1996 Mario Puzo novel / MON 2-17-14 / 1989 John Hughes movie starring John Candy / Sewing machine inventor Howe

Monday, February 17, 2014

Constructor: David Gray

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "SAY, SAY, SAY" (38A: Paul McCartney / Michael Jackson hit … or a hint to the starts of 17-, 24-, 57- and 65-Across) — first words of all theme answers can be preceded by "Say" to form familiar expressions:

  • "Say UNCLE!" (BUCK) (17A: 1989 John Hughes movie starring John Candy)
  • "Say NO MORE!" (TEARS) (24A: "There, there … stop crying")
  • "Say CHEESE!" (CURLS) (57A: Snack that leaves the fingers orange)
  • "Say WHAT!?" (A JOKE!) (65A: "This is just ridiculous!")

Word of the Day: "UNCLE BUCK" 
Uncle Buck is a 1989 John Hughes comedy film starring John Candy and Amy Madigan, with Jean Louisa KellyGaby HoffmannMacaulay CulkinJay Underwood, and Laurie Metcalf in supporting roles. (wikipedia)
• • •

I have only two complaints about this puzzle, and they are very minor. One, there are four theme answers, but only three SAYs in the revealer. Gotta borrow a say to get the job done, technically. Also, I'd've gone FLIP / FLUSHES over SLIP / SLUSHES, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, this is a gem of a Monday on most other counts, I think. Of course I may be under the influence of one Mr. Rick James, whose "Give It To Me Baby" (posted above) has been on a loop here in my home office since I finished this puzzle. Me: "'Say WHAT?' … oh man, what is that song that has 'Say WHAT?' at the end of the chorus? 'Blah blah blah blah [lady's voice] SAY WHAT!?' Aargh, this is driving me crazy. OK, internet; I don't like you and you don't like me, but you are going to *tell* me what that song is …" [googles a few variations on [say what song chorus disco] until some chat / ask-a-question page comes up, where some guy wants to know all the songs that have "Say WHAT?" in them—the poster himself can think of only two: 'Love Rollercoaster' by Ohio Players and [drumroll] "Give It To Me Baby" by Rick James!]. "Oh, yes! Yes yes yes! Hell yeah, internet!" [plays Rick James] [End scene].

Thought this was going to be on the (slightly) slower side at first because of the largish corners, but no. Once I got out of that SLUSHES / LINKAGE area, I flew. Tore it up. When I speed solve on-line, the main limitation I have is my fat, clumsy fingers. I am the typoingest typer in the west (and east). Probably would've been close to my record time had I not just tripped over myself repeatedly, esp. at the end, in the LAST DON / ALL-STARS / CHEESE CURLS section. Just fumbled the ball repeatedly. Still ended up around 2:40, which means this puzzle really should be rated "Easy," except I know that there are going to be enough pop culture hiccups for some solvers (with two of the theme answers) that the Overall Solving Experience is likely to be closer to Medium. Of course, on a Monday, none of this matters, as virtually everyone will feel the puzzle is "Easy" and that's that. Oh well, I have to amuse myself somehow, even if that "somehow" is by obsessively weighing the importance of a handful of seconds in the assessment of the difficulty of a Monday puzzle. Some people collect stamps.

See you.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. I saw all the Oscar-nominated animated short films today, with a few honorable mentions thrown in for good measure (if I saw them here in Binghamton, they must be playing in theaters all over the place). Really, really worth it. Liked everything I saw, but "Feral" and "Possessions" were my favorites:


    ACME 12:33 AM  


    That was favotie part of puzzle for me, thinking of all the snacks that leave my hands orange...
    Oranges, Doritos, cheesedoodles, melted M&Ms.

    SAYSAYSAY nice during Beatles 50th annivsary week, tho technically obviously not a Beatles thing. I wonder if the rights to the Beatles catalogue has reverted back to Paul since Michael's bankruptcy/death.

    Two LEON Spinks clues in the same puzzle has to be a record of some sort. Bet that was semi-tough for young 'uns.

    Anyway nice nice puzzle, the themes practically shouted out at the solver ""SAY NO MORE! SAY UNCLE! SAYCHEESE! SAY WHAT.!"
    But disconnected it was freaky... UNCLE, CHEESE? WHAT?
    So THAT's a nice reveal! Great idea. Wonderful puzzle.
    And UNCLE/NEPHEWS pairing.

