Foul-smelling swamp plant / MON 10-29-18 / Britcom of 1990s informally / Allahu Muislim cry / when doubled dolphinfish

Monday, October 29, 2018

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:20, which would be slightly on the slow side, but it's an oversized grid)

THEME: "black-and-white animal" — every theme answer has a black-and-white animal in it:

Theme answers:
  • PUFFIN BOOKS (19A: Children's publisher whose name includes and black-and-white animal)
  • SKUNK CABBAGE (25A: Foul-smelling swamp plant whose name includes and black-and-white animal)
  • ZEBRA CROSSINGS (38A: Areas for pedestrians whose name includes and black-and-white animal)
  • PANDA EXPRESS (54A: Restaurant chain whose name includes and black-and-white animal
  • PENGUIN SUIT (62A: Men's fancy duds whose name includes and black-and-white animal)
Word of the Day: SKUNK CABBAGE (25A: Foul-smelling swamp plant whose name includes and black-and-white animal) —
Symplocarpus foetidus, commonly known as skunk cabbage or eastern skunk cabbage (also swamp cabbageclumpfoot cabbage, or meadow cabbagefoetid pothos or polecat weed), is a low growing plant that grows in wetlands and moist hill slopes of eastern North America. Bruised leaves present a fragrance reminiscent of skunk. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle is a good example of why Puzzles Should Have Titles. It really needed a title or revealer or some kind of clever phrase to pull it all together. Instead, every theme clue is laden with the same cumbersome phrase: "whose name includes and black-and-white animal." It's not clear why you even make a puzzle like this if you don't have a zinger in your back pocket. I like the themers where the B&W animals describe attributes of the answer (i.e. the skunk smells foul like the plant, the zebra is striped like the crossing, the penguin is black & white like the suit); PUFFIN BOOKS and PANDA EXPRESS are just companies with the actual animal in their name in logo. Far less interesting, as themers go. But the main issue here is the lack of revealer or title or wordplay or something. The grid was pretty clean, and I enjoyed the solve. The theme just didn't crackle the way (hypothetically) it might have. I wondered aloud, once I was done, why this needed to be 16 wide—you could've made ZEBRA CROSSING singular and set it right in the middle of a regular 15-wide grid. But the grid would've been badly crammed in that scenario, as the 12s (SKUNK CABBAGE, PANDA EXPRESS) wouldn't have had room to share their rows with other answers, which would've had a cascading, grid-strangling effect. Opening the grid up that one extra column lets things breathe a little. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, lots right with that.

I thought I was flying pretty swiftly on this one, but I did hit a few snags. Sometimes when I'm speeding, I misread clues, or don't completely read them. For instance, I don't think I ever once saw that any of the theme clues had the phrase "whose name includes and black-and-white animal" in them. That is, I missed the basic premise of the theme because I couldn't be bothered to read all that qualifying material. I already had the SKUNK part before I saw that clue, but I had no idea about the CABBAGE part, and since I wrote in ALLAH at first for 22D: "Allahu ___" (Muslim cry) (AKBAR), moving from the NW into the rest of the grid was a little awkward. I then had trouble with the ZEBRA part of  ZEBRA CROSSINGS, because, again, I never really saw the B&W animal part. ONE LUMP was slightly hard to come up with, as that phrase seems very quaint—like, for when you are served tea or coffee on a formal tea or coffee set in some rich person's parlor. I was looking for some more precise measurement (though HALF CUP did not seem sufficiently "small," as "serving"s go). I also wanted UPTICK before UPTURN (47D: Economic improvement). Otherwise, pretty smooth sailing.

Five things:
  • 53A: Sharpshooter's asset (AIM) — no idea why brain insisted on processing this as a photography clue. Anyway, I wanted EYE
  • 8D: E.M.T. procedure with electric paddles, for short (DEFIB) — as five-letter words go, this one is prime cut. Love it
  • 62D: Poet who wrote "Once upon a midnight dreary ..." (POE) — Hey, his name's *in* the clue! :) Also, seasonal reminder: It's Edgar ALLAN (with an "A" not an "E") Poe
  • 13D: Accept a bet (TAKE ODDS) — what's the difference between TAKE ODDS and LAY ODDS. No, wait, nevermind, I don't really care...
  • GRAB ACADS TESTY (1A, 5A, 10A) — sounds almost like something you should do to a cad if he comes on too strong...
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:03 AM  

Medium. Classic noir, liked it.

