Nuclear agency established by H.S.T. / MON 1-14-13 / Feng New Age concern / Singer with 7x platinum single Rolling in Deep / Yellowish brown as lion's coat

Monday, January 14, 2013

Constructor: Steve Salmon

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: THE END IS NEAR (56A: Apocalyptic warning ... or a hint to 20-, 33- and 42-Across) — theme answers end in -NEAR

Word of the Day: Feng SHUI (4D: Feng ___ (New Age concern)) —

Feng shui [...] is a Chinese system of geomancy believed to use the laws of both Heaven (Chinese astronomy) and Earth to help one improve life by receiving positive qi. The original designation for the discipline is Kan Yu(simplified Chinese堪舆traditional Chinese堪輿pinyinkānyú; literally: Tao of heaven and earth).
The term feng shui literally translates as "wind-water" in English. This is a cultural shorthand taken from the passage of the now-lost Classic of Burialrecorded in Guo Pu's commentary:
Qi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when encountering water.
Historically, feng shui was widely used to orient buildings—often spiritually significant structures such as tombs, but also dwellings and other structures—in an auspicious manner. Depending on the particular style of feng shui being used, an auspicious site could be determined by reference to local features such as bodies of water, stars, or a compass. Feng shui was suppressed in China during the cultural revolution in the 1960s, but since then has increased in popularity. (wikipedia)
• • •

It's hard to know on a day like today whether my time (average) was a result of the puzzle's being of average difficulty or a result of my typing being horrendous. I felt like half my time was spent typing and retyping entries into the grid because of both typos and my slight unfamiliarity with how the cursor will react in the NYT applet (normally I solve on my desktop, where typos are still a problem, but the cursor's behavior, e.g. whether it will move to the next square or the next *unfilled* square, is more of a known quantity). I don't normally solve against the clock at the NYT site, but I thought I'd try it today. This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of this puzzle, which seems quite average. Cute concept, somewhat boring results. GREG KINNEAR probably took me the longest, because at that point I hadn't seen the revealer yet, and I think virtually everyone in "As Good As It Gets" was Oscar-nominated, so ... I drew a blank. A few crosses later, and I was back in business. Took me a few stabs to finally come up with AT TIMES for some reason (44D: Occasionally), and more seconds than I'd like to admit to come up with DA VINCI (30A: "Mona Lisa" painter), but otherwise not much trouble. Oh, INCENSE (43D: Infuriate) and NO DICE (22D: "Not gonna happen") weren't absolute gimmes. Needed help via crosses with those. Else, very easy. Pretty typical Monday.

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Listening (LENDING AN EAR)
  • 33A: Like the street grid of midtown Manhattan (RECTILINEAR)
  • 42A: Oscar nominee for "As Good As It Gets" (GREG KINNEAR)
  • 40A: Nuclear agency established by H.S.T. (AEC) — Atomic Energy Commission, an agency I'd know nothing about were it not for crosswords. 
  • 41A: Yellowish brown, as a lion's coat (TAWNY) — I really like this word ... except as a woman's name. I don't really like it as a woman's name.
[Has KITAEN been in a puzzle?]
  • 59A: What speeding cars do around turns (CAREEN) — another word for which I have affection. Unlike TAWNY, this word does not double as a woman's name. I don't think. Not with this spelling anyway.
  • 13D: Suffix with shepherd (-ESS) — I love the randomness (and ancientness, and pastoralness) of this clue.
  • 54D: Singer with the 7x platinum single "Rolling in the Deep" (ADELE) — she will be crossword royalty for years to come.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Amulet Careen Mammas 12:14 AM  

Fun and bouncy!

Love when the reveal is a nice unexpected punchline. Saw EAR or NEAR and thought “Well, that repeat shouldn’t be enough”, but then the clever reveal really made me smile!

Sophisticated what with ANTON Bruckner, ASTUTE, DAVINCI.

