Longtime Syrian strongman / MON 11-30-15 / Stereotypical parrot's name / Body of water between France Switzerland / Tibetan watchdogs

Monday, November 30, 2015

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: MID-As TOUCH (64A: Moneymaking skill ... or, when read as three words, what happens in 17-, 21-, 35-, 45- and 54-Across) —five 10-letter themers, each made of two 5-letter words where first word ends in "A" and second word begins with "A" ... thus, the "A"s "touch" "mid-"answer:

Theme answers:
  • OPERA ARIAS (17A: Songs for divas)
  • FIONA APPLE (21A: 1997 Grammy-winning artist whose last name is a fruit)
  • LHASA APSOS (35A: Tibetan watchdogs)
  • PAULA ABDUL (45A: Former "American Idol" judge)
  • SANTA ANITA (54A: Noted California horse-racing venue)
Word of the Day: BOLLS (26A: Pods of cotton) —
• • •

This is pretty damned elegant, especially for a puzzle of the phenomenally easy variety. The revealer came as a real "wow," which is a rarity on Any day of the week. I could see that it was MIDAS TOUCH but didn't stop to read the clue that closely and could only think, as I was speeding off to finish the rest of the grid, "Uh ... where's the gold in these answers? How does 'AA' represent gold?" But it doesn't. Instead "A"s touch in the "mid"dle of the answers. The exact middle—a nice "touch." I'm not sure I like OPERA ARIAS that much as an answer, since it seems almost redundant—where the hell else am I going to hear ARIAS? And you have to cheat a little bit with the pluralizing to get LHASA APSOS to come off. But let's just call that "creativity," not "cheating." Why can't I learn how to spell LHASA. It always comes out LLASA on first try. Like ... I confuse LLAMA and LHASA. And yet I would never ever spell the animal LHAMA. Maybe writing about this will help settle this issue in my brain. And yet, somehow, I feel I have written these exact words before, to no avail.

I was down near my record time on this one. Where were the hiccups. Well, LHASA, obviously, though that was easily fixed. Honestly, the only other issues I had involved my clumsy fingers, which will apparently never obey me well enough to allow me to break the 2:20 mark. I was right at 2:30 today. I got lucky at a couple turns. I had LAKE and threw down GENEVA more as a hope than a certainty. That worked out. Also, I was able to make the turn into the center of the grid via the *back* end of PAULA ABDUL without any trouble (she's a gimme for me ... I had a ... let's call it a "phase" ... in college; an ABDUL phase ...). Fill here is pretty clean, with some pretty exciting longer answers (yes, I am someone who finds CLIPBOARDS exciting, for real) (11D: Ones providing backing for writers?). Nice Monday work, for sure.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


RAD2626 12:16 AM  

This was such a pleasant way to begin the week. Clean, fun, clever revealer. All in all terrific easy puzzle. Type of Monday elegance that ought to hook beginners. Usually not on the same wavelength as this constructor but really enjoyed this one a lot.

Music Man 12:25 AM  

Anyone else have BaLLS at first? Just me?

And yes, OPERA ARIAS is redundant. You may very well hear an aria by itself, but it is from an opera. Well actually, I suppose we're wrong. Oratorios aren't technically operas are they? They have arias.

Nice Monday, enjoyed it much better than yesterday.

chefwen 12:53 AM  

As much as I like Ian Livengood's puzzles, this was a let down. The revealer did not come as a "WOW" to me more as a "this is one of the most lame revealers I have ever seen." Plus, it was almost inanely easy, even for a Monday. Mid AA's, just not doing it for me.

FIONA APPLE my only unknown, will have to look her up.

Anonymous 1:37 AM  

Wow! Loved this. Revealer literally revealed the solution for me as I had first entered LHASo APSOS. I was going so fast, I didn't notice the AA's elsewhere. OPERA ARIAS did/does strike me as awkward, but in a tongue-twisty way. I was semi subconsciously thinking (erroneously) that SANTA ANITA (new to me) should somehow elide. I initially read the parsing as referring to the theme answers, not the revealer. All this unraveled with a fun pun. I know of ARIAS also in cantatas. Others will pile on there. Great fun!

