Competitor of Wisk / MON 5-1-2017 / Short race spec / Eagle's home / Blood components / Tristan's beloved / Fizzy headache remedy, informally

Monday, May 1, 2017

Constructor: ED SESSA

Relative difficulty: HARD



THEME: OFF WITH HER HEAD — Theme answers are related to Marie Antoinette. And also just beheading in general.

  Theme answers:
  • LET THEM EAT CAKE (20A: Words attributed to 41-Across)
  • OFF WITH HER HEAD (24A: Apt cry for 41-Across)
  • ARIE ANTOINETTE (41A: Famous queen, depicted literally) (I'm not sure that I'd agree with "literally" as the word of choice here, but she's depicted without the first letter of her name, i.e. without her "head") 
  • CAPITAL OFFENSE (47A: Something committed by 41-Across ... or by this puzzle's creator?) 

Word of the Day: ISOLDE (43D: Tristan's beloved) —
The Irish princess, Iseult of Ireland (also La Belle Iseult, Iseult "the Fair"), is the daughter of King Anguish of Ireland and Queen Iseult the Elder. She is a main character in the Tristan poems of BéroulThomas of Britain, and Gottfried von Strassburg and in the opera Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner.
Iseult is first seen as a young princess who heals Tristan from wounds he received fighting her uncle, Morholt. When his identity is revealed, Tristan flees back to his own land. Later, Tristan returns to Ireland to gain Iseult's hand in marriage for his uncle, King Mark of Cornwall. She is betrothed to an evil steward who claims to have killed a dragon, but when Tristan proves he killed the dragon Iseult's parents agree to marry her to Mark. On the journey back to Cornwall, Iseult and Tristan accidentally drink a love potion prepared for her and Mark by Iseult the elder and guarded by Brangaine, Iseult's lady-in-waiting. The two fall hopelessly in love, and begin an affair that ends when Mark banishes Tristan from Cornwall.
(Wikipedia)
• • •
The good thing about this puzzle was that it was good preparation for finals week because it was so hard. Seriously, I thought Wisk was some kind of board game or something - it's a laundry detergent?! (I was thinking of Risk, apparently.) And I was tearing my OHAIR out trying to figure out if I'd gone horribly wrong somewhere with ARIE ANTOINETTE. As far as ONEK goes, perhaps a kind puzzler can fill me in on what that has to do with races, because when I Googled it to make it my word of the day all I got were riding helmets, information on stock in SPDR Russell 1000 (whatever that is), and a village in Slovenia. Vague clues and obscure answers don't seem much in l'ESPRIT de Monday to me. Oh well, you win some, you lose some, you take 45 minutes to solve some.

The theme was pretty cool though! Even though ARIE ANTOINETTE gave me so much trouble, once I got that taking the first letter off Marie's name was supposed to be the crossword equivalent to a beheading, I figured it was clever. Also liked that there were French words scattered throughout the puzzle to complete the theme.

I wonder if she ever really did say "Let them eat cake"? I know it's apocryphal but she still technically could have. In French.



Bullets:
  • STU (45A: Early Beatle ___ Sutcliffe) — Another appropriate clue: "What do you call a guy in a cooking pot?" ........Wait, there was another Beatle? Weird.
  • EMMA (53A: Jane Austen heroine) — Unquestionably the best Jane Austen book. Not just because "Clueless" was based on it (although that is an excellent reason to love it). Trust me, I'm an English major. That scene where Elton comes on to Emma and Emma realizes it's going to break Harriet's heart....*sniffle* 
  • ASTA (49D: "The Thin Man" canine) — This movie came out in 1934!! And the clue was in a difficult section, how the heck was anyone supposed to...Oh, never mind, I'll just end up REHASHing my criticism from earlier about how this one was difficult for me. But seriously. It would have made a great Wednesday or Thursday. :P
  • SPATS (59A: Minor fights) — I just realized that the Young Frankenstein version of "Puttin' on the Ritz" doesn't actually include the word "spats." But I'm still going to post it.

Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

125 comments:

Charlie Mitchell 12:09 AM  
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Charlie Mitchell 12:14 AM  


One K is the race distance as in a 5k or 10k but shorter. 1k.

Interesting puzzle, agree it had some rough spots. The cape along with blood components was tricky for a Monday.

Good luck with finals nnabelle

Robin 12:23 AM  

Apparently I have no idea what counts as "difficult" for a Monday. I finished this in typical time. Not much to say about it one way or the other.

ASTA was in all the Thin Man movies (there are 7 of them, of varying quality, of which #5 happened to be on NYC channel 13 Saturday night), and is essentially your default crossword-ese dog. An item of trivia, though, is that Asta was female in the original book, but male in the movies.

Moly Shu 12:30 AM  

I think I'll just put on my SHAWL, swig some BROMO, and ask PETERI and ISOLDE if they want to pet ASTA. Talk about skewing old, this one is Methuselah-(istic) (ean) (centric). Unsure of the correct suffix.
Again,@Annabel, thank you for the respite.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

Good thing for the creator that it was Annabel and not Rex. This was awful.

jae 1:03 AM  

Medium for me. Cute twist on a Mon., liked it. This one may have been a skosh out of your wheelhouse Annabel, nice honest millennial write up.

Erik 1:07 AM  

Nice write up Annabel!

Typical Monday time for me. I enjoyed this one despite some of the old fill..

Has anyone ever seen a ONEK race? I've seen 5- and 10Ks.... in track they run 800M and 1600M but I've never seen 1000M, or1K

I fly United airlines a lot and recently made 1K, which is one of their frequent flier tiers. It doesn't get me much, but they haven't (yet) selected me for "re-accommodation" (or for a beating). So that's something

John Child 1:14 AM  

Thanks Annabel. Young Fronkensteen always makes me laugh. The puzzle... no. I bailed out again and went to the archives.

Larry Gilstrap 1:21 AM  

What's up with this review? Then I realized it is the Annabel Monday breath of fresh air. Certainly not an easy Monday which featured some grid spanning themers. Not sure I'm on board with the headless ARIE gambit, but Ms. ANTOINETTE apparently had it coming. Choose life partners wisely, Grasshopper!

