Human rights advocate Jagger / MON 9-10-18 / Shaggy grazer / Mosque toppers / Device to remove water from ship

Monday, September 10, 2018

Constructor: Jacob Stulberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging (by far my slowest Monday time since I've been recording them) (4:09)

THEME: CHEESE / SPREAD (28A: With 45-Across, savory topping found in tubs ... and the circled squares?) — four-letter cheeses are S P R E A D out inside theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • FREE TRADE (17A: Zero-tariff policy) (FETA)
  • DEAD CALM (31A: Complete lack of wind, as at sea) (EDAM)
  • BURL IVES (43A: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" actor) (BRIE)
  • BILGE PUMP (58A: Device to remove water from a ship) (BLEU)
Word of the Day: SOBE (35A: Iced tea brand in a bottle) —
SoBe (stylized as SoBe) is an American brand of teas, fruit-juice blends and enhanced water beverages owned by PepsiCo. The name SoBe is an abbreviation of South Beach, named after the upscale area located in Miami Beach, Florida. In the past, the SoBe name has also been licensed for gum and chocolate products. SoBe switched from glass bottles to plastic bottles for all of its beverages in 2010. (wikipedia)

• • •

You wouldn't describe this as "Hard" but I don't know, man, it played like a tough Tuesday / easy-medium Wednesday for me. Something about the way the revealer is laid out AND cross-referenced, and then some of the proper nouns, and some of the potential traps you might fall into, made this not a normal Monday, difficulty-wise. Again, it's a minute of my day. A minute off of average. But a minute on Monday is F O R E V E R. I just finished a Manhattan, and I definitely get a little sloppy and slow when I've been drinking, but even so, I thought I was gonna come in somewhere in the mid-3s. But over 4??? I don't have a recorded *Tuesday* time that's over 4. I don't think the puzzle is difficult overall. Or maybe it is, but my particular downfall was a couple of mistakes, one understandable (and lethal) the other just a dumb misreading of the clue on my part. In the first case, I answered 5D: "Start working!" as GET TO IT! Oh, man, did that hurt. The wrong part went right through the first half of the revealer, so ... ouch. Also, I totally convinced myself that maybe TOSSES could work for 21A: Orders (around) (BOSSES) and PODS could work for 24A: Beginning blossoms (BUDS). The clue on COMFY was awkward-sounding to begin with (33A: Feeling good to wear, say), but throw in a wrong letter, and things ... well, they got ugly. And the second error was due to a too-quick reading of the clue at 37A: "Where there's ___, there's hope" (LIFE). I wrote in WILL, because clearly my brain thought "Where there's a WILL there's a way" was what was happening there. Where is this dumb unattributed quote from. Dum spiro, spero, I know—is that what this is? Footnote, please!

BIANCA Jagger is a "Human rights advocate"??? I didn't know she was ... I just haven't seen her name at all, in a million years, so that clue meant nothing to me. Honestly, I'm not sure I saw the clue. I think I filled her in entirely from crosses. I was lucky to know BURL IVES, though I'm not sure how easy that is for non-TCM fan solvers. I struggled through BILGE PUMP. I have a vague idea what it is, but it's a pretty technical term. It's weird to call AARP a [Grp. making after-work plans?] because ideally you've made "plans" before you are even eligible to *join* AARP. I mean, what is my IRA if not a "plan"? Or maybe the "plans" are just ordinary junk one might do. Non-financial. It's just that the phrasing of the clue implies that the planning is happening Before You've Stopped Work, in which case... probably not in AARP yet. See, when you get cute, I get picky. It's a tit for tat situation. I don't know what I thought of the theme. As someone who once made a cheese-themed puzzle himself, I guess I'm favorably inclined toward this one. I don't know.  But CHEESE SPREAD ... I don't eat that (I couldn't even name a type or brand), so it's not on my radar, and "savory topping found in tubs" didn't help one iota. But honestly, I barely noticed the theme and (as you can see) had bigger problems to deal with.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Scrub 12:11 AM  

BURL IVES and BIANCA Jagger is a brutal cross for a Monday. I only got them from painstakingly teasing out the rest of that corner. I'm with Rex in that I stumbled all around this puzzle and thought it might be better suited for a different day of the week.

Brookboy 12:18 AM  

Yeah, I thought it was tough too, for a Monday. I didn’t have the same problem with AARP as did Rex. I thought the clue was pretty good. Also fell for GETtoit before GETBUSY. All in all, an enjoyable puzzle. Nice write-up from Rex.

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

I liked it, I fell into the same first trap as Rex did but fixed it pretty quick on BOSSES.

BIANCA and BURL IVES are both way outside my generation but I guessed right. I actually only ran into a serious problem with SOBE, which I put in as SOBA. Befall kind of looked right.


Rita 12:20 AM  

I’m a Mon to Wed solver and found this really easy. My best time ever. I filled it in with hardly a pause and thought to myself that this must be what fast solvers feel like.

puzzlehoarder 12:44 AM  

I went through this as fast as I could, which is the point of these early week puzzles. GETTOIT at 5D was about my only write over. ALROKER was a little slow as I forget that he was a weatherman. BURL and BIANCA went right in. I had to work around VINE because I read the clue word 'plant' as 'part'.

Otherwise it was read and write for an 8:27 time. I wasted no time with the theme while solving. DUH was another thing I worked around just because it's so unfathomably lame.

As much as these little glitches added to the time my random solving pattern was just as much of a slow down.

If you're bored there's a good Saturday from 6/8/96 with a tough NE corner.

