Monday, December 29, 2014

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Pretty Mondayish

THEME: Spell It Out — Theme answers are familiar phrases, the first words of which spell the letters "IT OUT."

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *What a good speaker maintains with the audience (EYE CONTACT)
  • 25A: *Golfers' bookings (TEE TIMES)
  • 30A: *"Man!" ("OH BROTHER")
  • 45A: *"Wait, wait ... go back" ("YOU LOST ME")
  • 51A: *Bit of Boston Harbor debris in 1773 (TEA CHEST)
  • 64A: Leave no room for misinterpretation ... or what the first words of the answers to the five starred clues do, literally (SPELL IT OUT)
Hi, everybody. PuzzleGirl here with your Monday puzzle while You-Know-Who is traveling. I hope you all are enjoying the holidays. We had a very low-key Christmas here at the PuzzleHouse. I spent most of Christmas Day backing up computers and phones and upgrading software on various computers and phones. You know, Christmas stuff. PuzzleHusband and I also completely geeked out on a jigsaw puzzle. Can't remember the last time I put one together, but I grabbed one at Target last week thinking the kids might enjoy it. Well, they had no use for it but it got done anyway due do our addictive personalities.
But hey, what about this puzzle? Nice little Monday jaunt, I'd say, until I got down to the Texas area of the grid. I had ELLE for MLLE. (61D: Fr. girl) and SAPPY for SOPPY (53D: Maudlin) so I just couldn't figure out what was wrong. I decided it wasn't worth fretting over so I just had Across Lite tell me the problem. I'm sure I would have eventually figured it out but I knew I needed to blog so didn't want to spend the time. I'm eager to know if that spot caused problems for anyone else.

  • 1A: Titanic victim John Jacob ASTOR. Way to start us off on a light note.
  • 21A: LITCHI nut (Chinese fruit). Do people know what these are? I'm pretty sure I've never heard of this.
  • 29A: Fox News anchor Smith (SHEP). Not sure how he can stand to work at Fox News. He doesn't really seem to fit in with the rest of them.
  • 69A: Letters between jays and ells (KAYS). I can't decide if I hate this because spelling out letters is lame or if I like it because it kind of matches the theme.
  • 3D: October 31 option (TREAT). Tricky. (See what I did there?)
  • 6D: Glam rock band MOTT the Hoople. As it turns out I don't know any Mott the Hoople songs. At first I thought I'd use "Flirtin' With Disaster," but that's Molly Hatchet. Totally different band.
  • 10D: Thwarts (STYMIES). Both good words.
  • 13D: Enjoys Joyce, Carroll or Oates (READS). Cute clue. I've read several Joyce Carol Oates books, but gave up on reading her when I tried "Missing Mom" back in 2005. I believe Ms. Oates must have fallen on her head and lost the ability to write a complete sentence. I could not follow (or finish) that book.
  • 30D: Like integers of the form 2n + 1 (ODD). So now we need to do math. Great. Just great.
  • 37D: Juillet's season (ÉTÉ). French!
And with that, I must take my leave. With any luck, Rex will be back tomorrow.

Love, PuzzleGirl


Whirred Whacks 12:05 AM  

Nice puzzle, Peter Collins. Fun writeup, Puzzle Girl!

A slow Monday seems about right for the following.

Thanks Rex for hosting your delightful blog. This salon has allowed me to meet some interesting people this year, and also improve my crossword solving skills.

As 2014 approaches the Exit door, I thought I’d share my own personal "Xer Awards" (that’s “Rex” spelled backwards in tribute to you).

Award for Best Clue and Answer:
This is from the Celebrity Spoonerisms puzzle on September 14, 2014 constructed by Tony Orbach and Patrick Blindauer.

68A: "Thunderstruck critic's review for actor Richard?"
GERE BOGGLES (from "beer goggles”)
[pure genius]

Award for Most Informative Comment on the Rex Blog:
This is from the Heard at the Movies puzzle on August 31, 2014 constructed by Joel Fagliano. (Note: this was the puzzle that had Oscar-winning movie titles constructed as bad puns, for example, WARDEN HAIRY PEEPHOLE for "Ordinary People”.)

--Anonymous, who posted at 8:40 am:
"FUN FACT - word combinations like this are called MONDEGREENS - mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. The first time I saw one of these was MUG HUMP LEMONS TOO DASH HALF and it took me forever to figure it out."

[I couldn’t get that out of my head for two days. Some people, however, thought the puzzle was a LOW DOVE WHORES HIT.]

Award for Best Use of Alphanumerics: It's a tie!
New Year's Greeting on January 1, 2014 constructed by Peter Collins. These were the answers:
ITS 2 LATE (for)
0 SUSANA (oh)
HARD 1 (won)
GO 4 IT (for)
which spelled out HAPPY 2014


Tempus Fugit big clue day October 25, 2014 constructed by Patrick Blindauer
2 major clues for the six-puzzle Meta week:

Award for Most Interesting Grid Construction:
"It Was 50 Years Ago Today" on February 9, 2014 constructed by Charles Deber. This puzzle celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' first live television performance in the US on "The Ed Sullivan Show." Circles made an outline of a GUITAR, and the circles also spelled out the names of "Paul McCartney," "John Lennon," "Ringo Starr," and "George Harrison."

