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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Joined Sides" — revealer is DOUBLE-EDGED (70A: Like some swords … or a hint to this puzzle's theme); you must mentally supply "double" before all the "edge" answers:

Theme answers:
  • ROOM
  • TEAM
  • BED
  • BOND
  • TAKE
  • DIP
Word of the Day: BOOLEAN algebra (112A: Kind of algebra) —
In mathematics and mathematical logicBoolean algebra is the subarea of algebra in which the values of the variables are the truth values trueand false, usually denoted 1 and 0 respectively. Instead of elementary algebra where the values of the variables are numbers, and the main operations are addition and multiplication, the main operations of Boolean algebra are the conjunction and, denoted ∧, the disjunction or, denoted ∨, and the negation not, denoted ¬. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is like a really big, dry themeless with a mildly interesting crust. I haven't been this bored by a puzzle in a long time. No strong feelings of like or dislike, just … well, some of the longest 10 minutes of my life. I moved from the NW into the center with absolutely no idea what the theme was. BASSOON, BARRELED, and AGENT all seeming perfectly fine answers for their clues, without the "double" intro. Then I got DOUBLE-EDGED. Then the theme was instantly apparent (variations on it having been done many times before), and filling in the rest of the theme answers was simple. No challenge. None. The fill is mostly right out-of-the-box and 30+ years old. All of it. Tons of crosswordese and tired answers. Competent, but drab. I could pick out individual answers I didn't like, but it's not a great use of time—you did the puzzle (presumably), you can see all the blah (as well as the ATTU, ONEC, SNEE, TELA, EAP, etc.).

The only thing I remember about solving this is that I was stunned by the (apparently legit) spelling on SARAPES. I *knew* it was SERAPES, but then it couldn't be CLEAR THE AIR, so it must be … something else THE AIR. But what? Turns out, nothing, that's what. It's CLEAR THE AIR, and you can just spell SARAPES that way. This is not the kind of thing you want being the puzzle's primary lasting impression. I don't put much store in a grid's being Scrabbly for Scrabbliness's sake, but man this puzzle could've used *something* out of the old 4-point-or-higher tile group. Yeesh. Lots of Es and As and Ss and Ns and Ts and Rs. Seas of them. In the end, this puzzle has a thin layer of interest surrounding a great gob of filler.

Puzzle of the Week this week is Aimee Lucido's AVClub puzzle, "Period of Decline," a super-smart and funny science-themed puzzle with a perfect revealer (get it here; read about it here). Weird, thoughtful, entertaining—I really appreciate the energy and craft that are going into Ben Tausig's AVClub puzzles week in and week out. His puzzles, along with the Peter Gordon-edited Fireball, are the most reliably great puzzles out there at the moment. But if you've been reading me on Sundays, then you knew that.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Steve J 12:27 AM  

    Played essentially like a big themeless here too, although I didn't find it nearly as dislikable as Rex did.

    Not that it was terribly exciting. Once you figure out the DOUBLE-EDGED concept - which I got long before I got the revealer, specifically with (double) DIP - the perimeter of the puzzle filled itself in pretty much instantly. That part made it a bit too easy and mechanical. More pertinently, there's just not much of interest. CLEAR THE AIR is the one bit of fill that stood out for me. Other stuff was just too blandly straightforward (like DEBUT ALBUM and TITLE ROLES), and there was a lot of suboptimal fill. But outside OEN and EAP, there wasn't anything I actually disliked.

    Agreed on the recommendation for this week's AVC puzzle (as well for the AV puzzles overall). Very clever theme that was very well executed. You don't even need to remember your periodic table to get through it, but seeing the effect is a very nice bonus.

    John Child 12:29 AM  

    I'm with Rex today: this wasn't difficult enough or interesting enough to generate much enthusiasm for.

    jae 12:34 AM  

    Easy for me too.  Caught the rebus (?) quickly and just kept going.   Only erasure was MIStakeS before MISSTEPS.

    We saw STIHL recently and I still needed the crosses to get it.  Apparently it did not sink in.

    Liked it.  A breezy Sun. with a bit of spice.

    Aimee's AV puzzle is terrific.  

    George Barany 1:15 AM  

    This particular puzzle had a clever concept, but it's also reassuring to know that there are other puzzles out there to stimulate those solvers who can finish the New York Times offering in a relatively short time.

    May I add for those looking to get a brief bonus workout "Jedi hope you know today's date." If solving times scale to grid size, this should take you about a quarter of your normal time. Hope you enjoy it!

    One more question, if someone can provide any enlightenment: I have always thought that "double-dip" referred to a certain family of shady business practices, and had no idea that the expression could be applied literally to the act of placing a single potato chip into one's favorite dip more than once.

    George 1:42 AM  

    [At a wake (!): George takes a chip from the bowl, dips it, takes a bite, and then dips again. Timmy (the brother of George's girlfriend) hurriedly comes over.]

