Good dinosaur in Pixar's Good Dinosaur / MON 11-16-15 / Diplomatic contretemps during John Adams's administration / Carrier to Amsterdam / Captain Hook's henchman

Monday, November 16, 2015

Constructor: Jim Holland

Relative difficulty: Somewhat tougher than usual Monday (30 seconds tougher)

THEME: THREE IN A ROW (59A: Tic-tac-toe win ... or hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues) —three theme answers begin with three consecutive letters of the alphabet

Theme answers:
  • ABC ANCHOR (10D: *David Muir ... or Peter Jennings, once)
  • KLM AIRLINES (19A: *Carrier to Amsterdam)
  • XYZ AFFAIR (33D: *Diplomatic contretemps during John Adams's administration)
Word of the Day: MAUD Adams (14A: Bond girl Adams) —
Maud Solveig Christina Wikström (born 12 February 1945), known professionally as Maud Adams, is a Swedish actress, known for her roles as two different Bond girls: in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), and as the eponymous character in Octopussy (1983) as well as making a brief uncredited appearance in A View to a Kill (1985). (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't think this works too well, thematically. It might, if there were better theme answers available. For instance, XYZ AFFAIR is aces. First-rate. But the others are less so. KLM AIRLINES is legit enough, though it's a bit dull, the AIRLINES part being pretty redundant, in common parlance. I've only ever heard it as just KLM. Answer here is acceptable, but not interesting. And then there's ABC ANCHOR, which feels slightly awkward and forced. It doesn't google well. When I put "news" into the middel of the phrase and then re-google search, the number of hits balloons to something like 5x the number of hits for ["ABC ANCHOR"] alone. It's a contrived answer—defensible, but not sharp. Light years away from XYZ AFFAIR. And with only three theme answers in the whole thing, you really want them all to land. Perfectly. The fill on this one is not fantastic, even with the 4 cheater squares added, presumably, to make filling the grid easier (black squares above MAR / below ION, and above AYE / below ONT). There's no excuse for having RELEE in an early-week puzzle that's this easy to fill, to say nothing of the longish abomination that is ASATEAM. But it's clean-ish. The real issue for me was the wobbly theme execution.

  • 1D: Uses for all it's worth (MILKS) — this was the first of many missteps and rewrites. I think I wrote in MAXES. 
  • 17A: The good dinosaur in Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" (ARLO) — I have never heard of this movie, so, needless to say, I've never heard of the answer. This and MAUD (where I drew another blank) added to my relative slowness today. Can you add to slowness? Sure. Why not?
  • 51A: Full-length movie (FEATURE) — is "The Good Dinosaur" a FEATURE??? Oh, would you look at that: It. Hasn't. Even. Come. Out. Yet. (due out Nov. 25) I'm trying to understand how I'm supposed to know a character in a movie that hasn't been released yet. And on a Monday? Weird. Anyway, FEATURE helped me change MELEE to RELEE. I had written in that "M" when I noticed I had -ELEE and figured "What else could it be...?" Blargh.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:18 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Pretty good Mon. Liked it more than Rex did, but Jeff Chen at Xwordinfo makes some of the same points.

Chaz 12:20 AM  


Music Man 12:38 AM  

Hmm I seemed to fly right through this getting stuck only at the LEICA TCU crossing, a personal natick.

David Krost 12:41 AM  

I am surprised you are not having more of an angry fit over the clue involving "The Good Dinosaur". As you correctly point out, it has not been released in the USA and presumably was scheduled to debut in Paris the night of the bombings. That seems so far out of bounds as to have orbited Pluto and then left the solar system. As far as I can discern, the movie is not based on a book or any other way that justifies people knowing this clue.

I don't care if it is easily cross able, it is a death penalty offense for crossword puzzling. Especially since Arlo is so commonly clued otherwise. I appreciate trying not to use such a tired clue, but talk about going too far the other way!!

jp flanigan 1:29 AM  

Fastest finish time by almost 40 seconds. I didn't need a second time through. Besides having sticky BUNS for 3 seconds, this was over in a flash.

chefwen 1:54 AM  

Another Monday easy puzzle, which is appropriate seeing as how it's Monday. MAUD 14A and ARLO. 17A were my two unknowns but they filled in nicely with the crosses. Only write over was ABC ANCHOR, I started filling in ANalist until I ran out of room. Silly me.

Thought the theme was a little on the bland side.


