Virginia city known for shipbuilding / MON 10-24-16 / Final stanze of ballad / Molars usually have four of these / Pair of cymbals operated by foot pedal

Monday, October 24, 2016

Constructor: John Guzzetta

Relative difficulty: On the easier side of Mondayness

THEME: MORNING SHOW (58A: Breakfast-time TV fare that usually includes the ends of 17-, 28, 36- and 44-Across) — themers end with NEWS, TRAFFIC, WEATHER and SPORTS, respectively

Theme answers:
  • NEWPORT NEWS (17A: Virginia city known for its ship-building)
  • DRUG TRAFFIC (28A: Flow of narcotics)
  • UNDER THE WEATHER (36A: Not feeling so hot)
  • SPOIL SPORTS (44A: Killjoys)
Word of the Day: CUSPS (1A: Molars usually have four of these) —
A cusp is a pointed, projecting, or elevated feature. In animals, it is usually used to refer to raised points on the crowns of teeth. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a perfectly reasonable puzzle ... from 30ish years ago that has somehow found its way to 2016. The NYT is having this problem over and over and over again lately. Problem isn't (only) with the quality of the puzzle, it's with the ambition level. No, "ambition" isn't even the right word, since I don't think a puzzle has to be super-edgy or complicated or avant-garde to be good. A very simple puzzle can be good. But there's no attempt to be current or funny or, for lack of a better word, alive. We're getting a ton of by-the-book puzzles. First words do this. Last words do this. Etc. With fill and clues that are less terrible than stale. Nobody expects That much from a Monday, but I think that's actually a cruddy attitude to have towards Mondays and the people who make them well. A little zing, a little imagination, a little spark. This is all I ask of Mondays. Actually, it's all I ask of most days. I won't list all the tiresome fill here, largely because every puzzle has Some, but just look at the grid and consider how much of this stuff you see over and over and over. Even something like EMOTE or ORATE or SATED—perfectly fine words, but relentless, and today, all in the same section. A puzzle made for people who wear AFTA and watch morning TV fare, i.e. not me. And, increasingly, not a lot of solvers. If it is unreasonable of me to keep asking the NYT to be the best, then maybe they should stop calling themselves the "best." That way no fraud, no unrealistic expectations.

Turns out I don't really know what CUSPS means. I finished this puzzle in under my normal Monday time, but I think I might've set a personal Monday best if I'd had some conception of CUSPS. I know the term "bicuspid," but I think of "cusp" as meaning the edge; like ... you're on the *cusp* of something. Or in astrology, if you're on the *cusp*, you are on the edge or boundary of two different signs. Right? Anyway, the clue [Molars usually have four of these] totally stymied me. Filling in ROT at 4D: Drivel didn't help (it's PAP). Also had lots o' trouble with 5D: One often seen standing just out side a building's entrance (SMOKER), since all I wanted was some version of "doorman." So maybe it's most accurate to say this puzzle had a Challenging (for a Monday) NW corner, and a hyper-easy everything else.

  • 50A: Shoe material (LEATHER) — not that I care, but you don't usually see replicated letter strings as long as the one this answer shares with WEATHER (in UNDER THE WEATHER)
  • 8D: "___ Gotta Be Me" (Sammy Davis Jr.  song) (I'VE) — not sure why I'VE sounds too formal / grammatical to precede "Gotta," but it does. I GOTTA feels more natural. But a title's a title's a title.
  • 11D: Procedure for solving a mathematical problem (ALGORITHM) — not to be confused with the theoretical concept AL GORE RHYTHM. P.S. I have a mathematician friend, who is also a constructor friend, who teaches in NEWPORT NEWS. Here's the exciting proof.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:43 AM  

Yesterday we had over/under and today we have a high LOW. Someone will be happy to hear that there is a UTE in UTERO. Fitting that NORIEGA, who was convicted on eight counts of drug trafficking, sits atop it. Three very nice crosses: ORATE/EMOTE, LEATHER/REIN, and IDLE/UNDERTHEWEATHER.

So this puzzle is a little MORNING SHOW of its own.

Lewis 6:45 AM  

Oh, two more things:

1. I think PAP is a nice bonus answer to go along with NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS, and TRAFFIC for the morning show.
2. As your resident alphadoppeltotter, I am obligated to tell you that this puzzle has an unusually low double-letter count (4). Under five very rarely happens. Zero happened only once in the Shortz era.

pauer 7:08 AM  

A now, a word from our non-sponsors:

For easy xwords with a little zing, a little imagination, and a little spark, sign up for my "Piece of Cake Crosswords" campaign before 3:17pm CDT today. Kickstarter is all-or-nothing, and I'm already 84% funded with 9 hours to go! I'll be over here in the corner biting my nails, if you need me.

But seriously, here's a link to the latest update, which includes the PDF links for all the bonus puzzles I made throughout the campaign:

Give them a try, and if you find one ENVOI or RIAL, I'll eat my mousepad.

Glimmerglass 7:27 AM  

Speaking of tired, overdone themes, "The NYT puzzle is no longer the best" is tedius to read week after week after week. Yes, I agree that today's puzzle lacked "zing." Sure, a constructor could, at least in theory, make an easy puzzle that was entertaining enough for @Rex. He should let it go at that. Maybe he could include a link to a formulaic diatribe against the NYT puzzle editor. Then we could go there, or not, and @Rex could go on and say something new.

Norm 7:40 AM  

This was a nice little Monday puzzle. Just yesterday, Rex was okay with a repeated theme, but not today. Inconsistent a little?

webwinger 7:50 AM  

I agree this puzzle was perfectly OK, but can't take issue with OFL's complaints of mustiness despite being solidly in the target demographic myself. Maybe if OLDIES had been clued as music of the 90's and 00's...?

Unknown 7:56 AM  

I object to LEGOS. Plural of the building block is simply LEGO IMO.

chefbea 8:02 AM  

Easy fun Monday puzzle I solved while puzzle husband was watching the morning show.. Love Kale and Ragu

Unknown 8:10 AM  

I suppose that I should have solved @John Guzzetta's puzzle this morning rather than last evening. That way, it might have been appropriate to be SATED after my breakfast fare of news, traffics, weather, and sports.

This puzzle does pass the ACID test of having a chemically accurate clue.

Yesterday (Sunday, October 23), it was a pleasure to solve the New York Times diagramless puzzle by @Mary Lou Guizzo and @David Sternberg. Left-right symmetry with a seasonally appropriate theme and a great visual payoff.

I also enjoyed @Charles Deber's musical pun-filled masterpiece called "Humoresque" over at Newsday (edited by @Stanley Newman).

Today (Monday, October 24), a friend of mine who is well-known to this community has A Lot of Birthday Cake on One's Plate. Solve to find out who.

To anyone who has difficulty accessing any of the aforementioned puzzles, please contact me privately via e-mail, and I'll be happy to send along pdf's.

Finally, I would like to endorse @pauer's Kickstarter plea from 7:08 AM this morning ... I made a contribution last night and encouraged many of my friends to do likewise. Supporting each other's work makes us stronger together!

Unknown 8:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 8:32 AM  

Bit of dust in the ether: E MOTE
Low capacity network: E LITE

The only hard part was the last word in 58 -- but it couldn't be NEWS, so what else?

Nice shout-out to some of the A TEAM of commenters at 57A and 13D.

Is ODIN really a war god? Sincere question.

kitshef 8:33 AM  


@Alec Schwartz - you are technically correct (the best kind of correct).

This was a very nicely constructed puzzle, with no dreck, interesting themers, and I suspect low PPP. Or at least, low obscure PPP. MEL Gibson and MAO Zedong ought to be famous enough to be exempt from PPP classification.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

I had ROOTS at first for CUSPS. CUSPS in calculus are sharp turning points in a graph, so the function is not differentiable there; i.e., you cannot find the derivative of the function at that point. Making a reference to teeth, such as biscuspids, helps my students remember the term.

Dorothy Biggs 8:49 AM  

ENVOI, CUSPS, DARCY, and BIER don't seem to be "normal" Monday-level words. I don't know my ballad construction for sure, or teeth construction, or even coffin construction.

Finished in under my average, but it seemed to take longer.

FWIW and apropos of nothing, the downs were a lot easier overall than the acrosses.

Unknown 8:57 AM  

"Clean up the playroom!!! Your Lego are all over the floor!"?

Tita 8:57 AM  

Like @Lewis, I took PAP to be an integral part of the theme. In fact, I would argue that the first themer is downright incorrect. And the celeb panelists (can't call them journalists) often EMOTE, but if they do ORATE, it's merely to attain a new LOW in morning tv.

Thanks, @Lewis, for those pairings. Clever! you tell your 8 year old and her cousin to "go clean up your LEGO...every last one of them!"?

@GeorgeB my puzzle spoilers! I haven't done the diagramless yet!

Sure, the last-words-have-something-in-common theme is a very common one. But guessing what that thing is is the difference....and guessing if it is the first or the last word. That is part of growing the theme before reading the revealer, and the part that makes early-week puzzles for me.

Tita 8:59 AM  

... *grokking* the theme ...

GILL I. 9:04 AM  

I tried doing this puzzle last night while watching season 7 of "The Walking Dead." Guess which took precedence...!
Finished this morning...enjoyed it. SEWER SMOKER DETESTS ACID DRUG BIER NORIEGA...Another theme perhaps?
I like OLDIES.

ArtO 9:12 AM  

Couldn't disagree more with today's rating and critique. Thought there were many non-Monday answers (as noted by OFL) and liked the long responses. But, hey! I'm one of those oldies!

Nancy 9:28 AM  

Disagree with Rex and agree with @kitshef, @NCA Pres and @ArtO. A Monday with more crunch than usual and absolutely no dreck. And I even learned some stuff. NEWPORT NEWS is a city. It sure sounds a lot more like a newspaper. Molars have four CUSPS, whatever they are. As for the theme: I should point out that I watch no MORNING SHOWS at all. In the a.m., I require that my NEWS, WEATHER, TRAFFIC and SPORTS lie there passively in my newspaper in complete silence as I eat breakfast and have coffee. I am not ready for the sound of the human voice -- or any other sound, for that matter -- until approx. 40 minutes after the coffee has taken effect.

RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Hey All !
Killjoys who dislike me when I'm tripping? - SPOIL SPORTS DETESTS ACID ROO. :-D

Liked it, decent enough theme for a MonPuz. Agree with Rex on the LEATHER/WEATHER repeater string. Surprised Will let that through.

Disagree with Rex on the fill. Seemed decent enough. Light on the dreckness scale. All the threes (M&A's weejects) are actual words you know. No RRNs, no EELs or ASSes, no Directions(ENE, e.g.). And there's ROO, so it's not all bad! :-)

Anyone ever see the 80's movie TOP SECRET? Awesome spy spoof movie that has a lot of literal scenes. The Library Scene is something you have to see and figure out.

LEGOs my Eggos!

ahecht 9:41 AM  

LEGO (in all caps) is an adjective, not a noun, as in "Your LEGO® brand interlocking modular plastic construction bricks are all over the floor!"

jrstocker 9:53 AM  

I liked it. Tough to make a Monday that isn't a complete bore for an experienced solver, but I wasn't bored by this. Really liked all the theme answers.

Hungry Mother 9:55 AM  

I often tell my grandkids to pickup those LEGOS. Nice and easy start to the week. This is the only puzzle of the week that I try to solve less slowly.

QuasiMojo 10:02 AM  

I will not "roo" doing the puzzle today, even if it did remind me of the thousands of "smokers" who stand outside my neighboring building and inhale tar and nicotine until they are ashen in the face. But agree with OFL. This was a capable Monday, but needed a better twist. Perhaps playing off place names that contain another city such as "Newport" News. That would be more interesting that the pablum one finds on morning TV. Btw, Ella Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, VA.

Hartley70 10:17 AM  

I agree that this puzzle was on the easier side of easy, and yet I have to say that I found it interesting. I'm not sure how that makes sense.

NEWPORTNEWS wasn't my first thought, Norfolk was. I didn't know ENVOI. I paused for just a moment as I changed roots to CUSPS. I don't often think of BIER, and I've never smelled AFTA which reminds me of camera film for a CANON SLR.

There was a tiny bit of dreck but it was nicely balanced with the interesting theme. I didn't see where that theme was going until the reveal. PAP as a themer is a pretty swift catch, @Tita, @Lewis et al, because it's the drecky fill that surrounds TRAFFIC, WEATHER and NEWS on the MORNINGSHOW. You can make up your own mind about SPORTS.

I think this is a promising start to the week.

Carola 10:42 AM  

I was surprised at @Rex's write-up - I thought it was a really good Monday puzzle. The constructor found creative ways to give new meaning to the four MORNING SHOW components: a city for NEWS, non-vehicle TRAFFIC, a way of being UNDER THE WEATHER that doesn't involve standing in the rain or sunshine, and non-athletic SPORTS. The theme kept me guessing until the reveal, so the puzzle got points for that, too.

Joseph Michael 11:11 AM  

Rex, have a BIER and lighten up. Try to LEGO of that broken record about how the NYT isn't the world's greatest crossword anymore. It makes you sound like a SPOIL SPORT and only leaves me feeling UNDER THE WEATHER with guilt and confusion over why I enjoy most of these puzzles, including this one.

Thought this was a little more challenging than the usual Monday fare with entries like ENVOI, HIHAT, and ALGORITHM and was amazed to learn that NEWPORT NEWS is not something you read. Liked the simplicity of the theme and the clue for SMOKER.

So thanks, John Guzzetta, for a pleasant start to my Monday MORNING.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:23 AM  

I solved this in the optometrist's office, where I had the first appointment of the day so I thought things would be on time. Alas, no. I did the puz, read the whole rest of the Arts section, found I couldn't read any nook books because there was no wifi to download them on, and was reduced to playing mahjongg on my phone. I future I will make appointments on Thursdays and Fridays.

jae 11:29 AM  

Like @Rex I got to a rocky start in the NW ( not sure of CUSPS and did not know CANON from the clue) but once I got rolling I finished in the easy zone. That said, there are several answers that are on the tough side for a Mon ( hi @NCA Pres)...ALGORITHM , HI HAT, BIER, ENVOI, RIAL, LOU, HESS... Three of these I only know from doing a lot of crosswords.

Solid theme, smooth fill, liked it much more than @Rex did.

AskGina 11:30 AM  

@Rex, when my son was little but getting bigger, he was hanging onto a few certain toys to the point where his friends might've teased him about them if they'd found out. I remember saying to him, "You love Barney and your stuffy," (silently choking on the Barney), and that's ok." I didn't want him to feel bad about himself.

You're starting to make me feel bad about myself for still liking one of my favorite, albeit outdated, toys. Maybe, just a humble plea (humble having nothing to do with debasement), you could every now and then just offer some constructive criticism. At least on Mondays. It would be like a master class.

Mohair Sam 11:40 AM  

@Rex - "A puzzle made for people who wear AFTA and watch morning TV fare . . . " - Well I liked this one a lot, I never wear men's perfume, and I listen to "Mike and Mike" on ESPN radio every morning. So there.

But I think OFL does have a point, our puzzles sometimes seem more than a bit creaky. I'm sympathetic to Will Shortz' position however. And, as I said to @Z yesterday - I've got to believe he studies his market.

ALGORITHM can actually be counted as current because it was known only by mathematicians and programmers until recently. Now ALGORITHMs are running our lives more and more, and proving again what I learned when I first programmed many decades back: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

@webwinger - For reasons I don't understand retail stores insist on '50s and '60s music as their oldies. We had three sons roughly a decade apart in age, each of which came home from High School summer jobs in retail complaining that they were going nuts from that '50s and '60s Musak all day long.

@Gill I - Glenn. They took Glenn. At long last, have they no sense of decency. Glenn!

mathguy 12:06 PM  

A little bit of spark. Nice theme. ENVOI, CUSPS (I learned what they are), SMOKER, ALGORITHM. But drowned in a sea of mediocrity. And 22 Terrible Threes.

Just barely climbed out of D territory. C minus.

Unknown 12:07 PM  

I liked it. It didn't make me go "blechh".

Z 12:08 PM  

@kitshef - PPP* is never about PPP, it is about density of PPP. I started actually counting after one Saturday where I wrote that there were only 7 PPP answers and the actual count was something like 40% (and hence the wheelhouse/outhouse dichotomy). That puzzle caused several older solvers here to DNF a puzzle I found easy. Today's puzzle comes in at 24/76, just under my 33% standard for excessiveness.

@Mohair Sam - From yesterday, I'm not sure noting the kinds of puzzles that get the most complaints qualifies as market research. Assuming, though, that the NYT does market research I doubt that it helps. Market research tells you what is and what people think they want. Perhaps the best example today of why this leads to failure is Apple. Jobs had that ineffable quality called "vision," the ability to see not what people want, but what they will want. From the original iMac getting rid of the floppy drive to the new iPhones dumping the headphone jack you can find market experts spouting off about what horrible decisions these are. Shortz did this, too, with the NYTX. The question Rex keeps asking is, "can he do it again?" If he can't the NYTX risks becoming the equivalent of AOL.

Rex is right, better than "ambition" is "expectation." If you expect better you'll get better.

*PPP are answers that are Pop Culture, Product names, or other Proper nouns. Not Post Puzzle Puzzlers, a feature of the comments killed by complaints to Rex by people I don't know but who are forever on my "shit list."

GILL I. 12:13 PM  

@Mohair...........SOB... and they're not even following the comic book...and where is Carol?

Numinous 12:16 PM  

This took me longer than I think it should have though I did have some distractions. I knew ENVOI but had forgotten it. I think it was in a puzzle over a year ago. I dimly remember looking it up. I didn't want to believe that a SMOKER was to be seen outside a building here. Then, again, I didn't want to believe DADBLASTED was there yesterday.

Even though she's lacking a g I'm always happy to see Diana RIGg in a puzzle, she had M Appeal.

Thought the theme was reasonably good. The themers didn't give the thrust of the theme away at all. SHOW came to me before NEWS even crossed my mind. I haven't followed MORNING SHOWs since I was in elhi. Well not in, actually, more like when I was absent at home sick or just playing hookey. I don't watch evening NEWS either, not since I returned from Australia in the seventies. I was a film editor in TV news in Australia and had a lot of respect for television journalism. When I got back to the U. S. I found the evening gossip shows completely inane.

I agree there were some words like ENVOI and possibly BIER that might be difficult for a Monday. Mondays are supposed to be easy, after all, but not that easy. Regardless of what @Rex thinks, the NYT XW is not the TV Guide. The puzzle that is supposed to be The Best should make one think a little otherwise "fill in the blanks" gets to be more like "connect the (numbered) dots". There should be a sense of having achieved something upon completion of a puzzle even if it's having dug deep to find long forgotten words or if it's learning a few new ones. This felt like a perfectly adequate Monday puzzle to me.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

I keep reading that HRC has a 93% chance of winning, which is heartening to me. Then I read that 93% is the "make rate" for a chip-shot field goal, and am slightly less heartened, but still optimistic. Then I both solve this puzzle and watch the end of last night's Seahawks/Cardinals game and am full of despair. For everything.

Alan_S. 12:44 PM  

Had Arizona -1 last night. Agree that if 93% wasn't enough to secure a win in a football game it is certainly a scary thought in this election. Perish the thought!

kitshef 12:49 PM  

@Roo Monster - TOP SECRET is one of my ten favorite movies of all time!

puzzle hoarder 1:07 PM  

That neither @Rex nor @jae are familiar with the term CUSP is a perfect example of how even the most experienced solvers can have these odd gaps in their knowledge base. Other than SMOKERS that whole NW corner could have gone in instantly. I write slow and the "doorman" thing threw me off too. I imagine @Rex would have had a record Monday as this one at 7:12 may be one for me. Even on Mondays I've never cracked 7 minutes even on a Monday as I read and print slowly. I love those capital Es and refuse to use the lower case just to save time.
What makes the NYT puzzle the best for me is the range of their references, even on a Monday. Maybe it's an eastcoast chain but HESS is odd to me. An interesting bit of trivia it's namesake Leon Hess was George Patton's logistics officer or some such in WWII. Another thing I learned today is despite its 13 previous appearances in the Shortz era I've overlooked ENVOI. @Hartley70 you probably know this but AFTA is reminding you of AGFA.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

From learning here that LEGO is both the singular and the plural, I had to chuckle at the thought of some child picking up "one" LEGO upon being ordered to clean up by someone using the grammatically correct version. Good luck with that!

I did get a flashback to yesterday's puzzle when I saw UNDER THE WEATHER, but it was not an indicator of today's theme, a theme I found fun and not dated at all.

SMOKER at 5D - I had a friend tell me this weekend that she has broken her habit of becoming one of those loiterers on her workbreaks, which has led her to decrease her intake by about 80-90% per day - but only on work days. On the weekends, she's only down to 50%. Still, that's progress. Me, I just hold my breath when running the SMOKER gantlet.

Hand up for "rootS" before CUSPS; otherwise a very typical Monday puzzle, thanks JG.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

"And, increasingly, not a lot of solvers."

Says who?

" ...maybe they should stop calling themselves the "best.""

Where or when do they do this?

Nutty time here.


Z 1:46 PM  

@Brad and other doubters - Use the google machine to search for "gold standard" and "crossword puzzle." Or go back a couple of days and check out the links I provided. Do you really think Rex is making that up?

@Mohair Sam - Your comment today posted while I was typing. Makes my comment look a little inconsiderate, which wasn't my intent.

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Prisons and jails are not the same thing.

Larry Gilstrap 2:44 PM  

I enjoyed this Monday puzzle and thought the themers covered the spectrum of useful morning information. I have traditionally started my morning by turning on the radio to assure myself that the world has not been destroyed and "creeps in this petty pace from day to day." I guess TRAFFIC information on TV programs is beneficial to some folks, I'm just not sure how.

I was glad to see that animal services are going for "ADOPTIONS," rather than "rescues," which seems a bit of a grandiose term, unless it involves a helicopter. Although, the dog or cat involved probably sees it as an heroic act.

In my part of the world HESS makes good, affordable wine. Better to step on LEGOS than a toy truck, I imagine.

Potential nit: as clued 37D "Stats for sluggers" deserves the plural answer RBIS, although many of us have struggled to squelch the old habit of pluralizing "Runs Batted In." In the last game of the season, Mike Trout hit a run-scoring single to right field giving him 100 RBI for the season. Still clanks a little in my ear.

Z 2:55 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap - It's Attorneys General but AGs, Runs Batted In but RBIs. Logically, when abbreviating it is hard to determine if we are talking about only that last RBI or all 100 RBIs without that S. I don't know if this is a rule in any style book, but it is how people use the language.

Jonathan 2:58 PM  

Ok, I really feel someone has to come in and defend Rex here. I am not a particularly strong solver-- Wednesday is where I usually stop-- but even I have noticed the marked decline in quality over the past couple years (which is when I started). And there seems to have been a particularly precipitous drop since the beginning of fall. They're just joyless, now-- nothing to bring a smile to one's face. Snark on, Rex, until the puzzles merit otherwise.

Jonathan 3:02 PM  

Furthermore, not to state the obvious, but if you don't like what he has to say, YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ IT. It's his blog!

Mohair Sam 3:23 PM  

@Z - Never a problem, I know you too well. I was actually chuckling picturing our man Will as the next Steve Jobs presenting a reinvented crossword puzzle at the NYT annual meeting.

@Gill I - The last bad guys who forgot about sweet old Carol paid a hefty price. It may take a season or two, but Negan better watch his back.

Nancy 3:30 PM  

@Great Falls River (11:23) -- I have learned through long waits just like yours never to make a doctor's appointment on a Monday. I have also learned that, if at all possible, you should never call a doctor's office on a Monday either. (Nor an airline or an insurance company, for that matter.)

@OISK and @George B (from yesterday) -- I also loved the Diagramless from Sunday, but I wasn't as smart as you were. In order to solve it, I had to look up 19A. It was absolutely key and I absolutely didn't know it. (Since it's PPP, I don't feel all that guilty about it.) Once I had that answer, however, the whole thing -- which had been giving me fits -- fell like a house of cards.

Pdxrains 3:31 PM  

No way. Multiple lego blocks are legos. Coloquially that is

Anonymous 6:19 PM  

Correct; jails are for persons who have not been convicted of a crime (waiting for bail or preliminary hearing) or persons who have been convicted of a crime but whose sentence is less than one year. Most people who have to serve time would prefer prison because there are at least some activities and/or work, training etc. Jail is just a holding place where everyone sits around waiting for the time to pass.

Proud Mamma 6:25 PM  

Meh. Yawn.

Anonymous 6:38 PM  

L -- @Brad and other doubters - Use the google machine to search for "gold standard" and "crossword puzzle." Or go back a couple of days and check out the links I provided. Do you really think Rex is making that up?

Okay, I googled. Nothing came up about the New York Times calling itself "the best." Any other suggestions?

Z 7:24 PM  

Uh - get better at googling?

Warren Howie Hughes 8:39 PM  

Let's get RIAL here,AFTA all is said and done,this Monday offering from the mind of John Guzzetta,I honestly WELT it passed the ACID TEST with flying colors! Now ONTO Tuesday! Oh, BTW, HALE KALE!!!

The Bruce Dickinson 8:40 PM  

I've got a fever and the only cure is more Annabel...on Mondays!!

Larry Gilstrap 9:12 PM  

@Z I listen to the Buster Olney baseball podcast regularly which features in-depth interviews with players, management, and journalists and never hear RBIs used in any context, always the singular. The puzzle was clued for the plural "stats." Is that a POC?

Anonymous 9:33 PM  

I see the ELITE being put into JAILS for a TOPSCRET plan CHAIRED by someone who EMOTEd a plan to spread PAP by "ducking" by being "trolls" and just going into the SEWER intentionally causing fights she blames on others. I'VE seen she can ORATE about her opponent being LOW, try to justify fainting by having JETLAG, and not using the IRS to attack opponents. But CNN and the rest of the left leaning media are doing their best to RIG the election. INASECOND, it is proved that the Clinton Foundation is just their personal ATM. Her lust for power and cash will never be SATED. MAO and NORIEGA would be proud!
When she loses, don't be SPOILSPORTS. OLE!
I really loved this puzzle!!!

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.
William F. Buckley

Which will be deleted 1st?

Z 10:40 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap - I was not prescribing what is correct, just describing how usage seems to be working and offering a plausible explanation for why. I don't listen to Buster Olney - what small doses of him I get already on ESPN more than satisfy whatever curiosity I might have about his opinions* - but I'm not surprised that a learned reporter would not use the S.

As for POC - I didn't coin this but I'll answer anyway. It isn't the clues but the answers that are Plurals Of Convenience, but of course the clues will signal the plural answer needed. To my way of thinking RBIS is not a POC because you could not replace it with a black square. CUSPS, on the other hand, is a POC because changing that S to a black square would not change the word count. EMTS and YDS are a little different because changing the S to a black square would leave a 2-letter word, verboten in NYT puzzles. So I would argue their are three levels of POCs, the non-POC plurals that are used because Esses are useful letters (RBIS), then those that are used to make three letter words, and then, the worst, those that are used to maintain symmetry only. @Anoa Bob may have other thoughts.

*People who make a living writing and commenting on baseball were forever assigned to purgatory by me in 1987. It takes but one ill conceived thought for me to decide to mostly ignore them forever. It is an impossibly high standard, but voting for George Bell over Alan Trammell for MVP convinced me that the whole lot of them understand baseball about as well as the average drunk in the bleachers at Wrigley without bringing anywhere near the same level of joy.

Anonymous 10:51 PM  

Newport News was a gimme. The USS Newport News, named for the city, rotated duty as the flag ship of the Sixth Fleet with her sister ships, Des Moines and Salem. Note all are named for cities. My dad served on admiral staff on these ships. The Newport News was refit and served in Vietnam to provide shore bombardment, appropriate to her nickname "Big Thunder".

Mohair Sam 11:09 PM  

@Z - I'm in total agreement about your 10:40 comment under the asterisk as it relates to all sports analysts. Quality color guys who've played the game give us insight - Harold Reynolds telling us to watch how Daniel Murphy "tracked" a first pitch just before he homered being a prime example. But these Buster Olney types know little more than the average fan. Last year an Eagles analyst who is the Hall of Fame was asked before the season who was the second best team in the NFC East. He responded: "The Eagles' second team." They finished 7-9. I could go on for hours.

But . . . I just had to comment on your Bell over Trammell remark. First, I agree. But secondly, man, do you Tiger fans hold a grudge!

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

@Anon 10:51
Go Navy! Been to the Arizona Memorial twice. Took the kids the 2nd time. Also saw Mighty Mo' on that trip. You guys have my deepest respect. Thank you for you and any family service.

Personal, but "Fight On 'SC" as well!

Quit implying that Steve Bartman was just an "average drunk". He was just a very unlucky fan not knowing an outfielder could jump that high and didn't realize the situation. I'm sure you would have wanted that souvenir as well. Do what Scrooge did and let your heart grow. Chicago is in the series. Be happy, if you can. BTW-yes, the Dodgers are out, but Gibson's homer in '88 is more historic until you finish the Series. Just sayin'.

Unknown 6:07 AM  

"If it is unreasonable of me to keep asking the NYT to be the best, then maybe they should stop calling themselves the "best." That way no fraud, no unrealistic expectations."

Fraud?? Really?? Given that "best" is completely subjective and puffery (I doubt you know the term as it applies to marketing, Rex, so look it up) is completely allowed in the US, that statement is outrageous.

Speaking of outrageous, not to mention hypocritical and tiresome, you complain about unimaginative fill all the time. Pot, kettles, black anyone?

Burma Shave 10:14 AM  


The ATEAM is ONTO a TOPSECRET, of sorts –
that in the MORNINGSHOW ANNE wearing LEATHER.


Diana,LIW 11:28 AM  

@Spacey - I commented on your b-boy comment yesterday (Sun 11/20) in case you're interested.

Lady Di

rondo 11:31 AM  

Oh, 1a not a gimme, so we must complain. That answer gave this puz immediate teeth (har). Coherent theme with a bunch of longish downs to cross them; what else do you want to start the week? Picked up the theme (and pace) after DRUGTRAFFIC.

@David Krost – re: puffery. Nail on the head, probably on at least two counts. Puffery is one of the first things a One-l (1-ell) will learn in Contracts I as it relates to marketing and the commercial code. Given OFL’s oft time lack of knowledge in things seemingly in his own field, I suspect the term eludes him.

Once again OLE is not clued as “Sven pal”. The day it is, I’ll buy all of you a BIER.

No doubt about yeah baby ANNE Hathaway, INASECOND.

A little high on the 3 count, but with the theme I hardly noticed. Decent puz that was finished in a JIF.

fakt chekker 12:01 PM  

@anon 1:22(Brad?) and 6:38 - you must not know how to google. From the NYT Crossword page (a 5 second search):
"Ready for a challenge? The New York Times Crossword, edited by Will Shortz, offers the best word puzzles on the planet."

Couldn't be much clearer.

spacecraft 12:50 PM  

Alas, Fearless One, no rappers and no tech. So, not "modern." But to pan this puzzle on that rather narrow criterion is unfair. Yes, there is some overused fill--and yes, the abundance of threes is going to produce a few abbrs., but what's wrong with those nines in the NE/SW? Are they--what, stale? Not IMO; they're fine. Just 'cause you don't like OLDIES...

A word about ADOPTIONS, as applied to pets. Now, I love animals, would never mistreat one and all that. But I'm careful not to anthropomorphize them. ADOPTION is a human term; you don't go to the shelter and "adopt" a pet, you buy one. Okay, it's not "for sale" in so many words, but you have to pay the spay/neuter fee. A rose by any other name. Animals, as cute and loving as they are, are NOT people.

Rantlet over. I think it's a good puzzle, certainly built with more care than that piece of garbage yesterday. I second the nomination of the stunning ANNE for DOD; all in favor; the ayes have it. Birdie.

leftcoastTAM 2:02 PM  

On the harder, not easier, side of Monday.

False start by throwing roots/ricoh into the NW corner before fixing with CUSPS/CANON. Another slip was INAminute before INASECOND, and used several crosses before seeing ALGORITHMS.

HIHAT makes me think of Fred Astaire movies ("Top Hat") instead of cymbal pedals. Easy crosses to the rescue, but slower solve than usual on Monday.

Like a wake-up call morning after JETLAGged trip. In this case, after a long Thanksgiving weekend.

Diana,LIW 2:13 PM  

Easy enuf with a sprinkling of crunch.

Things you wouldn't see 30 years ago: ANNE Hathaway, Anderson Cooper, CNN in its current ubiquity for that matter, IMO IMO, PowerShot cameras, SMOKERs standing outside of buildings (unless you, like I, worked in a hospital - for children), GPS, and The Passion of the Christ. KALE and LEGOS certainly existed, but not in their current popularity. KALE used to just sit around under fish in the deli section, now it's in everything from chips to ice cream.

But I admit, the earth did TILT on its axis. And Macy's was having a sale. Some things are timeless.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 2:57 PM  

Nice sprightly little Monday puzzle. Had more going for it than many Mondays, and I learned ENVOI, so there's that. 17A caused me to wonder if the daily is called NEWPORT NEWS News. Actually, it was interesting to know there is a town called NEWPORT NEWS, although I wonder why.

Lots of 3's, but not a wincer among them, and enough longer answers, as well as the themers, to give this effort punch. I didn't see what the revealer might be until I got it.

Someone up there wondered if it was kosher to have WEATHER and LEATHER in the same puzzle. Would that also exclude "feather" and "heather"? Discuss.

Liked it. Gotta go.

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