The Past from Feminist Standpoint / MON 2-29-16 / Once ubiquitous red fixture seen along London streets

Monday, February 29, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: LEAP DAY (39A: 2/29/16, e.g. ... or a hint to the circled squares in this puzzle) — circled squares represent holi DAYs (i.e. words that precede DAY in the name of a well-know holiday) that LEAP over a black square, starting in the middle of one Across answer and finishing in the subsequent Across answer:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: SHAGGY (49D: Scooby-Doo's pal) —
Norville "Shaggy" Rogers is a fictional character in the Scooby-Doo franchise. He is a cowardly slacker and the long-time best friend and owner of his cowardly Great Dane Scooby-Doo. Shaggy is more interested in eating than solving mysteries. He and Scooby are the only characters to appear in all iterations of the franchise. (wikipedia)
• • •

Never saw the theme, but looking back on it now, it seems solid. Interesting approach to representing LEAP DAY (and on the correct day, hurray). The selected days are all over the map, with the last one ("Boxing") being one we don't even observe in the U.S., but it's still a familiar holiday, so no foul there. I will say that when I finished and then looked up in order to figure out what the heck the theme was, I first saw MOTHERS and LABOR and thought this was going in a very different direction. A birth-related direction. But then I saw VETERANS and ah, yes, right, leaping, days, etc. Got it. I wish novice constructors (and some veteran constructors, hint hint nudge nudge) would study this grid to see what Monday-smooth should be. Clean clean clean. Nothing to make me Wince. Of course there are less-than-ideal entries; every grid has them. But there's nothing forced or obscure or oddly unfamiliar, and yet, magically (i.e. through actual craft and attention and care), the fill is wide-ranging and varied and interesting, and the long answers are not wasted on boring junk: SEX PISTOLS (30D: Johnny Rotten's punk band, with "the") and GROUND ZERO (11D: Where the 9/11 Memorial is), both very nice. Tight theme, clean fill, flashy long stuff—this *should* be the regular, everyday quality of the Monday puzzle.


Mostly sailed through this (2:44!?) but I had one pretty good ridiculous (and slightly time-consuming) mistake along the way. Put down SHAGGY and then checked out the Acrosses down there in the SE. Couldn't get any of them at first glance, so threw ASST across and worked on the Downs. Faced with S--- at 57D: Edible part of a sunflower, I went with the first flower part I could think of that fit in the spaces provided: STEM. Considering sunflowers grow on giant stalks, I'm guessing the stem is about the *least* edible part of the sunflower. But my brain doesn't operate in reality on Monday puzzles. It operates in the realm of Pattern Recognition. There's very little thought involved. And most of the time this allows me to move very very fast. But some of the time it means I eat STEM. You take the good with the bad, I guess.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


lg 12:14 AM  

Enjoyed it, though a bit quick. And thanks to a NYT bug, I actually got to solve the March 1 puzzle prior to this Feb 29 puzzle showing up. We'll see if I have to solve it again Tuesday...

All that being said, I'm tired of IOTA, EIN and AIL but I understand the need for quick short fill.

kozmikvoid 12:22 AM  

Sub-3:30. Hooray for being able to type fast. It's a Monday, so who has time to see themes? I never felt like this was super-easy, even for a Monday. I was actually quite surprised by my time.

Didn't hate it, which says a lot for a Monday. Certainly better than yesterday's shmagula. See, I can make up words, too. Let's throw it in a crossword puzzle and make it a thing, like PTUI.

Shmagula is officially copyright pending, so don't anyone go trying to steal it to put it in a Sunday NYT puzzle. I'll sue ya.

jae 12:38 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Great Mon.! Clever timely theme, zippy fill (a couple of fine long downs), GOTTA be LOVIN it.

We actually celebrate BOXING DAY, it gives the grandkids a double shot at Christmas.

Elle54 1:08 AM  

Hey did anyone else already finish Tuesday's puz on the iPad app? It's gone now! Haha!

Hays 1:43 AM  

Who at the BBC decided to put the dedicated camera on Blue Pant Saxophone Guy's crotch?

