Villainous noble of classic French tale / MON 6-16-14 / Physical attribute of Homer Simpsons / Normandy city where William Conqueror is buried / Hungarian composer / Rum-soaked cakes

Monday, June 16, 2014

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)

THEME: B-TEAM (11D: Subs … or a feature of the answers to the 17 asterisked clues?) — all asterisked clues start with "B" and have a total of two "B"s in them (I guess the pair of "B"s form a "team")

Word of the Day: CAEN (38D: Normandy city where William the Conqueror is buried) —
Caen (/kɑːn/French pronunciation: ​[kɑ̃]NormanKaem) is a commune in northwestern France. It is theprefecture of the Calvados department and the capital of the Basse-Normandie region. The city proper has 113,249 inhabitants (as of 2006), while its urban area has 420,000, making Caen the largest city in Lower Normandy. It is also the second largest municipality in all of Normandy after Le Havre and the third largest city proper in Normandy, after Rouen and Le Havre. The metropolitan area of Caen, in turn, is the second largest in Normandy after that of Rouen, the 21st largest in France. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this isn't terrible, but it was really unpleasant to solve. First there was the disappointing realization that the theme would just be "a mess of 'B's" (don't care, not interesting). Then there was the Super-choppy grid full of ho-hum short stuff that was just a pain to move through. Ugh to ALER and ABRIM and ESSES and CAEN and MNO, *especially* in an early-week/"easy" puzzle with such a high word count. Then there was the cluing, which seemed pitched a little harder than usual—not a construction fault, but a day-placement fault. It took me many crosses to get both BUGBEAR (9D: *Bogeyman) and BUSBOYS (44D: *Restaurant staffers), the first because I would never use those two words as synonyms (though I'm sure it's DD, i.e. dictionary-defensible), and the second because of super vague cluing. The revealer clue—also super vague ([Subs] goes many directions). Yes, the "B" thing helps, and it's not like I struggled mightily, but I'm not sure Mondays were meant to take *this* much "theme." This one kind of creaks under the weight of it all. And since the theme is not … anything, really (not clever, not amusing … just "B"s), the creakiness did not feel at all worth it.

I found several of the double-B word phrases charming—BÉLA BARTÓK is one of my favorite composers, and BEER BELLY had me at "Homer Simpson" (66A: *Physical attribute of Homer Simpson). But you just can't make up for theme mediocrity with a tidal wave of theme answers. More is not better. It's just more, and when All the non-B stuff suffers, we all suffer. Or I do, anyway.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Timed: 3:38


Steve J 12:12 AM  

Thought this was pretty decent. Most of the B-themed answers were pretty good, with a few very nice ones (BEER BELLY, BIRDBRAIN, BACKBITERS). Didn't notice most of the short fill, so things like MAB didn't irk me as I solved. And I liked that the cluing was a smidge more challenging than is often the case on Mondays (but not much more; I finished this in average Monday time).

SAAB's back for a second day in a row. Always weird to see that happen.

JFC 12:18 AM  

@Rex, I kind of suspected this would be your verdict. Actually, I thought you might compare it to pangrams and stacked quads because it is in a way. When you get this many “B” words in a 15x15 grid it is a gimmick like those are and the results and negative consequences likely similar. I learned all this from you, Rex. However, if there is a place for this kind of gimmick, I suppose Monday is the place. And it wasn’t terrible despite the constraints of the B words.


JFC 12:18 AM  

@Rex, I kind of suspected this would be your verdict. Actually, I thought you might compare it to pangrams and stacked quads because it is in a way. When you get this many “B” words in a 15x15 grid it is a gimmick like those are and the results and negative consequences likely similar. I learned all this from you, Rex. However, if there is a place for this kind of gimmick, I suppose Monday is the place. And it wasn’t terrible despite the constraints of the B words.


Gill I. P. 12:19 AM  

Glad to see my two favorite rap groups: "BELA BARTOK and the gossip BABES shtupping the POBOX" and DEGAS ain't methane, he's my brother."

Liked this more than Rex because I really like "B" words.
So, is every male in the South called bubba?

Anoa Bob 12:25 AM  

B TEAM as the reveal didn't work for me. How does having two-word phrases where both words begin with a "B" constitute a TEAM?

I thought there were a few nice spots. I like BÉla BARTÓK's music and BREAK BREAD has a communal feel good vibe to it.

BANK BRANCH has a green paint ring to it. And two of the themers need a POC to boost their letter counts for those slots. I never like to see even one themer using a gratuitous "S" or "ES" to make it fit the grid, let alone two. Is that being GEEKY?

wreck 12:30 AM  

As for the puzzle, I thought it was on the challenging side for a Monday. I was intrigued by Rex's placement of Andy William's rendition of the great Herb Alpert tune "This Guy's In Love with You."
Made my day!

Casco Kid 12:35 AM  

17 themers in a 15x15 is pretty impressive. One wonders how hard the constructor worked on wedging in the 18th themer.

Moly Shu 1:20 AM  

I liked this, I also like Baked Beans and Bread and Butter. That's all I got. I did like it.

@SteveJ, I seem to always agree with your solve/comments/analysis, so yea the SAAB double leapt out at me. As did the HEN minus the preparation.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:51 AM  

BB's! This here theme was definitely worth a shot. thUmbsUp, just for havin a MonPuz that salutes the subs.


* POBOX = PO-BOY to-go container for leftovers.
* MNO = Substandard hi-fi offering??
* CAEN = This seems like some nifty perversion of this SunPuz's theme. Dejavuosity. Always a crowd pleaser.
* MAB = fave weeject, for m&oi. Endless great clue possibilities. Gotta go with "Well-disguised ABM??"

Where's the BEDBUGS? And most importantly, where's BEETLE BAILEY? Your answer to the last question lies here...

Nite nite.

chefwen 1:53 AM  

I must file this one in the easy column, all those crazy Bees made it simple for me to get the two word answer. My biggest challenge came when I put nErdY down for 19A and wondered what a BUnBEAR was and why I had a BTr in a row at 11D, I also did not recognize Alan ARdIN as an actor. Easy fix, and I was done.

Ellen S 2:18 AM  

I didn't like ASAP as the answer for "Immediately!" That should be "stAt", which Merriam-Webster says is an abbreviation for the Latin "Statim", which i believe means "Hannibal is at the gates".

But then I put in "BoyBAND" for Tommy Dorsey, thinking this puzzle is really dumb, and then it turned out it was me. BIRDBRAIN, indeed.

jae 3:36 AM  
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jae 3:37 AM  

Medium-tough  Mon. for me too mostly because I had @chefwen nErdY before GEEKY and had to go back and unsnafu it.  Dense intersecting theme answers,  lotsa extra Bs, not an over abundance of dreck,  liked it.  

And, thanks to Prime Suspect fan from yesterday.  I thought I'd seen all the episodes,  but had no idea Helen had come back for a finale in 2006.   Netflix streaming didn't have it but AcornTV did.  Just finished watching it.  Excellent!

And, thanks again to Mohair Sam for the Orphan Black endorsement.  I told my daughter's family about it on Fri. and they are already 5 episodes in and hooked. 

Danp 5:27 AM  
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Danp 5:30 AM  

Websters141 defines a geek as "a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake". Urban Dictionary defines a dweeb as "a dick with eyebrows". Close enough for me.

Elle54 6:16 AM  


Doris 7:22 AM  

With all the legal tax, fuss going on re AIRBNB, I was surprised that there was no clue or fill with B AND B in it, as it has appeared fairly often in the past. While I got the theme STAT, I thought that the above would have been worked in somehow.

L 7:47 AM  

Puzzle was fine - hard for a Monday. I'm more intrigued by the Andy Williams clip. I love that song. But is there a connection? I'm curious.

jberg 7:53 AM  

This was very easy for me -- never seen the opera, but heard it in a Met broadcast, so both parts of that answer went right in.

The theme bothered me though -- the two-words-starting-with-B part was fine, especially since it went down as well as across, with symmetrical crossings on the second B -- quite a constraint. But the one-word themers seemed extraneous. Maybe if the second Bs in those had all been in the same place, as with BULB and BARB, but without that it was just too random.

I guess a SITAR is cousin to a mandolin in the same way that a saxophone is cousin to an oboe -- pretty distantly.

Susan McConnell 7:59 AM  

There is a fine line between having good theme density and having just a bunch of Bs. I'm with Rex on this one.

Mohair Sam 8:17 AM  

Really liked this challenging-for-a-Monday puzzle. Double B's are about as tough a theme as you can get away with on a Monday, and I don't know why the "BTEAM" revealer bothered anybody, I thought it was kinda neat. Only write-over was GEEKY for nErdY, yet still felt challenged. Great work Bruce Haight.

I like BARTOK's work when I hear it, but never knew his first name. BUGBEAR is one of those words that you read now and then but never hear spoken, wasn't sure of its definition until today. SAAB two days in a row! And we could almost have squeezed in old Bela aBzug again today if we had to.

Rex considers "*Restaurant staffers" a super vague clue for BUSBOYS? With a BB revealer? Hmmm.

We usually find Monday puzzles a yawn done just out of habit. But not today. Fun puzz.

AliasZ 8:19 AM  

Boy oh boy, this was fun.

I do think however that the 12 long themers would have been quite sufficient. They provided some neat Bread & Butter phrases with a consistent pattern. The gratuitous gluttony of double B's in BULB, BIBS, BABAS, BABE and BARB did not follow this B*-B* pattern, they were not symmetrically placed, and did nothing to improve on the theme. In fact, I think they butcher-boyed the overall effect.

Being a baby boomer and a beach bum on the balance beam in Bora-Bora, wearing bell bottoms and having a belly button and a black belt, is barely of benefit for a blue-blooded bargain-basement ballot box-stuffing busy beaver with baby blues in the Bible belt, who loves bubble baths and Busby Berkeley, brown-bags it, and doesn't believe in the Big Bang.

An excerpt from the opera Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten is on the back burner for now.


Arlene 8:23 AM  

I tend to agree with others that more B's is not necessarily better. I would have expected symmetry with the one-word BB answers.

And I agree that "B AND B" would have been the better reveal.

I guess I'm becoming a nitpicker!

Mohair Sam 8:26 AM  

@jae - It's amazing how Orphan Black hooks people. Wasn't it you who got us back into Lilyhammer? Enjoying again, thanks.

Casco Kid 8:33 AM  

Herb Alpert is listed as third author of "This Guy's in Love with You." First author? A BTEAM themer. Nice.

Z 8:37 AM  

The Bee's Knees of Monday puzzles.

Two oxen in a team, so two B's works for me, though if I were Queen I'd want a few more swarming about.

Besides SAAB, I noticed that yesterday's NOB found it's missing K today.

My take on Andy Williams is that he is the personification of love.

Leapfinger 8:42 AM  

@Rex, you had me at Calvados, then promptly lost me. Why?

1. BBBBs are just plain funny.

Bs, Bs, mellifluous Bs,
In my view, Honey,
The buzz doth please.

2. Just before starting this puzzle, I had a last gasp at yesterday's theme, thought of a foreign-run bakery that sells AliEN Baba...So was really tickled when BABA showed up, and almost lost it when ALI did, also.

3. Personal nod to mi famiglia: We're aren't a large family (WWII and all that) but the BARTOKS still outnumber all other surnames by 3:2. One nephew has single-handedly contributed 5 BBs [BARTOK Boys], all wicked funny, smart and nice. Only one girl in 24 years, what are the odds? No relation to BELA, btw.

Also, my darlin' cousin STEVE, aka Istvan.

4. BREAKBREAD alongside ROLL and BRIE. Lovely.
BANKBRANCH crossing NET. Interesting.
DELI crossing BEEFBROTH and DAIRY (pick one)
HEIR beside STEVE: unfortunate

Sooo. If this puzzle wasn't all that good, I kinda had a reverse PICNIC with it. [Thanks @STEVE, for the PICNIC concept]

@@replies after refill.

dk 8:44 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 Moons) It is BUG A BEAR.

Isabelle, I was transfixed by the name. Imagine being 19 (just) fresh from Jamesville, New York meeting a fabulous sounding and looking French woman. My response was to stand agape until she said with a laugh: Are you the photographer? Will this be a still life? At that point in time I realized there was a whole world beyond High School clicks, cheer leaders and debs and, err…. sadly I was probably not going to fit there either. Sigh, in 1969 a young's lads universe was still defined by the twinkling stars known as girls. Ultra Violet and I did not become friends and more likely she just acknowledged me in various settings to be kind. The moment in time was always mine. Anyway this week saw the passing of a childhood friend and now a portal to a new world. Thinking of you both with a smile on my face.

Z 8:50 AM  

@Casco Kid - Good catch. I would have gone with Elvis Costello, but that's just me.

@Leapfinger - you're welcome, but I ain't Steve.

Ludyjynn 8:51 AM  

Okay theme, easy Monday. Nice to see some culture thrown in: BARTOK, DEGAS, OVID, PEDRO, ARKIN, STEVE, but one UGLI answer I can't ABIDE: KIM. Enough said.

Benko 8:53 AM  

@cascokid has got it right. The song "This Guy's in Love With You" was originally recorded by Alpert, but was written by the great songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. personally, I would have preferred the classic Dionne Warwick song "Walk on By"...

Carola 9:10 AM  

I really liked this motley group - BIG BAND and BARTOK; BABAS, BEER, BROTH and BREAD (BIBS provided); BACKBITERS and BUSBOYS; BLUEBEARD as every woman's BUGBEAR; a dim BULB and a BIRDBRAIN. I loved how the B's just kept coming. Very fun, very impressive construction.

For those who enjoy crytics - I thought this Saturday's WSJ puzzle was very satisfying.

joho 9:15 AM  

I was not bamboozled by Bruce! One I got the double "B" theme it was smooth sailing. I didn't know it, but I must like B's because I thought the theme was bright and bouncy.

I will admit that there are an awful lot of B combos which makes finding these theme answers a lot easier than usual.

The non-theme B words weren't bad, either except ABRIM and MLB. I liked KNOB, MAB, DUMB, GLIB and POBOX once I changed it to POBOY (Hi, M&A!)

I was looking for BIGBIRD, but Bruce got it covered with BIGBAND and BIRDBRAIN (my favorite answer).

My only nit is that the theme just wasn't dense enough :)

chefbea 9:20 AM  

Love this easy puzzle...since I figured it was for me. I am known as Bee, or Be a and lots of people call me Barb. And of course there was a lot of good food in there..including slaw which I made yesterday as a side to our BBQ

Leapfinger 9:22 AM  

@Z, Awfully sorry, you both look so similar in print ;)
Re your previous comment: Drone on.

@Gilly, Thanks! I've planted some Dianthus, which did fine for a couple of years, then drifted away. Will see if yours does better.

@Carola: the apology is for calling Golden Notebook a slog, didn't mean to trash a work you value. It just wasn't the right time for me then, and I'm probably past it now. My current reading is more the snorkeling sort, than the deep diving.

@dk: BUGaboo, BUGBEAR, methinks

@ Moly Shu: SAAB leapt? [sob]

@EllenS, yes STAT= drop everything, ASAP= as soon as you can get to it reasonably...but I think that's a losing battle

Agree that BTEAM works reasonably well; TEAMing up is the equivalent of pairing up. I heart gerunds.

@AliasZ, as usual, captures the innies and the outies of the theme.

John in Iowa 9:29 AM  

Am I the only one that finds your constant bitching and moaning tiresome? I have to wonder why you even bother. Geez.

Leapfinger 9:39 AM  

ABBA with the BBs, bien sur. We coulda had either Bibi, Netanyahu or Andersson, each one well-accented.

Yes, @Gilly, every male in the South is Bubba or Buddy, every female is Sister or Sissy. We all say 'Mm-hmm' instead of 'You're welcome', mash the elevator button, and have a sense of place.

Just heard that Casey Kasem had his final Countdown yesterday.

SenorLynn 9:47 AM  

@AliasZ, thanks for saving me the troubBle of finding every conceivaBle douBle-B. D'you think there's any other letter in English that could compete?

tensace 9:49 AM  

@Rex Here's another b-team for you. You're a whiny BOOB. I'm sick of your negativism and done with your blog. BYE BYE.

mac 9:53 AM  

That was a whole lot of Bs. Sort of fun to solve.
The theme was so dense that I got a little bothered by the words with only one B.

@chefbea: Don't you think the base of many gravies is the dripping or meat/butter residue in the pan?

r.alphbunker 9:53 AM  

Scientists are wondering where all the bees are going. Now we know, they are in this puzzle!

You broke new ground with the way you paired up 8D and 13D. Very efficient use of grid space.

chefbea 10:31 AM  

@Mac - yes you are right. I can't remember the last time I bought beef broth.

Two Ponies 10:40 AM  

@ dk, Lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

Carola 10:41 AM  

@Leapfinger - No, no - my fault for not being clearer iin my comment: I think the book *is* kind of a slog (but, gasp, would anyone ever dare to say so?). Maybe I revere it more as an object now than as a work someone would actually want to read.

@SenorLynn - I wondered if the Ms might be a fertile field to plow - made man (or man-made), mama mia, Mickey Mouse, motor mouth, megalomania, March Madness, mad money, Marilyn Monroe, mishmash, Ms Magazine, middle management, Magnificent Mile, Metamucil (kidding)....

RnRGhost57 11:07 AM  

A pleasant little amble on a beautiful morning in June, my favorite month of the year.

Karl 11:12 AM  

Rex forgot to mention two of my least favorite crosswordese entries, BABAS and MOUE...meh...

r.alphbunker 11:13 AM  

AFAIK, the first use of the word "slog" to express displeasure at the puzzle was by a poster named Donald on Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The post was
I thought "order" meant "sequence"; I've heard "I go" used when sequence of player in a card or board game was in doubt; and though I had my hopes up, a hotel amenities were not "mints". Puzzle was a slogger with no satisfaction. Oh, I hope you allow as many Nancys as Davids, fair is fair -- but it's your toy!

The "David" reference is probably to the Jan 15 David Pringle puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:17 AM  

@M&A - Didn't know 15 A; had to use "Reveal Incorrect Letters."

M and Also 11:30 AM  

@BobK. I thought 15-A would have immunity, since it recently appeared in the NYT puz. Steinberg. May 2014.

p.s. There is a primo good, new museruntpuz, that snuck in, under the cover of darkness, over at
Liked 20-A a great deal.
Thanx, @r.alph, @muse, @ Jeanne and Marie.


Bob Kerfuffle 11:34 AM  

Oh, yes, the Times puzzle:

The question for each entry is: Two B's or not two B's?

joho 11:37 AM  

@Bob Kerfuffle ... good one!

I also think GEEKS is great.

jdv 11:45 AM  

Medium. I saw the asterisks at 1d and 1a and immediately skipped to the North section and started the solve there--this move saved me valuable seconds. Was unable to figure out the theme mid-solve, but noticed post-solve that fill with 2 B's merited an asterisk. I agree with @AliasZ about the 4 letter B words feeling out of place. This was an OK puzzle. It didn't ire me as much as yesterday's.

@r.alphbunker. Funny bee comment. There is a pretty good documentary about honeybees called "More Than Honey"

Anonymous 11:58 AM  

Any reference to Mab makes me happy. Can't be regarded as fill.

Lewis 12:34 PM  

@aliasZ -- great post!
@bobK -- good one!

Some complained about too many B's, especially the short theme answers, but if they weren't included as theme answers, others would have complained about THAT.

Monday theme, Tuesday difficulty. I know it's an individual thing, but for me, there were eleven grid gruel answers, which is not pretty. At some point you have to cut back on the theme to up the quality of the puzzle.

Has anyone ever said ABRIM out loud?

Still, the solve was a good workout and I'm sure it took a great deal of effort to make this puzzle -- a labor of love. Thank you, Bruce.

Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) -- Anagrams of two of the four-letter answers gives the name of a popular ticket that enables the holder to go to museums and sights for free or reduced admission in a well-visited European capital (the fourth most populated city in Europe). What is the sum of the numbers of the two answers?

And by the way Googling is absolutely kosher in PPPs.

Who, on First 1:10 PM  

Bud Abbott: What's the difference between a yarmulke and a baseball cap?

Lou Costello: A baseball cap has ABRIM!

RAD2626 1:13 PM  

Thought the puzzle was just fine. Enjoyed all the themes and rest of the cluing pretty straightforward. UGLI is really an UGLy word.

Wish the reveal had been Killer Bees. Not because it works better but because the SNL routines made me laugh.

I would give the puzzle a C+. All the B's are taken.

Benko 1:15 PM  

@lewis: 87. Now to tackle @m & a's offering.

loren muse smith 1:17 PM  

I'm with @chefwen, @jberg -this one gave me no trouble except not knowing BUGBEAR. I bet its cross with MAB and MOUE will be tough for Monday solvers – Dad had trouble there – he still associates GEEK with the chicken head guy and, former Wake Forest pitcher and MLB fan that he is, hasn't added ALER (or nLER) to his Crosswordese Desperatoire. (Really - @M&A – isn't any crosswordese entry desperate? I've said before – if EELERS fits and makes a corner work, I drop to my knees and thank the powers that be. On the other hand, notice how much I've been published. Hmmm… Jokes on me, huh?)

@Anoa Bob - B TEAM worked fine as a reveal for me. How many times do we say to someone who has just helped us complete a job – "Hey, we're a team!" I liked all the themers and was really impressed that BBruce put in 23 Bs! (And 5 K's!) I find myself thinking "antlers, antlers" (Rex' term for letters that are easy to work with) sometimes when I'm filling a grid in a part that's tricky (pretty much every part), and when I see words with H's, K's, Y's, V's, B's… I pass right over them. I'm the extreme example of The-Theme-is-King-I'll-Take-the-MNOs-and-Low-Scrabble-Counts. I'm still so surprised when I hear Dad say or see someone here say, "Oh. I didn't notice the theme." Funny how we're all so different.

Liked NYET right next to OLGA and DAIRY/DELIS. I cannot imagine a vegan's life without cheese. I love any cheese, even that American orange abomination that is individually wrapped. Well. Only Kraft DELI Deluxe for that, though -I learned the hard way. I started buying it when I had to give a dog a pill every day, and for the life of me I cannot pill a dog. That cheese you can put a pill in and squeeze your hand to make it a big blob that the unsuspecting dog accepts without question. I found myself more and more going to the fridge to grab a piece of "Fergie Cheese" for myself. Cheesh.

@M&A – a real toughie runt today! I had to reveal some just to get started. Got 1d and 14D and then nothing. The crosses of 2D 3D with 12A and 15A – primo constructionating there, buddy!

@r.alph was fast and got it up at Here's my newest. Advice – print it out and do it on paper.

Bruce – fun puzzle!

ANON B 1:21 PM  

@GIL I.P.@ 12:19 AM:

Please explain your comments. I know what schtup means but it
doen't help.
And "Degas" meaning "the gas"
which is what methane is.
That doesn't help me either.

ANON B 1:29 PM  

@GIL I.P. @12:19 AM:
Please explain your comments.
I know what schtup means, but that didn't help.
And Degas(the gas)isn't
methane, he's my brother.
Don't understand that either.

retired_chemist 1:35 PM  

Medium. Liked it better than Rex did. Didn't love it.

Hand up for nErdY, then jErKY, then finally saw GEEKY from the crosses.

Thanks, Mr. Haight. Still waiting for you to find Mr. Ashbury to collaborate with.

Benko 1:38 PM  

@M&A: 1:40. You got me with 5-Down, great clue.
@LMS: Over 5 minutes. Even after I figured out the trick, it was still difficult, as I didn't know if the bonuses would have a meta theme or not. (Trying not to be a spoiler.). Shorter clues this time!
Did both of them on paper, after LMS's suggestion, and t was very helpful.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

This blog lets me tell you that I am really clever. Also, I get to tell you how I'm feeling about a silly puzzle, and I get to dump on Rex, other bloggers, and everyone else. Today I learned that there can be too many Bs. Really? That's a comment? A fine line?? I would prefer the "comment deleted" comment. C'mon people! You're spending 3 minutes and 42 seconds on a puzzle, then hours thinking up witty comments. I'm glad I don't live next door to you all. Singing off forever. You're all just too too clever for me. Boooooring

In the presence of genius... 2:34 PM  

Fascinating observations from a fascinating mind, Anonymous 222. You sure showed everybody!

Last Silver Taedium Vitaemin 2:37 PM  

@Benko... U are fast. Probably took me 15 minutes or so to do the muserunt. Got the lower left part of her theme, first. Thought she had an outstandin mix of clue lengths, actually. A couple little jewels that might wella ended with "...but I digress", even. But lotsa Across clues that were short and sweet. too.

So how long did the NYT MonPuz take U? Just for comparison purposes, of course. Absolutely no wagerin.

@muse: This whole idea of crosswordese is still a bit of a head-scratcher, to m&e. If it's short stuff that I never hear spoken?... well, shoot around here, that about rules out everything, except for:
* QED.

Not much to build yer rodeo on, there. Might well try to do a show with just a one-legged raccoon and a jug band. Yasir.


Almost forgot:
* GLAR (Quite a story, on this last one. But I digress...)

Z 2:42 PM  

Is it okay if I imagine @anon2:22 singing 'get off forever'>? {language warning}

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Anonymous 2:22 is giving all us Anonymi a bad name. Please overlook. He's not representative of us.

Lewis 3:42 PM  

@benko -- not sure how you got to 87. Want to email me with your solution???

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

Enjoyed this, and did over breakfast. One letter left, and the "A" in BABA (which I guessed), left me with
ALER. It's probably obvious, but would someone define this for me ? Also, what's the connection to the Twins and Tigers ? Thanks.

Jeff 3:49 PM  

Was hoping for a Nicolas Cage in The Wicker Man "NOT THE BEES!" reveal

For PPP Contest Only 3:54 PM  

@Lewis: "Watch My .38" by Commander Cody and his LPA. Costs 34 euro-bucks.


Bob Kerfuffle 3:55 PM  

@Blue Owl - We all cringe a bit, but sometimes the puzzle needs an American LeaguER or a National LeaguER.

I assume the Twins and Tigers are in the American League, but I really know nothing about baseball.

Gill I. P. 3:58 PM  

I was just taking a piss at the RAP discussion the other day. You know, Rap vs Classical - yada yada.
Words fail me I guess!

Benko 4:05 PM  

@m&a: Today's Monday took me particularly long. 325 on the iPad. Usually it's between 2 and 230. I'm about 30 seconds faster, or a bit more, on AcrossLite, but I prefer using the iPad because it accurately reflects my pen/paper time, without having to waste ink and paper.
@lewis: In my research, the last letter of the second word was an "s", not an "a", which I think is the difference in solutions.

Mohair Sam 4:18 PM  

@Blue Owl and @Bob Ker: Blue's question and Bob's answer reminded me of the first time I filled the word ALER in a crossword - I was amazed how clever I was to get it (I'm a big baseball fan) and even more impressed by the clever constructor who had clued it. It wouldn't be overly long before I learned the term "junk fill".

Fred Romagnolo 4:21 PM  

@Mac: you know gravy! @RnRGhost57: Then, if ever, come perfect days; had to memorize it in the eighth grade, in a Mission District working class junior-high, back in the days when teachers took it for granted that ALL kids should be expected to learn, no excuses. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the infamous BLUEBEARD of the Hundred Year's War, who brutally slaughtered a raft of boys in a homosexual rampage; he was a nobleman, which is why he could get away with for so long. Then there was the famous BLUEBEARD who murdered women between the World Wars, in France; Bartok deals with the BLUEBEARD of fable who murdered his first 7 wives. There's also a modest but well-made little B pic with John Carradine, dating from the 40's (with Jean Parker, I think).

Fred Romagnolo 4:21 PM  

@Mac: you know gravy! @RnRGhost57: Then, if ever, come perfect days; had to memorize it in the eighth grade, in a Mission District working class junior-high, back in the days when teachers took it for granted that ALL kids should be expected to learn, no excuses. I'm surprised no one has mentioned the infamous BLUEBEARD of the Hundred Year's War, who brutally slaughtered a raft of boys in a homosexual rampage; he was a nobleman, which is why he could get away with for so long. Then there was the famous BLUEBEARD who murdered women between the World Wars, in France; Bartok deals with the BLUEBEARD of fable who murdered his first 7 wives. There's also a modest but well-made little B pic with John Carradine, dating from the 40's (with Jean Parker, I think).

ANON B 5:12 PM  

@Gil I.P. @3:58 PM

Thanks a lot, FOR NOTHING!
I only speak English which is
apparently not your language
of choice.
I think I catch the cuteness
in your name. Very funny, NOT!

Lola505 5:23 PM  

Hi! I'm back! (If you don't remember me that's OK, it's been over a year since I've posted.)

Just subscribed to the NYT online (my local paper just can't seem to "get it right" in syndication, so now I'm a real-time solver.

I liked this puzzle, no snags, thought it was a typical Monday, although I was so riled up by the time I'd written a letter to the editor of the local paper, tried to download various plug-ins and browsers I was really cookin' with gas!

Lewis 5:27 PM  

@m&a -- yep!

Post Puzzle Puzzle (PPP™) solution:

The ticket is called a ROMA PASS, anagrams of AMOR and ASAP. The latter's number is 5, and the former 33, making 38 the answer. It's possible you counted ASAP as 26, adding its numbers, which would bring you to 59.

@benko -- curious to see your solution!

Ray J 5:34 PM  

Bs abound. Wacky reversal at 35D: Badminton barrier.

@M&A: I put the hootenanny aficionado in grad school at first – seemed likely, plus it tied in nicely with @LMS’s farm critter that way. Lots of fun. Thanks to both of you.

@r.alphbunker: thanks for all the extra work you do around here.

Gill I. P. 6:00 PM  

Wow, I've just been bitch slapped by none other than @ANON B.
Smiles are on me...

Lewis 6:05 PM  

So... I was just walking my dog, thinking about the PPP for today, when it hit me that my answer was completely wrong, because PASS and ASAP are not anagrams. I. Am. Very. Sorry. To anyone who put some effort into this. [slinks away ashamed]

Lewis 6:06 PM  

But tomorrow is another day!

r.alphbunker 6:09 PM  

Benko's solution is ROMA PASS (ASPS)
Yours is ROMA PASA (ASAP) now has ROMA PASA

You need test solvers. I am available

E. Bunny 6:23 PM  

Don't worry, this too shall PAAS.

chefbea 6:50 PM  

@Lewis asap is not an anagram of pass!!!

Benko 7:02 PM  

@Lewis and everyone who did the PPP:

But there is a correct answer!!!

33 Across (AMOR) plus 54 across (SAPS) gives you 87 for ROMA PASS!

So, there is a correct solution, just a different one than was intended.
Sorry for so many posts, but felt ha one was needed for clarity.

Typo fix 7:04 PM  

"That one"

Anonymous 8:59 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle and Mohair Sam---thanks for your comments and help. It finally came to me about six hours later !

Lewis 9:25 PM  

Thank you Benko and Ralph. You know what -- my original answer was yours, Benko, when I was thinking up the puzzle. Then when I actually wrote it down, my brain glitched as my eyes went to ASAP. Ralph, maybe you're right and I need a test solver. But let me try once more being careful, and after next goof, I'll take you up on it. It would be a lot easier for me to save that extra step, but if I goof again like I did today, you are absolutely right!

sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

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 6:36, 6:04, 1.09, 83%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:26, 3:55, 1.13, 91%, Challenging

Anonymous 10:19 PM  

I was just about to ask where's sanfranman? Decided to refresh first.

Missed you yesterday, but decided the Father's DAY celebration probably ran overlong.


¿Z? 10:49 PM  

@Anon B and @Gill I P - ? Am I missing something?

¿Z? 10:51 PM  

@Anon B and @Gill I P - ? Am I missing something?

Anonymous 11:39 PM  

B is a perfect theme for Bloomsday.

Nice puzzle.

Rex really needs to chill, but I know it ain't gonna happen.

rain forest 12:49 AM  

@M&A Haven't even looked at this puzzle yet (I'm in syndiland), but just want to say, I never miss your comments, and, sad to say, I am resolved to never do any puzzle other than the NYT, so I miss the experience of the runtpuzs. Shame. Har.

@Ludylinn. I love you.

Syed Kazim Ali 2:35 AM  

Latest All Hot Current Affairs, Bollywood News updates, funny and lol pictures

L 8:05 AM  

Doh! How did I miss that?!? Thank you - great catch.

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Betty Boop called; she demands equal time. So does Bix Beiderbecke. And oh yeah, Bob Barker wants to come on down! (Ben Bradlee is too polite to complain.) Some Barbaras--actress Bain and former flotus Bush--chimed in, but really, Bruce. How could you ignore Big Bird??

I have to bash this one as well. Though theme density is frighteningly high, it is, after all, just B-words; not too tough to come by. And the fill is just not worth it. ALER, MNO, XERS, ESSES: painfully UGLI but not quite flaggable. But ABRIM?? That isn't even a word. That, my friends, pulls out the yellow napkin. TWEE!

Upon filling in 36d, I got the visual of Wild Bill saying "You can shine my KNOB, while you at it." Too bad ol' Billy never made it to Percy's version of a cookout.

126: the man is on a rush!

spacecraft 12:02 PM  

P.S. How could I forget Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner? I wouldn't want to make him angry.

rondo 1:08 PM  

Time to fetch the BB gun and blast this hive of Bs.Not much here.

3301, not good enough vs. Spacey

DMG 3:06 PM  

I enjoyed all the B's buzzing about, and thought this was a light-hearted start to the week.

@Spacecraft:. Benjamin Britain and Billy Budd could add a little "culture" to your list .

@Rondo: we have a tie.5101

Dirigonzo 3:41 PM  

I thought BUG BEAR was thrashed soundly to death in the comments a few weeks ago - apparently he's back and still causing fits for some. I tried nErdY before GEEKY and dial before KNOB, but that's on me. MOUE needed all the crosses, unusual for a Monday but fair enough, I think. A BANK BRANCH is not a "Neighborhood financial institution" - that would be a Credit Union, which I highly recommend for all your financial needs.

2887 is a loser no matter how you slice and dice it.

Kurniati Barca 4:47 PM  

Adu Bangkok

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