Larry Gilstrap 12:58 AM  

Black and white animals and no ORCAS? Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands is a stretch, but the other themers are indeed things in the language. Monday is the hair of the dog for Sunday to this solver.

Go to Alaska and see a PUFFIN in their beautiful habitat. One bird is worth the trip, but you'll see much more. No smoking signs include the silhouette of the bird crossed out. No PUFFIN! is pretty damn cute.

Barely pertinent to anything, but I've only worn a Tuxedo a few dozen times and I look terrific, or so I'm told. Relegated to shorts and tees most of the year. Applying to work at Downton Abbey is not an option.

Anonymous 1:23 AM  

Got it done, but wasn't sure what KOD meant?

chefwen 1:50 AM  

Lovely Monday puzzle with all those sweet animals. I think SKUNKS are adorable but I wouldn’t want to encounter one face to butt. ZEBRAS can be kind of mean but nice to look at. Love PUFFINS, love PENGUINS. Guess I’m one of those incurable animal lovers. So be it. Great start to the puzz week.

@GILL I. I read your first statement from yesterday to Jon and he gave you a standing O, he said “give her 10 kudos from me, no, make that 20”. I agree with that statement.

chefwen 1:56 AM  

Oh, forgot to mention. Had a good laugh at myself while solving. Not the best at spelling, which makes me wonder how I even can do these things. I spelled ANIMUS with an second A instead of a U so I ended up with a SKANK CABBAGE. Probably no too sweet smelling either.

Finally found that TABLET that we were looking for yesterday.

Anonymous 2:58 AM  

Knock out in boxing is KO, so if someone is knocked out (KO'd) they are getting "sent to the canvas" i.e. the floor of the boxing ring.

Brookboy 3:13 AM  

Pretty much what Rex said, but I thought it was a little more on the easier side. I enjoyed Rex’s observation about the first three acrosses.

I am the rare individual who actually likes cabbage, both raw (in cole slaw) and cooked (when done properly), so I guess I'm glad I have never smelled a skunk cabbage. Might have put me off cabbage entirely. I grew up in a tenement building in Manhattan where the smell of cabbage being cooked almost to oblivion was often in the air, so I associate the aroma (or maybe odor is a better word) with my childhood. I mean this in a positive way. My parents were both from farming families in Ireland, and my mother believed in cooking vegetables long and hard. But she made great mashed potatoes.

I thought Rex’s review was spot on.

teevoz 3:16 AM  

Knocked Out KO'd

Anonymous 6:05 AM  

@Brookboy - skunk cabbage is not a kind of cabbage and you definitely wouldn't want to eat it. The cells of the leaves are impregnated with silicates that cause the eater to have the sensation of chewing broken glass - so the plants are always uneaten when they come up in the spring even though they are very green.
The skunk cabbage is one of the first signs of spring in New England. Every low, wet spot gets green when they come up. They're relatives of Jack-in-the-pulpit and also of their much larger cousin, the infamous Giant Corpse Flower (Titan arum).

Z 6:22 AM  

I see Rex’s point but I’m still opposed to titles. I do quite a few crosswords with titles and they are a net negative. Mostly they are just spoilers. Rex complained about a top row revealer the other day. Titles are above the top row, so even worse.