Franciscus van Munster 3:13 AM  

The answer KLM AIRLINES bothered me too. You have never heard it called that way, because it is wrong. It is either KLM on Royal Dutch Airlines, which is a rough translation of what the abbreviation KLM stands for in Dutch.

Charles Flaster 5:28 AM  

EZ and got theme at KLM.
The three themers should have contained abbr. in the clue.
Favorite answer was COMMA,
No CrosswordEASE.
Thanks JH

Lewis 6:09 AM  

@chaz -- I think "DEF LEPARD" would be an outlier, as the other theme answers you actually say each of the the three-in-a-row letters out loud. But props to you for thinking of it. I tried to think of other theme answers and couldn't come up with one.
@franciscus -- I think "KLMAIRLINES" is okay. Every airline I can think of, such as Virgin, United,Southwest, etc., can be called by it's one-word name, but is often followed by "Airlines". So I think it's in the language.

I think this is a great idea for a theme, and if it hasn't been done before, bravo to Jim on coming up with it, as well as congrats on the debut. It's one of those ideas that make me wonder, "Why hasn't anyone come up with this before?"

There are some nice answers -- ALBEE, NICHE, SCONCES, BAZAAR -- especially nice on Monday. There is a mini theme of double E's (10!). We have RICE crossing LO-CAL, and a backward PILUT crossing KLM AIRLINES (which almost works). EELY next to SMEE is crosswordese Hall of Fame, but a little of that doesn't bother me if I'm finding the puzzle interesting to do -- and I did!

Roo Monster 7:01 AM  

Hey All !
Breezy little puz. Liked how I questioned the NW aftwr having the K and L next to each other. But continued on, and grocked the theme. Neat! Agree could've used maybe one more themer, but apparently the three-letters-in-a-row pool isn't very deep.

UNTRUTH looks odd. I guess it's a thing, but... The upper middle section could theoretically be a triple Natick, if you don't know your Dutch blooms (which I don't), and then as pointed out by others, ARLO movie not even playing yet, plus the Bond girl who's missing an E! But essentially gettable. Also, as mentioned, tbe LEICA/TCU cross Natickable.

Overall, fun, light dreck, quick but made you think a bit. Nice to see IS TO clued not as a playground retort.

Off to do the SunPuz which I didn't get a chance to do yesterday.


AliasZ 7:49 AM  

Simple enough theme for a Monday. Perhaps one or two more theme entries could have made it a little more interesting, something like DEF Leppard or STU Gotts.

As for the Royal Dutch Airlines airlines, we already have ATM machines, PIN numbers, TWA Airlines, etc., what's wrong with KLM Jewelry?

Not much else to say besides the fact that it was one of the easiest and fastest solve in memory. Lots of IONs today: a MAN'S ION, an OP-IN ION and a positively charged ION.

I RATE this one a LEICA, and NYT debut to boot. Kudos to Jim Holland.

Happy Monday!

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Is no one IRATE at the fact that "PCs" simply means Personal Computers and could consist of either Macs of Windows??!

NCA President 7:52 AM  

I was just six seconds off my best time. The ARLO/MAUD block came purely from crosses. I read the clues, but passed on them, and once through the downs there, completely filled in.

All of the Monday-like outliers (MAUD, ARLO, LEICA, ALBEE) were solved by crosses. Fortunately, none of those answers crossed each other.

On to the BuzzFeed puzzle, which has become my favorite.

GILL I. 8:35 AM  

I wonder if you can make a puzzle without one E....
I enjoyed the little Monday romp. Did do a little head scratch on the KLM AIRLINES since KLM stands for Royal Dutch AIRLINES....!
So be it, it gave us a Monday theme.
I think more of Turkish rugs at the Grand BAZAAR of Istanbul. Talk about a BAZAAR!!!!
Fine start to Monday and congratulation on the debut.

Bob Kerfuffle 8:44 AM  

Felt like a very easy puzzle to me, and probably to everyone else who follows the Sunday morning puzzle on NPR. The challenge for next week, given yesterday by Will Shortz, was, "Think of a word that contains three consecutive letters of the alphabet together — like CANOPY, which contains NOP. Change these three letters to one new letter to make a synonym of the first word. What words are these?"

I would say our heads were full of every example of consecutive three letters!

