Novelty B-52s song witih lyric Watch out for that piranha / MON 1-11-16 / Liquidy lump / Former New York senator Alfonse

Monday, January 11, 2016

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: Pretty Easy, even for Monday

THEME: ERODED (50D: Eaten away, like the first words of 17-, 31-, 48- and 65-Across) — first words of theme answers are progressively smaller stones (so the process of erosion takes you from BOULDER to DUST):

Theme answers:
  • BOULDER DAM (17A: Colorado River landmark dedicated by F.D.R.)
  • ROCK LOBSTER (31A: Novelty B-52's song with the lyric "Watch out for that piranha")
  • PEBBLE BEACH (48A: California locale of several golf U.S. Opens)
  • DUST JACKET (65A: One covering a big story?)
Important crosswordese:
  • OPEL (10A: European automaker)
  • IDES (71A: ___ of March)
  • Ron ELY (53A: Ron who played Tarzan) (man, when you don't know this guy, and then you get his full name in a grid, it is Confusing ... "Who the hell is this RONELY guy?")
Word of the Day: Ron ELY (53A: Ron who played Tarzan) —
Ronald Pierce "Ron" Ely (born June 2, 1938) is an American actor and novelist born in Hereford, Texas. Ely is best known for having portrayed Tarzan in the 1966 NBC series Tarzan and for playing the lead role in the 1975 film Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze. (wikipedia)
• • •
Hello, solvers. Somehow, it is January again, which means it's time for my week-long, once-a-year pitch for financial contributions to the blog. The idea is very simple: if you read the blog regularly (or even semi-regularly), please consider what it's worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. In making this pitch, I'm pledging that the blog will continue to be here for you to read / enjoy / grimace at for at least another calendar year, with a new post up by 9:00am (usually by 12:01am) every day, as usual. This year is special, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle, and despite my not-infrequent grumblings about less-than-stellar puzzles, I've actually never been so excited to be thinking and writing about crosswords. I have no way of knowing what's coming from the NYT, but the broader world of crosswords looks very bright, and that is sustaining. Whatever happens, this blog will remain an outpost of the Old Internet: no ads, no corporate sponsorship, no whistles and bells. Just the singular, personal voice of someone talking passionately about a topic he loves. As I have said in years past, I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:

Rex Parker
℅ Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton NY 13905

And here: I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users.

There. Hope that helps.

For people who send me actual, honest-to-god (i.e. "snail") mail (I love snail mail!), this year my thank-you cards are "Sibley Backyard Birding Postcards"—each card a different watercolor illustration by ornithologist David Sibley. You could get a Black PHOEBE. A California TOWHEE. Or maybe even a picture of some fabled SCARLET TANAGERS (15). Or give via PayPal and get a thank-you email. That's cool too. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As I say in every thank-you card (and email), I'm so grateful for your readership and support. So thanks, not A TAD, but A TON (partial fill! coming in useful!). Now on to the puzzle …

• • •
I always think of Howard Barkin as the Nicest Guy In Crosswords, and I don't think I'm alone in that. He is a speed-solver of the highest order—always in contention at the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament—and just a joy to be around. I've known him for the better part of a decade, and when I saw his name on the puzzle I thought, "Wow, it's been a long time since I've seen a Howard puzzle." But it turns out, I've never seen a Howard puzzle; not in the NYT, anyway. Turns out I missed his NYT debut (must've been on vacation). So how delightful that I get to congratulate a legitimately great human being on his first (to me) NYT puzzle, and I get to tell him that I thought the theme was perfect for a Monday. Simple, but original, with colorful themers throughout. Puzzle's got its share of crosswordese, but it never felt irksome, and besides, there are too many cool answers for the shorter stuff to make much of a difference today, one way or the other. A PAPER TRAIL of SMACKERS, a LONESOME bird with a giant WINGSPAN that you KNOW BY NAME (because you invent names for all the birds you see; you're a little odd). . . this puzzle was a delicious little treat. And even if the puzzle were none of the things I've said so far ... it has this, and this makes everything A-OK (OK?):

So, I finished this one in 2:45, which is somewhat fast for me, for a Monday—average is about ten seconds slower, and you wouldn't think those ten seconds would matter much, but the lower those numbers get, the harder it is to get them any lower. So every second is a big deal, and ten seconds is the difference between Medium and Easy-Medium. I've gotta be under 2:40 on Monday for me to call it "Easy." Even at that speed, I am very aware of the answers that "slow" me down. Today, the dreaded 24D: Ignoramus, 4 letters, starting with "D." DODO? DOLT? Nope, it's DOPE, you DOPE. I guessed DOLT. I also forgot the difference between LESSOR and LESSEE, so I had to fix that. The last themer (DUST JACKET) had a "?" clue on it, so even with "-ACKET" in place, I didn't get it at first glance. BEMUSE also eluded me until I had most of the crosses. And then, for reasons I don't quite remember, the ELY / ELOPED part made me sputter. Maybe I just read the ELOPED clue too fast and couldn't process it. The placement of the revealer was odd—not bad, just random-seeming. If daily puzzles had titles (like the Sunday puzzle) then some of this need for revealers would be obviated, and you wouldn't have to shoehorn one in like this (Newsday has titles, as does Fireball, and American Values Club; I like titles—it's your kid, why not give it a name?). But it's actually kind of cool that ERODED runs right through DUST like that. Kind of an emphatic, final statement. Ashes to ashes.


See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Had book before DUST, but I could not come up with a number that started with K.

Clever theme nicely done, liked it.

George Barany 12:41 AM  

Delighted to see @Howard Barkin's byline in this puzzle, which had a shoutout to @REX at 43-Down (we saw the full Oedipus_REX less than a week ago). However, 20-Across = INDIE is clued for films, rather than puzzles.

Fun to see both OPAL and OPEL, ELY and ELIS. Given that it's a Monday crossword, not a college-level organic chemistry class, we'll accept ESTER as clued. Technically, the word ESTER refers to a class of compounds rather than a specific compound. The high school chemistry class in chemistry does gratefully acknowledge the IRON clue.

My favorite clue in the entire puzzle: "Said "I do" without the to-do" for ELOPED, which shares 4 of 6 letters with the reveal, ERODED.

Anonymous 12:50 AM  

Easy, breezy, beautiful. BEMUSEd by the notion that OREO gets a pass on the crosswordese front because it's delicious. Support Rex.

Z 2:01 AM  

Son #1's first favorite song was ROCK LOBSTER. That puts this one firmly in the "like" column.

Second time I broke the 6:00 minute barrier on a Monday. This one surprised me a little because I had a slowish start, so it felt mediumish during the solve but my time says Easy. Spent a month solving on the iPad, so maybe it's just a function of practice.

Rex is hitting my sweet spot on video selections. If you like Mr. Bowie you should get his new one, Blackstar. Good stuff.

chefwen 2:30 AM  

@Carola - Don't know if you have posted today, but judging from the last few days you have either turned into a serious night owl or you are here enjoying our beautiful state. I hope it's the latter as it looks like it is getting rather nippy back home.

As to the puzzle, loved it. Not too easy (for me) and not too difficult either. Unlike Rex I didn't bang it out in 2 minutes + and actually had a few moments of actual thought. ERICA KANE was one of them, I kept thinking Jessica something and I have never heard of the song ROCK LOBSTER.. Wanted samolias sp? for 21A.

Anyway, a great start to puzzle week.

Loren Muse Smith 4:07 AM  

I agree that this was easy, but I had three erasures: "okay," "inn," and "part time." I solve in pencil; any kind of inky write-over would mess up my sense of order.

Cool to see the progression of stones. PEBBLE is a word I never, ever use and didn't know its connotation was smaller than a ROCK (or stone). I really would have liked "gravel" there instead, but there's probably no good 11 that would redirect gravel's meaning enough.

Rex – I stalled at BEMUSED, too, because I had no idea that the word had a "confused" layer. I guess I always thought it meant "amused" but in a Sigh-You-Poor-Dear-How-Philistine-of-You kind of way.

Liked SCAR right next to KNIFE. And SMACKERS crossing ENTRÉE.

I had no trouble with DOPE because that E was my first entry. I cut my adult tv teeth on All My Children and Guiding Light. (So I was primed for the The Real Housewives fan club.)

And Rex – I like to name birds, too. If you name ones you know you're gonna see again and again, (seagulls at beach, cardinals your bird feeder), you can really get to know them and impose/imagine all kinds of personalities and eccentricities of them. It all started with this fat, bossy, stuck-up cardinal named Wallace. And there was this gull, Louis Armstrong, at Topsail Beach who wasn't assertive enough to grab any bread crumbs. So we always ran interference for him and cheered when he snatched one.

Howard – a Monday right across the plate! And thanks for reminding me about this PAPER TRAIL.

Lewis 6:17 AM  

This left me wondering, what does dust become when it gets eroded?

A snappy Monday sprint, with little dreck, a mini-theme of words beginning with E (15), and some nice answers to see, like SMACKERS, ROCKLOBSTER and PAPERTRAIL. I had to figure out ERICA KANE from the crosses, a rare Monday treat, that is, a brain jogger. Which leads me to the question: Are thoughts brain joggers, since we always talk about them running through our minds?

George Barany 7:37 AM  

Woke up this morning to the news about @David Bowie ... making the clip "Ashes to Ashes" that @Rex links to especially poignant. Thank you.

chefbea 7:45 AM  

Easy fun Monday. Except I never heard of Gifs...what are they? Of course knew the Arch and all the food related things...lox and bagel, wine and olive oil, entree and oven shelves!!!

Dorothy Biggs 7:56 AM  

So did Rex include the Bowie video because of the relevance to the theme or because of his passing yesterday? I think, IIRC, my Twitter started blowing up around 1am CST this maybe an eerie coincidence?

Bowie was on the margin of my musical radar from beginning to end. I liked his music but I was never really a "fan." I certainly respect him as an artist and there is no disputing his influence on pop music early on. The Bing Crosby "Little Drummer Boy" duet was all over the interwebs this past Christmas...a video/song I don't remember ever seeing until then. So, eerie coincidences abound. RIP DB...Ashes to ashes, indeed.

Ash Charmpile 7:59 AM  

Saddened by the news of David Bowie's death today. I liked the theme and enjoyed seeing ERICA KANE in the puzzle.

Are OPAL and OPEL ok in the same puzzle?

Anyway, easy but enjoyable.

AliasZ 8:16 AM  

One step was missing in the erosion process between pebbles and dust: sand. Sand has grains, dust has particles. It would have been neat to have something like SAND WEDGE as the fourth step before dust.

But a nice progression of ashes to ashes, boulder to dust, regardless, and without much ESE to speak of. I liked the longish across answers that provided some confusion as being themers. Such trickery is always welcome on a Monday. PAPER TRAIL and KNOW BY NAME (KNOW BY fAME at first) were a special bonus.

Erato would BEMUSE of poetry, right?
"Great RACKS," said the Viking to KitchenAid.
You winsome, you lissome, you LONESOME.

Happy Monday!

Leapfinger 9:05 AM  



A seriously SOLID yet sprightly solve, so Kudos to Howard Barkin and the horse ERODE in on.

Z 9:16 AM  

I had hit the publish button and gone to my Twitter feed when my iPad alerted me. Gobsmacked. That Bowie recorded his latest while dealing with cancer is going to make me relisten.

BTW - @NCAPrez - The news came out well after Rex wrote this post.

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
Nice, quick romp. Like I've said before, I don't go for speed, I like to read all the clues, and don't like when things auto-fill. That being said, still was 9 minutes, as off work today and solved online. So yes, easy puz, but that's what Mondays are for!

Always want to misspell ERICA KANE. Is it EriKa, EriCa? Kane, Cane? I'll get it correct right off the bat one of these days!

Liked the ROCK smashiness of the theme. Good answers with no real -ESE dreck. Well, maybe ECOL. Also alot of K's. 6 of 'em. They stood out to me for some reason.

Yes SIR, puz was SOLID and FAIR FOR A TIME, didn't RAISE any DUST or KNIFE my WOO! IMO, of course...


Tita 9:20 AM  

@lms...BEMUSED discombobulated me a bit too... a veteran restaurant pro and linguist, can you tell me how ENTRÉE morhped from its French meaning of entry, or appetizer, to main course here?

When I got BOULDER-, ROCK-, and PAPER-, I started looking for a ROCK/PAPER/scissors theme.

This was a fun Monday. Agree that clue for ELOPED was great.
Thanks Mr. Barkin!

quilter1 9:27 AM  

Easy and pleasant. Bowie and I were the same age. Always a shock when a contemporary dies. Lady in Red was my own favorite.

mac 9:54 AM  

Beautiful Monday, @Howard!

@Tita, I also thought of rock/paper/scissors.

Just listened to "Lazarus" online. What a shock this morning. Then, a small article on page C3 of the NYT starting "It's a good time to be David Bowie, below." He took everyone by surprise and was in control of it all.

Mohair Sam 10:02 AM  

Totally delightful Monday. Didn't play as easy for us as it did for Rex and most others here, but that just added to the fun for us. Very clever theme, loved it. Will's streak of giving us accessible yet enjoyable Monday puzzles continues.

Find myself more or less in the @lms camp on BEMUSE. Held up entering it because I always thought of BEMUSEd as the way you reacted to a Gracie Allen statement - a little befuddled, but you got it. tells me I'm wrong.

Couldn't remember ERICA KANE, but do remember that Susan Lucci was famously nominated for best actress in a soap about a zillion times before they finally gave her the blasted award.

Ain't it LOX before bagel? Or is that just my neighborhood?

Thanks @Rex for the David Bowie "Ashes to Ashes" link. Oldest son convinced us to try a David Bowie Pandora station a couple of years back. We thought there was no Bowie genre we could listen to for more than a few minutes - we were wrong, play it a lot. Recommend anyone give it a shot.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

As I worked my way down the grid and came across BOULDER and ROCK, I started formulating a facetious comment along the lines of "This puzzle was HARD, thematically," to be followed by a :>), thinking there would just be four entries beginning with "stony" things. But when I got the other themers and the reveal, my opinion went from "Meh" to "Very clever!"

Good Monday puzzle!

Jonas Brother 10:17 AM  

Does anyone know what happened to Buzzfeed crosswords? Haven't seen one since a mini-ish puzzle on 1/1.

Nancy 10:24 AM  

Count me in the camp of those who don't have a clue what GIFS are. Wait. There is no camp? I'm the only one? OK, OK.

A few things perked up this puzzle for me. The cluing for DUST JACKET was unusually oblique for a Monday and initially fooled me. The answer PAPER TRAIL was nice, too, and I wish that it had also been clued obliquely. A better Monday than many.

Unknown 10:32 AM  

I’m with @43-down about naming themed puzzles to avoid having to force the revealer of said theme into the grid. Using the NYT online today, I happened to land on a revealer square and all the theme answer squares changed color. I decided to avoid reading the theme clue to see if I could solve without knowing what it was and did so. However, I decided it would have been the most fun if there were no revealer and the puzzle had a title. “Wearing Down” would have been my candidate for this one, having two meanings vis-à-vis the grid. The wearing down of a BOULDER to DUST and the fact this progression (or is it a regression?) moves down in the grid. As well there are other meanings for the words “wearing” and “down,” individually and collectively and I happen to love misdirection clues.

By comparison having ERODED to spell out this theme seems far too literal/obvious and is certainly without the slightest bit of humor or cleverness. The past tense is also a bit awkward. In the grid it seems to me more like the BOULDER literally gets worn (present tense) down to DUST. Contrarily a puzzle title (such as my humble suggestion for this puzzle) allows complete freedom to have a humorous or clever revealer without burdening the grid.

Outside of a few no-interest, obvious ones (BAR SCAR – OK, OK. So you had a fight in one or made a pass in one at a LONESOME female and got your heart broken or DAD’S ETA – When your father will get home) we have:

LONESOME RAISE (only one person got one this year)

INDIE SMACKERS (counterfeit money)

OREO SAUNA (humid summer day when they get soggy…and I KNOW, but not BY NAME, most know exactly what I’m talking about. Hate when that happens. The only correct way to soggify [SIC] an OREO is with milk. In fact that, IMhO, is the only way to eat OREOs.)

Of course Maine LOBSTERs are the real deal. ROCK LOBSTERs are not even closely related. Red Lobster used to depict spiny (aka rock) lobsters in their ads intimating they were “real” lobsters. They got called out and stopped that. FOR A TIME, they tried to open a couple outlets in lobster country (i.e. Maine). Let’s see, go to any one of a number of local lobster/seafood “shacks” for a right-off-the-boat seafood meal with views and smells of the sea (or several other equally enticing alternatives) or eat a Red Lobster “formula” meal in a ‘formula” setting with stuff from who knows where? The result? Some years ago they opened ones in Bangor and Auburn. Both closed. There are currently none in Maine (or Alaska) being the only states without one.

While they failed to put Red Lobster into Maine they decided to try and put Maine (the signature place they cannot do business) into Red Lobster or claim to have. To wit from their website: “Inspired by Bar Harbor, Maine, Red Lobster’s new design creates a warm, inviting seaside atmosphere. Almost 100% of our more than 700 restaurants today feature this new design.” IMO: after looking at this fresh COAT of paint in their glamour shots, nothing looks uniquely Maine, let alone uniquely Bar Harbor-ish, so I don’t get it. That said, there is a close-up of a Maine lighthouse in one of their pictures. However, it is of Pemaquid Light. Picturesque to be sure, but why not (also picturesque) Bass Harbor Light which is on Mt. Desert (deh-ZERT, like OREOs and vanilla ice cream, not like the GOBI) Island as is Bar Harbor?

Trivia: Mt. Desert Island is the 2nd largest on East Coast (5th in the lower 48). The Long one is the largest. (Wiki) It is also home to Acadia National Park.

All this LOBSTER talk and I might just get me some today. Always Maine, Always local. Always fresh. Just a short drive to the docks where resides the South Bristol Fisherman's Co-op.


Hartley70 10:33 AM  

It's nice to see OPAL and ERICA hanging out together again. They were good buds for years on All My Kids. This is useless knowledge cluttering up my available memory unless someone creates a soap opera puzzle. Anyone?

I thought the theme progression here was sweet, although I too was looking for the scissors at first. It pretty much was a perfect classic Monday exercise done by a master.

Nancy 11:54 AM  

@Hartley 70 (10:33 am)-- I have no doubt that someone will surely do the soap opera puzzle you are pleading for soon enough -- and that it will be chock full of people whom I won't KNOW BY NAME. Not to deny you your pleasure, for you are a wonderful person who certainly deserves it, but can you at least hope for me that when it appears, I will be too busy to notice. That I will be having an ENTREE of ROCK LOBSTER or luxuriating in a posh SAUNA at BOULDER DAM or even playing a game that vaguely resembles golf, as I swing my nine-IRON at PEBBLE BEACH. Or maybe I will even have ELOPED without leaving so much as a PAPER TRAIL as to my whereabouts and will be sporting a grand OPAL ring. Anything, so I don't have to solve said puzzle along with you. Is it a deal?

chefbea 11:55 AM  

@Nancy I said earlier that I do not know what gifs are. will have to google

Z 11:55 AM  

An actual Major Tom
and Ziggy Stardust
w/Nine Inch Nails
or maybe you're more the Bing Crosby type.

We can be heroes, just for one day

chefbea 11:58 AM  

Graphics interchange format =GIF

Nancy 12:06 PM  

@chefbea (11:58)-- Thanks! Now it's perfectly clear.

Leapfinger 12:06 PM  

@chefwen, maybe you were thinking Simoleons for SMACKERS, yes?

@GeoBarany, Hey man! Just like IRON, I think ESTER also had more de high school definition.

Seems that some of us were syncing of the Sands of the (NY)Times; must have been the same breakfast sand which put a hex on us, right, @Alias? Oh well, the sand is there, after all; all you want, if you just GO BI the desert.

The fun thing about ELOPED was hiding it inside VELOCIPEDE, on the day @Howard B apparently hits it for the bi-cycle. @George, is HowardB any kin to you?

Didn't think of DOPE, which, to me, is a drug (sometimes prescription), a name in various entertainment genres, or some kind of sealant that used to be painted on airplane canvas. Did stop at DO--, however, to see whether LT would DO. Also started with partTime.

Forgot to mention that other Little SIR ECO: OREO-REO. Wouldn't want to hear it got LONESOME, dove into despair.

@Nancy, did you see that Sacha R Phleim showed up with another grammatic friend today. Do we have a pattern developing?

About this business of birds that we KNOW BY NAME: I've read a slew of Richard Feyman, who(m) I think was one of the smartest OREO cookies around, as well as an entertaining writer/raconteur. In one of his short pieces, he describes taking nature walks with his father when just a youngster, and asking the names of trees and birds. His father would tell him, but what impressed him at the time (and me, when I read it) was what his father cautioned: "Just because you know what to call something doesn't mean you know anything about what it really is". (approx) I.e., naming is just the first step. Interesting to juxta that with Genesis, where God allows Adam to name all the beasts and ceterae, which is what gave him dominion over them all.

Not a bad day to be Barkin'd, and always nice to BE MUSED.

Leapfinger 12:22 PM  

The URL of Sand Witch

Carola 12:24 PM  

Agree with @Mohair Sam: a delightful puzzle, more Monday toughish than easy. Such a clever theme, plus PAPER TRAIL, SMACKERS, KNOW BY NAME, WING SPAN. A little too close for comfort: KNIFE next to SCAR.

@Chefwen - I'm "halfway to Hawaii" (if you know that United Airlines quiz), in L.A. with our daughter for the month and enjoying sunshine and 60s instead of single digits. Maui in March! about that Pack?!

Howard B 1:30 PM  

@Leapfinger - I initially considered SAND DOLLAR before deciding that DUST had more potential in the grid.

I did consider whether or not to keep the ERODED revealer in the puzzle; I don't care for obvious reveals myself. The coincidence of the theme answers supplying E-O--- was too much to resist though, and for a puzzle geared towards Monday or Tuesday I thought that would be a nice bonus for some.

RIP Bowie. Made all of us slightly weird people feel just a bit more OK in the world :(.

Teedmn 1:37 PM  

ROCK LOBSTER - love that song and my husband and I sometimes pull it off in karaoke (my Dad is a karaoke fiend so we end up there when we visit.) it always gets a big reaction and not because either of us is a good singer, just because it is rarely performed and it is so goofy.

I'm surprised @LMS didn't call for ELY to be clued as "Northern Minnesota base of Wintergreen dog sledding outfitters". ELY is four hours north of the Twin Cities and it is currently 4 below zero. It's a balmy zero here in town so no worries about sunburn today!

This was a fun Monday, a little slow for me due to DAMATO being overwritten several times as I got farther in the clues and DAniel changed to DAMien and then the name came back to me for the last "O".

Thanks, Howard Barkin, FOR A good TIME.

Teedmn 1:38 PM  

Oh yeah, David Bowie, losing him will make some Ch-ch-ch-changes in music. Way too soon.

Hartley70 1:42 PM  

No deal, @Nancy! I am going to chain you to your comfy chair and superglue a pen to your tiny little hand to make up for all the sports trivia I've had to struggle with over the years. I can do AMC and the Guiding Light with the best of them. I was locked in the house with toddlers all winter long.

archaeoprof 2:03 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle.

Are the clue and answer for 5A a prediction about tonight's national championship football game? Tomorrow, will we say the tide EBBED?

Pete 3:53 PM  

Last night I was going to complain that BOULDER and PEBBLE were actual names for specific sizes of rocks, and that ROCK and DUST weren't. I spent some time on the internets searching for validation, and found none. Pretty much my life in a nutshell.

chefwen 5:13 PM  

@Carola - Aloha E Komo Mai. Re: Packers, 'bout time!

@Leapy - Knew that spelling wasn't even close but too lazy to look it up.

Joe 5:44 PM  

Although I of course know who Susan Lucci is, I never knew the name of her character until the crosses revealed it today. So a fun little puzzle, and something learned.

Nancy 5:55 PM  

@Leapfinger (12:06)-- You're referring to @Ash Charmpile, perhaps?

Z 7:36 PM  

@chefbea and @Nancy - GIF are short little videos or moving pictures that you will see on some sites. As opposed to JPEGs, which don't move.

Marcellus 8:23 PM  

From Jan. 2nd crossword, corrections published Jan. 7th:


The crossword puzzle on Saturday provided an erroneous clue for 34-Down, seeking the answer “Marcellus.” The clue should have read, “Roman consul who captured Syracuse in 211 B.C.” — not “A.D. 211.” The puzzle also provided an erroneous clue for 34-Across, seeking the answer “MSN.” The clue should have read, “Co. behind Hotmail starting in 1997” — not “It launched Hotmail in ‘96.” (While Hotmail was launched in 1996, it was not owned by Microsoft, which runs the MSN web portal, until 1997.)

Nancy 8:15 AM  

I saw it as I was lying in bed this morning, trying to get back to sleep! I should have seen it yesterday! YOU should have seen it yesterday! I'm racing here, half asleep, before breakfast, before looking at today's puzzle, to try to beat the others before they see too, what we ALL should have seen already! Rex in particular! The mystery has been solved! The letters in Sacha R. Phleim (from 2 days ago) and Ash Charmpile (from yesterday) spell out (are you ready for this?)...

Going to have breakfast. I'll be back to discuss today's puzzle later.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

A bit of a nit, but I don't think there should be multiple answers in one foreign language in a Monday puzzle. It's meant to be easy, but if you don't speak Spanish, then those answers depend solely on the crosses, which doesn't seem appropriate for a Monday.

Diana,LIW 8:08 PM  

@Deb Ehnes on Sat @ 3:24

I don't remember seeing you before, so if you're new - welcome! Or I should say, welcome to Syndieland.

We Synderellas and Synderfellas post 5 weeks after the original puz date (when the puzzle limps into our local newspaper). If you take a look at tomorrow's "syndie" date you'll see "X" number of posts, and by the end of the day tomorrow you'll see 6 - 12 more. That's us - the Syndies!

So feel free to post away - you will be seen and appreciated. nd you'll be in good company.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords (cause, well, I'm waiting...)

spacecraft 10:37 AM  

Compared strictly to other Mondays, this one played more toward the medium-challenging for me. It is always absurd to read about impossible times like "2:40" and such. OKOK, already!

I was hit with a WOE right off the bat. GIFS?? What happened to the T? Or am I supposed to learn a whole new tech-language? Bah. Plus, after "Love Shack" my B-52's knowledge is severely limited. Like, curtailed. To me, ROCKLOBSTER is a food. Why not clue it that way? It's like WOO: a perfectly good word clued as a film director. Why? Are we trying to turn Monday into some other day? Again, bah.

All this is not to say I disliked the whole afFAIR. I thought the theme progression was both clever and [BE]MUSing. KNOWBYNAME is legit enough, but feels a bit strained. By reputation is the more usual term. I wonder if OFL's good friend put that shout-out at 43-down in there on purpose...maybe to elicit a SOLID review? Sure worked! B.

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


So FAIR AHORA gain WOOs you,
her RACKS one to BEMUSE you,
FORATIME you’re LESSOR more than insane.

She BOULDERDAM socks off, SIR,
AWE, GOBI a DOPE - SIC, THOR, and in pain.


today’s stream of unconsciousness brought to you by OREO and IKEA

Diana,LIW 12:39 PM  

Nice puzzle, especially for newbie solvers. Easy, but had some bite - all sussable from the crosses. Good example of a progressive theme and how a revealer works. (BTW, I too like titles on xwrds)

And learned GIFS. Hate them - those pop-up ads with the never stopping face, like Oprah or Ellen, crying the same tears over and over. Ugh!

All in all a nice Monday romp.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 1:42 PM  

Nice theme and reveal for a very good Monday puzzle.

Have to take bit of an issue with DEANS as an answer to "Heads of classes." Deans head colleges, schools, and various activities (admissions, etc.), while professors, instructors, and the like head classes.

Spanish words might be a bit troublesome, but crosses make them very accessible, as they will the proper names and title, WOO, ERICA KANE.

rain forest 1:56 PM  

This is the kind of Monday puzzle which makes it worthwhile to do Monday puzzles, easy as they may (or occasionally may not) be. This was easy with a neat theme and some nice longer non-themers.

The B52s I know by name but not their music much. Gordon Lightfoot has a nifty song entitled "Triangle" which mentions ROCK LOBSTERs, though.

I sort of know GIFS, JPEGS, and MPEGS, but I'd be pressed to describe how they differ.

I once had a plate of IKEA meatballs while waiting for my car to be serviced, and I felt a little ill afterwards. I like their cheap breakfasts though.

Keep rock(lobster)ing on, @Burma. Always a treat.

rondo 5:57 PM  

I did notice that stones were getting smaller and was prepared to fill in sandpipers (it fits!) in the last one, until it was obviously not correct because the PEBBLE had ERODED all the way to DUST.

Was BEMUSEd to watch Lefty let another one slip away yesterday at PEBBLEBEACH. That cost him the title and +/- 500,000 SMACKERS.

Have had many memorable romantic moments to the sensual singing of yeah baby SADE. She’s a TEN in my book. That time with Natasha (also a TEN) in Odessa comes to mind . . .

Once again we have OLES, but no Svens. Sven being OLE’S pal in all those jokes. At least in these parts.

Agree with @spacey re: WOO and ROCKLOBSTER. Those are already things we KNOWBYNAME.

OKOK. Decent Mon-puz. Happy Prez Day to syndies. Maybe I’ll hit the BAR FORATIME today and have some BUDS.

Anonymous 6:04 PM  

What is the typical contribution to Rex's site? Just looking for an idea. Thanks

Z 8:33 PM  

@anon6:04 - No idea what is typical. 10¢ a day would by $36.50. If everyone who read the blog gave a penny a day Rex probably could quit teaching. I think the first time I gave it was $10. It was some multiple of that this year. I've gotten a very appreciative response every time I've given. In conclusion, whatever feels right to you.

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