Berry marketed as a superfood / MON 7-2-2018 / Writer Jong / "I.e.," spelled out / "Today co-host Kotb

Monday, July 2, 2018

It's Annabel Monday! But you totally won't be able to tell because I sound like Rex in this one! Aaaaaah!  

Constructor: Evan Kalish

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: IT'S A SECRET — Bubbled words within the theme answers are all things that have "secret" versions.

Theme answers:

  • PASTASHELL (16A: Italian food item that can be stuffed and baked)
  • PEASANTARMY (20A: Militia of farmers, e.g.)
  • WHATAGENTLEMAN (24A: "He's so polite")
  • MARKUPLANGUAGE (44A: It may allow a text document to be displayed on a web page)
  • PRIMENUMBER (49A: 3, 5 or 7, but not 9)
  • IT'S A SECRET (59A: "Keep this between us"...or hint to the puzzle's circled letters)

Word of the Day: TARO (33A: What poi is made from) —
Colocasia esculenta is a tropical plant grown primarily for its edible corms, the root vegetables most commonly known as taro. It is believed to be one of the earliest cultivated plants.[4] Linnaeus originally described two species which are now known as Colocasia esculenta and Colocasia antiquorum of the cultivated plants that are known by many names including eddoes, dasheen, taro and madumbi, but many later botanists consider them all to be members of a single, very variable species, the correct name for which is Colocasia esculenta.[5][6]
• • •

That is one of the wildest and most botany-discourse-filled Wikipedia entries I've ever seen for a WOTD. I learned nothing about taro and everything about how much botanists fight about taxonomy. Which is way cooler anyway if you ask me.

So the good news about this puzzle is it did not make me go into a murderous rage over a tasteless clue or a theme that seemed like it was trying to be offensive to be funny (I was this close to linking to a recent example and then realized that would be a Bad Idea for the comments section), and there was only one grammar mishap (PANINIS rather than PANINI or SANDWICHES). The bad news is...let's just say I finished about 10 minutes faster than usual. It's not that there's anything wrong with the clues for OCEAN, AHA, ACT, HAN, TABBY, WEAK, et al individually; every puzzle needs some shorter words and some simpler clues (especially on a Monday). It was more like the sheer volume of fill that felt like filler. I love pasta, but if you serve me a plate of just plain pasta with no sauces or proteins--actually that's a bad metaphor because I would absolutely eat a bunch of plain pasta straight out of the pot. But not a bunch of too-easy crossword clues with not enough interesting vocab and few clever plays on words. Y'know? Plus, I love discovering little perhaps-unintentional "mini-themes" in puzzles, like when a constructor uses a lot of aquatic-related words and it makes me think they've been reading a lot about the ocean lately, but all I could find in this one was some Italian food.

On the bright side, if this was anyone's first puzzle, they probably had a great time! :) Monday is a hard balance to strike. You want new solvers not to tear their hair out and you want regular solvers to still be able to have fun. Evan Kalish erred on the side of the first, and I respect that. I hate to be too nitpicky, but I feel like some nits have to be picked. And some of the clues felt like they were just too easy even for new solvers; even little things like changing "Atlantic or Pacific"to "Atlantic, for example" and "Guerrilla ___ Guevara" with just "___ Guevara" would make me feel less like I was being talked down to. Oh man, I just read that again and it's sooooo nitpicky. Why is "nitpicking" even something with a bad connotation anyways? It means getting rid of lice! The English language just doesn't make sense, as usual. .....Aaaaaaanyways.

Despite my issues with most of the fill I actually loved the theme! I've never ordered off a secret MENU before but someday I'm gonna get the triple secret In-N-Out burger made entirely of onions or something*. And I kinda love juxtaposing the ominous-sounding secret STASH and secret AGENT with the more innocent secret SANTA. It was cute, fun, and light, perfect for a Monday theme! I wish the rest of the puzzle had been a little more exciting but I really have no complaints about the theme.

  • MR BIG (29D: Head honcho) — I still can never see this without thinking about Zootopia's personal spin on a Mr. Big figure, which had him as a small rodent. I think mob bosses in all media from now on should be small rodents. I won't watch the next James Bond unless the villain is a hamster.
  • ROVE (50D: Wander about) — It's almost the Curiosity Rover's birthday. Talking about that funky little probe always makes me kinda sad, but I hope she's doing okay.
  • AGGIES (37D: Texas A&M team) — I'm in Connecticut over the summer, and it's, like, agriculture central. Not really anything to do with the team or the team name but I swear there are more cows than people in my county. On the bright side, that means every day on the way to my summer job I can look out the window and yell "HEY THERE'S COWS!" I think yelling whenever you see a cow or horse outside your car window is probably the best way to preserve one's inner child.
  • IT'S A SECRET (59A: "Keep this between us"...or hint to the puzzle's circled letters) — Okay, I've already posted two of my favorite "secret" themed songs, but this one is one of my favorites! Here, have some good Monday vibes.

Quick addendum: I just realized this was Evan Kalish's debut. I'm sure he did his best and I'm excited to see his future puzzles! I really don't want to dunk on this one too hard, it's just that, like I said, some nits just gotta be picked. Okay, I've talked about nits too much. Uh, have a great month!

Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

*I highly doubt there's an In-N-Out secret burger made entirely of onions. Please do not ask for one.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]


kitshef 12:07 AM  

Three WoEs, on a Monday, two as parts of themers, suggests to me this ran on the wrong day.

SECRET MENU? MARKUP LANGUAGE? TELNET? Okay, that last one rings a very faint bell, but the first two are completely outside my ken.

Also, @Anabal, great thinking that nitpicking should be a good thing.

Also, you are supposed to yell “moo!” when you see cows.

jae 12:19 AM  

Very easy. Nice debut. A piece of cake puz is a good thing every now and then. Liked it.

Anonymous 12:22 AM  

Annabel srsly drank the rex juice.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

I code and I still don't know what a markup language is. Secret menus I know are a thing in the trendy eateries in big cities.

sanfranman59 12:47 AM  

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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 4:35 4:30 1.02 54.6% Medium

I focused almost exclusively on the downs during this solve and I think it slowed me down a good bit. So this one might really be an Easy-Medium or even Easy. I think SECRET MENU (49A) is a bunch of notches below the other four on the familiarity scale. I wasn't even entirely sure what it refers to. Google has now advised me that it has something to do with building different meals from ingredients one gets off the regular menu at fast-food restaurants like McDonald's and In-N-Out? Hmm. I think that's a new one on me.

I don't really remember much about the solving experience. The themers aren't particularly interesting, especially PASTA SHELL (16A). Do people actually use the term "MR BIG" (29D)?

Meh ... but it's a Monday and I didn't detect any cluing errors, which is an improvement over the last couple of days. So, one less-than-enthusiastic thumb up.

JOHN X 1:10 AM  

The Saturday, February 28, 1998 puzzle is unbelievably brutal yet fair.

The "robot" test for this post was pretty hard too.

Todays's puzzle was a nice Monday. Anabel's review was very nice as well.

Larry Gilstrap 2:01 AM  

Wow! Annabel swaggers into the room, picks some nits, and then deconstructs the figure of speech. Well done! My resident linguist does M-W puzzles and is also gonna have a cow about singular sandwich cluing PANINI, as did our blogger. I like poor, little Monday puzzles, especially when they feature a solid theme and an appropriate revealer. This said as Sunday's effort sits half solved on the side table.

Years ago, I went to Hawaii every summer and loved it. Not the Disney Luau, Hawaii, but the end of the road in Kauai, Hawaii. the most beautiful place I have ever seen and so pure, surrounded by thousands of miles of Pacific OCEAN. I could literally feel the toxins fleeing my body. I've often driven past a TARO shack and wondered about what that life might be like. Nope, back to teaching the residue of American lust in September. Notice the haole disregard for appropriate apostrophes. No disrespect intended. Tilde people, please don't @me.

More about me: I'm not a pet person, any more, but for 18 years I shared my house with Cubby, as handsome an animal as I have ever laid eyes on. His file at the vet labeled him a BST, black and silver TABBY. Cats give conditional love. Shouldn't we all?

chefwen 3:31 AM  

Never heard if secret menu, that’s a new one for me, but I don’t get out much. Just Googled it and it appears to be a Starbucks thing, which is another reason I haven’t heard of it. I think we only have one or two Starbucks on the rock.

One write over TABBY over Tiger.

Monday easy to slide us into the week.

Lewis 6:10 AM  

It's an ambitious grid, with six theme answers, the smallest being 11 letters, and it's cleanly accomplished. Congratulations on your debut, Evan!

I investigated the popularity of Evan's "secret" phrases by placing them in quotes in Google. Most popular was secret agent (ll.8M hits), followed by secret Santa (9.9), secret menu (2.6), secret stash (2.4), and secret plan (1.4). Just for fun I plugged in "secret life" and it had a whopping 32M hits. So then I tried to embed "life" into a phrase, spread over two words, but came up with nothing common (maybe you can do better). I did smile at the image of a ravioLI FEdora.

Conrad 6:30 AM  

@Anabel, @Kitshef, when you pass a cow you’re not only supposed to yell “moo,” you then turn to whoever is in the car and say smugly, “See? I’m multilingual.”

Loren Muse Smith 6:51 AM  

Hey, Annabel! You’re honing your chops as a commenter, and it’s fun to watch. And I like your writing style. A lot.

A debut! Congratulations, Evan. A couple of things I noticed:

1. Two theme stacks. I *always* appreciate that. I can’t build a grid. (I have Crossword Compiler, and the way that works is I choose a 15x15, enter my theme answers, and it spits out possible grids for me. If it tells me it’s impossible – or if it stacks my themers – I just toss the idea and go watch Bravo.)

2. Two of the themers are 14 letters. A while back, ACME told me that 14’s are notoriously hard to work with. Since I don’t build grids, I really don’t understand this, but boy howdy do I throw this little tidbit around like I know what I’m talking about. So say I’m at the ACPT and am talking to an established constructor. I tell them I have this theme idea that includes something like NORTHERN LIGHTS. But then I say, all concerned and stuff, But that’s a 14 so…. I look at the floor and shake my head. Like I’m truly in the business. I don’t think I’m fooling anyone. Anyhoo – I always notice if there’s a 14 pair.

