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Monday, March 5, 2018

Hey! It's Annabel Monday again! And I'm actually extra tired this time because I'm in the middle of midterms which is, like, a lot. But it's whatever tbh, it was nice to take a break and dive into this puzzle! Anyway I hope everyone is doing well!

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: DRESSING THE PART — Theme answers are two-word phrases where the second word is an article of clothing.

Word of the Day: BLUE STOCKING (27A: Woman having literary interests) —
bluestocking is an educated, intellectual woman, more specifically a member of the 18th-century Blue Stockings Society led by the hostess and critic Elizabeth Montagu (1720–1800), the "Queen of the Blues", and including Elizabeth Vesey (1715–91), Hester Chapone(1727–1801), and the classicist Elizabeth Carter (1717–1806). In the following generation came Hester Lynch Piozzi (1741–1821), Hannah More (1745–1833), and Frances Burney (1752–1840).[1]
• • •

Theme answers:
  • CITY SLICKER (17A: Country bumpkin's counterpart)
  • BLUE STOCKING (27A: Woman having literary interests)
  • STUFFED SHIRT (43A: Pompous person)
  • SMARTY PANTS (57A: Know-it-all)
OK, I don't want to turn into Rex or anything, but can I just say one pet peeve I have? I'm getting tired of seeing ARIA, and with essentially the same clue every time too! I swear this is like the third month in a row, I just need a little variety! But oh well, I have nothing against opera music. I didn't have a very hard time with this one--just a bit of trouble in the bottom left corner, and having ISLET for INLET so long that I had to get my mom to go over the puzzle with me to figure out where the error was, lol. Not a whole lot to say about the fill, it was simple and good for a Monday. Like, I see what Rex doesn't like about some Mondays, but puzzles like this one are a good way for people to get into the puzzle when they're new to it! It does exactly what it needs to and sometimes that's okay. Oops I ended up ranting again. :P Anyways!

I would've appreciated some puns or an extra clue or something to tie together the theme? But other than that it was okay! I'd never heard of the Blue Stocking Society before, that's pretty cool! I'm all about cool ladies learning stuff--I am at a women's college after all. Also I always liked "stuffed shirt" as an expression. It reminds me of stuffed shells. Mmmm, between that and CURRY, I'm gonna go get some food now.

  • JUDY (37D: Children's writer Blume) — Oh I actually have a really funny story about this one! I used to be like Judy Blume's biggest fan, so my mom took me to a book signing when I was a kid. I was really excited, but then when she actually signed my book, I apparently threw a tantrum because I didn't want anyone writing in my books. :( 
  • GAYLE (65A: King on "CBS This Morning") — This name always makes me think of one Gayle in particular: the fictional mom played by Chris Fleming. "GET RID OF THE COUCHES! WE CAN'T LET PEOPLE KNOW WE SIT!!!!" 
  • EMCEES (31A: Hosts for roasts) — Sooo what are people's thoughts on roasts? I've never been a huge fan of them, but I've seen one or two that are funny. I like when people roast themselves, though! "Annabel thinks she's scarily good at crosswords, but the only scary thing about her is that she has a horror-movie-doll name!" Hmm... "Annabel's trying to do a roast, but she can't even make midnight ramen without burning it!" Okay, ouch!
  • This is them. They like taking selfies. Obviously.
  • AAA (55A: Motorists' org.) — AAA is also the sound I'd make if I forgot my mom's birthday. But today is her birthday!!!!! Happy birthday to my mom and her identical twin!!!!! 
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium-tough for me and very smooth. Liked it.

If anyone is looking for a very tough puzzle (IMO) to start the week with I would suggest the Sept. 4, 1999 Sat. puzzle by the man who inspired the term Natick, BEQ. This puzzle has everything...extremely vague clues, very obscure crosses, a river I never heard of, Hebrew letters, opera stuff, and words that look like they were made up. This one came out around 3 yrs. after BEQ's first NYT puzzle so I think he was still perfecting his craft.

I finally finished it but it took days of coming back to it. Your mileage may vary.

puzzlehoarder 12:26 AM  

I did this during the Oscars commercials. That probably added a little time. My understanding of BLUESTOCKING is rather vague at best but like so many things in this puzzle I didn't have to read the clue. All that stopong and starting seems to contribute to this phenomenon. Of course it was a very easy puzzle too.

I can empathize with our guest host's irritation at ARIA. Luckily for me that's another thing I didn't read the clue for or even realized was in the puzzle. A good way to avoid excessive ARIA entering is only do the Thursday thru Saturday puzzles. That used to be my MO. Unfortunately now I do them all.

Robin 12:42 AM  

OMG, asking mom for help. Oh, the embarrassment! (But, jeez a Fjord is definitely an INLET!)

It was a Monday so it's hard to be critical. Even if there is a lot of 3-letter crud.

I did like the clueing for some (not all) of the themers. Younger persons than me might complain about BLUESTOCKING, to which I answer, it's a crossword, art the crossings not enough?

The clue of MOOT might have finally explained a phrase in the song "Jesse's Girl" to me. Yes, I still ponder that sh... stuff.

CDilly52 1:04 AM  

Nice to have an Annabel Monday. 50 years from now (or sooner) you will wish you could go back to college and take some midterms! Continue to enjoy these years. Would have been super fast but I typed arias for ARIES and could not for the life of me find the typo until I started re-reading the clues! Like our guest reviewer, I am very tired of ARIA and would have liked some punch to the theme-something clever to tie them together. Oh well, it is Monday after all.

JOHN X 1:17 AM  

Annabel, I love your posts but how are you always in mid-terms? It's March.

