1940s British guns / MON 12-5-16 / Are able, biblically / Native Israelis / One-named R&B singer who won a Grammy for his 2014 album "Black Messiah"

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy finals season! (It's Annabel Monday again. )

Constructor: NED WHITE

Relative difficulty: HARD (for a Monday, but still, whew!)

THEME: HEAD TO TOE — Theme answers are in the form of a phrase starting with a body part, beginning with HAIR and going all the way down to ANKLE. (They also all end in "er.")

Theme answers:
  • HAIR RAISER (17A: Something scary)
  • NECK SNAPPER (27A: It grabs one's attention)
  • CHEST BEATER (38A: Boastful sort)
  • KNEE SLAPPER (31A: Really good joke)
  • ANKLE BITER (61A: Rug rat)

Word of the Day: WORD (CLUE) —
Aga Khan (Persianآقاخان‎‎; also transliterated as Aqa Khan and Agha Khan[1]) is a name used by the Imam of the Nizari Ismailis. The current user of the name is Shah Karim who is the 49th Imam (1957–present), Prince Shah Karim Al Husseini Aga Khan IV (b. 1936)..
The title is made up of the titles agha and khan. The Turkish "agha" is "aqa" (Āqā) in Persian. The word "agha" comes from the Old Turkic and Mongolian "aqa", meaning "elder brother",[2][3] and "khan" means king, ruler in Turkic and Mongolian languages.[4]
 Chert! So pretty <3
• • •
Whew, this one was seriously a toughie for me!! Not only were some of the clues a little weird (I knew NARCOTIC, but how is OTIC a suffix?), many new-to-me words (however embarrassing that may be). AMPERE? ABNER? And what the heck is a CERT? Maybe those of you from a different generation can fill me in on that one - the only mints I eat are Mentos and Lifesavers. Maybe it's this geology class I'm taking, but I just kept thinking of CHERT. Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that Ned White is a bit of a techie...who else calls a mouse or keyboard PERIPHERALS?

The theme was pretty fun, although some of the phrases were definitely a bit of a stretch - NECK SNAPPER? I had NECK TURNER there for the longest time because at least it sounded more like HEAD TURNER, which is an actual saying that people actually say! It was still cool though. I didn't even notice that it went down from head to ankles until my mom pointed it out!

  • EMO (64A: Rock genre) — Ahhh, just this clue takes me back to middle school. I always wanted to shop at renowned EMO store Hot Topic, but I could never afford any of the ridiculously expensive corsets or black lipstick or whatever else it was they sold, because I was twelve. I guess that just gave me one more thing to be EMO about. *Evanescence songs playing in the distance*
  • FILL (58D: Complete, as a crossword grid) — Fourth-wall humor in a crossword puzzle! Love it!
  • SABRAS (47A: Native Israelis) — My mother was VERY offended that I didn't get this clue right away. In my defense, it's kind of an obscure word? Maybe?
  • REM (20A: Rock band fronted by Michael Stipe) — Please listen to this. Trust me.
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


chefwen 1:11 AM  

Wow, Annabel, it MUST be an age thing. I was going to start out by saying, one would really have to search high and low to find an easier puzzle than this. The only thing I didn't know was the DANGELO guy, turned out I didn't need to know him, he filled in by himself.

Wish I knew how to embed, I would share that obnoxious CERTS commercial with Annabel. I'm sure she would appreciate it.

Love the term ANKLE BITER. Don't love the fact that my adorable little kitty likes to occasionally partake in the sport. I keep a spray water bottle handy for such occasions. Now I just have to show it to her and she takes to the hills.

Karl Ronn 1:39 AM  

Surprised by elbow at the very bottom. It is a body part out of order even if it doesn't fit the two word formula.

Anoa Bob 1:49 AM  

NECK SNAPPER sounds gruesome. With its clue "It grabs one's attention", there's a gallows humor feel to it.

TORCH BEARER sure looks like it's trying to join the theme party.

jae 2:02 AM  

On the tough side for me too. Spelled PERIPHERALS wrong, @chefwen did not know DANGELO, had SABReS at first (hockey anyone?)...

Solid Mon. theme, not much dreck, liked it.

Anonymous 3:16 AM  

A natick with Kerr and Albee?

aging soprano 3:25 AM  

Why was your mother offended that you didn't know what a Sabra is. Is she a Sabra? Sabra is actually a cactus fruit. I also got a kick out of your not knowing certs. It's a breath mint for us old people who suffer from heartburn and such.Glad it isn't on your radar.
Aging soprano suffering from head cold; has turned into an aging alto.

Unknown 3:39 AM  

My vote for music video today is for Busta Rhymes, "Woo Hah!! (Got You All In Check)": "I got that head-nod $h!* that make you break your neck." Love the weird, angular piano line in the background. Love the all-so-90s Hype Williams fish-eye lens and bright colors video.

Speaking of the 90s, I love me some D'ANGELO. That's a name that I will *always* welcome in a grid.

This is one of those themes that is almost right. Solid answers: HAIR RAISER, KNEE SLAPPER, and ANKLE BITER. Wobbly answers: NECK SNAPPER and CHEST BEATER. My brain's dictionary has "beat your chest" or "chest thumper" but not "chest beater". It also has "head turner" or "rubber necker" but not "neck snapper."

The theme answers are almost right and that stupid almost eats away at my brain and causes me to spend the better part of an hour trying to come up with a better set. Of course, there most likely isn't a better set of theme answers (or the constructor would have found them), but my brain doesn't know this. I did come up with STOMACH TURNER, NAVEL GAZER, and BELLY ACHER, but the first two aren't quite right and the last is an even number of letters and wouldn't fit in the center of a 15x15 grid.

Complete tangent. For years, a small part of my brain was bothered by an obvious impossibility. Imagine a square with diagonal lines connecting the opposite corners—that is, a square with an X in it. This cannot be drawn in a single stroke, but part of my brain kept trying to do it. It came as an enormous relief one day in college when, in line at a cafeteria, I suddenly realized that it can be done if you think in three dimensions. Draw the square on a cylinder (or, as I did then and there, a paper cup) and have one set of opposite corners wrap around and touch! Cheating, yes, but it came as an enormous relief to my brain. I still have that paper cup.

SABRAS crossing D'ANGELO and LAHORE is tough for a Monday. UPTILTS and -OTIC aren't things in my book. I did like having TWO LANE and ONE HIT on the same line. Liked PERIPHERALS, TORCH BEARER, and ASK AWAY.

Unknown 3:55 AM  

P.S. Thank you, @Lewis and others, for your comments yesterday. I've always found it very easy to be critical and harsh—oh, how I do enjoy abusing my critical faculties by overanalyzing minutiae—but I try to restrain my worst tendencies and avoid outright nastiness. It feels good to learn that I've been at least somewhat successful in this.

aging soprano 4:01 AM  

So thinking of these clues for you crossword writers:
Aging soprano- ALTO
Soprano with a head cold-TENOR
Bald Soprano- PLAY
Mafia Soprano-TONY
Blushing Soprano-COLORATURA

aging soprano 4:02 AM  

So thinking of these clues for you crossword writers:
Aging soprano- ALTO
Soprano with a head cold-TENOR
Bald Soprano- PLAY
Mafia Soprano-TONY
Blushing Soprano-COLORATURA

Loren Muse Smith 4:04 AM  

Hey, Annabel! I'm with @chefwen - for me this wasn't the ass-kicker you found it to be. Who knew there were so many expressions with body parts? Cool that Ned went from top to bottom in order. And you can see all the body parts. So no heart-breaker or brain-teaser. (or gut-clencher)

@Tita – AGA and BRAS jumped out at me.

Here's that commercial, @chefwen.

@Karl Ronn - I liked ELBOW there at the end. ELBOW-bender. Hah. How 'bout a little Bloody Mary? I need an eye-opener, man.

Nice to have TORCH BEARER and TORINO sharing the grid.

I would've liked TONGUE TWISTER first, but that's a 13.

For the head-turner one, my first thought was eye-catcher. I also had "trade up" before TRADE IN. That would've been three UPs, though.

@Martin A – I noticed that two themers describe the person (CHEST BEATER and ANKLE BITER) and the other three describe the event. But with 2/3, it didn't bother me at all. But I don't think that's what's bugging you. I agree, NECK SNAPPER is the biggest stretch, but CHEST BEATER is totally in my language.

I loved this theme, Ned! Easy for me, too, even if I'm morphing into a bit of a mouth-breather.

aging soprano 4:22 AM  

Soprano Quintet-HIGH FIVE!

aging soprano 4:27 AM  

Skinny Soprano-MEZZO.
OKOK. No more. I promise

John Child 4:53 AM  

NECK SNAPPER is not a real thing, IMO. Shouldn't HAIR... be head (something?) Banger? Turner? I'm amazed that ELBOW made the cut in a puzzle whose theme is body parts.

@Martin: I would visit a blog you wrote to hear your sometimes fussy but always intelligent comments.

chefwen 5:07 AM  

@Loren - Thanks for the commercial. Everyone needs to see that once in their lifetime, and only once.

Charles Flaster 5:12 AM  

Liked Annabel's review and wish her good luck on finals. I knew CERTS would be a stopper for the younger set.
My only writeover was DRAT for Darn.
Favorite clue was ONE HIT ( Nolan Ryan ?).
Other possible themers:


Thanks AT and NW

GILL I. 5:17 AM  

And then we have a RAISER a SNAPPER a BEATER and a BITER. Are those turtles?
Nice Monday puzzle - a tad more difficult than usual. I had to pause at DANGELO and SLOANE.
Poor HOBO. They get no respect. I guess it comes from "homeless boy." They get thrown in with the Tramps who work only when forced to and a Bum who doesn't work at all. The Hobo was the travelling worker of America. Today we call them "illegals" - the ones who pick our fruits.
I knew a homeless woman nicknamed "fur" who slept under California Blankets.
@Martin A...Thanks for the DANGELO. I didn't know him but he certainly has a fine voice. Won't forget his name thanks to you.
@Annabel...Your the same age as my niece (I think)...She's a sophomore at Boston U and perpetually tired. When she visits, we let her sleep in for about two days because when she wakes up she's this delightful ball of fire. She gives me TREBLE UPTILTS. Thanks for making "first" Mondays fun to read.

Leapfinger 5:23 AM  

Well, ALBEE a monkey's uncle! I'm just back from TWOLANE, Mississipp and this was ONEHIT after another! Nice to have an appreciative Annabel report; I also liked the 'Worries', 'No worries' pair; no TREBLE there at all.

MAT NECKSNAPPER reminded me of my old friend Max Headroomer, and it was wonderful how the SERENA clue had me wonder about the playwright Tennis's Williams' sisters. Almost went to TORoNtO for the '06 Olympics.

This is the kind of theme that's an irresistible invitation [I see I'm not alone there, eh?], and I bet that Ned White could've stuffed a whole Sunday grid full. Going cephalad to caudad and on down, my list of (body part) + (verb) + er: (I leave letter-count issues to the pros):


My dear little Mamma taught me to neither a hippointer nor a fingerpointer be, and I'd have to be a real sidewinder to ignore that.

@Annabel, PERIPHERALS in my world are nerves, so there's a variety of techie nerds,
@Soprano, I liked the Bald variety; hope you aren't so afflicted.

Happy Monday, you lot.

Liz Glass 5:33 AM  

I wasn't offended. I'm just a Jewish mother who wants her money back from 7 years of Hebrew school. Carry on.

Leapfinger 5:43 AM  

@Martin A, develop some ear problem and OTIC drops right into your vocabulary. As a suffix, there's mitOTIC, meiOTIC and a generous list of others.
Interesting about that impossible X in a box figure, partly because drawing the same with a 'roof' on it in an unbroken line was a trick I learned when I was five. So you still have that paper cup? I can relate to that, but hope it wasn't too many years ago you were in college.

Random Passerby 5:56 AM  

Necksnapping was the most humane way to dispatch lab mice when the time came. Took one second and two fingers, and yes, the THUMB snapped up.

Nobody's offended by the rather risque activity of knees-lapping?

Lewis 5:58 AM  

Very catchy theme -- already people have been building on it. Bunch of whippersnappers here. And never done before! Once again, something that seems so obvious, a constructor has pulled out of the air and brought to us. And because Ned was the first to come up with it, he deserves serious props.

In the puzzle we not only have a theme-echoing TORCHBEARER, but, as I read from top to bottom, I see there's also an ABE POKER. Nice to have a little bite in the puzzle as well -- as Annabel has attested -- to give newer solvers a taste of where things are heading. Also nice to have a pretty clean grid.

By the way, don't neglect the mini-puzzle. It has a cool theme, and for just a moment, may be a head scratcher.

But today's puzzle was a terrific Monday, one I'm glad that Will didn't keep -- and I'm not theming here -- on the back burner.

Lewis 6:01 AM  

@nancy -- Thank you! Nice to learn that The Bald Soprano was Ionesco's first play!

Random Passerby 6:26 AM  

Okay @Lewis, unless you know something more about @Aging Soprano, that (for a change ;D) wasn't Nancy.

Unknown 6:42 AM  

Wow, it's still the wee hours, and already so many fun and thoughtful comments. Congratulations to my "definitely not a techie" friend @Ned White who got all those body parts in anatomically correct order, and good luck with Finals, @Annabel.

To @Annebel's Mom, I do hope you get your refund on all those years of Hebrew school (my younger brother is a SABRA). To @AgingSoprano, contact me off-Rex and let's see what we can do with your theme.

Hartley70 6:49 AM  

This puzzle must have jumped the line because "Miss SLOANE" has just hit the theaters here. Combine that topicality with a CERTS commercial and here's a puzzle for all age groups. Nice one, Ned!

For a Monday, I did not find this super easy. HAIRRAISER was a quick entry into the theme, but the remaining theme answers made me hesitate a bit. I enjoyed the progression down the body.

I wasn't familiar with D'ANGELO and wouldn't have thought to put an apostrophe there without @MartinA. I was imagining a fellow named Dan Gelo on the marquee. I cracked myself up with that one.

Hebrew School not withstanding, Annabel, I could be wrong (see above), but it seems to me that SABRA was once in more common usage than it is today. I knew it, but I haven't seen or heard it in a while.

aging soprano 7:00 AM  

Good thing you didn't go to Toronto to see the 2006 winter Olympics, because you wouldn't have found them there.

aging soprano 7:02 AM  

When Annabel visits Isreal she can look me up and I will treat her to a Sabra, if they are in season.

pauer 7:07 AM  

If you're tired of -OTIC/STENS/AGA/ECASH/ROI/etc. in your "easy" puzzles, come over to patrickspuzzles dot com slash cake to join "Piece of Cake Crosswords," my weekly subscription-based xword. Puz #6, "Out on a Limb," was sent to 420 subscribers just a few minutes ago.

Andrew Goodridge 7:24 AM  

UPTILTS is not a word that I have ever, ever heard anyone use on a film or TV set. Ever. I'll let a lot slide from most puzzles, but that was just jarring.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Very, very easy.

ANKLE BITER and KNEE SLAPPER are excellent.

CHEST BEATER is iffy. I've heard CHEST BEATing, and it is possible I've heard someone turn that into BEATER, but I doubt it. If this had been the worst themer, I'd be OK with it. But...

HAIR RAISER is a little weaker. HAIR RAISing is common. RAISER is never heard in the wild.

Then there's NECK SNAPPER. A completely made up thing, just for the sake of filling a grid (with OTIC and CANST and PETERI as results).

Guard LLAMAs are often added to flocks of sheep as defense against predators. Next time you drive past a flock of sheep, see if you can spot a LLAMA in the crowd.

Tim Pierce 7:26 AM  

Not a brain killer for me, but certainly a bit harder than a typical Monday. Slowed up here by NECKSNAPPER, which I refuse to agree is A Thing, by SABRAS / DANGELO / SLOANE, none of which were familiar to me. SABRAS I know only as a brand of hummus, I'm embarrassed to say, so at least I was able to guess that to fill out the clue.

Hungry Mother 7:33 AM  

Not difficult for this geezer, but way slower than the usual Monday.

evil doug 7:42 AM  

Not familiar with SABRA, except the many hot dog carts in NYC which I now presume sell kosher franks.

chefbea 7:49 AM  

Fun easy Monday for this older person. @Loren thanks for the certs commercial!! Use to eat those, now it's tic-tacs.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  


I seem to have dragged TWOLANE across the state line from Louisiana to Mississipp. I must have conflated TWOLANE with TWOpillow. Still having my problems with US geography, it seems.

Would not bring this up but for @Random Passerby's observation, but my experience in a past incarnation agrees that neck-snapping is more humane in that setting than, say, questionable technique with a guillotine. TMI, perhaps, before breakfast, but those efforts yielded the low-dose BC pills. What strange skills one develops in the lab...


Gregory Papalexis 8:03 AM  

The Hot Dogs in most NYC carts are Sabretts:"The Sabrett company got its name in 1926 when its two co-founders wanted to call it the Sabre Meat Company, only to find that another firm was already using the name.

"So the two owners said, 'We're a small company, so we'll call ourselves Sabre-ette, which soon became Sabrett," said the company's new president, Boyd Adelman."

Sabra was mentioned in this recent NYT Book Review: "But Dr. Kahneman arrived in Jerusalem as a shy adolescent, a refugee from France, where he’d barely survived the Nazis; Dr. Tversky was a “swaggering Sabra,” or native of Israel. Dr. Kahneman, particularly in the beginning of his career, was pessimistic, moody and profoundly insecure (“like Woody Allen, without the humor,” declares a colleague; oof)."

Dorothy Biggs 8:10 AM  

I'll add "footstomper" to the list of might've beens...or should've beens to replace HEADSNAPPER and/or CHESTBEATER. I'm far more familiar with "wife beater," that white tank top undershirt.

CERTS with Retsin™! They're two :click: two :click: two mints in one!

This puzzle and Annabel's review might be Exhibit A in Rex's case that the NYT puzzles skew old. CERTS and ABNER...how or why should anyone under 30 know what those are?

AMPERE OTOH, well, I got nothing there. Annabel...you're on your own.

Personally I found the SW corner slightly HAIRRAISING. SABRAS crossing DANGELO was a little trickier than normal for a Monday.


thfenn 8:45 AM  

Nice easy Monday, so maybe it's an age thing. Very easy for me, which I don't get to say often. One pass through all the acrosses, one pass through all the downs, repeat, fill in a few blanks, and done. very gratifying. still takes me 9 minutes to do that so I'll never ever get the times others post here, but as I've learned, not going to chase that. No googling, no write-overs, under 10 minutes, very happy. Didn't know DANGELO but today got lots of answers filled without needing the clues...

My only 'don't really like that' feeling came with ANKLEBITER. Rug Rat is, or was, sort of an affectionate way to refer to your, or a friends' or sibling's, younger children. Or it could refer to somewhat annoying kids I suppose. But not really to animals, and the ANKLEBITER as the answer feels a little more, what, disturbing maybe. Like little rats actually biting your ankles. Come to think of it, NECKSNAPPER is a tad gruesome too.

But today's was a SNAP, so all good...

L 9:04 AM  

Haha! I sent my son on Birthright last year. Best experience ever. All that Hebrew school will come back in a flash.

Vanessa 9:09 AM  

I guess at 30, I'm just the right age for this puzzle, because I knew D'ANGELO and my mom always had CERTS in her pocketbook.

NECKSNAPPER doesn't feel like a real thing to me either, and is quite a gruesome image, at that.

L 9:10 AM  

Neck snapper is not a thing. And I cant believe Certs are now obscure!

Annabel, I have to laugh at your REM clip choice. My husband isn't into REM and he HATES that song in particular. He does the most hilarious impression of singing it in the most possibly boring tone. When our son's class chose to sing Stand in a school concert one year, he plotzed while our son was laughing the whole time. For the record, I mostly love REM - they were a big deal when we were in college.

AZPETE 9:15 AM  

SABRA is a brand of hummus.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

"If you're tired of -OTIC/STENS/AGA/ECASH/ROI/etc. in your "easy" puzzles, come over to patrickspuzzles dot com slash cake to join"

Attacking a fellow constructor's work to sell one's subscription puzzles?

Not much of which to be proud in such a distasteful practice.

seanm 9:20 AM  

a little harder than a normal monday, principally because of a couple of rough (for a monday) crosses. ALBEE/KERR is not a monday cross IMO. both SABRA and DANGELO were woes for me as well, though i think that cross pretty much has to be an A which makes it better.

Lewis 9:27 AM  

@random passerby -- Thank you for the correction -- @agingsoprano, my apologies, credit goes to you!

G.Harris 9:31 AM  

Had otra for otro which gave me Tarino and since I didn't remember Torino I had a one letter .Natick. Otherwise found exceptionally easy even for a Monday.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:35 AM  

So is that what YORE really means? Only use of it I know is 'There lived a sage in days of YORE/ and he a handsome pigtail wore etc. etc.' Implication is that that would be explained as 'days of days of old.' Silly sounding. But then it is a silly bit of doggerel.

Nancy 9:50 AM  

Everything @chefwen, lms and kitshef said. Very, very easy.

Thanks @Random Passerby, for letting @Lewis know that I'm not Aging Soprano. I was a bit GOBSMACKED by his mystifying call-out to me. Though I will sing at the drop of a hat. (Anyone have a hat handy?) The difference between Aging Soprano and me is that she gets/got paid for singing and I don't. Sigh. (I'm also not anywhere near a Soprano -- with or without a cold.)

And welcome back, Aging Soprano. I hope you're on the mend and over your cold very soon, but I loved/loved/loved all your comments today!

Unknown 10:10 AM  

"UPTILT"---seriously? I worked in "the biz" for 44 years and never heard that term. The DP may "tilt up" or "tilt down", but that is a of where the lens is aimed. To reposition a camera it must be physically moved left, right, up or down. You dolly left and right and pedestal up or down.

RooMonster 10:41 AM  

Hey All !
@AZPETE beat me to it! Was gona say the hummus thing.

Agree with the crowd who said that HAIR should've been HEADsometing. HEAD BANGER?

They still make CERTS, no? And Annabel, each individual is a CERTS, as is the plural, like fish and fish.

That ELBOW on the bottom could've been EL CID, and all would be ok in the SE. Curious to see @M&A's moo-cow eazy-e weeject, as there were quite a bit to choose from.

Not the best puz ever created, but ITS OK. :-) Nice for a Monday.


Unknown 10:41 AM  

Finally an easy one for me . Certs - commercial said "certs is a candy mint , no its a breath mint . Certs -two, two , two mints in one . "
I just had a big birthday last week. Guess I'm getting old

Tita 10:44 AM  

Annabel...I admit that the only reason I could infer SABRAS (after many crosses) is that it is a hummus brand I avoid at the supermarket. (The have preservatives...)
As for AMPERES, grab an easy-a electricity and magnetism course...fascinating stuff!

@soprano...CERTS are for heartburn? I thought they were just mints...

UPTILTS not a thing. ELBOW out of place.
"Standard" highway? What on earth is that????! TWOLANE is cute, but how about "Like i95 east of New Haven"...

Being in th biz, PERIPHERALS was easy, though I haven't heard the term in ages.
Other than that, cute Monday.

Tita 11:04 AM  

@lms...to our best recollection, AGA never snuggled with our BRAS...though that would be a sight...

@soprano...forgot to say "lol".

Had a cat who was an ANKLEslasher...she'd hide under a table, then take a swipe at any exposed ankle that came close. She absolutely hated shod feet, as she knew she couldn't get to that tender instep.

And @pauer... I gotta agree with 9:20 anon... kind of cold to directly slam a fellow constructor to make your stuff look better. If it's good, you can go high, no? Sauers me on your endeavor.

Masked and Anonymous 11:21 AM  

A real Footstomper. Thanx, @Ned White.

TOENAILER? (Too much dark side again; sorry -- still on that torture the celebs jag.)

Could see where DANGELO/SABRAS could be a bit tough for the MonPuzs-are-a-challenge crowd.

Great write-up, @Blu'Bel … foot stomp them finals, darlin. Liked "Word of the Day: WORD" a lot.

@pauer: And for more cowbell, try … runt puzzles! [Our motto: No refunds!]

fave weeject: USB. Better clue: {USA alternative plan, after original gets Trumped} (yo, @RP).

Masked & Anonymo2Us


Nancy 11:22 AM  

@Tita (11:04)-- What an awful, ingrate cat! You deserve better in life than to offer a cat love, food, and a home, and to have your ankle slashed in return. Would any self-respecting dog do such a thing? Never. He might slash your slippers, but he would never slash you. This is why I am -- and always have been and always will be -- a dog person.

evil doug 11:22 AM  

"Ass Kisser"--
Who might also dig deeper and become a
"Bottom Feeder".
Ewww. Wonder if that's in the Urban Dictionary?

Warren Howie Hughes 11:46 AM  

ALBEE Darn! White off the top, this challenging Monday offering by Ned gave us AMPERE proof that his BITERs WERE worse than his BARKS. Not a RASH to judgement, I NEED assure you! Have a pleasant week ahead my Crossword loving friends, as I've personally had my FILL on this wintry mid-western December morn.

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@evil, 11:22am: har. Somebody had to be the ice-breaker. Glad it was U.


Evilly-influenced M&A

John Child 12:25 PM  

Second the suggestion that folks do the mini puz today, even if you don't usually.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

It was very easy for the oldies as my father used to call his generation. Never heard of Dangelo but, he filled in so easily from the crosses that there was no hesitation.

Thematically it was ok but for the neck snapper which is a crossword invented phrase. Would have preferred head turner or some variation: seems incomplete to go from the top to the bottom of the body without including the actual head. Isn't hair a remaining indice of body evolution from apes help keeping you warm (if you have some) and all that.

The blog created issue of cats vs. dogs will never be resolved. Cats are smarter than dogs (weight of the brain in relation to overall body weight, not an opinion!) and much cleaner than dogs as they spend much of their time bathing themselves. Dogs are more loyal than cats and way more trainable. This is probably because dogs have been domesticated for many centuries more than cats. But, people that cats own are constantly entertained by the cats quirks and idiosyncratic behavior. You just have to accept that the cat is the boss. Dogs that call the shots are dangerous. Finally, there is no conversion therapy that works for people who are firm cat or dog people. Don't bother trying.

Lojman 12:51 PM  

Have to concur with the SABRA gripe. A seldom used Hebrew slang term for a native Jewish Israeli? From the Hebrew word for prickly pear cactus?? Which, it turns out, isn't actually native to Israel??? Oy vey. Monday stuff this is not.

Otherwise was right in my wheelhouse, and I was on pace for record Monday time until I got tied up in the SW corner.

Happy Monday!

chasklu 12:52 PM  

They still make CERTS, though not as highly advertised. Candy mint/breath mint. ("He kissed you once, will he kiss you again?")

QuasiMojo 1:12 PM  

I had "Safra" before "sabra" since it's the name of a bank in NY that I think was of Israeli origin. Annabel, I loved your citing "Chert." Learned a new word today thanks to you. Never ever heard of "neck snapper" before. And I think of "thigh slapper" before "knee slapper" but then I used to have thunder thighs. :) Tic Tacs sort of stole the thunder, so to speak, of Certs. Weren't they the ones with a drop of Retsin? I would have preferred Retsina! As Mondays go, this was a highly competent entry. More like this please.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

When my husband and I would visit his hometown, he would warn me as we walked into the local bar, "Watch 'em all crack their NECKs" so NECK crAckER would have worked for me at 27A.

This puzzle SEEMed quite easy until I hit the SW. SABRAS crossing D'ANGELO didn't auto-fill in and "As you Wish" before "As you WERE" provided an additional speed-bump but the extra 30 seconds will not turn me into a CHEST BEATER today.

Nice job, Ned White.

evil doug 1:35 PM  

Sack luncher...

Unknown 1:35 PM  

Sabra is not an uncommon word compared to many obscure words found in ny times crossword puzzles. Anyone who knows anything about Israel would know it .

Albee Certs Mat-chels 1:39 PM  

Not so fast @Lewis!
recheck your database! Plenty have done this theme...Just with slight variations...
To name just two:
eg Paula Gamache Tuesday April 28, 2009 had both KNEESLAPPER and ANKLEBITER...
Heck, I even had one Monday July 28, 2013 that was body parts + joking:

How soon we forget ;)

That said, there were 5 today, (the new 3), they were in order, it prompted folks to come up with their own and it got a delightful write up

I'd insert some SABRA stories here about my old Israeli beau but too tired (and I'm not even in college!)

Noam D. Elkies 1:49 PM  

Yes, צבר (TSABAR), which somehow became SABRA in English (perhaps from the colloquial צבר'ה SABREH), literally means "cactus fruit / prickly pear", and has long been used colloquially to mean "native-born Israeli", usually with the folk etymology "prickly on the outside, sweet on the inside".

--NDE (not a Sabra, though I did live in Israel as a child)

JC66 1:53 PM  

It's my impression that in the 50's, when Israel was a new country, native born citizens were such a rarity (and highly esteemed) that the term SABRA carried great importance and that, as the percentage of native borns has grown over the years, that distinction has decreased.

Numinous 2:04 PM  

After yesterday's LSD TRIP, I thought the reference to narcOTIC was amusing. I might have preferred neur~ over narc~ for the clue. I never even saw D'ANGELO and wondered what y'all were talking about. I had to smile at ANKLE BITER. When walking to the kitchen in bare feet, the little dog will run ahead of me and try to bite my ankles. Usually she just gets shoved along.

Then there are those inhumanly strong special ops guys in cheesy movies who sneak up behind the guards and become NECK SNAPPERs.

I'm with @John Whitaker. I've never heard UPTILT unless it had to do with something geological like UPTILTed strata, maybe? The first Israeli I ever met, as an 18 year-old, was a SABRA who had been in the Israeli army. I asked her if she'd ever killed anyone. She refused to answer. We did a scene from Hedda Gabbler, or something Ibsen, for a college drama class.

@Martin, I look forward to your longer comments. I appreciate your attention to minutiae. Always something good to think about.

With the swash buckling CHEST BEATER i had an image of someone pounding on a footlocker but it faded pretty fast. @Loren and the ELBOW bender, meet me at 5:00 PM when the bar opens for some Bushmills or The Glenlivet.

Always wonderful to see you, Annabel. Thanks for the write up.

pauer 2:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pauer 2:29 PM  

It's hardly an attack. Grow a pair.

Jennifer K. 2:40 PM  

I love your square/X story. My brain does things like that, too. I'm really glad you found a soothing solution.

foxaroni 3:06 PM  

I never liked Certs--retsin is a little too close to RETCH-sin for me. The other "double" commercials that were played to death were the ones for Doublemint gum. You were urged to "double your pleasure, double your fun, with Doublemint, Doublemint, Doublemint gum." They usually featured twin blondes. Ah, yes...double your fun, indeed.

I mis-read 68A as "source of Peruvian wood," which, for some reason, caused me to think that 64D, rock genre, was looking for something like chert (hi, Annabelle!), ore, strata, etc. I thought, "Wow! What a Natick!" Then I put my reading glasses back on....

Nice puzzle, Mr. White, and thank you, Annabelle, for my favorite R.E.M. song, re-done in a major key. That was new to me, and very interesting.

Tom R 3:16 PM  

I have to echo chefwen - one of the easiest Mondays I can remember. Its surely a generational thing. At 72, this puzzle just rolled off the tongue for me.

Jon 5:01 PM  

I wouldn't say it was hard for a Monday, in fact finished it faster than usual for a Monday, and I am still a relatively novice solver. Though I had no aha moment with the theme, only saved by relatively easy crosses. I suspect unless you don't know any native Israelis the sabra would be difficult, unless people know the connection with the hummus brand?

Unknown 5:11 PM  

I found this difficult for Monday as well.

Also surprised no one has mentioned how awkwardly worded 71A was (ELBOW): Something it's not mannerly to put on a dinner table

Bex 5:29 PM  

ack! I was trying to figure out why this version of "Losing My Religion" was so _wrong_... It's in a major key! Ew! I made it almost to the end before noticing the title. My next impulse was to go listen to the original song. *much better now* This was a fun puzzle, overall. And, I guess I'm in the "old" crowd, because I totally got the Certs, the ampere, etc. :)

Bex 5:31 PM  

[here's the original video, for anyone else needing their fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwtdhWltSIg]

Doc John 5:42 PM  

Wow- "Losing My Religion" in a major key. Major mind blow. Glad they stuck with the minor key when they released it, though. Much more powerful.
Easy puzzle for me, too.
P.S. Also Jewish and also didn't know SABRA.

Martin Lass 6:34 PM  

Hard? Wow! Maybe it is an age thing... pushing 60 here and remember Certs very well! And the rest, well, I was done in less than 10 minutes. The only sticking points were the crossing of SABRAS and DANGELO, the latter probably showing MY age! Haha!

Unknown 8:19 PM  

I do hope we see RETSYN in a puzzle very soon.

jedlevine 9:22 PM  

For 32 across __________ wonder (musical artist without a repeated success), I had "stevie" in there at first. Should have realized that a) the w was lowercase, so couldn't be a name, and b) Stevie Wonder has had many hits!

Cassieopia 10:52 PM  

Love Annabel Mondays! Only odd note in the writeup was a link to a major key version of "Losing My Religion" - listened to about 30 seconds of it and was like, what IS that song? This is the only version as far as I'm concerned: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwtdhWltSIg

Puzz was a blast. Had lots of overwrites and aha moments with PERIPHERALS being the most awesome of the solutions. Below my average Monday times, but only because I've only been solving for 18 months and my averages include 25 minute Mondays from when I started. No shame. :)

D 11:15 PM  

christ, bad enough i am obsessively compelled to read Rex's smug self righteous tripe every day, now I gotta hear from some child who's never seen a pack of Certs. They literally are at your eye level when your Mom brings you to CVS to buy plam B

Chris Mc 9:23 PM  

Thanks for that REM major key video. It was amazing. Even his dancing looks happy.

Ryan McCarty 1:46 PM  

My fastest Monday yet - super easy

Burma Shave 10:24 AM  


she’s a NECKSNAPPER OFSORTS WERE you to meet her.
Those UPTILTS will AWE you, it SEEMs there’s no flaws,


spacecraft 11:21 AM  

CHESTBEATER is good...but I hope our constructor isn't one, not based on today, at least. Yes, the theme is orderly and cutesy (well, OFSORTS. NECKSNAPPER sounds more like a ninja hitman than an expression equivalent to "head turner," and ANKLEBITER is something I've heard before, but a rather vicious thing to call your kids). But then we get to the 58-down.

Here is the result when someone just doesn't care.

--> UPTO, and TEEUP actually crossing UPTILTS. Down with too many UPs!

--> PETERI. Several Peters? Ugh.

--> CANST thou not do better than CANST?

--> Other miscellaneous mishmash: HST, LDS, worn-out STE, ALA, IDO, etc., techy USB, EXE, ECASH (BAH!), and never-heard-of DANGELO

It was easy enough; what I didn't know went in on crosses. But this was not a toe-tapper. Some may say ITSOK; I guess I've been spoiled by constructors who DO care. We could have an old-school DOD in Deborah KERR (don't think "The King and I," think "From Here to Eternity"), but I'll take her next-door neighbor in the grid, the amazing SERENA Williams.

IDO like the line TWOLANE/ONEHIT, and Ali as TORCHBEARER is a heart-toucher, but all in all this is a bogey.

rondo 12:28 PM  

SEEMed like a Tues-puz OFSORTS with a few more difficult answers like LAHORE, ALBEE, SABRAS, etc. and the oddness of NECKSNAPPER. And UPs breaking out like a RASH.

That random czar, PETERI, looks more like a lab culture dish.

I didn’t even look at the clue until long after finishing, but ANKLEBITER should’ve been clued as a pesky little dog.

Take ONEHIT of the good stuff they sell in Seattle, that’s all you NEED.

Generations apart, but side by side in the puz are yeah babies Deb KERR and SERENA Williams.

The FILL in this puz contains at least 20 threes, but I suppose in the end ITSOK?

Diana,LIW 12:42 PM  

Oh those halcyon days when we had 3 TV channels and everyone knew all the hackneyed commercials by heart. "Mother! PLEASE!! I'd rather do it MYSELF!!!" The poor woman who was stuck on a sticky rollerball of deodorant - dry Arid to the rescue. Or was it Secret? The best thing about Certs was the takeoff SNL did (the halcyon days of Gilda, Dan, and Chevy) advertising Shimmer - "it's a floor polish AND a desert topping." ROFL when I first saw that.

Nowadays commercials have to be much more clever to get you to watch them, as we have so many ways of avoiding them. (Often they are more clever than the shows they interrupt.)

Puzzle didn't take much time - played it late yesterday afternoon whilst watching Office Space for the 100th time. The "Comedy" channel had no sense of humor, though, and they CENSORED the mother f-ing s*** out of all the rap songs. So I wasn't paying as much attention as usual to the puzzle and the theme - it was over so quickly.

I bought a NECKS NAPPER pillow to ease my snapping neck. As they say, any port in a computer.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 1:41 PM  

Launched like a rocket out of the NW, expecting this one (ala Rex's rule) to be too easy to enjoy. I was wrong,and delightfully so. Annabel's lively comments put a cherry on the top.

Some of the crunchier stuff: DANGELO, TORINO, SLOANE, and of the themers, NECKSNAPPER and ANKLEBITER. I paused over Ali the TORCHBEARER, too.

Nice start to the week.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Fun, satisfying to work and solve. Harder than the ordinary Monday, but fair.

leftcoastTAM 2:32 PM  

@Burma Shave:

You're a wicked one, BS, and in top form.

Sailor 2:34 PM  

I would like to note that Urban Dictionary agrees with today's constructor that NECKSNAPPER is a thing, as is ANKLEBITER. I have certainly heard both terms used, especially the latter, which goes back at least to my college days in the late 60's.

Opinions are all over the place today. I'm with those who thought it was the easiest Monday in a very long time, so "skews old" comes to mind. Still, reasonably entertaining. Thumbs up!

rain forest 4:56 PM  

I liked this bit of fluff, even skewing oldish. My contemporaries, when they had little kids, always called them ANKLE BITERS, though I always (heh) referred to them as "adorable little tots".

Watched the Golden Globed last night, and say that Miss SLOANE was nominated for an award. However, the highlight was Meryl Streep with her calling out of Mr. Trump and his disrespectful treatment of a disabled reporter.

@Burma Shave, you knave. I have always only seen SERENA Williams as an uber talented tennis player...

Just wonderin', when PETER was great, did anyone refer to him as PETER 1?

BS2 5:08 PM  

@rain forest - Could be a nom de marcheur de rue for another SERENA. But talk about Golden Globes . . .

kathy of the tower 12:37 AM  

Puzzle easy for me, but I'm starting to skew old.

CERTS; when I read the clue I wondered if they even sell them anymore, I haven't heard of them forever.

ABNER; on a recent trip to Michigan we stopped at a restaurant named Lil Abner's with the cartoon figures painted all over the outside walls. My 31 year old son asked, "What the hell is this?". My husband and I had to check Google to name all the characters.
D earlier made an awfully hateful comment about plan B. I refer him to Elizabeth Warren. "Did you fall down and hit your heads?"

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