Roman emperor born in Spain / TUE 5-22-12 / Rapid in music / Lees material / 2004 movie with screenplay by Tina Fey / Austrian-made pistol / Terminus of famous trail

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Constructor: Kyle T. Dolan

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "ENIGMA VARIATIONS" (38A: Work by Sir Edward Elgar hinted at by this puzzle's circled squares) — consecutive circled squares inside theme answers are scramblings of the word "ENIGMA"

Word of the Day: MOSSO (4A: Rapid, in music) —
adv. Music
With motion or animation. Used chiefly as a direction.

[Italian, past participle of muovere, to move, from Latin movēre.]

Read more:
• • •

Nice things can happen when you open the puzzle up to 16-wide. Think of all the sixteen-letter words and phrases out there just dying to be used, potential answers that will likely never see the light of day except in a Sunday puzzle. I want to start a telethon for those answers. In the meantime, let's admire this clever theme. I'm most impressed (and pleased) that the theme phrases (containing the messed-up "ENIGMA"s) are all actual, honest-to-god, not-at-all-forced phrases (including an Tina Fey film that I quote all the time ... in my mind ... specifically, the line "stop trying to make 'fetch' happen!," which I think of any time someone seems to be pushing really hard for his/her own neologism; but I digress). There are some fill problems here, though. Specifically, that northern area is a nightmare. You've already got a classical music theme. When you then go and cross one of your lesser known music tempos (or 'tempi') (I've never heard of MOSSO and can't recall seeing it in a puzzle ever, though I probably have) with an absolutely "&%^*-you!" music clue on SOLDAT (which is Fr. for "soldier"), then you have committed a kind of low-level crossword war crime. MOSSO would've slid right by as just some odd word I didn't know if not for SOLDAT (7D: Stravinsky's "L'Histoire du ___"). SOLDAT is ... truly unideal. If you're going to put it in your puzzle, *at least* give a clue that indicates what it means. Stravinsky? On a Tuesday, I'm supposed to just know everything Stravinsky did? Absurd. Bad editing there. That's a Saturday clue, though I don't recall ever seeing SOLDAT on any day of the week, ever. Shame to have such an ugly outlier in an otherwise nice grid. AVAUNT didn't thrill me either (35D: "___, and quit my sight!": Macbeth), but its only crime is being crosse with the ugly BAL. (a very gettable answer, eventually) (45A: Fig. on an A.T.M. receipt).

Theme answers:
  • 18A: 2004 movie with a screenplay by Tina Fey ("MEAN GIRLS")
  • 24A: Carved figure used for rituals (GRAVEN IMAGE)
  • 54A: Industrial Revolution-era power source (STEAM ENGINE)
  • 65A: Family play time (GAME NIGHT) — inventive; like it.
I couldn't make any sense of the clue on GLUED (48A: Like the cutouts in some children's artwork). I was trying to think what "cutouts" meant; that is, if there was some specific meaning, as opposed to just "pieces of paper that have been cut out of ... other pieces of paper." [Like corn kernels on some children's artwork] would've been easy, but I refused to put the "G" in for a (relatively) long time because ... hmmm ... maybe it's the "the" that's throwing me. It implies some kind of standard, as if all children's artwork has cutouts, and *sometimes* those cutouts are GLUED. [Like cutouts in some children's artwork] Yes. That's better ... don't mind me, I'm just thinking out loud. I wouldn't have been irked at all here if the "G" cross hadn't essentially been [Any letter from A to G] (48D: Key of Mozart's No. 25 or 40). Again with the classical music—we get it, you're in to it; get off the hobby horse and try some variety ... though, to be fair, with MOSSO and G MINOR in your grid, you can't really get around classical music. Of course, there's always the possibility of not putting them in your grid at all.

  • 29A: Lees material (DENIM) — yuck. It's LEE Jeans. "Lees" is some kind of colloquial hogwash. I get that you wanted some trickery with "lees," but no. 
  • 50A: Austrian-made pistol (GLOCK) — I remember reading a NYT book review earlier this year ... yes, here it is. "GLOCK: The Rise of America's Gun," by Paul M. Barrett. My first thought here was LUGER, but that's German, not Austrian.
  • 3D: Roman emperor born in Spain (TRAJAN) — another roughie for a Tuesday. 
  • 51D: Terminus of a famous trail (OREGON) — ... and Hansel & Gretel's trail of breadcrumbs led them safely back to OREGON. The End.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Evan K. 12:10 AM  

Ahh, Elgar. ENI- revealed both the long answer and the theme for me. I really enjoyed the theme answers, noting that the ENIGMA letters, in each instance, span both answer words -- something we all know Rex appreciates.

That said, it played more like a Wednesday. I love classical music and knew SOLDAAT, but never heard of MOSSO. DEEDEE and next-door TRAJAN didn't help matters much in the north. I've also never seen ILLINI. The name makes sense...ish?

Oh, and don't forget ATONAL and IRAE! Classical all over.

Anonymous 12:14 AM  

Anagram of IMAGINE:

It does not get any better!

Karl 12:22 AM  

Good week so far. I wonder what Wednesday will bring?

jae 12:28 AM  

Tues. my prat! !  This was at least a medium Wed.  

Natick #1.  MOSSO/SOLDAT.
Natick #2 (kinda sorta) AVAUNT/GLUED/and-or BAL, i.e. what Rex said.

I guessed right, but I should not be guessing on a Tues.