Unknown 2:11 AM  

Hopefully signs of a strong "weak" to come.

Elsine2 2:29 AM  

Rex--opera arias is not redundant; arias are also found in oratorios (like Messiah,to provide a seasonal example) and cantatas. There are even stand-alone concert arias.

So, no problem with this. Just a fun Monday!

jae 2:36 AM  

Very easy and very smooth and very clever.  Great reveal! Liked it a lot, or again, pretty much what @Rex said.

Anonymous 5:03 AM  

Impressive. Both the puzzle and the review. Lhasa came easy for me. Next summer I'm planning to ride my bicycle from Lhasa to Kathmandu.


Lewis 6:19 AM  

This shows that a puzzle doesn't have to be au courant to be excellent, as -- and I could be wrong here -- I believe this could have been published ten years ago. If the puzzle has an entertaining or absorbing theme, is clean, doesn't insult the intelligence or unfairly stymie it, it can be a work of beauty, as Ian's is today.

I love how the AAs are exactly in the middle of the theme answers. Just quality all around, and most important, somehow imparting a feeling of joy during and after the solve. Bravo, Ian!

Tita 7:34 AM  

Thought that inhad to read each theme answer as three words...spent about 90 seconds reading them out loud an a variety of ways...
That didn't work very well. Then the light bulb went off...

Didn't we have a kerfuffle here a while back about midass touch? Can someone with a better memory remind me?

For the umpteenth time, I'll mention how in our house, only animals eat (23A). People have dinner, or have lunch... The Germans even have a phrase...
Tiere fressen, Menschen essen.
Kind of unfair to the animals, though...

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

GILL I. 8:03 AM  

Divas can sing lots of music other than ARIAS, and OPERA is not just about ARIAS. Not at all redundant.
Rather nice puzzle. Speaking of DIVAS...(well, not really)..FIONA APPLE should be one. I love her name and her voice and when I first heard her she reminded me of a tamed down, sultry, Janis Joplin.
A really fine Monday puzzle that has put me in a better mood. It's 5:00 am here in my world and it's cold outside and my husband and I have to go out in it and visit wizards of medicine and pray that these fine surgeons had a tranquil, restful, and peaceful Thanksgiving.....

Z 8:08 AM  

@Lewis - I think you are correct, but FIONA APPLE is still recording and I'm sure some undiscovered tapes of PRESLEY's OPERA ARIAS will be released soon. Some old pop culture seems to be always current (Citizen KANE and W. E. B. DuBois), so this didn't strike me as dated as some other puzzles we've seen.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

ASAP (24d) does not mean "now" It means "as soon as possible" which could be anytime from now to some time in the distant future. Or never.

jberg 8:30 AM  

I got OPERA ARIAS right away, thought "that's not a very good answer, there must be a reason for it -- maybe all those vowels," then saw the AA, confirmed by LHASA APSOS. At that point I was thinking "AA? That's a theme?" When I finally got to MID AS TOUCH, I groaned at the wordplay -- but gradually came to see that it is really clever, rather than forced. So now I like it a lot more!

Not quite easy for me because of FIONA APPLE. I think we've seen her before, and recently, so I'd better learn.

As for those OPERA ARIA--you can find scherzos in sonatas, concertos, and symphonies -- but that doesn't make "symphony scherzo" a thing. But hey, it's a neat theme and it was needed for that, so I'll take it.

mac 9:06 AM  

An elegant, beautiful Monday puzzle! Thanks Ian, and thanks Rex for a thoughtful write-up.

quilter1 9:10 AM  

Like, like, like. So much more than yesterday. This was a pleasure and a gift on a cold, rainy, "winter mix" day. @GillI, be careful out there.

