12, 2007.

PurpleGuy 12:29 AM  

There is also HANGOVER and OVERHANG in the center of the puzzle. Does that count ?

Very fast, but quite enjoyable puzzle. I had savor for 6A for a long time, until PRICETAG gave it away.
Other mistake was oldest for 26A, and couldn't figure what Mt. McKinley had that started with "o." Sigh.

Nice start to the week. Thanks Adam Perl.
Another great writeup, Rex.



andreacarla carlaandrea 12:40 AM  

Loved this! Found the theme really fresh, even tho I not only missed SETUP/UPSET, I missed HANGOVER/OVERHANG...so EIGHT theme answers!!!!!!!!!!!
EIGHT on a MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yikes! First four was the new three...then five was, now EIGHT???
I have got to get to work making some Mondays, now that Tuesdays have become the new Mondays...

I sort of noticed a couple more, save a letter:
And three little mini palindromes:

Perhaps that accounts for lack of JXQZ. But I still thought groovy!

Congrats Adam G. Perl!!!!!!

Tobias Duncan 12:50 AM  

These super easy Mondays only come around once in a while. I could just feel this would be my fastest time from the first few clues.Ripped through this thing probably a min faster than my fastest time ever. I say probably because for some reason my timer in acrosslite did not come on.Just red zeros mocking me at the end of the puzzle.I was just sick about it so I re-watched Wordplay while waiting for Rex to post his review. I feel much better now.Thanks for letting me vent.

chefwen 12:59 AM  

Really did not like this one until I got here and set up/upset, hang over/overhang were revealed to me, now I have totally warmed to it. Just a tad bit embarrassed for not catching onto those, maybe because I finished so quickly I didn't have time to ponder.

Good to hear from you @PurpleGuy, I raise my glass of Chardonnay to you and Super Mom. Shanti.

r.alphbunker 1:20 AM  

hangover/overhang and setup/upset are not really two word phrases like the other four are and they are not the longest entries in the puzzle. Perhaps these are better thought of as "after-themes". :-)

A very interesting start to the xword week.

fikink 7:46 AM  

This puzzle was thick with theme, and I loved it for an easy, slap-dash Monday launch into the week.

Spot on re: your chivalry comments, Rex. It hurts to see such richness percolate down into this world of binary inflections. Alas... but it is all about play now, isn't it?

jesser 8:09 AM  

With the exception of SAPOR, I flew through this one.

Some weird juxtopositions in this puzzle.

I want to be the guy who ABETS CADETs in defying DA/DT until it dies its deserved grisly death.

I wish to never ingest an ECOLI TONIC.

Loved the clue for 2D. Also the clue for 46D, because that's such a cool word.

That will be all. Today will be hellish in Jessville.

Lottles! (There certainly are! 11 by my count!) -- jesser

Orange 8:18 AM  

Rex, funny you should have a picture of Hi-C to illustrate HIC. A couple days ago, my son was talking about a drink called "Hic." I figured out he meant Hi-C.

ArtLvr 8:19 AM  

A very accomplished Monday, to me, and fun too. I especially liked the subtheme on some topers' Monday moods, HIC, UPSET, NURSE a HANGOVER! Hope no one in that state had been tempted either to FLOOR IT or HOG the road over the weekend, or FLIP across LINES, getting caught by STATE POLICE with stiff PRICE TAG or DO OR DIE consequences.


Diana Holquist 8:19 AM  

@steve J--thnx for saving me the trouble of looking up "sapor" on my Mac. For now, I'll just say--

"@purple guy I sapor the joy of your return"

--and wait for someone to correct me.

Super easy, but I liked it a lot. Makes me feel invincible today and that's nice on a rainy Monday.

mmorgan 8:21 AM  

I got through this one incredibly fast. I enjoyed it, and felt many clues were bright and lively. But I must have been so tired when I did it last night that I didn't even notice the "flip flops" until I got here this morning! Join the club, @chefwen!

Carl Sandburg 8:24 AM  

I always liked Sloop John B.

fikink 8:33 AM  

@Carl, thanks so much for that link! Fascinating!

chefbea 8:48 AM  

blog ate my comment :-(

Easy puzzle. Good theme

dk 9:07 AM  

What has been said.

I still try to ensure the lady walks on the inside to ensure she is not soiled by effluent splashed by passing wagons... or takes the first hit from the drive by.

** (2 Stars) Unremarkable and fun

dk 9:10 AM  

Mention abet and the PURPle shows up.

Nice to read your post.