Not to steal Joho’s clever story ideas…but this really was perfect accompaniment while I watched the Golden Globes…
ABE Lincoln/winner the wildly handsome and eloquent Daniel Day Lewis, ADELE adding her down-to-earth cockney take no prisoners sincerity, ANN(e) Hathaway and lots of TEARs…Helen Hunt representing GREGKINNEAR and Jack Nicholson in “As Good as Gets” (tho they weren’t there).
REESE’S co-star Joaquin from “Walk the Line”, “MAMMA Mia!” star Meryl out with the flu…
Everyone thanking their MGMT… (Even what’s her name the sexy actress from “Modern Family” on all the commercials toasting the CAN instead of the bride and groom)
and finally, poor Lena Dunham who couldn’t manage walking in HEELs as she collected her much deserved accolades. MISSENDing a message to budding feminists everywhere that no matter how bold and fearless you are as a writer, director, actor, producer, in the end it’s about getting all dolled up and potentially breaking an ankle!

And I’d be remiss to ignore the fabulous word WANNABE in the above SCENIC scenario!

And enough non-Hollywood sports stuff: TYCOBB, TED Williams, CLEAT, TDS to keep those watching football instead of the Golden Globes from getting INCENSEd!

jae 12:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 12:18 AM  

Pretty impressive Mon.  Medium-tough for me.  Liked the zippy theme and the smooth grid.  Had a lot of the same problems as Rex including momentarily blanking on DAVINCI and a surplus of typos.

Erasures: MreS for MESS and o sole for MAMMA (misread the clue).

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Now that I am a "seasoned" solver (Saturday average is about 17 minutes), I've started making Monday and Tuesday puzzles more interesting by only looking at the Down clues. Down works better than Across because it makes theme answers more fun to reveal.

This puzzle was fully solvable without any erasures or Across peeks in about 12 minutes, so I'm calling it easy but not the easiest I've seen on Monday. Enjoyed it though.

Unknown 12:41 AM  

cute, ENDow and missEND create symmetry

Danny 12:51 AM  

I actually broke my personal record for time on this one. Quite proud of myself.

Anoa Bob 12:51 AM  

Thought the reveal was great, the theme entries less so.

LENDING AN EAR works, the adding of the gerund of LEND to pump up the letter count notwithstanding.

RECTILINEAR is a treat for this former statistics teacher, but I was surprised to see it in a Monday puzzle.

And GREG KINNEAR was a total whiff for me.

The rest of the puzzle was solid with some good stuff like AMULET and WANNABE here and there, so that, along with the nifty reveal, carried the day. Good job, Mr. Salmon.

chefwen 1:29 AM  

I'm going with medium also. Only had one write-over at 22D NO Deal before NO DICE, but it seemed to take me a lot longer than my usual Zip a dee do dah on a Monday. RECTILINEAR and GREG KINNEAR (both unknown) had to be obtained by their downs. A little dicier Monday, but, I like that.

Rube 1:41 AM  

Most embarrasingly, I misspelled RECTILINEAR. That and Misspelling MAMMA were my only writeovers. Typical Monday.

FYI, I saw this building when last in Hong Kong... an example of what Feng SHUI can dictate.

Carola 2:06 AM  

Very cute. The reveal made me laugh - hadn't seen it coming. At first went off on the wrong track thinking that some sort of anagramming was involved. Lots to like otherwise, too - SWAG, CAREEN, NETTLE, WANNABE...

@acme - Love your Golden Globe commentary! To the sports area can be added ARSENAL (English football) and STANDS.

JackLee 3:08 AM  

Thought this was an "easy" -- at least once I figured out the actor in "As Good As It Gets" wasn't Rory Kinnear.

syndy 3:33 AM  

@ACME I kept hoping she would go ahead and kick them off!BB hall of fame has a lot of nerve to take TY COBB and distain anybody else. Rectiliner=ar scared the bejesus outa me but all's well that ends well!Not too fishy a puzzle.

Anonymous 4:52 AM  

Any puzzle where ARSENAL is included is an A+ from me (go gunners!)

Otherwise a good puzzle with a cute theme. Not a fan of all those ugly partials but what you gonna do?

Qvart 5:09 AM  

Easy breezy, the way a Monday should be. Fun, nice theme, quite a few gimmes but nice long answers too. Had GREGKINNEAR at -REGK-NN---. Don't know much about actors, but I know the name, and what else could it be?

Funny, I only know RECTILINEAR because of Greg Graffin.




Loren Muse Smith 6:06 AM  

Ok. I have to come clean, and @Evan’s confession of not knowing TARTAN gives me the courage.