And then there's the WTF theme.  Clever,  but completely unknown to me.  "Unknown to me" is fine but not on Tues.

That said, I do know Elgar from crosswords so it's nice to learn one of his works.  Wiki tells me that no one has solved the Enigma.

Bottom line tough misplaced puzzle.

L. Moore Lennard 12:30 AM  

All the best tough guys (and girls) carry Glocks.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

I know of two DEEDEE's, one Myers, one Conn. Ms Conn matches her first name much more so than Ms Myers.

Everything I hum is ATONAL.

I just looked up AVAUNT to see if I could make a joke about it, but I couldn't. However, tells me AVAUNT is a great word to know. I think that's bullshit. Further, it tells me ZEDONK is likewise a great word to know, equally bullshit. How often am I going to run into a cross between a zebra and a donkey while simultaneously having a hot chick there that will be impressed that I know that it's a ZEDONK? I'm guessing 1/1,000,000,000. No, knowing what a zedonk is is worthless.

GILL I. 12:38 AM  

Piu MOSSO, Meno MOSSO. Fie! Why leave out classical music references and pile on baseball never heard ofs?
Really, really enjoyed this. Twas on the easy side for me but I so enjoyed penning in TATAMI, GRAVEN IMAGE and LOVENEST to name a few. Brought big smiles.
My new avatar: That's my MOM holding a 50A. Kidding about the GLOCK but not about my mom..
I would say that Enrique at 56D would say basta rather than NO MAS which really means "no more."
Thanks for a clever, fun puzzle. Quiero mas.

Steve J 1:04 AM  

I often wince when I see circles in a puzzle, as I generally find word-ladder or shuffled-word puzzles dull and forced. But this one worked really, really well. It definitely is a plus that the theme answers are indeed fresh, in the vernacular, and not at all forced.

I also got hung up on MOSSO/SOLDAT and AVAUNT/GLUED, for the same reasons Rex noted. Correct that there's no brand of jeans called "Lees", but that's something that's become so common (along with other false-possessive brand names like Kroger's and Nordstrom's, neither of whom use the genitive in their brand names) that it's pretty easy to parse.

Small issues, though, in comparison to the well-done theme and a nice, meaty Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:57 AM  

Tuesdays continue to be harder. Fridays have gotten easier. The difficulty progression is being supplanted with a mix and that is a good thing.

Martin 2:22 AM  

L'Histoire du Soldat is a truly important work. It's done by ballet companies. It't done by symphony orchestras. It was done by Frank Zappa, quoted on albums from 1967 and as narrator for a full symphonic performance in 1972. Kurt Vonnegut adapted it. PBS showed a cartoon version.

Other narrators on record include Gielgud, Jeremy Irons, Ian McKellen and Jean Cocteau.

It's really not the editor's fault if it's unfamiliar to a Times solver, even on Tuesday.

chefwen 2:24 AM  

Got hung up in the same areas as Rex did. I thought MOSSO meant less rapid, but I am not totally up on my music terminology. AVAUNT and SOLDAT were ??? and filled only by crosses. Other than those areas it was fairly easy. Loved the clue for 9A.

Good one Kyle T. Dolan

Akita Cashin Meangirls 2:24 AM  

Hard! But i liked...

I had "break ITUP " instead of ALEG which mucked up the middle, because GLUED, AVAUNT and BAL none were gimmes...
So more performance, less fighting would have helped!

Ironically, i also put in NamING for 19D Mentioning.
Well, maybe not ironic, but expected. BuT it made sense because my 21A was ADJacent.

I once almost married someone because he had "AROOM of One's Own" on his shelf.

Very sophisticated highbrow puzzle! Kyle T. Dolan!

I'm fascinated that MEANGIRLS and GAMENIGHT have the same first six letters and that those letters are ENIGMA...
I think the magnitude of this will grow on me!

Acme 2:36 AM  

PS if you want a slightly easier challenge, with only one classical music reference, I constructed today's LA Times puzzle. Enjoy!

evil doug 4:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 4:09 AM  

'Ali' next to 'Nam': Nice symmetry. "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong."

'AWOL' and 'coward': Not necessarily, but sometimes.

'Ataris' and 'game night': The former led to the doom of the latter.

'Torts' crossing 'patent law': Well argued.

'Totem' filling the full vertical shaft with 'Illini': Bravely done.

'Eros' and 'love nest': This is making me all warm inside.

Can this all be serendipity? I'm going to give Mr. Dolan credit. A sweet, sweet Tuesday.

Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the earth hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!

Giving the bard a day off....

Anonymous 4:52 AM  

Lots (and lots) of classical music mixed with other old timey stuff is not my cup of tea.

I liked all the theme answers except graven image. Seems like there should be a better word to go with image.

I kinda gave up on that NE corner. PATINA, ATONAL and TATAMI all stacked? Yeesh! It's screaming for a redo.

Winston Churchill 6:24 AM  

"I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."

Anonymous 6:26 AM  

The GRAVEN IMAGE has a PATINA! As a classical music fan, ENIGMA VARIATIONS was a quick entry. Doing the puzzle from a PDF instead of Across Lite, I didn't have the shaded areas. A different way to do the puzzle - found a couple of the scrambled ENIGMAs while doing the puzzle, the rest in the answers after finishing the puzzle. Great cluing - the themed answers weren't forced and came naturally.

exaudio 6:59 AM  

Smack dab in the middle of graduation season, and the Elgar composition is NOT "Pomp and Circumstance?" Wrong number of letters, but I spent a little while trying to make it work. I'd say running this puzzle at the end of May was a little bit of a purposeful misdirect. Not complaining, mind you, I enjoy a little extra challenge on a Tuesday.

dk 7:17 AM  

Craven, GRAVEN you say Tomato…

No knowledge of MEANGIRLS but I knew SOLDAT… pass the Grey Poupon please and thank you.

