French river department / FRI 10-4-13 / Theodore Roosevelt Island setting / Zero times in Zwickau / Mediums for dummies / Subject of 2003 book Power Failure / Hudsucker Proxy director 1994 / Very long European link

Friday, October 4, 2013

Constructor: Bruce Sutphin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: EURE (52A: French river or department)
Eure (French pronunciation: ​[œʁ]) is a department in the north of France named after the river Eure. // Eure is part of the current region of Upper Normandy and is surrounded by the departments of Seine-Maritime, Oise,Val-d'Oise, Yvelines, Eure-et-Loir, Orne, and Calvados.
The department is a largely wooded plateau intersected by the valleys of the Seine River and its tributaries.
The altitude varies from sea level in the north to 248 metres above it in the south. (wikipedia)

• • •

Quick, painless, and not terribly remarkable. Scattershot Xs across the top and right, scattershot Zs across the right—these give the grid a kind of interesting look. But the fill is just OK. No great marquee answers, not much in the way of original or arresting words or phrases. TOO SOON and DAY LILY stand out. The rest, shrug. The cluing is where all the interest lies, but even that is mostly straightforward and perhaps a bit too easy. [Tablet banner, say, briefly] is a nice puzzler—never would've gotten FDA from that, though in retrospect it makes sense ("banner" is "entity that bans," not a flag). [Subsist on field rations?] is a cute, but not tough, clue for GRAZE. But there's rather too much short junk, and not enough toughness or cleverness. Not bad, but not great either.

Surprisingly easy to get started. ALIMONY was set up on a tee (7D: Ex amount?), which "?" clues rarely are. That one just seemed transparent, and (later) made DIVORCE *very* easy to get (40D: Event occasioning 7-Down). From ALIMONY, I was able to spread easily over into the NE (where only OXIDANT-for-OXIDATE slowed me down), and then back into the NW, where everything I didn't get at first glance all of a sudden became easy. The only hindrance to steady progress for the rest of my solve was EURE (never can remember my French departments—a rather lowly class of fill), the BATH part of ICE BATH (41D: Cryotherapy choice), and ATMO, which I had down as AERO. I thought Frankenstein was the doctor, not the MONSTER, but I haven't read that novel in a couple decades, so perhaps I'm misremembering something (57A: Frankenstein, e.g.).

One interesting thing about this grid is that it basically has *all* the symmetries. Otherwise it's a lot of adequate fill, a lot of past tense verbs (SCALDED, XEROXED, SPLAYED, E-TAILED (ouch)), and not a lot else.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:02 AM  

I confidently put in Bon Jovi with no crosses and it turned out to be my only erasure.  It also turns out that they are not in the US Hall-of-Fame.  It further turns out that if Bruce had been able to work in at least Jovi it would have been a pangram.

Very easy for a Fri.  Only WOE was EURE just when I thought I'd seen pretty much all the European rivers...

Yesterday's is a tough act to follow, but this had some fun clues and a touch of zip...SANTANA, ZZTOP, GUMSHOE, GLITZ, CHUNNEL...Liked it.

August West 12:03 AM  

I thought the cluing was great. Lotsa smiles. Not hard misdirections, but very fun and easy. POTW.

Anonymous 12:04 AM  

RE: Frankenstein Clue

Calling Frankenstein the monster is a classic mistake. But, I think some would consider Victor to be a monster in the figurative sense of the word. Not entirely wrong.

Paul Keller 12:23 AM  

Agree with Rex regarding there having been too many obvious clues. "Ex amount?" is great, but why not a fresh clue for DIVORCE?

What's with TWIX being in so many puzzles?

I'm dubious regarding OXIDATE. I don't think I've every seen it, except possibly as a noun meaning "a product of oxidation". I looked at a couple of standard dictionaries that don't have it. Some web sources list it as another word for the verb oxidize, but should I be convinced?

I was stuck at the CHUNNEL-ANAG crossing and watched my finger irresistably move to the N for the happy pencil :)

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

About the one thing reading Frankenstein in AP English more than 20 years ago emblazoned in my mind: Frankenstein was the friggin' doctor, not the monster.

And so my inner 18-year-old's pride at having one up'ed the rest of the world came back to haunt me today, as I refused to even consider the clue could refer to the creation not the creator. Never mind, that as the above observer notes, Dr. Frankenstein acted like a damn monster, or that the puzzle might be trading on popular notions of who Frankenstein was.

And thus we have another example of why crosswords rule -- a DNF that made me chuckle at my inner pedant.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

Liked it a lot. Easy for Friday but some nice quirky clung.

wreck 12:32 AM  

I have always known that it was actually "Frankenstein's Monster" but it was bastardized by cheap horror movies such as "Bride of Frankenstein" and is commonly accepted now as the MONSTER being known as "Frankenstein." I didn't blink. Actually a pretty easy Friday for me.

okanaganer 12:37 AM  

Mary Shelley was P.B. Shelley's wife. Because of Frankenstein, she is probably more widely known! Poor P.B.