Happy Camper 9:16 AM  

Thank you, Rex, for not hating this puzzle like you did Sunday's.

chefbea 9:28 AM  

What a fun puzzle. Saw that there were two A's in the middle of each answer...then when I got to the revealer..wow.
Hand up for never having heard of Fiona Apple.

RooMonster 9:30 AM  

Hey All !
Very nice, smooth MonPuz, if a touch easily clued. Would've liked the cluing better sans the ones with parentheses. Just a nit bit.

Failed to get the revealer as MID AS TOUCH. Tried to parse the themers into threes, but to no avail. So came here for the D'OH headslap. Quite COOL it turns out.

Somehow noticed many K's. Seven of em, actually. Weird how certain things jump out at ya. Liked the stacked themers, and the funky looking grid. Only had one writeover, had BOB hOpE for DOLE! Thinking about Mr. Hopes USO touring what-nots, I guess.

So good'un Ian, better than the last one he had, which if memory s serves (and usually it doesn't!) was kinda wonky.


Nancy 9:35 AM  

For the life of me, I can't see why everyone seems to like this very easy puzzle with its prosaic clues and answers and its feeble theme. A complete bore for me. So let me take this opportunity to comment on the photo that appears in the same section of the NY Times today, since it's a photo of someone whose name has often been clued in the NY Times. With the caption, "Welcome to Her World of Excess," it's a photo of this alarmingly revolting-looking creature named MILEY CYRUS, hideously garbed and obscenely posed (can I be sued for saying this? Nah, she's a public figure.) I bring this up, because every time MILEY CYRUS has appeared in the puzzle, I've assumed it was a man. I guess I shouldn't be surprised in an era when individual pop singers have group names and bands of singers have individual names, but who woulda guessed that MILEY CYRUS was a she? Not I. For all you solvers out there who haven't a clue who this person is, take a gander at page C1 of today's Times. But then erase it quickly; you wouldn't want to scare the daylights out of the kids or the cat.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:00 AM  

Nice puzzle.

Had me fooled initially, at least to the extent that I was thinking the revealer would somehow include the words "twelve step."

JC66 10:05 AM  

Agree with @ chef wen, thought the reveal was a real groaner.

AliasZ 10:08 AM  

Excellent AA-meeting puzzle. Ian, are you trying to tell us something?

A 5+5-letter name or phrase in which AA's touch is rarA Avis indeed, OPERA ARIAS LHASA APSOS being the most creative of the five. While I had a polkAAlbum on my record player, I was trying to find others, but MazdAAutos doesn't work as well, nor does OsakAArena or mediAAudit, ObamAAngst, while deltAAgent and gammAAngle are way too obscure, and Hungarian pianist GézA Anda is 4+4, as is AldA, Alan. So I gave up, but in this grid I noticed ERA|AFT, IKEA|ASAP, TOGA|ALOE and OHARA|ASSAD.

Of the multitude (perhaps 100 or so) of non-operAArias Mozart himself composed, here is one for basso, double bass and orchestra titled "Per questa bella mano".

Lovely kick-off to our post-Thanksgiving week, thank you Ian.

Anoa Bob 10:12 AM  

Was looking at some time lapse satellite photos (on the Washington Post site) of Lake ARAL drying up---it's pretty much gone---and right ON CUE, it pops up in today's grid.

I see how the TOUCHing A'S are in the MIDdle of FIONA APPLE, PAULA ABDUL, and SANTA ANITA, but not in OPERA ARIA or LHASA APSO. Oh wait. Never mind. Kinda takes the BLOOM off the theme for me.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Agree with some others that 'OPERAARIAS' was a bit forced. I can't imagine it passing the 'in the language' test RP usually employs, but I only hesitated over the last part until I eliminated 'soloS'. Did not see the revealer as a groaner, so it made for a pretty entertaining Monday puzzle, IMO.


