Parisian girlfriend / MON 3-3-14 / Complimentary road service in Sierra Leone's capital / America's Most Wanted host John / New Jersey governor whose first name starts his last name

Monday, March 3, 2014

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels and Michael Blake

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (**For A Monday**)

THEME: "N" the middle — semi-wacky two-word phrases where the first word ends in "N" and the  second word is identical, but minus the "N":
Theme answers:
Word of the Day: "THE X Factor" (13D: TV's "___ Factor") —
The X Factor is a television music competition franchise created by Simon Cowell. It originated in the United Kingdom, where it was devised as a replacement for Pop Idol. It is now held in various countries. The contestants are aspiring pop singers drawn from public competitive auditions. The programmes are produced by executive producer Simon Cowell and his company SYCOtv. The "X Factor" of the title refers to the undefinable "something" that makes for star quality.[1] The prize is usually a recording contract, in addition to the publicity that appearance in the later stages of the show itself generates, not only for the winner but also for other highly ranked contestants. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one's a bit bland. Central answer has a lovely wackiness to it, but the rest seem like afterthoughts—mostly RLSTNEA (in fact, the final two theme answers are composed *only* of those letters), and just flat. The simplicity of the theme made all the answers supremely easy to get with just a few crosses. The puzzle did have a couple of long-answer highlights—a timely CHRISTIE answer, a much-needed ESTROGEN injection—but the fill here is, once again, not good. EENYNATLERSE all 1-2-3 like that? There's not the polish that you used to see in Andrea's puzzle many years ago. She helped me polish one of the very first grids I made, and that attention to detail really, really helped. Not sure why she's not holding herself to those same high standards any more. Also not sure why all the Scrabble-f***ing. Anyone can see that the NE corner, for instance, is diminished by that "X." THEX? If that's the cost of your "X," it's too expensive.

Since it's an easy-puzzle day, I want to take a second to plug Liz Gorski's "Crossword Nation" puzzle—a weekly M/T-level puzzle by one of the greatest constructors in the country. High-quality work every time out. Subscription info here. Also, check out the puzzle I awarded Puzzle of the Week for last week—Matt Jones's "Letter Chop" (get it from the Jonesin' Crossword Google Group, here). Matt shows how entertaining a very simple theme can be.

Had a great time at the Finger Lakes Crossword Competition over the weekend. Got to meet constructor Adam Perl, who made the tournament puzzles all himself, including a wicked, grid-busting puzzle for the Expert division. Not many tournaments feature all-original puzzles. I was really impressed. Plus I got to reconnect with some old students who showed up, do a little Q-and-A about The World of Crosswords, and meet a bunch of friendly people (including volunteers from a Cornell service fraternity, pictured right). Fun fact: the tournament champion came all the way from Ohio. He'd heard about the tourney on my website, and since he couldn't make this upcoming weekend's ACPT, he decided he'd get his tourney experience some other way. Turns out lots of central NY'ers either didn't know the tourney was happening or found out too late to plan for it, so next year I'm gonna work with the tournament organizers to do a little more planning and promotion, and maybe we can turn it into a regular regional tournament, accessible to all skill levels. That's the idea, anyway.

[Me, failing to solve Adam Perl's tough puzzle accurately; Adam, laughing sadistically]
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Elle54 6:57 AM  

I liked your puzzle ACM!!!

Beaglelover 7:00 AM  

I liked the puzzle. It is clever!

jberg 7:16 AM  

13D should have been clued "what's missing to make this a pangram." Only I guess Monday is for new solvers, and they won't know what a pangram is.

I did have fun with this one, and thought the ZANY factor was a little more than @Rex did -- loved the mental image of 17A; trying to think of an actual role to clue it with (Is there an opera about Cleopatra? I can't think of it). But again, that would be too hard for a Monday. So would "Gilbert and Sullivan song about sewing" for 28A.

I loved the JAVA clue, too -- and if you're going to have to put in a compass direction, it's nice to not make us try to visualize the location of a couple of obscure cities (sorry, Dayton!) on a map. A clue referring to the ESEometer would certainly have been too hard for a Monday!

OK, enough said -- I was comment 3 when I started typing this, probably 17 by now.

John Child 7:23 AM  

A sweet nice Monday. I liked the theme and had no objection to the bits of GOO and ESE. Went down very quickly and very pleasantly.

joho 7:54 AM  

Well, if this idea has been done before I haven't seen it, so I give Andrea and Michaels mucho kudos for originality, freshness and fun!

I also love that it's a pangram and see nothing wrong with including "The X Factor" which is a well known TV show and a much newer answer than THEX Files would have been.

I have to add that having worked with Andrea on more than one occasion she is stickler for attention to detail and relentless when it comes to revising the grid. No slacker her!

My favorites were CHRISTIE and ESTROGEN ... what an interesting combination!

I thought this puzzle had lots of BRIO no ROT and tons of STYLE!

Thank you, Andrea and Michael, for such a wonderful way to start Monday morning!

joho 7:56 AM  

That should be "a stickler" ... and @Rex, I forgot to mention that I LOVE your "pearls!" Classic.

Susan McConnell 8:09 AM  

Mixed feelings...I like it because I solved it easily with no errors or fat-fingering. But I have to agree with Rex about one thing. As clever as it is to come up with the phrases fitting the theme, it really oversimplifies (even for a Monday) the solve. I appreciate a pangram now and then, and it didn't feel forced here to me.

Casco Kid 8:12 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Casco Kid 8:14 AM  

Fun Monday. Playful. Nice respite. :)

The other day I had a few extra minutes and decided to look inside a .puz file with my binary microscope. I elucidated the format quickly -- a Monday challenge for my binary elucidation skills and can read the files programmatically now. If @Rex or anyone has a use for this level of access, please let me know. I'm cascokid at cascokid dot com.

Should point out: .puz files are checksum-protected so I cannot write or edit them without more study.

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

Fun puzzle, medium Monday solve. Thought the theme was clever and didn't even notice the scrabble f'ing until Rex pointed it out. Not a problem for us.

AliasZ 8:46 AM  

Cute puzzle by @Amati Christie Mba and Michael Blake. The theme was not very complicated, getting the first one easily yielded all the others. I liked FREETOWN FREE TOW and DIVAN DIVA. I also thought some of these could have made it into this one:

DOWN DOW - Stock index in decline.
YEARN YEAR - Period of longing.
BROWN BROW - Chestnut-colored eye shade.
DOGMAN DOGMA - Cesar Millan's teachings.
LOREN LORE - Wisdom of Sophia.
VEGAN VEGA - Strictly herbivorous star.

Most of the fill was fine too, although the five H's in a row at 15-16A looked somewhat ZANY. I tell THEE, the ESTROGEN level in the room certainly increased with the entries of mon AMIE, SHARON Stone and the QUEEN. Having PIANO, STANZA and the AMATI dynasty of violin makers added class, as did the 13th word of Hamlet's soliloquy at 47D.

By the way, is John WALSH WELSH?

Despite some of the partials and less than optimal fill, I KENTS ay I disliked it. Perfect for a dreary Monday.

To celebrate, let's listen to the second part of the first movement, Allegro con BRIO, of the PIANO Concerto No. 3 in C minor by Beethoven, performed here by our old friend Arthur Rubinstein and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Happy Monday.

joho 9:06 AM  

My grammar went out the window this morning! No slacker she!

Z 9:14 AM  

Don't have a GOAT, have a GOA. A perfect Monday puzzle: Gettable theme that helps the solve, enough of the short standards (AMATI, IBEX, ENOS) to grow the ese database of a new solver, just a little bite to remind one that it is the NYTX, and that all-time classic "REPO Man" (I still laugh every time the generic "BEER" shows up on screen).

As usual, I did not notice the pangram. OFL thinks lowly of them, the constructor thinks highly of them. I'm agnostic, but one can't seriously complain about too much RSTLNE AND scrabblef#$%ing in the same paragraph.

I do note, though, the unusual appearance of UH HUH in the NE. Either Mr. Black is actually masked or someone is trying to make a certain anonymous poster happy. Anything you want to share @ACME? ;)

Beer Rating - Oberon - Light, citrusy, with a nice finish. Perfect for a Spring day. Now all we need is a Spring day.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

Are there really people who, after finishing the puzzle, go back and check to see if every letter of the alphabet is in the grid? I highly doubt it. And THE X is horrible.

Carola 10:03 AM  

Cute idea, liked the ZANY answers and the puzzle's overall BRIO and expressiveness (HAH! YEOW! UH HUH).

PATTERN PATTER reminded me of when my mom and I were trying to LEARN to sew and debated whether we could tackle PATTERNs from Vogue - and the ensuing PATTERN @#$%^&! when doing the actual tackling.

@jberg - There's Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, and she also figures most lusciously in Handel's Giulio Cesare. I like your Gilbert and Sullivan PATTER idea!

quilter1 10:06 AM  

I liked it, especially as a sewing nut the PATTERN PATTER. I suspected a pangram but didn't check for it. Nice Monday.

Pete 10:11 AM  

@Z - Yeah, there's no room for quality between RSTLN and scrabblef#$%ing. Just like there's not room a decent sandwitch somewhere between bologny on white with French's mustard and raw Ahi-Ahi with yak cheese, baby bamboo shoots with a mango-pineapple chutney on artisenal grass-seed bread.

chefbea 10:19 AM  

@Andrea and Michael -loved the puzzle!! Knew it had to be a pangram even tho I didn't go back and check.

dk 10:26 AM  

๐ŸŒ•๐ŸŒ•๐ŸŒ• (3 Moons) Great start to a week. Thanks ANdrea and Michael. Only wish HR Puff N Stuff made it to the grid.

Casco Kid, I used a text analyzer to determine the most beloved and hated days of the week. Perhaps we should team up and bring some much needed science to this free for all. If nothing else we could team up with SanFranMan and numb our fellow posters with data

Two Ponies 10:36 AM  

Nice one Andrea and Michael.
We might have an ibex and ESE but we also have Goa. That kicked up the difficulty a bit.
Thanks for a nice start to the week.

@ dk, Let the numbing begin! I'd be interested.

Milford 10:38 AM  

Nice Monday, very simple theme, but always interesting to see how one letter changes an entire word. Usually I note the pangram after the Q makes an appearance, but somehow I never even noticed it.

Liked STANZA and ESTROGEN, and the PIANO clue was cute. DIVAN DIVA reminds me that I've never been real clear about the difference between a DIVAN, couch, sofa, davenport, futon...

It's been days, actually weeks, since I've checked the blog - between a new job, a vacation, and general busy-ness, I fell behind. Now I'm caught up! Going to try to get back in the habit - I missed the snark!

@Z - Oberon...I don't even know if I could drink one right now with this sub-zero weather . My oldest has outdoor HS soccer starting in one week. I have no clue how that is supposed to happen.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

The standards on this site baffle me. Mr. Parker sneers at this puzzle for including an "X" in one corner, but gushes about last Friday's for including "KTHXBYE." The charming theme entries here--Divan Diva, Eastern Easter--leave him cold, but the mere mention of things that are new (e.g., Google glass in last Friday's) delight him. His approval is, it seems, cheaply won by pop culture references and proper names, so long as they are known mainly to people in the know.

Z 10:48 AM  

@Milford - Welcome back. I was wondering if you were still digging out or had fled to warmer climes.

JTHurst 11:00 AM  

Thank you Rex. I couldn't figure out the theme. I was thinking the 'N' signified an 'and' between the theme answers. Still do not see much zaniness in the puzzle. Of course I could be suffering from the weather problems, while you are suffering from cold weather we are in a drought with no rain for more than a month. That is extremely unusual. The antler ferns that live in nodes of the rain trees are all dying. And with the land burnings in Indonesia the haze factor, with no rain, has been greatly exacerbated.

I hope m 'brio' comes back for the Tuesday puzzle.

Steve J 11:02 AM  

Thought this was a perfectly fine Monday. While the theme is simple, it's also something I don't recall having seen before. So the freshness bumps up the interest factor a notch or two.

As is often the case early in the week, the most interesting fill was outside the theme: STANZA, DONT GO, YEOW, ZANY, ESTROGEN. Cluing was lively, especially for Monday's often flat (er, simple) standards.

Yes, the two eastern corners are a little ungainly - after I solved, I had a moment of asking "What the hell is THEX" before realizing it was THE X (that didn't make it less jarring) - but the rest of the puzzle felt clean to me. I certainly didn't notice anything as I was solving that made me groan or roll my eyes, which is my usual flag for subpar fill.

Agreed with Z's point about complaining about both too much RLSTNEA and Scrabblef-ing. Then again, I don't care about the letters used in a puzzle one way or another, just what words those letters form. (E.g., ESTROGEN was a great word, but it's 75% "boring" letters; THE X is Scrabbly, but it's an extremely awkward entry.) It's the words that make or break a puzzle, not the letters.

Casco Kid 11:08 AM  

@dk I'm happy to help. I like @sanfranman's a posteriori analysis, but I think the level of difficulty of a puzzle may be gauged a priori, e.g., @rex's APRILFOOLS puzzle has a clue "meet" for the 3-letter soln SIT, but hIT and fIT also work, making it strangely hard to get. That sort of thing should be knowable before anyone solves the puzzle.

I'm able to extract clues and answers from existing .puz puzzle files in a high throughput context. But the real work would be on's word graph. That's where the misdirecting clues difficulty can be quantified.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Rex, Shmex, this was yummy. Go,ACME!!

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

What on earth is RLSTNEA?

Lewis 12:10 PM  

No, in my opinion, THEX is not too expensive, AND it is a current show, something Rex usually lauds. Any of the Scrabbly letters do not seem forced to me, so I respectfully disagree with Rex's assessment on that score.

EENY/NATL/ERSE is ugly all together, but I really don't see much ugliness elsewhere.

I did see some wit in the cluing (* for a Monday) and he Scrabbly letters gave this puzzle spark, which I believe is Andrea's forte. The theme was absolutely Mondayish and a clever idea.

Bravo, Andrea and Michael, and thank you!

RL Stine 12:20 PM  

@anon 11:54 - R-L-S-T-N-E are the most common letters found in words. Not scary at all.

Marymom 12:29 PM  

Even though this puzzle was quite easy for a long time solver, it was fun. I actually thought Rex might enjoy it! Mostly, however, I imagined my daughter who is still fairly new to puzzle solving, completing the puzzle and smiling both at her accomplishment and at the theme answers. Constructors need to get the next generation hooked and this puzzle accomplishes that.

Amati Christie Mondays 12:38 PM  

Nice list! Always hope a puzzle inspires folks to create more!!!
John WALSH prob is WELSH as that is what that last name means... It was the one thing we were hesitant about putting in, but in the end, decided that they were two different entries in the context of this puzzle.

We wanted to playfully have WALSH/WELSH echo Chris CHRISTIE (this was written before Bridgegate) to complement the theme.

I gave constructor notes to XWORDINC.COM (which is free all week! I encourage folks to support Jim/Jeff"s invaluable site!) if you want to learn more background on this.

This sprang from a nice original idea from my long time friend/collaborator Michael Blake (who was supposed to be credited first on this).
The seed entries (PATTERNPATTER, EASTERNEASTER) came to him while lying awake one night. we had fun coming up with others, felt it was a nice original idea to have x 'n x, yet parsed differently yielding a wacky phrase.

As@Milford noticed (thank you!) The idea was to look at words and language a bit differently, in addition to it being drop/add a letter, but with a twist.

@Marymom 12:29
Gosh, I hope that's true, that would make me very happy!

Prob not going to read @Rex carefully today (who wants to spoil a perfectly glorious day?) but did we get a rant that the original AMATI's name was Andrea?

Off to NY/ACPT tomorrow if they don't cancel my flight!
Will hand out/collect puzzles and hang in the lobby almost 24/7 if anyone wants to meet up!

loren muse smith 1:02 PM  

I blew through this one like a bat out of hell. I enjoyed this one with a trick different from the "add a letter" gimmick. And I thought FREETOWN FREE TOW was funny. I have never, in my 53 years on this planet, been able to finagle a FREE TOW in FREETOWN. Seriously. And I have an inner DIVAN DIVA who used to PATTER about PATTERNS (Vogues were my favorites,@Carola – much easier than Simplicity) and I never, ever managed to LEARN LEAR.

Pairs I noted:

TRUNKS, HINT AT (in other words – guys, please, please put those Speedos back in the drawer)

"Easily pranked teacher" – SUB.UH HUH. HAH! Yep. But I'm always a good sport. Once I had this sixth grade boy who was making an impressive imitation in his throat of, well, you can guess. The class was quiet and everyone was laughing every time he did it. (It is the process of swallowing a gulp of air down a closed esophagus, I'm guessing, because the resulting loud friction is quite remarkable.) But he was just discovering this talent and hadn't developed it to its greatest potential. Ah, but I had - decades sooner. I went and stood next to him, and then everyone got *really* quiet. After the requisite stern silent stare, I executed the noise better, louder, sharper (think wooden church pew), and without my head tilted back (a novice move, for sure). To the stunned, upstaged trouble-maker, I said, "I've been making that noise a lot longer than you have. You definitely need to practice but not in here."

When I worked at the club, Christmas was always insanely busy with luncheons. All women. All in red Christmas sweaters. (And yes, I realize I've just offended 658,246 women with red Christmas sweaters. Listen – just at least consider switching it up next year. You'll stand out.) All taking pictures and carrying little gift bags to exchange. Anyway, these were all lovely people, and in three years, the only hiccough came when the woman in charge of one of the three -count'em – three different D.A.R. luncheons got her nose all out of joint because the lectern she had *not* reserved was being used. (Hmm. By Hannibal, perchance? You do the math.) Anyway, she upset and a quite snarky to me. So I can shake my fist now and say, "Darn DAR."

Hey – horribly weak attempt to copy the trick but better than "coon coo" or "heron hero."

Andrea, Michael – thanks for the Monday pangram. I knew it as soon as I had IBEX, ZANY, and PJS. Thought again, "Buckle your seat belts, folks. . ."

I like that constructors have their signature styles. Give me that THE X any day for the pangram and hence, Acme's signature. I like to see others' particular marks, too: Bain's animals, Chen's beautiful downs, Flemings Latin legal terms, Peterson's superhero references, Quigley's irreverence. . .

I'm not experienced enough yet to determine that a constructor's individual style can remain apparent and *still* rework parts to lose some of the less-than-stellar fill. But obviously I'll happily suffer the trade-offs to see the constructor's style shine through.

Fun, breezy Monday, you two. See you this weekend, Andrea! Will you be there, too, Michael?

hawkins 1:04 PM  

Speaking of "mostly RLSTNEA (in fact, the final two theme answers are composed *only* of those letters)":

New York Times, Friday, June 21, 2013
Author: Michael Sharp
Missing: { FJQVXZ },

It takes dedication to lack that many letters.

allan 1:33 PM  

Although I have been very critical of some of Andrea's puzzles in the past, i give kudos for this one. Very enjoyable, especially for a Monday.

Dick Swart 1:48 PM  

… a very bad instance of muscle memory:

Freedonia …

Z 2:03 PM  

@Lรถren - Speedo? Could be worse.

Moly Shu 2:08 PM  

What @jberg said. Loved the JAVA clue, thought it stood out. Really fun and enjoyable Monday. Flew through it and thought " man, that was great, too bad it's over ". Also didn't notice the pangram angle, but since it's been mentioned, went back over the grid and IMHO it makes the puzzle cooler.

Thx Andrea n Michael, or maybe Michael n Andrea. Liked it a bunch.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 2:14 PM  

Primo MonPuz theme idea. Fun to play along with, like @AliasZ's list did. CHAIN CHAI = K-Mart's own spiced tea offering? etc.

weeject watings:
GOA: ****
GOO: ***1/2, mostly because synced up with GOA.
GUU: *****, but regretfully, a lost opportunity.
IBE: ***
ENG: **
HAH: *1/2

Unf**ked uses of scrabbly bits:
PJS/JAVA: **1/2

Pangrams and weejects are soooo cool... They deserve their own dedicated puzs. Hey.... !

M and Also 2:35 PM  

Gonna have to lie pretty low, if I show at that there ACPT, I reckon.
Darn near all my dress city duds are red sweaters...

Maybe a nice trip to the
Joplin Pewitwatchers convention, instead...


Sandy K 3:17 PM  

If we couldn't see the by-line, I would've guessed it was @Acme.

It was fun- HAH! It was ZANY- YEOW! It was a pangram- loved THE X Factor!

That's the way- UH HUH UH HUH
I like it- UH HUH UH HUH!!

Thanks Andrea and Michael.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:00 PM  

Fun puzzle for me. Theme felt fresh.

Looking forward to ACPT. Anyone who will be a first-timer there? Could tell you how to recognize some of the regulars, so you could greet/avoid us at your pleasure. (They used *real* names there, so you can't find most of us by our blog names.)

RTWhite 4:01 PM  


I'm the "Ohio guy" referred to in Rex's post today.

I would like to say for the record that my wife and I had a **great** time in Ithaca this weekend; in addition, Adam's "Toughest" XWord was a very challenging (but overall fair) puzzle!

Bob White

Last Red Sweater with Lil Fir Trees 4:29 PM  

Dedication puz most unlikely to turn up at the ACTP:


sanfranman59 4:33 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:10, 6:18, 0.98, 37%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 4:00, 0.98, 35%, Easy-Medium

Gill I. P. 4:49 PM  

So very late to this party. rock, but then I don't have to tell you that.
Perfect, perfect Monday - newbie daughter loved it and so did I.
@Loren - lordy I did laugh at your post. Go check your E-mail.....
Have fun all you ACPTers. Wish I could be with you fun people - instead, we're off to Carmel for a wedding.

Z 4:54 PM  

@Last Red Sweater with Lil Fir Trees -You got me at this. {Spoiler Alert - Don't click if you want to solve M&A's offering}

Bob Kerfuffle 5:00 PM  

KP #111 - 3 min 28 sec.

Got me again with 1 Down, in a manner of speaking. (@Z's stumbling block was the subject of much discussion here not so long ago.)

retired_chemist 5:43 PM  

Enjoyed it. Seemed easy relative to my time. Theme interesting but readily grokked, which is why I think my time should have been at least 90 seconds better.

tescH instead fo WALSH to start. Bah, my bad.

Didn't like to clue for PIANO. Got it, but the clue isn't a good definition.

No more nits to pick, some lively answers. Thanks, Andrea and Michael.

BigSteveSF 6:04 PM  

Very nice puzzle.
Gets the week off to a good start.

Good mix of tough and easy.
With a dash of wit thrown in.
Last week I walked by a
Clue: Empty dance studio
Worth a rim-shot

Now if only someone could work in the mixed names John Travolta used at last night's Academy Awards ...

jae 6:08 PM  

Late also. Played golf this morning and baffed my last shot. Thought the theme was very clever, but it was on the tough side for me. Perhaps solving after cocktail hour is not a good strategy? Nice Mon. Andrea and Michael!

Z 6:25 PM  

@bob kerfuffle - 8-23-09 is before my time here. Does almost five years count as "not that long ago?" Or do you relate (like I do) to the comment, "I keeping thinking 1990 was ten years ago."

Bob Kerfuffle 6:46 PM  

@Z - OMG! Guilty as charged! Almost five years ago, and I thought it was six months or so. And, yes, surely 1990 was just ten years ago.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

A pangram in a themed puzzle with 5 theme entries is almost a sure sign that the constructor(s) is (are) sadistic.

Dirigonzo 7:23 PM  

I ordinarily would solve this puzzle five weeks from now but *somebody* emailed me a copy to solve today, so I wanted to stop by and say that's the way UHHUH I like it.

OISK 7:34 PM  

A very nice 6 minutes over my morning coffee, perfectly fine for a Monday. @Anonymous at 10:45 really expresses my own point of view very well!

Thanks for as amusing and well constructed a Monday puzzle as I have seen in quite a while.

loren muse smith 7:50 PM  

@Z – ouch. Worse than a Speedo.

@Gil I.P. – LOVE the picture! Thanks!!

@Bob and M&A – got 1D immediately. Nice tricky pew wit. Fun puz, but still beyond my ken. No witty weejoinder to offer, except that maybe 6D coulda been "coy finish?" or "mundane prom ending that nonetheless hints at an advance?"

@Bob K and I are planning a Friday lunch jaunt, weather permitting, heading toward the Brooklyn Bridge, but probably not actually walking across it. (Is that how I understood it, Bob?) We'll figure lunch out on the fly. Anyone interested, email me at

and I'll keep you posted.

Oh, and, @Bob, et al – let's all wear red Christmas sweaters so we will know each other.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:31 PM  

@M&A - Just stumbled on this post, following a link from Blaine's Puzzle Blog. Not directly applicable to anything, but I thought you might find it inspiring:

mac 10:42 PM  

Very late, but a nice Monday to me. Had to be told about the pangram, so it obviously wasn't forced. Good stuff, Andea!

mac 10:43 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandy K 11:57 PM  

Thanks for embedding the song!

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

"Erse" is NOT Scottish Gaelic -- look it up! It is Irish Gaelic

spacecraft 11:31 AM  

@Z and @mac: How could you POSSIBLY not notice the pangram? Not forced?? Man, it was crowbarred! THEX??? Gimme a BRAKE--er, break.

It is 100% that the constructors finished the grid, noticed GOA, and had to Google, hoping to find that those three letters mean something to someone. Oh, look! Portugese India! Good, we can use it. So what if it's only Monday; they'll probably get it on crosses. [I did.]

Actually, knowing that Acme is the QUEEN of pangrams helped suss out the SW. I just knew that Q was gonna show up.

Theme is clever and original (I guess), but it still left me flat, I'm afraid. Too easy, I suppose; once you have the concept, which is practically shouted at you by the clues, you can instantly fill in long strings.

There seems a nearly desperate attempt at sparkly fill here, but it crashes to bits on the crosses. THEX IFWE GOA BBQS EENY NATL? YEOW! May IBE excused? UHHUH. HAH!

Sorry, sweetie, but your blogs are a lot more entertaining than your constructions.

8's full. Any good?

Solving in Seattle 12:40 PM  

It brought a smile to my face when I saw that Michael Blake had teamed up with Andrea to brighten my Monday morning.
Yes, the puzzle was easy, but I enjoyed the concept and the discussion it generated, including the pangram.

Four 9s. Finally!

Z 1:42 PM  

@spacecraft - I've never even gone so far as to confirm that a pangram has occurred when someone makes the observation (well maybe once). Even after all these years, it just isn't something I think about while solving. Five weeks in the future there is an Xless near pangram. Did I notice? Nope. Still agnostic after all these years.

Z 1:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 1:45 PM  

Blogger said I entered wrong, got six nines the second time, then saw my post twice. Definitely a mucked hand so I'm out of the running.

rain forest 2:31 PM  

Everything, pro and con, has been said. Easy puzzle, with some sparkle in the theme, that is consistent with Monday expectations. It is clear the X and Q were shoehorned in, but that doesn't really matter. If you want a pangram, go get it.

Good start to the week.

DMG 4:33 PM  

I posted earlier, and now it's gone. How does that happen? At any rate, enjoyed this one. Now to see what happens to this one!

Dirigonzo 6:30 PM  

@DMG - I can't explain why your earlier post disappeared but it came through in email updates so it was seen by many: "DMG has left a new comment on the post "Parisian girlfriend / MON 3-3-14 / Complimentary r...":

"A breezy way to start the day and the week! Put a smile on my face. Only pause was at spelling the word for "yup". I always want UnHUH, but maybe that means "nope"?

"Got four 5's, but I see they aren't enough!"

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