And boy do I wish glue sticks were around when I was a paste eating lad.

🔑🔑🔑🔑 (4 ENIGMA keys) Kyle loved you on South Park happy to see you are constructing.

Hi MARINA, remember when we saw Frank Zappa in Cleveland. Pardon me while I bask on memories sunny slope.

Anonymous 7:19 AM  

Soldat was a gimme. Avaunt/glued was hell.

The thane of fife 7:26 AM  

Macbeth's quote was in response to the GHOST OF BANQUO re-entering.

Glimmerglass 7:30 AM  

Great clue for PATINA, but hardly a Tuesday level. I didn't know MOSSO or SOLDAT, but the common S is inferable from "soldier." My French is only 10th grade, but xOLDAT suggested only the common S.

Zwhatever 7:30 AM  

Great Puzzle - What @ED said.

I was thrown by the MOSSO section since I too had ADJacent first, and then cRAVEN IMAGE before getting O RING. No idea about L'Histoire du SOLDAT but the S had to be an S and once I figured out that 21A was past tense the D filled in for me.

TRAJAN and Xerxes make STEAM ENGINE, Mozart and Stravinsky feel down right modern. Still, all fairly played I thought. My only real complaint is ending with the RCD in the SE. Takes the glow just a little bit for me.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

50 seconds faster than my average Tuesday, but well off my best. Still, 92nd fastest isn't bad out of well over 2000. For once, the more obscure fill was stuff I knew, with the exception of AVAUNT/GLUED. Overall, I'd agree with a rating of medium-challenging for a Tuesday. Normally, the time I had wouldn't rate nearly so high on a Tues.

lymank 7:38 AM  

"Soldat" was a gimme for me, along with most of the other classical music clues. But "mosso"?? I guess one sees that word alone in a score occasionally, but usually it's paired with a qualifier such as "piu mosso" (more motion) or "meno mosso" (less motion).
Other than that, no real complaints about today's puzzle. Once I cracked the theme (very early on) I made an almost deliberate attempt to solve the related answers without thinking to much about the "enigma" anagram. But I confess it did come to my rescue once or twice.

SethG 7:40 AM  

Never heard of the Elgar, the Stravinsky, the Mozarts, or the tempo. Got GLUED, though.

I guess if Frank Zappa recorded it 40 years ago, the editor had no choice but to cross it with a relatively obscure answer from the same domain of knowledge but a different Romance language at a random consonant.

orangeblossomspecial 7:56 AM  

This one was fun. It required reasoning as well as knowledge.

Limbo used to be part of every party. All it required was a stick and two uprights. "How LOW can you go?" in Chubby Checker's 'Limbo Rock' is the giveaway for 32A.

60A LOVENEST was the theme for George Burns & Gracie Allen.

John V 7:59 AM  

The classical stuff was all easy, particular the revealer, which I just wrote in. Not so much GLUED/GMINOR/AVAUNT -- gluey itself -- particularly AVAUNT. Wanted DATENIGHT for 65@, 'cause DST fit 65D, leaving NOTAS. Hmmm.

Liked the theme a lot and, as @Rex said, the theme answers are real, in the language phrases. Good one, Kyle!

classical music nerd 8:03 AM  

i'm a bit of a classical music nerd so this was very easy. got "enigma variations" right away, and stravinsky's SOLDAT is famous because it represented a change in his tonal sensibilities.

"MOSSO," however, does not mean "rapid," at least in how it's used in music. it literally means "movement" and is almost always preceded either by a PIU (more) or MENO (less) and indicates a sudden temporary change in tempo for dramatic effect. in fact, "MOSSO" is relative to the tempo already in place, so in a slow piece of music, PIU MOSSO would only mean a little faster than slow...which would still be slow by any other measurement.

RAPID is something like presto, or allegro, or even allegretto.

overall, very easy tuesday. nice to have a puzzle with clues i knew as well as i'm sure some people know those damned literary clues.

joho 8:05 AM  

Very impressive puzzle!

My favorite answers: MEANGIRLS and GAMENIGHT. ENIGMAVARIATIONS was new to me and it's always great to learn something.

Anybody else have jOIN before GOIN?

Loved it! Thank you, Kyle T. Dolan!

Kevin 8:23 AM  

Loved the theme! The fill was...interesting in places. I didn't have as much trouble with AVAUNT/GLUED as some people because I struggled through GLUED by going through all of the keys on a piano before arriving at one that made sense.

quilter1 8:25 AM  

I'm not a sports buff, but I don't complain when there are lots of sports answers I don't know. Part of the game. I do listen solely to the classical station and knew the classical music answers. Don't complain: part of the game.

My PDF printout had the shaded squares and I very much enjoyed the ENIGMA VARIATIONS. Great puzzle!

Sue McC 8:32 AM  

Would have expected a puzzle with an ENIGMA theme to be a bit tougher, but all in all this was fun and a great way to start a Tuesday.

Jp 8:35 AM  

One man's obscurity is another man's gimme. Elgar and Starvinsky are better known that a minor comedian or a football player with a funny name that pop up all the time in puzzles. Other than this, I agree with Rex. Lovely theme and well executed. Felt definitely like a Wednesday.