An X and Z fest in the east, at least. I would love to see someone make a puzzle with a few 2x2 blocks of Zs and Xs and such...RAZZED and RIZZOLI cross ZZTOP and DIZZY, etc.

As we call them here in the Great White North: Zed Zed Top.

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

I crushed this one. Got in quick and stomped it.

Is ANAG really a legit abbreviation of anagram? I'm hating on the clue for this but am willing to be pointed to a resource(s) that might move me to reconsider.

jburgs 1:02 AM  

Must have been easy for me to be able to post this early.
Re Frankenstein. Yes, in the book it was the Doctor who created the monster that was called Frankenstein. But with all the spin offs, mainly the movies somehow the monster got the name and it is now part of popular culture.
In my research I discovered that once that happened, Dr. Frankenstein insisted that in order to distinguish him from the monster, his name(the doctor) should be pronounced properly as Dr. FrankenSTEEN while the monster who went on to terrorize Abbott and Costello, battle the Wolfman and space aliens etc. be pronounced FrankenSTINE.

My biggest slowdown came with confidently putting in OXIDize rather than OXIDATE. Never heard of Oxidate.

mathguy 1:04 AM  

When I could only find two gimmes, I thought I was in for an ordeal, but it fell apart rather quickly. I enjoyed a number of clues, like "It sends out a lot of streams" and "Subsist on field rations?" But a bit disappointed not to have gotten the usual Friday workout.

Questinia 1:20 AM  

The many question marks in the clues somehow made this way more easy than it needed to be.

It didn't need to be this easy, Mr Sutphin. What to do with those extra minutes of time allotted to a Friday solve? Oh, I know...

♫Monster notes, torpedo notes, amoebas chunnel ivies. Potomac encamps too soon Santana Eure?♯♬

Mark 1:21 AM  

The creature in the novel is un-named, but it makes sense to name him after his father/creator. Thus, Frank Junior. The movies certainly fixed the christening for all time. The "research" by jburgs must have been in Gene Wilder's (indeed, he wrote the script, which is usually mal-attributed to director Mel Brooks) _Young Frankenstein_, in his American-Jewish-German re-pronunciation joke. YF is, incidentally, the most worthy of the dozens of Frankenstein movies I have seen. Of course the funniest, but also the best developer of theme and character from the novel.

Chad Montgomery 1:33 AM  

ANAG is truly horrible.

Why not just go with A NAG?

AN A.G. would be more interesting. "Holder, for one, in short". Yeah, my clue is way better than Shortzie's

Shortzie 1:42 AM  

@ Chad Montgomery

OK. Chad, stop being A NAG.

chefwen 2:18 AM  

Did this one after a luncheon with my "gal pals" where copious amounts of wine were consumed. Finished with no outside help, other than my part time puzzle partner. We nailed it! Gotta agree with OFL with the rating.

Loved it!

syndy 2:49 AM  

I don't think the Amistat was keeping Passengers down in the hold- those people were cargo!At least the puzzle isn't in braille

ACPT Scorer 3:23 AM  

@syndy - If you had AMISTAT you had a DNF.

Amoeba Chunnel Monsters 3:34 AM  

Liked the sprinkling of xxxx and zzz that @rexxx mentioned.

TOO SOON was very fun...and always a great punchline.

Had to solve on an ipad which made it way too easy because it tells you when a letter is wrong :(

So as i tried n for Nonfat, L for lowfat, or lactaid, c for curdled I already knew I was wrong. On paper it would have had to be painfully figured out on my own time. Is that why everyone is so fast online? They know right away they have a wrong letter? Or is there a way to turn that feature off?

Anyway, nice job and happy bday/week Bruce! Like Evan, nice present to be published around your bday!

Danp 5:55 AM  

I think if Family Feud asked the audience to name a famous monster, Frankenstein would get 70-80. If they asked for a word to describe Frankenstein, "monster" would get about the same. Let's just say most people probably didn't need any crosses for that one.

Michael Hanko 6:52 AM  

@Acme: If you are solving on Across Lite on your iPad, you can change that "cheating" feature in the Settings menu. Click the cartoony pencil in the lower right of the screen (with the popup keyboard closed) to access this menu.

dk 7:06 AM  

Nice and smooth. An easy Friday makes me feel good about myself and I, of course, like that.

SetAWAY for LAYAWAY was a write over and ETAILED was gag me with a spoon. Otherwise clever clueing with subtle misdirection.

Big Mac is with SIRI the Apple assistant as the hard drive is corrupted. No doubt from the provocative Barbie photos. Preparing for another Barbie shoot so you know winter is on the way.

🌟🌟🌟 (3 Stars) Fridays can be easy.

Carola 7:09 AM  

Enjoyed this a lot - maybe in part because I found it more difficult than others have and thus got to enjoy it longer. First, admired the pretty grid. Liked being duped by the clever clues - "Duped," for example, eluded me until XEROXED was filled in...kept wanting something like "outfOXED"

And after the recent "Hated to death" ANAG, I couldn't believe how long I stared at ANA_ this time!

Liked the do-si-dos in the SE corner - the "destroyers" cross of TORNADO and TORPEDO and the neighboring SPEEDOS x HAIRDOS. And CHUNNEL was nice over AIR TAXI and ALIMONY above DIVORCE.

@acme - In case you're using Crux, same thing goes as @Michael Hanko explains above.

MetaRex 7:10 AM  

V. v. cool. No word longer than seven letters has gotta be an NYT themeless record...36 7-letter words I imagine may well be a record. And yep, this is a really purty pattern.

This puzz may set a record for setting records unostentatiously.

One nit to pick. ANAG is cutely clued--Will must be on some kinda campaign to get CrossWorlders to recognize the anagram pattern, which we've seen a few times recently. But the made-up word grates in this mellow puzz in a way that it wouldn't if the puzz were a huffing and puffing, "Look at how stacked I am!" effort.

Unknown 8:23 AM  

Not my favorite. Mostly because of ETAILED. Yuck yuck yuck. I did like all of the high point tiles.

Z 9:12 AM  

I believe the proper clue to TOO SOON is "That's what she said."

Hand up for BON JOVI and OXIDizE (I solved while wearing my FeO₂ shirt(the chemist on the team instructs me to tell all the chemists here that we are extra valent)).

Personally, I love, Love, LOVE the ZZ ZED fest. I also liked seeing the spelling of AMOEBAS that I learned in school. ENRON and TWIX both make the second appearance of the week. What a DUET.

Same time as yesterday, so medium easy here.

joho 9:24 AM  

I agree with everyone who thought this was easy for a Friday.

I did like all the scrabbly letters in the grid esp. the PDQ/IQTEST/GLITZ/TRAPEZE/TWIX/ZZTOPsection.

@Mark, this puzzle brought back happy memories of "Young Frankenstein." "Werewolf? There a wolf!"

HAIRDOS do not hold up in TORNADOS!

Thanks, Bruce Sutphin!

chefbea 9:52 AM  

too tough for me DNF. and even with all the discussion - I still dont get anag. Can someone tell me what it stands for??? and also 10 down...why is flag a tire???

JenCT 9:56 AM  

@acme - I turn that feature on or off depending on my mood & how hard the puzzle is; sometimes I enjoy the struggle, and sometimes I don't! But I never ever post my solve time.

@Z 9:12 - LOL

Questinia 10:00 AM  

Puzzle constructors *need* to know how vehemently we detest ETAIL(ED). That includes ECASH. E-anything.

In order of detestation: ETAIL> RETABS> AMEBA>THAT WORD THAT ELLEN HATES. Or, in the case of Ellen perhaps, the reverse order.

JenCT 10:00 AM  

@chefbea: Think of Flag as a verb meaning to TIRE.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

How come every time I'm proud of myself for finishing a puzzle with no mistakes and no googles, I come here and learn how easy it is? Definitely not good for my self esteem!

PMDM 11:09 AM  

We often call a person who does severely odious acts a "monster." For example, I have frequently enough heard people refer to someone like Hitler as a "monster." Perhaps it would be more accurate to characterized such a person as 'monstrous," but referring to a person as a monster is certainly part of our colloquial language. Indeed, often children who misbehave terrible are called "little monsters."

So one may believe that Dr. Victor F. did monstrous things in stealing dead body parts to create two monsters (although he disposes of the body of the female monster before finishing it). Then it would be appropriate to call Victor a monster. The book paints Victor as a much more complex person than the greatly simplified (and truncated) movie version most are familiar with. He is a person not without remorse, one who is interested in making amends for his moral errors. So, based on the book, Dr. F is no monster. Based on the movie, I'm not so sure it is wrong to call him a "monster" in the sense that he does things that some would call monstrous.

I guess it is OK to Dr. F "a monster" and his creation "The Monster."

chefbea 11:12 AM  

@jenCt never heard of of flag as a verb that way. Have heard of it as...I'm going to flag someone down to help me change my flat tire!!

Evan 12:03 PM  


ANAG. is an abbrev. for ANAGRAM. Hence, mediums for d-u-m-m-i-e-s.

John V 12:07 PM  

I see why this may have rated medium but it was harder that that for me. NW was challenging for me. Like @Metarex, I immediately noted all the 7 stacks when first looking at the grid. Pretty amazing technical feat.

Re: ANAG et. alia, Bruce Sutphin, over at Xwordinfo, allows as how he maybe is not to fond of it and some of the shorter stuff.

I liked it. Congrats, Bruce, on your solo debut.

Evan 12:14 PM  

I found this pretty easy too. I'd add NETFLIX to the list of snappy words, as well as IQ TESTS and ZZ TOP. I'm surprised that TOLKIEN hasn't made the Times puzzle since the Maleska days! I'm with several others at wincing at the clue for MONSTER -- I know that pop culture has bestowed the name Frankenstein on the monster, and I'll plead guilty to having previously created video game characters whom I've said looked like Frankenstein (referring to the monster). But that's not how the book had it, and it's not an obscure book. Bothers me but good, it does. Otherwise I thought this puzzle was good stuff.

Psychopop moments: My wife had AHI TUNA last night for dinner, and I had a pair of TWIX bars in between classes yesterday afternoon, which I think was all I had eaten in between breakfast and dinner.

My humblest thanks to everyone yesterday! I'm still euphoric about it.

OISK 12:28 PM  

I loved this one. So much clever cluing - so many times my first impulse was wrong, and I smiled when I realized where Bruce was going. That's the joy of solving, and this puzzle was really joyful.

Ordinarily, since I am about as familiar with rock bands as I am with Urdu, ( I have heard it spoken but don't understand it...) when the first clue is "Rock Band" I want to throw the paper across the room. I know ZZTOP only from crosswords past. However, very recently I asked right here on this blog, whether SANTANA was the name of a person or a group. And someone politely answered that it was both. So Santana was my immediate answer to 1 across - happy to get it right! Easier for me than yesterday's.

Ray J 12:34 PM  

Breezed through this one in about half the time it took to finish @Evan’s ball buster yesterday. (Congrats, dude! – I didn’t get a chance to say so yesterday.) Only time I slowed down today was to decide whether we were dealing with AMOEBAS or AMOEBAe.

What’s a SOC (58D)? Socialist? Socialite? Sociologist? Slightly Off Center? Singular of Convenience?

@Questinia, If I were making a detest list it would have to contain ONETEN.

Enjoyed this one a lot.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@ Ray J, I read Soc = Sociology... Here, I suspect "major" refers to the course of study, not the student pursuing it.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Try to excuse it all you want, "Frankenstein e.g." is just a plain old error. If the justification is that, yeah, the doctor was a bit of a monster, it's just a very poor clue. Me, I refused to write it in other than via the crossing
"Santana" was my first thought upon looking at 1A (must be my age), so it was off to the races straightaway after that.


ahimsa 1:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahimsa 1:08 PM  

I agree that if you've read the novel then Frankenstein is the doctor's name, not the creature's name. Actually, the creature (in the novel) did not feel like much of a monster, either. At least he didn't start out that way.

But due to the movies, and the passage of time, there has been a shift in usage. So I guess we're stuck with it. And I can live with that even though I was saying to myself "It can't be MONSTER!" all the way to the bitter end. And I even wrote in MONikER at one point (which seemed like an okay answer). Oh, well. :-)

But I still loved the puzzle. I enjoyed the "Mediums for dummies" clue for ANAG. Kudos to Bruce Sutphin!

PS. Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN is a pretty good book, by the way. I read it long ago but still remember feeling sad during the parts told from the creature's point of view. He's so all alone in the world.

Carola 1:13 PM  

My eye happened to catch the first line of Gareth Bain's review of today's L.A. Times puzzle on the Crossword Fiend site: "Wow am I ambivalent about this puzzle…" So I had to go check it out. Thought the puzzle was great, recommend.

Unknown 1:14 PM  

Med. Fri for me. Struggled with the NW for a while before it came into place. The rest was Fri. easy even with all the ?. Liked it more than Rex. I thought it had a lot of zip to it through all the words others have pointed out already.

A few writeovers: ICEBAgs for ICEBATH, STilTED for STUNTED (until I saw he directional clue at 56A). Liked the crossing of TORPEDO and TORNADO, similar words, both destructive, yet totally different.

Re: Frankenstein - I don't understand the griping. As others have pointed out, that's clearly how the monster is referred to "in the language". I thought we liked in the language phrases. Why no hate for Xeroxed clued the way it is?

ChemProf 1:23 PM  

Speaking as someone with a PhD in organic chemistry that has been training others in the subject for nearly 15 years now, I have never heard of the word 'oxidate.' Should clearly be oxidize.

Ergo, unless it's standard crosswordese (a subject in which I fully admit to deficiencies), I hereby call this answer weak. ;)

LaneB 1:25 PM  

Got most of it but foundered in the NW corner for another dazzling DNF mostly from fatigue and lack of patience.. NE corner particularly enjoyable with NETFLIX, XEROXED cross. Helped that TWIX keeps showing up along with AMOEBAS and ENRON. Still managed to fail, however, a condition I'm becoming hardened to on Friday and

GILL I. 1:37 PM  

Easy peasy but loved it...
Just wondering though, isn't AHI TUNA redundant? I thought AHI is tuna....
Got SANTANA off the TNT and was so proud. Paused at the CHUNNEL answer. We took the London/Paris Eurostar and the 15 or so minutes submerged in a tube was like having an MRI... Xanax came to the rescue (well, along with about 3 glasses of vino).
The only real huh I had was the TIRE answer for flag and not knowing whether Bohr's first name is with an ie or ei Everything else just slid into its rightful spot
Thank you Mr. Sutphin (was a neat name!
Oh, my captcha is tityaba. The Tenn. team coach?

GILL I. 1:41 PM  

That should be (what a neat name..!)
Gads, now my captcha is eatsyo

Z 1:55 PM  

@anon11:07 - It's all relative. My "medium easy" on a Friday now means +/-30 minutes, minimal write-overs, finished. "Easy" on a Friday is going to mean +/- 20 minutes, minimal write-overs, finished. I am to the point where I rarely DNF on a Friday, but I still remember that feeling of knowing that, since I finished, the rating would be easy.

Bird 1:56 PM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this one. Just the right amount of toughness and clever cluing made this fun. I liked all the high-valued Scrabble letters in the grid. Not a lot of garbage, but I thought 10 clues with “?” modifiers seemed excessive.

Wanted ANAT for 5D thinking dummies in a med class, but TUMSHOE ruled that out.
Hand up for questioning 16A and 57A. Young Frankenstein is one of my favorite movies.

@jae – BON JOVI also came to mind, but I didn’t think they were in the HOF so I checked with Downs first and got SANTANA off the S from SPOILED at 1D (which was one of my erasures).


Stay safe those in Karen’s path.

Acme 2:03 PM  

@chef bea, gill ip
I too had trouble with flag/TIRE, but it's really the perfect misdirect...
@chef bea
I thought about flagging someone down to help with a flat TIRE too... There must be a joke or puzzle in there with FLAG/FLAT.
But I'm sure you've heard someone say their energy flagged or their interest in something has flagged....
Maybe it comes from flapping high in the wind initially then totally drooping?

@carola, @ michael Henko. Thanks for tech help!
Mostly i need to change old fashioned mouse batteries on desktop so I can point and click and print the puzzle.
It's sort of fascinating to me that my high tech magical wireless mouse needs the same batteries I'd put in a roller ball cat toy.

Penna Resident 2:04 PM  

i refused to write MONSTER, but after getting ATMO and SOC, had to give in. my question is Why?

1. being well aware of the controversy, why would will seek out criticism with so many other possible clues available?

2. this is the easiest friday ive every seen, finishing in record time, mostly because of easy clues. so why put a monday clue on this? could have been more e-fresh with Employee Gathering Place?

mac 2:12 PM  

Nice and easy Friday, with oxidize my only write-over to oxidate.

A long and beautiful day in and around Salamanca, part of a three day wedding celebration. We spent a couple of hours at a farm where steer get trained (and kept very healthy and fit) for bull fighting. I hate the sport, but I was happy to see the beautiful surroundings they spend their life in: endless grassy fields surrounded by stone walls, shaded by the Spanish oaks which form the food for the famous pigs from this region.
Everything happens late in Spain: lunch was at four and dinner and a concert are after 9.

flora plethora 2:13 PM  

Flora Plethora

I thought I would say hi to all you normal people with regulated lives and long marriages, which has gotta be the secret to your consistency. When I normally check in, I’m in bed with my phone, cheating on the answers w Rex, reading his analysis and often his fulminating yet again. I have studied his biases. His bon amie with constructors – this is going to illicit his IRE- but I recall his positive love of Puzzle girl’s work that time, and then yesterday, Evan’s. And I realize he has his good reasons, but certain people tend to slant his biochemistry in a positive direction. I agree with his justifications often and the inconsistencies that he elucidates. I agree with some of his nitpicking routines, but his continual dissatisfaction indicates to me exhaustion with the rigors of the relentless endeavor. And I can understand that. Maybe more time off? But the blog is really good. I suggest revenue-generating ads. Why the heck not?

Speaking of nitpicking: ALIMONY? Do some states still have courts that award alimony? Talk about old usage. It’s called maintenance or support. At least it was when I spent five years hanging around Supreme Court downtown in NYC. (Longest divorce on record, still. No money involved.) I doubt that legalese has reverted since when.

@ Evan: Great puzzle yesterday, congrats. Better late, right? I found your posts quite wonderful. Enchanting in their sincerity and enthusiasm, and not TMI.

Can’t say that for another, who might consider investing in one of the many lovely handcrafted journals, so I don’t have to keep reading recollections in the same spirit of trying not to watch a bad T.V. show, i.e. like that Gothic thriller, Breaking Bad. I watched it, but seriously? The direction was so broad, so unrealistic. The acting so over-the-top, except for Gomey. It just never made any sense, even in a fictional television fantasy way.
Hank has just been shot. Walter is on the ground in a silent Munch scream shot, mouth wide open; he’s on his side and the open mouth is a big brown VACUUM, bigger than the Munch, actually. The next scene he standing up, grief all done, gone! Absorbed! and he’s back to being a bad-ass, pointing out where Jesse is. Would that we could all do our Kubler-Ross that fast. That kind of writing always gave me “outright prolonged laughter.” Quick, what small 60’s flick, starring Jason Robards? Hint: the actor who gave him outright prolonged laughter ended up in episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, as the RaBBi.

How to be instantly unpopular: disagree with 10 million people about a TV show. Hey, it’s America. (Teeny tiny) Minority rules.

Cranston is now acting as LBJ at American Rep in Cambridge, my old stomping ground. The run is SRO. Bummer. Would have loved to see him as LBJ. Check out how he looks in the role. He smiles a lot. Wears a tie.

jazzmanchgo 2:31 PM  

Sorry, but I have to go with the folks for whom "FRANKENSTEIN" = "MONSTER" is nothing but an egregiously sloppy clue (if not an outright error).

It's not a matter of interpretation or an alternative definition, and it's certainly not a matter of creative mis-direction; it's simply flat-out wrong. I think that the attempts to justify it by saying "Hey, Doc was really acting LIKE a monster, so why not just call him that?" are pretty labored and don't hold up to much scrutiny (or, for that matter, much literary analysis).

To justify it by saying that "most people" believe that Frankenstein was the monster's name is even worse (misleading movie titles notwithstanding)-- would we accept "PLAY IT AGAIN SAM" as an answer to the clue, "famous line from 'Casabanca'" just because "most people" [wrongly] believe or "remember" that the line was really in the film?

Sorry, but truth matters -- even in crosswords.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

regarding the monster debate,
most people could care less.

which, i guess makes them right, because only a minority couldnt.

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Cranston was great as LBJ. A bit short for the part but had all the right body language. Very enjoyable play.


Milford 3:35 PM  

Late to the discussion today, but I agree the puzzle was on the easy side of Friday, scrabbly (at least in the North) and that Frankenstein was the scientist that made the Creature.

@acme - I think your original blog name today could be a good horror movie: Amoeba Chunnel Monsters.

@mac - so jealous you get to be in Salamanca. Have you gone to the University doors in the town to find the lucky frog, yet?

long suffering mets fan 3:40 PM  

I apologize to be late to the party, but I just had to comment on yesterday's puzzle -- Evan you hit a home run! Fantastic puzzle

GILL I. 3:40 PM  

Hey ACME. Thanks but it still doesn't look right...Maybe to Flog would be to tire????
@mac. Well, you're probably eating dinner about now BUT...Jamon Iberico!!! Buy some Guijelo cured ham - they'll vacuum pack it for you so it doesn't smell and you just sail through customs...You'll never eat prosciutto again with the same gusto...
Have fun!

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

As a newbie to crosswords I learn so much by reading the comments. For instance, I learned that ANAG is short for ANAGRAM. Also, I confidently wrote in MONSTER only to find out that Frankenstein is the doctor and not the creature he created.

sanfranman59 3:53 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)

Fri 15:50, 17:34, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 9:30, 10:00, 0.95, 40%, Easy-Medium

Z 4:01 PM  

Regarding "Frankenstein" - Words have multiple means. It is this very fact that allows for misdirection in crossword puzzles. This is the reason TIRE can be clued as "Flag." This is also the reason MONSTER can be clued as "Frankenstein." Merriam-Webster Online gives the following:

1 a : the title character in Mary W. Shelley's novel Frankenstein who creates a monster that ruins his life
b : a monster in the shape of a man especially in popularized versions of the Frankenstein story
2 : a monstrous creation; especially : a work or agency that ruins its originator

The beauty of this clue is that it is most likely to misdirect those who know more. Those who actually read the novel are for more likely to be slowed than those of us who get most of our Frankenstein knowledge from Mel Brooks and Scooby Doo.

Nevertheless, it is not an error. Shortz wins again.

Brookboy 4:10 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, found it somewhat surprisingly easy for a Friday. I always begin a Friday puzzle wondering if it's gonna be another DNF, but not today.

Northwest corner killed me at first because I went with rawTUNA (2D), and it took forever for me to finally get AHI.

Also went with OXIDize(16A). Never heard of OXIDATE until I started getting the crosses. Got NETFLIX, spent a lot of time trying to figure out LiY(12D) and IzE(13D) until I realized that OXIDATE would make it all work.

The monster issue isn't on my radar. I guess I always think of that poor creature as Frankenstein's Monster, so the clue made sense to me.

Jackie 4:23 PM  

Is there a rule that TNT has to be in every single puzzle?

This reveals more about me than about the puzzle, but even with
_ _ N _ _ _ A I was stumped at the first answer, because I was positive it could only be PANTERA and the P didn't work with the down. *sigh*

Identifying Frankenstein as the monster would be fine in a Monday puzzle or a TV Guide one. For a NYT Friday puzzle? Not so much.

Penna Resident 4:50 PM  

disagree Z, shortz usually wins the incorrect clue debates, but i view this as a very poor clue on many fronts.

i agree with many that it can be considered technically accurate, so i avoid that black/white issue.
but it was a poor choice, especially on a friday.
there were many better ones, and the vast majority of people will not look it up and simply go on thinking that will stooped to tv guide level.

so on that basis, shortz loses.

Z 5:18 PM  

@Penna Resident - This is analogous to a sports tactic - using an opponents strength against him, making this a very good clue. The strength of the Friday NYTX solver is the diverse and esoteric knowledge base we have to have. The very fact that it is, as you acknowledge, "technically correct" while causing a whole bunch of very smart people to go "that ain't right" is what makes it a good clue.

I've been on the "that ain't right" side of things in the past. I was wrong. I have come to appreciate that Mr. Shortz uses all kinds of devices to make the solver bend her way of thinking.

I have exceeded my quota for the day - so I leave rest of the debate to others.

@sanfranman59 - The Red Wings look a lot slower than the Sharks or the Blackhawks this year, but now don't have to worry about them until the finals. Woo Hoo - Go Wings! Go Tigers!

Bird 5:20 PM  


I knew the answer was wrong (Dr. Frankenstein), but I wrote it down knowing that is what the puzzle wanted (as is the case too often). Ah, well.

Unknown 5:30 PM  

So nobody bit on my question about Xerox. If Frankenstein is incorrect b/c we're going to disregard common usage for being technically correct, shouldn't the same be said of the Xerox clue? It's just a company, not a copy or duplicate as clued.

jberg 5:52 PM  

It must have been easy, because I managed to solve it on the plane,after getting up at 3 AM to catch said plane. I nodded off a couple times, but I did get it done long before we landed. Have to like the Zs and Xs, however you pronounce them -- I would have liked a J, too, but maybe not Rex.

I too thought OXIDATE was odd - but we do talk about Oxidation, right? Paradoxical, or something,

Everything else has been said, most of it many times!

jae 6:07 PM  

A Thousand Clowns -- Barry Gordon

Penna Resident 6:54 PM  

OK Z, we all know misdirects are fun, especially on fri/sat, but the misdirect should leave us saying aha, not ohno.
the sports analogy that fits better here is a professional team calling a really bad play just to catch the other team off guard.

Steve J 8:12 PM  

Really enjoyed the cluing.

Really, really hated ETAILED. The noun is bad enough. The verb is horrible. The past-tense verb is unspeakably terrible. It's he Frankenstein's MONSTER of horrific e- words. (It's also completely up findable, at least by me, on Google in this context - i.e., not involving a text in which it's clearly a typo where someone dropped the d from "detailed".)

@Z is right about the Frankenstein clue. It was brilliant and correct. Count me among many who resisted MONSTER thinking it can't be right. @Z is also right that the NYT very, very rarely gets this stuff wrong (as in once every few years). Except for ETAILED.

Steve J 8:13 PM  

*up findable = unfindable. Stupid iPad keyboard.

GILL I. 9:10 PM  

@Rob C...Don't feel too bad. Nobody debunked my redundant AHI TUNA question either [sigh].

Jeff Bezos 9:18 PM  

I think this is a verb.

Anonymous 9:22 PM  

There ain't no Haagen, there ain't no Dazs ... and there ain't no OXIDATE.

Wikipedia entry for "Redox" (ANAG. "do Rex") -- which is a marvelously clear explanation of oxidation-reduction reactions -- contains the words oxidize, oxide, oxidation, oxidant, oxidative, but no OXIDATE. Verb form (implied by the clue) is always oxidize. If OXIDATE is listed in dictionaries, it must be either archaic or extremely specialized.

Glad I'm not a constructor, pecked to death by such nerdery.

Just Sayin 9:39 PM  

@Gill IP; Ahi is most commonly used as a substitute for Yellowfin, and Yellowfin is most commonly referred to as Yellowfin Tuna, so it does not seem redundant to say Ahi Tuna.
Whether in Andalusia or Catalan, I can order Iberico, and I am sure to get ham, but Jamon Iberico is not redundant. It just costs $100/lb at my deli in NY.

I liked the misdirection on "Duped", and would have equally appreciated the trademarked Mimeoed. I see nothing wrong here.

Oxidate is a perfectly good chemistry word even if it does not appear in Wikipedia. True nerds do not rely on Wikipedia as their sole source of supposed knowledge.

retired_chemist 9:40 PM  

OXIDATE - no way. Like Chem Prof, never heard it. Would have dinged any student who used the word on an exam.

Any Friday under 10 minutes here is easy. This one was.

Lots of good clues, pretty much in my wheelhouse.

Thanks, Mr. Sutphin.

sanfranman59 10:11 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 6:45, 6:07, 1.10, 87%, Challenging
Tue 9:17, 8:15, 1.13, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:38, 9:44, 0.99, 47%, Medium
Thu 20:05, 16:30, 1.22, 84%, Challenging
Fri 15:50, 17:34, 0.90, 34%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:12, 3:50, 1.10, 85%, Challenging
Tue 5:21, 5:10, 1.04, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:55, 5:36, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 11:50, 9:27, 1.25, 83%, Challenging
Fri 9:16, 10:00, 0.93, 34%, Easy-Medium

@Z ... the Sharks came out flying last night and dominated the Canucks. For whatever reason, they've had Vancouver's number the past couple of years, having beaten them in 10 straight (including a sweep in last year's playoffs). But San Jose is always one of the top teams in the regular season team and, unlike your Wings, a perennial disappointment in the playoffs (Datsyuk is my favorite player in all of hockey to watch ... it's crazy that he's never won the Hart Trophy). I'm hoping that this is the year the Sharks finally get to the finals. We'll see. Good luck to your Tigers. I've picked them to face the Dodgers in the Series, but I'm afraid I'll be pulling for the local team here in the Division Series.

GILL I. 10:29 PM  

Ok @Just Sayin. I'll bite with whatever you say about Yellowfin albeit it's still TUNA. So, It's still TUNA TUNA.
Iberico is not just any ham my friend. How many hogs you know are fed acorns and given a fairly long life roaming beautiful hills and vistas before being slaughtered and gracing our plates. $100 a pound at a NY Deli probably means you're getting something equivalent to prosciutto. :-)

Joan 9:47 AM  

Re Friday, Frankenstein WAS the doctor. These petty quibbles in the clues drive me mad!!!

Thomas Gary 12:50 PM  

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spacecraft 11:48 AM  

Interesting puzz. OFL is one hard-to-please dude. He names TOOSOON--one of my least favorite fills--as an exception (!) to the so-so fill quality. How can you not like taking an AIRTAXI over (or in this case, under) the CHUNNEL? Or hitting the AMISTAD with a TORPEDO?

Hand up for BONJOVI, and especially OXIDIZE--what with all the scrabbliness I'd run into so far, that one seemed a delicious gimme. Had to work up that section from the bottom to prove the wrongness of the IZ. Hated to erase that.

I do agree that the ALIMONY-DIVORCE entries were a bit sub-Friday in difficulty, but the other clues stood tall and kept this out of the easy category for me.

One entry in particular evoked a poignant memory. Working as a corpsman in an Air Force hospital many years sgo, I was on duty when a small child was brought in, burning up with fever. As soon as the nurse touched him she started barking orders. "Plug that sink and fill it with cold water. Get all the ice trays from the fridge and dump 'em in." She was taking his temp: it was 108.6! I can still feel his shivering body and hear his plaintive cries as we rubbed ice cubes over his face and head. I said, "This seems so cruel." Nurse replied, "His brain is literally cooking. We don't get his temp down, he'll die--or worse: become a vegetable." Well, the ICEBATH worked. For the first time, I felt as though I had actually helped save a life. There's no feeling like that.

Waxy in Montreal 1:18 PM  

Very easy Friday coming as a relief after yesterday's slog. Only problem was the SIRI/AMISTAD cross which was a personal nattick. 9D a gimme, albeit a choker-upper for most Montrealers - we wuz robbed!

captcha = icyand which sounds like yet another cryotherapy choice.

Waxy in Montreal 1:22 PM  

@Joan, you're correct but Frankenstein himself was still a pretty monstrous doctor...

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

Starting with RP, I have never read so much nitpicking and groveling in one day. I am a 76 year old, with a low/high IQ, am semi-smart and faux wise. Get over it! Ask about 100 people who the name Frankenstein belongs to and the greater majority are going to say, "That crazy monster in the movies." Personally, I believe this puzzle was just plain terrific.....and easy.
Ron Diego 11/8 11:AM PST

eastsacgirl 3:05 PM  

Wow! Another TNT....who could have guessed. Wasn't surprised to see easy rating. Finished in good time for a Friday with no errors. Liked the TORPEDO/TORNADO cross.

eastsacgirl 3:07 PM  

Wow! Another TNT....who could have guessed. Wasn't surprised to see easy rating. Finished in good time for a Friday with no errors. Liked the TORPEDO/TORNADO cross.

DMG 4:02 PM  

Struggled with this one, but made it! Had to wait for the musician clues to more or less fill themselves, and reread 11D enough times to see that it din,t say "table banner". In the end I was pleased to fill all the squares, and came here for explanations of ANAG (ugh, even this IPad wants me to write the whole word!) and SOC. Now for The dreaded Saturday which seems lately to be designed for anyone but me!

Dirigonzo 4:43 PM  

Apparently @SiS's Dynaiti from yesterday is too recent a coinage to be the basis for a TNT clue so the constructor was stuck with the more mundane Blockbuster? cluing. When I saw EXPOS I knew @Waxy would stop by to comment and he did not disappoint. Finished the puz with the AerO/ATMO correction in the SW corner.

@spacecraft - If an ICEBATH story can be called heart-warming, yours was.

Solving in Seattle 6:01 PM  

Who's that Aussie swimmer in the SPEEDO(S) with the nickname TORPEDO? Good cross.

@Diri, I did chuckle with TNT showing up again today. I had the Dynaiti drink yesterday and it blew me away.

Took the CHUNNEL from London to Paris with my wife a few years back. Wow it was fast.

Good puz Bruce; good clues Shortzie.

Have a good weekend, Syndies.

Capcha: Nshabno. Didn't he hang with Meshach Shadrach and Abednego?

Ginger 1:38 AM  

Please don't call this easy, 'cause I finished a Friday with no Googles or other help. Of course I liked it, and I liked the deviousness of the cluing. With StinkER, before SPRAYER, and OXIDizE, the NE took a while to sort out.

38-D reminds me of another Mel Brooks flic, Blazing Saddles, with Madeline Kahn as Lily Von Shtupp singing of "men coming and going, and going and coming, and always TOOSOON."

@Spacecraft, thanks for the sick child story. Hubster was a Navy corpsman with the Marines, you guys did a great job.

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