Highly successful in theaterspeak / MON 12-10-18 / Texas city seen in many westerns / We on candy heart / Old Russian royals / Sacred peak in Greek myth

Monday, December 10, 2018

Constructor: Alex Eylar

Relative difficulty: Challenging (by the clock ... 3:38, my third-slowest Monday of the timed era)

THEME: THE PLOT THICKENS (37A: "Now things are getting interesting" ... or a hint to the first words of 17-, 24-, 45- and 57-Across) — first words are DIRT ... and then foliage starts growing, leading to GRASS, then BUSH, and finally JUNGLE:

Theme answers:
  • DIRT CHEAP (17A: Extremely inexpensive)
  • GRASS ROOTS (24A: Bottom-up, as a political movement)
  • BUSH LEAGUE (45A: Amateurish)
  • JUNGLE GYM (57A: Bars that kids go to?)
Word of the Day: MT. IDA (31D: Sacred peak in Greek myth: Abbr.) —
Mount Ida, known variously as IdhaÍdhiIdiIta and now Psiloritis (GreekΨηλορείτης, "high mountain"), at 2,456 m (8,057 feet), is the highest mountain on Crete. Located in the Rethymno regional unit, it was sacred to the Greek TitanessRhea, and on its slopes lies one of the cavesIdaion Antron, in which, according to legend, Zeus was born. Its summit (Timios Stavros) has the highest topographic prominence in Greece. A natural park which includes Mt. Ida is a member of UNESCO's Global Geoparks Network. (wikipedia)
• • •

HELLO, SYNDICATION SOLVERS! (i.e. the majority of my readership—those of you who are reading this on Monday, January 14). It's early January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. As you know, I write this blog every. Single. Day. OK, two days a month I pay young people to write it, but every other day, all me. OK sometimes I take vacations and generous friends of mine sit in, but otherwise, I'm a non-stop blogging machine. Seriously, it's a lot of work. It's at least as much work as my day job, and unlike my day job, the hours *kinda* suck—I typically solve and write between 10pm and midnight, or in the early hours of the morning, so that the blog can be up and ready for solvers to read with their breakfast or on the train or in a forest or wherever it is you people enjoy the internet. I have no major expenses, just my time. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog in any way beyond simply asking for money once a year. I hate ads in real life, so why would I subject you all to them. I actually considered redesigning the site earlier this year, making it slicker or fancier somehow. I even got the process partly underway, but then when I let slip that I was considering it, feedback was brisk and clear: don't change. Turns out people don't really want whistles and bells. Just the plain, internet-retro style of a blogger blog. So that's what you're getting. No amount of technical tinkering is gonna change the blog, which is essentially just my voice. My ridiculous opinionated voice yelling at you, cheerfully and angrily, about how much I love / hate crosswords. I hope that this site has made you laugh or taught you things or given you a feeling of shared joy, or anger, or failure, or even given you someone to yell at. I'm fine with that. I also hope I've introduced some of you to the Wider World of Crosswords, beyond the NYT. I am passionate about puzzles and I (mostly) adore the people who solve them—so many of my friends, and the thousands of you I've never met. I can't stop, and I won't stop, and I hope you find that effort worth supporting.

Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address:

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are illustrations from "Alice in Wonderland"—all kinds of illustrations from throughout the book's publication history. Who will get the coveted, crosswordesey "EATME!" card!? Someone, I'm sure. You, I hope. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Well, the concept is pretty original, I think. It's clever, anyway, though I don't think the progression is terribly logical. I'm not sure in what sense BUSH is being used. Like, shrubbery, or the Australian BUSH, i.e. just ... the wilderness. Actually, Australian BUSH has no vegetation specifications, so that can't be right here. But shrubbery ... doesn't seem like a step between GRASS and JUNGLE. And JUNGLE .... would that ever, ever grow on a "plot," which implies property ownership, development, etc.? It's all pretty loose and wonky, conceptually. I can see how you'd want to make THE PLOT THICKENS into a revealer, seeing as how it's a tidy 15 letters and all. But this progression feels off. Also off was the forms of the long Downs. CARPOOLER. WENT ROGUE. Both fine, acceptable answers, but with -ERing and past-tensing, just tweaked enough to be trouble, especially CARPOOLER, which weirdly vexed me. I had trouble all over the east and (especially) south, where GLUEY (???) (49D: Sticky) was GOOEY (an actual word one might use) and UANDI (50D: We, on a candy heart) was ... well, nothing, really, because what kind of stupid clue is that. The whole point of writing on a candy heart is that you're using cutesy abbrevs., which, admittedly, "U" is, but ... "We" is a mere two letter, whereas UANDI is five, why on god's increasingly green earth would you use UANDI where u could use WE?!!??! This makes no sense. Also making no sense. TEATS / TAO. I'll give you five seconds to get rid of TEATS: go. Seriously, go! (I just hate the word TEATS (22D: Milk dispensers) ... all other words referring to nipples or breasts, I have no problem with; bring 'em on. But TEATS ... TEATS is my "moist"; it just makes me wince a little; totally OK if you have to use it, but if you don't have to ... I would prefer not) (I think I especially hate the clue here ... conflating a beverage dispenser at a buffet with the mammary glands of animals just seems ugh)

