War-torn Syrian city / MON 12-28-15 / Irish language family / 2013 film queen who sings Let It Go / One-named art deco artist / Where Army brass is trained in brief

Monday, December 28, 2015

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Normal Monday

THEME: STS (63D: Aves. ... or the initals of 17-, 23-, 40-, 50- and 63-Across) —

Theme answers:
  • SEAL TEAM SIX (17A: Navy special force in the bin Laden raid)
  • SILVER TEASET (23A: Sterling service for an afternoon break)
  • SINBAD THE SAILOR (40A: "Arabian Nights" voyager)
  • SPEAK TOO SOON (50A: Say something before immediately being proven wrong)
  • STEM TO STERN (63A: Completely)
Word of the Day: LANA Del Rey (32A: Singer Del Rey) —
Elizabeth Woolridge Grant (born June 21, 1985), better known by her stage name Lana Del Rey, is an American singer, songwriter, and model. Her music has been noted for its cinematic style and its references to pop culture, particularly 1950s and 1960s Americana. // Del Rey first received recognition after the release of her major-label debut Born to Die January 2012; aided by initial Internet buzz surrounding her "Video Games" single.[2] Born to Die peaked at number two on the U.S. Billboard 200, and was the fifth best-selling album of 2012. A remix of its single "Summertime Sadness", produced by Cedric Gervais, peaked at number six on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. The Paradise EP was released that November, and garnered Del Rey her first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. Three of its tracks were featured in her short film Tropico, which premiered in December 2013. Del Rey's third studio album, Ultraviolence, was released in 2014, becoming her first number-one record in the United States. She released her fourth studio album, Honeymoon, the following year. Del Rey is the most streamed female artist on Spotify in the United States, and the fourth worldwide. (wikipedia)
• • •

I have often been a fan of repurposed crosswordese—taking something stale and crossword-common and giving it new life as, say, a rebus square (saw this done with ERG once) or, perhaps, a revealer. The problem with STS is it doesn't even qualify as crosswordese. It's just an ugly abbr. that you would never ever be happy to see in (or put in) your puzzle. It just doesn't work as a revealer, and by "work" I mean provide any revelatory pleasure. It remains a three-letter piece of junk fill. Beyond that, I like some of the themers (SEAL TEAM SIX, STEM TO STERN) and others, I like less. Not fan of THE being included as a "T" for the admittedly nitpicky reason that one rarely if ever sees the definite article included in an abbr. or acronym (except in textspeak; e.g. "WTF"). Of course, this is usually true of all short words ("of," "to," "the," etc.), but "the" seems the most skippable of all. So the idea that it can rep a "T" feels weak to me. SEAL TEAM SIX, three solid words; SINBAD THE SAILOR, two solid words and a connecting word that doesn't merit inclusion in an abbr. Further into nitpicking, SPOKE TOO SOON seems infinitely better than SPEAK, in that it's a phrase you would say, on its own, after, well, speaking too soon. "Whoops ... SPOKE TOO SOON." SPEAK TO SOON ... just doesn't stand alone nearly as well. Not sure why SPEAK over SPOKE here, considering they're the same length. But give the theme some credit: there aren't a lot of other phrases out there that can fit this pattern. So ... if you're going to ride with STS (and I wouldn't, but if you are), you aren't going to do much better than these five right here.

[Profanity and drug references ahead...]

Fill is ordinary, somewhat on the dull/crusty side. Liked seeing HOMS in the puzzle (71A: War-torn Syrian city); it's in the news a lot these days (albeit for terrible reasons), and seems like it should get more grid recognition than it does. But ILSA *and* ELSA *and* ESAI ... there oughta be a law. Lots and lots of other exceedingly common stuff. "ANNABEL LEE" (29D: Poe poem that concludes "In her tomb by the sounding sea") gives the grid a little OOMPH, but in the end, the grid is just too smothered in ERTEs and OLEOS for a single longer answer to have much of a difference on the overall feel of the grid. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


kozmikvoid 12:36 AM  

It is an ancient world where short words are "rarely if ever...included in an abbr. or acronym"? TTYL, WTF, WOW...like it or not, short words are most definitely included in modern abbreviations/acronyms. Since this is a modern-day puzzle (literally), short words in abbreviations/acronyms are allowed. I thought this was a fairly medium Monday. Time-wise it was typical, so perhaps it was just the Across clues I found harder than the Downs, which made for a slower start. It's a Monday, so there isn't too much to say, but I wouldn't want to waste the opportunity to say that ANNABELLEE is simply one of the greatest poems ever written, and if you haven't read it, you should do so.

