Cape Cod resort town / MON 7-9-18 / Danglers on luggage / Computer crash investigator informally

Monday, July 9, 2018

Constructor: John Lampkin

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Monday) (3:31)

THEME: DIDDLY SQUAT (62A: What the exercise regimen in 17-, 25-, 37- and 51-Across is worth) — weightlifting puns (except for "twist"—I don't know what that is)

Theme answers:
  • CHEESE CURLS (17A: Arm exercise at a dairy farm?)
  • FORKLIFTS (25A: Shoulder exercise at a cutlery store?)
  • PEPPERMINT TWIST (37A: Wrist exercise at a chandy factory?)
  • WINE PRESS (51A: Chest exercise at a vintner?)
Word of the Day: TRURO (7D: Cape Cod resort town) —
Truro (/ˈtrʊər/CornishTruru) is a city and civil parish in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It is Cornwall's county town, only city, and centre for administration, leisure and retail. Truro's population was recorded as 18,766 in the 2011 census. People from Truro are known as Truronians. As the most southern city in mainland Great Britain, Truro grew as a centre of trade from its port and then as a stannary town for the tin mining industry. Its cathedral was completed in 1910. Places of interest include the Royal Cornwall Museum, the Hall for Cornwall and Cornwall's Courts of Justice. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was just slightly off, all over. I'm in the gym 5 days a week, so I might be too close to the subject, but there are some slight problems with this answer set, from my pov. The connection between the body part in the clue and the "exercise" type in the answer feels tenuous. You can do curls with your arms, sure, OK, but LIFTS you also do with your arms, not specifically your shoulders. Shoulder PRESS is actually a pretty common "exercise," but chest is the body part that gets associated with PRESS, which is normally called a *bench* press, and while CURLS, LIFTS, PRESS, and SQUAT are all very familiar gym terms, TWIST ... ??? Wrist twist? I've never done one of these. I don't think I've heard of them. Even if they exist, they aren't nearly as common an "exercise" as the other gym-related answers. And what even is a PEPPERMINT TWIST (besides a dance)? I had PEPPERMINT SWIRL in there at first (before I knew the theme, obviously). And is the joke that you are literally curling cheese, lifting forks, twisting peppermints, and pressing wine (bottles?), and *that's* why the "exercise regimen" is worth DIDDLY SQUAT? On Mondays, I expect the theme concept to be tight and the execution to be bam bam bam bam. No "what?" or "... huh" about it.

Having themers with "?" clues automatically sets a Monday puzzle on a path to be harder than usual. And then there were soooooo many clues that were vague enough to trick me into initial mistakes—a lot of them. I haven't seen SWEATS in my gym in so long that that answers didn't even occur to me until I had over half the crosses. I thought Bo-Peep's sheep were a TRIO. Couldn't see POINTA for a bit. Figured [Totalitarian control] was IRON FIST. Then thought one of four in a grand slam was a RUN. Then stupidly wrote in SEEM for 71A: Consider to be. Thought the ICE was thin on Everest. And then I couldn't get either SEDGE or SALES off their initial esses. SALES was brutal for me, as I thought 53D: Business successes was referring to the, uh, success of the business, not a thing that is considered a success within the general sphere of business. Ugh. Unlike lots of solvers today (I guarantee you) I got TRURO instantly, but I still insist it has no business in any early-week puzzle and should only be trotted out in cases of extreme need. The very clue—[Cape Cod resort town]—should tip you off that is only regionally known, and the town population (18K???) should tip you off that it simply isn't Monday material. You can see how the themers get the constructor in a bind there, as he's gotta run --C-F and --U-O right next to each other, and the first one's pretty much gotta be DECAF, so ... yeah. You made it hard on yourself. But TRURO isn't acceptable (on a Monday). Only reason I know it is because a decade ago I yelled about its being ridiculously obscure. I guess I didn't yell loud enough.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bob in Nampa 12:10 AM  

Dead on average time. Pleasant enough solve.

newspaperguy 12:46 AM  

Gotta love the contortions Rex puts himself (and readers) through to criticize something as innocuous as a crossword puzzle. Just name the blog I Hate Will Shortz and be honest.

Isandxan 1:17 AM  

Everything was forgiven when I hit DIDDLY SQUAT. That answer alone worth the price of admission.

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

Truro is insane for a monday, what on earth.

Also wikipedia says it has 2k people, not sure where you got the 18k unless that's the British one from your entry up top.

Unknown 1:41 AM  

There is a Truro, Massachusetts... on Cape Cod.

'merican in Paris 2:18 AM  

I agree with the medium-to-challenging rating (for a Monday). I've been to TRURO myself -- which, like Natick (twice the population of TRURO), is in Massachusetts -- but it took me four crosses before I slotted in that second "R". Fortunately, Mr. Lamkin provided us an ATLAS(T), so we wouldn't get LOST.

For the same reasons as @Rex, I was also was slow to complete SALES. It's a perfectly good word, though.

As for the theme answers, their clues refer to exercises, not weightlifting exercises, so I wasn't bothered as much by what OFL sees as an inconsistency. They're just excruciating puns, after all. And as for TWISTing, I've certainly tried out TWIST boards. And I can imagine a budget hotel installing this "Cardio Twister" in its basement SPA. Helps keep one's mid-section from becoming PEAR shaped.

What I loved, though, was the rEVEaler, which I din't get to until the end. That truly made me laugh out loud. But EVE and EAVE in the same puzzle ... hmmm.

