Dogpatch matriarch / MON 9-16-13 / Man-goat of myth / Washington rally of 5/14/00 / Huge in poetry / Barnum's circus partner / White House financial advisory grp

Monday, September 16, 2013

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Monday*)

THEME: "M'M, M'M, GOOD" (65A: Classic advertising slogan ... and a hint to 17-, 25-, 40- and 52-Across) — theme answers all have four "M"s in them.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Abba-inspired hit musical ("MAMMA MIA")
  • 25A: Movie starring Lon Chaney Jr., with "The" ("MUMMY'S TOMB")
  • 40A: Washington rally of 5/14/00 (MILLION MOM MARCH)
  • 52A: Dogpatch matriarch (MAMMY YOKUM)

Word of the Day: OMB (35D: White House financial advisory grp.) —
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is the largest office within the Executive Office of the President of the United States (EOP). The Director of the OMB is a member of the President's Cabinet. The main job of the OMB is to assist the President to prepare the budget.[2] The OMB also measures the quality of agency programs, policies, and procedures and to see if they comply with the President's policies. (wikipedia)
• • •

I had some warning about, well, quality issues in this puzzle. Bay Area crossword tournament this past weekend used the upcoming week's NYT puzzles as tournament puzzles, and while no one leaked anything specific (not to me, anyway), I did get a "brace yourself for Monday" warning from a friend of mine. So I was braced. And despite some struggle and much wincing, I finished very much in my normal Monday time range. I don't mind the theme, though I don't like it much either. Seems a very thin concept. Also, MAMMY YOKUM seems ... not a Mondayish kind of theme answer. I've never heard of her and needed every cross—not a big time suck, but very, very weird as Monday theme material. MILLION MOM MARCH is an interesting answer (had MAN instead of MOM at first, before I had any idea what the theme was). I'd forgotten about that march. It's a good stand-out today, where MAMMY YOKUM was a strange stand-out and "MAMMA MIA" was a dull stand-out. Theme is not that exciting, but very typical for a Monday. Choice of theme answers was odd, but in a way that's good—better unexpected than utterly predictable.

My main problem, though (and I suspect my "brace yourself" friend's main problem as well) was the fill, which is quite terrible for a Monday. Quite. There's just too much short junk. Tired and ugly stuff all over the place. ENORM? You use that when you get in a tight scrape in a tough grid not in an already over-the-limit 80-worder (!?!?!). There are word count limits. Of all the puzzles to get a pass, why this one? It's not like the theme was inordinately taxing. And if you go to 80, there is No Way we should be dealing with stuff like AROO / OMB / BAAL or ATIE or MXI or the aforementioned ENORM. Or plural UNSERS. Or dear god RETAB, my eyes! Come on. SCH!? Are we really going back to the "fill doesn't matter" / "theme is everything" philosophy. Because it's what was making the NYT pale in quality next to several other puzzles out there right now. Seemed like the ship was getting righted there for a bit. Not so sure now. We'll see.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:10 AM  

Easy for Mon. for me.  Liked the theme answers and knew MAMMY YOKEM.  Have to agree with Rex about the fill. Not sure when Lil Abner stopped being one of the daily comic strips?

Me too for Man before MOM.

HAYS as a verb made me pause.

Stumbled on spelling KHMER.

So, how come The Temptations get a mention and Little Peggy March gets nada?

B Donohue 12:33 AM  

PINTO and PANATELA were totally new to me and so required crosses.

That was as hard as I've seen a Monday in my short solving experience. I think that Rex is reluctant to give any early week puzzle a rating of "Challenging" even if it is just that difficulty relative to the puzzles of that particular day of the week....

Steve J 12:36 AM  

Yeah, not much to add to Rex's writeup. Lots of really bad short fill, not that the non-theme long fill was anything special. ELAINE/PANATELA crossing was quite tough for a Monday (I have no idea who ELAINE May is, and PANATELA is not one of the cigar sizes I can remember).

Filled in MAMMY YOKUM, requiring all crosses to get it, and still looked at it thinking that couldn't be right. (L'il Abner ceased publication in 1977, @jae).

Really nothing stood out for me. I do have to wonder why this got in despite being over the word cap. I look at the NW and SE and think those two black squares between 3D and 3D could/should have been dropped to allow for some longer fill (there are only six non-theme answers in the whole puzzle longer than five letters, if I counted correctly). That could have diminished some of the bad long fill (UPI, ASAP, MER) that is instead filling those corners.

