Drag queen in La Cage aux Folles / MON 7-29-13 / Two-character David Mamet play / White House grp that meets in Situation Room / Nightstick carrier / Dizzying designs / Bikini blast briefly / Magazine whose cover has red border

Monday, July 29, 2013

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: [Body part + verb-ING] — compound adjectives formed by body part + present participle of a verb, all clued [Like [some kind of] story]:

Theme answers:
  • 20A: Like a sweet story (HEART-WARMING)
  • 33A: Like an unbelievable story (EYE-ROLLING)
  • 44A: Like a hilarious story (GUT-BUSTING)
  • 56A: Like a hilarious story (KNEE-SLAPPING)

Word of the Day: "OLEANNA" (41A: Two-character David Mamet play) —
Oleanna (1992), a play by David Mamet. [Orpheum Theatre, 513 perf.] Carol (Rebecca Pidgeon), a college student having difficulty in a particular course, goes to John (William H. Macy), her pedantic and somewhat distracted professor, in his office. Their conversation is perfunctory yet Carol, encouraged by a feminist group on campus, later claims sexual harassment charges against John. The twosome's next meeting, in which he tries to get her to drop the charges, goes badly, and by their third conversation the embittered John (who has been denied tenure because of the scandal) lashes out and makes the claims come true. Was John the victim or was Carol? The insightful drama led to stimulating discussion Off Broadway for nearly two years.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/oleanna-1#ixzz2aOBU4ZEl
• • •

The problems with this one should be obvious to you all by now. First, the theme—it's simple and kind of cute, though slightly stale-seeming. But the biggest problem is that the last two theme clues are the same. Either they're all "hilarious" or only one is. Arbitrarily having *two* be "hilarious" while the others aren't just seems sloppy. Make it word with four different kinds of "stories" or don't do it. Also, I'm having trouble imagining calling a story "EYE-ROLLING." I see that folks have done so, but it doesn't Google strongly at all, that phrase, "eye-rolling story." But that's a nit. Let's allow that that is a great entry, or an adequate one, at least. Points still stand: theme is a bit tepid, fourth story should've been something besides "hilarious." But the bigger problem here is how startlingly unclean the fill is. On a Monday? From a very practiced and accomplished Monday constructor who practically signed the puzzle (see 1A)? Semi-inexplicable.

I practically choked on IGLU (32D: Eskimo home: Var.). That particular spelling should be reserved for moments of sheer desperation, when something great can be salvaged no other way. On a Monday!?!? No way we should be subjected to that. Also, so many partials. Again, this is a Monday, and this is a pro constructor, so what is with the laziness? ABOW? ACAN? ORME? Then there's crossing abbrevs. like DIAM. / INITS and NSC / N-TEST. ABABA can be clued only one boring fill-in-the-blank way (15A: Addis ___, Ethiopia). Putting a not-very-famous fictional drag queen in your puzzle is fine—who doesn't like drag queens?—but here, it's kind of a cheap way to get "Z"s in the puzzle. They're like dazzle camouflage—intended to draw your eye away from the various messes. ZAZA isn't really right for a Monday. This whole puzzle just doesn't have the polish that Andrea usually prides herself on and demands of other early-week puzzles.

Now that I think of it, I don't care about ZAZA (9D: Drag queen in "La Cage aux Folles"), and I don't care much about the theme or its inconsistencies (my theme expectations on Monday are somewhat low, I think). But I do care about the fill. The theme just isn't demanding or sparkling enough to justify the mediocrity. I do love PAD THAI (7D: Asian noodle dish with peanuts) and TORPEDO, though. Just wish there were more interesting answers, less crosswordese, less short junk.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    jae 12:09 AM  

    I liked this more than Rex did.  It has a lively theme, scrabbly letters, and was medium difficulty for me...so, about right for a Mon. 

    Erasure: EYEpopping before I read the crosses. 

    Is "Warren Beatty film" for 40a too tough for a Mon.?  Might have made a nice bookend for Mamet. 

    Stuff I only learned from crosswords:  IGLU which I believe anagrams into a crossword fruit.

    Liked it Andrea and I'm not saying anything about 1a.

    Anonymous 12:11 AM  

    If ZAZA were legitimate fill, it would be showing up a lot more often than every 5 years.

    Evan 12:26 AM  

    I had EYE-OPENING before EYE-ROLLING, but no other write-overs. It still felt a little tougher than I expected given answers like OLEANNA and ZAZA.

