Vegetarian spaghetti topper / MON 2-18-19 / Coastal county of England / Material for rock climber's harness

Monday, February 18, 2019

Constructor: Leslie Rogers and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:01)

THEME: CAP AND GOWN (59A: Graduation garb ... or what the compound answers to 17-, 28- and 44-Across represent?) — first word can precede "CAP," second word can precede "GOWN," in familiar phrases:

Theme answers:
  • "NIGHT NIGHT!" (17A: "Sleep well!")
  • "WHITE WEDDING" (28A: Billy Idol hit that starts "Hey little sister, what have you done?"
  • MUSHROOM BALL (44A: Vegetarian spaghetti topper)
Word of the Day: ANNE Hathaway (19A: Actress Hathaway of "The Devil Wears Prada")
Anne Jacqueline Hathaway (born November 12, 1982) is an American actress and singer. One of the world's highest-paid actresses in 2015, she has received multiple awards, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a British Academy Film Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award. Her films have earned $6.4 billion worldwide, and she appeared in the Forbes Celebrity 100 in 2009. [...] In 2012, Hathaway starred as Selina Kyle in her highest-grossing film The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in The Dark Knight trilogy. That year, she also played Fantine, a prostitute dying of tuberculosis, in the musical romantic drama Les Misérables, for which she earned multiple accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She went on to play a scientist in the science fiction film Interstellar (2014), the owner of an online fashion site in the comedy film The Intern (2015), the White Queen—a role she first played in Alice in Wonderland (2010)—in Alice Through the Looking Glass(2016) and a haughty actress in the heist film Ocean's 8 (2018). Hathaway has also won an Emmy Award for providing her voice in The Simpsons, sung for soundtracks, appeared on stage, and hosted events. (wikipedia)
• • •

I made every mistake I could make in this one—OHO for OOH, EPSON for EPSOM, EVADE for ELUDE, ALOT for ATON, probably other stuff too—so was mildly annoyed by the end of it all, but then I got to the revealer and proceeded to check it against the theme answers, starting from the bottom of the grid and moving up. First one, MUSHROOM BALL: "Oh, nice, first is a cap, second is a gown ... never heard of a MUSHROOM BALL in my life, and I eat heaps of vegetarian food, but OK, I'm sure it's real, I'll allow it, moving on ... WHITE WEDDING! Oh, nice. Much tighter phrase, and ... yep, "white cap," "wedding ball," totally checks out. Nice ... OK, and last on the list ..." At this point I literally laughed out loud. "NIGHT NIGHT" ... is both an answer that has totally given up ("Screw this two-different-words stuff, let's just use the same word for both answers!"), and the best answer in the grid. Somehow finishing with the revealer, then reading backward through the themers, and ending up at the first themer, seen in this totally new light ... it was the perfect way to experience this puzzle. The rest of the grid ... I don't know, it seems fine. But the theme is where the party's at. Loopy and dead-on—a good combo.

[there's a "WHITE WEDDING Pt. 2???]

Well, it turns out I don't have much else to say about this one. So ... NIGHT NIGHT, I guess!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Cory Calhoun 1:59 AM  

Two more women crossword constructors to add to your running 2019 tally!

chefwen 2:02 AM  

What a fantastic Monday puzzle. Congratulations on your debut Leslie Rogers and I except nothing less than excellent from our Queen of Mondays, Andrea. I didn’t race through this like a usual Monday, but savored it.

After all was said and done matching up all the long answers with the reveal was icing on the cake.


Bill Jackson 2:06 AM  

Look at that Rex! TWO chick constructors! Mark it on your chalkboard!

jae 2:07 AM  

Medium. Exactly what @Rex said. Liked it!

Joe Dipinto 2:28 AM  

...yep, "white cap," "wedding ball," totally checks out.

You mean "wedding gown".

CDilly52 3:51 AM  

I seem to be on a tear of fast solves for the themed puzzles and not paying attention to, and not getting the theme. Well, this one stopped me in my tracks at MUSHROOM BALL. Like OFL, never heard of such a thing and it just sounds forced off the tongue. Spaghetti and MUSHROOM BALLs, ! please. Veggie balls sounds better, probably because we are accustomed to veggie burgers. It is a thing; I stand humbly corrected.

I was somewhat concerned early on that we were going to venture into the world of creepy crawlers. My mom and grandmother both used to say “NIGHT NIGHT, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” so I thought after the first themed that we would see some sort of bug theme and was happy not to. Happy Presidents‘ Day to everyone.

Aketi 5:01 AM  

Our nearby vegetarian restaurant serves spaghetti and wheat BALLs, but not MUSHROOM BALLs. @CDilly52 spaghetti and wheat BALLs may sound even better, but I think my taste buds would prefer the MUSHROOM version.

Lewis 6:26 AM  

This puzzle is bright in two ways -- it has spark, and it has smarts. As with all of Acme's puzzles, it feels upbeat. Then you add the quirky theme -- this is not a low-hanging-fruit theme; Andrea or Leslie, pop in here and tell us how this theme came to you! A lovely collaboration, Acme's experience, and Leslie's ideas and computer experience (she wrote a script to generate theme answer possibilities). A great solving moment for me, figuring out the theme. A CAP AND GOWN Monday, deserving of a MOC (Masters of Construction) degree.

Loren Muse Smith 6:27 AM  

Hah! NIGHT NIGHT has to be in the themer hall of fame. What a find. As is my wont, I try to postpone seeing the reveal until the very end and try to divine what’s going on. Not today, buddy. So when I got CAP AND GOWN and went back to check the themers, I laughed at NIGHT NIGHT. Terrific Monday puzzle, you two!

MUSHROOM BALL was new to this carnivore, too. SCREWBALL coulda been fun. But too short.

I liked the sly little reference to a Prada GOWN in ANNE’s clue. ANNE crosses OBNOXIOUS. Please tell me the story about her diva behavior in some restaurant involving sending several eggs back is not true. I have to have ANNE being all nice and humble. Not stuck up and uppity.

AMIDST. Hmm. I think I’d say amid. Towards/toward… while/whilst. I guess the ones with more letters are Britishsome? Or they just have a snob appeal? I proofed one of my daughter’s vet school application essays, and she used whilst. I asked her about it ‘cause it felt to show-offy, but she said she likes using that when she writes. (And she can flat write.) I was stunned and jealous. I can’t even say the word without looking up its pronunciation. She reads a lot, though, reads books that are Good books and not the accessible page-turners I buy. Like, she goes for book club books and stuff by Japanese authors. I enjoy Grisham and Baldacci. Dan Brown.

COOPS. I’ve shared the story about telling the guy at the body shop that his calendar that said Wirt County Farmers Coop should have a diaeresis over the second o in coop so people could understand it was co-op and not just coop... Know your audience, people. A spectacular face-plant of a moment for me.

@steve from late last night. I think we’re soul mates. Our secret password handshake will be “faux highbrow nit-picking” (henceforth fhnp). Not just fhnping puzzles, but fhnping everything. Grammar, food, wine, tv (or its very existence), music… Have your people get in touch with my people. We’ll be low-brow buddies and proud of it. (But if I’m actually one of the self-absorbed preeners you were referring to, then never mind. Oops.)

Ready, willing, and ABLE. Sheesh. How many of us have the first two parts down just fine? It’s just the ABLE part that is elusive. I’m ready and willing to do that harnessed bouncy mall trampoline thing, but I’m afraid I’m too old and wouldn’t really be able to nail it gracefully. Then onlookers would have to suddenly be looking in their purses and checking their phones as I dismounted, you know, so as not to add to my shame.

@imsdave – I’m ready and willing to do the talent show at the ACPT. I still think it’s the ABLE part you’re afraid of for me. Fair enough. But who cares? We’d be amongst friends…

Hungry Mother 6:27 AM  

A bit on the slow side for me as I had to resort to lots of downs. MUSHROOMBALL?

Music Man 6:54 AM  

Music Trivia: 28A, “WHITE WEDDING” by Billy Idol. Surprisingly, the song only peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in July, 1983. Billy’s first Top 10 hit, “EYES WITHOUT A FACE” came a year later, in 1984.

QuasiMojo 7:12 AM  

I did the puzzle sure that the theme was times or places one wears a Cap and Gown. At night in bed. Think Scrooge. At a wedding. Think old-fashioned ceremonies. And at a ball. Think Cinderella. I had no idea of the much better theme the constructors cooked up.

We had a discussion before about an almond actually being a drupe not a nut.

@Loren, Your joke about “coöp” is a PARODY of fussy mistaken know-it-alls, right? I rarely can tell with your posts.

@Rex (or Z) What method is used to choose the Word of the Day? There seems to be nothing remarkable about ANNE or Anne Hathaway. She is in the puzzle often.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

It's so reassuring to know you sometimes use the revealer :)

jsloate 8:01 AM  

Hi Rex,
For your tally please add 2. Todays puzzle was constructed by Leslie and Andrea. This is Leslie's debut as a crossword constructor.
Judy S
Boca Raton

chefbea 8:03 AM  

Fun puzzle !!! thanks Andea and Leslie

CDilly52 8:04 AM  

Hey, Mama, ain’t no shame. Whilst you are lost amidst the popular pages, you raised a daughter headed for vet school, likely the most competitive school in which to gain entry. Congrats to you both.

Bruce R 8:07 AM  

Have we gotten to the point where we no longer need to get excited if a female constructs the xword? I think we have. Also, before complaining about the lack of female constructors, don't you need to know the percentage of puzzles that are submitted by females? Maybe the published percentage is consistent with the submitted percentage.

John H 8:23 AM  

Loved this pretty much the same way Rex did.

But its every NYT puzzle now required to include Alou?I don't have the energy (or the real interest) to go back through the puzzles but it seems like there has been an Alou clue every day for a week or more.

@merican in Paris 8:28 AM  

Did this one on paper (Mrs. @mericans took the iPad again), and it took me a medium amount of time. Made several of the write-overs that @Rex did, but had ATTESTS before A TON, so didn't make that error.

Nice debut. And, like many who have already commented, I've never heard of a MUSHROOM BALL, but it was easily gettable from the downs.

@LMS -- Regarding "whilst" (and "amongst") -- I never heard these words before I moved to Europe in the early 1980s. Brits certainly like to use them, but most cannot explain when to use "while" and when to use "whilst". I think that at least some of them, and an increasing number of 'mericans (unfortunately), think that "whilst" sounds more erudite. Baloney. It sounds posh, and in the reports over which I had editorial control, "whilst" and "amongst" were bannished. Three decades ago, a writer on The Independent newspaper's op-ed page claimed that "whilst" and "amongst" should be used when discussing abstract concepts -- for example, amongst competing ideas, but among countries -- but nobody else has ever confirmed that rule for me. (I have no strong feelings on AMIDST vs. AMID, by the way.)

As for COOPS versus CO-OPS, I believe in judicious punctuation, and the hyphen helps guide people in pronunciation. The important operative question for me, as always, is not "How many nanoseconds does it take the writer?", but how many aggregate wasted seconds or even minutes does it take the writer's dozens, or hundreds, or millions of readers to figure out what the writer meant that could have been saved if he or she had bothered to avoid potential ambiguity? Where I used to work, the in-house style guide called for always hyphenating such words (so, "agricultural co-ops", "co-operation", "co-ordination", etc.).

Following up from yesterday:

@Unknown 7:50 AM & @chuck w 4:13 PM -- Thanks for filling me in. I guess I should have guessed that the answer was a brand name. It's not one that is used on this side of the pond.

@old timer -- Absolutely! Probably the best spaghetti alla vongole Mrs. @mercians and I have ever eaten was in a local eatery on the thin, outer-island Venetian fishing village of Palestrina. Our spaghetti was covered with little clams harvested fresh from the lagoon, and we washed it down with a cheap but very drinkable carafe of the local white. And, like you, we love exploring Venetian streets to their end, which often terminate at some boat dock. There is simply no other place in the world like it. Friends who have never been there ask why we keep returning. Because of its history. Because it represents an alternative universe. Because my wife and I are fans of the crime writer Donna Leon. Because, because, because ... .

Dorothy Biggs 8:31 AM  

Bruce R, I'm just going to figure you're a troll looking for some kind of response. Or, you're old and think that anonymous posting of controversial drivel will 23 skedoo or something. Or you're 30, still living in your parent's basement and you post on 4-chan.

Remember kids, don't feed the trolls. Moving on.

My SO loved the puzzle and at 42 still says NIGHTNIGHT. Coincidence?

We both blew through this puzzle so fast for me that I didn't see half of the clues.

QuasiMojo 8:43 AM  

P.S. lest my tone is misconstrued, @Loren, your anecdote did make me laugh. At Nancy, yesterday, regarding magic act. I thought the use of “mo” was suspect to. Is it for “the Big Mo’” as in Bush I, or as in “slo-mo”?

Sir Hillary 8:50 AM  

Big props to whomever figured out there was a theme to be made from CAPANDGOWN.


The TOWEL clue made me chuckle.

Never in my life have I heard of a MUSHROOMBALL, but I'm not a vegetarian so I'll assume it's more than just a convenient crossword answer.

This puzzle is both SENSE ABLE and EWES ABLE. NICE work!

Z 8:52 AM  

This is a perfect example of the less is more concept. Three themers and a reveal, which means the fill isn’t forced. The theme hangs together, there’s that chuckle we all seem to have gotten when we saw NIGHT-NIGHT work, and not a single groan at the short fill, or that feeling of mounting dread of “what dreck is next” when constructors try to do too much. A master class in a well-balanced Monday.

Rex has been counting co-constructors as 1/2, so today’s puzzle only ups the count by 1.

@LMS - regarding @steve... I’m easily bemused, so bemused was I upon reading a long nit-picking of our nit-picking. I thought I was the crown prince of meta-nit-picking, but I see I have competition.

@QuasiMojo - All I got is nothing. ALAN Shepard or Henrik IBSEN or PASEO all seem more WoD worthy to me. Rex rarely reads comments so I doubt he will explain.

@Bruce R - No. No. And is actually evidence of systemic sexism. Thanks for coming in late to the discussion.

I’m waiting for someone to pipe up and explain how Rex only likes this puzzle because the constructors are his friends.

mmorgan 8:55 AM  

Superb puzzle. Yay ACME and congrats Leslie!


In her late 90s, my mother got in the habit (even though her mind was 100% perfect) of saying “Night night” for “goodbye” at any time of day. Even early in the morning. She was just tired and took a lot of naps.

GILL I. 8:59 AM  

A Monday, like a simple delicious breakfast to start the day. Andrea knows how to dish them out. I always look forward to her puzzles and now I'm going to look for some more from Leslie Rogers'.
Speaking of the perfect breakfast - I like to start my day with fresh squeezed oranges. This theme is fresh - certainly not out of a can. And speaking of breakfast and ANNE Hathaway being OBNOXIOUS - I was going through my daily dose of entertainment and lo and behold, @Loren, she has been given that title. Evidently her poached eggs, muffins and avocado were not to her liking. She sent them back 4 times - egg too runny, toast cold, avocado not green enough. I don't know....People who have control over my food are not to be messed with. You never know if you might wake up with a rash in your nethers.
I've heard MUSHROOM BALL but it usually ends with an S. Nobody likes just one.
I like the Low-tech hair dryer clue for TOWEL. Mine usually entails sitting out on the porch hoping for a strong wind.

Z 9:04 AM  

@LMS & @‘mericans - Etymology Online says that final T is “unetymological.” I don’t quite know what that word means, but that T has been around since the 1500’s, apparently. I picked the entry with the most links to similar words, but it’s the same story for whilst, amongst, and AMIDST.

Mark Tebeau 9:04 AM  

Excellent puzzle but MUSHROOM BALL? Really. I'm not even sure that self respecting vegetarians would have those. Now if the constructor was referencing Super Mario... that would be different. But eminently discernable from the surrounds.

WHITE WEDDING and NIGHT NIGHT were fun and perfect. Very little in this puzzle was OBNOXIOUS.

Not sure why so many folks complain about Rex. But when he's right, he's right.

Loren Muse Smith 9:12 AM  

@quasi – no joke. I did actually point to the calendar in the poor guy’s office. He was on hold with the insurance company (I had just hit my second deer), and since it was quiet… I mean, I thought I’d just fill the silence with a nifty little diacritics lesson. When I finished, he didn’t react. At all. Just stared at me with the phone to his ear. You think he could have at least nodded politely, right?

@Z – I was thinking more of that person who leads with I don’t even own a tv, who disparages the miraculously glorious Big Mac, who sneers at “incorrect” usage so as to firmly distance themselves from me and the rest of the unwashed… Since you’re a fellow descriptivist, you never entered my mind.

Linda Vale 9:16 AM  

Leslie Nielsen
Andrea Bocelli

Both men.

@merican in Paris 9:22 AM  

Um, thanks @Z. Merriam Websters defines unetymological as "not based on or in accordance with etymology". Gee, that's helpful. In any case, I wasn't disputing the antiquity of the "-t" ending, just observing that, to this American OF's ears, it sounds ostentatious. Interestingly, Google shows a long decline of usage for "whilst" since a peak just before 1850, but a recent slight uptick during the last decade.

kitshef 9:25 AM  

After your WHITE WEDDING, are you A-WED?

Wanted some kind of vegan parmesan substitute for my spaghetti topper. MUSHROOM BALL doesn’t sound any more appetizing.

WHITE WEDDING is my favorite song of 1982 and nothing else is really close except for a couple of Go-Go’s songs. Re-released in 1983 it faced much tougher competition. Come Dancing, Lawyers in Love, Twilight Zone, Goodbye to You, Allentown …

TSG 9:28 AM  

It's a Nice Day For a Light Sweater. It's a Nice Day For a Cardigan!

kitshef 9:37 AM  

AMIDST was the more commonly used word until about 1850, when amid took over.

Glenn Patton 9:52 AM  

It's well worth reading the Wordplay blog today to learn how this collaboration and this puzzle came to be.

Nancy 9:52 AM  

So it's not that I didn't give a thought to what the revealer might be (though I often don't). At NIGHT NIGHT I thought: "Oh, repeating words." At NIGHT NIGHT plus WHITE WEDDING I thought: "Oh, the first words are all ITE-rhyming words." At MUSHROOM BALL I thought: "Now I have no idea what the theme is."

So CAP AND GOWN provided something of an "Aha" moment. Unfortunately, it was an after-the-fact "Aha" moment and a pretty mild one at that. I'm wondering if any of you picked up the theme prior to seeing the revealer? I'd lay odds on the bet that nobody did, nobody at all. Not even @Tita, who has said that she always tries to do just that.

A couple of nice clues. I liked TOE, and the TOWEL clue/answer (52D) was especially beloved by low-tech me. A pleasant Monday, but with no real challenge anywhere.

sg911911 9:59 AM  

This is a first- I finished a puzzle faster than you! Thanks for your side, I read it every day.

jberg 10:19 AM  

I've learned to start trying to figure out the theme as soon as I get what looks like a theme answer; it's more fun (for me) that way. So I got NIGHT NIGHT and thought, "oh, it's going to be double words." Then I got WHITE WEDDING and realized it was actually something about rhyming first words, or maybe mixing them up like "wedding night" and "white night" (St. Petersburg phenomenon). Then I got MUSHROOM and was looking for a 4-letter sauce (luckily, I didn't think of "ragu" in time). Finally, I got the revealer, and was both AWED and flabbergasted (not at all the same meaning in my mind). In other words, terrific theme!

@Quasi, aside from heart-warming or tear-jerking stories about her students, or accounts of teacher activism, I always assume any story @Loren tells is a parody even (this is important) if it is also true.

And speaking of Loren, great avatar today!

All the MUSHROOM BALL recipes I can find have egg in them -- does that count as vegetarian? Now that we call things vegan, has that led to a broadening of vegetarianism? We used to say "ovo-lacto vegetarian" to indicate that it wasn't quite authentic vegetarianism.

@John Hnedak, you have to bear in mind that there are three of those ALOU guys, so they have to appear three times as often as Mel Ott.

jberg 10:21 AM  

@Nancy, I think your post cleared moderation while I was writing mine, so I involuntarily plagiarized you. We had very similar solving experiences.

Nancy 10:37 AM  

Wonderful comments today so far.

@'merican (8:28)-- I loved your long, thoughtful, interesting post (always enjoy reading you, always!) and agree with you completely about using punctuation to make the text as clear as you possibly can. I'm not entirely sure what that job was that you mention; I just know that you were obviously damned good it it. I also loved your description of Venice. I'm not the world-traveler that you are -- not by a long shot -- but I've been to Venice several times and agree that it's "unlike any other place in the world." It is. It's magical. For me, maybe part of it is my visceral hatred of the automobile. So wonderful to be in a place where there aren't any. Only boats. I love boats.

@Quasi (8:48) -- Yesssss! I forgot MO! That's not a word, either. DE and MO! That explains it!!!!! (I think).

@kitshef (9:25) -- I loved A-WED.

@Glad that @Sir Hillary and @GILL also liked TOWEL. Neat last sentence, @Sir Hillary. And GILL, I'm off now to look up ANNE Hathaway and her breakfast tantrum. I had no idea she was a diva. You learn such interesting things on this blog!

Lewis 10:40 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Whipper snapper? (10)
2. Bob's relative (8)
3. Third character to appear in Macbeth (3)
4. Cover letters for certain applications? (3)
5. Moving vehicle (3)


Odd Sock 10:43 AM  

@ Rex must have been torn on how to review this.
Do I shred Andrea's puzzle as I love to do or do I wave my male feminist flag? The agony must have been unbearable.

Austenlover 10:44 AM  

My husband likes to buy Polo shirts when we travel as souvenirs of places we’ve visited. The ones from the UK always instruct us to “reshape whilst damp” and lay flat to dry. I think “whilst” is just Britspeak for “while” and there’s no distinction between the two words.

Nancy 10:59 AM  

@Jberg (10:21) -- My flippant, good-natured answer is: "You can *plagiarize* me anytime, @jberg. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." But I actually have a non-flippant, very sincere answer that is key to my Rexblog philosophy. To wit:

I want to know how each solver reacts to the puzzle viscerally and *in the moment* -- not as filtered through the lens of 56 earlier comments: "Oh, that's been said! And that! And that! And that!" That would leave the later commenters (of which I am unfortunately one, btw) with absolutely nothing at all left to say. The blog would be the poorer for it. As you know, I write and post my first comment without having read anyone. I always assume that my "take" on the puzzle will be unique to me -- and often it is. But not always. Which is to be expected. After all: "There's nothing new under the sun" as someone (I forget who) once said.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

For whatever reason I think of "whilst" as being something totally British that I can't imagine an American saying or writing, while "amidst" doesn't strike me that way. If I see or hear "amidst" I don't immediately think, aha, a Brit.

pab 11:06 AM  

Hand up for surprise and delight with the revealer. Thanks to LR and ACM for a really fun puzzle.

Meanwhile, here in NH, it snows and it snows, nor does it cease to snow...

Carola 11:15 AM  

Nice one. Like some others, I like to try to catch on to the theme as the answers accrete and today had the same experience of needing to rethink at each step, with MUSHROOM BALL leaving me flummoxed. Loved the reveal, and NIGHT NIGHT is fantastic.

QuasiMojo 11:18 AM  

Thanks for the responses everyone who responded. I appreciate the feedback. @LMS, Ha! I am sorry you hit a deer. I hit one once and it knocked out my engine. I had to get towed to the nearest garage. The insurance agent didn’t believe me and came out to the garage to investigate. The poor deer had a much harder time though. A state trooper had to deal with it. On a lighter note, perhaps, Happy Presidents Day y’all! :)

Masked and Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Didn't know WHITEWEDDING or MUSHROOMBALL, but liked this MonPuz a lot, anyhoo. The theme mcguffin is differenter and cleverer than snot. Am lookin forward down the road to some sequel puzs with revealers like ROCKANDROLL, SNAKESANDLADDERS, etc.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Crafts in a "close encounter of the third kind"} = UFOS. Schlocky. Alternate answer: mashed potato sculpturing crafts. (MPSC)

staff weeject pick: ETH. Goes with yesterday's honoree, which was absent-mindedly not properly enSHHrined.

M&A luvs mushrooms and BANANAs, and am more than ready to try MUSHROOMBALLs while listenin to some WHITEWEDDING music, any old time.

fave fillins: COPYCAT. BANANA. PARODY. … Day-um ... almost everything in the grid was good, actually.

Thanx for gangin up on us in such a friendly way, Leslie and ACME darlins. Consider SNAKESANDLADDERS to be yer ultimate challenge.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Kohelet 11:39 AM  

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 1 (KJV)

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@steve last night wasn't being OBNOXIOUS but you are being very OBNOXIOUS, @LMS. People who don't agree that a Big Mac is "miraculously glorious" and who don't eat at McDonald's are not dissing YOU. People who like speaking grammatically and like listening to other people who speak grammatically are not dissing YOU. People who like classical music are not dissing YOU. They don't deserve to be called "faux-highbrow-nitpickers" by YOU because their tastes are different from YOURS. Eat what you like. Speak as you please. Listen to whatever music turns you on. No one cares. It's not all about YOU. Get over YOURself.

Siberian Khatru 11:59 AM  

Only got ball from the downs, had never heard of it, first thought was some weird variation of prarie oysters.

Otherwise very enjoyable.

GILL I. 1:05 PM  

@Anony 11:50. Your post is interesting. Made me do a little thinking on how we perceive things here.
To start, @Loren didn't say that @Steve from last night (and by the way I LOVED what he had to say) was OBNOXIOUS. She was pretty much agreeing with him.
I certainly don't have to defend @Loren - she's pretty damn good at it herself, and she made it clear, in her humorous way, that she wanted to get on his bandwagon. Per @steve ""Dropping stones on the ivory towers" and @Lorens reaction, might have been the bond.
You see, there are a lots of people on this blog who don't own TV's. Most will mention it after some boob on the blog yells out "What do you mean you've never watched LaVerne and Shirley. But when you go on a "I only read the classics and I only go to opera and drink expensive wines and hate people who don't have the common intellect to know the difference between their and there and add too many commas and end a sentence with a preposition and NOBODY EVER says that words or speaks that way" rant, they sound incredibly tedious, and the superior snobbery oozes and I wouldn't spend 2 minutes with them. But that's just me!
By the way, You wouldn't get me to eat a Big Mac with a ten foot pole. it was my very first hamburger - eaten in New York City and it made me sick as a dog. I'm of the In-N-Out persuasion. I feel the same way about okra but I would never be a faux highbrow nitpicker about such a thing.
Chill and take the time to read between the lines.

Teedmn 1:12 PM  

My solving and sussing out of this puzzle's theme totally was a COPYCAT of Jeff Chen's over at xwordinfo. As a dedicated veggie eater (I recently cut out a recipe for Walnut-Cauliflower ground beef, haven't tried it yet), I am aware of faux meatballs made with various items, including MUSHROOMs but MUSHROOM BALL sent me to Google, post-solve.

And I had to re-read the revealer a couple of times before the CAPs AND GOWNs made sense. Very nice.

I really liked OBNOXIOUS in the grid. And few people have more HOODED sweatshirts than I do. Congratulations, Leslie Rogers, on your debut, and thanks to you and ACME for a cute Monday puzzle.

jb129 1:30 PM  

Fun puzzle - thank you, Ladies

Z 2:33 PM  

@anon11:50 - That is an, uh, interesting way to read @LMS.

@LMS - No worries. I was simply commenting on the irony of picking nits about people picking nits. I mean, it is what we do here, just a bunch of happy baboons sitting in a circle having fine social interactions as baboons will.*

@‘mericans - amongst and AMIDST sound fine to me, but whilst not so much. I’m guessing unetymological is a learned way of saying “we’ve no clue.” It is probably just my bias, but I do wonder if people of 1500 heard it as we do in 2019. Or was it just some poet who needed the extra sound to make a rhyme work.

*Baboons pick actual nits from each other’s fur. It’s a social thing. I’m not comparing you to a baboon, That other guy, sure, but not you.

Tim Aurthur 2:37 PM  

Terrific puzzle, and thank you for MUSHROOM BALLs, which I didn't know about. Gonna make this week.

Leslie 2:46 PM  

Hi @Lewis! I don't remember the moment I came up with CAPANDGOWN - I think I was just running through various idioms and phrases in my head seeing if any of them would lend themselves to a theme revealer. My first email to Andrea included HARDBALL as an example. I thought there weren't enough caps and gowns to make it work, but she was optimistic so we started a brainstorm list. Thanks to Andrea for seeing the potential and guiding me through the process - otherwise I would have just discarded the idea.

As a fun aside, I got connected to Andrea through the comment section of this blog. Laura had written a guest post encouraging women to construct more, and that was the kick I needed!

Malsdemare 3:02 PM  

@GILL Well said, m'dear, well said. I agree with @steve and @lms and deeply hope I'm not one of those “fauxh highbrow nitpickers"

I thought this was a great puzzle. It took me longer than I'm happy to admit to realize that CAP and GOWN worked with each pair, maybe because my first pairing was with NIGHT NIGHT (don't let the bedbugs bite, turn on my little light" so I was adding just ONE of the reveals. 'Course, once I moved to the second pairing, that didn't work, I did a headslap, and reworked the whole thing. It was a thing of beauty, not my discovery process, but the discovery itself.

I got TAROT right away after rereading "The Da Vinci Code" (it did not fare well the second time around, JOHN X; not only did they take no bathroom breaks — quelle horreur — but they don't eat either. And the flaws are much more noticeable when repeated; Sad!), saluted MATA HARI who's always been an elusive character to pin down, nodded my head at OBNOXIOUS. I can't believe I didn't know WHITE WEDDING -still don't - and even though I'm vegetarian, MUSHROOMBALLS don't appeal; why chop them up, mix with some gluey substance, roll and saute when you can have them in their original form so easily and deliciously?

Excellent puzzle. Thanks Acme and Leslie.

albatross shell 3:18 PM  

Speaking of yesterday, I do not think there was any scrabble skill in Kwong's magic.
The dollar bill was switched before the woman sat down. Easily done when he was holding several bills. The bill switch he demonstrates shows his skills. An unexamined bag tiles and an unexamined coffee cup gives plenty of opportunity for a magician to force the tile picks. If there was a plant it was not the woman but the last person to to pull tiles. He just pulls out all the tiles in the top half of a bag that is sealed off from the bottom half that also contains tiles. He never shows the inside of the bag. Why ask for several bills in the beginning? He needs a bill similar in appearence to his own. I love magicians. They are sneaky liars.

Rich H 3:23 PM  

As a newbie I personally didn’t like 2D (anime). I really didn’t like 32A (paseo) either. And I just got hung up on 66A as I thought a minute or hour marker on a clock was the little marks around the circle of the clock. I thought there was a special name to it haha.

kitshef 4:14 PM  

Not sure how nitpicking got such a bad rep. If you don't pick the nits, you wind up with lice. How did something genuinely useful and helpful get turned, linguistically, into something useless and time-wasting?

Nancy 5:21 PM  

Aha! Ecclesiastes! That's where I heard it! Thanks, @Kohelet (11:39).

Great that you stopped by, Leslie. Nice job. I wouldn't have guessed the revealer in a million years. Hope this is just the first of many puzzles and I wish you much success in the future.

And thanks to @albatross shell 3:18 (strange moniker, that!). I don't claim to understand exactly what you say Kwong did with the bag and cup, but knowing that the trick involved the bag and cup is helpful. Yes, magicians may have faster hands and a better gift of gab than the rest of this, but I'm beginning to think that the real secret of their success is that they have better stuff than the rest of us. All those secret compartments and hidden passages and such -- could I be a successful magician if I had that stuff?

albatross shell 12:01 AM  

Magic is a performance art that takes tools, skills, study and practice. To be a great magician you need desire and ability to create and innovate. Think musicians and athletes. Interesting overlap with illegal activity such as pickpocketing and card-cheating and many types of scamming. The good ones (the Amazing Randi) expose the frauds (Uri Geller).

spacecraft 10:56 AM  

Got my brow a-furrowin' at the start. NIGHTNIGHT, really? You're gonna hit me with that? Okay, but I was close to a never-mind. Then I hit the wonderful OBNOXIOUS and thought, well, there IS that, longfill points ATON.

Turns out I should've worked it in my usual backward fashion, saving the NW for last (not for difficulty, though: it's not only Monday, it's EARLY Monday). As it was, I was baffled by the themers, wracking my poor gray cells trying to tie them together. And then came the reveal. And this time I DID go from south to north, and it was still amazing. This is my favorite kind of theme: answers that don't SEEM to be related in any way--until you get the key.

The short fill has your typical short-fill issues, but nothing to rant about. I had immense fun doing this, and you even give me an awesome damsel (and word) of the day in ANNE Hathaway. Eagle!

Burma Shave 12:14 PM  


might be OBNOXIOUS if you RIGUP bedding
to COPYCAT how NICE ESSEX went down


leftcoastTAM 2:24 PM  

A good test for a budding solver. Smooth and fun, with plenty of familiar crosswordese.

rondo 2:49 PM  

Yeah, I sure needed that revealer because I didn’t know where the second parts of the compound answers were heading – WEDDING NIGHT BALL? HAND up for AlOt before ATON.

So bullfighters have an entrance march (PASEO)? In baseball it’s walk-up music.

Gotta love a choice between TINA and ANNE. Yeah baby.

Also gotta love a puz that NAMES RON in it. Pretty dang good.

strayling 7:05 PM  

The clue for 38d rankled. It's craft, not crafts.

Apart from that, the puzzle was a joy.

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

Shout out to the East Bay Times for screwing up the clues again. Twice in less than a week.

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