Aladdin's monkey sidekick / MON 6-17-19 / Most widely spoken native language of India after Hindi / Gaelic spirit who wails to foretell death in family / RuPaul's purview

Monday, June 17, 2019

Constructor: Erik Agard and Yacob Yonas

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:02)

THEME: ___ IN THE ___ — themers follow this pattern, and first and last words rhyme

Theme answers:
  • FUN IN THE SUN (17A: Beach outing, say)
  • MADE IN THE SHADE (31A: On easy street)
  • BACK IN THE BLACK (39A: Financially afloat again)
  • EYE IN THE SKY (57A: Traffic helicopter, e.g.)
Word of the Day: MACAU (10D: Asian gambling mecca) —
Macau or Macao (/məˈk/ (About this soundlisten)澳門Cantonese: [ōu.mǔːn]PortugueseMacau [mɐˈkaw]), officially the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, is a special administrative region on the western side of the Pearl River estuary in southern China. With a population of 653,100 and an area of 32.9 km2 (12.7 sq mi), it is the most densely populated region in the world.
Macau was formerly a colony of the Portuguese Empire, after Ming China leased the territory as a trading post/treaty port in 1557. Portugal governed the area under titular Chinese sovereignty until 1887, when it was given perpetual colonial rights for Macau. The colony remained under Portuguese control until 1999, when it was returned to China. As a special administrative region, Macau's system of government is separate from that of mainland China.
Originally a sparsely populated collection of coastal islands, the territory has become a major resort city and the top destination for gambling tourism. It is the ninth-highest recipient of tourism revenue and its gaming industry is seven times larger than that of Las Vegas. Although the city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, it has severe income inequality.
Macau has a very high Human Development Index and the fourth-highest life expectancy in the world [???? wikipedia elsewhere says 30th, so ????] [Oh, this list by the CIA has Macau at No. 4 ... weird]. The territory is highly urbanised and most development is built on reclaimed land; two-thirds of total land area is reclaimed from the sea. (wikipedia)
• • •

This might in fact be a Very Easy Monday, as I am half-drunk on a single (1) Rusty Nail, which undoubtedly affected my time, and I still got a very normal Monday time, and also the few early times I am seeing posted on Twitter are scorchingly fast (faster than mine), so, yeah, perhaps I am the only one who got weirdly held up by both of the 8-letter Downs because I just Could Not Parse Them. That is a very plausible scenario. Also, I just didn't trust the phrase BACK IN THE BLACK somehow, perhaps because BACK IN BLACK was such an iconic AC/DC album when I was in elementary school that the phrase in the puzzle just felt ... wrong. It's certainly the least ... tight ... of the themers. But it's fine. The whole thing is fine. Simple, sure, but it's Monday, and it all works fine, and the grid is not loaded with junk (except PENH, which is junk), and maybe WKS/MOS, but they had the same clue (10A and 38D: Calendar units, Abbr.), so I kind of think they're adorable instead of gross. Singsongy theme that follows the "___ IN THE ___" pattern perfectly. Can't complain.

OK, so MCESCHER, man did I screw that up (24D: Dutch artist known for his "impossible" drawings). M dot C dot ESCHER. I was like "It says Dutch ... why is it Irish ... why!?" Also, I would say "NO CLUE" for ["Beats me"]. "NOT A CLUE" is oddly slow and formal. I mean, it's correct enough, just ... I just couldn't pick it up without a bunch more crosses. Those two answers were responsible for virtually all my slowness. Well, those and the Rusty Nail. Oh, and EYE IN THE SKY, which is ... a category of thing? (57A: Traffic helicopter, e.g.) The clue says "e.g." Are there other EYE(S) IN THE SKY? My kingdom for an Alan Parsons Project clue!!!

Oh, and I forgot the consonant that went in A-U (8D: Aladdin's monkey sidekick). APU? No. ADU? No, he was yesterday. ABU just looked / felt wrong. But wasn't. Bah! ESIGN is bad, and EENY is also not great, and MACAU is a crosswordesey place and OKED with the "E" looks dumb, but I'm really just *trying* to carp now, and it's taking too much effort. It's a lovely little Monday puzzle. Perfectly Mondayish. Better than average. Huzzah.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Medium. I got hung up in some of the same places @Rex did. Liked it.