Nancy 9:03 AM  

Very, very easy, but also very smooth. I have another "over/under" for you, @Mohair: How many people will say that the theme answers are the dead opposite of the theme? A tic-tac-toe win is three-of-a-kind, i.e. OOO or XXX. All the theme answers are different letters that follow each other: ABC, KLM, XYZ. You can call each of the two themes "THREE IN A ROW" but that does not make them the same thing. Any one of the above would be a tic-tac-toe LOSS. Just sayin'.

quilter1 9:07 AM  

Easy Monday for me. I flew KLM AIRLINES and for breakfast they (maybe used to) bake fresh rolls. With their wonderful strong coffee it was sure a treat to wake up to those aromas. Liked lots of the same answers as @Lewis. It felt fresh to me.

Z 9:12 AM  

@chedwen - Do you know something we don't?

The Good Dinosaur asks the question, "What if the asteroid missed?" and comes up with people hanging out with dinosaurs. Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhh. My brain hurts. Is Disney ruining Pixar? Based on the endless stream of ads I would say, "yes." Got the answer from crosses. Never needed the clue and didn't realize the movie wasn't showing yet.

Hey, the Lions beat the Packers in Lambeau. Has anyone checked the temp in hell this morning. I hear NOAA issued a freeze warning.

chefbea 9:15 AM  

Fun easy puzzle. Finished it before I finished my bowl of that's fast

Caryl Baron 9:24 AM  

Easiest Monday ever! Except I just saw KLMAIRFRANCE in the NYT, but it didn't quite fit, so AIRLINES it is.

mac 9:51 AM  

Very easy, but I also stumbled on that "airlines", indeed redundant.
@quilter: KLM still does the fresh pastries: hot apple cinnamon or a savory one, ham-cheese-tomato. They are good.

Good thing I knew Leica, otherwise TCU would have been a guess.

Indypuzzler 9:54 AM  

@Anonymous 7:50, I am not IRATE because, whether or not the designation is appropriate, PCs were long ago ago designated as IBM and its clone computers and distinguished from the Mac much due to the different operating systems.
I really looked for a comment about this puzzle skewing old due to the MAUD Adams and Sonny and Cher references. I still enjoyed it and it was in my wheelhouse for a fast solve. @Lewis, good point on Def Leopard disqualification.

Joseph Michael 9:56 AM  

THREE IN A ROW is so general it could apply to almost anything, including a Tic-tac-toe loss. I YEARNS for a better way to start the week.

Ludyjynn 10:00 AM  

This no SWEAT, super easy puzzle reminded me of a former housemate, a medical student who took ANAT LAB one semester. He quickly discovered he needed to figure out a way to save his shoe wardrobe from imminent doom. As he described it, the class stood around the cadaver table which had a trough built into the floor (stop reading this now if you are the squeamish type). Over the course of their dissections, various bodily fluids ended up sloshing over their feet and into the trough. He opted to dedicate one pair of athletic sneakers solely for this class. When he arrived home, he would unlace the shoes on the front stoop, hand carry them through the house in as AGILE a fashion as possible, dropping them directly into the back yard, where they stayed, airing out til the next lab. Even my dog wouldn't go near them, they reeked so much! At the end of the semester, we had a ceremonial disposal of the sneakers. Amen.

Re ARLO, this movie has been hyped to death around the clock on tv for at least 3 weeks. If you don't watch tv, the answer is easily gettable via crossses, so no harm, no foul, in my OPINION.

Thanks, JH and WS.

Mike D 10:15 AM  

Does anyone want any ABC gum?

Aketi 10:17 AM  

I GOT THREE IN A ROW no SWEAT. Yet another ne record for my Monday morning puzzles.

Carola 10:25 AM  

Nice Monday. After KLM AIRLINES, I looked forward to seeing what other THREE-letter runs would appear. I liked how they included both ends of the alphabet and (almost) the middle. Also liked the guitar FRET x STRUM and the FEATURE film next to REELS.

Jamie C 10:26 AM  

EEk! REDEEMED, SEEN, REELS, RELEE, ALBEE, SMEE, EELY, DEED, TEEM. Has to bee some kind of "EE" record. Add ASATEAM, STEAMS, SEAMS. This thing rEEks.

Andrew Heinegg 10:49 AM  

It was on the far side of easy for me with the only unknown being the good dinosaur, which clue, I did not even see as I had the answer filled in from crosses before I looked at the clue. It is a Monday puzzle so you cannot expect a series of brain-twisting answers and I enjoyed the 3 consecutive letters theme and the reminder from 7th grade? history class of the XYZ Affair. For being a 'war', it was pretty civilized with no casualties. It took so long for communications and travel that you had to consider hard and long before engaging in hostilities. Now, you can complete everything necessary to carry on a war in the blink of an eye. That is progress?!

jberg 10:50 AM  


That about covers it, except to @Gill I. -- I think Patrick Berry did an e-less puzzle 4 or 5 years ago. Probably someone who is a master of the databases can post a link.

George Barany 11:02 AM  

Congratulations to @Jim Holland for his New York Times debut. Must feel like a Dutch Treat to see this published!

Congratulations too to several major members of the crossword community who have birthdays today. Learn their identities here and here, but not here.

Tita 11:06 AM  

@Nancy - good catch - the "three in a row" does require a twist in meaning - they are both threes in a row, but in different ways.

Oh well, I still liked that the theme is a nod to a croswordese standby.

@Z - I think you can ask "Is Disney ruining ____?" and the answer is a resounding YES.
For that reason, I would have preferred a stale Guthrie clue to a product placement. I hope at least that Will got paid well for inserting an ad into our puzzle. (yea, right)

Who else remembers when you didn't need an area code to call your next door neighbor? My biggest annoyance is "1" or not "1". If you're going to let the phone ring once, then chime in with a recording saying that to complete this call, I must (or must not) dial the numeral one", then why not save us all a lot of time and just complete the call for me? We both know what we want here...

Yesterday we had SPLICing old movies, today we have the REELS they came on.

Easy Monday. Thanks, Mr. Holland. (Wait - shouldn't he have known better about the whole KLM thing??)

thfenn 11:40 AM  

Just doing the acrosses, had VERDICT before OPINION and ANGRY before IRATE, even EGG before RYE (tho that was STUpid, clue wasn't 'Ham and ___'). But all resolved pretty quickly, nice easy finish - meaning in my case I'm pretty happy to be under 10 minutes....

Do think KLMAIRLINES is wrong - I mean, it works, but it really isn't called that, as it is used simply as the acronym for Royal Dutch Airlines in Dutch, though I see the ATM machines point.

As long as 'threeinarow' is just a hint to the starts of the themes, I guess that works, but I did think XXX vs XYZ was a little off...Nice opportunity to read up on the XYZ affair, though. Never new about the Quasi-War.

Wednesday's Child 11:53 AM  

I noticed all the double EEs, too, REDEEMED being another one. Fast, easy, fun. I had much more trouble with the mini puzzle.

Numinous 12:47 PM  

Talk about different wheelhouses! Jeeze. Finished this in 40% of my (old) average for a Monday. I didn't bat an eye at ARLO. I figured it was a movie I hadn't heard about. Hey, I know nothing of Frozen either. Once I read the movei wasn't out yet, I figured it had been hyped ennough that a decent percentage of USA Today readers would get it. That was, after all, one of the papers where Jim Holland cut his constructing teeth. I kind of llike the idea that Mr. Holland got in with the Royal Dutch Airline and the TULIP. Don't we all love veiled references?

I paid no attention to the theme and didn't even think about it. I came around the fart urn with THREE IN A ROW and headed down the the straight away to the finish thinking Whew, that's done.

Nice NYT debut even though I think Stewie could have phoned it in. Cool HuWip indeed.

(N.B. correct aspiration of WH above)

Hartley70 12:50 PM  

Eww, Ludy! Didn't they have shower caps for the feet back then? I would have invented them on the spot.
I'm with @Lewis on this. I liked the theme and I thought the execution was fine. I don't speak Dutch so the redundancy was unnoticed, and I was familiar with Leica even though TCU isn't on my radar. Texas Christian maybe? I'm old enough to remember MAUD as a top model before she was a Bond girl. The Citadel Uni perhaps? It wasn't difficult but I appreciate a Monday theme. Kudos to the constructor!!

Rabi Abonour 1:35 PM  

This was actually only a couple of seconds off my Monday PR. Went down super easy. Had to go back through to check out the clues at the end because I got so much without crosses. I liked it enough. The revealer is just barely on the right side of fine. EELY is just horrendous, though. You could have made it EERO Saarinen without having to change anything else, which I guess would be a little hard for a Monday and too crosswordy for some, but at least it's a real thing. EELY is total junk.

Teedmn 1:50 PM  

Easy for sure, in my top five, speed wise. Not paying attention to the developing theme, I threw in ANCHORMAN at 10D and had to work that back out. And ENmired just sounded like a nice chewy word for Monday but... Could have been a DNF because I didn't know TCU and I almost always want to spell 65A LEIkA because I mix it up with the space dog, Laika, but I couldn't picture any college being TkU so I changed it at the last minute - huwhew, saved myself from two DNF Mondays IN A ROW.

Congrats, Mr. Holland, on your NY Times debut.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

oddly, RE Lee was the first thing I filled in, but I did spend two months in the Lee archive reading his letters, so, well, there you are. I would never get Arlo, but I did, oddly, know Maud. I haven't seen a bond movie in 25 years, so if they used a recent bond girl, I would have been arlo-ed. this was an almost under 2 minute puzzle. I looked down confused because all the white squares were filled and I almost don't remember doing it. Greetings from natick, Ma, by the way. The weather is just fine here.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

I enjoyed it...anybody else object to Ham on Rye (46 across)... Of all the meats to put on Rye......

JJK 4:59 PM  

I thought this was a fun and very easy Monday. Surprised at Rex labelling it otherwise. The theme was easy to get and kind of cute.

kitshef 10:42 PM  

Hand up for easy Monday, fot KLMAIRLINES as cheating, for ABCANCHOR as green paintish, but mostly foŗ a particularly lame theme.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

A diet rich in OILS and MILKS may be to blame for your THREE IN A ROW at the "fart urn" - maybe you should eat more RICE

Da Bears 3:10 PM  

I guess Rex didn’t like the puzzle. I went back and actually found a PG puzzle he liked after about four or five he didn’t. He even called one of her puzzles laughable. He mused: “I'm legitimately mystified as to how a puzzle this poorly filled gets published.” So, his critique of this puzzle is mild by comparison.

The last time I looked this was a Tuesday puzzle and, unlike, Rex, I don’t expect much on Monday or Tuesday other than familiar words crossing. After all, these puzzles are meant for newbies and I’m sure the newbies found this puzzle new.

@Chefwen, ever since Ditka made that commercial wearing Packers clothing, the Pack has lost. I assure you that this not helped my fantasy football team with Aaron Rodgers. But, I can’t say that I’m not enjoying their demise, though I suspect it’s temporary.

Karen Munson 11:11 AM  

Never knew what "hoisted by your own petard" meant. Now I do!!

Burma Shave 9:47 AM  


a Playboy FEATURE’s LEICA dare,


rondo 10:15 AM  

IRATE this puz RELEE easy. As a Mon-puz was MEANT to be. In my OPINION.

But again we have an OLE with no Sven.

IGOT no problem with any puz that FEATUREs 2-time Bond girl MAUD Adams. She’s my favorite from the Roger Moore era. Would love to kiss those TULIPs and EARLOBES.

Any guitar player would like FRET crossing STRUM.

Maybe too DARN easy as I skated through this puz. Probably record time if I cared about that.

spacecraft 11:59 AM  

About a medium for me, for a Monday. Yes, the theme is thin, but there's at least an attempt at first 3, middle 3 (OFF by ONE: should be LMN but what can you do with that?), last 3. I agree the last is best. There is a bonus in STUB, should you choose to count it.

I'm amused at OFL's description of the fill as "clean-ish." Would you go to the table with "clean-ish" hands, or eat OFF "clean-ish" dishes? Let's call the fill "slightly soiled." I've seen worse.

In the real time of my writing this (Dec. 21), they have just crowned Miss Universe, again from Colombia...OOPS! The host, Steve Harvey, has just committed the blooper of the century--maybe the millennium. HE READ THE CARD WRONG! The winner is from the Philippines! They had to take the crown off that poor girl's head; she had already started her victory walk.

And to make matters worse, Nobody could leave the scene because right outside, some nutjob had just run her car into dozens of pedestrians, killing at least one. Everything in the area was cordoned off. A nightmare night. Sin city, indeed.

I sympathize with @Da Bears after the pasting Minnesota gave them yesterday. As to the puzz, I'll give it a "BCD."

rain forest 12:24 PM  

Easy breezy Monday with nary a snag. Though RE LEE irked some, it is HIS signature, unless he got a little cavalier with it at times and wrote BOB LEE.

Does it really bother people that AIRLINES is perhaps redundant?

Like all Mondays, this gets you off to a start to the week, sets the bar at the appropriate place, and you are ready to continue with that bar gradually moving higher, usually.

leftcoastTAM 2:35 PM  

Good Monday warm-up for the week to come.

Progressed steadily for MACS in the NW through the TSARS in the middle to SALT of the SE.

Had to change my two Zs in BAZAAR to two As.

leftcoastTAM 2:47 PM  

A better solving progression from NW to SE is MILKS SAD SWEAT, if that appeals.

leftcoastTAM 3:00 PM  

One more try (I promise):


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