Gus Mahler 8:41 AM  

I don't think anyone has explained what the "enigma" refers to. But then again, nobody has asked yet. Just in case someone who doesn't know would like to know, Elgar wrote a set of variations, each one depicting a friend. However, he never incorporated the original theme into the composition. The work simply begins with the orchestral accompaniment to the missing theme.

Too bad 50A wasn't Gluck instead of glock. Would have fit into the musical theme. And I don't think it was mentioned that 37A (tie) is a musical term, indicating that the sound of the first of two same notes should be held across the duration of the second of the notes.

Zwhatever 8:43 AM  

To quote, "MOSSO would've slid right by as just some odd word I didn't know if not for SOLDAT...."

It is not the classical musicness of the answers that is the "low level crossword crime," it is the crossing of the the two obscure to many answers from the same area of knowledge. I would get a Bobby LANE/FRAN Tarkenton cross, but it wouldn't be a fair crossing to people who never follow sports.

optionsgeek 8:54 AM  

For some reason, "AVAUNT and quit my sight. Thy bones are marrow less. Thy blood is cold." is the phrase me and my Shakespeare-geek friends we would scream at each other. Who knew it would come in handy all these years later. GLUED and GMINOR were the only things I really struggled over. A challenging Tuesday puzzle but very enjoyable.

oldbizmark 9:03 AM  

minor threat!!!

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

The problem with speed solvers is that they don't care to learn anything. So when something like Soldat or a Macbeth quote that they don't know arises they label it ugly, instead of welcoming new knowledge. Eugene Maleska once said that it was his aim that solvers learn something. Probably no NYT puzzle editor made it his avowed purpose to help Rex Parker have better times.

Dave 9:03 AM  

Agreed with lymank. Histoire du Soldat is not "everything that Stravinsky wrote," but one of his most well-known and frequently performed works. (Far more well known than AGON.) Mosso should have been clued as "piu ____" (a little more).

jberg 9:11 AM  

OK, music is my avocation, and I got the theme from the GM - a complete gimme if you know it, a stumper if you don't. I always thought one of the points of crosswords was to test our knowledge, though, and inspire us to memorize the major rivers of Siberia, etc. I did know MOSSO, having seen it many times in scores, but I admit that one's a bit obscure. Still, even if you don't know the Stravinsky, the title is in French, so the S is inferrable from the crosses. (If you don't know any French at all, you must be lost in crossworld.)

I didn't read the GLOCK book, but I heard the author talk about it on the radio, which was enough to get it. I never would have otherwise.

My only real problem was with GST at 65D. Maybe I misunderstood, but if that refers to the time, I've only ever heard GMT.

Unknown 9:12 AM  

Any relation (to Gustav, that is?)

jackj 9:17 AM  

While Kyle Dolan debuts with an impressive puzzle wrapped around Elgar’s ENIGMAVARIATIONS, thousands of graduates at all academic levels are having their own fling with Elgar as they stutter step to “Pomp and Circumstance” this Spring.

(It isn’t difficult to understand why the grid is a rare 16X15, just count the letters in the reveal entry).

Turning to the fill, we have some complexities not often seen this early in the solving week, from Macbeth’s AVAUNT (move away) to GRAVENIMAGE and ADJOINED, with TRAJAN and GLOCK thrown in to further spice the cioppino.

It’s interesting that the only single word that is an anagram of ENIGMA is GAMINE, (a saucy little street girl), who certainly would have been at home with the MEANGIRLS and probably wouldn’t have minded sleeping on a TATAMI mat but, unfortunately, she didn’t get a play in this puzzle.

The only sour note was having MOSSO joined with SOLDAT, which didn’t develop into a “Natick” but, instead, was more like having a wart suddenly appear on a pianists right index finger while performing a Chopin Etude.

A commendable effort from Mr. Dolan who looks like he can bring a special touch of class to the crossword world.

Thank you, Kyle!

foodie 9:58 AM  

QDI rates this puzzle as Challenging and suggests that it could have worked as a medium Wednesday.

I loved the theme and the execution. My issue with the fill was not the specific content, but more the clustering of words from the same field (e.g. music) in particular spots. But I agree that the quality of the fill is excellent and a classical education helps in the solve.

ArtO 9:59 AM  

Compliments to@evildoug for noting the dual relationships throughout the puzzle.

Hand up for AVAUNT and GLUED.

Easily a Wednesday medium but if the rate of difficulty becomes random there will be many of us lesser lights who suffer earlier in the week. Not ego enhancing!

KRMunson 10:07 AM  

Great puzzle, albeit tough for a Tuesday. Thanks for the workout, Kyle!

Martin 10:08 AM  


Greenwich Sidereal Time. Sidereal (or "star") time takes your longitude within the time zone into account, hence the astronomical clue.

John V 10:11 AM  

As commented before, I agree that MOSSO, while easy for yours truly, could have been more accurately clued.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Ms. Conn does not spell her name like Ms. Myers- it's Didi Conn.

Martin 10:19 AM  

MOSSO ("let's get moving here") could have been clued more directly, but it can be the entire marking and it does mean "faster," so it seems fine ("clue, not definition").

But the comments are all reasonable, save @Dave's. "Piu mosso" means "more movement," not "a little more."

Loren Muse Smith 10:25 AM  

@Glimmerglass – I had in the margin, “PATINA’s clue – Tuesday??”

LOVE NEST reminded me of the recent “no tell MOTEL.”