On to Tuesday.

Anonymous 1:00 AM  

If Q was used instead of M, I'd be fine with the fill. M's not some rare letter that requires the constructor to deliver subpar fill.

Surely there are a dozen more entries that could fit on this theme? No excuse.

Greg Charles 1:08 AM  

To Rex: read some Lil Abner. It's great satire, and if you don't love iit, well, at least it will help with future puzzles. I actually had Pansy Yokum first, since that was her name., and I was sad to have to change it.

Davis 1:19 AM  

About a minute off my typical Monday time, so Rex's difficulty rating seems correct. As does his quality rating.

I'll start by piling on to the PANATELA bandwagon. Like Steve J, I found that to be relatively tough crossing ELAINE May, in that I had to actually stop and think through the options (that is not a very Monday ELAINE—why no Seinfeld clue?). And I had no idea who MAMMY YOKUM was.

I'm also going to throw in a complaint about HI TECH as clued—I don't think "hi tech" as an alternative for "high tech" is really "in the language," particularly not in the computer context. Try Googling "hi tech" or "hi tech computer" — almost all the results are small/local business names. Comparing "high tech" to "hi tech" on Google ngrams further supports this view. Anyone have evidence that this actually shows up with any regularity?

chefwen 2:05 AM  

Thought this was fairly easy and only got a little hung up on MAMMY YOKUM, for some reason I put in mama and thought "that can't be right, we had MAMMA up on top" and my YOKUM wouldn't fit in correctly. Finally got that sorted out and finished with in a flurry. Didn't fall in to the MILLION man MARCH because I thought the theme was all about MOMS until I got to the MMMMM GOOD.

Fun Monday! Thanks Ed Sessa.

chefwen 2:08 AM  

Ignore the "with" in above statement, mind still recovering from jet lag.

@Carola - Go Pack!!!

jae 2:50 AM  

Looks like this one maybe another example of geezer bias.  If you're of a certain age ELAINE May and MAMMY YOKEM are gimmes, if not...tough puzzle for a Monday.

jae 3:04 AM  

...and PANATELA cigars were advertised on TV in the 50's and 60's.

Questinia 3:26 AM  

They tried to make his eyes go to
But he said

@ Anonymous 1:00
I think a puzzle featuring *Q* is a great idea.

Mattress Tester 6:16 AM  

I too thought of Pansy. Must be an age thing.

Elle54 6:33 AM  

I felt warmed by the slogan MMMMGOOD. A nice steamy bowl of Campbell's soup. So the nostalgia of the puzzle was worth it for me! Thanks!

Loren Muse Smith 6:35 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 6:56 AM  
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Loren Muse Smith 7:00 AM  

Wow. I had a dnf due to the OMB/BAAL cross. Lucky guess at the YOKUM/KHMER cross. Morning, @jae.

Poor Dad. I like a tough Monday, but he'll be disappointed.

Unlike Rex, I wasn't as ambivalent about this theme and liked it –back when I saw it last January with Gareth's LA Times.
Gareth's grid
Made me wander off and consider AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN, NOTHING IN COMMON, NO NONSENSE, NINE ONE ONE with the revealer FOREIGN, saw the idea for what it was, and just went and tried to take a nap, wishing I could channel Gareth's clever mind more.

@jae – I'm almost old enough to be in AARP, and MAMMY YOKUM was completely unknown to me.

Because UDON noodles are so thick, I prefer soba. Again – poor Dad.

@jae - HAY is a verb in my world. "Gail won't HAY today because it might rain." Is something I have said in the past. And speaking of farms, is a PINTO different from a Paint? We have three Paints, but no PINTOs.

For some reason, I keep seeing all the double letters in the grid, namely the AA of NAAN, BAAL, MAAM, AARON. But also CANNOT, AROO, CESSNA, DAPPER, LET ME SEE, MOOED, MAMMA, MAMMY, MUMMY, MOM MARCH. If only LAMA had been "llama!"

Come to think of it, there's a bit of a secondary "mom" theme – MAMMY, MAMMA, MAAM (hi, MOM), MUMMY (in the UK, no?), MOM

Ed – I got a kick out of all the M's. I think a bowl of Chicken and Rice is in order today!

Glimmerglass 7:12 AM  

Easy for geezers, like me.

