Seemingly mad Muslim monk / MON 7-8-13 / Jacob's father in law in Bible / Midpoint between midi and mini / Filmmaking brother Joe Ethan

Monday, July 8, 2013

Constructor: Randy Sowell

Relative difficulty: Easiest Monday of All Time



THEME: Turn turn turn — three theme answers begin with a synonym of "turning"

Theme answers:
  • REVOLVING DOOR (20A: Job position in which no one lasts long)
  • WHIRLING DERVISH (37A: Seemingly mad Muslim monk)
  • SPINNING WHEEL (49A: Yarn-making device)

Word of the Day: LABAN (38D: Jacob's father-in-law, in the Bible) —
Laban (HebrewלָבָןModern Lavan Tiberian Lāḇān ; "White") is the son of Bethuel, brother of Rebekah as described in the Book of Genesis. As such he is brother-in-law to Isaac and both father-in-law and uncle to Jacob. Laban and his family were described as dwelling in Paddan Aram, in Mesopotamia. Though the biblical text itself does not attest to this, Rabbinic sources also identify him as the father of Bilhah and Zilpah, the two concubines with whom Jacob also has children (Midrash Raba, Genesis 74:13 and elsewhere). (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow. 2:15. That's how long this took me to solve. That shatters my previous NYT record (of 2:36, I think), and I did it on Three Wines! Three Glasses To The Wind! Either a sober me would've broken 2 minutes, or 3 (wines) is the magic number (of wines). Hard to talk about a puzzle that I barely saw, but I'll try. The puzzle isn't bad so much as not really there. Theme seems very, very thin, not just in terms of real estate covered, but in terms of concept. Not much there. Fill is industry standard. Out of some textbook. Clue on REVOLVING DOOR is perhaps the most interesting thing about the puzzle, but I never saw it (seriously—I was on fire; what the hell is in this wine?). I did light up briefly upon hitting VONNEGUT (a very nice bit of fill) (39D: "Slaughterhouse-Five" novelist), but otherwise this puzzle just ... disappeared.


Here's what I remember: I got "hung up" at LABAN, largely because of spelling failure (I went with LEBAN, an error that ATTLEE (41A: British P.M. after Churchill) helped me easily clean up), and again at ZERO IN (10D: Take close aim), mainly because I had only the "IN" and thought it could be "HOME"—but ZACH took care of that problem (though ZACH had his own problem—K or H?: I guessed correctly). Today I encountered Adam Arkin in a puzzle (full name). He is Alan ARKIN's son. I think. Let me check. Yes. He was clued as an Emmy-nominated "Chicago Hope" actor. So [Actor Arkin] in four letters could be two people—just remember that; it'll probably be useful someday, some way.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    77 comments:

    jae 12:07 AM  

    Medium for me. Very smooth grid with a few nice long downs...VONNEGUT, ZERO IN, SURVIVOR...and a ho-hum theme.  So,just fine for a Mon.

    Only erasure was Scent for SMELL.

    WOE: LABAN

    Stuff I only know from crosswords: ENZO,  ATTLEE, PERE, ELHI, UGLI which is actually a pretty short list. 

    Liked it.

    Anonymous 12:11 AM  

    No record, but very fast up to the BARA / LABAN cross, which is most definitely not a Monday cross and will probably claim some victims. That it has to be a vowel will likely save a lot of people, but simply out of luck. I had to take a minute assure myself that BARA was correct. Haven't seen it in a while. Monday level solvers won't know it at all.

    Matty 12:54 AM  

    Easy-ish for sure. Didn't glean the theme until after but thought that it was simply "gerunds". Wrong! "Turning" is more apt. Especially considering the puzzle was solved not on three glasses of wine but on two glasses of whiskey. LABAN / BARA was a blind guess. Cheers solvers!

    syndy 1:05 AM  

    This is what happens when people carp about "crosswordese" in their puzzles! THEDA BARA is one of the Grand Old Dames of crosswordese! How are newbies going to learn? Googling may be considered cheating but nothing stops you from LOOKING it up afterwards..Who was Clement ATTLEE? What did he do? Smooth clean well constructed puzzle. I'd vote for 3 being the magic number just like the holy hand grenade of Antioch.

    retired_chemist 2:27 AM  

    You are talking about answers I saw only about half of. I must have solved - the ones I didn't see by all crosses. Near-record Monday time here. Since my time is about where I expected it to be on the NYT Scorecard, I'm thinking most found it as easy as I did.