Five things:
  • 53A: Texas city seen in many westerns (LAREDO) — Not very iconic for me. Also, this answer went through GLUEY and UANDI, so oof
  • 44A: Bub (BUSTER) — ??? [Boxer Douglas] or [Silent film star Keaton] woulda been helpfuler
  • 33D: Equipment often transported on a car's roof (SKIS) — literally *anything* more specific than "equipment" woulda been nice here
  • 8D: Informal affirmative (YEP) — Is it YEP. YUP, it's YEP. [Affirmative in 53-Across] might've worked here
  • 33A: Pop a fly? (SWAT) — really thought the "?" here meant that "fly" was going to refer to the pants part. I was imagining busting zippers or buttons or whatever.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I had LANAI before KAUAI, which is what happens when you get a generic [One of the Hawaiian islands] clue and the letters you already have in place are just the -AI :(

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Harryp 12:03 AM  

This took me 8:02, and I didn't care to look for a complicated Theme, so sue me.

Anoa Bob 12:56 AM  

After DIRT, GRASS & BUSH, I expected the next PLOT THICKENer to be a TREE, so that JUNGLE sequel surprised me. And then even more surprising was some TREES hanging out at 63A, clued simply as "Parts of forests" without any connection to the theme. Odd.

jae 1:06 AM  

Easy, clever, liked it.

...and speaking of the jungle, if you have Amazon Prime and haven’t seen “Mozart in the Jungle” you should really give it a try.

chefwen 1:25 AM  

ALOHA, KAUAI! Maui yes, Oahu yes, but Kauai, my little slice of paradise is not often found in the puzzles.

Puzzle partner went off on a little rant with the jump from GRASS to BUSH, didn’t bother me. He also didn’t care for PABST being referred to as brewing giant, it was, back in the day, so that didn’t bother me either. The boy is a little tetchy tonight, he turns the big 7oh tomorrow.

Fun Monday, only one write over, nth before PHD at 43A.

Brookboy 1:36 AM  

I thought it was pretty straightforward, not terribly challenging. Any hesitation I had was quickly resolved by the crosses. All in all. A nice, relatively easy Monday.

Did not have the same visceral reaction as Rex with the word TEATS. It’s a real word that you can look up in the dictionary, and as far as what they actually do, well, um, it seems like they actually do function as milk dispensers. OFL seems to have a number of real words that offend his sense of propriety. I’m not sure that’s really a good enough reason to actually ban them from crosswords.

Still, a good write-up from our chief critic I thought.

JOHN X 3:02 AM  

Rex, my offer to take you on a booze 'n blow soaked weekend through a coupla' Dallas whorehouses still stands. And when it's over, words like TEAT and MOIST won't be able to hurt you anymore.

Loren Muse Smith 4:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 4:36 AM  

Huh – this one gave me no real problems. That IED/GLUEY cross was problematic ‘cause I always go birth control first and write in “iud.” But no biggie.

Agree with @Anoa Bob that a full-on TREE themer would have been nice. But that’d’ve been too many themers what with the reveal and all. If only there were titles. The reveal could have been THE PLOT THICKENS and then added TREE HUGGER somewhere.

Of course, Alex could have gone all cynical and had a progression of SPOILED BRAT (with a topographical name like Rivers, Brooks, Steppe) - COLLEGE LACROSSE STUD - MBA/JD STUDENT - LAW FIRM PARTNER to that &%$# JUNGLE OUT THERE.

U AND I didn’t really annoy me. And Rex, U AND I seems romantic and sweet. A candy heart with WE seems weird. At the very least, change cases and go US if you ever open up your own candy company.

PUT OUT made me think. It’s dangerously ambiguous. Transitive, no prob:

Oh my gosh. John’s pants were on fire. Luckily, his girlfriend was right there.
Did she put them out?

But head into intransitive territory…

Oh my gosh. John’s pants were on fire. Luckily, his girlfriend was right there.
Did she put out?

This one had me thinking for the thousandth time what exactly the difference is between a forest and a JUNGLE. Too impatient to look into it and get a specific sciencesome answer, I’ll just stick with my own distinction.

A forest is where you take walks on wide pine-needle carpeted paths with your golden retriever named Archie in your LL Bean outfit and the animals who live there all kind and genuinely concerned with your well-being. They have big eyes, soft fur, and good hearts. They have cute little front teeth. They’re open and honest and would wear Christmas sweaters if they could.