    TIMMY: What are you doing?
    GEORGE: What?
    TIMMY: Did … did you just double-dip that chip?
    GEORGE: Excuse me?
    TIMMY: You double-dipped the chip!
    GEORGE: "Double-dipped"? What are you talking about?
    TIMMY: You dipped the chip. You took a bite. And you dipped again.
    GEORGE: So…?
    TIMMY: That's like putting your whole mouth right in the dip! From now on, when you take a chip – just take one dip and end it!
    GEORGE: Well, I'm sorry, Timmy … but I don't dip that way. [George takes a chip]
    TIMMY: Oh, you don't, huh?
    GEORGE: No. [dips the chip] You dip the way you want to dip … [takes a bite of the chip] I'll dip the way I want to dip. [double-dips the chip]
    TIMMY: Give me the chip! [Grabs George and the chip goes flying.] Give me the chip! [George and Timmy start to struggle.]

    Sir Hillary 2:14 AM  

    I was struggling with the Kenken in the NYT Magazine, so directed my attention to the crossword. Without filling in a single letter, I figured out out every perimeter entry as well as the central revealer. This is either an indication that this puzzle was way too easy or that I am a total killjoy. Perhaps both. Whatever. I fail to see how this theme warrants a 21x21 Sunday grid -- feels more like Thursday material.

    paulsfo 2:29 AM  

    Didn't know 'chillax' or ERICAS. Otherwise found it very easy and, aside from liking the clue for ONEC, no fun.

    I assume that an editor could encourage, or supply, some clever cluing if they noticed it lacking? I'm going to again suggest that constructors consider getting help to 'punch up' their clues.

    chefwen 3:03 AM  

    @jae - We meet again. Mistakes before MISSTEPS.

    I have never met a rebus puzzle that I didn't like and as easy as this was, I loved it. Got it at D HEADER and the rest was history. Had a lot of fun filling my D's around the border. Biggest challenge was trying to spell AGUILERA.

    Good one Mary Lou!

    Unknown 3:25 AM  

    I agree this was one of the easiest Sunday puzzles in a while. But Rex is being a little bit of a jerk when he says "BASSOON, BARRELED, and AGENT all seeming perfectly fine answers for their clues, without the "double" intro."

    Really? How can "bassoon" stand on its own if it is being compared to a "smaller cousin"? What would that cousin be if the answer were just a bassoon? A half bassoon? And for the clue "like many shotguns" how can the answer just be "barreled? ALL shotguns are barreled, so "like many" requires some distinction among them. I actually put "sawed off" for a second, until i saw "mole" and "back-to-back games". Both clearly require the use of double. Sure, a double agent is a type of agent, but using mole is clearly specific for a double agent. So OK, technically agent could stand alone for that one, but who would think that? And of course it has to be double header and double dip, so the theme is even more obvious there, but it is completely disingenuous to suggest that in those three examples the theme isn't required for two of them, and pretty much so except on a hyper technicality for "mole".

    Personally I had no idea about "shtetls" but was able to get the crosses enough to figure out what it had to be. I wouldn't have gotten "lieder" either but that was easy to fill in from getting "geld", "siesta, "escale" and "double edged" since everyone has heard of liederhosen.

    Anonymous 4:43 AM  

    I was not bored and actually enjoyed it - except "pisano"
    - the question as such is wrong:
    The name is Leonardo DA PISA
    a.k.a. as Fibonacci; he was from
    Pisa and is therefore ALSO known as Pisano - but the CORRECT answer would be DA PISA!!

    jae 4:44 AM  

    @George - Evil Doug? Classic! That's exactly it.

    mac 5:51 AM  

    Very easy except for a few gnats here and there (escale, Boolean, sarapes). Just noticed I thought rhe renter wanted an awning....

    Ted Cole 6:14 AM  


    "saw Stihl"

    Did you do that on purpose?

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:31 AM  

    One truly laughable write-over - had already discovered the theme and just wasn't paying attention - 34 A, OLIVER NORTH before OLIVER STONE, and one meh, 81 D, SKI before SAG (thought my first choice was more deserving of the question mark).

    Also wondered about SARAPES; Rex saved me the trouble of looking it up.

    Danp 6:50 AM  

    @David Krost - I assumed the smaller cousin of a bassoon was an oboe.

    I would have had trouble in the SW without DENTE and NIENTE. A few years ago, I went to Italy with my family. At a friend's house, the hostess told us we were having Ziti for lunch. My mother said she loves pasta, stressing AL DENTE (one of the few Italian expressions she knew). The hostess grimaced a bit, but eventually served the ziti with a noticeable crunch. I told Mom the next time she should say NIENTE.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:19 AM  

    When I sat down to work this, my eyes immediately saw the reveal clue, and DOUBLE EDGED was the very first entry I wrote in. @Sir Hillary – at this point, I didn't see the trick. My first thought was maybe phrases where both ends can take DOUBLE (chin-up, overtake, play space, cross-check. . .) I even got BARRELED, AGENT, and HEADER, still not seeing the trick.

    @David Krost – BARRELED I didn't question at all; I know next to NIENTE about guns, so my only thought was, "Hmm. Who knew some shotguns didn't have a BARREL." And I briefly tried to imagine such a gun in my head. I'm still smarting from a conversation I had with a Voc Ed student learning to be a mechanic. I asked him if cars still had carburetors, and he snickered at my ignorance. I pictured the same guy snickering that I didn't know there were shotguns with no barrels.

