Hawaii's Mauna ___ / MON 9-3-18 / Roman god of love / Notice when getting fired / Song of praise / Eagles' nests

Monday, September 3, 2018

It's the first Annabel Monday that I'm writing as a SENIOR in college! What is even up with that.

Constructor: Trent H. Evans

Relative difficulty: Hard

THEME: Couch to 5K — Theme answers are two word phrases that start with an activity, arranged from most to least active. Or, like, sitting but then getting up and running. I dunno.

Theme answers:

  • SITTING DUCK (17A: Defenseless target)
  • STANDING ORDER (26A: Directive that's in force until canceled)
  • WALKING PAPERS (44A: Notice when getting fired)
  • RUNNING JOKE (57A: Repeated comical reference)

Word of the Day: OSS (63A: Pre-CIA spy org) —
The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was a wartime intelligence agency of the United States during World War II, and a predecessor of the modern Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The OSS was formed as an agency of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS)[3]to coordinate espionage activities behind enemy lines for all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Other OSS functions included the use of propaganda, subversion, and post-war planning. On December 14, 2016, the organization was collectively honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.[4]
• • •
This is the first first-Monday one in a while that I'd call a certified toughie! I seriously got stuck in the dumbest places--the top right corner, the bottom left corner--for so long. It felt like there was NO END in sight. ...But then, I used to feel that way about college and I'm starting my senior year now. YIPES.  At least this year I get to live in a single room! Don't worry, I won't be using it to host wild parties, mostly just to take long naps by myself without worrying that my roommate will feel like she needs to be extra quiet, or to have some nice private crying sessions. You know, the fun parts of college, right?

Wait, yeah, the puzzle. Other than being hard it was okay! I dunno what was up with the theme; if your theme doesn't have a catchy title or really make sense is it even worth it? Also, why RUNNING JOKE and not RUNNING GAG? Space, I guess. I have to admit I got pretty excited when I saw 16A because I thought the answer would be WW2, I just think it's the coolest when puzzles use numbers. Oh well. On the bright side, you've noticed I've been complaining forever (à la Rex) about boring fill, and the fill in this puzzle was way more fun! I actually had trouble deciding between different candidates for the Word of the Day instead of trying to figure out which word some people might not know, lol.

  • GEESE (50A: Birds that honk) — There are about a billion geese at Wellesley! Last spring a bunch of them raised their goslings on campus, and it was the sweetest thing ever. There's really nothing like walking across the quad half-dead running on two hours of sleep and seeing little bitty baby goslings swimming with their parents. Swans, on the other hand? Absolutely terrifying.
  • AWKWARD AGE (11D: Middle school years, notably) — I think we should all share an awkward middle school story! I'll go first. One time when I was in middle school I was on a school canoeing trip and a spider the size of my hand fell into the canoe and I freaked out so much that I jumped out and maybe in the process the canoe flipped over. That wasn't the first time I jumped out of the canoe on that trip, nor would it be the last. The moral of the story is don't take a bunch of thirteen-year-olds canoeing, at least not with giant spiders.
  • GROAN (29D: A pun can induce one) — Hey, when does a joke become a "dad joke"? When it's "apparent!" Get it? Here's another one: Why do sharks eat clowns? Because they taste funny! Yeah, yeah, I'll be here all day. 
  • POLE (53A: Tree : Christmas :: Pole : Festivus— Ah yes, a Festivus for the rest of us. 
Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired college student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]


Brian 12:32 AM  

Oy. I found this to be very easy.

puzzlehoarder 12:43 AM  

This was a very smooth solve. My current fast time for a Monday is to break 8 minutes. This came in at 8:10 due to three hitches.

On the 42A clue I saw the word urn and only thought of a funerary urn. I wasted a moment or two trying to picture a spinning urn. I moved on and when SPIGOT started to appear from the crosses I realized my mistake but the damage was done.

On 57As' clue I misread the word comical as commercial. I had to get JOKE from the crosses. Oops POLE went in off the crosses as well so it's 4 glitches.

The last one was trying to spell ALLERGY with one L. Double letters are land mines to me.

This is one of the nice things about Mondays. They're so simplistic you can remember your mitakes pretty much in order. Momentary mistakes of course.

As long as we're in the early week doldrums, I suggest you try a Friday puzzle from 05/31/1996. It's by a guy named J. S. Marrone. It's mostly standard old school stuff but he out does himself in the NW corner. It was probably the most challenging single puzzle section I've ever come away with a clean grid on. Give it a whirl.