I finished the puzzle with no problem, but I have never seen the word RECTILINEAR in my whole life. There. Whew. How embarrassing when a theme answer is the WOE??? It gets worse: I read the clue as “Like the street girl of Midtown Manhattan. I went to bed, having looked up RECTILINEAR, having *not* seen the clue correctly, and being beyond baffled. Is this girl were some kind of symbol, icon, phenomenon, that I had never heard of AND HOW COULD A GIRL BE RECTILINEAR!!!??? Was Twiggy the Manhattan Girl?

After further investigation this morning, when the comments shed no new light, I was moving toward a full-blown panic when I mercifully figured out my error.

My one erasure, like @jae, MRES before MESS. Shame on us – the clue wasn’t plural.

@ Mike Ben-Ari – great catch on the bookend ENDS!

Nicely done, Steve. I really like themes like this.

Anonymous 6:29 AM  

I thought for sure this would be an "easy"...I didn't even read half the clues, they just filled in....and, Rex, in your options u can choose to have the cursor skip over filled letters so u can type each word without duplicating letters

OTD 6:40 AM  

Very easy for me--record time. Only hangup was GREG KINNEAR, and that wasn't too long with the crosses.

Loved the theme. Made me laugh, too, when I saw it. Wasn't needed as I solved the puzzle. Nice Monday.

Milford 7:12 AM  

More medium to challenging to me here, lots of write overs for a Monday. MreS before MESS, like @jae, but then TAupe before TAWNY (I will not be watching that Whitesnake video - ew), trEAd before CLEAT. All easy to fix, but still causing some tangles.

And finally the whole SWAG, HALE, GET AT area completely tripped me up. I've never heard of HALE and hearty, and I can think of three definitions of SWAG before pirate's loot, including Stuff We All Get. All getable eventually, but weirdly slowing me up for a Mondsy.

But I loved the clever reveal, made me think of the lady standing near the Kmart with her THE END IS NEAR-type signs around December 21. She's back there again, so I guess there must be a new date set for her.

@Z - (from yesterday) Ah yes, I know that hill in Kalamazoo. My parents ran the Kalamazoo Klassic for years, and I think they had to run that hill twice in the 10K.

Z 7:35 AM  

@LMS - Unfortunately Tita's Hall of Fame (Shame?) is for wrong answers, not misread clues. Otherwise you would definitely be honored there. I don't know if spiked heels are a requirement at the ceremony.

@Syndy - TY COBB's reputation is colored by the suspect reporting of one man. I doubt that he, or many of his contemporaries would be winning any NAACP awards, but the worst stuff you've heard was just made up.

Easy Medium here (9:00 minutes for those of you who want to take it personally - faster than my mile these days). No writeovers but a few sections where I had to work the crosses. SWAG is stuff you get. I had ARSENAL so RECTangular never went in. MISSEND doesn't look like a word to me so I had to be convinced.

I just started winter league in Ann Arbor, a league that has a tradition of team name themes. The adolescent "80's Hair Bands" lost out to the prepubescent "Dinosaurs." Don't we all miss the days when the lead singer's hair was bigger than the lust interest in the video? TAWNY Kitaen would be an awesome name for an ultimate team.

Unknown 8:18 AM  

Just an ok Monday for me. Easy enough. Not crazy about MISSEND. Had an unfortunate introduction with stinging NETTLE last summer, so don't care if I never see that again. Best part about this one was acme's comments...very clever!

jberg 8:50 AM  

Wow, a Monday-morning enigmatic debate about Ty Cobb! No idea what it's about, but it's fun!

So was the puzzle, once I found the revealer and learned the theme was NEAR, not just EAR (hadn't noticed the N somehow!)

@Loren - the people who should be embarrassed are the statistics WANNABEs who like to say "RECTILINEAR" and "curvilinear" when all the mean is "straight" and "curved." I knew the word, but I had RECTangulAR first, before I saw the theme (or ARSENAL).

Tita 8:52 AM  

Automotive sub-theme:
MGS CARREEN around the ESS curve with nary a BRAKE. (Were they ABS brakes?)
I had 2 MGAs back in the 80's - great for meeting guys, since they so often broke down. (I prefer to drift through my turns - so much more controlled, don't you know...)

Loved the reveal - a good laugh on a Sunday night. Thanks Mr. Salmon.

