Kipling mongoose / MON 8-28-17 / Notable grammatically incorrect declaration by Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist

Monday, August 28, 2017

Constructor: Dan Margolis

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (harder, slightly, than avg Monday)

THEME: Equines — themers end with equines

Theme answers:
  • STUBBORN AS A MULE (17A: Extremely obstinate)
  • ONE-TRICK PONY (26A: Person who's talented but not versatile)
  • THE LAW IS A ASS (44A: Notable (and grammatically incorrect) declaration by Mr. Bumble in "Oliver Twist")
  • ON ONE'S HIGH HORSE (57A: Acting haughtily and pompously)
Word of the Day: BERM (39A: Road shoulder) —
noun: berm; plural noun: berms
a flat strip of land, raised bank, or terrace bordering a river or canal.
  • a path or grass strip beside a road.
  • an artificial ridge or embankment, e.g., as a defense against tanks. (wikipedia)
• • •

Nah. It's just not good enough. The theme is too loose: there's no progression or revealer or anything. Just ... equine types? No. Not NYT-worthy (or shouldn't be). Also, that ASS answer is ridiculous. I am an English Ph.D. and have no idea what this quote is doing. PAIN IN THE ASS totally fits—why would you not go with that infinitely better / more in-the-language phrase? Please don't give me any prim, well-I-never type answers. If you can have THELAWISAASS, you can have PAIN IN THE ASS. Wake up and smell the coffee and get with the times, etc., NYT. Yeesh.

CGI (51A: Staple of sci-fi filmmaking, for short) x/w GIGS (52D: Play dates?) was the last square I got, and it was tough, as both clues were deeply unclear about what they were after. Beyond that, the main problem was (duh) that ridiculous LAW/ASS answer. I mean, really. Come on. You want ASS in there, do a little work to come up with something familiar / Monday-ish. And BERM? Blargh. I call that the shoulder, as do road signs. I think my NZ wife calls it the "Verge"?  Weird that none of the above definitions (see "Word of the Day," above) contain the word "shoulder." It's almost as if "shoulder" and whatever BERM is are different things. ALOT is overly common, as opposed to ALOG, which is just terrible. Do you like OHMS *and* ERGS in your puzzle? Lucky you, today. I don't understand why this puzzle exists. Tepid filler. "Holy mackerel" is American. EGAD isn't. Try Harder, Everyone. God bless the people of Houston. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. New episode of my crossword podcast, "On the Grid" (w/ Lena Webb) is now available for your enjoyment. 

P.P.S. Here are a couple of newish indie crossword puzzle sites that are very much worth checking out, both of them run by *very* young people (literal infants! well, teenagers, anyway). Paolo Pasco's "Grids These Days" and Jenna Lafleur's "Jenna Sais Quoi." Give 'em a try and spread the word.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 12:22 AM  

This was about as straight forward as it gets. I screwed myself up at the start with a SPACE/ENTER write over. I guess it's really a space bar and not considered a key but that gives you an idea of my keyboard awareness. I didn't get TOOTSIE off the initial T and the double AA in 44A did cause a double take. That was settled by reading the clue. other than those little glitches it was typical Monday smooth sailing with numerous across clues skipped due to dropping in the downs.

Noam D. Elkies 12:23 AM  

The Oliver Twist quote used to be a clue for old-school crosswordese AASS (though somewhat to my surprise it doesn't appear in the database, not even during the Maleska era and before. It uses "ass" in the G-rated "idiot" sense (indeed the context is "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass — a idiot"); so no, it doesn't raise the same breakfast-test flags as "pain in the ass", though it's true that these days such an entry would be almost unremarkable (we've had ARSE and even SHTUP and the infamous MID-ASS TOUCH).

jae 12:36 AM  

On the tough side of medium for me too, and @puzzlehoarder and me too for space before ENTER. I also had ufo before CGI. Liked it more,than @Rex did, but he makes some good points.

Anonymous 12:38 AM  

To be fair a "Pain in the Ass" wouldn't be referring to a equine creature but too your rear, unless Pain in the Ass has a totally different etymology than I suspect. So in that respect the theme makes a little more sense, but yes this was not a good puzzle.

Mike in Mountain View 1:12 AM  

Not sure what the objection is to the use of one of the most famous quotes from Dickens. Thought the puzzle was easy-medium. Berm was an outlier. Made the same space before ENTER mistake as @puzzlehoarder and@jae.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

I think @anon 12:38 makes all the objection to OFL's objection to 44A that needs to be made. Case closed.

chefwen 2:05 AM  

Pretty easy Monday in my book. One write over due to putting the right answer in the wrong place, doesn't count.

I always want to force a K into RIKKI-TIKI ending. It never works.

My avatar is STUBBORN AS A MULE, I have to coax her to eat her cheese omelet every morning. The other guy has to have his served in a maze bowl to slow him down. That bowl is the best invention, ever.

Cute Monday, liked it.

Cassieopia 2:50 AM  

Solved the puzzle with my typical Monday approach: fill all the crosses with whatever comes to mind, then all the downs, rinse and repeat until puzzle is solved. In that way I completely missed seeing BERM which is a perfectly good word and in common use although not as a road shoulder. Rex is right and I think the editors swung and missed on that clue. Only hang up today was EvaDE for ELUDE and ufo for CGI. Otherwise smooth sailing and decently entertaining in a monday-sort of manner. But ditch the BERM. Ha.

Johnny 3:22 AM  

I almost broke my personal record on this one. I finished in 4:15 on an iPad.

Very easy, very Monday. That Dickens quote was easy, but I didn't need it because all the crosses were gimmes. BERM is a very common and proper term for the side of a highway; shoulder was in the clue, and is also a specifically different thing. The Wikipedia definition cited doesn't include it, because it's friggin' Wikipedia.

Thomaso808 4:59 AM  

Lucky me today -- I do like ERGS and OHMS in my Monday puzzle, Rex!

Easy peazy, almost beat my record time for Mon.

Agree with Anon 12:38 about Rex's PAIN IN THE ASS idea.

Rex says "I don't know why this puzzle exists." Well, I liked the two grid-spanner themers and two other themers, three with common phrases and one a Dickens quote. No revealer needed. I liked KARMA crossing TAROT right in the center of the grid. I liked VITTLES and TOOTSIE, and DOBATTLE crossing SUMO. I liked the IGHTs in WRIGHT crossing EIGHT. I like the little extra 49A REIN thrown in on the equine theme. I like being reminded that Kathmandu is actually in NEPAL. I like in the NW for 1A ACID we get a battery clue but for the SE 56D CELL we get a not-battery clue. There is a lot of wordplay in this puzzle and I like it. A very good Monday puzzle IMHO.

Lewis 5:37 AM  
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Lewis 5:39 AM  

To add to @thomas's wordplay observations:


Would have been nice to have PINTO in a theme answer, which would have blended well with BEANTOWN.

BarbieBarbie 6:30 AM  

Huh. 180 from Rex. Filled in CGI with no crosses. Ditto the Dickens. What's your problem, Michael?

I would list my positive comments, but they completely overlap with @Thomas', so just a "yup."

Interesting to read here that ASS in the idiot sense gets an equine connection, while ASS in the patootie sense does not. What's the etymology, then?

@chefwen, dairy gives dogs gas. Go easy on the cheese. Maybe little Avatar would prefer just the egg.

Hungry Mother 6:34 AM  

Very fast here too. No problems.

BarbieBarbie 6:41 AM  

Okay, Google result. Greek "orros" (tail, rump, base of spine) to Old English "aers," morphed to "arse" in modern English, got elided to "ass" around the same time that "curse" got "cuss" as an alternative. Nothing to do with a donkey at all. Huh. I learned something today. Thanks commenters.