TomAz 12:54 AM  

Y'all ever see that map from a few years ago, Generic Names for Soft Drinks? It's fascinating.. Soda vs Pop vs Coke vs Other. See it here:


Well, I would like a map of YIPES vs YIkES. In a "holy cow, this could be bad!" situation I am 100% of the time going to use 'yikes'. Well, 100% of non-expletive time I mean. But there's YIPES yet again in the NYT xword. People somewhere must actually use that word in an earnest, unironic way. I don't think I've met any of those people, but that's not to say they don't exist.

(Sidebar: ever wonder why we say holy cow? ever wonder if Hindus might find it offensive? On my first trip to India, years ago, I landed in Delhi mid-day, had business meetings right off the plane, and then joined a couple colleagues on a drive to Agra. The sights along that highway were the most spectacular example of culture shock I have personally experienced. I kept wanting to say "holy sh**! look at that!" but I was conscious of our Indian driver, not wanting to offend with off-color language. In my terribly jet-lag-addled brain, for some reason I decided to substitute 'holy cow'. In India. On my first day. til finally a colleague kicked me and said 'stop saying holy cow'.)

This puzzle was a good Monday. I liked it. smooth, easy, a simple but logical theme.

Larry Gilstrap 1:32 AM  

Annabel, already? Time to reset my calendar.

This puzzle was well-crafted, what with symmetry and all. The themers' progression reminds me of a certain process one might experience as part of a successful post-surgery rehabilitation. I've done some RUNNING in the past and might soon again.

I love Hawaii, and have a cousin living on the Big Island, so when I must choose one of the Maunas?; gotta tap the brakes.

I used to have a connection to the hair salon business and cash was king. Never had to visit an ATM until that ended. But all those chemicals?

Somebody asked about middle school stories? I taught Jr. Hi from 1971 until 1984. I could write volumes documenting extremely bizarre behavior. I was too young to be teaching in that pressure cooker; but now those kids are middle-aged and pretending to believe that kids today are more flawed. Want me to name names?

jae 1:33 AM  

Medium. Just fine for a Mon., liked it. Nice write up Annabel.

chefwen 2:57 AM  

Wow, Annabel, I just blinked and suddenly you’re a Senior? Doesn’t seem possible. YIPES!

Standard Monday fare. Out of all those activities SITTING is my speciality, it seems to work out best with crossword solving, jigsaw puzzling, and reading.

'mericans in Paris 3:49 AM  

Thanks, Annabel, for STANDING in for @Rex. And Happy Labor Day! Just for the record, "Apocalypse Now" is about the Viet Nam War, not WW2.

My AWKWARD (how many other words have two Ws separated by a single consonant?) AGE was heavily influenced by my big feet. They were the first part of me to grow to adult size (OK, truth be told, the second), and I was constantly tripping over even small cracks in the sidewalk. It didn't help that I was a nerd as well.

Speaking of long, today's puzzle took me twice as long as usual. I got stuck in the NE because loA looked better than KEA following WAR, and then I couldn't recall how to correctly spell PAEAN.

Not much else to say about the puzzle today, which was fine for a Monday. I always say YIkES. Where in the country to people say YIPES?

If yesterday was the calm before the STORM here in Paris, today it's WAR. I thought I had posted last evening, but I guess I never pushed the button. So, in answer to @QuasiMojo's question from 10:31 AM, "P.S., 'mericans, isn't the phrase just 'la rentrée'?", here is my answer:

Yes, normally. But there is no reason why one can't add another adjective. Here are a couple of examples:

-- Là, c'est donc la grande rentrée de septembre ... [This for example, is the big September re-entry]

-- C'est le retour de l'automne, avec ses couleurs, et de la grande rentrée ! [Fall is back with its marvelous colors, and it's back to school and work time!]

I've heard people call the September re-entry the big one, because it is. Much more dramatic than, say, the smaller rentrées after the autumn, Chritsmas, winter, and spring breaks.

ASTA la vista, amigos! This is NO END.

Lewis 5:29 AM  

@annabel -- Very entertaining writeup! Good luck this year!

Lovely clean grid, and and a very polished debut.

And may I add: We are, at present, in an AWKWARD AGE, due to a RUNNING JOKE, that could use some WALKING PAPERS.

Suzie Q 6:11 AM  

Very nice well-made Monday. I liked it a lot.
At first I thought the theme was going to be about weird vowel combinations because of the North with paeon, Aesop, and aerie but I guess is was just coincidence.
The clue for 18D should have "except in crosswords" added to it.
I have learned here from constructors that Will sometimes sits on puzzles for a long time before he publishes them. So is that true of today's puzzle but the clue for 25A got changed?
I happened across on YouTube the clip from Johnny Carson where James Randi challenges Uri Geller and it is painful and funny at the same time. Now as I type this I'm hoping it was Uri and not some other faker. Either way it was very memorable because it is awkward watching him squirm. (See how I tied all that together?)
Festivas! Yes, thanks for the Seinfeld Annabel.

michiganman 7:03 AM  

I liked the puzzle and theme, good Monday stuff. A few little challenges to keep interest high. KEA and PAEAN got me. I simply did not know and guessed O for the E. I do not think numerals in crossWORD puzzles are cool and am glad it is a rare occurrence, otherwise nice write up, Annabel. (I just naticked myself writing "occurence", spell check insisted on 2 r's so I defer.) YIPES and JEESH! (spellcheck rejects jeesh and yipes but they exist) Speaking of PAEAN, it's right next to PRAYS (PRAISE) Nice.

John 7:10 AM  

This was a new best time for a Monday for me (4:27). I never seem to have the same experience regarding difficulty, as Rex or the other guest posters.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  


H. Wilson 7:22 AM  

Is Michael Sharp aware that Annabel's college campus is on the Wellesley-Natick border, and that the northern border of her campus comprises a section of the Boston Marathon route - which route was the subject of the clue that spawned Michael's coinage of that slanderous meaning for a perfectly wonderful New England town? O shame! Where is thy blush?

Otherwise, happy senior year, Annabel!

Hungry Mother 7:32 AM  

Very fast, but I used a lot of downs. Delightful change from yesterday’s DNF.

Small Town Blogger 7:47 AM  

Who puts “ walking papers” into a puzzle on Labor Day?? Very bad form, NYT!

pabloinnh 7:50 AM  

This is one of those how-fast-can-you-write Mondays. I liked the progression.

Geese and goslings are indeed cuter than all get out, unless you run a summer resort on a lake, and they take up residence on your lawn that abuts said lake, and proceed to fertilize said lawn in a very slippery fashion. You then realize they are far more beautiful at a distance, and devise ways to discourage their presence. We wound up using bright orange surveyor's tape strung about a foot off the ground, which worked. Hope none of you ever has a similar problem, but now you know what to do.

Happy Labor Day and good luck to all of you returning to school. As a retired teacher, this time of year always makes me nostalgic. For about five minutes.

Z 7:55 AM  

I did this in the paper not in the APP, so I can’t say for certain, but I’m suspecting a personal best was had today. It went by so fast I had to stop post-solve and take a look. I find the symmetrical KEA/LEA charming (today). The DAB/BRO symmetry calls to mind the exploded semi of Axe that was subject of much snark all weekend on the interwebs. Nothing says AWKWARD AGE like the oppressive odor of Axe wafting through the halls at 8:00 in the morning. It is hard to supervise 800 hormonally enriched tweens and teens while trying not to INHALE.

Hey, good on Shortz for getting the au courant clue on ASIANS. The Arts, Briefly headline above the fold today is ’Crazy Rich ASIANS’ Shows Staying Power. Given what we have heard about lag times from acceptance to publication I am confident that the clue was not original.

mmorgan 7:56 AM  

Yipes (but I say yikes), we just had the August 1 Annabel Monday and here it is September... And we just had the going-off-to-college Annabel and here she is a senior. Wow. Have a great year!

Nice smooth Monday puzzle, with (I thought) especially good fill.

QuasiMojo 8:06 AM  

Bonjour Annabel!

I would have set a new Monday record for myself if I hadn't put in DOC for "sup"! My memory of Bugs Bunny being a very hip dude.

Otherwise this seemed like crosswords 101, freshmen first term.

@'Mericans, thanks for your polite and informative response to my query. The reason I asked is that when I lived in Paris and went to school there, we were taught that "la rentrée" referred specifically to the return of vacationers at the end of August since back then, or so we were told, the vast majority of French working families took their "vacances" in August. So "la rentrée" was a very specific thing for a very specific time of year. Glad to know it has other nuances and gradations.

Happy Labor Day fellow Rexites or not. Back when I was a kid we didn't seem to start school so early in August as young people do today. In fact, I am pretty sure we never went back to school until well after Labor Day. Perhaps it is a regional thing. But it seems sad to me that students nowadays don't seem to get the full summer off.

Summer is a magical time. I miss lounging aimlessly on beaches and staying up late to swim in the moonlight with friends. Or meandering down a river in a canoe as I did long ago with some camp buddies of mine along the Connecticut River. I remember we found a bowling pin floating in the river and wondered how on earth it found its way there. Or the dead cow that floated by on another morning. Or the thrill of arriving in Brattleboro, Vermont and canoeing under bridges and past cityscapes. Today I am more likely to get swamped in seas of red algae than a canoe.

Cliche Guevara 8:17 AM  

Hey @Z, Suzie Q beat you on the Asians clue. Don't you read the comments?
Good catch @ Small Town Blogger on the Labor Day walking papers.

Jay 8:26 AM  

With a time of 9:20 this was my fastest time ever for a Monday. I was filling the squares as soon as I read the clues. No hesitation whatsoever at any time.
And yet it took me close to 10 minutes to do just that. My "normal" times for Monday or Tuesday hover around 13-15 minutes

Makes it difficult for me to understand how can anyone finish a puzzle in 3 minutes or less.

Some people must have their brain wired differently than mine.

Crimson Devil 8:37 AM  

I once heard cynical college prof opine that there’s only one thing more pitiful than an incoming freshman: an outgoing senior. Enjoy senior year.

Wm. C. 8:44 AM  

@Annabel --

Sheesh, how can you already be a tired college student, classes don't start until tomorrow. Maybe you're there to help with new student orientation, and you've been out late carousing last night? happy senior year!

RooMonster 8:46 AM  

Hey All !
YIPES! The ole brain can't fathom how @Annabel is a Senior in college. I remember her just starting here when she was a Tired High School student, which can't possibly be 4-5 years ago. Does anyone have a machine to slow down time? How can the years go by so quickly? And how come I can't remember what the hell I've done in that split-second?

Getting back to (fast) reality, this was a very nice MonPuz. Had some cunchy-ish words not often seen on a Monday, IONIA, PAEAN, TODD (as clued), AKIN, PARAGON (those two are known, but seem later week-ish.) So kept me on my toes for a second or two. Actually had a writeover, erOs to AMOR. Liked the ARI/URI pair.

The progression theme was fun too. Put me in the SITTING group. Even though I really need to start WALKING or RUNNING to get my Triglycerides down. Ah, middle age. Turned 49 on Aug 12. Need to put some air in my bicycle tires to start that. Sorry @Nancy! :-)

Overall, a not GROAN inducing puz. For ONCE wasn't a complete SNAP. And that's no LIE.

AESOP PAEAN AERIES is a nice set of AE words. Don't see that many AEs at one time.

INHALE WEED (or not, as per a certain Pres.) :-)

Loren Muse Smith 8:51 AM  

Wow. Such a simple concept. I guess there are two stages between SITTING and STANDING – crawling and then cruising. When your kid pulls up and starts to cruise along holding on to furniture, life as you know it is pretty much over. I remember once getting something out of the fridge, closing the door, then opening it again ‘cause there were little two foot prints inside on the bottom shelf. I swear.

Awkward middle school story – I used to put on navy (navy!) blue eye shadow at the bus stop since Mom had forbidden it. This was the perfect accompaniment to the four coats of lightish royal blue mascara. And strawberry lip gloss. And Love’s Baby Soft perfume. Good times.

IGLOO is clued as “Eskimo home.” I thought I had added Eskimo to my ever-growing list of terms that are not pc anymore.

@’mericans – I can’t think of any that are not compound words: newsworthy, downwind…

Liked having WEED and INHALE sharing a grid.

The clue for TEAR really hit home. On Friday, I went over to a student who was just staring off into space and asked if she needed help with the questions. She said no – she was ok, but a single tear dropped out and slid down her cheek. Dewey and Wang and all the other experts don’t have a nifty little acronym and system to deal with that.

The upside is that she pulled it together, finished the work, complained about having to dress up on volleyball game day, and made a pact with me to wear matching black dresses tomorrow. Black not because she’s upset but black ‘cause it’s the only way we can match.

Annabel – good luck and congrats. Time sure flies. Hey. That could be the next themer – FLYING START.

Trent – I looked to confirm – impressive debut, buddy! Enjoy your day in the limelight!

RooMonster 8:54 AM  

@Quasi got me thinking of the "What's Up Doc" song, so here it is for you to enjoy.
Now you'll knoe it's "What's Up" and not "sup". 😋


'mericans in Paris 9:09 AM  

@LMS: Wow, that was quick! In my book, newsworthy and downwind definitely qualify. To those one can add a PPP, Newsweek.

Joe R. 9:19 AM  

I've only been doing the NYT Crossword for two and a half months (and reading this blog for about two), but this was by far the easiest Monday for me, and also by far my most hated. I set a new personal record, beating my average by 2:43, and really whipped through the whole thing with few pauses.