A jungle is where you find yourself needing machete, in the skirt and blazer you were wearing when the plane went down. The animals there have no fur but rather scales, fangs, tentacles and stuff, and they’re grumpy and hungry. Greedy. They lurk. They wait. They shred Christmas sweaters with their teeth. They don’t give a *&^% about anyone’s well-being but their own.

(And I sure didn’t mean to, but, well, it seems I’ve come back to that lawyer.)

FWIW – I’m married to a lawyer, so I have full joke immunity.

Lewis 5:36 AM  

I keep wanting to put "Waltzing" in front of MTIDA.

ZenMonkey 5:47 AM  

Sometimes after a rough weekend of work culminating in a crappy night shift, a sweet little Monday like this is just the thing to take the edge off. (Along with a little of those GRASS ROOTS, so to speak.)

'mericans in Paris 6:36 AM  

Hey @chefwen! I thought you'd like the KAUAI answer. Wish puzzle partner a happy big 7oh birthday from us!

Both of us, solving separately, completed the puzzle in near record time (for us), and with 2 seconds of each other. I wasn't too bothered by transition from DIRT to JUNGLE via GRASS and BUSH. And I'm even les bothered by TEATS. We've seen lots of camel TEATS dispensing milk here in Dhofar, Oman. Baby camels are just adorbs, by the way. Liked seeing the MAJI front and centre, also. The region of OMAN that we're visiting probably produced the frankincense presented as one of the gifts of the MAJI. Nowadays Somalia is the centre of production, but the best frankincense is said still to come from Dhofar.

@LMS: I like your definitions of forest and JUNGLE. That got me thinking of something that has long bothered me: St. Francis of Assisi. The personage himself doesn't bother me, it's the big deal that's made about him being an animal to friends ... er, I mean, a friend to animals. Ever been to Assisi? The animals in the vicinity include song birds, bunny rabbits, and badgers. OK, it might take a special person to earn their trust. But it's hardly a major feat. What would impress me a lot more is a St. Francisco of Bijao -- i.e., somebody who makes friends of poisonous snakes, terrifying insects, and big cats that can pull you down from a TREE and then eat you.

FWIW -- I'm married to a Roman Catholic, so I have at least some blasphemy immunity.

Aketi 6:43 AM  

@ LMS, most of the critters I saw in the jungle were insects. Mosquitoes, black flies, army ants, and cockroaches. The first two were far more likely to kill you than snakes because of the diseases they transmit and they vastly outnumbered the snakes. Nevertheless, no one ever allowed even a blade of grass to grow on their plots. They kept their plots of red sandy
dirt well swept so the green mambas had nowhere to hide.

@John X, alternatively I could invite (well maybe abduct) @Rex to my Friday afternoon crisis breastfeeding group and traumatize him even more.

@ Rex, you should never watch the British baking show where they like the cakes to be moist and hate the pies with soggy bottoms. They also have a cafe in London that serves ice cream made from human milk so beware. I think your head might explode if you ever read DM Thomas’ “The White Hotel”.

BarbieBarbie 6:57 AM  

@LMS, I think of a jungle as having a really crowded understory, while a forest could be a bunch of giant Sequoias and completely open, though shaded. But that distinction is entirely in my head. And, BTW, the only place I’ve ever run into bears has been in a forest, and none of them looked friendly.
Super-easy for me, almost a PR. One hesitation: GooEY or GluEY? Needed the crosses there, or one of them anyway.
Since OFL called this hard, there must be some wheelhouse stuff here.

Hungry Mother 7:14 AM  

Very fast for me, way below average time. Stayed with mostly acrosses until the SW. Nice start to the week. Off day for running, so now what?

kitshef 7:18 AM  

A little heavy on the TLAs: L.S.D., E.S.L, C.P.U., M.I.T., I.E.D., F.Y.I, A.T.M. FEE, and honorable mentions PH.D., MT. IDA, U. and I., and RDS.

FWIW, FYI does not mean “here’s something interesting” to me.

Hungry Mother 7:25 AM  

@JOHN X: might be what this old geezer could use.

amyyanni 7:28 AM  

I think you can go from bush to jungle here in sw FL pretty quickly.....and the solve today was a quick one. Nice.

ghthree 7:36 AM  


chefbea 7:50 AM  

What is ASCII?? Happy birthday to chef wen's husband. I guess she will bake him a cake!!!

Preferred Customer 7:55 AM  

Confucianism and Taoism are two different, very different philosophies.

QuasiMojo 8:04 AM  

I did this one by doing downs only which was fine until the end when I blanked on the peanut butter name (never liked the stuff) and had to cheat by looking at the across. Never noticed the theme. Hard but worth it! PS having once worked on a farm, I have no problems with TEATS.

