Prehistoric Southwest culture / MON 12-11-17 / Service organization with wheel logo

Monday, December 11, 2017

Constructor: Brian Thomas

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: HEADPHONES (63A: They bring music to one's ears ... or a hint to 17-, 21-, 33-, 45- and 54-Across) — types of "phones" are at the "head" of each theme answer:

Theme answers:
  • ROTARY CLUB (17A: Service organization with a wheel logo)
  • CELL BLOCK (21A: Prison unit)
  • MOBILE HOME (33A: Domicile with wheels)
  • SMART ALECK (45A: Wiseass)
  • PAY FREEZE (54A: Action taken by a company in distress)
Word of the Day: ANASAZI (4D: Prehistoric Southwest culture) —
The Ancestral Puebloans were an ancient Native American culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.[1] The Ancestral Puebloans are believed to have developed, at least in part, from the Oshara Tradition, who developed from the Picosa culture. // They lived in a range of structures that included small family pit houses, larger structures to house clans, grand pueblos, and cliff-sited dwellings for defense. The Ancestral Puebloans possessed a complex network that stretched across the Colorado Plateau linking hundreds of communities and population centers. They held a distinct knowledge of celestial sciences that found form in their architecture. The kiva, a congregational space that was used chiefly for ceremonial purposes, was an integral part of this ancient people's community structure. // In contemporary times, the people and their archaeological culture were referred to as Anasazi for historical purposes. The Navajo, who were not their descendants, called them by this term. Reflecting historic traditions, the term was used to mean "ancient enemies". Contemporary Puebloans do not want this term to be used. (emph. mine) (wikipedia)
• • •

JANUARY, 15, 2018: A MESSAGE FOR THOSE SOLVING IN SYNDICATION (i.e. the majority of my readers):

Hello, from the present (that is, today; actual today, and not one-week-ago or five-weeks-ago-on-weekdays today, like usual)! It's January, which means it's time for my once-a-year, week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. To be clear—there are no major expenses involved in writing a blog. There's just my time. A lot of it. Every day (well, usually night), solving, writing, hunting down pictures and videos of various degrees of relevance and usefulness, chatting with folks and answering puzzle questions via email and social media, gathering and disseminating crossword-related information of various kinds, etc. It's a second job. My making this pitch means I'm all in for another calendar year of puzzle revelry with all y'all. I'm excited about the year. I've got my own crossword construction project I want to get off the ground, and I'm hoping to take a more active role (along with some crossword friends) in recruiting and mentoring new and aspiring constructors. But the bulk of my work will be the same as ever: I'll be here with a new post every single day. Solve, write, repeat. Despite my occasional (or, OK, maybe frequent) consternation with the State of The Puzzle, the crossword community continues to give me great joy, and I'm proud to run an independent, ad-free blog where people can find someone to commiserate with, someone to yell at, or, you know, someone who'll just give them the damn answers. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are "Women In Science"—Rachel Ignotofsky's beautiful cartoon portraits of women scientists from antiquity to the present. I've heard of a few of these women (mostly crossword names like ADA Lovelace, Marie CURIE, MAE Jemison) but most of these names are entirely new to me, so I'm excited to learn about them as I write my thank-you notes. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!

• • •

OK I'm definitely better at night-solving than waking-and-solving. After a cruddy week of solving last week, I destroyed this puzzle in 2:40. Too bad I didn't like it better. The theme is dense, but dense with redundancies—cell phones and mobile phones are pretty much the same thing, and smart phones are just a subset of ... one of them. So the grid is dense with themers, but not ones that really diversify the theme or make it more interesting. In fact, all the themers are pretty dang dull. And then the grid (under pressure from all the theme stuff) is even duller. Just blah. Waytoo much junk for an easy puzzle (SEENO, ENDO, HABLA, ONICE, bleeping ODA!?). Complete snoozefest on every level. Usually being superfast endears me to a puzzle, but not today. Not even close.

Here were the parts that put up any resistance at all: ANASAZI (I can never remember this term, and it's not a term contemporary Puebloans like, so ... ); HUM (34D: Good engine sound) (I think I had the onomatopoeia MMM there at first, until LAUDING fixed things); ON ICE (had ON TAP) (31D: In reserve). That's it. Thank god it went by fast; I didn't have time to get well and properly bored. Nothing more to say about this one. I'll provide more commentary when the puzzle gives me more to work with.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:07 AM  

Jeez, Rex, it's Monday. It's supposed to be easy, not groundbreaking.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 12:34 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Fey Fop 12:35 AM  

I’m prancing!

TomAz 12:43 AM  

I thought this was a fine Monday puzzle. I didn't get the theme til I was done, and it didn't make a lot of sense to me (for reasons Rex elaborates at some length), but who cares? It's a Monday. I knew ANASAZI with just a slight hesitation on spelling. It worked.

Yay, on a Monday, for BOOLEAN, GARISH, and DIFFUSE.

chefwen 1:10 AM  

Puzzle partner working on his own copy said, Hey, shout out to me at 45A, I replied, shout out to me at 69A.

Nice Monday easy puzzle, very cute.

JOHN X 1:18 AM  

MOBILE phones are the best, especially if it's on the back of a guy that always walks around with you and hands you the receiver when you receive a call or need to call in a napalm strike. Also if it's in a console in your car and it has a dial, or you have to call the "mobile operator" to make a call, just like Mike Hammer. The console should also have a secret compartment for a pistol.

I have a full-size vintage bakelite handset that has been modified to plug into my iPhone. A button was added to the grip that will answer/disconnect from calls. I can keep it in my coat and when my cell phone rings instead of pulling out an iPhone I pull out a handset instead. It really shocks a lot of people, although I rarely carry it around. A friend of mine made it. I'll sell it to you for a thousand dollars.

I also own real 1920 Western Electric candlestick phone with the #2 clickety-clack dial. It's built like a tank and you could kill someone with it and then use it to call a lawyer.

I like old telephones.

mrn 1:25 AM  

Personal best at 4:15 and I flew through it. How the heck do you get down to 2:40??

Loren Muse Smith 3:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 3:50 AM  

“SEENO, ENDO, HABLA, ONICE, bleeping ODA!?” Imo, SEE NO and ENDO are the only objectionable ones here. (And yesterday’s led off at 1A with a partial; that didn’t bother you.)

Very little dreck here.

As regards the MOBILE-and-CELL-PHONES-are-the-same-thing gripe. Sure. This has happened before with themes, but I can’t remember when. I always kind of divorce my mind from the actual extended item the phrase depicts and focus rather on the in-the-language phrases. CELL PHONE and MOBILE PHONE are so resoundingly in-the-language that I’m more than willing to look the other way on any redundancy.

I saw the theme early on and even filled in SMART off only the T. I got PAY off of only one letter, too. But I had no idea what the reveal could be, and when I saw it, I liked the puzzle even more.

And two pairs of themers are stacked. My Monday cup runneth over.

(Well, maybe BAT BOYS at 40A would’ve been fun…)

I could not disagree more with you this morning, Rex. I think this is a terrific Monday. It’s Lempel-esque in its elegance and simplicity. I’m wildly jealous that this theme didn’t occur to me to pursue.

I. Loved. It.

Anonymous 3:57 AM  

Do you think people would take the time to read this blog if he wasn't such a dick? It would be an interesting experiment - a kinder, gentler NYT blog...

Sherman 3:59 AM  

Fun puzzle but I have a quibble. I have a sofa in my living room, it is a thing, not a place. Same for mother's CRIB, it is not a place. Right?

Craig Baker, Perfect Master 4:14 AM  

@Sherman 3:59AM

To answer your query:

All places are things

Thus endeth the lesson. Please pay at the window by the exit. Thank you and come again.

Anonymous 4:20 AM  

Thanks Rex. I have memory problems, always have had them, and about a year ago I thought I'd push back by trying the NYTimes crossword. I like the advancing degree of difficulty (no surprises), the misdirection (surprises) and the repeats (just saw this...just saw thIs), but I would have given up if I didn't have your blog and comment section to come to after my daily dose of DNF. The energy level keeps me entertained and, for many reasons, focused on doing better.

Anonymous 5:59 AM  

Hey Rex just wondering when you were going to update the Do Me! section of the blog. The puzzles listed are all from 2008 to 2011.

The time report is impressive. I'd like to see someone do a Monday while holding their breath or finishing before a match they are holding burns out.

Monday puzzles? "It is what it is."


Lewis 6:09 AM  

Just right for a Monday, including that ANASAZI and BOOLEAN to teach newcomers that even if you don't know an answer, crosses can give it to you.

Most notable feature of this puzzle to me: HOYA, LIBRA, ASIA, SYRIA, HERA, AURA, WICCA, ODA, and HABLA. Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to do some hatha yoga, followed by a banana and granola, with a side of arugula, then do a quick tarantella to put me into nirvana.

Hungry Mother 6:38 AM  

Very nice Monday offering. Almost makes up for yesterday, but almost. Still on my tivoed radar.

PG Bartlett 6:55 AM  

Oh c'mon, Rex, this was a very fine puzzle.

John Morrison 6:59 AM  

It was quite simple, and I thought the theme didn't help me solve it at all.

Marlon 7:15 AM  

really nice post

RAD2626 7:16 AM  

Totally agree with the likers. Simple but not stupid theme. Nice fill. Good Monday.

problemsolver 7:18 AM  

I thought theme was that each two word phrase went with either "Head" or "Phone." To wit:

Rotary [Phone] Club [Head] (club in golf?)
Cell [Phone] Block [Head]
Mobile [Phone] [Head] Home
Smart [Phone] Aleck [??]
Pay [Phone] [Head] Freeze

I came to this blog to find out what a "head aleck" or a "aleck head" was.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

@Lewis stole my 'ending in a' comment.

This type of theme is not a favorite of mine - two steps above randomly placed circles, one step above quotes. However, the execution in this case was admirable, as the fill is surprisingly good, especially given the theme constraints and the need to keep things Monday-easy.

Wish FLIP Wilson could have been worked in.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Rex phones it in.

chefbea 7:49 AM  

Easy puzzle but did not get the theme until Rex explained!!! All phones!!
Hand up for never heard of Anasazi or Boolean!!

Two Ponies 8:13 AM  

Very good example of what a Monday should be.

Between this nice puzzle and the comments it has generated I hope we are in for a good week.

@ John X 1:18, Wonderful entertaining post. I love old phones too.

@ Zippy 5:59 I love your timing ideas. Now there's a challenge or two!

@ problemsolver 7:18, I saw the same double theme and found the same road block with Aleck.

I usually do not clues that use "head" to mean "at the front of" but today it was necessary. At least these were all stand-alone words.

Well done Mr. Thomas.

jessica cohn 8:20 AM  

Not knowing yeti, Hoya or hera made the NW corner tough . Otherwise I enjoyed it .

Dave OB 8:28 AM  

Have obsessive X-Files watching in the 90s to thank for ‘Anasazi’ coming to mind so easily..

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

A fine Monday puzzle.

Am I the only one out there who REALLY REALLY REALLY dislikes the new Across Lite iPad app update?

pmdm 8:36 AM  

A CELL phone and a MOBILE phone are not the same thing. A mobile phone is a wireless phone that receives its signal from something like a cell tower OR something like a base unit in your house that is connected by wire to a telephone company's network. In my home, I get my service from Verizon's land (wire) lines, and I have both a wall (rotary!) wired phone and a base that allows me to use mobile phones in the house. On the other hand, I cannot use my wife's cell phone to pick up a call made to me on the land line. A cell phone is a mobile phone, but a mobile phone need not be a cell phone. Mr. Parker, slow down and think things through before you make such a definitive statement in your write-up. You don't want to resemble Donald Trump, do you. (That's a joke.)

This type of theme seems to become rare these days. Two bad. Perhaps it is old-fashioned, but early in the week it allows for a theme that new solvers should find easy while making it easier to avoid bad fill (since this type of theme often has a large number of possible theme entries). I guess you can take today's puzzle as an example. So, as far as I am concerned, keep them coming.

QuasiMojo 8:38 AM  

Perfectly fine Monday fare. And I may be ignorant of high tech stuff but mobile phones are not necessarily cellular, right? So I don't get the gripe from OFL. People used to have them in their cars but they weren't bouncing off of cell towers, were they? And I seem to recall owning a mobile phone in the 80s just after the Ma Bell breakup that worked in my own house wihtout a wire. It bounced off the wall phone. But I know "jack s---" about all this. Which reminds me, when did the NYT start using words like "Wiseass"? It used to be "Wiseacre."

Whenever I see "anasazi" I hear the nasal voice of Peter Coyote intoning in that Ken Burns doc about the Old West.

@Lewis, I doubt a tarantella would get you to nirvana. It was supposed to be a cure for hysteria brought on by the bite of a tarantula. Which reminds me of an old NYC joke my friends would make. Q: How do you get to Nirvana? A: You take a cab to Central Park South. (There used to be a very good Indian restaurant there by that name.)

Sir Hillary 8:55 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot -- way more interesting than most Mondays.

Of course, my enjoyment may stem from the fact that, due to a rare train commute into Manhattan, I solved this while wearing HEADPHONES and listening to the absolutely sublime Kathleen Edwards. I would probably have enjoyed last week's stupid M puzzle with her singing in my ears.

ANASAZI would confound me on a Saturday, to say nothing of a Monday, but judging from others' familiarity with it, it seems to be just a gap in my knowledge.

Nice start to the week.

Lewis 8:59 AM  

@quasimojo -- I LOVED that restaurant, with its good food, and it was gorgeous.

Mohair Sam 9:07 AM  

Lady M did it alone and asked me if BOOLEAN was indeed a word, I assured her it was. Then I asked her if she was sure ANASAZI existed, and she said not to worry. Good early week stuff when unknown words fill easily.

@pmdm - You beat me to the Rex scolding on MOBILE phones. And my 90-year-old sister-in-law June clings to her rotary phone - and will tell you they're making a come back, but don't ask unless you've got a couple of hours to spare.

Simple theme, nice longish downs - just what a Monday oughta be.

@Rex - Fun baseball puzzle II, did it last night, thanks.

Birchbark 9:25 AM  

As technology nears invisibility, we no longer see the occasional big sedan tooling down the interstate with an array of super-cool antennae. What advanced and important business must have been conducted then. HO-YA.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Ah, yes, the ROTARY phone. I had one, black of course, for the first 53 years of my life. It was made like the proverbial brick you-know-what; you could have thrown it off the side of a building and it would have survived. (They sure don't make phones like that anymore.) But, though no one realized it at the time, it required patience -- patience that I no longer have, alas. Mostly, I hate what modern technology has wrought. But the invention of the push-button phone really was a breakthrough. I clung to my ROTARY much longer than I should have. And I was Wrong.

Re: 53A -- Is the mother in the CRIB? Or is the baby singing the lullaby? Badly phrased clue.

Any Monday puzzle that has both ANASAZI (any relation to Anastasia?) and BOOLEAN can't be all bad. This was better than some, and the theme was sort of cute.

ArtO 9:27 AM  

Why would "super fast" "endear" you to a puzzle? I guess only to stroke one's ego. It seems to me, the most enjoyment comes from a challenging puzzle that makes you work to finish...therein the satisfaction!

mathgent 9:30 AM  

According to the Wikipedia article, there is such a thing as BOOLEAN logic which is not the same as BOOLEAN algebra. I've studied BOOLEAN algebra but hadn't heard if BOOLEAN logic.

My wife has gotten better at solving the last few months. She zipped through this one. I asked whether she liked it and she said that she likes any puzzle that she can solve.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

@Mohair (9:07) -- Your sister-in-law June makes me think that maybe I'm not quite the Luddite I claim to be.

@JOHN X (1:18 a.m.) -- Your enormously entertaining post makes my realize that perhaps I don't understand the workings of very, very, very old phones any better than I understand the workings of very, very, very new ones. You sort of said what I said about how indestructible the old phones were, but you said it in a much more amusing way. You're new to this blog, am I right? If so, please stick around. You're very funny.

the redanman 9:54 AM  

I don't worry about speed, but that was fast, maybe fastest ever, 6 minutes on a Fire tablet.

That said pretty clean, a good one to save for beginners to introduce them, just enough grit for a rookie.

G. Weissman 10:05 AM  

ODA Mae? No regrets about having never seen “Ghost.”

GILL I. 10:06 AM  

If you still have a ROTARY phone how do you press #1 for English?
I thought this was a great Monday puzzle. Very enjoyable for me. Didn't know what was going on until I came to the reveal.
Some bits on the dark side with ANGER BOSSY SMART ALECK REHAB. Would have included WICCA as well but that would be wrong. It's an interesting religion; often confused with witch craft which is also confusing. WICCANs or "Craft of the Wise" believe in one with nature. Thanks to them, we know a lot about herbs and medicine. I've always been interested in all types of religion and this one caught my eye. Try to understand how WICCAS were seen as evil and associated with horrible witchcraft, only to be burned at the stake for showing the world how herbs and such cured the common headache. They are quite peaceful but are having a hard time convincing the Pope.
I'm with @Loren on this one. I thought Brian Thomas came up with a clever idea. It wasn't at all boring for me. Boring, is doing a puzzle in 2 minutes. Kinda like "wham bam, thank you ma'am." No fun in that.

puzzlehoarder 10:08 AM  

For myself this was a perfect theme. Even though I was at home last night I chose to solve on my phone.

Now that I obsessively do every day of the week I come to recognize the redeeming qualities of even the most basic NYT puzzles. Today there were two. ANASAZI and BOOLEAN are late week words. I'm surprised to see that this is onlly ANASAZI's fourth appearance. It's one of those word I learned as a kid and this time I even spelled it correctly without hesitation.

BOOLEAN even though it's making its 8th appearance is the mystery word for me. Like a good number of today's entries I never read the clue while solving but I figured it's a math word. The XWORDINFO clue list bears this out and like SINE that's all I really need to know about it.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Anyone who does any type of advance search on the internet probably knows the concept of Boolean logic but you may not know the term. AND OR & NOT are all Boolean operators that will change the type of results you get. As a high school librarian, I teach this term to my students all the time.

Robert A. Simon 10:45 AM  

Today's puzzle seems to fit all the Monday requirements:
1. Relatively easy.
2. Good puzzle for beginners.
3. Contains one or two semi-difficult answers that can be sussed out by solving downs.
4. Pisses Rex off for some reason, usually involving his not being able to solve it in a personal best time.

And that's okay with me, because we all approach solving puzzles in hopes of finding different things. Rex is a competitive solver, so he wants the potential of speed against the appropriate amount of each day of the week's expected resistance. Some of you delight in finding words that link to happy memories so you can then us all about them. Others play "Gotcha!," wanting to find mistakes or poorly-worded clues and reporting them here to prove they're smarter than someone who (regularly) gets their puzzles published in the freaking New York Times. Still others, like answers that enable them to relate the most-recent example that feel like postings on an obnoxious Facebook page to say their lives are w-a-a-ay better than ours. ("General TSO's chicken reminded us of our recent trip to China, where Jack Ma invited us for a scrumptuous light supper aboard a captured U.S. nuclear submarine.") You know who you are.

But the vast majority of you, I think, come here to teach in some way, shape or form, and for that, I am grateful.

Paras G 10:48 AM  

Isn't 44 down "diffuse" as answer to "not concentrated, as light" incorrect word form. Should it not be "diffused"?

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

ANASAZI and Anastasia? Sweet Jesus, will someone please teach her how to Google?!

Nancy 11:04 AM  

@GILL (10:06) -- I bet you've straightened out a lot of people today, that I'm not the only one. Still, I'm consumed by guilt. Because while I've never badmouthed a WICCAN to a living soul, much less burned one at the stake, I have thought quite terrible things about them in my own mind. I did think of them as being akin to witches. It's that name -- it sounds a bit like "witch" and a lot more like "wicked". Shoulda named yourselves better, WICCANS. At any rate, it seems they want to be close to Nature. I want to be close to Nature, too. So what's not to like? Thanks, GILL.

Nancy 11:08 AM  

ANASTASIA was a little joke, you smug, creepy, humorless troll. God, would you please go get a life and stay the bleep out of mine.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

Speed is the order of the day...came in safely under 3 minutes, missed personal best by 11 seconds.

A breeze of a puzzle.

Malsdemare 11:21 AM  

Puzzle was easy, lighthearted, and rather cute. And it drew out some sublime posts; thanks John X, Nancy, LMS, and Robert Simon. I saw that the various phones were not discrete entities, but I decided I didn't care. It would have been fun to have Princess Leia in the grid.

At the risk of being one of Robert Simon's showoffs, I winced at ANASAZI, but that's just me. It's not just that the term refers to enemies of the Navajo, but that so many people talk about the group as vanished. Nope! These are the Ancestal Puebloans because they are the ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, Laguna, etc. I've also got to mention that Bears Ears has thousands of Ancient Puebloan sites that are threatened by the recent plan to shrink the monument. These sites are 1000 years old, folks. And they will be sacrificed to mine low-grade uranium or drill for possibke fracking sites. Damn!

Malsdemare 11:23 AM  

@Nancy 11:08. Nice takedown!

Masked and Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Can't gripe about the fillins. If all U can find to pick on is ENDO and SEENO, then it's 74/76 = 97.37% pure. That's what they'd call primo stuff, on the street.

Theme was one of them "starts with" dealies, which is ok by m&e, for a MonPuz … like some sorta stock-footage usage. Nice revealer of HEADPHONES definitely saved its bacon, IM&AO.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {No room at the ___} = INN. Had to dig a little deep into the grid, to find one this gimme-ish, tho. ANASAZI and WICCA and HABLA and BOOLEAN might put up a fight up top, for many a first grade solver. But definitely lighter on the name entries today, sooo … funner.

staff weeject pick: ODA. She valiantly fought to save that long and narrow central hallway which was tryin to house big parts of two themers and a darlin little U. Hang in there, ODA darlin. U the gal.
[Only 9 weejects to choose from, today … how clean!]

Thanx, Mr. Thomas. Good MonJob.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Roo Monster 11:33 AM  

Hey All !
Did online today, my time is 6 minutes, so I figured Rex might break the two minute barrier. But, alas.

We had a "70's green" wall mounted ROTARY PHONE growing up. My number ended in 0620, my friends was 1213, so I usually called him, as it was faster! Those who never experienced a ROTARY will have no idea what I mean! :-)

Did like the puz. Always a fan of lots of themers, as long as the dreck stays low. Todays fit the bill. @Lewis, also a mini-theme of Y ending words, BOSSY, TONY, PRY, ESPY, MONEY, SLY, TRULY.

There's a street here in Las Vegas called ANASAZI, so I figured that might be the answer, even though I didn't really know it. Wonder why SNART ALECK is spelled Luke it is, when the mans name is either ALEC, ALEK, ALEX.

For some reason, noticing the repeats in the corners today. NW, AAAOOEERR, NE, OOOEEDDDCC, SE, OOOOPPNNTTEE, SW, UUUAAA. Weird for me, maybe @Lewis' observations skewing the ole brain? :-)


Alexander Graham Klaxon 11:45 AM  


Before the 1980s breakup of the "Ma Bell" AT&T monopolly, the phone company built and owned your telephone set, and you payed a monthly lease for it. It was in their financial interest to build them as rugged as possible so they didn't have to come out and service it. After the breakup, you now buy and own your phone, and they fall apart after a year because it is in the manufacturers financial interest for you to buy a new one.

A corded land-line telephone will still work during power failures as long as the lines are intact (they re-route automatically so they usually are). Cordless land-lines will not because they need power. Cell phones will be iffy and possibly over-loaded. Dial telephones still work fine on land-lines but don't access touch-tone menus.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

@Alexander - Once you have dialed into a system, you can play the pitches into the phone to access touch-tone menus:

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

@Para G - two different meanings of the same set of letters. Diffuse (with an -oose at the end) is an adjective and equivalent in meaning and usage to diffused (adj.), while diffuse (with an -ooze at the end) is a verb with the participial form diffused (participle).

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Has anyone familiar with the Anasazi heard that modern Puebloans don't care for the term? I was all over the four corners a few years back and it's everywhere. Anyone else heard this?

thfenn 12:10 PM  

Kind of fun solving this on a phone, a smart one at that, even if it took awhile for the theme to dawn on me. I would've thought ONTO were 'words after lock or glom' not 'word after lock or glom' but that's clearly disputable, if not wrong. And to me, ONICE is more like delayed or postponed than 'In reserve'. ANASAZI was new to me, which I enjoyed finding on a Monday.

IF Monday=True AND Fun=True AND Learned Something=TRUE THEN Puzzle Good=TRUE.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:12 PM  

The last Brian Thomas puzzle was almost universally hated, but this one is OK, so yay!

Fill: This is actually fresh enough for a Monday. It is a rare occasion to learn a useful tidbit of trivia from a Monday puzzle, but now I know ANASAZI. BOOLEAN could have been really exciting if it hadn't appeared in NYTC a few times already. The crossword glue isn't too gooey either. Nothing exciting necessarily but decent enough.

Theme/long answers: Is it a novel theme? Eh. Is it a novel approach? Definitely not. I didn't even bother to figure the theme out while solving, and when I looked at it after, it was mostly surprising due to its retro-ness. I won't be harsh because December is a great month for nostalgia, and the themers weren't inconsistent and annoying, so yeah. Meh.

Clues: It's hard to get cute in this department on a Monday puzzle, but this one didn't have one clue that made me go "hehe". So again, nothing bad, but nothing exciting either.

Pleasurability: Smooth sailing. My expectations are really low on Mondays. If I solve it quickly to start the week, it's OK. If it throws some herbs and spices on my day, great. This one was OK. On the plus side, it taught me something. So yeah, no fireworks but it didn't bother me at any point, so that's good.

GRADE: B-, 3/5 stars.

P.S.: Huh, so there was a reason why I hadn't ever heard the word Anasazi, because apparently contemporary Puebloans do not prefer it.

Carola 12:23 PM  

Very cute! While solving, I had no idea what the theme might be, and so the play on words in the reveal was a delightful surprise. An especially fine example of the "first word" theme, I thought.
I noticed LOVES in proximity to NECKS, but ON ICE separates them. I guess NECKing probably went out with ROTARY PHONES.

@puzzlehoarder, my husband and I enjoyed "The Minutes" over the weekend. Afterwards I had the thought that it's gotten difficult for political satire to keep pace with political reality.

Lewis 12:23 PM  

My five favorite clues from last week:
1. Baby shower (8)
2. Executive producer? (7)
3. Channel changer? (3)
4. Truth we hold to be self evident (4)
5. 15, 30, and 50 are common ones, in brief (4)


Dick Swart 12:27 PM  

Rex, this is a crossWORD, not a class on electrical engineering. The words all go with 'phones' in common parlance. And isn't that the point of crossWORDS? Of course, not-so-common-parlance develops thrpugh the week.

KRMunson 12:28 PM  

I’m no expert, but aren’t cell phones different that sat (i.e. satellite) phones? Both are mobile but they use different relay technologies.

oldactor 12:31 PM  

Growing up our phone number was 197 and my best friend was number 3 pretty easy to remember. Someone brought me a bag of anasazi beans from a trip out West. I cooked them and they were good.

EdFromHackensack 12:32 PM  

Just as an aside... I have been solving NYT for over 40 years. It's been a pleasure and I love this blog, warts and all. But as far as speedsolving is concerned, its something I have never done. I liken it to a good meal - does it taste any better if you scarf it down quickly? Saturday mornings I fully enjoy getting up before the rest of the family, walk out to the driveway for the hard copy, put a pot of coffee on and enjoy the puzzle, however long it may take. But, to each his own I suppose and if you get a thrill by beating your "personal Best", well here's to ya. :)

Warren Howie Hughes 12:43 PM  

@10 Down, What the Dickens is a BOOLEAN?

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

I got the theme after CELL BLOCK showed up. With so much of the puzzle left to solve, I could only wonder where Brian Thomas would come up with a bunch more types of phones so I was impressed with the number he found. I'm with @LMS on not caring if some belong to the same "genre". If it is heard in the wild as ____ PHONE, I think it's legitimate. As someone who just gave up a 12 year old "flip" phone, I agree with @kitshef that that would have been a nice addition.

Backing into the revealer, with PHONES in place, I plopped in "tele" because with ringtones (though those don't seem to be a big "thing" anymore), telePHONES certainly play music. I had to use the crossings to get the HEAD and the nod to the literal start of the theme answers.

I always find it somewhat amusing when @Rex (or anyone) goes off on an answer (ODA in today's case) that I then have to ask, "That was in the puzzle?" and go searching the grid to find where it was lurking. I never saw 34-,35- or 36D at all.

I'm laughing at the mental image @Nancy's post about 53A evokes: Mama and baby sitting in the crib belting out "Rock-a-Bye Baby". Cute.

Thanks, Brian Thomas, nice second entry.

Tom S. 1:49 PM  

First time poster here - I've been solving for a long time yet have never gotten to the point where I can reliably get solve past a Tuesday. I come here both for the banter, and also to find out what the theme was, as I never pick it up unless it is clearly spelled out for me. Even today's revealer was too subtle for me to figure out that a type of PHONE was a the HEAD of each theme phrase.

In short, I'm a doofus. I just had to look how to spell doofus as I had dufus and it was underlined as a misspelling. Doofus is also underlined, and I'm out of options as to how to spell it. Let's just say I'm stupid. Really, really stupid.

I am not, however, so stupid as to criticize @Rex for both speed solving (you know, because I like to savor the entirety of the puzzle which he clearly doesn't) and pointing out inconsistencies in the theme which I admitted I didn't notice and, having not noticed, didn't care about. See, as stupid as I am, I am not so stupid as to complain about two contradictory things at the same time. Nor do I pretend that things that I'm too stupid to notice aren't there, nor are the potentially important. I just admit I am stupid. I would rather say I'm a doofus, but I still haven't figured out how to spell it.

Wm. C. 1:59 PM  

George Boole was a 19th-century English mathematician, who published the original description of a method of algebra that operated on quantiles "0" and "1", (or "TRUE" and "FALSE"), rather than numerical quantities. Called ""Boolean Algebra" or "Boolean Logic."

mathgent 2:06 PM  

@Robert A. Simon (10:45): Bingo! A good examination of conscience. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm guilty of many of those sins.

Jocelyn B 2:14 PM  

Love this

Mohair Sam 2:50 PM  

@Malsdemare - Ignore Robert A. Simon, I doubt it was you he was talking about - and so what if he was. I enjoy your stories.

jberg 3:14 PM  

My first theme answer was ROTARY CLUB, with a wheelin its logo, and my second wasMOBILE HOME, a house with wheels. So naturally I was looking for a wheel theme, and needed the revealer to see different. After that it was kind of fun -- especially that prize-winning SE corner, with TONY crossing ESPY.

@Tom S., if you're a doofus, I want more of those.

JTHurst 3:38 PM  

I thought the puzzle was fun and I come to Rex because I enjoy his responses and I generally do not get the theme, which he clarifies it for me.

I guess I agree with Tom S. (1:10 PM) substantively and what I categorically disagree with are the responders (not the anonyminions who populate the internet and who wants to read their opinions anyway since per definition they are lacking in individuality, unique character, or distinction), who chronically call the Monday and Tuesday puzzle for beginners.

If it is for beginners as you state and you are not a beginner then don't solve them and don't comment upon them.

I find enjoyment in solving the early week puzzles and often find a plum in them worth relishing and while the later-in-the-week puzzles are more time consuming the only difficulties arise in having a word in one cell of the puzzle or having stacks of multiple word answers or having a plethora of entendres and dual meanings characterized by question marks. These are just constructor's tricks. They don't make the puzzle better or worse.

E. B. White always said if you can use one word rather than two, your writing will excel. So if you can make a puzzle simple, understandable and yet fun to solve you have mastered your trade and I commend you for it.

Robert A. Simon 3:49 PM  

@Mohair Sam: You are correct. I most certainly was not referencing @Malsdemare. I like his stories, too.

Hartley70 4:28 PM  

I think I have all of those phones except PAY in a box at the back of a closet. The big old black ROTARY came with us when we left our NYC apartment. I seem to remember the phone company wanted you to take your phone with you when to moved to another domicile in town. You don't live in the wooded burbs without several corded landline phones in strategically chosen drawers for when the power goes out. I dug the theme as a walk down memory lane.

This puzzle was a well chosen Monday solve. It flew by, but then again shouldn't all Monday morning activities do that?

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Back in the day the phones were made by the Western Electric Co. which was the manufacturing and installation arm of At&T.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

Woohoo! Fastest Monday ever. And time was less than 2X of Rex'! Double woot!

Go Democrats 7:34 PM  

Not at all challenging but as a New Mexican I knew Anasazi

Churlish Nabob 9:05 PM  

I’m part Hopi and part Pueblo and ANASAZI doesn’t offend me.

JJ 11:59 PM  

Love the phone head comment earlier

andy 3:58 AM  

As far as Anasazi being a derogatory term: Geez, doesn t anyone know how to Google?

Today, Anasazi are disappearing from sites like Mesa Verde all over again, replaced by "Ancestral Puebloans" or "Ancestral Pueblo People" at the request of modern Native American tribes who claim the word Anasazi is an offensive Navajo term originally meaning "enemy ancestors."

Rad 4:17 AM  

Did the exact same!

Eric J 5:41 PM  

Seriously, personal best for me at 6:05. I have no idea how someone can even write that fast.

thefogman 11:12 AM  

While it's not a classic, there's no need for any ANGER. It's fine for a Monday puzzle. Why does Rex have to PEON everything?

Diana, LIW 11:15 AM  

I finished yesterday's (Sunday) OTP (too late to post). All those little squares and trying to fit extra letters into the little squares!!! Finally finished...on to Monday!

Lady Di, Waiting for MONDAY

spacecraft 11:20 AM  

I enjoyed this one. Trying like heck to connect the long acrosses with some kind of theme...I couldn't do it. Had to wait for the reveal: oh yeah, now I see. That to me is how a themed puzzle should work.

The puzzle is rife with really dumbed-down clues, and with the exception of a couple of entries (ANASAZI, I'm looking at you, and maybe some of us might not know BOOLEAN), very simple fill. Monday-easy for sure. Time? I do not time. I'm retired; I don't have a thousand things to do today. Same goes for yesterday and tomorrow. I love it.

It's not perfect: SEENO is an AP, RESELL is a RE-verb--so is REHAB, I guess, but it carries heavy-usage immunity. ODA? Well, here, we have themers overlapping in five squares, with just one row in between. LAUDING seems weak as a centerpiece word, but come on. How would YOU fix it any better? I think it's fine. Barbara EDEN is a DOD frosting on the cake: birdie.

To fellow syndilanders in the Land of 1,000 Lakes: Wow, what a roller-coaster ride your Vikings gave you yesterday! That was an all-time classic, for sure. Congrats.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

I don't understand "diffuse" not being "diffused" since "concentrated" is.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Concentrated is past tense is what I meant.

rondo 12:15 PM  

@spacey - yes, that was TRULY a finish for the ages. We are AMAZED. It almost ERASES a lot of bad memories. Including the original "Hail Mary" to Drew Pearson 42 years ago. There is still a chance for much ANGER here if the Vikes don't beat your beloved Eagles next week (a game between the two highest NFC CEDES, er, SEEDs) and MAKE it to the Super Bowl on our HOME field. I SEENO reason why the Vikes can't win. That's just me being a SMARTALECK. Agree that Ms. EDEN is a yeah baby.

As to the puz, yeah I got the PHONE thing ONCE I filled in MOBILEHOME. This is what a Mon-puz should be, and nothing AMISS.

rondo 1:09 PM  


and is TRULY ABLE to MAKE you get ARISE with new IDEAS,
give HERA big tip INN that MOBILEHOME CRIB of hers


rainforest 2:48 PM  

Huh? After three years are we discovering that @Rondo and @Burma Shave are one and the same? Seems likely because @Rondo likes to incorporate puzzle words into his comments, but I wouldn't have predicted it. Probably some other explanation, maybe.

I also couldn't have predicted the Vikings unbelievable win with 10 seconds left. As a former huge rooter of Joe Kapp and Bud Grant, I was overjoyed, or at least joyed. Now we get to see castoffs Keenum and Foles go at it next week. Might be a classic.

Oh, the puzzle, ahem. I thought it to be an excellent Monday effort. Clean theme with a perfect revealer (didn't get the connection until then), and a fine grid. Learned of the ANASAZI when I read a bpok on ancient civilizations and their demise. Studied BOOLEAN algebra. Like my Veuve Cliquot ON ICE.

So @Burma Shave/@Rondo, what's the deal?

strayling 7:26 PM  

A concentrate is something which has been concentrated.

Diffuse light is light which has been diffused.

Does that help?

Diana, LIW 1:00 AM  

Fairly easy, even for, you know when.

Then there's the puzzle in a riddle in a conundrum of @Rondo@BS. Huh?????????

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Answers!

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