Larry Gilstrap 1:00 AM  

CHEESE is delicious and folks SPREAD it on stuff, like a bread product. Shunned CHEESE for years because it instantaneously makes my nose shiny. The puzzle stipulates that these dairy products come in a tub, which is news to me, and I am a grocery store habitue. Somebody adulterates BRIE and makes a SPREAD? Any HOO! Hi @LMS.

Wow! Somebody drinks and gets sloppy and slow? I thought that was the point. I'm not sure I have ever had a Manhattan, but I solved after a couple of beers and finished before sunrise, so yeah me!

Ships ply the Seven Seas and often carry ballast, which can be water. The weight helps stabilize the craft in high seas. The ships take bilge on in one grimy port and use a PUMP to disperse it in another grimy port on the other side of the globe. What could go wrong environmentally?

A few years ago, I was asked to appear in a community theater production. My character was funny and lovable, sang and danced like a Grandpa,and I pretty much nailed it. One of the hardest things I've ever done. At the conclusion of the show, you know, when the cast TAKES A BOW, I stepped into the lights and the audience responded enthusiastically. What a rush! No wonder actors devote their lives to live theater. Try it! I dare you.

We all should know BURL IVES. Super talented guy.

Tom 1:16 AM  

Four seconds off my Monday average, so played the usual easy. Never used UNWORN. Not something I have ever heard anyone say. I have some "new" clothes, and once worn they're not new. Generally, nice clean Monday.

jae 1:27 AM  

Medium. Solid but a tad ho-hum, liked it.

That stint I did in the USN back in the ‘60s helped with BILGE.

Tom R 1:30 AM  

I thought it was pretty easy, but I don't worry about time. A question for Rex: is there extra joy in speed? I find puzzles like a good fiction book. I read very fast and retain a lot when I read in my field (psychology) but fiction I read slowly so I can savor it. Being really fast does not make the puzzle more joyful for me; I'd rather take my time and savor the experience. Anyone else feel that way?

Paul Rippey 1:59 AM  

Wow. I was only twice Rex’s time. Absolutely never happened before. I didn’t (1) pay any attention to the theme, and (2) drink alcohol. Just sayin’...

travis 2:30 AM  

If it weren't for the circles I would have been naticked on BIANCA/BURLIVES. That is pretty rough on a monday.

chefwen 3:09 AM  

Born and raised in cheese land, so I had no problem with this theme, it even helped a little.

EAT at before EAT ON at 16A was my sole write over. Couldn’t fill in my little squares fast enough.

Rex, try Kaukauna Spreadable Cheese, it’s available everywhere. Made in Kaukauna WI and it’s good on everything from carrots to crackers.

Off topic to @Carola, WOO HOO!

Loren Muse Smith 4:13 AM  

I’m with those who found this easy. But I knew BURL and BIANCA.

I’m still surprised when people talk about not noticing/looking for the theme. That’s my only thought. Funny how we all have our own little deals. Funny how some of us wanna force our deals onto others. But seriously – y’all should pay more attention to theme and take your time and enjoy the ride. It’s the only way to properly solve a puzzle.

Loved this. Elegant, tight execution. Four 4-letter cheeses (are there any others? Goat – IGNORANT, but that’s too broad). The cheese letters are only one letter apart. That’s the aspect I Really appreciate and so y’all should, too.

Liked CRONE/HEX. I tell you, the crone form of the queen scared the bejeezus out of me in Snow White.


Liked BOSSES/SHAGS. And in that vein, STOOD ASIDE/ MOONVES. Hah. I don’t think I made anyone look.

Nice job, Jacob.

Dawn Urban 6:30 AM  

For me also, this is the puzzle which takes me closest to Rex's time. As they say, I'm off the porch, running with the big dogs....until tomorrow!

Ahh...Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. As a TCM fan, Burl's white beard, and sweaty forehead, in the heat of a Southern parlor, took just a moment to remember. (It is much easier to picture his shivering likeness as Sam the Snowman, singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.)

Hubby watching morning news, just whined that the Cheese-Heads won last night. I told him that that is appropops, considering today's CHEESE SPREAD- themed puzzle! Pure serendipity, so seldom our interests overlap!!

Carola 6:35 AM  

Easy here. With FETA in those circles, I'd first wondered about some sort of holes-in-CHEESE theme, but with the reveal clue, CHEESE SPREAD went right in. Supermarket dairy cases around here are packed with all sorts of varieties - something to put on a cracker along with your summer sausage and a substance many a Dairy Stater has been weaned on. I got a smile out of BLEU embedded in BILGE PUMP as I'm not so fond of it. Nice Downs!

@chefwen - Me, too, for instantly thinking "Kaukauna!" and no kidding on the WOO-HOO!

QuasiMojo 6:48 AM  

I stumbled out of the gate by boldly writing HELLO for the ID TAG. I don’t think of tags as sticking. Do they? That gave me HAZY before IFFY, ERIC before DORA (who is my Bianca or Burl). GETATIT before TO IT, and later GET REAL before SPARE ME. That was one of my favorite clues. The theme kinda threw me tho as the cheeses chosen aren’t really spreads and don’t come in tubs. I wonder if Roquefort asks itself the existential question, “Am I bleu?”

P.S. I watched “Dead Calm” recently. It was pure BILGE.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

I'm with you @Tom Rowe. I pay no attention to how long it takes; rather I just enjoy the ride. I do have my own personal challenge: I begin at 1A (or 1D) and work from there, with every answer I enter attached to one already there - no unattached words scattered in the grid.

John H 7:05 AM  

Rex is totally off base about AARP. You are invited to join at age 50, well before most people retire, and in plenty of time to make plans before retirement.

Irene 7:07 AM  

I never time myself, just figure it takes as long as it takes and enjoy the ride. But as I solved it, I was thinking how slowly I was going for a Monday. Even so, it wasn't hard for me: I knew (or should that be "knew"?) both Burl Ives and Bianca Jagger. Thought the circled clues were mildly clever and helpful, which sort of describes a Monday.

michiganman 7:11 AM  

Absolutely. There are many of us.

Hungry Mother 7:14 AM  

Played easy here with the cheeses helping in the solve. Only did a few downs.

michiganman 7:24 AM  

I guess you either know of Burl Ives or you don't but who else but BIANCA? How many Jaggers do you know and it isn't Mick! I highly recommend "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman at their best. Good solid Monday. 16 minutes of pleasure. (I really hate the new 1/4, 1/2 done pop up thingies. JEESH!)

ghthree 7:27 AM  

My personal translation of DUM SPIRO SPERO is "Nixon's vice president is as stupid as a bird."
I coined this one while he really was Nixon's vice president, and next in line. Now what can we do with PENCE? Some obvious puns on "value" perhaps.

Seth 7:31 AM  

Hey, let's give credit where it's due: instead of cluing BIANCA as "Mick Jagger's wife" like they did with Amal Clooney a little bit ago, she got her own qualifications referenced. She might be less famous nowadays than Amal -- I certainly have no idea who she is -- but I appreciate the clue.

chefbea 7:42 AM  

What a yummy ...or cheesy puzzle!!! Along with iced tea to wash it all down. Love waldorf salad!!!

Small Town Blogger 8:03 AM  

Yes! I solve on paper and never worry about time. I sit down each day with the coffee left over from my breakfast and look forward to sitting down with the puzzle. The only exception is the Sunday puzzle which I do Saturday night because it comes out early enough for me to still be up!

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Taught the constructor many years ago. Great job Jacob. Enjoyed doing this Monday’s crossword very much.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

I also had GETtoit and tOSSES for a while but COMFY and BUDS made me take them out pretty quickly. BURL IVES and BIANCA were gimmes but I guess I'm old. Nice Monday with almost no junk, but I didn't care for the NO part of NO DUH.

pabloinnh 8:33 AM  

I'm in with the easy crowd on this one, even though I've never finished on paper in under five minutes, I don't think, because who cares?

BILGEPUMP is unusual? Really? Who's BIANCA? Really?

I was introduced to BURLIVES as a singer of children's songs on a 45 RPM record, for those of you who know what that is. I can still probably sing most of "Little White Duck", which was a big hit with the preschool crowd. Yeah, I'm that old.

Thought this was a Monday that knows how to Monday.

Nampa Bob 8:40 AM  

Right there with anonymous 7:02...
Time is irrelevant to me. I do the same; start with a word and everything connects.
Thought this was an extremely easy puzzle.

Matthew G. 8:41 AM  

Didn’t know BURL IVES from that particular clue, but to me he’s famous as the singing snowman from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special that has aired every Christmas of my life. For that role alone he is probably famous to all generations. Even my own small children have already seen it a bunch of times. I do think of him as a singer more than an actor, so seeing him clued by a movie would have thrown me off if I didn’t already have IVES in place.

BIANCA Jagger, on the other hand, is not a Monday name at all.

I quite liked this puzzle, though. Nice to have an unexpected punch on a Monday.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Felt relatively fast, clock said otherwise. 3:35, only a few ticks below average!

Waited for several crosses before even trying to fill in the themers. One of the snags was that I misread the verb tense at 30D, and went with EMBARKupON.

Will chalk this one as a victory, however, as out-speeding Rex is always a treat! :)

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

I thought the AARP clue was clever and it didn't occur to me that it referred to financial retirement plans because covers a wide range of after-you're-done-working issues.

Manhattan huh? Whisky and sugar. That explains a lot.

Wm. C. 8:46 AM  

@TomRowe1:30 --

Re:your comment, don't speed, take your time and SAVOR the puzzle.

Yep, that was exactly what I was thinking when Rex went on and on about his slow speed (for him) today. I was thinking about how I had now idea how long I took, and didn't care.

I liked it more than typical Mondays, which are usually too easy to be fully enjoyable. So I was glad it had a little pushback, like (as OFL observed) was more like a late Tuesday or maybe even an easy Wednesday.

As to the theme fill, it played very little into the solving experience, except to point to CHEESE after I had most of the circled cheeses filled in. Similarly for SPREAD. I didn't get the meaning of the S P R E A D part until I came here.

Anyway, a fun Monday. Tnx Jacob and Rex.

Matthew G. 8:47 AM  

@Tom Rowe:

I do both, depending on the day of the week. I generally do not time myself on Saturdays, because that’s the only day I get the physical paper delivered and I enjoy doing the puzzle with my young son and looking for clues he can “help” me with. I also don’t time myself on Sundays, because I don’t really care about my times on non-15x15 puzzles.

But I do time myself on Monday through Friday puzzles because I’ve reached a point in my solving skills where the main thrill of easier puzzles is seeing how fast I can crack them. I stopped doing Mon to Wed puzzles for several years because I didn’t find them interesting, and speed-solving is what got me back into them.

JOHN X 8:48 AM  

I learned "mendacity" from BURL IVES in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" because it's his favorite word to say. Also he narrated "Frosty the Snowman" so there's always that.

JOHN X TRIVIA NUGGET: I read Tennessee William's play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" while 400 feet beneath the surface of the Arctic Ocean.

Preferred Customer 8:52 AM  

Good morning Monday solvers!

No one is complaining about Al Roker? How can this be? And you're complaining about Bianca? And bilge pump?


I feel like the floor is the ceiling and the ceiling is the floor. Maybe some headstands will clear this up.

And now for a note to Anonymous:

Hi, I've noticed a singular lack of civility paired with an inability to spell or edit. Have some pride. Review what you write. If you wouldn't send it as an identifiable entity, consider not sending it.

I'm a private person, so I'm here as "preferred customer". You'll know it's me, and I'll try to maintain my preferred status. Anonymous, consider an alias in lieu of hiding behind so many others.


Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Played like a typical Monday for me... I enjoyed the AARP joke.

GILL I. 9:02 AM  

Ah, yes. The good CHEESE puzzle game. I would have loved a GO AHEAD AND TRY ME. Goat cheese is so yummy and yet so many people hate it. I don't think I've met a cheese I didn't like. I even like those rubbery fake cheddar slices. Put it in your mouth and it sticks to the roof. Or just leave it on your TONGUE till it melts.
I love me a little Monday work-out. this did it for me. I think @Rex is right, though....probably should have been a Tuesday. Sometimes I panic if I can't figure out a Monday word. In this case it was SHAGS... my head scratcher of the day. In jolly ole England SHAGS doesn't involve retrieving balls. Well, come to think of it, maybe it does. You have to use your imagination.
I suppose you could have clued BIANCA as Mick's ex. I'm glad you didn't. She's quite bright. Her biggest downfall was marrying that idiot. Now I'm imagining TONGUE and TONSIL and it's not a pretty picture.
Thanks, Jacob S. This was a very nice Monday.

Z 9:06 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap - I was thinking the same thing until I realized that the revealer was meant to have two meanings, savory CHEESE SPREADs that one buys in a tub and then the four CHEESEs have been SPREAD in the puzzle. I have family members who love the stuff (CHEESE SPREADS that is) but I take no responsibility for my in-laws’ tastes.

Hand up for thinking this was especially challenging for a Monday. I was solving in the paper so I don’t know my actual time, but Mondays are often an exercise in seeing just how fast I can enter letters into the grid. Not today. Nice enough puzzle for a Monday.

On the issue of interpreting clue/answer pairs, I don’t think I’ve seen anyone post my take on the AARP clue, i.e. if you’re retired all your plans are “post-work.” Yeah, yeah, I know you don’t have to be retired to be an AARP member, but “retired” is what that “R” stands for.

All you alleged savory people, I was wondering if you really pause during your solve and say to yourself, “Oh No! I’m solving too fast I need to slow down and savor the puzzle!”* Personally, I solve the puzzle as fast as I can every day. It just that some days as fast as I can is 4 minutes and other days it is 44 minutes. However fast I go, let me assure you that I am not judging you based on how fast you do the puzzle. I must confess that your seeming inferiority complex about it does arch an eyebrow, though.

*This question comes from a Twitter thread so I can’t take credit for the idea.

gfrpeace 9:15 AM  

Easiest puzzle in months. But I did misspell Well Obviously as NO, DoH, which caused me to stare for a while at DoNE trying to parse it as a sand ridge.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

After finishing the puzzle, I spent the next ten minutes trying to come up with a brief blog comment that would utilize one of the unused cheeses -- say GOUDA or SWISS or ASIAGO, even, (which is longer but has easy letters) -- in the same every-other-letter mode as the puzzle. I figured it would make me the heroine of today's blog were I to pull it off -- but I couldn't. Leading me to believe that the stunt is harder to accomplish than you might think. Still, it's a construction stunt -- and had very little to do with my solving experience which was fine. A straightforward, professional Monday puzzle that I had no profound feelings about one way or another.

jberg 9:44 AM  

My only problems were GET to it and DolDrums— but neither lasted long. And of course I knew BIANCA, who shows up all over the place as a human rights activist, and BURL IVES with his great recording of “Frog Went a-courting.”

@chefsen—I used to love those Kaukana Club spreads. When you actually drove through Kaukana everything smelled of paper mill effluent. Maybe that was their secret.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

@Tom Rowe (1:30) -- I've been saying the same thing since I first came to this blog many moons ago. I've compared speed solving to seeing how fast you can chow down a lobster dinner or guzzle a fine French Burgundy. Stick to your relaxed solving mode, Tom, and stay happy. @Z (9:06)-- If you never once look at a watch or a clock while solving, as I never do, you'll solve at the pace which is pleasant and comfortable for you on that given day. I'm sure I've solved some early week puzzles in less than five minutes, but I have no idea which ones they were, and if I did know, I would feel no particular "pride" of "accomplishment". Speed in anything other than a race of some sort is to me no accomplishment at all.

@GILL (9:02) -- I fall into that category of someone who adores just about every cheese ever created except for goat cheese -- which seems like a whole nother sort of food than the cheese that comes from cows and sheep.

@Loren (4:13) -- That scene scared the wits out of me, too! I saw it as a very young child and I remember it as though it were yesterday. It was her hand clutching an apple that changed before our eyes into a CRONE's hand. The rest of her CRONE-iness followed immediately after. I had nightmares. So many of these Disney kid's movies are really not good for children.

amyyanni 10:03 AM  

Hiya, New here. An AARP member still working; one of my plans is to become a regular poster once retired. Appreciate Matthew G.'s post as my mom did the same for me (she was an ink solver). My only beef with Burl Ives is "Holly Jolly Christmas." Enjoyed this one as I found it more challenging than an ordinary Monday.

Phil 10:14 AM  

Hmm maybe I missed it in the posts but with all the retirees here surely someone would know what the AARP clue referred too.

When you hit 65 medicare age you usually join AARP solely for the purpose of having them make up your supplemental insurance PLAN....because of pricing advantage due to the group I believe.

That and the pac or bloc they make up are their selling points.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

It felt about average to me. I know Burl Ives as the singing snowman in the Xmas cartoon. I had no idea that he was in that movie, but, I knew his name fit.
I didn't get the theme. I saw only feta as a cheese clue and was confused as to how feta is cheese spread since I've never seen it as a spread before.

RooMonster 10:28 AM  

Hey All !
Very nice CHEESEy MonPuz. Theme was nicely done, four CHEESEs with four letters each, with each one SPREAD out in one letter separations. And a nicely placed Revealer.

There were a couple of semi-tough spots, but overall it was easy. No IFFY PLAY. Light dreck. Just a nice puz (Hi @YesterAnon!) on a Monday.

Found one more - CURD, but the ole brain isn't coming up with a word for it! :-)


jb129 10:49 AM  

Easy for me.

And yes, I totally agree with you Tom Rowe!

Yakker 10:53 AM  

@Nancy. Let's not forget the YAK's cheese, not sure they have names beyond Yak's cheese though.

BarbieBarbie 10:55 AM  

It’s clear to me that @Rex doesn’t know anything about AARP. What’s not clear is why he feels the need to pontificate on the subject. If he can ask where Dum spiro, sperocomes from and drop it, why can’t he ask hey, does anyone join AARP without sctually being an RP, and then sit back and wait for a reply? Seems dum to me.

Ancient, currently South Carolina.
Anybody. You start getting the junk mail when you turn 55.

Malsdemare 11:06 AM  

I had exactly the same errors as Rex, with GETtoit, poDS (like milkweed, which our monarchs love), tOSSES, but I did know LIFE, so for once, I was "better" than OFL? I dunno, my time was twice his. We've been in DEAD CALMs at sea, and in storms that kept the BILGE PUMP running non stop. I prefer Weather that's more COMFY. I haven't read comments yet, so maybe someone else has said this, but I think AARP helps you make plans for those after-work years. Personally, I trust our asset manager more than the AARP mass mailings, but that's me.

Trader Joe's Pub CHEESE is yummy; try the cheddar with horseradish. When we visit our daughter in Madison, WI, we stock up because, for reasons that passeth understanding, twin cities in IL with a world class university don't merit Joe's attention.

@anonymous 7:39 from last night, if you're here today. Take better care of my dog? Like build a six foot fence around two acres of dog yard, go on long hikes, train in obedience, agility, rally, tracking, buy games he can play indoors when it rains, feed premium food, let him climb in bed with me, cuddle on the sofa, buy slabs of roast beef as training treats, teach him tricks to entertain the kids when we go to parks to socialize him with children for pet therapy, take him with me to democratic headquarters when I work my three-hour shift? You mean like that? There are dogs that find novel ways to escape; he's one of them, so I spent $200 on tech that will tell me he's gone and help me find him before someone shoots/steals him.

And now to take both dogs to the chiropractor for their monthly adjustments; crazy, powerful dogs at play do crazy things to their bodies when they play body slamming games.

Cassieopia 11:08 AM  

@pablo 8:33 - me too! I insisted on hearing it over and over and over again - the poor record’s grooves wore out. “Bill Grogans goat/was feeling fine/ ate three red shirts/right off the line...”. Ah, memories.

Hartley70 11:11 AM  

I was a bit annoyed when I finished this because while the grid was fine, I found some of the clueing ridiculously easy. “The opposite of work?” NODUH was an apt answer too many times today and I can’t see where one would get stuck unless you were too young to know BURL and BIANCA. In that case DORA should be a gimme.

pmdm 11:16 AM  

This is Jacob's 28th puzzle published in the NY Times, and I think there was only one or two I did not like more than usual. He seemed to be MIA for a while. At the very least, I think his puzzle output became few and far between. I hope his young child won't interfere too much with his construction time.

There's been a bit said today about solving times. I found the puzzle very easy, and if I didn't solve on paper I might have to close to my record time. I guess that's because the relatively minimal PP was, for a change, in my wheelhouse.But I don't enjoy rushing against the clock, so I have no idea.But the topic reminds me of an obervation Z made a few days ago, to which I would point out this. At the beginning of the week, there is probably less of a difference in the solving times of the "experts" compared to the "novices" than later in the week. If that is true, it should follow that earlier in the week the earliest comments are posted by a solvers with a mix of expertise, while towards the end of the week the earliest comments might be posted by a higher percentage of experts. Does this effect the distribution of who likes a given puzzle and who doesn't? I have no clue.

JC66 11:17 AM  

@Rex said

I wrote in WILL, because clearly my brain thought "Where there's a WILL there's a way"

I was taught that "Where there's a will, there's a relative."

Cassieopia 11:18 AM  

I solve on a iPhone so paying attention to the time is a thing, since the app throws it in my face along with the happy “you did it!” music. I love seeing my times improve along with my skill - quite rewarding. And anytime I get below 2 Rexes, it makes my day.

This was nearly a 3 Rex puzzle, though - not that I found it hard, I’m just that slow. Good old Burl Ives was a gimme (and what a delight to find him in a puzzle!) as was Bianca. My sticking spot was the SE, where I had “value” for MERIT way too long. Oh, and technically I was a DNF with SOBa for SOBE. (befall, befell, the tense will tell...)

Very nice Monday, Mr Stulberg delights again. Thank you.

Hartley70 11:19 AM  

Thanks @pabloinnh! I loved being reminded of “Little White Duck”. I had that 45 too.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

I'm on the Tom Rowe bandwagon, savoring the puzzle untimed. A Monday - Thursday hard copy solver, I have followed this blog for several years but been shy to comment. Today, though I loved the puzzle I had one question: Did anyone else align BEDS, SHAGS and GET BUSY right away and contemplate whether the constructor was headed straight toward Love Island?

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Reframe on the "speed demon" vs. "smell the roses" debate. When, especially on an early week puzzle, a couple of acrosses go right in, slam, bang - no matter your orientation, I mean - do you then look at the crosses, not necessarily only to confirm your entries, but to see what pleasures you missed by having that little block of letters all filled in. If so, you are a rose-smeller. If not, you are a speed demon. Speed demons miss little pleasures and joys because their time is so very valuable to them. Somebody, the constructor or the editor, put time into every clue, across _and_ down.

Do you take a fraction of a second to appreciate that, or not? If you take it "along the way" you are very much a rose-smeller; if you go back and consider things after the solve, especially to see if there might be something you missed, you at least acknowledge that roses exist. If not, and never, you are a Parkerite.

Theme ignorers - I am as mystified as, or perhaps more mystified than LMS regarding the whole "who cares about a theme, I need to get on with things" kind of solver (of which RP is primo numero uno).

"Don't bother me about tragic love! I'm watching Romeo and Juliet!" Seems a little...immature.

Malsdemare 11:34 AM  

@JC66. Where there's a will . . . Too funny...and too true!

Suzie Q 11:37 AM  

I can't believe so little attention is being given to the great way Mr. Stulberg got those cheeses to work for him. @ LMS was the first to notice. Rex didn't even seem to notice.
I mean look at this! Four commonly known cheeses "spread" in four perfectly nice phrases with one letter between each letter of the cheese! Wow! I'm very impressed.
What a contrast between the folk song singer Burl Ives and his character in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Crazy good Monday.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Cuttin the cheese puz! Letter rip! har. Gotta like. Even @RP seemed to sorta cotton to it -- a tough feat, for a puztheme that uses The Circles. Hard not to admire a puz with its own BILGEPUMP, tho.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {"We're number ___!"} = ONE. Anybody go with TWO? SIX? TEN? NOW?
staff weeject pick: HOO. Pretty good clue, as is. Another possibility = {Water alias??}.

Knew all the show-stoppers, such as: BIANCA. BURLIVES. SOBE [kinda]. Lost hardly any nano-seconds. Nice, friendly solvequest, at our house.

SWEETENER on TONGUES seemed well-placed.

Pickin up very little Ow de Speration aroma, on this puppy. Seems well power-hosed-down. Musta helped, that all the (6) themers were fairly short … and that Jacob Stulberg is a mighty fine constructioneer.

Thanx, Mr. Stulberg. Solider than cheddar, dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

SeƱor 12:02 PM  

Yes, the AARP offers membership to people when they turn 50 and most who join at that age likely aren’t retired. The clue, however, referred to the organization, AARP, not its members. AARP makes plans for people after they stop working, i.e., retire. After work plans usually entail grabbing a drink or some such endeavor thus the question mark.

Joseph Michael 12:05 PM  

ANYHOO I thought this cheesy puzzle was an okay appetizer for the week. Not great. Not awful. I appreciated the fill which had minimal crosswordese and offered such tidbits as SHAGS and BILGE PUMP.

One flaw in the SPREAD was the clue for 16A. I can see that you might EAT OFF something you were using as a table, but to EAT ON it you would have to be literally sitting or standing on whatever it was. ON is also a partial dupe of 30D.

Enjoyed the trivia about AL ROKER and the SWEET memory of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” though it will always be Elizabeth Taylor not BURL IVES whom I remember most.

mmorgan 12:08 PM  

Since this has become a topic today, here are my thoughts. If you like to time yourself, time yourself; if you don't like to, you don't have to. If you like to speed solve as quickly as you can (as in competitions), then zoom away; if you like to savor, then savor. Do it whichever way you like it and let others do the same. Personally, the first thing I do when I open a puzzle (Across Lite) is turn off the timer. Yet sometimes (such as on some Mondays), I may be inclined to race through it as quickly as possible. Other days I might do a quadrant and then leave the puzzle for a while and come back to it later.

It's all good!

RooMonster 12:08 PM  

@Barbie 10:55
I just turned 49 last month, and got an AARP enlistment mailing sent to me before that! I guess "Get 'em when they're young" has taken on a new meaning!


chefbea 12:22 PM  

Getting ready for Florence here in wilmington!!!

Rita Flynn 12:23 PM  

My problem with the theme and themers is that none of the cheeses in the puzzle are spreads. The letters are spread, that’s it. Cream cheese is a spread, queso could be a spread, but not Edam. Even Whiz is a spread (don’t @ me). I found it irritating.

pabloinnh 12:32 PM  

Hey @Cassieopia and @Hartley 70--what a nice surprise to find some other "Little White Duck" fans. Tonight is the Monday pub hootenanny and maybe I'll dust it off. OTOH, no, no I won't.

While Ives got his start as a folk singer, he fell out of favor with that crowd when he testified for the HUAC committee in the early 50's and named names. He and Pete Seger, for instance, took a very long time to make up.

Everybody's got a story.

Banana Diaquiri 12:42 PM  

United Health is a major writer of Part D Medicare 'plans' and both they and AARP advertise they're the only one 'approved' by AARP. whether being an AARP member yields lower price? anybody?

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

This took only 10 seconds over my 6:30 average Monday so I'm going with "medium". I even partially went down Rex's error-strewn path with GET to it crossing tOSSES but I drew the line at poDS and fixed that area at 24A.

I know BURL IVES better for singing and narrating to Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. My husband and I consider black-and-gold and black-and-silver Rapala fishing LUREs as must-haves in our tackle boxes. Whenever we switch our lures to one of those choices, we sing Silver and Gold as sung by BURL IVES. Or at least the words, "silver and gold, silver and gold".

I wanted "EAT off" at 16A. Though you don't eat off the table,I suppose, you eat off the good china, or perhaps your floor is so clean, you could eat off it (not that mine ever is.)

I liked the CHEESE SPREAD theme. I saw the "cheese" and assumed the they would be "shredded" but none of the featured cheeses lend themselves easily or at all to shredding. SPREAD is much more descriptive of the theme.

Thanks, Jacob Stulberg, for making me think of fishing instead of being back at work!

Suzie Q 1:22 PM  

@ Malsdemar, I noticed the snide comment made last night towards you and your dogs and thought "Boy, did you pick the wrong person to say that to!" Your devotion to those dogs is well known here.
@ chefbea, Good luck and stay safe. I have friends on Emerald Isle.

Z 1:41 PM  

@mmorgan - the Tweet that I referenced began with the observation that people who “don’t care about time” are far quicker to voice judgement on speed-solvers than speed-solvers are to voice (or even much think about) slower solvers. Rex even has a response to this very thing on his FAQ Page (#6) that sounds very much like your position and is my position, i.e. you do you, it’s okay.

@Nancy - I get far more irked by all the “I don’t care about time” comments (bull - if no one cares why are you all commenting about it) than I do about how fast anyone else solves it. I don’t actually know my times usually because I strongly prefer solving in the paper in pen. Sometimes I will solve electronically Monday or Tuesday just to see, or weekends because I’m not home. Then I know my times well enough to know that I’m nowhere near as fast Rex or the true speed-solvers, but I’m also faster than I used to be. I also get a weird frisson over solving in pen. It’s an eyesight thing so I don’t like being accused of “showing off” but just can’t help feeling slightly superior when I am accused because that’s also a pretty good sign that I am better at crosswords than the accuser. So I don’t feel superior because I solve in pen until someone accuses me of acting superior by solving in pen. There’s probably a polysyllabic German word for that.

Joe Bleaux 2:04 PM  

Me too, Tom. Whatever floats your boat (or empties your BILGE), but even after trying speed solving on the easy-peasies, I just don't get it. It's like timing my reading of a magazine piece or something; what's the point? (I've gone digital a couple of times too ... gimme pen and paper.)

Joe Bleaux 2:13 PM  

You mean Mick, that idiot alumnus of the London School of Economics?

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

Do people who think speed is important in solving a puzzle think the same about sex?

Joe Bleaux 2:21 PM  

One answer: Yeah, but I lgave it up with DEAD CALM, COMFY TONGUES.

Banana Diaquiri 2:25 PM  

@Joe Bleaux:
what's the point?

well... along the same lines, I expect, as Evelyn Wood:

and there was, apparently no more, a Guinness World Record:

whether scarfing down 'War and Peace' faster than anyone is worth doing??

Larry I from LA 2:33 PM  

I rarely chime in here, but @Z, “There’s probably a polysyllabic German word for that” had the Starbucks crowd wondering what the hell I found so funny.

Nancy 2:43 PM  

@Malsdemare -- I had the exact same reaction to the snide comment last night as did @Suzie Q (1:22). And I also knew that you would "bite" back just as effectively and feistily as you did earlier today. All your wonderful dogs are really lucky to have you as their "Mom".

Most interesting tidbit today? That @Teedmn and her hubby sometimes fish with black-and-gold LURES and sometimes with black-and-silver LURES (1:03 p.m.). Do different fish have different color preferences, @Teedmn? Halibut like to chomp on silver and bass like to chomp on gold, for example? Or is it a prestige thing? A trout rates gold and a porgy only rates silver? Then what does the lowly catfish rate? Just asking.

@Z -- Todd asked, many of us leisurely solvers responded, what's the problem?

GILL I. 3:06 PM  

No, @Joe Bleaux. I mean Mr. Sex Vampire who cheated on Shrimpton before his shot-gun wedding to BIANCA and then cheated on her for Hall and so on and so on. He likes to boast that he's had sex with over 40,000 women! How in the world beautiful women and smart, to boot, find him alluring is beyond me. He's an idiot.
Fodder for People magazine!

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Anyone else read Rex Parker’s Twitter page and think today might be his swan song ?

Banana Diaquiri 3:40 PM  

I guess we'll find out around witching hour.

Teedmn 3:45 PM  

@Nancy, different species do bite on different lures from each other but it's more due to speed of the lure and it's "action" which is the way it rides in the water. The color comes into play based on whether it's cloudy or sunny and what the clarity of the water is. Sometimes a certain color will be very "hot" across multiple species. When nothing else is working, i.e. nothing biting on orange or blue or lipstick, etc., the good old "silver and gold" lures come out of the box.

Catfish are rarely what we're fishing for (walleye, northern pike or bass are our preferred prey). Catfish prefer live bait like worms, or they'll bite on kernels of corn or "doughballs" which are made of wet oatmeal. The other fish will bite on live bait also but since I prefer to fish while trolling (fishing while the boat is moving) to casting or jigging (though bobber fishing is fun too), we're usually using artificial, minnow-like lures which drag behind the boat. I prefer floaters because they don't get snagged as often and my husband prefers deeper runners. The best fishing is in the canoe - no motor noise, no gassy smell to scare away the fish, you can regulate your speed easily, and it is very relaxing.

ghostoflectricity 4:04 PM  

Since "NODUH" was a clue answer to day, I feel no compunction saying that today's cheese-themed puzzle was meh. I also thought it was slow and sloggy for a Monday. And I also believe that one can say "FETA," "BRIE," and "EDAM" in common speech without adding the word "cheese" after them, but try that with "BLEU." If you say that word, even using your best faux-correct Inspector Clouseau flamboyantly Gallic "BLUH" pronunciation, WITHOUT adding the word "cheese," people will just stare at you, silently communicating "BLUH what, exactly?" But the other three are self-evident. Therefore the themers in this mediocre puzzle don't follow consistent rules; therefore, badly executed theme.

Rainbow 4:21 PM  

The only problem at all with the AARP clue was that it had a "?".

Rainbow 4:27 PM  



Malsdemare 4:53 PM  

@Susie Q @Nancy. I really was going to ignore him but my evil self got the better of me. Apologies to the blog for making them suffer through my rant.

Blue Stater 6:07 PM  

Yeah, I thought this was wwwaaaayyy too difficult for a Monday, and had several brutal Naticks -- BIANCA and BURL IVES and, oh Lordy, SOBE and HOO among them. The cluing was sloppy, too. Are better days a-comin? I'm not optimistic.

OISK 6:32 PM  

No duh? I've never said that, or even thought it. A friend often uses it to indicate "I knew that," or "That is obvious," ....But never with "No" attached. Guess I move in the wrong grammatical circles.

Found this puzzle very tough for a Monday, but that is not a criticism.

I've been doing the WSJ puzzles, and find that I DNF FAR more frequently on those than the NYT.

Alexander 6:37 PM  

Fortunately the ‘B’ is part of the themed BRIE and the only reason I was able to complete that cross

Z 7:26 PM  

@Nancy - The “problem” - which really isn’t much of one - is that this complaint happens so often, along with the “there is no way anyone can solve that fast” complaint. You have never belabored the point. I don’t think any one person ever has, But it is belabored.

@Larry from LA - I’m glad you liked it. I gotta admit I half expected to have someone tell us what the word is when I came back.

The tweet that has people wondering.

Anonymous 7:51 PM  

I'll try this again. I bad a breakthrough earlier today. I stopped reading a post from Z. And it was liberating. Nothing to do w tidays puzzle or OfLs review, but many here post personal anectdotes, fighred I was entitled to thw same leeway.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

Thanks mods.

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

I think it's time for Rex to hang up his pencil. When a labor of love becomes a labor of hate...

TomAz 8:32 PM  

Put me on Team This Was Easy. There are only two Jaggers, and Mick wasn't long enough. I too know Burl Ives from Frosty the Snowman and not in any other context, but it was inferrable. I finished in about 1.5 Rexes, which is damned fast. (I, for one, get added enjoyment by racing the clock; I'm competing against no one but my own past times. But that's just me, no need for others to share my view).

@Banana Daquiri: "United Health is a major writer of Part D Medicare 'plans' and both they and AARP advertise they're the only one 'approved' by AARP. whether being an AARP member yields lower price? anybody?"

No, that is not permitted (by CMS, which runs Medicare). The whole "approved" thing is nothing but a marketing gimmick. My understanding is that United pays the AARP some sort of "commission" though I have not seen how much. See, for example,

ssladebooth 9:02 PM  

Your post made me laugh because I had all the same mistakes- pods, get to it, and tosses, and the only one that made sense was get to it.

Banana Diaquiri 9:05 PM  

There are only two Jaggers

the ghost of Dean is offended.

Monty Boy 10:22 PM  

I guess I'm the only one who misread happens to and wrote BEFaLL. The the cross was about tea and I wrote SOBa. Turns out I should read the down as past tense for BEFELL and the tea for SOBE. Both are teas and I'm not that current on which is which. For the lack of an "s" the battle was lost. Instead of a nail. And I could not find that missing letter, so DNF (darn near finish).

Laura 12:29 AM  

I swear I've done a puzzle with this same cheese theme before...

kitshef 11:26 PM  

Solved downs only and made it, so I was surprised to see Rex and SanFran label it as challenging. I like cheese.

thefogman 8:33 AM  

That was EDAM good puzzle for a Monday.
Thank you Jacob Stulberg.

Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


each ONE MERITs “mediocre” of HOO BIANCA SHAGS.


Diana, LIW 10:43 AM  

Early today - some of my recent posts were eaten by the post monsters. Nothing bad in the - I'm sure. Hey, I'm a lady.

Today was easy and fun. Spent Friday traveling, and now am settling in. Still attempting to buy a car.

Lady Di

rondo 12:06 PM  

Got it. CHEESE. SPREAD. And rather evenly. Certainly better than yesterday’s clunker. Living next to WI, there is an amazing variety of CHEESE SPREADs available. Some of them even good on a cracker.

Always wondered how yeah baby BIANCA put up with Mick when they were WED back in THE ‘70s. I guess that’s what socialites do.

This puz was no SLOG, +/- 2X Rex; 8 minutes or so is about as fast as I can go. It MERITs at least ONE thumb up.

spacecraft 1:00 PM  

It was a no-big-deal Monday here. CHEESE SPREAD out within each themer; circles (ugh!) to point the way. BIANCA not that hard to figure out: how many famous Jaggers can there be? Lessee, there was actor Dean...and "Me and Mick are gonna tool on over to London and jam with the Stones!" --Jeff Spicoli. 'Nuff said.

A serviceable puzzle that keeps the Monday page from having a big bare spot. A COMFY solve with little SLOG effect--though it would be nice not to have an awkward partial be one of your marquee long downs {EMVARKEDON). Well, maybe not awkward, but still a partial. Overall attention to fill should be acknowledged, but there's nothing to inspire anything under par.

rainforest 1:45 PM  

Fun and well-constructed Monday puzzle. Maybe a decent exemplar.
BURL IVES was the "man".
Liked it.

leftcoastTAM 2:44 PM  

This was not a breeze, but it wasn't DEAD CALM, either. Some headwinds in this one, but also quite navigable. (Avast! you say. Aye, sorry.)

Is NO often said before DUH? Doubt it.

SOBE was the sleeper, but the cutesy, slangy HOO completed it.

Like the CHEESE SPREADs, and the overall puzzle. Nice work by Mr. Stulberg.

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