Suzie Q 8:26 AM  

I really don't want to sound snobbish but this seemed too easy even for a Monday. I was astounded to see Rex's rating. He's been having a rough time lately.
Any time I find myself feeling too smug I remind myself of days like this past Sat. where I was knocked down a rung or two.
My problem with teats is the clue not the answer. Dispenser sounds so mechanical. When I was in grade school we dispensed our milk at lunch from a simple device. A lever that opened and closed on the tube from a big bag of milk in a little refrigerator. I always felt so grown up to be allowed to fill my own glass from that Milk Dispenser.
Anyway, this was all too straight-forward and simple.

Jungle Boogey 8:34 AM  

back when i had a plot to take care of, it most definitely would become a JUNGLE if i didn't tend to it regularly. it is an apt metaphor for a plot that has thickened to a point of no return.

this puzzle went super fast, but i still had a normal time. the puzzle just seemed to go on forever.

also, i think the people in LAREDO would say "yup" and not YEP. that's more of what someone in nebraska or iowa would say.

Odd Sock 8:35 AM  

What? No Star Wars?
@ LMS, Your "pants on fire" reminded me of watching "Boogie Nights" this weekend. Now there were some pants on fire.
Yes, easy to be Assisi to bluebirds and chipmunks. Charm me some mamba snakes and hyenas then we're talking sainthood.

CS 8:39 AM  

Seemed like a typical Monday or Tuesday for me. I had none of the hiccups; crosses easily helped identify non-standard answers. I was astounded to have this identified as "challenging" -- and note that I am not in any way an expert - I can barely do a full Friday puzzle (and don't even try on Saturdays). I just didn't see any of the difficulties (e.g., "teats" was the first thing I thought of, it has definitely been used in puzzles before).

Anyway, Happy December,


GILL I. 8:56 AM  

I got all islandy with this fine Monday. Started with ALOHA and then thought GRASS skirts, KAUAI where one ELOPES to just take in that beautiful island. PLUMES and a FLEUR in your hair. When you're ON TOUR, you see a magnificent JUNGLE. The TREES swaying and then spoiling it all by drinking PABST.
KAUAI is my favorite of the three Islands I've visited. Stayed at the Sheraton in Poipu Beach. The fish! What fish you have in KAUAI, @chefwen.....And...that Glass Beach!
I like a Monday that brings on good memories. This was pretty good. I like the progression and see no problem at all. DIRT>GRASS>PLOT>BUSH>JUNGLE.
Milk dispensers? Kinda like an ATM? Spits it out? I would have preferred the clue be linked to a suckling pig.
BOFFO bravo, Alex.

mmorgan 8:57 AM  

Nice easy Monday. I always see THE PLOT THICKENS as THE THOT PLICKENS and I quickly devolve into Spoonerisms. I remember a Sunday spoonerism puzzle ages ago. I say it's time for a new one.

@Lewis: Ha!

gfrpeace 9:04 AM  

People talking about 7oh birthdays brings to mind our Hanging of the Greens service at church. The secretary is Mexican and can't spell English, but instead of cutting and pasting the music I send her she types by feel and relies on spell check to alert her to mistakes. So choir sang 'The Holy and the Ivy'. But my favorite was the offertory where I played Oh Christmas tree, according to her. That oh for o somehow really annoyed me.

The puzzle, it seemed quite easy, thanks god, my only write-over was where I put HOtel for Monopoly property instead of HOUSE.

Nancy 9:07 AM  

The sort of Monday puzzle I'd give to newbie solvers. Easy enough not to discourage them. A cute, playful theme that should bring a smile when it's uncovered. And best of all, clean as a whistle, with almost no proper names.

I initially thought that the PLOT would THICKEN as the words lengthened: GRASS is longer than DIRT. And I was thinking: Not good -- length and thickness aren't the same thing. But the "thickening" here is much cleverer than that. So, while I didn't have to work very hard, I found it pleasant, and I actually smiled when I realized the gimmick. Nice Monday.

JonB3 9:23 AM  

Got the revealer after DIRT CHEAP and my mind went to a progression like DIRT, MONSOON, MUD, QUAGMIRE but was soon proven wrong.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

@ mmorgan, You DO know that THOT is a current slang yet-to-be used in puzzles? Check it out in the Urban Dictionary.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

What delightful observations on forests vs. jungles and the animals contained therein from @Loren and @'Mericans. Of course, Loren, I've seen forests (only in photos and videos, mind you) where it looks like I'd need a machete for that. Now, there was the famous Camp Pinecliffe "pine path" of my childhood which wended its way through tall pines on both sides, en route to Crystal Lake -- but the path was clear and easy to walk. I loved it. The fragrance of the pines was wonderful. Maybe it had been a real Maine forest once, but by then it wasn't.