What were your 2014 favorites?

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Nice write-up!

I'm glad you did the shout out to KAYS because when I wrote that in, I audibly groaned and rolled my eyes, especially when the theme revealer didn't reference it. Just felt super sloppy. Change the K to a G and you get THING and GAYS, and you wouldn't have to worry about the spelling out of the letter. Or S for THINS and SAYS (anti-coagulant for the former).

Casco Kid 12:27 AM  

@PG, I DNF'ed in exactly the same spots. I've never heard of SOPPY as a word let alone a word meaning [Maudlin], and ELLE seemed like a fine [Fr. girl]. Hmm. Could I have caught the abbreviation in the clue and thought about mademoiselles? Maybe. Had I done that, maybe I would have seen NaRMAL and figured out NORMAL. But it didn't happen that way, and I would have spent a lot of time futzing with LITCHI/MOTT where I was unsure of the cross. Yes, like you, I quit and cut my losses.

I'm pretty sure I was destined to fail on this one, so I have to rate it Medium-challenging/ Unsolvable. Damn.

Fun write-up, @PG. Nice and perky. Your voice is as distinctive as it is refreshing. Hope you stop in again soon.

Steve J 12:33 AM  

Also tripped up with SaPPY/SOPPY and eLLE/MLLE.

This was a most Monday of Monday puzzlds. Theme didn't register during solving, I have literally no opinion on it after looking at it, and I motored through this quickly. STYMIES and YOU LOST ME were nice, but nothing really leapt out good or bad otherwise for me. Onward.

jae 12:37 AM  

Medium for me but only because I've done a ton of crosswords.  ESTES, STE, and SOPPY I only know from crosswords, fortunately I know how to spell NIMITZ otherwise not knowing how to spell LITCHI would have resulted in a DNF, and MOTT, MARTI, and SHEP don't seem like Mon. stuff.

@PG nice to have you back and a big yes for SaPPY before SOPPY.

Cute theme THO, liked it.

Ferris Bueller 12:40 AM  

Nice write up. Always fun to read somebody who enjoys puzzles as much as we do.

To your question about LITCHI (which I've always known as lychee), it's a hard-to-eat, but well-worth-it fruit.

About the size of a large cherry, it's covered by something halfway between a skin and a shell. You peel each one to reveal an especially sweet and soft fruit, about the consistency of a firm, canned peach. Like a cherry, they have a pit that are fun to spit, for distance.

When I lived in Hawaii, for $2 you could pick up bags of about 20 from roadside fruit stands. Always a treat.

Moly Shu 12:40 AM  

The NE threw me a STYMIE until I guessed SLUR and TONE. Other than that, Monday easy. Only MOTT the Hoople song I know is All the Young Dudes, and it's not very good, IMO. I'll take a pass on the whole 70's glam rock thing.

@Whirred, my award is for Best Visual.
@Casco smiling darkly as he serves Mrs. Casco a "nice chianti".
Still makes me laugh

Brian B 12:46 AM  

I've always seen that nut spelled LYCHEE. I checked three dictionaries, and two say LYCHEE is the preferred spelling, the third says LITCHI is. I'm guessing the Times uses the third one as its official reference.

Elle54 1:50 AM  

Great puzzle! Didn't get Soppy

Tita 2:00 AM  

@WW...nice list! I would have a hard time coming up with any to add...I marvel at your ability to recall ...what's your secret?

@Puzzle weird path through the grid had me approaching 61D with the M already in place, so no problem there. My problem was in thinking that OSAGE was one of the themes.
And since, especially early week, I avoid the reveal, to try to suss the theme on my own, I struggled to find meaning in ITOOUT.

Thanks for pointing put how KAYS might be theme-related...makes it a teeny bit more bearable.

I love lychee nuts...

I like your jigsaw puzzle too...our whole family is hooked on them. Before Christmas, we finished The Unicorn in Captivity, having just been to the Cloisters. The millefleurs background was a real delight!

This was a nice Monday. Thank you Mr. Collins.

John Child 2:06 AM  

I smiled through this puzzle until KAYS. The theme answers spell out letter sounds; there really shouldn't be a spelled-out letter sound anywhere else. As Anon above suggests, change the corner slightly, or at least clue KAYS differently. Sheesh!

Otherwise clever, breezy, very little drek for Monday -- a winner!

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Two issues with the theme:

I agree with other commenters: KAYS uses a theme element in a non-theme answer, and could easily be changed.

Then, doubling OUT (X OUT & SPELL IT OUT), especially so close to one another just seems sloppy. It's really only necessary to cram that stupid X in there--use Rout & Tout instead and problem solved.


Alan 2:35 AM  

Noooooo, DNF on a Monday on SaPPY. Would have fixed in a second had I actually read the across clue. Lazy mistake.

The Fr. girl clue clearly indicates with the "Fr." that the answer will be an abbreviation, so eLLE should be avoidable.

Anoa Bob 2:44 AM  

I'm probably missing something here, but how is it that the first words of the first five themers SPELL anything? Other than the TEE, the others are homophones, not spellings, for the remaining letters, right?

Liked RIO LOBO, NIMITZ, LOW IMPACT & BOB MARLEY, not so much the passel of POCs, including one of the theme entries, TEE TIMES.

retired_chemist 3:02 AM  

Mondayish indeed. At this hour that's all I've got.

Thanks, Mr. Collins.

Jp 5:07 AM  

Multiple natiks for the undersigned. RIO LOBO, MERTI, LECHIT, MOTT crossing in NW. Never heard of SOPPY. Confusion between MLLE and ELLE. All contributing to DNF. Tough Monday.

Z 5:52 AM  

A little MOTT the Hoople to start off the day.

Besides KAYS we get YWCA, X OUT, B-TEAMS, OSAGE, and ZERO G. A little to letterate for my taste, but I know some will find these as bonuses.

Hand up for NaReAL and being LITCHI ignorant, so the TEACHEST of Mondays.

We're off to the wilds of Quebec for a little skiing. Weather forecast is for highs 30-40° warmer than last year (High on Thursday last year was -25°F).

Lewis 6:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
GILL I. 6:02 AM  

Well SHEP...a Monday and I couldn't figure out the theme! YOU LOST ME M.Collins.
I have a question...why clue MARTI as a Havana hero only? Every school child in all of CUBA learned to recite his poems. "Cultivo una Rosa Blanca." I know he was born in Havana but he's a Cuban hero. He would make mincemeat of Fidel and Raul if he were alive today.
I did like the bite of meat this puzzle provided though. Like ROUX and MOUSE. A ROUX MOUSE SATES the LITCHI in me.
TEACHEST...well, I might XOUT that one...
@PG. I did that same jigsaw. The horse took me the longest to complete...Fun!

Lewis 6:04 AM  

@ww -- nicely done!
@pg -- The Quaker "Oates" guy made me smile

Well, I thought this was excellent, just as a Monday should be, easily gettable without insulting the intelligence. The theme made me actually LOL. The grid is quite clean. I love the two exclamations at 30A and 45A, and the long downs were interesting. I learned SOPPY.

CUT/XOUT/ABORT is a little hangover from yesterday’s puzzle, no?

Bravo, Sir Collins!

Lewis 6:05 AM  

Factoid: Writer/reporter George Plimpton was cast in a minor role in RIO LOBO (4th Gunman).

Quotoid: “As a child my family's MENU consisted of two choices: take it or leave it.” – Buddy Hackett

RAD2626 6:49 AM  

I thought the puzzle was way hard for a Monday but gettable. I liked the theme but then again I liked Mott the Hoople. My DNF is @WW's mondegreen: "MUG HUMP..." Still staring at it.

John Child 6:50 AM  

M the H was a band of great potential that spent four years going nowhere. David Bowie saw something in them, and wrote their best known hit, All The Young Dudes, for them and produced their album of the same name. Success for the band also brought about their downfall, while Bowie went on to stardom. Here's Bowie singing All The Young Dudes:

Charles Flaster 6:54 AM  

Easy with a mistake at 50 A with pout ? in lieu of X OUT.
A little surprised at two spellings of
the letter T -- TEE TIMES and TEA CHEST
TEE is more acceptable.
CrosswordEASE--ISLE and ESTES.
Liked cluing for STYMIES and READS.
STYMIE is a favorite word and a character in LITTLE RASCALS.
Thanks PAC and hope you get some Fridays and Saturdays soon.

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

So refreshing to have Puzzle Girl back.

Loved "down in the Texas area" since I always get East and West' confused. I still remember a native New Yorker friend being dumbfounded when I could figure out his northeast corner directions. When the Twin Towers were still standing I would face them, go over which hand was left and which was right, then translate that to which way was east and which way was west. I'm sad to say that I had to do that every singl time. Now Siri usually tells me the right direction. Oddly, I am good at reading maps..

True confessions: After accusing Rex of being a buzz kill yesterday, I had to admit to myself that I have the same trait. I was asked to review a submission to a peer reviewed journal. The methods section was such a disaster and my criticism so harsh, that I realized Rex could be seen as an Affirmation Coach in comparison. I don't know why certain journals ask me to review submissions since I hardly ever recommend publications without "major substantial revisions".

Anonymous 7:19 AM  

Sorry, I also tend to skip words when tying, I could NOT figure out my friends northeast corner directions.

Mohair Sam 7:28 AM  

Woe is us, a Monday natick! The last T in MOTT. Don't know LITCHI and vaguely remember a group we didn't care for named something-or-the other the Hoople. Remember the Hoople because it sounds like hopple, which is something you hang on a pacing horse.

Otherwise it was a good test, although it played a bit hard for a Monday here. Thought the theme kind of odd, although it didn't bother the solving.

Arlene 7:44 AM  

I also got stuck at guessing the spelling of LITCHI because I didn't know MOTT.
The theme and construction were creative, though - a bit hard for a Monday.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Oh PuzzleGirl, happy to see you! But, you've never eaten a litchi nut in a Chinese restaurant, or heard "All the Young Dudes"? Incroyable!

Danield 8:09 AM  

Echo Man says: yes, tripped up on soppy and mlle; yes, thought this was a tough Monday.; and, yes, "litchi?!"

evil doug 8:21 AM  

Yeah, PG, Shep ought to go work with that Pulitzer-Prize-in-waiting, Al Sharpton....


RooMonster 8:25 AM  

Hey All !
This seemed a NORMAL MonPuz, lots of youse saying it was difficult. Normally I'm with the masses on difficulty level, but it was easy for me. Odd.

Anyway, someone above asked about the theme, they couldn't figure it out. Each first word of the starred clues sounded like a letter, as in EYE, TEE, OH, YOU, TEA, which, when you substitute the letters for the sounds, you get I, T, O, U, T, which SPELLs IT OUT, d'ya get it?

I had NORMAL in first, so didn't fall into the eLLE, SaPPY trap. I like Monday puzzles because they make me seem smart!


David B 8:40 AM  

Go Puzzle Girl! I got the gimmick -- kind of. But only unerstood it as letter sound-alikes. Thanks for pointing out that they literally spelled "IT OUT"!

AliasZ 8:48 AM  

TEACHEST looks like a superlative adjective to me: teach, teacher, TEACHEST. Funny, Peter Collins had the same observation of his own puzzle at xwordinfo.

Fun Monday (für MICH), and fun spelling bee. Aye, aye, sir! Te(dium), owe, ewe, tea(time) -- not too many different ways to spell T -- SPELL "IT OUT". But "it out" is easy to spell. How about lychee or coccyx or Albuquerque? Or Xan Vongsathorn and Zhouqin Burnikel?

The lychee (LITCHI chinensis) (Chinese: 荔枝; pinyin: lì zhī; Jyutping: lai6 zi1; Nepali and Hindi: लीची) is the sole member of the genus LITCHI in the soapberry family, Sapindaceae. (Wikipedia)

Thus, lychee is the common name, "LITCHI chinensis" is the scientific name of the fruit.

To keep the Christmas spirit going, please indulge me and listen to the Cantata "Ich freue MICH in dir" (I rejoice in you), BWV 133 by J.S. Bach, composed for the third day of Christmas and first performed exactly 290 years ago the day before yesterday.

By the way, the work of art displayed on the above video is a section of the Isenheim Altarpiece called "Concert of Angels and the Nativity" created by Niclaus of Haguenau and Matthias Grünewald (1470-1528) between 1512-1516. Who can tell me the name of the 20th-century composer who wrote a symphony inspired by the painter Grünewald? The first movement if the work is actually titled "Angelic Concert."

Happy Monday!

Ludyjynn 8:53 AM  

Hand up, PuzzleGirl, for falling head first into the NORMAL trap. I see we're in good company w/ @Casco and @Steve! OHBROTHER, I hope this does not foretell a difficult puzz. week.

"August: OSAGE County", an extremely unpleasant, nearly unwatchable movie filled w/ a talented cast wasting everyone's time chewing the scenery. Can you tell how much I liked it?

@Beatrice, thank you for your Vivaldi info. last night. Much appreciated.

@Roo, thans for the theme explanation, above. Second day in a row that I solved it as a themeless and needed someone to SPELLITOUT for me. ABIT embarrassing, I THINK!

Thanks for my first Monday DNF in forever, PAC and WS.

Dshawmaine 9:00 AM  

Very nice review of the puzzle - I am a crossword newcomer this year and very much enjoy this blog as it extends that morning cup of coffee (in addition to clearing up a lot of confusion). Almost always finish M-T-W puzzles (and almost never finish Th-F-Sat ones), but this one was a DNF just because of MOTT and LITCHEE. Otherwise, a nice puzzle - good catch on the "KAYS" clue as at least being consistent with the theme, as that was a groaner for me also.

Leapfinger 9:02 AM  

I s'pose I conflated several sources to come up with LICHEE. Not. Also, MOTT the Hoople is not the Major Hoople for moi (Fap!!). MOTT says 'apple sauce' to me. Being essentially predictable, I also did ELLE (which would have been another homonymous letter, right @Z?), took it out only because NO REAL didn't look NORMAL.

If Thwart = STYMIE, will Athwart be ASTYMIE? And how does it relate to Almodovar's STYMIE Up, STYMIE Down? Please discuss.

Loved the Joyce, Carroll, Oates clue, and will admit that I never made it past the first chapter of any of her books.

As delightful a puzzle as the PACman always produces, with the bonus of eliciting some fun comments. @WW, that MUG HUMPS mondegreen stymied me for the longest time when it first appeared, and it took me a while to remember it again today. I'm sure that having the @chefs wen&bea around was helpful.

Thanks for the letterally acronymious puzzle, M. Collins. I diggeth what thou TEACHEST.

Hartley70 9:15 AM  

I would give this a challenging rating for a Monday. When was the last time so many of us had a Monday DNF, including me. I had to throw in the towel at MOTT/LITCHI but I got hung up for a while by MLLE/Elle and SOPPY/sappy. Well done Peter A. Collins because who doesn't love a challenge.

NCA President 9:22 AM  

Pretty Mondayish, indeed.

Growing up in Nebraska, Colorado was the go-to vacation destination for my family. We used to spend a couple of weeks each summer in Estes Park in cabins set along the Big Thompson River. At some point the Big Thompson flooded and those cabins no longer exist...but Estes is a wonderful place. The only thing I didn't like about it, as a young kid, was that we would have trout for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I never liked trout.

No complaints on this puzzle apart from maybe the OUT redundancy (XOUT and SPELLITOUT) and the NY-starts-a-word thing (NYET and NYSE).

Thanks to Mr. Collins my earworm for the morning will be a jingle I hear a lot this time of year: Every kiss begins with KAY. Ugh.

mathguy 9:27 AM  

A local channel still runs Seinfeld episodes. My wife and I laugh out loud at certain scenes we've seen many times before. Today's theme reminds us of one of our favorite episodes.

I didn't think that I would be able to solve the Acrostic in yesterday's magazine because I only had three out of the twenty clued words and phrases to begin with. But it finally fell, although I had one wrong letter. It was in one of the two key words in the paragraph. That bummed me out a little. Here's one of the clues. "Most unusual (a word actually in the Scrabble dictionary)". The answer is UNIQUEST.

NCA President 9:31 AM  


Whatever you do, don't say this aloud in a public place or when there are kids around:


WARNING: adult content...NSFW

Weirdly, I learned this from my 12 year old nephew who had learned it at school. From his teacher. In English.

Leapfinger 9:32 AM  

@Z, where in Quebec? STE Agathe, STE Anne de Beaupre, STE Marguerite? All old stomping grounds, both summers and winters.

@AliasZ, I probably would not have thought of it, had I not just recently commented on "Gustav der Mahler". So now, get thee beHinda MICH... more or less.

Punny how these things happen

joho 9:48 AM  

Nice concept, Peter, fresh and different especially on a Monday. Made me THINK.

I loved the clue, "One just squeaking by?" for MOUSE.

joho 9:50 AM  

PuzzleGirl, as usual you are breath of fresh air!

jberg 9:54 AM  

Put me with those who did not like KAYS because it diluted the theme. X OUT and B TEAMS are OK (except for the POC, which is not), because they don't spell out the sound of the letter.

And someone (@anoa Bob?) questioned the TEE/TEA variation. I think you have to do that, though, if you want to spell IT OUT without repeating a word in your answers, so that's a plus, not a minus.

Never heard MOTT the Hoople, but for crosswords you only need to have hear OF them, which I have -- otherwise I'd have stuck with LIchee; I'd have had Lychee if not for old Chester, the Admiral.

B squad before TEAMS, tea Crate before CHEST, SnUb before SLUR. But overall pretty easy, as long as you had some idea about litchi. I read about them as a child -- any novel set in the south seas would have someone eating them -- but had no idea what they were until much more recently. Now you can find them in the Asian markets, and in some other markets, right next to the jack fruit and durians.

I've never read a @JoyceCarolOates novel, but her Twitter feed is pretty interesting.

quilter1 10:03 AM  

The MOUSE clue was my favorite, too.

Sigmund 10:44 AM  

Ooh, ooh, l'il Dougie is back. In front of his trainer again, ashamed to show his real ride, the C-130 Trash Hauler.

It's not for no good reason that the USAF relegates its least capable pilots to flying Trash Haulers.

Joseph Michael 10:51 AM  

No problem with LITCHEE but YOU LOST ME at NAREAL since I didn't see SOPPY or MLLE. Nice puzzle but agree that KAYS is no good in light of the theme and would have been so easy to avoid.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:04 AM  

Good puzzle; better than I realized at first, because I failed to see the completely integrated theme.

Seeing NIMITZ reminds me of an event of a hundred or so years ago: I was in eighth grade, my little sister in sixth. My sister had written a report on Admiral Nimitz, and for an illustration, with my mother's approval, she cut out a picture of Nimitz from our encyclopedia! I could have fainted! You just don't cut things out of bound books! But we all survived, I don't remember what happened to that encyclopedia, and, no, it wasn't one of the real expensive ones.

Bob Marley 11:12 AM  

@NCA President - here's a better choice for an earworm: One Love.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

The MOTT/LITCHI crossing is absolutely brutal for a Monday. Caused me a DNF. Never seen the LITCHI spelling before (usually LYCHEE or LEECHEE or LICHEE), and MOTI, MOTE, MOTY, MOTH all seem perfectly plausible in a band name nobody has ever heard of. I mean, 70s British glam rock band whose top charter got to #37 in the US? i mean come on... that's barely a Friday level clue let a lone Monday.

Carola 11:32 AM  

A double DNF: no idea on MOT? x LI?CHI and did not understand IT OUT. Agree on its being a good puzzle, though - lots of fine entries: LOW IMPACT, STYMIES, BOB MARLEY and all of the theme answers.

Liked THINK and EASY A crossing TEACH.

@Moly Shu - Couldn't agree more on August OSAGE County.

Joseph Welling 11:38 AM  

Anoa Bob:

But what those homophones do is say letters. When you say all the letters, you spell IT OUT.

L 11:47 AM  

For a Monday, I rate this a solid medium. On our 10 hour drive back to NYC from MI, I was happy to sing along to Mott the Hoople's All the Young Dudes. Never disappoints.

AliasZ 12:00 PM  


Of course, it is Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) whose Symphony: Mathis der Maler (Matthias the painter) was inspired by the Isenheim Altarpiece. Each movement relates to a tableau of the altarpiece painted by Matthias Grünewald, the first movement titled "Engelconzert" (concert of angels), seen in this detail.

PS. Notice the name of the orchestra.

retired_chemist 12:23 PM  

SanFranMan59, or anyone else, have you figured out a systematic way to generate a scale of difficulty from the new NYT format?

My time was slower than usual today but my percentile rank relatively high by comparison. That makes the puzzle look a bit harder than medium to me.

BTW to be nondiscriminatory shouldn't there be a checkbox for "I AM a robot" in the CAPTCHA?

old timer 12:24 PM  

I teach, you teach, we teach, but thou TEACHEST. Nice to see an homage to the King James Bible here.

Mondays, I do my best to solve only the across answers. Worked about 80% of the time today. So: easy, but normal easy for a Monday.

I hadn't the foggiest idea what the theme was, and if you only discover it when the puzzle is done, why bother with a theme at all?

JFC 12:29 PM  

I'm glad @Rex took my advice. So refreshing, PG. We bought one of those jigsaw puzzles recently but it's still in the box. For Christmas I bought another external SSD to backup my backup. So far my desktop with Windows XP is doing just fine....


Pete 12:50 PM  

@Sigmund - God knows that there are dozens of reasons to dislike @Evil Doug, or at least I know. I have a list which I maintain religiously, constantly updating, re-ranking. I keep copies of the list next to each of my home and work computers, and a notebook dedicated to the same next to my bed in the chance that I think of a new one to add as I'm falling asleep. I just added one today, as there was no call to question @PG's blurb on SHEP. @PG clearly watches enough Fox News to know enough about SHEP to think he doesn't fit in. For all I know, she was saying that he's too conservative for the rest of the crew. Yet, @ED had to inject snark and ridicule Sharpton. One more pointless jibe, one more instance of false umbrage at people picking on the right wing, one more entry in my list.

Having established my bona fides with respect to disliking @ED, I have to say you're a total ass for belittling some who shows pride in his service to country in time of war, in the war theater.

Masked and Anonym007Us and Had Fun 1:00 PM  

Always a pleasure, PuzGirl. Glorious flurry of writeup bullets.

Clues for stuff like MENU and MOUSE were highly unMonPuz-moo-like. Stampeded the herd. Also, it is clear -- clear, I say -- that this Collins dude is up to somethin meta-puzlish, here. Along with them obvious I T O U (lil darlin) T themer spellcasters, U also have:

* A bit. (this might be a red herring bone)
* zero G.
* X out (the "out" could well be significant)
* KAYS. (but, how many?)
* easy A.
* St. E (sure. hand out sainthood to That vowel. snort)

I think I see. Very clever, Mr. Collins dude. Don't get too cleverer.

fave moocow clue: ___ constrictor.

fave weeject: TOS, at 65-Down. But it always has this same, worn-out clue. We solvers are sick sick sick of that clue. Do we have to spell it out?!? N E W C L U E. Somethin like: {Sot falling down a manhole??}. See? Even M&A can do better.

"Mo Use"

'mericans in Paris 1:10 PM  

Hands up for sticking with eLLE instead of MLLE, so like several others gave up on the N_ReAL-S_PPY crossing and came here.

Surprised to see so many who had not even heard of MOTT the Hoople. Pretty unforgettable name, that!

Agree, though, that LITCHI is not the spelling by which most of us know the fruit.

Remember, if you encounter a MARTION, avoid EYE CONTACT and don't INTONE a SLUR if you don't want to end up on his MENU.

Honeysmom 1:11 PM  

Nice Monday with some crunch. Yes, I thought sappy first - soppy puts me in mind of dripping wet, soaked, saturated rather than silly. And so enjoyable to read Puzzle Girl's pleasant comments, rather than Rex's constant nit-picking. It isn't rocket science, after all. And how could he say Sunday's was EASY!?! Come on!

Sigmund 1:16 PM  


"'re a total ass for belittling someone who served his country in a time of war..."

I'm on an even playing field here with ED, maybe even more than an even one. If he flew that rattletrap C-130 over dangerous territory, I'll admit it's no fun attracting a lot of ground fire, though it takes a lot more than rifle fire to bring down a Trash Hauler.

What I flew went into far more dangerous territory than the trash haulers, and attracted fire far more lethal than from rifles.

Pete 1:23 PM  

@Sigmund - None of which alters the fact that you're a total ass.

Sigmund 1:31 PM  

@Pete -- Thank you for your insightful contributions.

Numinous 1:42 PM  

DNF for me too but for an entirely different reason. I spelled RIO LOBO with an E instead of an I. I suppose there have been too many antique Oldsmobile clues lately and I've never heard of Jose MARTI

Had no problem with either MLLE or SOPPY. I don't normally think of “maudlin as being all wet. I tend to think of it as a property of a sobbing souse but, then, sobbing has the character of wetness and, as it turned OUT, when I checked the dictionary, souse is a synonym for SOPPY. So, what do i know anyway?

There are odd things that bother me with some puzzles when I look them over after completing them. To me, ONIN appears to be missing an "O". Some two -word answers just don't resolve for me. I keep seeing ZEROG instead of ZERO G. Is XOUT pronounced zout? With THO crossing TIMES, I keep reading TEETH IMES. I suppose I'll just have to chalk it up to advancing age.

I didn't find this puzzle particularly difficult. I'm merely annoyed with Ransom Olds.

Zeke 1:54 PM  

Hey, did I ever tell you guys that Zeke isn't my real name? In reality I'm Jimmy Doolittle of Doolittle's Raid fame. Further, I think all service men and women who haven't accomplish what I've accomplished are mere poseurs and should just shut up!

This is the internet, so you have 100% confidence that what I just said is true.

LaneB 1:59 PM  

Didn't have to take a DNF or resort to Google, but this was not a NORMAL Monday. Happy to see that others found it challenging since I worry about becoming dumber

Sigmund 2:05 PM  

@Zeke, aka Pete, aka l'il Douggie --

Thank you again for your insightful comments. They are much appreciated!


Anonymous 2:47 PM  

I don't know who's worse on this comment board--the God, gun, and bible club or the pretentious, pedantic classical music club. Asses to left of me, asses to the right...

Anonymous 2:50 PM  


Mathis Der Maler

Proctology 101 3:04 PM  

Anonymous @ 2:47,

I am happy for you. You are right in the middle where the orifice resides.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Ok Proctology, that CRACKED me up. Thank you!

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

You made my HOLE day!

Melodious Funk 3:23 PM  


Even your trolls have trolls. Quite an accomplishment on a puzzle blog.

First Monday I couldn't finish. In my memory. MOTT? Who? Maybe an apple juice, not a major. Tough cross, that.

Stacy Donald 3:36 PM  

How I Got My Lover Back {}...

What a wonderful and a straight forward spell caster that has brought back joy and happiness into my life after i saw a post on how he helped a lady called Nicole Morgan; i decided to contact him for help, when i told this God sent man Dr Eboehi on how my lover left me for 2 years without calling nor texting me, When i shared this my sad experience with Dr Eboehi he said everything would be okay within 3 days i was like am i sure what this man is saying is real, So i decided to give him a try and at first i was thinking he was a scam and i taught he was like other spell casters who come online to add pain to people's life not knowing there feelings but to make money, this great man Dr Eboehi is never like that because he is for good and to make people happy with the one they love, am just so happy, Even before the 3 days i just got a call from a man who has left me for 2 years saying that he his sorry and that he wants me back to his life i was so happy, He invited me for a dinner which i met with him there and we both talked, he said he wants to prove that he would never leave me for any other lady he engaged me and also made me had access to all his account am so happy all thanks goes to this great man Dr Eboehi a man who has brought back joy to my life, friends that need help in getting their lover's back i would advice you contact Dr Eboehi via email: because he is the right man to help you get your problem solved.

Thanks... Stacy Donald

Karen Munson 4:10 PM  

Anybody else have a problem with 65 across saying "rude" shelters? Isn't it supposed to be "crude" shelters?

Fred Smith 4:19 PM  

@Karen --

"Rude" can mean crude. Surely you've read Longfellow's "Concord Anthem" ...

"'Neath the RUDE bridge that arched the flood,
Their flags to April's breeze unfurled,
There the embattled farmers stood..."

Fredd Smith 4:31 PM  

Oops, that's Emerson's "Concord Hymn."

mac 5:45 PM  

DNF on a Monday... Never! I so wanted 2 Es in lychee that I stuck them in the front: I could live with Nemitz and Mote, the totally unknown band (to me).

Fantastic write-up, PG! Light and witty writing style, and a critique that makes everyone feel good about their puzzle skills. Happy New Year to you and your family!

Joseph B 5:57 PM  

MARTI who?
OSAGE where?
Not your NORMAL Monday fare.

My regular Monday time is a tad under 5 minutes; this one took me over 9 - AND was a DNF since I had the same mistakes as Puzzle Girl. (Nice writeup!) I give this a medium-challenging, minimum.

I blame myself for 61D, since ELLE is not an abbreviation as the clue implied. But SOPPY, when SAPPY means the exact same thing AND is a word people use in real life?

A quick rewrite could have avoided SOPPY, and I'm not a constructor:


(MICS is marginally worse that MICH, granted, but OINK instead of OPEL makes up for it!)

Z 9:25 PM  

@Leapfinger - Mont Tremblant for a little skiing.

OISK 10:54 PM  

So many DNF's from experienced solvers - this was a VERY challenging Monday puzzle. Never heard of Mott the Hoople, and on Monday there are many better clues for "Mott" than that obscurity. I don't know any Bob Marley songs, but at least I have heard the name. (This time of year I think more of Jacob Marley...) I did finish, but it was a struggle. Liked the theme, though.

Oh, and I didn't mind "Evil"s political barb, much as I prefer that politics be kept out of the blog. Puzzle girl was essentially "Dissing" Fox, so E.D. came back at MSNBC. Not at all inapt.

Jes Wondrin' 11:46 PM  

@OISK - How exactly does "Not sure how he can stand to work at Fox News. He doesn't really seem to fit in with the rest of them." constitute dissing Fox News, without your presuming that PG's dissing Fox? All it says is that one person doesn't fit in with the rest. It says nothing about Fox News.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

So disappointed that you got political over Shep Smith. There is a whole world of people who respect Fox.

Anonymous 5:39 PM  

Jes Wondrin' What world do you live in? Of course it was a dis!

Mcooperpiano 9:51 PM  

I' had the same problems you had with Elle and Sappy.

spacecraft 9:24 AM  

DNBTF: Did not bother to finish. I was already in a sour mood when asked to come up with MARTI (who?) and LITCHI (what??) on a...wait, what day is this? Yep, a Monday!?! The frown deepened at the stinky ONIN, and ZEROG didn't help. But when I realized that ROUX was going to lead to XOUT, that was the killer. I simply refused to go on.

Thus I never learned the theme, which also seems out of place for a Monday. So "Pretty Mondayish?" I couldn't disagree more. Actually, the theme might have been ABIT fun to figure out, but I'm not about to wade through such a pile of crap for it. Inc.

DMG 1:06 PM  

Not much of a problem with this one, tho I did have a hard time spelling LITCHI without a Y. Used to enjoy them in SF's Chinatown when growing up.. Also, I'm glad the more hip folk explained the spell-it-out bit. I was trying to put together EYETEEOH.....and obviously getting nowhere! Gotta stop being so literal...


rondo 1:35 PM  

Niether like nor dislike all in all. It's Monday, ho-hom.
Appreciate BOBMARLEY v(any and all), and MOTT the Hoople (All the Young Dudes).
Thumb up for NORSE.
Not so much for LITCHI.
Will learn it if thou TEACHEST me.
Little Rascal and namesakes = STYMIES.
Can't wait for TEETIMES; MN winter is toooo long.
Can't see BOA and not THINK of our former gov Jesse Ventura in his grapplin' days.

check also

leftcoastTAM 3:47 PM  

Naticked at MOTT/LITCHI TEE crossing. Never heard of either. Tossed in YOU (U) instead of TEA (T). Overall, on the challenging side for a Monday.

rain forest 5:08 PM  

It's the old 'whose wheelhouse you in' thing. It was in mine, including getting the theme before the revealer, although I didn't know what 'it out' was referring to.

LITCHI is how I've always spelled that cream soda-tasting fruit/nut. Never liked MOTT the Hoople. To me it is SOPPY.

Anyway, maybe because I found it easy, I liked it, with its blend of gimmes and more challenging stuff.

Ginger 7:25 PM  

Didn't know MOTT or SHEP; wanted THEm, SaPPY (as others did) and NYSx. So... I think this ran on the wrong day. Nevertheless I liked it, and enjoyed parsing the theme.

Enjoyed the write up, Puzzle Girl, and the jig-saw too!

In mourning for a pass that should have been a run.

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