State capital ESE of Guadalajara / MON 2-12-18 / Onetime competitor of the WB / Tennis tournament since 1900 / High muckety-muck on Madison ave / Singer Kamoze with 1994 hit Here Comes Hotstepper / Actor John of Problem Child

Monday, February 12, 2018

Constructor: Michael Black

Relative difficulty: normal Monday

THEME: CARDHOLDER (59A: One with credit ... or a literal hint to 17-, 27- and 44-Across) — answers "hold" credit "card" names:

Theme answers:
  • "ELVIS AND ME" (17A: Best-selling autobiography by Priscilla Presley)
  • OAXACA, MEXICO (27A: State capital ESE of Guadalajara)
  • DISCO VERSION (44A: Many a 1970s remix)
Word of the Day: ERIC Burdon (47A: Rock's Clapton or Burdon) —
Of all the British Invasion singers, Eric Burdon had the most physically imposing voice. When he burst onto the scene in 1964, his voice was "big and dark," says Steve Van Zandt. "He invented the genre of the white guy singing low." Nor was the depth of Burdon's pitch lost on Steven Tyler when he first heard Burdon sing "The House of the Rising Sun": "I thought, 'Aha! You start off the song an octave lower so you can flambé the tail end of it an octave higher.' " After his run of hits with the Animals ("It's My Life," "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood") ended, Burdon showed he could handle Seventies funk during his stint in War, recording the torrid "Spill the Wine" and a souled-out version of "Tobacco Road." (
• • •


This is straightforward and fine. I have no strong feelings about it. Very few themers, but they do what they're supposed to do, consistently, and the revealer is, you know, apt, so it works. TOGAED is pretty bad, and something about spelling out OKAY in "IT'S OKAY" is rubbing me the wrong way. I-TEN spelled out like that is never a winner. And overall the thing is a bit proper noun-heavy. SAWII at 1-Across was not a great beginning—that is a crutch of an answer, and it's up with other proper nouns INI, ALLIE, WIE, ELVIS, SEDAKA, EDNA, CADY, AJAX, OJAY, OPERAMAN (note: few of these are *recent* proper nouns). None of these are objectionable (except INI). I'm just trying to figure out why the vibe of this puzzle wasn't more pleasant. Themers were harder than normal to get because, again, proper nouns. Didn't know the "ELVIS AND ME" autbio (1985), needed many crosses to see OAXACA (and didn't expect the MEXICO part at all), and could not fathom the word that came after DISCO. And yet ... there's nothing wrong here. Totally adequate. Gets a pass.

Would've been nice to have had a bouncier grid, given how light the theme was. Grid is mostly familiar 4- and 5-letter stuff, which rarely results in bounce. Haven't been through a car wash in forever and thought the [Machine near the end of a car wash] might be a WIPER. Thought the horror sequel of 2005 might be "SAW VI" or "SAW IV" or "SAW however they made of those." I never saw (...) any of them. Wrote in FADED for FAINT (64A: Barely visible, as a star) and A BIT for ABUT (11D: Touch) (I think I was thinking in the sense of "just a touch..."). Couldn't remember if it was LAU or LAO (61D: "7 Faces of Dr. ___" (1964 film)) (another dated proper noun). So I muddled through it, but my time was pretty normal. "High muckety-muck" for ADEXEC? I know what it means, but I think the last person I heard say it was Mr. C on "Happy Days." So weird (and, again, dated). Anyway, time for curling. Oh, and please enjoy the most bizarre fridge magnet yet:

(two of my more creative readers make illustrated magnets for me every year; not sure this is an accurate representation of what I do, but I *do* love Arthurian literature, so I'm pretty pleased with the upper part of this, at any rate)
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Cliff 12:16 AM  

    I was surprised to see the NILE referred to as a “stream.” Also now as a counterpoint to awkward plurals, we have an unusual singular OJAY.
    Happy Lundi Gras!

    Unknown 12:19 AM  

    TOGAED as a past tense verb?!

    Kimberly 12:21 AM  

    There were a zillion proper/brand names in here. It had so many sticky spots I never got that “breezing through” Monday feeling but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    I was definitely glad for my old(ish) age today. I do remember every great song getting bastardized for disco.

    Unknown 12:21 AM  

    I can imagine Joni, Neil, and Ozzy teaming up with Stan on sax, Ojays backing up for Olympics VISA commercial, Anything you can do, I can do better. HS in Detroit.

    El Vagabundo 12:41 AM  

    TOGAED is actually pronounced TO GAED which is the verb to party in whatever language Miracle Max was speaking. Mr you wish

    Larry Gilstrap 12:46 AM  

    I'm proud to have decent credit, so, bring on a celebration of the credit card. Book a flight, or a hotel, or buy shit on Amazon with a check? Then, somebody came up with the ATM. Three major credit CARD companies in one puzzle, plus revealer? It's only Monday.

    61D to 51D was like a Last Rite of Crossworld. If you can provide this fill, you are still alive. If not, you are indeed dead. Yeah, me!

    I have always liked JONI Mitchell, and I wish her the best. I just heard someone talk about the fact that she has never harmonized with any other singer. Ever! She has a unique instrument and I hope it can continue.

    Lee Coller 12:47 AM  

    Love the magnet. When I saw "togaed" I just cringed.

    Moly Shu 12:53 AM  

    Perfect opportunity for Love Train by the OJAYs, but we get ERIC instead. Oh well, can’t win em all.
    @TwoPonies, I don’t know you and I’ve never met you, so I feel safe in saying that you are neither a racist, nor a piece of shit.
    Cue Anon. reply in 3...2...1.....