@Acme – hand up for “it up” forever before changing it to A LEG. Terrific misdirect that masterfully mucked up my middle!

Thanks, ED, for pointing out those pairs. Cool.

My vote for a Dee Dee would be Dee Dee Jonrowe!

I agree with @options geek – tough but enjoyable Tuesday. Thanks, Kyle.

Salemhill 10:32 AM  

Enigma Variation Nimrod. Sure to move you.

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Liked the theme but some of the fill was wicked. Crossings of the same specialty areas borders on cruel. Classical music doesn't get me as worked up as legal terms.
On the bright side at least it wasn't sports!

afrogran 10:59 AM  

I second Anonymous's comments - very strongly. It's not the speed, but the lack of write-overs that I prize!
I groan when there are too many references to sports figures, teams or rap artists. I don't kvetch about it and hope to remember for next time (generally I don't)!
And when the puzzle skews more towards literary and classical music knowledge, it's my time to groove.
Once I'd found ENIGMA VARIATIONS fairly early on, it was a breeze, 'cept for MOSSO,which was a guess.
But this WAS a more challenging Tuesday.

chefbea 11:08 AM  

Gosh...sooo many comments already.

Found the puzzle a bit hard cuz I didn't know 38 across but then it all fell into place.

My brother on the other hand would have knwon right away. He is an Elgar afficiondo. In fact he belongs to the Elgar society, teaches about him and travel to many places around the world to be involved with concerts.

Loved film about a statue

600 11:15 AM  

@Seth G--My sentiments exactly! And LOL!!

@Anonymous, 9:03: Snarky. If it so offends you, perhaps you shouldn't visit.

Teaching Senior English for several years made AVAUNT a gimme. MOSSO not so much. I enjoy learning from the puzzle, but something tells me MOSSO is not going to stick.

Thank you, Kyle. A good puzzle. Challenging, but what's not to like about that? Off to do the LATimes . . .

Okay, I'm back. This'll be the third time I try to prove I'm not a robot. I'm echoing whoever said, yesterday or the day before, was robot posting really such a problem?

Rookie 11:17 AM  

I am with those who thought that, surely, Elgar at this time of the year had to mean Pomp and Circumstance despite the fact that it would not fit. I thought there had to be a gimmick!

At any rate, what I most want to say now is to thank you, Rex, for this blog. I've been coming here for almost a year and reading your posts and the posts of others is such a wonderful start to my day. I don't think you can imagine the pleasure that you bring into people's lives. This morning I turned on THE ENIGMA VARIATIONS on my IPad as I read these posts. It is a piece of music that I love but that I have not listened to in a while. Reading the comments by the community of friends that you have created here and listening to the music at the same time was such a treat.

I know that doing this blog day after day must seem relentless at times. I just would like you to know how much I appreciate your efforts and how much I have learned and enjoyed as a result of your dedication. Thank you!

archaeoprof 11:33 AM  

@anon 903 and @afrogran: me too. This puzzle was a joy to solve, and I learned some things.

Plus the clue for PATINA made my archaeo-heart go pitter-pat.

I do admire speedsolvers. Like I admire marathoners. But I don't think I want to be one. To each her own.

600 11:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
600 11:39 AM  

Well, I don't want to turn into another ACME stalker--but there's a really interesting interview with her at

The puzzle at LATimes is really good too--four grid spanners. Two excellent puzzles in one day. Fun.

foodie 11:52 AM  

@lymank and classical music nerd, thank you! MOSSO now makes a lot more sense.
I did this puzzle last night and was too tired to look it up but kept thinking that the word itself was not evoking speed the way other tempo descriptors are. Based on knowing French or Latin word origins, one can usually understand the terms for tempo (e.g.lento, allegro) or for changes in tempo (e.g.lentando). I could not figure out why MOSSO would mean livelier. I get now that it means movement and is often modified. But interestingly, since the word movement itself indicates activity, MOSSO seems to be sometimes used alone, as @Martin pointed out, to mean something akin to Più mosso.

All very educational and much appreciated!

r.alphbunker 12:02 PM  

Loved the theme especially because none of the theme answers had to be clued with a ?.

I decided to generate the 720 possible permutations of the letters in "enigma" and see what I could come up with (without worrying about fitting them in the grid)

DELETI[NG EMAI]L {Inbox activity}
I[MAGINE] {Lennon song}
DR[EAMING] {Blondie song}

Not even close.

Have put the list at if anybody wants to try it.

retired_chemist 12:28 PM  

Liked it. Fairly easy. Tried the first Elgar that came to mind for the reveal but POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE didn't fit. Decided to wait for crosses and it didn't take many. Got the theme before the reveal, from 18A and 54A.

Good one, Mr. Dolan. Thanks.

Lewis 12:30 PM  

@rex -- loved your final comment on 51D, made me laugh out loud.

Seemed harder than the average Tuesday, and enjoyable. The theme helped me with a couple of answers, knowing what missing "enigma" letters I needed to put in.

Chunk Style 12:41 PM  

63 down: n with a tilde is not interchangeable with n, it's a whole 'nother letter. Unless on~e ton is a thing. 18 across: I kept trying to make BABYMAMMA work; it didn't.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

L'Histoire du Soldat is a truly important work. It's just not a famous work. Familiarity to the masses is kind of critical in early week answers. It's done by ballet companies. Yes, the NYC Ballet as a production by Mr Martin. They drag it out every decade of so. They've put three, count them, three, productions since it was first created back in the '80's. Not exactly among the top 100 Ballets of all time. It't [sic] done by symphony orchestras. It's not in any standard repetoir, anywhere. It's an anomoly, not an opera, not an orchestral piece, not a dance. It's a curisoity., It was done by Frank Zappa, quoted on albums from 1967 Yeah, Zappa sampled it. and as narrator for a full symphonic performance in 1972. Kurt Vonnegut adapted it.Where? How? PBS showed a cartoon version.