@Susan Mc - I'd take a bushel of nettles opver poison ivy any day - at least you know to stop touching stinging nettles...

@Z - it is definitely NOT a Hall of Shame - some of the answers are better than the "correct" ones - so many of them show real wit and smarts...

As far as Loren's gem, I think that I can bend the rules enough to allow mis-read clues as a criteria for inclusion - after all, they're MY rules, and I'm most certainly NOT a RECTILINEAR gal!

joho 9:07 AM  

At first I thought Steve
Salmon was giving us an EARful. The very clever reveal set me straight. Fun Monday!

@loren muse smith ... me, too, regarding RECTILINEAR although I didn't read the clue wrong! Good to learn a new word.

Amulet Careen Mammas ... isn't it fun when your story just flows from the puzzle? Loved yours!

Tita 9:08 AM  

Epic Wrong Answer Hall of Fame
has been updated!
@loren - you have the most entries!
@everyone else - you can always nominate yourselves - I may not be alert enough to catch all your gems...just make sure they meet the criteria:
1. They answer the clue perfectly
2. They are original
3. They are hilarious (not just funny)
4. Oh yes - they are wrong
5. ...and any other rule that I temporarily institute to allow entry of anything else...

jackj 9:13 AM  

Made me want to holler, “Untheme me, you beast!”

This was a puzzle that stretched beyond reason to develop its theme. LENDINGANEAR and THEENDISNEAR are perfectly fine phrases to include in the puzzle but recruiting RECTILINEAR and GREGKINNEAR as additional theme entries, merely because they end in NEAR, makes for a questionable construction.

Commonality is not always a sufficient reason to justify an appearance in a quality puzzle venue. But, only one vote counts and he published the puzzle.

Despite my displeasure with the theme, there were some interesting words in the fill for a Monday puzzle, especially WANNABE, CAREEN, ASTUTE, TAWNY and ATTIMES.

But adding to the puzzle’s problems, there were a host of unpleasantries; partial answers like ASA and SETA and four faux three letter words, (pluralized two letter jobbies, if you will), that seem cheapish, TD(S), ET(S), AB(S) and MG(S).**

It was nice to have DAVINCI, though he seemed to have stumbled into the wrong puzzle.

**- In the category of complaint is futile, during Will Shortz tenure TDS has appeared in Times puzzles 119 times, ETS-162 times, ABS-95 times and MGS-21 times.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle and lots of food - Reeses, pie Butter, oleo....should I try to write a limerick???

And a shout out to Mac

John V 9:42 AM  

Fun, very Monday, very easy, well under 5. I thought the revealer was pretty obvious, having 20A in hand, but was looking for END embedded in the theme answers; having END at the END of MISSEND (ugh) and imbedded in 20A was kinda ugly, IMHO. But, the grid pretty much filled itself in.

Good puzzle, Steve Salmon.

Goose Gossage 9:58 AM  


You probably missed my late post yesterday (9:13 PM) re: another limerick.

Best wishes!

quilter1 10:22 AM  

Very easy here and I really liked the theme/reveal. I misread clues all the time, even with my glasses but I figure it is like plumbing--if it doesn't fit it is my fault.

Mr. Benson 10:22 AM  

Ironically, part of what slows me down on Mondays is my brain's refusal to accept that the answers are sometimes as obvious as they seem. If there's a seven-letter item clued as "Mona Lisa painter" on a Saturday, and I have the D in place, I tell myself "no way I'm falling for that trap, there must be some kind of avant garde artist I've never heard of who did a modern take on it." On Monday morning I have to retrain my brain to go ahead and accept the obvious answer. And it really does slow me down by a few seconds as I remind myself "go ahead, do it, it's Monday."

Two Ponies 10:33 AM  

Very nice Monday.
Great vocabulary in the fill.
@ Rex, Thanks for the Feng Shui info. I always thought it was Japanese.

lawprof 10:40 AM  

I like to think that I'm one of those who prefer to "savor" a crossword puzzle, and sometimes dismiss speed-solvers as somehow intellectually insecure. (Freud would probably call it speed envy). In my heart of hearts, however, I'd like to be able to proclaim someday that I nailed one in under, say, five minutes with paper and pen. Ain't gonna happen.