Z 7:44 AM  

MAMMA, MUMMY, MOM, MAMMY - I was a little disappointed by the reveal. Just "four M's" is a lot thinner in my opinion than a MOM theme. And wasn't it just yesterday that there was a hue and cry for more womanly puzzles?

Otherwise, I barely noticed the fill. Looking now I see that LEO got separated from his RRN, MXI.

Sean Dobbin 7:56 AM  

I cannot disagree about the fill, though I didn't really notice while solving at a rapid pace on my phone.

I do think the theme is great, though. Thoroughly enjoyed MAMMYYOKUM.

No question this could have been filled better. Kinda surprising coming from a constructor with >10 published puzzles in the NYT.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

I liked it.. Age thing

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

do you ever like a puzzle???

jberg 8:27 AM  

Yup, definitely an age gap here - I found it absurdly easy, and MAMMY YOKUM a huge gimme. Not only was L'il Abner one of the top comic strips of its day, but it gave rise to a) a Broadway musical, and b) "Sadie Hawkins Day," a holiday Al Capp made up that continues to be celebrated at high school dances across the nation. Unfortunately for him, L'il Abner lived before the time when comics survived the deaths of the artists who made them, either with a new artist hired for the purpose or by the continual recycling of old strips.

But thin theme, and terrible fill, I agree. Also, as @Rex's WOD quote shows, the OMB is not a "financial advisory group," and whether Ba'al is a "false" god is a matter of opinion -- should have been clued with 'to Christians,' or something.

August West 8:44 AM  

The reveal was among the last clues I filled so I barely noticed a theme while solving apace. I had just some vague appreciation that "this sure has a lot of double letters."

Rex and others have already said what needs to be said of the fill, possibly rendering this very tough for the new solver. Didn't know Mammy, but did know that Yokum's hung out in Dogpatch, so, yeah. Hand up for Man before MOM.

joho 8:45 AM  

I thought the theme was made much stronger by all the theme answers being a "mom."

What excites me about this puzzle is that according to Will's note this is the beginning of a contest which will end with the Sunday puzzle. I'm looking to forward to every puzzle this week for that reason and especially Sunday. This should be fun!

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

I thought this one was pretty easy, but of course, I did the musical "L'il Abner" in high school, as well as read the strip. This is not as obscure as "Nick and Nora's dog" or some of the other crosswords that regularly get used...

mac 8:58 AM  

Medium Monday, with a couple of snags that took time.

All I know of the Dogpatch characters I learned in crossword puzzles, and this Mammy never showed up.

mathguy 9:36 AM  

Did any of you do the Cryptic Crossword in the magazine? I finished it this morning after spending a lot of time last night. Some diabolically obscure clues.

quilter1 9:42 AM  

Medium-Challenging? Really? This was so easy. MAMMY YOCUM a gimme as was everything else. Just sailed through. Now today's BEQ is a different story. Looking forward to the tussle after skimming the clues.

Lewis 9:46 AM  

Ed says that originally this puzzle's clues all began with M, and that Will kept a lot of them, but changed the others. That might have made the theme stronger, but may have felt too strained.

I don't like SLIMLY. Nobody says that.

I think the theme is fine for Monday, and I liked MAMMYYOKUM --- it looks cool in the grid. Yes, though, there's a lot of grid gruel, as Rex has pointed out.

It did feel a bit crunchier than the typical Monday.

quilter1 9:46 AM  

Plus, my grandkids have me and Grandma Khmer. They also speak the language.

Doug 9:47 AM  

Far from an obsessive or expert solver, this was the fastest I solved a puzzle in my lifetime, I think. The only hiccup was mom instead of man. As for the geezer label, now you know how we feel when the clues are full of hip hop stars nobody over 40 ever heard of. See Tempts hit song.

MetaRex 9:48 AM  

Ugh to 80 words w/o a really good reason...also and relatedly, for MR, 3 x 3 boxes are what EELS are for Ellen's E-W boxes of AMI-HIM-ALP and ORS-SCH-THY are worsened by the additional 3s of AHA and SHY that semi-enclose them.

On the bright side, made a truly excellent dumb error (in addition to the not so interesting error of IDOL for BAAL) in a futile effort to break five minutes on this one. THE MOMMY'S TOMB didn't seem right, but, hey it's Monday...I filled it in and moved on. Props to Ed S. for a nice theme and for MUMMY in particular.

Carola 9:50 AM  

After MAMMA MIA and the first M in MUMMY'S, I had the theme (well, I thought it was "mothers"), so went and wrote MOTHER'S DAY MARCH across the center (at least I got to keep the MARCH) and guessed it would be MAMMY Somebody for Dogpatch. Couldn't guess the reveal, though - and loved it when I saw the string of MMMMs appearing - a nice fake-out for me after expecting another mother reference. Made the puzzle for me.

Like @Z, I thought of yesterday's comments so enjoyed this tribute to the maternal GALS. And like @jae, I remember PANATELAs from old TV ads - portrayed as more sophisticated than run-of-the-mill stogies, I believe.

@chefwen - Yes!

chefbea 9:55 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle!! Is Hay really a verb...50 across??
I too had million man march at first and then realized there wern't enough M;s

Carola 10:02 AM  

@mathguy - Yes, on the cryptic. Kept at it and finished it yesterday. Agree about the cluing! I'm still trying to figure out the "cryptic" part of 10D. Loved it when the light went on for 25A.

Sandy K 10:03 AM  

Pretty MMMM GOOD theme for a Monday, but agree with Rex about the fill.

Had Man before MOM and idoL before BAAL, but OAHU and MA'AM fixed that...

Didn't love SLIMLY and HAYS, but cracked up- LOL @Questinia's new verse to "RETAB".

Notsofast 10:13 AM  

Count me among the geezers who found the puzzle easy-peasy. But to me it was also fun. I also liked the fill. But, as I've noted before, I think weird is good. Especially on a Monday.

Sandy K 10:16 AM  


Thought of you while struggling over the cryptic! 10D and 25A were 2 of my big write-overs. I had 10D sorta backwards for too long...

Zeke 10:45 AM  

@LMS - A PINTO is a paint horse with different breeding. To be a paint the horse has to be a PINTO and either a Quarter Horse or a Thoroughbred.

mathguy 10:51 AM  

@Carola: It's an anagram of "rising talent." It took me a long time to get SWANSON.

Aimee Lucido 10:53 AM  

I'd like to add that the clue on NTH is stupid. "To the nth degree" is not a mathematical phrase, and if you have x^n in math, n does not mean infinity. The clue is just plain wrong.

Master Melvin 10:58 AM  

I'm with @Z. Thought we had a pretty good MOM theme. 4 M's? MMMMeh.

gifcan 10:58 AM  

Back after a couple of weeks away, lots of catching up to do. Yesterday was easy for me and today was so-so. Too bad I misspelled NeMOY and didn't check the cross.

Steve J 10:58 AM  

@Questinia: Best post of the day. Best use of RETAB, well, ever.

@Aimee Lucido: That's why it was clued with a question mark. The question mark acknowledges that a play on words is being made, and that the clue isn't literal.

Agreed with others that had the theme tied in the recurring words for mother, that would have tightened it up. Since the old Campbell's commercials always showed mom serving a bowl of soup, that could have perhaps been worked into the revealer's clue.

MMMM and AAAA 11:38 AM  

Luv luv luv them old comic strips, like Smokey Stover, Katzenjammer Kids, Krazy Kat, and today's "mystery themer of the day" source, Lil Abner....

MAMMY YOKUM, nee Pansy Hunks, is Lil Abner Yokum's mom. Feel kinda sorry for solvin folks that have never had the pleasure of readin those old strips. sigh. But, hey -- Facebox and Tweeter are probably lotsa fun, too. But a little Notary Sojak or Voodpussy would be a major addition, amongst the hashtags.

Dang, I just realized I'm as old as dirt.


chefbea 11:45 AM  

@M&A thanks for reminding me of Smokey Stover. Use to love that one. I'll have to google it and re-laugh

chefbea 11:47 AM  

A riot!!!!!

Ray J 12:09 PM  

Once I had MAMMA MIA I just went looking for “M”s. Okay puzzle for a Monday, I guess. I need to go read up on word count rules.

@Rex, nice timely usage of righting the ship.

Captcha is berytab. Ha.

Rob C 12:22 PM  

Medium-Challenging Mon. for me. I thought the theme was fine for early week. The fact that all of the themers reference a MOM related word (loosely on MUMMY) but the revealer didn't, made it seem disjointed - opposite view than @joho. Agree that the fill was iffy, particularly for an 80-worder.

I guess HAYS had to be clued as a verb, because the plural of the noun HAY is HAY. Are there any famous folks with the surname HAYS or are they all HAYES?

Rex mentioned BAAL as poor fill. I thought it was great, just maybe un-Monday-like.

Carola 12:29 PM  

@mathguy - Thanks! "Fresh" - aarrgghhh! - can't believe I missed an anagram! Agree on 19A - for a long time I was misled by "company's ultimate" - that would be a "y." Not.

@Sandy K - Ditto here :) I thought the 12A clue was genius, liked the 2D and 3D pair. Do you know about the cryptics available here? I started doing them a few weeks ago and they've helped me get better (I think!).

quilter1 12:39 PM  

Yes, a farmer will say s/he is going haying. Or I'm doing my haying. So on those days s/he hays. Legit.
My captcha is mmersho.

MMMM and AAAA also 12:48 PM  

@chefbea. yep. I always seem to remember Foot Rests from Smokey Stover. They was always an inverted stuffed foot, or somesuch, that people would rest their feet on.

Y'all young pups can check it out, at But I digress.

Somethin about the MonPuz:

MMMM Stuff...
* 80 words. More for yer money.
* Four U's. Lil darlins.
* Aimee darlin, crabbin about NTH. How can somethin be higher than N, if N can be anything?
* SLIMLY and RETAB and ENORM and MXI. Has that sweet smell of desperation that M&A so cherishes.
* MOOED in a MonPuz. Well there's yer rodeo.

AAAA Stuff...
* BAAL crossin MAAM. Makes me want a drink.
* SCH. Fergot the endin L.
* AROO crossin UDON. Woulda been ok, if they was both suffixes of BUCK-.
* KHMER RICO. Edward G Robinson meets Angkor Wat.


Just Wonderin 1:04 PM  

why does challenging get qualified *for a monday* but a much more difficult saturday that is rated easy is not qualified *for a saturday*

Last Silver BBullet 1:10 PM  

One more AAAA, just for balance's sake...

* "Al and Al Jr. of auto racing" - Gotta admit it. Woulda been cool, to the NTH degree, if the answer was ALS.
This would be the poster child example for the perfecto April Fool's Day MonPuz.


John V 1:21 PM  

This older solver found it quite easy. Never noticed the fill, went by that fast

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

More than 20% of the grid answers were things I would try to avoid in a puzzle...UPI, AROAR, ATRA, IBID, AROO, ILOSE, HAYS, ATIE, MER, ADE, MAXI, NCR, MIRO, MYNAHS, UDON, OMB, KHMER, EMI, MXI, SLAG, ORS, SCH, ENORM, RETAB. If I were the constructor of the puzzle, I would poke fun at Will Shortz for accepting this garbage dump.

Bird 1:25 PM  

Yup, what @Rex said. Except that somehow I knew MAMMY YOKUM after just a few letters. However, couldn’t figure out 35D and can never recall 45A so DNF (on a Monday!). I’d like to throw in AROAR as tired and bad fill as well. Never know, or thought, that HAY is a verb.

I did like the themers though.

@mathguy re:L Cryptic – I did a once through and did not get very far. Maybe later in the week I’ll try again when my brain is less stressed (oops, looks like I stumbled on an answer in the comments).

ahimsa 1:57 PM  

@Just Wonderin, I hope @Rex will post with a more definitive answer about difficulty ratings but my guess is that more people reading this blog get confused by the Monday ratings than by Friday-Saturday ratings. People would see the words "medium-challenging" and wonder how such an easy puzzle could be rated that way. My guess is that Rex is doing this to keep folks from sending him lots of email.

As for the puzzle, I liked it. I thought the theme was fine, even MMMM GOOD, for a Monday. I liked the possibility that the theme might be about words for mother but was actually about the 4 Ms.

I do agree with some of the criticisms of the fill. Pretty tough/strange for a Monday.

I qualify for AARP but I've never read L'il Abner. My father used to read that comic strip so I had some vague memory of a Mammy and Pappy something. Tried Mammy Abner for about a second thinking, "Hmmm, maybe the title character is the youngest member of the Abner clan?" But nope. Well, Abner sounded like a last name to me! :-)

Laughed at MOOED and immediately thought of M&A. "Moo-cow easy" this puzzle was not. :-)

ahimsa 2:15 PM  
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ahimsa 2:55 PM  

I just remembered a character from Li'l Abner which no one has mentioned yet - Joe Btfsplk, the jinx with the impossible name who walked around with a cloud over his head. He was my father's favorite. Hmmm, I wonder if his name has ever been in a crossword puzzle?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention how much I laughed at @Questina's lyrics for RETAB! For those who didn't get it, here's a link -

John V 3:38 PM  

Folks, re Rex ratings, have s look at his FAQs

Sandy K 3:55 PM  

Thanks to:
@ahimsa- for link to "Rehab"!

@Questinia- once again for biggest laugh of the day- won't be forgetting that one!!

@Carola- nice website! Cryptics with a theme! Why don't they do that in the NYT?
Had ShooTING STAR cuz anagram eluded me too- til I got 12A! And tried to fit in NeGligEe for 3D...
Thought of M&A at 17D. Grew up on 19A turkey dinners! Lots of genius clues-loved duality of 4D.

sanfranman59 6:31 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 6:23, 6:06, 1.05, 75%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:02, 3:48, 1.06, 81%, Challenging

ahimsa 6:48 PM  

@John V, re: difficulty ratings, I think my previous post was confusing.

I thought @Just Wondering was asking about why Rex often adds the qualifier *for a Monday* when a Monday puzzle is hard but rarely (never?) adds *for a Saturday* when that puzzle is easy.

(Note, I have not measured this, LOL! But I think it's true that there's a difference in frequency.)

So I was just guessing about why there would be a difference. As noted in the FAQ, all difficulty ratings are relative to the day. So that extra phrase *for a Monday* should not be needed on any day. And yet it's there at times.

Ameba Retab 6:52 PM  


If Mondays are what new puzzlers cut their cruciverbal teeth upon, why shouldn't they be exposed to the same *garbage* filler that got us all fattened up and craving more?

I say honor the MYNAHS, the AROOS and the RETABS.

It's the pap what got us here.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

Rex says there are "other puzzles" that are out shining the NYT... Can anyone suggest a few to a novice puzzler?

Nice Crossword Peoples 8:07 PM  

@Anon 7:01 -- Head over to the Diary of a Crossword Fiend site. Easy to find it on Google. They direct you to all the regular crossword puzs, plus give you reviews, so you can evaluate how you'd have done with them.

Very hard to evaluate the comparative "shininess" of various crosswords. Your opinion may vary from Rex and from m&e. Come back and let us all know what you think.

chefbea 8:26 PM  

Watching Dancing with the stars!! Just had a commercial for Campbells chicken noodle soup where they sang mmmm good!!!

LaneB 8:28 PM  

Sunday and Monday together. Monday very easy; Sunday less so but doable.n

Davis 10:05 PM  

"Aimee darlin, crabbin about NTH. How can somethin be higher than N, if N can be anything?"

N+1, 2N, and N^2 are all higher than N (just to name a few).

Z 10:24 PM  

Re: Other puzzles - Rex has all these links right next to the daily content. Independent Puzzles, other blogs, and other crossword sites are all listed. Even further to the right one can find the earliest musings of Rex Parker.

For example, for the 11/20/2006 puzzle OFL wrote;

"IBIS is on the Pantheon waiting list, if only because ... well, only in the world of the NYT puzzle would IBIS be considered Monday fare. It's pretty exotic outside of CrossWorld. I mean, you find them all over the world, but if most Americans had to list 20 bird names, IBIS would be on very few lists. They are beautiful, though. And, as Wikipedia tells me: "The Sacred Ibis was also an object of religious veneration in ancient Egypt, particularly associated with the god, Thoth" - Worship of Thoth can be found in the contemporary comic Conan, which is actually very well written and entertaining, unlike the other prominent Robert Howard-inspired comic, Red Sonja, which is appallingly subliterate. I'm not convinced the writing is even proofread, let alone edited in any significant way. Embarrassing. Robert Howard would kick somebody's ass if he were alive to see his name associated with such ridiculous, ungrammatical nonsense. The only reason I haven't cancelled Red Sonja is because ... I want to have faith in the viability of a female hero. Oh, and she's hot."

From IBIS to "she's hot." How can you not love it. It almost makes me want to see IBIS in another puzzle.

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

OMB is not a "financial advisory group" within in the White House. It's a "management and budget" group -- OMB stands for "Office of Management and Budget."

Andre Cessna Mmmm 5:43 AM  

MMMM GOOD is a good theme, but done before.
Sometimes folks claim that the possibilities could be arbitrary and endless...
This had a VERY tight group making it all MOM all the time|
Would have been even better if it had been published day after Mother's day, why not?

Skewed old with MAMMY YOKUM and even the slogan it referenced but five themes on a Monday, perhaps led to some of the subpar fill?
But I liked NIMOY right off the bat and KHMER stumped me, but cool!

Hand up for Man before MOM.

I also liked there were lots of other nonTheme Ms floating about... AMMO, MOOED. 25 Ms has to be a record!

I think "for a Monday" qualifier, in addition to staving off mail might also be an ego thing, to re-emphasize that @Rex would never find an actual Monday puzzle actually challenging.

Had the pleasure of solving this while sitting across from SanFranMan 59 and looked up afterwards and asked "What's not to like? And why wasn't this saved for Mother's Day?".
He gently advised me not to read the blog... On a day like today (or when one of my Mondays gets trashed) but I have a morbid curiosity.

It's not that I don't agree with some of the criticism, just always floors me how everyone now has their knives out, instead of just a sharpened pencil.

spacecraft 11:23 AM  

Sorry, but here comes another blade. But it's a clone of OFL's; I feel exactly the same way about the fill, right down to the last ADE. Clued as a suffix, it was the least Ed could do.

Another hand up, too, for the more familiar MARCH--I now even forget what the MOMs marched for...maybe MADD? Worthy cause, that. Or this month's theme, breast cancer. Also worth marching for.

Yeah, I do get a warm, fuzzy feeling about those soups, of which the original vegetable is still my favorite. I just think it coulda been done better.

I think I'll go eat now.

rain forest 1:47 PM  

Maybe not MMMMGOOD, but pretty good (*for a Monday*). If any other day of the week doesn't get a qualifier, why Monday? I think ACME's onto something with the ego thing.

Anyway, I found it easy. After MAMMAMIA, and, MUMMYSTOMB, I put in MOM for the MARCH even though I never heard of it. Thought the revealer would be something about Moms, not the M's.

Cream of mushroom is the best of those soups. Not only is it great as a soup, per se, it is so versatile in making sauces and adding richness to casseroles.

Because the NYT crossword puzzle increases in difficulty as the week progresses, and since people say that Mondays, especially, are meant to cater to the beginning solver, it's not surprising that we'll get lots of crosswordese on Mondays. How else can the beginning solver learn about the those 'glue' words that every constructor will use now and again? Doesn't mean the puzzle is a stinkEROO.

Solving in Seattle 2:19 PM  

Where is Evil Doug when we need him most?

DMG 3:04 PM  

Enjoyed this puzzle, only one correction, idoL to BAAL, and discovered that its MAMMA not MAMA MIA. Surprised to learn that some of my favorite comic strips and comics have slipped from view. The Nichols-May improv performances were priceless! The memory,makes me smile. Now I guess I need to get a cup of tea and finish tatting another doily!

Dirigonzo 3:57 PM  

Didn't we just see MMMMGOOD in a grid? Or am I just having a déjà vu moment?

I often misremember that it was she who dumped me and not I who dumped her, so the Temptations hit was briefly "Since I LefT My Baby" - I could almost justify the "e" with the cross (e/ORS) but there's no way "Educ. facility" was going to be fCH so I had to face up to the reality of the situation.

Andre Cessna Mmmm (I'd comment on the exquisite aptness of that particular screen name but that already got me in trouble once before*)wrote: "...just always floors me how everyone now has their knives out, instead of just a sharpened pencil." The pen, as the saying goes, is mightier than the sword.

(*In case you missed it the full story is told here.) (Warning - the video contains a repeated phrase that some may find objectionable - or hilarious. I depends on your sensibilities.)

Singer 5:25 PM  

I just performed Mendelssohn's "Elijah" this weekend, which features the great duel between the prophets of Baal and Elijah to see who's god could light the altar on fire. Very graphic and exiting battle, with Elijah mocking the heck out of the priests of Baal. Made that clue a complete gimme. But I agree, the fill is awful in this puzzle, even given the fun connection with Baal.

Ginger 6:35 PM  

Mmmmmighty Fine puz we got here. Fun to look at the grid and see all those MMmmmmmmms. Mmmmmmmighty fun to solve it to. Yes, there's some junk fill, but if that's what is needed to hold it together, okay by me.

I think the difficulty rating could have been 'challenging for anyone under fifty' or 'easy for retirees'.

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