Z 6:57 AM  

@Mohair Sam from yesterday - As my sport has gotten bigger the number of people who don’t get the droll irony of our language choices increases. The youth have noticed that calling a final point in a game where either team can win “Universe Point” is a bit over the top, forgetting that they are playing a sport called “Ultimate.” The notion of winking hyperbole as a form of self-deprecation is lost on them so some insist on calling that situation “double game point.” They are also the sort of people who take uninformed offense at gentle jokes. And by uninformed I mean that my sport’s name was originally “Ultimate Frisbee.” Then some unironic exec or trademark lawyer took offense. I doubt he (you just know it was a self-absorbed alpha dude) had dreadlocks but he most certainly belongs in the “Hall of Low Grade Crappiness.” Like, seriously dude, you think it benefits Whamm-O to not have your product’s name right in the name of a world-wide sport played by millions. All-righty then, We will all spend the next 30 years extolling Discraft discs and dissing your product. No problem.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Not familiar with PENGUIN SUIT for what the Google tells me is basically a tux, but it’s reasonable and was certainly inferrable. That and inn before BAR were the only slowdowns.

When we visited Vancouver Island, many of the plants were unfamiliar to us. Finally, we saw what we thought was an old friend in SKUNK CABBAGE. But it turns out the plant called skunk cabbage there, and the one here, are not the same. Leaves look the same. Habitat is the same. Flower is quite different.

Joel 7:30 AM  

@Z: The problem is that once people start using a trademarked term to refer to all varieties of a particular item, the trademark can become genericized and lose its protections. It's why Band-Aid describes their products as "Band-Aid brand bandages".

kitshef 8:15 AM  

Also, kudos to Rex for the shot of a black-and-white ruffed lemur. My favorite animal.

mmorgan 8:18 AM  

Why, I never knew there were so many black and white animals.

Lots of skunk cabbage on Kape KOD.

Very nice Monday, with or without a title or revealer.

S.N. Slide 8:32 AM  

It must be terrible to be so misunderstood, having to go through life burdened by those who don't understand or appreciate one's superior intellect or wit. All I can say is: be brave!

And let's not let the inconvenient little detail that trademarks are not policed and enforced by third parties, but by the trademark owner itself. And that failure by the trademark owner to actively police and enforce a trademark results in loss of the trademark and its passage into public domain.

So, by all means, let's encourage Wham-O not to enforce its trademark; to tell those pesky lawyers and un-ironic execs to chill; to allow free use of the trademark by any group that wishes to. So what if in doing so Wham-O loses the trademark and it passes into the public domain? So what if Wham-O suffers a serious damage and irreparable loss to its revenue stream when the trademark passes into the public domain, and anyone and everyone will be able to legally manufacture discs and stamp the name Frisbee on them? It's not our money.

Bernie 8:36 AM  

I’ve been doing the crossword for a little under two months and this is by far the best I have felt on any monday puzzle. Finished in a bit under 7 minutes, much, much faster than my average. Reading through the comments, I’m glad I wasn’t the only person who desperately wanted tablet yesterday.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

@Elizabeth from yesterday, Saw the post about the fact that you are undergoing chemotherapy and that the blog and commentators are a bright spot in the day for you.

Was glad to hear it's good for something other than airing opinions about a little daily event. Then realized that during chemo you realize the importance of the little things.

Hang in there! Sending love.

Outside The Box 8:52 AM  

I don’t get how this is “medium.” It was the easiest puzzle I’ve seen in years.

Pete 8:59 AM  

Saying a PUFFIN is black and white is like saying a Toucan is black and white, or that Blue Footed Booby is white. A PUFFIN's most significant feature is its beak, which is bright orange or red. Its second most significant feature is its bright red legs and feet.

PUFFINs are eminently photographable (WTF is google's problem with the spelling of photographable?) because of these very colorful parts.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

@Joel, Good point. But it's the even more comical Band-Aid Brand Sheer Strips. Man down, hand me a sheer strip!

Suzie Q 9:10 AM  

Seeing Peter Gordon's name usually spells trouble for me. His Fireball puzzles are impossible for me. But this one was no problem and fun enough because I love animals.
I'm more familiar with a tux being called a monkey suit but of course that wouldn't fit the theme.

Unknown 9:10 AM  

Crossing AGEE with ESSEN on a Monday? Really?