    Peter 1:02 AM  

    Definitely my slowest Monday solve in recent memory. Got tripped up by a lot of unfamiliar proper nouns. 2-down in particular was brute force, given 20 and 24 across rang no bells. I never quite remember whether it's an I or a Y in "town crXer" and, again, never heard of this Sanders fellow, so no help there.

    Harryp 1:10 AM  

    PPP up the XYZ. A Q short of a Pangram. Solve time of 12:01, which is my average Monday average.

    chefwen 1:15 AM  

    Not the easiest Monday puzzle for me. Had a hard time remembering how to spell OAXACA, I know exactly how to pronounce it thanks to a friend I had in San Diego. Had dryER before WAXER and more difficulty spelling DEION. Was sure OZZY was OZZie. Bzzzt, too long.
    Also wasn’t fond of TOGAED, but I got ‘er done.

    jae 1:21 AM  

    Not a "normal" Mon. for me. More like a tough Tues. or an easy-med. Wed. I did like it though, except for maybe TOGAED.

    Alia 1:26 AM  

    Allie/Wie/Sedaka was a woe. I’m not sure I’ve ever run across any of those names before and while Allie should probably have been guessable, I have a wicked head cold that’s made solving difficult. Running into a DNF on Monday is demoralizing.

    Thomaso808 3:52 AM  

    On the difficult side for a Monday. EDNA beside CADY was a WOE, but the crosses were fair.

    I just realized that DRYAD has the word DRY in it, so going forward I should be able to figure out my wood nymphs versus water nymphs.

    Good write-up by Rex today. I did not remember Eric Burdon, so that video shout out was cool. Short shorts on that guitar player! Also, that Star Wars video was hilarious as the ultimate DISCOVERSION.

    Loren Muse Smith 4:08 AM  

    Rex – I know, right? We need that Plum Aster Cardinal to complete the set.

    Perfect reveal. I know someone who is not a CARD HOLDER. Period. Always pays cash.

    TOGAED does really look weird. Years ago, BEQ had tiaraed in a grid. Adding that past tense ED can really do a number on a word’s appearance. Would an apostrophe be better? We toga’d until the cows came home. I dunno. That looks weird, too.

    I haven’t samba’d in years.
    I haven’t sambaed in years.

    The ewe baaed when her baby strayed too far.
    The ewe baa’d when her baby strayed too far.

    She’s never hula’d without her lucky grass skirt.
    She’s never hulaed without her lucky grass skirt.

    Then there’s always the problematic crochet and fillet. Crocheted and filleted just look so funny.

    UNJAMS – pjs that don’t look all pajamasome and frumpy. Like the requisite skimpy tank top and panties the heroine of the horror movie sports as she takes the dying flashlight with her down the cellar stairs…

    Keep going back and looking at FOOTS. I really like the way that looks.

    Michael Black – nice job. Thanks.

    JOHN X 4:21 AM  

    Rex, you're the only guy I know who can, without a trace of irony, write an article complaining of "dated" crossword answers everywhere and then wrap it up by proclaiming your love for Arthurian literature.

    Alexander 4:28 AM  

    All those proper nouns in the NW made this a much harder Monday than usual, for me

    'merican in Paris 5:52 AM  

    Like others, this one took me a lot longer than usual for a Monday. Somehow guessed at "open SesaME" for 17A, which slowed me down. So many PPP's crossing that one: ALLIE, INI, AJAX (which I knew), EDNA, CADY, and, in a way, OPERAMAN.

    Wanted IMF (International Monetary Fund) for 41A as a "One-time competitor of the WB [World Bank]". Just looking it up now, I see that WB stands for Warner Brothers? Sheesh, those are pretty obscure, IMO.

    And the NILE is no mere "stream" where it passes the pyramids.

    Didn't see the credit cards burried in the themers until coming here. Pretty clever to find long words that included their names and to fit them into a Monday puzzle. Would have been super to have fit in DINERS CLUB somehow. RODINERSCLUBBERS ("Auguste aficionados who frequently rave?")

    OKAY, OJAY, GETZ a movin'.

    OurLand 5:57 AM  

    Despised the lack of linguistic creativity. Coming off of a few wonderful no themers I'm perhaps overly sensitive to what seemed to be a scrapped puzzle for the sake of a simple theme. On to Tuesday!

    Lewis 6:02 AM  

    The solve took a little longer than Monday-usual, which is fine by me, but I wonder if this one might be a bit discouraging to new solvers.

    I got my first credit card in my mid-30s, and the first time I used it at a restaurant, I dutifully put in the tip and signed the merchant copy, then put in the tip and signed my own copy, before putting it in my wallet. My wife, with a straight face, said, with a sincere voice, "Lewis, you know you don't have to sign your own copy," rather than blurting "Hey, idiot!" It's one of the many reasons I love her.

    OurLand 6:04 AM  

    Despised lack of linguistic creativity. I don't think one answer was satisfactory. All the proper nouns (I.e. the entire puzzle) seemed to be dug from the depths of a computer program. Save pop obscurity for Family Guy.

    Abalini 6:04 AM  

    Eric Burdon is awesome:
    This really blew my mind
    The fact that me an overfed long haired leaping gnome
    Should be the star of a Hollywood movie

    Aketi 6:21 AM  

    @lms, your non CARDHOLDER might run into difficulty if they ever visit NYC since there are an increasing number of eateries in New York that don’t take cash. Some have apps that let you pay with your phone and give you rewards.

