Ben Canaan of Exodus / MON 5-18-15 / Savory filled pastries / Hit 1977 musical with song It's Hard-Knock Life

Monday, May 18, 2015

Constructor: Gene Newman

Relative difficulty: Medium (normal Monday)

THEME: Tom Swifties — "A Tom Swifty (or Tom Swiftie) is a phrase in which a quoted sentence is linked by a pun to the manner in which it is attributed." (wikipedia) — one of the oldest "joke"-types (or pun-types, I guess) in the book. Huge lists of them all over the internet. (See ... well, you have google, just see. For instance, #2, here) (or look under "U" here for "unwillingly") (or find "shiftlessly" on this page) (or "witheringly" on this page)

Theme answers:
  • WITHERINGLY (18A: "You forgot to water the plants," Tom said ___)
  • UNWILLINGLY (3D: "As much as I'd like, you're not getting any of my estate," Tom said ___)
  • SHIFTLESSLY (28D: "Being a bit lazy, I prefer automatic," Tom said ___)
  • OFFHANDEDLY (61A: "Oh, I just fed the alligator," Tom said ___)
Word of the Day: "ANNIE" (69A: Hit 1977 musical with the song "It's the Hard-Knock Life") —
Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and the book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre). It spawned numerous productions in many countries, as well as national tours, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical's songs "Tomorrow" and "It's the Hard Knock Life" are among its most popular musical numbers. (wikipedia)
• • •

If this is the first time you've ever encountered a Tom Swifty, well now that milestone in your life has passed. I hope you enjoyed that. This particular pun form is old as dirt. I will say one good thing about this puzzle—the fill is pretty darned clean. Now if only we could get clean fill and Reasonably Decent Theme to show up on the same day. Today's theme ("theme") is out of a box. Canned. Stale.  Conceptually bankrupt. Ridiculous. Not NYT-worthy—not by a long shot. When your theme is, essentially, four adverbs (honestly, you could remake this grid infinitely, with symmetrically placed adverbs), you don't have a theme.

I will continue writing about puzzles when they return to some semblance of worthiness. This is now back-to-back I-Can't-Believe-This-Got-Accepted puzzles. Unreal. I understand why the best constructors are producing for their own sites or other outlets now, I really do. But days like this I almost want to beg them to come back. Almost.

To be clear, these are all *fine* Tom Swifties. But Tom Swifties do not a puzzle theme make. No. No they don't.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


Anonymous 12:15 AM  

"This is a real dog of a theme," Rex snapped.

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

I've been doing these puzzles for a while now, and don't recall a Tom Swiftie theme. It appears Rex is opposed to Tom Swifties in principle (he said dogmatically). It works and was fun.

@Southern Bell - I use SPANG only in reference to my time stationed in Germany. And I never hurry. ;-)


thursdaysd 1:16 AM  

I just encountered these in a puzzle in the AARP magazine. Perhaps not the company the NYT is aiming to keep.

jae 1:46 AM  

@thursdaysd - Yes!  that's where I saw this theme recently, AARP.  

 Unlike Rex I like Swifties as a theme.  It's Monday after all and adverbs rarely get a chance to star. 

This seemed easy for a Mon. but I finished in medium-tough territory.  Could be because I needed more than a couple of crosses to get the theme answers.   

Anyway, Swifties plus smooth fill make for a fine Mon. 

Charles in Austin 1:46 AM  

Rex has no ability to appreciate originality and charm in anything Will Shortz is involved with.

chefwen 2:04 AM  

I thought I had seen this theme many times before. Guess I wasn't hallucinating.

It was fun and easy, that's all I ask of a Monday.

I wonder what EMU STEAK of. Chicken?

chefwen 2:21 AM  

Oops, missed the word tastes.

Anoa Bob 2:34 AM  

Was it Strunk & White who said "Use adverbs sparingly"?

Ellen S 2:41 AM  

@Chefwen, of course it tastes like chicken. Everything tastes like chicken: frogs, rattlesnakes, rabbits, maybe even chickens.

Tom Swifties are my favorite kind of pun. It so seems like I should be able to construct my own, and I so can't. Anyway, they make me smile no matter how dumb they are. And I dropped my membership in AARP after they supported the Medicare Prescription Drug Act (what a gift for the pharmaceutical industry), so the theme was not REHEATed. It was strange, though, to see ARI ben Canaan again. He used to be in almost every puzzle, him or Sal Mineo or Dov Landau. (Was that the character? I'm too lazy to look it up.)

Anyway, nice Monday.

bwalker 3:12 AM  

@ chef wen -- As the song by Elliot Rogers goes:
"Emu meat, emu meat,
It's a six-foot chicken that tastes like beef..."
Elliot goes on to say that his dog eats beef but turns its nose up at emu.

11:24 is some kind of record for me. Don't recall ever solving faster.

DLand 3:23 AM  

You have to go pretty far back for a NYT Tom Swifty puzzle, as far as I can tell. This is from 1970:

r.alphbunker 3:37 AM  
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r.alphbunker 3:38 AM  
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r.alphbunker 3:41 AM  

My guess is that Rex Parker was relieved to see the Tom Swifties because it provided a nice focus for his weekly trashing of the Monday puzzle.