    Hans 12:35 AM  

    I've enjoyed countless SLUSHEES in warm weather, but no SLUSHES.

    Charlie Mitchell 12:41 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    jae 12:43 AM  

    Medium for me with a zippy theme and a pretty smooth grid.  Just about right for a Mon.! Liked it.  Happy Birthday David, nice job!

    Steve J 1:35 AM  

    Took me a couple moments when this was done to get the theme. Found the SAY aspect of it to be the least interesting bit, which is not to say it was uninteresting. Just that the theme answers were really nice all on their own.

    Rock-solid puzzle throughout. Nice theme answers, the nice 7-letter downs in the NW and SE corners, solid, in-use 3-letter fill holding things together. Exactly what would be great to see every Monday. Very nicely done.

    chefwen 1:37 AM  

    @Acme - Here you are, been missing you.

    Liked this one, thought it had a bit more chew for a Monday, but I got through with no write-overs, I don't time myself, but it seemed to take a tad bit longer than my usual time.
    Loved 57A , a Cheesehead favorite.9

    chefwen 1:39 AM  

    I have no idea how those weird numbers showed up in my post.

    Ankara Cheesecurla Mass 1:52 AM  

    Thanks, @chefwen... In phx getting butt kicked in Scrabble tourney, printerless, spotty internet, etc.

    off to see mom in Florida
    (Same mother whom I've just learned last month had never done ONE of my puzzles!
    Am practicing my mantra:
    "I'm sorry you're upset, what can I do to help?")

    Had to do USA Today puzzle. Omg... The puzzle had ONLY crosswordese...repeated word in theme, obscure monetary units, OREOS, you name it!
    I dare this crowd to do ONE puzzle in USA Today and ever complain about ANYTHING again in the NYT (fill-wise)

    Andy 2:20 AM  

    I also like BLIP/BLUSHES there.

    KFC 2:43 AM  

    ACME's post reminded me of this one.

    So a guy goes in for a physical:

    Doctor:  Everything looks fine except for the odd orange color of your penis.  Does this affect your sex life?

    Guy:  What sex life Doc? All I do most days is watch porn and eat CHEESE CURLS.

    Eat more chicken now boneless!

    Ellen S 2:44 AM  

    I didn't know hardly any of the pop culture references (unless you count LEON Spinks), but nevertheless loped through this one ATATROT. Did wonder briefly what ATAT___ was going to turn into, but it filled itself in practically before I I had time to finish wondering.

    Liked the theme, never heard of the song (see above). Wanted SLUrpees,never heard of SLUSHES, but it went down smooth as a .... CHEEzit. No... that sounds disgusting. More like a wedge of excellent Brie.

    Anonymous 6:06 AM  

    Does anyone say uncle? I've only heard cry uncle.

    Loren Muse Smith 6:21 AM  

    Among the “words that can follow” ideas, one like this gives me a real kick. Gareth did an LAT Sunday sized one in 2012, and I loved that one, too.

    Say When

    I double-checked the day of the week when I saw those 7-stacked corners. Nice job, David. Hand up for wanting “slushees,” too.

    The Thursday before my daughter’s Saturday prom last spring, she developed a stye. Called me, hysterical, while I was at work meeting with a bride-to-be. I was to pick up some NO MORE TEARS shampoo on the way home. Apparently if you put some of that on the warm washcloth applied to the offending eye, it would help. Well, the stye went away in time for The Facebook Pictures, but who really knows if it was the NO MORE TEARS – that fallacy “after this, therefore because of this” and all that.

    Yeah – I did go back to make sure there were indeed four themers. Maybe just have SAY somewhere key and WHEN I’M SIXTY FOUR across the middle? It actually didn’t cause any SCOWLS. Still, I would really have liked a WHEN entry.

    Andrea - great catch on the NEPHEW/UNCLE pair. Good luck at the tournament and good luck with your mom!