    I liked seeing both PAD THAI and SITH, and I had a good laugh afterwards when I realized that I misread the clue for ABORT as [Cancel, as a lunch]. I suppose astronauts like John GLENN might shout "Abort!" when the food goes bad in space.

    But yeah, the two "hilarious" story clues were a little strange. I have to admit that was a little eyebrow-raising. And with IGLU....I think "var." spellings are probably second-highest on my list of things to avoid in crosswords, beaten only by complete obscurities, so I didn't like seeing that in there. Just not many options when the crossing theme entries give you -G-U.

    I could be wrong about this, but I think I've recently seen answers like TIME and other brands clued by their LOGO colors and design -- only I can't remember exactly what many of those answers were. They did clue MACY'S back in May with [Store with a red star logo]. Nothing wrong with that, I just feel like those kinds of clues have been coming up a lot lately.

    Anonymous 12:41 AM  

    I like it lots. Present tense like, not old news "I tolerated it for all of three minutes." The fun of moving through this grid will carry me through the day. This is not a SPINE-TINGLING or HAIR-RAISING horror story of a puzzle as Rexy would have some believe, but a RIB-TICKLING romp that unfolded beautifully and could only have been improved had it been a pangram. Such fun I had.


    Steve J 12:50 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Steve J 12:54 AM  

    Andrea's one of the sharpest early-week puzzle constructors out there, so I too was surprised to find this not quite as taut and zippy as usual.

    Agreed that having two "hilarious story" clues was odd and awkward for the theme, particularly when there are other ready references for GUTBUSTING (I don't think KNEESLAPPING could really be clued any other way than in reference to a funny story). References to foods or meals being gut-busting are definitely in the vernacular (and that's also the predominant reference I get from googling the term), so it wouldn't have been difficult at all to avoid the repetition. (There are also references to GUTBUSTING workouts, but that seems more obscure, especially on a Monday). Curious to find out if the double-cluing was Andrea or Will's doing.

    Outside that, I didn't have any significant issues with the non-theme fill (other than IGLU; even with the "var.", it seems like it could be avoided, but I'm also not seeing obvious alternatives since that terminal U is obviously essential to the theme answer). But it doesn't have quite the same spark that's typical of an ACME puzzle.

    Ababa Cream Moi 12:57 AM  

    Actually I agree with SOME of the criticism!
    I don't know why the fourth wasn't different from "hilarious", I think I had "hysterical", of COURSE I'd want it to be four different things!

    IGLU is dreadful, but as @Evan pointed out, I had _G_U.
    I had already rewritten the puzzle twice over three years, bec my original (PANGRAM!) one had ENUMERABLE crossing THREE of the theme answers.
    Will nixed that as Monday inappropriate, so started from scratch many times and real struggle to get in all four themes and keep it all easy-peasy.
    But yes, I do pride myself on all the things that were mentioned!

    As for Addis ABABA, to me that is the most fun city to say EVER, so no apologies there!

    I have to be honest, I have no idea who ZAZA is!
    I wonder if it was my entry (I can only find the first two drafts of the puzzles) bec it left "La Cage...: in the clue with CAGE in the grid.

    The idea, of course, was to tell a story and hope that folks would come up with their own

    As for the rest, I laughed when I solved this years later and saw 1A: ACME!
    I hadn't remembered even that, but I imagine I had done it as a joke...
    SO happy not to have gotten slapped for that!

    And I know someone will bring this up, so it might as well be ME...What's the deal with TWO ME partials: "Coffee, tea OR ME?" and "Come up and SEE ME"
    (what the hell, why not MEntion miME, TiME, heMEn)
    ME ME ME! Who? MOI?

    Anyway, enjoy enjoy enjoy! I know I will all day!

    Brian Cimmet 1:44 AM  

    Cute to stick your own name at 1-Across, Andrea. Do you sign your puzzles that way often? (Only three times in 39 puzzles, says xwordinfo.com)

    In LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, the drag queen Albin takes on the stage persona of Zaza for his shows. Perhaps this was more timely fill around when the original movie came out (1978) or when the Broadway musical first opened (1983). But there have been two relatively tame revivals of LA CAGE on Broadway in the last decade, neither of which turned ZAZA into Monday fare. The only way to clue it without using "Cage" would be in a puzzle for musical theater lovers. Or maybe cinematic drag queen lovers.

    Oh, and since I'm here -- come to Lollapuzzoola, everyone! It's on August 10. And if you can't come, do the at-home version. Find us on Facebook or go to www.bemoresmarter.com.