Noam D. Elkies 1:26 PM  

L'histoire and Mozart 40 are absolutely standard repertoire, much more than the Elgar variations. (Mozart 25 isn't bad either, and as it happens the last movement sounds like Mozart's take on Havah Nagilah.) Amidst all the pap-culture drekgs [sic] that the puzzles (and Rex) wallow in these days, it's refreshing to see so much real music in the grid for once. Liked the theme too.


KarenSampsonHudson 1:32 PM  

Good puzzle, but as a musician I must note: "Mosso" is very rarely used.

Bird 1:33 PM  

DNF for MOSSO crossing SOLDAT. Never heard of either and the S was not inferable. For the benefit of the average NYT solver, on a Tuesday, you can’t cross two classical music (or classic lit, classic whatever) clues & answers that only the constructor and a handful of solvers might know the answer to. I’m not asking for gimmes all over the place, but there should have been an easier clue or answer in there. Or put them in different parts of the grid, with helpful cluing and crosses and I learn new words. Mr. Shortz should have sent this back or done some more editing.

I did like 9A.

TROJAN before TRAJAN as I never heard of TRAJAN.

Is Lees supposed to be plural?

NYT Poll 1:37 PM  

Quick survey – How many NYT solvers enjoy ballet or orchestra, or know all of Frank Zappa’s work, or knew that Kurt adapted L'Histoire du SOLDAT or watched it on PBS?

Show me the Venn Diagram.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

stop trying to make neologism a thing

Frank Zappa 1:56 PM  

@NDE - please define "real music"

JenCT 2:04 PM  

Definitely challenging for me, but I enjoyed it.

MOSSO/SOLDAT/GRAVEN were the toughest spots for me, also.

Only got AVAUNT from getting GLUED.

Good workout, but tough for a Tuesday.

Maybe Will is changing days/difficulties from now on? Seems as if the difficulty level has been mixed up as of late.

Cheerio 2:19 PM  

Loved it!!!!

Enigma is a great word and what a way to honor it. Keep em coming Kyle Dolan!

Charlie Daniels 2:26 PM  

Hell, even I knew The Soldier's Story (but not the frency name). Where do y'all think 'The Devil Went Down to Georgia' came from?

Bird 2:28 PM  

@NYT Poll - I read the NYT and work on the puzzles everyday. I never heard of (well, at least I don't remember hearing of) L'Histoire du SOLDAT. From headlines in the Arts section I'm familiar with some ballet performances. I sometimes listen to classical music, but I would lose in a Name That Tune contest. Joe's Garage is a great album by Frank Zappa, but I never knew he sampled anything. Kurt is a great author. PBS - pass.

Noam D. Elkies 3:01 PM  

@"Frank Zappa": for a start, how about music that's actually about music. Most of what passes for music these days - on the airwaves, blaring from loudspeakers, and in the Shortz-era crossword grids - is merely an ephemeral commodity, complete with misspelled brand names, made to be consumed and discarded. That's not all of popular music, to be sure, but a distressingly and increasingly large majority of it. As long as that's what the market values most, it's no wonder that we must look to the past for most of the best music.

John V 3:09 PM  

My third and out: Anonymous 9:03, I totally agree that learning new words is a major attraction of the puzzle. My idea of a perfect puzzle is one that throws up new, interesting words with pretty simple crosses. Kyle overwhelmingly succeeds today, IMHO.

Oh, re: MOSSO, not obscure to me, not by half. Unfair advantage for opera singers? Sure, I'll take it.


Loren Muse Smith 3:19 PM  

@John V - exactly. And you'll appreciate this. . . My son is in from college and has an internship. Last night I was asking about his pay and when I understood, I said, "Oh, OK. So you get paid hebdomadally."

Henry 3:36 PM  

Re Resentment at learning new things:
I love learning new things as well as the next guy, but anyone out there who think's it's their job to teach me new things are cordially invited to go to hell, editors, constructors, authors included. It's why ECO isn't a great author. In most of his work he tries to show how much smarter, more educated he is than I. I don't mind his being smarter and more educated, frankly I don't read anyone I don't think is both. I do mind their working at it -- just be smarter, don't try to show me you're smarter.

MOSSO crossing SOLDAT didn't belong in a Tuesday - way too much specific knowledge in the same field, as mentioned multiple times. Neither is common enough to be inferable.

Unknown 3:38 PM  

I kept trying to put Pomp and Circumstance because of this being Prom season...Then after I got Enigma Variations it got easier...After years of piano, I can't remember seeing MOSSO either.

Never cared for Stravinsky (I know he is a genius blah blah blah) but I had heard of the SOLDAT. AVAUNT was the hardest.

Felt like a Wednesday, I agree with most of you. I liked it.


sanfranman59 3:44 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Tue 10:25, 8:53, 1.17, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:32, 4:36, 1.20, 95%, Challenging

This one is definitely a Challenging Tuesday by my metrics. Judging by the relatively low number of solve times posted on the NYT crossword page, I think there's probably been a disproportionate number of DNFs. As I've said before, this means that the All Solvers rating is probably an underestimate under the assumption that had the DNFs managed to finish the puzzle, they would have posted relatively high solve times.