    Maybe it was visiting Mom and Dad this weekend and having *a ton* of college basketball on the brain, but I kept seeing colleges in the grid:

    UCLA – of course
    ASU- see above
    VOLs – on the checkerboard
    MASS – U get the picture
    DAYTON Academy
    New Brunswick College
    Alabama Law Institute
    Saint Thomas Academy
    CPU – there has to be some C.P. University somewhere, right?
    UNC – duh

    Hey – I have to compliment UNC, especially if anyone in Chapel Hill is reading this. The hospital complex there is massive - you park in a deck and wait for a shuttle to pick you up to deposit you at the right building. UNLESS you’re there for radiation treatment. Man, they have it down. I pull up to the door, someone helps my mother-in-law out, I park about twenty feet away, and we’re in and out in, I swear, thirty minutes, and that’s just because we’re always about 20 minutes early and wait a bit. Hats off to The Tar Heel Radiation Guys!!!!

    I wasn’t able to comment on Rex’ mention of Byron Walden’s Inkwell puzzle last week. Wow, wow, wow. That’s a theme I will never forget. I still stare out the window and think about it. Still.

    David – I liked AT A TROT and really appreciated those white corners in the NW and SE.

    Danp 7:05 AM  

    My first thought was how does this theme or its answers pass the Will Shortz "is it funny?" test (Say no?!?!?). I understand that early week puzzles are targeted toward people who 1) have limited trivia knowledge 2) are easily stumped by nuanced language designed to misdirect 3) don't know all the short words that experienced solvers consider gimmes. But themes like this one seem to question the very intelligence of the solvers. As Nigel Tufnel would say, "But these go to eleven."

    Glimmerglass 7:41 AM  

    Hey, Rex, here's an idea. Because there's not much puzzle time in the Monday NYT (today's was fun but probably took most of us only a few minutes), why don't you award your "puzzle of the week" on Mondays? Those of us who follow your link can have a more satisfying Monday puzzling.

    FearlessKim 7:46 AM  

    @Rex -- add to your list "Love Shack" by the B-52's:

    Enjoyed this puzzle. Nice theme answers, low on weejects (and do I see five U's for M&A?) and plenty of zip. Thanks!

    Z 7:55 AM  

    Nice puzzle. Very clean fill. As I was solving I thought it was a medium, but then I looked at the time and it was near my top Monday time. So, I'm taking a minute off my "easy" range for Mondays (last week was almost exactly the same time, both at my top end).

    @Danp - ? - In my local paper there is a puzzle called "More or Less," a numbers puzzle. It sat there for a couple of years with an occasional look from me, but I could never get any traction, just couldn't figure out what was going on. Then one day, a logical step came to me and, boom, done. I get it. Now I do these right before I do the LAT puzzle on the facing page, and I wonder why these puzzles ever seemed so impenetrable to me. So, yes, there needs to be relatively simple puzzles for people entering the game. There's no need to call anyone "Nigel" just because they are developing a skill set.

    Stratofortress 7:59 AM  

    For those who like to click

    Love Shack

    Unknown 8:03 AM  

    'Heart' is typically not the organ of choice when groping for an anthropomorphic description of a CPU. Perhaps the clock chip would make a better heart. TONTO crossing INDIAN (presented in its ASIAN context) created a moment of cognitive dissonance, but no hackles. I paused momentarily to consider WHATAJapE, but decided to let bygones be, well, tautological. Submission didn't bounce back at me for error hunting, so it's a good day!

    Danp 8:07 AM  

    @Z - I'm not suggesting there shouldn't be easier puzzles. I'm suggesting that even novices can appreciate a good theme, and this isn't one of them.

    And I'm certainly not calling the novices Nigel. The Nigels are the people who create or publish these minimal, purposeless theme puzzles as if it's enough that they have some weak link that connects a few answers.

    chefbea 8:19 AM  

    @KFC LOL good one

    The puzzle - very easy but it did take a minute or two to figure out what the starts of the answers had to do with say say say.

    Love cheese curls!!!

    Unknown 8:21 AM  

    Lol @ the CHEESE CURLS joke. Puzzle had a fun theme, but some of the clues ("Opposite of..." for example) just feel too easy. I know Monday is entry level but sheesh.

    Carola 8:26 AM  

    A treat of a Monday. I hadn't heard of SAY SAY SAY, but it was easy enough to write in after UNCLE and NO MORE. Nice variety of themers, very cute.