    Anonymous 1:44 AM  

    Ugh what a slog. If your grid gives you _G_U, don't be complacent. Reconstruct your grid so people don't have to write in a fake word. Especially for a puzzle with only 4 boring theme answers.

    Anonymous 2:01 AM  

    "... so people don't have to write in a fake word."

    Granted, IGLU is not great grill fill. But, it is
    definitely not a "fake" word, as you put it. Feel
    free to call out constructors on poor fill, but
    don't accuse them of making words up.

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith

    Anonymous 2:04 AM  

    That's "grid" not "grill" in my above comment. Damn autocorrect!


    acme 2:29 AM  

    @MAS Thanks, Martin. love GRILL FILL!
    No need to defend against each anonymouse who zoom in on one negative thing and can't see the forest...
    (I'll try not to myself, tho tempted!)

    IGLU is UGLI, tho I play it once a game in Scrabble so much more used to it... so apologies to all!
    (Complacent I wasn't tho... I rewrote this many many times till I could get smoothest GRILLFILL I could!)

    chefwen 2:32 AM  

    I liked it. ZAZA was new to me as was OLE ANNA.

    Said Oh Oh! when I filled in 1A and secretly hoped that a certain someone was going to remain silent. We shall see.

    I was ticking off letters to see if we had a pangram and Jon thought he had beaten me, time wise, and was strutting around like one of our wild roosters when I had to burst his bubble. Poor baby, maybe next week. He really is beginning to be a threat.

    JFC 2:35 AM  

    This blog is bizarre. Yesterday Rex wrote one of the worst critiques of a puzzle ever. He didn’t even get the theme right. Today he calls out ACME in the worst way imaginable and she takes it?! Why does ACME even come here? I just don’t get it. I think Rex should ask ACME on a date and go see Blue Velvet.


    Gareth Bain 3:17 AM  

    I don't see the need, especially on a Monday, to not have two phrases being synonyms. I'd say the priority was colourful, familiar phrases and we got that... I can't really defend the fill, as I mostly agree, although I'd probably have stated it differently

    Davis 4:21 AM  

    I'm a fan of Addis ABABA—I'd love to see it as a full entry rather than a partial more often, though.

    I'm also willing to forgive IGLU—it's not good, but I think the "var." makes it workable on a Monday.

    ZAZA was the biggest weakness in this puzzle. That really has no business being in a Monday. Second biggest weakness was the N-TEST/NSC crossing, since even old crossword hands know that ?-TEST has multiple possible completions (of which N-TEST is apparently not even the most common).

    Anonymous 4:59 AM  

    @MAS Thanks, Martin. love GRILL FILL!
    No need to defend against each anonymouse who zoom in on one negative thing and can't see the forest...
    (I'll try not to myself, tho tempted!)

    With all due respect ACME, I think there's a big
    difference between a negative comment and
    factually incorrect one. While i fully respect Anon's
    opinion that IGLU is a poor fill word (I also agree
    that its not a very hot entry), I don't think factually
    incorrect comments, such as IGLU is a fake word
    should go unchallenged. Especially when it would
    take the commenter a few seconds to check an online



    Anonymous 5:59 AM  


    I am sorry to hide behind "anonymous" but I do agree that RP's write up is a tad bit hypercritical. Sometimes, he is like Simon Cowell, but without the white T and the dreadful analogies. Or, he is like the music instructor chiding his student for sloppy fingerwork and insufficient practice.

    The expertise is cool; the grumpiness, at times, too much. Dude, these are just puzzles.


    Doris 7:12 AM  

    ZAZÀ is a not-too-obscure opera by Leoncavallo (of "Pagliacci" fame, for those not versed in this area), based on a French play by Pierre Berton. Belasco adapted the play, and there is a 1938 movie of it starring Claudette Colbert. This and $2.50 will get you on the subway.

    dk 7:20 AM  

    Well, well, well. I joyfully penned in this puzzle with snarky thoughts running through my head. I figured the first entry would get some off and running and hoped to find the letters F, Q & V so our dear leader could rage on about pangrams and erratic fill.

    Generally, I like the self promotion. Fitting both your LOGO and a Queen into your offering is pretty neat. And, in later week puzzles we often see the same clue repeated. Still I agree with Rex and ACME this one lacked Andrea's tight as a tick construction.

    The problem is Andrea's new found wealth from her book (first printing sold out). She has outsourced her construction and now spends her days under a LANAI in Maui. She has assumed a Warren Beatty persona filling her TIME knee touching and suggesting 50A + fill. Hence the loose fill and the forgotten little people :):):).