    Had ZACk G. but since kIT made no sense @ 13D it was easily fixed. Ditto tHEX mix (from the dog command, "SIt!") Little erroneous word ladder there: kIT-HIT-SIt-SIC.

    No bite. On to Tuesday.

    Attlee Coen Miros 2:34 AM  

    I think @Rex got a bit lucky bec there were a TON of names and I'll bet there were tons of Monday solvers who would not know:
    BARA, LABAN, ATTLEE, ENZO, how to spell ZACH, COEN without the H, VONNEGUT and zero idea who EPPS is.
    That is my theory.

    With almost 20 proper names, ou are going to catch a lot of folks...
    I love names, but struggled having never heard of LABAN nor know who ATTLEE was.
    But the crosses were more than fair...and I liked the energy of REVOLVING, WHIRLING, SPINNING...
    TWIRLING BATON has only 13 letters, so three has become the new old three.

    "Funny Degeneres", however, is more an opinion than a fact!

    With pere/fils ARKINS on the horizon, I think we should also note that a distant cousin of Kurt's, ie NORB Vonnegut, has written three bestsellers of the new financial world/murder thriller genre.
    (As he's an old friend, I look forward to sneaking him into a puzzle when he has his next bestseller!)

    Oh yes, I also stumbled on SIt/tHEX. THEX??? oooooh SIC! Do you say SIC to a dog, or SIC 'EM? And who SICs their dogs on people these days?! Don't answer that, pls.

    acme 2:40 AM  

    ps The film "Slaughterhouse Five" was in part filmed at my highschool in Minneapolis when the director George Roy Hill needed a stand-in for Siberia!!!
    @Rex, You might want to factor that info in to your Oregon vs Minnesota relocation debate...

    John Child 2:51 AM  

    @acm 17 proper names is almost 25% of the puzzle. That shouldn't have passed muster -- names are trivia, not word play or brain stretchers. Trivial Pursuit is a fine game, but I don't want to play it in my crosswords.

    Sandstress 3:14 AM  

    @ John Child and @Atlee Coen Miros:
    Omg SO many names: EPPS, MAGOO, ZACH, KERR, ELLEN, ARKIN, BARA, AGNEW, ENZO, ATTLEE, COEN, LABAN, VONNEGUT, OATES, TSE, IMAN, KONG. And I probably missed a couple.

    You'd think with that kind of momentum GENE would have been clued as a name too...(Simmons, Hackman, Wilder? Anyone?)

    Interesting group of brand names and proper nouns too: MIG, UZIS, NATO, SURVIVOR, NOOK, CHEX--is it me or is there an UGLI apocalyptic undertone here?

    I did like the theme fills though- WHIRLINGDERVISH is such a dishy mouthful, both visually and audibly, and SPINNINGWHEEL was the hit track of the first LP album I owned (Blood Sweat & Tears). I was all of 8 years old, so the fact that the wheel in the song was in reference to some Dharmic/psychedelic circular existence and not actual yarn-making was definitely over my head at the time (maybe still is?)

    Anonymous 3:24 AM  

    After 8 beers, a bottle of wine (shared), and a sizable chunk of lasagna, I finished in about 8 minutes or so, decent for someone like myself.

    Laban threw me for a bit as that always meant yogurt to me, but it turned out someone was really named that.

    Eejit 3:24 AM  

    After 8 beers, a bottle of wine (shared), and a sizable chunk of lasagna, I finished in about 8 minutes or so, decent for someone like myself.

    Laban threw me for a bit as that always meant yogurt to me, but it turned out someone was really named that.

    Eejit 3:32 AM  

    Oops, excuse the DP, not sure how that happened.

    chefwen 3:39 AM  

    Easy, easy, Monday. Only write-over was scent before SMELL @jae - we seem to do that a lot. Similar minds etal. Never even saw LABAN, had I, don't think I would have known that. Not too up on my Bible studies.

    I always want to spell THEDA BARA as BeRA, APRON fixed that error.

    There is not way in Hell that I'm going to read that capcha, going to have to cycle through a few more.

    Ellen S 4:46 AM  

    @chefwen, just remember THEDA BARA is an anagram of Arab Death. She was born Theodosia Burr Goodman, July 29, 1885, Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father was a Jewish tailor from Poland. Not romantic enough for a movie star.

    All easy here. I had an extra glass of wine tonight; maybe that helped.