Normal Norm 9:17 AM  

Allahu Akbar? Isn't that Arabic for Hold my beer?

jberg 9:21 AM  

@Pete, couldn’t agree with you more.

jberg 9:23 AM  

Held up for a second or two because I’ve always heard tuxes called monkey suits— but penguin is certainly apt. A fine puzzle.

relicofthe60s 9:35 AM  

LAY ODDS means to fear a bet. TAKE ODDS mean to, well, take a bet.

QuasiMojo 9:39 AM  

Is this a subtle play on the old joke “What’s black and white and read all over?” The NYT. Well, it was back in the day.

Easy as a Black-and-White Pie. Thumbs up!

Nancy 9:40 AM  

A cute idea for a puzzle and a decent enough grid, but why such dull clues? Even the theme clues lacked ZANINESS. It was a SOBER exercise for me, with no thinking required.

michiganman 9:41 AM  

The puzzle was a good Monday, pretty easy but interesting. SKUNK has been in at least three puzzles recently.
SNATCH has been in a couple of times. Favorite was NEATH, followed by ABFAB & DEFIB. LENA Dunham's "Girls" was very entertaining. If you watched the 3 Stooges you know that ALUM is also a stringent compound and was used as a gag device, causing uncontrollable lip puckering. I had __PN for 40D and plunked in ES, then read the clue, oops it's CAPN. Glad it wasn't ESPN again. One reason I'll never be a speed solver. I like Rex and I am far from an expert solver but how do you not know AKBAR?

The argument about Frisbee is very ugly except for Z. Speaking of ugly, check out the last comment from yesterday (posted 1:40 today) from @Janet. Very uncivilized.

GILL I. 9:41 AM  

Ooooh, a Monday with cute little black and white animals.
I learned all about PUFFIN's watching a Gordon Ramsey segment. There's the one of him on the edge of a cliff in Ireland hunting for the bird. Then its sequel where the PUFFIN bites his nose and if that's not enough, his companion snaps the birds neck in two and Ramsey eats the heart raw. TMI? Anyway, he was then given the dubious distinction of PUFFIN Murderer. Cute, huh?
I like CABBAGE but I don't think I would know a SKUNK from a Napa. Thanks for the lesson @Brookboy.
I once had take out from Panda Express and it was pretty bad. I had the String Bean chicken. The string beans were stringy and the chicken was overburdened with too much SOY. I'm hard to please!
Thanks Peter Gordon for a sweet Monday morning. I didn't think this needed a title - after all, you have AAHS floating down the middle.
@chefwen. Please tell Jon thanks for the 20 kudos. I just hope Erik takes to heart what I said about CHE... ;-)
I'm off to SFO today and heading straight to China Town. I might eat some Moo goo GAI pan or maybe crab. I'm looking for Goody Goody slippers.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Barbara here. @Pete the Puffin Books logo is black and white only. :)

Nancy 10:04 AM  

@Quasi (9:39) -- Like you say it was "read all over" back in the day and it isn't anymore. How could it possibly be?

One of my [minor] regrets was never writing the NYT the letter that I had written in my mind the day it first went to 4 or maybe even 5 Tuesday sections:

Dear New York Times,

I love you very much. Your are an important part of my life. You cannot, however, be my entire life.

Affectionately, Nancy

GHarris 10:11 AM  

Nice to see Rex go a little naughty for a change. Easy and fun. Only write over upturn for uptick. My impression; lay odds means bet against the points, take odds the opposite. Could be wrong.

RooMonster 10:13 AM  

Hey All !
But where are the Pewits? Har. (Don't even know what color they are...)

I actually noticed the 16 wide grid today. Maybe the ole brain has decided to work with me this morning.

A PUFFIN was somewhere in the NEATH of my brain, one of those "Yeah, I've heard of that once" type things. Wouldn't know one if I saw it, though.

Puz was easy, typical Monday. Less than Three Rexs! Was wondering like Rex, why 16 wide, but it does open puz up nicely. Only one writeover, tko-KOD.

Where have all the DISCO BARs gone? Will they come back like the Bell-bottom? Then we have ACMES POSSE to hunt you down.


Foster Brooks 10:44 AM  

All drivers should be sober, designated or not.

QuasiMojo 11:08 AM  

Yes @Nancy! Cute note! It sort of became like reading the phone book after a while. The killer for me was the Styles section which is anything but! Lol.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Laying odds means placing a wager at less than even money odds.

Taking odds means placing a wager at greater than even money odds.

Pete 11:41 AM  

@Barbara - Yes, and SKUNK cabbage is green. What does that have to do with the colors of skunks?

@Nancy "Your are.."? In bold? Do you now forswear correcting others, ever?

@Normal Norm "Allahu Akbar" means God is great. That's something you feel comfortable making a joke about? Someone's devotion to God? Oh, right. "Other" people. Gotcha.

Teedmn 11:46 AM  

Easy as it gets on Monday - I solved online, usually a 25% longer solve for me than on paper, and I still came in under my Monday average, larger grid and all. (@kitshef, awesome solve on the Down Home app!)

I saw PUFFINs at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. If that's where Gordon Ramsey, in @Gill I's story, was hunting, I'm surprised he didn't just fall off the cliffs - they're amazingly steep.

And I have been sprayed by a SKUNK that I surprised on my bicycle - not a direct hit but my clothes and panniers all smelled pretty whiffy. Don't bother with the tomato juice. Vinegar and baking soda took care of it quite nicely.

Thanks, Peter Gordon. Now I think I'll go try to catch up on the Fireball puzzles I'm behind on.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

"Muslim cry" clue is offensive. NYT and Will should know better.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

What, no OREO?

DevoutAtheist 12:08 PM  

Religion is nonsense and should be mocked as much as possible, but not the people who believe, provided they don't use their beliefs to oppress or harm others. If a person is offended by religious humor then a faith assessment is in order.

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

Yep. Definite ORCA awards contender, Mr. Gordon. [See Crossword Fiend website for Orcas.]

As usual, a nice MonPuz from this guy. Possibly less hard stuff than usual for him, but did have yer 16x15 puzgrid. And did have LENA, ABFAB, and AKBAR scattered about, but very deftly well-scattered, sooo … ok.

staff weeject pick: KOD. Sooo … is this then short for Knock OutD?



fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: { ___ Lanka} = SRI.
Fave fill: UPTURN. Mic dropper.

Thanx for the MonFun, Mr. Gordon.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 12:13 PM  

@ Pete, @ Normal Norm seems to have a dark sense of humor. For me, I am sad to see that answer in the puzzle because the only reason I know it is because it sometimes precedes something horrible.

"Goose" 12:16 PM  

Worldwide? Millions?

Carola 12:30 PM  

I liked this light-hearted animal-rich puzzle, with the theme creatures joined by an ASP, a COUGAR, a BOA, a partial MAHI MAHI, and some NAGS (nice cross with ASTRIDE). Very easy, with the final PENGUIN requiring the needed touch of resistance.

Certainly not Amelia 1:02 PM  

Rember the New Yorker puzzle is out today.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

What else would you call "Alluha Akbar"? Jihadists yell it as they maim and kill people. It's pretty straightforward. Let's be offended by the violence that accompanies the cry.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Flew through this one at 2:54, and never really even figured out the theme. Just inferred the long answers from the crosses.

Light, airy, and breezy...perfect for a slow Monday morning back at work after a long weekend of fun.

Larry 2:09 PM  

The solution to Rex's problem would be to change 38 across to: "Classic Scotch Brand, or hint to the theme clues at 19, 25, 54 and 62 across." BLACKANDWHITE would fit in the 13 squares of 38 Across, however we'd loose ZERBRACROSSING which is the most delightful answer of the bunch. or So I think the construction was adequate for the less picky solvers.

Charley 2:16 PM  

I thought TNT is dynamite. Not like dynamite.

Kevin 2:19 PM  

A question: how do people routinely finish with sub-4:00 times on Monday and Tuesday? I can get pretty much every answer without flinching on these days, and today I clocked in at 4:07. Rex says his 3:20 time is "on the slow side."
I don't see how you can get much faster, just given the time it takes to read the clues and enter the answers.