J 3:51 PM  

The GLOCK book is very interesting. Everything was going great--they could literally do no wrong--until the money and egos took over. Then a lot of the internal people fell apart. But the company still rolls along....

John V 3:53 PM  

@Loren: Funny!

retired_chemist 4:05 PM  

Don't see the trouble with SOLDAT. Common enough French word, and close enough to the English, that the _OLDAT should have been enough without need for detailed knowledge of either French or music.

May you enjoy opuzat repasts at dinnertime.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

@Retired Chemist - _OLDAT could have been anything, any proper noun - The History of The Zoldat, an infamous Tartar clan of the 15th century.

Frank Zappa 4:43 PM  

"Music that is actually about music" . . . what the hell does that mean? Music should be and is art that moves you, sets your emotions on fire or ices them down. It should please your senses. If, what you infer to be crap, makes someone feel something than it must be real to that someone?

Re today's musci is an "ephemeral commodity": maybe in your bubble. I agree there is plenty of garbage out there, but it is not a majority that you claim it to be. And there are some songs that will fade into the sunset, but someone will eventually create a compilation of these "one-hit-wonders" and we will sit and reminisce over a nice bottle of Chianti.


Anonymous 4:52 PM  

Hey Frank Zappa - "Watch out where the huskies go . . ."

Numbers Guy 5:39 PM  

yes, we must look to the past. as rex did with that 30 year old minor threat - and ian could never be called popular - as we tried to knock him down stage diving.

yes, minor threat was sometimes "music about music" - screaming about how stupid popular music is.

there should be more early 80s hardcore punk on fri/sat so that i have a chance. and make it 16 wide so that JODIE FOSTERS ARMY can be used instead of their 3 letter abbrev. or how about a sunday with bands that contain the word dead - and with the word dead removed so that it can be titled the undead.

has to be better than MOSSO/SOLDAT.

chefwen 6:46 PM  

@Rookie 11:17

Here! Here! I concur.

BigSteveSF 7:09 PM  

I'm an Illini. University of Illinois. UIUC.
The chant heard at sporting events, such as they are:
one side of the stadium/arena:
Also, they are referred to as Fighting Illini.
There was a long controversy with the symbol (he's not technically a mascot)
Chief Illiniwek. I'm sure the Internetz has more details.
But Chief was retired a few years ago.
I was good friends with Chief during my undergrad years.
At parties, someone would go into his closet and don the chief apparel and dance around.
You can see dances on youtube. I some them when they were in San Francisco for the Emerald Walnut Bowl. Still brings almost a tear to my eyes.

Noam D. Elkies 7:12 PM  

An example of "music that's *not* actually about music" - start with most any rap, where the only music is a short percussion-heavy loop repeated countless times, and the content is almost entirely in the lyrics. The lyrics might be artistic in all the ways that poetry can be, but rap is about that poetry, not the music.

And yes, of course the vast majority of it (rap, Top 40, whatever) is in fact garbage. Even most of 19th and 18th century music was garbage; but we don't remember that garbage, not even the garbage whose name happens to have a useful vowel pattern or contain an exotic string like CKX.

nebraska doug 7:26 PM  

I've been doing the NYT puzzle about 10 years - I found this one of the hardest Tuesday's ever. Lots of very obscure answers for a Tuesday. I enjoyed it and finished with 2 mistakes where I had to guess.

foodie 8:04 PM  

On a different note (haha) did you know that you can just go to the LA times website and get the daily crossword puzzle? How do these people make money? Ads I guess. Anyhow, it made it easy to do Andrea's puzzle.Great fun!

Two excellent Tuesday puzzles in one day. Life is full of these little gifts.

chefbea 8:36 PM  

@foodie how can I print out the LA times puzzle??? Want to do Andrea's puzzle

Tita 8:39 PM  

I raced through this puzzle, so that I could get to Andrea's gem. I didn't even notice that I DNF...had MooNGIRLS!!

Tried to post earlier from my phone while sitting in the "reading room" in Bryant Park.
A dreary New York morning transformed into a brilliant afternoon!
Loved Andrea's puzzle.
Liked this one, because of 59A KILT. Irish husband told me if I was going to wear a silly dress to our wedding, so was he - so he did...then we moved into our LOVENEST.

Tita 8:42 PM  

S@chefbea...You have to register at Watch your email - I can send it to you.

chefbea 8:51 PM  

@tita thanx. will watch for the link

cygnus 9:23 PM  

@nde @frankzappa i don't want to overstate this, but i see the nyt puzzle as a place where i can assume there is a certain relevance to the culture in a given clue. So, though SOLDAT is outside my purview, I just put it on the list of things to check out if i ever decide to check that sort of thing out. Ditto GHOST KILLAH. "these damn kids today!" can be a real pain in the a(cro)ss, but occasionally they have something to say. Those damn geezers like to run on about nothing, but occasionally they remind us of an eternal truth.

Tita 9:28 PM  

@foodie - do you have a way to get the puzzle from the latimes site in AL format?
THe LA Times interface is so painful as to make me wish they would LET me pay for it...that idiotic advertisement in front of the puzzle every time you go there, and then a truly terrible on-line only interface.
But has it as a puz.

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

My favorite Dee Dee is a Ramone.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

So, so agree with your first point. Ditto unknown stars of ancient TV shows. Loved the puzzle.

