Biblical name for Syria / MON 1-28-13 / Big name in art glass / Against property to judge / Countryside Sp / Deathtrap playwright Ira /

Monday, January 28, 2013

Constructor: Jaime Hutchison and Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Challenging (3:58)


THEME: "WHAT A TOOL!" — last words of two-word phrases are tools (used in non-tool contexts)

  • FUEL LEVEL (17A: Info on a dashboard gauge)
  • MIKE HAMMER (21A: "I, the Jury" detective)
  • MODEL PLANE (53A: Flier made from a do-it-yourself kit)
  • FIRE DRILL (58A: Safety exercise prompted by an alarm)

Word of the Day: ARAM (10D: Biblical name for Syria) —
Aram is a region mentioned in the Bible located in central Syria, including where the city of Aleppo (aka Halab) now stands. Aram stretched from the Lebanon mountains eastward across the Euphrates, including the Khabur River valley in northwestern Mesopotamia on the border of Assyria. (wikipedia)
• • •

72 words!? On a Monday?! That is ... unusual. That is a very low word count for an "Easy" puzzle. It's a low word count for *any* themed puzzle (it's the max number of clues for a themeless). Unsurprisingly, my time was a full minute higher than I'm used to on a Monday, which is to say 33% higher. Lots of white space, answers are harder to get ahold of. Fill is also not nearly as clean as it is usually is in early-week puzzles (terrible stuff like OB-LA and IN REM and ENTO- and EZEK. and REBOXES as well as unwelcome crosswordese like NOL. I can't remember the last time I saw anything like the ARAM / CAMPO crossing in an early-week puzzle. Nuts. I totally approve of the theme concept and the revealer, which is startling, actually. I think of "TOOL" as being, roughly, a synonym for DICK. It has anatomical implications, is what I'm saying. But FUEL LEVEL isn't exactly snappy (however legitimate it is) and "model airplane" is a far more familiar phrase than MODEL PLANE (however legitimate it is). So there's this great answer in the center, and mostly just adequate theme answers, all drowning in a grid that isn't really appropriate to this theme type. It's a Monday kind of theme in a Thursday / Friday-style grid. The net effect is just odd. Awkward. Weird. I actually didn't mind the added challenge (in fact, it didn't *feel* that hard—I was stunned when I looked at the clock and saw how long it took me). And big corners at least tend to get more interesting non-theme answers than one typically finds in an early-week puzzle. But despite my affection for stuff like LOU RAWLS and ROLL OVER and DUMMY UP (11D: Produce, as page layouts for a printer), this one felt clunky overall. Cute idea, inexpertly executed.


Bullets:
  • 23A: Big name in art glass (STEUBEN) — the *only* reason this answer was easy for me was because I watch "Archer." Otherwise, I'd've had real trouble there. 
  • 6D: "Deathtrap" playwright Ira (LEVIN) — I know that Ira LEVIN is a writer's name, but I'm far more familiar with MI Senator Carl. 
  • 24D: Top 10 Kiss hit with backing by the New York Philharmonic ("BETH") — love this clue, but again, it is comical how un-Monday this is. Outlier city, this puzzle.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

86 comments:

Kyle 12:08 AM  

Lots of unfamiliar fill for me here, took me much longer than usual for a Monday.

Also, I got the answer easily enough, but I'd just like to take issue with the clue on 28A. PERUSE it does not mean "read leisurely". To peruse something is to analyze or examine it (although it is very often misused).

Mike Ben-Ari 12:10 AM  

Dnf for me, elfin-inrem-idest-dts gave me a "tool"-ache

jae 12:21 AM  

Medium-tough for a Mon.  Liked it a lot more than Rex did.  Funny/clever theme with some zippy fill...OBLA, LEEZA, ATE DIRT, DUMMY UP, Disco STU...some celebs...ESTELLE, DERNS, Carly RAE, LOU RAWLS, SID...andm the obligatory WOE legal term from Judge Fleming...INREM.  I'd love to see more Mondays like this one!

Alamode, Campo Mounties 12:55 AM  

I think there are a lot of ways to look at this puzzle...

Four theme answers plus a reveal and much of the vocab suggest a Tuesday, but the theme is almost textbook Monday.