Roasts haven't been funny since Foster Brooks finally drank himself to death. I'm kidding, roasts have never been funny. Actually, that's a lie too, because there was a roast for Hugh Hefner where Gilbert Gottfried told a 9/11 joke, which had happened two weeks before, and was booed harshly by the audience and even his fellow roasters - - and then Gottfried saves himself by launching into a spirited telling of "The Aristocrats" joke, which most non-comedians never knew existed. This spawned a documentary about the joke, which is pretty good. You can google "the aristocrats joke" and hear it yourself. It's about a vaudeville family-act so it must be very wholesome and life-affirming.

Usually I screw up Monday puzzles because I go so fast I make a dumb mistake somewhere typing on an iPad. Not today! I rock!

'merican in Paris 1:22 AM  

Took me longer than my usual Monday, but perhaps that's because I did it without the AIDS of coffee. Theme rather meh, but I guess one can't expect too much from the first day of the workweek. Got slowed down at 16A, because my first thought was DWB (Médicines sans frontièrs in French).

Also got slowed down by all the proper names in the south and south-east. New GEHRIG, PORKY PIG and BERGMAN, of course, but entered the latter first as BERGMeN, so wondered who in the world was named KeT_E. UNKEMPT brought to mind the former White House's chief strategist. Can't accuse him of too much TASTE.

The one answer I totally don't get is 63A: ASS, clued as "He hee-haws". Huh? Wait a minute, I get it now: "hee-haw" as in the sound of a donkey. Didn't realize that an ASS was specific to males of the species (Equus africanus asinus). Most of the sources I've just consulted say it is just another term for a donkey, of either sex, and that the full name for a male is a jackASS. The female is called a "jenny ASS", or "jenny-ASS", and sometimes a "she-ASS". Can anybody out there who is more of an ASS expert than I am (and I'm not talking to you, proctologists) enlighten us?

John Child 1:22 AM  

Just fine by me. Like TFL (today's fair leader) I would have liked a revealer or something to tie the odd outfit together.

@jae - I went back to check the BEQ puzzle. A little under Saturday average time here, but I see I used the check puzzle option when I got stuck, so DNF. The puzzle that slew me that year was Sat, Feb. 13, 1999 by David Kahn. Absolute murder...

'merican in Paris 1:25 AM  

"Knew", not "new", of course.

chefwen 1:55 AM  

Hi Annabel, great write up and Happy Birthday to mom and her sis.

Cute Monday puzzle which I did using mostly the downs. Monday is the only day I can attempt that.

BLUE STOCKING was new. Interesting to learn about that.

Our house/animal sitter arrived today and I made her favorite Thai Braised Chicken in Yellow CURRY. As Rachel Ray would say “YUMMO”

Avatar is a SMARTY PANTS, a little too SMART and devious for us and proficient escape artist. She is well known in the area.

Anonymous 3:00 AM  

Very, very smooth. I didn’t even see ARIA while solving so was spared an annoyance. Weird, too, ‘cause I certainly don’t know KATIE and don’t remember guessing. OTOH I did solve at a bar, most of the way through a blinker (4:1, rye:grapefruit w/grenadine splash).

Loren Muse Smith 4:07 AM  

Annabel and Lynn Lempel – my cup runneth over.

Loved this theme. STUFFED SHIRT is just delicious. Don’t we all know one? And SMARTY PANTS. Guess both phrases could describe the same person?

Funny, though, that (at least for me) the STUFFED SHIRT is a man, and the BLUESTOCKING is a woman. They probably deserve each other? I dunno. Maybe a BLUESTOCKING is just quietly intellectual - not an insufferable SMARTY PANTS. I had actually looked into this moniker a while back and found this:

In mid-18th century England, a group of ladies decided to replace evenings of card playing and idle chatter with "conversation parties," inviting illustrious men of letters to discuss literary and intellectual topics with them. One regular guest was scholar-botanist Benjamin Stillingfleet. His hostesses willingly overlooked his cheap blue worsted stockings (a type disdained by the elite) in order to have the benefit of his lively conversation. Those who considered it inappropriate for women to aspire to learning derisively called the group the "Blue Stocking Society." The women who were the original bluestockings rose above the attempted put-down and adopted the epithet as a name for members of their society.

What a coincidence to have CAPUCHINS/GEHRIG. We had a pet capuchin named Gehrig when I was a kid. In Chattanooga. Right.

Funny to have a veritable flock of crossbirds: AUK, EMUS, ROCS. Hah.

Yeah – a couple of SMARTY PANTS teachers railroaded through the idea of a roast for our seniors last year, but hardly any teacher was willing to participate. I finally agreed to say a few words but warned that my comments would not be roast-ish. Anyway – one teacher who fully-embraced the spirit of the roast was fired. Yup. Crossed the line several times. It was painful to watch.

@’merican – it’s so easy to end up with typos while dashing off a comment. So so many times I catch a wrong its or your or there, a mispelled word ��, a wrong role… But… since I have a blue name, I get to dive back in, delete the comment, and repair it! (Oh, and your comment reminded me of this cartoon.)

Thanks for all the well-wishes as this WV teachers strike enters its 8th day. Off to the capitol again for the day, where the man who FRISKS us is very nice because he, too, is a public employee on our laughably horrible insurance plan. All the scary-looking state troopers are really nice, too. Same reason.

Lynn Lempel – no one could accuse you of being an empty suit. I. Love. Your. Puzzles.

Two Ponies 5:55 AM  

Pretty much a perfect Monday.
Great to learn something like Blue Stocking and I'm surprised to never have heard the phrase.
I watched the video in the write-up and it was funny for the first 10 seconds. After that I was wondering if watching a mental breakdown is supposed to be entertaining. That was beyond cringe-worthy.

Lewis 6:01 AM  

@M&A -- Five U's, respectable!

So, for Lynn Lempel's 82nd NYT puzzle (over 39 years), she creates yet another grid with spark (UNKEMPT, FRISTS, BRASH, CACHE, CAPUCHIN, PORKYPIG, plus every theme answer), and a vibrant and tight theme (hard to come up with new theme answers, IMO, try it!). There's also COBRA/TOYOTA/GAGA/ ANA/ YOGA. Lynn's light bulb -- that LL bean -- continues to burn brightly. Thank you for this, Ms. Lempel, and keep 'em coming!

Hungry Mother 6:13 AM  

Refreshingly straightforward and quick this morning. I was close to being the family goat after only picking 8 right in the Oscars last night. Two granddaughters and their dog did worse.

Dave 6:39 AM  

So, I always thought capuchin monks were named after the monkey, not the other way around.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

BLUESTOCKING is such an outlier. Three incredibly common phrases, and that. Also not happy that the others are two words – or at worst hyphenated – while BLUESTOCKING is a single word. And the others all have a negative connotation, but BLUESTOCKING does not (today - though it was originally derisive).

Lou GEHRIG actually played on eight teams that won the series – he just was not on the playoff roster in 1923 or 1939.

Calling YOGA “exercise” is something like calling Christianity a wine-tasting organization.

mathgent 7:34 AM  

My wife usually needs some help with the Monday puzzle. Last night she breezed through this one during the after-Oscar show without a hitch.

Saturday's WSJ variety puzzle was by the genius, PB. It was a Rows Garden -- he creates one of these every couple of months. Challenging and fun.

Has this line hit your part of the country yet? When they start giving guns to teachers, the librarian will get one with a silencer.


chefbea 7:34 AM  

What a fun easy puzzle and a fun write-up!! Of course I knew Warhole's first name...used to own one.. And of course knew the name of Lindberg's plane...use to see it all the time when I went to the Jefferson Memorial!!

Look forward to seeing Anabel the day after Easter....or April fool's day!!!

'merican in Paris 7:40 AM  

@Dave: LOL! I'm pretty sure also that the Red-shanked douc is derived from DOOK.

@LMS: Cute cartoon! I'll go blue after I retire at the end of November. Meanwhile, I have to post anonymously, as I'd have to obtain permission from my employer otherwise.

Still interested to know whether the term "ASS" is restricted to males.

Birchbark 7:49 AM  

COBRA seems like more of a Tuesday answer. I would have gone with ASP on a Monday.

"So how about that, Mr. SMARTYPANTS Communist?" -- one of my favorite lines from an obscure old Firesign Theater comedy album called "How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?," during a somewhat psychedelic cavalcade of what-makes-America-great.

Roo Monster 8:07 AM  

Hey All !
A fully Clothed MonPuz! But where's the Hanes underwear? :-)

Very nicely done Monday. Oh so slight bit of crunch, UNKEMPT frinstance. But that's not a nit. Fun to see GAGA crossing ASS. And @'mericans ASS quest made my morning!

Waiting on @M&A's EZ-E answer. Maybe 54A? 19 weejects also. I think @M&A is rotting my brain! :-p


Newbie 8:08 AM  

Help, please. Does anyone know where the theme of the puzzle is on the NYT crossword app? On Sundays, clicking the “I” gives info on the puzzle including the theme, but not on any other day...

QuasiMojo 8:08 AM  

Great write-up, Annabel. I must not have gotten enough sleep last night (was working until after 11PM) because I started off with ADDER for COBRA and EAYLE for GAYLE at the very end. PORKY PIE sounded right in my Morphean state! So a DNF on a Monday! lol. Well I guess I deserved it.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

I'm going to get lambasted for this, but as a young person just getting into crosswords, I really wish Annabelle would stop with the "like" verbiage and all the exclamation points. It makes her sound more like a high school sophomore than a college student. Seriously, girlfriend, stop with the cringe-worthy Valley Girl speak.

You sound like a smart, personable human being. You are such a blessed relief from OFL's ridiculous rants, but you'd be even more fun to read if you wrote like a young adult rather than an aging teenager.

Let the lambasting begin...

Z 8:18 AM  

@kitshef - Let me thank you for my son. He’s going to Cameroon this summer to “put (his) yoga into practice.”

@mathgent - My librarian wife chuckled. Part of son’s trip involves helping to build a library, thus getting full monetary support from mom.

@LMS - re: Kind police - I was wondering if they were on the same insurance. I was also wondering if the pols realize that the security force likes the protesters more than their charges.

Is BLUE STOCKING an insult? The other three definitely are, so I assumed that it is, too. Does that the subjects of derision took the name for themselves mean it is no longer an insult. Maybe that it seems relatively unknown today means that it’s negative power was defeated. Yet, Lempel knew it and included it with three other insults. Anyone out there ever hear it and know how it is used?

mmorgan 8:26 AM  

Super Monday puzzle by a too notch constructor. Clean, crisp, and fresh (overall). Anything that gave me a moment's pause was quickly clarified by crosses. Everything a Monday should be.

Thanks Annabel, and happy birthday to your mom and aunt, but I hate selfie sticks.

Beaglelover 8:29 AM  

@mathgent, I am thinking that you knew when you passed that so called "joke" along to this blog that you knew it was in poor taste but you chose to begin your week in the sewer. I hope your week improves as it progresses.

Z 8:30 AM  

@Newbie - The NYT doesn’t have a title or theme hint from Monday through Saturday unless there is a revealer in the puzzle itself. You can’t find it because it is not there.

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

@Anonymous 8:16 AM: The same thoughts went through my head, but I hesitated to express them. I agree that there is probably no good way to convey that reaction without prompting criticism from others.

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

I mean top notch!!!

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

This is my dream,
It is my own dream,
I dreamt it.
I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
Then I dreamt that my true love UNKEMPT it.

- Ogden Nash

Undomiel 8:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Undomiel 8:39 AM  

Bluestocking comes up all the time in historical romance novels, which is how I’m familiar with it, since those are my preferred popcorn reading. And it’s always an insult, even though they’re usually set later than the original society’s attempt to reclaim the name.

kitshef 8:45 AM  

@'merican - ASS is a non-gender specific term, according to every dictionary I own.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Oddly, the app version of the puzzle finishes incorrectly: it has GHERIG solving, not GEHRIG.

Also, the photo above isn’t a selfie (sadly, “selfie” seems to be taking on as meaning any photograph of people).

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

@Z - your question about blue stockings is valid - but I don't think reclamation of the term has taken it out of the theme set. Nerd chic. If a person calls a nerd a nerd in order to hurt their feelings, the word is pejorative regardless of whether the person would call themself a nerd, or of whether they consider being a nerd a negative. Blue stocking has been largely a negative term as it is used.
Remember the horrible, horrible fate of Mary in "It's a Wonderful Life"? It has always bothered me that "She's (gasp gasp) a LIBRARIAN! She's at the LIBRARY!" was the embodiment of pitiability. But it communicated everything it needed to communicate, didn't it?

ghthree 8:54 AM  


Have ever you harked to the jackass wild
Which scientists call the onager?
It sounds like the laugh of an idiot child
Or a hepcat on a harmoniger.
But do not sneer at the jackass wild,
There is method in his heehaw,
For with maidenly blush and accent mild,
The jenny-ass answers, shee-haw.
Ogden Nash, Carnival of the Animals.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Hey gang, let's play which one is not like the others, ok?

a) Slicker
b) Stockings,
c) Shirt,
d) Suit, or
e) Pants?

Vote for your answer at http://www.IsAnOuterCoatReallyAnArticleOfClothing?

Kitty 9:01 AM  

Really wish GUNS would stop appearing in our puzzles.

Nancy 9:02 AM  

It's always a treat when a Monday puzzle respects the intelligence of the solver. This was such a puzzle -- one I'm happy to say I did not snooze through. The cluing was not always on the nose, the theme was cute and smooth, and there was almost no junk. Some thoughts:

I didn't know snake charmers had their very own special kind of snake. I thought they were more eclectic in their choice of snakes. BITES at 3D (cute clue there) gave me COBRA, but it could have been mambA for all I knew. Rattler or boa would have worked for me too, had they fit. Seen one snake, seen one too many, that's what I say.

I'm embarrassed to say I didn't know BLUE STOCKING. I thought it was some sort of prig or moralist. I must have been thinking of the Connecticut BLUE Laws. Frankly I thought BLUE STOCKING was closer to a STUFFED SHIRT than a literary lady. Always nice to learn something on Monday.

Seeing CAPUCHINS (clued in an interesting way, too) was also a pleasant Monday surprise. Nice job, Lynn.

Mohair Sam 9:29 AM  

Very nice Monday. This ape knew the BLUESTOCKINGs Society but not CAPUCHINS, go figure. And a t/h (thanks Rex) to @LMS for telling us why the BLUESTOCKING name - neat story.

Poet Anna Letitia Barbauld was a member of the BLUESTOCKINGs. She wrote "The best way for a woman to acquire knowledge is from conversation with a father, or brother, or friend." Wrong, wrong, wrong - she left out husband.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

"We're the Aristocrats!"

I never knew Bob Saget could be funny until I saw that documentary.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I always thought of it as a 19th C version of SMARTY PANTS

G. Weissman 9:46 AM  

I didn’t know the word CAPUCHINS — otherwise pretty straightforward. Is it okay to ask that write ups avoid run-on sentences and sentences that end with question marks although they are not phrased as questions? I know that the excess of exclamation marks and informal voice are intended to be charming, greater attention to syntax would be nice?

AW 9:48 AM  

Quick Q for those who solve using the NYTimes Xword app: Where is the theme given? If I click on the blue i in the header, I get the date and the constructor's name, but not the puzzle's title. Today's theme, per Annabel, is DRESSING THE PART, but where is that given in the app? Thanks.

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:48 AM  

More interesting than a typical Monday, with a few hiccups.

I didn't feel the theme at all. That doesn't mean it's bad, but even very lame themes sometimes make me feel something. My reaction to this one was more like "huh, OK". Probably because I hadn't heard of STUFFEDSHIRT before, and was only vaguely familiar with BLUESTOCKING. I also wasn't aware that SLICKER is a clothing item. Huh, I guess when I think about it it's pretty clear why I feel the way I feel about the theme.

The fill was actually prettay, prettaaaaay interesting for a Monday. The ROCS-AUK pairing was a no-no, but other than that, very smooth and fresh for a Monday. PORKYPIG, UNKEMPT, CAPUCHINS (although if I hadn't heard of them lately that could have frustrated me, it's funny how human brain/feelings work) are very nicely executed.

Oh, and I always appreciate a funny clue earlier in the week. What fishermen want from fish but not from mosquitoes is a good one.

GRADE: B, 3.55 stars.

FrankStein 9:54 AM  

I think bluestocking became a pejorative in the teens and 20s as a way for fashionable and thoroughly modern bright young things to distinguish themselves from the Victorian and Edwardian ladies who had tea instead of whiskey and thought cutting a rug meant working on their tapestries rather than doing the Charleston. Edith Wharton was (erroneously) considered a bluestocking while Zelda Fitzgerald was a flapper.

QuasiMojo 10:06 AM  

Cmon guys. It seems obvious to me that Annabel is gently spoofing the breathless tone of millennials today. It’s called humor. Self-referential to the max. And totally like adorbs.

Nancy 10:10 AM  

@John Child (1:22 am) -- Really, John? You can remember what puzzle "slew" you in 1999? And what month it ran? And who constructed it? I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night.

@CDilly52 (1:04 am) -- I can think of certain things I might miss about my college days. But taking midterm exams certainly isn't one of them! Doubt it's ever going to be one of Anabelle's, either.

@mathgent (7:34) -- Funny! (Even though at least one person seems to think it's politically incorrect to say so.) If we can somehow get guns the bleep out of our schools, churches, arenas, parks, bars, restaurants, hotels, and, yes, our movie and TV "entertainment" too, I, for one, won't much care if, or how often, they appear in crossword puzzles.

Missy 10:12 AM  

@two ponies - please - an obvious rant by none other!

GILL I. 10:16 AM  

Where is the much needed reveal? I thought Lynn would sneak one in. Was the SLICKER STOCKING SHIRT PANTS a MANLY reveal?
No matter, it had LINUS with his security blanket and PORKY PIG and his stutter. Boy did my favorite PIG bring back some memories. I once dated a civil rights lawyer who decided he needed to make more money and have more fun so he became a Psychoanalytical Therapist then changed to a Gestalt therapist that somehow involved Rolfing. Anyway, we spent an entire Sunday discussing PORKY PIG'S arrival in "I Haven't Got a Hat." He used terms like "existential" and "attachment theory" and "anxiety displacement" and several other made up words to describe how Miss Cud, Beans and Oliver Owl were the reason we had so many dysfunctional people in our society because kids watched Looney Toons. I actually participated in the discussion. I had to go back and watch it again to make sure I'm a sane person.
Some nice words like CHRONICLE and CAPUCHINS. Did Starbucks think of monkeys when they started their cappuccino fad?
Happy Birthday to the twins.......!

Missy 10:20 AM  

@two ponies - please - an obvious rant by none other!

Chris 10:22 AM  

I honestly can't tell which comments are real and which are parodies. COBRA is not a Monday word, GUNS shouldn't be in puzzles, someone upset about a fairly oblique reference to a [very] dirty joke?
Ah well, good puzzle and nice writeup. I, too, had conjured up an incorrect definition from context for BLUESTOCKING having encountered in reading, so was glad for the education/

jberg 10:27 AM  

For the first time ever I remembered that this was an Annabel Monday BEFORE I came here, so I was really glad nothing happened to disappoint that expectation. Nice work, Annabel, and Happy Birthday to your Mom! And your Aunt!

It was a fun, fresh puzzle, but just to carp: All the theme garments except one start with S. All the theme garments except one are clued as metaphorical garments (taking SMARTY PANTS as synechdoche). And, as pointed out above, only one is a coat. I haven't tried to think of others, so that may have been all that was possible.

@'Mericans, I think Lynn Lempel figures that she can get away with the generic 'he.'

@AW, if you haven't found it already, see @Z's answer to @newbie.

I knew BLUESTOCKING, but not its origin, so thanks to @Annabel for explaining, and to @Loren for amplifying. The term was definitely derogatory -- it implied an absence of femininity (i.e., sexiness); so the Bluestocking Society was the intellectual equivalent of a slutwalk, trying to change the valence of the term.

@Nancy -- three reasons why snake charmers stick to COBRAs:

1. They're Hindus (like YOGA), so they use snakes native to India;

2. It wouldn't be so impressive if it wasn't dangerour (like Evel Knievel), so they want something that can kill them with a single bite; and

3. Cobras have those distinctive hoods, which makes it easier for cartoonists to draw them, thereby building the snake-charmer brand.

@AW and others -- Annabel, like Rex, is playing a role. That's half the fun.

Finally, a serious question -- are there satyrs on Mt. Olympus?

jberg 10:36 AM  

@Loren -- thanks for the link! Who knew there could be so many cartoons on the same bad pun? It made me wonder if there were also cartoons of MDs standing sadly in front of a rooming house with a big "Vacancy" sign -- you know, "Doctors without Boarders" -- but the only things I could find were either obvious typos or, in one case, a fund-raising page on Facebook, which I guess is probably fraudulent. So, you cartoonists out there -- here's an opportunity!

'merican in Paris 10:41 AM  

@jberg: Then why not just clue it as "Hee-haw"? "He hee-haws" got me thinking the constructor was looking for a three-letter synonym for "guffaw", though of course that is not gender-specific either. Technically I'm over my limit now, but reckon that my correction at 1:25 AM doesn't count against it.

EdFromHackensack 10:42 AM  

I do not mind Annabel's exclamations as much as i mind the millenials in my office who speak as if each sentence is a question? Drives me up the wall? I stare and them and say "Are you asking me a question?"

John Child 10:48 AM  

@Nancy: I’m with you on the fallibility of memory, especially as we age. I referred to my wanderings through the archived puzzles to find the puzzle @jae mentioned, then looked at others. The one with essentially no answers before I threw in the towel caught my eye.

puzzlehoarder 11:06 AM  

@jae, thanks for the puzzle suggestion. I printed it out this morning and brought it to work. It was 52:33 to a clean grid for me. I was guessing on that letter/acronym crossing. The acronym is what sealed the choice for myself. I did this on the city's dime so don't tell anyone.

@John Child, I thought you went back and redid the puzzle but after reading @Nancys' comments and rereading yours I'm thinking you just checked your computer records. I'm curious where you got stuck because I spun my wheels for awhile on the NE. The rest was normal Saturday level. I'll have to try your 2/3/99 suggestion. Originally I did this 9/4/99 puzzle on paper. I didn't start hoading them until '05 so I have no idea howvI did on it first time around.

AW 11:11 AM  

@jberg: If, as Z states, there's no title/theme for Mon-Thurs, then how did "Annabel" come up with "THEME: DRESSING THE PART"?

Rita Hayworthless 11:17 AM  

I'm an award winning donkey trainer and "ass" is not gender specific.

Mother Pence 11:23 AM  

The Aristocrats joke is in extremely poor taste.

Roo Monster 11:24 AM  

@AW 11:11
Every puzzle maker has a title for their puzzle. It's just that Will doesn't provide/use them. If you look at other publications puzzles, some include title.
As for how Rex or Annabel or other Guest bloggers "know" the title, they don't. They just make up one that's relevant to the puz.


Nancy 11:25 AM  

To @John Child, @jae, and @puzzlehoarder, et al. Re: old, very tough, "memorable" puzzles from way back when: St. Martin's Press publishes collections of Will Shortz-edited NYT puzzles, ranging from easy to hard, and I have either bought or been gifted with (by the head of St Martin's who I know from my early publishing days) all those that are categorized as Hard. Right now, I'm coming to the [sob] end of "The New York Times BEST OF SATURDAY CROSSWORDS. So I'm sure at some point you guys have discussed a puzzle that I am either working on or just finished or about to start. But there's no way to know. While all of the puzzles have constructors' bylines -- right now I'm working on a ferocious MAS (hi, @Hartley!) -- none have dates. So much as I'd love to participate in some of these discussions with y'all, I can't. Nor can I offer tips to the blog on puzzles I particularly like and recommend. Bummer. Wish I could. But please know that I'm there with you in spirit.

Banana Diaquiri 11:43 AM  

MOOT is one of those word widely misused, in fact, as the opposite to its true meaning:
knuckleheads: no longer in question
actual: to be decided by debate


Lewis 11:47 AM  

My favorite clues from last week:

1. Lee side (8)
2. Where S is ... (9)
3. No mas (3)
4. You're not in it if you're out (6)
5. Stud of the sports world (5)


Joe Bleaux 12:04 PM  
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Banana Diaquiri 12:11 PM  

@ Joe Bleaux:

well, turns out the gee and haw actually have specific meaning, and not to do with animal/breed/gender:

Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

Any MonPuz that is ok by Blu'Bel and has enough U's to please @Lewis and chips in enough weejects to keep @Roo's brain from rottin is A-ok by m&e.

staff weeject pick: AUK. It's like A-OK, only ok-er.

Tip for new solvers: In a MonPuz, go to NW corner and examine all the Across and Down clues there'bouts. When U see one that U think U have an answer for [COBRA, e.g.], next find a crossin answer that works with it [BITES, e.g.]. Then fill in the pair. U now have a good, dependable, solid-as-cobra-snot base to build on. Do not get discouraged, if U don't know all them Star Wars characters' names; just move on, and get that kinda stuff U don't know from their crossers.

If U have to cut ties with the solid-as-snot base U have established, go hunt elsewhere for sittin-duck fill-in-the blank clues, like {Santa ___ winds} = ANA, and establish another base there. Or … if all else fails, do Google research on a name answer.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Operatic solo} = ARIA. But, for new solvers: Always find a crossin answer that verifies that it ain't HOWL, or somesuch ... Yikes! All the day-um ARIA crossers are names or themers! That's probably why they had to make that there ARIA clue so friendly. (yo, @Blu'Bel, btw)

PORKYPIG & the CHAPUCHINS … well, there's yer rodeo.

Thanx, Lynn Lempel darlin.

Masked & Anonym8Us

bites like an auk-word cobra:

mathgent 12:24 PM  

@Lewis (11:47): As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed your clues of the week. When I filled in SOUTH for "Lee side" when it appeared last week, I thought that it had to do with sailing and couldn't make any sense of it. Now I get it.

jfc 12:30 PM  

Here's Frank Rich's review of "The Aristocrats" in the NYT:

He points out that it may be the first film ever to receive an NC-17 rating for sex and violence not depicted but merely described.

Doris Palko 12:47 PM  
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Z 12:52 PM  

@Banana Daiquiri - Language evolves. MOOT now qualifies as an auto-antonym.

@AW's question suggests a new game to me, Best Puzzle Title. Might I suggest "Dressing Down."

Regarding BLUESTOCKING - It seems to me that those who know of its usage from experience suggest that it remained a pejorative. See @Anon8:53 for the comment that convinced me.

@Chris - Of the two errors (i.e interpreting something as a joke that was meant seriously or interpreting something seriously that was intended as a joke) it seems to me that starting with assuming the best of the commenter is least fraught with risk of unintended insult. Of course, even assuming which assumption is assuming the best is an assumption so... Good Luck!!!! At least with the blue names and frequent commentariatians one has some sense of what they take serious and what they find humorous.

Banana Diaquiri 12:55 PM  

@ EdFromHackensack:
"millenials in my office who speak as if each sentence is a question?"

it's Uptalk:

and mostly (until now??) girls. I don't cotton with millennials much. boys too, now?? yikes.

Anoa Bob 12:57 PM  

LL always uses her bean (good one, @Lewis) to give us a well-balanced puzzle with a solid theme plus lots of interesting fill. Too often, methinks, we see grids where all the eggs are put in the theme basket and the fill is perfunctory, more like an afterthought. We wind up with more of a wordplay puzzle than a crossword puzzle.

Notice that the top pair and the bottom pair of themers each have five downs crossing through them. Not easy to pull off and we still get LINUS ditching his blanket for a STETSON and looking more HEROIC for it, and Ingmar BERGMAN and PORKY PIG doing the LINDY.

All those goodies, and more, and still only 34 black squares. Yikes, that's only two more than many themeless grids. If it takes an ARIA* or two to pull that off, I'll take it every time.

Had a buddy who spent several years in India in the Peace Corps. He said that snake charmers have the good sense to de-fang the COBRA so that the threat of BITES becomes MOOT.

*Las Vegas World Series of Poker Main Event host

Banana Diaquiri 12:58 PM  

"Language evolves."

well, we of the Effete Eastern Intellectual class say devolve. the knuckleheads have the throne. for a while. turning a word entirely around out of ignorance/stupidity is worthy of a Darwin Award. "We don't need no education."

Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM  

@muse/Carl: Bummer, that U gotta get get frisked, to go visit yer politicians. New rule?: Politicians have to be frisked, before bein allowed to visit a school. Anyhoo … hope yer politicians can't keep straight what bill they are passin again, and give y'all a nice solid raise that sticks.

Our local flick theater frisks U, to make sure U ain't smugglin in yer own food items. They say it's for security purposes, but they is always mostly on the lookout for that there deadly plastic bag of popcorn in a purse.
Fave theater-tsa line: "Is that a baby ruth back there, or did you just do a shart?"

Gonna go see "Black Panther" this pm. Lookin forward to it. Seems too schlocky from the trailers to feature a Bobby Seale or Huey Newton documentary, I figure.

Luv that a schlock flick won Best Picture Oscar last night. [M&A had 3-4 faves for Best Pic, and "The Shape of Water" was one of em.] But, I digress…

Thanx again to Lynn Lempel darlin, who I know is always good for a fun Monday puzride.


Malsdemare 1:17 PM  

The spellcaster's back! At least briefly . . .

And, yes, surprise, surprise, I Iiked the puzzle, but then I always do.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

I once said to my husband and our CITY-bred friend, "It's going to rain, we should bring our SLICKERs". CITY SLICKER friend looked at me like I had grown a second head. "What is a SLICKER?". I had to show him it really was a word in the dictionary for raincoat. Maybe that's where the term came from? :-)

Meanwhile, I derailed myself a bit time-wise today, with 11D. C__ON____ said "CanONical" to me for absolutely no reason other than pattern recognition. After 16A and 19A went in, I stuck with CHRONICal for a long time and had to tippy-toe around with crosses to get that CLE ending. No SMARTY PANTS here today.

Thanks, Lynn Lempel, for exactly what Mondays should be, and Annabel, for the write-up.

Z 1:18 PM  

@Banana Daiquiri - "Sometimes, when a thing becomes part of the zeitgeist, you just have to accept it and move on."

P.S. - Since I am just quoting @Nancy for, like, the one thousandth time, I'm not counting this against my 3 post limit?

P.P.S. - "?"? Har!

JC66 1:26 PM  


I'd opine that DRESS DOWN really doesn't work since the themers are all ACROSS's

Roo Monster 2:23 PM  

@JC66 1:26
Yes, put they do go from top to bottom, hence "down".
My title is "Various Pieces of Clothing Strewn About Symmetrically Around The Grid In A Criss-Crossy Way." Maybe a bit long?


Loren Muse Smith 2:52 PM  

@Banana Diaquiri (sic) - If language didn't, uh, "devolve," we'd still be speaking Proto Indo-European. You yourself are leading the charge in a way by not beginning a sentence with a capital letter.

Unknown 3:07 PM  
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Uncle Alvarez 3:09 PM  

I'm an award winning lexicologist and can affirm that language does indeed evolve.

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

@Teedmn - you reminded me of this episode - I spent a week at a specialized camp, with rain falling steadily through the week, and a roommate who wore a rain slicker, the yellow one with the black boot buckles on it, every day. By around Thursday, I knew him well enough to exclaim, "Why do you wear that stupid yellow slicker every day? Don't you know it makes you look like you're from Hicksville?"
He looked at me, bewildered, and said, "I am from Hicksville." That's the day he learned the expression "to be from Hicksville" and I learned that there was indeed a town on Long Island called Hicksville.

'merican in Paris 3:32 PM  

@LMS: You are not going to be surprised by my arguing this point, but while I can see neutral or positive "evolution" in language, I am always puzzled by those who refuse to countenance the view that some aspects of language can devolve at the same time. Changes that reduce clarity and sow ambiguity fall into that category, in my opinion. Perhaps those changes are eventually corrected through modifications that go in a different direction than simply returning to the starting point -- so, over the long term there is at least neutral evolution -- but during the trough period the advantage may swing to the writer or speaker (who doesn't have to think as hard) and away from the writer's or speaker's many readers or listeners (who has to spend more time and effort figuring out what the writer or speaker means).

Banana Diaquiri 3:33 PM  

"not beginning a sentence with a capital letter"
ee cummings never used any.

" If language didn't, uh, "devolve," we'd still be speaking Proto Indo-European"
again, choosing to use a word to its opposite meaning is hardly evolution, in the Darwinist sense. it's anarchy. or, proto-Newspeak.

Z 3:49 PM  

Jocko Homo anyone?

@JC66 - I was going to blame the constructor until @Roo came up with a great justification.

Okay Okay - I'm over. Shutting up until tomorrow. Are We Not Men?

Anonymous 4:15 PM  


I thought your write-up was excellent. Touching, humorous, well-done.
Really enjoyed your Judy Blume story. Also, it is nice to see how you
have such a warm relationship with your mom. Keep on trucking.


sanfranman59 4:45 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:15 4:09 1.03 60.3% Medium-Challenging

BLUE STOCKING? It's a good thing this answer had easy crosses. I made it through the top half in 1:39 (a 3:18, Easy pace). But entering 'SMART cookie' crossing 'smell' in the SE held me up a bit and pushed this over the threshold from Medium to Medium-Challenging.

Teedmn 4:59 PM  

@anon 3:23, great story, thanks! I grew up in Hicksville, metaphorically not literally, in Southern MN, so maybe that's why slicker is in my vocab.

I'm shocked, shocked at how many people are unacquainted with BLUESTOCKING. (Et tu, @Nancy?) I have no idea why I know it, but it seems so much in the language to me that I must have seen it numerous times. I am partial to old novels (turn of the century) because my mother was always buying lots (that's a noun) of books at country auctions where the most obscure things turned up. BLUESTOCKING is just one of those anomalous wheelhouse things, I guess.

Devo 5:02 PM  

We are.

Loren Muse Smith 5:22 PM  

@M & A – thanks, man. It was just announced we’re out tomorrow again.

@’merican – thank you for your well-reasoned argument. We will always disagree on most of this, but I do accept that any linguistic change that at first results in confusion (the phrase beg the question, say) does eventually get “righted” so that the confusion fades.

@Banana Diaquiri - my first reaction to your comment was to laugh. It is so outrageous, I figured, you must just be pulling our leg. So I thought, Well played.

In even that I’m wrong and that you’re actually serious, I’m confused: you’re willing to flout some conventions (capitalization, spelling) while insisting that change in semantic conventions is off-limits? I didn’t get this memo. Terrific, smart, nice… all these word used to mean the opposite of what they mean today. Ever poke around the OED?

Awful used to mean “awe-inspiring, worthy of respect.” Back in the 1300s. Its meaning has evolved to mean something bad now. Do you just avoid such words to maintain your untenable position? If so, talking sure must be tough for you.

I love the elasticity of language, the playfulness, the fun. The ever-changing landscape of our words. “Knowing” that some word is supposed to mean something and so rejecting any kind of swing in meaning is boring.

“Knowledge is a polite word for dead but not buried imagination.” - - ee cummings

Joe Dipinto 7:09 PM  

Lynn Lempel should do every Monday puzzle. Her puzzles always have a perfect balance of relative ease and interesting fill. This one was maybe a little heavy on the proper names, particularly in the bottom half, but I didn't really mind.

In the movie "Barefoot In The Park", Jane Fonda referred to her newlywed husband Robert Redford as STUFFED SHIRT. ("Paul, you're just a stuffed shirt, that's what you are!") And of course there was the movie "CITY SLICKERs". "SMARTY PANTS" was a hit for female R&B group First Choice. And "CAPUCHIN Swing" is an album by alto saxophonist Jackie McLean.

Banana Diaquiri 7:30 PM  

"you’re willing to flout some conventions (capitalization, spelling) while insisting that change in semantic conventions is off-limits? "

it's the difference between syntax and semantics. the former is secondary to the latter. intelligence lies in the latter, not the former. again, MOOT has a specific meaning. using a word with nuance is different from using opposite to its true meaning. that way be Newspeak. or, ask yourself: what do student lawyers do in moot court?

evolution means growing sophistication, devolution its contraction. today's human evolved from yet more primitive primates; we haven't devolved from more highly evolved aliens. I think.

Slappy White Wasn't White 9:21 PM  

I'm an award winning mixologist and can affirm that you spell "daiquiri" as "daiquiri" and not "diaquiri."

Banana Diaquiri 9:27 PM  

it's a name. I can spell any way I want. anyway, it's moot.

Nancy 10:12 PM  

Wow, Loren (5:22)! What a charming, whimsical, playful, delightful link you provided. And I almost missed it. Moreover, while I was watching and listening, I was 100% in agreement. He's mesmerizing, witty and incredibly convincing. The riff is wonderfully enjoyable, enormously entertaining. In the cold light of day -- night right now, actually -- I'm not sure I can buy all of it, but he makes the case as well as the case can possibly be made. Where do you find all these wonderful links, Loren? Don't miss this link, everyone: click on a blue "fun". And fun it is -- whichever side of the language debate you happen to be on. I tend to be more of a purist than Loren, but this link brought me halfway to her point of view.

JamieP 10:29 PM  

No one is going to see this on the bottom, but I was much more familiar with the term blue stocking than stuffed shirt. I think the last time I heard the latter was on Cheers when Sam was fruitlessly trying to get into Diane's quote book. He finally does by asking, "What does a stuffed shirt know about blue collar poetry?"

andrea carla michaels 3:10 AM  

EVERY Monday?! ;)

Dawn 8:45 AM  

Yoga is about as ‘Hindu-inspired’ as the Bible is ‘Christian-inspired’. In other words, it’s just Hindu.

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