I do get out my stopwatch occasionally on a Monday or a Tuesday - just out of curiosity. Today was about as easy as it gets for me. I roared through it without a mistake, literally entering answers as fast as I read the clues. Only one small hesitation at 8D, where ARmory wouldn't fit, but otherwise filled the grid non-stop. Still, my time was 8:04. How do you guys do it!? Guess I'll just have to retreat back into my "savor the experience" rationale.

On another - totally unrelated - note, the clue at 59A dealing with speeding cars and turns elicited CAREEN, which raises one of my pet peeves: one often sees the synonym "career" as in, "The truck careered into the turn." This construction has always struck my ear as wrong. I know that there's an etymological basis for this usage, but seems/sounds like a diction error or, at best, a typo. "Careen" is a much better choice in this context (in my opinion), but perhaps I should be disabused of my prejudice. Anyone?

chefbea 10:51 AM  

@Goose Gossage I did see your limerick this morning. Loved it!!!

Wade 10:54 AM  

2:19. It's there.

S. Freud 11:01 AM  

@lawprof -

The pen is, mightier than the sword.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:06 AM  

Interesting factoid about Lake ERIE, at 23 A, because it is so shallow.

(I.e., nothing to add!)

retired_chemist 11:07 AM  

Typos slowed me down. Unfortunate since the puzzle was inherently easy.

STRAIGHT won't substitute sensibly for RECTLINEAR re the midtown Manhattan street grid. BTW doesn't Broadway contradict the clue anyway?

41A reminded me of the TV commercial where the woman in the paint store asks her husband to get the fuchsia chip and the best he can manage is a "Huh?" I had OCHER (or OCHRE) and TAUPE first without a clue as to whether any of them actually really fit. When I was married in 2007 my wife had me wear a periwinkle tie, about which I had similar confusion. I think she finally just bought one and said "Here. Wear this."

On the hypothesis that someone will name a baby anything, I Googled "Careen Name" and found this. After reading John Train's book, "Remarkable Names of Real People," I was evenmore convinced. Here is a selection from that onomastic masterpiece. It includes Bambina Broccoli, Gaston J. Feeblebunny, Humperdink Fangboner, and the aptly named gynecologist, Dr. Zoltan Ovary. In honor of our constructor I should also add Preserved Fish, Jr., from that collection.

Thanks, Mr. Salmon.

mac 11:15 AM  

That's fast, @Wade!

Nice little Monday puzzle, although I also thought it was about ears. And that after an earful of olives.

Very nice vocabulary, except for missend. Lots of abbr., acronyms and plurals.

@chefbea: and mac just got a Mac!

On to the rectilinear part of Manhattan.

John V 11:23 AM  

@retired_chemist: Small world re: John Train's book. I own an autographed copy, as I knew John in the late 70s. It is a truly hilarious book.

Please share your story on how you got your copy.

Sparky 11:55 AM  

Hand up for thinking EAR the theme at first. Noted NERO and ERIE as sound alikes.

Funny write up @Acme but I missed the show. Glued to Downton Abbey. Zee plot sickens.

One write over kLEAT. I must learn how to spell. Regarding misreads @LMS and @quilter1. Yesterday couldn't keep answers in the right places what with the ctoss references and the fact that 3, 5, 6, and 8 are all starting to look alike. Need new specs.

Carola 12:00 PM  

@lawprof -
My first thought on reading the speeding cars clue was, "Well, it should be CAREEr, but I bet it's going to be CAREEN," a reaction due to vocab work in high school senior English with the world's strictest English teacher, who insisted on careering - not careening - carriages and automobiles. After your post, I thought I should check definitions. For "career," I found "to go at top speed especially in a headlong manner - 'a car careered off the road'," and for "careen" (besides a meaning relating to repairing boats) "to sway from side to side" and "to career." I think Mrs. Smith lost this battle.

Lewis 12:36 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 12:55 PM  


I'm glad that you felt okay admitting you hadn't heard of RECTILINEAR and that my previous comment gave you the confidence to say so. But why should any crossword solver be ashamed if they don't know some word/famous person/place? I hadn't heard of TARTANS, or the author Evelyn WAUGH, or the ELGIN Marbles from last week. So what? Lots of others never heard of THE SITUATION from "Jersey Shore" even though I had, and don't remember information about sports as easily as I do. One person's gimme is another person's obscure Nigerian village.