Kurt 10:30 AM  

Best Monday puzzle in a very long time. I agree with Rex: "Pretty damned elegant!" Nice work, Ian.

gzodik 10:32 AM  

Sorry, but the 18D clue is wrong. AFT is the location; the direction is "abaft"

Unknown 10:54 AM  

Oh DRAT. I LOSES. It's already OLIDE news as many other have already pointed out (no surprise at all) that OPERA ARIAS is not redundant.

I played bass a few months ago in Mendelsohn's oratorio the Elijah oratorio (now THAT is redundant), which has seven arias (which are not redundant). I was the principal bassist, somewhat (read completely) tempered by the fact I was the only bassist in the 21-piece orchestra (the chorus being sixty voices). Glorious piece of music as heard in this complete performance (the one I used for rehearsing) by musicians (students and faculty) from the Boston University College of Fine Arts in Boston's Symphony Hall [SEE NOTE]:


[NOTE: It's 2 hours 15 minutes long]

This is a fascinating history about its composition; a rare insight into a major composer's process and its difficulties with such a large opus. Among other things he was German but had to compose the music to "fit" both the German libretto and an English translation of it (needed as the first performance was to be in England).

History of the Elijah Oratorio


cwf 10:58 AM  

@Anonymous 8:21:
But ""Now" can mean "As soon as possible":

*World Peace!*

Joseph Michael 11:00 AM  

First rate Monday puzzle. It's one BELLA ABZUG would have loved.

old timer 11:17 AM  

I was slowed down by BOBDOLE and a few other forgotten men just enough to make my time 10 minutes instead of six or seven. But a good puzzle, for the reasons OFL cites. I had been wondering if a tired young Wellesley student might fill in. That would be next week, I trust, which will be the first Monday of December.

The immortal OGDEN Nash made an appearance the other day. Didn't he write:

The one-L llama he's a priest
The two-L llama he's a beast
And I will bet my silk pajama
There isn't any three-L lllama

Which doesn't really help you spell Lhasa. Or does it, somehow?

Lewis 11:23 AM  

@cwf -- I love your avatar.

Hartley70 11:31 AM  

I thought this was a lovely little Monday. It was definitely on the easier side of easy for me, because I know both FIONAAPPLE and Miley Cyrus (I understand your consternation @Nancy. She was once a Disney child star and this is not her best look).

The best moment was MIDASTOUCH because I read it twice before the delight set in.

@IGill best of luck with the wonks today.

Unknown 11:38 AM  

I have some hugh OAK TREEs on my postage-stamp piece of property. One could say, "THEY Might Be Giants." Several are estimated to be some 150 years old\ and are most certainly "stately hardwoods." So, OAKS went right in. ELMS did not come to mind as they, sadly, have been in very short supply in New England and elsewhere due to Dutch Elm disease. It was thus COOL to see OAK appear elsewhere in the grid, so I've no ISSUE with ELMS. My OAKs certainly produce lots of acorns (happy squirrels and chipmunks) ASSAD from their being stately, although the adjective most use to describe them is "magnificent."

I'm a PC person so FI ON A APPLE.

By your lEAVE....

Z 12:11 PM  

@Anon8:21 (and @cwf for that matter) - While ASAP denotes "as soon as possible" and that could be at any time in the future, the phrase connotes NOW!. Tell your boss, "I'll have time next week," and see how that works for you.

@Nancy - re:Miley Cyrus - too funny. Just as an FYI, Miley is the daughter of a country singer and former child star of Hannah Montana. Her current pose as pop singer/provocateur really blossomed with the twerking scandal on an awards show a couple of years ago. Of course, her collaborator in twerking got little to no flack. Not that we have sexist views of human sexuality or anything.

Carola 12:15 PM  

Nicely done and a fine Monday, but for me a couple of sparkles short of MAGIC: I'd hoped that that reveal would disclose a hidden meaning of the double As, so its reference merely to the position of the letters was a little disappointment. Nice long Downs!

dick swart 12:23 PM  

A great way to start the week! Since I download from the Times site it was Cyber Monday for me.