(Yes, quick puzzle. Well made, no real bumps except I actually couldn't remember what were in those iconic red boxes for about 10 seconds. "Were they, like, mail boxes? No, that's not it." Phone booths basically disappeared while I was in middle school. Oh, also, I really liked this theme. Yay NYT, you did it!)

chefwen 2:13 AM  

This was a fine, serviceable Monday puzzle. My only problem was trying to figure what SIBS had to do with FARM animals, looked at the clue about three times until it finally clicked as FAM not FARM. Guess it's time for an eye exam.

I kind of miss 'ol EVIL DOUG, I'm sure he would have something profound to say about 7D.

Always enjoy seeing LOKI in the puzzle. My brother used to have a mini poodle named LOKI and that little rascal lived up namesake every day.

The theme didn't exactly exactly do much for me, but it was a fun puzzle nonetheless.

George Barany 5:44 AM  

For this once-every-four-year occasion, @Joel Fagliano had to create an easily solvable themed puzzle ... not an easy challenge. While there was much to admire, as @Rex has already pointed out, I wonder about the inclusion of 69-Across, which seems to clash with the reveal at 39-Across.

For a much much more challenging occasion-appropriate puzzle, I urge readers of this blog to try this one which can be solved on the sides of a coffee mug. The constructor is my friend Chris Adams; without giving away the trick, let me just say that he had a special person reason (not required to solve and appreciate the puzzle) for creating it!

Lewis 6:02 AM  

I do like that backward "naive" crossing NAIVETE!

I also liked the long downs, and I also liked BONMOT. I'm not sure why that "e.g." needed to be in the reveal clue. This is a terrific intro puzzle for people getting into solving, having a touch of grit, an easily understood theme (which incorporates a gimmick), and a relatively clean grid. Smooth -- it flew, but it was grand while it lasted.

Is this YOUR day, @Leapy???

Loren Muse Smith 6:29 AM  

I taped the Oscars and haven't watched yet, but cool that we have SNUB, BIG EGO, SHAGGY DOS. Wondering if anyone this year had a BAD TRIP going up to accept the award. Always good for some YUKS. If you’re mean-spirited and hateful like me. I’ll probably fall down the stairs today at school.

That today was LEAP DAY had completely slipped my mind. I agree that BOXING is a bit of an outlier, but I guess there aren't other words that could work. I guess PANORAMA YANKEE, but MAY DAY isn't a "day,” is it? AMY and MAYDAY are our approximations of French.

HERSTORY is a cool word. Hmm. Wonder if Sanders’ possible victory over Clinton in Nevada with the Hispanic vote will become her panic attack.

EVIAN backwards is “naïve.” Crosses NAIVETE. Fun. I like typing a sentence in huge font with “naïve” on the smartboard and let the students see it automatically add the diaeresis. They always accuse me of adding it myself, so I type it in full view of everyone, one finger at a time. Magic. I do the same with “façade” to let’em see the cedilla. Good times. Right.

LEAP DAY. Man. Can you believe tomorrow’s already March? Nice puzzle, Joel!

GILL I. 6:30 AM  

I agree, clean and refreshing Monday. GOTTA RUE MANLIER SHAGGY SEXPISTOLS and I also want to know why a Diva always seems to have a BIGEGO.
I'll take DOS EGGS over easy.

imsdave 6:55 AM  

Isn't MAYDAY worthy of comment here? It seems wrong for multiple reasons (MAYDAY/LEAPDAY, the inclusion of a non-leaping DAY holiday).

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

One VERY minor quibble: the McDonald's phrase as printed on cups/wrappers/etc. is actually I'M LUV'N IT. I really enjoyed the puzzle overall.

chefbea 7:35 AM  

Didn't really get the part where the days leaped over a black square. Other than that ...a fun easy puzzle.
Love Cap'n crunch and sunflower seeds.
Italian caught left for now I can get back to crossword puzzles....boy did we eat while she was here. All southern food...time to diet!!

Lewis 7:39 AM  

@loren -- GMTA re naivete...

Chuck McGregor 7:59 AM  

Fun puzzle!

However, I note that whatever-you-guys-call-it-when-not-needed “S” for 48a & 33d. Here’s one slight rework to rid the grid of that also adds a bit of cross-clue fun is, IMHO of course:

48a RAN SOME (exercised)
45a RUN (what you did for 48a)
22d MANNE (Shelly ____ ) appendin’ “legendary drummer” or similar if he’s too Monday-obscure. However, speakin’ of obscure, I’m lookin’ at MANNE’s buddy there ODIUM (not Rich), sayin’ now that’s Monday-obscure. So I’m LOVIN’ Shelly without the hint.

Startin’ me thinkin’ that “G” is an overrated letter. “Well, I OTTA hand it to you.” Would you really miss the G if someone said that? SEE?

CAP’N Crunch? That alone was worth the price of admission for me as the followin’ (OK I’ll stop that now) tales will tell. It‘s just A TAD long for one post so here is in 3 parts (if @Rex bears with me) –


The first time (Nov 1969) I sailed with the first captain aboard my destroyer, we were outboard of another ship at the pier, in Newport, LITTLE RHODY. So we had to untie from her to get underway. This destroyer had twin screws (propellers) which, in the hands of a good ship HANDLER meant you can essentially move the ship sideways. Well, this guy wasn’t. In the process of moving away from the other destroyer, he managed to rip a nice big hole in the side of the ship near the bow – right into in the Chief’s sleeping compartment.

The Chiefs? They are the top of the non-officer personnel on the ship. They are key to running the ship. As such, both the lower ranks and commissioned officers know better than to get on the wrong side of one and now, not one, but all of them were NOT happy campers. The thing was we were in the midst of a moderate nor’easter. So, they had to shore up the hole with wood and mattresses (!...well, it worked) and off into the wild Atlantic we went, more permanent repairs awaiting calmer seas.

Continued in PART 2….

Chuck McGregor 8:00 AM  


So, we made it to the Mediterranean Sea, where we were to e deployed with the Sixth Fleet for 9 months. The first order of business was to relieve another ship (i.e. transfer secret stuff needed for operations in that theater). She was anchored offshore of Rota, Spain. This time we had to pull alongside rather than pull away from a ship. As we approached I could see their crew had just repainted the entire outside of the ship to look sharp (and for maintenance purposes) when they arrived stateside. So our captain proceeds to slide right in next to her ---- by sliding right against her in the process. Yes, that would mean he just scraped up an entire side of their paint job ship, not to mention the actual damage to both ships. Thankfully the only hoIe of know of was as I watched a short steel pole on our ship puncture the steel decking for the lookouts outside the bridge of the other ship.

After trashing the entire side of his ship, I would have loved to have been that proverbial fly on the wall when her captain met ours. I’m sure extremely “colorful,” Navy-appropriate language issued forth from the latter.

And no, Cap’n Crunch wasn’t done! And it gets better! Read on for CAP’N CRUNCH PART 3.

Airymom 8:00 AM  

I'm sitting at McDonald's looking at a cup that has "Lovin'. Drink it up." printed on it. May Day is still a big holiday in many European countries, celebrating spring . My mother remembers dancing around the maypole, eating special cakes, and no school (she grew up in Germany). "May Day" as a distress call began in 1923 and derives from m'aidez (help me) and is always said three times. It's also my birthday, so I've always wished it were celebrated in the U.S. Fun puzzle! If you ever go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, read the Sex Pistols letter, refusing induction. But don't let your kids see it.

Chuck McGregor 8:00 AM  


After we returned from our deployment, the ship was sent to the Boston Navy Yard for an overhaul. Several months later when this was finished, we went out for an overnight shakedown cruise to make sure the stuff that was done worked. Next day was top-10, mid-summer’s day, with many tourists visiting nearby Old Ironsides. As well it was lunchtime and most of the Navy Yard personnel were outside to eat theirs. Now, a ship this size coming in to berth is kinda a big deal to watch, especially for tourists. It is a large vessel so it attracted the attention of even the yard workers and Navy guys to watch it pull in.

Our berth was between two massive piers made with granite sides and solid earth in the middle. Doing only couple of knots speed, a ship weighing some 3,200 tons or so (over 6,000,000 lb) is still kinda hard to stop. However, when it met the end of one of those massive earth-work piers head-on, it stopped. You see, he was supposed to go between them. Oops!!

I was outside and could see the sailor posted at the flagstaff at the tip if the bow. His job was to take down that flag the moment the first mooring line was tied off (part of what’s called the “shift colors” routine for docking or getting underway). As it became quite obvious what was going to happen, he kept looking back and forth between that looming pier and the captain on the bridge, like, “Dude, just when is it you are planning on turning this thing?” At the last moment he quickly tied off the flag and very wisely abandoned his post. No one knew he could run that fast.