46A {Lawful} Legal-->Legit-->LICIT @r.alph wrote eventually.

George Babiak 3:53 AM  

"Gr! Ouch!" said Rex grouchily.

Old timer 4:04 AM  

Loved it myself. I did the puzz in the Europe edition as I am a 'merican on Paris for two more days

Loren Muse Smith 4:32 AM  

"If this is the first time you've ever encountered a Tom Swifty, well now that milestone in your life has passed. I hope you enjoyed that." I swear, half the time I feel like I've been living under a rock. I did enjoy this milestone and can't believe I had never noticed how you could mess with adverbs like this.

For once, I did this one last night, never having heard of a Swifty, delighted, and even more delighted that I couldn't stop thinking of more. I see now why – the possibilities are endless. But they're all fun, and I usually don't fall all over myself to hear a pun.

A couple of things – am I reading too much into SHIFTLESS? I drive an automatic, but don't I shift gears anyway?

Also – MISHIT is just jarring to see. Funny, that. "You just back right outta mishit, man. Or I'ma filet you like an emu.

FILLET for fish, "filet" for meat? I dunno. I know I've never filleted (sp?) a fish. Ever. I tried once pondside when we were fishing, but I just pointlessly mangled the whole bass with my son's el cheapo knife.

So I rarely laugh out loud while solving, but the alligator one was too funny, especially for this Swifty virgin. Oops. It's all fun and games until the alligator bites your hand off.

I bet I thought of twenty five last night before I went to sleep, not realizing I was just shooting famous fish in a barrel. Ah me. Here are several I was happy with:

"Well! I'm expecting again, and this time around it's triplets," said Octomom overbearingly.

"Mr. Simon, "Kodachrome" is climbing on the charts. Are you surprised?"
"A little, I guess. It's been a bit of an adjustment," he said artlessly.

"I can't believe my car was stripped. I can't believe my car was stripped," he lamented tirelessly.

"Here – take all my shrimp and scallops; I'm allergic," I said unshellfishly.

And an old joke -

"Eins, zwei, drei, fünf," he said vierlessly.

I have to ECHO others – fun and easy. And eye-opening! I can't wait to put a list on the board for my classes. I have this one guy, Daniel, who just wants to drive a bulldozer when he graduates, but he sees all this language stuff faster than anyone. He's gonna love Swifties!

r.alphbunker 4:41 AM  


Wrote a program to search for puzzles with three or more answers of length 4 or more letters ending in LY and also found these:

And a cute variation on the adverb theme:

Danp 5:29 AM  

Medium difficulty for a Monday? This was little more than a speed typing test. I'll bet a lot of people beat my time with two thumbs.

GILL I. 5:30 AM  

Yikes...I'm not ever sure what you might expect of a Monday, @Rex...! Do you have a sample of something that you deem really worthy of what Will should publish? I'm not being facetious, I'm just curious as to what your criteria night be.
This puzzle was just FINE...Like @Loren, I've never heard of Tom Swifty. He seems just bodaciously fine by me because he uses adjectives and I love an LY at the end of anything.
I didn't find anything offense or strained or made up. Well, maybe MI SHIT fallowed closeLY by AIMED...but that's all!
LoveLY Monday Gene Newman. I'll take my STEAK, STEWS and SAMOSAS with a fried EGG on top.

Lewis 6:29 AM  
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Lewis 6:32 AM  
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Lewis 6:34 AM  
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Thomaso808 6:43 AM  

A great theme that doesn't even need a revealer and clean fill - what more can you ask for? Very good Monday.

I wanted OSHA to cross MISHap, but it was not to be. In 50+ years of following baseball, I don't recall hearing the term MISHIT. I'm chuckling even as I type it.

I read maybe a dozen Tom Swift books in my pre-teen years in the 60's, all from my mom buying them at rummage sales to wean me off of comic books. His young engineer / inventor character as the hero of the action adventure series was a big influence on me eventually going into an engineering career. It was only many years later that I learned about a Tom Swifty being a thing. I read all those books without even noticing!

@Loren, have fun with your students playing around with the adverbs. If you can, throw in a STEM connection somehow in homage to what the Tom Swift books were really all about, OK?

Lewis 6:44 AM  

"I head the Confederate Army," Tom said robertelee.

If you like puns, a theme like this is a joy if it is well executed, and it was here. As Rex was loathe to point out, the fill is clean, and the alligator answer (did it stump you?), especially, was a hoot.

My complaint is that the puzzle is, like yesterday's, too easy. Today's even too easy for a Monday. Too many clues like "Eve's man" and "Prom duds for a guy". My wife does the local crossword, one that is smaller than 15 x 15, and is intimidated by the NYT puzzles. But in the past month I've begun leaving out the Monday puzzles for her to try, and she has been successfully solving them and feeling good about it because they have been harder than the one she solves. Not today's. So Will, please continue to do what you've done since January, give Monday a bit more bite than you used to.

I would have preferred KEY West rather than East.

My first note on this puzzle was (and I'm not a virgin to Tom Swifties) "Fun theme!", with no sarcasm intended.

Carola 6:49 AM  

My delight at discovering Tom Swifties in fourth grade has carried over into my dotage. I thought the puzzle was LOADS of fun.

I liked the symmetical placement of heroines ALICE and ANNIE and was amused at LILLIAN Hellman and J. EDGAR Hoover sharing the grid.

Aketi 6:50 AM  

@lms, you always put an interesting twist on the puzzles that makes thrm more interesting, You remind me of the principal at one of the 15 public high schools we toured when our son was in his last year of middle school. I really detested American Hisotory. This high school had a primary focus on American History, he was so enthusiastic and articulate about the wonders of Americsn history that he made me want to study it, Tthat is also how you made me feel about puns.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

@lms. Correct - you shift the car in an automatic or you'd still be in your parking spot. Used to be that a manual transmission was also called a standard transmission, but now that automatic is the norm, what is a standard transmission - manual or automatic?

I found the puzzle delightful, clean and easy. Old man is doing it now and chuckling occasionally.

Whirred Whacks 7:16 AM  

"Accepting a puzzle as banal as this is out of character for Shortz," sniffed Rex unwillingly.

Ritabel 7:18 AM  

Just a pointless drill, Rex said boringly.

DShawMaine 7:20 AM  

Thought this was one of the easiest Mondays ever, and there's been a few lately. I too found the theme fun, even though I'm familiar with the pun style (did not know they were called Tom Swifties, so that is my lesson for the day). Breezy fun (she said airily...).

Steven M. O'Neill 7:28 AM  

Fun, fast Monday. Good practice on using the keyboard shortcuts on the NYT online app.

Mohair Sam 7:29 AM  

Fun - as good as a Monday ever gets. Have a ball with you Swifties @lms.

I can see @Rex's point however, this theme was used a mere 40 years ago in the NYT and once within the last decade by AARP. Rumor has it that a Tom Swiftie theme was used in an airline magazine puzzle (around 1983) - What the Hell is Will thinking?

NCA President 7:37 AM  

If I were banished to an uninhabited island as punishment for probably something I did and was forced to listen to puns for the rest of my life, but in a strange twist was given the opportunity to choose my pun poison, I'd probably choose the Tom Swifty pun. First, I didn't know that there were species of puns. Second, I've seen these kinds of puns before but didn't know they were "Tom Swifties." What are some names of other puns? If Tom Swifty is the "oldest" kind of pun, what is the newest? Is there some pun manufacturer who is always trying to create brand new kinds of puns?

This puzzle, given its punny nature, wasn't offensive. I've grown accustomed to xwords having puns. And like I said, these adverbial puns are, as puns go, the least offensive...and humorous.

And yes, maybe I hate puns because I can't do them. Or maybe because I hate them, I won't do them.

...he said mishittingly.

Steven Schlussel 7:38 AM  

Great comments, everyone!

pmdm 7:57 AM  

Good one, Ritabel.

At this point, it seems like those posting comments almost unanimously enjoy this type of puzzle. This makes much of what's said in today's write-up simply trash, unworthy of criticism. It's just plain dumb. I can understand not liking something - that's perfectly fine. The world would be boring if everybody was the same. But to demand that the NYT desist from publishing a puzzle that almost everybody else enjoys - boy, a person like that needs to buy an island and become a dictator there.

I'm being much more harsh than I like to be, making my reaction seem like a personal attach, which it isn't. Really. It's just that one of the things that angers me the most is the forcing of one's preferences on the entire world. We can all express our opinions. But today's write up - wow. Thank God for all the comments.

I suspect The Porker is grinning.

Billy C 8:01 AM  

@LMS --

With an automatic transmission, YOU DON'T SHIFT gears. You put the shirt lever INTO gear (Drive, Low, or Reverse, usually). If it's in Drive, THE TRANSMISSION SHIFTS through the forward gears automatically.

Jon 8:02 AM  

"Gutterball", said Rex sparingly.

Seriously though, I thought the puzzle was just fine (esp for a Monday). I've been doing the NYT puzzle for years and can't recall the last time a swifter puzzle appeared. As Rex noted, the fill was good, so I don't see what the frustration is all about.

To another point, the puzzles have been averaging easier as of late, so maybe the crankiness is due to more of a lack of oomph than a true boredom with this type of theme.

BC 8:03 AM  

Oops, that's SHIFT lever ...

John Child 8:04 AM  

NEPAL and SEISMIC caught my eye.

At least Rex has read Tom Swift (though none of the Beats).

Rhino 8:11 AM  

I really enjoy Rex's posts, and usually the less he likes a puzzle, the more entertaining the review (reminds a bit of Roger Ebert). But he has a weird thing about themes. He has a very narrow, and possibly arbitrary, criteria for what makes a good theme that I have yet to understand.

Me? I enjoyed the themes both yesterday and today. I agree both were easy, but personally I appreciated the ego boost.

Generic Solver 8:15 AM  

Whether or not the theme is trite, it's Monday and the puns put a smile on my face. I can't think of a reason why that's not a good thing.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

"I am not a grinch," protested Rex wholeheartedly.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

"I seem to have lost my arrow holder," said the archer without a quiver.

PapaLeroux 8:33 AM  

My wife just came up with this one. "I'm feeling a little persecuted lately," said Tom Brady deflatedly..

'mericans in Paris 8:37 AM  

Sorry, late again on posting Matt Esquare. However, for those interested, they can find the latest episode on yesterday's blog. Scroll down to near the end. It's the 80th and 81st comments, starting at 'mericans in Paris 8:32 AM.

New Englander 8:38 AM  

Hey @papa--

Ease up on the Patriots jokes. ;-)

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

With so many disagreeing with Rex, I need to express my agreement with him

To express what his basically his and my viewpoints briefly and less vituperously: Tom Swifties are too familiar a pun form to make a good theme. They've been done to death.

Gerry W

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

As someone who is "only" capable of a Monday puzzle (and a rare Tuesday) and as someone who uses this website to try to "learn" a thing or two, you can see how I must be getting a very slanted view of Rex Parker.....rarely does he have anything much nice to say about these things....RP--please don't take out your frustrations on us----Annabelle, please come back! I'm tired of such sour grapes!

AliasZ 8:42 AM  

Good puzzle, good puns, a good way to start the week. I am sure SEISMIC and NEPAL were purely coincidental, Gene Newman had nothing to do with it. My favorite was that offhanded remark, which I heard Tom say before as a lion tamer.

"Here's the investment opportunity of a lifetime" said Tom confidently.
"Have another whiskey" said Bill, oh, wryly.
"I am tired of living," Sue sighed.

The reason the puzzle was this clean was that there were only four theme answers. The trouble starts when constructors get over-enthusiastic and try to cram six or seven into a 15x15. This is definitely my preference: four or five max. It allows the grid to breathe.

Fine job, Gene, thanks.

Here is a lovely OCTET by Mozart, said Tom windedly.

Ludyjynn 8:51 AM  

Guess I'll CHIME in and ECHO others' comments. It's Monday, Rex. No reason to be SOSAD. Puzz. was perfectly presentable, w/ AFEW lovely words. HANG in there; I'm sure we'll see DICier grids as the week goes on.

Is a quiche an example of a SAMOSA, @Chefs?

Thanks, GN and WS.

Nancy 8:59 AM  

I love Tom Swifties. I have always loved Tom Swifties. To me, these punny delights were wasted on a much too easy puzzle. Imagine how great they would have been in a tough puzzle where you would actually have had to rely on them in order to solve.

joho 9:01 AM  

I thought the clue for 25D, NEPAL was interesting because since this puzzle was surely accepted before the quake, this is proof that Will updates the clues before publishing.

Rex hates puns.

I thought this was a perfect Monday level puzzle that was entertaining, easy and above all clean. Well done, Gene Newman!

Bob Kerfuffle 9:15 AM  

Easy but fun.

Another *hand* up for LOL at the alligator!

"Not all criticism need aim at tearing things down, though perhaps I could make a better grid," Tom said constructively.

Norm 9:16 AM  

This was a cute little Monday puzzle. Nothing wrong with the theme.

mathguy 9:18 AM  

@Nancy, my opinion exactly.

I do the Monday thru Wednesday puzzles only as the price of admission to this forum. The few minutes of mindless square-filling is almost always worth it. Today for example. Some terrific original Swifties.

Arlene 9:22 AM  

I got the theme right away - a nice, easy Monday - but it took a few more answers to remember the name of these - Tom Tom Tom (what is that name) Swifties! YAY!
It's been a very long time since I've even thought of that term. I was looking for the reveal in the puzzle - that would have been a nice touch.

Andrew Morrison 9:23 AM  

There were a lot of Tom Swiftys in Boys Life magazine, as I recall maybe 40 yrs later. For what it's worth...

I did love reding my father's old Tom Swift books when I was young. Great stuff!

I agree with the 'too easy' crowd. Definitely a speedtyping exercise.

quilter1 9:23 AM  

Easy and enjoyable. SAMOSAS brought a bittersweet memory. My ex-DIL made delicious SAMOSAS with machine-like precision. Beautiful and yummy and no, nothing like quiche. Think savory filled pastries. And I like puns.

Andrew Morrison 9:24 AM  

Reading, not reding. Sheesh!

Z 9:27 AM  

Rex Redux

1. Fill Good. "the fill is pretty darned clean."
2. These Swifties Good. "To be clear, these are all *fine* Tom Swifties."
3. Lists of Swifties are all over the internet (see Rex's links) ergo Swifties do not constitute a NYT worthy Theme. "honestly, you could remake this grid infinitely, with symmetrically placed adverbs"

I enjoyed the solve. I think the puns are cool. I think Rex is right. Sure, the NYTX Mondays should be accessible, but I have a hard time seeing how four 11 letter adverbs is a theme, too. I can go to an Asheville Tourists Single A baseball game and enjoy the experience, but when I pay for a Detroit Tigers game I expect better pitching, better hitting, better fielding, better umpiring. This puzzle was more Triple A, not Major League.

chefbea 9:28 AM  

Fun puzzle..I love Tom Swifties...and puns

Never heard of samosas - I'll have to google . Have never had a fillet of salmon..just a salmon steak.

Rex Porker 9:35 AM  

I do crossword puzzles. I write about crossword puzzles. Some of the most common occurrences in crossword puzzles are puns. I hate puns. Somehow, I have yet to understand that I am doomed to misery, but I get great pleasure out of sharing my misery on the internet. I hate my job, I hate my life, I hate Will Shortz, I hate the New York Times.
Perhaps, especially on Mondays and Tuesdays, I should let somebody else write this blog. I should take a walk, or smell the flowers, or have some Irish coffee.
I am absolutely certain that Will Shortz receives hundreds of interesting, well-constructed, just-the-right-degree-of-difficulty-for-the-day-of-the-week submissions, but just to anger me personally and NYT solvers in general, he chooses to publish flimsy puzzles that are either too easy or too hard and have tired, boring, overused themes, unacceptable fill, and are not constructed by Patrick Berry.

dk 9:39 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 (mOOns)

Huh! As a young dk rainy days in Maine were spent reading the original Tom Swift, Nancy Drew and Mickey Spillane. And, Swifties became a preferred mean of commentary.

My point is a Swifty would go something like: "You forgot to water the plants," withered Tom dryly. The word said would not be said.

Also… a childhood trauma was learning that the authors of Swift and Drew books were ghostwriters working for the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Edward Stratemeyer somehow knew my grandparents and one weekend we were regaled with tales of the Syndicate from a young author who was part of the latest version of the Syndicate (this in 1959 or so) while the grand ps told tales on "Ed." All very disturbing learning that the author of a book may not be or even be.

Lewis 9:41 AM  

"Vaccination shots are dangerous," Tom said hypocritically.

"There's not a place in this musical score that allows me to breathe," said Tom restlessly.

"I couldn't," said Tom carelessly.

"I won't quit until I get to the top," Tom said condescendingly.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

"I dropped my toothpaste," said Tom, crestfallen.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

"I'm pregnant in Spain," said Tom embarrassingly.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

"I rally wish these eggs would hatch, " said Tom broodingly.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

I can see that this is a day when inventive people on this blog are going to coin their own Tom Swifties. I plan to come back at the end of the day to see them all. As of right now, my faves are @lms's triplets one; @Lewis's vaccination one; and @Anon 9:45's toothpaste one. (It's good enough, Anon 9:45, for you to actually name yourself.)

Hartley70 10:00 AM  

The Tom Swifty is a completely new category of puns to me. Carolyn Keene wasn't nearly as clever. Consequently I very much enjoyed the themers and I found the fill to be really superior with few exceptions. This was an excellent Monday puzzle although I shudder at the thought of a potential "Annie" earworm. No, no anything but that!

Mike D. 10:00 AM  

This puzzle was like yesterday's: It was fun to see if I could get the long answers with no crosses.
There are ways to keep it interesting. Unless you are Rex.

Indypuzzler 10:05 AM  

All the Swifty blogs are cracking me up! I thought this was a very fun and very easy puzzle. I was sure that Rex would label it "easy...even for a Monday". I really can't figure out how he rates the difficulty level and that takes into consideration what I have learned on this blog.

Steve M 10:10 AM  

Chill Rex

chefbea 10:15 AM  

Love the crest falling!!! good one

Leapfinger 10:26 AM  

@Lewis, do that one more time, and I promise the South Will Rise Again.

@Alias: Oh, really? Perhaps a chop suey side?

UNWILLINGLY made my eyebrows waggle, since I'm in the midst of an estate settlement. Follow that with WITHERINGLY for my gardening and SHIFTLESSLY for my latest car (Boy, do I miss my manuals!), and saw it was all getting personal. Best of all: my work in Ortho was with the Replant docs who re-attached severed parts, mostly upper extremity bits, so OFFHANDED was great.

That got me thinking of Tom Swifties that could relate to other parts of my life:
"I operate without anaesthesia", said Tom unfeelingly.
"I just can't find the inspiration", said Tom breathlessly.
"I can't get inspired", said Tom amusedly (hi @lms)
"I have 12 children", said Tom parenthetically
"I have no children", said Tom inconceivably.

Anyhoo, this Newman guy does (re)produce a darn good Monday cross-wp", said Tom inGENEously.

Penna Resident 10:36 AM  

what happened to last years meme its all about the fill

the NYT puzzle is for a very large number of diverse people, so it would be a poor editor that doesnt enlist a variety of theme types. some people fail to understand this.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

This Monday crossword's a barker
I prefer my humor much darker
And the theme is so stale
The whole puzzle's a fail
It's so true, after all I'm Rex Parker

Charles Flaster 10:42 AM  

EZ schmeezy. Loved the Tom Swift series in the fifties.
Enjoyed this puzzle especially the neat short stuff with ROW my favorite.
CrosswordEASE-- HIE and ARI.
Thanks GN.

jberg 10:44 AM  

I liked the puns, didn't know they were called "Tom Swifties" -- although maybe I had a buried memory, because when I wondered who Tom was, Swift was the name that came to mind. I gather that the actual (i.e., fictional) Tom actually talked that way?

So the theme was OK, but I'm with the "too easy" crowd. And MISHIT is abominable, even without @Loren's misparsing. I think FILLET is British.

Nice down-under corner in the top left, though. EMU certainly doesn't taste like chicken, it's red meat -- more like antelope than beef, I'd say. But it's been 20 years since I last tasted it.

joho 10:56 AM  

@jberg, I keep reading it as, "I've got to get MISHIT together" in which case it's kind of amusing.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

Did someone (@Ludyjynn) just ask if a quiche was an example of a samosa?! I never cease to be amazed at the willingness of people on this board to make fools of themselves rather than spend a minute using google.

Jayke 10:58 AM  

"I will continue writing about puzzles when they return to some semblance of worthiness."

Um... what? Since there have been no comments on this statement, I'm guessing that nobody actually believes that Rex's frustration has finally gotten the better of him.

NCA President 10:59 AM  

"I sing the body electric," Walt said shockingly.

"It says we need to do it this way right here in the kama sutra!" Jeff told his wife perversely.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

"Now that we've sailed to this forest, let's process these trees into lumber," said Tom as he disembarked.

MDMA 11:29 AM  

Overuse of puns is best idea, he said "never the" -lessly.

mac 11:33 AM  

Never, ever heard of Tom Swifties, but I thought it was funny in this very easy puzzle. Come to think of it,
I haven't read a lot of puns i English in my life, so maybe I'm more appreciative of them.

I wrote "ligit", then of course had to change it to a C. Only write over in the thing.

andy 11:37 AM  

Rex must have had a hard weekend. Today's whine might not be unexpected, but the lame excuse for being lazy in his write-up trumps anything I've seen from him in recent memory.

andy 11:44 AM  

Oh, and this was the easiest Monday ever for me. I don't time myself, but I barely skipped a beat - just needed crosses for a couple theme answers, and stumbled at legal --> LICIT. For me, that says easy.

If Rex thought this was medium, then something else was going on that made him particularly grumpy for this write-up.

CLB 11:47 AM  

I thought this one was a pleasant Monday. Maybe Rex needs a sabbatical?

Tennis mom 11:48 AM  

I am new to doing these puzzles . Why is Annie the word of the day and why is the letter n in denim in red in the answer grid ?

weingolb 11:49 AM  

"Today is a holiday (meaning no NYT paper here) so I went around and gathered up some choice Patrick puzzles like this one," razzed the Canadian, Berryingly.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

I'd say the Porker really hit the nail on the head (sorry for the trite truism). After all, it's just Monday. And, let me add my name to those who are not familiar with the Tom Swiftie puns. I got a smile out of them and found it a typically easy Monday.

Why does Rex hate Will Shortz? Is that why he didn't go to the ACPT this year? If he did, haven't seen an update in his ranking since 2013.

Leapfinger 11:55 AM  

@NCAPrez, your closing line reminded me:

It's been a long time since I read any Pynchon (back when I had more patience), and I can't quote much from anything he wrote. Actually, all I remember is one line from "Gravity's Rainbow", which functioned quite well as a doorstep. The line was spoken by a man whose wife was not only athletic but also adventurous:

"Goddammit, Mafia, you're turning our marriage into a trampoline act!!"

So thanks for that memory.

Anonymous 11:56 AM  

It also appeared in Mensa Monthly in Oct. 2011.

Joseph Michael 11:58 AM  

He rarely said: "My STEAK is undercooked."

"I have the FLU and need to see the doctor," she said patiently.

"ALL I'm wearing are my undies," he said briefly.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:02 PM  

@Tennis mom - Rex choses the Word of the Day on his whim, usually something interesting, but always for reasons known only to him.

For the explanation of the red letter and other miscellany, click on the "FAQ" button at the very top of the blog.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:05 PM  

@Tennis mom - Sorry, I see the FAQ doesn't specifically mention the red letter, but that is just the last letter Rex entered in his grid.

Carola 12:22 PM  

dk - Now I feel just three degrees of separation from Carolyn Keene - awesome! :)

Lewis 12:27 PM  

Factoid: The author of the Tom Swift series, "Victor Appleton", in some of the books, went ALL out to avoid using the word "said" alone, often adding modifying adverbial words or phrases, and giving birth to puns that became called "Tom Swifty" puns. (Information from Wikipedia).

Quotoid: "Football is a fertility festival. Eleven sperm trying to get into the EGG. I feel sorry for the goalkeeper." -- Bjork

Lewis 12:29 PM  

This is not mine, but I really like it: "I am wearing a wedding ring," said Tom with abandon.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

This puzzle sucked said Tom vacuously.

Z 1:17 PM  

At Midnight Rex suggested that, "honestly, you could remake this grid infinitely, with symmetrically placed adverbs"

Then after 14 swifties @Gerry W wrote, "To express what {was} basically his and my viewpoints briefly and less vituperously: 'Tom Swifties are too familiar a pun form to make a good theme. They've been done to death.'"

Since 8:30 a.m. there have been at least 24 more, bringing today's count of swifties to at least 42 (including the four in the puzzle).

"Way past time for the crook," Z flapped hookedly.

Masked and AnonymoUUs 1:23 PM  

Kinda pouty, pouty, @63. Gonna pick up MISHIT (yo, @muse) and go home, if I can't always have it my way? Agree with U, that the fill is admirably solid. And that the themers are well done. I bet Blu'Bel woulda had a really enthusiastic reaction to this MonPuz, because maybe just maybe the gimmick would've been new to her... and if not for this puz, she'd never have gotten to enjoy it.

I guess I could pick up MISHIT and go home, if a puz ain't got more than a coupla U's (5/18/15). Or if Patrick Berry reanimates the old switch-a-letter cadaver (8/24/14). Or if Patrick Berry airs the old adda-coupla-letters rerun (10/6/13). Horse hockey. I wanna stick around and enjoy these quality NYT puzs.

Any theme that has bazillions of possibilities kinda cries out for more than one go-round, in my book. And yes, @chefbea (10:15am/5/18/15), crestfallenly is really a primo one. Glad this MonPuz had this theme, just to get to hear crestfallenly.

fave weejects: EMU FLU. Sounds like an epidemic.

fave moocow-easy MonPuz clue: "Column's opposite", which is only NMULOC in runtpuzs. Honrable mention to "Light brown", as I know @63 really likes the paint colors.


**"groundbreakin" gruntz**

dick swart 1:27 PM  

Rex in a foul mood this AM so it would appear.

An easy puzzle that has the nostalgia of Tom Swifties which I don't think I'd thought of since the '60's.

A Monday that is easy enough to start in the NW corner and finish in the SE corner with a chuckle at the swifts is fine with me.

Noam D. Elkies 1:32 PM  

100+ comments, and nothing about the duplication of 4A:PAPER in the 19D:REAMS clue?

Other than that, the puzzle was a perfectly adequate Downs-only exercise. Just because we've seen REAMS of Tom Swifties doesn't mean we can enjoy a TS-themed puzzle.


Anonymous 1:43 PM  

"'Goody Two Shoes' is the best song ever written," Tom said adamantly.

evil doug 1:58 PM  

"I'm having some trouble in the sack," Tom said impotently.

"But at least I can still masturbate," Tom said cockily.

"I'm experimenting with homosexuality," said Tom, half in earnest.


Penna Resident 2:09 PM  

anon 1:43 wins.

when i saw adam ant the not-yet crossworthy INXS opened for him.

"i crank out a pun a minute" tom said swiftly.

chefbea 2:11 PM  

I don't understand that riddle...he said jokingly

chefbea 2:12 PM  

I'll get that roast in the oven chefbea said heatedly

Mike D. 2:14 PM  

Anon@ 1:43 FTW.

Colby 2:40 PM  

A perfectly fine Monday. Actually, above average as Mondays go. Rex just sounds whiny today.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

Never heard of a Tom Swiftie pun but that does not invalidate the theme. Who said you can''t use adverbs as a basis a theme?
For me solving a puzzle is trying to get on the constructor's wave length and attempt guess the solution from the clues.
For me about average difficulty - 13 minutes and change.
I think that Rex outdid himself in the grouchy mood department.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

"This cabernet is worse than today's crossword puzzle," Rex said whinily.

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

"This puzzle is below average," he said meanly.

lawprof 4:33 PM  

Until today I thought that earworms were always musical. Now Swifties (a term with which I'd been hitherto unfamiliar) are rattling around up there. "Uh...stop it," he said haltingly."

Carola 4:39 PM  

"I'd rather grade finals!" said Rex testily.

Penna Resident 4:46 PM  

"i seem to have lost my wife, but thats ok" said orlando bloom kerrlessly.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

"I guess I need to go back on my meds," said Rex depressedly.

chefbea 5:36 PM  

I WONT take that management course she said angrily.

Roo Monster 5:45 PM  

Hey All !
Well, let me tell ya. Got home from work Friday, no cable/internet. Called cable company, said someone would come twixt 8-10am Saturday. So, no SatPuz, cause I print them from Then Sun and today, starting time changed from normal at work, so finished the SunPuz very late. (Agree on the easinessish of it, though). Crazy things happening, Roo cried insanely. :-)

Liked todays puz (altogether quit using apostrophe's's thanks to Grammar Nazi!), neat theme I wasn't aware of. Never claimed to be well read (and with my Chronic Short Term Memory Loss, I'd probably not remember any of them anyway!). Agree with this puz being easy also.

Liked the MISHIT MIS HITs!

CHIMEing in

Norm 6:34 PM  

@evil doug: You are horrible / meaning hilarious. I am gong to send you a bill for the sip of wine you made me spit up on the dining room table because one cannot laugh out loud and swallow at the same time. My big brother introduced me to Swifties when I was about 7, so this puzzle brought back great memories.

mathguy 6:51 PM  

Great job everybody but the winner is ... @evil doug.

M and Also-ly 7:07 PM  

"I take back eveything bad I said about this real nice crossword puz," he said, unremarkably...

Needed another U-swiftie.


Joseph Welling 7:49 PM  

Tom was out riding his motorcycle with his girlfriend Ruth as passenger. "I hit a pothole, but I rode on," he said ruthlessly.

My favorite doesn't quite fit the Swiftie format:
"I'm honestly not sure how I feel about gay necrophilia," said Frank half in dead Ernest.
[d'oh--just saw evil doug's version of this one!]

Joseph Welling 7:50 PM  

"I don't see what's good about Friday!" said Jesus crossly.

The Russian Judge 8:53 PM  

@evil doug @ 1:58 and @anon @ 1:43 win the day, with anon @ 9:45 a close runner up.
@ Rex (Parker, not Porker) is the day's big loser.

Ludyjynn 9:04 PM  

Hey, @10:57 am Troll, my question was directed to @Chefs, not you. If you don't like my comments, SKIP THEM and make the world a happier place.

Anonymous 9:27 PM  

Hey, @9:04 Ludy, it was a really fucking stupid question.

Southern Bell 9:32 PM  

@Brennan Anon, have you any idea how long it took me to track down that SPANG exchange? I could not just let it slide. I'm pleased to hear that you take your time.

Leapfinger 10:41 PM  

@Anony 10:57am and 9:27pm, I'd lay odds that @Ludyjynn knows the difference between a quiche and a samosa. On the other hand, there do seem to be some gratuitous babblers who don't know MISHIT from MISHINOLA

Am in full agreement about the 'half in Ernest' swifties, but, sports fans, That ain't Evil D!!

I also liked the Anony 'disembarkment' and MDMA's 'neverthe-lessly'. Quite the full orchestra we had going there for a while; thanks to all the contributors!

Anonymous 10:55 PM  

"This puzzle has me all bent out of shape," said Rex stupidly.

"It's a stale idea," he said dryly.

"This is why I can't warm to it," he said coldly.

"Do you think people are fed up with my negative attitude?" he said stuffily?

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

This puzzle tweaked my tush Rex said assuredly.

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

Liked Adamantly. The Earl thing - whatever that means. Kerrless seemed like a triple pun but has pronunciation issues. LMS hit the theme in stride.

So many of these suggestions were just not puns. Just. Not. Puns. No wonder most of the clever commenters have moved on to other blogs with competent editing.

Elephant's Child 1:20 AM  

'Just. Not. Puns.' he complained, periodically.

Ludyjynn 9:35 AM  

Thanks, @Leapy. @Anon 10:57am and 9:27pm, you can quiche my samosa. And you can keep your foul mouth shut.

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spacecraft 11:07 AM  

"I'll get the jack and the spare," he said flatly. (Or, "I'm the best Irish dancer there is," said Michael flatley.) Enough.

I sometimes truly don't understand OFL. He says "I will continue writing when..." Does that mean he's about to DISCOntinue this blog? Or hire poor tired Annabel full-time?

Count me with the enjoyers. What, spellcheck? No such word as "enjoyers?" Well, here, spill some more of that red ink. Enjoyer, enjoyer, enjoyers!

I enjoyed that.Yes, Swifties--or "Swiftlies," as we called them, paying homage to the relevant part of speech--are old as dirt. So are the pyramids, but we still like to visit them. Before we dismiss the theme as too thin, we should note that each entry is eleven letters long. And as even our resident curmudgeon admits, the FILLET is as good as that of a STEAK. Just AFEW pieces of gristle along the eastern edge. The unquestioned star of the show is OFFHANDEDLY: hilarious! Then "Could you please rush me to the nearest hospital?" cried Tom disarmingly. He could have made a better argument, but he didn't have a leg to stand on. Thankfully, I have managed to elude that hungry reptile, so I still have two thumbs, which I am happy to point up. A-.

Burma Shave 11:32 AM  


SOSAD, this MENIAL hand she would lend him.
She LANDED AFEW well-AIMED strokes WITHER left
and ADAM GAPED and thought it nearly THEFT,
that so OFFHANDEDLY she OPTed to tend him.


rondo 12:05 PM  

It’s been ages since I’ve seen Swifties. Almost forgot what they are. Nothing wrong with using them on a Mon-puz. Every bit as good as the A-E-I-O-U progressions. Better than those IN things yesterday.

Lotsa GALS names, but no yeah babies comin’ to mind. Especially not Janet RENO.

Don’t play your DISCO music on TOYSHOP STEREOS, or EWER gonna regret it.

I guess that OFL must think every day, “MISHIT don’t stink.” AINT so. Seems the likes outnumber the dislikes. No complaints from me.

Food pics again

packerbacker 12:44 PM  

"Drive fast!", said Tom swiftly.

rain forest 12:55 PM  

"Hey Billy, ever seen an ear of corn?", he asked huskily. "I think we're in for a solar eclipse", he said darkly. "I guess I have to take Fido out for his walk", he said doggedly. I should feel bad for the foregoing, but I don't, I say unashamedly.
I don't think we've had a puzzle where virtually everyone disagrees with Rex so heartlessly. This was a fun puzzle we all said Sharply. 'Nuff said.

DMG 2:52 PM  

Liked it. Liked all the blogged Swifties. Wouldn't it be nice if every week started with so many smiles!

Tom 3:21 PM  

"I've lost my mind", he snapped.

Ginger 4:28 PM  

Lots of chuckles as I did this very easy puzzle, and then a ton of laughs from the blog! Thanks everyone, you all (well most of you) made my day.

strayling 8:06 PM  

She said, dismissively.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

A standard transmission is now called a 'stick' in case I missed it in all these blogs.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

A standard transmission is now called a 'stick' in case I missed it in all these blogs.

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