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

DeeDee Ramone was a huge drug addict who could barely hold his bass. Drug addicts have no place in "music". Nor do people who dance and/or sing or recite poetry during "music".

Bitte, entschuldigung sie herr Mozart.
und der Konig Presley.
Keine Schwarzmusik!

foodie 11:50 PM  

@Tita, no, sadly, I lived with that terrible interface...

sanfranman59 2:19 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 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 6:32, 6:50, 0.96, 31%, Easy-Medium
Tue 10:35, 8:53, 1.19, 91%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:27, 4:36, 1.19, 93%, Challenging

chefwen 2:20 AM  

Another way to get the L.A. Times crossword is at Daily Crossword - I bookmarked it and download it daily. Works like a charm.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I am playing a lot of chamber music (not like most avid crossword solvers who would not have the time and I have never seen the word "mosso" stand alone. It does not mean rapid in music at all, it means "movement" and it is often used with the combination "piu mosso" or "with movement" but it never means "rapid movement" only a bit of adjustment to the speed. Since I hope to be able to solve at least Tuesday's puzzle, this stumped me for a long time which I considered "unfair". Well, it is a game after all!


Anonymous 12:21 AM  

nice posting.. thanks for sharing..

Unknown 2:38 AM  

nice video

Spacecraft 1:14 PM  

OFL complains about having to know Stravinsky, when the whole keystone to the puzzle is about Edward Elgar (WHO??). Yikes, this is Tuesday! I'm afraid to even open up Friday's paper, at this rate.

I mean, I solved it and all, but needed a lot of cross-help everywhere. Roosevelt ISL? What is that?

Junk fill: not a fan of ONETON, any musical key like "INA" or "GMINOR," or the ubiquitous either half of DIES IRAE. I can't wait for the day when that phrase DIES.

Saw the music sub-theme; how about the legal one? TORTS crossing VOIR and PATENTLAW is good.

This'll be a mixed review.

DMGrandma 2:13 PM  

A bit heavy for Tuesday. Like others, I struggled with the GLUED/AVAUNT area. Avaunt? Sounds like a word, so leave it. In the end I was left with a blank at the second "s" in MOSSO- another new word for me crossing something I'd never heard! Agree that getting ENIGMA helped. Without it I would never have figured out MEANGIRLS because I've never heard of it either. Really need to get out more! Maybe as noted elsewhere, Friday will be easier, unless the puzzlemaster decides to take that as a challenge to show us what hard is!

Solving in Seattle 3:24 PM  

Rex, I'd like to say "Hear, hear!" to what @Rookie (11:17am) said about your blog.

To those of you complaining about a NYT Tuesday XW being too tough, or a "Medium Wednesday" or switched with a Friday I ask "where are the rules that say a Tuesday can't be more challenging than you expect. This one sure was for me and I enjoyed every tough minute solving it.

To Kyle Dolan - what a brilliant theme, executed with elegance. Well done, and I can't wait for your encore.

A favorite non-fiction book of mine is "Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II by Stephen Budiansky." Alan Turing's role in breeaking the German code was amazing.

The cluing for 9A and 49D was great, and the NNE in 71A cute.

@SiS clever post of the day award goes to Evil Doug.

Capcha: ssmerc. Response to asking Steve Miller what his ride is. Or, what Kyle Dolan should be doing on his debut XW.

rain forest 4:04 PM  

I too agree with @Rookie re Rex's blog, even if I often disagree with some of his nitpicking.
The blog is intelligent, amusing, respectful of individuals, and reflects his passion.

This puzzle was a joy, although when I placed the "u" in the glued/avaunt crossing, I didn't know what I was dealing with. "Avaunt" sounds like something that Greta Garbo used to say: "Avaunt to be alone". No matter, it's Shakespeare, so it's great. Very nice puzzle.

Solving in Seattle 4:17 PM  

@Rain Forrest, or it could be Bela Lagosi as Dracula - "Avaunt to bite your neck."

Theodore or Franklin 4:48 PM  

@Spacecraft - it's Roosevelt ISLAND. From Wikipedia - Roosevelt Island, known as Welfare Island from 1921 to 1973 and before that Blackwell's Island, is a narrow island in the East River of New York City. It lies between the island of Manhattan to its west and the borough of Queens to its east. Running from Manhattan's East 46th to East 85th streets, it is about two miles (3 km) long, with a maximum width of 800 feet (240 m), and a total area of 147 acres. The island is part of the Borough of Manhattan (New York County). Together with Mill Rock, Roosevelt Island constitutes Manhattan's Census Tract 238, which has a land area of 0.279 sq mi. and had a population of 9,520 in 2000 according to the US Census. The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation estimated its population was about 12,000 in 2007. Now you know...

Dirigonzo 5:28 PM  

Jeez, after finishing the puzzle (which I did with a lucky guess up there in the northern plains area) and reading all of the comments I feel like I have completed a semester of an advanced music course.

As someone said earlier, learning new things from a puzzle is a good thing, and I learned much from this one!

One clever clue not already mentioned (I think) was 49d, "Grow, as a pupil" for DILATE.

I wonder if DDT would have been banned if the current political mood concerning "regulation" had been prevalent in 1972?

Spacecraft 7:02 PM  

Thanks, @Theo. I didn't know any of the particulars about Roosevelt Island. I still want to know where the abbreviation ISL comes from. Never saw it. I., or occasionally IS., but never ISL. Sheesh, at this point you have it half written out already!

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