I heard with it took some $50k to fix the bow of the ship and some of the cracked granite blocks on the end of the pier. It was certainly most entertaining to the hundreds of “spectators” to watch a big Navy ship crash into a pier.

Yup, he was the real-life CAP’N Crunch.

After that last one, I seriously thought about mailing him a box (anonymously of course) but just never did.

The next and only other captain I served under? The first time we got underway with him shortly after he took command, tugboats were there to assist. The dock where were (this in New London, CT) had a wicked current that could readily push even a ship that size around where you didn’t want it to go. I was inside when I heard the “shift colors, underway” announcement. A mere couple of minutes later I stepped outside and we were already way out in the harbor. From past experience I expected us to be maybe at most a few yards off the dock in that same amount of time..

So. I queried a shipmate, “Who’s driving this thing?” (I can absolutely assure you it was said far more “colorfully.” It was the Navy. What can I say? That was what you did.) He said it was the the new captain …and he never had any intention to and did not made use of the tugboats. Unlike Lt. Commander Crunch, he could HANDLE that ship like it was a toy boat in a bathtub. He was also a great captain (think leader) in all other ways.

Roo Monster 8:14 AM  

Hey All !
Usually get shaded squares or circles on the NYT site, but today got thick lines above the themers. Wha..? If your gonna give me thick lines, at least put 'em below the themers. Jeez. So solved it, but not getting the theme. Maybe because it's the extra Feb. day, and a few commmentors said the Mar 1 puz was in at first. We made it through Y2K all those years ago with nary a burp, but 16 years later we have mistakes on LEAP DAY. Har.

Doesn't accept a hand from the architect? IM SET I M PEI.
Good looking Diva staring in a mirror? I SEE IM HOT
Just a little competitive? A TAD TYPE A

Lots of IM stuff. Overall nice. Joel being Wills ASST. is a good thing.


jberg 8:16 AM  

@Gill I. beat me to it -- two of those I'Ms are actual duplicates, and as I SEE it, that shouldn't be. Otherwise, I agree it's a nifty puzzle.

Mr. Benson 8:59 AM  

I never knew SHAGGY's real name. "Norville Rogers, more familiarly" would be a great Saturday clue.

I thought we would see minor demerits given for a theme answer (PHONEBOX) that doesn't change the meaning of a word -- i.e., "BOX" means "BOX" in the phrase, in a way that's related to its use in the theme. ("MOT" is also a [foreign] word, but completely unrelated to the etymology of "MOTHER.")

OldCarFudd 9:01 AM  

MAYDAY, as clued, doesn't need to be "leaped", because it isn't a day. It's a single word, spoken on the radio (often 3 times in succession), that announces an emergency. It's a corruption of the French "M'aidez", which means "help me".

SmartJanitor 9:12 AM  

It's almost as nice to see Rex pleased as it is to solve a puzzle of this adjudged quality.

Sir Hillary 9:18 AM  

Agree with @Rex that this puzzle should serve as an example of what a good Monday looks like. Yes, some overused short fill, but very clean overall, with good Scrabbli-ness. Like the "PRNDL" clue in the same puzzle as INGEAR. WAXES crossing WANE is cool, too. Well done, Joel.

Z 9:27 AM  

Quick and clean. I didn't see that the circled letters were so close, so it took me a bit to parse the theme. Nicely done.

PPP Analysis
Higher than I expected. 23/76, 30%

@kozmikvoid - onomatopoeia much?

@Hays - I'm thinking the cameraperson was interested in more than just his sax appeal.

MAYDAY, m'aidez, May Day. I prefer to look at it as a little bonus rather than a flaw. Speaking of which, nice catch @LMS and @Lewis. I was wondering how I missed that until I realized I never even read that clue.

@anonoymous7:20 - I couldn't disagree from observation, so I looked it up. it looks like the puzzle is right.

Proud Mamma 9:41 AM  

No mention of I, I'm & I'm. Rex you're losing it.

