MON 7-30-12

Monday, July 30, 2012

Back by popular demand* it's Liz and Jenny.  Our BFF Rex cannot tear himself away from the ping-pong on the TV, so he begged* us to substitute again.  And there's nothing we would rather do than help our bestie out...we're here anytime you need us Rex!  Because, you're our bestest PAL [22A-Buddy]!

Constructor: Rosemarie Dolan and Christopher Geach

Relative difficulty: As easy as beating Michael Phelps in the 400 IM in the London Olympics

Word of the Day: ASTERISK
An asterisk (*; Late Latin: asteriscus, from Greek: ἀστερίσκος, asteriskos, "little star")[1] is a typographical symbol or glyph. It is so called because it resembles a conventional image of a star.  The asterisk is used to call out a footnote, especially when there is only one on the page. Less commonly, multiple asterisks are used to denote different footnotes on a page (i.e., *, **, ***). Typically, an asterisk is positioned after a word or phrase and preceding its accompanying footnote.

Nope...not in the puzzle.  But we didn't know how to add footnotes, so we used asterisks in our almost entirely true introduction.  For example, we actually asked Rex if we could blog again today.  This sounds boring and self-promoting, so, with an asterisk, we changed this to the more colorful version presented above.  Enjoy!

THEME: Batman (oy-too soon!)—Theme answers all relate to Batman. 

We're not a fan of the genre.  We much prefer Archie Comics, especially Betty and Veronica (go team Betty!!).  But we'll take George Clooney as Batman any day.  Does anyone remember when he used to be on "Facts of Life" and "Roseanne"?  Speaking of hot guys, OMG Ryan Lochte.  Not to DIS [46A-Insult, slangily] our hometown boy, Michael Phelps, but, as soon as we laid eyes on this beautiful swimming phenom, we were all..."Michael Phelps who?"  It was LUST [52A] at first sight.  Hey us!! xoxo

While we're on the subject of the Olympics, we wished we had PONIED [5D-Paid (up)] up the dough to [53A-Schlep] LUG ourselves across the pond to go shopping at Harrods, have a spot of tea, attend a RAVE with Pippa and Harry, and maybe take-in some of the Olympics (we hear that the ping-pong is just riveting, right Rex?)

Theme answers:
  • 17A [Alternative name for 42-down] DARK KNIGHT
  • 33A [Alternative name for 42 down] CAPED CRUSADER
  • 58A [Alternative name for 42-down] BRUCE WAYNE
  • 13D [Home of 42-down] GOTHAM
  • 42D [Comics Debut of 1939] BATMAN

As we said, we're not really a fan of Batman.  There is however, a man in a cape that we're a HUGE fan of:

Speaking of Seinfeld, Liz got tripped up on [11D-Protein-rich vegetable soup].  It was just one of those times when you know the answer, but it won't get out of your head.  But, the crosses were easy enough to fill this one in pretty quickly.  And as for LENTIL soup? soup for us!

In the words of Rex Parker, YAY!  We'll be back next Monday!!
Signed, Liz and Jenny, Rex's BFFs.


John V 7:44 AM  

From the tarmac @ LGA. Yep, it's a Monday.

joho 7:55 AM  

Hi, @Liz and @Jen ... so happy to read your upbeat write up this morning as you said it yourself, "oy-too soon."

Yes, a Batman theme is certainly timely what with the release of "The DARK KNIGHT Rises" but it's still way too near the horrific event in Aurora for me to really enjoy the theme.

I think what made it even harder for me to like this was the inclusion of other words in the grid: INAPANIC, MANIA, EVILEYED, SLY, MAD and KENT which reminded me of KENT State. Yikes!

I'm sorry that what really is a pretty easy nicely themed Monday puzzle couldn't be received by me in the innocent sense it was meant just because on a most unfortunate recent event.

Congratulations to Rosemarie and Christopher if this is your debut, not sure, but I haven't noticed your names before. My thoughts are no reflection on your achievement.

joho 7:58 AM  

"of" a most ...

Milford 8:02 AM  

Had a similar initial cringe thinking, "Too soon?".
Very easy, breezy Monday. Only writeovers were for Aware/ALERT and FALLdown/FALLOVER.
DULCET was a lovely word, but I didn't even see it until I was finished.
Just came back from a weekend at Lake Michigan. Did the Sunday puzzle on paper at the beach on and off all day. Haven't done that in a long time. Lovely!

imsdave 8:14 AM  

Why not clue KENT as a related DC comics hero? As Joho noted, that conjured up a disturbing image.

Nicely done Monday, with a very unique grid.

evil doug 8:33 AM  

If "it's too soon", then please advise so I can update my schedule: When will it be okay for me to resume my life? December? Sometime in 2013? The twelfth of never?

I ordered a car that I was to pick up on 9/12/2001. When I showed up, my sales rep was surprised in light of what had happened the day before. I told him: "If I quit living my life, the bad guys win."

Batman didn't slaughter those people. The screening of the movie didn't kill them. It was one gutless punk. And if we decide "it's too soon" every time some horrible event occurs that can be peripherally attached to suck the normalcy from our lives, then we might as well go hide under the covers and quit participating in our world.

Take a moment to remember, to pray, to respect---and then grit your damn teeth, lean into life, and refuse to yield to the assholes.

It's just a frickin' crossword puzzle....


Anonymous 8:36 AM  


Rex Parker 8:38 AM  

This puzzle is about Batman.


Rex Parker 8:39 AM  

PS. Absolutely totally DISAGREE that it's "too soon." Batman didn't kill anyone.


orangeblossomspecial 8:39 AM  

Shouldn't 43A 'Robin's haven' be BATCAVE rather than NEST? It's more in keeping with the theme.

3D "Nothing could be finer than to be in CAROLINA in the morning."

21D "Everybody has the MANIA to do the polka from Pennsylvania."

Unknown 8:45 AM  

Can we put the "too soon" thing to rest? We just wanted to acknowledge the elephant in the room. That's all.
Love you Rexy!

joho 8:46 AM  

Let's agree to disagree then. Of course the puzzle is about Batman but the theme still stirs up some very raw feelings. It might affect some, others not at all. But don't minimize the feelings that some of us might feel, OK? And, if I am the only one, my take is still valid.

Zwhatever 9:04 AM  

Absolutely agree with @Evil about how I respond to the awful behavior by others. Absolutely understand how it is too soon for some. @Rex - sure it is. That doesn't mean it won't have an emotional impact on people.

The puzzle was tough for a Monday for me, mostly because I am physically tired from playing in a tournament this weekend. This led to a couple of writeovers that I wouldn't normally have had, I think - ACTtwo (me - "two's a stretch for 'middle,' but three is too long) and FlipOVER. I also hesitated on CAPED CRUSADER because I thought that referred to Superman.

I realize that the clue structure forces the theme answers to refer to 42D, but I think it is more precise to say that BATMAN, the DARK KNIGHT, and the CAPED CRUSADER are alternative names for BRUCE WAYNE. BRUCE is the ego and BATMAN the alter ego in my book.

This grid structure makes this almost three distinct puzzles, NW, middle diagonal, and SE. When I was new at the NYT this kind of grid always made me struggle.

Anyone know why the time stamo says 12:01 am for the post but it isn't loading until after 7:00?

joho 9:07 AM  

Oh, one more thought: the LAST thing I want to do is take away from the discussion of the puzzle, its pros and cons. I know how easily the conversation can get derailed on a subject other than the puzzle itself. So I agree, the comments today should just be in regards to Batman in the puzzle. Sorry if I let my emotions get the best of me.

3 and out.

chefbea 9:10 AM  

Good to have you back Jenny and Liz. Fun write up!!
And a fun puzzle. I did think of Kent State when I wrote it in.

I of course knew 3 down as I now live between Georgia and Virginia...hi @JohnV.

I'm sure everyone knows now that 41 down has mace in it!!!

And I beg to differ that puns are the lowest form of humor. I know several rexites that agree with me!!

jackj 9:30 AM  

Quite a nice debut for Christopher Geach, who gives his grandmother, Rosemarie Dolan, a “muse” credit for inspiring him to become a constructor.

No doubt the date for the puzzle to appear was set long ago, to tie in to the release of the new Batman movie, but it certainly has lost some of its luster by virtue of the terrible massacre in Aurora, CO.

The five theme entries were spot on and Mr. Geach has some fun by hinting at secondary theme bits like “Robin’s haven” and also the “Big freeze” clue that will remind Batman fans of the evil Mr. Freeze, as played by bad boy Otto Preminger in the Batman TV series. KENT, of course is likely a nod to Batman’s fellow super hero and could the mustachioed, shuffling Mario be a stand-in for the dastardly Penguin?

Non-theme fill was lively with PONIED, EVILEYED and RIGOR being highlights and DULCET adds a “Melodious” touch that may be a bit aggressive for a Monday puzzle but who can resist a chance to roll DULCET over the tongue once more. (Sadly, MANIA for “Craze”, seems an unfortunate foreboding of the tragedy that ensued last week and KENT, as clued, could override the Superman tie-in and be seen as an unintended exclamation point).

But, as a puzzle, it is a good one, so welcome to Christopher Geach and a nod to Ms. Dolan for showing you the way!

Liz and Jenny, back for an encore! Lucky us!!

efrex 9:43 AM  

Children on both sides, take a breath. Nothing too terrible about having a Batman-themed puzzle now, nothing too terrible about feeling a bit of a twinge about it.

Enjoyed the theme, especially since it stuck to the universal Batman themes, and didn't start any "Adam West vs. Michael Keaton" nerd wars.

EVILEYED is perhaps a bit clunky, but that's more than forgiveable with such nice fill as DULCET and POSEIDON.

Oh, and because I have to let my nerd flag fly somewhere: I assume that ORACLE is a bonus answer as well (in the comic books, Batgirl became a computer whiz named Oracle after being paralyzed from the waist down).

Nicely done, Ms. Dolan and Mr. Geach!

Liz Glass 9:46 AM  

The time stamp discrepancy is what happens when Rex lets any old schmo take over his blog ;)

Carola 10:17 AM  
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Carola 10:19 AM  
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Carola 10:33 AM  

MAD as I am about the DARK KNIGHT, I loved the puzzle and filling in CAPED CRUSADER right across the middle. Besides the nod to Robin's NEST, I liked the flight prefix AERO, and, while I guess that BATMAN doesn't really "PERCH" anywhere, the latest film has another of those fab shots of him on top of some impossibly high skyscraper silhouetted against the night. Okay, enough with the ODE!

Also fun to write in PONIED, POSEIDON, DULCET, VAVA and all of CAROLINA.

Liz and Jenny, it's a treat to have you back, and Rosemarie Dolan and Christopher Geach, I'm looking forward to your next one!

Sandy K 10:33 AM  

Hi Liz and Jenny!

Easy- Peasy puzzle about Batman!
Is it too soon? I still twinge from KENT State...

I remember George Clooney from FOL and Roseanne, but he was REALLY HOT on Sisters- where he played Sela Ward's policeman boyfriend, Falconer!! They killed him off so he could star on ER- and the rest is LUST history...

mac 10:39 AM  

Nice puzzle, which felt like an easy Tuesday to me because of the several narrow entryways.

Not really up on the comics, so I needed a lot of crosses, but most terms ended up being familiar after all.

What a nice construction team! Inspiring.

Hi Jen and Liz, nice to see you back. Wonder who's going to do tomorrow, when Rex's puzzle is featured.

r.alphbunker 10:50 AM  

Here is a possible way for the NYT to generate some extra income from its XWP.

A new car or movie or whatever could be advertised with an appropriately themed XWP in the NYT. Would we really care as long as the theme entries were decent and the fill was acceptable?

Sfingi 10:57 AM  

Don't know anything about ol' Batman, but puzzle was easy.

STATS - abbrev.

It must be said that lentil soup must always have ziti - no other pasta, no farfale, radiatore, etc. These rules as to which pasta with which food are written in stone on tablets. I've been told pastas change their taste when you change their shape.

I've been told EVIL EYE cultures arise from populations which lack water. I wonder if the American SW could become one of these.

GLR 10:57 AM  

Welcome back Jen and Liz - nice to see your smiling faces to brighten up a Monday morning. But if Rex keeps this up, he's going to have to trade in "King of Crossworld" for "King of Outsourcing!"

Nice puzzle - only real clunker was EVILEYED.

jberg 11:20 AM  

Nice puzzle, great writeup! For some reason I wrote in BRUCE pAYNE, but my wife quickly set me straight. And I tried MeaN (mathematics) before MAIN.

I should have called the EVEN ITO LUG part of the puzzle the CAROLINAs, with an s - but the answer was clear enough, and I guess the missing S migrated to the end of Santa ANAS, I phrase I've never seen in the plural. Don't people usually say "The Santa ANA was blowing," indicating that there is only one of them? But that's all small stuff, it was a good fun puzzle. Keep it up!

John V 11:27 AM  

From Charlotte: a) Super easy b)nice theme c) it is a Batman puzzle, nothing more, to me.

jae 11:41 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Perfectly fine enjoyable Mon. Never heard of BIS, wanted something like "a due."

GILL I. 11:48 AM  

OK, nice fun puzzle. I think I would have liked it a bit more had the reveal been 15 letters rather than 13.I couldn't come up with anything so maybe I should just shut up.
Really liked seeing GOTHAM in that far right corner looking down to our lefty BATMAN.

syndy 12:03 PM  

@JBERG;no here in LA it has always been the SANTA ANAS (winds not needing to be said)39 across reminded me of the Dressage yesterday the horses were wearing the sweetest little caps!A Better than averaqe monday thanks Chris and nana Rosemary thanks Liz and Jenny

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

It is too soon for the NYT to publish a puzzle with the words DARK KNIGHT, which is a term that has become identified with the Christopher Nolan directed movies. Today is the day when James Holmes is being arraigned. The sheer irony alone should have caused WS to substitute. This is not the day to celebrate Batman. Bad taste and poor judgment. How long is it necessary to respect the families of the victims? Who knows? Personally, I would say one year. Surely there are enough other themes to fill the needs of solvers in the meantime....


Mr. Know It All 12:14 PM  

Those "sweet little caps" the horses were wearing yesterday are actually fly protection, keeping bugs from getting in the horses ears, and keeping them away from their eyes as they perform. Well, that's what they're supposed to be. In actuallity, they're probably hiding cotton balls stuffed in the horse's ears, put there to keep them from spooking at a raucous crowd.

For those that think they're absurd, you may be right, but does that really compare to the absurdity of a sport where one competes in a Tophat and Tails? I would think that if you're to be taken seriously as a sport, and equestrianne events are at the brink of being eliminated from the Olympics, not appearing absurd would be step 1.

What's been shown to date is not really dressage, but eventing dressage, which is to Dressage proper as my doing backflips in my back yard is to Olympic level gymnastics.

Carola 1:30 PM  

 @jberg -
On the singular CAROLINA - I’d thought of the song "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning,", but your comment sent me looking for the history.  I learned that in 1663 King Charles II granted to eight English noblemen a charter for the Province of Carolina (from “Carolus”) for the territory between Virginia and Spanish Florida.  North and South Carolina became separate royal colonies in 1729.  I hadn’t ever made the connection between “Carolina” and “Charles” - despite knowing “Carolingian” in connection with Charlemagne..

Loren Muse Smith 1:34 PM  

Congratulations, Rosemarie and Christopher - great debut! Fun puzzle nicely executed.

I liked the EPA/ALERT and SAGAN/AERO crosses.

VAVA is fun, GNATS bug the bejeezus out of me outside, and I like the word FRET. I'm a world class FRETter.

Nice shout-out to my alma mater at 3D. Go Heels.

Oh, and go USA!!!

quilter1 3:37 PM  

When I saw the theme I, of course, thought of Aurora, but also thought,this was scheduled months ago. KENT brought the twinge, as the constructor had no idea of a connection when making his puzzle.

It is a good one, too, fresh fill and cluing and just right for Monday.

I've never put pasta in my LENTIL soup but I'll try it. Jen and Liz, if you like ham and bean soup you would probably like a good LENTIL soup, too.

Liz Glass 3:42 PM  

Nope...we hate ham and bean soup too. And don't get us started on split pea...

chefbea 3:59 PM  

@Jen and Liz how do you feel about beets?????

Liz Glass 4:22 PM  

We like them pickled, but that's about it.

jae 4:31 PM  

Forgot to add what a delightful surprise it was to find Jen and Liz back for another Mon.!

sanfranman59 4:41 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)

Mon 6:25, 6:49, 0.94, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:41, 1.01, 61%, Medium-Challenging

mitchs 5:22 PM  

Give borscht a shot. Good stuff. Really enjoy your posts!

JenCT 8:38 PM  

Totally disagree on the "too soon" discussion. It's a movie, folks, and it's #1 at the box office right now, so it's a very timely topic.

Fun puzzle; actually only slowed down by CAROLINA, and ACTTWO before ACTIII, as @Z mentioned.

On to Tuesday.

Frank Costanza's lawyer 8:57 PM  

Enjoyed the write up, Jen and Liz. Rex is lucky to have such wonderful BFFs.

Enjoyed the puzzle too.

sanfranman59 10:07 PM  

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 6:28, 6:49, 0.95, 28%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 54%, Medium

shannon 11:10 PM  


Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Ladies ladies ladies. You can do so much better than Ryan Lotche, that too full of himself, it's my turn to win, non winning swimmer. I say Phelps is your guy. Sweet if not a bit nerdy, long and lean and best of all his swimming does his talking. RL can learn some manners from MP. Fun puzzle. Fun blog. :)

Spacecraft 1:08 PM  

OK, just one oldie: Where does the CAPEDCRUSADER relieve himself?

Why, the Batroom, of course!

Enough. I'm foursquare with @evil on this one: You change your life, they win.

Again enough! To the Puzz! Solid theme, and mostly good fresh fill (alas for ACTIII!) This team shows promise.

DMGrandma 1:40 PM  

Out here in Syndieland this was simply a fun puzzle on the most beautiful day we've had this year! A nice start to the week. My only comment would be to agree with @Z who opined that the indicated aliases are really those of Bruce Wayne.

Dirigonzo 5:52 PM  

Weekend puzzle partner stayed long enough to take a stab at this on her own and she eventually cracked it! Her completed grid is neater than anything I have ever produced.

@DMGrandma - "most beautiful day" indeed! This Labor Day was a time to treasure here in the northeast, especially in light of the forecast for the next several days ("rain"). I hope every one took full advantage.

@Spacecraft - I seldom agree with ED, or even acknowldge his presence for that matter, but I'm with you on this point.

Dirigonzo 5:56 PM  

Can't believe I forgot to check the box for follow-up comments again - sorry.

Texas Solver 10:43 PM  

Perfectly said!

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