By the way, Lake Geneva is some English cartographer's name for the body of water through which the RHONE runs. En Suisse, it's called Lac Léman. Fun fact: Lac Léman is where the first experiments were conducted to measure the speed of sound in (fresh) water.

P.S. to @chefwen: OAHU and KONA in the same puzzle! Can't WINE about that!

P.P.S. for Will Shortz: Three occurrences of TAN in the course of four days! SERIESly? Can you please put away the OIL and give it a rest? We're burning up down here!

Larry Gilstrap 2:21 AM  

At the stage in my life when exercise has become physical therapy, I too was at the gym today and didn't see OFL. Normally, exercise involves reps, or multiple movements like CURLS, LIFTS, or ASCOTS; pretending to know what that last one is. Dude, could you spot me on my ASCOTS? Just put a glass in my hand and CURLS ensue. No pain no gain, move it or lose it, just do it, or any other vacuous motto which seems appropriate. Much prefer a regimen that involves one TWIST, one PRESS, followed by one SQUAT. Time to hit the shower.

Hawaii beckons with both OAHU and KONA featured today, though LEI was not an option for 42D this time.

Nice Monday puzzle with solid themers including that big old grid spanner. More than we deserve during this arduous hot spell.

jae 2:50 AM  

Medium. Misspelled DIDDLY (ie) and RENOWM (un) so needed to go back and actually read the crosses.

This one was chuckle worthy, liked it a bunch! (or much more than @Rex did).

Ellen S 2:51 AM  

I’m not surprised when I disagree with OFL about a puzzle, but I’m usually more in tune with @Jeff Chen’s opinion over at xwordinfo. Not today (or, tomorrow, or however I’m supposed to refer to the puzzle when done the night before its print appearance). Anyway, I loved it. CHEESE CURLS didn’t grab me — I thought, um, okay, a pun, there’s such a thing as Cheese Curls, and an exercise called a Curl, so they’ve been conflated, only, so what. But with FORK LIFTS, I was convinced. Maybe because it’s kind of a triple pun: Forklift” is a kind of machine, and also there is exercise involving “lifting”, but also, when you eat, you LIFT the FORK from the plate. So three in one, it made me dizzy with delight. And I loved DIDDLYSQUAT, who cares about consistency of pluralization. I mean, I don’t care about that. This was the most fun puzzle I’ve solved in ages. Thank you thank you Mr. Lampkin!

One other thing: TRURO. The clue was about the resort town on Cape Cod. In Massachusetts, USA, not Cornwall, UK. Population is only 2,003 (2010 census). None of them I reckon are descended from the original Wampanoag residents.

chefwen 2:58 AM  

I’ve seen those boards you can stand on and twist back and forth but I hadn’t heard of a hand one so I Googled it and Amazon sells one called “Twist Yo Wrist”. I gather it’s for strengthening your hands.

Made a couple of the same mistakes as Rex, IRONfist which Run, also incorrect, made me change to RULE, fixed that to RBI and I was done. Thank god 7D filled itself in.

Anonymous 3:05 AM  

I agree with most of Rex's comments - sweats in a gym. That person hasn't visited a gym in decades. What is a Cheese Curl - some sort of junk food, I guess. I never heard of a wrist twist - actually you can do wrist curls as well. But, most impressively, Rex teaches classes at my alma mater, does the crossword puzzle, writes it up and has time to visit the SUNY B gym 5 times per week? He truly is an inspiration to us all.

Anonymous 5:52 AM  

One of these days I'm going to publish a crossword and show you guys how it's done. One of these days . . .

Lewis 6:10 AM  

Hah! A joke with a punch line in a puzzle! Great way to start the week. I did actually LOL at DIDDLY SQUAT which was totally unexpected. TRURO was an unknown, but fairly crossed, and a single short fairly-crossed toughie on Monday is better than not, IMO, for a NYT new solver.

There is a mini-theme of double EE's (6), and I've inexplicably begun to look for words of five letters or more that make other words backwards -- pretty rare in puzzles, I'm finding out -- but we have one today with DECAF. Haven't seen KOTTER as a NYT answer in 13 years... welcome back!

Ab exercise at a CPA?*


Aketi 6:22 AM  

@Rex, you may go to the gym, but clearly you have never done Russian TWISTS. I guarantee you that if you do 50 of those with a medicine ball the effect will be anything but DIDDLY SQUAT.

FrankStein 6:41 AM  

Typical Rexian bias. An actual town on Cape Cod is unfair on a Monday but some stupid name from a dreadful TV show from ages ago is somehow no problem? I much prefer puzzles that require knowledge that stems from living a bit outside one's own wheelhouse or boob tube.

Adam 7:00 AM  

I exercise 6 days a week and have certainly done TWISTS with my wrist. It seems like @Rex is looking for something to criticize here - while I agree that the puzzle was hard for a Monday, it was also a lot of fun - Welcome Back KOTTER, STP (it’s the racer’s edge!), POINT A (which I loved), and of course DIDDLEY SQUAT. Overall an enjoyable Monday that felt more like a Tuesday.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

I was convinced the theme was hairstyles, so the revealer came as something of a surprise. Other than that, and the ridiculous TRURO (one sixteenth the size of Natick, and as has been noted, NOT the one Rex made Word of the Day), this was insultingly easy.

If you watched over some owlets for you neighbor, you would have HOOT SAT?

Hungry Mother 7:21 AM  

Fun theme to start the week. I did a lot of downs and came in in below average time. I love using two “in”s in a row.

BarbieBarbie 7:28 AM  

Great revealer! Very fun puzzle.

One question, from a baseball lover yet not stats fanatic: isn’t a grand slam three RBIs and a run? Is a home run counted as an RBI?

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

I liked this puzzle, pretty typical Monday. In my gym in Yonkers, NY, people wear sweatpants every day, though fewer people wear them during the summer.

Hungry Mother 7:41 AM  

We have friends that live in Natick, who visited us over trhe weekend in Lewes, DE, named for Lewes, UK and pronounced the same way. One of our favorite summer spots is P-town; on the drive in, the TRURO sign tells us it’s close. We spent a summer in Binghamton, while I was at a mathematcis institute at the SUNY campus. I spent my elementary years in the San Francisco Bay Area and my teen years on Philadelphia’s Main Line. I’m a snowbird who spends half the year in Naples, FL, named for Naples, Italy, where I visited on a transoceanic cruise. Many people that I know get around the way my wife and I do, and they don’t flinch when confronted with names of places visited or passed through by thousands every year.

RJ 7:48 AM  

I thought this was a fun Monday. I live in MA, so I didn't realize the problem with Truro. I exercise outside by walking my dog - no gyms in years. I am also not surprised that no one wears sweats anymore.

chefbea 8:06 AM  

I take classes at my gym...we do a lot of twists!!! and also curls. lifts. presses and squats!!!

chefbea 8:07 AM  

And my daughter's inlays live in that was easy

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

There’s a Cape Cod in Cornwall? Isn’t the puzzle talking about MA?

Wm. C. 8:27 AM  

I agree with pretty much all of @Rexy's comments, had virtually all of the initial stumbles. But that's good, IMO, that the usually too-easy Monday had a bit of teeth in it.

@HungryMom-- We have a lot in common: my daughter's family lives in Natick; one of my grad-school roommates (family name Schroeder) was from Lewes; I was a part owner for several years of a house on the Cape and usually had a lunch ride out to P-Town passing through Truro once or twice yearly; for a couple years I used to commute once monthly for work to SFO; and finally I'm also a snowbird spending winters in Bonita Bay, less than a mile north of Naples FL. Small world, huh?

Unknown 8:30 AM  

“one of four for a grand slam...” is NOT a baseball idiom so RBI s a terrible answer....should have been “one of four for hitting for the cycle”.

Guy doesn’t know baseball!

mmorgan 8:30 AM  

Loved the revealer!!! Anybody who doesn't know TRURO is a poopyhead. End of discussion.

Nancy 8:33 AM  

Another theme clue: What you'll find in today's puzzle:

Rex finds the damndest things "Medium to Challenging". I found the puzzle Easy to Easy. Still, if it provided no Aha Moments, it did provide one nice chuckle. I loved DIDDLY SQUAT. It was genuinely funny, and I didn't see it coming. That really made -- and saved -- the puzzle for me.

RAD2626 8:34 AM  

@BarbieBarbie. Yes. With a home run you get credit for a hit, a run and an RBI since you do drive yourself in. Great in the box score.

Junief 8:37 AM  

Good puzzle. Enjoyed it. Have visited Truro.

RooMonster 8:59 AM  

Hey All ;
Easy MonPuz here. Rex cracks me up with his 3 1/2 minutes making puz Medium-Challenging. Har. What would be easy? 1 minute?

Nice Monday. Just now figured out how the "exercise regimen" isn't worth DIDDLY SQUAT. Still a kinda shaky theme. Things that sound like exercises, but aren't good for you. Or some such. FORK LIFTS, a person's gotta eat. Oh well.

All that blathering aside, it was a swell time. Now to finish my non-DECAF coffee and go to work. I SEE you later.


Bob Mills 9:00 AM  

A nice puzzle that doesn't deserve the petty criticisms from Rex and others.

pmdm 9:02 AM  

Nancy: the rating (easy to difficult) is a relative, not an absolute rating. All today's rating says is that today's puzzle is more difficult than most Monday puzzles. In other words, it doesn't say DIDDLY SQUAT about how difficult the puzzle actually is. Confusing to a lot a people. In fact, all it means is that it took Mr. Sharp longer to solve this puzzle than it takes him to solve most Monday puzzles, which further lowers its significance to most of us.

Now repeat after me: "We MUST overthink things."

Actually, I can overthink things myself when clues deal with stuff I'm above-average educated in, like classical music. But given that Mr. Sharp admits he may be "too close to the subject" he (in my opinion) more or less justifies what he then does.

Very much enjoyed this (for me) birthday puzzle and hope the whole week's worth of puzzles is as good.

Z 9:04 AM  

I guess it could be an innocent mistake. Or it could be Rex reinforcing the idea that TRURO MA. is not a Monday level answer. I’m leaning mistake. Rex can be subtle at times, but not usually that subtle.

Rex’s points about the theme looseness are accurate, but the DIDDLY SQUAT revealer was amusing enough that I enjoyed the puzzle anyway. The short fill is pretty clean for the most part, so no complaints here.

@Unknown8:30 - I think you got yourself twisted into a knot. An RBI is “one of four for a grand slam,” because the batter gets four RBIs when they hit a grand slam (that’s “Runs Batted In” but not “RsBI” btw).

@Mohair Sam (yesterday or 4 weeks ago for the syndicated commentariat) - I’d have gone with “propagandist,” but was pretty sure everyone already knew my feelings on the matter.
@JC66 (also yesterday) - That was an opinion often shared amongst the commentariat, but never confirmed by the principals as far as I can remember. Not that I care all that much. People get mad at each other. It happens.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

One lousy second...away from record territory (2:42, personal best is 2:41). But beat Rex by a ton, so that feels good. :)

No complaints, difficulty-wise. Fairly smooth and no crises, although the themers were pretty much the last to fall.

Blue Stater 9:11 AM  

Our Truro, here in the Commonwealth (God save it! as Charlie Pierce always declaims), has more like 2,000 souls, not the 18K in the old country. And I very much doubt that the inhabitants thereof, which include a couple of friends of mine, are happy with Our Truro being referred to as a "resort town." Not bloody likely, as Their Truronians would say....

Nate 9:19 AM  

This seems like a cutesy theme that ran out of steam. Like the constructor realized that you could make a workout pun out a few words, but then ran out of material. I'm not sure what a "wrist twist" is supposed to be, but I do know that it's certainly not in common gym vernacular. Oh well, I still give the theme a solid 7/10 for effort.

TRURO was my only real ? of this one. I'm from New England, have been to Cape Cod a few times, loosely follow Cape Cod League baseball, and this is the first I've heard of this place. Oh well, easily solveable with the crosses, at least.

pabloinnh 9:23 AM  

I thought this was great, mostly because of the "diddly squat" revealer, which led me to think of this great line from a 50's song--

My gal is red hot
Your gal ain't doodley squat

and I know it's different but with something that makes me smile that much, I don't care.

There's a Truro in England too? Who knew?

Fun Monday.

QuasiMojo 9:25 AM  

I thought this was a fun Monday puzzle. My only quibble is that the theme answers should all have been plural for consistency's sake. I still want to know why they say "titbit" in England rather than "tidbit." Where's Loren when you need her?

Nancy 9:32 AM  

@pmdm (9:02) -- Yes, I know it's a relative rating for a Monday. It's just that I, personally, didn't find it more difficult than most Mondays. I don't time myself, so I suppose it could have taken me a bit longer, but I sort of doubt it.

@Poggius (from late yesterday) -- You misunderstand me. I bear no animus whatsoever against Rex. Absolutely none. Those who genuinely enjoy reading him -- this includes my good friend @GILL -- should continue to read him. I certainly know that negative reviews can be fun -- I was a great fan of the incomparably nasty critic,John Simon. But, ah, could he write. And I agreed with him on so many of his pans. He hated Mamet. I hate Mamet!

My advice is only to the people who seem to be made unhappy by reading Rex. Who moan and groan about his negativity. Who sometimes go as far as to say he's ruined their morning. And I say: If he makes you unhappy, don't read him. Yesterday, there was a poster who was so intimidated by his opinions that she stopped trusting her own. Now that's someone who certainly shouldn't read him, I'd say.

I don't read Rex for many reasons. 1) He tells me much more about the puzzle than I want to know. (This is true of all the puzzle bloggers, not just Rex). 2) I *find* his prose style unappealing. (A big hint at one of the things I don't like about it.) 3) His wheelhouse is so completely opposite from my wheelhouse that nothing he says seems at all relevant to my solving experience. His much-discussed "negativity" is only my 4th reason for not reading him. If he wrote like Oscar Wilde, I wouldn't care about his negativity at all.

But I am grateful to him for providing -- and maintaining a site where I've made a lot of friends.

Mohair Sam 9:38 AM  

What @Lewis said. Especially his comment about TRURO - one fairly crossed toughie should be in every Monday puzzle. And nothing I've ever seen beats DIDDLYSQUAT for a revealer, nothing.

@Rex - Thanks for linking Joey Dee and the Starlighters, the original house band of New York's then famous Peppermint Lounge. They were one of several racially mixed rock groups in the '50s and early '60s. Odd that for the next two much more enlightened decades successful pop groups tended to be racially unmixed.

Terrific Monday puzz John Lampkin.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

You're a clown. not only do you put Truro on the wrong continent, your claim that a small populace proves obscurity is risible. Ever heard of Vatican city? Population 1,000. How about Easter Island? Maybe 5,700. Ever heard of mystic, Ct? They've got about 4,500 residents, and overrated pie (imho).
I could on, but why? Your hatred of Shortz has compromised you so badly, it's become crippling. You are now very plainly a fanatic: Unable to change your mind, and unwilling to change the subject.

By the way, Truro Nova Scotia is a crummy little town, but there is easy access to the Bay of Fundy. If you ever get the chance to watch that tide come in, take it. Truly remarkable.

Thanks for the ripping puzzle Mr. Lampkin. Pay Rex no never mind. He doesn't know diddly squat.

GHarris 9:55 AM  

This was not a heavy lift. Always feel uplifted when I breeze through a puzzle Rex labels challenging. IMO his critique is what is off, not the theme answers. Ever notice that the self-professed experts on baseball are way off base? Hitting for the cycle has absolutely nothing to do with rbis.

Jim Lemire 9:55 AM  

Faster than average Monday for me. I enjoyed the theme, particularly the revealer, which reminded me of that bank commercial where they personify Jack Squat as a personal trainer you got from a rival bank.

Being a Masshole, Truro was not difficult, though I can see how it doesn’t really belong in a Monday puzzle - I bet Natick is a more well known town! BTW Rex - you included the wiki entry for the wrong Truro.

Also had IRONfist at first. Also struggled a moment with QED since there was no abbreviation in the clue...though I didn’t have the same issue with STP. I guess as a brand name was more obvious (I don’t even know what STP stands for).

Didn’t care for HOOTSAT or DETACH. Who hoots at someone? And who detaches coupons? But other than that it was a nice Monday puzzle.

jberg 9:56 AM  

@Z — Nah, Rex is sending us up by pretending to think TRURO is in Cornwall. He enjoys getting people to think he’s said something dumb.

Anyway, here’s why TRURO is a fair answer:

A) it’s in the NYT, many of whose readers are B) in therapy with a shrink who C) is unavailable in some crisis because he or she is off at his or her place in TRURO. So the place is well-known among the target audience.

Now that I’ve started to take our dog on long walks twice a day, I’v Given up the gym. My first answer was PEPPERMINT patty— I was quit willing to believe there was some exercise called a patty.

As everyone is saying, the revealer justifies the puzzle.

JC66 9:57 AM  


Thanks fo saving me the time to explain the Peppermint Lounge's knock-off of Chubby Checker (who took his name as a salute to Fat's Domino.

GILL I. 9:58 AM  

Did you know that DIDDLY SQUAT was originally Doodley shit? Then it got all sophisticated and was changed to DIDDLey shit and then people didn't like the shit word so it got changed to SQUAT. Neat, huh?
Didn't know TRURO but now I do...Whoopee! Folks...@Rex likes throwing a curve ball. Don't get your panties in a twist because he DEEMed it fun to show TRURO as a Cornish parish. Proves his point.
Really enjoyed this Monday. And when I see IVES I get excited but I don't think Currier, I think Charles. A true American CHEESE CURLS and KONA coffee and still wearing SWEATS at the gym.
I stopped going to the gym because every time I went, the only thing playing on the ONLY TV was "The Price Is Right" and for some reason, if someone didn't win a car, I'd get sad. I walk the pups three times a day so I get plenty.
So reamer is a TOOL? Who would've thought?

jberg 9:59 AM  

@chefbea, but your daughter’s inlays living in Truro reminds me of the old joke, “I was born in Des Moines. I wanted to be near my mother.”

Suzie Q 10:04 AM  

This puzzle was painfully awkward until the funny revealer. Redemption in the nick of time!
But really, "what a relaxed soldier is at"? Who wrote that clue?
Rex goes to the gym 5 days a week? Sorry Rex but I've seen your photo here and you don't look like you've even walked past a gym much less visited one. Sorry to be so personal but I was shocked when I read that.

RJ 10:07 AM  

Truro - the home of Cape Cods best nude beach

Mary McCarty 10:19 AM  

What’s with all the yelling about TRURO? I got it filled in from the crosses; didn’t even have to look at the clue. Don’t you even look at the crosses, Rex? I wish I knew how to embed a photo...I found 6 different brand names for PEPPERMINT TWISTS (and even if they were just a dance-and a song about the dance-isn’t that enough to qualify it for a puzzle?) And, what, never heard of “Into Thin AIR” (and really, Rex, wouldn’t the ice on top of Everest be anything but “thin”? ) Your “vague” clues were anything but, unless you start off with your own preconceptions about them and resent having to change your mind (to wit, your mistake about the “weightlifting” theme: the clues mentioned “exercises”, not “weights” per se. And, yeah, I had IRONfist at first too, but easy fix from RBI (even if you started with Run) and ...SQUAT, but isn’t that the whole point of crossword puzzles: words have to fit together, it’s not just a list of clue-like definitions—that would be called a “vocabulary test.” POINTA and SALES virtually flew onto the grid, tho I admit a few seconds’ thought about SEDGE, but that’s because I’m not a botanist, but that doesn’t mean plant names should be off limits. A happy little smile bloomed as I approached DIDDLYSQUAT, and thought, “could it be...? Does he dare....? Oh, joy, he did!” A funny, tight little romp, with no crossword-ese, foreign words (QED is so acceptable, most people don’t even know/care what 3 words it stands for), pope names, random Roman numerals, etc. My time was half-way between “best” and “average” which makes it “easy-medium” in my book, not “medium-challenging.”

Apologies to all you nice cruciverbalists for getting this 20lb dumbbell off my chest! Rex, go take a chill pill.

The Hermit Philosopher 10:26 AM  

Well said. Hear! Hear!

The Hermit Philosopher 10:32 AM  

“Rexian bias.” Love that. Gonna start using it. 😄

I read his rants for the schadenfreude the Rexian bias elicits.

The Hermit Philosopher 10:35 AM  

Huh? The cycle might result in many more than four RBI. “One of four for hitting for the cycle” makes less sense than the clue given.

The Hermit Philosopher 10:42 AM  

One-liner from Henny Youngman (I think)—
I’ve started calling my bathroom Jim instead of John, so I can say “I went to the Jim [gym] first thing this morning.”

BobL 11:08 AM  

Mary M - please keep commenting in the future!

Malsdemare 11:11 AM  

I loved this and refused go any farther into Rex's review after I saw "slightly off." What??? Every one of those things is real and DIDDLYSQUAT is genius. Thanks, Mr. Lampkin, for a great start to the week. Now to read my fellow bloggers.

Unknown 11:11 AM  

Why is 10D: Serpent's warning = SSS? Perhaps it should be SSSS, or SSSSS? Ridiculous.

mathgent 11:18 AM  

Growing up in San Francisco, the expression was "Diddly shit" as in "You don't know diddly shit about ..." It was often shortened to "You don't know diddly about ..."

I usually don't do the Sunday, but late yesterday I noticed that it was by Bruce Haight, one of my favorites. It was a lot of fun. I had to work to get the overlapping strings and got a kick out of each of them.

I've probably done a crossword like that before, but that didn't dampen my enjoyment. The WSJ puzzles have a number of gimmicks that they revisit quite frequently, embedding a word in all the long acrosses, for example. If the puzzle has the right stuff, no problem for me.

I mentioned a while back that I was rereading Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger after fifty-plus years. I finished yesterday. Some of them don't hold up but For Esme -- with Love and Squalor and A Perfect Day for Bananafish are classic.

Joseph Michael 11:25 AM  

Good puzzle that seemed really easy even for a Monday. Liked the puns and the punchline. My favorite exerise was FORK LIFTS.

I must admit that I am entertained by seeing the contortions that Rex goes through to find things to criticize in NYT puzzles. Today’s review was no exception. It is a nit fest or a great example of how to find something wrong with anything.

Exercise at the mall: SALES reps

Carola 11:29 AM  

What fun! Loved all of the theme answers and especially the dynamite reveal. A treat of a Monday.

Can't wait for dinner to practice my FORK LIFTS and get my workout in for the day.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Rex really does live in a small world. Truro is quite famous as a haven for artists. Hell, I've read more than one article in The Times about it. Edward Hopper is probably the most notable figure, but scads of people ( some writers favored it too) have made it their residence. Maybe you should read fewer comic books Mr. Sharp. Just a thought.

Bax'N'Nex 11:42 AM  

I am re-posting Good ol' Joe's post from yesterday, without his permission but, hopefully, his blessing because many may have missed it and it is so spot-on:

[Rex said: “This is the kind of puzzle that helps maintain the image of puzzles as just a cute diversion”

I don’t know about y’all but...crossword puzzles ARE a cute diversion.

I really really love crossword puzzles, been doing and constructing them for decades. And it’s an interesting enough topic to read this blog and fund puzzle kickstarters and on and on...but they’re still a cute diversion.

Actually I can’t imagine a life so isolated from real joys and worries that crossword puzzles fill any space other than “cute diversion”.]

Well said, Joe, well said.

Doug 11:48 AM  

I just laughed at "Newspaperguy's" comment. I also laughed when I solved this pretty quickly and thought, wait till Rex gets going off on the "twist" answer as having no place in a gym. Just knew it. I also had fist instead of rule, my only cross-out.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

A wrist twist is a common dumbbell exercise for the forearms. People at my gym do it. I do it. And if I had never done it, a 10 second Google search finds that it is a thing, in spite of my ignorance. But if Rex doesn't know something, it doesn't exist. And he arrogantly insists it doesn't exist. That's why I seldom read his comments.

chefbea 11:50 AM  

@Jberg...I of course meant inlaws...darn auto correct!!

Lewis 11:51 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Grace period? (4)
2. Unlikely Top 40 songs (4)
3. Intimate (6)
4. Letters sung as mi, mi, re, re, do (5)
5. Take a few pointers? (6)


gfrpeace 11:57 AM  

Enjoyed reading ab out Truro England, which I have visited. Played the Father WIllis organ in the cathedral. Liked the puz, just posting to check whether suddenly I CAN post again, haven't been able to for a while.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Diddly Squat was a funny payoff, but I agree that twist is a strange “exercise”, particularly for your wrist. I HAVE done ab exercises involving a twisting motion, though I confess not recently. Otherwise it was pretty fun and Rex is being kind of a poop about it.

old timer 12:18 PM  

9 minutes, a normal Monday time for me. But I have been to Truro since we spent part of our honeymoon on Cape Cod. I think we stayed in Chatham. Maybe Hyannis? But I remember eating three times at the (now closed) Thompson's Clam Bar.

Onan 12:32 PM  

I exercise my wrist daily, sometimes several times a day. I assure you that the last, absolute last, thing you want to do is twist.

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  


Funny MonPuz, with primo, raised-by-the-wolves theme. Fillins seemed pretty easy to get, at my house's solvequest. TRURO was the hardest thing, but I had heard of it before, and the crossers were all tolerable neighborly. Overall, enjoyed this puppy.

staff weeject pick: SSS. Icing on the cake here was that each S ends a crossin plural. @AnoaBob hall-o-famer, convenience-wise.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Engine lubricant} = OIL.
This MonPuz did have a bit of 'tude, tho. Question-mark clue {Good lookers?} = EYES, f'rinstance. Like. Keeps things a little spanky-sparkly.

fave fillins: IRONRULE. HOOTSAT [Better clue: {Watched an owlet for the evening??}.] SPOOFS. HARPER+LEE. TIDBIT. Revealer of DIDDLYSQUAT.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Lampkin.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I have DIDDLY SQUAT to complain about this rather tough Monday puzzle - two minutes over my average. I blame TRURO. That started to emerge and when I got to TRUR_, I spent a bit of time checking all the crosses. All seemed well so I got on with the puzzle and forgot to check what that final letter was until I read Rex's write-up. No DNF, so okay with me.

Nice job, John Lampkin.

Banana Diaquiri 1:19 PM  

calling Natick on TRURO is just prejudice. would you call the same on Monterey, CA?? or Padre Island, TX?? and so on. fur instant?? just because we (I grew up in MA, but on the other end of the Commonwealth [not State]) are home to the 65% of GDP that didn't vote for Dear Leader?? we make, the knuckleheads take (that was, may be still is [yes, it is:
, a bridge sign in Trenton, NJ) Truro is home to the finest National Park in the nation (Acadia, bless you) the Cape Cod National Seashore. here:

it doesn't get any better than that.

Banana Diaquiri 1:29 PM  

@Gill I:
Then it got all sophisticated and was changed to DIDDLey shit and then people didn't like the shit word so it got changed to SQUAT.

some memories pop up in the darnedest places. I worked, in the 70s, with a guy who'd been stationed for a time in Germany. before I met him, of course. when, as boys will, the topic turned to turds, he mentioned that public men's toilets in Germany (generally or ?? I don't know) had trough urinals and a series of holes in the floor up against the wall of the latrine. I'll leave it to the reader to grok the purpose of the holes. suffice it to say, that the position is most accurately described as a squat.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Cape cod national seashore is not a National Park. It is a national treasure, but not a park. It's true that the park service administers the place, but that don't make it park. They administer lots of places that look like parks, Grand Escalante Staircase comes to mind, but they aint parks.
And while Acadia is nice, it's not a patch on the parks out west. I dig it, And I love that the Rockefellers gave up so much land to create it, but it's really a very small park with not a lot of diversity--either scenery, flora or fauna.
If you really want to see some beautiful land that once belonged to John D's head to Grand Teton national park. Wow. That view from what was his living room.

gregg 2:08 PM  

Shouldn't that be Here! Here!

Dick Swart 2:15 PM  

Congratulations on "diddley squat"! I was delighted to see it appear with the firat "di ..." and the "s".

As to 'Truro', not that unknown. Home of an airbase at N. Truro in the 50s and the next town down from P-Town.

Banana Diaquiri 2:44 PM  


let's not get into a Dear Leader-ish, "mine is bigger than yours", OK?? the biggest movie over the weekend was about two anthropomorphic insects, fur cryin out loud. not that I went, mind.

Anoa Bob 3:20 PM  

This long-time gym regular once campaigned a puzz with DOODLY SQUAT for one of the exercise-related themers. The PRESS was a GARLIC one. Favorite was CREDIT CRUNCH. I guess LACEWING FLY was a little too far afield and maybe one of the reasons no one picked it up.

The SSS at 10D sent me to xwordinfo where I found it has appeared 156 times in the Shortz Era, usually clued as some kind of leak, a warning or the Draft Agency. Yep M&A, most convenient. Moving into super POC territory, SSSS has popped up 18 times, almost always as some kind of leak, and even SSSSS has made one appearance.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

No worries banana. Just thought you'd like to know. Wallow in ignorance for all I care. Because besides not being a National Park, it's also not in Truro. Try Wellfleet. Known for the CCNS and oysters.

No Diggity 5:32 PM  

No, it's "hear". Look it up.

Gary Johnson, Licensed Plumber 5:57 PM  

This was a neat little Monday puzzle and I liked the punch line themer the best.

From the blog, I clicked on the Wikipedia link and I learned that TRURO in England was a stannery and that was a thing for tin mining in the area in ye olden days and that another stannery was Penzance and that town has a main drag called Market Jew Street which supposedly is Cornish for "Thursday Market" yet it leads to a town called "Marazion" and from there I somehow got diverted to airplanes which led to the Douglas DC-6B transport aircraft which flew predominantly in the 1950's and was considered the finest of the postwar piston-engined passenger airliners and that the DC-6A was a cargo plane and the DC-6C was convertible between passenger and cargo configurations having easily removable seats and a strengthened floor and all versions were powered by the reliable R-2800 radial engine which undoubtedly used tin alloys in its journal bearings which were lubricated with OIL.

Bill Robertson 6:42 PM  

Clearly the age of the bot and AI have come to the Rexian blog. I strongly suggest given the Truro (UK) reference and default “I hate Shortz” bias that machine learning will soon kick in to balance it out.

Notformetosay 6:45 PM  

If a ballplayer "hits for the cycle" he gets a single double triple and home run in one game. So he has a minimum of one rbi and one run, each achieved by hitting the home run. He may or may not get more rbis or runs depending on what results from his three other hits or other at bats that game. A grand slam by definition gets the batter four rbis and one run for that at bat. Unrelated, why do people use the post office's two letter abbreviation for states when, as in the case of massachusetts, there is a well known traditional abbreviation ie mass...and two other states that begin with ma....there are four states that begin with mi and i see fox and other networks use the two letter abbr all the time when there is no way everybody knows minn v mississippi v mich v missouri.....people make fun of the post office all the time and then we mindlessly adopt their ways.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  

I got Truro with only a couple letters, because I live near the Cape. The bottom right corner I couldn't complete at all. I'm no Rex Parker, but I can usually do the Monday ones quickly and easily, and this one had me beat. It always makes me feel better when I come here and see the Crossword Master have the same complaints I do, LOL.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

I agree that Truro is on the obscure side, but sometimes we have to memorize some of those obscure names to use in puzzles like counties or towns in Oklahoma and Nebraska. So I think the answer is legit. I would have enjoyed reading about the real Truro instead of the one in England. Regardless of whether Mr. Sharp put it there on purpose or not, it is just a waste of the blog and not humorous at all. Otherwise, I liked the answers and the revealer.

Jim Lemire 7:54 PM  

From wikipedia:

Truro /ˈtrɜːroʊ/ is a town in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States, comprising two villages: Truro and North Truro. Located slightly more than 100 miles (160 km) by road from Boston, it is a summer vacation community just south of the northern tip of Cape Cod, in an area known as the "Outer Cape".[1] English colonists named it after Truro in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

The historic Wampanoag Native American people called the area Pamet or Payomet. Their language was part of the large Algonquian family. This name was adopted for the Pamet River and the harbor area around the town center known as the Pamet Roads.[2] The population of Truro was 2,003 at the 2010 census.

Over half of the land area of the town is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, and administered by the U.S. National Park Service.

Banana Diaquiri 7:59 PM  

Because besides not being a National Park, it's also not in Truro. Try Wellfleet.

actually, if you look at the map (wiki: ) you can see that most of it is in Truro. by a smidge, I'll grant.

BAMstutz 8:10 PM  

Detach coupons? WTF?

Jim Curran 8:15 PM  


ebermudez351 11:55 PM  

Clues like KOTTER really show the writer's age and entertainment tastes...

LDK 10:52 AM  

Truro was easy -- have none of you ever seen Men in Black II?

thefogman 9:21 AM  

I paused for a while at 17A. Did not know CHEESECURLS was a thing but knew about cheese curds. I left it alone because 9D had to be GEL (not GEd). Cheezies is what I call them, so this puzzle taught me something new. Not bad for a Monday.

thefogman 9:48 AM  

PS - I got TRURO because I knew about Truro Nova Scotia which isn't exactly in Cape Cod but there you go...

Burma Shave 9:52 AM  


ATLAST gave the Starliters RENOWN they sought,
yet a SERIES of MODEST hits


rondo 10:32 AM  

Did this with EASE, got MODEST reward. 23 or more threes for a SERIES of “LIFTS”. Well then. No write-overs, but I let IRON__ fill itself in since it coulda been fist or hand or something, like RULE.

SHE was Mrs. KOTTER. Marcia Strassman, yeah baby.

SMORE like this and maybe it’s off to the WSJ puz. SSS.

spacecraft 11:08 AM  

What @Isandxan said. Much to forgive, including TRURO (if that's the name of your town, shouldn't you lead a drive to change it? You can hardly even say it). Hand, or fist, up for hand or fist. I too waited: RULE. OK, but the body parts are both more common to the clue. I did have a writeover; I cuT out coupons from the paper, but I also DETACH them from my LVA* coupon book.

I found this easier than OFL did--a rarity--but do agree that a wrist TWIST is probably more accidental than a planned exercise. Ah, don't you love those one-hit wonders!

A couple of old-school lovelies share the DOD honors today: LEEs Meriwether and Remick. As we said, 62 across makes up for a lot, draining a long putt for par.

*Las Vegas Advisor, well worth the cost of the book if you're in town for any extended stay.

Hmm, is Brooks the new Tiger?

leftcoastTAM 1:14 PM  

A tougher Monday than usual, which is welcome. Liked it .

Wouldn't a better clue for FORKLIFTS have been "Shoulder exercise in a warehouse"? Or is that too obvious even for a Monday? (Don't think so.)


DMG 1:57 PM  

Havne't posted in ages-driven away by impossible (at least for me captchas) I still follow this post daily and decided to see if I can still get here to Thank all,those who brighten my housebound days-particular thanks for the smiles for M&A (hootsat def for example) and Lewis for his delightful favorite clues list. Keep 'me coming!

Diana,LIW 2:06 PM  

Sure, put me in the "I love DIDDLYSQUAT" camp.

Here's an idea! Let's get together a "Natick Tour" for crossworders. Maybe a side trip from ACPT. The tour could visit Natick, of course, as well as today's TRURO, Oneida, Ottawa, Utica, maybe a long drive to Orono. Special extension to Edina? Estes Park? Where else would you go? (Mt. Etna - nah - even too far for me.)

Hey - this is as much fun as the puzzle. Which was Monday fun. And not so hard, 'cept for that one town. And we all got it in the long run - or drive.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 3:16 PM  

Easy and fun for everyone. Me likey.

I have to tell y'all that there is also a TRURO in Nova Scotia, although I wouldn't call it a resort town. Worth a visit.

I think that for maximum enjoyment you should take the themers literally and visualize the "exercises".

This puzzle had just a tad more crunch than most Mondays' and had the additional virtue of allowing some commenters to display their ignorance of baseball lingo.

rondo 5:25 PM  

Yep. RBIs are pretty simple.

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

The occasional obscurity is fair if it's readily filled in from the crosses. Two obscure names crossing, on the other hand....

strayling 7:45 PM  

@Diana: a visit to Puyallup would be a fun challenge for a voice activated route planner.

\ "Hey car: Find a restaurant which sells geoduck."

strayling 7:50 PM  

I just noticed IVES at 33a. If you're ever in Cornwall, St. Ives is a much nicer place to visit than TRURO.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Maybe I missed it, but I didn't notice anyone comment on what Rex, the commentator didn't seem to "get" on the theme...that all the theme answers were puns related to taking in calories. Hence, why they would defeat the gym goal (if that was weight loss, which is the cliche, anyway), hence "diddly squat".

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