As an editor, if I ran it on a Tuesday, I'll bet all objections would disappear... the difficulty of the fill, the semi-risque reveal in terms of meaning of "WHATATOOL!" (personally, eyebrow way up, but I like the cheekiness), plus heavy reliance of names.

As a namer, wow... over a dozen NAMES!
Happily mostly my over 50+ era:
ESTELLE Getty, LOURAWLS, MIKEHAMMER, Ira LEVIN, SID Caesar, the DERNS, LEEZA Gibbons, Lon NOL, Garrison KEILLOR! BETH?

(and a couple toss ins for the young folks : Carly RAE Jepson, Disco STU...and for longtime solvers: ABE, AIDA, EDNA)

As a Monday constructor, I suspect I would never have gotten away with STEUBEN, SENAT, CAMPO, ID EST, IN REM... I would have been politely asked to redo.
(Maybe it's hard to overrule a judge!)

But, I'm happy, bec perhaps it means the ceiling has been broken for those words to appear in a Monday!

As a solver, bottom line, I had fun, measure for measure....they nailed it!




Carola 1:14 AM  

Have to agree with @Rex on "challenging," as I DNF. Got it into my head early that the R&B singer was LaURA somebody, and just couldn't let it go, even when her last name would have to be WLS. Definitely felt like a DUMMY when AcrossLite revealed my incorrect letter and LOU RAWLS snapped into view. Liked the theme and the puzzle otherwise; great reveal.

Also liked ATE DIRT...ALA MODE (makes it go down easier). Question the single YAM sufficing as a Thanksgiving side dish, unless it's for someone eating a solo dinner.

@Rex - Up until fairly recently one could see STEUBEN glassware being blown at the Corning Glass Works not far from you. Many of the lovely pieces are on display in the Corning Museum of Glass.

Tobias Duncan 1:22 AM  

Unlike ACME, if you give me a Tuesday/Wednesday puzzle on a Monday, I am nothing but bitter.
And I prefer Chihuly

Elle54 1:33 AM  

I'm in the puzzle today!

chefwen 2:19 AM  

Super easy peasy for me. Nary a write-over. I like that in a Monday.

syndy 2:20 AM  

My eyebrow hasn't come down yet.I'm just sad that the evil cupcake doen't usually appear on mondays-I'd love him to chime in.My timewise was average but there were some very unmonday crosses-INREM/IDEST.I'm pretty sure we've hashed out the PERUSE question before.Also some YAMS are big enough to feed a family.Hats off to Judge Victor and Jaime.

The Dude 3:12 AM  

@Kyle

I thought the same thing about "peruse" so I looked it up. Turns out Webster says both definitions are valid.

This got me doing a little research . . .

Turns out, "peruse" is an example of an auto-antonym or contronym; a word that has multiple meanings which are opposites of one another.

Other examples include cleave, fine, scan, and left.

I found the whole thing really interesting. Hope you do, too.

jae 4:05 AM  

@The Dude -- I Do. Thanks.

Ellen S 4:57 AM  

Hand up for legendary R&B singer LaURA WLS. I knew 26A needed to be ENTO but just couldn't make my eyes see anything but LOURA WLS until the very end. I'm having cataract surgery next month. Think that'll help, or do I need a brain transplant?

@The Dude, thanks for the definitions. With my new, more accommodating attitude, I'm gonna say PERUSE suggests a leisurely read as compared to "skim". The Wikipedia article on auto-antonyms gives an example, ""Back" can mean "regressive" as in "to go back in time", or it can mean "progressive" as in "to push back a deadline"." Which explains at last why I have no idea, if I'm changing a deadline from Match to April, whether I'm pushing it forward or back.

MetaRex 5:48 AM  

The square-jawed figures of the Dudley Do-Right MOUNTIE in the NW and Garrison KEILLOR in the matched column in the SE are nice complements to the theme.

Prairie Home Companions

Z 6:37 AM  

Easily double my usual Monday times @ 16 minutes, so glad to see the challenging rating.

Hand up for the legendary LaURA WLS. The "O" was, somewhat fittingly, my last letter in. Besides the bonus theme of TOOL, DRILL, and HAMMER, we get the bonus theme bonus answer MOUNTIE. We begin with LOU RAWLS on the stereo, but in the end we ROLL OVER.