I say, don't apologize for what you do or don't know. I know what I know, you know what you know. We're all good.

Lewis 1:19 PM  

I had a happy aha at the clever reveal, and I respectfully disagree with you, JackJ, regarding the theme answers. It's just a crossword puzzle, and the theme answers fit the clever reveal, and it's Monday. I'm feeling okay about it today, through and through.

My first answer for 25 down was ANON, which made 41 across TANNY, and I was all set to complain about that answer for the yellow brown clue...

Bird 1:42 PM  

Decent puzzle. Nothing too fancy, but it’s a Monday. I like the theme and the revealer, but there is too much stale fill that diminishes what would have been a very good puzzle.

Only nits are . . .

1) “schedule” in the clue for 69A – I don’t associate time zone settings with “schedule”
2) Is MISSEND a thing?
3) Where’s the abbreviation hint for 51A?

One error at 67A as I initially wrote CACTUS.

acme 3:01 PM  

@JackJ 9:13

JackJ! I couldn't disagree with you more!
I know you sometimes write comments before reading others, so I'm not sure you don't already feel different once you have read others' opinions on today's puzzle.

So I have to re-chime in as I feel SO at odds with what you had to say today and usually feel more in sync! I want to turn your take on today into a more positive one in retrospect!

This is not a personal attack, as you are usually pretty thorough and lucid, but I want to challenge your thoughts today and use your displeasure with this puzzle as a jumping off point for other comments about construction in general (ie themes, two letter words with S and partials)

First off, there really was nothing wrong with this theme! I just think you didn't quite get the reveal.
It wasn't just four phrases, it was three examples + punchline.
The puzzles theme wasn't JUST that NEAR was the last four letters, rather, it played on the solid conceptual phrase "The END is NEAR".
(Esp when we just went thru the whole Dec 21, 2012 thing. Perhaps this was timed for that!)

Steve Salmon cleverly used three different forms of NEAR at the end of words/phrases/names... AN EAR (two words), LINEAR (which breaks the NEAR down into 3 syllables) and KINNEAR,..part of a pop culture name, part of one word, so different from just having the word NEAR.
It's VERY clever and VERY well-constructed and perfect for a Monday/Tuesday.

Normally you can't just repeat a word, but this was a surprising and fun and deceptively simple turn on that idea.
I'll break it down again: AN EAR, IN-E-AR, NNEAR.
The END is N-E-A-R!

Even tho my hand is up here too having never seen RECTILINEAR, it came from the crosses.
Collectively, he had a present day usage of an old Shakespearean phrase "Lend me your ears", a quasi-mathematical coinage, and a movie star...
Parsed in four different ways. THAT is the essence of a nice puzzle!!!

Shakespeare+math+pop culture + Modern catch phrase/reveal!

Boom Boom Boom Punchline!
Reveal makes you go back and reread and appreciate in a new light what came before.

As for the partials... I will be blue in the face explaining that those are the glue and if they fit smoothly into a fill in the blank, so what?
They are NOT first choice, but they are acceptable as to how to get certain four or five letter entries that don't exist as a single word.

Constructors do not want a long partial, (nor a partial as a theme answer, ever), but as a three-five letter entry, why not? You just try to minimize them.

I was shocked to learn only THIS year that the LA Times allows but two per puzzle...
(and as I'm partial to partials, I've had to rework many a submission for WIll to see if I can just get rid of one or two more...) but if they are in there, that probably was the over all smoothest option. And I believe that was the case here.

As for the three letter words disguised as two letters with an S...that is precisely the point!!! We don't get to use TD, but presumably there are many TDS in one game. ABS is more often used in the plural than the singular.
The only one I would "partially" agree with you on is ETS. But I imagine that is a big one for sci-fi buffs and I guess I'd only seen ET in the film context.

(Did you see Tina Fey and Amy Poehler make the otherwise dignified Daniel Day Lewis do the ET Finger?!!!!)

I totally welcome two letter words as plurals so they can join the party/grid. Save your distaste for the forced plurals (UMAS) but even then, it shouldn't barely merit more than a raised eyebrow.

The fact that the ones you cite have been collectively used over 300 times, should help reinforce the idea that they are part and "parcel" of an integral essence of puzzle making!
Not saying you have to fully embrace, but don't dismiss twos-disguised-as-threes so readily! It's the only way they get to come out and play!