JaxInL.A. 9:28 AM  

I got a little smile when RAVE and PANS showed up, both clued theatrically.

Nearly stopped in the middle to Google SAPOR, but decided to let the program tell me if it was wrong since all the crosses were right.

Anyone else solve on an iPad with Magmic? Didn't like it at first, but it has grown on me. Still not sure how best to do L.A. Times xword on iPad. What's the best app for it?

JC66 9:56 AM  

I grew up with the Kingston Trios's version and it's still my favorite.

Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

I really liked this one. The theme was well executed and the fill was solid with some fun spots like floor it and do or die. Also only two abbrev.s with no Roman numerals!
It's puzzles like this one that I hope will infect new solvers with "the bug" while still amusing the veterans.
Funny to see Moog again.

Matthew G. 10:41 AM  

Six minutes. Would have been much less, but I spent a good minute or two thinking SAPOR must be wrong, even though all the crosses seemed clearly correct. And the irony is that it would have given me no pause later in the week -- I'm not accustomed to Monday puzzles teaching me new words.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:51 AM  

I was one of those who hesitated a bit at 28 D when I had DOOR _ _ _. Says to myself, "There better be a darn good way out of this one." -- Which of course there was!

Very good Monday puzzle!

Unknown 10:53 AM  

16A is incorrect...rank above maj is ltc for lieutenant colonel...the col is for colonel, which is two ranks above major...this same error has occured at least twice over the years in nyt puzzles...

Rex Parker 10:55 AM  


By your logic, the clue is not incorrect at all. Merely misleading.

Sparky 10:57 AM  

I am paper solver so missed mistake at oLDEST/oLEV. Thanks Purple Guy. At first thought theme numerical FIRST, second, etc. but getting 56A changed that and I was able to fill in the bottom once I got the top. @Andrea, Eight is a lot. I missed SETUP/UPSET. Good fun Monday start.

Ulrich 11:23 AM  

I, too, thought this was almost classical for a Monday--the ease, the freshness of theme, its density, the occasional off-kilter clue/fill (as Rex said, a rank above, but not directly above; the hesitation in trying to parse DOORDIE--what the hell is a door die? Aha! Cool!!!)

And then the beach boys, whom I'm extremely fond of--growing up in rainy Germany before the sexual revolution (helped along by the student rebellion of '68), I could only dream of the world they described, where people spent their time on sunny beaches or in fast cars, a girl in whatever arm happened to be free...paradise!

Frankly, Scarlett 11:32 AM  

Had NO idea what a MOOGS was. I learn so much from you, REX!

Tinbeni 11:33 AM  

TAN crossing LINES.
Nope, don't have them.
Though I do wear FLIP-Flops year round.
(It's a Florida thingy(.

FUN Monday.

Cheers !

Mel Ott 11:36 AM  

I liked this puzzle while solving it and liked it even more when I got here and discovered that I too had missed SETUP/UPSET and HANGOVER/OVERHANG.

JaxInL.A. 11:43 AM  

Oh, forgot to thank @Rex for posting that great video of Ladies First. I know that Latifah started as a rapper and like the few random things I hear but have not seen her videos before. I know her mostly from film.

@Carl Sandburg, thanks for the Kingston Trio clip. It sent me on a research quest and I learned what I had never put together before: the song Sloop John B came from the Caribbean! I love this blog.

mitchs 11:50 AM  

The MOOGS answer (plural for the second time in a week?) has a tie in to the recent flap over ELP vs. ELO.

I have a pot-addled memory of a quote from Moog that Emerson Lake and Palmer's use of the Moog on "Lucky Man" was the best use of the synth he had ever heard.

Noam D. Elkies 1:13 PM  

A lovely Monday theme, and easy enough for Downs-only solving (though indeed I missed UPSET/SETUP even while checking the Across clues after the fact). So much 48D:TRITE crosswordese that even I noticed — usually I don't mind, but it's hard to believe that even with eight(!) theme answers one can't do without 10/34D:RES/REW; 11A/41D:ÉTÉ/STE.; also OSE, ONO, SHO, LES, and that's just the three-43A:LETTER items. And then the $5 word 6A:SAPOR, which I recognized but could hardly believe on a Monday (remember I didn't see the clue). On the nice side, the 7- and 8-letter Downs (Patrick Merrell notes "Flo or it" at 22D matching the apparent "Door die" at 28D), a substantial French subtheme (albeit in mostly familiar 3-letter entries: ÉTÉ/STE./LES noted above, plus 56/58D:LAC/FEU, and maybe also 61A:ESTÉE); and a bit of misdirection for 31D:HOG (could be PIG) and 25D:.ORG (wanted .EDU).