    AliasZ 8:29 AM  

    Neat and tight theme today, and some excellent 7's, although nothing that stands out as especially sparkling, except perhaps INCISORS (if tooth whitener is used) and ANKARA.

    There are many other entries today before which SAY can also be said:


    I cannot remember a 15x15 with this many three-letter words. Strangely, it did not bother me much during solving, but they did add up, and when you look at them altogether, they almost tell a tale of sorts:


    All in all, a good start to the week.

    Happy Monday! SAY-a L8ER.

    Mohair Sam 8:38 AM  

    Breezy, easy - clean, as they say. Nifty theme for a Monday I thought. And who's counting SAY's anyhow? Pick, pick, pick.

    Never heard the term SLUSHES but know about ten words for the same drink that are close, and it filled easily. The rest fell pretty much on sight.

    Rex thought the pop culture might slow some folks down. I've paid no attention to "pop" anything for about three decades and nothing slowed me here.

    Nice Moday puzzle, there's NOMORE to SAY.

    joho 8:43 AM  

    Just about a perfect Monday puzzle.

    WHATAJOKE was my favorite followed by CHEESECURLS. Fun and fresh!

    When I looked at it this morning I actually wondered how I could have spelled ETiquETte like that. Thank goodness for coffee!

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday, David, this really is your day!

    Z 8:47 AM  

    @Danp - Okay. I guess I misunderstood your post. This was very easy based on my time, so you have a point.

    @Fearless Kim - I think the Love Shack line is, "You're WHAT? ... Tin Roof - Rusted." Much conjecture has been expended on the meaning of that line. Nevertheless, the B-52's are far more likely to make me want to dance than Rick James.

    @chefwen - If you're going to post weird numbers you should be using 42.

    jberg 9:22 AM  

    Read all the comments before I noticed that I'd forgotten to fill in the LATCH/AJAR crossing (pretty neat, btw), but nobody mentioned it so I'll still count this one.

    I liked the theme fine, and will avoid any of the debates above -- just point out that there are lots of mini-themes -- the aforementioned Spinks, nationalities (SERB, INDIAN) the LATCH/AJAR thing -- well, it seemed like more at the time.

    One writeover BAT(tallion) before BSA.

    I can't wait until it warms up, so I can have a SLUrpee!

    Questinia 9:45 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Questinia 9:47 AM  

    I do believe the joke KFC told must have originally included cheese doodles. Doodle being onomatopoeic to the situation at hand.

    I didn't take a *say* accounting because I don't think puzzles should be linear and fit into neat little grid-like boxes. Don't they suffer enough their mortal coils, as do we? Don't they, much like we, strive for the poetic consciousness that affords transcendence over their limitations? Saying there should be a fourth say is circumscribing this puzzle to an enforced and arbitrary DNA which makes sense only in a mechanistic and spiritless ontological world.

    Besides, If you look at RASTA and read backwards through AYE there's a SAY in there. Point being there is a universe of SAY's but only if you look for them.

    Ludyjynn 9:52 AM  

    No complaints from me; an easy, beezy Monday.

    @Ankara hit the mark re USA Today puzzles and their ilk. When I drive down to FL, along the way am stuck w/ them while I bunk at Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns for several days. REALLY appreciate the Times puzz. when I arrive in S. FL.

    Quit yer bitchin'?
    On the other hand, the snark on this blog is very entertaining!

    chefbea 10:03 AM  

    When my kids were little they each had a slush mug which we kept in the freezer. You could put any liquid in them, wait a few minutes and…voila. They had slushes!!! I think they still make those mugs

    quilter1 10:07 AM  

    I am deliberately not a speed solver as I prefer to savor the solve but even though I'm old and not hip this one went by so fast I'm craving more. Easy, yes, but perhaps welcoming to a newbie.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:10 AM  

    Nice Monday puzz.

    @Anonymous, 6:06 AM - The loser in a confrontation may cry uncle, but the demand from the bully in the fight is, "Say Uncle!"

    mac 11:06 AM  

    Very nice Monday puzzle !

    Maybe this is different geographically, but I know it as "cry uncle" and "say mercy".

    Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:35 PM  

    @Q: har. deep.

    @FearlessKim: yep. Five U's. More than the SunPuz had, btw. More on said weejects, on the down lower.

    @4-Oh: I just figured the full reveal was SAYSAYSAY + ETCETERA. Plus, the reveal was only billed as a "hint", or as @Q would have gone with, an ethereal wisp gently brushin the cheek of intimation. Besides which it coulda been worse; reveal coulda been JUSTSAYIN. har.

    Weejects Anonymous: STA ain't bad. I always prefer STN, which plumb sucks all the vowels outta the room. USB next to CPU has a certain ... well, not quite desperation... maybe geekerati-ness? Perhaps Uieness? Yeah, that's the ticket.

    SAY/CRY UNCLE poll: I hafta vote SAY. But personal pref is BOBSYER.

    Real outstandin MonPuz. Got yer HUI,DUI,LUI trinity. Sayin thUmbsUp.


    Lewis 12:39 PM  

    Went a little longer than my usual Monday. Then again, I had my dog licking my face through the whole puzzle!

    Q - your argument reminds me of what Deepak Chopra said: Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box. And maybe the term Yankee Doodle should be in that joke somewhere too.

    At Bob K -- good point!

    I like UNHIP crossing SPUD, never heard ATATROT, and, as AliasZ pointed out, tons of 3s, which is probably better in a basketball game than a crossword.

    And yes, the USA Today puzzles make me wince.

    OISK 1:19 PM  

    Slower than average Monday for me, because, as Rex predicted, there was unfamiliar pop culture - never heard of Say, say, say, nor any "hits" from Madonna. No real complaints from me, except that when the "Theme" answer is completely meaningless, it does detract somewhat from the joy of the solve...

    Anoa Bob 1:44 PM  

    I had four puzzles published in USA Today in '08 & '09. In those days, USA Today was listed on the Publisher Chart at cruciverb.com and had the editor's do's and don't's listed there in the Publisher Specifications section. I think it was also one of the puzzles that was regularly blogged, maybe on Amy's or Angela's site. May be misremembering that.

    Then I got an email from the editor, Timothy Parker, saying that he had enough puzzles in the queque so that he would not be accepting any more submissions until further notice.

    About a year later, not having heard from him, I decided to send one off to see what would happen. Nothing happened, that's what happened. Never heard anything more from him again.

    Later I noticed that USA Today was no longer listed at cruciverb.com and its puzzle was no longer being blogged.

    About that time the puzzle quality took a noticeable downward turn and seem to stay there. I quit doing it, for the same reasons that Acme and others mention.

    These days I'm reluctant to tell anyone that I had some puzzles published in USA Today. The puzzles used to be pretty decent, maybe a notch below the NYT and LAT, but still respectable. No more.

    BTW, didn't LACTO ATATROT and his NEPHEWS sack ANKARA back in the 12th century? Or was it the 13th?

    jae 1:51 PM  

    Anyone looking for a very tough puzzle on Mondays should try BEQ's site. They are typically tougher than the NYT Sat. offering.

    retired_chemist 1:55 PM  

    Pretty good puzzle and a fun solve. A few overwrites not worth discussing. Theme decent. NOT bothered by there being only three SAYs in the reveal.

    Didn't like Spinks being used in two clues, particularly since there are literally dozens of ways to avoid it.

    Thanks, Mr. Gray.

    Mohair Sam 2:13 PM  

    @Anoa Bob - I expect sharp wit on these posts and never (well, almost never) waste time with an lol or whatever. But your last paragraph was a beauty.

    Lewis 3:03 PM  

    Oh my gosh, I just did the Byron Walden puzzle that Rex recommended as his puzzle of the week yesterday. It is very worth doing -- SO clever and lots of fun.

    Masked and Usanonymous 3:12 PM  

    USA Puz Report - Feb 17, 2014
    (***SPOILER ALERT***, if you want to work today's USA Today, today)


    Haven't work one of these in years, but today's comments got me curious.