    DOUBLE DIP was where it all became clear. And I was delighted. I haven't seen this idea done before, or if I have, I don't remember it. I've officially abandoned an idea I had with words around the edges because I can't do it alone and because talented constructors who could do it tell me a)such grids are notoriously difficult to fill and b)my idea just isn't tight enough. So, Mary Lou, congratulations and many kudos to you!!!

    On my drive to Planet Fitness, I pass three signs advertising STIHL tools

    Liked HAS BEENS right next to AGELESS and IBM PC crossing PIONEER.

    BEGAT and DNA LAB evoked images of Jerry Springer. But I will hasten to add here that I, sniff sniff, don't watch shows like that – too much yelling and fighting. Right. So I embrace The Real Housewives instead and sit back to watch screaming, hair-pulling, and table-throwing.

    Sometimes my family makes the effort to ask about a puzzle in that way you ask about someone's great aunt who has been sick and you feel like you should show a polite interest. I can't keep myself from hoping that this time, they really *are* interested, and I'm usually reminded of David Sedaris and his conversation with his sister's pet bird.

    How are you?

    Anyway, I had just guessed BOND when they turned their attention to me from the NBA playoffs. They're all science-ish, so when I asked if BOND was right, a small flap ensued, my daughter being the only one resolute that it was indeed correct. Hey – it's a start. . .

    For the life of me, I do not remember the phrase DOUBLE DIP when I was growing up. Birthday parties invariably had your chocolate cake with individual ice cream cups (and grape Kool Ade - what were the moms thinking??), your Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, your high stool/milk jug set-up for the Drop-the-Clothes-Pin game (Grant F. never won either game, always collapsing in a sobbing heap), and, of course, your French onion dip with Ruffles. I DOUBLE DIPped until I was gloriously stuffed and ill. I don't remember dipping your bitten-off Ruffle back in for a second, third, even a fourth glop *ever* being an issue. Cue music to "Those Were the Days, My Friend."

    I enjoyed this, Mary Lou. Nice start to my day!

    GILL I. 7:21 AM  

    AH, the RAMOS gin fizz...Wonderful drink, good memories.
    Our DEAR friends would invite us up to their condominium in Tahoe for the week-end. Nellie would prepare a delicious potato, cheese and sausage casserole the night before brunch. At around 10:00 the next morning, Jorge would begin to separate the egg whites leaving the yolks for Nellie to spread on the casserole and pop them under the broiler while we drank our fizzes and set the world right. Life can be soooo good.
    Oh, the puzzle....Like a baby's boo-boo.
    p.s....SARAPE is actually the correct spelling. I think the E might be an Americanized thing.

    Mohair Sam 7:28 AM  

    Pretty much in Rex's camp on this one, although not feeling as snarky as he. BOOLEAN a great word - and used a BOOLEAN search of the letters a thru g to quickly decide on the note E in ESCALE and solve the only point of resistance in this puzzle.

    Realized the 'double" with TEAM and the outer edges and the revealer were done. Some tough words (i.e. SHTETLS, PERCALES, RAMOS), but crosses were easy so there was no problem.

    I don't care a lot about "timely" puzzles, but Rex is right . . . Beatles, Bette Midler, Platoon (twice!), The Who, NYNEX - this puzzle might have stood as current 35 years ago. Although good old DESIREE is current enough, but Christina AGUILERA ain't.

    chefbea 7:28 AM  

    I agree with everyone...an easy puzzle but didn't get the theme until I was more than half way finished.

    And did you realize...there are 20 pairs of double letters in the puzzle???? Maybe I missed some!!!

    pmdm 7:50 AM  

    Mr Krost: While most shotguns are barreled (unless the barrel(s) are sawed off, some of them are not double-barreled, although many are. Hence the appropriateness of the clue. The double bassoon is a wind instrument pitched that, when playing the same not as a bassoon, sounds an octave lower than the bassoon (making it a transposing instrument like the clarinet). It's not the bassoon that is being compared in the clue, it is the double bassoon. Hence the appropriateness of the clue.

    My problem was with the answer to 66A. An "E" scale doesn't necessarily have 4 sharps. E minor only has one sharp, and there do exist other modes than the major and the minor which have their own key signatures. And I remember often practicing piano scales in c-sharp minor, which has 4 sharps. So I dutifully put emajor as the answer and am still miffed.

    Incredibly. it wasn't until I entered the very last letter into the grid for 101D that I realized what the puzzle theme actually was. I was certainly confused about the answers, but that didn't stop me from completing the puzzle. I guess that would make the theme totally irrelevant to me. The sad thing is, when I finally got the theme, for me it was more of a "so what" rather than an "aha" moment. Seen better, seen worse.

    Unknown 7:55 AM  

    Lieder = song
    Leder = leather
    Ergo lederhosen not song-pants!

    Glimmerglass 7:59 AM  

    Easy, too easy. Some years ago I often helped an elderly relative do jigsaw puzzles. She loved them and was very good at it, but she couldn't at that stage in her life see very well, so I was her eyes. Her method was to find all of the edge pieces and do the perimeter first. I thought of her today, as (like others) I could fill in all the edge pieces before I did anything else. If the edges were as easy as this, the abutting clues should be a lot harder than they are.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:33 AM  

    I don't know the DOUBLEBASSOON as that, I know it as a contra bassoon.