Doc John 1:17 PM  

Not a fan of the puzzle today. While the theme was cute, it was too much of a giveaway. Interesting that LAMEST was in the puzzle. But hey, it was a Monday. My timer wasn't working for some reason but I know it was my fastest time ever. Good thing I reviewed it after doing the acrosses because I would otherwise have had a mistake with O instead of E in ELDEST and O instead of E in LES.
I did like that PANS and RAVE were both included, though.

Sfingi 1:17 PM  

Very nice CW!

I tried to create my own, which is my habit, and came up with only
Blue Light and Head Butt. There must be one with "Free" that creates a common expression either way.

Before I noticed the theme, I had Headache before HANGOVER, and bIll before LISP.
Now, is Daffy's problem really a lisp, or something else involving - spit? It's not just quacking, since Daisy doesn't do it. In my Google search for a better word - unsuccessful - I found an entirely different problem, Colemanballs - which is a riot.

@Len - Hubster says the rank above Maj. is Lt.COL (at least in his army). But, even Gen. is a rank above Maj.

I was also thrown by SAPOR and DOORDIE.

@Tinbeni - I don't get tans, probably because of too much white fur, but I do wear sandals as long as possible. It was 40 degrees last night, but I'm likey to take my socks off before the day is over.

@Rex - Queen Latifah is way cool, and that video is deep.

Masked and Anonymous 1:35 PM  

@44: "Under 2:30." Har. "Insane" is right. That's pretty much like the puz was givin' dictation, or somethin'. Or all the clues were the same as the answers.

Occurs to me that if you are 43rd in the Universe -- or just any old yahoo that can solve the SatPuz without doin' extensive research -- MonPuz must be a real odorless, colorless, tasteless experience. And when it's a Granpa Abe-relative difficulty one, ouch. [I still like seein' what the theme is, tho.] Maybe they need to supply two sets of clues: regular Monday, and "salsa" Monday, the latter bein' for the more experienced solvers.

Don't get me wrong. My hat's off to anybody who can construct a 15 x grid with all easy, interlockin' entries. And bite their lip and write 76-78 clues without ever gettin' to be devious one time. Maybe if they got to write a second, devious set of clues, they'd have a kinda release valve for all the steam that must be buildin' up internally. Healthy outlet, and all that.

Discuss. Or not.

@PurpleGuy: Turn around. Good to see you're back, dude. ;) I'll comment, if'n you'll comment.

Masked and Anonymous 2:04 PM  

P.S. Thumbs way up on today's MonPuz. Cute theme idea and 8 theme answers crammed into a beginner-level grid. Outstanding!!!

hazel 2:37 PM  

@Blogger - you've gotten on my last nerve with your PACMAN-like ways.

One more time. I really loved this puzzle! Thought it was peppy. And I thought those video choices were an excellent extension of the theme - as the word LADIES is used in 2 very opposite ways.

The biggest downside of the puzzle is the fact that it did not provide an elegant entree into my making a Braves comment!! Soo, I'm left with the fact that it was DOORDIE yesterday for America's team - and they did, and they are now in the postseason for the first time in many years. And Bobby Cox gets to chase his 6th (I think) NL pennant in this the final year of his exceptional career. And I'll be in the crowd next Sunday which will hopefully be AROAR - during and after the game.

Go Braves!!

P.S. @Foodie - love the FLIP/FLOP idea - that would have been icing on the cake for this fantastic puzzle.

archaeoprof 3:11 PM  

@Andreacarla: I'm already looking forward to your next Monday puzzle.

Go Reds!

Van55 3:19 PM  

I haven't had the occasion to do this puzzle yet, so I shouldn't really post. But I have been away from computer access for a few days and was curious to see whether Bob the PurpleGuy had reconsidered and I was glad to find that he has.

I'll raise one to you and Tenbini and your moms this evening.

I promise to post about today's puzzle later, assuming I am not permabanned for this non-puzzle-related entry.

J 3:39 PM  

Speaking of the state police, let us note the passing of Highway Patrol narrator Art Gilmore:

“Whenever the laws of any state are broken, each state has a duly authorized organization that swings into action; it may be called the state militia or the state police or the highway patrol."

RIP, Art.
You know the Highway Patrols' motto: DOORDIE....or is it DOOR DIE?

sanfranman59 4:37 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 5:41, 6:57, 0.82, 1%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:19, 3:43, 0.89, 7%, Easy

miriam b 6:38 PM  

@dk: Of course the gent walks on the curb side to protect the lady from said effluent. I've often wondered, though, what the prescribed procedure was should the strolling couple be alerted by a cry of "Gardyloo!" from above. Did the gentleman gallantly submit to the stream of ordure, or did they both just scoot up the street? Did people routinely carry umbrellas, maybe? Inquirng minds...

reepan = a bad review of athletic shoes

CoffeeLvr 6:51 PM  

@ArtLvr, clever tale of the Monday sub-theme.
I had no time to post after solving this morn, but I was very impressed with 4 pair of theme answers. Great Monday, Mr. Perl.
I flew through this so fast I didn't even see/use some of the Down clues for shorter answers.

Van55 7:10 PM  

Very, very easy but very, very smooth puzzle. Loved it, even though it offered practically no resistance.

Anonymous 8:49 PM  

Test blog first

Ulrich 9:08 PM  

@miriam b: There are certain neighborhoods through which a gentleman simply does not walk with a lady, which eliminates the "gardyloo" threat, and in those where he could walk with her, parked cars within inches of each other will absorb all the splashing from passing cars there may be--so, the rule appears decidedly quaint these days:-)

Now, where I grew up, we were told that a true "cavalier" always walks into a restaurant or similar establishment ahead of the lady, so as to absorb the initial stares when the door opens--a shield against visual splashing, or so it seems. Am I mistaken that this rule def. does not exist in this country? It seems that I'm expected to hold the door open for the lady (ladies first), i.e. walk in behind her.

Two Ponies 9:30 PM  

@ Ulrich, Now that's a new twist for me. I see the logic but have never seen that in the US. The door gets opened and the lady strolls in.
Curb side or building side? Building side in the days of chamber pots and curb side in the days of autos.

Smokler 9:45 PM  

Just a question for my fellow puzzlers...do we think that Sapor would have been more elegant were it to be Savor? I find the word Sapor to be a bit of a stretch. Sounds more like the hosts of a Westchester Bat Mitzvah.

sanfranman59 10:06 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 5:46, 6:57, 0.83, 1%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:16, 3:43, 0.88, 3%, Easy

Of the 67 Monday puzzles in my database, today's median solve times are the fastest for the All Solvers group and the second fastest for the Top 100. The All Solvers time unseats our own ACME's 11/2/2009 collaboration with her neighbor, Kent Clayton.

mmorgan 11:23 PM  

As @sanfranman59n shows empirically, this one was easy.

But as the comments show, it was also fun!

And I feel exactly the same about Tuesday -- mostly fast, mostly easy, and mostly fun.

foodie 11:31 PM  

@SanFranMan, What lovely data you have! I don't just mean on any given day, but the whole set, and the ability to compare.

I feel it could be used as a framework for a study-- e.g. expectation based on the day of the week, difficulty as measured by your criteria, and emotional response by the solvers. How much wiggle room is there in the difference between what is expected and what is experience before people make the level of difficulty a central issue? And is it better for people's mood when it's easier than expected than when it's harder?

foodie 11:34 PM  

PS. in my post, "experience", should be "experienced"..

@hazel and @SteveJ: Thanks!

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

Do believe this is my fastest ever.

Usually I feel like I ate an extra chromosone for breaky when I read about how fast some people breath through these things. Today, however I stand among the giants.

14 minutes or so! Hot stuff.

Appreciate the write up and reading all the comments.


David 8:34 AM  

Hello! The theme is Scramble. Also one of the clues. Remember the Saturday paper game next to the Crossword?

Dirigonzo 5:12 PM  

I confidently entered rebuke for 6d - it took Clara Barton, Michelle Obama and Luara Bush to straighten that little SNAFU out. Other than that, what everybody else said - a fun Monday romp.

It's just after 5:00PM and it's freakin' pitch dark out - that's just downright depressing!

NotalwaysrightBill 6:15 PM  

Syndicted puzzler.

I think that since so many of today's damsels-in-distress show a distinct preference for "Bad Boys," causing the widespread shooting of all those white chargers that used to partner in the riding-to-the-rescue, Rex's observation about the lack of horsemanship can be explained pretty easily: no horses. "Empowerment" comes at a price (like everything else), doesn't it?

I'm convinced that when the day comes that some man-or-lady-in-the-street finally uses the word ORTS in a casual conversation with me, something mythical will occur at that time, like the banshees comin' around or somethin'. None of y'all count: I'm sure you use it all the time. Found ORTS in both of the xword puzzles in today's paper (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE). Bet they don't even use the term in the restaurant business.

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