Kevin 6:44 AM  

Surprised at the cross of DERNS and EDNA. I suppose the clue for DERNS was unavoidable, but the clue for EDNA really could have been brought down to a more Monday-esque difficulty level.

Also, will I ever remember how to spell Garrison Keillor's name? All signs point to no.

OTD 6:48 AM  

Loved all those names. Also some interesting fill, but for one who's Older Than Dirt, this modern music causes a lot of trouble. Have to get those through the crosses--or a good guess, thus BETH and RAE and LEEZA. Have heard of LOURAWLS, tho.

We received a STEUBEN vase as a wedding present. Still have it on the mantel. Very nice.

East-Medium for me.

Glimmerglass 7:43 AM  

Very unMonday. Loved it.

Anonymous 7:51 AM  

So glad to see 16 minutes. Never can figure how you folks finish so quickly

efrex 8:23 AM  

Yikes. Just yikes. Can live with the crooswordese, but not when they cross each other in multiple places (IDEST/INREM/DTS, ARAM/CAMPO, LOURAWLS/just-about-everywhere). Liked the theme a lot, liked the longer fill (although definitely more Wednesday level), only knew BETH because of "Glee" (don't you dare judge me), and slogged through with a bunch of guesses and one mistake (Who is this LAURA WLS person?)

Ah, well - I finished Sunday's puzzle in record time, so it's always nice to get a dose of humility early in the week, right?

joho 8:24 AM  

I enjoy a Monday that offers a little resistance as this one did. I also love that WHATATOOL got published!

I would have preferred that LOURAWLS was rocking out with The Beatles singing "ROLLOVER Beethhoven!" I balked at OBLA because I thought it was spelled oOBLA.

I liked it: thanks, Jaime Hutchisoon and Victor Fleming!

Adam 8:25 AM  

Ok, how exactly does "names" identifies a person? If identifies refers to the clue (as it should, no?) then how on earth can they get away with conjugating it in the singular?

(Also: If I repeat someones name, "Jack. You know, Jack Jack," that doesn't appear to identify anything at all.

It's mondays like this when I wonder if I've completely lost it.

Milford 8:27 AM  

Medium tough Monday, actually afraid I was going to DNF until I caught a couple errors: IN REs at first, and IDLEd, which was just sloppy. They gave me NAsES and dALES, which must have looked like words at a first Monday-glance. So, yes, about double my time here, too (18 min). I did like some of the longer downs, like DUMMY UP and ATE DIRT.

WHAT A TOOL is amusing and a little edgy, a phrase I've been known to use when someone is doing something dickish.

I now know that Tiffany, Chihuly, and STEUBEN all have 7 letters.

Hand up for thinking that one YAM at T-day dinner is a little sparse. Especially if it is a mislabeled sweet potato, which is likely the case.

dk 8:30 AM  

Hi Tobias!

Winter wonderland here in Western WI. ENTO messed me up and the rest just took a little longer than most Mondays. As i am spending my free time renovating TOOL is just a cigar as Freud never would have said.

** (2 Stars) kinda clunky like LOU's platform shoes.

loren muse smith 8:33 AM  

I’m used to struggling mightily with a Friday or Saturday, coming here and seeing that everyone found it “easy,” “medium,” “zippy,” and feeling a bit kicked in the shins.

So I was stunned to see the “challenging” rating I’m always hoping for later week. I blew through this one like nobody’s business and I’ve never even heard of the expression WHAT A TOOL. I was actually reminiscing about my pre-blog days when I didn’t even bother with Mon-Wed because they were too easy.

A 72 worder? Thanks for pointing that out, Rex. I couldn’t believe it and went back and counted. I guess those four corner triple sevens add up?! Plus the theme entries overlapped some. Cool.

My only hiccough was Syd before SID. I always do that. Thanks, Cyd Charisse.

As ACME said – lots of NAMES, but all gettable. I did notice ELLE crossing ESTELLE, SENAT, and all the Spanish and Latin. . .

@The Dude– thanks for the new word/concept, contronym. I’m going to have to chew on that one today.

@Adam – I took that to be “names names.”

I always parsed it in my mind O BLA.

I liked the ELFIN IMP and the LAB ROLLing OVER.

I echo @dk - Hi there, Tobias!

Thanks, Jaime and Vic. This was A SNAP for me somehow.

Tita 8:35 AM  

Hand up for raised eyebrow...

I sometimes say "useless TOOL". Similar to the German "schmuck", which means "adornment, decoration" - so, a useless item, unable to serve any real purpose.

@Adam - when he NAMENAMES, he is fingering people - identifying them...

I found it hard for Monday, but liked it. Got the theme one clue before reading the revealer. (I usually try to shun the revealer till bear the end - didn't expect it to be smack-dab in the middle.)

Thanks Mr. Hutchison.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

@adam....if you say "name names" aloud, it might conjure up the witch hunts in the 50s, when individuals were asked to testify as to the identities of fellow travelers. If you're looking for a more modern clue, it could have been something like "fingers perps." However, "names names" doesn't sound as good to the ear.

Tita 8:41 AM  

Forgot to click followups...

And woe for STEUBEN glass being sold then closed.

PAUL ReAN 8:45 AM  

Hands up for LaURA WLS.

Rob C 8:46 AM  

Fine Monday theme. Some nice zippy fill. And the low word count. All the proper nouns though... A few places where two names cross each other, which isn't ideal-can create naticks.

I agree with most here that a good cruncy Monday is a welcome treat. However, I wonder if a difficult Monday might turn off some newbies. Not that this is a bad puzzle, but it helps me to appreciate constructors like acme who can create cohesive Monday themes, while keeping the fill Monday-level and minimizing the use of proper nouns which could become a crutch to a constructor.

John V 8:51 AM  

For some of us, still stuck in the 60s, the revealer has to bring to mind Nancy's line in Firesign Theatre's, "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger", when she says, "Oh Nick, you're such a tool! He did it!

Good theme, challenging, as noted. Peeked over at xwordinfo; per @Rex, this is waaaay off the Monday chart. Every stat is Friday except for Scrabble Avg which is Saturday. Wow! NW and SE corners were a bit cramped, but all ended well. No mileage rating today, as I'm between projects and solving in front of the fire which, surprisingly, is actually more comfortable than the New Haven Railroad; who knew?

So, please raise your hand if you'll be at the Westport tourney on Saturday. Hand up here!

jberg 9:02 AM  

Speaking of TOOLs and YAMs, I once saw a museum exhibition about some Polynesian island where the men competed to see who could grow the longest . . . YAM. So sometimes a YAM is just a TOOL, I guess.

@Adam, if someone names NAMES he or she is ratting out his associates in crime (or whatever); probably the reason the Whitey Bulger trial here keeps getting delayed.

I did like the puzzle, although I thought the DUMMY UP clue was pretty obscure for a Monday. I didn't even see IN REM, though. And I don't think anyone would exclaim "I HAVE IT!" instead of "I've got it!"

Off to work ...

jberg 9:02 AM  

Speaking of TOOLs and YAMs, I once saw a museum exhibition about some Polynesian island where the men competed to see who could grow the longest . . . YAM. So sometimes a YAM is just a TOOL, I guess.

@Adam, if someone names NAMES he or she is ratting out his associates in crime (or whatever); probably the reason the Whitey Bulger trial here keeps getting delayed.

I did like the puzzle, although I thought the DUMMY UP clue was pretty obscure for a Monday. I didn't even see IN REM, though. And I don't think anyone would exclaim "I HAVE IT!" instead of "I've got it!"

Off to work ...

Susan McConnell 9:08 AM  

I'm with chefwen on this one. Easy...quick, few write-overs. Bing bang boom.

Dead Horse Beater 9:16 AM  

From the "Free Dictionary"

pe·ruser n.
Usage Note: Peruse has long meant "to read thoroughly" and is often used loosely when one could use the word read instead, as in The librarians checked to see which titles had been perused in the last month and which been left untouched. Seventy percent of the Usage Panel rejected this example in our 1999 survey. Sometimes people use it to mean "to glance over, skim," as in I only had a moment to peruse the manual quickly, but this usage is widely considered an error. In a 1988 survey, 66 percent of the Panel found it unacceptable, and in 1999, 58 percent still rejected it.

chefbea 9:24 AM  

Agree with y'all. Tough for a monday but did finally finish. Lots of names I never heard of.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Rex, the posting of your time to complete the puzzle is as a very good enhancement to your blog. Please continue with this new tradition even on the rare cases when you DNF.
To the mortals among us it gives us a metric on how far we are from the pros.

B Donohue 9:39 AM  

Long Monday time, with completion requiring many crosses. That said, I found the process and the answers today very enjoyable and enlightening.

1 wrong tile with EsEK crossing LEEsA. That is just plain lazy of me, though it made me look up the Book of Ezekiel.

lawprof 10:24 AM  

Today seemed easy (only one writeover: browSE/PERUSE) but slow nevertheless. Does that make any sense at all?

The revealer was slow coming around, as I wanted WHATAfOOL, but the crossing wouldn't work, so I didn't catch the theme until I finished the grid.

Ended up with one error, just like @ B Donohue at the LEEsa/EsEK crossing. Gotta agree - sheer laziness on my part.

jackj 10:26 AM  

WHATATOOL!

Will’s apparent delight in giving us these double entendres isn’t a problem, it just seems to create a tension that brings nothing to the party except the nervous giggles of the more straight-laced among us.

(Playing in the same sand box, to quote Rex, “in fact, it didn't *feel* that hard” and it did seem rather flaccid to this solver, also).

The puzzle took an old-fashioned “vanilla” theme, looking for two word entries that ended with familiar carpenter’s TOOL(s), and gussied it up with aggressive entries like OBLA, LEEZA, EZEK, ARAM, CAMPO, INREM, SENAT, REBOXES, IDEST, NOL, etc, etc, etc, the result being akin to someone playing with a police Identi-Kit and adding a host of wacky features to an otherwise unremarkable generic face, creating a surrealistic wonderment.

STEUBEN was a reminder that a buy-out group that acquired the art glass maker a couple of years ago has closed the company’s doors and it is no more, leaving modern day art glass creations largely in the domain of artistic genius Dale Chihuly, he whose work greets one in the courtyard of Boston’s MFA with a spectacular 42 foot tall “Lime Green Icicle Tower”, for example.

Looking at the puzzle from an early-week solver’s POV, it seems much too ambitious for a Monday level presentation.

Two Ponies 10:31 AM  

Nice crunchy Monday with a great reveal. @Rex is right about some of the fill. I suppose Judge Fleming doesn't bat an eye at "words" like in rem but things like that are alphabet soup to me.
@John V, Thanks for the FST memory.

mac 11:00 AM  

Nice and crunchy to me, too, but no major hold-ups. Interesting words.

We're getting a nice group together after the Westport CWP tournament on Saturday. We start partying at my house, then on to the Southport Brewing Company. Their phone nr. ends in 2337!

chefbea 11:09 AM  

@Mac @ JohnV etal sorry I wont be there. Have fun and be sure to take lots of fotos

Notsofast 11:14 AM  

Fun. Easy. And it stretched my mind a little bit; which is good for a Monday. Nice work. A

Confused in a trailer park in Appalachia 11:23 AM  

I was left with one blank square, the cross between Spanish for Countryside and the name for Syria in biblical times. Left without a metaphorical clue.

I took one look at the countryside outside my house, and chose 'U'. It made the most sense with the countryside clue.

I hate it when my real-life experience is of no use and is, in fact, contra-indicated as a basis of understanding the rest of the world.

Sfingi 11:48 AM  

Had PRimary before PRETEEN, tHAts IT, before I HAVE IT.

Didn't know BETH. Can't stand Kiss. Anyone hear their interview by Terry Gross on NPR. Disgusting.

Speaking of NPR, Garrison KEILLOR made up his first name.

IMO, MOUNTIE is an abrev. of Mounted Police. But, there I go again.

For Friday - Art glass = Lalique.

@Dude - Thanx for "contronym."

"EZEKIEL saw the wheel way up in the middle of the air. A wheel in a wheel, way in the middle of the air." Lots of kids named Zeke, these days.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:56 AM  

Random musing, re 5D, Judged = DEEMED: It was due to an unfortunate incident involving an acquaintance of a friend of a friend that I learned that a Deemster is a judge in the Isle of Man.

chefbea 11:57 AM  

Surprised that we don't have a picture of Tim, the tool man!!!!

Airymom 12:15 PM  

So...last week we had "a hard man is good to find" and today "what a tool." The first time I heard "what a tool" (about a year ago), I asked my 18 year old son what it meant. "Uh, Mom, it means, 'what a dick.'" Okay, maybe I'm sorry I asked.

As we say at summer camp, "maybe these constructors need more flashlight time."

Sparky 12:28 PM  

Disco Dan before STU. Not a big Simpsons watcher. Saw WHATATOOL in Amy's write up by accident when I went over there yesterday evening. How come she puts the results up so early? I think it was before 9:30.

Finished in 12 miutes. I average 9 to 14 on Mondays. Really enjoyed it, so thanks Jamie and Victor.

Can't believe Steuben is closed. Harry Truman gave Steuben to Princess Elizabeth on her wedding. It was one of the finest American made products.

Me too on Hi @Tobias. @Ellen S: the operation helps but I still have to remember to plug in my brain.

MikeM 12:40 PM  

Wrote over aiL with ILL, but no problem at all with the puzzle. I thought it was easy. The Lou Rawls tune is a song everyone should know. In my circle of the world "WHAT A TOOL" only means one thing and I was surprised it got in the NYTs. Thanks Jaime and Victor

Anoa Bob 1:13 PM  

I've never used or heard used the expression WHAT A TOOL. I think the only place I've seen TOOL used like this was in another crossword puzzle clued as "What a ___" (putdown).

I thought it had a subtler meaning than dick or prick, something along the lines of "You're such a DUMMY that you don't see how others are using you as a TOOL to accomplish their purposes."

I'm disappointed to find that it's no more than just a lowbrow expression, using one of the 742 slang terms, albeit a rather tame if bland and uninteresting one, for the penis.

I'm no prude, having done four years of advanced graduate work in profanity and vulgarisms (hitch in the Navy), but I'm surprised that a phrase built around a slang word for penis would qualify as the central/reveal theme entry in a NYT puzz.

Then again it does open the door for 741 more puzzle themes. What's next? COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO?

Carola 1:23 PM  

@The Dude - Thanks for "contronym" - sent me off to PERUSE a bunch of websites and lists. Interesting!

John V 1:27 PM  

FWIW, in my experience, "What a tool" never meant penis, but rather someone who got "used" in a situation; c.f. my Firesign Theater reference earlier.

Just curious if this is Jaime Hutchinson's debut, as no pic or stats on xwordinfo about Jaime.

quilter1 1:32 PM  

Surprised at the challenging rating as I zipped right through. Different strokes I guess.

Z 1:34 PM  

FWIW - The Urban Dictionary lists "One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used," as the first definition for TOOL. The baser definition comes in fourth.

Bird 1:35 PM  

This one was good and I like the theme. It’s got some zippy fill as well as some stale fill, but overall was a good solve.

I’m shocked as to the number of comments by people who don’t know who LOU RAWLS is.

I too don’t care for the singular YAM as a side. I always say, “Please pass the YAMs.” It’s like saying we are having meatloaf with pea and carrot.

I always thought OP-ED was shorthand for Editor’s Opinion, which made me wonder why “opinion” was in the clue for 34A.

Naticked at 62A/44D. I had KEILLeR/NeL and never looked back.

Nameless 1:37 PM  

So . . .

Is 35A a shout-out to someone here with a webbed avatar?

PAUL ReAN 1:41 PM  

@Bird - I don't think that it is that people did not know LOU RAWLS. Rather, I think LAURA WLS is another "PAUL ReAN."

Tita 1:50 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Your 4 years advanced graduate work has me LOLing.

I guess I have a similar degree...
Only mine was earned at Wang Laboratories.
One develops a thick skin and a good/twisted sense of humor working for a company named Wang!

There, we always accompanied TOOL with the adjective "Useless", removing all ambiguity.

Maybe "High tech computer company founded by An ___, or a hint to this puzzle's theme" could be the revealer for hte puzzle you are plotting...