    DOUBLEBiND is a thing, yes?

    LUDENS...heh. They still make those? Seems like Hall's and Ricola are the lozenge of choice these days.

    "Renter's dream" would be a great landlord, IMO. I've owned and rented, and given a choice, I'll take renting. Water heater broken? Boom...call the landlord. Leaky ceiling? Boom....call the landlord. And in some cases, you never have to mow again. Of course, all of this is predicated on the hope that you get a decent to great landlord.

    Otherwise, I do puzzles because, well...puzzles. I don't enjoy them all equally, but I enjoy most of them at some level. Today's puzzle was fine. It gave me something to do while I drink my coffee and start to wake up...and it gives my cat a place to sit for about 20 minutes.

    @Sir Hillary: I seem to remember reading that Sunday's puzzles are pretty much on a par with the Thursday difficulty level, just larger.

    As for double dipping, Myth Busters did a segment on it and you pretty much have to put the salsa in your mouth, swish it around and then spit it out to the get the effect that Jerry and his friends were afraid that George had done. So double dip away!

    jberg 8:34 AM  

    I saw the theme from the title at 1A, filled in most of the answers around the sides, and more or less breezed through the puzzle (with brief delays because I read "sword" as "record" and so put in DOUBLE-sidED," as well as girliSh before AGELESS and firsT before DEBUT--all minor). Then I came to a screeching dead halt at the RAMOS/GARR crossing. I guessed it right, as RAMOS seemed more likely than Rumos, though GARR seemed less likely than GURR. I'd have gone with lemon gin fizz if not for Ms. Huffington.

    So who is RAMOS? A kind of gin? The bartender who invented the drink? Someone please enlighten me (or I guess I could try Google.)

    @Bob Kefuffle -- me too for OLIVER North. I didn't quite write it in, but it was there in my head.

    @Loren (and others) -- I think what is now called the DOUBLE DIP was the norm until relatively recently, and as such did not have that name. It probably started to be disapproved of about the same time that people started to sanitize their hands every 5 minutes. Now that we are learning about the harmful results of bacteria deficiency, it may come back in!

    @pmdm -- Read @Rex, then read @David Krost again -- the latter was saying the opposite of what you attributed to him, refuting Rex.

    Only -- TAR OIL? Is that a thing? How is it different from plain TAR?

    Unknown 9:07 AM  

    Boom. Fastest Sunday ever. Saw the 'doubles' almost immediately. Never heard of a Ramos Gin Fizz but I'm sure it's delightful. I'm sure the Lattice of Coincidence will strike this week and someone will offer me a Ramos Gin Fizz.

    Unknown 9:09 AM  

    Easy enough here. 1:42 is a fast Sunday for me, and it was google-free until the post mortem. I scratched at BEGoT/OBLoDI and LUbENS/BEE. The former deserves a dope-slap, but the latter Naticked me, evoking Aunt BEE, a frequent visitor to the grid, and LUbENS, a perfectly good proper name. In retrospect, my father popped Ludens all day long for 40 years to treat his smokers' cough. Happy thought, suitably blocked. Oh well. I guessed right at ARAM/TAL. Over all, a record setting week here with 4 solves against 3 DNFs, only one one of which (yesterday) was a total wipe-out.

    @jberg I don't know the RAMOS gin fizz, but Teri GARR was/is a terrific comic supporting actress with a very light touch. She's been memorable in movies that starred big names. She got an Oscar for Tootsie.

    Tita 9:17 AM  

    @David Krost...I half agree wtih you...*_BARRELED* is waht gave the theme away to me...it doesn't stand on its own at all...
    But I actually looked at BASSOON and thought for a few seconds - "huh - weird - one answer that doesn't follow the theme". I figured that cousin could be an oboe or flute...
    Yes, I am showing my woodwind ignorance, but I never heard of a double bassoon.

    Also was certain about SeRAPE - but my trouble went deeper - I couldn't come up wtih the word - I knew that I knew it - te vision of a gorgeuos black embroidered lace mantilla that my father bought for my mother kept SARAPE from rising to the surface.

    @NCA Pres - I remember LUDENS next to Pine Bros on the shelf - the latter were far superior, imho.

    Fun fact - Lisbon had the same double DECKER buses (made by Leyland) as the classic ones in London, but painted green.

    Many thanks, Ms. Guizzo. I liked it very much. And thought it crunchy. (I shun hte revealers - so had to figure out the joined thing on my own...I actually was looking for something where the words on the sides carried across to the opposite side.)
    This was a fun solve, and I learned about double and contra BASSOONS to boot.
    HIP Hooray!

    Billy 9:24 AM  

    @pmdm, why are you correcting David Krost when he got it right on his own?

    Kool-Aid Man 9:27 AM  

    @lms - You are so funny, it's not always possible to tell when you are joking and when you are serious, but I know you like to have the correct answer at heart, so, please, it's "Kool-Aid". Oh, yeah!

    joho 9:55 AM  

    Well, thank goodness I finally know the correct spelling of SARAPE. However, Clint Eastwood will always be wearing a SeRAPE to me!

    I agree with @LMS that creating a DOUBLE-EDGED border was no easy feat and applaud Mary Lou for her accomplishment! (Also, thank you for David Sedaris, every since "Me Speak Pretty One Day" I've been a huge fan.)

    Arlene 9:59 AM  

    I got the theme - finally - at double DECKER. Everything up until then seemed strange but plausible.
    And no problem knowing about double dipping - that Seinfeld episode is a classic!

    lawprof 10:04 AM  

    I enjoyed this one. Picked up the theme early and filled in the perimeter, which sped things along.

    My first inclination at 1D (which I resisted) was ALTOSAX, which then oddly reappeared at 95D. When I did drop in BASSOON (before I'd gotten the theme), I thought that the higher-pitched woodwind might be the oboe or the English horn, but I'm not sure those are an octave higher.

    Lucky not to have naticked at the ENNA/PISANO crossing, but guessed right. Three writeovers: neatER/TIDIER; MIStakeS/MISSTEPS;
    ricola/LUDENS. Still not convinced that SARAPE is spelled correctly (and I'm not gonna bother to look it up), but I went along with it anyway because its crossing cleared the air.

    Thanks Ms. Guizzo.

    Anonymous 10:23 AM  

    Thanks Ms. Guizzo. Great to see more female constructors represented.

    Joe 10:24 AM  

    What a simple outer puzzle surrounding a central area full of horrible words. Crossing PERCALES with ALD is just unfair. Never heard of either (and still no idea what the latter stands for) so that was guess-a-vowel. SHTETLS? Who actually knows this crap? What a horrible-looking word. SARAPE? I had to go for it despite knowing that's not how it's spelled. Had fun with this puzzle for the first 5minutes of figuring out the theme and filling in the border, then the middle of the puzzle was full of so many ugly words and crosswordese that it just wasn't fun at all.

    Mohair Sam 10:26 AM  

    Big shout-out to @NCA President. Since that bedamned Seinfeld episode I have not double-dipped, not once, resulting in zillions of dry chip bites. Your post will enable me to return to my wicked ways with an answer for any a**hole who complains. Thank you.

    Mohair Sam 10:27 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ludyjynn 10:40 AM  

    So...119 Across, Renter's Dream, maybe, brought to mind why I do so enjoy OWNING my home, warts and all. Although I was blessed w/ a wonderful roommate, who was and remains like a sister to me, we could not control the conduct of the numerous upstairs tenants, who came and went with regularity. The one who stands out in our minds is the guy who moved in under cover of darkness. We never actually saw him, ever, BUT we heard him alright. Apparently, according to the maintenance man, Jerry, whose butt crack made a regular appearance over his saggy work jeans,(I digress), the guy's only furniture in the apt. was a big bed. Not even an area carpet over the parquet wood floors, so every sound from above was magnified.

    No prude here, w/ an active social life of my own, I did not begrudge the guy his female assignations...on the weekend. But my roomie and I had real jobs and we needed our sleep during the rest of the week. One night, he and his latest conquest were so loud that they awakened each of us, in separate bedrooms, from deep sleep and for the life of us, we could not ignore the moaning and caterwauling from above. So...first we took a broom handle and banged it on the ceiling of my bedroom, his floor. Momentary silence ensued, followed by more screams of passion. After this went on a while, and realizing we were never getting back to sleep, my roomie and I decided to join the party. We stood on my bed and started shouting into the ceiling vent, making like Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally". Pretty soon, all of our oohs and aahs and sound effects did the job. Finally, there was blessed silence from above! The guy moved out soon afterwards, but we never forgot our night of lovemaking with the faceless neighbor.

    That memory alone made the puzzle worthwhile for me.

    Carola 10:45 AM  

    Most enjoyable. I guess maybe it helped to a be a little SLO on the uptake, themewise, to enjoy a nice "get-it" moment. I shrugged at the (single) BASSOON and AGENT and then stared at "pcADE_" (from pOP INTO and cReES) until suddenly, "Wait.....HEADER?" and finally aha. I thought it was fun to then go around the edges and fill in the other DOUBLES. Very impressive.

    I liked LIEDER crossing SHTETLS and the idea of HOP INTO PERCALES. Also, from the horse world, DAM next to GELD - not sure how that cross with SEXES fits in. Loved the DENTE - NIENTE cross next to SIENA. Wonderful story, @Danp!

    Ludyjynn 10:55 AM  

    @jyocum3, SHTETLS were ghettos in Eastern Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, where Jewish people were forced to reside, as in ghettos. Periodically, the Russian Cossacks would maraud through the villages to pillage and murder folks, just for the hell of it. "Horrible", indeed.

    My Grandfather came to America to escape the indiscriminate slaughter, God bless him.

    AliasZ 10:59 AM  

    Fibonacci was born in Pisa to Guglielmo Bonacci, hence the name Fi-Bonacci (son of Bonacci). His actual name is Leonardo PISANO Bigollo (c. 1170 – c. 1250), also known as Leonardo da Pisa, Leonardo PISANO, Leonardo Bonacci, Leonardo Fibonacci.

    Contrabassoon is a larger version of the BASSOON, also known as the double BASSOON or bass bassoon. For the clarinet it is bass clarinet. For the violin, it is double bass (or upright bass, string bass, bass fiddle, bass violin, doghouse bass, contrabass, bass viol, stand-up bass, bull fiddle or simply bass).

    Moi aussi, E major before E SCALE, because C-sharp minor didn't fit.

    I liked these seemingly related entries at 3, 12 & 14D: HOP INTO, RUN ON IN, NOT OUT!

    I liked this one a lot, the DOUBLE whammy providing a perfect frame to this otherwise themeless puzzle. The fill could have been a TAD TIDIER, but outside of a few BETTES, ERICAS, USEDTO, DARESTO, RAMOS, ATTU, ENNA, not too many complaints. Excellent, Ms. Guizzo.

    Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

    There is no better way to DOUBLE-celebrate this DOUBLE theme than with these two DOUBLE concerti: this one for Cello and BASSOON in E minor, RV409* by Antonio Vivaldi, and perhaps this most famous one for Violin and Cello in A minor, Op. 102 by Johannes Brahms.

    Happy Sunday all.

    *RV is not recreational vehicle. It is the abbr. for the most comprehensive catalog of the music of Vivaldi, and it stands for Ryom Verzeichnis (Ryom catalog or index), named after its creator, Danish musicologist Peter Ryom.

    Opus2 11:22 AM  

    No one else thought it odd that two entries were IRATE and IRES? I stared at the second one for 30 seconds wondering what else it must be; no way would Will allow them both to stand in the puzzle.

    Hartley70 11:28 AM  

    It was okay but irritating on the iphone version because I tried to make a rebus out of the double letters that looked like B/B and it wouldn't give me a "well done". I like my validation to start the day.

    pmdm 11:45 AM  

    Rushing to get to church, misread the comment. Sorry. Must have been seeing double. Mea culpa.

    Anyway, for those who want to here a double bassoon here are two examples. In the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (the "Ode to Joy" movement, the movement goes on for a while, reaches a climax and has a pause. Following this is a variation of the theme in the form of a Turkish March, complete with cymbals and contrabassoon. (I can't think of an earlier example in symphonic music.) You really can't hear it that well. To hear it better, listen to the very end of the second movement of Mahler's Symphony #9. The movement ends with the melody played in unison with the very low contrabasoon and the very high piccolo. If you want to see the music of the Mahler, you can go here to look at the score Leonard Bernstein marked up when he was conductor of the NY Philharmonic.


    Anonymous 12:06 PM  

    C'mon gang...let's rally the troops...
    this was TOO EASY for a Sunday puzzle.

    Write letters, makes phone calls, send e-mails....demanding Sunday puzzles that are a little more challenging...and fun!

    Joe in Montreal 12:29 PM  

    double Italians ORS??O and PIS??O x D??N and E??A; AR?M x T?L; CES?A x AT?U. I mean, I guess so.
    Do musicians say "E SCALE"? When I took music as a kid I would have said "E major".
    I get everything but the title. Meh!

    jdv 12:55 PM  

    Med-Challenging w/one error. Had PERCeLES crossing eLD. Was thinking elder statesman. Most of the errors I make in crosswords seem to involve an acronym or an abbreviation. SARAPES brought me to a screeching halt. Also LUDENS crossing DEE was difficult. Would have liked a more straightforward clue for DEE; such as actress Wallace or Poor Test Grade.

    Ellen S 1:01 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Ellen S 1:02 PM  

    not to get in the middle of @David Krost and @pmdm, et al, but I had the same experience as @Rex with regard to the theme; I put in BASSOON, BARRELED and AGENT, and thought they looked odd but I accepted them as correct on the principle which I will no longer attribute to @Bob Kerfuffle (since it is way weirder than his statement), but as Ellen'S Corollary to Evan's Natick Heuristic: "If an answer is vaguely in the same category as the clue, it's probably correct."

    I mean, we encounter this all the time, where the answer is technically incorrect but is what the constructor was after. It's like academic tests: they don't so much test your knowledge of the subject, as your acuity in predicting what the instructor wants you to answer. So, "BARRELED" is related to shotguns, it must be right even if it doesn't really make sense. When "HEADER" appeared in the upper right, I rejected it though. Even I have limits. Yeah, i said to myself (not having a parrot), there are double headers, but you don't have just one, do you? A header is when you trip over an obstacle and fall on your face -- which is kind of my puzzle-solving experience for the last couple of days. So I busied myself elsewhere in the puzzle, filled in the revealer and understood the peculiar answers along the top and side. After that it was, as noted, really easy.

    I did google Fibonacci, but no other cheats. Maybe I'm coming out of my fog. Or else it was ... really easy.

    Jisvan 1:03 PM  

    Sundays generally feel overwhelming to me, but this one was just so darn newbie-friendly, it really made my morning, and left me extra time to tackle the garden chores. My tomatoes and I thank you, Mary Lou!

    Sandy 1:03 PM  

    Total, total, yawn. Blech. C'mon, NYT, get challenging on Sundays please?

    Nick 1:05 PM  

    I agree, easy and not quite scintillating. The dated feel and fill is just plain depressing. Doesn't anyone at the NYT care anymore?

    Benko 1:19 PM  

    @lms: Running through my head since your post about The Snowman yesterday: "Walking in the air, floating in the moonlit sky..."
    @georgebarany: Thanks for the bonus puzzle.

    Steve J 1:34 PM  

    Add me to the long list of people who thought the BASSOON relative was an oboe until I got the theme. AGENT seemed odd but plausible as well. BARRELED seemed off, but I've grown so accustomed to NYT clues that are technically correct but are really off-kilter that it didn't phase me at all.

    @jyocum3: "Who knows this crap" like SHTETLS? A lot of people. People who've read novels and histories that have covered the struggles of Europe's Jewish populations, people with some familiarity with Yiddish, etc. I dropped it in with only one crossing letter.

    @Ludyjynn: Hilarious story. I had an upstairs neighbor who was given to extreme carnal histrionics. I never thought of trying to equal her (primarily her; her boyfriends never seemed to be as vocal).

    I do generally prefer renting to owning, for exactly the reasons @NCA President states. I like being able to call up the landlord to fix things, I've shuddered at some of the expenses home-owning friends have faced when things go wrong, and I've never stayed in one place long enough to make owning really worthwhile. I have been fortunate to have had good landlords over the years, which makes a huge difference. I know friends with horror stories of poor landlords.

    Moly Shu 1:58 PM  

    Yes, easy. Yes, SeRAPE. Yes, less than stellar fill. Yes, @lawprof, had EtNA crossing ORSItO (whoever that is) and finally, yes, Mayweather lost. Oops, sorry, wrong blog.

    @CascoKid, belated congratulations, sympathy, congratulations. You're getting the hang of it.

    The Hermit Philosopher 1:58 PM  

    As expected, more whining from Rex.

    Anonymous 2:27 PM  

    @Steve J

    Kudos for your comments to @jyocum3.
    Well said.

    mo pie 2:42 PM  

    I kept waiting for the "double" concept to be reflected in the rest of the puzzle somehow. Maybe the edge answers appearing twice or something? Did not notice all the double letters but did wonder if there were more twinned clues than usual: the two Platoon clues, baby's boo boo/boo boos, enter quickly x2, etc.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:59 PM  

    Big laugh on me! I finished with NEDDLE instead of PEDDLE: LITERARY INITIALS - Edward Arlington Robinson; wondered about it so looked up reddle in Webster's Third, meant reddened, so I figured a HAWK with red-feathers. It was wrong, but seemed logical. To add to the shtetl info - Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" lived in a shtetl in the Jewish Pale which is now in Ukraine (then, THE Ukraine). A lot of Chagall's paintings are in shtetls. When I was a boy, we said key of G when it was G MAJOR. Otherwise we said G MINOR. Only music historians deal with the modes.

    Shill Warts 3:38 PM  

    @ Nick: Not really, no.

    OISK 3:38 PM  

    Not easy for me. I got the theme answers right away, and filled in the borders immediately, but have a DNF, because I don't know how to spell "Obladi" (not a Beatles fan) and had Begot instead of Begat. Never heard of Magilla Gorilla, and didn't know Percales, so although I got it, it was not easy. Pisano with Enna was a tough crossing for me as well. Still, an amusing puzzle, and I apparently found it more challenging than most others here.

    Masked and Anonymo5Us 4:16 PM  

    Wow. A whopperpuz, with NO looooong answers! Different. M&e like different. It's sorta like a giant runtpuz. whopperthUmbsUp to the cunstructioneer (Hello, @Mary Lou).
    Three 11's. Two 10's. Twelve 8's. 123 runtpuz answers. Day-um unusual.

    Not so unusual, tho, count-wise...
    59 E's,
    45 A's,
    28 O's,
    24 I's,
    ...and, bringin up the rear...
    5 U's.
    0 <-- [5 tears]
    U <-- [real pretty tear receptacle]

    I am willin to accept this constructioneer's I.O.U's. marker, until her next primo puz, cuz she was shootin for different, this time out. So that's a big fat QED, there.

    Speaking of runtpuzs, and other related stuff, see part II. (Tryin to run up @63's comment count.)


    M and A Part II 4:47 PM  

    @George Barany: Very very cool "jedi hope" puz. Looked kinda like a runtpuz bein pulled thru a black hole. Really especially liked one of yer weejects, which also appears in my latest runtpuz, way below. And another thing: yer 22-Across weeject has a near-double-?? clue -- primo, dude!!


    Havin interviewed their moo-cow abduction varmint at length, the "Evel Pewit II" makes a rare return visit to a host planet (our Earth)...

    Ufreeki: "Oh, great spotted horned chosen one, we hereby return you to your humble home planet."

    Cow: "Mooo-Oo-OooO. snoort." (Mucho thanx, dude. This is one sweet ride, you bros have here.)

    Mazkd: "You have taught us so much, Heifer no. 1529. We will cherish our meeting always. That was some primo cud grass."

    Ufreeki: "We have awarded your home planet the highly coveted class UUU status. Talkin free coffee, there. Go in peace, for all runttimespace."

    Cow: "Snooortmoof. MoooOOO. MOOOooo. Moo-ha." (High hoof, dude. Down low. Too slow. har.)





    Sunday Runtpuz (As always, no wagerin on solve times):


    M and Also 5:32 PM  

    That's supposed to be "cOnstructioneer", in the part I comment. Extra U's are ok, but I need try to at least spell the dayum money words correct. Speakin of cOnstructin...

    M&A in the NYT Update:
    Made two different grids, for my upcomin masterpiece puz submission to the Shortzmeister. Can't decide which to go with.
    Grid A: 78 words. No desperate weejects. No partials.
    Grid B. 76 words. Trades a column of four weejects for two neat 7-letter words. But has one semi-desperate weeject (on a par with: OEN). Has two partials. Both partials are in English language, tho.

    Decisions, decisions...


    Bob Kerfuffle 6:21 PM  

    @M&A - 3:32 for the Sunday runtpuz.

    May we bet on being told what day your NYT puzzle will appear? :>))

    Anonymous 8:21 PM  

    Meh. And feh. "Sarapes," eh? Give me a break. No one in the known universe uses that spelling. And I agree with Rex: tons of boring fill; lots of crosswordpuzzlese. Not the worst puzzle, ever, but far, far, far from the best.

    Billy 8:55 PM  

    FIRST to say, Monday's puzzle is cute.
    Never seen a comment on the next day's puzzle here, so hope I didn't commit some unspeakable gaucherie.

    Anonymous 9:39 PM  

    Rex got it right. I felt good about catching on to the gimmick before getting down to the revealer. All the rest came easily until literally the last letter. Didn't know either AGUILERA or ERICAS where they crossed and guessed the wrong letter. Foiled again on an otherwise easy puzzle.

    Sheldon Cooper 10:21 PM  

    @Billy - Yes, indeed, you have committed unspeakable gaucherie. You have deprived me, and all of the less talented solvers who visit this site, of the pleasure of discovering for themselves how cute a puzzle is. The unshakeable guideline is that comments regarding a day's puzzle should be posted only in the blog entry for that day.

    sanfranman59 10:30 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

    Mon 5:47, 6:04, 0.95, 29%, Easy-Medium
    Tue 9:20, 8:32, 1.09, 72%, Medium-Challenging
    Wed 8:41, 9:54, 0.88, 23%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 22:19, 18:08, 1.23, 85%, Challenging
    Fri 20:33, 21:06, 0.97, 45%, Medium
    Sat 30:01, 26:36, 1.13, 83%, Challenging
    Sun 24:27, 29:32, 0.83, 16%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:41, 3:55, 0.94, 18%, Easy
    Tue 5:52, 5:11, 1.13, 82%, Challenging
    Wed 5:35, 6:11, 0.90, 25%, Easy-Medium
    Thu 16:41, 10:44, 1.58, 95%, Challenging
    Fri 11:58, 12:15, 0.98, 44%, Medium
    Sat 22:34, 16:39, 1.36, 94%, Challenging (14th highest ratio of 214 Saturdays)
    Sun 17:31, 20:18, 0.86, 21%, Easy-Medium

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    uncle john 10:25 AM  

    Again where is the editor?

    spacecraft 12:17 PM  

    Oh come on, @Rex, no love for MAGILLA Gorilla? Or OBLADI? And what about HELIX? That has a couple of "four-plus" letters. I think the fault (if fault there be) of this puzzle lies in the cluing rather than the construction. This clue set was Mondayed down; with a little effort it could have been a bit more of a challenge.

    I did have one MISSTEP--and that was it. I had, as did @jae and @chefwen, MIStakeS. Also hand up for sArapes: who knew? Hey, maybe we can invent a competitor for Febreeze; we can call it "CLEERTHEAIR!"

    I am befuddled by the word captchas any more: truly 100% illegible scribblings. I'd sooner try to read a doctor's name from his signature that decipher these. What can they be thinking? Anyway, that lets us get on with our poker game: fives full of nines today. Meh...

    Anonymous 3:21 PM  

    It's not rocket surgery! To avoid the social faux pas, simply dip, bite, spin chip 180 degrees, and dip again.

    Dirigonzo 3:44 PM  

    I saw the "double" theme early so no grief there and I was cruising through the grid pretty well I stumbled on the LI_DER/_SCALE cross where I guessed and got it wrong; I did manage to get SHTETLS in with a Hail Mary. The coup de gras, though was SIE_A/TO_I where N and R seemed equally plausible so I just left it blank.

    Still drawing good poker hands, though - nines full of fours.

    Anonymous 4:38 PM  

    I saw a captcha on another site that was simply "2 (plus sign) 2 (equal sign) ?" Brilliant!

    Anonymous 7:13 PM  

    What a great story, and creative mirroring!! Kudos!

    Gwillim Law 6:01 PM  

    For 6D, I started with LESSEE. After finding OLIVERSTONE, had to change it to LESSOR ("renter" could be the owner, renting out the property). Finding SEASON meant I had LESSER, which didn't make sense. It wasn't until the very end that I got LEASER.

    SERAPE is the preferred English spelling, with SARAPE an accepted variant (probably because it's the Mexican spelling). Shouldn't the clue have been something like "Sonora shawl"?

    Sean 4:41 AM  

    Thanks for sharing this, it made for pleasant Thursday morning entertainment!

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