Numinous 12:57 PM  

I too thought this was "pretty damned elegant" and very easy. Did this in two minutes under my average which is about average for me lately. I'm with @Bob Kerfuffle in wondering, as I solved, if this was going to be a reference to a twelve-step cult. I was so relieved to discover that it was very nearly the too risque MID ASSs TOUCH. My inner fourteen-year-old chortled.

Reading through the comments and seeing various fo the down words referenced, I was thinking, "Huh?" and "Wha?" "Where were those?"
The across clues were so easy I barely read half the down clues as I typed so I missed those answers. OPERA ARIAS went right in as I'd already seen that 1 & 2D were going to be SHOW and PIPE. I never saw the clues for 3 & 5D and didn't see the clue for KERNELS until I got down to BOLL. I live in cotton country so that shouldn't have slowed me. I'm shame-faced.

If there was suitable background music for this solve, it would be the Troika movement from the Lt. Kijé Suite by Prokofiev which, in fact, lasts about as long as @Rex's solve.

BOB DOLE slowed me down in the SE but I got over it ASAP. After I filled in NEEDY, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this puzzle was Livin' Good.

Noam D. Elkies 1:01 PM  

Nice Monday puzzle. I was wondering if the central Across entry's Aaron 40A:PRESLEY was going to figure into the theme somehow, but the revealer rules that out. [I see that Xword Fiend made the same connection.] Yes, OPERA_ARIAS is legitimate, because there are instrumental pieces called arias (such as the theme of the Goldberg Variations), as well as cantata/oratorio/concert arias (as already noted). Maybe a bit snarky to cross 46D:BOB_DOLE with 68A:OLDIE (though the "war hero" clue suggests that no snark was intended). I too was reminded of Lynn Lempel's MID-ASS_TOUCH puzzle (which turns out to be 3+ years ago, February 2012).


Numinous 1:11 PM  

I know who FIONA APPLE is though I don't believe I've ever heard her. I was trying to figure out how Simon Cowell was going to fit with the emerginng AA theme when PAULA ABDUL showed up from reading the clue for ISSUE. I know how to spell LHASA APSO. I may once have tried to spell it LAHSA in some long-ago puzzle that cemented the correct spelling into my head. I'm from California so I know about SANTA ANITA which lies in the path of the SANTA ANa winds. By the time I got down there, MIDAS TOUCH was apparent and I'd also only partly read the clue. Like @Rex, I had to look back to get the ratherl cool AHA which I already mentioned. Chortle!

cwf 1:21 PM  

Thanks, @Lewis!

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

This was a fun Monday theme and a personal best, time-wise. I looked at the theme revealer and thought, no, gold is Au, not AA. But I was able to,parse it out and thought it was clever.

I briefly had "Bud up" in for BLOOM but that is what the "A's" are doing (budding up to each other).

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

And @Nancy, my eye was caught by that appallingly scary photo of Miley Cyrus also. I love it that you can live in a world where Miley Cyrus is an unknown! Not that I'd recognize her if I saw her on the street (especially based on that photo).

chasklu 1:43 PM  

Extremely easy but still had to change GRANT to GROOM and SUN to RCA. (Union man and Presley's label.)

Joe B 2:42 PM  

I'd like to point out what I'm sure is an intentional, subtle sub-themer, i.e., the centering of Presley, "The King." Great puzzle today.

foxaroni 2:50 PM  

Very enjoyable puzzle. Several cute clues: Caesar dressing, union man, ones providing backing for writers. @Chuck McGregor, great take on Macs! (Apologies to you Mac users.)

Thanks Ian Livengood.

Young Turk 5:09 PM  

Summary of @Nancy's rant: "Oh these kids today and their rock music and their slutty clothes!" Same thing old people have been saying about young people for millenia.

kitshef 6:36 PM  

And of course there were witness ARIAS that time Xander summoned the dancing demon...

So today, I finally learned what @rex shoots for on a Monday. Does anyone know the target times for each of the days?