    Constructioneer: Richard Auer.
    Theme: asa's. Three themers, with adjective-ASA-noun format.
    Word count: 78.
    Black squares: 40.
    Cheater squares: 2.
    U count: 5.
    Partials: 0.
    EEL count: 0.
    PEWIT count: 0.
    fave weeject: ABA. Clued as "Arab's robe". Feisty!
    WOTD: BANNS. Never heard of it. It's been used by Patrick Berry before in the NYTPuz, so okay.
    Difficulty level: About the same as a TuesPuz in the NYT.
    Had a few semitough/gristly close encounters of the 4th kind:
    * A Hebrew calendar month.
    * A Chinese nut variant.
    * The WOTD. Looked like it should be BANDS, which yielded a crossin entry of EATED. Haven't heard EATED used, since the last family reunion picnic.
    * A Jabberwocky word.

    Single word summary (tm): Harmless.


    chefbea 4:29 PM  

    @M&A I did the USA puzzle. Way too easy

    Evan 4:51 PM  


    I usually find BEQ's themeless puzzles to be easier than the NYT Saturday, but it could be a generational thing. His contemporary references are often more on my solving wavelength compared to the Times.

    Last Silver Bull Woots 5:03 PM  

    I was kinda struck by how few partials, abbrs., plurals, and proper names were in that USA Today Crossword, today. Maybe by avoidin all that, they bite the bullet, with fewer themers and fewer extra long fillers. Think it'd be funny, if Richard Auer is actually an alias for some well-known constructioneer.

    Speakin of CHEESECURLS...
    Y'all been watchin the Oliolympics? fave event: Curlin. Chess on ice, it's been called. Team scores a point for each extralarge hockey puck that's in the circle and closer to the center than the other team's pucks. Ten innings. Eight pucks per Team per inning. Teams alternate shots. Big advantage, if your team gets to throw the last puck, in an inning (hammer). Teams constantly sweep the rink, to keep it tidy. Rivetin stuff. Highly recommended. As always, please... no wagerin.

    But I digress.

    Back to yer regularly scheduled Nyt-time MonPuz:
    fave fillins:
    * LACTO. Never sure, on the last letter (O). Must pretend they make a Lacto-Bismol. That'd help me remember.
    * SLUSHES. Wanted ICEEEES.
    * ETICKET. Cool tricky E-word. Shoulda clued up E-DEN and E-GO the same tricky way. Watch for that soon, in some M&A semi-masterpiece.
    * UNHIP. As in: "unhip me, sir!" (frequent singles bar complaint)
    * ASU. Skakespearean. "As U Like It". Culture points, there.
    * NEPHEWS. First of all, primo clue. Another thing: ever notice how there aren't very many chursh N-words? When makin a grid, my heart sinks, whenever I end up with N??? or N????. Slim pickins. NEPHEWS. Got yer PH. Got yer EWS. Day-um, dude. It's the Hammer.

    Sorry about all the looong posts, today. Been sittin around, waitin for the electrician to come. Squirrels in attic have been eatin through the wires that connect to my sleep apnea machine. Little suckers are tryin to kill us all off, so they can take over. There's yer trouble, with these extra cold winters. snort.


    jae 5:42 PM  

    @Evan - Could be. I stopped paying close attention to pop music when everything went south (IMHO) in the mid '80s. I now pay peripheral attention (late night talk show, the LAT Calendar section, Glee) but I'm mostly guessing or needing cross on current hip-hop or rap related stuff, e.g. J COLE from last week. I almost always finish the Mon. BEQs, it's just that the DNF fear factor is higher for them than the NYT Saturdays.

    jburgs 5:59 PM  

    @anonymous 6:06

    I have an older brother. When I was a kid he would say "Say Uncle!!!" on an almost daily basis I would cry and reply "Uncle!!!" to extricate myself from whatever hold he had me in or to stop the tickling or whatever the torture du jour was. I am sure many here had the same experience.

    sanfranman59 10:04 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

    Mon 6:12, 6:15, 0.99, 44%, Medium

    Top 100 solvers

    Mon 4:15, 3:59, 1.07, 80%, Challenging

    Jason 9:09 AM  

    I'm a bit of a noob to the CW scene, and as such, it's nice to have an easy puzzle (I believe this is my first one done with no Googling). I remember sitting next to my mom as a kid, watching her sip coffee and scribble out clues. I'm enjoying this blog as a companion the puzzle.

    And may I say, Rick James: What a talent! Back when pop musicians still wrote well-structured songs, and played instruments. (and, sadly, lived too fast and hard. R.I.P.)

    spacecraft 11:08 AM  

    I forgot about that particular song SAYx3; was it really a "hit?" Surely not a Spinks punch; more of a love tap. If you want Paul duetting with a black dude, I'll take "Ebony and Ivory" with the vastly more talented Stevie Wonder.

    Only OFL would COUNT the SAYs and be bothered by being one short. Don't go all OCD on us, man.

    I'd describe this puzzle the same way a Brit sports paper would a decent racehorse: "Useful sort." No obvious connection of themers until the revealer (a good thing), solid seven-stacks, and despite a plethora of threes, fill that's not that terrible.

    I know it's Monday, but could we not have found better clues for LOOSE and SELL than their simple antonyms? C'mon, man.

    Hand up for UNCLE/NEPHEWS. LACTO kinda reminds me of something out of "The Day the Earth Stood Still." This was an OKAY start to the new week.

    DMG 2:51 PM  

    Only one write over (rASpy to NASAL) in this Monday puzzle. Wasn't tuned in during the Beatle years, so had to discover the song title, but, that and the other arcana, gave a little spice to this week starter. Never heard of SLUSHES, but girls were Slurpee fans. Maybe it's regional?

    Two pair, 6's and 5's.

    Solving in Seattle 3:37 PM  

    Welcome to Syndyland, @Jason. You should be able to do without google through Wednesday. Thu/Fri/Sat puzs take a while. Hope to see more of your posts.

    Even though it's a Monpuz, didn't get the scheme until I came to Rexville.

    My bracket is a mess. So is my poker game. A measly pair of 6s.

    Dirigonzo 4:20 PM  

    ATATROT pretty much filled in on the crosses and when it appeared I had to go back and read the clue to see what such a strange looking word could possibly mean.

    I really just popped in to see if my 6-high straight will hold up.

    Shad 5:55 PM  

    Liked the puzzle, but have a tiny nit to pick. When one has a cold, the result is a denasal (stuffed nose means no air passing through) voice not nasal.

    Dirigonzo 6:47 PM  

    @Shad - that seems like an excellent point! Thanks for commenting - it's always nice to see another new name here in syndiland (and @Jason, let me add my welcome to you, too).

    strayling 7:15 PM  

    One write over here: STn to STA. otherwise, no worries. Exactly what I look for in a Monday puzzle, and I got a smile from picturing the OTTER cavorting by a stream so that's a bonus.

    \ Two pairs. You win, Dirigonzo.

    Ginger 8:20 PM  

    Never heard of SAYSAYSAY, so the connection to the theme was pretty well lost on me until I got here. Nice easy Monday puz, that was fun and too quick.

    @Jason, I second @Diri's comment. Welcome to Syndiland and hope you'll comment often.

    Shoulda saved the ante...I fold.

    Shax 5:31 PM  

    Dirigonzo, wanted to clarify that I'm Shax not Shad, and have been contributing infrequently for years. Posted too quickly to correct my identity. So good to realize that someone actually reads and responds to syndilanders!

    Dirigonzo 6:43 PM  

    @Shax - There are several syndilanders who post regularly and you can rest assured that your comments will always be read and enjoyed by us and by several "prime-timers" who follow the comments via email updates. I hope you'll stop by often!

    Shax 7:22 PM  

    @Dirigonzo - Thanks for the response. I plan to post whenever I have something worthwhile to add, esp. now that I know that someone may read it.
    Have tried my hand at constructing. Have sent 4 puzzles to Will months ago, and have heard nothing. Am hoping that no news is good news. After reading this blog for years, it is even more daunting to construct. So hard to please any of the people all of the time!

    Dirigonzo 9:43 PM  

    @Shax - If constructors were deterred by the criticisms posted here, there would never be another crossword puzzle. Give it your best shot and when you get one published I promise that many of us will like it.

    Shax 7:14 PM  

    @Dirigonzo - Of course, you're right. Constructing is hard enough w/o the barrage, though. I'll hold you to your promise! Thanx.

    shax 7:16 PM  

    @Dirigonzo - IF I get one published I'll hold you to that promise!

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