    My husband and I hold only one CARD that we always pay off and it’s not in the puzzle. I have been told by those who like to categorize people by age that I have more of the mindset of a GenZer in my attitudes towards cash, CARDS and phone Apps. I love being able to preorder my coffee and grab it on the go while everyone else stands in line waiting for the one person in line who is either fumbling for change or obliviously chatting on their phone. When I can, I use my phone and when I can’t I use the CARD. When my husband and I were first married and filed our joint tax return I discovered to my horror that he kept a box of receipts and used a calculator rather than a computer and a spread sheet. When I checked his math I found that he missed about 25% of his legit business expenses and that’s not taking into potentially account lost receipts. Makes it so much faster and easier to budget, do taxes, and fill out financial aid forms with electronic statements. I use cash for the guilty pleasures in life like the overpriced mani pedi that you indulge in, but would rather not have your spouse know about. I spend less when I use the CARD or the app because I know there will be a record of it.

    @JC66 from yesterday, I totally missed the death part. People in my profession are constantly being accused of being nazis mostly by people who don’t even use or understand our services. The irony is we often are the first ones to spot babies who may need to have supplemental milk. How one equates trying to assist parents to overcome problems they encounter while feeding their infants with genocide is just beyond my comprehension, but we’re completely numb to those absurd insults. So maybe my brain just autocorrected that insult out.

    @M@A from yesterday, I do confess to liking the term ecotastrophe

    Jon Alexander 6:38 AM  

    With all the proper names I thought it ran harder than normal. The okay also bothered me because, SEDAKA?? Cmon...SODUKU sure

    kitshef 7:11 AM  

    A couple of long answers of interest to me personally on this weekend in particular.

    Interesting article in Sunday’s paper about how males are most likely to value the music that was popular when they were 14 years old. For me, that would mean I should be a big fan of DISCO VERSIONs. But I was turned off by disco then and still am.

    Also on Sunday, I finished reading OAXACA Journal, by Oliver Sachs, a must-read for fern lovers. Just don’t go in expecting a typical Sachs book.

    Two Ponies 7:18 AM  

    I can never remember if it's crier or crier. The name of some sports guy was no help at all.
    There seemed to be lots of XYZs so I thought that might be a theme but no.
    The Nile is a stream? How quaint. But there are people who call the Atlantic "the pond" but still...
    @ Thomaso808, Thanks for the nymph hint, that might work.
    @ Moly Shu, That was my 15 min. Thanks.
    Poor MasterCard couldn't be included.

    kitshef 7:20 AM  

    Would have been nice to work in EMCEE as little bonus...

    RooMonster 7:23 AM  

    Hey All !
    How about MASTER CARD? DINERS CLUB? Har.

    Nice puz. Not often does one see OAXACA MEXICO as a themer. Like the little 70's shout out in NE corner, VANS RULE! Unlike Rex, I enjoyed seeing the full ITS OKAY. LOLed (LOL'd) over @LMS's UNJAMS definition. Nice, scrabbly words today, mostly necitated by the themers. Do agree that TOGAED is odd. Am I Shirted and Panted? Underweared?

    Do you Monty Python fans here remember SPINY Norman? - Dinsdale! :-)

    Does anyone cut off any FOOTS in SAW II? Or just the first one. Only SAW(Har) the original, gory horror is not my cuppa. Life and real people are worrisome enough without having to be concerned about psychotic characters in movies. And RIP John Ritter. He was always a good actor. Did anyone ever see Real Men with him and Jim Belushi? Funny, weird, odd movie.


    three of clubs 7:27 AM  

    had to guess the Y in OJAY/CADY.

    chefbea 7:47 AM  

    Too many people I never heard of. Got card holder but didn't see visa, amex or discover in the themers!!!

    I was in a chili cook off several years ago!!!

    copasetick 7:51 AM  

    Barry Sanders is a hall of fame player-not as flamboyant as Deion. Sadly he does not fit in this puzzle.

    Birchbark 7:57 AM  

    The best drawer in the house is the junk drawer. Saw VORTEX and figured this might fit into the whole Y = VI convection. But today, VORTEX is just another word in the drawer along with UNJAMS, DAVIS CUP, SEDAKA, and a few credit cards long since expired. All good for a Monday.

    Two Ponies 8:18 AM  

    That would be cryer with that pesky Y. I guess typing by the glow of my computer screen has its drawbacks.

    That singular OJay is too strange.
    "Hi, what do you do for a living?"
    "I'm an OJay."

    Z 8:20 AM  

    @Harryp - “PPP up the XYZ” got a chuckle from me. What struck me was how much of it was music related, ELVIS, OJAY, SEDAKA, ERIC Clapton or Bourdon, JONI, INI, OPERA, OZZY, .... that’s a lot of AUDIO.

    I have not counted the PPP, but this did seem especially high, especially for a Monday.

    FOOTS the bill is a nice little bonus revealer at the bottom. Almost washes out having started with SAW II. A genre known as “torture porn” is definitely not my my cuppa.

    Methuselah 8:29 AM  

    My dog Ozzy sang when I told him he was in this morning's puzzle.

    Evidently TONEY island isn't a thing - who knew? :)

    QuasiMojo 8:37 AM  

    I found Rex's comments and videos today far more amusing than the puzzle! Anyone else think Eric Burdon could be David Cassidy's black sheep brother? I wonder if John Williams got royalties from the DISCO VERSION of his Star Wars theme. (Both versions sound the same to me. Like something you'd hear in an arcade in CONEY ISLAND.)

    Never heard of OPERAMAN but I'm going to go find a vid of it somewhere. Sounds like fun. I've never seen SNL. Although I did sit through "Animal House" once. TOGA'ED would work for me. SEE BELOW

    "A memorial in stone. had subdued the Gauls, the Germans, and the Britons, and counselled them to submit to the Romans, the masters of the world, and the toga'ed race." Scottish History Society 1892

    Lewis 8:45 AM  

    @leapfinger -- Who used to comment here a lot, commented on another site that the puzzle also serves as an ERIC HOLDER.

    pmdm 8:48 AM  

    Recently on commented on a puzzle I hated. Well, I hated this one even more.After getting all the theme entries, i had no desire to complete the puzzle. I am not a fan of PPP, so my reaction in unsurprising.

    Z, you said you didn't count the PPP entires, I can understand, since there are so many of them. [joke] You ought to, because you would get a number so high (probably a record) that it's likely a record that won't be broken. And to think Jeff Chen gave it a POW!

    BocaBoy 8:56 AM  

    This seemed more difficult to me than a normal Monday. The clues seemed more on a par with a Tuesday/Wednesday than Monday. Definitely one of my worst times.

    Anonymous 9:08 AM  

    Mitchell harmonized, with rapturous results, with Neil Young on "Helpless" in the movie The Last Waltz.

    Mohair Sam 9:13 AM  

    Always learn something in the NYT puzzle. Today I learned that Michael Black is a huge fan of '60s and '70s rock and roll.

    Also learned that I can stop signing my copy of the credit card receipt, thanks @Lewis. (and yes, your wife was very kind)

    @Rex - You left CATE and OZZY off your list.

    @Sir Hilary (from yesterday) - Great day at St. James Park, watched the whole match. A bright spot in a lousy season, as is your new keeper.

    Nancy 9:19 AM  

    I also loved @HarryP's comment: "PPP up the XYZ". And of course you didn't take the trouble to count it, @Z; you have a life to live. Just as yesterday's puzzle was all wordplay all the time, this one was all pop names all the time. Not a Good Thing.

    Thanks for letting me know, @Quasi, that TOGAED is kosher. Like others, I thought it was terrible.

    Was there a pop singing group comprised of people named O DAY at any point in the last 7 decades? I thought there might have been. Whereas I never heard of any singers named O JAY. But AJAX (the one clue/answer I really liked) straightened me out.

    So I came, I SAW (II), and I conquered. But there was many too many pop music clues and I ended up with a DISC aVERSION.

    Nancy 9:21 AM  

    Much too much music PPP. I ended up with a DISC aVERSION.

    ArtO 9:23 AM  

    SAWII crossing INI...come on!! The NILE a "stream"???? Dryer before WAXER. OJAYs??!!
    Definitely a slower than normal Monday.

    mathgent 9:29 AM  

    I just noticed under this box the line "Comment moderation has been enabled." When did that come back?

    Sad news. Jeff Chen names this snoozer his POW.

    The clue for BACK is "Front's opposite." C'mon, man!

    Missy 9:30 AM  

    This puzzle also included an exact clue from yesterday -- 23D -- Like some sprains and tea. Is there an editor in the house?

    Nancy 9:32 AM  

    Sorry for the repetition, everyone. I didn't realize we were once again being monitored (under the circumstances, it's probably necessary, alas), thought my original long-ish comment was lost forever when I hit send and nothing appeared, didn't have the energy to reproduce it in full, and therefore reproduced just the last sentence. Now I know the new RULEs and it won't happen again.

    GHarris 9:33 AM  

    After I overwrote wiper I waxed the rest of this baby. The few unknowns succumbed to eminently fair crossings and made for a totally enjoyable Monday. Needed that after a tough week.

    Unknown 9:49 AM  

    This took exactly DOUBLE the time of a usual Monday for me (12 minutes vs. 6 minutes). There were just so many proper nouns and stuff that I was unfamiliar with. For context, I was born in the mid-80's. These were total, 100% stumpers for me:

    - Elvis and Me
    - Sedaka
    - Saw II
    - Oaxaca, Mexico [this one I should have gotten, but for whatever reason the addition of Mexico totally confused me. I thought it was part of a very long name]
    - Ritter
    - O'Jay
    - Getz
    - Edna
    - Allie
    - Lao

    That's a LOT, especially for a Monday. I got them all eventually through context, but still. Even "Opera Man" gave me trouble. I remember the character, but that's not exactly a noteworthy thing.

    GILL I. 9:52 AM  

    So I start my Monday off with SAW II? Follow it with INI? I'm already saying I want OUT II.
    Gadzooks, could there by any more proper names than this one? I stopped counting at 21. I can't even think of anybody I could send a copy of this puzzle to.
    COOK OFF belongs to Pillsbury. Showdown is in the Iron Chef world. My favorite is Jose Garces. I have one of his cookbooks and today I'm going to try and make his Empanadas de Verde Con Pollo. The dough is plantains that you boil and make into a masa. then you stuff them with the chicken. I'll let you know how they turn out.
    So the theme is about a few credit cards. How exciting! My very first credit card was Macy's. I arrived in San Francisco and I worked at Union Square. During my lunch hour I'd go over and drool at the window displays and all the clothes and shoes that cost more than I made in a month. Problem solved. So I wander in and ask about a card and I'm told to go to the "credit" department upstairs and fill out a form. I do. A nice, very well dressed, woman takes my application, mulls over it for a while and wonders why I have no other credit. I tell her I lived in Spain and everyone always paid in cash. Hell, they didn't even write checks in those times. She smiles and tells me that their decision would be forthcoming. I seriously cannot believe I was filled with anxiety - waiting to find out if I had been accepted or rejected. Well, the red card came in the mail and I promptly jacked up about $1,000 in clothes debt. It took me a year to pay it off. I no longer have a Macy's red card.
    AMEX. Biggest thrill in card debt, was getting a "Gold" card. I felt quite sophisticated and rich handing that little thing to the waiters when I dined out. So smug was I. So damn broke all the time.
    I now have one little ole card that I pay off each month as well as my trusty debit card.
    A smile - I call my husband PAPI.

    QuasiMojo 9:54 AM  

    @Nancy, you're welcome. Maybe you're thinking of Anita O'DAY? The O'JAYS are an R&B group.

    Don't feel bad. I tried to use the boldface for my previous comment and was rejected twice. I did everything 'Mericans suggested, but it didn't take.

    TomAz 9:54 AM  

    I knew many/most of the proper names but this was still slowish. Played more like a Tuesday for me. Opening a Monday puzzle with SAW II? ugh. And it's not common that I have to go back and change a word on a Monday, but I had Barry instead of DEION Sanders at first. But this is not necessarily a bad thing. The puzzle was fine.

    UNJAMS.. there is an interesting article on the science of paper jams in this weeks New Yorker. It's really complicated stuff.

    I always want to spell it town CRyER. I blame Elvis Costello.

    Like @Kimberly I too remember disco versions of everything. It got really silly there for a while. See, e.g.,

    Anyway yeah. This puzzle was just fine.

    Anonymous 10:04 AM  

    Seems like we're going to have more than a few who didn't like calling the Nile a stream. Stream's original and still #1 meaning is ANY flowing water. The noun stream comes along with the verb stream, as in streaming = flowing. All rivers are streams. Period. Read a book, folks.

    Malsdemare 10:18 AM  

    I'm pleased, sort of, to see moderation back on. I know it’s lots of work, and it slows down the postng process. But I, for one, have been avoiding the blog of late because of the ugliness. i wonder if we've lost some of our friends due to the nasties. Anyway, about the puzzle: PASI (who???) crossing USN? Yeesh. Otherwise, I found this rather fun. Lots of stuff was new, which can frustrate the poopy out of me, except here the crosses helped — mostly (see USN + PASI, above). I loved Kate and ALLIE, and JONI reminded me pleasantly of the line in Love Actually: Emma Thompson to hubby Alan Rickman. "I love her! Joni Mitchell taught your cold English wife how to love." One of my favorite all-time movies.

    Malsdemare 10:21 AM  

    Well, dang, PAPI! That explains the lack of happy music.

    Rex Parker 10:25 AM  

    Hey everyone,

    Comments are now being moderated by a team of five people, so delays in comment approval shouldn't be too bad at all. It's OK if you have feelings about this, but this is the way it'll be for the foreseeable future. Only comments being kept out are spam, totally off-topic stuff, abuse (esp. profane abuse), and personal fights between commenters that no one cares about.

    Take care,

    TomAz 10:29 AM  

    Does that mean that personal fights between commenters that people do care about will be allowed?

    haha. I think the moderation is necessary, unfortunately.

    Anonymous 10:38 AM  

    Today's the feast day of Saint Saturninus.
    I mention only because Diocletian had his thugs take the good father and his companions on a forced march to Carthage. They didn't die on the march though. Diocletian had them executed.

    GILL I. 10:41 AM  

    THANK YOU @Rex and the moderating team. It takes a lot to really bother me but the insults were pretty awful.
    @Quasi....If @Nancy can do it, I'm betting you can. Let me see if I can help:
    If you want to bold something just type In the LESS SIGN and then enter your b and close it with the GREATER THAN sign....Type away your bold message. When you've finished, type in the less sign again then a slash (/)then your b and then your greater than sign. Do the same for italicized by using the lower case i.
    Let me know how it goes.
    Now, if some kind soul will teach me how to embed from YouTube ( I lost my notes) I'd be forever grateful..

    Honeysmom 10:45 AM  

    Normal Monday? No way! More like a Wednesday, IMO.

    jimc 10:47 AM  

    Davis Cup is not a tournament

    Mohair Sam 10:48 AM  

    @Rex - Yeah it's unfortunate - but thanks.

    'merican in Paris 10:48 AM  


    Here's another way to explain it. Take your text and surround it with pointy brackets: <>text<>. Into the first bracket, with no spaces, insert any of the following letters:

    b = bold
    i = italics
    del = deleted text (text with a line through it)
    ins = inserted (underlined) text
    sub = subscript text
    sup = superscript text

    Then, in the second bracket, type the same letter(s), preceded with a slash -- e.g., /b or /i.

    That's it.

    A bit of cultural trivia. Sometime's you'll see people writing Blah blah, blah, #@#%^@$, horrible, terrible puzzle. You are supposed to take that as "Beginning of rant" and "end of rant".

    Canon chasuble 10:50 AM  

    Dear god above, do we really need to start the week with a puzzle that contains -- depending upon on hiw you count them -- between 21 and 24 proper names?

    'merican in Paris 10:55 AM  

    Oops: it interpreted my pointy brackets as HTML code. What I meant to write was:

    Sometime's you'll see people writing [rant]Blah blah, blah, #@#%^@$, horrible, terrible puzzle.[/rant]

    JC66 10:55 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    JC66 10:57 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

    DNF on a Monday thanks to OJAY crossing CADY. Knew the final letter in each was either an I or Y but took the wrong turn.

    Like others. I cringed at TOGAED and objected to the NILE being described as a "stream." Thought we were headed for a pangram until the solitary Q failed to show up.

    Otherwise the constructor deserves CREDIT for producing a good VERSION of the one-word-hidden-within-other-words theme. Rex's "Plum Aster Cardinal" would have been a nice addition except that it would have repeated "card" from the revealer.

    Thanks, Michael, for a puzzle that was a little more difficult than most Mondays. I especially liked the challenge of trying to remember how to spell OAXACA.

    Nancy 11:11 AM  

    This is wonderful!!! There's a moderating team and the wait for comments to appear won't be too long. Seems like the best of all worlds to me. Thanks, Rex!!! Thanks, team!!!

    I do believe we've lost some very nice people because of the vileness of trolls on the blog. I thought about leaving myself, more than once. I likened the blog experience to going to Central Park and having to step over and/or around mounds of dog excrement on every street along the way. Yes, I could avoid stepping in it, but I would still see it and smell it and know it was there. Would I still want to go to Central Park under such circumstances? What kept me on the blog were 1)the friends I've made here and 2)not wanting to give trolls that much power over my choices. But I find myself relieved that there will be no more ugliness and hate to wade through, and I hope very much that the moderation experience will continue to be as painless as it's been so far today.

    semioticus (shelbyl) 11:19 AM  

    This is going to be a weird complaint, but, um, the fill was too much. Yes, it was filled with fresh entries (which is what we crave for, right?) but oh boy, it really felt like I was doing a Sporcle puzzle about famous people of sorts.

    The theme is adequate. OAXACAMEXICO is a great find, just the right amount of juice for a Monday.

    But yeah, after yesterday's dreadfest, this one was too pleasant. Like when you're super hungry, but the only options you have are desserts, you overindulge nonetheless and now you have a stomachache congrats kinda too pleasant.

    GRADE: B-, 3.05 stars.

    QuasiMojo 11:35 AM  

    @Gill and ‘Mericans, now I got it! I was thinking I had to switch to html or gobbledygook to do it. Thanks!

    Masked and Anonymous 11:39 AM  

    Whoa, there, compadres! TOGAED has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity.

    Personally, I'da allowed the hidin of just MASTER in a themer. Don't need the CARD part, as that's already covered in yer 59-A revealer. However, that seems to still be kinda hard to pull off.


    Feisty MonPuz, but still had a nice moo-cow easy-E MonPuz clue, in: {Front's opposite} = BACK.

    staff weeject pick: INI. Sounds like an alias … yep.
    Sooo … better clue, maybe = {Outi's opposite??}.

    Thanx, Mr. Flront's Opposite.

    Masked & Anonymo5Us


    Carola 11:47 AM  

    Agree with others about its being a tougher than usual Monday, mainly because of the pile-up of PPP. I liked the theme - had no idea what was going on until the reveal, then enjoyed going back to DISCOVER the CARDs and circle them. Coming here, I see that I DNF: CRyER (hi, @Two Ponies and @TomAz).

    I was curious to know whether ECHO (of Echo and Narcissus) was a DRYAD, and learned that no, she was an Oread (mountain nymph).

    @Thomaso808, I liked your dry-land DRYAD.
    @Loren, loved your UNJAMS in the horror movie!
    @Rex, awesome magnet. Thank you for the moderating.

    Banana Diaquiri 11:49 AM  

    @Jim Cunningham:

    no, it isn't. again, subject matter experts are needed.

    Stanley Hudson 11:54 AM  

    @Art Balini, genuine LOL at your parody of "Spill the Wine."

    Anonymous 9:08AM wrote: "Mitchell harmonized, with rapturous results, with Neil Young on 'Helpless' in the movie The Last Waltz."
    True that, and she sang back up on one or two songs on David Crosby's album, "If Only I Could Remember My Name." Check out the track "Laughing" for some beautiful singing, as well as magical pedal steel from Jerry Garcia.

    Anonymous 11:54 AM  

    I had fun playing whack-a-theme. First I thought there might be some roman numerally thing going on, with SAW II, the V in the first themer, and the Xs in the second themer. Then I noticed that the first themer had S AND M in it, and I wondered where that might be going . . .

    I appreciate the comment moderation, but I do think it would be okay to let the spellcaster get past the censors every now and again.

    Lewis 12:07 PM  

    My five favorite clues from last week:

    1. Fun, for one (5)
    2. Barking lot? (4)
    3. Actress Elisabeth who's been on the cover of Rolling Stone, ironically (4)
    4. Player in a baseball stadium (5)
    5. All thumbs (6)


    Larry Gilstrap 12:26 PM  

    I referenced someone who was misinformed concerning JONI not ever harmonizing. I will check it out. My hopes for her well-being remain.

    Hartley70 12:37 PM  

    Hallelujah! There was a time when commenters moaned about policing the blog and losing spontaneity, but I think most posters have had quite enough this past year. Hate talk has invaded so much of our lives recently and it will be lovely to have the blog return to an oasis of civility. My sincerest thanks to Rex and especially to the moderators. We'll never know the horrors that you super heroes conceal!

    As a PPP devotee, I was sublimely happy today, moderation AND a fun solve! Is it Christmas?

    Amazingly I even knew DEION, though I couldn't tell you his sport. I've never heard of OPERAMAN, but just the idea makes me laugh.

    SEDAKA was the backdrop to my early teens and he has a piece of my heart. I saw him live in DC when I was 13 in a small venue that let a busload of ninth graders enter. What a thrill! JONI is a treasure and I loved that lonely OJAY.

    My first credit card was Bonwit Teller and my story is a duplicate of @Gill's. They were housed in the most beautiful white marble mansion in Boston and oh those little violets. As a college student I was sorely pressed to pay that bill! AMEX was next and if I speak to them by phone, the customer service rep is always awed by the "member since" date on my card.

    TOGAED is beyond terrible but I didn't mind a bit. I'm in a great mood today.

    CashPo' 12:38 PM  

    I thought UNJAMS might mean sleeping au naturel, sorta like the Uncola.

    Hartley70 12:42 PM  

    I have not been able to create italics or boldface here. Do the directions above work on iPhones or a Mac? TIA.

    Dick Swart 12:45 PM  

    1. Too many proper nouns.

    2. LAT had a Lincoln theme. No mention in the NYT,

    Anonymous 1:13 PM  

    I winced at the word *togaed* also, thinking it was some silly modern word where a noun had been turned into a verb, which then became a past participle. Thanks to the accurate note, Quasimojo, I looked it up in my Funk and Wagnalls, and behold, it was there, togaed, as an adjective. It looks like the past participle of the verb *toga*, which of course doesn't exist. I think it got into respectable English, as togaed, in imitation of the Latin *togatus* ("wearing the toga"), which looks like the past participle of the Latin verb of the first conjugation, togo, togare, togavi, togatus. Of course there *is* no such Latin verb. Thus if togatus, which looks like a past participle, could make its way into classical Latin, when there is no Latin verb "to toga", then *togaed", which looks like a past participle of an imaginary English verb, could make its way into English. The 48A clue, "dressed for" etc., would thus have to be the adjectival "dressed" and not the past tense of the verb "dress."

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Z 1:17 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Teedmn 1:18 PM  

    One writeover today - Big PAPa changed to PAPI while I DISCOVERed what was going on in the themers. Otherwise, this puzzle solve was easy and smooth sailing.

    Like TomAZ, I just read the New Yorker article about paper UNJAMS and was impressed at the technology being thrown at the problem. The entire time I was reading it, I was trying to imagine what must go on in our laser printer at work. Could it possibly have anything in common with the Xerox machines described in the article? Given that paper is paper, no matter the machine, one can only assume so. The mind boggles.

    Nice Monday, thanks Michael Black.

    Tim Aurthur 1:19 PM  

    34D x 41A seemed close to a Natick for me. Why not IRAS x HARE x SLED x EPA?

    Anonymous 1:27 PM  

    Knowing where he lives, I am worried about Rex's car. If he doesn't wash it, it must be a real rust bucket. When we lived in Buffalo, we had to wash ours about once a week in the winter to get the salt off.

    Joe Bleaux 1:46 PM  

    Long time, no see, welcome back, Mr. Black. It ain't easy loading a Monday puzzle with that many PPPs without infuriating me, but you did it; I was only irritated😉.
    Now for the experiment: It works. Sigh.
    @Malademare, in your USN/WB construct, what did each of those initializations stand for? @Roo Monster, IMHO, what might have been John RITTER's finest performance was as the gay drugstore employee in the classic "Slingblade." (And ain't it cool that it crosses vorTEX, his daddy?) @Rex, and moderators, it's sad that it came to this. Some of those folks spiced it up a little, but yeah, it got out of hand. I'm confident you'll make good calls.

    Slow Motion 1:49 PM  

    @LMS, more in line with your comments yesterday: I’m a teacher, too, and sometimes I have to wing it. If I had to wing it yesterday, what do I say about it? I winged it? I wang it? If you’re anything like me, you probably have wung it on many occasions.

    chefwen 2:32 PM  

    @Rex and moderators, It’s too bad it came to this, but THANK YOU, it was getting a little over the top.
    @Methusalah, My little guy SPUD was also pretty chuffed seeing his name in the NYT.

    Anonymous 3:12 PM  

    What a pleasure it was to read the entire comment section without wincing or frowning in disgust at the gutter language and vicious attacks. Thank you to the moderators.

    Aketi 3:28 PM  

    @Slow motion I have to share “wung it” with my sister, niece and cousin who are teachers

    Z 3:30 PM  

    I, for one, will miss being attacked by thoughtful anonymice.

    @Jim Cunningham and @Banana Daiquiri - I take your meaning to be “tournaments are contiguous in time and place” like the US Open, which takes place at the Billie King National Tennis Center over two weeks, and therefore the DAVIS CUP is not a tournament because it’s not at a single venue nor are individual portions played in close proximity on the calendar. I think, though, that tournament is a lot more flexible a term than that. For example, the NCAA basketball tournaments are more similar to the DAVIS CUP than the US OPEN. Or am I missing the reason you think “Cup” competitions aren’t tournaments?

    Well, it seems a little more in depth PPP analysis may be called for. Sorry, but unless I missed some, not a record.

    PPP Analysis
    Pop Culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. Anything over 33% consistently causes solving issues for some subset of solvers

    31 of 78 for 40%. This does seem especially high for a Monday, but I do recall a puzzle getting pretty close to 50%. Unfortunately, I do not keep detailed stats on previous puzzles because I do have at least a bit of a life.

    The List

    SAW II
    CONEY Island

    AJAX (pop culture and product name but still only counts as one)
    COOK OFF (Iron Chef clue)

    Anonymous 3:49 PM  

    Anybody else appalled by the magnet Sharp is trumpeting? It makes Will Shortz out to be some kind of imbecile, while Sharp is the champion. This is horrible. Exactly the kind of bullying stuff Sharp decries. Am I missing something?

    Outside The Box 4:47 PM  

    No matter how it’s spelled or pronounced “togaed” is an awful answer.

    Joe Dipinto 4:50 PM  

    @Larry Gilstrap 12:26 -- Joni Mitchell sang the secondary melody on the choruses of "Long Ago And Far Away" on James Taylor's "Mud Slide Slim" album, and I think she sang backup on some other songs as well.

    I've never really thought of her as a folk singer, though I guess that's the milieu she came out of. I also noticed the large number of music-related answers. @Nancy, O'Jay was not actually the surname of anyone in the group, it was just a band name, like The Beatles.

    sanfranman59 4:51 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

    (Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

    Mon 4:27 4:09 1.07 72.0% Medium-Challenging

    It felt like every other answer in this thing was a proper noun and with good reason. Then there was junk like OJAY, TOGAED, SAW [semi-random ROMAN numeral], INI, OPERA MAN and the "stream" NILE. Next please.

    tea73 4:55 PM  

    Ouch, this took me more than twice as long as a usual Monday.

    I would never have sussed out DISOVERSION except for the revealer. One of these days I'm going to remember its the Big PAPI.

    Thanks to the moderators!

    puzzlehoarder 6:03 PM  

    It's hard to say how difficult this was for a Monday. I did it on my phone at home, just for convenience, and my time was somewhere between my average paper time for Tuesday and Wednesday.

    I switched CRIER to CRYER because of DEION. Why I thought a Y in that name made more sense is beyond me. After putting in the P of UPN and getting the "almost there" prompt it wasn't hard to find the "Y" problem but technically it's a dnf. One of the many reasons I prefer paper.

    I never finished reading yesterday's comments so the moderation notice escaped me until reading today's comments.

    While the desire for censorship is understandable given bathroom wall nature of what was being posted I still resent the idea of someone " moderating" my comments to see if they're acceptable.

    Let's hope this amped up difficulty level holds through Saturday.

    Suzie Q 6:17 PM  

    @Anon 3:49
    I guess it's supposed to be funny.
    I don't know if they've ever met but if they ever do I want to be a fly on the wall!

    Too many names for me today, at least we got to think about Joni M.

    Ginger Lady 6:40 PM  

    Hey moderators wanna step it up a little taking forever ? Just kidding it’s very kind of you to volunteer your time. It’s a good idea but sadly I suspect it won’t last. As for the puzzle I guess I’m in the minority. Super easy under five minutes which is rare for me even on a Monday.

    Anonymous 7:18 PM  

    What about slimed, grimed, and the like? They would have had (in the properest earlier version of English) a be- at the head due to the root being a noun rather than a verb, but they don't. Togaed has the added element of visual ugliness, as well demonstrated by the incomparable LMS above. But it seems to follow the same pattern.

    Nancy 7:45 PM  

    @puzzlehoarder (6:03) -- You and people like you have not been the problem here. No one is going to "moderate" you, @puzzlehoarder. If this blog is moderated every day for the next ten years and you post three times a day for the next ten years, not a single comma of yours will ever be changed by anyone. I've been reading you for a long time now, and that's a dead certainty. I would bet every penny I have in the bank on it. So promise me that you won't worry your pretty little head about it :)

    jimc 10:57 PM  

    Thinking of tennis as mainly an individual sport and a tournament as a single elimination event until one winner is the champion. I suppose could think of Davis Cup as a tournament among the countries

    Anonymous 11:34 PM  

    @Jim Cunningham, yes indeed.

    GreenCarol 12:24 PM  

    What, please, are UPN and WB? DNF because had to reveal that square (with apologies to my baseball fan son, who would’ve known Big Papi).

    Burma Shave 9:51 AM  


    AONE that’s CEASED to be:
    IT’SOKAY that he GETZ to fool


    spacecraft 10:58 AM  

    Skipped it. When you hit me with SAWII right out of the starting block you've got me ready to drop the whole mess, and with impossibly obscure INI and the ridiculous OJAY you pried my dead fingers away from their thin grip. See me tomorrow when you have a real puzzle.

    Diana, LIW 12:32 PM  

    Oh @Spacey - I'm so sad. 'Cause this could be the last time I post...for a week.

    Why? Well, if you haven't been paying attention, I'm going to ACPT Fri-Sun. And a couple of days in Philly beforehand with @Teed from the Future.

    NPR just did a thing about "Love Train" this weekend, so the song was on my mind.

    Gotta finish packing and get some money. Good thing I'm a 59A.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

    Diana, LIW 12:34 PM  

    But I gotta say - I do think it's silly to call the NILE a stream. Awww, isn't that cute? NO

    Lady Di

    rondo 2:44 PM  

    Well, @spacey, it got lots better at TOGAED. That’s AONE!
    But I did it all anyway without a write-over. Hard to keep my nymphs separate, having oreads and naiads and DRYADS and the others. DRYAD ought to be the nymph of anti-perspirants or laundry appliances. Or ARID UTAH. HMM.

    LPGA Yeah baby Michelle WIE won a tournament recently after many folks RITTER off.

    It would be kinda FAINT praise if this was as good as it GETZ, so maybe ITSOKAY.

    leftcoastTAM 3:21 PM  

    A veritable PPP festival. Not a "normal Monday". Actually on the non-normal challenging side, and ITS OKAY by me.

    Revealer was helpful in the solve, particularly for DISCOVERSION and OAXACAMEXICO and their related crosses.

    RasH before ITCH.

    NILE as a "stream"?

    Overall, GETZ high marks from me.

    rainforest 3:28 PM  

    Any member of Gladys Knight's backup group: Pip. So, O'JAY is OK by me.

    Lots of the so-called PPP in here, but that didn't bother me, for some reason, though SAW II (or any of the SAWs, or any horror movie, for that matter) is not my taste. Neither is Idi Amin, but he appears here from time to time. So does Trump.

    I like how the revealer had me look at the theme answers and find the embedded credit CARDs.

    Some good answers in here, maybe overwhelmed by the proper names, but this was a serviceable Monday.

    leftcoastTAM 4:46 PM  

    Thanks, Rex, for the BEATLES/ERIC BURDON retrospective, bringing back warm, vintage memories.

    Saw Burdon in person in Fairbanks, Alaska, of all places. That was around 197O when he was still fronting the Animals, I think.

    As for the Beatles, a terrific cover band was later in Anchorage doing the Sgt. Pepper album.

    Both occasions were great treats for us in remote, sub-Arctic country. Had some of the air of USO visits to far-off Gl's otherwise bereft of celebrated entertainment at the time.
    USO visits to far-off G.I.'s.

    Anonymous 9:46 PM  

    one down and 6 to go for the week. Working on getting 7 in a row of non-DNF. Saw Eric Burdon about 4 years ago with a new younger Animals backing him. Still sounded great after 50+ years of belting out the tunes.

    I'm thinking the next time UVA is clued it will be something like "first school to fall to a 16 seed."

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