Not a Catholic 12:54 AM  

What is STS supposed to be an abbreviation for? Saints?

"Ave," as in "Ave Maria," does not mean "Saint." It means "Hail," as in the Rosary
-- a kind of salute. If STS is an abbreviation for "salutes," then we're wort of in the clear.

Or what? Birds?

Tita 1:33 AM  

A rare complete agreement with Rex...
The reveal really fell flat.

And 60D...could be unit of...pretty much absolutey anything with mass... Unit of... salt... sugar... weed... kittens... green paint...

Plenty of good fill, just a blah trick.

So sorry, CC...I normally really like your puzzles!

jae 1:48 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Odd theme but not boring, liked it more than Rex did.

Brian Max 6:00 AM  

I've noticed on Mondays the answers are simple and the themes aren't very complex.

Lewis 6:08 AM  

A decent Mondayish theme to me, maybe even would have been better without the reveal. The puzzle didn't automatically fill in, as Mondays often do with me, which is a good thing. I believe this was the constructor's first puzzle ever accepted by Will and that her more recent puzzles have had better fill. Just out of curiosity, does anyone out there ever consume OLEO?

I had a terrific holiday, and it is very nice to be back!

George Barany 6:24 AM  

Another day, another puzzle by my friend C.C. Burnikel, who told me that she had consecutive puzzles earlier this year on a Saturday/Sunday for the Los Angeles Times,

Unfinished business from yesterday. It's now reasonably clear from private e-mails received and from information posted on various blogs that the attempt to tie HEINZ to CATSUP was trying a bit too hard. Compare these two images: ONE and TWO. A competing brand, HUNT'S (also five-letters, starting with H) makes CATSUP. On the other hand, the HEINZ brand is called KETCHUP.

Z 7:16 AM  

@kozmikvoid - As I learned here, these are initialisms, not acronyms.

@Lewis - Her first? Considering how long she's been constructing this must have been in the queue a long time.

Back to back non-theme themes. I'd have been much happier with a WTF or WOE connector than the pedestrian STS (@NaC - STreetS). I'm sorry, I just don't find the discovery that words are made up of letters particularly interesting, so you have to do a little bit more to get a "well-done" out of me than find shared initialisms. I, for one, am hoping that we don't see ENO, ONO, ERN, ENE, NNE, SSE, ALB, ARB, OOO, or OOX companion puzzles.

Loren Muse Smith 7:22 AM  

Rex – I always look at it as the reveal could be just a regular SOSo entry that’s elevated to grin-inducing when revisited in the context of the theme. Point well taken, though, on including words like THE or of
as representing one of the initials. But when the word is part of a title like this (and not in, say, ”set the stage, “see the sights,” “steal the spotlight,” “scratch the surface”), it becomes more buyable for me.

Because I’m a bonehead and get stuck a lot on our farm, my first thought for “farm tower” was “Deere.” Or “Deeres.” Sometimes it takes two to pull me out.

TT – TIGHT ends. Still reeling from the Panther loss yesterday. Guess the Falcons, uh, settled the score.

Unknown 7:32 AM  

Streets and avenues

Roo Monster 8:00 AM  

Hey All !
Hopefully it was a joke, but if not @Not a Catholic, STS are streets, AVE is avenue. And I know @Brian Max was joshing...

Good ole CC with another MonPuz, which was preceded by her part in yesterdays SunPuz. Man, must be nice to be liked by puz editors!

That snarkiness aside, this puz was a nice one. Quick, easy, with a few non-Mondayish bits (looking at you HOMS). Like Rex, also wanted SPoke before SPEAK, but already had AMOK. Nice misdirect on the "__ at 'em!" clue, had upand written down. Also spelled Ms, WIE as Wei. Liked the close X's in N center. A few similar words, but still low dreck. BOO BEE SEE TEE TIE (hey, a word ladder!) ILSA ELSA. Oh, and @Lewis, my OLEO of choice is Country Crock! I think it says something along the lines of "Butter Substitute ".

Glad to see CC is able to get so many puzs accepted all over Crossworld. Some day, some day...


jberg 8:02 AM  

Thank you, @George Barany, for your untiring research into red sauce!

I thought this one was pretty easy, but then I don't time myself. The theme answers did fill themselves in, once I saw the theme -- on the other hand, the grid is radically segmented, so it took a little extra time just to write in the answers.

I think window SASHES and window frames are entirely different, but close enough for crosswords, I guess.

RAD2626 8:10 AM  

I think very cool that C.C. had two NYT puzzles in a row and it seems like she is in the LAT three times a week. Thought the puzzle and theme were just fine and fill harder than most Mondays. The breadth of her knowledge is really incredible. Good start to the week.

beaglelover 8:30 AM  

@not a catholic: Ave ism this puzzle represents AVENUE not hail. The reveal is STS, abbreviation for STREETS.
I liked this puzzle. Had to get 17A from the downs.

Ludyjynn 8:48 AM  

In my house, growing up, the small END or heel of the bread loaf was always called the shpitsel, something we fought over as kids, thinking it was 'special'. Mom's clever technique to use up every piece of rye bread worked!

I would have liked to see the 26Down answer to be 'Adele Dazeem'; John Travolta's creative moniker for Idina Menzel, who sings the hit song from "Frozen". Much more interesting than ELSA.

I would ARGUE this was not bad for a Monday. Some nice words: GAELIC, POISE, OCS.

Thanks, CCB and WS.

Aketi 8:50 AM  

Both ILSA and ELSA made it into the puzzle today,

Don't know what poSSeSSed me today to count all the eSSeS..

My counting may be off but i found:

20 eSSeS and

30 words (counting the multiword responses as one word) containing eSSeS of which
---> 6 were 4 letter words
---> 9 were 4 letter words
---> 8 were 5 letter words
--->1 was a 10 letter word
---> 2 were 11 letter words
---> 2 were 12 letter words
---> 1 was a 15 letter word

14 words started with S
13 words ended with S of which 9 were plurals.(if you consider STS to be an abbreviation for StreetS)

Enough procrastinating, time to get up for the day.

Hartley70 8:50 AM  

This was not my favorite Monday. I found it easier than even a normal Monday and I would have preferred it to be themeless rather than the STS reveal. It's just too weak a theme to be worthwhile...a theme for theme's sake.

That said, the long answers by themselves weren't bad. I liked SEALTEAMSIX for its topicality and SINBADTHESAILOR for the "Arabian Nights" memory.

Mohair Sam 9:01 AM  

I'm thinking @Rex's favorite NFL team got eliminated yesterday. Thought this was a delightful Monday with a simple theme, didn't worry a bit whether or not STS was crosswordese.

@kozmikvoid - Second your motion on ANNABELLLEE. (great screenname btw)

Seems like the Times is on a run of Mondays where the puzzles have been inviting to new solvers yet fun for veterans - no easy task. Way to go Will Shortz.

Teedmn 9:11 AM  

I liked this puzzle from STEM TO STERN. Yes, the revealer was somewhat blah but necessary to TIE the theme entries together. There wasn't a GLUT of dreck or proper nouns. I learned LANA Del Rey (my original entry was LArA) though the song @Rex embedded in his write up left me cold - continuous repetitions of a lyric about wanting to get high does not make a great song, in my opinion.

This took me longer than my average Monday but I'm ascribing it to solving on the NYTimes app. I thought I would try my hand at typing on a real keyboard rather than my iPad but the differences from AcrossLite kept tripping me up and I spent as much time with the backspace as I did typing in answers. Woe is me :-).

Too bad @Rex's assistant solver ANNABEL wasn't able to do the write up on her namesake puzzle. Maybe next week...

Thanks, CC, for two puzzles in a row.

NCA President 9:15 AM  

Doing all downs is my new Monday routine which brought me to ELSA and ILSA back to back. I mean really, if you're going to put those two names in the puzzle, spread 'em out. Sheesh.

Rex's assessment of this puzzle as a "Normal Monday" is exactly what it was. Normal. Usual. Routine. In 20 minutes I will remember nothing about it.

chefbea 9:24 AM  

easy monday puzzle. Never heard of Lana Del Rey
This Bee is going to cry fowl... Turkey is not a meat.