    Glimmerglass 6:42 AM  

    Super easy puzzle. However, the clue for WHIRLING DERVISH could not be more ignorant.
    Whirling dervishes" are neither monks nor "seemingly mad." They are members of the Mevlevi Order of Islam, a very peaceful and tolerant sect, something like modern Sufis. "Dervish" means a practitioner, a follower of a religion. They are ordinary citizens, shopkeepers, policemen, plumbers, electricians.

    loren muse smith 6:49 AM  

    What a timely theme, as I’ve been running around in circles trying to get my house sold, daughter off to college, and wedding ceremonies carried off with no hitch. Well, I guess actually with one hitch. ;- )
    Funny– when I was kicking around a puzzle idea, I happened upon the trio twirl (hi, Acme), swirl, whirl. Language is so cool. Who KNOWS why. A sort of linguistic onomatopoeia? (Hi, Pannonica.) Stemming from one seed?

    I keep parsing words in the northeast wrong – “ALION, ZEROIN. . .grab that CHORD and HIT ZACH before there’s a RIOT in ChapEL HIll.”

    I always carelessly choose the wrong word with CITE/site, peek/peak, roll/role. Every single time.

    Okay – I am really not making this up – this past Saturday my intern and I were sitting in my office waiting for a wedding reception to end (meaning that we were waiting for all the remaining guests to form a circle, wrap their arms around each other, sway, and sing “Country Roads” to the ceiling at the top of their lungs. Why do they *always* sing to the ceiling?) We currently have some kind of GNAT issue at our club, and she and I were being Ninja Event Planners, snatching them out of the air with our bare hands. (I’m better than she is.) I said, “This is too easy. These are OBESE GNATs.” And they are. They’re sluggish, lazy, fat GNATs who, if human, would drive the motorized carts at Walmart rather than walk. (And yes, I’m being judgmental; I’ve seen too many people, including a married couple, each in his own individual cart, stand up at check-out, perfectly capable of walking. I’ve seen them walk to their cars with no problem.

    I’m pretty sure in an older version of English, APRON used to be “napron,” and over the years, we started parsing it wrong to go from

    “a napron” to “an apron”

    That incorrect parsing phenomenon is happening right now, literally as we speak, but it’s kind of backwards from the APRON one. We’re creating this new word, “nother,” (found already in some online dictionaries) when we say, “…a whole ‘nother story". . . We’re parsing the word another incorrectly - “a nother” instead of “an other.” How cool is that?

    O MAN I’m late. Gotta go! Nice puzzle, Randy!

    Kris in ABCA 6:52 AM  

    Very fast for me, too. A near record Monday. Took me a bit to recall LABAN ftom my bible study days, but the crosses helped. WHIRLINGDERVISH and REVOLVINGDOOR are fresh and fun. I love John Hiatt's "Slow Turning" - good choice, Rex.

    Paul Keller 7:23 AM  

    Average Monday for me. For whatever reason, I never heard the name Iman before. I had to guess at both BARA-TABAN and IMAN-OMANI crossings.

    Bob Kerfuffle 7:34 AM  

    Apologies to @Sandstress, but as soon as the answer appeared, I knew I would post a link to Spinning Wheel. (Funny, it sounded better in my memory.)

    Z 7:36 AM  

    It must be the wine, because BARA/LABAN takes this out of the "Easiest" column and moves it to at least medium. Toss in all the other names and I'm sure some will struggle.

    I did pause at 37A. Thanks @Glimmerglass for the explanation, I thought they were Sufis. The "monk" part of the clue struck me as off. That's two days in a row with clues that are --- hmmm --- parochial, at least more parochial than I've come to expect from the NYT crossword puzzle. Not really offensive, more like obese GNATs buzzing around.

    Anonymous 7:37 AM  

    +1!

    leah712 7:39 AM  

    My all-time fastest solve of a NYT crossword.

    Being named Leah, the whole Laban story has an unhappy resonance for me--he's the father who foisted his ugly daughter Leah on Jacob, who thought he was getting the beautiful Rachel and ended up having to work another 7 years for the one he wanted.

    Z 7:46 AM  

    @Paul Keller - yep. Iman did most of her modeling work in the 80's. At some point she married David Bowie and hasn't been in the public eye as much since. She's probably the last super model I could name. Well, Kate Upton but only because she was linked with a Tiger baseball player for a year. At any rate, another potential Natick.

    Luke 7:52 AM  

    And here it was one of my slowest Mondays ever. I didn't know LABAN or BARA, so I guessed O, then A, then I, then U, then Y, then E (with a bunch of rigmarole to attempt submission each time), then realized I'd miskeyed LIEU as LUEU. Fixed that and started the process over...
    In all, the fixing of the puzzle took 50% as long as completing the entire rest of it.

    Milford 8:09 AM  

    Just an average, fast Monday. Nice and scrabbly, I thought. And luckily RUHR was all by crosses, because I would have had trouble with it. I

    guess I know a lot of these names. Theda BARA I know from often looking through a "LIFE Goes To The Movies" photo book my dad had. She was in the vamp section.

    We have a Spain 1982 World Cup poster designed by MIRÓ that I love.

    @JenCT - congrats on your new dog! Her markings are so cool.

    jberg 8:27 AM  

    Wow! @Rex, was that three glasses or three bottles? Brillian blogging, anyway!

    I'm with @Glimmerglass; the sect in question does dance, I believe, as a form of meditation -- but it's a slow turning, nothing that would seem mad. And so far as I know, there is no such thing as a Muslim monk.

    Whoever asked about Clement ATTLEE: he was the first Labour Prime Minister of Britain, during whose term of office the National Health Service was created, among other things. A BFD at the time. (But then, Theda BARA was pretty famous, too!)

    jackj 8:46 AM  

    “Holy waltzing windmills, Batman, maybe we should have taken a test spin before putting this one in the rotation!”

    NYer 8:59 AM  

    Fastest Monday ever for me. I would've finished more quickly had I not held on too long to SIt, like @acme. The names did not bother me, except perhaps Laban and Attlee, which I got from the crosses. Almost didn't need the "down" clues.

    Rob C 9:09 AM  

    Agree with the very easy rating. What struck me about this puzzle:
    -Only 3 theme answers and 44 blocks.
    -Other than the themers, only 2 answers over 6 letters.
    -Lots of proper names

    The LABAN BARA (and possibly ATTLEE BARA) crossing is your classic nattick. Anyone not well versed in crosswordese could easily get hung up.

    There was a puzzle with the same 3 theme answers in 1999. Fair game for a sequel.

    @Glimmerglass - I took the "seemingly mad" clue for WHIRLING DERVISHES as if the whirling dance were done by the monks they'd seem mad. Not sure that makes sense but it allows me to reconcile the clue and answer to myself.

    quilter1 9:13 AM  

    So easy. I would have explained LABAN's story but @leah712 beat me to it. Theda is indeed very traditional crosswordese and completely fair. The Hangover guy was hard for me, but doable with the crosses.

    chefbea 9:33 AM  

    Still have a half a bowl of cereal to finish...puzzle too easy.

    Like the shout out to me and chef wen.!!!

    Sandy K 10:36 AM  

    SHUCKs, this was easy. TORE thru it in minutes...only 3 theme answers and their weird clues was what HIT me.

    Had some good fill- VONNEGUT being the best. Noticed a mini TV show theme- SURVIVOR, IDOL, WHEEL, ELLEN (sorry, Acme!)

    When supermodels have been thru the REVOLVING DOOR and are no longer being OGLEd, they show up on QVC or HSN selling their wares. IMAN and Twiggy can be seen regularly on HSN.

    Susan McConnell 11:11 AM  

    Mondayest Monday puzzle I've seen.

    Laban is a pretty well-known Genesis character, so there must be a lot of disappointed religious ed teachers reading these comments!

    Forgot who said it but yup, this is the kind of puzzle where you finish and realize you probably haven't seen half of the clues.

    OISK 12:03 PM  

    Not so easy for me. Just too many unfamiliar pop culture names. Epps, (have heard of) Iman,??? Zach???, and the Sic - Chex cross. Could THEX be correct? Maybe there is a product called "THEX." Certainly "Sit" is a better answer for "command to a dog" than "Sic". As others have said, the command is "Sic-em." I also never heard of "Chex mix", which must be a "staple" at other people's parties. Kept changing my mind, and finally decided that "Sic" could not be right. That gives me an official DNF on a Monday. ( 6 minutes, not especially fast for me) That makes three days out of the last four, after 4 perfect weeks. Maybe it's the weather...

    John V 12:27 PM  

    The proper names were off-putting and had me nervous for a moment, but the crosses were fine, even for LABAN, which sort of took my breath away.

    In the end, an easy Monday, even if forced to be a sober solver; hate when that happens.

    Carola 12:32 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Carola 12:34 PM  

    Thought it was a fine Monday. Liked the REVOLVING DOOR clue and WHIRLING DERVISH as an entry (@Glimmerglass - Thank you for the explanation.) After being crossword-mauled on Friday and Saturday and another DNF yesterday, it was nice to be a SURVIVOR today. A rare day when I knew all of the names, needing no crosses. @leah 712 - Thank you for reminding me why I had vague "bad guy" associations with LABAN from my childhood Bible-study days.

    Liked CANINE next to SIC.

    @acme, @John Child and @Sandstress - I also counted names. Besides the "hidden" GENE, there's also IRIS (e.g., "Novelist Murdoch").

    @jae - I thought of "stuff I only know from crosswords" right away on 1A - Omar EPPS, whom I think of as a crossword pal with ESAI Morales.

    @eejit - I think it's an anagram of LABAN - labna.

    Gill I. P. 1:12 PM  

    Hmmm. Couldn't even come up with a good story. I did ZERO IN on the SIC LAIR CANINE TORE UZIS MIG A LION and SURVIVOR but nothing really struck a CHORD.
    Too many proper names for a Monday.
    @jenCT I'm so happy for you and Justice. What a great name for a beautiful dog and owner....

    Anoa Bob 1:47 PM  

    With only three theme entries occupying just 41 squares, not sure why there are 44 black squares (36-38 is the norm for themed puzzles). Is that a record for the most black squares in a 15X15?

    Maybe they were needed to get all those names in the grid. Ha! John Child's remark @2:15 about the difference between a puzzle and a game of trivial pursuit is spot on.

    Liked WHIRLING DERVISH. I did a puzz in 2010 around the same theme with TWIRLING TEA CUP (think Disneyland ride) as the central grid spanner. It was rejected. [mumble, mumble, grumble]





    Lewis 2:16 PM  

    @acme -- hand up for SIt and tHEX
    @jackj -- very funny

    I'm not very well up on pop culture, but I still knew the names except for the LABAN/BARA Natick. (Guessed right.) It did go quickly for me, just reinforced a lot of things that I knew. While no challenge for me, probably quite perfect for a crossword newbie, which is what I understand Monday is about. That newbie will have quite a come-uppance on a typical Tuesday and certainly Wednesday.

    dk 3:02 PM  

    ���� (2 Ants) 2 Easy. 2 Monday. 2oodles off 2 work,

    retired_chemist 3:12 PM  

    I didn't even notice all the names because I knew so many of them. Many from crosswords alone, of course but a lot are really in the language IMO: MAGOO, KERR, ELLEN, ATTLEE (if you are of a certain age and interested in history/politics), AGNEW (ditto), OATES, MIRO, COEN, ARKIN. Your lists may differ.

    Anonymous 3:20 PM  

    Agreed that this is the easiest puzzle of all time. Only slight unknown for me was LABAN crossing BARA.

    ileen 3:54 PM  

    I had SIt & THEX as well. I thought maybe The X Mix was some dance tape I'm not hip enough to know.

    LaneB 3:56 PM  

    Knew all the names except Laban, so it was easy even for us neophytes. However I did use SIT for the dog command leaving me with THEX to feed to my guests. Had never heard of Thex, but am not too current on breakfast foods either. I suppose that puts this otherwise nice puzzle into the DNF category. What shame!

    @lms Enjoyed your essay. Busy, busy, busy!

    sanfranman59 4:21 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 (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

    Mon 5:32, 6:09, 0.90, 9%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:19, 3:46, 0.88, 3%, Easy

    Sfingi 4:21 PM  

    Dizzifying, but still a Mon. puzzle. Proper names didn't bother me. A word is a word, a noun is a noun.

    Had SIt before SIC.

    After finishing, had to look up PRNDL to find out what the heck.

    R. McGeddon 4:46 PM  

    Loren,

    You're right about (n)ap(e)ron.The original word is related to napkin.

    Similarly but the other way around, the French word tante was originally ante but probably got the t tacked on from the phrase "ta ante" ("your aunt").

    jae 5:40 PM  

    @chefwen -- Me too for BeRA fixed by APRON...how about that? I have memories of my grandparents talking about early film stars and mentioning Theda BARA. If she had been an "only from crosswords" for me I don't think I would have made the initial spelling error.

    @Glimmerglass -- Appreciated the dervish info. Learning is one of the nice things about this blog.

    @Carola -- I've pretty much seen every episode of "House" and "NYPD Blue" so those guys are part of stuff that was already in my head.

