New England cookout / MON-JUL-21 / Dumb ox / Delhi dress

Monday, July 21, 2014

Constructor: Matt Fuchs

Relative difficulty: So Easy

THEME: PRIVATE PARTS -- theme entries begin with a word meaning "private"

Word of the Day: CREOLE (Louisiana language) —
Louisiana Creole (Kréyol La Lwizyàn; French: créole louisianais) is a French-based creole language spoken by some of the Creole people of the state of Louisiana. The language largely consists of elements of French and African languages, with some influence from other sources, notably Native American languages. -- wikipedia
• • •
I'm predisposed to like this crossword because I'm told it's written by someone named Matt who comes from my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland, which he even worked into a clue (48D: Bethesda, Md., is in it). So if you sense any rose-colored glasses, that's why. On the other hand I'm 41 and he's 16, so there might be some middle-aged vs. youth bitterness mixed in as well. I guess in the end I'll just have to judge the puzzle on its merits. Where's the fun in that?

Theme answers:
  • (20A: Big name in ranch dressing) = HIDDEN VALLEY. I thought the brand was "Hidden Valley Ranch," rather than the brand being "Hidden Valley" and the only dressing of theirs you've ever heard of happens to be Ranch? Let me check. OK, this is legit. But Hidden Valley is totally coasting thru life on the strength of their ranch dressing. Looking at their website, they're all in on Ranch. Ride that wave.

  • (27A: Classic of English children's literature, with "The") = SECRET GARDEN. I'm pretty hardcore Anglophile but I've never heard of this. I would probably have clued it in reference to this song, released before today's constructor was born.

  • (44A: Small paid item in the back of a newspaper) = CLASSIFIED AD. Now known as a "craigslist ad." 
  • And then the reveal entry: (What unmentionables cover ... or what 20-, 27- and 44-Across all begin with?) = PRIVATE PARTS. "Unmentionables" is a great word.
So this is a decent theme, but we see the Achilles' heel of the NYT over the past few years painfully swollen yet again: easily avoidable lousy fill, early in the week. A little polishing could surely have relieved this Monday grid of EDUCE crossing ERG and ENS at both extremities,TOILE crossing ETD and EIRE (and EIRE crossing RES clued to the Latin word for "thing"), RIAS and ARHAT. The last two have unmissable crossings, but still, and for the hundredth time: it's Monday, you're supposed to be the gold standard, somebody spend ten minutes and polish the grid. Or schedule it for Tuesday or Wednesday at least. I write crosswords for a living and still don't know what EDUCE means without looking it up, and neither do solvers.


So I'm looking for a "best clue" candidate, and...well, there's nothing. There isn't a single clue I can say any real effort has been put into. Can you imagine unleashing Bob Klahn or Ben Tausig on evocative entries like BARHOP, PICASSO, USSR, CREWCUT, CLAMBAKE and CLASSIFIED AD? They'd be punning you into next week, and you'd love every cheesy syllable. Here, nothing at all to sink your teeth into. I can't even award a "best clue" designation since there's nada that stands out. You tell me in comments what the best clue is and the point will be emphasized.

If we're doing grades this week, I'll go C+ on this one. Adequate but not much more. Did dig the chunky NW and SE corners, though -- that shows some nice flash.
Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent for four more days of CrossWorld


jae 12:22 AM  

Medium for me and a fairly typical Mon.   ARHAT (I only know it from late week crosswords) and ASICS seem a bit off for beginners (I'm thinking of my granddaughter) but the crosses work.   

Nice reveal.

Just noticed 2d and 21d are anagrams.

Reasonable Mon., but Matt's right, nothing stands out.

Steve J 1:01 AM  

Pretty much agreed with Matt across the board. Solid theme with a nice revealer, some nice fill but more subpar fill than should be necessary to hold things together. And very easy. Almost too easy even for a Monday.

Agreed that nothing stood out in terms of clues (and easy/early-week needn't preclude good cluing; check out LIz Gorski's Crossword Nation puzzles for weekly proof of that).

@Matt: My favorite clue was probably 33D. I'm also probably just digging it out of nostalgia. I'm certainly showing my (middle) age. Speaking of showing my age, this is the song that came to mind with SECRET GARDE for me.

Fugu 1:26 AM  

I want to thank the commenter who a few weeks back half-seriously proposed solving Mondays downs-only. I've been doing that and it has made Mondays so much more fun--a true puzzle to look forward to, rather than a rote exercise. Crosswordese used to be an obstacle to joy, but now it's an asset. -MO? Probably EMO, which confirms ISITME.

If you want a fun challenge from your Monday puzzle, give downs-only a shot. You could do across-only instead, but you'll see the theme clues, which will change the experience. Part of the fun for me is guessing the theme and using it to attack troublesome regions.

I don't usually finish 100% downs-only. I accidentally see an across clue or get to a handful of blank cells that I can't resolve without crosses. But it's fun to see how few crosses I can rely on! Give this a shot and comment on how it goes next Monday.

Matt Gaffney 1:36 AM  

Downs-only solving is a thing now. At the Lollapuzzola tournament in Manhattan next month, Peter Gordon has organized a small group of solvers who are competing using downs only, as he himself has been doing there for a couple of years already.

George Barany 3:23 AM  

Fun to learn that both Matt and Matt hail from Bethesda, Maryland, which us scientists know as the home base for NIH.

Back-to-back clues from the early 60's, with EIN and USSR respectively evoking JFK and Nikita Khrushchev. NK's biological granddaughter, Nina Khruscheva, is a US-based academic who was just on TV the other day commenting on the downed Malaysian Airline jet.

Re "The Secret Garden"-- this was a beautiful movie from 1993 based on a classic story from 1911. I never read the book, but my kids were the right age that I took them to the movie. A quick search of reveals that SECRET_GARDEN (12 letters) is a debut, but the fully spelled out THE_SECRET_GARDEN (15 letters) was used as the reveal in themed NYT puzzles by David Kahn and Peter Collins.

GILL I. 5:14 AM  

Well, maybe the clues didn't zing, but for some reason HIDDEN VALLEY and PRIVATE PARTS reminded me of our cross-country move from Florida to California. My mom, in anticipation of her dry martini at HoJo's, and a pool to entertain my sister and me, would sing:

I wish I was a glow worm
a glow worm's never glum
Cuz how can you be grumpy
When the sun shines out your bum!

IS IT ME? Am I the only one who's never been to a CLAM BAKE? I've done the old "shove your marshmallos on a wet stick on the beach" routine, but now I want to go to Maine.
Fun puzzle Matt....thanks for the memories!
p.s. Other that Picasso's "Guernica", his Blue Period was the only think I liked of his....

r.alphbunker 5:28 AM  

51A {24 bottles of beer} CASE was an interesting thing to learn on a Monday. Could WALL be clued as 100 bottles of beer? :-)

Lewis 5:40 AM  

Decent workmanlike Monday, good brain wakeup for the week. EDUCE and ARHAT are not Monday level, but the crosses are fair for Monday. Didn’t know AVRIL. Did like CLAMBAKE, which always gets that song from Carousel spinning in my head). Ten examples of grid gruel, in my opinion, a tad too much. But a decent debut puzzle from a high school student.

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): In Boggle style, where you can move from a letter to any contiguous letter (above, below, side, diagonal), can you find a body part covered by unmentionables?

I have found two so far, one quite proper, and the other so common as to not raise many eyebrows. If you wish to post your answer(s), so as not to give it away, just write the second letter. I’ll post my couple of answers later in the afternoon, and then all can share. Ralph will have this posted on at some point, if not already. (Ralph, who I've sent this to, has already found some more.)

Unknown 7:03 AM  

Puzzle is far from awful. My two biggest objections are that "street" is not a clue for "avenue" and I'd have liked saucier answers for a good revealer like "privateparts." So much you can do with that.

I remember classified ads. That was back in the day - before Craigslist.

Unknown 8:08 AM  

Fairly typical Monday. A bit of a lost opportunity for this revealer, which could have been used for a saucy puzzle.

Unknown 8:13 AM  

I dreamt last night of an arhat in a toile sari paddling a ria on the coast of Eire. He wore sandals, but fortunately, he went on about application-specific integrated circuits. On a Monday.

40 min. No errors. No googles. And not really Monday easy, now was it?

AliasZ 8:14 AM  

Ooh, a gently titillating theme today to start the week on a good note, I like that. Unmentionables covering PRIVATE PARTS always piques my interest. Actually, at least in two cases the entire theme entry can be used, not only the first word: HIDDEN VALLEY, SECRET GARDEN. How META. And, there are other entries that either start with, or are in entirety, words that describe things unmentionables or a SARI can cover: CLAMBAKE, ANALOG, ASIS, ROD, GNATS. Now I SIT ME down on my ASIS and shaddup. Or mutter to myself "Ich bin EIN Wiener." I hope I didn't RUBY the wrong way.

"Educt" is a product that can be EDUCEd by deductive reasoning. Got it?

BARHOP, carhop, bed hop. Lots of bunny hopping recently.

Try this, you may like it: Overture to The CREOLE "Faust" by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera.

Excellent debut by Matt Fuchs, congrats.

joho 8:19 AM  

This puzzle is a throwback to simpler Monday grids -- just four 12's. The answers are all recognizable and in the language and the reveal is a real hoot and just a little bit naughty. I thought this a perfectly wonderful Monday.

My favorite clue was "_____ number on" for DOA -- freshening up the old movie clue with the grim "dead on arrival" definition.

Congratulations on your debut, Matt! I look forward to more from you.

Mohair Sam 8:20 AM  

Pretty much agree with @Matt Gafney today. The only nifty clue was the revealer, and there was so much opportunity for better. I'm OK with ARHAT (or anything else) on a Monday if the crosses are painless - and they were.

Chuckled at the HIDDENVALLEY comment, had the exact same experience here.

@Steve J - 33d DURAN Duran a great group, but not much of a clue - got your heart in front of your mind on that one. Should have been clued as "Past tense of a Crystal's tune?"

Matt Fuchs only 16? Impressive effort - keep 'em coming kid.

Dorothy Biggs 8:21 AM  

My only "complaint" would be 16A. Khrushchev's land, for short. At first I wanted CCCP since the clue looked like it would be from Khrushchev's perspective. Then I thought maybe it would be some possibly well known Russian word for "land," again because the clue looks like it's from Khrushchev's perspective. But no, it was just boring old USSR. I think Khrushchev's country would have been more appropriate..."land" just doesn't seem to fit somehow.

Someone above said they liked 33D's clue, but I think I've seen that clue at least 50 times. Yawn.

Really nothing much more to comment on. If someone wanted to see what a normal, run-of-the-mill, cliched(?) NYT Monday puzzle looked like, I'd show them this one. Lots of crosswordese they would need to know for future NYT solving, lots of easy cluing, lots of easy words.

Matt gave this a C+...indeed, if by "C" you mean "cliche." And hey, there's nothing wrong with cliche every now and then I guess...

Leapfinger 8:45 AM  

Thought the NW a nice punchy start, what with CREOLE MADAMS MULES in the AVENUE. By AVRIL, the papier MACHE masks of Mardi Gras would be stored away, but it all reminded me of old NOLA, a place with a fascinating history. Interest was kept up with BLEARY BARHOP at a CLAMBAKE. If the clues to the entries were more workmanlike than zingy, well, because Monday.

A puzzle about hidden things code be called a nice meta kind of theme. Liked not only the inclusions, but also the others Matt thought of that were scrapped. Also appreciated the stealthy way the theme is extended with JOURNAL (often PRIVATE) and the surreptitious link to espionage. In those USSR ESPY novels, didn't the CIA and Fibbies always sport CREWCUTS?

Some suggested reading just about now would be Notes from Underground, while background music could be the Enigma Variations. For differing tastes, there's the furtive Hernando's Hideaway, or perhaps Clan Destiny's Child.

Yup, I liked it. Thought you hit the SPOT with your debut, Matt, and hope the NYT will be A VENUE for you on a regular basis.

Now cover up.

Fred Smith 8:46 AM  


When I lived in Paris, we'd get the NYT puzzle in the International Herald Tribune at the office. After work, Dave Gilbert (a Californian, now a permanent Paris resident) would tale the Paper down to the local bar, where we'd all stop for a convivial pop before catching the train for home. He'd lay the puzzle down on the pinball machin!s glass top, and do the horizontals in strict sequential order. He'd finish successfully virtually all the time, including Fridays and Mondays (when he'd bring the Saturday puzzle).

An interesting skill...

Z 8:54 AM  

Speaking of PRIVATE PARTS, I've noticed, at the last couple of ball games, young women wearing backless t-shirts. The first time I saw one I thought she had ripped her shirt but wasn't bothering to worry about it. Now I've seen at least four other women with the same style. What I don't understand is why they are wearing bras. It's summer. It's hot. You have chosen a t-shirt without a back. Why are you advertising the color of your underwear?

It's FIVE A.M. and PICASSO is doing papier MACHÉ while AVRIL Lavigne and DURAN Duran do an EMO version of Back in the USSR. See what happens when you BAR HOP.

16? A fine job.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

The SECRET GARDEN was a really sappy story (the garden 'cures' everyone of faults and ills) so you haven't missed anything, Matt.

The most I can say about the puzzle is that I did it last night but didn't even recall having solved it already. Goodness! The worst I can say about it is that it is clearly forgettable. Shouldn't some of the tongue-lashing be directed at Will, for letting it in the door?

Leapfinger 9:03 AM  

All those PRIVATE jokes are first class, @you guys! I s'pose ENS outranks, but I don't know how you'd CLASSIFIE DAD.

oops, bad spelling; back to bASICS 4 me...

Time to get moving, 'SLATE.

mathguy 9:07 AM  

I thought that the puzzle puzzle was going to be naughty when I saw PRIVATEPARTS, HIDDENVALLEY, and SECRETGARDEN. But I couldn't get anything sexy out of CLASSIFIEDAD.

Loren Muse Smith 9:11 AM  

So @joho said this was Matt's debut? Congrats! And only 16!

I wanted to wait until I talked to Dad to post. I thought it had some pretty hard stuff for a Monday solver: ARHAT, MACHE, EDUCE, RIAS. Agreed, the crosses all work, though. Dad reported that it was "easy" and that the harder stuff he got with the crosses just fine. He liked it.

EDUCE revisited – I agree with Matt G – what the heck does that mean anyway? The clue is "bring out," but that doesn't really work in some cases:

Avril, you should wear the blue SARI as it EDUCES the RUBY glow of your cheeks.

So, rather, I guess it's a synonym for elicit or infer?:

I EDUCE from your tirade that IT IS, in fact, ME.

Matt G– good point on the clues. I looked and looked for my favorite, and the only ones I kept coming back to were clues for words that educed a staring-out-of-the-window moment. (For the life of me, I can never remember the difference between a CREOLE, a pidgin, or a patois, and I made a mental check again this morning to make sure I still can't remember.)

Matt G – I would have missed the triple sixes in the northwest and southeast. Matt F – kudos on those.

@Susan McConnell – great idea! Possible entries: TABOO BOOK, GAS STATION, POST IT NOTE, SAD BUT TRUE, RUM PUNCH, BUS TERMINAL. . .

@Lewis – I've never played Boggle, but if I understand the instructions correctly, I already see 8 possibilities for the same word, with PICASSO and CLASSIFIED AD leading the charge. Or maybe bringing up the rear.

Again, Matt F – congrats on your NYT debut! Enjoy the day, buddy!

chefbea 9:27 AM  

fun easy puzzle. Congrats on your debut.
I love ranch dressing...and I do make my own Ranch's great on roasted taters. Also just made my own French dressing.
I remember reading The Secret garden way back when!!

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I don't know what all the excitement is about. PRIVATE PARTS are about the same as any NCO or officer, aren't they? You've seen one, you've... um, never mind.

@Casco, I like your dream story, but that sari needs to be voile. Toile is just too stiff. Rats, can't say anything today.

@Gil I.P., kudos to your Mom.

Davidph 9:28 AM  

@fugu: i've been doing downs only on Mondays for the last few weeks. It's fun. I like it better than acrosses only.

Steve J 9:32 AM  

@Mohair Sam: Yeah, selecting that clue was a bit of (too-subtle) damning with faint praise. If that's the best I can come up with - it's not clever or original - then Matt's point about cluing is confirmed.

@Loren: Yep, EDUCE is like infer. And then when you want to undo your conclusion, you deduce.

Kim Scudera 9:35 AM  

Enjoyed the puzzle, solving mostly all-down, for added Monday fun -- a nice debut, Matt, despite room for improvement already neatly laid out by Matt G.

@Lewis: what @Loren said, plus four others so far. Second letters = e, a, o and u

Mr. Benson 9:38 AM  

Seems like MAS and DURAN were a missed opportunity for cross-referenced clues, if that's your thing.

r.alphbunker 10:16 AM  


Great PPP idea. Fits the theme of the puzzle perfectly. When I was the constructor's age I was looking up dirty words in the unabridged dictionary at the library and now I get to do it in a crossword puzzle :-)

retired_chemist 10:18 AM  

Easy - hard time finding a typo (which I had already "fixed," but re-mistyped) kept my time way up.

ASICS - no idea. Stared at that one for a long time.

CrAbBoil fo 18A at first. Turns out that those are generally held well south of New England. Oh well....

Thanks,Mr. Fuchs.

JFC 10:29 AM  

I came over here because someone at Wordplay said Matt gave this puzzle a scathing review. Frankly, I am a bit disappointed because I found it closer to damning with faint praise. In the Rex scale I would view the review as a mild rebuke.

That said, I could not help but think of Evil's point yesterday. Clearly Matt would not fear any reprisal from a 16 year old first time constructor. So, did that influence him?

I thought the puzzle more like standard fare for a Monday. I've seen better and I've seen worse. I think the C+ is off and the puzzle at least deserves a B. ARHAT is my favorite kind of Buddhist. Which reminds me of this:


mac 10:30 AM  

Nice Monday, but I needed the crosses as well to get Asics and Arhat. A little odd for a Monday.

Clambakes are wonderful, especially at the beach!

I somehow know The Secret Garden. When I married my American husband one of his friends gave me a couple of classic children's books: The Wind in the Willows, Stewart Little, Charlotte's Web and The Secret Garden. Very thoughtful gift.

Leapfinger 10:37 AM  

@ work, so shouldn't be doing this. I'm not sure if you're allowing abbrevs, elisions and partials. I'm hoping for the best.

Besides @loren's multiples, I have 2 U's, 2 A's [1 with spell vars], 1 O [elision], an I that's a partial, and a P that I can't quite clASSify

Z 10:39 AM  

@JFC - "C+" is scathing? Hmmmm. I've always hated A-E grading because it pretends to give information while really giving very little, and also because people (usually parents in my world) see "slightly above average" as an insult.

I don't think that @ED's contention was that a constructor would fear reprisal, more that on some level there is an empathy that impacts the review.

Arlene 10:44 AM  

I did the puzzle quickly, read the blog review and the comments. I think this is the kind of cluing you get when a 16-year-old constructs a puzzle with PRIVATE PARTS as a theme! So sweet and innocent! Which reminds me of the advice for authors - write about what you know.

JFC 11:00 AM  

@Matt, BTW, my son is a few years older than you. He was a point guard who led Walt Whitman to the State Basketball finals, losing to Annapolis. That might have been your freshman year if you went there.


jdv 11:24 AM  

Medium. Yesterday we had moving parts and today private parts. I prefer Monday puzzles without punny clues; we get an enormous dose of puns later in the week. I thought the puzzle was OK.

JFC 11:37 AM  

@Z, I think you are agreeing with me about the review. As for ED's comments, they are susceptible to interpretation.

"...and I think this reflects the problem with constructors being recruited to rate the puzzles of their peers. They know, down deep, that eventually that circle will loop back around and point at them, so they tend to--subconsciously or otherwise--hold their fire."

In other words, what goes around comes around, whether it's good or bad.

Matt Gaffney 11:37 AM  

"That said, I could not help but think of Evil's point yesterday. Clearly Matt would not fear any reprisal from a 16 year old first time constructor. So, did that influence him?"

Can't tell if you're being serious, but sort of hoping you are.

Z 11:39 AM  

An article for usage mavens. I liked it alot.

mac 11:55 AM  

P.S. I just bought 8 packages of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing for my nephew in Holland. He's loved it since he was a little kid.

Lewis 12:22 PM  

@Z - Style often pays no mind to utility
@loren -- I thought you might jump in on this PPP, and your "bringing up the rear" made me laugh out loud.
@ralph -- thank you for your kind words, and for your help with this
@kim and @leapy -- looking forward to seeing your answers.

I will post a solution around 3:00, so those who wish can share their answers as well.

You have to give young Matt credit. He is going through high school with the last name of Fuchs. In those circumstances you either become a shrinking violet, or put it behind you and just be yourself, which is what it seems Matt has done, constructing and submitting a puzzle to the NYT.

Sometimes people, instead of shrinking away, go overboard in the other direction. When I was in ROTC in college, there was a Sergeant Dick, who absolutely lived up to his name.

Unknown 12:43 PM  

@lms Yes! And let's make it a Sunday puzzle so we can include THE PEN IS MIGHTIER...

AliasZ 1:05 PM  

I couldn't pass up the chance to take you all on a short ride in a fast machine with American composer John Adams, or as he is referred to in France, M.ADAMS. Turn up the volume and enjoy.

Anoa Bob 1:17 PM  

I was having trouble right out of the gate until I realized that my CLAM BAKE had morphed into a CALM BAKE. Had trouble spotting that glitch partly because I've never heard the crossing term OIL LIT (8D). I have several OIL BURNING lamps, but can't see how one would EDUCE OIL LIT from that.

IS IT ME or did this one lean heavily on esses to get the grid filled. We get MADAMS, DEEDS, ANODES, DECADES & RIAS and that's just in the NW. The pattern continues, so I'm calling this one POC assisted.

Liked ANALOG & PICASSO, and the post BAR HOP BLEARY eyed FIVE AM nexus both put a grin on my mug and brought back some wince-inducing memories.

Wouldn't be surprised to see Matt The Younger's byline again.

JFC 1:21 PM  

@Matt G, using up my last allowed comment to reply. Yes, I am serious about my son leading his HS BB team to the State finals.

Oh, you meant the reprisal post!? Frankly, I forgot whether I was serious or not. I think I was poking fun at ED. Frankly, I thought you were more critical of Will than young Matt. If I caught your drift, you were saying that young Matt made the usual mistakes of a new constructor and it was up to Will to polish up the puzzle (certain fill and the clues) before publishing it. So I'm not sure your C+ applies to young Matt or the more experienced Will, but I thought it a bit too low, even allowing for your points. It is a Monday puzzle, after all.

DigitalDan 1:37 PM  

Interesting: SECRET GARDEN is not only a movie, but also a reasonably long-running Broadway musical. Crosswords have taught me that the knowledge of highly educated people is nevertheless widely segmented.

Outlaw Z 2:17 PM  

"Style often pays no mind to utility" @Lewis - Exactly! The bra has to be for utility, not style. If the choice was to go with a backless t-shirt at a baseball game I'm expecting a to see a naked back. Why didn't style win out in this case? (For those of you who have never been to a baseball game, it is not all that unusual to see women dressed for a night out, even wearing spiked heels. Their balance going up and down those stairs always impresses me). Yesterday was a day game, so sitting back in the chair wasn't going to be an option. And then there is the whole issue of the "style" of a backless t-shirt. These aren't blouses, these are t-shirts. I find it very curious.

Lewis 3:12 PM  


As @loren has pointed out, this puzzle is rife with "ass". Up in the NE I found "bust". Ralph found bum and rod. Please feel free to share -- using good judgement -- what you've come up with!

jdv 3:26 PM  

@Lewis. Anus, Rear, Nuts and a couple others.

Warren G. Harding 3:28 PM  

PPP solution: I had to cheat a little to find my JERRY.

r.alphbunker 3:46 PM  

@Matt G

Your "Murder by Meta" just arrived. Thanks

Anonymous 4:11 PM  

@lewis, besides some already mentioned, I found tata, as in bodaceous, bits as in naughty bits, and A-SPOT which I believe to be a variant of GSPOT

Also a few SAC/SAK appearances but none with SACK per se


Kim Scudera 4:47 PM  

Not yet mentioned: Balls and cod. Now we're *all*channeling our inner 16-year-old!

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

To amplify Digital Dan's point: The Secret Garden was a Tony-winning musical of the 1991 season, starring Mandy Patinkin & John Cameron Mitchell (now better-known as the creator of Hedwig and the Angry Inch). It's been made into two films -- one with Margaret O'Brien in 1949, another with Maggie Smith (yes, in a different role) in 1993 that was a modest box office success. It's also been made into a TV movie at least twice.

On top of that: many women I know, when they hear of any version of it, their reaction is to clasp their hands to their chests and say "That was my FAVORITE book as a child".

So, dismissing it as some obscurity is weirdly provincial.

(NOTE: My preference is not to post as Anonymous, but multiple attempts at signing in with a name have failed, and this is the only way that seems to work. I'm not shy; just techno-incompetent)

Steve J 6:08 PM  

In addition to the previously noted PPP solutions, I also found the catch-all BITS and one word that's about the most offensive term that could be thrown into the mix.

Meanwhile, the capchas have gone from ridiculous to pathetic. You'd think Google could at least vary which of their services they're advertising in that space. I guess robots don't respond to advertising, so there is that.

Unknown 6:18 PM  

The Secret Garden was my favorite it countless times. Was even an unfortunately, not so good, TV Movie about 15 years ago.. Made me smile to remember. Thanks

sanfranman59 6:34 PM  

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

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

Mon 5:42, 6:01, 0.95, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:00, 3:55, 1.02, 59%, Medium

madsymo 6:46 PM  

I worked with a man at my first job out of college (mid 1980s) that flipped a coin every weekday to decide across or down clues. He regularly solved the puzzle. Damned Princeton PhD!

sanfranman59 10:03 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 5:42, 6:01, 0.95, 24%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:57, 3:55, 1.01, 52%, Medium

Virginia 2:19 AM  

The Secret Garden is only the best book EVER. And somehow I knew it was the answer right away, without even having any crossing letters. Possibly I was subconsciously clued in by the similarity to Hidden Valley? In any case, I found this puzzle to be both easy and fun -- a nice change after Sunday's puzzle, which was neither.

Bob Kerfuffle 5:08 AM  

An OK Monday puzzle, and I learned alot from the comments.

My High School Latin teacher made a big point that EDUCATION shares the root word of EDUCE, so that it meant to "draw out" the knowledge within the student. Even then I was pretty sure that it was necessary to pound some facts into the student so that there would be knowledge to draw out.

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

As to EDUCE, I think it means literally to lead out, hence all kinds of words like duke, duct, and yes, education: to lead one out of the darkness of ignorance into enLIGHTenment. Moses was the big EDUCEr. I myself don't like the wrod 'cause NOBODY EVER USES it!

Today's puzz was OK. I'm not sure how easy it would be to "fix" the subpar fill; you start changing letters and you involve the cross; the trouble spreads. OFL seems to think it's no problem; I'm betting the wicket could get sticky, especially for a teenager on his first effort. Lighten up, big guy.

The Howard Stern reference may not quite pass the breakfast test, but I'll give this slightly risque offering a B, for his "blue" period.

260, improving. First one, too! Actually legible!

rain forest 1:41 PM  

I'm in agreement with OFL of the Syndies, @Spacecraft, except that I don't mind EDUCE, lying fallow as it does, ready to be used in a tricky section of a crossword puzzle.

I tried to change some of the fill in the West and East sections, but it is hard if you want to retain the themers, and anyway, why change EJECT/TOILE/DURAN?

When I was 16 and wanting to construct a puzzle, I'd have only come up with the kind of words that the Bogglers up there are talking about.

Odd. I can just barely make out this ironic captcha: 2020

DMG 1:56 PM  

Liked this one, Monday confidence inspiring, with the couple of words I simply did not know, ARHAT and ASICS, falling nicely from the crosses. It amazes me that anyone can construct a crossword, let alone a teenager, but I love it that there are those out there who supply me with my daily fix. keep it up Matt!

Took me several tries to find a Captcha that I could rea with less than @rainforest's 2020, and then all I got was 154!

Dirigonzo 5:17 PM  

Other than having to write over EvokE in favor of EDUCE I liked it just fine. I'm with @DMG on ARHAT and ASICS - yay crosswords! OILLIT looks like it should be wrong but it's not.

7645 - that's a lot of digits to produce such a meager sum.

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