BROMO seltzer is some antique fill right there. ADAM used it when he over indulged, according to Genesis. Fake news! We're headed to a fancy wedding and I have to buy a suit. I had a perfectly good one from the last decade, but the moths ate it. Headed to the SALES ROOM tomorrow. I clean up nicely, as I remember.

Who doesn't love that little sexist mammal PEPE Le Pew? "MY little flower, my little blossom..." If you are a cartoon legend you probably can do anything. You can grab their whatevers. Even an A CUP would look like a Quonset hut to a skunk. Then again, I'm labeling him a harmless effusive romantic. We need more.

Two thumbs up Mr. EBERT and Mr. Siskel. Thanks for seeing all those films I didn't have to see.

Gregory Nuttle 1:25 AM  

BROMO crossed with BRACERS was a complete WOE for me, which is basically unheard of on a Monday. Aside from that, pretty easy, and I guess kind of cute. I don't know. I think I need @Rex's opinion on it to center myself.

Cameron Swartzell 1:57 AM  

So stale...

chefwen 2:07 AM  

This did skew a little old, oh yeah, I'm a little old so it was right in my wheelhouse. Finished in no time at all, except for one crazy goof. For some obscure reason (I'll never figure it out) I filled in 20A LET THEM EAT meat. What? I'm still laughing about that one. Guess I like meat better than cake.

Bruce 2:18 AM  

As a runner, "ONEK"/"One K" offends me. 5K is a short/very short race. One K is not a race, unless the contestants are toddlers, turtles, or dachshunds.

Timothy Bryson 2:56 AM  

35 down: Krispy Kreme calls their product "doughnut" not donut. Bad clue.

Theodore Stamos 3:50 AM  

If you read the wiki page on "let them eat cake", it sounds like poor old Marie is getting tagged for something she never said.

andrea carla michaels 3:53 AM  

Young Annabel, I'm going to get this somewhat wrong but apparently Marie Antoinette said Let them eat gateau or some word like that, which was the scrapings of the pot (when asked what the poor would have to eat)
It was mistranslated as "cake" or an intentional mistranslation by her critics but it wasn't the dessert we know as "cake" (or Krisy Kremes for that matter)
It's one of those oft misunderstood famous quotes
(Like "you can't have your cake and eat it too" is really "You can't eat your cake and have it too"... So there must be some long tradition of mucking up cake quotes!

As for Stu Sutcliffe, please look up what that's all about bec it's not like you should know about him or Pete Best but it's breaking this old lady's heart that this generation would not know what's now but trivia about the greatest band of all time (so say I!)
This is also the second time in three days that ACNE appeared in the same place and came so close to being ACME!

I would argue that this in general was not your typical Monday puzzle in either fill nor theme... Ever so slightly trickier, more a Muesday (may I coin that?!)
That whole OWS/AHEMS/BROMI/ONEK/BRACERS needs to be REHASHED Methinks.

Met a dog in the park yesterday named ASTA and I felt slightly unsettled that it was a fluffy girl cockapoo... Akin to naming a St Bernard Toto.

Charles Flaster 4:03 AM  

This Wednesday or Thursday puzzle was geared toward seniors and medium for me.
DNF as I spelled OHAIR like the airport --probably due to their similar girth.
CROSSWORDease--
FARSI
ASTA
AERIE

Writeovers-- GUST for Gale and DOPES for
assES which really delayed my solve.

Senior slanting--PEPE, STU, EARP, EMMA
I even was taking BROMO after sitting behind ADAM in history class. BTW it was an easy A --thin textbook.
Thanks ES and good luck to AT

Jack Reader 6:00 AM  

Being Limish, or an Engley, and a bit mixed up, I have the misfortune to use an old fashioned language called Inglish. I like the NYT'sers cos they give me new angles on weird stuff like basket, base, foot, and other balls where debs are belles etc.. Fascinating stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. This one was better for me except I inadvertently filled in ...OFFENCE, which is not offensive over here, whereas OFFENSE is. So SOAR I couldn't, which made me sore all over again.
Also, I don't think I get Chameleons and commas, unless it's just the curly tails, is it?
Snappy review, too!

Unknown 6:28 AM  

I thought this was incredibly easy, but fun. Having a child who is a three-season varsity runner, ONE K made perfect sense. @Bruce - 1k is a common distance in track, especially indoor.

BROMO was a little obscure, but once I got a few of the crosses, I got the reference.

Alexander 6:36 AM  

The adjacent ASTA/LIAC/ISOLDE section seemed particularly rough

BarbieBarbie 6:42 AM  

@Jack Reader, see Boy George's discography.
Did Arie Antoinette chop heads off? I know hers got chopped off. Are we mixing up the Red Queen with the Fench one? Or was that the point of the Red one? Please enlighten.
Easy-ish puzzle for me. Not old enough to know Stu, but the crosses were fair.
@Timothy, Agree about the doughnuts. Maybe it's ok to eat those for breakfast? Har

Hungry Mother 6:54 AM  

Very easy for this old geezer. I concentrate on downs for a puzzle with long acrosses.

Forsythia 6:55 AM  

Normal Monday for me. But is there an easy way to know whether it is Isolte, Isolde, Isoult? Is the medieval story originally French and the translation to English varies, or sometimes it is the operatic version? Hard clue for Monday with the various spellings.

Aketi 7:00 AM  

@chefwen, the phrase would have had a double serving of MEAT had you followed through: LET THE MEAT MEAT. Have you been cooking too many vegan meals lately and missing the pleasures of carnivorous consumption?

I got the THEME quickly and noticed it was embedded in the misquoted LET (THEM E) AT CAKE, which might have been fun for bakery chefs. I filled in all the other themes after only filling the northeast corner but I lopped off MARIE's feet first before having to lop off her head, slide her over and replace her feet. Actually, given the length of her name she must have a pinhead in relation to the rest of her or perhaps she was merely scalped.

