Edible mushroom / MON 2-6-17 / Dictator ___ Amin / Summer hours in Denver: Abbr. / Philosopher and social activist West

Monday, February 6, 2017

You know what they say, the first Monday of the month is the best Monday of the month! OK, nobody actually says that, but it's Annabel filling in for Rex today as usual! :)

Constructor: Andy Hinz

Relative difficulty: See at this point I can't tell if it was easy or if I'm just getting better? Let's go with medium. Medium works. It was a medium puzzle and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

THEME: HIDDEN CAMERA — Theme clues included "hidden" brands of camera. (Not that hidden if they're right there in bubbles, are they? Oh well.)

Theme answers:
  • HIDDEN CAMERA (51A: Common security device...or a feature of 20, 33- and 38-Across)
  • I CAN ONLY HOPE (20A: "Keeping my fingers crossed")
  • PRISON YARD (33A: Exercise area for convicts)
  • SPUTNIK ONE (38A: First satellite to orbit Earth)

Word of the Day: MOREL (55A: Edible mushroom) —
Morchella, the true morels, is a genus of edible sac fungi closely related to anatomically simpler cup fungi in the order Pezizales (division Ascomycota). These distinctive fungi have a honeycomb appearance, due to the network of ridges with pits composing their cap. Morels are prized by gourmet cooks, particularly in French cuisine. Due to difficulties in cultivation, commercial harvesting of wild morels has become a multi-million-dollar industry in the temperate Northern Hemisphere, in particular North America, Turkey, China, the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan, where these highly prized fungi are found in abundance.
• • •

(Unofficial fun fact about morels: I googled them to get a picture but they're kind of gross looking.)

Tbh, I'm getting a little sick of seeing IDO with the "something you say at a wedding" clue. It's like playing THE in Scrabble. There's gotta be something better you can come up with! The rest of the fill was pretty interesting though. RAFT, BERG, ASEA.....did Andy Hinz rewatch "Titanic" yesterday? I can't blame him, Kate and Leo are pretty cute together. Anyway. I got stuck around the middle of the left side for-freaking-ever, and also for some reason I had REAREST EXIT instead of NEAREST EXIT for 25D? I remember thinking to myself, "Funny, I don't think "rearest" is a word." Guess I was right.

The theme was actually really fun! Like I said, I don't really get how the cameras were "hidden," but it was still cool to find the brands and wonder where they were going with it. Still gets imaginary points off for not being Downs-only-solver friendly, but hey, it's Monday. Also, I think "I can only hope" is a bit of a stretch, but hey, again, Monday.

  • DEFY (7D: Challenge) — Oh no, I'm getting flashbacks to my Wicked phase. When I was a kid I went into one of those amusement park recording studios to record my own solo a cappella version of "Defying Gravity" and have it played for everyone in that area of the park. I was very proud of myself at the time. It is all very embarrassing. 
  • NERD (54D: Jock's antithesis) — Jock's antithesis, huh? CollegeHumor has a pretty funny take on that!
  • ESCAPE ROUTE (3D: Means of getaway) — What does it say about my status as a Pokémon kid that my first thought was ESCAPE ROPE and I got really confused when it wouldn't fit? (An escape rope is an item in a Pokémon game that lets you escape from a cave. It's really useful when your Pokémon are low HP because in Pokémon caves you can't use Fly and....Oops, this is getting a little NERDy!)
  • TESTER (48A: Employee at a perfumery) — THE PERFUME DEPARTMENT?!?!?!
Also, happy late birthday to my dad!!! :D He's a high school sailing coach now and that's really exciting so everyone congratulate him!

Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Whirred Whacks 12:06 AM  

Nice puzzle. Nice writeup.

Today's Deja Vu.

jae 12:13 AM  

Medium works for me too @Annabel. Pretty good debut, liked it.

Pete 12:13 AM  

Well, the muse in Loren Muse Smith isn't just part of her name, it's a fact. I've found proof of such, as she clearly is the inspiration for the character of Ms. Hardwick's in Kwame Alexander's verse novel Booked. Ms. Hardwick is the protagonist's nemesis, and proof that Loren inspired her character is the verse:

The Next Day

In the middle
of Ms. Hardwick's
grammar lesson
on when to use lay
and when to use lie
you lay your head
on the desk
and doze off. ZZZzzzzz

Seriously, who but she could it be?

Oh, and as Ms. Hardwick would say, - always look words before you use them. For today's example we'll go with HIDDEN. See, things aren't hidden if you point them out. They're obvious.

Charles Flaster 12:16 AM  

Great , worthwhile review.
Found it Monday easy but with some Wednesday type answers--CHOLERA, CORNEL, BASMATI , KEENING.
TETHER ball was my favorite individual game as a youngster.
Always like your reviews AT and I am positive your skills are improving.
Also thanks to AH.

Charles Flaster 12:21 AM  

AH - it was a terrific debut for you and quite ambitious.

John Child 12:29 AM  

I winced a couple of times at short fill -- for example IDI: always unwelcome, and here it's dead center. But the longer fill is really good IMO and made the puzzle fun. ESCAPE ROUTE and NEAREST EXIT are an awesome pair. All the other downs that cross two theme answers are strong too. Nice debut Mr Hinz.

Don Johnson 12:44 AM  

On clues we are sick of... Bobby ORR again? I mean, he was a great one and all, but...

chefwen 12:56 AM  

Being a camera nut, this was fun. I was a Olympus II affectionado, burned through two of them in my career.

Cute puzzle and Monday easy. No write overs, as it should be on a Monday.

Larry Gilstrap 1:32 AM  

I had a hunch that this Monday effort would be cheery and add Annabel, done deal. I watch about four football games a year, and always the Super Bowl. The NFL needs to change the current OT rules. As it is, it comes down to the REF flipping a coin and then one team hangs on, or loses. Sudden death works only if control of the ball is up for grabs, ala soccer's Golden Goal.

As an amateur photographer and a birder, optics are NERD fodder and CANON and NIKON have cred in that world, but on the other hand, SONY is a force in the digital era. Remember film?

Boys and their toys. Ever capture a ladder-back wood pecker through a Swarovski spotting scope or binoculars? I'm starting a Go Fund Me called buy Larry a new scope, not really. The anarchists took over a bird sanctuary? Bad form, bad politics, and bad karma.

I am certain our blog host is not married, so if my wife is reading this, I DO is not tired fill. IT'S A credo, an OATH.

andrea carla michaels 2:38 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Axis Cholera Morels 3:00 AM  

Nice puzzle, cute write up, young Annabel!
HIDDEN CAMERA is very apropos in these days of constant surveillance!

Your slip up on CORNEL West is not surprising on a Monday... Much less MTWTF

That corner could potentially be ERROR LADEN for some.

Just realized that MTWTF means the week ends with WTF!
Reminds me of my fave sign from last month's protest...

(That and "Does this ass make my country look small?")

Annabel, if you haven't done so, add "Love in the Time of CHOLERA" to your reading list...
I'm currently waiting out an old love's marriage as we speak! ICANONLYHOPE

Mike in Mountain View 3:25 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap: The numbers on NFL overtimes suggest that the format is reasonably fair to the team that kicks off to start overtime. From 2012 through 2015, for instance, the receiving team won 33 of 65 (just over half) of the overtime games that did not end in a tie. ESPN's model (as of the end of 2015) predicted that the winning percentage for receiving teams would be 53.8 percent if there were a sufficient sample size of overtime games.

Good write-up, Annabel.

I found the puzzle both enjoyable and easier than a usual Monday.

Karl 3:31 AM  

Fast for even a Monday.

Loren Muse Smith 4:14 AM  

Hi, Annabel – what a nice surprise this morning. I totally missed the RAFT BERG ASEA trio. Good catch.

@ACME – good catch on the WTF at the end of the week. It should be at the beginning; Mondays come so fast, right?

@Pete – hah. Not me. I think I accidentally misrepresented myself last time I said I was whining about lie/lay. What I meant to say that I’m tired of pedants getting their panties in a wad over lay’s “misuse.” Lie/lay/lain is following whom into obscurity, and it really doesn’t bother me at all. Hasta la vista, baby. Catch you on the flip side.

And I agree a little that the HIDDEN CAMERA isn’t so hidden once you circle the letters. Many times I wonder if it’d be more fun sans circles.

Every now and then I get this mystifying craving for tomato ASPIC. And I bet I’ve eaten it only once or twice in my life. Probably with some Beef Wellington and a murky green bean casserole festooned with canned fried onions.

I wasn’t looking at the grid when I read the clue, “philosopher and social activist West.” First thought – Kanye. A few months ago, that would have been a laughable thought. But down here through the looking glass… it’s just not as funny anymore. Chilling, actually.

RICE’s clue reminds me of my favorite joke and yes I’ve told it here but I’ma tell it again. Sue me. So this guy gets arrested for beating someone over the head with a small ceramic figurine. They were in a rice field…….. first documented case of knick-knack paddy whack.

Like @John Child, I loved the pair of GETAWAY ROUTE and NEAREST EXIT. Carefully, strategically, choose your seat when Uncle Mike sets up the slide projector to show slides from his ‘70s vacation to China, and I’m not making that up.

Andy – I think you got all the big league cameras that could work, right? There’s one in my avatar, but it’s dumb – why most of my submissions are rejected. WTF.

Anyway – a fine Monday offering. Good job. Congrats on your debut!

Anonymous 6:17 AM  

To what do we owe this rare and refreshing respite from Rex?

Lewis 6:25 AM  

The only reason for the circles is that it's a Monday puzzle, letting newbies know that tricky things can happen in a crossword, rather than just throwing down answers, given the prevalence of easy themeless puzzles that the general public do.

On the other hand, as @Charles says, there are some non-Mondayish words here (CORNEL, TROPE, BASMATI, ASPICS) that I welcome. Someone trying the NYT puzzles probably has a better-than-average vocabulary, I'm guessing.

The theme is clever and tight. I tried to think of alternate theme answers (as I'm guessing @lms did) and struck a blank. Came close with Pentax, but nothing really in the language. I was going to nit about SPUTNIK_ONE, thinking that it was simply SPUTNIK, but learned via Wikipedia that I am wrong here.

Excellent debut, Andy. You should be saying "Cheese!" all day.

Anonymous 6:27 AM  

hey i'm a chef, not a cook, so i can use words like "affectionado." Oh, the irony that is looks like "affected," and that I can blithely ignore the a/an rules and write sentences like "I was a Olympus II affectionado." Just sayin'. And don't get me started on that "tired student" schtick.

Could.we.have.no.more.of.these.sentences.that.strive.for.emphasis? Totally annoying.

Actually the puzzle was a better-than-average Monday, continuing a string that started at the end of last week.

How's it hangin?

evil doug 6:33 AM  

There are high school sailing coaches?

Gotta appreciate a woman who'll say "panties in a wad", Loren....

Loren Muse Smith 6:41 AM  

Hah. Is the phrase “panties in a wad” bad? Maybe I should have said “knickers.” I seem to misuse phrases that I think are innocent but are in fact shocking. Case in point – I thought “hall pass” meant you were allowed to have a secret harmless little crush on someone and that’s it. It just takes a couple of times throwing that beaut around before someone sets you straight. Oops.

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

If by "social activist" you mean inciter of violence and destruction, then I suppose 24A works. Coming to a town near you.

Aketi 6:55 AM  

This one was definitely in my wheelhouse.

Liked CSI crossing the PRISONYARD.

@Annabel, loved your clip of the nerd versus jock fight. I have to share that with my niece who writes for Marvel. I gave up going to Macy's because I could never get past the perfume department without suffering from a full frontal assault on my sinuses.

I actually come from a family of scrabble players and never once has anyone used the word THE. Missed opportunity.

Hungry Mother 7:13 AM  

Easy start to the week. Nice writeup.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

Yeah, not hidden with the circles there. But I suppose the circles were necessary to make it Monday-easy.

For my U. of Chicago application essay, I had to write on mankind's greatest achievement. I went for the launching of SPUTNIK ONE. I still stand by that.

Anything was going to be a step up after yesterday (one would hope), so I'll take this one and move on.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith, @evil doug - panties get in a was, knickers get in a twist.

RooMonster 7:21 AM  

Hey All !
Nice puz, nice debut, nice Annabel writeup. Surprised no ones heard the joke about the end of the week being WTF. Not sure how it goes, though...


kitshef 7:22 AM  

Ack wad not was.

thfenn 7:36 AM  

Great Monday, for all sorts of reasons, including a fun puzzle. Enjoyed the long fill (NEARESTEXIT and ESCAPEROUTE). Enjoyed the theme, TROPE or otherwise, right down to the pleasure of needing it to finally write in HIDDEN. Thanks, @LMS, for the joke - a fine addition to those I like to have at hand. @chefwen count me among Olympus fans, back when we used film. Am now locked in to NIKON, and, @larry, busy trying to marry my interests in photography and birding, and in need of a new spotting scope myself.

Fun puzzle, nice write up, and a superbowl for the ages - looking forward to this week.

chefbea 7:47 AM  

Fun easy puzzle...and I love Basmati rice
I always look forward to the first Monday...Happy birthday Annabel's dad...I'll bake him a cake!!!

Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

No, no, no. Panties get in a bunch.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

aficionado is a word

r.alphbunker 8:00 AM  

Solved with hidden down clues. Almost made it but misread 65A {"___ small world after all"} ITSA and finished with ITIS. Got to remember to check the down answers also even though I don't have the clues.

Details are here.

Numinous 8:13 AM  

If you are walking down Crocker Street in downtown Los Angeles between 6th and 7th (like you actually would) and you meet a Latino gentleman and he says, "SUP?" What he's really saying is, "Hey, watchya looking for? I got weed, coke, crack, heroine, meth and mollies. How much ya want?"

Let's hear it for the workhorse of war correspondents everywhere, the mighty NIKON. One day, my NIKON wouldn't cock and advance the film. I tried and tried. Then I got to looking more closely at it and found a dent in the body. So, I thought, WTF, it's already broken, what could it hurt? I got a hammer and banged on the edge of the dent and voila. I was prouder of the bit of a dent in that camera than I was when the camera was brand new.

One morning in 1957, my mother dragged me out of bed before five in the morning and we went up on the roof of our apartment house and waited while staring at the sky. Suddenly, there it was, a little spot of light streaking across the sky. My memory tells me it was south to north but I'm no longer sure. That was sixty years ago. It was a thrill for a 12 year old boy to see SPUTNIK ONE up there in space. Of course I thought it was creepy the Russians got there first and that they could probably see me looking up at it.

Nice chipper write-up, Annabel, though today you don't seem as tired as you have recently. I guess I could agree that this puzzle is MEDIUM since I spent an average amount of time on it. It seemed as if it was going faster than it did. I appreciated the RICE in the BASMATI paddy. I wanted ESCAPE hatch but was ROUTEd on the way to the NEAREST EXIT. I'd say Andy Hinz got his YAYAS today. According to other sources, this was a long time coming together. Let's hope there will be more on the way.

Mill City Finn 8:14 AM  

Twice in a week I've seen TINT clued with 'shade'. These terms are, in fact, opposites. A tint is a color/hue lightened with white. A shade is a color/hue darkened with black.

Nancy 8:24 AM  

Monday easy, perfectly pleasant, no junk, no complaints.

John V 8:57 AM  

Having been alive in 1957 when Sputnik was launched, I have no recollection of it being called Sputnik One. Not sure that's in the language. Crossing with CSINY a bit tricky for a Monday for this Senior Solver.

Z 8:57 AM  

@Mill City Finn - Thanks. I didn't know that..

I wonder how people who stop at Wednesday feel about the circles. The commentariat skews long on crossword experience, so I don't know if we are the best judges on the utility of those circles. My first thought putting in the revealer, though, was also "not very HIDDEN are they."

@John Child - IDI crossing IDO seems suboptimal to me. Yesterday we had IRE/ERE, tomorrow I expect to see ENO/ONO.

A good debut.

Colby 9:48 AM  

Medium in difficulty, but probably 10-20 seconds longer than my normal Monday.

Duane 9:55 AM  

Nice Debut.

jberg 9:56 AM  

Hey, I'm in the puzzle (30A), so I'm not gonna complain about ERIKS and ERINS or TODO and IDO and IDI. But I happened to be in a store that had the TV on at the appropriate time yesterday, and that guy in a wheelchair flipping the coin looked a lot more like an ex-President than a REF. Coulda left "Super Bowl" out of the clue and it would have been OK.

Gotta run, I'm late this morning.

Passing Shot 10:08 AM  

BEaTS for BESTS for a moment, but otherwise a no hiccups. Pleasant if not particularly memorable, which I guess is the definition of a Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

Perhaps Will could have omitted the circles for the theme items and in the clue for HIDDENCAMERA used "Common security device... or a brand found in the three other long across answers"?

Still easy, but not as simplistic as the circles make it seem.

GILL I. 10:19 AM  

PRISON YARD, ESCAPE ROUTE, NEAREST EXIT, EXPEL, DAMN, CHOLERA, DEFY, ATONE, TETHERS...reads like a script from Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds." Just kidding....but hey, @Annabel, Jacky IDO was in the movie. Did ORR and IDI say IDO or did they EXO?
This was a pretty good Monday and if it's a debut - even better.
I'm with @Glimmer..."Panties in a bunch."

DrLee77 10:31 AM  

@Andy Hinz: Nice debut puzzle. Many others have already written about multiple strong points and few weaknesses.

@Annabel: I agree with multiple others about nice write up.

@John V: For example, SPUTNIK Two carried, Laika, the space dog. It was the first animal to orbit the Earth. Unfortunately, the Soviet scientists did not make a re-entry system so it died in orbit.

@Numinous: I had a similar experience in 1957, at age nine, while riding home from a neighbor's place. I saw a little white dot moving rapidly across the starry sky and realized it must be SPUTNIK ONE. I felt awed about it, but anxious about it being Russian.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:43 AM  

This was puzzle #1 at the Westport contest on Saturday, so I have done it and feel free to comment.

Unfortunately, all I remember about the solve was the erasure of BEATS for BESTS, as noted by @Passing Shot above. That took some figuring, since the name SPUTNIKONE was unfamiliar and APUTNIKONE almost made sense. Like @John V (who was there with me), I only think of it as SPUTNIK. You know, in 1917 they weren't calling it "World War One."

I posted a comment near the end of yesterday's thread, but I seem to have landed in the middle of a firestorm of political wrangling and nobody noticed.

I don't see that anyone has mentioned the constructor's age here. Kinda young, isn't he?

AliasZ 10:48 AM  

@LMS, Go Pro! Very nice use of the "pro hoc fallacy", which essentially means, when two events follow each other, event one causes event two. The rooster crows just before sunrise, therefore the rooster makes the sun rise. This fallacy has given rise to a host of conspiracy theories.

I liked the theme, my only minor reservation being that SONY is not primarily a camera manufacturer. Loved the ESCAPE ROUTE via the NEAREST EXIT, as @John Child so aptly pointed it out.

Some missed opportunities:

uMAMI YAzoo: Milkshake brand with a savory taste.
steaMIN' OL' TArpit: Le Brea for one.
oLEIC Acid: Fatty substance found in vegetables.
pigPEN TAXation: Pork barrel politics.
cHASSÉ "L" BLADe: Footwork for fencers with long swords.

I could go on but why bother?

Let's listen to the CANON in D major by Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706), conducted here by Sir NEVILLE Marriner who passed away 4 months ago at age 92.

Cassieopia 10:49 AM  

Nice puzzle (congrats and thank you, Andy), nice write up (I do adore Annabel Mondays), perfect start for a new week!

Casting my vote for panties in a wad, knickers in a bunch. But I guess there is more than one way to skin a marmot.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:50 AM  

Ignore my remark above about the constructor's age. Wrong puzzle, wrong constructor.

Malsdemare 11:01 AM  

I'm a random solver, filling in stuff I'm sure of, skipping what I don't, and flipping between acrosses and downs. So I had quite a bit filled in pretty quickly, enough to see the after image of HIDDENCAMERA. I looked around, saw SONY and CANON and filled in NIcON, which helped me not at all because I BEaTS. So I wandered around some more, and then finally the penny dropped and I got SPUTNIKONE, and gave NIKON its K back.

I have a memory of seeing Sputnik in the sky, but it's clustered in a context (a pregnant sister) that can't be right, so I have to question my recollection. IDO remember being frightened at the thought the Russians were up there; we were doing under-the-desk drills in my school, awaiting doom at any moment. I'm fine with the ONE. It's the first and how often do we know something will be the first of series, rather than a one-off? Did Pope Leo get his Roman numeral during his papacy or was that provided when another came came along? We knew there'd be more Apollos, so the Apollo one made sense, but for all we knew Russia could name its next craft Vladimir. So my panties are covering my ass just fine.

Nice write up, Annabel, and thanks, Mr. Hinz.

old timer 11:05 AM  

@Numinous, when I was growing up, Downtown LA started at Main and went to Figueroa, 1st to 9th Sts. The mnemonic for the named streets was: "The Main Spring is Broadway and over the Hill is Olive's Grand Hope." (followed by Flower and Figueroa).

Crocker St was and it seems still is part of the Skid Row area.

Easy puzzle for me with a standard time of 9 minutes, very Mondayish.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

@anonymous 7:48 Yes, "aficionado" is a word. "Affectionado"? Not so much.

Hartley70 11:28 AM  

Hi @Bob Kerfuffle! It was delightful to meet you at the Westport Tournament. (Bob is super cute!)

This was my first competition (@Tita encouraged me to give it a try) and as I repeatedly said, "I loved it!" I met some cool Rexites, met more cool non-Rexites, was generously included by the gracious and lovely @mac, got interviewed by a reporter because I was a first-timer, and had a brief chat with Will Shortz where I begged for more MAS stacks. It turns out that the rumor that he doesn't prefer them is false. He swears it! I have to say, WS exudes geniality, and runs a fun event. There's lots of laughing. If you have the chance to attend a competition, do it, and when you too chat with Will, please mention rebus puzzles also. I didn't want to be too pushy and stacks come first.

Re-solving this puzzle today, I'm smacked again with the adage that "haste makes waste". I was so intent on speed (which I never am at home) that I ignored the circles and the theme. ERIc should have been ERIK, which I would have known if I had taken the time to see NIKON. Duh! That's a newbie mistake I'll try not to make again. Not likely!

Another thing I learned at the competition is that all the paper solvers do not necessarily have an easier time of it than those of us who use our phones. Yes, it can be hard to hit the little key with a big old index finger, but the clue appears automatically as you highlight the entry. My head was swiveling as I tried to find each clue in the across and down lists. Now that's a time waster when the digital clock is a "ticking". I had better practice doing paper puzzles. Fat chance!

It was a great day, and I wouldn't miss the event next year. Now I'm mulling over attending the ACPT as I chew my nails in fear!

webwinger 11:31 AM  

I recall it was the large passive reflecting balloon satellite Echo (AKA Echo 1), launched by NASA in 1960, that was visible to the unaided eye in the summer night sky, not the much smaller and less luminous Sputnik.

Much enjoyed both puzzle and write-up today, plus education re twisted undergarments.

Pete 11:32 AM  

@LMS The backstory of my post was that I laughed out loud (for the first time in about 3 months) twice when reading that book and the second time was when that passage reminded me of you. You see you have mused about lie/lay/lain in the past - never pedantically but the "proper" usage has always been of interest you. It was a brief moment of relief in my day . Heartfelt apologies if it came across poorly.

mathgent 11:58 AM  

Here are my choices for Crosswordese King and Crosswordese Queen : ORR and UTA!

I started doing crosswords around 1960 and that's where I learned these two words which have kept me company all these years. Living in San Francusco before we had NHL in San Jose and where there was very little coverage of Broadway, they were simply three-letter words which kept on showing up in the mornings.

Crane Poole 12:04 PM  

IDI, I DO could have been a follow-up production for Bialystock & Bloom. And nice seeing RASTA on Bob Marley Day. Fine Monday and a nice write-up.

Masked and Anonymous 12:40 PM  

I always suspected that BobK. was super cute. har
Glad he could stop by and comment. Maybe he can start tourin the country more, doin lotsa xword tourneys, and thereby work more NYTPuzs and comment. Save on NYT subscription fees.

Primo -- almost flexagonal -- writeup, @Blu'Bel! U are tired but true! Superb bullets. A+.
Some MORELs are cuter than others, btw. I know a pro watercolor artist who painted a whole pile of em, and it came out real pretty. Sooo ... don't judge one's morels, too quickly.

MonPuz with 72 words. Day-um, Shortzmeister. BAS-o-MATIc, dude.

Cute circles theme. Crowd pleaser. Everyone luvs the circles. Wonder if the circles weren't originally there, in the submitted puz, allowin them cameras to be more kinda hidden? Have U been messin with the puzs again, Shortzmeister?! Don't make m&e come down there.

Great fillins for a themed, 72-word debut puz. IDO/IDI center with ERIKS crossin the PRISONYARD [yo, part 2 of the widely-o'claimed "x crossin the y" video series] skewed slightly desperate. Who *are* all these ERIK dudes, btw?

NEARESTEXIT+ESCAPEROUTE. The constructioneer musta thought the stars had all miraculously aligned, when that pair came tumblin out of the xword dicepot. Well done.

TURNSUP. Luvly entry. Excellent vowel selection instincts, for a rookie.
Thanx, Mr. Hinz.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


mac 12:48 PM  

Yes, that was the Westport first puzzle, and I think I figured out my imperfection.... The Erik/Sputnik crossing, also. And I did know Sputnik.

As usual, the whole day was a lot of fun!

puzzle hoarder 12:58 PM  

My time was a little slow as I was using the tablet to solve last night. This was after the game near the end of my 48 hours in the firehouse. Like a lot of people I put in BEATS before BESTS at 31D. I was curious if this reflected the actual use of the words in the NYT puzzles. It turns out they've both appeared a similar number of times but BESTS is almost exclusively clued for this meaning whereas BEATS is typically clued for its other meanings. For me it was the other way around. I wound up with that weird looking APUTNICONE entry at 38A but waited until finishing to straighten it out. I'm very jealous of those who get to meet at these tournaments. I'm still cemented to the CFD and what vacations I get are for family time.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

My Panasonic SLR didn't make the puzzle today :-(. I love that camera, I just wish I had taken the classes to make better utilization of all the bells and whistles. I would never take a hammer to it (hi @Numinous) but on the other hand, there's nothing mechanical about it which a hammer could fix.

I took an ESCAPE hatch out the NEAREST EXIT today, which did make this "medium for a Monday", along with ToNe before TINT, all fixable the application of a little more black ink.

About 5 years ago, we had a bumper crop of MORELs in our backyard. I was just sauntering across the grass in the middle of the lawn when I saw one of the usually well-hidden MORsELs. I started looking around and eventually half-filled a 5 gallon pail. We cooked them up but they didn't agree with my husband. I thought he was just paranoid because we were eating "wild" mushrooms but it turns out his brother has the same problem. Last year, I found a mere 6 mushrooms in all so the rotting elm roots they sprang from must be done.

Nice debut, Andy Hinz.

Masked and Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Maybe the alternative HIDDENCAMERAs in the grid are them 4 central shapes of black squares? [Didn't think of it myself -- read about it in an xwordinfo.com comment.] Did U do that on purpose, Mr. Hinz? Give us some hintz, pleaz.

If the black square shapes were on purpose, that would even further boaconstrict the gridfill, on top of havin that 72-word wide-open grid. Holy moley, ITSA work of art.



Too abstruse? … thought so.

I am not a robot 1:49 PM  

Anonymous @11:18
I like affectionado and will begin using it immediately. It's not a word now, but once it's out there...

QuasiMojo 1:57 PM  

I am trying to come up with some missing cameras: Fuji and LUMIX. And Hasselblad and Rolleiflex -- hard to think up phrases though. Corfu Jitney? Desilu Mixer? :) fun Monday. Thanks Annabel for a chipper write-up as usual. I do dislike I do as well, not to mention Uma, Oona and Uta. Reminds me of that old skit.

Numinous 2:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Numinous 2:52 PM  

@Old Timer, the reason I said, "(not that you actually would)" in reference to Crocker St. is exactly because it is skid row. Between 5th and 7th the population is largely black, beyond 7th is the Hispanic section. 7th is sort of a divider but it's not a hard and fast demarcation. I lived on Crocker between 5th and 6th for about a year and a half, then I moved to the corner of Stanford and 7th for another eighteen months. Everybody down there except the cops thought I was an undercover cop. I would sometimes be serenaded with "Bad Boys" as I walked down the street. For a while I worked outreach attempting to get the homeless mentally ill to come in to the Lamp Organization instead of braving the streets. I continued to live down there while I was attending Los Angeles City College. The rent was astoundingly cheap. Because of my connection with Lamp, I had a studio apartment for fifty-two bucks a month. Living down there truly was an eye-opening experience. I've had friends who were too terrified to come and visit me. I learned a lot down there and came to respect the courage and ingenuity of the people who chose to live that way.

Not everyone down there is a model citizen though. There are a lot of drunks and druggies but they don't always cause trouble. One day, while I was walking home on Crocker a recent Cadillac parked on the other side of the street, I saw a man get out, reach into his coat and pull out a pistol. He called out a woman's name and just as I was walking past the last tent on the street before my doorway (that was a time when there were tents all along Crocker St.) a woman emerged and stood up. The man began firing. I crouched in my doorway. After he drove away I looked back to see the woman's legs protruding from the doorway of her tent. Once I got inside, other people there had already called 911. As her face was uncovered when the EMTs put her in the ambulance I assume she was still alive. That was the last I ever saw of her. Some of life can only be experienced in isolated glimpses.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

@Numinous - You were probably the only person who chose to live that way. The rest just couldn't get out. Little difference there, no?

Z 4:03 PM  

@mathgent - I nominate Eno and Ono. Also Ott and Yma. I'm drawing a blank on someone contemporaneous enough to pair with Uma.

As for tomorrow's presumed Eno/Ono appearance, I'm hoping to see them stacked with Anno crossing the N's. Too bad it's not Brian Eño and Yoko Oño, then we could always cross one of them with Año and avoid the entire asshole discussion.

@I am Not a Robot - My search engine turned up this and also a Yelp page for sushi lovers in NYC (I hope the link works, my iPad keeps opening my Yelp app to nearby restaurants). And seriously, doesn't an "affectionado" sound more approachable than an "aficionado?" "I'm a bitter old cuss so I have an affection for bitter IPA's" is way better than "the cascade hops provide a strong floral bouquet, while the brewer's inspired decision to use Saaz as a finishing hop provides this IPA with a smooth finish."

Numinous 4:11 PM  

@Anonymous 3:06, you would be surprised. It's true, some people are trapped there and can't get out. Many who began as trapped there decided they didn't want to leave when opportunities may have become available. Everybody in the building I lived in on Stanford and 7th stayed because they wanted to. I also knew people on the street who liked where they were. They liked not having the responsibilities of mortgages, car payments, insurance expenses, electricity, gas and water bills, the trappings of the American Dream. I knew one guy who lived in a tent on the street who worked at a local McDonalds. He did his laundry every other day or so and I guess washed up and shaved in the bathroom where he worked. I believe the welfare office also posted jobs.

It is also true there were many who were content to subsist on welfare alone or who lived in the various shelters and missions in that part of town. Knowing where to stand on the street at various times of the day one could eat up to five full meals.

So, no. I wasn't the only one who lived there by choice. Everybody had their individual reason for being there and I was surprised that while it certainly wasn't wonderful it wasn't a total nightmare either.

Numinous 4:24 PM  

@Z, I'm not sure if she's contemporary enough but Uta Hagen pops instantly to mind.

Z 4:34 PM  

@Numi - Who gets to be king, though, Uma or Uta? Or maybe we end up with a polyamory situation with Nas rapping away?

iamjess 4:38 PM  

I was a tad disappointed that Kodak was left out of today's themers. Spending the rest of the day with the song "Kodachrome" in my head....

Numinous 5:09 PM  

@Z, well there is an Ulf from the hill tribes in Game of Thrones.

There was one camera I liked better than my Nikon. I'm betting nobody here thought of it at all and there was no way it could ever have been hidden. The Graflex Crown or Speed Graphic. I've owned both. Interesting side note: The battery tube for those massive flash bulb holders that were mounted on the sides of those old 4x5 "press" cameras you'll remember from old black and white films were the very first light saber handles used in Star Wars.

mathgent 5:21 PM  

@Z: OTT definitely belongs in the royal court. Also ONO. YMA used to be in all the time but not much lately.

Moly Shu 5:40 PM  

@M&A, those do look like the profiles of a camera. Extra points awarded all around.
And for the sake of balance, it was jarring/disturbing/frightening to see CORNEL clued so benignly/innapropriately/offensively. (choose your own legitimizing descriptors)
Puzzle was fine, just right for a Monday.
Thanks @Anabel, refreshing as always.

chefwen 6:25 PM  

@Anon 6:27 - Up yours!
@Anon 7:48 - Thank you, where is spell check when you need it?

I am not a robot 7:13 PM  

@Z, Thanks. Now I'm an affectionado of those sites

Leapfinger 9:28 PM  

Pro hoc fallacy? Sounds like what we learned under the heading of "Correlation does not imply causality".

I'm with @Glimmerglass: panties in a bunch. Also: knickers in a knot.

TTheme related: Julie Harris starred in "I Am a Camera"; Walter Kerr famously reviewed that play with "Me no Leica".

I once hid a camera in a tree; It was the gingKO DAKota Fanning climbed in "I Am Sam". My take on German cameras is somewhat different from @AliasZ's; all I could think of was what a HASSLE BLADder infections can be to treat, properly, that is.

Great fill, AH, as mentioned. Delightful for a Monday, stellar for a debut.

Fs4569 9:29 PM  

Easy puz but a friendly and positive review. Comments reflected that, too. There's a place for those - like me - who aren't so smart that they can't appreciate constructors and reviewers who are thinking about us.

Z 10:05 PM  

Go commando and avoid the whole issue. Just mind the zipper, gents.

Mr. Clean 11:03 PM  

Oh sure. And get skid marks on your chinos.

Glad I don't do your laundry, @Z.

Teedmn 11:09 PM  

No votes for "grundies in a bunch"? Or is that just a southern Minnesota thing?

Leapfinger 11:58 PM  

Grundies, @Teedmn? Grundies, you say? The only Grundies I know are Solomons, one of whom was born on a Monday, and, after being buried on Sunday, was revivified as an immortal zombie super-villain.

I don't believe a simple pair would qualify as a 'bunch'.

spacecraft 11:33 AM  

There were other SPUTNIKs? Who knew? That ONE got me; couldn't imagine what TODO with those extra three squares. Other WOEs: though a Stones fan, I must reiterate my near-total lack of album title knowledge. I've heard of old-time actor CORNEL Wilde, but West? Nope. And...BASMATI? Really? on a MONDAY?? So the SE was last and toughest for me; thus, easy-medium.

I agree with @Lewis that the circles are a Monday concession, but they really weren't needed. That stuff just clutters up the grid, IMO. And today, they "un-hide" the 51-acrosses. The brand names do form parts of different words, so that aspect gets a pass. But the theme density--only three entries plus a fitting (sort of) revealer, should make for some tighter fill. Yet we have two total letter strings, CSINY and (horrors!) MTWTF, plus a gaggle of tired (Hi, Annabel!) xwordese: IDO crossing IDI in the center (!), BESTS, ASEA crossing ESAU, your ERIKS and ERINS, your RTZ (random time zone) and an awkward partial for a finale (ITSA). Not to mention that IRED IS NOT A WORD!!

On the plus side, the two long downs make a lovely mini-theme: ESCAPEROUTE and NEARESTEXIT. ICANONLYHOPE that our new contributor will send us more of that, and less fill flotsam. Since I just rewatched ERIN Brokovich, I'll make Julia Roberts once again DOD; she can never have the title too many times, IMO. In keeping with the upbeat spirit of our guest blogger today, I'll give this new guy a par. Those downs WERE great.

Burma Shave 11:53 AM  


have no DAMN HIDDENCAMERA, ORR I’m screwed,
I’ll need an ESCAPEROUTE even if ITSA DRILL –


leftcoastTAM 12:38 PM  

That is all.

rondo 12:44 PM  

IDO think this puz was well above average in quality and difficulty for a Mon-puz. Coupla w/0s in the west with BEaTS and nearby ENdUp before ENSUE, hey, that OCd looked OK until reading the down clue.

Far too arcane or esoteric – “Elastomer lubricant” = forMINOLTAblet.

Used to subscribe to the National LAMPOON. Also have the complete National LAMPOON Radio Hour in digital format. NOW that was humor.

Couldn’t we have gone with Aaron NEVILLE and/or the brothers?

My very own expert authority assures me that SPUTNK literally means “satellite”. The moon is a SPUTNIK of the LUNAR sort.

Seeing as @spacey is on top of ERIN’S deal, I’ll stretch out for yeah baby tennis star MARIA Sharapova.

This was a fun puz TODO. Let’s see if something good TURNSUP on Tuesday.

Diana,LIW 1:32 PM  

Having played with mostly downs in that area I left in BEaTS, and totally forgot about poor little SPUTNIKONE, circling about and saying "nyah nyah" to the US of A.

BESTS. Who says that?

Must say I'm a bit IRED with myself for yet another one-letter dnf. 'Twill be hanging my head in shame...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 2:06 PM  

I know that Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young make up CSNY. But who do you toss in there to get CSINY? Burl Ives? Billy Idol. Chris Isaak? An Iglesias? Enquiring minds . . .

spacecraft 6:54 PM  

Isaac Hayes? The Ink Spots?

Diana,LIW 7:58 PM  

What happened to our Canadian bloke?

Diana, you know who

rondo 8:58 PM  

Iggy (Pop, not Azalea)

Blogger 8:59 PM  

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