OTD 6:52 AM  

Went through this like the proverbial knife through butter. From where I grew up in Ohio we used BERM more than shoulder. And I agree with Mike in Mountain View concerning one of Dickens' most famous quotes.

webwinger 6:58 AM  

My time was almost 50% longer than usual Monday; kept asking myself what day it was, with all the ? clues. Thought the theme was just OK, but the Dickens quote has long been a favorite for me. If you've just been fretting over its appearance in the puzzle, read the full thing (see Noam Elkies 12:23 above), consider, and smile...

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

I am an Ass Ph.D.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Without crosses, filled in ‘being a horses ass’ for the last themer, which I liked a lot. Didn’t notice the equine duplication with THE LAW IS A ASS at the time.

Felt easy to me but quite a few wheelhouse items, including OHMS and ERGS which I do want in my puzzle, thank you very much.

Mr. Grumpypants 7:38 AM  

Merriam Webster. berm: the shoulder of a road. Get a better dictionary, Rex

three of clubs 7:50 AM  

Can't think of a quotable current/recent author --- meaning I can't think of a quotation from a book or play within the last twenty or thirty years that I would expect most literate people to know. Maybe a song from a musical or some incantation from Harry Potter.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

Faster than average for me, too.
But I'm not a PhD in English, so...

Two Ponies 7:56 AM  

Fine puzzle. No ugly fill. Throw in some Dickens and Shakespeare to send us off for another week.
Nice to see Mr. Elkies stopping by, it's been awhile.

Mondays are good for focusing on trivia so here's mine.
Prongs are descriptive of horns not antlers.

Lewis 8:24 AM  

Only in crosswords and highway planning does BERM become an issue.

chefbea 8:26 AM  

Had no idea what the theme was...til I came here. Didn't we just have Isaha thomas???

Mr. Benson 8:36 AM  

Another hand up in agreement with @Anon 12:38 re "pain in the ass." In fact, I would venture to guess that if "pain in the ass" appeared in that spot, a certain crossword blogger would rant about that outlier and demand the head of a certain crossword editor.

Wm. C. 8:39 AM  

@Chefbea --

No, but we might just have had ISAIAH Thomas. ;-)

QuasiMojo 8:55 AM  

Has anyone else had the (frequent) odd experience of talking about a subject with people and then finding it in the NYT puzzle the same or next day? I had that experience with Toledo.

EGAD, why is Rex being so NEIGH-saying today? This was a fun, smart puzzle with some great clues and answers and a clever equine theme. The only thing missing was Mr. Ed.

I always use the word BERM to describe the side of a road, especially if it features grass. I think a VERGE is more specific than that. My I AM NOT A ROBOT clues had several BERMS in them.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

The law is a ass is the best thing about this puzzle. Michael Sharp is an ass.

Wm. C. 9:00 AM  

Actually, it was ISIAH Thomas yesterday. I guess that's a variant spelling, since I think ISAIAH is the correct one.

BTW, at 5' 8" he's the shortest player in the NBA. But shortness can actually be an advantage in driving to the basket, especially since he's fast.

G. Weissman 9:00 AM  

No, that write over does count. Human error is not an excuse.

RAD2626 9:03 AM  

Actually we have had ISIAH both times but what's one letter among friends?

Puzzle was straightforward, with a theme that hardly needed a revealer. Fortunately knew GIGS because did not know CGI.

Nancy 9:04 AM  

No dr__EQUUS__ good, I thought.* (translation below).

Not so easy to come up with four (4) equine expressions, three of them quite colorful. Lacking in crunch (it's Monday), but other than that, I liked the playfulness of this and found solving it enjoyable.

*No dreck, was good, I thought.

The Hermit Philosopher 9:05 AM  

Re @Mike in Mountain View et al. -- Rex's "objection" to a famous quote from Dickens is, of course, his juvenile resentment against the NYT. Hey, Rex: GROW UP and GET OVER YOURSELF.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

@wm. c. 9:00 a.m. -Isiah Thomas, listed at 6'1" was never the shortest player in the N.B.A. He was a contemporary of Muggsy Bogues (5'4") and Spudd Webb (5'7").

RAD2626 9:13 AM  

If you get a chance look at the Dorothea Shipp NYT Sunday puzzle from 12/9/90 linked by Jim Horne at Xword Info and which contains an expanded version of the Dickens quote. What a beast that puzzle is. Confident I could not have completed with a dozen Google tickets. Would have crashed on top row. Difficulty scale: 13/10.

Nancy 9:26 AM  

Awwww, Mike in Mountain View and Stuart Showalter. If you hadn't brought it to my attention, I could have gone out on this beautiful day without having the faintest idea that Rex had objected to the inclusion of one of the best and oft-cited quotes in all of literature. That he does so object is something I would truly be happier not knowing. But kudos to you both for calling him on it.

GHarris 9:42 AM  

Had space before enter, ego quickly alerted me. Law is a ass is a perfectly good expression and often an accurate one. Always thought of berm as a raised shoulder like after the snow plow came through.

jberg 9:48 AM  

So here I am, with only the first E in 5A, saying to myself -- "well, flat would fit, but that key is narrower than others. So maybe I'm supposed to put in natl (for natural)? Better check the crosses." Fortunately, doing so fixed the problem quickly.

I love NOEL Coward, but would have preferred a paired cluing with XMAS.

As for the Dickens quotation, it was lucky for me that the clue specified "grammatically incorrect," or I'd've been stumped.

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Hey All !
Perfectly fine MonPuz. Simple theme, easy to solve. I did online today, and came in at 7 minutes. I think that's my Monday record. And I wasn't trying to be fast. I like to look at each clue, even if I get the answer auto-filled by crosses, I go back to read the clue. Light on dreck, also.

Writeovers like most of y'all, space-ENTER, EvaDE-ELUDE. Easy to clean up.

Good puz, THANKS Dan M. However, no F's!


Robert A. Simon 10:06 AM  

By far the best thing about today's puzzle was the title ("Jenna Sais Quoi") that Jenna LaFleur has given to her puzzle site. Thanks, Rex, for the tip, and thanks, Jenna for the smile early on a Monday...

Z 10:11 AM  

I once owned a BERM house. It wasn't on the shoulder of a road. Rather, it used earth as an insulator to lower energy use. I paid less than $250 a year for heating and cooling in west Michigan. As a comparison, when we moved to metro Detroit my winter heating bill for January would approach the annual costs for my BERM home. Needless to say, definition 1.2 is firmly ensconced in my brain. Then noel before XMAS made that section really tough for me.

BTW - @Mr. Grumpypants - Oxford makes no mention of road shoulders. I wouldn't go so far as to say Oxford is a "better" dictionary, but it is at least as respected. So, I agree with Rex. If I go to a respected dictionary and the definition does not appear then maybe, just maybe, your clue isn't Monday appropriate.

As for the theme - I count two dead metaphors (I'm guessing <1% of solvers have ever experienced the stubbornness of mules or know without thought or google why the horse is high), one dying metaphor (Why should a pony have two tricks and why should it matter - If you don't go to circuses anymore why would you care?) and a British colloquialism from at least the 1600's. All of which would be fine if there was some sort of unifying whole that elicited an "oh, cool." But rather I got a "Equines? That's it?" This is the sort of theme I expect to get in my Newsday puzzle, not the NYT (BTW - @Mr. Grumpypants, not to pick on you or Merrimam-Webster but it lists the first usage of ONE TRICK PONY as 1980).

Nancy 10:12 AM  

"Shortness can actually be an advantage in driving to the basket."
--Wm. C (8:38)

"Yes, but it's a huge disadvantage once you get there."
--Nancy (10:12)

Dan'l 10:46 AM  

@Z, I am amazed at how consistently you manage to show us what an insufferable ass looks like. You must be impossible to live with.

jb129 10:50 AM  

Very easy.

chasklu 10:53 AM  

Easier than normal Monday. Only was thinking of musical keyboard where WHITE keys are wider than black. I like that Dickens quote. Never realized there was a theme though.

kitshef 10:53 AM  

2nd day in a row baskeballing Thomases are causing trouble.

ISIAH Thomas - spelled as such - played from 1981-1994 and is in the hall of fame. He also had a disastrous stint as the Knicks President in the 20-oughts.

Isaiah Thomas is the current player - played for the Celtics last year and now traded to the Cavaliers. At 5'9", he is tied with Kay Felder (also of the Cavaliers) for the shortest player in the NBA currently.

The Hermit Philosopher 10:54 AM  

Sometimes I wonder why I bother checking this blog every day. But then I remind myself that it's to see how much more of "a ass" Rex can be.

Joseph Michael 10:55 AM  

Methinks perchance Rex is a ass. Especially if he teaches English and does not recognize a Dickens quote.

This is a SOLID Monday grid with a simple, well-executed theme and very little drek. Friendly to newbies yet good enough to keep old pros entertained. No need for a revealer since the theme speaks for itself.

A berm. A berm. My kingdom for a berm.

Carola 11:32 AM  

In the responses grid, I'm in the square where "liked it" crosses "Monday-easy." Besides the puzzle pleasures noted by others, I liked STUBBORN x DO BATTLE and EGO (not that I recognize myself, or anything).

In the "how wrong you can go with one letter" department: Before checking Downs, I wrote in "THE LAd IS A ASS," thinking the reference was to Oliver.

Of all things, learning BERM is one of those "I know where I was and what I was doing when..." something usually more momentous happens: visiting friends in Ohio (hi, @OTD), driving with them down the highway, when one of them referred to the BERM. Immediate cartooon thought balloon over my head: "BERM?!?"

Master Melvin 11:50 AM  

What, aren't there any Dickens comic books?

mathgent 11:58 AM  

If you're running through the comments quickly, please go back to two from @Nancy at 9:04 and 10:12. Classic.

old timer 12:00 PM  

J'ai beaucoup a redire sur cet jeu de mots, as Moliere might have said. On ONES HIGH HORSE is lame. The long across there should have been taken out and replaced rather than have to use "one's". EGAD is stupid and antique. BERM is too obscure for a Monday. XMAS smacks of desperation, and the last thing dear Santa would ever do is to write it (much less say it).

Does OFL mention these, as I expected he would? No. Instead he criticizes THE LAW IS A ASS. A phrase that he, as a Professor of English with some specialty in the 19th Century surely has read, or read about many times. Why? Because he has absolutely no sense of humor. Probably every reader who read that the first time it came out laughed or at least giggled. But not our beloved @Rex, Ah, welladay!

I've seen MULEs (in the High Sierra) and am grateful I never had to deal with them. They can be very stubborn indeed, though they are very efficient pack animals. The metephor is by no means dead. Neither is ONE TRICK PONY, I think. I agree, I would have to Google to discover why or how "On his high horse" came into the language.

Appreciate the research above on the origin of ASS, in the sense of backsides. Though the universal tern in England remains the older "arse". Unfortunately what Dickens meant was the animal, which we in America call a donkey, HEE-HAW! And the animal, though less useful than its hybrid descendant the MULE, indeed is ridiculous in its behavior. Hence the common meaning of ASS in the sense of "idiot" or"fool."

Bax'N'Nex 12:10 PM  

Oh my god...what a total dick (ass?) Michael Sharpe is. (Sorry, no Michael,you are "king" of nothing).

Why not start putting "kiss my ass", "stick it up your ass" and other crude references to people's rear ends? Don't get my wrong, I have no problem cussing up a storm, but shouldn't this crossword, that is offered to the masses, be sensitive to ALL those folks sensibilities. You think just because you (and I, admittedly) use ass as slang, that EVERYONE is comfortable with it?

This puzzle was fine and a really easy Monday. And thank you to the constructor for providing it for my enjoyment.

Masked and Anonymous 12:19 PM  

A very stable MonPuz. Am feelin slightly donkey-smooched that @RP disliked the A+ASS themer … as it was my a+bsolute fave. It had some 'tude. But kinda suspected what the @RP theme verdict would be, as soon as I saw a "ONES" lurkin in the last themer herd member. Coulda been worse … they mighta used the circles on the ONES part. har

Thought it was a pretty good ride, for a MonPuz. Sorta hard to add punch to an equine-themed puz, I'd grant. Phrases were all consistent, in that the equine always brought up the rear. Good. Maybe some more punch from the non-themer long entries woulda put this puppy over the top. Or maybe sneak in a KICK/HERD/POOP entry somewheres.

fave moo-horsey eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Loch ___ monster}. staff weeject pick: HTS. Sure bet to make the Weeject Grtst Hts Lst.

Brief moment of eau de speration: ALOG. But, really … this here puzfill was pretty darn POOP-free. [There's yer problem, all told. Just ain't an official full-rodeo for m&e, without some POOP.]

Thanx, Mr. Margolis. U seem to specialize in Mondays, huh?

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Joe Bleaux 12:27 PM  
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Joe Bleaux 12:34 PM  
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Two Ponies 12:59 PM  

Mules might be stubborn but they also are very strong and sure-footed.
If you ever take the mule ride on Molokai to the leper colony you will appreciate them for their special talents. It is an experience I recommend for many other reasons as well.
Also, the ponies in my name are not the equine type, not that anyone cares I suppose.

Aketi 1:11 PM  

@Nancy, brilliant!

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

I was going for KisMet for 29D and didn't even notice it was truncated until my fortune teller's card was a TAsOT (so much for my foresight). This puzzle did have a bit more crunch to it than a typical Monday (crunch is good). But most of my extra time was spent checking the crosses of SAASS once, twice, just to avoid the always annoying Monday DNF, which I successfully ELUDEd.

I liked the clues "Rest of the afternoon" = SIESTA (42A) and 52D's "Play dates?" = GIGS. "Fell to the seabed" got a smile - SANK seemed a bit anticlimactic for that clue.

Thanks, Dan Margolis, for a horse of a different color Monday.

Smarty Pants 1:14 PM  

First use of "one trick pony" is 1980??
That cannot be. This phrase comes from a much earlier time when a "dog and pony show" was a colloquialism for a small traveling circus.
I found a reference from 1904 which sounds much more likely.
Perhaps our regular pundit @ Z should dig a little deeper before posting.

Patrick Morrissey 1:16 PM  

I ended at same place Rex did. Space bar messed me up too. CGI? New one for me. I got gigs.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

My thought exactly.

Masked and Anonymous 1:44 PM  

@Two Ponies: yep. M&A, another long-timer, sure does recall yer "two ponies" specialization type -- altho not the caliber. Agree with U, that mules are amazin, darlin. Our little local bijou used to park a live mule out front, whenever they started showin a "Francis the Talkin Mule" flick, back in the 50s. It was real friendly, and sure did like carrots.
The only mule I ever actually rode on (down on a farm) still had a dash of buck left in her, tho … just enough to see if U was payin attention.

Has the NYTPuz ever had a theme where they mixed the breeds of equinanimals together, somehow? [Examples: MULEKONGJR. MULINGAROUND. DOGANDMULESHOW.] That'd be good & weirdball. A crossbreed puz.

Again, my compliments to today's constructioneer, on his third of three MonPuz offerins. They're one of the hardest days to qualify a puz for. I'll never come close … unless they wanna start runnin runtz.
Sooo … I'll never come close.


kitshef 1:52 PM  

@Smarty Pants - @Z was not using Merriam Webster to bolster his own argument, but rather as part of a commentary on the post of @Mr. Grumpypants, who did use Merriam Webster.

In other words, you and @Z are in agreement - that the origin of one-trick pony is earlier than 1980.

I'm not sure that's true, though. I mean, it is true as a literal description of a performing equine, but what about used in modern sense of a person with a limited repertoire? Anyone have a reference using that before 1980?

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Why all the hate for the professor. Come on guys, as soon as his Classic Comics version of Oliver Twist hits his mailbox, Rex couldn't possibly be expected to know the law is a ass. I mean, it's not as if he had a Ph.D. in literature.

As for berm,. Um, sorry Z that word is as common as dirt.

Charley 1:57 PM  

Never heard of CGI. Got it and was sure it was wrong.

Missy 3:00 PM  

Or an Isiah!

puzzlehoarder 3:04 PM  

@Kitshef, thanks for the ISAIAH/ ISIAH clarification as well as the word "caprine" the other day ' both news to me.

Pete 3:49 PM  

I don't know what progression Rex might have been looking for in this particular collection of equus, but I do have one to offer on my own.

There's a farm on the way to where I take my dogs to swim in the river which has the complete collection all turned out in the field: Horse, pony, mule, donkey with a burro thrown in for good measure. They also have a pet pot-belly pig there for amusement. Their amusement seems to be picking on the pig. The donkey is hands-down the worst. The rest are just plain lazy.

Hal 3:51 PM  

I had BEM before CGI.

Mr. Grumpypants 3:53 PM  

@Z : "If I go to a respected dictionary {I certainly hope that being around since 1828 is good enough] and the definition does ... appear then maybe, just maybe, [the] clue [is] Monday appropriate." I should have suggested that Rex broaden his search rather than just copying what appeared to be the first Google hit. Regards, the Grump

Cassieopia 4:55 PM  

@GHarris - exactly. I always thought a berm had a raised component to it of some sort, whereas road shoulders are typically the flat areas outside the white lines, with a berm at the edge where the roadbed is elevated (next to the runoff ditch). Good arguments here in favor of the cluing but I thought it was off.

David in CA 4:56 PM  

Another fine puzzle reamed by the great reamer. See majority of previous comments for details.

Nancy 4:57 PM  

Thanks, @mathgent! Thanks, @Aketi! How nice of you to say that.

Unknown 6:10 PM  

After showing ignorance of Pirandello and Behan, the English Doc misses the Dickens joke. Oy.

Aketi 6:33 PM  

Cante help it with all the equines in the puzzle. Found a video of a Zonkey. I have a vague (potential alt) memory that I learned from a crossword puzzle.

Anonymous 7:26 PM  

I have never commented before, but I can't resist responding to Rex's disparagement of the Mr. Bumble clue. I confess that I was an undergraduate English major, so maybe I am not the best person to ask about Dickens. But I know the Mr. Bumble quotation well, and I think anyone who knows Dickens has a chance of knowing it --- lack of grammar and all. Maybe it was too hard for a Monday, but I thought it was a lovely clue and a lovely answer.

chefwen 7:52 PM  

Our new buddy ISIAH is making the rounds, he popped up in the WSJ puzzle today, quite the social butterfly.

ArtO 9:43 PM  

Late as it is, can't help but add my two cents to say that "it's just a Monday puzzle" Rex.

There's plenty I don't know but I woudln't make it a cause celebre to show my lack by criticizing an otherwise reasonable puzle.. Maybe tougher than the usual Monday, but fine in any event.

Anonymous 11:20 PM  

Did everyone miss the fact that they spelled 'Isaiah' for Isaiah Thomas wrong? I am still reeling.

Anonymous 11:58 PM  

that's how he spells his name, brah.

Anonymous 11:59 PM  

isaiah thomas is a current player. isiah thomas is a hall of farmer.

Anonymous 12:00 AM  

i'll be certain to check out that podcast, because rex seems like an easy-going, amusing bloke.

Anonymous 12:03 AM  


Arabian Colt Mules 4:42 AM  

@Two ponies@12:59 pm
Ah, Molokai leper colony!!!! That mule ride was indeed one of the most interesting things I've ever done.
Back in the Day as a Dating Game Chaperone, they sent the couple to Molokai where there was NOTHING to do (spa/golf course being built, but not yet complete...the guy that rented the car(s) and bicycles was on vacation (really WAS a ONEHORSETOWN)
so we did the mule ride down the cliff, and met the sole surviving leper who told his life story and Father Damian's.
(When leprosy was contained, and the colony closed, he had no family and nowhere to go so was devoting his life to telling the story).

Easily one of the Most memorable days of my life (back when I had one!)

Tarheeled 3:33 PM  

Super easy walk through. Didn't catch the horse theme until I got on here. Figured It was just another blah Monday puzzle. Only one write over at MAX. I forget what I had down first.

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thefogman 9:42 AM  

I found this one very easy even for a Monday. I don't feel the rage OFL has against it. I did finish at exactly the same spot as he did but don't feel the cluing for 51A and 52D was bad or unfair as he does. CGI comes up a lot in crosswords, and a GIG is definitely a job for a musician and thus a "date to play" so why is Rex so outraged? I will say the puzzle was lacking sparkle. Kinda meh. But nothing to be upset about.

Burma Shave 9:42 AM  


to be SOLID and NAIL his ONETRICK only,
THANKS to his HIGHHORSE you WILL play the fool.


rondo 12:02 PM  

In my world you would get laughed out of town if you called the shoulder of a road a BERM. In civil engineering a BERM is an embankment, often combined with a swale, usually constructed to facilitate and/or contain or direct drainage; never ever a shoulder ALONG a road. Just sayin’. Now I’ll get off my HIGHHORSE.

No horsing around to finish this easy puz. Got the equine vibe after the ONETRICKPONY, only knew the Bumble quote from the film The Paper Chase where it is used grammatically correctly THELAWISA(n)ASS.

EGAD! No SLIM, CUTE yeah baby unless we go to TOOTSIE, NAMELY for Jessica, or Teri, or Geena. Or elsewhere for Robin WRIGHT.

SOLID enough for a Mon-puz. OFL might want to REIN in the EGO.

spacecraft 12:11 PM  

It is sometimes difficult to keep breaking news out of a blog supposedly devoted to puzzles. The challenging puzzle for us right now, in syndicated time, is to figure out why a 64-year-old retiree would hole up in a hotel room with ten guns and mow down upwards of 600 people, nearly 10% fatally. It seems incongruous to comment about a crossword at a time like this. Nevertheless...

For OFL, as an English teacher (!) to rail at one of the most famous Dickensian quotes is hard to understand. His comment on the viability of some laws is timeless; truly a classic quote. It was, in fact, my first entry. Multi-line clues draw my attention, and this one took up six lines of print. This puzzle was easy for me; the real-life one: not so much.

thefogman 1:23 PM  

Francis the Talking Mule > Mr. Ed

spacecraft 1:33 PM  

P.S. In a grisly ironic twist vis-à-vis today's theme: this idiot's last name was...Paddock.

rainforest 1:43 PM  

@Spacey - I'm with you on this incident, and I'm sure that since you are right there, it really hits home. Absolutely senseless.

I gather that @Rex got on his HIGH HORSE about, what?, the Dickens' quote?, BERM?, the NYT? Don't tell me.

Almost devoid of dreck, a theme that is tight, and a number of excellent clues/entries, make this an admirable Monday puzzle. Certainly nothing here to drive me to cry on ONE'S BERM.

Easy and fun.

leftcoastTAM 3:11 PM  

@spacecraft--Shocking massacre; hard to focus on a simple puzzle, which this one is and, as you suggest, the other one isn't in any way at all.

Diana,LIW 3:20 PM  

I agree with all that the Synders have said. Listing to the news this morning was painful.

@Rondo - I have heard BERM refer to the shoulder, but asked Mr. W (engineer) and he stated otherwise. Could be a regional thing - one online dictionary refers to several PA, OH, WVA states - grew up in/near PA.

Found the theme Monday cute and the puzzle overall Monday easy.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting on the BERM

thefogman 11:05 PM  

The roadside required frequent grass and weed cutting.
Thus, the municipality was tasked to give the BERM a shave.

Diana,LIW 11:52 PM  

Groaning ensued...

Lady Di

Unknown 11:51 AM  

I'm not intimately familiar with Dickens in general or Oliver Twist in particular. However, THE LAW IS A ASS nevertheless had enough of a familiar ring to make sense to me. And all the crosses were fair. So I don't get Rex's objection.

I guess if he had nothing to object to, it wouldn't be any fun, so he just picks something at random and goes on a rant about it. That's as good an explanation as any.

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