GILL I. 9:27 AM  

Well, I wondered where @Rex might find some Monday fault. I figured it might be the THE in SINBAD but, @Loren is right. It's part of a title so I see no SIN at all; it's not the least bit BAD.
I loved reading about SEAL TEAM SIX after bin Laden's capture. There is lots of resentment inside countries where they carry out their killing missions. So much secrecy and mystery and Hollywood screws it up royally.
If my last name were PRATT, I might change it, especially if I went to visit England. Can I say wanker?
Like @jae, I enjoyed this a tad more than OFL.. Did ELSA use an ICEAXE to free ILSA from the COLD?
I need some java.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

Re: How to make an easy Monday puzzle more interesting -- I know that there are a great many of you out there who (figuratively) strap on your watches and tear through the puzzle as fast as you can, hoping to better your best Monday time. Or beat Rex. Or something like that. I get winded just thinking about such a thing, so I've developed my own method of adding spice to an otherwise ho-hum experience. I fill in a few easy letters and then try to guess what the clue and the answer will be on some of the longer fill. This adds to my solving time, but I'm not in any hurry. It helps me to think more like a constructor -- i.e. what would I do with this combination of letters? Would I be able to find fill that would make each of the answers work as they appear now? Would I be tempted to change some of the letters?

Today, I had 2 idees fixe (or is it idee fixes?) that prevented me from sussing out 2 long answers. The first: My combo of letters was -----DTHESAI---. I was convinced that it was AROUND THE SAI---. Couldn't think of anything but SAILOR, SAILED and SAINTS. It made no sense. Only when I read the clue did I see that it wasn't AROUND, it was SINBAD.

The second: I had S-EAK---SO--. I was convinced of the gerund; that it was SPEAKING or SNEAKING SO--. Could it be SPEAKING SOFT? Ungrammatical. I finally had to read the clue. SPEAK TOO SOON is an answer I like very much, btw.

So that's often my method of dealing with early week puzzles, FWIW. It makes things a bit more interesting.

Isaac Starobin 9:39 AM  

Anybody else notice the typo in 1A of the mini today? _______ deserts (just)

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Re: Annabel Lee

I live on Ann Lee Rd in Harvard Ma, named after a leader of the 19th-century Shaker movement that had a settlement nearby. One of their major beliefs was that celibacy was a ticket through the Pearly Gates. Needless to say, this movement had a limited life span.

JC66 10:05 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith

Welcome back.

Many years ago, when I was in my early twenties, my friends and I would leave NYC each winter weekend and drive up to Vermont to go skiing. Taking our usual shortcut a bit too fast, we ran off the road. We went up to a nearby farmhouse to ask for help. The farmer was nice enough to walk back to the car with us to assess the situation. After a quick check, he said "I'll go get John Deere." After the farmer left to get the help, my city friends wondered aloud who this John Deere guy was and how he was going to get our car out of the ditch. Having gone to college in Ohio, I was able to explain.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:06 AM  

I see someone else has already objected to equating sashes and frames. This puz was written by a person who lives in a building with a super!

Anyhow, having had time to do the puz in the morning for the first time in a couple of weeks (church organist, here) I had a blank spot surrounded by a couple of wrong letters, ON A MONDAY. OOF. I had put in 'A TAD', reluctantly, where I should have put 'ATOM'. Had 'AHS' for excited cries. Didn't know ESAI and couldn't see MEATS in DE_TS for love nor money.

Numinous 10:23 AM  

@NAC (not a Catholic) perhaps you SPEAK TOO SOON. And, perhaps your tongue is just too far into your, er, cheek. Just as an aside: hard to confuse a word pronounced like ahway with the word avenue (I have a thing for Classical Latin pronounciation).

I had a WTH moment seeing CCs byline today. I usually like CCs puzzles too. This one didn't make to deep an impression on me other than to think that her Monday puzzles are really easy solves. When I got to the "revealer", I looked back up and saw that, indeed, all the themers were Ss, Ts and Ss and then didn't think much more of it. What's the big deal here? Are we looking for the sixpence in the Christmas pudding or is a theme just something to give a puzzle an excuse to exist. I'd be curious to know (because I don't) when themes in puzzles became an everyday occurrence (I seem to recall that themes were not always de rigueur). I'll admit I think that some themes are truly wonderful and fun but when you have 261 themed puzzles in a year, some are bound to be more pedestrian than others. It has always seemed to me that the amusement is the struggle between the person writing the clues and the solver entering the solutions in the grid, the theme? Icing on the cake. I just enjoyed this one as an easy solve with not a lot of trying to figure stuff out which is normal for a Monday "quick" crossword.