As I say in my blog profile: I adore Nature, but the Nature I adore is "controlled Nature." No stinging or biting or (heaven forfend!) man-eating animals. Very gentle hills, if hills there be at all. Absolutely rock-solid footing -- which means no twigs or slippery little pebbles and NO SNOW. Nothing heavier than a really light handbag to carry. A bathroom within a twenty-minute walk in at least one direction. And of course, a real bed in a real building of some sort to come home to. By that, I mean a bed that doesn't turn over when you do. I was shocked by my first (and last) outdoor camping experience when I turned over and so did the sleeping bag.

Such an outdoorswoman! And yet I truly love the outdoors.

Crimson Devil 9:59 AM  

Agree re spoonerisms.
Re spellcheck and autocorrect: dangerous crotches to rely on.

jberg 10:06 AM  

Hey, I'm in the grid! That's all it takes to make me happy. That boat should have known better than to mess with me.

@chefbea, ASCII is American Standard Code for Information Interchange -- basically a set of numbers which each represents an individual letter or other character. Computers can only understand numbers, so all text has to be converted into them (and then into binary numbers) before it can be processed. We've gone beyond it now, but it's still there underneath.

@Preferred, I thought that too, and the clue "Confucian philosophy" is certainly wrong -- but I looked at Wikipedia, which says there is a concept called Tao in Confucianism (as well as a slightly different concept called Tao in Buddhism). As religions, though, they are distinct -- there are both Confucian and Taoist temples.

Anybody else think of Mitt Romney's dog for 33D?

Malsdemare 10:12 AM  

I’ve gotta say this before I lose my train of thought. I live on what was once a PLOT of land, about five acres. For a while right after building, it was DIRT, then we got GRASS, but left to its own devices, as it was last summer, before long there’s multiflora roses and honeysuckle BUSHes and pretty soon, it’s a JUNGLE out there. So this PLOT worked for me just fine.

I thought this was easy and fun, but then I usually do.

@LMS a friend posted the greatest portmanteau and I will share with you: Ponderize, pondering and memorizing.

Now to read my fellow bloggers.

Rita 10:21 AM  

ASCII is actually quite familiar to some of us (and your comment here is displayed using it). From http://www.asciitable.com/
“ASCII stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. Computers can only understand numbers, so an ASCII code is the numerical representation of a character such as 'a' or '@' or an action of some sort. ASCII was developed a long time ago and now the non-printing characters are rarely used for their original purpose.... If someone says they want your CV however in ASCII format, all this means is they want 'plain' text with no formatting such as tabs, bold or underscoring - the raw format that any computer can understand. This is usually so they can easily import the file into their own applications without issues. Notepad.exe creates ASCII text, or in MS Word you can save a file as 'text only'”

Lewis 10:40 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. You might make one in your lap (4)
2. Total taken in? (6)
3. Partner for life (4)
4. Forger's mark? (9)
5. Breather (4)


Leslie 10:49 AM  

I am new to this comment place--having recently discovered the tiny print at the bottom of Rex's site. @LMS I loved your description of forest/jungle. You generally make me smile, a good thing in these times. @Lewis, I got a giggle from your "waltzing."

Masked and Anonymous 10:57 AM  

U AND I [SIGHS]. Rodeo.

DIRT to GRASS to BUSH to JUNGLE. May seem slightly wobbly, progression-wise, but I got the idea just fine. Interestin side-themers of TREES and [the symmetric] PABST. Once yer lawn is a jungle, its time to give up and hit the PABST, I reckon.

staff weeject picks: YEP & YAP.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Parts of a forest} = PABST. Er … make that =TREES.

Trickiest clue to narrow down: {Things sometimes hidden behind paintings} = keys, webs, bugs, holes, stains, dustrhinos, etc.

Thanx for the thick plot of fun, Mr. Eylar. Double-digit U's *and* UANDI? Most excellent, dude.

Masked & Anonymo10Us


Z 11:12 AM  

I took the progression to be a backyard, starting off as DIRT, then some nice GRASS grows but who has time to mow so it quickly becomes more like the BUSH and finally everyone is, like, “it’s a JUNGLE back there.”

@John X - It’s not the thing, it’s the word for the thing. Rex quite clearly said, “all other words referring to nipples or breasts, I have no problem with; bring 'em on.” Some words’ sound is unappealing. “Moist” doesn’t bother me, but “tits” just sounds better than the nasally “TEATS.” Of course, animals don’t have “tits,” only humans do, so we’re stuck with it for now.

Is MEATS/MAO an improvement? How about FEATS FAO Schwarz? SEATS/SAO? I’d call it a draw. None of the alternatives seem especially better.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Something in Rex's post surprised me--he didn't hammer at 35 down--anted. One of my neighbors is a NYT puzzle constructor, and Will axed "anted" on the grounds that the phrased is "anted up" not "anted." and yet here it is. It's pay to play, not really chipping in, so the whole thing seemed a little weird and I expected a rant.

pabloinnh 11:30 AM  

As I live up here surrounded by forests, I'd say a forest can have (lots of) deciduous trees and a jungle cannot, because climate. On the other hand, is a rain forest a jungle?

Congratulations to the partner of @kitshef and birthday wishes. I thought of getting to 70 as resetting the ageometer, I like those ages that end in 0.

I had a soccer teammate in college whose last name was LePage, and his nickname was, obviously, GLUEY, so that went right in.

And I've noticed fewer and fewer SKIS on top of cars in ski area parking lots, because modern skis are way shorter and fit into trunks or the backs of SUV wagons. The plural of ski seems to be a problem for some people, who post on our local listserve looking for new skies. So am I, in December. So am I.

A just-right Monday.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

I believe one other person brought this up but there is a big problem with one clue in this puzzle (22 Across). Toaism is very different from Confusionism. In many ways, it is its complete opposite. Other than both being Chinese philosophies (religions), they couldn't be more different. Even if the constructor missed this, you'd think Mr. Shortz would have picked it up. This wasn't just akward or faniciful cluing - it's just plain inaccurate.

Banana Diaquiri 11:56 AM  

the TEATS complaint is interesting. in most folks' minds a TEAT is not a breast or nipple of a female human, but a completely different looking appendage to a farm animal's udder. hard to imagine anyone mistaking one for the other.

as to ASCII, give me EBCDIC or give me death. :)

Nancy 12:19 PM  

@pabloinnh (11:30): "...because modern skis are way shorter..."

You'll be interested to know that I "invented" the graduated length method, leading to much shorter skis, a good ten years before it first came into being. Or would have if anyone had listened to me. (I guess it's sort of like the way Al Gore invented the Internet.)

I had decided, along with another newbie skier friend, to try skiing on the cheap, in case I didn't like it, and was renting skis at Van Cortlandt Park, a public park a subway ride away. My friend was tall and took the ginormous skis handed to her without a murmur. I am short, and the skis handed to me were -- and I am not exaggerating, trust me -- twice as tall as I am. I looked enviously at the kids, who had all been given much, much shorter skis. I said to the rental guy: "Please give me a pair of children's skis." "You're not a child," he snapped. "We don't do that." "But most of those kids are taller than I am," I protested. "Lady, we don't give kids' skis to adults and that's that." So I took the damned skis, put them on, fell within my first 3 1/2 seconds on the lower third of the bunny slope, couldn't get up because the skis were so ginormous, waited for three (3) men to pull me out of the snow, managed with their assistance to get back to a chair where I took the the damned things off, went immediately to the bar and ordered a Bloody Mary, and never went anywhere near another pair of skis or ski slope ever again.

Ten years later, I'm having breakfast and I read in the Sports Section of the NYT about a new method called GLM, wherein ski lengths are pegged to each skier's height. That bleepin' stubborn, know-it-all idiot at the ski rental desk -- does he understand that 1) he pushed back the invention of the GLM method by a full decade and 2) he may have prevented the emergence of another Lindsey Vonn?

Banana Diaquiri 12:29 PM  


he may have prevented the emergence of *the first* Lindsey Vonn?

don't sell yourself short, darlin

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Nice Monday puzzle. Good way to start the puzzling week. Easy without being boring. Thanks very much Mr. Eylar. Nice job.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I SENSEd the plot thickening when HOtel next to PLUMES was looking awkward. Since I eschew all things Monopoly, I didn't remember there being any HOUSEs - every game I ever played was abandoned well before it was time to purchase anything.

Other than that little hitch to my solving time, this was pretty smooth and fast. I liked the theme, and my favorite clue was for 33A's SWAT.

As @RooMonster might say, ALAMO ALOHA.

Thanks, Alex Eylar.

pabloinnh 1:11 PM  


Nice work on inventing the GLM method. Of course you did.

Today's skis are so superior (wider, side cuts, other stuff) that even I can make a good turn, sort of by thinking about it and there it is. This from someone who in high school was still using his mother's wooden skis with "crust buster" tips from the 30's. Unbelievably easier these days. Maybe you should give it another try.

The Bloody Mary part is still a good idea, though. Wouldn't stop that.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Very easy Monday. Well below average time.

GILL I. 1:37 PM  

@Nancy...Now see, my story is the opposite.
I learned to ski the old fashion way. Head strong, no lessons, and determined to kill myself on the "Bola" in Navacerrada. @pablo have you been there?
I finally learned to stem christie which you can, in my opinion, only do on the long skis. Finally nailed that little maneuver and managed to not fall on my arse every 5 minutes.
When the shorts were introduced, turning a la SC is a lot more difficult.
I gave in when I turned 40 and took some ski lessons, bought some bodacious skis and boots to match and now they, too, are outmoded. No one skis in Tahoe....they all boogie board.

Teedmn 1:41 PM  

Ha, @Nancy, you are so right that shorter skis are much easier to use. They turn more easily and they don't go as fast. When I started skiing in my late twenties, far past my "fearless" stage, I rented the shortest skis I could get. When I finally got good enough to go shopping for my own pair, they had me stand and they set skis up next to me to gauge the height correctly. The beginning of the curve of the tip topped my head by a bit. I love those Olins, circa 2001, and will never own another pair. In contrast, my friends Joe and Catharina are expert skiers and although they are barely taller than I, their skis are probably a foot (or feet) longer than mine.

pabloinnh 2:13 PM  


Went skiing once in the Navacerrada, had to rent stuff, and the skis I got were, I'm pretty sure, surplus Norwegian jumping skis. I turned them, they turned me, we took turns. Not fun. Have never been to a ski area before or since that also rented trineos (sleds). Mucho ojo necessary. Everything was way overcrowded and I had a bag of stuff stolen. Unforgettable, like dental surgery.

Hungry Mother 4:33 PM  

The fact that ASCII and EBCDIC have different collating sequences caused some interesting inter-computer communication problems back in the day. The fact that I knew how to deal with things like that made me a lot of money back then. The fact that I don’t care about stuff like that now that I’m retired brings me a lot of contentment. Let’s go, @JOHN X!

Nancy 6:18 PM  

Thanks, @Banana D. Thanks, @pabloinnh.

@GILL (1:37) -- Are you telling me that you skied this monster without so much as a single ski lesson??????? How are you even still alive? (Everyone -- start watching the video at 3:50 minutes in, where it says: Ready, Set, Go.)

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

Am I the only one who hadn't heard of a BUSH LEAGUE before? Definitely played a bit harder than the average Monday.

GILL I. 8:04 PM  

Holy Toledo @Nancy...where did you find that video?????
Yesireee Bob, that's the Bola I skied down......'cept the side I almost committed suicide was the north side and it was icy as hell. Now mind you, I took the lift up and stopped for a few minutes at a little bar at the top, had a Fundador Brandy, put on my 10 foot long skis, and slid all the way down on my "fondillo." There is a bunny slope on the other side of the highway and I spent more sober time there.
Oh, the windy road shown in the video on the way to Navacerrada is now a 4 lane highway!!!!!

Jeff 9:59 PM  

Yes! Like nearly opposites. That's a bad error.

Clark 12:04 AM  

@chefwen - In case you catch the late comment: Happy Birthday to Puzzle Partner from Semi-Puzzle Partner and me. I will eat my next batch of Culver's cheese curds in his honor.

chefwen 3:08 AM  

Thanks @Clark, I’ll pass that on to the Birthday Boy. When are Y’all coming back to do a little hiking? Miss you guys.

Uke Xensen 12:31 PM  

The word TAO is common and so it appears in Confucian writings, but TAO is not a Confucian philosophy. The clue is simply wrong.

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

I was having such a pleasant time with this; nice theme progression, catchy revealer, fun fill (the CARPOOLER WENTROGUE: he took a cab!). Then I hit 50-down. I bet anything that even the constructor (debut? If so, promising) hated that one, but didn't know how to fix it. Neither do I. *SIGHS*

Can we overlook one Gawd-awful blemish and call this a birdie? Oh, what the hell, why not. For DOD, I tried Googling a few SARAs but ran out of patience. How about Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane, who so sultrily sang "SARA?" Works for me.

thefogman 11:48 AM  

More challenging than usual for a Monday. Completed with no write-overs. I liked the theme. Not perfect (UANDI, MTIDA) but still a good job by Alex Eylar. PS - Since the word TEATS makes him so squeamish, I wonder if Rex drinks milk...

fakt chekker 12:13 PM  

While Taoism emphasizes on belief in nature and dealing with life in a natural manner, Confucianism is based on human conduct as opposed to religion and belief in God. Taoism focuses majorly on nature; Confucianism is focused on improving society. Taoism was founded by Lao Tzu; Confucianism was founded by Kong Qui

Burma Shave 12:34 PM  


with LIEs from a BUSHLEAGUE creep
and SLEPT with him DIRTCHEAP.


leftcoastTAM 2:28 PM  

YEP, THE PLOT THICKENS, and the puzzle increases in difficulty as you move down and to the South. Clever theme, JUNGLE (a metaphor) and all.

In the South: the unknown STINE, the elusive WMD before IED, and the odd UANDI before it's parsed.

Nice Monday start. Enjoyed it.

leftcoastTAM 2:39 PM  

Oh, and @fakt chekker is right about TAO and Confucian philosophy.

rainforest 3:09 PM  

I found this to be a fine Monday puzzle which I solved with, mostly, across- only. The theme was a nice progression of PLOT THICKENerS, a sequence which the yard of my first house followed after I moved in and promptly (badly) broke my leg in a motorcycle accident. Unable to do anything for months, the yard went from a lot of DIRT to wild GRASS, to unkempt (I DID try to kempt them) BUSHes, to a veritable JUNGLE. When my leg finally healed I spent a year on that yard. I occasionally drive by that house and it's gratifying to see how great the yard looks. Maybe I shoulda been a landscaper instead of a teacher, har.

TEATS is fine. It's in Shakespeare, for William's sake.

I think UANDI agree that this is a good start to the week.

rondo 3:13 PM  

Hand up for the GooEY GLUEY write-over. Musta been done in about 2.5 Rexes.

Seeing DIRTCHEAP next to PABST breaks my heart. It wasn’t always so.

The GRASSROOTS were a favorite c. 1970. Wore out the Best Of 8-track.

Singer and yeah baby SARA Bareilles is always a fave these days.

Maybe not an APLUS, but a tidy l’il puz.

Diana, LIW 4:40 PM  

@Anon 2:25 from yesterday (Sunday) asked @Rondo why we post. Allow me to 'splain some of the reasons. I, too, was a beginner a few years ago when I began posting here. I have since completed a million anthologies of NYT X-words to catch up with the 30-year-plus solvers. I have also attended 4 tournaments, two of which were in St. Paul, where I met up with @Rondo and @Teedmn (from Futureland) and toured the city, Summit Blvd, the cathedral, and even saw cat videos at the James Hill house. And I saw @Rondo win 3rd place in the Minnesota tourney - complete with trophy! @Teed and I have since also gone to 2 ACPT tourneys, where I came in 631st out of about 750 solvers. (I only enrolled as a competitor to have both a chair and a table to solve on - I DO NOT SPEED SOLVE.) I skim @Rex and the Futurelanders, but always read my beloved Synders.

Today's puzzle was Monday-perfect - I agree with @Rainy. (Mr. W stays off his motorcycle these days, and I breathe easier.) I'm not much of a yard person, but do keep the house kempt.

Luckily for @Rondo, the roof was made of SLATE and not some GLUEY tar stuff. Perhaps he'll pipe up to @Anon from yesterday as well. If he has time from driving his Missus around in his fine new car.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 8:42 PM  

@anon 2:25 yesterday - Who would read us?? Rex just mentioned above that Syndie readers are the majority of his readership!! And @teedmn has told us that she and others regularly check back to see the comments on a puz they did 5 weeks ago. So . . . the answer is - a lot of folks.

And as @D,LIW mentioned, you can meet the finest people, such as her and @teedmn. Through @teedmn I've been able to meet some of the constructors whose names you sometimes see credited on the NYT puz, the LAT, WSJ, USA Today, and others. So if you like to hang with smart folks . . .

And the tournaments are fun if you want to try. I haven't been to a real big one yet, but someday. The MN tourney was fun, so was showing @D, LIW around town.

It all started from posting here, 5 weeks later than most. Whaddaya got to lose??

rondo 8:55 PM  

More to @anon 2:25 yesterday - at the MN tourney I was told by a syndie reader and infrequent poster that the syndie posts were being read to a less than fully able individual who wanted to hear each day who my yeah baby of the day was or if I talked about my dad recently, to hear (now departed) @Ron Diego's quip of the day, to see what kind of mood @spacecraft was in, to see what kind of doggerel @Burma Shave was dishing out that day, or something more intelligent from @D, LIW, and from other regulars.
So there's that . . .

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

To @Rondo and @D,LIW, I'm simply beyond tickled to pieces to have gotten responses from you!
I confess I cocked an eye when I read YFL's post saying most of his readers were Syndies. Clearly I was misinformed.
I hold no advanced degrees, teaching creds, or have been active in this particular puzzling (interpretation open...)venue long enough to even consider competing at any level. My own "aha" moments suffice most days.
Someday hope to have a 'blue name's too; already have one picked out!
'Spose I'll be around more often now; it's an informative blog at most, infuriating at times, but always entertaining.
Thank you for taking the time to answer!

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

@ Rondo and @ D,LIW: Oh I am simply tickled to pieces to have have responses from both of you!
I confess I cocked an eyebrow when YFL said most of his readers were Syndies. Apparently I was misinformed, or just assumed I was reading posts that were from 5 weeks ago.Ergo,I thought no one would be revisiting them after that length of time.
I possess no high academic degrees, teaching creds, or anything else that would recommend me for membership in what (sometimes) seems like an elite community. And I'm not ready for competitive puzzling!
Really like this space; always informative, occasionally infuriating, but never ceases to entertain.
Someday I hope to get a 'blue name'...already have one picked out!
I'll be back more frequently now that I'm better informed.
Thanks again for your responses.
P.S. @ Ms.D,LIW (ye of the last, or always-next-to-last post): I still get the feeling you are in the E. WA vicinity. Possibly even a Coug fan?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP