Allen whose #3 was retired by 76ers / MON 8-31-15 / Heroine of Purim

Monday, August 31, 2015

Constructor: Michael Dewey

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: diving stuff, I guess — three idioms related to diving

Theme answers:
  • DIVE IN HEAD FIRST (17A: Attack an endeavor vigorously)
  • TAKE THE PLUNGE (37A: Get hitched)
  • GO OFF THE DEEP END (58A: Lose one's mind)
Word of the Day: Allen IVERSON (20A: Allen whose #3 was retired by the 76ers) —
Allen Ezail Iverson (born June 7, 1975) is an American retired professional basketball player who played for four different teams (Philadelphia 76ers, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, and Memphis Grizzlies) during 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He played both the shooting guard and point guard positions. Iverson was an eleven-time NBA All-Star, won the All-Star game MVP award in 2001 and 2005, and was the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2001. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's nothing here. There are only three themers, they barely hold together, the fill is from ... well not MEDIEVAL times, but olde tymes for sure. It's a mystery how something this ordinary and unplayful and unambitious is being run in the "greatest puzzle on earth" or whatever it's calling itself this week. The whole thing today is thin to the point of transparency. Pointless. Filler. I don't think there's even anything to say about this puzzle. I asked for help on Twitter and one of my Followers said "I guess the public pool is closing for the winter and the constructor is really sad about it?" Sure. Why not? Who knows? The longer answers are fine, so there's that. But yeesh. It took all my will to go on after I hit this bit, ten seconds in:

A HOER and his OLEOS are soon parted. I need a drink. Good day.

Hey, if you want to remember greatness, listen to me talk about Merl Reagle on the radio. Segment's about 20 min. long, and starts right at the top of the show, around the 1:20 mark.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 6:13 AM  

Medium (for a Monday) for me today.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

The constructor's working title for this puzzle was POOLCUES, which I think would have, as a reveal, tied the theme together nicely with a little exclamation point. On the other hand, I liked it anyway as a Mondayish (abbr.: MODISH?) theme, three pool-related expressions that are often taken metaphorically. I wanted "con" for BAN for too long (clue: outlaw), then smiled at the rare tricky Monday clue. I liked seeing HADJI because I think the Monday puzzles need some answers with bite; MODISH not so much (does anyone say this?).

Thee was a mini theme of words ending in A (6), and a DUE north, and I liked the S at WITS end. While this isn't a puzzle I'll remember for long, I enjoyed the quick dip.

r.alphbunker 7:01 AM  

Puzzle report

The puzzle definitely deserved a better review than it got. There is some good stuff in here for a Monday puzzle. First time appearances for TAKETHEPLUNGE, DIVEINHEADFIRST, SEVENDWARFS and TWISTTOP.

I would have been tempted to have the theme entries going down to emphasize the role that gravity plays in the theme.

Loren Muse Smith 7:11 AM  

@Lewis – MODISH. Good one!

I've just looked into it, and DWARFS is the accepted plural. It's not Dances with Wolfs, though, right? If your house has just one, is it an eaf? Speaking of which…

Two clues stood out for me this morning:

"Locale for Christmas lights" EAVES. I love those brilliant icicle-looking lights on all the Christmas EAVES.

"Terrier's expression of terror" ARF. Nah. Honestly, I've never met a terrier who knew terror. All the ones I've met were small little bundles of enormous courage, pluck, and outrage at a perceived affront. In the event one did have to express terror, I bet it would be more like a lion's roar than an anemic ARF.

This theme takes me back to my days of all the hours of fun on the diving boards growing up. We played a game called "Jump Dive" where someone would sit on the side of the pool and just the guy going off the board reached his highest point over the water, the caller would yell either "jump!" or "dive!" and the guy had to try to comply. If the guy really played the game right, he would give it his best shot, and many times it ended in a spectacular belly buster, which, of course, was the whole point of the activity.

When my husband was about 5 years old at a diving meet, the diver was standing backwards on the end of the board, concentrating, mentally preparing to do that inward flip pike position with a 1 ½ twist or some such. The crowd knew to be quiet while he mustered up his courage. Impatient, my husband yelled, "Dive!" right as the poor guy started the process. Yup – spectacular belly buster. Then came the announcement, "DUE to crowd noise, Joe Schmo will try the dive again."

I’ll take only three themers here, especially with the two nice long downs. @r.alph - having dangled from diving boards many times, I wondered for a while if HANG IN THERE was part of the theme, too.

joho 7:54 AM  

After you DIVEINHEADFIRST, TAKETHEPLUNGE and GOOFFTHEDEEPEND you will need to HANGINTHERE and keep your WITS about you! Or maybe enlist the help of the SEVENDWARFS.

Colorful, colloquial themers made this a fun Monday solve for me along with TWISTTOP and the active DITCHED, AVENGE, SADDEN, OUST, SURGE and DIE!

I wasn't crazy about NASALS and DANAS but neither dampened my enjoyment of this one. Thank you, Michael Dewey!

Teedmn 7:54 AM  

I thought this was a fine puzzle and it played MODISH for me. Two writeovers, Deco for Dada and my bottle TOPs TWIST off but that didn't slow me up.

So are DWARFS different from DWARves (or elfs from elves, for that matter)? I'm used to seeing those pluralized with the V form so the straight plural always strikes me as wrong.

What do you do with Dutch cheeses? You EDAM! (And if you're on a no-cheese diet, you EDAM and weep). And the top of the puzzle has some cheese WHIZ.

Going to TAKE THE PLUNGE today and go to the Minnesota State Fair. You just DIVE IN HEAD FIRST into the DEEP fat fryer of humanity and hope you come out with your WITS intact.

Thanks for the puzzle, Michael Dewey.

joho 7:58 AM  

Oh, and @Rex, I meant to say that today you're all wet!

mathgent 8:15 AM  

Since there is very little to discuss in today's offering, I hope that Rex will allow me to say a few words about a wonderful puzzle I finished yesterday. It was the Richard E. Maltby Jr. Cryptic in the September Harper's. Some great clues. A notable one is referred to as "A classic Sondheim clue." It is "Throw dirt on the embassy? It gives one pause." I wouldn't have gotten it without the crosses. If you would like to see the answer, email me at

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

I entered CHEF for "One on staff?". Oh wait, no, that was yesterday. Today it was a musical cymbal. No chef, only CLEF. Besides, NASAhS wouldn't have worked anyway. I liked the seven vertically challenged people vertically placed, as well as HANG IN THERE holding on to the edge of the diving board with its fingertips above the deep end of the pool.

This puzzle was not AWFUL, other opinions to the contrary notwithstanding. It was downright MODISH in places, especially with its software UPDATES. ANAP, AHIT, OLEOS and DANAS was as bad as it got. DADA could have been more playfully clued as opposite of nyet nyet. Whom are you calling a HOER?

I find it counterproductive to over analyze a Monday puzzle's theme, or its lack of depth and density. Two 15s and a 13 is fine by me on Mondays. It is an entirely appropriate NYT puzzle lite into which a novice can take a plunge head first at the deep end. Besides, any puzzle with the SISTINE chapel in it can't be all bad.

Lobster11 8:26 AM  

Almost quit after finding MODISH, OLEOS, and HOER among my first four entries, but fortunately I decided to HANGINTHERE and found most of the rest not so bad. Like yesterday's puzzle, the only real "wow" (lower case) is discovering that there exist several thematically related common phrases that just happen to have the right numbers of letters to fit into a puzzle.

Wm. C. 8:47 AM  

I found this a difficult Monday. Probably brought it on myself by confidently writing in "go off ones rocker" for Lose One's Mind, and "take on head first" for Attack an Endeavor Vigorously. Oh, well ....

blinker474 8:59 AM  

This is a very nice Monday puzzle which anyone other than Rex would like.

mac 9:20 AM  

Quite a nice Monday puzzle.

Another hand up for Deco and thinking of Go off ones rocker, but otherwise it was a quick one.

@Lewis: cute one, the quick dip.

chefbea 9:24 AM  

easy puzzle..but never heard of mosh pit!!! guess I never went to a punk concert

Hartley70 9:28 AM  

This really, really should have included the reveal "Poolcues". It would have added some much needed zing by it's ambiguity. And @Ralph's vertical themers would also be an improvement. I don't think this is a constructor issue. Maybe the (ahem) editor was dreaming of a poolside chaise back in February when he put this in the queue, and just the thought of August gave this simple Monday a pass without his deft collaborative touch. Wake up, Will. School has begun and it's the start of a new year!

RooMonster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
Easy, swift puz. Flew through with nary a bump. Still like to read all the Across and Down clues, which takes longer than a speed solver, I hate it when an answer automatically fills itself in!

Wanted grr for ARF, seems to be more terror-ier for a terrier. Looking for the pangram after the NE corner. Liked the symmetrical MEDIEVAL TWIST TOP!


Nancy 9:35 AM  

Today, I'm the one posting later than @mathgent, and I find myself agreeing with him just as much as he agreed with me yesterday. Nothing much to say about today's very easy early-weekish puzzle. Except that I did have two corrections to make. I initially had TAKE THE PLedGE before TAKE THE PLUNGE. And I had TWIST off before TWIST TOP. But in a puzzle this easy, corrections come very quickly. Now it's off to trying to solve @mathgent's cryptic clue from Sondheim. I used to do Sondheim's cryptics when they appeared in New York Magazine back in the day, and he's one of the really wonderful constructors. I'm not at all sure I'll get the answer; I may have to email you, Jack!

jberg 9:39 AM  

Like @Loren, I had to look up the film title to convince myself that they really were DWARFS, so I learned something today. I should have known it already -- Tolkien, in the mock-scholarly appendix to Lord of the Rings, has a discussion about whether the proper plural is DWARFS, dwarves, or dwarrows -- backed up with various reference to the dwarvish language.

What I liked about this puzzle is that it began with a DIVE into the MOSH pit.

jberg 9:42 AM  

Oh, and thanks to @Bob Kerfuffle and @Lewis for the TBONE explanations yesterday! I was thinking mean and handbill, or maybe a cannon volley a la Hornblower.

jrstocker 9:57 AM  

I think Rex would be better off turning the early week over to more inexperienced solvers. Because there's nothing particularly wrong with this for a Monday. It's almost impossible for an expert solver to find any 'zip' or 'zazzle' in a Monday puzzle.

Frankly, you come off half the time like somebody who holds a personal grudge against the crossword, and it's becoming more and more tiresome to me.

quilter1 10:15 AM  

Very easy without much crunch but appreciated those answers others did and didn't mind it a bit. On to BEQ.

Carola 10:16 AM  

I'll also jump in to defend the puzzle. I thought the theme was clever and three apt phrases plenty. @Lewis, thanks for mentioning the "pool cues" - cute! Loved the SEVEN DWARFS, admired MEDIEVAL, SISTINE, TWIST TOP, HANG IN THERE, smiled at the wee bonus theme answer WET (and also, possibly, WHIZ, - a SIN in the pool, but who's gonna know?)

Bob Kerfuffle 10:16 AM  

I would try to add a witty comment, but I'm afraid I am in over my head.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

@Mathguy -- Got it!!!!! Bingo!!!! Am helped by the fact that I am familiar with Sondheim-styled clues. Am going to my email right now to send you the answer my cryptic-solving chops.

GILL I. 10:27 AM  

Oh....I actually enjoyed this Monday.
Not a single unknown numeral and all the three's are pretty good.
Liked WETS on top of GOOFF THE DEEP END. Tried to remember how to spell MEDIEVEL and had HOES because HOER sounds too, well, not quite right.
Pate is always my go to butterlike spread because OLEOS always reminds me of lard and I don't spread that stuff.
Fine Monday job Mr. Dewey...I liked it.

RAD2626 10:57 AM  

I am in the camp that liked the puzzle and the theme. Medium Monday for me. Like a dope, misspelled SISTeNE/HADJe but figured out that had to be my mistake when the happy pencil did not make an appearance when I finished. Did the Sunday puzzle in hard copy for the first time in a while and missed not getting a validation (or the dreaded "almost there") message. Have come to rely on it.

Nancy 11:02 AM  

@MathGENT! -- First of all, got your new handle wrong just now. Sorry. Second, my computer elided a phrase from my 10:22 comment. Should have been "send you the answer and impress you with my cryptic-solving chops."

Malsdemare 11:09 AM  

My only complaint about this puzzle is that it was over before I finished my first cup of coffee. @lms we played "jump or dive" as well; I have a lovely scar on my lower lip from a close encounter with the board; it matches the one on my upper lip from a close encounter with a horse's teeth (no, he wasn't biting me, my sweet Tennessee wouldn't do that. He was attempting to get the carrot I held between my teeth.) That was back in the day when a nine-year-old girl child was allowed - nay, encouraged - take off on a summer morning, do stuff that will curl your hair, and required only to reappear when the street lights came on. Living in Cincinnati, closer to the central time zone border than eastern, lights came on about 9:30-10. Here in Illinois, 50 miles from the Eastern zone, curfew would be 9. At 8:15 last night, bat watching was useless; they'd all left their houses and were on the wing somewhere other than my backyard.

And this is why I love this blog. A casual mention opens up the memory gates.

Funny, but I really want DWARveS if only to make the distinction between the little guys being dwarfed by John Wayne.

Penna Resident 11:11 AM  

its monday. fortunately will knows that his job on monday is to provide a puzzle that provides an entry for new people and therefore will be tedious to many and annoying to some. his job is not to please the top 100 solvers on monday. i don't like HOER but new solvers are apparently supposed to learn crosswordese so why not have a crash course on monday. i frequently want to skip mondays because the clues can feel so insulting, but most new people find this blog by googling a clue and it would probably be better to cater to the audience rather than telling them they are unsophisticated solvers for thinking NYT puzzles are good.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

Very nice tribute to Merl. Good job Rex!

Unknown 11:21 AM  

Meh. It was not quite bad enough to deserve Rex's rant, but it wasn't really good enough to defend. It was Monday. It was over fast. I did it a few hours ago and remember that I didn't like MODIST but have already forgot the rest.

Neil Nathanson 11:22 AM  

I've been enjoying the Merl Reagle tributes and especially the radio interview accessible from Rex's link in yesterday's and today's post. I've shared my own encounter with Merl from 1992 (when he helped me get engage3d) here:

Andrew Heinegg 11:23 AM  

For once, I don't quite grasp the reasoning behind Rex's distaste for this puzzle. It is a Monday so you cannot expect a mindbending effort to solve. The 3 long crosses have a nice synchronicity to them with an added bonus of the hang in there crossing two of them. A epic result? No, but a serviceable Monday presentation and you will have a hard time constructing a Monday puzzle without some clichéd shorties to make the puzzle Monday easy.

Noam D. Elkies 11:24 AM  

Nothing wrong with a few minutes' Monday entertainment. Certainly no need to strain for fill more MODernISH than 1A:MOSH (a fine Monday opener): as elsewhere in the arts, it's the self-consciously *au courant* stuff that ages fastest. In this case, becides the nice long Downs already noted, there's a bonus Abrahamic trifecta in the clues for the consecutive Across entries 25:ESTHER, 29A:HADJI, 31A:EAVE. Also a good sprinkling of rare letters without insisting on a pangram, and an incidental red herring in the start of 58A:GOOF*.

Is it kosher to clue 39D:UPdates with pop_UPs?


Craig 11:26 AM  

I thought this was a terrific puzzle, it had some droll curveballs, and humor. I thought the terrier's expression of terror was a riot, partly because if my terrier hears a poodle snore a block away, he goes to "red alert" mode and says "Arf" as though he's saying: "Everybody get in the basement! I can handle this!"

(the clue said it better with fewer words.)

I also enjoyed unspooling long, fresh clues -- on a Monday.

Joseph Michael 11:34 AM  

Had MODERN before MODISH and still can't believe that's actually the answer. MODISH??? I guess the constructor was trying to figure out some way to work OLEOS into the grid.

I do like the POOL CUES theme and the three themers, but wish a little more time had been spent on the fill. HOER? DANAS? IVS? HAR? CPUS? Yikes. This puzzle BARELy holds water.

Lewis 11:40 AM  

@ralph -- I love your ideas about the themers going down!
@bob -- Good one!

Leapfinger 11:42 AM  

@Alias, who were those creative geniuses who WON ALMA ONLY for a while?

The Bard 12:10 PM  

A Midsummer Night's Dream , Act III, scene II

HERMIA: Now I but chide; but I should use thee worse,
For thou, I fear, hast given me cause to curse,
If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
Being o'er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep,
And kill me too.
The sun was not so true unto the day
As he to me: would he have stolen away
From sleeping Hermia? I'll believe as soon
This whole earth may be bored and that the moon
May through the centre creep and so displease
Her brother's noontide with Antipodes.
It cannot be but thou hast murder'd him;
So should a murderer look, so dead, so grim.

ArtO 12:42 PM  

I'll add my voice to those who found this a perfectly fine Monday puzzle. Perhaps, as suggested, Rex can find others to do the early week write-ups. Much too much undeserved negativity.

Ludyjynn 1:56 PM  

Very easy, meh Monday, IMO. In total accord w/ Rex.

The theme brings to mind the greatest American Olympic diving champion, Greg Louganis. I recently learned that he was never honored on the Wheaties box, despite his gold medals in both springboard and platform diving at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. (He had been forecast to also win in 1980, but was kept from competing when the US boycotted the Moscow Games that year.) To this day, the cereal company has offered no rational explanation for the omission. Louganis himself believes it is due to his sexual orientation. Kind of ironic considering Bruce Jenner's recent gender transformation!

Just listened to the radio link provided by Rex. Enjoyed your thoughts; thanks.

Whirred Whacks 2:11 PM  

Agree with those who thought that Rex was "all wet" in his review today. As a daily swimmer, I could feel the constructor's love in his aquatic theme.

My son got married over the weekend in Healdsburg (NorCal wine country) at an estate vineyard. Delightful time capped by a full moon over all the celebrants.

jae 2:58 PM  

Medium- tough for me.  Misspelled MEDIEVAL and add me to the Deco before DADA group.

@lms - We had a terrier and you are absolutely right about ARF.

Thought this was fine for a Mon., liked it.

chefwen 3:09 PM  

If ever there was a puzzle I should have timed myself on, this one would be it. Put the pen and paper down with a little thud and Jon said "are you done already?" Yup! He mumbled something under his breath that I didn't ask he repeat. He was done shortly thereafter, so he must have thought it easy also.

One write over TWIST off before TOP. Hi @ Nancy.

Thought it was downright cute.

Leapfinger 3:42 PM  

Well, well, well and water you know? I_see many comments are coming up moistened with aqueous humour. Knowing his aversion to moisture, small wonder @Rex thought this was all wet! Then there's the cheese-ophiliac wags...'EDAM and weep', @Teedmn*? (My favourite cheese-snack is Cambazola; see what you can do with that!
*see column 4: AWFUL JOKE

Like some others, I thought the NW start a bit weak, but soon got over that. I had to be suffering from some kind of mental laps, however, since I filled in SEVENDW_ with SEVENDWIVES, (yup, with that D in there) even though I didn't think Disney produced that movie, and the title was "SEVEN Brides for SEVEN Brothers", anyway. Good thing that dreaming up dumb answers isn't one of the SEVEN Deadly SINs. After that, it was all smooth sailing, except for not liking 43A, not by 'ARF, gor blimey! Those doughty little dogs are all heart and know no fear, unless it happens to be an effete little city-dog, like a London terrier.

Which reminds me, I had the same giggle over the recurring CLEF myself, @A-Z.

Also appreciated the inclusion of the SISTINE, very artistic; it put a MODISH glee on me.

Thought we had a nice clean break with the "Pool Cue", three interesting grid-spanners all in the language, as well as some other scattered theme droplets s/a WETS, DITCHED, (storm) SURGE. Some additional deep-water advice, too: if your ship is sinking, try to REY ZIT. All in all, I lapped this up.

Have to say that GOOFFTHEDEEPEND struck me with its odd appearance. It occurred to me that taking OFF off, and substituting a certain vowel would yield an entry that could be clued:

Reserved part of pool for Faust author's laps:

If there are other phrases containing an OFF that could take a substitution with a-e-i-o-u or even y, maybe we could build us a "Trade-off for a vowel" theme.

Thought this was a rewarding Monday. Mr Dewey -- I'd say you know how to make BARE WITS PEI OFF.

bwalker 4:25 PM  

It was easy, and thought I might actually finish in under ten minutes, lightning quick, but missed it by ninty seconds. Still very fast, and I enjoyed the puzzle.

@LMS -- thanks for the trip back to the pool that had a deep end and a high board. Jump Dive was popular. The tale of your future husband at the swim meet was too funny. I could see it happen.

Teedmn 6:22 PM  

@Leapfinger, perhaps you thought you were heading towards St. Ives today. And favorite cheese Cambazola, methinks you have been bamboozled.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

For Rex: Could you give a shout out to Evan's tribute puzzle to Merl Reagle over at DevilCross please? I think it's puzzle of the year for reasons beyond superb creativity and construction. It's really quite moving. You need to experience it yourself if you haven't yet.


Not Evan's Mom

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

'Mr Dewey-I'd'...

Burma Shave 10:16 AM  


If it SADDENs you to HANGINTHERE and wait,
just TAKETHEPLUNGE, it’s not AWFUL NOR worst.
It might ADDTO your chances to pick UPDATES,


spacecraft 11:18 AM  

Having jumped to comment form, I shall try to keep my head above water. I cut through this one like a knife through OLEO (S??) or EDAM. Some awkward plurals (OLEOS, NASALS, DANAS) left a bad taste. PICO is a direct echo from yesterday; another defect. ANAP, AHIT: awkward partials...gigs are starting to PILEUP (hey, if you can have a bleedover, so can I).

Still, there are some nice entries, and the whole thing seemed to go smoothly, which means the fill can't be AWFUL. And we do have that great Sixer IVERSON--"The Answer." Props from this Philly fan.

Re the terrier's ARF: they just showed a video on CBS This Morning of a feisty little dog who rousted two bears--yeah, I said BEARS--from its owners' home. Way to go, Fido! He gets an A+, our Mr. Dewey a B-.

rondo 11:47 AM  

After yesterday’s pile of junk, this puz was damn near refreshing. Funny how even such a Mondayne puz brightens the attitude. Nothing “wrong” here in comparison.

Aaron Rodgers is a lucky man with yeah baby OLIVIA Munn as arm candy. I’ve crushed on yeah baby DANA Delaney since China Beach. Would have gone with MacPherson for ELLE.

I considered writing an American Studies dissertation on the subject of cartoon background animation in the 1930s-1940s as compared to the 1950s -1960s. Snow White and the SEVENDWARFS is a good example of the former. And Leon Schlesinger cartoons of the 1940s. Check out the difference between those and to what came after 1950. Lotsa reasons that happened. But then I changed majors.

Did not find this puz AWFUL, but not ONEA either. No complaints from me.

leftcoastTAM 4:10 PM  

Good Monday wake-up. Write-overs at SISTINE/SISTIen (!) and TWISTTOP/TWISToff (before seeing GOOFF...).

ARF? No "Beware of Dog" sign here.

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