@Lewis and @Roo Monster, no butter substitutes for me, I like butter; most especially when it melts into the still hot bread I have baked.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Nobody has anything to say about 59D? Really? I'm going to RELO myself to another puzzle for that one.

Joseph Michael 10:51 AM  

Really enjoyed yesterday's Burnikel puzzle, but found this one disappointing.

An STD revealer might have added a little more OOMPH than STS but perhaps that would be a bit too much for a Monday morning.

mac 10:57 AM  

Easy Monday, with the only problem that "team six" at 17A. Never heard those guys called that.

Finally a little cooler in NY, and the sun is out. Off to the new Whitney, and Madison Square Garden tonight. My husband's "girls" (Uconn) are playing.

Arlene 11:04 AM  

Oops! I missed seeing the reveal clue entirely! Never saw it. I guess that's what can happen on a Monday. All part of the solving experience, I guess!

Tita 11:25 AM  

BTW - an off-the-wall question...with so many erudite writers on this blog - can I ask some non-puzzling advice?
What are the best strategies for avoiding the awkward "them/they/their" when writing?
Not as a gender-masking device, as it is often abused, but just as alternatives to the pronoun for "company".

I tend to favor the more direct "you/your", but that can be overused too...
Examples that grate...(from a client of mine)
"We help lawyers enhance their reputation online."
"We work on their marketing full-time."

Can anyone point me towards a good resource for such writing tips?

Thanks, y'all!

George Barany 11:34 AM  

Hey, @Lauren Muse Smith ... I saw what you did!

Glad you're back! (Will you be wearing Pink for the Panthers?)

CerintheM 11:45 AM  

Been lurking, first time posting. Hi everyone.

My crossword obsession is relatively recently revived, so I'm still slow. 7:51, which is one of my fastest Mondays. Getting there.

I like the idea of Seal Team Six, and the other STS's were okay. Other than that, no especially fun clues. If I never see anything oleic again, I will be pleased. And does anyone actually say "relo" if they don't live in crossword land?

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Deere John, so you 'get stuck a lot on your farm'? (hee hee)

AliasZ 11:55 AM  

I don't know, but the STS initialisms were not the greatest thrill to discover. It barely scratched the surface of all the STS's, like a saber toothed squirrel in a see through shirt soaring through skies, and a short tailed stingray waiting for you to arrive on a sliding time schedule at the Scarsdale train station [OK, I'll stop this s*** now]. At least CC had something to say for a Monday theme.

@LMS, lovely to see that your previous reappearance here wasn't a mere "smudge on the screen," so to speak.

On this fourth day of Christmas, I am sending you four calling birds. Well, sorta. Here is the Credo from the Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd, performed by The Sixteen (= four squared). Close enough...


Z 12:45 PM  

@Isaac Starobin - It's not a typo.

I never hear "RELO," but have seen it in print.

@Tita - Restating often works, "We help enhance lawyers' online reputation." Using the noun often works, "We work on lawyer's marketing full-time." Not worrying about it often works (i.e. clear antecedents). If you google "writing tips pronouns" you will find all sorts of help. Some of it is actually helpful.

Chuck McGregor 2:36 PM  

@ JC66 10:05 AM -- Being a JD fan/owner (and a New Englander), your story was an out loud laugh!! Reminds me of a dairy farmer brother-in-law who was hand milking a newly freshened cow. Such milk is a very rich, creamy color and is very rich. He says to me, "We send this stuff down to New York City. Those folks think it's chocolate milk." (Actually it was collected to feed her new-born.)

GLUT (the opposite of what there is for “fun” word pairings in this grid)

Either they are too obvious: USE TROPIC CLAD (apply suntan lotion…)

Kinda stupid: TRIB AMOK (rough day for a Chi-town editor)

Or make no “nonsense” sense: OBOE ICEAXE (while this could be a thing, like a brand or style, where’s the humor in it? It’s just a weird name for something.)