    Anonymous 6:22 PM  

    @loren muse smith- you are being judgmental, and I find your kind of thinking ignorant. I am one of those "lazy gnats" who must ride a motorized cart in the stores ( although I am not obese, I am slightly overweight.) I, too am able to walk to my car. ( they don't let you take the carts out of the store, you know) I walk straight to my car, which is in a handicapped spot, all the while ignorant the ignorant comments which have followed me out to my car. I am 49 years old, look 40, and I have stage 4 Congestive Heart Failure. I have never smoked, I don't drink and I used to be athletic. I look fine on the outside but my heart is dying on the inside. I endure the judgment of people like you on a daily basis. I have been insulted by people in wheelchairs and white haired old men as I got into my car. For every lazy obese gnat you cast judgment upon, you probably are judging someone who is gravely Ill, on the inside.

    acme 6:29 PM  

    don't attack the fabulous and amusing Loren muse smith! Just wear a sign around your neck.

    Anonymous 6:46 PM  

    Acme, Loren's comments are neither fabulous nor amusing. I will wear a sign around my neck that says "don't judge me, I'm dying" when you wear one that says " don't judge me, I'm an ass."

    Eejit 7:04 PM  

    @Carola - No laban is yogurt, labna is strained yogurt.

    Anonymous 7:40 PM  

    This theme was definitely plagiarized as I knew the answers automatically from having seen them before. This theme comes from one of those easy airport crossword puzzle books; I don't kow if plagiarizing crossword themes is considered as serious as plagiarizing journalistic work but it is most certainly plagiarized. I even remember the themes being in that order. Different fill however.

    chefbea 8:56 PM  

    @anonymous 6:22 lets be nice..pleeease

    Z 9:06 PM  

    The anonymice are busy tonight. I'm no expert, but a quick Internet search suggests that someone with Stage 4 congestive heart failure is more likely preparing for hospice rather than shopping.

    I saw "Kings of Summer" last night. Good movie. At one point the father (a snarky bastard) asks his daughter, "Am I a bastard?" "no, Dad. A bastard would make everyone around him miserable because he is."

    Carola 9:32 PM  

    @Eejit - Ah, thank you. To echo @jae, above, "Learning is one of the nice things about this blog."

    Anonymous 9:37 PM  

    I can't believe I am asked to be nice after Loren denigrated disabled people and acme told me I should hang a sign around my neck identifying myself as disabled! Really? As for Z..... The problem with you is that you rely on computer searches for your information. People with Stage 4 Heart failure can be in that stage for quite some time. They need to eat, they need to get out of the house occasionally, go see their daughter in her high school play, make as many memories as they can, especially when one is 49 years old. I almost missed my older daughter's college graduation because I was too embarrassed to use a scooter in public and there was no way I could walk the distances necessary, because I am so painfully aware of the prejudices people like Loren hold. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had to come out publicly as a disabled person so that I can live this last stage of my life with my family and friends. I am not at the point where I need hospice yet, and I have not given up hope.... I don't understand you people- have you no compassion? Are you so clever and jaded that you can be flip with your words and your attitudes without thinking about their targets? Are there actually people here that would fake a devastating illness to make a point, or accuse others of doing so? I have read your comments over the past many months, you have been my companions as I have had my health crises and been stuck in a hospital bed. I have admired acme's positive attitude, and Loren's cleverness. I am not so clever; I feel brilliant if I can finish a Thursday. Until today. Again, whee is your compassion?

    Questinia 9:41 PM  

    Epps
    Zach
    Magoo
    Kerr
    Ellen
    Arkin
    Attlee
    Miro
    Oates
    Bara
    Enzo
    Tse
    Laban
    Coen

    all say goodnight....

    Catherine Park 9:43 PM  

    Did anyone else raise an eyebrow at ELHI? Maybe it's a regional thing or something? I mean, I get Elem-High school, but it seems to me like a term only in use in Crossworld.

    Also ELLEN has a funny brother, also a funny DeGeneres who was on the Daily Show for a while. I paused there briefly and said, "Hm. What was that dude's name?" and then thought, "Nah, they would never make me remember that on a Monday." Cha-ching! I was right.

    Questinia 9:50 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Questinia 9:51 PM  

    @ Anonymous 9:37 People guess wrongly when they don't have the clues. I hope you stay well for a very long time.

    sanfranman59 1:33 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 5:34, 6:09, 0.90, 10%, Easy

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 3:17, 3:46, 0.87, 2%, Easy (4th lowest ratio of 186 Mondays)

    loren muse smith 6:18 AM  

    @Acme – thanks for the heads-up on that post. I would have missed it.

    Point well taken. I deserved that, and I genuinely apologize that I ignorantly contributed to a stereotype that does exist because there are many people who, unlike you, simply choose not to walk. Recently, I saw two people I actually know using a cart: a woman who works in the home of a friend of mine and a prison employee. I have chatted many times with these people with no mention of any health issue, and they seem to get around fine, albeit slowly, without one. But you’re right – I don’t know their story and if carts were available in their places of employment, they might use them there as well.

    Just yesterday, I was talking to a member of the club where I work who is a private investigator. He told me he has lots of cases simply proving that someone claiming workman’s comp is actually healthy. And last year, the stepson of my hairdresser asked if he could live with his dad and her because he said so many of the girls in his high school had one goal: to get pregnant so they could drop out of school and go on welfare.

    I guess I’m dismayed at all the people who are just trying to take the step-saver approach to life.

    Nonetheless, I should consider next time that the couple in front of me in their motorized carts who get up and seem to walk fine might be similar to you. And I’ll refrain from being so flip about it. I’m sorry. And I’m sorry for your disease and wish you all the best.

    I would have sent you an email, too, with a personal apology, but I don't know who you are.

    Rex Parker 9:07 AM  

    Re: Anon 6:22

    For the first time ever, an anonymous is 100% correct.

    Thanks to LMS for sincere apology.

    I really hope everyone reads acme's comment at 6:29. True. Colors.

    In the future, staying somewhere close to on-topic and not using comments solely to disparage people would be Great.

    RP

    Acme 2:14 PM  

    Congrats to lms for taking highroad.

    @rex
    since you've used my defending her initially to disparage me, I'd like to say what I was responding to was an anonymous person taking one sentence out of a long post, zeroing in, as a personal attack on loren which was indeed off topic.
    I wasn't saying that anecdote was fabulous, simply saying she was ...and didn't want the bullies, dying or not, to dampen her spirit or make her too self conscious to write her long interesting posts in the future, lest there is one less-than-generous or amusing thought that someone might take personally.

    And that poster and you decide to shift the focus and attack me when I was defending @lms who has brought light and life into your blog.
    You have personally seen me at my highest and lowest, so that's particularly surprising to imply my true colors are not what they might appear.

    Morgan Doocy 3:37 PM  

    This was clearly not in my wheelhouse. Too many chains of non-Monday crosses:

    A__IN / CAN__E / __D_ / __E_ / _TTL__ / L_B_N / _AR_
    CANINE is perfectly Monday, but I got hung up on 'dogtooth' and couldn't see it. Haven't seen Argo, but eventually I guessed A__IN was probably ARKIN, a crossword favorite. So __D_ (for which I still wanted LANE) → R_D_ → RIDE ∴ CANI_E → CANINE, but then KNE_ / _TTLE_ / L_B_N / _AR_ were all still WTF. Guessed two initial A's in _AR_ would be wrong ∴ BAR_ / BSIDE, but that didn't help with the rest. Neither did guessing KNEE.

    I__N / O_ANI / O_TES
    Never heard of Muscat; learned of IMAN in another crossword but promptly forgot her name. Guessed OATES, but that didn't help with the M cross. Guessed H.

    E_PS / _I_R / K_RR
    No idea until I finally saw PIER (not sure I've ever actually seen a boardwalk IRL), although EPPS and KERR seem like fair play that I'm just not familiar with. Omar EPPS seems to be common puzzle fodder now, although I forget it every time.

    SI_ / _HEX
    Knew _HEX had to be CHEX, but that left SIC totally WTF. The sic erat scriptum ("thus it was written") sense would be a thousand times more solid for a Monday. Felt gypped on that.

    UGLI (?!)
    No clue. Looked so wrong, I had to triple-check all crosses to be sure they weren't an unfortunate string of viable alternate answers. Then look it up.

    RUHR
    Don't know many German (or European) rivers off the top of my head, but when crosses fell in I recognized it. Totally fine for a Monday, except in combination with so much more difficult material.

    LIEU, AGNEW
    Felt fortunate to know these for a Monday.

    ELHI
    This insidious piece of crosswordese really just needs to die.

    Difficult clues:
    "Dog or dogtooth" - never heard of 'dogtooth', though once the crosses forced me into CANINE, I felt mostly dumb, but also a little gypped.
    "Midpoint between a midi and a mini" - still completely WTF. No idea at all how this relates to KNEE.
    "Seemingly mad Muslim monk" - how did this pass muster? WHIRLING DERVISHES emerged from about a third of the crosses, but I didn't know what that phrase actually referred to. After looking it up, this has to be the most inaccurate clue I've seen in some time. 'Monk' is a stretch; 'seemingly mad' seems just plain wrong.

    Thought for sure this would be a Challenging or Medium-Challenging. Disappointed to be the odd one out, but I guess that happens. :-)

    Erika 12:57 AM  

    Imagine my chagrin... My first time doing Monday crossword ("This is so easy. What's all the fuss about?") and I find out it really was easy. The easiest ever! Oh well...

    spacecraft 12:36 PM  

    Pretty much echoing OFL today (except for the ridiculous time: sorry, but I just won't solve as if the building is on fire). Only unknown for me was LABAN, forced in on crosses. It's amusing that 20a coud be REVOLVINGDOeR (!) making 11d ALIeN.

    [sigh] In today's blogs, we once again prove that this is the Age of Taking Offense. I just wonder: how did anybody living today survive third grade recess? Grow a skin, people! A chance remark (innocent, I'm sure) sets somebody off. Yes, sure, you can take offense at that--IF YOU WANT TO. Is offense in such short supply in your life, that you need to go out and hunt for it? Slap a handicap sticker on your car (in your condition, I'm certain your doctor would approve) and let that be enough. The hell with what we think. You know what you need, and that should be enough. If anyone is rude enough to actually confront you, you owe them nothing. The best thing to do with rudeness is totally ignore it.

    Ginger 2:18 PM  

    @spacecraft - Well said,

    @LMS I feel confident that no offense was intended, especially in light of your many insightful and amusing posts. I also appreciate your 6:18 post. Saying sorry is hard to do. If you haven't already, do read @spacecrafts's post of 12:36.

    About the 'an apron' etc discussion. I'm guessing it may be the root word for 'Nappies', a Brit baby diaper, being currently used on the future heir to the throne.

    DNGrandma 2:19 PM  

    Names galore! As noted by earlier commenters, this type of puzzle is more trivia than crossword. Either you know the answer or you are out of the game. No chance to work out an answer from what you know, or think you know, about words. That said, I solved this one straight through, with only one write-over where I mistakenly put an answer in the wrong slot. But it really wasn't any fun. Its slanted towards those of us who are older and those who have more crossword experience. Really not fair for a Monday newbie.

    A brief comment on the brouhaha above. Those of us who have limited mobility (I'm one who can walk but not far) have enough problems as it is. Don't judge us by the cheaters!

    SyndicateBob 5:06 PM  

    You must realize that the oh so offended person who claimed to be in heart failure was nothing more than a troll.

    You should not have fed him.

    By the way, Acme, you were right on and I laughed out loud at your sign comment. You got it.

    He was, for sure, the same anonymous who accused the author of plagiarism. Both remarks are clearly designed to inflame and do not ring true to an informed audience. I this, I that, I am so the other thing. He loves to say the word I. He

    Now, having said all that, the point remains well made by others and taken here that appearances can be deceiving. Not only that, even when appearance are not deceiving, such as when you see someone who is morbidly obese you must not judge them. You don't know why they are big.

    I was recently substitute teaching a high school health class and learned that 20% of overweight people got that way because of their parents. Heredity, I mean. Even more factors include the famous thyroid problem, a high fat diet as a child, no access to healthy food because there are no good stores nearby or the food is too expensive, bad education as to how to eat healthy, the list goes on. My eloquence has run out of steam. You get the point. Heck, you had the point 6 weeks ago.

    strayling 6:53 PM  

    Puzzles like this one make me pine for the cryptics. With those, even if the answer is unfamiliar the clue tells you how to derive it. Well, not always, but often enough to make crosses like BARA/LABAN excusable.

    I did enjoy the SIT/SIC trap though.

    Dirigonzo 7:12 PM  

    I don't care what day of the week it is, you cross BARA with LABAN and I will need a lucky guess to finish.

    I recorded my thoughts on the "mobility scooter" issue a while back on my own blog so there's no need to repeat them here.

    ahimsa-NYT 9:12 PM  

    @Dirigonzo, thank you for posting your thoughts on mobility scooters. How I wish more people thought like you!

    There are many invisible disabilities out there. Folks using carts may be very limited in energy. Being able to walk for a short distance does not mean one can walk long enough or far enough to do shopping. I'm doing better now (thanks to various meds) but I've been there in the past. It's no fun when you look young and healthy but have a serious yet invisible disease. People make all kinds of assumptions.

    Folks, please have some compassion for those who are ill. Most likely they need to use those mobility carts/scooters.

    rain forest 12:43 AM  

    I am not aMUSEd.

    Acme, schmackme.

    texas syndy solver 1:11 AM  

    Love it!!

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