@Jack Reader, I'm not the least bit Limish and routinely nag my husband about watching so many Limish murder mystery series accusing him of confusimg the accent with sophistication. Nevertheless, I also initially filled in OFFENcE. I blame my husband for contaminating me. He's now moved up to the far north of Scotland for his murder mystery series which adds a far more complex layer of language variations.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Very easy for me, but of course I'm getting up there. Driving home last night from the Great Dismal Swamp NWR we stopped at a Denny's for dinner, and for the first time I noticed, and qualified for, the menu section for 55+.

Fun, too. ARIE ANTOINETTE, how great is that? I like a puzzle that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

The cake to which the queen referred was not a dessert but the hardened remains of bread on the walls of baking ovens. The "cake" was scraped off and given to the poor.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

Easy for me (age 76, doing NYT crosswords for >60 years.

Tom4 7:50 AM  

One K is tough for a Monday without the crosses but the crosses were easy so it's all good. This one was fun!

On WISK - I was thinking of Whist and then Risk, which would be a wacky combo of a game.

Glimmerglass 7:52 AM  

Hi, Annabel. I love yiur Mondays. I was thinking that @Rex was going to savage this harmlss litle thing, and so I was pleased to find you here today. This was pretty easy for me, but I am roughly as old as you are young ( I have grandchildren older than you). It was fun for me to see these facs from your perspective ("Wait, there was another Beatle?"). Given your frame of reference, I think you did well to power through for 45 Minutes and solve the damn thing. Maybe the NYT can come to know about Annabel Mondays and publish a more age-appropriate puzzle (but then it might take me 45 minutes).

webwinger 8:01 AM  

I was delighted by the theme. Looked forward to Annabel's first Monday review and was not disappointed. Agree that it skewed far toward my 60s generation, but that just made it more fun for me.

Yoni glatt 8:02 AM  

If Krispy Kreme calls their products DOUGHNUTS is it acceptable to be used here as DONUTs?

The Bruce Dickinson 8:09 AM  

I got a fever, and the only prescription is more nnabel!

Tita A 8:28 AM  

I'm with @kirshef on this one...fun theme for a Monday.
Only thing that jumped out at me though is SALESROOM. It isn't even green paint, because green paint is actually a thing. Sales floor, maybe, or showROOM.

And surprised to learn that HYPNO means sleep. Duh...
(Though a misread the clue as "Prefix related to sheep".)

Nice to see CARL clued as Sagan, another science rock star in his day. No offense, but please let more proposer name references reference important people.

Thanks, Mr. Sessa, and thanks Annabel for your candid take.

L 8:35 AM  

Not too hard, but i never have so many write overs on a Monday. I had DEF for RES, DEBT for LOAN, GALE for GUST (which was plain stupid on my part) and initially wrote ASTA in the wrong place (where AURA went). Sigh.

Nancy 8:37 AM  

A gem. Yes, it was too easy for those of us who like 'em hard, but how can you not praise a puzzle this lively, this colorful, this junk-free, and with such a wicked sense of humor. And the theme density is a marvel to behold. I don't imagine ARIE would have found this as witty as I did, but she's not around to complain, is she? Beautiful job.

Two Ponies 8:46 AM  

Bromo might be dated but meme balances it out.
Pepe tied to meme would have been funny.
I was not amused by Arie and Off With Her Head is hardly
an "apt cry" for the queen. Odd clue.

zevonfan 8:51 AM  

Always excited for an Annabel Monday! Especially since this particular puzzle was ripe for yet another anti-Shortz Jeremiad by OFL. Good luck with exams, Annabel!

Nate 8:56 AM  

Man, I thought this thing was bizarrely difficult. I had literally no clue on the BROMO-BRACERS cross. I tried like 9 different letters before giving up. I still don't know what either of them are.

The atheist clue... I guess I should Google her? Again, didn't have the faintest idea. Easily solveable with the crosses, thankfully.

I definitely have a nit with the DONUT answer. At least clue it "Krispy Kreme product, informally", or something.

Ugh. A Monday DNF makes me very salty. Hopefully on to a better week...

QuasiMojo 9:00 AM  

Annabel, always fun to have you here! Just remember if it is a dog's name it is probably Asta, Fala, Toto or sometimes Spot. The Dashiell Hammett novel on which the first "Thin Man" movie was based is still in print so it is not exactly irrelevant trivia. I find the older I get the less I can watch those movies. The novel is so witty and clever, and well-written, but the films are all-over-the-place and trying way too hard. Or maybe I just don't think William Powell's drunk act is funny. (Let's forget about the Broadway musical bomb "Nick and Nora.")

As for poor Marie Antoinette, who was originally Austrian, not French, by the way, am I the only one who thinks it is in poor taste to make light of someone being decapitated? Especially in a crossword puzzle? And in light of recent events?

I was glad, however, to see Gene Siskel mentioned in the puzzle. I preferred him to Ebert. And the other day, after re-watching "Silence of the Lambs," I looked up his review of the film. He gave it a thumbs-down, primarily because he thought its grand guignol overtones were in poor taste. He took a lot of heat for it after the film won Best Picture, but that's what I liked about him. He had standards.


John V 9:07 AM  

Fun, but not a Monday.

Vincent Lima 9:09 AM  
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evil doug 9:11 AM  

[Frank and Estelle try to prepare George for his job interview with a bra salesman...]

Estelle: All right, I'll get a bra.

Frank: I don't know what the big problem is getting a bra?!

George: She doesn't want to get a bra.

Frank: I'm not saying go to the library and read the whole history, but it wouldn't kill you to know a little bit about it.

George: All right, it wouldn't kill me.

Frank: How long it takes to find a bra? What's going on in there? You ask me to get a pair of underwear, I'm back in two seconds...you know about the cup sizes and all? They have different cups.

George: I-I know about the cups.

Frank: You got the A, B, C the D. That's the biggest.

George: I know the D is the biggest. I've based my whole life on knowing that the D is the biggest.

Estelle: Here, here's the bra.

Frank: Let me see it.

Estelle: 100% lycra-spandex.

Frank: Let me see it.

Estelle: I told you. Here, think you know everything?

Frank: Hmm, that's surprising. All right, what else? You got the cups in the front, two loops in the back. All right, I guess that's about it.

George: I got it. Cups in the front, loops in the back.