NOW do you like it any better? :)

retired_chemist 3:38 PM  

@ John V - I stole it from my dentist's waiting room. How's that for a story!

Actually I asked to borrow it and somehow I never got around to returning it....

jackj 4:44 PM  


My dislike began when the constructor shifted from clever phrases to the actor’s name and the dagger to the heart entry, the dreaded RECTILINEAR. Had he worked to include other phrases in lieu of those two, I would have been his most ardent supporter. (By the way, the NEAR in RECTILINEAR is not pronounced like the NEAR in THEENDISNEAR. Not the reason for my rant but worth noting that not all “NEAR(S)” are “NEAR”).

The gripes about the faux threes and the partials were not as heartfelt but they cemented my view that the puzzle was filled with too little effort, the reveal being the heart and soul of the puzzle with nothing else seeming to be of particular importance.

I can appreciate the views of others and, as always, reading the comments after I posted, I’m obviously in the minority. Not the first time and I certainly don’t expect it will be the last.

In any event, I appreciate your comments and fully respect your contrary point-of- view. I don’t especially like it any better but you made a very credible case. Thank you for taking the time in trying to educate this stubborn critter.

(I don’t like to criticize without alternative solutions and it may be that there are no other phrases ending in NEAR. If so I would have considered breaking the rules by including only the LENDINGANEAR phrase in the puzzle, with a single cross reference to it. Would it be a fatal blow presenting it as a semi-themeless or is that too nonsensical?)

Mel Brooks 4:59 PM  

ENGINEER sounds like THE END IS NEAR, but is spelled different and shorter.

From Blazing Saddles -
[Gabby Johnson sees the sheriff riding into town]
Gabby Johnson: Hey! The sheriff's a n[Clock bell chimes]
Harriet Johnson: What did he say?
Dr. Sam Johnson: He said the sheriff's near.
Gabby Johnson: No, gone blame it dang blammit! The sheriff is a nig[Clock bell chimes again]

sanfranman59 6:04 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Mon 5:58, 6:12, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:40, 3:40, 1.00, 45%, Medium

Flat Adverbs 7:21 PM  

Dear 'Different': You're not one of us.

mac 8:50 PM  

Another day when my post just disappeared.... It was right after Wade.
Tired and giving up.

sanfranman59 10:01 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:58, 6:12, 0.96, 30%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:39, 0.98, 34%, Easy-Medium

Spacecraft 12:14 PM  

Monday-easy, pretty clean fill; with 20 3-letter entries there's bound to be a rough edge or two, but really not too bad. Theme was OK, execution good. Grading, I'd give it, as Phil Connors said on his "second" Groundhog Day about his chances of staying, "80%...75-80."

My take on the CAREEN-career thing: I guess the two words are pretty much interchangeable--but what about the clue? The word CAR appears in it. Violation? Compare yesterday's Observer puzzle, where "Huck Finn's craft" is the clue for RAFT. Something wrong there. I feel that yellow flag sliding out of my back pocket...

Back to totally illegible captchas again. Fifth try...eighth try! Bingo!

DMGrandma 2:20 PM  

A smooth Monday. Only unknown was GREGKINNEAR even though I've enjoyed the movie more than once. Still don't know if he was an actor, director, or ?? Still, the name filled itself. I'm always surprised when coming here to see discussions about clues/words I never even saw doing the puzzle. But when I look, there they are.

Dirigonzo 3:30 PM  

PP and I read every clue even if the crosses have already produced the answer - I figure that if the constructor and Will went to the trouble of writing them, we should at least read them; for us, it adds to the enjoyment of the puzzle.

There was no confusion here about CAREEN because I have never heard of CAREEr being used in that sense, so the comments educated me on that usage. This is why I love the blog as much as the puzzle. I recently started doning some puzzles from on of Will's books of puzzles and I after I complete a puzzle I have to google to read what rexworld had to say about it before I feel "complete". (I should probably seek help.)

eastsacgirl 4:59 PM  


Anyway, was an easy, breezy puzzle. Finished in about 8 minutes. Typical Monday.

Spacecraft 7:54 PM  

@DMG: Kinnear was the gay neighbor with the dog. Hell of an (Oscar-nominated) acting job.

Also I should amend my first blog to read "...chances of leaving--" not staying.

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