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Monday, May 23, 2016

Constructor: Ori Brian

Relative difficulty: Easy (even for a Monday)

THEME: body part of the something — colloquial phrases following the pattern "___ OF THE ___" where first word is a body part:

Theme answers:
  • BUTT OF THE JOKE (20A: One being laughed at)
  • HEAD OF THE TABLE (28A: Where Mom or Dad sits at dinner)
  • NECK OF THE WOODS (47A: Locale)
  • EYE OF THE STORM (54A: Where it's calmest in a hurricane)
Word of the Day: LIAM Payne (18A: ___ Payne, One Direction heartthrob) —
Liam James Payne (born 29 August 1993) is an English singer and songwriter. He made his debut as a singer when he auditioned as a solo artist for the British television series The X Factor in 2008 with "Fly Me to the Moon" by Frank Sinatra. Though cut by Simon Cowell following judge's house, Payne was encouraged to audition again. He reauditioned as a solo artist in 2010, where he was put into a group along with four other contestants, to form the boy band that would later become known as One Direction. (wikipedia)
• • •

I assume this is a debut (I think I'd've remembered that name). If so, it's a solid one. Very, very Monday. Kind of quintessential—straightforward, simple, clean. No frills, but no gaffes either. I've only got one problem with the theme, and that is that BUTT OF THE JOKE really should've been the *final* themer, not the first. It's got the funniest body part in it (the only slangy one, the only one located below the shoulders), and it makes the perfect "punchline" for this theme. Why would you not put that answer at the bottom (!)) of the grid? Themer order matters, and your final themer should really be the best expression of the theme—it should merit its finality (Merl taught me that). But, as I say, that is the only issue I have. The theme makes sense, and the fill is mercifully clean and even occasionally interesting (HOVERBOARD!). No, wait, I have one more minor issue with the theme—if you ask me [Where it's calmest in a hurricane], I'm going to say "in the EYE OF THE ... hurricane, actually." EYE OF THE STORM is a fine answer. The cluing just struck me as somehow slightly amiss.

There were precisely two trouble parts for me in this one ("trouble" being a relative term, as I finished in 2:39). First, I had fishing in my head when I read 8D: Catch in a net, so I couldn't parse ENMESH at all at first. Needed many crosses. Also, you'll excuse me if I'm not up on all the members of One Direction. [___ Payne] meant nothing to me, though now that I see LIAM in there, that name sounds familiar. I know there's a Harry in there somewhere, and ... sure, LIAM, why not? So there was the problem of ENMESHing LIAM. Then there was just getting a handle on NECK OF THE WOODS. The clue ([Locale]) is so terse and enigmatic that how you were supposed to get from that one word to a 13s-letter phrase was not at all clear. But even after I had N-C-O... I could think of nothing but NECRO-something. But again, this is all happening at pretty high speeds, and a few more crosses took care of the confusion.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Yes, easy even for a Mon. @Rex said it, liked it, nice debut.

lg 12:12 AM  

A little over 5 minutes to solve for me, so I kind of expected the Rex solve to be in the sub-2 minute range. I'm sooooo disappointed! Not really.

All that to say, this one was easy and sometimes it's awesome just to blow through a puzzle and know almost every answer immediately. Last weeks Monday was more a bear for me, so I enjoyed this one for not pretending to be a Tuesday or Wednesday!

The themers were perfect and no clue felt forced. Good Monday.

Hays 2:02 AM  

Granted, the quicker the puzzle times the more important each second becomes, but this is the first time I think I've ever been within a minute of Rex's time! That should definitely tell you something about the puzzle (and also that I somehow (?) know the names of three members of One Direction...).

That will probably be the highlight of my 24 hours, so apologies for my excitement!

aging soprano 3:29 AM  

Definitely super easy, even for a Monday. I take some issue with 50d.I think "encore" means "again", not MORE. Could have been clued differently. Otherwise no complaints.

Dawn 4:42 AM  

Well, it would seem that the proper order would be head, eye, neck, and butt.

Rex, I believe Mondays should be very easy. Even designed for beginners! IMO, the idea of a Monday Puzzle is to foster confidence in the newest of beginners, as well as give respite, from Sunday's mammoth, to those who are skilled.

Lewis 6:13 AM  

Sweet, simple, and safe. Nothing particularly standing out, good or bad, with a simplicity bordering on innocent, yet its quality raises it above the pap puzzles found elsewhere. The theme is well executed, and the fill very clean. Those two qualities go a long way. Other theme answers that came to me are "hair of the dog" and "back of the bus".

I'm either looking forward to more from Ori, ori am not, and it's easily the former. I liked this little gem a lot, and that's the "heart of the matter".

Dorothy Biggs 7:06 AM  

I"ll just weigh in to say basically the same thing. No complaints, no hiccups, no groans. Easy peasy...not 2.5 minutes easy peasy, but easy peasy just the same.

And since no one is probably going to have much to say about the puzzle, I have a weird question.

Given this puzzle's NAACP and AFRO, and the occasional debate here about AFRO itself, I was trying to think back through the pictures of the constructors at xwordinfo to see if I could remember ever seeing a person of color (namely, African American) who was a constructor. Jeff Chen, IIRC, is one of the few non-whites I remember. There is no picture for Ori Brian today, so who knows...but I was just wondering...

Surely I'm missing something? Has anyone else noticed this?

Lobster11 7:14 AM  

Super-easy, but super-smooth. All I ask for on a Monday.

Garett 7:19 AM  

Almost too easy. Did this one on the app in four minutes exactly. If I hadn't accidentally mis-typed one of the letters in PEDAL toward the end, I would have kept it to well under 3:00.

Wm. C. 7:22 AM  

I guess OFL doesn't watch NBC in the morning, where Al Roker does the national weather outlook, then segues to the local stations' forecasts with the cutaway line: "...and here's what's happening in your Neck Of The Woods."

chefbea 7:27 AM  

Easiest puzzle ever!! Started out with two foods...hash and herb and then my last name at 47 across

kitshef 7:28 AM  

@Dawn - yes, ideally the order would proceed down the body. And in that construction, you'd really rather not have both EYE and HEAD as you can argue about which is higher. The HEAD starts higher, but the EYE ends higher.

I'd rather see EYE replaced by ... something else. Alas, I can't come up with anything the right length (and whenever I try to do something like this, it further increases my respect for constructors). footofthebed and hairofthedog are too short. bellyofthebeast and mouthoftheriver are too long. heartofthematter is way too long.

Then there's ____ofthewalk, which could fit but a) would never fly b) gives the same problem of which is higher, this time relative to BUTT.

Hungry Mother 7:29 AM  

I ran the last 0.11 miles of a 5K with a 6:42 pace, close to my PR of 6:25 for this puzzle. I'm not a fast runner or solver, so these are good numbers for me.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

Dawn, thank you for acknowledging Mondays should be simple. I am a beginner and tMomday's puzzle is the weekly one I look forward to. Thursday is my least fav and Sunday, I don't even look at. Today's puzzle was a delight to go through.

RooMonster 7:43 AM  

Hey All !
Yes, yes, agree with The Rexster's rating. Didn't even have a writeover! Only problem I can forsee for some is 52A Dru.

Liked the long Downs. Also agree with the clean fill. Nice grid, low 3's, nice non-brain strain MonPuz.

As for YesterPuz,
Theme: Nice
Fill: Ugh
Threes: Highish (26)
Blocks: High (80)
IMO, of course. :-)


Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Extremely basic and easy, but that's fine for a Monday. The constructor is a college freshman, not a lot older than the girl who does the first Monday write-ups here for Rex,.

Nancy 8:40 AM  

Way too easy for me to love.

Sheryl 9:00 AM  

I'm not an "elite" puzzle solver. I'm extremely proud when I can finish a Saturday puzzle without cheating, no matter how long it takes. I don't try for speed. I'm generally eating and/or half listening to the news while solving. And I'm no expert on construction - except insofar as doing the puzzle for decades has given me some opinions.

All that said, I found this puzzle ridiculously easy. I solved it on my phone, as usual, while periodically putting it down to take bites. Even so, I finished it with my fastest time ever. No part of it gave me any resistance at all. Rex said it was well constructed. Perhaps. But solving it wasn't much fun for me - no resistance, no smiles. I've enjoyed many of the puzzles he complains about a lot more than this one.

Nancy 9:00 AM  

@Pete from very late yesterday (12:17 a.m.) -- Amen! And double Amen! You said it, brother! It's also a big pet peeve of mine. But it's even worse than you think. There was a big musical that opened within the last couple of years. (This is not an isolated incident, btw, it happens all the time.) It received a long, long two-page review in the NY Times, beginning on page 1 of the Arts Section, above the fold. The review discussed every aspect of the musical imaginable: every performer, what he or she had been in before, how they performed; the sets; the lighting; the direction and everything the director had hitherto been involved in. And I'm searching...and searching...and searching for the creative team that wrote it. Surely I couldn't have missed something so important to me. Were they people I knew from the BMI Musical Theater Workshop? Had they, maybe, even been in my year? Who WERE they? But no, when I went back through the entire 2-page review, there was absolutely no mention of them at all. DID THIS MUSICAL WRITE ITSELF? I grumbled. I wrote a letter to the Times, expressing my horror at the omission. And while I've gotten a great many Letters to the Editor into the Times over the years, this one was unceremoniously ignored. So this is thew sort of oversight that didn't stop happening in 1946, @Pete. Thanks for noticing and thanks for giving me an opportunity to vent. (You weren't with me in the BMI Workshop by any chance, were you?)

Z 9:20 AM  

BUTT-HEAD but no Beavis? I'm disappointed.

Leapfinger 9:24 AM  

I liked the cheek of the lad, giving us an unEXPECTEDLY lively puzzle with not a bit of TRASH. Cheeky it was, topping the corners of the square with HASH and REHAB, then having the first two themers start with BUTT and HEAD. Fortunately, my fears that BEAVIS was next to come were not realized, but if you don't think it's cheeky to have BUTT dead-end at HALFMOON, well, I don't know what is. Plus, it isn't exactly TEPID to cross SEX with HEAVEN/ SPENT. Surely, there's a REPOST somewhere in there, though there's nothing quite like SMUT with a HOTTEA.

Then again, I was just plain fooled at 11D, wondering whether there's a way to stretch DELOREAN.

Ori, light of my EYE, I hope the future sees you triumphant at the brow of the hill of Cruciverbia, that you're never relegated to the back of the bus, nor feel the lash of the whip, nor find yourself in the belly of the beast. Just keep away from the hair of the dog, lest you feel the long arm of the law. I also suggest you keep your POWDERED doughnuts dry, if only because I TOED you so.

Debut or no, a good Monday. Enjoyed it.

QuasiMojo 9:40 AM  

Clean puzzle but a few too many names in my book: "Halle, Elmo, Leah, Erik, Olds, Joe, Dru, Alou, Liam, Che, Yale" even "Herb" if you're picking a nit. :) No doubt Trump will think the inclusion of "huge" is a "nod" to him!

jberg 9:58 AM  

I'm not sure I counted right, but I make it to be two downs crossing three theme answers, and eleven crossing two-- that's quite a feet!

ELM and ELMO I was hoping to find ELMER and ELMIRA in there.

@aging soprano and 60D -- you're right as far as a literal translation goes, but when you should "Encore!" after a performance, you usually want them to play something additional, not to play something again.

Congratulations to Ori Brian!

old timer 10:09 AM  

9 minutes for me, pen on newsprint. But I was slowed down by DRU plus my sloppy letteringl.

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

Very nice Monday puzzle. A one sip of JOE while sitting on my TUFFET.
I tried a HOVER BOARD....once! A sweet kid who frequents the dog park brought his Phunkeeduck (I had to look up the spelling) to show off his skills. He asked me if i'd like to try it. Well, of course I would. I could hardly get on the damn thing. He had to hold my hand like a decrepit old lady. Good way to tone your BUTT and you calves. I think they're banned in some places because they can catch fire and explode, and cause all kinds of havoc and some people hate them which happens anytime something fun comes along. Yay America!
Good job Ori Brian. (Like your name!).

mac 10:26 AM  

Yes, very good Monday. After getting Butt.... and Head.... I wondered if "half moon" might be part of the

Only think-over STOOP for SLUM.

Off to make my annual trip to Gilberti's to get the herbs for the garden.

rachelrauch 10:31 AM  

LIAM is the chap who's bringing this puzzle into 2016! Ask for more up-to-date fill and ye shall receive, apparently :) I thought this puzzle this was a nice breezy start to the week.

Dick Swart 11:13 AM  

Perfect for a Monday morning when I can't have a cuppa and a chocolate croissant because I'm fasting for AM blood tests.

Hmmmm ... chocolate croissant ... blood tests ... I wonder ...

Joseph Michael 11:20 AM  

Nice debut. Congratulations, Ori. Hope to see more from you.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 12:41 PM  

Fun theme. Bodacious debut.
Thanx, Ori. Come on back, any old time.


Aketi 1:18 PM  

While some of you have been discussing anatomical correctness, no one has yet seemed to notice that the one-EYEd, one-NECKed, one-BUTTed creature was also FOUR TOED. I made mine purple, but it doesn't have horns and since it doesn't have a mouth or wings it can't eat people or fly. It might, however be able to flip on its head since it has toes.

Aketi 2:20 PM  

HOVER BOARDs are banned on the New York subway system. Given what has happened to my dear sweet MAGOO of a husband when he tried to show my son how the skateboard (never actually having done it before himself) and before he learned to brake while roller blading, I think I'd insist that he wear a helmet should the notion ever enter his HEAD the try one, I think landing on his BUTT would not concern me as much as other possibilities.The helmet certainly protected my son when he was snow boarding and managed to unintentionally flip upside down onto his HEAD which bounced off the grind rail, flipping him back over to land right side up on his board on the snow. The dent in the helmet was 2 inches in diameter and an inch deep. Apart from a minor headache (no diagnosable concussion), he was fine.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

At 10:30 minutes, I came tantalizingly close to crashing through the 10 minute barrier for a Monday or Tuesday puzzle. Very easy. No hesitatation anywhere.

puzzle hoarder 3:13 PM  

At last a Monday puzzle that scores like a Monday should. Besides from its 17 three character entries it's also saddled with 6 four character heavy hitters. The leader of those 6 being OREO. Otherwise the puzzle is composed of well combined simple words with some winners thrown in as a bonus. HOVERBOARD and POWDERED are debuts but my favorite was TUFFET. I've never looked up what it is before. My other personal discovery was CHE being clued as an Italian word and letter. I'm sure I must have seen this before but it never managed to sink in.
Ori must be a rather unusual name. I checked on xwordinfo and it's only been used as a phrase. If Mr Brian keeps making puzzles of this quality then at least among solvers Ori I will be well known.

Hays 3:52 PM  

@NCA President

There's the fantastic>Kameron Austin Collins, for one! It also looks like xwordinfo updated with Mr. Brian's thumbnail, fyi.

Z 5:13 PM  

@QuasiMojo - I counted only 17/76 PPP, so hardly name intensive.

GILL I. 6:09 PM  

@Aketi....I know what you mean!. I'm all for helmets. Wear them everywhere. BUTT, HEAD, NECK, EYE. We don't want anyone getting hurt. Hell, I'm totally against ski diving!

Aketi 8:42 PM  

@ Leapfinger, at least you had the wherewithal to create the shape of the great rift even if it was upside down, I was going for creating MOUNTAINS out of the other three of the Seven Summits (highest mountains on each of the continents) in addition the EVEREST that had an odd number of letters. I was also going to try to find the seven valleys that were the lowest on each continent. All I found out was that the surface of the DEAD SEA is lower tha DEATH valley. Since the Dead Sea is part of the Jordan Rift Valley it might qualify. i could perhaps have continued below the water but the search became such a downer that I gave up.

@ M&A, I'm having a similar experience trying to figure out how to put a leg, foot, arm, back, breast, nose' mouth (with a lip of course), tooth and hair on my One-EYEd, No-horned, FOUR-TOED, Nonflying, Purple, Non-People Eater, let alone trying to figure out how to illustrate the internal body parts,

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

Aging Soprano My French dictionary has the following definitions of encore:
1 adverb denoting persistence of an action or state in the moment considered: Are you still here?

2 adverb denoting an idea of repetition (again) or supplement (more)

The NAACP was founded by a white group of people in reaction to the race riots of the 1910s. For credibility they needed an intelligent, articulate and respected public face and invited W.E.B. DuBois to be that person. Since he was in at the beginning he might be considered A founder, but certainly not THE founder. BTW colored in the name meant all colored not just black though in practice that did not last very long. Asians, Native Americans and Latinos were all experiencing white inflicted abuse at the time.

Burma Shave 9:54 AM  


JOE didn’t STOOP as low as TRASH and SMUT,
TODO a SEX pun JOE was unable.


rondo 11:32 AM  

Good way to start a week, no WOES at all. EXPEXCTEDLY easy Monday.You don’t need a puz so TUFFET makes you work.

One cheek = HALFMOON?

Maybe with the right REHAB Amy would still be ONTOUR.

Can’t go wrong with a puz including SEX, and with yeah baby HALLE Berry. AMEN.

Sailor 12:00 PM  

What so many others have said: easy, but remarkably clean. An auspicious debut.

Did not know LIAM, DRU or Questlove, but they seemed fair enough in a puzzle that also included CHE and DuBois.

Re: the comments of @Anonymous at 10:43 PM - It seems to me a Good Thing that influential white persons should have joined together with the many African American activists of the time to launch a national movement to end lynching and secure civil rights and public respect for persons of color. Their participation in no way diminishes the role of DuBois, who was, as you say, in at the beginning, as was Ida B. Wells. The Niagara Movement, founded by DuBois and William Monroe Trotter in 1905, was an important precursor to the development of the NAACP four years later.

And the clue for 38A says “co-founded” which seems entirely accurate to me.

Diana,LIW 1:50 PM  

@Anon 7:30's response to @Dawn's "keep Monday simple" comment was where I was a couple of years ago, and I know how grateful I was to be able to finish a puzzle then. It's also gratifying to fill one in so seamlessly today - no do-overs, could have used ink. Not that I would. But coulda.

Also noticed no FRO mention in the comments.

REHAB made me think of the many great talents we have lost over the years to lack of same.

ENCORE, Ori. I'm off to my TUFFET in my turret.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:19 PM  

Okay, FOUR body parts, but wait, five with the EAR, and could have added a nose and a throat with an ENT answer.
The toe in TOED may qualify, too.

HOVERBOARD? I thought the transport mode in the "Back to the FUTURE" movies was a DeLorean, but I saw only the first of them.

I liked BUTTHEAD, though his partner would be out of bounds.

TEPID, but still liked this easy Monday.

rain forest 6:27 PM  

Perfect Monday puzzle, even if it is easy. Not much else to say other than it was interesting to find out that @Chefbea's last name is NECK OF THE WOODS. A little unwieldy, but a conversation starter for sure. I wonder if her husband's name is RUBBER...

Nice start to the week.

Unknown 9:31 PM  

I try doing Mondays by looking ONLY at the down clues. Almost got this one so.

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