GILL I. 9:22 AM  

What a cheerful puzzle. We start with JAGS JAIL SPITEFUL. Why am I staring at LET THE MEAT CAKE? @chefwen...I had her eating DIRT.
I looked up May 1 to see if it was ANTOINETTES birthday or something. I wanted this to be a homage puzzle but all I found was that Mr Potato Head was introduced to the world on this date.
During the Spanish Inquisition and when Sephardic Jews were forced to convert to Christianity, many took up new names ending with the "ez"
Someone told me this and I found it interesting that every Gutierrez I know, was originally from Spain. Speaking of...Isabel and Ferdinand did their fair-share of OFF WITH HEAD's.....


Anonymous 9:26 AM  


Cher Annabelle -- Marie Antoinette disait "Qu'ils mangent le gateau!"


Roo Monster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !
Found myself smack dab in tbe middle of Natick on that B in BROMO/BRACERS. BROMO?? Alka-Seltzer, sure. Must be precursor to plop-plop, fizz-fizz, as I'm close to 50 and never heard of it. And just what the hell is a BRACER?? A pick-me-up drink? Coffee, Red Bull, Monster, are pick-up drinks. Are they BRACERS?

Theme was kind of strange. Took me a while for CAPITAL OFFENSE, as had CAPITALOF__SE, and thinking OF something. CAPITAL OF FalSE? But with having the very helpful A of UCLA, and seeing mARIE wouldn't fit, realized that her "head", ergo, the M, was off, and finally seeing the double meaning as clued revealer CAPITAL OFFENSE. Ah.

Puz grid was good factoring in there are four 14 themers.

Fleur-de-___. What is the distinction/difference of LIS/LYS? Anyone? Always put the wrong letter in first. And crossed by some obscure Atheist? On Monday? Ouch. JAGS for bouts of crying? How about clued as XKEs? E-types?

Not too many YUKS for me today. SARIS Ed. UHAUL some, you lose some.

MOURN SPATS
RooMonster
DarrinV

CDilly52 9:35 AM  

Poor Annabel! Talk about not even in the neighborhood of the average undergrad's wheelhouse, much less IN said wheelhouse...ouch. Since I fall in the fossil category, I found this average and fun Monday fare. My favorite though was BROMO. It reminded me of the song from "Guys and Dolls" that Adelaide sings about her headcold (and with homage to the "Maine" accent recently, this is sung in a very stylized "New York" accent:

You can feed her all day with the Vitamin A
And the BROMO fizz
But the medicine never gets anywhere near
Where the trouble is.
If she's getting a kind of a name for herse
And the name ain't his,
A person could develop a cough...

What fun.

Bobby Grizzard 9:42 AM  

I agree about the difficulty. So many things I had never heard of. My time tells me this was more like a Wednesday.

Ronnie Ray 9:43 AM  

Stu Sutcliffe was John's best pal, a talented artist, but not a very good musician. Eventually, Paul ousted him.

jau 9:43 AM  

For me this was one of the easiest puzzles ever, but then I'm what young folks would consider old, so the clues were pieces of -- dare I say it? -- cake. I finished in record time, actually. OTOH, I found it a bit annoying in some of the ways mentioned by others and I thought lopping off "M" was 5-year-old dumb (which I guess twists the age thing but oh well). And Shortz should ditch "acne" unless it's going to be there each day and we can do a "where's Waldo" routine.....

jberg 9:53 AM  

Once mARIE ANTOINETTE didn't fit, and i looked at the word 'literally' in the clue, I tried lopping off the M and checking a few crosses. The rest was easy, but if I hand't thought of that, it would have been very hard.

Mnemonic device: Fala belonged to FDR, Asta to some Actors.

And for those stumped by BROMO, just remember these immortal lines from "Miss Adelaide's Lament:"

You can feed her all day
With the Vitamin A
And the Bromo Fizz
But the medicine never
Gets anywhere near
Where the trouble is
If she's getting a kind
Of name for herself
And the name ain't "his"
A person
Can develop a cough

Andrea, ACNE is NOTHING like ACME!

jberg 9:54 AM  

Rats, @CDilly52 posted while I was drafting my comment! Sorry for the duplication.

Mohair Sam 10:23 AM  

Clever, lots of fun. What @Nancy said (8:37).

It did skew terribly old however - even this old couple had trouble remembering BROMO.

@Andrea Carla Michaels - Good stuff, post more often.

@Annabel - EMMA the best Austen? Disagree strongly here. Although I loved your three sentence book review.

Jared 10:23 AM  

For those of you baffled by ONEK, I have to say it's not uncommon for events to schedule a ONEK fun-run before the main event, especially on holidays or family-oriented events. Not an ideal clue, but far from the worst groaner in this one.

oseph ichael 10:27 AM  

I began to like this puzzle when I got to CAPITAL OFFENSE. The otherwise lame theme came together with a clever twist that gave me a chuckle. And what's not to like about starting a Monday with a chuckle?

With PEPE, EARP, CARL, HERB, STU, ADAM, PETER I, and EBERT, there seem to be a lot of boys gathered to watch the beheading.

And so it goes with the grid ending in SERA.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Yep. Generational.
Easy for this boomer.

Glimmerglass 10:56 AM  

Note to @Rex: Last week you pointed out a puzzle constructed by Timothy Parker (which I had done in the Boston Globe) in which SNOB was clued as "snob." I had noticed that myself. Today, Parker's puzzle in the Globe clued MPG as "Car's rate of speed." I think Mr. Parker needs an editor.

ghostoflectricity 11:22 AM  

Not a fan of this one. I never think it's "appropriate" to call for capital punishment. As for the college student writing today's review, she needs to learn a few things:

-Yes, Marie Antoinette's alleged saying of "let them eat cake" or even "brioche" is probably apocryphal. Even more, she may not have said it in French. She was Austrian (her marriage to Louis XVI was one of those typical feudal alliance things to ensure peace, etc.) and her native language was German; I don't know if decades living in France made her more fluent in French.
-Never heard of Stu Sutcliffe? Your youth is showing. The Quarrymen, renamed the Silver Beatles (in honor of the recently deceased-in-a-plane-crash rock songwriter/performer Buddy Holly's backing band, The Crickets) in 1959-60, were originally a quintet. Sutcliffe, a mediocre musician, was the bass player, largely on the basis of his friendship with fellow art-school dropout John Lennon. He quit in the spring of 1961 because he wanted to pursue painting rather than music (he died a year later of a cerebral hemorrhage). Rather than hiring a new bass player, the band (who would soon shorten their name to The Beatles) decided to remain a quartet, with one of the three guitarists (Paul McCartney) switching to bass as his main instrument. This in spite of the fact that his guitar skills and overall musicianship were superior to those of his senior partner and de facto band leader, John Lennon. So McCartney (PLEASE NOTE, ALL YOU LENNON PARTISANS WHO HATE PAUL AND BEATIFY JOHN, THE OSTENSIBLE EMBODIMENT OF "COOL") took one for the team, as it were. Never mind; Paul made the bass his own and helped make it an important melodic instrument in rock (along with John Entwistle of The Who, The Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh, Jefferson Airplane's Jack Casady, and a number of prog rockers, including Chris Squire and Greg Lake), rather than simply a time-keeper along with the drums. And he remained a better guitarist and pianist than Lennon (bless his unjustly murdered soul) ever was. BTW, Ms. Annabel, please be aware if you ever do this piece again, that in 1962, using their new manager, Brian Epstein, to do their dirty work for them, the band fired its drummer, Pete Best, and hired Richard Starkey, better known as Ringo Starr, to replace him. Starr previously had been in the band Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. And in case you're wondering, in the great dividing line that came to existence in the '60s about which band you love more, The Beatles or The Stones, I am, always have been, and always will be a Stones partisan. Don't get me started on The Rolling Stones, the greatest rock band ever.

-ONEK= one kilometer, the distance of a VERY short foot race (just over three fifths of a mile). There is no excuse for not knowing that.

Hartley70 11:25 AM  
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kitshef 11:27 AM  

@Glimmerglass - Meglithic yards per Gigasecond - what's the issue?

Does no one visit Baltimore and the iconic Bromoseltzer Tower?

Hartley70 11:27 AM  

@Tita I entered SALESROOM without thinking until I read your post, and then I realized how old that word is. Today it would be a business showroom, as distinct from the business office.

It's a Gimmick Monday and that's a rare and wonderful thing. Just to carp a bit, I would like to see the missing M placed randomly in the row below, but then again I can be a ghoul.

The difficulty level was easy-peasy but the fun factor was excellent.

Wileyfex 11:32 AM  

I found it to be really easy. Went right through.

Lonnie Hanauer 11:37 AM  

Glad you liked the puzzle.
"The Thin Man" may be from 1934 (I was born in '35) but Asta is in the puzzle once or twice a month. Thin Man doesn't hold up as a movie--just rematched a month ago and it's not as funny as it was 80 years ago--too much drinking and smoking by both Mr. and Mrs Thin Man.

LH

Cassieopia 11:39 AM  

I'm with @Nancy and @Hartley70 - this was an unusually fun Monday, and near a record time solve for me. Does that mean I "skew old"? I don't care - chopping off the M and four near-spanners made this one of the nicest Mondays in a while. Great way to start the week, and Annabel's write up PLUS a Young Frankenstein reference added the whipped cream and cherry to the top of the gateaux!

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:50 AM  

NE and SW corners, and the middle gave some pause initially. I have never heard of Bromo before, I had no idea what a Bracer is so I put in TROMO and TRACER. Made as much sense.

I always want to spell it as fleur de LYS as it is in French. I always miss this and have failed to teach myself.

Overall, this was an average Monday puzzle for me. I got OFFWITHHERHEAD before the other two long clues so ARIE part didn't throw me off at all.

DF 11:51 AM  

@ghostoflectricity no need for such a smug, condescending tone. It's really uncalled for. To paraphrase you, there is no excuse for being so rude.

I found the puzzle pretty brisk and easy, for the most part. BRACERS is a really bad, unless it's clued as an arm guard. The first dictionary definition when I google it tells me it's an drink, but I've *never* heard it used in that context. A drink being bracing, yes. But not a drink being a BRACER. PEPE should be exiled from crosswords considering the odious political ideology with which the name is now associated. JAGS is just an ugly-sounding word that is only used to refer to crying in crosswords, as far as I can tell. And Madalyn Murray OHAIR seems super obscure (certainly for a Monday, anyway), and was only solvable for me because of easy crosses

As far the DONUT clue, I'm just glad it wasn't referred to as a breakfast food again considering the hornets nest that turned out to be last time.

Luke Wallace 12:00 PM  

I'm super impressed

Charles kluepfel 12:03 PM  

The Thin Man was a TV series 1957-1959 with Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. Asta was included.

G. Weissman 12:08 PM  

So M = head because it's the first letter in the answer? And leaving that letter off is a "capital offense" because that letter, like every other letter in a crossword, is capitalized? I guess that makes sense if you pretend it does. Only it doesn't really.

Joe Bleaux 12:14 PM  

My guess: You instantly visualized the whole quote, your mind excerpted " .... theM EAT, and your fingers ran with it.

G. Weissman 12:16 PM  

Wow, you're tiresome.

Masked and Anonymous 12:19 PM  

CAPITAL! A MonPuz theme with an edge to it. Well done, Mr. Sessa.

fave corner: SE. Has yer bonus EMMA two-headed discard entry, a la (M)arie & Antoinette.

staff weeject picks: Symmetrical OWS & MCS.

SALESROOM. har Settle down, Comments Gallery folks … it has Merriam-Webster Immunity.

Cool stuff that weren't chopped off enough: (A)CUP. (RE)NEW. (A)HEMS. (U)HAUL … nah, leave that pup alone. (O)HAIR. (E)SPRIT.
Just plain neat word to fit in there: EXEMPT.

Tear em up, at finals, Blu'Bel darlin. Primo write-up bullets, btw. (U get an easy A on the write-up.)

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Sessa.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

Andrew Heinegg 12:20 PM  

Because I am an old fart, I thought this puzzle was just about perfect for a Monday. I had a good time solving, which is something I have not been able to say over the past few puzzles. And, to top it off, I learned a bunch of interesting stuff by reading the blog commentaries. It appears that many of the bloggers disliked it because of its fustiness. And the breakdown of the yeas and nays would seem to be by age.

The Marie Antoinette background info that Andrea Carla Michaels kindly provided was fascinating. I also enjoyed the historical background about Stu Sutcliffe being a crappy musician and Paul playing the bass after Sutcliffe's departure.

Ghostofelectricity's take on it was informative but, I do have one point of disagreement. Although I was a huge fan of rock and roll back in the day, I could never muster up a great fondness for the Stones, who I saw in concert 3 times and was always disappointed. I thought they displayed terrific musicianship but, I thought Jagger could not really sing. Yes, he was expressive and a one of the original androgynous sex symbols of rock and roll but, I did not think he had a good voice. I am prepared to surrender to be burned at the stake for rock heresy.

All in all, I thought it was one of the better Monday puzzles in some time.


Zef 12:37 PM  

For the me the trouble started when I ended up with "Get The Meat Cake" for the first themer. Then I got "Off With Her Head", and assumed the theme answer would be the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, since I knew she always said off with her head (or their heads) and assumed "meat cake" was the kind of weird thing that would be featured in Alice in Wonderland. Finally started getting Antoinette and realized my errors!

Did anyone else notice that the "M" that was beheaded fell down and became the "M" in "MOURN"? Not sure if that was intentional, but pretty cool either way.

Liz Glass 1:12 PM  

Dearest Annabel,

you were born in Baltimore, just up the street from the Bromo Seltzer tower.

Signed, your loving mother ❤

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

LET THE MEAT CAKE didn't help me at all with the theme.

Suzanne Boule 1:16 PM  

Perhaps because I'm french born, I found today's puzzle particularly offensive. Marie-Antoinette was a Austrian teenager forced into a loveless marriage to a man who had no interest in her. The so-called quote is apocryphal and I don't think that beheading is a subject appropriate for a diversion. She certainly didn't deserve her fate. Additionally, I'm surprised no one objected to 39D, talk about stereotyping! It looks like stereotyping and ignorance go hand in hand in this puzzle.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Yes, I have a line of black ink at 41A where most of that entry got rewritten. I loved @Hartley70's suggestion for where the "HEAD" should go, and like @Zef, was pleased to see it actually did fall neatly into the MCS/MOURN basket (YUK).

I liked seeing OFF WITH HER HEAD in the same puzzle as the Mad HATTERAS.

Thanks for the nice Monday, Ed Sessa, and the write up, Annabel!

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

I'm sure a ton of people will tell you that a one K referes to a foot race that is one kilometer long. 10 K is more frequently heard.

Cassieopia 1:24 PM  

@anonymous 1:13 - hahahahahahahaha!

Anoa Bob 2:07 PM  

I did this last night and waited to see if the blog or comments would aid me in understanding how the theme all fit together. No help.

I agree with @G. Weissman that it actually, really doesn't make sense. The first letter of someone's name is that person's HEAD? That's a stretch way too far. Way, way too far. Being a monarch is a CAPITAL OFFENSE? How so? Leaving off the first, CAPITALized letter of someone's name is an elision, an omission, or just a plain mistake, but an OFFENSE? Nah.

Okay, I'm not much of a theme person anyway. I'll take interesting, vibrant words crossing each other over theme any day. But there's not much there either. Other than maybe SPITEFUL & ESPRIT, the fill seemed rather perfunctory. Having four, fourteen-letter themers will place considerable constraints on options in the fill department.

The grid also leaned heavily on the two-for-one shared S at the end of a connecting Across and Down. I count six of them, beginning with OWS & AHEMS. That's enough to earn a POC Assisted rating.

If we get a puzz about decapitation, can one about ritualistic self-disembowelment be far behind?

Dick Swart 2:09 PM  

Annabel,

It is refreshing to read your reviews written with an unjaded POV. Rex's meta musings get to be very tiresome and tedious.

I liked the headless 'arie'. Living in a county with a 30% Mexican population (I find the 'Latino" classification demeaning), I found the 'ez' clue to be simply an accurate observation.

Keep up the good work!

Uncle Milford 2:28 PM  

i read 41 across as literary and so wanted Alice In Wonderland. My high school social studies brain wants to remember "let them eat cake" as the translation of "let them eat the crap that gets baked onto the walls of an oven", hence cake. Not sure if that is correct, but then again, Asta is always the crossword dog. Solid review, btw

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Suzanne Boule,

Even Maria Theresa spared a smile for this puzzle. Oh wait, is that too soon?

Pardonne-moi,

M. Robespierre


And just what is wrong with Latinos anyway Dick?

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

ghostofelectricity,

Please shut up. Forever.

Signed,

The other 7,499,000,000 on earth

Dick Swart 3:02 PM  

@Anonymous

And just what is wrong with 'Latinos] anyway, Dick?

2:31 PM

I think country specification when speaking of an individual is both more accurate and recognizing of an individual's identity. "Latino" itself can be used as a slur. There are many differences between Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Nicaruagans, Columbians, and others either in the States or coming to the States.

chefwen 3:30 PM  

@Aketi - Me, vegan? Never gonna happen.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Is European a slur too? After all there are poles, and teutons, norse etc?

The world has gone mad. So many victims.

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

@Lonnie - Nick Charles wasn't "The Thin Man". The thin man was the murder victim in the book, and hence the first movie.

And, the only good thing about any of the Thin Man movies after the first does in fact hold up. I just saw the nth sequel (I don't care about the specific n) and she was as lovely as ever.

So, Andrew Jackson and Frederick Douglas walk into a bar. They stare at each other, and when the horror of each to the other dissipates enough for them to speak, they simultaneously say "I thought you were dead!?". They slowly realize they currently exist only in Trump's brain, and a previously un-experienced level of human misery is attained.

tea73 3:48 PM  

When I was in France I learned that Marie Antoinette said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" Brioche, is a flaky bread not cake (gateau). I'd never heard that it was what was stuck to the ovens, but that makes sense.

The Thin Man movies are classics, and ASTA is certainly a classic crossword puzzle answer.

I am apparently old, as I found the old fashioned cluing easy.

GILL I. 3:49 PM  

Oh my gosh...@Dick Swart. LATINOS is NOT a slur. Maybe some prefer the term Hispanic, but I've known LATINOS my whole life. Next you're going to say Gringa is a slur. I love Gringa. I also love Yanqui. Bring it on...!
@Suzanne Boule...a bit touchy maybe? Having your HEAD loped off is certainly a distraction. Having it loped off by the French guillotine was the amusing way to get rid of the pesky monarchy that insisted on committing crimes of treason. I suppose we can find distaste in just about anything that reminds us of historic atrocities.

Hartley70 3:53 PM  

@Zef, great "catch" of the M in MOURN! I was imagining a lone M hanging in space just below ARIE, but you saw what I missed. Perfect!

Anonymous 4:00 PM  

Anonymous @3:42,

I think you left out the actual most important thing. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that "she was as lovely as ever" refers to Myrna Loy. And boy was she lovely. My all-time favorite.
I have to disagree with your assessment of the series as whole though. I think After the Thin Man, the second installment, is generally regarded as at least as good as the first. Probably better.

My last bit of bloviation: I can't think of a film adaptation of a book where the characters are changed so much from the novel yet remain equally great. Hammett's Nick Charles was a rough customer. Nick on film is suave and well, Bill Powell-like. I guess I'm saying I don't mind what Hollywood did to a classic book.

Roo Monster 4:13 PM  

@Cassieopia 1:24,
?? I don't see an @Anon post from 1:13, AM or PM.

Thr Rolling Stones rate way higher than The Beatles. Also, let's not forget another great Rock Band, Aerosmith. To me, The Beatles are Not Rock, they were Pop before that was a genre for that, ergo got thrown into Rock.

RooMonster

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

hey Dick Swart,

You do realize that this is Rex's blog and he invited Annabel. Quit being such a dick and have some manners.

Roy Leban 4:49 PM  

Solvers are different. Some people find some things easy that others find hard, and vice versa. That's why we created the Puzzazz Difficulty Index, so we could find out the relative difficulty of different puzzles without personal bias by any particular solvers (or bloggers).

The May 1 puzzle rated as "Typical" for a Monday. See:
http://www.puzzazz.com/leaderboard/info/new-york-times-crosswords/2017/05/01

It seems that the people who thought it was easy and the people who thought it was hard are balancing each other out. And people who thought it was about average (that would include me) are right in the middle. We don't currently expose deviation, but I'd guess this puzzle has a higher deviation than average based on the comments here. But the good news is that it means everybody is right!

BIlly Joel 5:14 PM  

It's all Rock and Roll to me...

@Roo - look more carefully

Roo Monster 5:26 PM  

Ha! @Billy Joel 5:14.
I've actually heard that exact expression on my local (Rock) station, when they were interviewing of all people Ice Cube. One of the radio guys said he was upset that NWA got into the Rick and Roll HOF before Judas Priest, et.al., and Cube said that exact thing. "It really boils down to everything is Rock and Roll if you really see it" (That was paraphrased.)

Maybe the ole brain needs to throw off old prejudices. :-)

Roo

KFC 5:28 PM  

Yeah, that's just what Annabel needs, some self anointed pedant mansplaining musty rock and roll history. If she really gave a crap she could google it. Jerk.

Hey, how's your Drake trivia? "running through the 6 with my woes" mean anything to you?

Eat more chicken!

willcwhite 5:30 PM  

I quite liked this puzzle, and I agree it was challenging for a Monday.

BROMO – certainly we're all well-versed in the lyrics to "Guys and Dolls" aren't we?

You can treat 'er all day
With the vitamin A
And the Bromo Fizz

But the medicine never gets
Anywhere near where the
Trouble is

If she's gettin a kind of a name for herself
And the name ain't
His

A person can develop a cough!

Tom4 5:36 PM  

The Rex of crossword blog commenting...

Cassieopia 5:36 PM  

@roo 4:13 - the post said, "LET THE MEAT CAKE didn't help me with the theme at all". I can't find it now either, which makes me question my recollection...

Nancy 6:14 PM  

Dear Marie (no, I won't call you ARIE anymore; I've learned my lesson) --

You must be spinning happily in your grave, Marie, for truly you have your defenders on this blog: @ghostofelectricity and @Suzanne Boule and even [gasp] @Quasi, whom I respect mightily and would never, ever not pay attention to.

I guess I failed to consider the wonderful and oh-so-true line: "The past is not dead. It is not even past. Forgive me, Marie.

I was looking for YUKS at your expense. I suppose what I wrote might even be considered SPITEFUL. (The SERFS, of course, would applaud, but we're not thinking about the SERFS right now, are we Marie?) We're thinking of you. You went through a lot of OWS, didn't you, Marie. Or at least one big OW. And so, allow me to belatedly MOURN my insensitivity to the
unfortunate COUP that removed your head and your OHAIR. You should have been as real and alive to me as the DEBS in the SALESROOM last week. I should have been as careful of your feelings as of theirs. No one is EXEMPT from tender consideration, even if they've been dead for 300 years. And so I offer you (from last week's puzzle) my sincere MEA CULPA.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

Suzanne Boule (1:16)- do not confuse LATINO with FROG. They are not the same.

And 2:07 - get a life. It's a crossword puzzle.

And an easy one at that with a consistent theme throughout - enjoyed it. Found the comments here astonishingly ignorant.

GILL I. 7:15 PM  

@Nancy...Stellar obfuscation. Your tongue-in-cheek is beguiling.
From a wannabe MEAT HEAD LATINA....;-)

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

Sunday's puzzle. Sharpe has always bashed this constructor. More going on. Take note ... Sad!
And, btw, most everyone here is anonymous.

Carola 7:45 PM  

Sooooo late to the party! But even if everybody has already left, I had to stop in to say how much I loved this puzzle. Such fun - and the only kind of beheading I'd want to witness. I was surprised @Rex found it hard - I thought iwas easy. Perhaps because I do a lot of cryptics, the headless ARIE wasn't a problem.

@Ed Sessa, thank you. A delight. Loved the OFF-ENSE.

chefwen 8:22 PM  

@Carola - It's Rex's day off, Annabel found it hard. We're chalking it up to an age factor.

Antifa (anti First Amendnent) 8:33 PM  

Never heard of bracers or jags, but both were inferable, average Monday here.

Anonymous 8:34 PM  

amendment sorry for typo haters

Anonymous 11:05 PM  

Supposedly, someone told Marie Antoinette that "le peuple n'a pas de pain." To which she flippantly answered "Qu'ils mangent des gâteaux." But was that a capital offense?

Leapfinger 3:22 AM  

@Mlle Suzanne 1:16pm
Moi, je suis Bouleversée.

The way I see it: 'CAPITAL-OFF'ENSE. Seems to work better ending in -ENCE, as the Brits (and Canadians) would.
As a carry-over from yesterday's theme, some might want to mock my woulds.

@Zaf 12:37pm
Cool! All that's missing is a teensy basket to hold that M.

@AnoaBob 2:07pm
A puzz about HARA KIRI? I'll bet it's been done.

@Anony 3:42pm
Thanks so much for your Jackson-Douglas para

@Gill (O'Teen) my Love,
Anne Boleyn called; she said to tell you that having your head loped off can't hold a chandelle to having it lopped. Mme Defarge agrees.

@Nancy 6:14pm
Like @Gill O'Teen, love your epiphany/'pology

MayDay, MayDay

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

Weak discordant theme with really lame fill. Almost as bad as Sunday's bomb of a puzzle.

Tarheeled 2:04 PM  

One of the easiest puzzles I have ever done. Everything jumped out at me. Maybe because I'm 82 years old and a lot of the clues tend to the ancient: Astra, broom, ohair, etc.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

I thought it was clever but overall pretty easy...and some puzzles Rex calls easy or medium I have found very hard! I guess it is all a matter of one's personal experiences and frame of reference.

Burma Shave 10:18 AM  

EMMA ETTA PEPE

That DEB’S so INSISTENT with PETERI time in bed,
ASTA make sure HERB went OFFWITHHERHEAD.

--- CARL EARP

spacecraft 11:31 AM  

To whom is ONEK a "short" footrace? My daughter-in-law just finished a full marathon (at forty-something; I'm so proud!). But me? From here to the kitchen is about it. I remember running; I really do.

I liked this puzzle. The tag line is absolutely hilarious: CAPITAL (root: HEAD) OFF (!) ENSE. The Edster is not usually one of my favorites, but this time he came through. Puzzles should be entertaining; this one certainly was.

Somewhere in here is my given name; I'll leave it at that. Another reason to give an EBERT thumbs-up. Despite a plethora of male names, there are ample (!) DOD candidates as well. How many DEBS? Harry, Gibson, Boone...And even more EMMAs: Stone, Watson, Roberts, Samms...but I'll give the nod to the incomparable ETTA James. At last!

The lead blog surprised me all the way down to the byline--then it all became clear. This fellow usually needs some outrageous fill to accommodate his longer entries; not so today. One quibble: it's a NO-FEE policy: no S. But hey, not enough to lip out this birdie.

Diana,LIW 1:31 PM  

AHEM...

I found some of it easy, with a bit of Tues/Wed/Thurs thrown in. So glad to see Acme dub it a Muesday.

I have heard of BRACERS, and was thinking the hangover cure was similar - a "hair of the dog" kind of thing. Like "have another brewski." So BRuMO made SOME kind of sense. And I, too, had never heard of a 1-K race. So perhaps a uNEK was a half turn around the track - you know, in the shape of a U? (Hi @M&A) I guess, according to Mr. Ghosty, there is simply no excuse for me. I walked a 12-K this spring - I might actually be able to run a 1-K. And then require a seltzer, or a BRACER.

I was surprised Annabell didn't know ASTA - that pup is crosswordese if ever there was, nae? Like ewer, etui, and all the other words I learned in my first year of daily NYTX playtime. It's what has brought me into the under half-an-hour solving fold.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, still somewhere in middle school

rain forest 3:06 PM  

Good ol' Ed Sessa. I think I like him, but I'm sure he's happy that @Rex wasn't blogging today. Rex hates Ed, which is patently silly. Nice to have an Annabel appearance today. Plus, I liked the puzzle, particularly CAPITAL OFFENSE (which should be "offence") and the "M" falling into the basket as the first letter of MOURN.

@Spacey - so your given name is CARL, WYATT, ADAM, ROGER, or possibly ASTA. I'm going to guess CARL. Carl Spacecraft has a nice ring to it.

I had to write over the entire name of the honouree, misspelled, when UCLA appeared, and I thought the trick pretty nifty. Whether or not she actually uttered that famous phrase, the woman had a sense of humour.

leftcoastTAM 3:14 PM  

Lively, clever, fun.

Didn't get MARIE's chopped-off M until the end. Had to laugh--about an otherwise sad story of a fallen queen.

Wanted Gale before GUST, OHAIR I remembered but not the spelling, and the ACUP didn't really pop out at me.

Thanks for the bracing pick-me-up, Ed Sessa.

rondo 3:21 PM  

After I had LET THE MEAT CAKE parsed correctly I damn near skipped to 41a to fill in (m)ARIEANTOINETTE. Good thing I took a look at the UCLA Bruins first to know that I shouldn’t “head off” in that direction yet. Only other issue was spelling OHAre correctly. Didn’t recall it being different than the airport.

The St. Paul paper’s movie critic says yeah baby EMMA Watson can’t sing and the REHASH of Beauty and the Beast drags on too long. Wonder what he thinks about yeah baby EMMA Thompson’s singing in the same flick. I almost never agree with him anyway.

Not a bad puz. Lopping that M off was good YUKS.

Anonymous 6:44 PM  

It took roughly 30-31 minutes to solve. That is without hints or any mistakes. That is unusually long for a Monday. Like you Mr. Parker I was thrown by the ARIE MARIE aspect of the clue. Still figured eventually figured out.

Mark

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