    The truth is even a B puzzle from Ms. Michaels is a good time.

    🌟🌟 (2 stars) I await the sequel: Return of the Pithy.

    @Chefwen most excellent bear baiting. I am sure @evil doug is engaging in some EYEROLLING.

    dk 7:23 AM  

    @Doris, Opera smopera… ZAZA is the forgotten Gabor sistah (as we may say in Maine).

    Loren Muse Smith 7:27 AM  

    Ya know, I work these Mondays so fast that all the stuff people gripe about flies by largely unnoticed; I missed the maligned IGLU, the INITS/DIAM cross, ZAZA (if that’s an name in the show, then I have no problem with it, even on a Monday – the crosses were utterly fair IMO). Of course, I have the luxury of solving the puzzle and simply enjoying it. Rex has the onus of analyzing it and pointing out those very problems; that’s why we come back here day in and day out.

    The theme is my driver and focus, and I liked this a lot, mainly because it made me stare at my dogs trying to come up with more of my own and marveling at our language and how very many like phrases there are. We all take away our own observation/experience after solving a puzzle, and mine is *always* an enlightenment of English that I hadn’t noticed. Always. If IGLU has to be there to help illuminate the phenomenon, then so be it. To @DB’s nice list I’ll add “back-breaking,” “mouth-watering,” “finger-licking,” and “gut-wrenching.” I guess, @chefwen and @dk, a lot of us will do a communal gut-wrenching, uh, breath holding about 1A. ABE was my first fill, so I thought, “Will she do it?” When I saw she did, I said, “Yay!” I’ve said before, putting your own (nick)name in your grid, for me, is just fun and playful. Recognizing it makes me feel like an insider, just like when Gareth’s puzzles have more than average animal references, or Judge Vic’s some legalese. Would we take Martin Ashwood Smith to task for including “¡No ___!” in his grid? Or even “Smith” for that matter? I would love it. If I’m ever good enough to start having some puzzles accepted, I won’t shy away from “Muse” just because I’ll be accused of being arrogant or self-promoting. If I had “Muse” crossing “mode” somewhere, I don’t think I would go back to the drawing board to, uh, lose MUSE. I wouldn’t lead with that when I start filling, but I’m not going to shy away from it, either, especially if I’m pleased with everything else.

    For me, as long as constructors don’t clue it as “Established NYT crossword constructor,” I have *no* problem with this.

    Andrea – the clue “Ear-splitting” jumped out and bit me on the nose. How fun. And your ME list was good, but you left out acME! Congrats!! This wasn’t mind-bending, but it was thought-provoking, and I’ll be searching for more all day! Thanks!

    Gareth Bain 7:34 AM  

    @LMS: How about toe-curling?

    jberg 7:44 AM  

    Maybe it didn't sparkle like some of ACME's, but I liked it fine, despite the sports clue at 22D. I agree about the identical theme answers (as does she, apparently) - and to me, when you bust a gut you are working as hard as you can, so I would have clued GUT BUSTING in that way.

    On the otherhand, I really liked the SE corner, with J, X, and Z constituting 25% of the total letters. Not everyone cares about that, I know, but I like it.

    Other possible clues for 15A:

    "Palindromic partial city name"

    "Possible rhyme scheme for a 5-line poem"

    Keep it up, Acme!

    @DK - Zsa Zsa is hardly forgotten, but she's not ZAZA.

    evil doug 7:49 AM  


    Don't forget 'ass-kissing'...


    Sean Dobbin 7:49 AM  

    I mostly agree with @Rex, and I also see @Acme's points. Some of these gripes should probably be fired at Will.

    This puzzle has Tuesday written all over it.

    Ω 8:05 AM  

    I have absolutely no problem with cheap ways of getting Z's in the puzzle.

    Two rewrites over three years? In that case I'll sit in my IGLU with my ICE AX before I will utter a single word of criticism today. I enjoyed the solve (and the critique and the constructor giving us the down and dirty).

    Milford 8:16 AM  

    Fun, scrabbly Monday! Ioved the body part-phrases, and honestly did not see the duplicate cluing on the last two.

    My personal nit was that the body parts didn't go in order top to bottom. Pretty teeny nit, though.

    Had EYE-popping for the unbelievable story first. I guess I read that as amazing rather than BS.

    Addis ABABA makes me think of "Superman" the movie - there is a lengthy discussion of Lex et al. going there to get the kryptonite.

    The clue for SHAMPOO took me in the way-back machine to using Prell in the 80s. Do they still make it?

    Loved PAD THAI and SKIMP - fun word.

    I admit to having a cringe at 1A, not because I didn't appreciate it (I think it's kind of a fun insider joke) but because of the possible response here. So far it's been pretty tame, thankfully.

    joho 8:38 AM  

    @Mitzie, if this should have been a Tuesday that's not ACME'S fault. However, I think Will made the right call running it on a Monday. Yes, ZAZA is exotic but easy to get with crosses.

    I, like @loren muse smith, upon finishing immediately started coming up with my own theme answers: brainwashing, handwringing, legpulling, toetapping and footstomping. What I discovered is that ACME, as always, goes for the upbeat and positive. Her theme answers brought a smile to my face just with the visuals. I mean, who wants to see somebody sadly, worriedly wringing their hands?! But EYEROLLING is funny!KNEESLAPPING is actively fun. GUTBUSTING is bold and fresh and HEARTWARMING is what the theme ultimately was to me.

    @Rex, none of the theme answers have been used before so I don't know where you come up with "stale." They are original! I wish I had thought of this theme!

    Again, it sounds like the double "hilarious" cluing was Will's doing. We see a lot of this lately.

    @jberg, I wrote in my margin, "Loved the SE corner with its J, X & Z!"

    I liked this a whole lot better than @Rex! Thanks, ACME!

    Unknown 8:48 AM  

    Acme is correct ...IGLU is so common in Scrabble that it got no EYE Rolling from me.

    That said, I did find the two "hilarious" clues a little weird, and felt kind of bored by the end. But I did start off with a chuckle at 1A. It's funny because there have been times when constructors self-reference and I find it off-putting, but in this case it didn't bother me so much.

    Loren Muse Smith 8:58 AM  

    @ED – perfectly played. Bravo! I good-naturedly (of course) accept the brown-nosing, ass-kissing sycophant’s mantle that I’ve donned here of my own volition. If this place were a classroom, I would most assuredly be seated front and center, hand constantly in the air, the subject of much eye rolling.

    But see – I just can’t help myself here with this theme. “Ass kissing” doesn’t fit here as neatly with all of these phrases that scream “adjective.” “Ass kissing” for me belongs more with

    Hand wringing
    Back slapping
    Head banging
    Wrist slapping

    This second group screams “action” more than “adjective” in my book.

    I love language.

    quilter1 9:04 AM  

    No nits here. Now I want PAD THAI for dinner. Nice job, Andrea. Not your fault if Will fiddles with it.

    retired_chemist 9:04 AM  

    Might have been just me last night, but the grid seemed choppier than usual. That was my only complaint. The theme with duplicate clues didn't bother me - I didn't even notice.

    Had NSA for 32A and it took a full minute of checking to see that error. aREAM - D'oh.

    Note to self: do not ask SUSHI-hating wife to pick some up at the Tom Thumb deli at 9 PM on Sunday. There isn't anything good left and she wouldn't know nigiri from makisushi anyway.

    Thanks, Andrea.

    John V 9:21 AM  

    Felt more like a Tuesday to me. North was hard. Otherwise, just fine here.

    lawprof 9:26 AM  

    I don't know whether this was a "good" puzzle, but - at least for me - it was a fun puzzle. Partly because, after finishing, I spent a few minutes coming up with my own potential theme answers (as did several others). Tongue-lashing, nail-biting, knee/head-slapping, arm-twisting, head-spinning, toe-tapping, rib-tickling, stomach-churning, ball-busting....the list goes on and on and on. (Apologies to anyone whose suggestions I've duplicated).

    Martia Larts 9:36 AM  

    48.A Japanese fish dish Am I going to be the only one to comment that sushi is not necessarily a "fish" dish?

    Carola 9:36 AM  

    For MOI, EYE-ROLLING was eyebrow-raising as an adjective for story, and I'd be more likely to say a story was a knee-slapper than to use KNEE-SLAPPING. So, I didn't think the theme was as tight as it could have been.

    chefbea 9:43 AM  

    Thought the puzzle was great!! Thanks ACME. Had one natick at 23 across and down. What does NSC stand for.

    Went back over the puzzle looking for the missing Q and V.

    Sashi Mi 10:00 AM  

    I agree with the Martia Larts comment.

    Sandy K 10:15 AM  

    I had to laugh when I saw ACME- I took it as her way of SAYing HI!

    I had fun filling in this one. Didn't notice all the 'problems' and 'Finger-Pointing' til I came here.

    What I liked most was that it wasn't too easy as most Mondays tend to be. To me, it was smile-inducing : )

    MetaRex 10:26 AM  

    I had APEX for 1A for a moment.

    Impressive sang-froid by both OFL and acm.

    Maybe the tech of the theme and the fill would have worked more smoothly with two ING endings crossing in the SE and two other answers, say KNEE-SLAPPING and EYE-ROLLING, crossing in the NW...or maybe that was one of the things acm tried in her reworks of the theme that didn't pan out...

    600 10:29 AM  

    @chefbea--National Security Council.

    I'm certainly not as puzzle-sophisticated as the rest of you, but I had fun with this one, and that's what I want from my daily crossword. Thanks, ACME!

    GILL I. 10:35 AM  

    I'm in the ACME take ABOW camp.
    Like @Loren, I'm a 'doer' for the pure enjoyment. I happily leave the critiquing to the experts. What I don't get though is trashing words. Var's don't bother me because we see them all the time. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE WORD IGLU????
    Come on, this was fun. Maybe not GOBSMACKING, but it had zippiness and it was not the least bit boring.
    so, for MOI, I say ZAZA boom!!!!

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:40 AM  

    Does no one from the crowd who consider "coed" to be a four-letter word object to 29 D, "Coffee, Tea OR ME?"? Or are they all over at the Crossword Fiend?

    Tita 10:56 AM  

    This writeup reminds of my early days here, when I would stop by to see why I actually should have disliked a puzzle that I in fact liked.

    All 4 phrases are fun and evocative.
    I guess IGLU is UGLI. But it didn't bug me...the only thing I didn't like was the sad way in which CAGE was clued.

    I liked the geography lessons, LAPAZ, LANAI, ESSEN, ABABA (fun name to say), SEAs...

    Some folks are never happy - ZAZA - if it showed up more than every 5 years, you'd be calling it banal xwordese.

    John GLENN and ABORTed launch (hi, @Evan), the EPIC about AJAX ...

    @Martia - it ain't exclusively a "fish dish", but it IS primarily thought of as a fish dish, and fish dish is so much fun to say - it's even fun to write...

    Thanks to the others for the additional themers, and thanks, @Andrea - I had fun.

    Anonymous 11:00 AM  

    NoDOZ + ZAZA = DNF

    Questinia 11:37 AM  

    It's great that ACME used her name. Sort of reminds me of the NYT's illustrator Hirschfeld's use of Nina's.

    Didn't pick up on any of the inconsistencies while doing the puzzle. I just enjoyed filling with abandon...

    A better Monday puzzle than most IMO.

    Masked and Anonymo4Us 11:39 AM  

    IGLU should be the prefered spelling.

    Ulrich 11:41 AM  

    @Bob: I didn't go over to the Crossword Fiend to find out the objections against "Coffee, tea, or me?" and so, I'm puzzled. I, for one, had never heard the phrase and laughed out loud when I got it. I do not see why it could not be uttered by a person of either gender...and of any orientation.

    I also noticed the "me me me" sound the puzzle was making. There are not only the two me's and ac-me, there's also ti-me, mi-me and a me hidden in a hen. Accident? Only our friend would know...

    Anyway, I'm with Lauren in my reaction to the puzzle, and I didn't even notice the repeated clue--sometimes it pays NOT to be an expert...

    DBGeezer 11:56 AM  

    I really love to read your comments in this blog, so was thrilled to have you be today's constructor.

    Unknown 12:17 PM  

    I was quite charmed by the ACME hi-howdy at 1A, and all went along pretty well. The only place I slowed down was the whole LANAI/LAPAZ/ZAZA area, along with my doubts about how to spell ABABA. It was just a cluster of proper names all bunched up, so when I didn't know two I was pretty much up the creek. Also GUTBUSTING sounds like a bad meal rather than a story, no matter how hilarious.

    PS: My son "accidentally" made a youtube account, using the name Tiny Buscus. (He's a huge fan of TObuscus...) Now it says that's who I am, but I'm not. I'm Catherine Park, Serf of Crossworld!

    retired_chemist 12:34 PM  

    Hand up for thinking SUSHI clued as is, is fine.

    @ Ulrich - Coffee, tea, or Me?" has a history. it was a book in the sixties which spawned book sequels as well as a TV movie. It dealt with the sexier side of airline travel in the days when stewardesses were nearly all female and selected largely as eye candy.

    Sean Dobbin 12:39 PM  



    Ulrich 12:42 PM  

    @Ret_chem: Thank you! As they say, ignorance is bliss sometimes...

    Lewis 12:46 PM  

    LAPAZ, ABABA, NODOZ, ASIF, SKIMP -- all zippy words to me, and added to the physicality of the theme answers, gave this puzzle spark.

    I like ACME crossing MOI (good one, Andrea!), ELEGY crossing HEARTWARMING, and EYEROLLING crossing SNOB. I said this last week: HEMEN just looks weird to me.

    Grid gruel: Essen, NSC, diam, peen, ntest, estop, acan, inits, xes, and that other word everyone seems to have commented on (and I concur).

    Overall, fun Monday. Backslapping in order.

    Steve Jobs 12:58 PM  

    iGLU is the stuff we use to make sure you can't open your iPhone to change your battery. It's not an eskimo abode.

    LaneB 12:59 PM  

    This was a fun Monday, interesting and fair. A small problem with IGLU being a bit of a strain, but otherwise I enjoyed it and learned something about construction work. Congratulations, Andreacarla, and I look forwqrd to meeting you Wednesdqy.

    mac 2:37 PM  

    I thought ACME at 1A was Andrea thumbing her nose!

    @Loren: is heel licking on your list yet? It's so odd, the number of body parts we use in the expressions.

    Anonymous 2:44 PM  

    I will come to the defense of ABABA crossing ZAZA. It just made me smile.

    acmememe 3:37 PM  

    @mac 2:37
    you mean NOSETHUMBING 12 ?
    It was more EYEWINKING.

    My zen mantra for today to keep me happy:


    jberg 4:00 PM  

    @Retired_chemist's link took me to a wikipedia page about Barber-designed coins. So try Coffee, Tea, or Me?

    sanfranman59 4:20 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 5:57, 6:03, 0.98, 42%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:56, 3:46, 1.05, 75%, Medium-Challenging

    retired_chemist 5:00 PM  

    @ jberg et al. - Sorry. I don't know what happened. I just cut and pasted the Wikipedia link. Here it is again.

    retired_chemist 5:05 PM  

    @ ACME -


    to the tune of Hava Nagila is now an earworm, running through my head constantly. Hopefully not for the rest of the day....

    retired_chemist 5:22 PM  

    Re 46D:

    See Poetic parodies and Pastiches.


    Gerald Bullet

    I feel it when the game is done,
    I feel it when I suffer most.
    'Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than ever to have loved and won.

    Five and out,but almost nobody else is using bandwidth now....

    Anonymous 5:27 PM  


    May I suggest you re-post your explanation on the last day of the month. I mention this because to get to 8/1/09 one must scroll through 6 or 7 RP pages.

    Each month begins with the last day of the month; therefore, the first day of the month is the last page on archive.

    Does that make any sense?

    Evan 5:37 PM  

    @Anonymous 5:27:

    Alternatively, you can easily find the post on the first day of any month by going to the right side of the page, looking under Blog Archive, clicking on the arrow of the month and year you want, and scrolling to the bottom of the list. So if you want 8/1/2009, just look at Blog Archive, click on the arrow for 2009, then click on the arrow for August, then pick the entry at the bottom of that list. It should say "SATURDAY, Aug 1 2009" on it

    Clark 5:51 PM  

    So it wasn't quite as smooth as a regular ACME puzzle, but I still liked it a lot—she's got smooth to spare. I cheered at A1. ABABA/ZAZA was my favorite crossing.

    Ω 6:17 PM  

    ABABA ZAZA - Random Roman for "do not psychoanalyze men wearing metal hats." @JFC - take heed.

    August West 7:46 PM  

    WOE, tough crowd! Eviscerating a poor widdle MONDAY. How much critique does any Monday really warrant, or deserve? They exist to fill not more than three minutes of your day. Although not intended to be an acedemic challange, I'm always happy to see a bit of Tuesday in a Monday puzzle. Makes me feel as if I actually had to think, a bit, and not just fill on reflexive auto-pilot. Enjoyed PAD THAI, ZAZA, OLEANNA and AJAX. More Tuesday than Monday, sure, but let's not say that like its a bad thing.

    Hate vars. of all stripes and,so, hated iglu. Also felt that EYEROLLING was a stretch. An incredible story may make me roll my eyes, but that doesn't make it an "eye rolling story." Eyebrow raising? Yes. Eye rolling? No. Did these nits dilute my enjoyment of this quick break between sisps of my medium Diet Dr. Pepper? Not at all.

    Questinia 7:50 PM  

    @ retired chemist. Thanks for the earworm.... oy!

    August West 7:59 PM  

    Note to self: Spell check, Mikey. Spell check.

    Anonymous 8:10 PM  


    Muchos gracias!


    Rob C 8:37 PM  

    Just wanted to chime in late to say I liked it. Straightforward consistent theme. A bit of zip in the fill. Exactly what Monday should be. Noticed 44 and 56 A had the same clue, couldn't come up with a reason care about that, so I didn't. Although in hindsight, KNEE SLAPPING seems simply funny, while GUT BUSTING seems hilarious.

    Noticed ear splitting as a bonus theme clue.

    sanfranman59 10:06 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 6:01, 6:04, 0.99, 47%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:46, 3:45, 1.00, 49%, Medium

    By the numbers, this is definitely an out-of-the-ordinary ACME puzzle. Her puzzles typically come in at the extreme end of the Easy range. But not this one. Today's 430 online solvers is the second lowest of the 200 Mondays in my spreadsheet.

    Anonymous 10:50 PM  

    @August West - Monday puzzles exist as an entrance for neophites into the puzzle solving community. They, more than accomplished solvers, deserve fair and accessible puzzles. Puzzles without variants. Without ZAZAs. Without crossed abbreviations.

    August West 11:17 PM  

    Fair enough. I just think the puzzle was fair enough, even for a neophyte possessed of the mental acuity to want to join the NYT solving community. I suspect such a person would know the Capital of Bolivia, have at least heard of Addis Ababa, grin at No Doz, and complete Zaza with Heartwarming ease. And, really, Diam and Inits are pretty much gimmes to even your average bear, especially as clued. I liked that it had a bit of fight to it. How dumbitdown need we go?

    spacecraft 11:23 AM  

    If I wanted to, I could really "open up ACAN of whoop-ass" on this puzzle:

    -->Though I don't mind Scrabblization per se, I mind it when it yields the horrid XES.

    -->Of the theme entries, only HEARTWARMING is recognizably in the the commonly-spoken language. GUTBUSTING speaks more to me of a super-rich meal; KNEESLAPPING is...OK, though when you think about it the action seems awkward; and as for EYEROLLING? No way, Jose. Just isn't in the lexicon.

    -->For all the simplified clues--and my typical Monday-ease of solvimg--I still needed every cross to get PADTHAI and OLEANNE. And I'm even a Mamet fan!Loved "House of Games."

    -->Looked at the byline (I know I shouldn't, but my eyes betray me), then at 1a, and thought: Oh, no, you DITTEN! [sigh] But yes, you did. Such conceit is unseemly. You, my dear, are above that.

    Which is why I'm NOT going to open that can for my final comment. It was fun, and I mostly enjoyed the solve. A wry memory is evoked by NODOZ, a pill that will never pass my lips again. I tried it one time, during finals. Turned me into a zombie such that, when I entered the room for my first final of the following day, the prof just took me by the shoulders and gave me a 180, saying "You, my friend, are in no shape for a final exam. Go home and get some sleep, and we'll reschedule."

    No NTEST for me, please!

    Ginger 3:47 PM  

    This blog has taught me to check out the constructor before I start the solve. When I see Gorski, or either of the PBs, I know I'm in for a treat. So, yes, I check the by-lines. And yes, I was glad to see Acme's name, and yes, I was not disappointed. The long themers are all in the language. Anyone around teenage girls is familiar with EYEROLLING. Some of the short fill is underwhelming, but I think PADTHAI, TORPEDO, ZAZA (yes)SKIMP, SEEME and others makes up for it.

    @DMG - I finally get a day when I can watch the Open in real time, and it rains... I'd love to chat more, if you'd like, email me at: grahamatwa-net.com

    Solving in Seattle 2:23 PM  

    OK, it's Tuesday and I just did Monday's puzzle because I became aware that it was constructed by Andrea.

    Wow, what a great comment day on the blog! Thanks to Evil Doug I had a GUTBUSTING moment.

    I did some headscratching over some of the critizism - this was a Monday, people!

    Alright, I've got one nit: the cluing for REF didn't indicate an abbreviated form.

    Loved ASIF above EYEROLLING. They do go together. Also, any reference to The Iliad. Put Penelope in a future crossword, Andrea.

    Solving in Seattle 2:25 PM  

    Oh, forgot that Penelope was in The Odyssey. Put her in anyway.

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