Hey - another idea for a theme is rearing its ugly head...
Men's names whos favorite body part is contained within:
PETERO'TOOLE (double whammy!), , Chuck KNOBlauch, COCKburn (of Porto fame).
Others alas, not so famous - but while at Wang I knew 2 guys - one's last name was Sprick, the other Zwang. Really.
Hmm...there is an awful lot of synonyms that simply ARE men's names...those wouldn't count...

Bird 2:30 PM  

@PAUL ReAN - Maybe, but PAUL ReAN is much more believable than LAURA WLS. I would have stared at that WLS and fought long and hard before giving up and leaving it in place.

In your case, CHOCOLATe/ReAN was easy to accept, even if we doubted for just a split second, that it was correct.

Then again LOU RAWLS is a gimme because I have a couple of his songs on my iPod.

Lewis 2:49 PM  

I'm with you @acme -- I had fun with it, it felt good to do, ergo it was a good puzzle. And thank you Jaime.

But not a good puzzle for someone just trying crossword puzzles out, as the Monday puzzle is supposed to be. For that person, it would be discouraging.

But excuse me, I need to go into the kitchen to prepare the family yam.

retired_chemist 3:31 PM  

Surprised @Rex did not know Steuben from its proximity to him. 1 hr 6 min on NY 17.

TOOL, when I was an undergraduate. referred humorously to "a TOOL of the Institute," basically one who was forced by the Institute to "TOOL", which meant to study constantly. OK, a bit personal, but it still led me to reject the correct answer at first for the alternative putdown, "WHAT A FOOL."

Probably tougher than the usual Monday - I was about 20% over what is a good Monday time for me. A few easily corrected writeovers. I SEE NOW @ 52A was the most interesting.

LEEZA Gibbons was a Dallas local ages ago, so I knew that right off. Carly RAE Jepsen - pulled that out of deep background but turned out to be right.

Not sure that many people read Mickey Spillane anymore but he was big when I was younger. I still remember the line, risqué for the time,"She was a real blonde" from that book.

Thanks, constructors Hutchison and Fleming.



MarkK 3:34 PM  

After being severely beat up by Sunday's puzzle which so many of you found facile, (DNF for me - I couldn't pick up on the theme while solving on an iphone), I came to today's puzzle hoping for an easy Monday win. Much more challenging (ESTAS, ARAM and STEUBEN) than I was looking for but still did it in 11m. If this is Monday, I'm almost already throwing in the towel thinking about what Saturday will bring.

(First time poster here - is posting your time bad form?)

the redanman 3:52 PM  

Harder than average Monday unless you are a total insider puzzle geek. Whatever. Ugly fill did nothing for me, full finish to quell naysayers

joho 3:55 PM  

Welcome, @MarkK! Not everyone here is a speed solver. I would imagine those who are would be interested in seeing times. Someone recently commented that by adding his time to his blog, @Rex has made an improvement (if that's even possible!) It certainly wouldn't be bad form.

sanfranman59 4:27 PM  

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

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

Mon 8:08, 6:12, 1.31, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:48, 3:39, 1.32, 100%, Challenging (highest ratio of 163 Mondays)

This one is definitely an unusually challenging Monday by the numbers. These median solve times would place it in the Easy-Medium Tuesday range.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

loved disco stu....didn't know this was challenging til i came here.while i'd llike that to be the case on a friday, i'll take it anyday!

MetaRex 4:58 PM  

Hand up here for Westport...thx @John V. and @mac for the heads-up on the event.

mac 5:22 PM  

@MetaRex: are you sticking around for dinner?

Tita 5:39 PM  

Will be great to see everyone at Westport.
Anyone else going?
Looking forward to meeting you, Metarex, and to seeing the others again.

John V 6:47 PM  

@MetaRex Looking forward to meeting you. I never met a rex I didn't like.

Sorry. I'll leave now.

michael 7:19 PM  

I'm reassured that this was a challenging Monday for others. I went at this at about Wednesday speed and make a mistake, which rarely happens on Monday.

Of course, if I had thought about it at all, I would have realized that Disco Btu was an unlikely name -- Disco British Thermal Unit.....and blip

joho 8:43 PM  

I'm so bummed not to be in Westport. My annual trade show got in the way. Hopefully next year.

John V 8:53 PM  

@joho We will miss you.

JenCT 8:59 PM  

@Sparky: hand up for Disco DAN before STU.