I wonder if Evan considered changing the reveal to DARK SECRET and using shaded squares instead of circles? That would’ve been cool.

@Lewis is right – there’s not a lot out there to work with on this gimmick, so nice job, Evan.

Howard B 7:02 AM  

Thanks Annabel! The writeup is as much fun to read as the puzzle is to solve.

Anon 12:36: OK, I'm a more old-school coder. post-punchcards, but taught myself BASIC on a Commodre Vic-20 as a kid. Anyway, Markup languages are not exactly strict programming languages, but use markup (or tags) usually to allow text to be formatted or processed.
We're talking the 'ML' in HTML and XML here. Also CSS and LaTeX. They're interpreted so that < i > makes italics and so forth.

gberg 7:14 AM  

HTML, XML are two examples.

RJ 7:39 AM  

I don't understand the issue with "panini" vs. "paninis". The cluing was singular (sandwich with grill marks)

Tony 7:41 AM  

I got a small frisson from the MENU answer...Me 'n' (Yo)u...just between us.

QuasiMojo 7:57 AM  

I guess I must be really out of the loop these days. I've never heard of a "secret menu" nor a "secret Santa" and isn't a "stash" already sort of secret? Seems redundant to me to say "secret stash" unless maybe you're referring to something like the poorly hidden rattler-infested stash in Bogey's great flick "Treasure of Sierra Madre."

I love Annabel's peppy personality but what do you mean, dear, when you say eating plain pasta is a "bad metaphor"? Were you comparing the act of doing this puzzle to eating pasta? I happen to love plain pasta and eat it all the time especially after it falls from the ceiling. lol. I get what you mean, but don't forget pasta is already full of protein. No need to add more.

As for fast-food restos and the folks who frequent them I just have to tell you that a week ago I was driving along the NYS Thruway and the only place to stop for food was at a MacDonald's. I ordered the "grilled chicken" sandwich and had to spit it out after trying it since it tasted like a flattened Super Ball. The bread alone was inedible. I'd rather eat dirt (as a friend of mine in Georgia used to tell me was not that uncommon since the clay there is apparently delicious.)

I guess I'm in a wacky mood just like our guest blogger. As for the puzzle, it seemed like a thoroughly respectable Monday. Congrats to the new constructor.

amyyanni 7:57 AM  

Loved the video. Think I'm going to try and say "so what?" today as often as possible.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Why does the clue for Jealous Critic say informally?
Tell the truth now, how many thought of Rex for that answer?

John Child 8:23 AM  

Thanks Annabel. And congratulations to Mr Kalish. Enjoy your debut day - it’s a big deal and you deserve the fun. Xcellent Monday puzzle, clean and smooth.

Matthew G. 8:28 AM  

And in in fact, in both HTML and XML, the letters “ML” stand for “markup language.”

Nancy 8:36 AM  

I thought this was a snoozefest at the top, but there was more resistance at the bottom. I don't know what MARKUP LANGUAGE is either. Put in TIGER before TABBY at 66A. And a wild guess at the P in the ISP/MSRP cross meant I didn't natick on a Monday. That would have been ignominious. But to cross two sets of initials like that is terrible. The theme was a complete bore. And let's not even talk about the tiny little circles. Didn't like this at all.

kitshef 8:36 AM  

@RJ - in Italian, PANINI is plural. The singular is panino. Similar to paparazzo (singular) paparazzi (plural), graffito (singular) graffiti (plural).

(In English, however, PANINI is often used for the singular and the plural.)

WA 8:42 AM  

Another puzzle were the theme was inconsequential, I just did the puzzle without knowing what it is.

And I thought more people would jump on panini as singular besides Kit.

Nancy 8:59 AM  

@Quasi (7:37) -- I had the same McDonald's experience 35-40 years ago. My mother and I were driving on the NYS Thruway too, en route to the Adirondacks, we'd been on the road for hours and hours, and there were no bleeping restaurants anywhere to be seen.. Finally, finally, we found a McDonald's. Neither of us had ever been in a McDonald's before. I ordered a "Special Mac" or whatever the hell their most famous burger, that came with their widely advertised "special sauce", was called. Along with a black and white milkshake. I was so hungry I could have eaten the tablecloth. What arrived was a thin, sinewy piece of gray meat, chock-full of gristle, topped with what I can only describe as whitish-pinkish glop, and a shake so revoltingly thick that it could barely fit through the straw. I scraped the glop off the bun as best I could, ate the fries (which actually weren't too awful), along with the scraped-off bread. My beverage was water. Somehow, this tided me over until we hit our hotel. My mother was equally revolted by her meal, which may or may not have been the same as mine. Needless to say, neither of us ever were in MacDonald's again. On our drive back to NYC, we packed sandwiches.

Birchbark 9:04 AM  

WHAT A GENTLEMEN neighboring MAAM. SENATE next to GAVEL. Two days, two different marketed superfoods.

In my family, we say "Cows", or "Look, cows." We see them every day, so I think I know what I'm talking about. I am 54. My daughter is 14 and well into a stage of studied disillusionment. The cows are something of an agreed-upon reprieve, and they never fail to make us smile.

RooMonster 9:08 AM  

Hey All !
Nice SECRET debut, Evan. All the themers split across two (or more) words, so that would be one thing Rex couldn't complain about. :-)

Speaking of nits, (weren't we?) there are 42 blocks, high. Norm is 38 or less. Could've at least gotten rid of the cheater squares before ACT/after ISP. One persons opinion.

But, I liked the puz. Nice for the "new to puzs" crowd. Never hate the circles. Adds to the cool factor for me.

@Loren, I actually never thought to have the grid built automatically. I just find the appropriate spots for the themers and put the blocks in myself. It takes some figiting to get it just right. Maybe I'll try your way. Oh, and 14's aren't really a big deal. (Only real caveat is you usually end up with the three blocks either above or below the final block on the 14, like in this puz.) This isn't a slam or dis to you, (which is how it sounded to my ears after I reread it) so here's a little thing to get you to like me. :-) 'Time has no meaning, until you're late for work.' :-)


GILL I. 9:16 AM  

Oh...I like this puzzle. Definitely has the SECRET MENU going on here with EAT ACAI - ZEST TARO HERB, HOPS ALES, PEA SHELL, COLA NOGS and HAM CRAB PANINI. Now THAT is some food to serve on the sly.
I liked this because it was different and didn't feel oldy moldy cutesy wootsy typical Monday.
@sanfranman. I'm assuming you never watched "Sex and the City" and met MR BIG Prestor....Not that you've missed much but he was the BAD hombre and strung along Carrie Bradshaw but she deserved it because she was the most annoying person to ever grace NYC and only cared about shoes.
@Larry G. My husband had a three month contract in Oahu and Maui. I'd go visit. On his last week, we decided to go to Kauai because neither had seen that Island. We rented a car and took that trip to the end of the world. It was the most enchanting, romantic, glorious thing I've ever seen. Even better, we were about the only ones on the beach. I'll never forget it. I've been to Bali but to me, nothing is more beautiful than Kauai....
Congrats to Evan Kalish. See....when a puzzle evokes good memories, then you know you've done good.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Kudos to Annabel and kitshef for bringing up the woeful panini as singular. I side with kitshef. Paninis is a double plural. It's redundant. Nothing wrong with paninos, but Italian is not that hard: un cappuccino, due cappuccini; un panino, due (o piu) panini. Facile. No?

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

oh the McDonald's haters are out today. give them time to regroup and next they'll be looking down their nose at american beer and american coffee. honestly it's time to retire the smug look and go away. the rest of us eat there sometimes, love their french fries, and think the coffee's ok for a dollar, 50¢ for seniors, any size.

and the puzzle was an excellent monday, and a debut to boot. as they say, "one day honey, one day onions."


pmdm 9:51 AM  

The interesting thing is anyone who posts a comment here is using a "markup language." While this comment may have little to do with crossword solving, it may help those who don't know what a markup language is.

In the good old days, you'd walk into and office and all the business letters were typed via typewriters. It was not possible to include letters styled as italic or boldface, since you only had the keys of the typewriter. (IBM did solve that problem with its Selectric typwriter. Don't lose that ball.)

The next step was the word editor, allowing one to electronically store what you typed. If you made a typo, you could correct the typo before printing the letter.

The next step was the word processor, which basically used a "markup" language to allow a great range of printing styles within a single printed document. If, for example, you wanted to print a few words in italic, you could precede the words with a special sequence of characters which told the printer to begin printing with an italic font. You would terminate that command by again entering a predetermined sequence of characters. These special sequences are called tags. With some of the word processors, they were visible in the electronic document but not the printed document; with some word processors that displayed what you typed in WYSIWYG format, they might always be invisible.

So why is this sentence (hopefully) displayed with a bold font?

I typed in one invisible tag before the sentence - < b > characters without spaces, and a second tag after the sentence to nullify the effect of the first tag (the second invisible tag has these characters in order without spaces < / b >. This tells the software program that dispays the sentence on your video display screen to "mark up" the text between the tags to display in a bold font. It doesn't matter what device, computer or whatever displays the text. As long as your device uses a software program that correctly recognizes and interprets the markup tags, the text will display correctly. In technical speak, a markup language should work correctly in a device-independent way.

The explanation is a lot more complex than the reality.

I guess I should at least say a little about my reaction the the puzzle.

It always warms my heart when I come across a constructor's debut puzzle. And when the new constructor seems to avoid esoteric proper nouns and slang, I am very happy. (Of course, esoteric proper nouns and a lot of slang don't belong in a Monday puzzle.) So congratulations and a huge thumbs up from me, Mr. Evan.

Z 9:53 AM  

A fine Monday.

Amused that a coder doesn’t know what a MARKUP LANGUAGE is. If you are on a computer look through your menus for a “view source” option. This will convert the web page you are on into the HTML source code. Of course, a coder doesn’t need to know HTML. Most of the time all that HTML coding is done for you by the software you are using. A notable exception is that Blogger makes the commentariat learn some HTML to italicize, make bold, or embed links.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Anon AKA zippy.
I'm with you. And I'll go further. I like their burgers just fine. Almost all serious people in the business regard McDonalds as the most successful restaurant in history. I know people here will sniff, but their sales numbers and number of restaurants pretty much makes the point beyond question.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Thank you for a nice write-up and for avoiding the temptation to go into a Rex screed. I always enjoyed honking at cows when driving through rural New Mexico. I always wonder why we even bothered to appropriate that land from Mexico (and while we're at it, let's give Detroit back to Canada so it can get back on its feet). I found out while hiking that my wife was afraid to walk through a group of cows. So now, whenever we are driving down the road and see cows, I hold her hand so she will know she is safe. The theme today was rather boring so didn't enjoy the puzzle much but congrats to a debut.

Mohair Sam 10:02 AM  

Very nice Monday, congrats on a fine debut Evan Kalish. @Quasi - I guess it's OK to have never heard of a SECRET MENU, the popularization of the term is relatively new - but SECRET SANTA? Where you been?

MARKUP LANGUAGE new to me (where've I been?), but it's been 30 years since I coded anything. ECIGs on a roll in the Times puzzle.

@Larry Gilstrap (2:01) - "Cat give conditional love. Shouldn't we all?" - That should set our resident philosophers off for a few years.

It appears that Trump and members of his administration and his family have been successfully lobbied out of the Times puzzle, something about a breakfast test. CHE, however, reigns. Interesting. I'm not going to reply to any political ranting, btw - I don't care for either and neither one bothers me a bit in the puzzle.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Anon 10:00,
you hold your wife's hand in the CAR while driving past cows?! Hmm. Sounds like you two were made for each other.

\Anybody else think Annabel was condescending when she wrote about Mr. Kaslsh's puzzle '...I'm sure he did his best?"

mathgent 10:28 AM  

I keep up with the restaurant scene here in town. The Chronicle covers it well. But I haven't heard of a secret menu.

On my first visit to NYC, maybe in the seventies, we ate at 21 Club. Someone had told me to order the chicken hash which wasn't on the menu. When we arrived, I checked out the menu carefully and, sure enough, no chicken hash. But when I ordered it, the waiter didn't blink and promptly brought that steaming dish. It was delicious and I felt so cool.

Banana Diaquiri 10:40 AM  

I code and I still don't know what a markup language is.

no offense, really, but you must be a dinosaur mainframe COBOL jockey. HTML has been the King of the innterTubes for some decades now.

(and, no, I didn't read through all the comments before adding this. ya toss a 80 mile per hour hanging curve, and it gets swatted outta the park)

Banana Diaquiri 10:48 AM  

cows in CT????? may be in the NE corner, Putnam and such, but most of the state is cities. you want a cow state, go north to VT. when I was a wee lad it was legend that the cow population outnumbered the humans. likely still true.

CT - 47th
VT - 17th
numbers here:

Banana Diaquiri 10:54 AM  

various foody TeeVee shows have mentioned secret menus. most mentioned, when I've seen, is in Chinese restaurants. the Anglo stuff is on the hand-out menu. the real deal is on double-secret probation. and one doesn't order in Anglo. I picked up from a Chinese restaurant, and the cook was eating some kind of stinky fish from a tin printed in Chinese. their equivalent to Spam?? one doesn't know.

Hartley70 11:02 AM  

This was a fine debut Monday and I was delighted to be surprised by secret MENU and MARKUPLANGUAGE. New terms on a Monday are always welcome.

Annabel's post just tickled my nits this morning and I even played the music videos which I rarely do when Rex posts them. The first was weirdly odd in a good way. The second was like chalk on a blackboard because 1966 was the year that "Secret Agent Man" dropped and my radio was on 24/7 in high school. It was interesting to see what Johnny Rivers looked like though. He sounded bigger and older back then. I am in love with the final music video. I need to share the Mary Lambert joy today.

GILL I. 11:10 AM  

@Quasi @Nancy...I'm going to add my hamburger story to yours. My very first hamburger was eaten at a place called Hamburger Hamlet in Westwood, California. My mom took me there just before we moved to Spain. I remember it so well because it was the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten and because afterwards, Mom took me to the movies. This was in 1965.
Nary a hamburger to be found in least not one that tasted like Hamburger Hamlet. We even tried one at the Torrejon Air Base and it, too, was awful.
Friends would come to visit and YAPS about McDonalds. This was in the late 60's early 70's and EVERY SINGLE American coming to Spain and yearning for a "good" hamburger would crow about the virtues of the "one" with the special sauce. When I went back to NYC in the 70's, all I wanted in the entire world was to satisfy my craving for a hamburger - especially if it had a SECRET or special sauce. I lived at 98th and Broadway and right down Broadway was the Golden Arches. I ran. Got in line and ordered the Big Mac, an order of fries (that I would dip in mayonnaise) and a chocolate malt. I ran back home. I ate the whole shebang. It was delicious and I got violently sick. I was sick for days and days. My lord I was sick. Just mention the word McDonalds and hives break out. Now In-N-Out is another hives involved.

Pete 11:14 AM  

Just because a restaurant has cooks who know how to make something that isn't on the menu doesn't mean there's a secret menu. Not even Chinese restaurants have secret menus available only for a select clientele - their cooks just know how to make things, and you ask for it and you'll get it. There was a time I knew a chef that switched restaurants, and would go into the new restaurant and ask for "Bobby's veal saltimbocca, just tell Bobby that Pete wants veal saltimbocca", and I would get veal saltimbocca. That doesn't mean that there's a secret menu at the place. When my BIL was living near us, my wife and I would take him out to dinner on occasion. As long as it was a good restaurant, he never ordered off the menu - he just told the waiter what he wanted. Again, no secret menu, just chefs that know how to cook. Eventually I spent about $2500 for decent clothes, paid for him to fly from NYC to Tuscon and stay for a week so he could land a job out there. My investment paid for itself within a year due to those damned restaurant bills.

Unknown 11:26 AM  

Really glad you included the battleblock theater track, haha!

Joseph Michael 11:27 AM  

WHAT A NERD. I suffered a Monday DNF by writing in PASTA SHEET for 16A and ended up with COEA wars and a TETNET computer connection. My BAD.

It was an otherwise easy puzzle with a lot of theme density. Didn’t know what MARK UP LANGUAGE is (originally wanted marquee language) and never heard of a SECRET MENU, but filled them both in with no problem.

Liked MR. BIG and ANT Man.

Congrats on the debut, Evan. Nice job.

Anne 11:36 AM  

My baby sister, who became engaged for the first time yesterday at age 53, used to think Johnny Rivers sang "Secret Asian Man."

Giuseppe 12:08 PM  

LOL. Panino. Love it. I love Al Panino as well. No S though.

old timer 12:08 PM  

I think PANINIS very much in the American language, and "panino" would be unknown to the vast majority who know no Italian.

MR BIG came right to mind because that was the name the longtime director of our kiddie camp at the park gave himself. Even the parents called him that, though his real name was on the staff directory. Sad day when, still a young man in his 20s, he moved on to a better paid job.

Here in California, most folks love In 'n Out and have heard of their SECRET menu. Though I usually have a Double Double, which is no SECRET at all.

I think Anabel is ready to move on to doing the first Wednesday of the month.

Jean-Louis 12:19 PM  

Who does SPAM belong to, them or us?

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

har. I get the distinct impression that luvly sub-blogger Blu'Bel didn't have a fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue. Cute writeup, none-the-less. Primo hi-lite bullets.

Grid fill is real solid, for a MonPuz with six long theme entries. TELNET has a slight ow de speration feel, I guess. 'Bout it, tho. Primo debut.
TyroTip: Next time make Blu'Bel darlin happier, and write up a coupla sneakier, aha-moment clues for some longball, non-themer entries.

1. BAYAREA: Early BART parts?
2. SKIMASK: How to remain anonymous on trail?
3. SENATE: Hearing enabler?
4. UNREST: Demonstrations, e.g. [Or, really go nuts, with: {Everyone else but Nikki Haley??}.]
Come to notice it, there ain't many other long entry opportunities here, to do sneaky cluin on.

staff weeject picks = that there INA INN row.
(M&A's) fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Atlantic or Pacific} = OCEAN. (yo, @Blu'Bel)

Thanx and congratz and cmon back for more, Mr. Kalish.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


chasklu 12:33 PM  

what would the panini haters do with a tamale (a semiplural) tamal vs tamales.

Bob Mills 1:04 PM  

Nice puzzle, but it would have been equally nice without the theme.

Mr. Math and Toast 1:06 PM  

Ooh! Let me try! BOLD not bold. Italics, but not anymore!

My first instinct was PANINo, but I knew better.
Now I'm hankering for some tamals.

QuasiMojo 1:22 PM  

@Nancy and @Gill, funny stories! Glad I’m not alone altho my tale involved only a “chicken” sandwich. I heartily recommend the burgers at Louie’s Lunxh in New Haven, still going strong after 125 years. I had one last week.

Carola 1:39 PM  

A super debut puzzle, I thought. PEASANT ARMY! WHAT A GENTLEMAN! (Nice proximity to MA'AM and cross with MR. BIG). And the reveal was a nice surprise.
I knew MARK-UP LANGUAGE from my teaching days: even Humanities NERDS needed to know it when setting up course websites back in the days before software would do it for you.
This Dairy State resident is AGAPE at the idea that cows are something to remark on.

Nancy 2:05 PM  

Now that's what a burger should look like, @Quasi (1:22 p.m.)! I Googled "Louie's Lunch in New Haven/photos of burger" and got not only the burger photo, but the menu. I couldn't believe the prices. A cheeseburger is $2.25!!!!! You don't see prices anything like that in NYC -- even in the most unassuming diner. Here's the burger photo Yum!

Teedmn 2:15 PM  

Congratulations, Evan Kalish, on your debut. I'll go along with @Annabel's almost too easy rating but I liked the theme.

SECRET MENU had me squinting a bit but I found a website that listed the 14 best secret menu items no one knows about. Only one would I even consider ordering - a shaved chocolate and truffle Blizzard at Dairy Queen, and that's only if the Dairy Queen carries truffles. The Suicide Burger at Burger King seemed guaranteed to kill you, with four beef patties, four slices of cheese, bacon and a special sauce. Can't even consider it, ugh.

One of my friends, whenever we find ourselves at Old Chicago which is a pizza chain with locations scattered around the country, will suggest we order the Queen of Hearts pizza, a veggie pizza with artichokes and white sauce that is only available to those in the know. It was okay to do once but it's really too rich for me.

Thanks Evan and Annabel!

jberg 2:24 PM  

I'm always afraid I'll sound weird if I ask for a biscotto with my coffee, but now I feel empowered to try it. Or tell a waiter, "I'm not very hungry -- could I just have a spaghetto with a little sauce?" (Remember spaghettis-os? Now there's an interesting grammatical mishmash!)

The very best thing about this puzzle was 23A. In the printed paper, you can't tell whether you are being asked for a unit of corn or a unit of com. Delightfully, EAR works either way!

@Anne Meilof, "Secret Asian Man" was an excellent comic strip by Tak Toyoshima. It's defunct now, but you can find a few examples here. At least, if my use of hypertext markup language was successful!

Wm. C. 3:12 PM  

@jberg --

I don't remember spaghettis-os, but I DO remember spaghetti-os.

Oops, sorry for the NIT-picking. ;-)

john towle 3:25 PM  

They don’t call Wisconsin America’s Dairyland for nothing. The only liquid that runs thicker than brewskis there is milk, doncha know.



Anonymous 3:36 PM  


Doesn't Louis's claim to be the originator of the hamburger. Also, do they still refuse to serve it with ketchup?

QuasiMojo 3:56 PM  

@Nancy, I consider it the perfect hamburger. Those prices may be a bit dated. I had a cheeseburger with tomato and it was $6.00.

@Anonymous, The legend is that the "hamburger" was invented or at least named at Louis' although other sources state that it first became a known quantity at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904. No doubt Judy Garland's character ate one. I tend to avoid these long-winded arguments pro or con. I just like the way it tastes at Louis', and they cook them the same way they did when they first opened. And, yes, ketchup is verboten. :)

Fletch 4:09 PM  

They can claim it but in the US the original comes from Athens, TX. That's it. Not sure what ketchup is .

Fletch 4:27 PM  

Tomato on cheese between bread sounds like a panino, meat or not. Secret menu item at Lou's?

pabloinnh 4:41 PM  

"Secret Asian Man" goes on the list of classic mondegreens, along with "There's a Bathroom on the Right".

I'm clearly doing too many crosswords. Was watching the Belgium/Japan World Cup game this PM. Belgium has a fine forward named Eden Hazard, and all I could think was, Eden Hazard.... hmmm, serpent?

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Thank you so much for this thoughtful explanation. I dropped FORTRAN in fall 1977, should have stuck with it.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

@Gill I - another story polished in time. i guess the "dipped in mayonnaise" is supposed to tell us you were euro-cool, but the "chocolate malt" indicated it's a made up story. unless you can offer a menu that shows McDonald's ever offering a malted anything. sheesh-you and @nancy should write a book. "Losers Lament." and that dig at the food at the Torrejon Air Base made my day. not one of the thousands of af personnel or their families could cook a good hamburger?

honestly, stick to 2018 and the puzzle. today's was a fine effort, and, even better, the better than normal review lacked the usual college student schtick.

all good.

puzzlehoarder 6:23 PM  

The hyper-text part of HTML is easy for me to recall. Maybe now I'll remember MARKUPLANGUAGE as well. Somehow I mentally read that P twice and parsed it as MARK UP PLAN GUAGE. I had a feeling that last word would then be misspelled. Gauge and guard are always tricky for me.

SECRETMENU is news to me. That was a little delayed too.

Up north I had a COKE/COLA write over which slowed down the first themer. These were all minor speed bumps but they added up to a slow Monday.

Thanks for all who offered technical explanations. I still can't see myself using italics or bold face much less embedding anything.

JC66 7:20 PM  

Helpful (I hope) hints:

<a href=">@Rex</a>

BOLD <b>text</b>

ITALICS <i>text</i>

BOLD & ITALICS: <b ><i>text</i></b>

GILL I. 7:59 PM  

@Anony 5:35. I'm waiting for my euro cool tortilla de patata to cool and glanced at your amusing post. You made me laugh.
All good.
Yeah...fries dipped in mayonnaise. Best thing a beautiful Danish woman taught me to enjoy in cool Spain. She showed me how to make my own. I can't tell you how many people I've converted. Ketchup is so superannuated don't you think?
So McDonald's didn't' make chocolate shakes then? Dang...It was something thick and chocolaty for sure and delish....
Nary a family cooked a hamburger for us at Torrejon. I was dating a "Fly-Boy" and we ate at the Officers Club. 4th Of July was fun but the food sucked. Base cooks tried like hell to cook corn on the cob. Corn in Spain was fed to pigs. When they went all "Tapas" on us, everyone danced flamenco and clapped.
You sound like a person who once had fun but you no longer know how. Shame. A puzzle that can evoke a really pleasant memory is aces to me. Doesn't hurt to share a fun memory - even in 2018.

Anonymous 8:11 PM  

If you have ever had to “pick nits” to get rid if life, you will surely understand where the metaphors comes from. Every night, for 2 hours, going over EVERY strand of my 5 year old girl’s thick hair, pulling off nits, for a week .....!!!!! See ?

JC66 8:14 PM  



Joe 8:23 PM  

Thanks for Johnny Rivers, Annabel. I play that song on the ukelele for my grandson all the time, but hadn’t heard the original ina while. Okay, so I don’t do the solo.

Nancy 8:51 PM  

I'd love to co-author a book with @GILL, Anon 5:35. Thanks for the suggestion. Don't like your title, though. I have a few possible titles in mind:

(And Food That Won't)


How 'Bout Dinner On the House?

(The Food Was Good Too)

@GILL's a terrific writer, and I'm sure she'll have some title ideas, too. Thanks again, Anon 5:35 for the suggestion.

Teedmn 10:34 PM  

Under the category of memories that make me smile, jogged by the comments (hi @Gill I!), the “moo at the cows” comments had me remembering a trip across WI. My husband and I, along with a younger friend in his early twenties, were on our way to Door County to go salmon fishing in Lake Michigan. My husband told Darrin that you could tell the dumb cows from the smart ones - only the dumb ones would look up if you mooed at them. Darrin “mooed” out the window at every cow herd we saw for six hours. He was so hoarse, he could barely whisper by the time we hit Sister Bay. Fun times.

Unknown 1:19 AM  

Actually, I was surprised of the use of the clue "Militia of farmers..." and the answer "Peasant army". Peasants??

steveo 8:02 AM  

Sometimes (in NYC) I ask for a "panino" at a deli. No one EVER knows what I'm talking about.

Cristina 11:42 AM  

"In English"? A lot of English speakers are messing it up, so we should make it ok? Shall we just start combining "a" and "lot" even though they're two totally separate words just because a lot of people mess it up? Why have any correct usage or spelling rules at all?!

Burma Shave 10:22 AM  


INA WEAK moment and NOTIN fact.
MA’AM, give MR.BIG the IDEA he’ll mesmerize,
and his WANDA chance INN the ACT.


spacecraft 11:21 AM  

I HATE to be a CRAB, but this one was definitely NOTIN my bailiwick. WOEs include TELNET, PEASANTARMY, MARKUPLANGUAGE, the term secret MENU and the companies cluing ISP. Well, at least we have SIT without PAT.

If you want a mini-theme, how about CHE and PEASANTARMY? If you want a DOD, how about ERICA Eleniak? Honorable mention to INA Balin.

This played harder than usual for a Monday. Those who didn't know MRBIG must never have watched Sex in the City. Neither have I, but I noticed in passing that he's featured in a slot machine based on that show. I don't want to say don't quit your day job, Evan, because your debut shows promise. I just happened to not like some of it. Carry on. Par.

leftcoastTAM 1:20 PM  

A fine Monday debut. Needed crosses for HODA. Good to see that Annabel now has more time on her hands.

rondo 3:18 PM  

No write-over, so there’s that. Hadn’t ant connection to SECRET until the revealer filled in. Still pondering a coupla those themers. Didn’t see anyone comment on the obvious Simon & Garfunkel clue at 56d, for HERB.

A coupla Argentine political figures with CHE and EVITA appearing. CHE having more fame outside of the country and EVITA within. And EVITA of course portrayed by yes MAAM Madonna.

Not BAD. Pretty easy, theme or not.

Diana,LIW 3:57 PM  

While I found it easy, I agree with @Spacey that it could seem harder than the average Monday due to the words he mentioned.

And @Rondo, I had to really think about how some of the circled answers were "secrets." And yes, did think about Simon and Art. (Paul and Garfunkel)

@Lefty from yesterday - just in case you didn't "get" the meaning of the two answers you referenced, Here's what Bill Butler wrote on his blog:


Bridle strap utilized only on sidewalk surfaces? : REIN FOR CEMENT (from “reinforcement”)

86A. Result of wearing a fedora at the beach? : MAN HAT TAN (from “Manhattan”)

Or maybe you just thought they were weird...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords and weirdness

Diana,LIW 4:26 PM  

PS - Fly to Futureland (you may borrow my DeLorean) and wish @Teedmn a happy birthday. And @Rondo's is coming up.

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 6:29 PM  

Lady Di -- I just thought those answers (from Sunday's puzzle) didn't make any sense, and still do. Of course, reinforcement and Manhattan are real things, but REIN FOR CEMENT and MAN HAT TAN are nonsense. The other 3-word theme answers are not.

Diana,LIW 8:51 PM  

@Lefty - if you wear a shirt outside and get a suntan which ends at the shirtsleeve line, it's referred to as a "farmer's tan." A fedora, which is a hat worn by a man (or Britney S.) whilst tanning would result in a "man-hat tan." And, yes, of course no one uses a horse's bridle only on the cement sidewalk, except perhaps in the city like NYC or Chicago if you're a tourist; but one would end up with a "rein for cement." It's just that no one ever mentions it. At least not in polite company...

DLIW, word detective

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