But oy, those clues and those answers. Some of it, I'm sure, is because I'm not familiar with crossword mainstays yet, so I got annoyed by AMOR as a name for the Roman god of love, which is much more obscure than either Venus or Cupid. Some of it was because of unusual alternatives - I'm lucky I already had SNAP filled in, or I clearly would've put YIkES instead of YIPES, and I was certain that "boldfaced" was a typo for a "baldfaced" LIE that had somehow escaped the editor, but a quick Googling shows that this mistake is actually considered by some to be an acceptable alternative. And then there were the ones that actually made me mad. AOL as a pioneer in email? Spam, maybe, but the only thing AOL was really a pioneer in was marketing the internet to the masses by sending out zillions of disks. And Eskimo home? This clue felt offensively outdated.

All in all, not a good start to my extra day off, but the day can only get better from here!

Doug Garr 9:31 AM  

Annabel, I'm surprised. I'm a mediocre solver and I found this to be the easiest NYT puzzle all year long, I solved it in record time for me. This just tells me that you never know who will have trouble and who will breeze through it.

Nancy 9:42 AM  

A very clean, perfectly pleasant, and not at all challenging puzzle that I will have forgotten by 10:08 this morning.

Let me tell you my real life, up close and personal URI Geller (58D) experience. He came to do a demonstration of his spoon bending powers at the Literary Guild in the 1070s, where I worked as an editor. (We had taken one of his books as an Alternate Selection.) We sat around a big round table in the conference room where we held our Friday editorial meetings. URI proceeded to bend a spoon. I was ready for that. I knew it was some kind of trick. But then he did something that I found far more mind-blowing. He had asked that people bring in a sealed envelope with a mysterious something inside. My friend Cathy pulled an envelope from her handbag and handed it to him. He stared at it -- then on a piece of paper, he drew a small, uneven figure eight, going over it with a pencil over and over again until it was dark black. As I say, uneven -- and thicker and blacker in some parts than others. He then opened up the envelope. There was that figure -- the exact same size and shape and thickness of his drawing! Cathy had taken hairs from her beloved black dog (a puli), wrapped them into a makeshift figure eight and glued them to a piece of paper. It was uncanny. I have never figured out how he did it.

All I know is that when I left the conference room, I had a noticeable headache. And I never get headaches. Was there some sort of weird mental "energy" in that room? Or is there someone out there on this blog with a magic background who can tell me how he did it?

Rainbow 9:47 AM  

From NPR "Goats and Soda"

Greenland native Nina-Vivi Andersen has her own perspective on the word Eskimo: "I don't mind to be called Eskimo — it is neutral for me. But I feel weird to be called Inuit, too. I'm just a Greenlander."

It's a commonly used term referring to the native peoples of Alaska and other Arctic regions, including Siberia, Canada and Greenland. It comes from a Central Algonquian language called Ojibwe, which people still speak around the Great Lakes region on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. But the word has a controversial history.
People in many parts of the Arctic consider Eskimo a derogatory term because it was widely used by racist, non-native colonizers. Many people also thought it meant eater of raw meat, which connoted barbarism and violence. Although the word's exact etymology is unclear, mid-century anthropologists suggested that the word came from the Latin word excommunicati, meaning the excommunicated ones, because the native people of the Canadian Arctic were not Christian.

But now there's a new theory. According to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, linguists believe the word Eskimo actually came from the French word esquimaux, meaning one who nets snowshoes. Netting snowshoes is the highly-precise way that Arctic peoples built winter footwear by tightly weaving, or netting, sinew from caribou or other animals across a wooden frame.

But the correction to the etymological record came too late to rehabilitate the word Eskimo. The word's racist history means most people in Canada and Greenland still prefer other terms. The most widespread is Inuit, which means simply, "people." The singular, which means "person," is Inuk.

Of course, as with so many words sullied by the crimes of colonialism, not everyone agrees on what to do with Eskimo. Many Native Alaskans still refer to themselves as Eskimos, in part because the word Inuit isn't part of the Yupik languages of Alaska and Siberia.

But unless you're native to the circumpolar region, the short answer is: You probably shouldn't use the word Eskimo.

Dawn Urban 10:08 AM  

Good morning,

PAEAN was the only word I didn't know, but the Across fill gave me the answer.

I am not a great solver, but this one took only 10 minutes (fastest time ever) so it's the best thing that's happened so far on this rainy Labor Day!!!

Outside The Box 10:10 AM  

I always answer “yikes” instead of “yipes” when the clue calls for one or the other (and therefore get it wrong).

I always say “yikes” when appropriate in conversations. Never “yipes”!!!

I also say egads. Old-timer.

JC66 10:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Norm 10:27 AM  

I liked the progression: sitting; standing; walking; running. Very smooth. One of the better Mondays in a long time.

Nancy 10:37 AM  

So today, INHALE is STANDING in for "scarf down". Does anyone else share my visceral dislike of this repulsive image? Thought for the day: things meant to be done by the mouth should never be done by the nose.

Tom 10:39 AM  

Only comic book characters say "YIPES"

kitshef 10:42 AM  

'mericans in Paris - a common plant in these parts - hawkweed.

kitshef 10:44 AM  

@TomAz - for me, it yikes or cripes, or even criminy, but never yipes.

eh ben dis donc 10:46 AM  

Ouais Quasi. La rentrée is more than suffice, your memory is intact. Sure, some might add bonne for example but I have never heard (or maybe listened) to grande being added. Why not though yet seems mega superfluous.

Z 10:57 AM  

@Cliché - Do you? Read @Suzie Q’s comment then read mine. It is almost as if I was elaborating on what they said.

TBF - There are many comments that I peruse and many others that I just peruse. Sometimes, with the latter, I don’t bother to go back and find the exact comment. Especially if something else (like the article in the paper) seems more germaine to my point I may not make more than a passing allusion to the prior comment. I trust that most readers can sort it all out.

Paul 11:07 AM  

Didn’t notice the theme until the end. Finished in a typical Monday time for me. The use of ‘Eskimo’ is problematic, and Will ought to know that. Clue for ‘arrowhead’ could easily be changed to something not related to the similarly problematic use of Native Americans as sports mascots. Signed, the PC Thug of the Crossworld.

Banana Diaquiri 11:09 AM  

geese are cute??!!?? not in any city I've lived in. pigeons are just rats with wings. geese are giant rats of Sumatra. avoiding goose crap is a waste of attention (yes, a pun).

Lewis 11:18 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Number 2 or 6 (5)
2. Watch words? (9)
3. Luxurious Italian house (5)
4. Word that looks like its meaning when written in lower case (3)
5. Brightly colored blazer (3)


Joseph Michael 11:40 AM  

The theme is unideal (maybe a CROUCHING TIGER would have helped?) but the grid is pretty clean and has some nice downs like AWKWARD AGE and ARROWHEADS, so it was a pleasant enough start to this Labor Day.

Enjoyed the clue for LIE but that’s about it for clue creativity. However, I guess that’s the usual CASE for a NYT Monday. So it did not seem ODD.

I like Chuck TODD and think he’s a fine journalist with often interesting commentary, but when it comes to “Meet the Press,” I still sure do miss Tim Russert.

Congrats to Trent on his debut.

Reasonablewoman 11:50 AM  

@Nancy I certainly don't know how things like that are done. But there is no magic or mental energy at work. It is interesting and makes one curious for sure, but it is all trickery and deception.

Banana Diaquiri 11:56 AM  

Clue for ‘arrowhead’ could easily be changed to something not related to the similarly problematic use of Native Americans as sports mascots. Signed, the PC Thug of the Crossworld.

there's something to be said for PC. in that it 'encourages' empathy and respect. with varying degrees of success. something the right wingnuts don't respect. as to the KC football team, the DC team is considerably worse. except for the Packers, which are a public corporation and therefore beholden to public records, the rest are toys for the billionaire rightwing donor class who get their stadia on the public nickel. may be the baseball owners, same sort of folks, should be banned from importing Latin players??? they're all Mexican rapists and murderers! right? since black players are protesting by taking a knee, they must all be rapists and murderers, too! right?

Make American Sports White Again!!! just no Jews, of course!! right ?

pmdm 12:01 PM  

Jay: One of the Times puzzle editors (either Maleska or Shortz) oonce recalled a humorous story. After editing a difficult Saturday puzzle, he gave the puzzle to a speed solver. He wondered if the speed solver could complete the puzzle faster than himself. Indeed, the puzzle solver cmpleted the puzzle faster than the editor (to his chagrin) who had the answer key right in front of him. Perhaps it's not about speed solving a puzzle but more about speed writing.

Fun puzzle. The constructor mentioned in his comments that he has more in the queue. He also thanked numerous people, Mike Sharp not being one of them. According to what some people have written in the past, that could encourage Mr. Sharp to skewer his puzzles when that appear in the future. We should take note when the puzzle appear.

Happy Labor Day. I'm waiting for the current administration to propose to change the name to Big Business Day. Chins up,federal employees. Hopefully Congress will give you your deserved raise.

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Smoothly-crafted MonPuz. Any puz that starts me out with a {"The Thin Man" dog} = ASTA clue ain't threatenin to be all that difficult. fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue.

SITTING … STANDING … SITTING … SNOOZING. There. Much better progression. Otherwise, M&A would hafta go with SITTING … STANDING … WALKING … RUNNING … LIMPING.

M&Awkward middle school story: There was this one schoolday when I got mysteriously ordered to change to a different assigned seat in every one of my classes except for an all-boy shop class. I suspected two mangy plottin girls, but didn't complain. Got to sit further away from those dumb girls, afterwards. Then made friends with some nicer girls, too boot.

staff weeject pick: Nuthin stands out for its ultra-scruffiness, but I'll go with AAS. Plural abbrev meat. Better AAS clue: {Predecessor of BBs??}.

Primo fillins, with highest-lites of: ARROWHEADS AWKWARDAGE PARAGON SPIGOT WEED. Those would be mighty cool, arranged into a sentence.

Great debut puz. Thanx and congratz, Mr. Evans.
Cool, senior-level-polished blog write-up with superb bullets, Blu'Bel darlin. thUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

@Anoa Bob check this out:

Warren Howie Hughes 12:10 PM  

I suggest we all take a Festivus as to how much we liked this Monday offering from the mind of Trent H. Evans, for our apparently PAEAN the price?...GROAN!

Carola 12:24 PM  

Thanks to those who pointed out that the puzzle is a debut. So nicely done, with the creative array of theme phrases + impressive Downs.

Vowels on parade: like others, I noticed the early AEs in PAEAN and AESOP and wondered if they'd be part of a theme. After the fact, I noticed that we also have AA (AAS, SAAB, AARP), the third AE in AERIE, AI in SPAIN, AO in AOL, AU in AURA, and if we're counting "and sometimes y and w," PRAYS and PAW.

SNIP + SNAP reminded me of pre-AWKWARD AGE reading. I loved Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr.

jberg 12:37 PM  

Eleven downs each crossed two different theme answers -- I don't keep track, but that seems impressive to me.

Hardest part was 24A -- I put in SOHO off the O, but thought "wait... isn't there also a NOHO?" Then I looked at 24D, thought it meant the cut you might get from a scissors, and said, "Aha! Just as I suspected -- it must be nOHO/nick!" Didn't last long, due to AERIES, but aside from wanting ELWee, the only holdup in this puzzle.

Off to a labor Day bike ride...

Crimson Devil 1:02 PM  

Re inexplicable headache and “mysterious mental energy” inquiry: check out ominous article front page NYT y’day re Frey effect, possible use of microwaves as weapons v our Cuba embassy staff. Scary.

Anoa Bob 1:27 PM  

@M&A, YIPES! A plethora of POCs. You beat the previous NYTXword string of five Ss in a row by two. I must say, however, that technically they weren't Plurals of Convenience (POCs) but rather Plurals of Purpose (POPs), since that was the theme. But the puzz rates a hearty har har!

JC66 1:50 PM  


How about a SPOILER ALERT?

Anoa Bob 2:03 PM  

Oh, in response to @Nancy's "How did he do that?" query, it almost always involves inside knowledge. The televangelist Peter Popov was exposed for similar trickery. He had a tiny radio receiver in his ear and an accomplice, his wife I think, who had collected information earlier, would pass it on to Popov, who would then claim that God had revealed it to him. He was exposed by the professional magician James "Amazing" Randi, who brought a radio scanner to the meeting and intercepted the messages. Further details here: God's Frequency Is 39.17 MHz.

My guess is that someone else who was in cahoots with Geller had obtained info on what your friend had put in the envelope and had passed that on to him beforehand. Pretty standard stuff in the flim-flam biz.

Nancy 3:29 PM  

@Anoa Bob (2:03)-- If this had been a random person plucked out of an audience...
Or even a person in my department I didn't know all that well...

But it was Cathy -- who wore her emotions on her sleeve and her face. Who was completely guileless. Who wanted, wanted, wanted to stump URI Geller, and who thought she'd come up with something that no one could possibly guess.

And, even if another person had known what was in the envelope and had tipped URI off, how could URI have drawn a figure that was the exact same size and shape and color and thickness -- that seemed in fact to be absolutely congruent with the original? I'm leaning more towards some sort of gizmo that can see through paper -- but is there such a thing???? Anyway, the one thing I would bet the farm on is: There was no collusion.

john towle 3:49 PM  

You can cover all bases if you just say sody-pop.



nelhage 4:25 PM  

I broke my personal record, and the 4m mark for the first time, on this one. Top half fell into place almost without looking at the downs, and experienced just a bit more hesitation on the bottom. JLO cost me a few seconds of confusion on the final fill. Never even noticed the theme.

Always interests me when puzzles present as vastly differing difficulties to different solvers.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Are you off your meds again?

Mr. Evans,
Thanks for the nice puzzle. I think pmdm is onto something viz Sharp's likely reaction to your future puzzles.

ZenMonkey 4:49 PM  

Also my fastest Monday time ever, but still a fun and clever solve. Those things don't often go together. Congrats @nelhage, breaking 4m on a Monday would be a banner day for me. (4:03 today, so close!)

URI Geller is a fraud famously and definitively debunked by James Randi. There is no mysticism, no AURAs involved, and there never is. Perpetuation of these myths is more harmful than entertaining; magical thinking stops parents from getting medical care for their kids and encourages the poaching of endangered animals because people believe bear bile or rhino horn will fix their ails. Rational thinking is more important than ever these days.

ZenMonkey 4:51 PM  

@Anoa Bob my apologies, though I skimmed the last few comments I didn't see your excellent explanation.

Also see the book "The Truth About Uri Gellar" by Randi.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

Fun and fast today.

Nancy 6:28 PM  

For @Zen Monkey...and to a lesser degree, @Anoa Bob and @reasonablewoman:

Everyone who has known me at any stage of my long, exceedingly skeptical life is roaring with laughter at my being lectured -- gently or not so gently -- about the necessity of rational thinking. I'm the original "show me" person. I question everything that can't be proved by science, everything that's mystical or strange or otherworldly-- from holistic "medicine" to the Bermuda Triangle to parapsychology and the Uri Gellers of the world. And, that, I'm afraid, even extends to religion. Hope I'm not shocking anyone.

The problem is that Uri Geller actually "showed" the "show me" person that I am, and none of the explanations y'all have offered would be possible in that particular case. Of course there has to be a rational explanation -- but I have no idea what it is. Maybe I need to *become a magician* in my old age. I'm told that magicians never reveal their tricks to the public, but will reveal them to other magicians. Or the magic store will. Again -- I'm wondering if there's a gizmo that enables someone to view what's inside a paper envelope. If so, I'm sure the CIA stocks them.

ZenMonkey 10:41 PM  

@Nancy That's why we've been recommending Randi to you. He was a magician. He revealed the tricks to the public. If you want to know so badly, read what was suggested. (Of course there's also a certain pleasure in deciding to believe in something you know is impossible, which as a skeptic you understand -- so just know the explanations are out there all over the place if you wish.)

Nancy 11:41 PM  

I did read it. He didn't reveal this trick.

Girish 2:07 PM  

Hi, Annabel! Your paean is a paragon of pleasure. And amen, Lewis! Seems to be no end,
episode after episode, in the Oval Office.

Unknown 10:31 PM  

Am I the only one that was annoyed by Amor for the Roman god of love. The Roman god of love is Cupid, Eros is the greek name and Amor is the latin name

Peter Richards 7:14 AM  

37 Down It's IRA Glass, not ARI Glass.

Burma Shave 9:57 AM  


there’s NOEND to what PAW NEEDS.
He MAKESDO with WALKINGPAPERS for his smoke,


rondo 12:36 PM  

I guess that’s a progression from SITTING to RUNNING. I tried a bunch of downs before acrosses and ended up with a Psalm before a PAEAN for a bit of an inkfest in the NE.

The Twin Cities Marathon was held yesterday. If I’d have signed up I’d have been a RUNINGJOKE. GROAN.

Used to date a girl named GRACE; couldn’t keep my PAWs off her. Like to try that with yeah baby JLO ONCE.

This puz fit the NEEDS for a Monday.

Diana,LIW 1:58 PM  

Don't know when Peter posted (a peck of peppers?), but Ari IS Shapiro, Ira is Glass. Take another look at the clue - it asked for the Shapiro. Doncha hate it when that happens?

Monday easy. Thank goodness, cause I just stopped doing yesterday's bleeping rebus. No more peas, please.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:34 PM  

Is the GROAN centerpiece of the puzzle possibly meant as a response to the metaphorical theme answers? Probably not. But I can imagine circumstances when one or another might be used as a groan-evoking pun.

Whatever, a nice smooth Monday puzzle.

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