Bond 6:57 PM  

And so, the gifted doctor’s “rabid dogs” have, as if by MAGIC, turned into LLASA APSOS. In interviews with Candidate Carson over the weekend, after he booked a flight to Jordan as soon his poll numbers dropped, Syrian refugees declared that they don’t in fact want to come to America at all! * (They haven’t seen our packed, ceaselessly supplied supermarket and Walgreen aisles…) What they really want is to “Go back to their own country!” That graphic map printed by The Times comparing electricity in Syria five years ago, and then in 2015 with almost no electricity? A certain CIA plot! They know their entire country is bombed to hell, having seen it and lived it and escaped it, right? So we know that story is bogus. And in a perfect CODA, Carson added, “Actually, the refugee camps are quite nice.” He went on to describe the fact that the camps have toys and MEALS and everything! What a way with words the dude has.
I dare say metrosexual Ben might find it a wee bit challenging to GROOM in such a camp, but at least he TAMED that beast, while half-TON Chris Christie continued his cacophonous OPERAARIAS -‘tales told by an idiot’- in which 9/11 is all about him, and what a solid OAK he WAS that day, not knowing if there would be four at his dinner table that night, or five…
Meanwhile Cruz cruises along in his imaginary TOGA singin his golden OLDIE, lookin for all the world as though the pic in his head is that of PRESLEY as he articulates – croons- why the office he’s running for and the blue meanie federal government along with it is to be destroyed, dissolved, disbanded! It’s evil and he wants the glory of leading it! The plane! The White House! The valet! The army!

When Ted read Dr. Seuss aloud in the Senate during his 24-hour filibuster, attempting to put a SPIKE in The Affordable Care Act--@ J Berg: Obamacare means, basically, three things: One, You can’t get kicked off your health plan if you- uh-get sick; Two: You can get health insurance if you’ve –uh- been sick; Three: If you do become ill, you’re covered, unlike all those cheap plans people were so enamored with that didn’t actually cover anything if you actually got sick.)
Did Cruz know or suspect that one day very soon, when his wife would take a leave of absence from Goldman Sacks and lose her family health plan,he would promptly jump! at the chance to avail himself and his family of OBAMAcare!?! True story.
It ain’t the SANTA ANITA, and any one of them means certain—can you spell
N-u-c-l-e-a-r w-a-r ? but DRAT it, they’ve all got the MIDAS TOUCH for …what do you even call it? Hilarious irony? Ironic gallows humor? Manic depressive drug-free inducement agents? Obsessive-compulsive crossword dilly-dallying?

*He brought his own translators to the camps?
How could the streets of Paris been “quiet” yesterday when there were RIOTs re climate summit? Discrepancies that make you say EKES.

My how pithy everyone has become, Ha ha ha. Think of how much time could have been saved over the years! All that kvetching! All those long muse stories.@ Alias Z: Even you, Light of my life?

Anonymous 10:23 PM  

@Joe B - crosswordfiend points out that Presley's middle name is spelled atypically without double A's.

Music Man 10:24 PM  

Really? Fiona Apple?

Music Man 10:26 PM  

Seems I was right/wrong

Numinous 10:28 PM  

@Chuck McGregor. Back in the 40s and 50s, Gene Autrey used to gather up with his "boys" under the branches of an old OAK tree in front of the Melody Ranch bunkhouse to "Play a little tune" before heading out to finally catch the bad guy. That was in Newhall, California. I used to live across the 'street' from the Melody Ranch which was a western back lot used by studios from time to time for, you guessed it, western movies. I stayed there for about a year in that very same bunkhouse which had been turned into seven apartments. Of couse that OAK treee was still there It is a California live OAK. the trunk is about eight feet in diameter and the spread of the branches was probably 40' overall. Estimated age? 450 years if it was a day. I swear the acorns from that tree were nearly half the size of golf balls. OAKs of that stature are common in California and require a state permit to cut down.

On the subject of OAK, the doors to the Tower of London are made of OAK. They are probably between four and five hundred years old. OAK is, like, The Hardwood.