Ok puzzle. Theme came easy. My dad and I like to try across all the way through before starting the down answers, so after Mothers, saw BOR, and got the theme and added LA before reading the clue. I skipped the hint 39a, like i usually do first run.

quilter1 9:41 AM  

Good Monday puzzle. Now, I did the soon to be retired SAT vocabulary puzzle. I am disappointed that these words are considered obscure. I wonder what Annabel, an above average student, thinks about these. CEIL, perhaps is not used much, I concede, but it is inferable.

chefbea 10:16 AM my earlier post...should have been Italian daughter.

Nancy 10:16 AM  

Nothing much to say about this puzzle. It was cute, it was clean, it was easy.

@Mohair (from yesterday): You're right -- I shouldn't have left out Bill Bradley. My apologies.. I remember the morning many years ago when I found myself on the subway with my boss at the Literary Guild, whom I never got much opportunity to have long chats with. We began to discuss the Knicks game of the night before. I asked him who his favorite player was and I think he said Bradley, although he might have said DeBusschere. He asked me mine, and I said Earl the Pearl. "I see you like the flash, Nancy," he said. "I see you like the flash." I was not entirely sure he meant it as a compliment.

Another related story. I ran the drama book club at the Literary Guild and, therefore, got free tickets to any and every play in NY. I invited my mother to go with me to see "That Championship Season." We had excellent seats in the center front orchestra, and as the curtain was about to go up, the two seats in front of us were still empty. "I wish they'd get here," my mother grumbled. (She, like me, was very short.) "I always get the basketball players in front of me." Those were her very words. As the lights were dimming, an exceptionally tall man and his normal-sized wife scrambled into the seats in front of us, with the very tall man in front of my mother, "I told you!" she whispered. "I always get the basketball players!"

At the Intermission, the very tall man turned around oh-so-casually, as though he wanted to locate someone in the audience. But it was obvious he wanted to be seen. And I immediately realized why. It was Dave DeBusschere.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:18 AM  

Better than usual Monday.

I had no hesitation putting in the correct entry at 26 A, but somehow it made me think perhaps KFC should offer a new snack, CAPON CRUNCH.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

@ChuckMcG., your entertaining posts reminded me of my own CAP'N CRUNCH experiences. Every time I was on the cruise ship Celebrity Horizon which would dock in St. George, Bermuda, when the Staff Captain was at the helm in the absence of the Captain, somehow he would manage to hit the dock ...every single time! A gentle nudge, in comparison to your Cap'n, but a direct hit, nonetheless. The passengers and locals found this quite amusing. The Captain did not. When the ship later went to dry dock for maintenance and repairs, The Captain told my brother, who worked for the cruise line at the time, pointing here and there, "this is where Friedrich hit the dock on ----(fill in the date)"!

Joseph Michael 10:46 AM  

I GOTTA hand it to Joel. For a Monday, this puzzle made me LEAP for joy.

mac 10:47 AM  

Smart little Monday puzzle.

I also noticed the Mayday, but thank you for the explanation, @OldCarFudd!

Pete 11:06 AM  

I winced at 24D, as it reminded me of Samuel Johnson's quote: "He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man." More machismo = less manliness.

AZPETE 11:10 AM  

Sorry. Do we need to buy the mug to get the grid? BTW, did today's puz as a downs only. Yeah!

old timer 11:21 AM  

Great naval stories, @Chuck.

I guess MAYDAY is what they call "lagniappe" in NOLA, a little unexpected bonus.

Kimberly 11:24 AM  

Pretty nice theme for a Monday. I had the same momentary concern as Rex when I saw "mothers" and "labor" emerging, but the theme clue was pretty straightforward and I knew it was my own mental glitch.

Liked WAXES crossing WANE.

With the theme word "LEAPDAY" in the center and MAYDAY as the close, the upper left was kind of crying out for its own day (SIMAN just seemed like the red headed step child in a "one of these things doesn't belong here" children's puzzle). Then again, something like HEYDAY might have been a groan-worthy overkill.

The NYT-crossword-is-psychic moment was a jarring one: I was up late watching Talking Dead while solving (which explains my long Monday solving time) and they obscurely started talking about Johnny Rotton. Cut to commercial and I look back down to the puzzle and my eyes first settle on 30 down. Johnny Rotton hasn't come up in common casual conversation in 30 years. How do they do this? It's magic, I tell ya.

imnotbobby 11:28 AM  

Loved the crossing of NAIVETE with EVIAN because of the old joke about EVIAN being NAIVE spelled backwards.

Also enjoyed the crossing of Waxes and Wane. For an easy puzzle there was a lot to like and a great sense of fun.

Kimberly 11:35 AM  


I do not understand this paragraph from @Mr.Benson:

"I thought we would see minor demerits given for a theme answer (PHONEBOX) that doesn't change the meaning of a word -- i.e., "BOX" means "BOX" in the phrase, in a way that's related to its use in the theme. ("MOT" is also a [foreign] word, but completely unrelated to the etymology of "MOTHER.")

Is there a secondary theme I'm missing that would in any way involve phone boxes or changing the meaning of any of the words? Because I'm feeling stupid again.

Carola 12:04 PM  

A puzzle of many pleasures. On the theme: after MOT HERS and LA BOR, I tried to figure out how a "split" theme would work, making the LEAP of the reveal a nice treat.

I noticed the echo of ICEAGE and LEAKAGE. ICEAGE could be a good word for these days of February thaw: on a sunny day, the snow flanking our sidewalk melts onto the walkway and that thin layer of water then freezes once the sun is gone. Result: invisible and treacherous ICEAGE that needs to be carefully negotiated when you go out to get the paper in the morning.

Andrew Heinegg 12:17 PM  

I liked this. It does make me wonder a bit if Mr. F thought far enough in advance to realize that a leap day themed puzzle with Monday easiness would be published. Or has Mr. Shortz begun sending orders for certain puzzle days to the regular constructors?

Alby 12:24 PM  

Good theme in its simplicity. Chuckled at EVIAN crossed NAIVETE, given that urban legend about EVIAN intentionally being NAIVE spelled backward.

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

Oh, man -- look at them MOTHERS jump!

Liked this MonPuz, but was kinda surprised with @009's mostly wince-less review. Musta cheered him up, that Mad Max got so many awards.

Desperation was indeed minimal, but Joel did leave a couple of chocolates in the phone box:

* HERSTORY. Comes across as sorta green story painty. Now, YERSTORY … that woulda been neat.
* RANSOMS. Only plural themer. Non-plural RANSACK would work, but then U hafta kiss GROUNDZERO goodbye.
* PHONEBOX. Bygone Brit thing. OK, but JUICE/LUNCH/SNUFF/MUSIC-BOX would all be wonderfUl. But, of course, then no SEXPISTOLS.
* IMHOTSET. Primo quote from IMPEI.
* LEAPDAY/MAYDAY. Nice constructioneers' call for help.

fave moo-cow MonPuz eazy-E clue: {Male sheep} or {Female sheep}. Flockin awesome.

fave weeject: EDS. Plural names clued as plural abbrs. Versatility.

Thanx, Mr. Fagliano. U do good work, with both runtz and regularz.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Chuck McGregor 1:03 PM  

@Anoymous 11:31 D**n you! I was drinking my coffee as I read your comment. What a mess!! :>)

Have to relate one other story about that new captain. In times of “conflict” Navy ships are called upon to do, well, “you’ve got to be kidding me” things so you have to practice them. Docking on-the-fly is one. This means pulling alongside a dock or pier at far faster than one would normally to save time. The idea is you hit reverse at the right time while the ship’s hands heave lines twixt ship and hands on the dock. These are tied off immediately at the right length to hold the ship from going too far, in this case directly into a very solid looking steep hillside at the shore end of not all that long a dock.

I was with said captain commanding this operation from up on the signal bridge. At one point I asked him if he wasn’t going a bit fast for docking. When he explained I knew exactly what he meant. Now, I’ve done this lots of times, like with 150-lb, 16-foot boats, but had no idea until that moment anyone would be nuts enough to do it with 6 million pound, 400 foot-long ship!! I probably even said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” somewhat terrified he was actually going to try this. I was absolutely sure he WAS nuts and either those 5 or so inch diameter hawsers they were using to tie the ship to dock would snap and/or the dock would give way. Big Crunch, CAP’N!

Well, it worked great!! We more or less (more so the more) stopped on a dime, comfortably short of that looming oh-so-solid hillside. Breathing again I looked at the captain (calm as a sea cucumber the whole time while giving the orders). He just looked back with a smile of “IT’S A SNAP” written all over his face. Like I said, the guy was good.

These hawsers got wet while being handled. However, there was no doubt in my mind, as I watched them go taut, that every single molecule of water was being squeezed out of them!


PS If you want to see the ship: Wiki >> USS Gearing, launched the day before my 1st birthday. There’s a 1967 picture of what it looked like when I served aboard. I was a radioman and had to climb to the top of the “mast” to service a couple of my antennas. Those few rogue waves I saw (re many posts ago) were nearly as tall as that mast when in the trough next to them.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

Fun LEAP DAY theme, something that would sit in the puzzle queue for a while, I'm guessing.

My STEM for today, a la @Rex, was throwing in "winter" at 14A but it didn't take an ICE AGE for me to correct it.

I noticed the two I'Ms while solving but now I see the bonus IM PEI.

No ODIUM here toDAY. Thanks, JF.

And @Nancy, fun basketball-related anecdotes!

beatrice 1:10 PM  

Agree with Rex here all the way - I was surprised but hopeful from the first entry, and was not disappointed. I would like to celebrate both the puzzle and the incipient Spring with one of my favorites, Purcell's so-called Symphony SONG "Hark how the wild musicians sing". (The only video available is not the one I know, and I can't listen to it due to technical problems, so I hope it's good.)

This first (and best) stanza expresses what perhaps in England is traditionally associated with MAYDAY:

Hark how the wild musicians sing
A welcome to the new-born spring,
And in sweet strains, untaught by art,
Unto the wood their joys impart.

Since I don't know the quality of this version, here's a bonus Purcell - one which I don't know, but which presented itself, looks like fun, gets rave comments on YouTube, is along similar lines, and is from his masque 'Timon of Athens'(!).

Hartley70 1:16 PM  

I really didn't have much to say today so. I didn't plan to post until I read your serial cereal installments today @ChuckMcGregor. They were most entertaining and/or horrifying for a taxpayer ultimately paying for the Crunch's repairs. Did you really mean to say you went to sea on a destroyer with a hole patched with wood and mattresses? Unfathomable!

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Not at all so much a criticism, but some real common farm puz entries could maybe use a little goosin up, especially in a MonPuz with BOREDOM in it…

* EWE = {Farm denizen that looks the same from either end, baasically}.
* RAM = {Naval warfare plan C, executed with a sinking feeling}.

Also, maybe ...
* ASAP = [Express expectations, over at Fedex}.
* IPO = {Launch code, CEO-style}.
* NET = {A trapeze artist might miss one, in an emergency}.
* AIL = {Slowly morph into a giant fly, medically speaking}.

Not how we add extra stuff on the end of each clue, to get em right back down to yer MonPuz-level.
No biggie, tho. Just adds a little punch. U did have SEXPISTOLS, there already, so probably U R good, anyhoo.

M&A Help Desk

Brett Hendrickson 2:25 PM  

Wasn't feeling a need to comment, but then realized that I wanted to thank Rex for the Elvis Costello video. Your aim is true.

kitshef 2:54 PM  

A fine example of how you can pick at a lot of flaws in a puzzle, but if it delivers that's who cares?. So, I overlook IMHOT crossing IMSET and I'm ___ in a clue and MAYDAY being out of place, and the occasional odious ODIUM, when a puzzle gives me:
- A coherent, wel-executed theme
- A little more crunch than usual Monday, more halfway to a Tuesday, appropriate for a day that is an oddball in the calendar.
@Anonymous at 7:20 - are you sure it doesn't say LOVIN', rather than LOV'N? You may have gotten a cheap knockoff of the real McDonalds.
@Chuck McGregor - Plural of Convenience: Usually displayed as POC, though I prefer PoC.
As a last note, this building seems not to have recognized the change of season, so we are sweltering in an 80 degree sauna and thinking "Can we turn on the A/C in here?!"

puzzle hoarder 3:15 PM  

I solved the puzzle without using the theme at all. If I had taken the time to think about it it would have just added to the solve time.
When I was done the overall connection between the theme answers and the reveal became obvious. Until reading the blog I didn't get the leaping aspect.
I read the 1D clue as farm too. The whole answer went in from the crosses which slowed that corner down a little. Everything else was going so easily I never reread the clue and forgot about it until reading @Chefwen's comment. This is another day at work so I'm solving late and didn't want to spend time on the theme once the puzzle was solved. It was fun while it lasted.

Leapfinger 3:25 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, CAPON CRUNCH, eh? Nice eggsample of adding insult to injury.

Not sure whether you're aware of the dedicated profession that takes the first step in the production of Capon Crunch. I came across that nugget decades ago when I was in the stacks, presumably researching a paper on 'PhiChi-174'.

Z 8:53 PM  

@Kimberly re@Mr. Benson - Not a theme, just a matter of elegance. There are 8 circle letter groups. 4 are meaningless alone, two are words in English and two are words in another language. Of those 4, only BOX has the same meaning in the new formation (BOXING Day) as in the original word, PHONEBOX. It would be a more elegant puzzle if the meaning changed in all 8. It would be better still if none of the 8 were words in any language, and Angels would be singing on high if the 8 circled groups were all words whose meanings changed from the original to the new formation.

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

@Chuck McGregor I grew up when my dad was on admiral staff in the med on heavy cruisers so I thought your stories were about large boats not tin cans. Later when he was in the Atlantic fleet on a carrier he described the destroyers more or less bobbing like corks during storms. Must have been scary fun aloft during big waves.

The last docking story impresses none the less.

Tim 8:07 AM  

Enjoyed it a lot, but Rex, I was a little surprised that you didn't comment on the stray MAYDAY, which neither "leaps" nor is matched in the opposite corner. No matter that it isn't clued for the holiday; it's clearly intended as a wink at the solver, and you're usually much less forgiving of that sort of theming irregularity!

Leapfinger 11:10 AM  

@Z and @others who mourned the essential inelegance of a BOX remaining a BOX

It hasta be pointed out that, in Britspeak (another foreign language), a PHONEBOX is what would have been called a PHONEBOoth in the good old USA, back in the day when such were still commonly found in the wild. It could be argued that a PHONEBOoth is in actuality a PHONEBOX by virtue of its geometry and the fact that it houses a PHONE, but then we might be forced into rethinking some rooms as a livingBOX and calling a cowshed a cowBOX. I believe the translation of BOoth to BOX makes the case for altering the word's meaning as it leaps from Part A to Part B, and thus meets the designated requirement for that soi-disant elegance.

@Chuck McG (and ff chimers-in): I thoroughly enjoyed the naughtical tales of ramming the big sheeps.
PS. Once again, ewe had me at 'rogue wave'.

Couldn't just skip it, 'cause some of y'all's comments really MAde mY DAY.


Z 11:48 AM  

@Leapfinger - The BOX thing bothered me not one whit, I was just explaining because a question was asked.

Leapfinger 2:47 AM  

'... It would be a more elegant puzzle if the meaning changed in all 8.'

@Z, entendu. My bad for assuming an avertable decrease in elegance would bother you. Does the consideration of restored elegance please you?

Despite your many years of principality, I hadn't thought your equanimity was based on thickness of skin.

Burma Shave 11:33 AM  


about BIGEGO, ORE NAIVETE in women.


rondo 12:19 PM  

Didn’t anyone else notice that the letters in the four corner squares spell out DAYS???? A nice extra touch I thought.


I’ll give at least one of the AMYS a yeah baby, you can choose. And of course NIA Vardalos for another wedding.

Must be family day on the blog, nobody WAXES IAMBIC about TEABAG. (YUKS ensue)

For a Mon-puz, I’m LOVIN it.

diana,LIW 3:05 PM  

Very sharp eye, @Rondo! I never would have seen that, and I bet most commentators didn't either. Do you use a spyglass, like Holmes?

Good Monday with a bit of crunch that the crosses filled in.

I, too, was appalled to think of a destroyer at sea with a mattress covering a hole in its side. Mr. Waiting negotiated gov't contracts for many years at the Corps of Engineers, and he had many a tale of gov't spending gone mad. Like painting a new barracks and then having to repaint because they didn't like THAT particular shade of blue. Much shaking of head from Mr. W.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

strayling 7:37 PM  

A small triumph for me today. I read the clues; hid the clues; filled out the grid and got it all right.

The puzzle had a nice flow to it which helped, I'm sure.

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