Is there a particular technique to apply once you've hit the point at which you know all the answers and just need to get your time down? What do you do?

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

@Kevin- as RP indicates regularly, "don't read the whole clue" - while I don't endorse his approach or attitude, on easy puzzles / puzzles where you're in sync with the constructor/editing team - it saves you a whole bunch of time NOT to read the actual clue, but just go ahead and type what fill makes you happy.

What is the result? You can solve in record time. What is the corollary? You will not enjoy the process nor the puzzle nor the editing team's hard work.

Grasshopper, choose wisely.

PS (*&#@$%^%U)(* Captcha BS

Bret 3:19 PM  

There was a Gaffney meta similar to this. The answer was Panda Express and it included Penguin Books. Also had drunkasaskunk, icestationzebra and orcanominees.

Pete 3:36 PM  

I'm amazed at the number of people here who've been close enough to an Islamic Jihadist actually in the act of committing an atrocity to actually them say "Allahu Akbar". That they survived the atrocity is a miracle, thanks be to God. Oh, wait, I'm hearing someone say they only heard it on an episode of NCIS LA and once in that Claire Danes series. Still, must be true, no?

Muslims say Allahu Akbar hundreds of times every day - in prayer, in casual conversation. You may as well be offended when someone says god bless you when someone sneezes, says amen to that when in agreement, you overhear someone saying grace.

If you took "Muslim cry" to mean a cry when committing an atrocity, then shame on you for reading something into an innocent statement. On further review, maybe not, maybe that's the direct interpretation of the clue. In which case Will should be fired. Immediately.

Hungry Mother 5:00 PM  

In the hospital for a low pulse, and this bit of fun didn’t raise it. Hit 25 last night and freaked out the staff.

pabloinnh 5:19 PM  

Liked all the black and white answers, especially puffins.

Also, Red Sox.

RooMonster 5:26 PM  

@Hungry Mother
Maybe because you run so much, your pulse (heart) doesn't know what to do at rest. Har. Just a completely uninformed opinion. :-)

@Barbara from YesterPuz
Throwing out all the good vibes your way. I'm glad we as a group can lift your spirits. Although, some of us can be insufferable. ( Including myself in that!) 😀


Hungry Mother 5:59 PM  

@roo monster: maybe, they’re giving me a stress test in the morning to decide whether I need a pacemaker.

GR 8:23 PM  

This was puzzle #1 at the Pleasantville tournament on 10/19; I have to admit, PUFFIN BOOTS looked so plausible at first, and I never thought to actually read the clue (oops) the lesson, if any: watch your crossings

Nancy 10:29 PM  

Gee, @Hungry Mother -- You're the last person I would think of as needing a pacemaker, you seem to be such an incredible jock and dedicated runners have to be in such good shape. I really hope you won't need it and that this is a false alarm..

It does make me think, though, of the famous words of Mark Twain. Castigated by his friends for never exercising, Twain responded vociferously: "You're wrong. I get plenty of exercise!"

"We've known you for years," they said. "You don't exercise! Exactly what exercise do you claim to do?"

Said Twain: "I get exercise serving as pallbearer at the funerals of all of my friends who exercise."

I hope this little Mark Twain joke will cheer you up, @Hungry Mother, and I wish you the best of luck tomorrow.

Z 11:58 PM  

@Joel - Oh, I get it. Trademark protection is one of the few areas that will turn a tight community like craft brewers into a room of middle schoolers. I understand the legal basis and the rationales for aggressively defending trademarks. I also know the meaning of pyrrhic victory. I’ve owned hundreds, maybe even more than a thousand, of 175 gram discs in my life. The last time one was a frisbee was 1983. Multiple that by hundreds of thousands of players in the US alone and then make a compelling case that protecting their trademark was worth it. Granted, flying discs are one small element of Wham-O’s product line. But that’s a lot of cash flow that went to my buddies in Wixom, MI instead. BTW, I don’t use Band-Aids or Kleenexes either. Both strike me as inferior products that are as or more expensive than better brands.