Knew LOU RAWLS right away; that song is such a Lounge Lizard-type song! I can just see Bill Murray singing that on SNL (I don't know whether he did or not, but it seems like a song Nick Winters would sing.)

I'll have to look up Westport & see how far it is...

@Tita 1:50: LOL

chefwen 9:22 PM  

@bird - I believe OP ED means opposite from the editorial page.

Sparky 10:35 PM  

Welcome @MarkK. I seldom mention my time since I am a slowpoke but it seemed appropriate today.

Drat, I wish I were up there freezing my tusshie off so I could join you all at Westport. Really, I would love being there.

@Jen: you 89 miles, me 1334. Have fun.

sanfranman59 12:11 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 8:03, 6:12, 1.30, 99%, Challenging (2nd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:32, 3:39, 1.24, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 163 Mondays)

fruitypants 3:13 PM  

John V- Yes, this was my first puzzle! Unfortunately I was on the train moving across the country yesterday so I haven't actually seen the puzzle in print yet.

All- I appreciate the comments, thanks!

Jaime (female scientist newly relocated to Austin, TX)

OISK 8:13 PM  

I don't normally comment the next day, but had to , just for the record, say that this is the all-time worst Monday puzzle for me. I actually missed a square. I don't speak Spanish - 2 clues. I never heard of Leeza anyone, or anything ever sung by Kiss, or Carly Rae, I don't watch the Simpsons. I would have still disliked this puzzle as much on a Tuesday or Wednesday, but would have been less ashamed of my error.

Spacecraft 11:38 AM  

Astounding. In one line, OFL rates this "challenging (3:52)." What then if it was easy? Instantaneous?? You speeders live in a different world, that's for sure. How's your blood pressure?

Anyway, I liked this one. Rather than complain about low word count, I think it's a cool achievement to stack triple sevens in all four corners--and have it appear on a Monday! Kudos to the team!

First thing that went in was OBLA, because I'm a fan of those BLOKEs. On the other hand, BETH was forced in on crosses. I'm just trying to picture the NYP playing accompaniment to Kiss. That must've been a hoot.

Last thing that went in was OPED. I thought it couldn't be that because the clue mentions opinion, and that's what the OP stands for. Isn't that some kind of infraction? Oh: there it goes: flag on the play! This one's coming back.

I saw two bleedovers from the Sunday puzzles, but then again I get three of 'em in my paper. I remember doing both ESTELLE and OXIDE yesterday. Might have been the Liz Gorsky puz.

I'll leave you with a final ONELINEr: If a BLOKE packs certain shoes again for shipping, does he REBOX Reeboks?

Bob Kerfuffle 11:50 AM  

@Spacecraft - I believe OPED stands for "OPposite [the] EDitorial page.

DMGrandma 2:00 PM  

I finished, but it was a bit of a slog. I think EDNA and ESTELLE were the only two names I knew going in, so the rest had to come from crosses and guesses (RAE?), but they did until I got to LOURA/WLS? ENTO had to be ENTO, so what else was wrong? It took way too long for the marble to,drop as Mr. Rawls is actually a name I know. Not the song, just the name!

I don't think I've ever heard someone say WHATATOOL, but if I did, i would think it meant someone is a sap without any risqué connotations. In the long run, I think ones experience with this puzzle was pretty generational, and being pre-Beatle slowed me down, but not out.

rain forest 2:07 PM  

I found it easy but refreshingly different for a Monday, which is good in my opinion. In my lexicon, the expression is "what a useless tool", ie, no reference to a penis, and even if it is, does it matter? Heck, we've had Paul Ryan in a puzzle (same metaphor). I too always thought that the OP of OPED meant "opinion". Thanks @ Bob K.

Dirigonzo 5:35 PM  

I sat across the room while PP tackled this, offering moral support and the occasional hint. I could tell from her muttering that it was more difficult than a typical Monday - her only real hang-up came in accepting TOOL as a derogatory term. I work in a hardware store so I explained the difference between the tools we sell and the TOOLS (only a few of our customers) who buy them.

Anonyrat 5:42 AM  

There once was a man from Ghent
Whose TOOL was so long that it bent
To save himself trouble
He put it in double
And instead of coming, he went

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