I’ve said I don’t speed solve but gave it a try today and managed to “do” it in about 5 minutes! (noting I’m a lousy typist in spite of having spent countless hours during my life doing so using the “proper” keying technique, learned as a WIE lad from my secretarial-schooled mom on one of those very manual typewriter thingies).

Here’s the 5 minute drill: I did it in ink (always do ink) on paper. Then I entered it into the online NYT grid a fast as I could. I figure it this way. That was the time it took me to fill in that blank grid with the correct answers, all of which I legitimately solved.

Of course I liked the seafaring theme answers, though having nothing to do with STS, per se. I did find lots of OTHER seafaring stuff:

ICEAXE (you need them ABOARD coming from ABROAD via the north Atlantic in winter)
SLATE (the color of said ocean at said time)
COLD (the temperature of said ocean at said time)
EXIST (I knew rouge waves did back then [c. 1970]* seeing them while on said ocean at said time)
OIL (the fuel used by our “tin can” on said ocean at said time)
SOS (O! thank goodness we never had to send out such an ALARM when transiting said ocean at said time)
RAIL (what we manned CLAD in dress blues and peacoats [still have and use mine] while docking after said transit of said ocean at said time)
ATOM (the basis for fuel used by some other Navy ships)
SILO (missle location on some of said ATOMic ships)

NOAH (a sailor who likely might relate to some of that said)

* In spite of numerous(!) stories from seafarers over literally 1000s of years, oceanographers and allied scientists thought they were exceedingly rare, if they even existed….until only 20 years ago. They now know they are, in fact, just as had been storied and, most importantly, are orders of magnitude more common than the math they used to use had predicted. I did some Googling and found science is still in its infancy in trying to understand them, let alone predict them.

The ones I’ve eyeballed back then were easily 60 ft or more high. “Riding” up the side of one of them in the middle of a stormy night (full on gale), we did a 53 (fifty-three) degree roll, this in a 390 ft, 40 ft wide, 3.500 ton ship. And...you guessed it...it was on said ocean at said time.

Enough of my PRATTle and so it ENDS.


Hartley70 3:19 PM  

Adding to your pleasure of encountering OLEO in the puzzle yet again, I seem to recall reading that if said spread is left alone uncovered in a garage for months at a time, mice won't take even a tiny nibble. Oh and bacteria won't find a home there either. These factoids, truth or myth, have put me right off the stuff, Country Crock and all. I'm thinking it might be a petroleum product, masquerading as food. Luscious butter is the only way to go. What do you think @chefbea?

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Easy Monday, making it all the more infuriating that the app short-circuited and refused to bestow a gold star for my correctly completed puzzle, thus ending a previously unimaginable 28-day streak just before I ran all of December, a feat I planned to sing from every mountain top.

My wife doesn't get my pain so I turn here.

If I'm forced to look on the bright side, I'd say it's a nice problem to have. For years, I was convinced anything deeper into the week than a Wednesday required Mensa membership to solve. Bring on a long train commute, the app, OFL, and many of your comments, and I'm a new man. (New Years Resolution: actually send Rex a Thank You this time.)

I still want to kick someone in the shins though.

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

Raises hand. Glad I'm not the only one

Leapfinger 6:07 PM  

Well, I SEEn the S-T-S initialism when the 2nd themer filled in, and thought there'd be some trick of parsing that would develop, but neither SEAL_TEAM'S_IX (RRN) nor SILVER_TEASE_T held out a lot of promise. Then, when 63D threw 'Aves' at me, I thought 'I don't see no steenking birds here!'. For sure, there were no Rarae Aves to be found; admittedly STEMTO'S_TERN is mildly unusual, but every RAIL is quite common, even if it's called a crake, a coot or a gallinule. So the theme itself was a bit of a let-down, though the theme choices are a feather in SEE SEE's cap.

Had to think twice about 'Window frames'and SASHES: the glass itself is framed by two horizontal sashes and two vertical stiles, while the frame to the whole window unit has different names. Guess that works. The other one that made me go Hmm was the ICEAXE clue. As I know it, an ICEAXE is most useful on um, ICE, like if you're sliding downhill out of control, you can use the ICEAXE which is hopefully looped around your wrist and smack the point into the ICE. That will usually stop the headlong slide and save you from being dashed to pieces at the bottom of the slope. In climbing a snowy peak, I'd say an ICEAXE is only useful in poking the snow you're about to step on, to make sure there isn't a bergschrund (snow crevasse) hidden below the surface, waiting to swallow the unwary climber who isn't roped. I guess that's useful also, if less dramatic. I remember my first climb in the Alberta Rockies: at the airport, I checked my backpack with the ICEAXE securely fastened to the outside. Like that could possibly happen nowadays.

@Anonyms (assorted) and @CerintheM, yes, people do say RELO if they live in RealEstateLand.

Thought people might also like to know that John Deere makes a nice set of dinnerware featuring the iconic green tractor logo as a centerpiece.

At the risk of being Stoned Till Senseless, I'll SINE off with a WAVE AT the COGS knows CENT TEE, ANNA BELLEE up to the Bar, Boys!

bhny 7:22 PM  

For those of you who complete the puzzle online, are any of you noticing the increase in errors in both the answers and the clues. In the mini puzzle today the clue was ____deserts rather than ___desserts (the answer being just.) The other day the letter Y in Andy (as in Roddick) led into "oys" but the online answer grid didnt recognize that as being correct. Am I alone out here or are other people seeing these errors that no one even bothers to correct online later in the day?

bhny 7:25 PM  

errors in both the answers and clues are creeping in. The other day the letter Y in Andy (as in Roddick) led into "oys" but the online answer grid didnt recognize that as being correct. Am I alone out here or are other people seeing these errors - that no one even bothers to correct online later in the day?

Anoa Bob 7:28 PM  

@aketi, if you become one who obsesses about esses and always feel possessed to count the number in every grid, you will be very busy indeed. In xword construction, just as in Scrabble, the letter S is uber-useful. In Scrabble they are limited to four (out of one hundred), while in xwords, however, there is no such limit.

The estimates I've seen on the net put the frequency of the letter S in standard English text at around 6.5%. It's not uncommon to find esses appearing at three to four times that rate in xword grids.

Today's count of 20 is about 11% of the 189* letters in the grid. There is a mitigating factor, however, and that is half of the esses are required for the theme, two esses each for the four themers and two more for the reveal.

All in all, I don't see today's grid as significantly different, S-wise, from the typical NYT grid.

*If you have read this far, you may have been at one time, or may even still be, a nerd. To quickly calculate the number of letters in a 15X15, symmetrical grid, count the number of black squares in the first seven rows of the grid, double that, and then to that number add the number of black squares in the 8th/middle row. Subtract that total sum from 225, and there you have it. More on esses obssessions here and here.

Z 8:31 PM  

@bhny - see my 12:45 post. The mini clue is correct.

chefbea 8:35 PM  

@Hartley70 I agree...only use butter

Aketi 9:28 PM  

@Chuck MCGregor, sounds like freshened milk is colostrum, which can be all sorts of different colors from yaks.

@Anoa Bob, I'm definitely still a nerd. Not only did I read that far I read your links too! It was far more enjoyable to count esses this morning than finish reviewing the paper I was reading for an international journal. The Grammar Nazi would have simultaneously had a heart attack and a stroke while reading it even though it was not too bad for nonnative English speakers. I've read far worse. As for the insertion of foreign words, it completely surpassed my sprinkling of familiarity wth other languages. I even had to google references on religious groups. The statistics however were within my wheelhouse.

Hartley70 9:42 PM  

@bhny and @someone earlier, JUSTDESERTS was in an earlier puzzle and I too questioned the correctness at the time. I discovered that DESERTS is correct and the original spelling of a variant of "deserved". Nowadays we incorrectly use "desserts".

CerintheM 9:44 PM  

@ 4:02 PM - What's OFL?

Hartley70 10:08 PM  

@Anonymous 4:02, I believe I can write for all of Rexworld when I say I feel your pain. The pity party will commence at 10:30pm. Black tie optional.

Tita 11:25 PM  

@Cerinthe M... Our Fearless Leader...aka Rex.

@Z and those who wrote me off line..thanks for the tips! I know I can count on this group for a gentle nudge in the right direction.

@AnoaB...I do just love your PoC obsession, and not only read down past the *, but read both your links. Thanks!

Nancy 11:57 PM  

@To all the anti-OLEO, pure butter enthusiasts -- a great big greasy AMEN! Of course OLEO isn't food; I tasted it once, and I don't need finicky mice to tell me that. And for those of you who worry about your health: Julia Child pretty much overdosed on butter and she lived to be 92. Yay butter!

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

@Cer -- OFL => Our Fearless Leader, i. e. Rex

spacecraft 10:43 AM  

I'm beginning to see why the blogger known as "I skip m-w" skips M-W. I mean, there are two 15x15 crosswords, side by side, on the feature page of my paper--besides the NYT syndicated one that I do for here. These are "nothing" puzzles; they might just as well be fill-ins, with a word list below instead of clues. I DO skip those. Today's offering fits into that category. The "theme," if you want to call it that, is SOSO at best.

As for the fill, if I have to look at ESAI one more time, I'm gonna scream. OBOE still has two or three times to go, ILSA maybe half a dozen. ERTE is a little farther down on the list--but is rising with a bullet. And RELO (JLO's twin??) just joined the top 40.

I am dismayed, because our constructor is capable of so much more. It looks as though she needed grocery money, so she cranked this one out while waiting for some real inspiration. Nothing really WRONG with it; just...bleah. C-.

Burma Shave 11:26 AM  


while in the TROPICs, searching from STEMTOSTERN.
“When ABROAD like you TELLSTALES to me
don’t SPEAKTOSOON, and LEMME have my turn.”


rondo 12:01 PM  

STS are not aves, STS cross aves. STS could be blvds or pkwys or lns (lanes), etc. So I didn’t like the revealer clue. The phrases were harmless enough on their own.

Another Frozen clue/answer. Known to me only from xwords since I have avoided those movies, having no grandkids to please.

It might BEE a stretch to list US Open winner Monica SELES as a yeah baby, but not a stretch for Michelle WIE (though she must up her game), who has also won a US Open. LANA Del Rey is a shoo-in, OFL’s link is well deserved.

Wonder if ESAI has ever met Ed ASNER. Both are popular xword fodder.

This is representative of what we get most Mondays and why I started the yeah baby searches in the first place.

leftcoastTAM 1:12 PM  

Easy STS Monday. Paused at NOTCH/HOMS crossing, but SCOUT led me safely to the other side.

Diana,LIW 1:47 PM  

Agree, Spacecraft. However, I remind myself that back in the day, when I was in crossword pre-school, I would be thrilled as all get out to finish any puzzle, much less the NYT. So I would let Monday be Monday. And I was wondering what kind of sandwich spread Abril was, esp. since Mayo was mayo. And I spelled LASar wrong.

@Tita - 3 of my favorite writing sources - Zinsse's "On Writing Well," Safire's "How Not to Write," and O'Conner's "Woe is I." My #1 rule for writing? "Context matters." Your context is selling a service. "You" is perhaps the #1 selling word. "We make YOU kook good." "We're working for YOU." "YOU are the last thing we think of at night and the first thing in the morning." "YOU are my sunshine." So go ahead, use you, youse!


(Also, I answered your confusion on Saturday.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 2:40 PM  

I hope I don't SPEAK TOO SOON, but one might ARGUE that rarely does a Monday puzzle rise to frame-able status. They are what they are, he said, in his coolly raffish way. Every once in a while, though, a Monday puzzle will excite, amuse, or entertain. This is why we solve them even if they are, basically, easy. Usually, regardless of the level of sparkle, they are competently constructed. This is what we have today.

@Spacey - so you think this effort by CC is SOSO? My my.

In my opinion, it is just fine. Straightforward, yes, but just fine.

rondo 5:03 PM  

Didn't @spacey or someone used to call a puz like today's Mondayne? (mundane)For tomorrow I think I have used Tue-staid.

leftcoastTAM 5:55 PM  

@rain forest:

My sentiments, exactly,

Cathy 6:27 PM  

My my. Didnt care for yesterday (I tried posting?) or today's. And by the same constructor? Sorry CC.

Both boring. And what's up with this FROZEN movie. Hi @Rondo. And AVES to STS? Rubbish I tell ya.

Hey @Spacecraft, I also skip the "nothing" puzzles and feel that's what these both were.

What a BOO I am!


lodsf 11:30 AM  

"Relo" is commonly used in real estate

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP