Locale of a 1984 industrial disaster / SUN 5-3-15 / Archetypal postwar suburb / New York Giants founder who's in Pro Football Hall of Fame / Constellation next to Scorpius / Benefit offsetter / Epitome of attention to detail

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Constructor: Dan Schoenholz

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Non-starters" — No "N" starters, i.e phrases starting with "N" have the "N" dropped, creating wackiness that goes on for days and days (actually, just seven answers)

Theme answers:
  • A NOOK OF THE NORTH (23A: Arctic hideaway?)
  • EAR TO ONE'S HEART (34A: Neck-stretching yoga position?)
  • ORMAN CONQUEST (45A: Big win for a prominent TV financial adviser?)
  • ARROW-MINDED (65A: Like makers of one-way street signs?)
  • OISE POLLUTION (85A: Environmentalists' concern in northern France?)
  • ICE PIECE OF WORK (96A: Igloo, e.g.?)
  • EURO TRANSMITTER (111A: One sending money from France or Germany?)
Word of the Day: BHOPAL (105A: Locale of a 1984 industrial disaster) —
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world's worst industrial disaster.
It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way into and around the shanty towns located near the plant.
Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. A government affidavit in 2006 stated that the leak caused 558,125 injuries, including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Others estimate that 8,000 died within two weeks, and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases.
The cause of the disaster remains under debate. The Indian government and local activists argue that slack management and deferred maintenance created a situation where routine pipe maintenance caused a backflow of water into a MIC tank triggering the disaster. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) contends water entered the tank through an act of sabotage. (wikipedia)
• • •

Sundays have become mildly annoying, because difficulty level appears to have been amped up of late, which would be fine, if puzzle quality had also been amped up, which it hasn't. This is about the most bare-bones, basic, infinitely replicable theme imaginable, and while it might yield hilarious results, I suppose, today it did not. EAR TO ONE'S HEART? [Impossible yoga position?], maybe. Man that clue was irritating. Here I thought "oh, the answer will have something to do with yoga. I got this." But no. Absurd. All the themers are absurd. Cutesy, without actually being cute. Far from hilarious. Not much to say about this one beyond "no." This theme could probably be done all over again, with completely new themers, and be mildly entertaining. But these merit only the mildest of chuckles, at best.

Forgot what APGAR was (56A: ___ score (newborn health measure)), so DONE UP was wicked, wicked hard for me (30D: Beautified). See also REDLINES. I had RE-LINES and had no idea (29A: Strikes). Ran the alphabet. DONE UP and BHOPAL (never heard of it) were total outliers, difficulty-wise. I mean, the whole thing was clued pretty tough, but DONE UP was weirdly, ridiculously resistant to my solving machinations, and BHOPAL crossed LIAO (106D: Chinese dynasty of a thousand years ago), which made it treacherous. Wife knew, when I asked about BHOPAL, what it was, vaguely. I have no memory of it at all. I was 14 when the chemical spill or whatever it was happened. I have never seen BHOPAL in crosswords or encountered it anywhere ever. I accept that it's crossworthy, but crossing LIAO (!?) makes it rough. Chinese dynasties are crapshoots, and among the lowest form of fill there is. I guessed "L." I guessed right. I hate when any square is the result of guessing.

Overall fill is fine. Not great. OK. What the heck is a TIM MARA? Yikes? (18A: New York Giants founder who's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) Needed all the crosses there. Massive outlier, familiarity-wise. Luckily the crosses were all solid (unlike BHOPAL, gah). I am three sheets to the wind (actually one julep to the wind, but man, my wife made it powerful), so I'm gonna go eat some Derby Pie (pecan, chocolate, bourbon, heaven) and sober up. Hope you enjoy your Sunday.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Carola 12:25 AM  

    My favorite was A NOOK OF THE NORTH, especially since it could be an ICE PIECE OF WORK. Overall, I found the puzzle nicely difficult - kept me interested to the end.

    Z 12:28 AM  

    YALE U? TIM MARA? Tough by weirdness and tough by obscurity. BHOPAL, though, was a gimme. Have you ever noticed how industrial accidents are never blamed on excessive oversight? Curious, that.

    APGAR was another gimme. I had a presentation on assessment which used the APGAR as an exemplar for good assessment.

    As for the themers, I liked them fine.

    zac 12:35 AM  

    Oddly my fastest Sunday ever at a little over 12. Roughly half my usual. I agree with the difficulty in cluing but must have had an odd wavelength connection going, since the west went painlessly, if unremarkably.

    Steve J 12:47 AM  
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    Steve J 12:49 AM  

    I liked the execution of this theme. I don't expect to see themes I've never seen before (as long as they're not super-close together), just ones that work well or don't feel tired. Today's fit. My favorite was A NOOK OF THE NORTH. Got a nice chuckle. (Which is really all I'm asking of crossword themes. For comedy, I go to actual comedy.) The others were similar, although the change in pronunciation caused me to wonder what was going on with OISE POLLUTION for a moment.

    Fill was definitely rough in spots. YALE U was pushing into dirty-pool range. I happen to know of TIM MARA, but I'm sure that will be tough for many. ADANO was completely unfamiliar to me, making that corner tough. (Looking it up, I'm going to guess knowledge of that one is quite generational. It certainly wasn't in any of my classes in junior high/high school/college in the '80s). But there was also some really good stuff, like KISMET and FRACASES.

    I was also 14 when the BHOPAL disaster happened. I don't recall the details, other than a huge release of chemicals that poisoned thousands, but I certainly remember its being all over the news then. It was easy fill for me. (And now that I do look it up, I see it was hundreds of thousands poisoned by a massive gas leak, with death counts ranging from ~2,500 to ~16,000 if counting long-term effects. Wow.)

    RAD2626 1:23 AM  

    Some terrific fill: LEVITTOWN, ALTAR RAIL, G CLEFS, ANOMALOUS. Liked EURO TRANSMITTER and. ICE PIECE OF WORK for themers. Enjoyed the puzzle even though I had a DNF with SOHNi/CECi. No idea on wither and guessed wrong.

    Anonymous 1:55 AM  

    I got Bhopal right away, but I thought it was in poor taste. A lot of folks died, and it was recent.

    jae 2:01 AM  

    Medium for me but it seemed harder.  OXLIP, the @RAD2626  SOHNE/CECE cross, LIAO, ENDOSPERM, BAHT, OBOTE, MAIA...all on the tough side.

    TIM MARA's great granddaughter is Rooney MARA who starred in The girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Her other great grandfather is Art Rooney, founder of the Pittsburg Steelers, which is a long way to go to explain why MARA was a gimme.  BHOPAL was also a gimme mostly because I was a tad older than 14.

    Some amusing theme answers, a bit of zippy fill, liked it.

    chefwen 2:37 AM  

    Fun puzzle, ANOOK OF THE NORTH opened it up for me, my first chuckle. Followed by a few others. Couple of groaners thrown in for balance. ARROW MINDED was also a chuckle.

    Still waiting a Liz Gorski Sunday puzzle that I can draw on. C'mon Liz, make my Sunday.

    Ken Wurman 4:19 AM  
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    Ken Wurman 4:19 AM  

    I thought the fii was difficult. Originally had "ice place to live " for 96 across.

    Trombone Tom 4:23 AM  

    Great puzzle with clever theme answers, except for EAR TO ONE'S HEART. Did not know MAIA but got it with crosses.

    GILL I. 6:18 AM  

    Ummm, well, I liked ANOOK OF THE NORTH...that was my first entry so I figured out...(DUH)...that I had to leave out some N's.
    The themes were fairly easy but dang...BANQUO? FRACASES? (is that how southerners fry their chickens?),
    ENDOSPERM????? What happened to good old plain fertilizer? I suppose now you can offer your azaleas some Viagra? TIMMARA? HAMITE? YALEU? LIAO? PHYLA? Yikes!
    Not my favorite Dan S. Maybe I'm ARROW MINDED.
    Like @Rex, I had to guess at lots of squares and I failed in most. I want to smile, do a dance or yell yipee or something on a Sunday...Didn't happen here. Maybe I need to share a mint julep with @Rex or maybe I just need to go to sleep!

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:22 AM  

    Good, fun, puzzle for me, although . . .

    One write-over that I knew of, 93 A, SEMITE before HAMITE; but also finished, on paper, with one wrong letter: had 28 A as GAIA instead of MAIA. Maybe I could be forgiven for thinking of GAIA as somebody's mother, since according to Wikipedia, "Gaia was the great mother of all: the primal Greek Mother Goddess; creator and giver of birth to the Earth and all the Universe..." Of course, that doesn't make ANOGALOUS right, and I remember thinking it didn't look right, but at that point I had had the toxicological equivalent of a mint julep myself.

    If we are playing "Where were you?", at the time of the Bhopal disaster, I was 38 years old, and working in a chemical laboratory, and using isocyanates every day. Yeah, I remember.

    Bob Kerfuffle 6:36 AM  
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    Bob Kerfuffle 6:38 AM  

    Hey, language mavens! That's you, LMS, and anyone else who is interested.

    Just learned something new from Amy Reynaldo: the symbol referred to in the clue for 66D is actually called an Okina. And it's actually a letter. But, the puzzle isn't strictly speaking wrong, because the apostrophe may be used if the writer has no Okina in their font, or if, like me, they were totally ignorant.

    paulsfo 6:42 AM  

    Rex is a professor, right? Some of them read newspapers and books. I've heard it helps with general knowledge: things like *the* worst industrial disaster in history.

    @Anonymous at 1:55. Don't know why simply naming a disaster is in poor taste, and 31 years isn't usually considered recent, except in geological terms.

    I really liked the clue for ARROWMINDED; otherwise I agree with Rex on the ho-hum theme.

    There were about four proper nouns which I didn't even recognize after filling them in; however, they were all gettable from the crosses.

    Thomaso808 7:02 AM  

    On the tough side for me. Had to google CECE because I did not know SOHNE. Same with the LEVITTOWN / OBOTE cross for which I had to Google OBOTE.

    I really liked the theme, but did not catch on until EUROTRANSMITTERS. That really helped going back to the other themes.

    One nit on 66D, the symbol sometimes used when writing the word O'ahu is NOT an apostrophe. It is a Hawaiian diacritical mark called an "okina", which indicates a glottal stop. In a font like Arial it might look the same as an apostrophe, but in a seraph font like Times, the okina looks like an upside down apostrophe. Usually I heed Rex's advice that if I think a clue is wrong, it's probably me that's wrong, but in this case this is most definitely an error in cluing!

    pmdm 7:15 AM  

    Today's write-up demonstrates the problem I associate with proper nouns. The Indian disaster is certainly memorable to a person but only depending on the age. So if the proper nouns in a puzzle aren't in your wheelhouse, the puzzle becomes harder or quite unenjoyable.

    Thomaso808 7:30 AM  

    @Bob Kerfuffle - thanks for that link, which really illustrates the challenges in adapting all the subtleties of various languages to the computer age.

    If you use a sans-serif font, you can use an apostrophe in writing the word O'ahu (see, I just did it) and get away with it. But if you use a serif font and use an apostrophe, it is just wrong and not acceptable. It is better and totally acceptable to not use any okina at all, like the Honolulu Star Advertiser chooses to do.

    Mohair Sam 8:02 AM  

    Medium-challenging here too. Liked it overall, except for the horrid EARTOONESHEART, Didn't like the yoga thing, nor the good ol' ONES that @Rex deplores. And yeah, YALEU was valid - but a stretch, does anybody say "Yale U"?

    As for BHOPAL - I blame Rex's complaint on his blood alcohol level, BHOPAL dominated the news for weeks when it happened, and NPR and PBS have regularly followed up on the disaster through the years.

    And @jae has it right. A legend in New York sports, TIMMARA's name was all over the place when Rooney Mara gained fame, and he's frequently mentioned when Art Rooney gets himself and his Steelers into the sports news.

    Hartley70 8:21 AM  

    I skipped the mint juleps, so I found this an easy Sunday, not medium challenging. I only got held up in two spots. Tom or TIM..why do I have to know sporty people, why? Chinese dynasty torture was the other, but the glitches sorted themselves out and BOBS your uncle, I was done in excellent time for a Sunday. BHOPAL is unforgettable because of its magnitude and because Union Carbide headquarters is just up the road. Several neighbors worked there at the time. APGAR is hard to forget because there's a bit of anxiety involved until one hears that that score is nice and high on your newborn, more momentous than the SAT! It's been a good start to what appears to be a great Spring day.

    Joe 8:28 AM  

    Bhopal happened before I was even born, yet it was a gimme for me with no crosses. Then again I work in the chemical industry where EVERYONE knows about Bhopal.

    Likewise Liao was a gimme, but then again I also play the Dynasty Warriors series which has banked all the Chinese surnames in my mind that I could ever need.

    Anonymous 8:52 AM  

    Okay, being from Hawai'i this pisses me off...so here I go.

    66 Down. Island that may have an apostrophe in its name. This is NOT an apostrophe. It is actually a consonant letter (unicameral) called an 'Okina, used in many Polynesian languages to signify a glottal stop. In essence, it makes O'ahu sound not like it's Americanized pronunciation ("Oh Wahoo") but more like "O Ahoo" (with a slight pause in between the two syllables).

    When I saw the clue, I was hoping that it wasn't an Hawaiian Island. A better clue would have been island whose name means "the gathering place"---OAHU

    Aloha and mahalo nui loa,

    Spirit of Don Ho

    For more info .

    Dorothy Biggs 9:00 AM  

    Came here to find out that, for many, TIMMARA was easy peasy. Was not disappointed.

    jIMMoRA is the most famous of football legends with that particular collection of letters.

    I remember BHOPAL or at least I remember that something happened there...

    BANQUO/BATED was my last fill...and that B was the problem. I don't know who Banquo is and I'm guessing that bated is the bated used in "bated breath?" Also had trouble at OBOTE/LEVITTOWN at the T crossing. I guessed it was LEVIT...but had no reason to guess...I mean, what else could it be?

    Is EARTOONESHEART an actual yoga thing?

    The plural of "sons" in German is SÖHNE...technically, "sohne" is not a word. While I'm okay with the absence of apostrophes is words like "didnt" in puzzles, the lack of an umlaut is a little different. The ö is an actual letter in German, the umlaut isn't decorative. If someone is a native German speaker, please correct me if I'm wrong.

    YALEU is just terrible.

    I agree with Rex that Sundays are getting pricklier. That's okay with me.

    Unknown 9:15 AM  

    So, I gather one doesn't use an apostrophe when writing Oahu..... ;)

    Seemed harder than my time would indicate. I finished about 20% faster than my average Sunday time. I agree that some of the cluing was unnecessarily oblique.

    I got BHOPAL off the H and L. That really was the mother of all industrial disasters.

    Han. Ming. That's about it for my knowledge of Chinese dynasties.

    Rhino 9:16 AM  

    It was a joyless slog. I cringed at the themers, and found little pleasure in the fill. This puzzle made me sad.

    Z 9:17 AM  

    Whether or not an apostrophe is correct may depend on which language you are writing in.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:21 AM  

    In tribute to today's word "BHOPAL" from "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee:"

    If you take the W from the word "answer," and the H from the word "ghost," and the extra A from the word "aardvark," and the T from the word "listen," you could keep saying the word WHAT but no one would hear you because the entire word would be silent.

    carry on...

    Amagerikaner 9:22 AM  

    The Ö in "söhne" should be technically transcribed as soehne in English.
    Moreover this discussion about glottal stops is apt since I live in Denmark where the language is rife with them. Spoken Danish sounds like people expectorating with a potato shoved in their mouth. There are nine official vowels here, so I wonder if there's a Hawaiian link there somewhere.

    Anonymous 9:23 AM  

    Agree Yale U was terrible, but as a Giants fan (Giants founder) the last 4 letters had to be Mara and the crosses for the 1st name were easy. Enjoyed the theme answers just fine. A puzzle I hated this week was one from the LA Times that put 2 U's in the grid when it was supposed to be a W. I never did figure that one out and just quit. YUK

    Anonymous 9:44 AM  

    Easy except for SC. I wanted LING and OH GOD. (Still working on how to fit ENAMEL in.) If I had known the D & D game company, I'd have been fine, but that was totally obscure to me. Otherwise, fast, sort of fun.

    Nancy 9:54 AM  

    Of the three pun puzzles we've had this week, this one was far and away my favorite. @Mohair: how can you call EAR TO ONE'S HEART "horrid"? It's a ridiculous physical position, of course, -- just like all those OTHER ridiculous, potentially injury-causing positions that Yoga expects you to be able to contort yourself into. I thought it was a great pun! As was A NOOK OF THE NORTH and ARROW MINDED.

    Like @Bob K., I had seMITE before HAMITE, but ABOUND (it couldn't be eBOUND, right?) straightened me out. I was also thrown off in the opposite corner by eVEr-ready instead of OVEN-ready, and was wondering what the answer to "Lend, slangily" could possibly be, when I had S-E-.

    So it was a tougher-than-usual Sunday for me, which I like, filled with quite amusing theme answers. Loved this one.

    Maruchka 10:15 AM  

    Medium here. A NOOK OF THE NORTH provided the entre (envision accent acute, diacritical fans).

    What made for more time-taking that should have been is the random cluing. I do like an old-fashioned word fest, but not so many nouns, please.

    Does anyone know a BLONDE joke? Don't think I've ever heard one.

    @Bob K - ANOGALOUS, hehe. Beheaded parasite?

    @Gill - Chicken FRACASES, hehe. Timid brawlers activity?

    @NCA Pres - BANQUO's ghost dooms, and looms large, in the Scottish play.

    Ludyjynn 10:30 AM  

    I thought this was a nICEPIECEOFWORK by DS and WS. The SE corner, including that themer, went in last as I had to correct 'iceplacetowork'. The rest of the themers went in smoothly.

    I began teaching a course at Johns Hopkins in 1988 called "Case Studies in Business Ethics". One of the first cases we would analyze each semester for several years was the ongoing crisis/aftermath/litigation stemming from the 1984 BHOPAL disaster. The passage of time has not dimmed the enormity of this industrial accident and the issues of corporate and governmental responsibility (witness the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill debacle in the Gulf of Mexico). Much discussion/debate of so-called COST/benefit analysis took place. If I were still teaching, today, I would continue to use this and subsequent, all too similar occurences, as teaching tools. And no, IMO, it is not insensitive to do so, but rather, instructional.

    Mom used to carry TICTACS in her purse, but my favorite little treat was Sen-Sens licorice flavored bits in tiny packets. I would root around in her handbag and be rewarded when I saw the red foil baggie.

    Another gorgeous Spring day and more to do in the garden. I'd better keep an eye out for ENDOSPERM! Sounds a bit kinky.

    Thanks, DS and WS.

    Loren Muse Smith 10:34 AM  

    This was really hard for me. So many early goofs

    "risk " for COST
    "take it all off" for "take A LOAD off"
    "Calvin" for WESLEY
    "Minn" and then "Conn" before MONT
    "ever" for OVEN (Hi, @Nancy)
    "whoa" for EASY
    "St. Pete" for BLONDE (Malapop, that)

    and so many names I didn’t know: TIM MARA, OBOTE, MAIA, BANQUO, EDER, LIAO, CERES, and ALLISON.

    I liked BLONDE (crossing BROAD, hah!) and DONE UP sharing a grid. My daughter and I went to Planet Fitness yesterday, and man, oh man; some of those gals are DONE UP right. You're not supposed to act and/or dress in such a way as to intimidate poor frumps like me, but lots of young women wear tight shorts and midriff-baring tops. And they're already so tanned! The 12-Minute Ab Station is right in front of this tricep pusher down machine, so I sit there, covered up and boring, and watch these girls work their golden brown bellies. Damn umber crunchers. (Ok. Sorry. It's all I could come up with.)

    @Bob, @Thomaso808, @Brett Chappell, @Z - the tricky task of transcribing foreign words into our system. American Pharoah feels your pain.

    I have to beat @AliasZ and @Leapy to the punch:

    "Lymph Ode"
    A bacteria-hating substance
    A kind of trash collector
    In all its clear abundance -
    Our liquid scourge protector

    DAN of 68D – Fine Sunday. My favorite was EURO TRANSMITTER.

    Teedmn 10:40 AM  

    A tough section for me was the CREEPy area with ENDOSPERM, EDER, BLONDE, G CLEFS. I had everything done except that section. Decided to fill in the AcrossLite version, thinking inspiration would hit by the time I got there but it didn't. No googles but judicious use of the Check button (which also pointed out an error in OlLIP at 17A: isn't C.O.O. a utility :-)?)

    I liked the title of the puzzle: No N Starters. It was descriptive without giving anything away. And taking away an N is harder for me than the themes where you add something. I liked it, though I didn't get a laugh out of the themes. I guess I am looking for my comedy in my crosswords. (@Steve J :-) ).

    Hopefully after I post this, my avatar photo will have changed to a more spring-like pic. @ Gill I's azaleas on Viagra made me decide to take a photo of my newly blooming rhododendron.

    Teedmn 10:42 AM  

    Okay, maybe rhododendrons this time?

    John Child 10:48 AM  

    LOL @ NCA President!

    Nancy 10:53 AM  

    @lms -- Postponed going out into this glorious Spring long enough to see UMBER CRUNCHERS. I call that a nICE PIECE OF WORK.

    I don't think the azaleas in Central Park are on Viagra, (hi, @GILL I), but they look as though they MIGHT be. The park is gorgeous right now and since I don't have my own garden or pond to tend (hi @ludyjynn & @Teedmn), the park is where I'm headed. Bye.

    chefbea 10:54 AM  

    Got the theme right away with the southern most answers. No time to finish or read comments. Will get back to this later..Gotta make some strawberry jam

    AliasZ 11:04 AM  

    Silly little puzzle, or rather, silly big puzzle. I was not crazy about the theme, but I found the ramping-up of the difficulty level enjoyable, it kept my interest until the very end. I liked most of the no-N starter phrases, BAHT I think ARROWMINDED would have been better served by a clue like "Like Cupid?" or perhaps "Like William Tell's son?"

    The fill was mostly excellent as well: ANOMALOUS, ENDOSPERM, UNMERITED, ALTAR RAIL and a few others like BAN next to BANQUO caught my attention, BHAT I wondered why SPOT was allowed when SMOKE SPOT was already there, or PARABLE and ADAGE, or BLONDE & MONROE in DENUDE. I liked the IN ONE / EAR TO THE HEART crossing. IN ONE ear, out the other. BETSY reminded me of wetsy, and KISMET Kate of Petruchio's TAMING of Katharina. I did not know TIM MARA, but heard of ARA Parseghian.

    - I haven't had beef STU or chicken FRACASES in a long time.
    - For "Certain bond, for short" I wanted Jim. I hadn't realized Paul MUNI was related him.
    - HOMES is the mnemonic for the Great Lakes. Why mnention this? Mnem tudom.
    - Is HAMITE another form of tektite? Gotta put my detektive hat on and googol it.
    - How many OX + body part words are there? OXLIP, oxeye, oxheart, oxtongue, oxtail, oxpecker. More?

    EROICA would be too obvious, so I decided to offer instead the wedding of Orpheus and Euridice from the 400-year-old opera that is still performed today: L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi. Why? Because it is beautiful, not because it relates to anything at all in the puzzle.

    Have a cheerful Sunday.

    RnRGhost57 11:08 AM  

    Forgot that Zoe Barnes's grandfather founded the Giants.

    anonymous Joe in Montreal 11:19 AM  

    My only mistake was RATLINES for REDLINES thinking that could be some Big Boss's word for a worker's strike. That gave me TONEYED going down adn as I didn't know APGAR why not ADGAR? And it gave me YALEY for YALE YARD I thought, and I came here to complain. But is YALEU much better? and GCLEFS? I mean, I get that G Clef is a 'head of staff', but still and all.
    My real complaint is based on SOHNE. As NCA President said, SOHNE is not a word If you can't print the umlaut, it would be SOEHNE. In general, I am bilingual French-English, but the other day I asked a friend from France about "very ill in Lille", and he did not guess ALAMORT (we're in syndication). The foreign language fill is going beyond what a reasonably intelligent English-speaker could be expected to know. I'm just glad "Possessive in Poitiers" hasn't appeared in a long while.

    Charles Flaster 11:21 AM  

    Liked this medium puzzle a whole bunch.
    In fact this week has been one of the finest in recent memory so thanks to WS and the seven constructors.
    Technically a DNF as I never changed CaWL to COWL.
    Writeovers slowing me down were eVEr for OVEN and seMITE for HAMITE.
    @LMS and @Nancy-- we have similar error capabilities!!
    Liked all themes but especially NANOOK.... and NOISE...
    Thanks DS

    jberg 11:32 AM  

    I once decided that I should memorize the dynasties of China. I failed, but somehow was able to get LIAO from the LI_O.

    My favorite part of the puzzle was a new way to clue our old friend OISE. OISE POLLUTION could also mean putting too much crosswordese in a puzzle.

    I think BHOPAL is still a live issue, in that Union Carbide won't pay up to the satisfaction of the Indian government; it gets into the papers once in a while.

    I don't mind the apostrophe as a diacritical; but I didn't care for BALERS as clued. You don't bale it until it is already hay, it seems to me. That thought kept me with rAkERS far too long.

    BANQUO is tough as clued, but he's a big factor in the play, both alive and as a ghost. That's him who scares Macbeth into fleeing his own banquet.

    Unfortunately, I had SOHNs, didn't know CECE, so finished with an error. Sigh.

    GILL I. 11:33 AM  

    @Maruchka: Just for you!
    What did the blonde say when she found out she was pregnant?
    I hope it's not mine.....
    Oh, just in case nobody knows....That thing over Oahu is not an apostrophe, it's called an okina.
    Off to Red Rabbit for out Sunday brunch and to eat the best Loco Moco this side of the Mississippi...
    I'll have to ask if they can make me a mint julep!

    Billy C 11:34 AM  

    Re: YaleU

    I agree, somewhat of a constructor's reach.

    I knew that both went to Yale Law School, but the five spaces gave me pause.

    Could they have met earlier somewhere? Peace Corps, maybe -- naw, doesn't sound like those two, does it? White House Fellows -- maybe.

    She's from Chicago and he's a Southerner, so geographical proximity. She went to Wellesley, so not the same college, for sure. College proximity -- naw, Bill is certainly not an MIT-type, heh, heh...

    So back to Yale. Oh, maybe 30-down ("Beautified") is "MADE_UP" ( it wasn't, but it still got me the "U"). So right answer for the wrong reason. Hey, there's no rule that says all luck has to be bad, is there? ;-)

    old timer 11:46 AM  

    My last answer was REDLINES because I could not and still cannot see that as an acceptable answer for "strikes". But of course "taming" (of the shrew) was the only possible down answer there. I had "topic" before MOTIF, acme before APRX, and all sorts of things in mind before I realized that EARP is the usual answer to any question involving Tombstones. Also, "wait" before EASY.

    I, too, grimaced at OISEPOLLUTION because there is no such thing as wahs pollution. The other themers, I liked, though it is hard to imagine Ms. Orman ever conquering the stock market.It's not what she does, really. But her advice on the need to be cautious about buying houses and spending more than you can afford is good.

    I immediately wanted GCLEFS. I did not immediately want YALEU, but I don't think it is awful. If people meet and fall in love at "Yale" this suggests they are undergrads together. If they attend something other than the college, then YALEU is right -- certainly would be for doctors, because "Yale Med" is not encouraged, it has to be "Yale School of Medicine". But lawyers cheerfully will tell you if they went to "Yale Law" -- I'm sure the Clintons say that is where they met, not YALEU.

    demit 11:49 AM  

    I don't understand. Since the solver is the one filling in the answer SOHNE, the solver would be the one responsible for applying the umlaut. Which you can do if you're solving on paper, and want to be really anal about it. Are people really complaining b/c the NYT doesn't supply vowels with diacritical marks?

    I had five years of studying German, which included reading Das Metamorphosis and Der Tod in Venedig. Der Tod requires an umlaut, btw. But if you know German, and are reading in English, you understand what the word is anyway. You don't immediately think OMG that's not a word!! I don't remember what the German for pedantic is, but that would be a good example of it.

    demit 11:57 AM  

    Oh shoot. I just looked up Der Tod in Venedig and it doesn't have an umlaut. Well, my course was 30-odd years ago. But I think the point still stands.

    Dorothy Biggs 12:13 PM  

    @demit: your point really doesn't stand. If you showed your Sohne to a German, they would say that your word is misspelled. Would they know what the word is? Probably. But it's still misspelled.

    Just ask our resident grammar nazi about grammar. There's right and there's wrong. Sohne ≠ Söhne.

    Trouble is, English has no equivalent...but I know from doing DuoLingo that if you miss a diacritical mark, it's wrong because to learn the language, you need to know how to spell.

    C'Mon, Now 12:21 PM  

    What is all this fuss about Sohne? I thought we had made our peace with a certain Spanish word, which has been debated for many anos (or by many anos?)

    Crosswords don't use diacritical marks or punctuation marks except when, as with Roger Rabbit, it would be funny to do so.

    Master Melvin 1:02 PM  

    The story goes that TIM MARA, a legal bookie in the 1920's, was offered the NY franchise in the new professional football league, the NFL, for $500. He concluded that the franchise for ANYTHING in NY must be worth at least $500, and the rest is history.

    RooMonster 1:23 PM  

    Hey All !
    Sunday, Sunday, Sunday! Tough, Tough, Tough! Can't seem to get any footholds. And work keeps getting in the way of doing the crossword. The nerve! Yes, working on Sunday, sucks during football season!


    demit 1:55 PM  

    NCA President, grammar nazis are called nazis for a reason:) Yes, Sohne without the umlaut is technically 'misspelled', but the missing umlaut does not change the meaning, the way it does between schon and schӧn.

    I still maintain that the onus is on the solver. Grammar Nazi could easily have dotted his own o and been happily richtig.

    I think this is my third comment. Cheers!

    Anonymous 2:21 PM  

    Loved this one! Yes, many Sunday gimmicks are similar, but all the jokes were quite clever this time.
    I especially liked "eurotransmitter."

    And the fill was more challenging than a normal Sunday. Rex is so arrow-minded.

    When dealing with umlauts and tildas, the crossing words should require the same letter! When you recite the Spanish alphabet, you say "eh-neh eh-nyay" -two different letters!

    The point is not whether you can write in the correct answer on a computer, the point is that the crossing word has to require the same letter.

    In German, as someone above pointed out, you can write "soehne" , which is what the umlaut signifies.

    JFC 2:26 PM  

    "Sundays have become mildly annoying, because difficulty level appears to have been amped up of late, which would be fine, if puzzle quality had also been amped up, which it hasn't."

    Rex is talking about the fill, I guess. That's his thing. But I agree with him, not so much because of the fill as for the fun...or lack thereof.

    To paraphrase Rex, Sundays have become mildly annoying, because difficulty level appears to have been amped up of late, which would be fine, if puzzle fun had also been amped up, which it hasn't.

    I find all these punny, wacky, supposedly humorous Sunday themes of late to be anything but funny or fun. Just a bore. just a slog. Just what seems like endless junk. Sundays are bigger and take longer but if the fun isn't there, they are interminable.


    Fred Romagnolo 2:46 PM  

    Banquo was lesser than Macbeth because Macbeth became king of Scotland; he was greater than Macbeth because his progeny, not Macbeth's, inherited the crown. Ceres is the goddess of the harvest, from whose name "cereal" is derived. Semites are the descendants of Noah's son Shem; Hamites of another son, Ham; Japeth was the 3rd son, from whom the Indo-Europeans (or Aryans) were derived. Jews and Arabs are Semites, Iranians are Aryans, and the Africans are Hamites. I liked almost all of the theme answers with the exception of the Yoga one; lotsa LOL's from me, startling my dogs again, like last Sunday. If BHOPAL is bad taste then so is Pompeii. Mad Comics once did a take-off called "Nudnik of the North." REDLINES was my last entry.

    Maruchka 2:53 PM  

    AHA, @Gill, the old dumb blonde routine. Now I remember, thanks.

    Off to the old watering hole and then the theatah (not for the Scottish play).

    mathguy 3:08 PM  

    I'm posting late. We just arrived in Charleston from Myrtle Beach. I thought that Rex would hate it and I would just second the motion. Hackneyed theme, minimal humor in the themers, plenty of junk (OHHI).

    Leapfinger 3:11 PM  

    Okay. I scarce had time to read past half the comments,and will have to return if I want to cast my own piglets after these pearls, But

    @REX, would you have been happier with EAR today and gone TIMMARA?

    @Loren qui m'amuse, your golden-brown bellies totally beat me to the paunch. That SASsy [n]umber cruncher just earned you the NoBelly prize! [I know, that's sad, even as a 'var'] Moreover, I thought your Lymph Oedema was perfectly swell.
    You have to know that every day I revel in your posts; I value them that much more after your [thankfully] temp absence. I'm something of an exspurt on fabulous blogging, and your posts are (and always will be, I'm sure) way up there.
    Quoth the Maven, "Evermore!"

    @AliasZ's post today gave me the hiccups. I firmly believe he has the (fast&twisti)est mind in the business. Why? Mnem tudom.

    Dang, the epitome is supposed to be DOTTED I. Why are people carrying on about DOTTED O?

    Später, gäter

    Z 3:34 PM  

    3:30 in the afternoon, all this talk of okinas and umlauts, and yet no one has pointed out that the actual answer is Ö‘ISE POLLUTION. Come on people, we have a reputation to preserve.

    tea73 3:42 PM  

    One of these days I'm going to learn the Chinese Dynasty Song: http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/chinas-dynasties-in-song/?_r=0

    I lived in Germany for five years. If you leave off the umlaut you have to use an "e". So the answer should read "soehne" I don't expect to ever see it done correctly in a crossword puzzle however.

    grammar nazi 4:14 PM  

    Ironically, given that I am the grammar NAZI, I know precious little about German. While I very much appreciate the discussion and the education regarding umlauts, tildes, and okinas today, my instinct is that it is part of crossword convention to play loose with punctuation and diacritical marks. It would be tres cool, however, to see a puzzle where letters that are supposed to have such marks crossed others with the same ones: ano crossing pinata, sohne crossing Schroder, etc.
    Thanks to all for expanding my knowledge of both English and languages foreign today.

    Charley 4:30 PM  

    Tim Mara was a bookmaker who, for a few hundred dollars bought a New York franchise in the new National Football League.

    Lewis 4:31 PM  

    @nca president -- No, ear-to-the-heart is not an actual yoga pose.

    No factoid/quotoid today (back tomorrow) -- just returned from an engagement, and heading out again. I've enjoyed the lively comments, however, as always...

    Benko 4:37 PM  

    @lms: How about ETHER REGIONS (areas of a hospital using old anesthetic)?
    That's the best one I could come up with. I know, the pronunciation changes, but so did "Oise" from "noise".
    Others that weren't as good:

    aging soprano 5:17 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Anonymous 5:19 PM  

    Despite the cutesy No-N theme, which made for easier solving once I got it, I enjoyed a puzzle that required more puzzling effort than have other Sunday puzzles of late. With the assistance of my Dearest, to whom I turn for the sports and pop culture clues, I managed to finish without having to resort to the Google brain. I got capo because of the crosses, but had to look it up to find out what it is: a lever-operated over-center locking action clamp, used to raise the pitch of a fretted instrument (that's Wikipedia brain speaking). That's my something-new-I-learned today - now the challenge is to retain that word until the next time it's clued.

    Unknown 5:20 PM  

    Well, if you really want to know, I hadn't yet been born for the BHOPAL disaster, so I had NO idea what that last letter was there. I wanted it to be m or r very badly.

    So, a DNF for me with a few lucky guesses around the grid except for that one.

    aging soprano 5:21 PM  

    12 what?

    Alan_S. 5:35 PM  

    The Sunday puzzle is supposed to be somewhat entertaining regardless of difficulty level. This was not; on any level. WNF (would not finish)!

    AliasZ 5:45 PM  

    To expand on the "umlauts and other diacritic marks" discussion, let me mention that there are 14 distinct vowels in the Hungarian language: A, Á, E, É, I, Í, O, Ó, Ö, Ő, U, Ú, Ü, and Ű. They are all phonemes, and are never interchangeable. For instance: KOR means "age", KÓR means "sickness". TOR means "feast", TÖR means "to break" and TŐR means "dagger." They are all pronounced quite differently from each other, which Hungarian speakers immediately hear and recognize.

    Most Hungarian language crossword puzzles have this disclaimer: "The difference between long and short vowels is not observed." In other words, in puzzles I and Í, O and Ó, Ö and Ő, U and Ú, Ü and Ű are interchangeable with each other, however A/Á, E/É, O/Ö(Ő) or U/Ü(Ű) are not. The differences within this latter group are not just variations in length of the same sounds, they are entirely different sounds.

    /end linguistics lesson. More than you ever wanted to know, I am sure.

    aging soprano 5:50 PM  

    12 what?

    aging soprano 5:51 PM  

    12 what?

    Anonymous 6:09 PM  

    What's wrong with absurdity? Rex, you're showing your age. Also, I thought everyone knew Tim Mara.

    Amelia 7:10 PM  

    @anonymous at 1:55. Now things are in bad taste just by mentioning them? We'll never get anywhere if that's the case.

    Thought the puzzle was just fine.

    Z 7:47 PM  

    I'm wondering if @anon1:55 conflated BHOPAL with Nepal? I'm thinking yes so I've decided I'm giving them a little slack.

    Nancy 8:42 PM  

    @GILL I -- It's too late and you won't see this, but I just saw your dumb blonde joke and I roared. I'm sure it's older than old, but I never heard it before, and I can't wait to tell it to everyone I see.

    GILL I. 8:54 PM  

    @Nancy....It's never too late. I'm just scared to death that I've insulted every BLONDE pregnant woman on this earth and I'll hear about it! I'm a redhead myself! ;>)

    Leapfinger 11:41 PM  

    Thought this was Eine Sehr Schönfeld, and ANOMALOUSly engaging... for a Sonntag.

    The xword app I use doesn't show a title,so I'm on my own for Sunday themes. Solving down the West Coast, I got to where I thought OISEau(x) was coming up, but it oise OISE. I caught on pretty soon, liked them all alot, with a nedge to ANOOK/NORTH, naturally. Of course, I try to be ARROW-MINDED as much as possible.

    There seemed to be quite a CERES of entries that had special connotations for me, including:
    RAFTER (on the Gauley, got tossed out), BALER'S pants, MONTreal, APGAR, REDLINES, YALEU, APEX (NC), ADANO, CAPO - twice, TESS...
    Further details upon request.
    Still managed to make some truly facepalm errors:
    'Sneak previews' was TELLERS before TEASERS
    'Heads of staff' was CHIEFS before GCLEFS
    Had trouble finding the M for HMO/Mara, because Kaiser put me onto rolls and rulers, and my HMO-brain just never sees Kaiser without Permanente.
    Knew the Union-Carbide disaster, but the city-name was a foofaraw of G/BHOS/PAN/L
    Worst of all, my 'Tombstone figure' was HARP before EARP. [Oy]

    On the purely Natick-front. I want to PHYLA complaint about square 101 on the basis that
    1) Ugandan surnames can start with any vowel, AND
    2) the 'subjects of loans' can have various appropriate answers:
    a. Solvers interested in the oeuvre of a Scottish philosopher-economist would want HUMES. Ditto for supporters of Cronyn or yesterday's Brit.
    b. Those who drive horse-drawn vehicles could want HAMES.
    c. Those unfortunate enough to need blood transfusions will want HEMES.
    d. Supporters of Connecticut's Fiscal Hero POL would say HIMES.
    e. Proponents of anthropology and ethnopgraphy will say HYMES.
    So you see, Naticks every way you turn, and I cry foul.

    Various people noted interesting juxtas, like the chicken FRACASES (with CAPERs, to boot) and the BLONDE BROAD -- see that CREEP PEEK around the corner? I wondered if there was an Easter egg about STU TIO C or STU TIO 54, perhaps. Speaking of Easter, it's also timely to have PETE.COST in the grid. [OK, that's a bit week]

    Since @Benko came up with all that good themery, I wonder if he'd want to walk a mile in some Wallabies ORWEGIANS?

    Apologies to all Aussies, all Scandinavians (esp those Swedish on Danish) and everyone whose still wearing either Wallabee or Weejun shoes. A special apology to OISK for the double product names, but this is an AD AGE.

    Time now to diacritical death.

    Dan Icewood, nice puzzle! Whatever you were selling, I BAHT it.

    Benko 12:59 AM  

    @leapy: I had thought of ORWEGIAN WOOD just to be silly.

    Leapfinger 2:35 AM  

    @Benko: It's a shoe-in I'd stand in for silly in your place.

    (I had to check to see if Clark's still make Wallabees and if Bass still makes Weejuns. Yes and yes.
    And I just realized I've never worn penny loafers my whole life long.)

    Anonymous 6:49 AM  


    Anonymous 11:09 AM  

    I agree that this puzzle wasn't particularly witty or fun, but it certainly wasn't difficult -- I guess Rex was frustrated by the lack of pop culture trivia. I found it easy, pushed straight through without hesitation. Dozens of gimmees, including things Rex found difficult or objectionable. The theme was easily broken and once broken the entire row was filled in quickly after a few letters were inserted. There's nothing wrong with "YaleU", it was a gimmee. I never heard of Tim Mara, but any New York football fan knows that the Mara family has owned the Giants from like forever, so I put Mara down immediately as the last 4 letters and Tim filled itself in from all the gimmees in that area. I appreciated that all the proper nouns were solveable by what crossed them, which is as it should be. Still, no laughs or smiles provided by cluing. It killed time, nothing more.

    kitshef 9:08 PM  

    Really liked this puzzle. Thought the theme answers were clever and amusing. Never did notice that the first letters of the themers were all Ns. I had dEAR TO MY HEART for 34A.

    Joined others in Natick at CECs/SOHNs, BHOPAL as a gimme, eVEr before oVEn.

    One WOE, ARA, but crosses were fair.

    Joannalan 1:18 PM  

    It was smokes pot not smoke spot. Joint is a marijuana cigarette. V

    Unknown 6:01 AM  

    Solved it. Enjoyed it. But since when has "DAN" been a color?

    paulsfo 6:19 AM  

    @Carole Brown: DAN is Japanese for "rank"

    Burma Shave 10:48 AM  


    TEASERS like BLONDE Miss MONROE make me feel so lewd,
    OLORD there’s no ENDOSPERM when I PEEK at her in DENUDE.

    --- STU OBOTE

    rondo 12:43 PM  

    EUROTRANSMITTER was my fave if there is such a thing in this style puz. The rest, uninteresting.

    You could be a white water RAFTER at APGAR village in Glacier Nat’l Park in MONT, I was just there last summer. Do not miss!

    MONROE, yeah baby.

    Is this puz meant for someone who SMOKESPOT at SITINS?


    rain forest 2:40 PM  

    There seem to be many complaints about entries that people didn't know. Well, that happens pretty well every day to me, and I get a chance to suss out the answers via the crosses, and to learn something. Today, the crosses were eminently fair, thus LIAO, TIM MARA, and LEVITTOWN fell.

    I liked the theme, the cluing, the evidence of care in the construction, and the feeling of accomplishment in finishing. Definitely not a slog like some other Sundays have been.

    270! Honest!

    Anonymous 5:59 PM  

    I started to do some of these a few weeks ago. I was successful on one or two but mostly not. Today is a good example of why. I am not interested in a puzzle containing so many puns which I could see on Wheel of Fortune. I did the puzzles years ago and with some of my college room mates. Now I find the themes too trite.

    I don't like the rebus themes because half the time the clues going the other direction don't spell correctly. Some have been clever such as climbing the walls, but I only feel they are fair when the answers spell real words.

    spacecraft 9:12 PM  

    Sorry so late, went out this a.m. DNF anyway; couldn't make sense of EA___ON_SH_ART. Absurd clue; not even a contortionist can do that. And INONE for _____sense?? Well, in one sense, I guess, but still. INONE is awful. Gave up after being unable to crack the NW (never thought of BEAKS) and so missed--thankfully!--most of those letter-as-letter entries. Solving-wise, this weekend has been a total disaster. Happy Mothers' Day!!

    CathyM 1:07 AM  

    Red Rabbit? If you're in Sacramento you can definitely get a mint julep at Shady Lady.

    Mallard 5:51 PM  

    After reading the comments, I'm proud of myself for finishing except the Sohne / Cece cross. Much of the cluing was clever and some of the answers made me stretch into obscure memory. I knew of Bhopal - my embarrassment was that it took a minute to drum up the geographical name of such a horrific event.

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