Runs with Scissors 12:32 AM  

Fun MonPuz (hi @M&A). Not hard for anyone who'd one puzzes more than a couple months. Good fill, not much dreck; personally had no issues with any of it because, well, y'know, I just like doing crossword puzzles.

Some highlights:

1A: I don't follow sports, so SCRUB for benchwarmer was not obvious. My first inclination was "b-team."

29A: I just like SPLAT. No matter the usage, no matte the context. It's just a fun word. Kinda like the sound of yesterday's flour bomb with a concomitant water balloon. Har!!

39A: BACK IN THE BLACK is so almost AC/DC that it works.

57A: EYE IN THE SKY - your big brother at work.

Other stuff: You don't eat them, you RENT PRUNES. CNN USERS ERODE. TUPAC SPLAT.

Et cetera, ad mauseam.

Liked it!

Mark, in Mickey's North 40

Larry Gilstrap 1:18 AM  

That is about as much as one can expect from a Monday puzzle; well done! Sure, many phrases fall in the pattern of the themers, but they work for me.

I, too, balked at BACK IN THE BLACK because of the song, of which I was never a fan. No one would have a problem with the phrase being IN THE red. Language evolves and English literature from Beowulf to Twitter is tweeked by popular culture, even metal anthems weigh in. Even Stevie Wonder weighs in, as he should.

M.C. ESCHER was big in the 70s. I taught English, but when ever I referenced him and shared his designs with my students, they loved them. "Impossible drawings" that are both precise and whimsical and seemingly three-dimensional. Great clue!

I love most alcoholic beverages, but my survival depends on a policy of exclusion. And, if someone is generous enough to offer me one of the SHOTS spread out on the bar, and if I feel an obligation to respect my friend's generosity, then I will fly IN THE face of custom, and deliberately savor that añejo.

Seth Bourque 2:00 AM  

Very easy, half my normal time.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

Had the same problem as Rex with Mc ESCHER, thought that certainly doesn’t sound Dutch. Rex was kind enough to put M.C. In for me and I said Ah Yes, that guy, I’ve heard of him. Other than little hea scratcher, pretty easy.

Thanks for the Alan Parsons, one of my favorites.

Brookboy 3:21 AM  

I liked this one as well. Whenever I was stopped, I was able to recover quickly from the crosses. I thought it was a nice, fluid, typical Monday puzzle, perhaps even a little challenging in spots. Thank you, Mr. Agard.

Frog Prince Kisser 3:25 AM  

No sin IN THE bin today!

Perfect Monday puzzle! Thanks!

@merican in Paris 3:35 AM  

Took me less than 4 Rexes (better than my more usual 6), but I suppose I have his Rusty Nail to thank for the narrowed margin. On the other hand, I did this one at 06:30, before my first cup of coffee, before handing the iPad to Mrs. 'mericans, who was leaving on a train back to her work in Switzerland.

Fine Monday puzzle; nothing stuck in my CRAW. I disagree with @Rex that PENH is "junk". It's the second part of the name of a world capital, of a country (Cambodia) that Nixon secretly ordered the United States Strategic Air Command to be bombed, starting some 50 years ago, in what came to be called Operation Menu. EACH and every schoolchild should learn that place name, plus Ha Noi (capital of Viet Nam, not Vietnam), plus several other world capital names.

That other world capital, OSLO, made me think, "Norway, if you're listening, I hope you find the GOODS on [fill in the blank]."

If I were going to complain, it would be over MOS and WKS. Yuck.

Despite it being Monday, I learned something new: that W.C. ESCHER was Dutch. I had always thought he was Belgian. Should have guessed, as The Netherlands is the Florence of graphic artistry.

Nice apposition at 25A and 26A: AROUSE? {ICICLE!}. Also appropriate that SPF and HOT intersect FUN IN THE SUN. Unless I don a hat, it's never FUN IN THE SUN for me, as my EAR LOBEs burn; others I know turn into PRUNES.

Signed, SEALED, delivered, I'm yours -- 'merican.

The Claw 5:55 AM  

Not craw..craw!

Klazzic 6:02 AM  

Man, oh man. One Rusty Nail and Rex turns oh so mellow. Nice review, Rex. More Rusty Nails for Rex!

Evan 6:28 AM  

I usually do well with Agard puzzles and this was no exception. First time sub-3 minutes and probably first time sub-Rex (no doubt due to the Rusty Nail). I didn't even see most of the words Rex found objectionable.

Hungry Mother 6:42 AM  

Not a PR, but a running pace I haven’t seen since I was 71. I liked the long phrases, which came easily. Good Monday.

amyyanni 7:03 AM  

Think they tried "Pie in the sky" before opting for SKY? Loved the review, Rex. I am mellow for a Monday due to taking part in an evening trail run Saturday where it poured for an hour just after the start. After 3+ hours of slogging through mud (including falls!), am still appreciating being dry and clean.

Loren Muse Smith 7:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 7:06 AM  

Sweet, easy, across-the-plate Monday. This is one to give people who’re always saying I’d like to start doing crosswords, but they’re too hard.

@Runs – agree with your thoughts on the word SPLAT. Great word, the the clue is perfect. Last year in Sebasco Estates (Maine), I was at the pool and decided to go get an ice cream cone at the tiny little stand. I felt kinda dumb, walking over there and waiting in line alone among all the parents and kids. Dumber still when I piggishly ordered a triple scoop of Moose Tracks™. I forgot that there was a little step down from the ordering platform and almost fell as I turned to leave. I caught myself, but in this little “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” mental montage flash I saw the scene: I fall, and the massive glob of ice cream SPLATs on the concrete and people rush to help me up asking if I’m ok and the ice cream worker brings me out a second sympathy cone and I have to take it and act really appreciative as I walk off, trying not to limp and acting all normal. Close call. But SPLAT is what that ice cream would’ve sounded like.

I’ve heard EYE IN THE SKY, but “pie in the sky” is more in the language for me. I’m also reminded of Mohammed Ali’s fights Rumble in the Jungle and Thrilla in Manilla. The latter doesn’t fit, but it almost does. And how can you not think of this?

I appreciated the HOT STOLEN/GOODS cross. Nice.

@’merican – the quote would probably be more along the lines of, “Norwegia, if you’re listening, I hope you…”

ABU was a gimme ‘cause I adore Aladdin and can’t wait to see the movie.

(Can’t wait to see The Lion King, either. I never managed to weigh in a few days ago on that discussion, but I tell ya, Broadway’s The Lion King is an assault on your senses from the moment (turn your volume up) Rafiki steps out on stage and starts singing. I’ve seen it five times on Broadway and would happily see it five more times. Oh, and I’ve shared this here before, but it’s worth a look.)

Yacob, Erik – terrific puzzle. The clue for ICICLE was brilliant.

OffTheGrid 7:10 AM  

I liked the double calendar and fireworks clues. Is it OOH or AAH? Is it WKS or MOS? Well, it's both in one puzz. It make me think of this oldie

GILL I. 8:29 AM  

Yep...Art major here and still did a huh with the MC part. Without ESCHER's dots, he looks unknown.
Nice Monday fare.
I guess ants in your pants is a bit juvenile. I'm also thinking that the SUN SHADE BLACK and SKY had colors in common.
BANSHEE was my favorite. I learned all about them through Leon and Jill Uris' "Ireland a Terrible Beauty." I loved that book; scary, mystical and an EYE opener about the Irish.
Love RuPaul in DRAG. Man, he's one gorgeous dude once he has his makeup on. Who comes up with things like pieholes. You could also say cornholes or potatoholes. I suppose if it's your KISSER area then pie sounds a lot nicer.
Landlords here in Sacramento deserve more than RENT. They're due a kick in the pants. So many of my friends are leaving California because they can't afford the outrageous rents. Greedy beyond belief. Just look at San Francisco now. It's nothing but a city. Old taverns and special landmarks being closed because tenants can't afford the 100% increases. You should see my favorite China Town. Every other store is closed or being closed. Got any new ideas Gavin Newsom?
@Rex...Wow, a Rusty Nail. I haven't had one of those in aeons....I might just have to go out and buy some Drambuie. I think cocktails that my parents grew up with are now becoming popular. I have some creme de menthe hiding in the booze closet...I might make a grasshopper this evening.

Hartley70 8:40 AM  

This was a lovely little Monday with a charming lilt to the long themers. I found it an easy solve since I knew MCESCHER. I should have been held up by BACKINTHEBLACK since I don’t know the song/album, but it worked for me without a musical reference.

pabloinnh 8:41 AM  

Well I say NOTACLUE, so that makes OFL wrong about that one.

Hey @Claw (not Craw!), great Get Smart catch. A friend and I are still quoting this one, along with The Cone of Silence (what?).

Very nice Mondecito. Thanks to EA, and glad his partner was not too wise for me.

Nancy 8:47 AM  

A lively, breezy, completely enjoyable puzzle. Rhymes always make me happy. I tried to come up with other existing rhyming phrases, and when I couldn't, I decided to invent some of my own:

What bed bugs do: BITE IN THE NIGHT

What zoo animals do: RAGE IN THE CAGE

What horny teenagers do: PARK IN THE DARK (Which leads to...)

What "shotgun" marriage partners do: WED IN THE BED

And what I've been enjoying: JOG IN THE BLOG

I'll stop now, mercifully.

Zwhatever 9:24 AM  

NO CLUE and NOT A CLUE are both fine here. As are BACK IN BLACK and BACK IN THE BLACK. I think we see that last phrase the most around Black Friday, so named because supposedly it is the day where many retailers are BACK IN THE BLACK for the year.

With SUN and SHADE for the first two, I was expecting BLACK to be paired with white.

Anyone else ready for another TERESA clue? I’ve only seen the nun for quite some time. Are there no other crossworthy TERESAs out there? Ono, Eno, and Yma I get, you’ve only got one choice. But surely there is another TERESA.

Stick in one’s CRAW is how I’ve always understood it, even though I’ve no idea where to find one’s CRAW.

AROUSE SPLAT ... Porn synopsis?

Zwhatever 9:30 AM  

CRAW: “the crop of a bird or insect.” Well, that didn’t help...
Crop: “a pouched enlargement of the esophagus of many birds that serves as a receptacle for food and for its preliminary maceration.”

Okay, thanks Merriam (or Webster, maybe), now I know where to find a CRAW. Most surprising to me is that was the first listed definition of Crop.

Sir Hillary 9:49 AM  

Dr. Suess's most famous mischief-maker enjoyed this puzzle. So did I.

SouthsideJohnny 9:59 AM  

Wow, just the mention of the word “trump” (even if clued in reference to a card game) will cause Rex’s eyeballs to spin inside his head, and yet the vulgar, n-word spewing, glock-worshipping, woman-hating rapper Tupac Shakur gets a free pass . . . Smh

Brian 10:07 AM  

Nice, easy Monday puzzle. Nearly my fastest time ever, and if I hadn't had to go hunt a typo, I might have actually beat it.

David 10:13 AM  

Hah. Having SPVs was not a big help, but it got overcome. I figured out "scrubs" from the TLC song "No Scrubs". Speaking of songs, many companies in my industry were in the red for 5 or more years in the 90s due to piracy; finally something was done about that and we clawed our way to being back in the black. Zero problems with that phrase, it's perfectly "tight". All of our contracts are esigned, so that's another construction I'm fine with.

Gotta agree with Mr 'mericans about Pnom Penh as well. Every school child should learn about our illegal, immoral, and ultimately useless wars fought between the end of the Korean "Police Action" and, well, right now. I say bring back the draft and this stuff'll stop. (And we'll save billions in our budget as well.)

Yes, I also say "not a clue" rather than "no clue". I'm a freak.

Malt, splat, icicle, craw, mo/wk, bene, lobe all fine, and I was thinking "Mc" someone until I read the clue; also no problem and, even, nice.

Mother Teresa and CSI make their too-often appearances, as does erode. Didn't we have ooh and ahh in the past week?

In the back of a book of Yeats' poetry there's a transcription of a banshee's wail he made. I took it and made it into a little piano trio for beginning players.

As for yesterday: if they'd clued 107A as, "Opera-oratorio by Stravinsky" I bet it would have been a lot harder for folks. I'm amused Rex thought there was "nothing else father's day about this" as I found this Oedipal answer deliciously sly.

madsymo 10:20 AM  

A menorah (7 candles) is displayed all year. A Hanukiah (8 candles) is displayed at Hanukah.

jberg 10:28 AM  

Like @Gill, I thought this theme was not just rhymes, but rhymes that referred to the weather. BACK IN THE BLACK was a bit of a stretch -- we usually say "it's dark out" rather than "it's BLACK" but close enough for me. (And I don't think you'd ever say "in BLACK" without the THE when referring to a balance sheet.).

I loved putting on some Coppertone and going to the beach for FUN IN THE SUN, and getting a MALT after the cone you bought initially has gone SPLAT. Then sticking around to go OOH and AAH at the fireworks show. Now I'm already for Independence Day.

I did think "(capital of Cambodia)" was superfluous -- I don't think there are any other crossworthy Phnoms. But that's OK.

On the other hand, "Place for a stud or a ring" could refer to many places these days, even if you restrict them to three letters.

JC66 10:32 AM  


I think the corn hole is at the other end of the digestive. tract from the pie hole.


How about TERESA Brewer?

RooMonster 10:45 AM  

Hey All !
Lots of BUZZ IN THE PUZ on here today. Along with PSHAW IN THE CRAW. (If you didn't groan about those, I'm not doing my job.) :-)

Anyway, nice puz today. IN THE rhymes. Didn't AROUSE, per se, but got a LAUGHS, IMO. Thought I'd get away with no writeovers, but alas, put sagaS in for EPICS first. Plus UNo-UNI.

OOH and AAH, this time without a HAND. MOS and WKS together are cool, I agree with Rex on that.

Going back to YesterPuz, I'm stuck in the NW and all of the SE. Just can't seem to get traction. Gonna see if I can finish it today. Wish me luck!
Oh, and a nice Shout-out to the Vegas Golden Knights in yesterday's clue!


Ethan Taliesin 10:49 AM  

Decent fill for a breezy Monday.

Misread one clue and thought to myself with knitted brow, "well, an earlobe is certainly NOT a part of the brain."

SJ Austin 11:05 AM  

MACAU and PENH prevented me from completing it Downs Only, but the crosses were fair. Good example of careful construction.

albatross shell 11:08 AM  

Apparently Escher is not as well known as I thought. I do appreciate paradoxi and optical delusions.

Brewer of songs = TERESA. She also did pretty well singing jazz with Duke Ellington.

Pie in the Sky always takes me to Goldiggers 1937 and insurance salesman Dick Powell:

There'll be pie in the sky when die die die
If you buy buy buy life insurance

A fine song and movie with Powell in his pre-noir days.

One good Monday.

Andrew B 11:17 AM  

Two Rexes for me today. That's easy in my book!

I was a little disappointed that the themers didn't follow the somewhat summer-ish theme that was set by the first two ("FUNINTHESUN" and "MADEINTHESHADE"). When I got to "BACKINTHEBLACK" I was a bit unsure since the first two did set that expectation, but I pushed through it pretty quickly.

I was also slowed down a bit by total brain-farts on "MCESCHER" and (ironically) "NOTACLUE".

Fun Monday!

OffTheGrid 11:22 AM  

@Z & @Gill:

Regarding PIEHOLE, cornhole. This game has the worst name ever!

CORNHOLE is a lawn game in which players take turns throwing bags of plastic resin at a raised platform with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the board scores 1 point. Play continues until a team or player reaches or exceeds the score. Check this for pics

DevoutAtheist 11:33 AM  

Googling "famous teresa names" yields 44 women. There is also "Teresa", a Mexican TV program.

BTW, Mother Teresa?-not even close to as good as you might think she was.

Dan 11:45 AM  

No complaints with the this puzzle, but a good chunk of the clues/answers have been used in the last week or so in nytimes puzzles. See: teresa, hires and Oasis, just to name a few.

Joe Dipinto 11:59 AM  

Why are PENH and MACAU junk/crosswordy? They're both geographic locations, and not obscure ones -- perfectly worthy of puzzle inclusion.

Back In *The* Black does sound a bit suspect, and it didn't google at all for me as an idiom. So I don't know about that being "fine". But everything else was.

I'd include a lyric quote from Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Tereza My Love" but it doesn't have any lyrics. And there are too many "Sun" songs to choose from. No fun in the sun today anyway, only clouds. From both sides, now.

albatross shell 12:06 PM  

Don't you know the holier you are the more only your concerns matter. You may seem humble, but you are divinely inspired. This gets worse the holier you are, right up to the big guy himself who can destroy cities and all human life (babies and "unborn children" included) less 8 or so people. But bless catch 22, he made it so he owns it. AHH yes, this is true for true-believers of many stripes.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

This and that:

FUNINTHESUN is the only literal theme entry.

SPFS & HOT cross FUNINTHESUN, as well as SLED-winter fun



albatross shell 12:36 PM  

It's not often mentioned here, but it seems to me the puzzles here do use a lot of repeat or close variant clues and answers.

It's as if Will is training us to learn certain things and giving a big leg up to regular patrons. I like this to a certain extent because it takes me a few occurrences to plant it in my memory. Then when it shows up again in a few months, l get it. I am here for this training.

I'm surprised the really good puzzle solvers do not mention or possibly complain about it. Sometimes you get similar Clue-Answer combinations in a week. I do not believe this is my imagination. I have not collected the data.

Cornhole is the best name ever for the game that emerged from the drinking frat culture. I love that the TV culture is unable to say the name of the game they show being played, and resort to something like the beanbag game. At the same time it's reducing the stigma of cornholing as an insult. You gotta love it when two innocent words are banned. It a clear demonstration of the foolishness of censorship.

old timer 12:37 PM  

Long haired preachers come out every night,
Try to teach you what's wrong and what's right,
But when you ask them for something to eat
They will answer in voices so sweet:

You will eat (you will eat) by and by,
In that glorious land in the sky.
Work and play, live on hay,
You'll get pie in the sky when you die
(That's a lie).

Joe Hill wrote that song. They shot him.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Shut down the presses. Best MonPuz that ever was or will be. Scores the ultimate diagonal tic-tac-toe in the NW, with a RUNT garnish, for the middle (tac) U. Take the rest of the century's Mondays off, constructioneers. Might as well work on themeless SunPuzs, instead.
BUZZ IN THE PUZ indeed (har & yo, @Roo).

fave clue: {High point of winter?} = ICICLE. Shows some nice 'tude, for a MonPuz.
staff weeject picks: OOH & AAH. Cries at a NW corner fireworks display.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Jekyll's bad side} = HYDE. This feisty MonPuz took it's time, gettin to a good solid moo.

Best parsin challenge, as others have noted: MCESCHER. And primo schlocky touch, with BANSHEE.

Thanx for gangin up on us, EA & YY. And multi-thanx again for that gorgeous NW planetary alignment.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Zwhatever 12:46 PM  

I’m heartened to see others share my desire for new TERESA cluing. I’m unfamiliar with TERESA Brewer but she’s at least well enough known to have been identified by two people. @DevoutAtheist - I’m aware. I usually don’t point it out, though.

@Joe Dipinto - when I put in “back in the black” (with the quote marks) I immediately got three accountant suggestions with directions (apparently Safari is integrated with Maps on my iPad) and then had lots of hits of various financial service businesses. Hits included a collections agency, an employment agency, an asset management company, and articles in Bloomberg and Entrepreneur. Seems fine to me. As for those esey words, Phnom Penh is not crosswordese, PENH is. MACAU is a learned from crosswords place for many people. I agree they are famous enough to be in crosswords, but I agree even more with Rex that we see them more than their crossworthiness merits.

@SouthsideJohnny - Dude! You do realize how singling our a rapper sounds, don’t you? Let me know when you mention the Beatles or Mick Jagger in your “gotcha” voice. Misogyny is not a rap problem, it’s a cultural problem that infuses all kinds of art. When you only mention it when the artist is African-American, ...well, maybe it’d be better to take a pass on mentioning it unless you’re going to mention it every time it’s relevant. But then we end up having to say stuff like One thing to note is that I don’t get the sense Gilbert was any more sexist than the society he lived in was all the time.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

Since I try to not look at the constructor's name until after I finish a puzzle, I was putting my money on M&A as today's constructor, with the RUNT in the NW and listening as the ice cream SPLATzed onto the pavement. Instead, it is Mr. Agard and the sophomore puzzle of Yacob Yonas. Congrats, Yacob.

Taking the SUN, SHADE and BLACK SKY progression as a theme evokes the weather I ran into this past Saturday - the tornado spotters were out and the outdoor wedding I attended took place in a damp farm shed instead. I cringed, watching the bride's train trail through the moisture on the cement floor. But the "I dos" were said and everybody seemed happy. The photos were taken earlier in the morning so they'll be beautiful.

M.C. ESCHER - the clue had me pondering just what kind of brain could see the images ESCHER created and make them work on the page. "Impossible" is a good word to describe it.

The other answer that got me pondering was "The PITS". What pit inspired the phrase? The pits of hell? Armpits? Mining pits? Not likely a peach pit. Fun to think about.

Binthere 1:49 PM  

@Devout atheist, she was probably still better than you or me.

@Z et al, back in the black is usually used to refer to someone who has gotten out of, or never was in, debt (she's in the red ... she's back in the black). It's an accounting thing.

Frog Prince Kisser 2:30 PM  

Per Quora, “‘Hanukiah’ is the proper name but it is also familiarly known as a menorah, or a Chanukah menorah. That usage is correct.” Also, a hanukiah almost always holds 9 candles.

Frog Prince Kisser 2:38 PM  

Sorry, my 2:30 PM post above was a reply to @madsymo 10:20 AM.

Marc Kwiatkowski 3:06 PM  

Have to object to Rex calling MACAU crosswordese. It is the gambling capitol of the world. It is bigger than Las Vegas both in terms of visitors and gambling revenue. "Macau" gets 217 million results on Google, compared to "Huron"'s 53 million. I don't think anyone would call the latter crosswordese.

Anoa Bob 3:21 PM  

I'm a big fan of MC ESCHER and used his works in class when talking about "monocular cues to depth perception". These are cues to judging depth and distance that only require one eye and can be used by artists to give the illusion of depth, i.e. three dimensions, in a two-dimensional drawing or painting. ESCHER was a master at this and used them to create "impossible" figures. Here's a simple yet very effective example.

Not all of his work involved "impossible" stuff. One of his most famous "possible" drawings, albeit one that still has some ESCHER sauce liberally sprinkled on it, is this Self Portrait.

Joe Dipinto 3:30 PM  

We forgot Teresa Wright, Oscar-winning actress who was in "Shadow Of A Doubt" (supposedly Alfred Hitchcock's favorite of all his films), "Mrs. Miniver", and "The Best Years Of Our Lives", among others.

Also Teresa Berganza, one of my favorite mezzo-sopranos.

DigitalDan 4:25 PM  

Parker-like, I have always detested the term PIEHOLE. It seems crude, insulting, demeaning, ugly. No idea why it hits me this way. I guess it reminds me that we're just tubes with various openings to the environment, and strips away all the sophistication we might think we have. As Rex might say: No. Just no.

QuasiMojo 4:27 PM  

Don't forget Stratas. @JoeDiPinto

Joe Dipinto 4:54 PM  

@Quasi -- Yes, Teresa Stratas too. I'm not really familiar with her, I know she's famous for her "Lulu".

Here's a coincidence, from her Wikipedia entry:

In the 1980s Stratas travelled to Calcutta and worked with Mother Teresa in an orphanage and at the Kalighat Home for the Dying.

Guess those Teresas like to pal around together!

Wood 5:00 PM  

Perfect downs-only solve

Amy 5:04 PM  

I get annoyed when Rex calls geographical places crosswordese when they are places those of us who follow the world know well. You can call medieval literature a gimme but Macau is crosswordese? Really? It is a real very relevant place. Learn about it and it won’t seem obscure to you.

GILL I. 7:01 PM  

@JC66. So you had me scrambling to look up corn hole. So many much to choose from. When will it end? Or should I say...where will it end?
If we're going to nominate a new TERESA, I'm voting for Saint TERESA de Avila. She was a Spanish noble with Jewish roots. She was also the patron saint of headaches.

Bill L. 7:50 PM  

@albatross shell 12:36 wrote: "Cornhole is the best name ever for the game that emerged from the drinking frat culture. I love that the TV culture is unable to say the name of the game they show being played, and resort to something like the beanbag game."

The American Cornhole League and ESPN disagree.

albatross shell 10:26 PM  

Glad to hear it. Works on my other point of reducing cornholing potential use as an insult. Actually realized I should have said network TV - mostly thinking of local news shows where the euphemism is used, at least in my area. Although ESPN generally uses similar standards in its sports events broadcasting. It might be fun to see how good they are.

Shza 10:34 PM  

Monday record for me. Still slower than Rex, but only by 30 seconds. I love Eric Agard's puzzles -- always a good wavelength fit for me.

Monty Boy 11:17 PM  

You all might try Godel, Escher, Bach (1980 Pulitzer linking art, music and mathematics. I read it long ago and got maybe 1/3 of it. I'll have to read again and see if age makes me wiser.

If nothing else, there is a plethera of Escher art in it.

kitshef 1:55 PM  

Liked it very much. Would have liked it more if all the themers had different spelling the way the last one did (EYE/SKY), but that's asking an awful lot.

Love MC ESCHER's stuff.

spacecraft 10:27 AM  

The last couple of EA puzzles were slight disappointments for me; I knew he could do better. And here's the proof! A nice, simple Monday, not trying for OOHs and AAHs--just sticking them into the grid for a mini-theme. I pretty much agree with OFC this time, except that MCESCHER came to me instantly--you might say a gimme--and NOTACLUE occurred to me about one second after I saw that NOCLUE would be too short.

Agree also that the THE doesn't really belong in 39-across, but that feels like nit-picking, and it's consistent with the rhythm of the rest of them. Mother TERESA takes a curtain call, but today's DOD sash goes to Talia SHIRE: "Yo Adrian! You win!" Yeah, this one's got it MADEINTHESHADE. Birdie.

Burma Shave 1:10 PM  


to AROUSE her if it's OK'ED,
KISSER 'til she SAYS it's done;


Diana,LIW 3:25 PM  

I was thinking it was a good, easy Monday, until I worked my way up to the top. BENGALI and MACAU seem a bit beyond the Monday level, and SCRUB just seemed wrong to me for a benchwarmer. But what do I know?

So all's well that ends correctly.

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Crosswords

PS - never did finish the chess game yesterday

leftcoast 4:31 PM  

Good early-week mix of easy and medium, fresh and dated, obscure and inferable, pop culture and familiar stuff.

KISSERS, MCESCHER, BANSHEE, and BENGALI stood out. SLAM was a bit of a sneaker.

Lilked the rhyming themers, especially EYEINTHESKY.

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

“Eye in the sky”: camera above the gaming tables in a Vegas casino so pit bosses can watch to see if any hanky-panky is going on. See “Rain Man.”

strayling 7:36 PM  

"Eye in the sky" was familiar from news helicopter cameras.

"Back in the Black" sounds like an album by "The AC/DC".

A nice playful start to the week.

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