Music Man 10:33 PM  

I can only think of the music dean bursting into a practice room during a trombone sectional for troika saying "hey that's a tricka, the Russian sleigh bells!" What an awesome chord us trombonist play at that one part, I forget, G against A flat in bone 1&2 is all I remember. And such a funny story!

Unknown 8:40 AM  

Numinous 10:28 PM (hope you see this)

OAK: "The Hardwood" indeed!! Cf. Old Ironsides


For those who know construction, the floor joists in my 115 year-old home are quite "clear," solid OAK (is that redundant?). Given this wood type, their dimensions (full 2 x 10 - back when 10 inches meant 10 inches), spans (8 ft max), and using minimum floor deflection for the criterion, my 180 sq ft dining room floor could support the weight of around five full-size pick-up trucks (have to stack a couple to fit 'em all in).

Given what you said about the age of those CA OAKS, my 150 year old age estimate for mine could be off. The largest ones are comparable to yours: well over 100 feet tall with 7 foot diameter trunks and easily 40 foot spreads.

Thanks for the info.


Burma Shave 10:01 AM  


even BOBDOLE thought it COOL,
THEY sang OLDIEs like there never WAS.


rondo 10:33 AM  

It was a darn good Mon-puz, not sure I’m all gushy over it like OFL, but it’s pretty solid for being so easy.

Spent a few days and nights in LAKEGENEVA, WI last summer. Nice place to visit if you don’t mind spending a TON of money.

Lovin’ the complete names for musical yeah babies FIONAAPPLE and PAULAABDUL. Ubiquitous yeah baby TERI is real and spectacular.

The Soviet letters look like CCCP but they are pronounced ess ess ess airrr.

Does a zoologist major in POLLY-sci to study why parrots SPEAK?

Good start to the week, and so far for the syndi new year as well.

rain forest 11:05 AM  

Ah, the old MID AS TOUCH trick. COOL.

I roared through this on almost all acrosses-didn't even see CLIPBOARDS or LAKE GENEVA. Once I got FIONA APPLE (who?) after previously getting OPERA ARIAS, I saw the "theme" of touching A's, and the other three went right in. The revealer was great. I tried to say MY DAS TOUCH, or MIDA'S TOUCH until I saw what the KEY was. Nice one.

Are ELMS a source of hardwood? News to me.

Easy, yet enjoyable.

spacecraft 11:43 AM  

You music buffs can be as picky as you want, but OPERAARIAS is still green paint. Thankfully, it is the weakest of the theme answers. Mr. Livengood must be a buddy of OFL's, because the latter does not whisper a complaint about any of the fill. "Pretty clean?" With CCCP, ARG (aARGh!) and--oh no, not again--EKES? Well, let's say not filthy.

One more aspect of this puzzle bothers me: the strange juxtaposition of typical giveaway Monday clues alongside several clever "?"-type clues usually reserved for post-Wednesday fare. I like those; THEY make you think a little. It's just that they stand out starkly against stuff like "Furniture giant with a blue and yellow logo." Sheesh, even on Monday all you need is the first two words.

One more nit: DRAT does not mean "Fiddlesticks!" The clue is the same as saying "Bullshit!" "Nonsense!" "What you're telling me is not true." DRAT means "Oh man, if he hadn't dropped that pass..."

By this time it looks like I'm ready to DOLE out another Peppermint Patty special, but no. I listed every single thing I found less than great. But the rest of it was a lot of fun, including a sockdolager of a reveal. It's funny, but just for a moment I forgot the last name of an icon who's been called simply "Elvis" for so long now. Had to actually turn the wheels a bit. An OLDIE but a goodie if there ever WAS one. Also liked the reminder of the last spoken words of one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Birdcage:"

"BOBDOLE is gorgeous!"

All right, it's the new year, give it a B for BOB.

leftcoastTAM 2:36 PM  

Fun, easy Monday. (But, yes, I tried first to read three words in the AA answers.)

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP