Put the kibosh on / MON 12-17-18 / Commandeers or a friendly hello to people / Something falling down in children's song

Monday, December 17, 2018

Constructor: Brian Thomas and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:05)

THEME: HI, JACKS! (39A: Commandeers .. or a friendly hello to the people starting 18-, 24-, 51- and 62-Across) — starts of all indicated answers are words that are also the last names of famous Jacks (real and fictional):

Theme answers:
  • SPARROW HAWK (18A: Small bird of prey)
  • LONDON BRIDGE (24A: Something falling down, in a children's song)
  • RUBY SLIPPERS (51A: Dorothy's footwear in "The Wizard of Oz")
  • BLACK FRIDAY (62A: What follows Thanksgiving)
Word of the Day: SCOTCH (33A: Put the kibosh on)
  1. 1. 
    decisively put an end to.

    "a spokesman has scotched the rumors"

    synonyms:put an end to, put a stop to, nip in the bud, put the lid on 
  2. 2. 
    wedge (someone or something) somewhere.

    "he soon scotched himself against a wall"
  1. 1. 
    a wedge placed under a wheel or other rolling object to prevent its moving or slipping. (google)
• • •

This works fine, I think, though why I would want to say hi to any of these creeps, I don't know. Actually, maybe Jack Black is a nice guy, I don't know. But you can keep Jack Sparrow and Jack Ruby, and Jack London was a straight-up racist, so ... pass. The grid is a tad (or A BIT) crosswordesey, but it's mostly clean, and the re-parsing of HIJACKS is a solid enough wordplay gimmick for a Monday revealer. No real complaints here. I have more complaints about my own stupid brain, actually, as I have not been able to crack three minutes on a Monday for six weeks now. Before that, I'd never had more than two consecutive solves without dipping into the 2s, but man, I am in a rut. Four of the last six solving times are in the 3:01-3:09 range, so I'm close, I just ... keep missing. Today, I would've had it except for a spectacular face-plant right at the end. I made a very dumb mistake that I would never have made if I could just have come up with SPICE. [Pizazz] to me = ELAN or BRIO. SPICE is something I taste. Something I add to food. I'm not disputing the accuracy of the clue, just saying the association for me was weak. Had the SP- and couldn't think of a damn thing. This led directly to my epic stupid mistake, which was: having BLACK ---DAY in place and writing in BLACK SUNDAY (!?). In my defense, though admittedly it's not much of one, "BLACK SUNDAY" is definitely a thing. It's just not *this* thing. When I noticed I had only a few squares left, but SPN- at 52D: Pizazz, I knew I was screwed. Sure enough, after scrambling to clean up my mess: 3:05. Wah WAH.

Five things:
  • 44D: "I'm up for doing the job!" ("SURE CAN!") — ugh, god save me from these "quote unquote" clues. I inevitably mess them up. The English prof in me is super annoyed that a fragment is being asked to stand in for a complete sentence. Bah!
  • 36A: Actor Efron of "High School Musical" (ZAC) — middle of grid is super choppy, with lots of black squares and short answers, and we got a little Scrabble-f***ing here with the "Z" and the "J" from JUG. But it doesn't result in forced fill and let's all be grateful they didn't torture the grid in order to turn it into a pangram.
  • 58D: Czech or Croat (SLAV) — look, no matter how many times you explain the difference to me, I'm going to confuse SLAV and SERB, I just am. See also, especially, the Baltic and the Balkans. If I think about it, sure. But under pressure? Botched.
  • 33A: Put the kibosh on (SCOTCH) — this clue and answer would both like you to get off of their lawns.
  • 47D: Like thumped watermelons making a deep sound (RIPE) — the phrasing on this clue is Ugly, and ugh spare me your loooooong and vague and somewhat folkloric clues. "Deep sound"? That is pretty imprecise. Also, "thump" *is* the sound. Don't Get Cute!
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld (Twitter @rexparker / #NYTXW)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Katy 12:13 AM  

Quite enjoyed it and came close to my best time ever. Revealer was fun and actually helpful. My one beef is the clue for 17a (as I also commented on the Wordplay blog). There are so many fascinating and awesome facts about bats, that to focus on one that is the source of a lot of fear and misinformation makes me sad. In case you are interested, best estimates are that less than half of 1% of wild bats carry rabies. They are however incredibly vital for agricultural pest control, important pollinators of tropical plants, and the only mammals that truly fly, among many other interesting tidbits. Let's give bats a break! :)

mmorgan 12:14 AM  

I'm a big ACME fan (hi if you're here, Andrea!) and this was yummy and smooth as typical and expected. I usually think her Monday puzzles are wonderful for those just starting out. But as I was solving this -- and before I realized who the constructors were -- I found myself thinking that this was too easy for even a Monday puzzle, and that new solvers would think, well, what's the big deal with crossword puzzles if they're so easy? I'm not sure if that's fair or if it's just my problem, and it's a question rather than a criticism. Despite that quibble, this is a fresh and crosswordese-lacking gem (okay, maybe ALA and TSA, OUCh, if you have to push it). And the fact that Rex didn't hate it tells me that it's pretty damn good.

jae 12:17 AM  

Slightly tougher than medium, but I did have CAdre before CABAL. Just about right for a Mon., liked it.

TomAz 12:26 AM  

I anticipated Rex's objection to Jack Ruby. That was easy. But Jack Sparrow? that's.. just bizarre. I mean yes the Pirates movies were banal dreck, but Sparrow was a noteworthy character. Who preferred to win with his head and not with his sword. I don't get your objection Rex, I really don't.

Construing "HIJACK" as "HI, JACK" is a tepid old joke though. It feels as stale as a Henny Youngman routine. Take my wife, please.

Otherwise this was ran easy even for a Monday. "Tel Aviv's land? oh.. where is that again.. is it in Brazil? Something like that?"

Oh hey Rex, if you want to get jaw in a clench, there's LATIN LOVER. Racial stereotyping also as musty as Henny Youngman.

NB: this is not Trumpist PC-bashing. It is a gentle reminder that if we are going to object to mindlessness, we ourselves must be mindful. You've chosen to take that burden onto your blog Rex, and having gone there you have a responsibility to do it right. Jack Sparrow? Really? c'mon man.

Robin 1:10 AM  

"I have not been able to crack three minutes on a Monday for six weeks now."

First world problems.

albatross shell 1:54 AM  

If you equate Jack London with racism and stop there, you do great harm to your self. What a writer, what a life what a radical and what a man you have missed. Was he raised a racist? Yes. Did he grow less racist as he became more devoted to workers rights and radical socialism? Yes. Could he see the world without any influence of racism? Yes. Read about his life, before you judge him. An American like no other.

chefwen 2:12 AM  

Like Rex I always have to check a cross to see if it’s Serb or Slav, can’t seem to keep them straight.

Fun Monday puzzle where I had had only one write over COKE over COla.

Why does BLACK FRIDAY carry on for two weeks?

Thanks Acme aka Queen of Monday’s puzzles and Brian.

Loren Muse Smith 2:43 AM  

Loved the reveal here. I’m with @mmorgan that this is a great puzzle to start neophytes on.

SURREY is the most unMonday word today imo, but I learned this word in 3rd grade when my brownie troop appeared on the Bob Brandy Show in Chattanooga. This surrey brought in boxes of Little Debbie treasures to be awarded as prizes. There was always some ridiculous question that you had to try to answer, and the person who got the closest received a box of Little Debbies. The day my troop was on, we all accidentally heard the answer loud and clear to the question (something like how many miles between Lookout Mountain and Signal Mountain or some such. In the end when they asked the question, every single Brownie gave the exact mileage. Except me. Since I thought it was cheating, I purposely gave a wrong answer. So get this – every girl got a box of Little Debbies off that surrey except me. Can you believe that? Me, whose mom Never bought stuff like that. If I was lucky, I got the dessert treat of half a pop tart (generic, unfrosted) in my Laugh-In lunchbox. Those packages of Little Debbies were so sexy, so unattainable. You’d’a thought some nice person would have chased me out to our bus and slipped me a Pity Box, right? I need to let this go.

Rex – those “quote clues” are some of my favorites. I love, love, love sitting there and saying both the clue and the entry and marveling that they’d be used in the same situation. And you said, “The English prof in me is super annoyed that a fragment is being asked to stand in for a complete sentence. Bah!” Oh, c’mon – it’s spoken. We don’t speak in complete sentences. It would be exhausting to talk to someone who didn’t use fragments. And creepy. The Supreme Master of the Quote Clue is BEQ. He has his finger firmly planted on the pulse of the spoken word. It’s remarkable. (And while I’m at it, I’ll remind you that it’s Monday and you should do his Monday themeless. I save these for rainy days or emergency no-power days; they’re a godsend. And tip him at some point.)

BAT reminded me of our @Hartley’s rowdydow with one when she and it surprised each other under that patio umbrella. I still say that her” … I got caught under a closed patio umbrella with a bat…” is one of the most startling things I’ve read here.

But BUT – I keep meaning to tell you, @mmorgan, ***** spoiler alert if you haven’t done this past Friday’s puzzle******* that your mistake of “nasal straps” the other day really woke me up. Where do you even start with a gem like that? Hey hon, I found the cuff links, but where did you put my nasal strap? The black Bespoke one. You know what happened last time I went to one of these events without it.

Brian, Andrea – terrific Monday. I especially liked LATIN LOVER and SURE CAN. Oh, and the HIJ/HIJ and the JUL/JUL crosses.

Brookboy 2:59 AM  

Found this one to be easy, even for a Monday. Enjoyed the puzzle, though.

Unlike Rex, I don’t have any objections to any of the Jacks mentioned. I haven’t seen any of the Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow films, but I certainly know the name. Jack Ruby is a strange and sordid person who will always occupy a minor place in American history. His name is valid for a crossword, IMO. And Jack London may have been a racist but he also was an early Socialist and unionist. He was a complex individual who should be judged more in the context of his time and not so much by current PC attitudes.

Besides, he left behind some pretty good reading, not the least of which is the great short story ”To Build a Fire”. I think of that story frequently, especially when I am chilled on a cold winter day. That story alone makes his name valid for inclusion in a puzzle.

All in all, a nice Monday puzzle.

ZenMonkey 3:45 AM  

@Brookboy I hate to break it to you, but racism has never been ok. True story.

Also disagree with OFL in that SURE CAN is a complete sentence with an implied subject of "I".

Have a nice Monday!

'merican in Paris 5:44 AM  

My completion time for this one set a new personal best, but still more than 3 Rexes. Lost 30 seconds hunting for my error, which was due to entering jAG (and jAC -- thought it was a variant of jACk) before ZAG (and ZAC).

To people who have trouble recalling the distinction between SLAV and Serb, the former covers a much larger group of people. "Serb" is just short-hand for a person from Serbia. According to this article, some historians tie the etymology of “SLAVs” to the ancient Indo-European word, slauos, which meant “people.”

Hands up for being a fan of "To build a fire". Since I was a kid (a transplant from central Maine to southern Florida), I've always been fascinated with really cold regions of the world. I learned from that short story a lot about death by hypothermia. As for London's views on race, this part of his Wikipedia bio seems pretty balanced.

I agree with @Katy that we should not malign bats. But rabies is a real thing, and hence anybody who discovers a bat (as I have a couple of times in a house) should be careful when handling them. Even a 1% chance of contracting a sure-fatal disease (if you don't follow up and get the requisite vaccine) is a risk most people would not want to take.

Finally, @Rex writes, "the English prof in me is super annoyed that a fragment is being asked to stand in for a complete sentence. Bah!" That leaves me wondering why the English professor in him, by contrast, accepts a single symbol, the slash (/), to stand in for both conjunctions "or" and "and", which often leads to ambiguity. For example, if somebody invites you to a meeting on December 17/18, are they asking about your availability on only one of the days (or) or both days (and)?

Lewis 5:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 5:53 AM  

Zippy and fun theme idea from Brian and zippy feel overall with Acme's cluing (as usual) for a nice jump start to the week (the constructors' notes tell who did what). As your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must report that this grid has an unusually low double letter count -- four, where anything under five is highly unusual. It's only the fourth time this year.

I did find a Boggle-style PAAR hidden theme answer, starting with the P in SPARROW. This was a crackerjack starter puzzle.

Anonymous 6:12 AM  

Within 5 years, Black Friday will be year long.

michiganman 7:02 AM  

Here is a fun music video from Carly Simon:


Wish I could provide a link but 1)I don't know how, and 2)I don't think the format I use can do that.

Z 7:07 AM  

Don’t ask me. Jack LONDON is not someone I’ve ever read, nor do I plan to. PuhLeeze spare all of us with your “blah blah blah greatest blah blah I read blah blah you must blah blah blah.” I have a great deal on my reading list that I probably won’t get to before I die and great authors keep writing more. As for Jack SPARROW, I can safely say his character appears in the most successful Disney ride based movie franchise ever. And Jack RUBY? Nothing like a cup of conspiracy theory to go along with your morning coffee. At least Jack BLACK gave us this masterpiece (funnier if you recall the original). I like the theme, but, yeah, I could do without three of the four HI JACKS and be just fine.

@TomAZ - “Objection?” That is not how I understand the phrase “you can keep....” More like “not my cuppa” as opposed to “I find this objectionable.” As in, “you can keep your cream and sugar, I take my coffee black.”

5:05 and I felt like I struggled a little (for a Monday). I say this just to annoy a bunch a people, I don’t actually care about my time.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

I am 100% with Rex on what today he calls “quotation mark clues” and in the past he has called “colloquialism equivalency clues”.

I’m in the right age range for all the JACKs to be immediately recognizable. I have to think, though, that BLACK and SPARROW might give problems my generation +1, and RUBY for my generation -1.

Speaking of RUBY, did you know Marina Oswald is still alive? She was only 22 when Lee Harvey was killed.

Z 7:24 AM  

@michiganman’s link

Instructions on how to link in blogger comments

do not use any spaces or commas except where I indicate a space goes

Less than sign, the letter A, space, the letters HREF, equal sign, quote mark (do not use smart quotes), the link, close quote, greater than sign, the text you want to appear, less than sign, @merican’s beloved slash mark, the letter A, the greater than sign.

Bold and Italic work the same way
less than sign letter b greater than sign text you want to appear less than sign slash greater than sign. replace the letter b with the letter i to get italics

Unknown 7:25 AM  

I knew halfway through I’d get my best time ever on this, and sure enough I did. 6:26! I knew almost every single answer as soon as I read each clue; that never happens. SCOTCH tripped me up a little though, which was disappointing because I love the word Kibosh in general and was excited to see it in a clue. Also, I had JAR instead of JUG at first. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

amyyanni 7:29 AM  

Under 8 minutes, which is fast for me. While I enjoy more of a challenge, agree wholeheartedly this is a smashing starter puzzle. Well done! (Constructors implied.)

JOHN X 7:40 AM  

Ever since I was a kid I always wondered how a blimp could demolish a steel lighting structure without getting so much as a dent in its inflated fabric balloon shell.

Jack London is great! Quite a few people here need to read The Sea Wolf because you are a bunch of soft-headed Humps. Wolf Larsen will set you straight. Also Jack Ruby would probably be fun to hang out with unless your name is Lee Harvey Oswald. Free drinks, lots of strippers, and he loved dogs. Has anyone been named "Lee Harvey" since 1963? Jeez probably. I think "Lee Harvey Hitler" would be the worst name you could have, particularly if you were trying to apply for a decent job. Maybe there's a couple that are worse but not many.

HIJACKS was a pretty good theme. D.B. Cooper is my favorite hijacker. Did you know that D.B. Cooper wasn't his real name? It wasn't even his fake name! It was mis-reported in the press and has stuck ever since. Boeing was later forced to modify all B-727 aircraft with a "Cooper Vane" that prevented the rear airstairs from being opened in flight. This guy is a legend! Here's a cool animated gif showing D.B. Cooper jumping from a Boeing 727 that I could watch all day. He get's away every time!

michiganman 7:44 AM  

Thank you.

chefbea 7:58 AM  

what a fun puzzle!!! Thank you ACME....Couln't do yesterday's!!!

JOHN X 8:00 AM  

Dang that stupid link doesn't work! Just go to "Cooper Vane" on Wikipedia and the animated gif is on top. Click to enlarge it is so worth it to set your HIJACKS theme mood for the day. I have it on loop on a giant plasma screen with incense burning on each side and some nice John Tesh New Age music playing softly in the background while I sit on the floor in the Lotus Position and slowly sharpen a machete.

mmorgan 8:24 AM  

@LMS -- loved your take on my nasal strap debacle! Fortunately, now I always keep an extra supply handy so as to avoid that dreadful scenario you describe.

Rob 8:24 AM  

A fine Monday, but isn't 49D: Like ships on the ocean floor clued a bit off? By my reading that should be an adjective, and the adjective is SUNKEN, not SUNK. You would never say SUNK ship, always SUNKEN ship.

There's the Sunk Cost Fallacy, but to my mind that phrase has its roots in business jargon, long famous for brutalizing the language.

John Winger 8:26 AM  

Lee Harvey, you are a madman. When you stole that cow, and your friend tried to make it with the cow. I want to party with you, cowboy. But the two of us together? Forget it! I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I'm gonna volunteer my leadership to this platoon. An army without leaders is like a foot without a big toe. And Sergeant Hulka isn't always gonna be here to be that big toe for us. I think that we owe a big round of applause to our newest, bestest buddy, and big toe... Sergeant Hulka.

Suzie Q 8:31 AM  

When I see Andrea's name above my puzzle I always get ready for some fun. Today was no exception. Then I come here to see how Rex found some fault he could pick at, as he always does with her puzzles.
Glancing through the clues I saw "Watch your___!" and thought Mouth!
There were some nice words today like perusal and musters.
If you are not familiar with old movies I doubt Extra Extra would come easily. We barely have our news on paper anymore much less sold on the street as an extra edition.
I certainly agree about the sentiment on bats getting a bad rap. I find them fascinating.
Another flying friend is the sparrow hawk aka kestrel. A beautiful bird.

Wm. C. 8:32 AM  

I dunno, but having Jack Ruby in the puzzle put me off a bit. Apart from being an assassin who prevented interrogation of Oswald, thereby causing questions of a possible conspiracy (downplayed by the Warren Commission's findings), he was a total low-life, personally and professionally ... with evidence found that he was involved in illegal gambling. narcotics, and prostitution.

OTOH, maybe this isn't much different than the complaints raised when NAZI appears as fill.

Sir Hillary 8:49 AM  

A nice, tidy Monday puzzle -- excellent way to kick off a week.

My wife and I watched "Roma" on Friday. I highly recommended it. One scene features a "Professor" who is portrayed by an ex-wrestler credited as LATINLOVER. I think he was once part of the Mexican wrestling circuit spoofed lovingly by [Jack]BLACK in "Nacho Libre".

@John Winger -- Thanks for that. Made my day. I'm sure chicks dig you, because...well, you know.

OffTheGrid 8:56 AM  

took me a second, great reference.

Crimson Devil 8:57 AM  

Very Mondayish: ‘crosses only.

Hungry Mother 9:00 AM  

Quick, but not my fastest Monday. I alternated acrosses and downs a lot as I moved trhough the grid. Fun times with a nice puzzle.

Jar > Jug 9:00 AM  

Speaking of "get off my yard" oldness, moonshine these days comes in mason or ball jars. I've had enough of the stuff (to varying degrees of tastiness) and never once seen it contained in a "Mountain Dew"-like jug. Maybe back in the days before glass was invented...? ::shakesfistatpuzzle::

As for Jack London being a product of his time (as expressed above), perhaps he was. I grew up in a central plain state where minorities were rare and opinions about them were very wrong. It took me moving out of that state to see how wrong they were and to learn that much of what I took for granted about them was wrong. The thoughts about those people may have been a product of my upbringing, but my responsibility (in this damned "PC world" of ours) was to recognize the need to change my beliefs.

Surely Mr. London had a larger experience than growing up in a highly racist part of the country and saw the bigger world around him. PC or not, seeing people as people is to learn that racism is inane.

GILL I. 9:38 AM  

Stir the pot, @Rex. Your arm is getting really pumped.
Love me some Monday whimsey. Andrea does that. Too bad @Rex always finds a word or a person to harp on. Oh, JACK LONDON was also an ardent socialist. Horrors. While you're at it, why not mention how irresponsible it is to mention Dorothy's beautiful RUBY SLIPPERS in the same breath as a low life assassin. Are we seeing a chink in your armor?
Ah...... good thing we have JOHN X and others, to get me to laugh out loud.
I, too, thought of you @Hartley when I saw the BAT. Every time I see a darling little BAT being bottle fed on a Facebook posting, I share it and I always think of you and the umbrella.
Love me some Don Juan's. They probably don't exist anymore. Is flirting still allowed? Has it gone the way Ovaltine has?

Z 9:39 AM  

@John X’s link. Looks like the copied link is actually for a picture or something on that wiki page. So many ways to make blogger unhappy when you have to type in the html.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

HI, JACK!!!!! It's your day, today, even though I know you'll think this puzzle is as dull and mindless as I do. (I'm talking to someone on the blog, everyone, -- someone with whom I have a HI, JACK email friendship. He'll know who he is, even if none of the rest of you do.)

The fact that I filled this Monday puzzle in in what seemed like a nanosecond leaves me loads of time to continue with the Special Puzzle Section of the Sunday NYT that I began yesterday. Had I not been looking for it, I might have missed it -- it was tucked away in the middle of other sections. But it has a bright red first page. DO NOT MISS IT!!!!!!!!! It's like a treasure trove of a zillion different puzzles of all types and all challenging. This in addition to the terrific Cryptic in the Sunday Magazine. If you don't get the Sunday paper, beg, borrow or steal one. Hours and hours and hours of pleasure await you!

Odd Sock 9:40 AM  

Nice Monday, easy but not without some interesting moments.
The choice of these three Jacks made me stop short when I got to Ruby.
Two actors, an author, and an … assassin?
The less I know about an entertainer's personal views the better.

CDilly52 9:40 AM  

RAN/led, JUG/jar, ZAG, zig, A BIT/a tad: typically I guess incorrectly on all of these “either/or” type possibilities, but this time I hit the “constructor-solver good Karma lottery” and got every single one and in near Monday record time (for me). Can’t comment on the theme because it didn’t register; the success sound chimed when I finished the last Down! Looked back and as many have commented, wasn’t impressed and was put off by Jack RUBY. Overall, though an above-average effort for Monday. Liked it.

Jack Schidt 9:41 AM  

Too bad I didn't make it into the puzzle.
But then, nobody knows me.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Or should that be Hi All!

There's a scene in the movie Airplane! (I think that's right) when a woman sees a man in the airport and yells out, "Hi, Jack!" and promptly gets wrestled to the floor by security.

I liked this puz. Something in the ole brain is making the revealer sorta kinda different to me. I know it's the First Word themer thing, but don't know why it strikes me odd. Hell, maybe it's me that's odd, ya think? 😀

Good puz, two writeovers, tiEd-EVEN, and Lui-LIU, which is one of those never-get-correct-first names. AH ME (A MIE?)


Crimson Devil 10:05 AM  

Heck, it’ll take the prescribed month to complete. Enough for all, some Mondayish others Saturday. Will be curious as to thoughts of OFL et al..

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

one author, one fictional character, one actor, one assassin

SouthsideJohnny 10:20 AM  

I went through this puzzle clue-by-clue, knew almost all of them, and filled in the answers at a pretty brisk pace. It still took me ten minutes ! How does anyone even enter all of the answers in three minutes ? It took me two minutes and change to do the mini !

Lewis 10:21 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Lead-in to T, A, or X (5)
2. Things used on bridges to ease congestion (11)
3 One with big shoes to fill (6)
4. Gathering where burping is encouraged (15)
5. King's speech (6)


Anonymous 10:23 AM  

New Monday record - 5:57 :-)

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Easy and fun. Great for a Monday. Thanks very much, Mr. Thomas and Ms. Michaels.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

My two favorite comments on the blog so far -- both pithy -- are @Robin's (1:10 a.m.) and @Anon (6:12).

Preferred Customer 10:30 AM  

Before painting Jack London as an unalloyed racist, read the Wikipedia link in @'merican.

Read about plagiarism above that as well He was pretty controversial, and may not have been completely worthy of admiration, but in his views and writing on race he appears to have been self aware enough to realize it was baseless prejudice.

You may still condemn him for it, but maybe not.


Peter P 10:40 AM  

Woo hoo!!! Fastest time ever, by a clip. I didn't think I could possibly solve a puzzle in much under 5 minutes (my previous record was 4:57, so I have done it once), and I got a 4:07 on this one. I could have actually broken the four minute mark if I didn't have to spend time fixing my typos, stupid fat fingers! Of course, this just makes Rex's solve times even more incredible to me, as I felt I was just dropping words left and right here with barely time for thought, so decreasing it by a full minute or more seems absolutely insane to me.

Weird thing is, I have no memory of the puzzle now, so no thoughts about the quality of the cluing other than the fill was more a reflex than involving any thinking.

jberg 10:49 AM  

Nice puzzle -- I loved the little JJZ diagonal (didn't notice the HIJ/HIJ until I read @Loren.

A few years ago I was for some reason planning to teach a class about the problems of an unlimited drive for profits, and some alternative forms of business organizations (consumer coops, worker coops, B corps, etc.), and was thinking to say that coops were just as subject to the drive for profits as anyone as regular corporations. While I was outlining this, I got an REI announcing that they would close all their stores on BLACK FRIDAY because they were appalled by the excessive commercialism, and especially by the exploitation of workers involved. It brought tears to my eyes, and still does.lE,

My biggest problem was that Pizazz clue. I started with StylE, then switched to SPunk to accomodate a cooking pan, and finally got to SPICE from BLACK FRIDAY.

To those wanting to know how to embed links, see Rex's FAQs. Or @Z's instructions, but sometimes you need to compare two sources if you are making a mistake and can't find it.

btgrover 11:01 AM  

Feel like moonshine container shoulda been JAR, not JUG, cost me 30 seconds finding and fixing, but that’s a minor quibble for a solid Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Czechs are Slavs. Ethnically, they are Germanic.

Masked and Anonymous 11:36 AM  

So, SQUATTHRUSTS woulda been a cool extra(extra) themer.

Good MonPuz, with a little edge to it. Revealer really gave it some primo oomph.

staff weeject pick: FRO. Reminded m&e of (Jack) FRO(st). Luvly weeject stacks in the NW & SE, btw.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Bro's sibling} = SIS. There weren't too many mooers in this puz, tho. Which is fine by M&A.


Thanx, ACME darlin & Mr. Thomas. Y'all do good gangin-up-on-us work.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Banana Diaquiri 11:49 AM  

methinks @White Rushin's ice cream cone hat is just a tad atilt. :(

Doc John 12:16 PM  

I'm sure that as soon as Rex saw Andrea's name on the puzzle he was thinking of ways to rip at it. I thought it was a fun offering from her; more challenging from the norm, too.
- All the Jacks are jerks! Oh, wait a minute, Jack Black could be a cool guy. And OFL still hasn't said what makes Jack Sparrow such a jerk (unless it's the fact that he's played by Johnny Depp, who has his own problems). Speaking of Jack Sparrow, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Shanghai Disneyland is awesome, makes the others look like cheap carnival rides! But I digress- Jack London has his history and Jack Ruby definitely goes in the negative column. So let's fill our column with nice people who have ONLY done good and nice things for everyone. Oh wait, that leaves no one ever.
- Whines about SCOTCH. The answer and the clue both fit together perfectly. But boo hoo, he doesn't like that word.

Maybe Rex should delegate the column to another writer when Andrea does the puzzle.
At least the writeup was saved by the inclusion of "Black Friday" from Katy Lied, from arguably Steely Dan's best album.

Joe Bleaux 12:22 PM  

No comment on an OK Monday puzzle ... just thanks to @Z for the step-by-step on boldfacing and italicizing, and to @LMS for today's avatar (which I interpreted as a nod to the theme, namely a jackass mocking an afflicted reporter).

mmorgan 12:29 PM  

I just received an email from the University of Oklahoma Press announcing a new book -- "ChupaCabra Meets Billy the Kid" -- by Rudolfo Anaya.

Among many other works, Anaya is also the author of the 2006 children's book, "The Curse of the ChupaCabra," and the 2008 "ChupaCabra and the Roswell UFO."

So, next time, CHUPACABRA should be a gimme for everyone!

QuasiMojo 12:55 PM  

What about Jack Frost, who’s nipping at my nose? Or Jack Wild from Oliver? Or Jack Daniel which is what I used to hope Santa would leave me under the tree. Now I get Jack cheese. I’ve never heard of Jack Sparrow or Jack Black. But I certainly remember Ruby. Fun factoid: Dorothy’s slippers in the Baum book were not ruby-encrusted. They were silver. Okay Monday puzzle even if the idea of making light of hijacking seems in questionable taste. @Nancy, that Cryptic yesterday was a doozy! I found it challenging. Especially the “brains” clue!

Carola 12:59 PM  

Clever and witty, with a very nicely hidden theme. I did the puzzle Acrosses only and had to leave 39A blank. I could come up with absolutely no commonality among the theme answers, so the reveal, the last thing in, was a delightful surprise. I'm with @Wm C. on JACK Ruby, though. Kind of took the bloom off the puzzle for me, not because his name shouldn't be in a crossword but because of the cheery greeting.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I finished this a bit under my Monday average but my brain really tried hard to extend my solve time. "A tad" before A BIT. My constant misspelling of Lucy Lui, I mean LIU's last name. Missing the "tops" part of "desktops" in the 26D clue and putting in IKEA in as a big name in desks off the starting I. And LADEd before LADEN kept OPENED from opening for a while at 71A. I wanted to cross SCOTCH with "soda" in the east but no one drinks Ssotch.

Fun theme that I needed the revealer to tie together. Nice job Brian Thomas and ACME.

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Strangly, Rex didn't object to "fro" for hendricks or the fact that we had Hijab crossing with hijack. Maybe Rex isn't sensitive enough.

Anonymous 2:18 PM  

You do realize that nobody asked you, right?

I'm with you London is fabulous.

Chloe's Dad 4:21 PM  

Finally solved a Monday puzzle. Third one this year. Helps when there is a theme. Of course you’ve figured out I’m an across clues only solver on Mondays. Give it a try.

Nancy 4:39 PM  

Ah, yes, BATS. Who knew that they would be as big a bone of contention today as Jack Ruby. I'm with @GILL and @'mericans and of course poor @Hartley and her under-the-umbrella-face-to-face-with-a-bat ordeal. She's not on the blog today -- probably hiding under the covers. As for @Katy and @Suzie Q -- I so deeply respect your apparent appreciation for BATS that I'm prepared to give you all mine, should one or more of them see fit to enter my life.

I loved the Cryptic "brains" clue, too, @Quasi. But it was 14D that gave me the most trouble. I had the answer based on the definition part, but had to go to a [gasp!] different blog for help in parsing out the cryptic part of the clue. My favorite clues were 25A and 15D.

QuasiMojo 6:03 PM  

@Nancy thanks for the clues you liked in the Cryptic. Turns out I had a DNF on 15D. Lol. One letter off. The 6th. Ah well...

Aketi 6:21 PM  

Pretty clear that many of the commenters would prefer to say “Hit the road” to some of the JACKs (and the BAT), than “HI”.

@Quasi, JACK SPRAT seems pretty innocuous.

Monkey JACKs are one of the toughest exercises I can think of.

I actually do have a colleague, Tim Stone, who was killed in a HI JACKing in 1996 in an Ethiopian Air flight that crashed near the Comoros. I don’t mind the reference because it brings back good memories of what an excellent, yet humble, facilitator he was. He had an amazing knack for transforming the typical top down international development conferences where the experts would tell the locals that to do regardless of whether their suggestions were appropriate or pragmatic. He had a way of drawing out the best ideas of locals and redirecting the experts into judiciously applying their knowledge to hone, but not take over, the local programs. May he RIP. I wish more people had his communications skills. Just found out he has a memorial fund for interns in international development so that put a smile on my face.

Z 7:50 PM  

Apparently more than a little racist. Remember, Wikipedia is a good place to start, but maybe a little extra digging was called for, eh? Oh,look, a book about it. Just a wild idea here, when a person who's PhD is in literature and whose day job is in literature and said person makes a sweeping statement about literature there is maybe at least a little bit of credibility to said sweeping statement. That doesn't mean we have to accept it whole cloth, but maybe acknowledge they know a little bit about what they are talking about.

Dan Feyer solving a Monday Puzzle in 1:24. I can't run a four minute mile, but it doesn't mean it can't be done.

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

Z is the Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Rexworld.

Anonymous 8:51 PM  

My brothers dissertation was on London. Ill take his perspective over professor comic book any day. He says London is second only to Hawthorne in American letters. Thanks for playing, though.

Anonymous 8:57 PM  

You admit youve never read Jack London and are willing to parrot OFL's opinion Wow. You might want to read his works before condemning him.
Oh wait, youre on Team Rex, woke and ready to kiss keister.
Enjoy it bud. Me? I think I'll reread To Build a Fire. Its just shy of a miracle of prose.

Brookboy 9:00 PM  

@Zenmonkey - 3:45 AM

I hate to break it to you that I wasn’t defending racism, I was talking about judging someone more in the context of his era than by current standards. Should he have been a racist? No, he shouldn’t. Never suggested that he should or that it was OK. I suggested that we take a more tolerant view of someone from a different era and a different culture. I don’t think his racism changes the fact that he wrote some pretty good stuff.

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

I suppose there’s an argument that Jack London was a racist. There’s also an argument that Mark Twain was a racist. Also Shakespeare and Chaucer; the list is infinite. Shall we flush them all down the memory hole ?

Crimson Devil 9:40 PM  

We all need T shirts “I know Jack Shit”.

Franklin 10:50 PM  

I don’t think the list is infinite but Charles Schultz (the Peanuts guy) has been accused of racism. He should totally be banned from the puzzle.

albatross shell 11:00 PM  

@z 7:50pm
Not sure if you are being subtle or devious, but if you are not and are just making the point that your 2 links are evidence of London's pervasive and unrepentant racism, then I suggest you read the comment section on the article and the description of the book. You will find much that will surprise you.

Clark 11:23 PM  

We had a run in with a rabid bat a couple years back. It was flying around the bedroom. Our youngest cat Lili knocked it to the ground a couple times and tangled with it. I eventually trapped it and had it tested (which meant death for the bat). It was indeed rabid. That meant a booster shot for Lili, and the full treatment for the humans in the house. (There is no way to know whether we were bitten while sleeping. Bat teeth are tiny.) The shots (three rounds) are not so bad. But if you're uninsured it will cost you an arm and a leg.

I am told that it is very unlikely that any particular bat is rabid. But so far I am batting a thousand. The pun was unintended, but I'll take it.

Scrag LEE 1:11 AM  

A fine response.

thefogman 9:49 AM  

Forget about BLACKFRIDAY or even Black Sunday. Today is Blue Monday - which is officially the most depressing day of the year. If you're feeling ABIT down, that could be why.

It was a fine puzzle. EXTRAEXTRA easy, but perfect for new solvers. It SCORES high for a Monday.

Burma Shave 11:07 AM  


when he SCORES with his AMIE,
when he's ABLE to ORALB.


spacecraft 11:21 AM  

I tried doing this one across only; it was interesting. I'll admit to reading a down clue here and there--in the SCOTCH area, e.g. I know this word as defined, but its use isn't all that common and it didn't occur for ABIT.

Easy and cute, as per @ACME. If she graced this page today, her handle would probably be ASHEN CABAL MUSTERS. I miss ya, sweetie.

A pleasant little Monday romp, with a cool theme. I will not visit the London racist topic, except to plead with one and all: PLEASE, don't EVER suggest, even in fun, that OFL is not sensitive enough!!

DOD is the seemingly ageless Lucy LIU; what a career! No reason I can think of not to start this round out with a birdie (note: I have given up on EKES; it seems to be here to STAY).

rondo 1:01 PM  

Yep, they're all JACKS, of one trade or another. No write-overs in about2.5 Rexes.

I was feeling upbeat until a PERUSAL of OFL's comments. To point out JACK LONDON as racist serves no purpose here. Most folks will remember his stories of rugged individualism, just as they remember Thomas Jefferson's patriotism. Not every notable American will be nominated for sainthood and you can't erase them from history. Enough of that.


I've never found JACK BLACK to be particularly entertaining. To each. . .

Just saw a rerun of Elementary with yeah baby Lucy LIU last night.

Good SCORES for this Mon-puz.

Diana, LIW 1:06 PM  

Of course, it's also MLK Day, and the day after the lunar eclipse, for those of you who were lucky enuf to have a cloud-free sky last evening.

Monday-EZ puzzle, with an apt theme for a beginner. As a protector of the Monday Puzzle, I approve.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswo9ds

leftcoastTAM 2:03 PM  

HI JACK is something I could say, but probably would not have said to the late Mr. RUBY. Except for that off-beat downer, a good start to the week.

dougl 2:07 PM  

I love your Little Debbie story. Makes me want to mail you one now!

thefogman 2:26 PM  

PS - Did anyone try the Monday New Yorker puzzle? Overall it was medium challenging, but the NW corner was tough to solve.

rainforest 3:04 PM  

Easy is one thing, but I flew, whizzed, ran rampant through this, mostly on acrosses-only. That doesn't mean I didn't like it (I'm not @Nancy) though. Good Monday solve.

Nice theme, excellent revealer, and all 4 JACKS are significant in different ways. I've read JACK LONDON since Grade 5 (White Fang) and he is a great writer. Maybe he was racist, but so were all, or most, of the American Founders. Anyway, I don't really care. I do think JACK BLACK is immensely talented as an actor and musician. JACK RUBY totally messed up the conspiracy issue, and I've laughed at JACK SPARROW. I'd say HI to any of them.

Just so you know, SURREY is also a city just outside of Vancouver. Bit of info for you.
Good start to the week.

rondo 4:55 PM  

JACK White (of the White Stripes), OTOH, has some musical talent, with a dozen or so Grammys, and he produces other recording artists. Trouble is, so does Dan Auerbach (of the BLACK Keys). Between them it seems they won't stop until every other band or artist sounds like them. A lotta feedback and/or fuzz.

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