Rag Mop hitmakers 1950 / MON 5-13-13 / QB Steve who won Payton Award / 1986 Tom Cruise/Val Kilmer action film / Metal-joining technique / Small Indian drum

Monday, May 13, 2013

Constructor: Allan E. Parrish

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: MEAS. — four theme answers start with words made from letters M, E, A, and S

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Chicago Cubs spring training site (MESA, ARIZONA)
  • 26A: "Rag Mop" hitmakers, 1950 (AMES BROTHERS) — "hitmakers," HA ha. Whatever you say.
  • 48A: You've heard it many times before (SAME OLD STORY)
  • 56A: Metal-joining technique (SEAM WELDING)

Word of the Day: Steve MCNAIR (9D: QB Steve who won a Payton Award) —
Stephen LaTreal McNair (February 14, 1973 – July 4, 2009), nicknamed Air McNair, was an American football quarterback who spent the majority of his National Football League (NFL) career with the Tennessee Titans
[...] McNair led the Titans to the playoffs four times, and the Ravens once, and played in Super Bowl XXXIV with the Titans. He is the Titans' all-time leading passer. McNair was selected to the Pro Bowl three times, was All-Pro and Co-MVP in 2003, all as a Titan. // On July 4, 2009, McNair was fatally shot by his mistress, Sahel Kazemi, in a murder–suicide. (wikipedia)
• • •

What the hell is a "Payton Award"? Dude was a 3-time Pro-Bowler and you go with "who won a Payton Award"??? Is that some award named for Walter Payton? (A: yes) OK, because I know *you* don't know, here you go: "The Walter Payton Award is awarded annually to the most outstanding offensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) of college football as chosen by a nationwide panel of media and college sports information directors. The honor was first given in 1987 to the outstanding player in the division, but in 1995, eligibility was restricted to offensive players, as the Buck Buchanan Award for defensive players was inaugurated" (wikipedia). This is an odd accomplishment to put in a Monday clue. Also, it's Monday, and you don't even say what *team* the guy played for? He remains the leading passer in Titans' history. What the hell? In short, that clue is an Absurdity. Why am I talking so much about this clue? Well, a. it is terrible, as I say, but b. there's not a lot else to talk about. It's a remedial theme type with a grid filled mostly with tired, predictable stuff. Heavy on the crosswordese. A six-letter prefix related to intestines (and at least three prefixes overall). None of this is really doing it for me today. The long non-theme Acrosses are confusing, as they have roughly the equivalent length of the themers, but aren't. Inelegant, and slightly confusing if you're trying to figure out the theme (which is not the kind of theme you notice 'til you're done). Only noteworthy moment of the entire solve was when I utterly blanked on the capital of New Jersey—even with many crosses in place. Pathetic. Oh, and I went with TABOR over TABLA at 51D: Small Indian drum.

Hoping for better stuff tomorrow. See you then.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:06 AM  

Medium for me.  Had Spot for SEAM ( a WOE), not sure I've ever heard of/seen ENTERO, MCNAIR only vaguely rings a bell (there is a Payton Award?--oops, never mind Rex got it) am sure I've never heard of FARRAR, but it's Mon. so it all fell into place in average time.

Got to agree with Rex, this was a bit meh.   TONTO is the only thing that jumps out at me, perhaps a plug for the upcoming Johnny Depp movie?

Bookdeb 12:21 AM  

Hand up for confused by long non-theme entries. I tried to think of words that could precede or follow any combination of ROTTEN, EGGS, MESA, ARIZONA, etc... Even wondered what any of them had to do with TRENTON.
Totally missed the MEAS anagrams but may have caught them if the other answers weren't so long and occupying theme real estate.

Elaine2 12:27 AM  

Agree about "meh" for today. No theme revealer! I finally noticed the "theme" well after I finished.

Easy, but not so exciting...

Kristin 12:27 AM  

Never GOT the theme! I got an error message, then found I had SEAR for SEAM thinking RHOS not MHOS for the down word!

Jimmy 12:40 AM  

I disagree with Rex completely. I appreciate the fact that the clue is more than just "Actor Alda".

But this puzzle was garbage. Absolute trash.

You could grab a CRUCIVERB word list by itself, and build a better puzzle in 5 seconds. Just trash.

For some reason, Will Shortz must think that beginner crossword solvers know what ALIA, ASTI, ELOI, ENTERO, EZIO, HESSE, IROC, MHOS, OONA, OSTE, PCB, RAHM, SCOW and TABLA was. After print copies of newspapers vanish from the face of the Earth, I wonder just how long this crossword will continue to survive. TBH, if it wasn't the best-paying publication, it likely would have died years ago.

Anyways, I seriously doubt more than 20% of people who don't do crosswords more than 5 times a year would know any of the 14 above entries. Isn't it nice to know that more than 1/6 of the puzzle is full of crap? Don't forget about the slightly crosswordy list, including entries like AMBIT, ELBA, FARRAR (Why not the crossword maven?), ISBN, LOCKE, MCNAIR, MICAH, MSG, OPIE, TONTO. Oh and everyone's favourite prefix MULTI and crossword stalwart OREOS.

Redesigned better corners in about half a minute. OONA/IROC/SCOW went to ESAU and NEIL. Just lazy.

But of course, if Will will accept BS puzzles like this, what's the incentive to improve mine?

Jimmy 12:44 AM  

No offense to Allan; this is more of simply constructors providing for the market; constructors certainly aren't at fault.

Anonymous 1:50 AM  

Jimmy said...

"But this puzzle was garbage. Absolute trash."

"... BS puzzles like this..."

"No offense to Allan"

Of course not. Nothing remotely offensive.


Apex Caged Micah 2:30 AM  

Way too hard for a Monday...

Agree with the list above of words that would be unknown or too crosswordese-y for a semi-beginner, but the tone of commenter not warranted.
People have to desist from calling other people's work/art trash.

Sort of a Tuesday theme...
I liked how wildly different the words were when anagrammed...a city, a last name, a thing, an adjective...
But SEAMWELDING does not exciting phrase make.
AMESBROTHERS over a half century ago, so not completely sure what prompted the theme, except I personally love anagrams.

(Think I mentioned last week went to my first baseball game and spent the better part of the game anagramming the PADRES into SPARED, SPREAD, SPADER, RASPED, PARSED, DRAPES... was going to make a puzzle about this, but sort of discouraged considering how casually nasty many are these days.

On a semi-constructive note, BEAUTYSHOP/ROTTENEGGS reinforces what I've always said about long nontheme entries. Confusing at best.

MCNAIR will be unknown to 70% of folks, my guess...and sort of a riled up little corner up there with IRE/CAGED/ANGRY.

AMBIT was once snuck into one of my puzzles (original entry was ORBIT) and I never recovered.

My dad was a surgeon whose specialty was ulcers and gastro-ENTEROlogy, so it was nice to remember him briefly on Mother's Day. But even that was weird to see in a Monday puzzle.

Benko 2:35 AM  

I agree with Jimmy that there were a lot of words a beginning solver couldn't possibly know, unless they happen to be in that person's wheelhouse. Definitely not right for a Monday. Specifically, FARRAR, IROC, EZIO, MHOS.
I had no idea who the AMESBROTHERS were, and I like old music.
I was thinking about how it was too difficult for a Monday while I was solving it. Tuesday, maybe.

chefwen 2:39 AM  

Didn't look for a theme, didn't care about a theme, just did it. Agreed with our leader with easy/medium rating. Took some thought, but not too much. 51D TABLA, I know I've seen it before in puzzles, but it was just not coming to me, crossed with LOCKE was my sticking point. I can never remember if AUSTEN is with an IN or ON, guessed incorrectly which rendered me a DNF on Monday. Horrors. Better luck tomorrow.

Maybe I'm missing something 3:08 AM  

@Jimmy said...

"I disagree with Rex completely. I appreciate the fact that the clue is more than just "Actor Alda"."

Is it just me or WTF is Jimmy talking about?

Unknown 4:05 AM  

Eight minutes using just the down clues. Nothing to love about this one, but I didn't abhor it. Had to guess between FARRAR/ALIA and FeRRAR/eLIA.

W.r.t. the downs, only AMBIT, MHOS, and maybe IROC seem unfair. The first two are completely gettable from crosses, but IROC/OOMA could be tough. I feel like the IROC-Z is pretty famous, though.

Unknown 4:07 AM  

Oh, and EZIO but it is also very easy given the crosses.

Maybe I'm missing something 4:32 AM  

@Keith H -- If you had OOMA you had a DNF.

buying rs gold 5:05 AM  

I believe the fact with Jimmy that there were a lot of terms a starting solver couldn't probably know, unless they are actually in that individuals wheelhouse. Definitely not right for a Thursday. rs for gold

Unknown 5:14 AM  


You're right - that was a typo here and not in my grid. I solve on my iPhone so it tells me if I got something wrong :)

Jack Lee 6:20 AM  

Actually flew through this one and spotted the theme too, though I misspelled SCOW as SKOW. As for whether it's too difficult for a Monday, I'll see how my mom gets on with it!

Z 6:55 AM  

10 minutes here, mostly due to the AMES BROTHERS. I actually had to solve that area a little, rather than just filling it in. Only write-over of the day was oHmS before MHOS. 10 on a Monday puts this in challenging range for me. I also had to wait on the R in FARRAR, thought it migh be an H, and the R in BOOR. I really preferred the B but didn't think ENTEbO would work.

I also totally blanked for about five heart beats on ROMNEY. The guy is from the mitten and already I've forgotten him. Ah, the fleeting fame of losing presidential candidates.

At 18A I wondered to myself on how one might clue ROTTEN Eels.

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

you guys are getting to sound like the sergio garcia of crosswords. lighten up, stop complaining....enjoy

OTD 7:10 AM  

I use the morning x-word to get my brain going. This one didn't do that. Need to find some other puzzle somewhere in my many puzzle books to do that.

Very tired fill--Ho-hum.

Loren Muse Smith 7:22 AM  

So I glance at the grid after I printed it and thought, “Wow. Six theme entries, and he’s EFFECTUATing some major stacking of them!”

I’m with @Kristin et ALIA – I totally did not see the theme because
1. ROTTEN EGGS and BEAUTY SHOP are 10’s and horizontal.
2. “Rhos” for MHOS.

A revealer would definitely have helped me, but there really isn’t a good one. SAME DIFFERENCE is the only thing I can come up with, but I I hate trying to be a Monday morning MCNAIR. (Anyone else have McNabb first?)

Given that Saturday’s had a theme, I really finally decided last night that Will is mixing it up now and allowing themeless weekday puzzles. Ok – so I have to ask because I think I’m missing something here. Why MEAS?

I log on to my email this morning and TRENTON is the lead story. Horrible.

TABLA crossing LOCKE? That’s too close to “tabula” to be serendipity. Seriously. Also - ROAR/ZOO, MUCH/MULTI, CRANE right above EGGS, the image of an OBESE BOOR, TOME over ISBN. . .all nice touches.

Yesterday’s RITTS, today’s RITZ. Flirting with a bleedover here.

@Ellen S, Bob K, and Carola – to continue the Song Lyric Pedantry from yesterday, I offer you this beaut from The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go”

This indecision’s bugging me
If you don't want me, set me free
Exactly whom I'm supposed to be
Don't you know which clothes even fit me?
Come on and let me know
Should I cool it or should I blow?

Thanks, Allan- crunchy for a Monday, which I always welcome.

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

Pretty hard for a Monday, and that's a good thing.

Carola 7:25 AM  

Found it on the hard side for a Monday, even though I spotted the theme after MESA and AMES and then wrote SAME OLD thing right in, which I had to correct to STuff and then STORY. Couldn't guess the SEAM entry.

The old-time AMES BROTHERS fit, for me, with the phrases ROTTEN EGG and BEAUTY SHOP. Liked that.

Also liked ROAR crossing ZOO. The neighboring PONY might be in the petting ZOO. Cringed a little at the CRANE atop ROTTEN EGGS.

Carola 7:27 AM  

@loren - Jinx on the CRANE EGGS :)

Kim 7:48 AM  

MHO? Really? Sucks. IMHO.

Mitzie 7:57 AM  

Feeling pretty resentful today, for two reasons.

1) This guy has published 36 puzzles in the Times. 3-6! How does anyone but a beginner get a pass with this puzzle? How does that make other lesser-known constructors feel?

So, I'm resenting that this one was published because it feels like a case of some sort of favoritism from the editor. I feel like I've seen this before. A kind of crummy puzzle gets a pass because it's been constructed by one of the editor's (or someone's?) favorites. Wait, there's another word for that -- Maleskaism.

2. I'm resenting Rex's writeup for largely the same reason -- favoritism. I just feel like, lately, the cool kids are getting a pass from Rex for their own crap, but there's no holding back when it comes to the nerds and dorks (sorry, Allen -- I don't even know you, just carrying the metaphor through). You put a name like Madison, Gaffney, or (as on Saturday) Ginsberg on this puzzle, and the tone of the writeup changes, in my opinion. Not saying Ginsberg's puzzle wasn't fine, but the crap (like the three "___to" phrases, or the completely contrived WINDY DAY) didn't even get mentioned.


Have I contradicted myself? Yeah, so what?

dk 8:16 AM  

I liked MHO and TONTO.

And, yes there is a difference between SEAM and spot welding but this AM I did not care about that or the non-theme of this puzzle.

The fill is ok for a Monday. My only quibble is the last one in the pool is a monkey's uncle. ROTTENEGGS are the last ones out of the pool.

Finally I agree (as always) with Andrea -- thrashing someone else's work is small beer.

Rex gets a pass as we pay him millions to do his blog and expect a balance of constructive commentary and trash talk. Plus he has produced puzzle winners and turkeys under the theme of moony where one's mouth is.

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) Missing EERO for a x-word love fest)

dk 8:17 AM  

or money

joho 8:26 AM  

ROTTENEGGS was my favorite theme entry until it wasn't.

I do love anagrams, though, so I enjoyed this pretty much, even if the actual theme answers don't exactly sparkle.

Anonymous 8:27 AM  

FearlessKim here: I had never heard of the Ames Brothers until this morning, but what a find! My favorite version of "Route 66" is Mel Torme's live version at the Maisonette, and he samples "Rag Mop" with the help of the entire band before an extended and spectacular scat referencing just about everything. A tour de force. I tried to find a video for you online, without success, but if you love jazz, or Mel Torme, or Rag Mop ;-) go find it.

So, fellow Rexites, the moral of the story for me today is that even a puzzle that just goes by without incident can put a smile on your face the rest of the day. Enjoy!

jackj 8:29 AM  

Today’s Allan Parrish puzzle is a “Hooker”.

No, not a loose lady of the night but an early week NY Times themed crossword puzzle that has no reveal, so named by the folks at Amy’s Crossword Fiend blog in honor of the estimable constructor Henry Hook, who had often complained about the need for such reveals.

So, AMES, SAME, SEAM and MESA, all y’all constitute the “Hooker”. (Could an EAMS be included as a certain chair without the ottoman?)

But the more interesting question concerning today’s puzzle is how much of the fill should be within the AMBIT of the early week solver?

Should we reasonably expect Monday solvers to know these answers?


Quite a solve in store for a lot of unsuspecting participants.

JenCT 8:33 AM  

@loren: Same here for MCNAbb before MCNAIR - what was I thinking??

Did the puzzle using the Down clues - just found it easier that way.

Once again, couldn't see the theme until I cam here.

Some of the criticism here is way too harsh...

Off to supervise the hatching of 4 more chicks (hopefully)...

Unknown 8:34 AM  

@Mitzie nailed it.

mac 8:37 AM  

Rahm two days in a row, and didn't we also see nasal and oreo yesterday?

Easy puzzle for old hands, tough Monday for beginners. Those Rotten Eggs also made me wonder, but I got the theme after Mesa and Ames, so no problem there. I blanked on Jane's last name for a moment, but nothing a good stare couldn't unlock.

Imfromjersey 9:03 AM  

Never figured out the theme, ended up with a DNF when I had RHOS and SEAR WELDING, I've never heard of SEAM Welding either. SPOT and ARC welding, yes, SEAM, no.

Notsofast 9:13 AM  

A lot of tired fill. At 48 across, I had SAMEOLSAMEOL, and was loving it. When it turned out to be SAMEOLDSTORY, I was not loving it.

Rex Parker 9:13 AM  

Anyone who thinks I'm biased in favor of Matt Ginsberg has never read my reviews of Matt Ginsberg's work before. Just ask Matt Ginsberg. Seriously, ask him. Ask Him.

The stupidest type of feedback I get on a regular basis is extrapolation from a single write-up. Q: "Why do you always...?" A: I don't.

Matt Gaffney hasn't written for the NYT in forever. For good reason.

I'm all for spirited debate, but facts are nice.


jberg 9:17 AM  

Forget the puzzle! Did anyone else notice that at 5:05 AM we appear to have a robot who not only evaded teh captcha, but is actually commenting on the puzzle? That's really scary - next they'll be constructing (or does that happen alredy)?

But don't forget it. This one does have one redeeming feature: 10D, IRW, is clued correctly as a noun. And there's a nice misdirect with Rag Mop, which I bet most of us thought was Ragg Mopp, to match the lyrics. I actually thought it was a mistake, but no.

On the otherhand, after the clue for 14A turned out, BOORishly, to lead to APEX, I knew we were in trouble.

Writeovers: shoGUN before TOP GUN (not much of a moviegoer here), and thus olive before PEACH; ScAM before SHAM; and, of course, Acme before APEX.

Concluding thought: the Otts ought to have twin daughters and name them UMA and OONA.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Agree with everyone..too hard for a monday. I finished but did not get the theme.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

A little tricky for a Monday, I liked the puzzle and the theme for a change.

Mitzie 9:45 AM  


Maybe you're right, and maybe my choice of names was a little off, but the spirit of my complaint remains. Like it or not, you DO show bias in favor of certain constructors, and sometimes it shows.

I should take this time to let you know how much I appreciate the work that you do and that this blog exists at all. But I think I'm at least a little bit right about this.

John V 9:49 AM  

Easy here. Hand up for finding the two non-theme 10s abutting the theme 11s confusing. Otherwise, okay for a Monday.

Eric 9:55 AM  

Zippy Monday. SAME OLD STORY.

But jeez, someone sure did wake up on the wrong side of the bed today.

I'm confused by all the IRE on the board here, and by Rex. Why is everyone so ANGRY? Did you have such HIGH expectations for a Monday? Seems TO ME all you BOORish folks need to calm down and GNAW on some OREOS.

This is your blog and you're free to write whatever you want, but the cluing on 9D wasn't terrible, Rex. It was forgettable at worst. To dedicate 80% of an already truncated post to it and only halfheartedly explain your frustration didn't make me feel as though you hated that particular clue, but rather, it felt as though you're upset and are projecting your anger onto something innocent (I minored in Psych, can you tell?). Or, you're just being a pompous dick.

Need to talk? I'm a good listener.

GILL I. 10:08 AM  

I think most of us do have favorite contructors and when they produce a stinker, you feel let down. Allan Parrish has been around for a while so I think he knows what will fly on a Monday. This one didn't.
I also wondered why toss in the 10 ROTTEN EGGS and BEAUTY PARLOR?
This just felt like he put it together in his spare time.
Oh, I did like TONTO BOOR

Milford 10:19 AM  

Agree with much of the above: slow time for a Monday, confused by the extra theme answers that weren't (ROTTEN EGGS, BEAUTY SHOP), the complete blank on FARRAH. AMBIT, and AMES BROTHERS, and for not seeing the theme until I was finished and went looking for it.

Like @Z, my BOOR was a BOOb at first. And I had Spot WELDING, too.

I know people mean well when they say a Monday puzzle should be easy for a newbie, but newbies should be given more credit. If someone is choosing to do the NYTimes puzzles, they are probably looking for the challenge that the other puzzles aren't giving them. I know that's why I did them at first. I'd like to think new solvers wouldn't get discouraged so quickly.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

I follow you.


Felt obnoxiously hard for a Monday, but not in a challenging way, just lots of vowel crossings that could have gone several ways.

Those damned AMOS BROTHERS kept me from finishing for the longest time!

Two Ponies 10:42 AM  

Puzzles like this cause my mind to wander. Today Tonto reminded me that Ed Ames played an Indian sidekick as well. I think he was Mingo to Davey Crockett.

I'll be curious to see @sanfranman's stats today. Regular solvers will slap in the fill today without blinking but who else would know this tuff?

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

Make that stuff.

quilter1 10:52 AM  

Last one out is a ROTTEN EGG, but otherwise puzzle was OK. Easy and kind of uninteresting, but OK. On to BEQ--usually interesting.

Jimmy 10:54 AM  

I don't blame the constructors when their puzzles are full of lots of crosswordese. I only blame crossword editors.

Pete 10:55 AM  

God save us from amateur psychologist.

The clue for 9D was awful. I could tell you off the top of my head that McNair went to Alcorn State, recite the last 15 Heisman Trophy winners, yet have never heard of the Peyton Award. As McNair filled itself in I thought no, that can't be right, if there is a Peyton award it has be for a running back. Sweetness was the greatest running back in history, and they give an award to a quarterback? Why not clue it as "Greatest Titan"? No one will get it, but no one's ever heard of the Payton Award either. BTY, it's the Walter Payton Award, not the Payton Award.

Rex seems to have given up on enumerating the awful fill in early week puzzles. And excoriating tired, lame themes, say anagrams of SAME. They pass Will's test for Mondays, so why beat your head against the wall? Translating this into favoritism is bullshit.

pmdm 11:10 AM  

Many people who never do the Times crosswords are under the impression that every puzzle is incredibly difficult. I then advise them that the puzzles start off very easy on Monday and progress to very difficult on Saturday (with Sunday's level approximately that of Thursday's) and then tell them that they could finish a Monday puzzle with no problem at all. Today's puzzle is definitely the exception to that rule. It has a mix of crosswordese that beginners would probably not be familiar with and a mix of proper nouns some of which would strump most beginners,

I did not particularly enjoy today's puzzle. And I certainly never mind MS or other commentators stating that they detest a particular puzzle whether I agree or mot. After all, how one feels about something, for whatever reason, is a fact, plain and simple, be it a reaction to a puzzle in general or a clue in particular. But to go on and declare that a puzzle is trash or a clue is absurd is just not appropriate. Just because most people don't like the music of Brahms doesn't make the music trash. Just because someone might not like the music of the Rolling Stones has no bearing on the worth of the band's music. The same reasoning applies to crossword puzzles and clues.

This topic rears its ugly head fairly frequently in this forum. There is absolutely no problem with expressing one's feelings - that is exactly one of the points of this blog. If MS hates a puzzle, it is appropriate to state as much and explain why. But value judgments tend to cross the line, and too often for my taste instead of expressions of feelings about and reactions to puzzles or clues morph into actually classifying a puzzle or clue based upon one's own personal opinion. Two often it reads like one is pontificating. [I hope this comment doesn't read like I'm pontificating.]

Will Shortz posted a comment last Wednesday which made an important point: the Times publishes a mix of puzzles. No one is going to like the puzzles all the times (and no one is going to dislike the puzzles all the time). So you can say you hated and detested and abhorred a puzzle, that it felt like trash to you. But more than likely, some others loved it. So we should avoid calling the puzzle trash or garbage. That's very insulting to those who liked the puzzle, being told that they enjoy trash or garbage. There's a big difference between revealing one's emotions and implying one's value judgments are facts.

I hope this comment doesn't seem to be aiming harsh criticism at anyone. It just seems to me that at times some of the posts say some things in a way that seems to me as more judgmental than expressive of feelings. And reading some of the reactions people post to the judgments, I think many would be more happy for some of the posts to be less judgmental and more expressive. I might be wrong, and it's hardly the world's more important problem, but how one says something is as important as what one says.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

"Very easy" on Monday?

You've gotta be kidding me.

I can solve PennyPress crosswords, I can solve Newsday crosswords, but I sure as hell can't solve a NYT. I don't do OONAs.

Eric 11:34 AM  

With all the boring stuff going on in the world, it's nice that normal, educated like us people can gather here and get heated over real issues.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:50 AM  

Listen ... if you're going to have to use MCNAIR (a fine entry, IMHO) on a Monday, please use the clue {Steve who was the NFL Co-MVP in 2003}.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:55 AM  

Had me fooled: I spent the first three quarters of the puzzle looking for the theme (I even considered spelling out something with double letters, as in roTTeneGGs, mesAArizona, bOOr and zOO), so that by the time I got to SEAM WELDING, I took that to be a reveal, but one which I considered incredibly weak. It never occurred to me that there was no reveal!

P.S. - I vote for "Last one IN is a rotten egg." Is "last one out" a regionalism?

Z 12:04 PM  

So one guy goes all hyperbolic at 12:40 a.m. and calls the puzzle "trash" and we have to pile on the guy?

Okay, not the word I would have chosen (okay, maybe I have since I know I've trashed a puzzle or twenty) but I took it as hyperbole. I hope if I ever over-react to a puzzle that you-all will cut me a little more slack than you're giving @Jimmy.

@pmdm - who is this "MS" you speak of? Not everyone who reads these comments knows the secret identity of OFL.

Sparky 12:38 PM  

I had a lot of confidently entered and wrong today: palm/FERN,card/ISBN, shoGUN/TOPGUN, ddt/PCB,ScAM/SHAM. All set to right but took time. Long nonthemes also confused me. I really don't think that crosswordese would make a beginner boo hoo and run away. When I started in the 1950s I just accepted I'd need to learn a lot of peculiar words. OONA has becme an old friend since then.

Ed Ames reminded me of the Johhny Carson Hatchet throw. The instrumental part sounded pretty darned good to me. Also My HS Senior Prom was June 1950 and I am sure we danced the Lindy to Rag Mop.

I knew FARRAR because I worked in publishing and buy books. I am clueless re MCNAIR, mcguff, mcschmick or mcschmack. But I don't think you all should stop having sports clues. Would everybody please give everybody a break.

Tita 12:45 PM  

After I figured out the theme, thought "meh" (but then, anagrams never did do it for me).

As I was solving was wondering how TRENTON was going to fit into the theme.

Crossword puzzles are like New England weather...
I you don't like the puzzle, wait 15 minutes - er - a day.

The weather here turned cold again, but not before a couple of days of a good soaking rain, followed by bright sunshine, has made EVERYTHING grow and blossom like mad. FERNs are well beyond fiddlehead stage and now are fully fronded.

Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Must be a total hoot, bein a constructor. You pick yer theme [anagrams seam fine]. You build up yer grid, peppering it with some nice extra stuff, like EXHAUST and ROTTENEGGS and BEAUTYSHOP. Mix in a few KXZ-ers, just to keep things lively. Bein fair-minded, you make sure to have at least five U's. You write up some killer clues. You're not quite sure where it should fit in, day-wise; for anagrams, seams like TuesPuz or WedPuz oughta get it. Off it goes in the mail. Then you move on to other projects.

Some time passes. Man lands on the moon. Or so "they" say. George Bush wins the presidency. Or so "they" say. Obama wins the presidency; was born in Hawaii. Or so "they" say. RAHM becomes standard crossword fare. One day, yer puz shows up, in the MonPuz slot. Wow. Kinda surprised, but always happy to get published, any old time. Just doin it mainly to entertain people, after all.

Old 4-Oh just tears into it. Other blogs express similar, less Snark-O-Rama-ish dismay. At the RP blog, commenters darn near riot, even snarling at each other while continuing to rip generous hunks of flesh from the puz. It ain't pretty to watch.

But, hey -- it's just a puz. And just one of his many ones in the pipeline. There's one comin up soon that'll make things all well. It'll knock 4-Oh's socks off; he may even have a Patrick Berry-ish, out-of-grid-like experience. Can't miss. Pulitzer. Has the circles. It's got at least one of each letter. And the coop-de-grace: cleverly worked in the X, usin a debut random Roman numeral. Yessir. Tomorrow's another day...

LaneB 1:01 PM  

Today's Monday was harder than an ordinary Monday's puzzle--for me the inclusion of MICAH, TABLA, ISBN and SEAMwelding making it so. But the appearances of the now familiar OREOS, PERP, ERS, OPIE and EZIO helped the solve, though I did miss the anagram theme.

The AMESBROTHERS answer reminded me of one of the brothers who became more famous on his own by appearing as a native-American on a TV series in the '70s or 80's. He then entered Johnny Carsons Hall of Fame by demonstrating on Carson's show his hatchet-throwing prowess live on stage. He took dead aim at a cowboy dummy, hurled the weapon and brought down the house by effecting an impromptu castration on camerea.. RAGMOP was made but a footnote by that performance.

@pmdm I agree wholly with your well written comment. Thanks.

Lewis 1:12 PM  

We have our regular meals and we have our special meals. Even as the special meals are special, we still appreciate our regular meals. Today's puzzle was one of those good regular meals. And I am grateful for it...

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Thought OBESE BOOR / TRENTON....fun!
considering Gov. Christy's news lately

Im almost only an occasional Monday solver and loved this for the unusual challenge. Thought all were solvable with crosses, maybe b/c never occurred to me to even look for a theme, let alone a reveal.

DNF correctly b/c am female and never heard of iroc-Z or Oona. Other than those, rest came pretty smoothly and easier than any Tues I've tried, which I rarely complete without taking too much time/effort.

M and A5Us 1:46 PM  

Speakin of BEQ, be sure and check out his puz over there at BEQ.com. The coffee mug alone is worth the price of admission. But 1-Across is equally great. etc.

Airymom 1:50 PM  

Hi Rex and Ben Tausig (if you're reading the blog today)..This weekend I completed the last puzzles of both the "20 under 30" and the "American Red Crosswords" collections of puzzles. Lots of challenging, interesting and fun puzzles.

That's what we like--both a challenge and entertainment. If we just wanted a challenge, we could start training for the "100 pushups in a day" routine which someone FB'ed to me. If we just wanted entertainment, we could go see "The Great Gatsby", preferably not sober, and laugh at how pathetic it is.

We want both. Today's puzzle offered neither.

I am hoping you two (and/or your colleagues) can put your heads together and come up with another contest or charity and publish a new compilation of puzzles. It's almost summer and I need stuff to do at the beach.

What do my fellow solvers think?

Thanks for considering this.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:53 PM  

Regarding my comment on 18 A:

I was surfing the web, and I came across this analysis at "WEB's New York Times Crossword Solution @ NYTCrossword.com". --

18. Last ones in the pool, say : ROTTEN EGGS
Last one out of the pool is a rotten egg!

(Bob again:) When I said I was voting for "last one IN", I thought I was agreeing with the puzzle that the last person INTO the pool was the rotten egg. That is the way I have always understood the expression. But reading WEB's analysis, it seems that he, and the puzzle, are saying that the last person remaining in the pool is the rotten egg; i. e., the clue is really saying that the last one OUT is the rotten egg!

To "First World Problem," add "Retired Person's Problem."

Trudy Muse 1:54 PM  


Trudy Muse 1:55 PM  

Rex – I truly enjoy the blog and even though I don't work the puzzles, Oren very often asks me questions about the clues and I've been surprised that I am able to help him usually more often than not!

Your tribute to your mother set the mood for yesterday’s puzzle, and a lot of mothers benefited from it. Your mother’s response was truly touching.

I have a response, too. I want to thank Loren for mentioning some of the things I tried to teach her and her sisters when they were young....it is very gratifying to learn that I was successful and that she was really listening! But I need to elaborate for her. . .

"If you are at a dance and turn down one guy’s invitation to dance, you cannot dance with another guy during the same song.” Not the same song, but for the duration of the dance! Along the same lines, you should accept an invitation to a dance from the first fellow who asks you.....very rude to hold out for the one you hope might ask you later.

“Butter and eat your roll one bite at a time.” Along with that, I taught you to butter the one bite of your roll on the plate, not in the air.

"It’s “She asked John and me.” Not John and I." To me this error of using "I" in the subjective instead of the objective grates on my nerves equally with calling a "lectern" a "podium." I think those two are my biggest pet peeves!

“Don’t wear patent leather shoes after Labor Day.” Not only no patent leather after Labor Day, but also no white either. (Hi, Chefbea!) White and patent leather were correct after Easter. (Today's fashion rules are "anything goes"!)

“Do *not* say I got it. It’s I’ve got it.” Even better is "I have it".

I had forgotten about being concerned with all her "A"s, but now I do remember that I thought she was not having the fun she should have been having in college, which to me was about as important as getting an education. (Learning "social skills", don't you know.... ;-)

Thanks again, Rex, for this site. Loren, her dad, and I get a lot of enjoyment from it.

Lewis 2:08 PM  

Great post, Trudy -- keep 'em coming!

Benko 2:21 PM  

Isn't it possible that this puzzle did have a reveal? SEAM, WELDed into a bunch of different combinations.

retired_chemist 2:26 PM  

Pretty much what everybody said. Hand up for SPOT WELDING. Then came the crosses. See SPOT run. Theme? Who noticed while solving? No, EAMS won't work as another variant it's the EAMES chair. No trouble with MHOS - SIEMENS (the modern name) didn't fit.

Slow solve here, all due to fixing typos and fixing correct but incorrect answers, cf.CLOD for Unmannered sort, CARD for Library ID. Not much challenge, even for a Monday.

syndy 2:34 PM  

I took it that the last one still IN the pool was the rotten egg! I had "card" for 70A which gave me DEEPEd for 50D which really cheesed me off!ASTI showed me the error of my ways. and yes I expect monday solvers to know Jane Austen.Where do you want your crosswordese if not in a crossword puzzle?

evil doug 2:38 PM  


You want to go out sometime? I like feisty cougars, and my wife's out of town visiting her parents.


Anonymous 2:58 PM  

Thanks, M&A -- that was perfect.
-- FearlessKim

Carola 3:11 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle - The 1950's Wisconsin version: while running toward the lake, "Last one in is a rotten egg!" There was never a rush to get out.

On "For you and I (have a guardian angel") - that was tricky! :) I've been crooning along with it in my head all morning.

chefbea 3:14 PM  

@Trudy...good to hear from you. Was wondering how you and Oren were doing. Chime in more often

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

I feel too many complaints here. For a Mpnday - doable, not pretty. But I happened to know of McNair mho and few more.

ileen 3:45 PM  

I had MCNAyR for MCNAIR and TyEDYE instead of TIEDYE. I'd never know either was wrong, no matter how long I checked my answers. Not a good start for the week.

Unknown 3:52 PM  

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Rob C 3:54 PM  

Good discussion today. Let me add my 2 cents. I don't mind one-sided opinions, positive or negative, as long as they're well thought out and supported by facts. Your opinion is just that and your entitled to it.

What I dislike are unsupported statements and personal attacks - this puzzle is crap, the constructor doesn't care, W Shortz plays favorites...and the like. Please don't waste my time.

Tita 4:15 PM  

@Ms. Muse - you and my Mom would get along beautifully!
As would we, since you and her Dad seem to be the tree from whence Loren did not fall far.. (Oh my, I pray that my grammar is right!!!)

It was a privilege to have met her in Brooklyn, and I can't wait for the next chance. She and I hit it off not only virtually, but I found her even more fun, caring, and eccentric in person.

What a dynasty is being built here in Rexville!

Please visit more often, and ask the Mr. to chime in as he has in the past.

Your post made my day.


chefwen 4:18 PM  

@pmdm - Very well put!

@Carola - You can't be talking about Lake Michigan, I was always in a hurry to get out of that ice box.

Loren Muse Smith 4:31 PM  

Mom – yay!

She had her hands full raising we three girls and yes I’m kidding about the we. Here’s a fond memory. . .

I was in the first grade, and my grandparents were visiting to see me sing in the Cherub Choir for the Christmas Eve service. I had slept the night before with foam rollers – the whole Dippity-do process - my hair was all brushed and teased, hair bow in place, my white robe all pressed, the big red bow at the collar tied beautifully. . . As we were leaving the house, mom touched my arm, knelt down to my level and said not “Now sing like an angel, Loren” but rather, (deservedly) with clenched teeth, “Don’t. You. Pick. Your. Nose. Up. There.”

sanfranman59 4:56 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 (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:06, 6:14, 1.14, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:04, 3:46, 1.08, 83%, Challenging

OISK 5:03 PM  

I liked this puzzle. Learning from my mistake last Monday, (When I missed a square because some rap song begins with a "U" where "I" fits better, and would have gotten it had I looked for the theme) I checked for a theme when I was done. Aha! Not sear welding and RHOS, but Seamwelding and MHOS!. Got it! A lot of the entries that others complained about are no problem for me. I don't know who Joe Ramone is, but Ed Ames and the Ames brothers were favorites of my parents. ISBN is familiar to anyone who buys or writes textbooks.

"Should we reasonably expect Monday solvers to know these answers?"


Some are indeed obscure. But Rahm? Former aide to the President and Mayor of the Second City? Hesse, Austin, Locke, are pretty important literary figures. Ezio Pinza is a gimmee for anyone my age - he was in the original cast of South Pacific. Asti Spumante doesn't ring a bell? Uma is not easy? Eloi are from a famous novel, and a popular old movie. Micah? Well, I teach in a Yeshivah. I really liked this puzzle! One man (or woman)'s obscurity is another's gimmee.

Thanks for the work-out Mr. Parrish! Eight minutes is a slow Monday for me, but it was an enjoyable one.

Carola 5:07 PM  

@chefwen - LOL - no, a much more modest - and much warmer - body of water.

Pete 5:10 PM  

Well, color me surprised! 20+ people chiming in to say "hell yeah, I knew McNair won the Peyton award! How can @Rex be such an idiot, and have been so way off base there!?"

acme 5:28 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, @Benko

Hmmm, maybe you are right, maybe SEAM being welded into different combos was the reveal and the whole raison d'etre! Shaky but reasonable.

folks piled on bec when an early commenter right after @Rex posts and is really rude, it can set the tone for the day. Calling someone's work "trash" does merit piling on ( tho perhaps with lots of breathing room!)

I find it equally distressing when someone posts on FB asking what folks favorite TV shows are and almost everyone posts things they like and one or two chime in only to degrade the other folks' favorites by calling them "rot" and the like. It's not the end of the world, but it's such a downer and hardly edifying.

I love the whole a-MUSE clan and glad they've bonded as a family over this blog. Loren AND her husband are even more charming in person if you can believe it!

I thought the rule was if you turned down a boy to dance you had to wait till next year (or decade) to accept... There are a few boys I'm STILL holding out hope for!

Happy NonMother's Day! No Kidding!

chefwen 5:31 PM  

@Carola - Not too far from the lake we lived on for a few years, lake Nagawicka. Doncha just love those names?

Two Ponies 6:27 PM  

@ sanfranman's stats say challenging as I thought they might. But as to the question of new solvers being stumped by well-known (to regulars) fill, it only generates another question. Do new solvers post their times?

Thank you to the Muse clan for an amusing comment day. Drop by any time!

retired_chemist 8:11 PM  

There are apparently more than the classical nine Muses - we have to add Trudy and Loren.

jerry k 9:11 PM  

A "platform" puzzle. I get to the platform a few minutes early and by the time the train arrives, fini, or is it fin?

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 7:07, 6:14, 1.14, 94%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:55, 3:46, 1.04, 71%, Medium-Challenging

Z 10:54 PM  

@Acme - "the tone of commenter not warranted" seems perfectly fair to me - Enough said and no pedantry.

Happy NonMothers day to you.

Captcha News-I noticed that the Ticketmaster Captcha carries a little notice about how the captcha verifies one's humanity AND helps digitize text. Kudos for the transparency.

Ellen S 11:48 PM  

@sparky, amen to the wish for mutual slack.

That said, @Ret_Chem, I believe @Jackj was suggesting that EAMS would be the EAMeS chair without the ottoman. Obviously, in the word "ottoman," the "e" is silent.

spacecraft 11:09 AM  

I wouldn't call this hard, exacty; I mean, everything fell in by crosses or inference. But there still is a bunch of stuff I didn't know. AMBIT, MY WOTD, is a word I never knew existed till this morning. MESAARIZONA is unknown to me--and I live not all that far away in Las Vegas. (Yet as soon as the AMESBROTHERS--a gimme for me from my father-in-law's fondness for playing their records of an evening--went in, I noticed the anagram of the first four letters, and so had the theme a bit earlier than some.)

On the day after Father's Day: RIP, Ned.

So, too, did EZIO help me, from my stepfather's LP South Pacific set featuring Pinza as Emile Debec.

RIP, Chris.

ENTEROintestinal?? I trained as a medical corpsman, acing A&P, and I have NEVER heard of that. TABLA, though I've met it once or twice via the NYTXW, is decidedly NOT Monday fare. And what the %#@*& is ISBN? Oh, now we can rhyme the capital of Portugal:
I came to look up Lisbon;
I guess you'll need my ISBN.


Someone made a bleedover list, yet somehow omitted the only direct one from yesterday's NYT: UMA.

I can't leave without citing the source of my love for language. Picture this: a man playing Probe (a Hangman-like board game) with his six kids, and springing the word "syzygy" on them.

RIP, Dad. I love you.

Waxy in Montreal 2:04 PM  

Surprised to see this rated challenging, even for a Monday. Thought the AMESBROTHERS song was Ragg Mopp from its lyrics; glad to see that, er, dispelled. IROC unknown to me but readily discernible from its crosses. Didn't see the theme until arriving here but didn't make any difference in terms of solving or enjoyment-level.

OK, bring on Tuesday.

rain forest 2:06 PM  

Whoo! Surprised when I came here. I found this one ultra-easy, and solved it with (almost) only across clues, so I didn't even see most of the downs that people are talking about. Also, like @Spacecraft, AMESBROTHERS revealed the "theme" to me at no time did the longer non-theme answers cause a problem.

Very fast puzzle, with a light theme that was appropriate for Monday, in my opinion.

DMGrandma 2:50 PM  

I have never heard of MCNAIR. On the other hand, I smiled at the memory of the AMESBROTHERS. (I'll be hearing Rag Mop in my head all day.) In other words, we all come from different palces. My gimme is your ?, @M&A's comment on this whole puzzle thing is well worth taking to heart. Or, to quote Scarlet, "Tomorrow is another day." Today, it turns out, I was, once again, a one square DNF, wondering what SEArWELDING is! But tomorrow, maybe I'll hack it. Or not!

@Ginger. Glad to see you back. I miss your comments. While I agree with you about Nadal, I keep hoping Roger will have that one more BIG win that keeps eluding him. I did see where he just got his first season title in Germany. Maybe there's hope?

Captcha: assume muickey How do I do that?

Syndi Solver 4:03 PM  

Belated kudos for yesterday's horse themed puzzle (in syndi-land that means Gorski's "Fast Track" puzzle for Sun, June 9, 2013).

While doing this puzzle I seemed to be a bit slower than usual for a Monday. But it was still pretty easy. The SEAM WELDING entry was a big ??? for me, too, but I got it from the theme. Again, I'm impressed by all those speed solvers who don't even notice or look for the theme while they are solving.

Then I tried to think of other SEAM phrases. The only ones I know are from sewing (seam ripper, seam allowance) -- wrong number of letters for this puzzle, of course. While they may be a bit more recognizable (even if you don't sew you might have had alterations done?) they really aren't much more fun than SEAM WELDING. I'm sure it was not easy to find matching length phrases where the anagram was always in a stand alone word (MESA, AMES, SAME, SEAM). I do admire that part of the puzzle.

But sometimes I would prefer something more fun (e.g., SEA MONSTERS breaks the pattern across two words but it's seems a lot more fun to me) vs. keeping the theme perfect. I'm sure an editor's job of balancing these trade-offs is very hard. I don't envy them.

As @Masked and Anonymous points out (and I always love his/her comments!), there were some fun entries in the puzzle, e.g., ROTTEN EGGS. I enjoyed reading the discussion of last one IN vs. last one OUT. I'm only familiar with the IN version of that phrase, yelling it out as you run toward the pool/lake/ocean. I've even seen it in movies. I've never heard that expression used when getting out of the water. So, again, I learned something new!

Solving in Seattle 4:59 PM  

Heading to the BEAUTYSHOP in MESAARIZONA to listen to the SAMEOLDSTORY told by the ROTTONEGGS while they're SEAMWELDING my do. It's EXHAUSTing.

@syndie solver, your SEAMONSTER would've be Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent singing Rag Mop along with the AMESBROTHERS.

@DMG, the answer to your question about the capcha instruction is found on page 145 in the Kama Sutra.

DMG 7:03 PM  

@SIS: Wow, never thought to look there-and probably couldn't do it at my age!

Ginger 8:26 PM  

@DMG & @SIS Oh but how I'd love to try.

@DMG Glad to be back, though I'm still recuperating from a long weekend with 7 great-grands. They are great and they are grand, but sooner or later they grate and they grind. I totally agree with you about Fed, he is truly a class act. Now I'm looking forward to Wimbledon. Maybe this time will be Fed time.

@Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM (5 weeks ago) Well said!

About the Puz, liked it better than OFL, but I think Will got the wrong day to print it. Liked being reminded of TOP GUN, Loved that movie, the flying sequences were great, and how can a gal not enjoy the volley ball game?

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