Burma Shave 10:17 AM  


Oh YES, it’ silk STOCKINGs and lipstick GLOSSY –
ELEMENTS that take an INEPT COUGAR far,
unless she RELIES on a SOBER POSSE
who are ABEL to GRAB guys at a DISCO BAR.


thefogman 11:52 AM  

No qualms about this one. It was fine for a Monday. Yes a clever reveal would have elevated it a bit, but that's being picky. I got held up a little in the NE corner, but the rest was smooth sailing.

spacecraft 12:02 PM  

Warning: diatribe delivery imminent.

I could not comment yesterday, because ONCE YET AGAIN, the (insert string of symbols) person whose job it is to align the syndication link FELL ASLEEP, and it was a Sunday--AND a month-jumper. Thus I had to put the date in the search. However, some internal (infernal?) glitch insisted on returning me to the current date. Not that I had that much to say; the whole thing was 62-down*; but I still resent not even having the chance to say it. This guy has fumbled so often he's like the Raiders. Time to cut him from the squad.

And now for today's 33-down. The grid was CLEAN???? ACADS, a totally absurd abbrev.? GAI, a syllable plucked out of the middle of a foreign dish? KOD not KOED or KAYOED? AAHS/AAS together? And those S-crutches: ASSESS ESSEN POSSE? Couldn't we at least TOSS one of those? I've surely seen worse, but you can hardly call this grid "clean."

For the good part, I learned what a PUFFIN is, though I was expecting a much-better-known PENGUIN Press for the publisher and not for a laborious nickname for a Tuxedo, which is easier and more fun to say. Danny DeVito wore a PENGUINSUIT in the Batman movie. I agree that having to repeat the B/W phrase in each themed clue seems laborious (is there a second theme here?), but no biggie to me. It was easy to solve and did contain some longer fill UPTURN, along with a stage crowded with DOD contestants. First impressions count: LENA Horne wins it today. By way of an apology for being so TESTY, I give this one a par.


r 2:55 PM  

More or less a workmanlike Monday puzzle. Easy, but cute. For 19A I started to write in PENGUIN, but saw it wouldn't work, and then remembered the even cuter PUFFIN. In my mind I always "see" a PUFFIN with several little fish hanging from its beak. Never heard of PANDA EXPRESS, but easy enough to get.

Out here on the West (wet) coast we have tons of SKUNK CABBAGE, a faint whiff of which smells somewhat of marijuana to me. A full blast however is very SKUNKLIKE.

A couple days ago we had a reference to the Lethe - today; STYX. Can't wait to see Acheron, Phlegethon, and COCYTUS. I'm all over it/them. I do wonder though, are there rivers in Heaven, however you believe that to be.

I also can't wait for the next Republican rally cry: Trumpu AKBAR.

rondo 3:00 PM  

I was hoping for something near the end to be red (or read?) all over. But no, just B/W critters.

I have a photo taken of me in that famous ZEBRACROSSING on Abbey Road. And I was wearing a white linen SUIT like the one John Lennon had on. Gotta plan ahead. Suggestions of what to wear if I go to Winslow, AZ, and find the corner?

There used to be a band around here called Tina and the BSIDES. Fun.

LENA today, no Ole nor Sven. Susan will be yeah baby for a DEY.

OK puz, nothing to RANT about.

BS2 4:47 PM  

A colleague queried me today as to how many consecutive days this verse thing has gone on. According to my count it’s been 1386 days and approximately 1500 separate verses. So, presuming I make it two more weeks, it will be 1400 days, or 200 weeks of providing this daily dose of ditty, drivel and doggerel. Or gibberish, nonsense and twaddle, if you prefer.

strayling 7:36 PM  

I enjoyed this one. Just right for a Monday memory-solve.

Intentional or not, 20 down has a hidden black and white animal: Repeatedly scolds = BADGERS

Diana, LIW 7:38 PM  

Isn't that just like the Times? Black and white and read all over.

Sorry - couldn't resist, and I didn't see it elsewhere in the comments. It's probably there...

Yes...I did the puzzle.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
Congrats BS - whoever you really are (ha ha)

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