French river to English channel / MON 8-19-19 / British hitmaker on Iggy Azalea's Black Widow / Doughnut-shaped roll / Clarinetist Shaw / Mathematician once pictured on Swiss money

Monday, August 19, 2019

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:08 on an oversized 16x15 grid)

THEME: ARTIE (71A: *Clarinetist Shaw ... or, when said aloud, the only two consonants in the answers to the starred clue) — theme answers contain both "R" and "T," and only "R" and "T," as their consonants:

Theme answers:
  • TEETER TOTTER (21A: *Seesaw)
  • TROT OUT (30A: *Bring forward for display)
  • RITA ORA (47A: *British hitmaker on Iggy Azalea's "Black Widow")
  • "TORA, TORA, TORA!" (57A: *1970 war film about the attack on Pearl Harbor)
  • TOO TRUE (4D: *"Sadly, you're right")
  • REITERATE (35D: *Say again)
  • ROTO ROOTER (29D: *Plumbing company whose jingle says "away go troubles down the drain")
  • RAT TERRIER (9D: *Vermin-hunting dog)
  • TREATER (46D: *Trick-or-___ (kid on Halloween))
  • TRATTORIA (11D: *Pasta-serving cafe)
Word of the Day: RITA ORA (47A) —
Rita Sahatçiu Ora (born Rita Sahatçiu; 26 November 1990) is an English singer, songwriter and actress. She rose to prominence in February 2012 when she featured on DJ Fresh's single "Hot Right Now", which reached number one in the UK. Her debut studio album, Ora, released in August 2012, debuted at number one in the United Kingdom. The album contained the UK number-one singles, "R.I.P." and "How We Do (Party)". Ora was the artist with the most number-one singles on the UK Singles Chart in 2012, with three singles reaching the top position.
Ora’s second studio album, Phoenix, was released in November 2018. The lead single, "Your Song", reached the UK top ten, and the subsequent singles, "Anywhere" and "Let You Love Me", reached the top five in the UK; the latter single made Ora the first British female solo artist to have thirteen top ten songs in the United Kingdom. (wikipedia)
• • •

That's eleven (11!) theme answers, if you count the revealer, which you should, so ... that's a lot. That's all I can say about this theme. It's a lot. Putting a lot of words that have just R's and T's in them into the grid ... seems like a very crosswordy thing to do. I mean, that's going with the flow as opposed to against it. Grids are naturally chock full of the RLSTNE (aka "Wheel of Fortune" or WOF letters), so this one is just ... more so? I don't see the point. It's an interesting architectural feat, getting a grid to work with so many multiply intersecting themers, but solving it wasn't terribly exciting. Because of the theme density, and the inherently crosswordesey nature of the theme, the grid tended toward the crosswordesey. Crosswordese *already* tends to be heavy on those letters (ERTE, RETE, TROU, ad infinitum), and then with the theme pressure, the crosswordese of all stripes starts coming out: EVEL, ANI, RARA, EULER, ERNO, three-R'd BRRR, ORNE (oof) and the unforgivable -TION, just to name the most obvious. Some of the themers were interesting answers in their own right (esp. RAT TERRIER), but there's not a lot of genuine word-sparkle here. And letter sparkle isn't a thing, even if R's and T's were sparkly, which they're not.

I think the word "roll" in 51D: Doughnut-shaped roll (BAGEL) really threw me because I had the "B" and wanted only BIALY. Looks like BAGELs and BIALYs are frequently sold together—here are two recent usage examples from (who defines BIALY as "a flat breakfast roll that has a depressed center and is usually covered with onion flakes"):

I had most trouble today with 6A: Disparaging remark (SLUR) because I wrote in BARB, and 14A: ___ box (computer prompt) (DIALOG), both because I barely know what that is and because I spell DIALOGUE thusly. I happened to know who RITA ORA is, but I don't think of her as Monday-famous on this side of the pond at all, and LOL to the idea that using Iggy Azalea in your clue is going to help your typical NYTXW solver figure out the answer. If you don't know who RITA ORA is, seems like an Iggy Azalea hint is likely to be meaningless to you too.

Thank to Chris Adams for filling in for me yesterday. Good thing he did, too, 'cause I drank more than I've drunk since I was in my 20s and was in no condition to write a blog either last night or this morning. Mezcal margaritas! What a revelation. I drank a great deal more than I normally do, but somehow managed to avoid sickness or hangover, so self-high-five for that. I was enjoying the city and being out with friends I get to see only once or twice a year. Oh, and I was celebrating this:
[3rd Place, Pairs Division, Lollapuzzoola 12]
So nice to see so many old friends, and to see so many readers, who were all so kind. I'm a somewhat introverted person who gets easily overwhelmed by crowds, but by and large crossword crowds rule. Plus, they understand if you just need to go stand in the corner and be by yourself for a few minutes to recharge your battery. My favorite moments came when meeting people who didn't know I was "Rex Parker" (I compete under my given name, Michael Sharp). I competed all day at a table with a lovely couple (Pat and Daren), and we chatted quite a bit, and then late in the day, my wife heard Pat say to Daren, "I think that was Rex Parker who just walked by." When my wife intervened to tell her, "Um, Michael [points to me] is Rex Parker," her reaction ... well, I feel lucky to have been there to see it. So special. She was crying/laughing, and then so was I, and it was all perfect. By the time she squeaked out "Thank you for your work," I was practically on the floor. I'm lucky to know so many kind and thoughtful and appreciative people because of this shouting into the cybersphere that I do every day. Even when I am no longer in any way competitive, I'm still gonna go to these tournaments because the company is so *&$^ing great.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

Wasn’t familiar with RITA ORA so I googled her. Twice. Okay - several times. Now leave me alone.

jae 12:46 AM  

This was a medium for me, but while I was doing it it seemed tough. RITA ORA was a WOE and some of the clue/answers seemed more mid to late week...TAHINI, EULER, LEONI, RPI,, this may not be a good puzzle for a beginner. Plus , unless you are of a certain age, ARTIE Shaw is not a gimme.

Odd theme but I liked it.

chefwen 2:36 AM  

That’s a boat load of T’s, 27 unless I miscounted. Pretty easy Monday, as it should be. One write over at 56D, METS before REDS, obviously I know nothing about baseball, EULER fixed that along with a decisive snort from puzzle partner.

Teedmn 2:49 AM  

It might have been easy but it's hard to say - solving while sitting on a hard tile floor in the LGA food court crowded with folks forced to stay overnight because nearly every flight after 4:30 PM was grounded due to weather and then cancelled is not conducive to fast crossword solving. This kind of thing might be expected to occur in January, but August? And I might be doing a repeat tomorrow - I'm currently booked on a flight for Tuesday A.M. Unbelievable.

I could sleep on the hard tile floor and through the boring background music, but the constant clack-clack of people's luggage wheels and the oft repeated automatic warnings against losing track of your baggage or parking in front of the terminal are hard to filter out.

I couldn't agree more with Rex that RITA ORA is not Monday material. I have (barely) heard of Iggy Azalea but I know none of her work.

Peter, I can't say this reinks as my favorite of your oeuvre but it worked fine as a distraction, thanks.

Frog Prince Kisser 2:50 AM  


Loren Muse Smith 3:30 AM  

I can totally believe that those people didn’t know Michael was Rex Parker; the few times I’ve talked to him when he used to go to the ACPT, he was nothing like his persona here. If someone had said to me, You met Rex Parker today. Which person was he?, he wouldn’t have even made my top-ten possibilities list.

Like Rex, I was thinking “bialy” before BAGEL.

@Teedmn – absolutely this is a problem in August. It’s why I stopped flying to Maine every summer and just make the 14-hour drive. Your story is all too familiar. Sorry, though. That stinks, man.

RITA ORA was a woe for me, too, and its cross with ARAMIE was tough. I guessed right, though.

Early on, I accidentally saw the reveal, and with RAT TERRIER already in place, I was thinking it’d be stuff like “rainbow trout.” “Reality TV.” Peter’s take is much more interesting, imo. Hard to think of other phrases. Reel-to-reel. Tea tree. Tattoo art. Yawn.

And then I had to think of other names like Casey. On a coke kick. Hah.

“Vermin-hunting dog” – aren’t they all? Mine have a subspecialty of finding and rolling in dead vermin.

Those PTA bake sales. At the Walmart I frequent, you cannot enter or exit the store on a weekend without passing bake sale tables. Or worse: two cute little 8-yr-olds startling in cheerleading uniforms and full make-up holding out a football helmet for you to drop cash in while their mothers’ smiles invite you to ooh and ahh about how adorable they are. So I get the cash ready before I get out of the car and resent the crap out of the fact that I’m guilted into donating to this county school district. I happily spend quite a bit of money in my own (much poorer) county, and I wish I could just be honest with these little girls, explain my allegiance, but I’d feel like a jerk. Anyhoo, I leave the store, and the fund-raising shift has changed, so the new people don’t know that I already gave, and I tell them I already gave and I know they think I’m a stinking liar and I feel their eyes on my miserly back as I walk to my car and I’m embarrassed. Just as I’m hating myself that I begrudge these other fund-raising kids, I get caught at the stop light, smack dab next the man and his “Help me” sign and am guilted into donating to him, too. I can ignore the charity ads on tv because my stinginess shame is private.

ATWOOD. Hmm. My drive to and from school is about 50 minutes each way, so I listen to a lot of books on tape. I know The Handmaid’s Tale is a big deal, but I just could not get into it. Finally gave up and started listening for a third time Benjamin Dreyer’s book Dreyer’s English. The Handmaid’s Tale is like my Cold Mountain of this decade. Hated that one, too.

‘TIS – wouldn’t everything be easier if we used this contraction instead of it’s? It’s wouldn’t exist, wouldn’t be there for people to misuse and hence open themselves up to public shaming.

“Wild pigs” – I have lunch duty again this year.

Lewis 5:31 AM  
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Lewis 5:36 AM  

Worse than a ROTATOR TEAR!

Just kidding. Actually more like ART. I counted 85 theme squares which, even with a 16-wide grid, is crazy crazy high, and look at how those theme answers cross! And... they are symmetrical! This is the product of a master puzzle builder. A TREAT to behold.

It felt like it had more resistance than a typical Monday, but my time was Monday-normal. I'm guessing that means the solve required more thinking than the normal Monday rote-splat. More thinking plus a feat of construction equals a strong thumbs up for me.

David in Brevard 6:34 AM  

Wow, a big grid and apparently 11 theme answers. Just “Wow” again.
Very nice and appropriate write up by Rex this morning - on the money. My time was a hair over average Monday but almost double my best. So that tells you I found it tricksome.
All the extra time was spent in the SE with the revealer (ARTIE) which I should’ve/could’ve got had I slowed down a bit and thought it through. But classic crosswordese RARA and then several names (ATWOOD, LEONI for 2) stumped me for several precious minutes. METS before REDS!!! Never heard of RITAORA (or Iggy Azalea) and I am from the wrong side of the pond.
Overall, I loved discovering long answers that only contained Rs and Ts (TEETERTOTTER, REITERATE and TRATTORIA - bravo). Well done Rex on the Lollapuzzoola result).

David in Brevard

OffTheGrid 6:57 AM  

There was even a theme answer in today's MINI. I'll be seeing T,R words all day.

amyyanni 7:09 AM  

More fun than a regular Monday. Love swing music (my folks could dance!); grew up Shaw, Miller, the Dorseys. Also a tahini fan. Rex, I feel the same way about my running friends. A lot of us are geeky introverts-perhaps why we spend hours a week running before or after work alone-but almost all of the ones I know are supportive, caring people. Glad you had a great time and Congratulations to you and Mrs. Rex. To many more!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

If words with T and R is your theme, you can’t put reCtor in your grid. Or Starr. I’ll let you have stray T’s and I’ll let you have stray R’s. But not words with BOTH theme letters that are not themers.

FWIW, I found this very easy and it still took me almost as long as it took yesterday’s guest reviewer to do a 21x21 Sunday.

RITA ORA is another of my crossword-only buddies.

Zerex 7:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Suzie Q 7:38 AM  

Great Monday that required some real thought. When my first two answers were Plato and Pieta I knew I would like this one. @ Lewis said it best so I won't even try.
Artie Shaw I know though his fame was before my time. Rita Ora is a complete unknown. The only Iggy I know (but don't really care for)
is Iggy Pop. Ora might be slightly famous now but I doubt she will stand the test of time.
I love getting an early week puzzle from a pro like Mr. Gordon.

Hungry Mother 7:47 AM  

Usual Monday here. I did a lot of downs to keep things moving along. I thought ARTIE Shaw played a bit old, even for me, but I had no hesitation.

pabloinnh 7:53 AM  

Thought OFL might enjoy this a little more, as it seemed "fresh" to me, in that I've seen using only certain letters before as a theme, but not these two. Alas, not to be. A little bumpy for a Monday but that's OK once in a while.

Couple of WOE's, LEONI for one, and RITAORA looks to me like a Scrabble rack I'd trade in.

Thanks PG, always like your stuff.

QuasiMojo 8:02 AM  

A Bialy does not have a hole, so the "doughnut" clue points to only... Bagel. Torus, Torus, Torus.

Zipped thru this with very little delight.

A Rat was recently caught in a movie theater near me. But not by a Terrier. Alas.

No SPITE today. More LollaPaloozas please.

Amy 8:09 AM  

Thank you for your work ! Anyone who thinks a bagel is a roll has never had a proper bagel.

Nancy 8:19 AM  

I was thinking that unless it gets a more appealing name, the RAT TERRIER will always be the last dog rescued from the pound. And that it will never be a movie star like Lassie or Asta or Toto or Rin Tin Tin. And that I'm pretty sure no one in the park has ever said to me: "I want you to meet [fill in dog's name], my wonderful RAT TERRIER. But I looked it up and the RAT TERRIER was named by Teddy Roosevelt, so what do I know?

Considering the letter limitations that the theme forced upon this puzzle, the result wasn't half bad. Not that it was hard, but I think I had to do more thinking today than I did in last week's Mon, Tue and Wed puzzles combined. I had to, for example, come up with PIETA, when I initially wanted either DAVID or MOSES.

Yesterday we had TURN TURN TURN. Today we have TORA TORA TORA. Is there a pattern developing?

orangeblossomspecial 8:25 AM  

Artie Shaw went through Hollywood starlets like a hot knife through butter. Some he married, some he had affairs. Apparently he emotionally abused them all.

GILL I. 8:52 AM  

Not to disparage @Z...but dang, @Zerex 7:35 I can't stop laughing.
I'm obtuse. I didn't understand where we were going until I met ARTIE. Then @Lewis puts this into a lovely perspective and I think: "yeah, this is quite a feat." But Peter does that, doesn't he...?
Of course there are crosswordeesy words - how else can you get to the punch line. I like seeing old friends and I'm betting newbies do too.
PIETA always brings on a smile. Michelangelo was a small man in stature but what he did with his hands was grandiose. Can anyone compare this day?
No idea about RITA ORA and I wouldn't know an Iggy from and Azalea.
@Loren...I'm a payout sucker as well. For me it's the Girl Scouts and anyone holding up a cardboard sign and happens to have a dog. I give. Always. When my husband goes to bed, I stay up and decorate dog and cat collars with jewels. I hand them out at the stop light along with a few dollars.
@Teedmn. Ouch. I stopped flying years ago even though I can fly for free. I know our ex-friend @evil Doug was a pilot on Delta - and they use to be wonderful, but they've been rated as one of the worse these days. Truth be told, all US airlines are pretty bad. No warnings, no accommodations - nada. Imagine if you're traveling with pups and children. Hope you get to your destination safely.
Then, speaking of @Rex Parker. I've never met our host but I can tell you he writes thoughtful thank-you notes. I like it when you conjure up an image of someone and it proves totally wrong when you meet in person.

Anonymoose 8:55 AM  

@kitshef 7:20. I guess Peter just didn't know the rules.

mmorgan 9:06 AM  

Never heard of RITA ORA but it filled itself in easily from crosses. This may have been crosswordy but I thought it was cool to keep seeing more and more words that have no other consonants besides R and T. Nice Monday puzzle!

GILL I. 9:10 AM  

Oops. I guess @Zerex got zapped.....

RooMonster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
When will the R's stop in BRRR? I thought two as the limit. Maybe we can get a 15, BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Sweet!

Interesting theme. As y'all probably know, I'm a fan of lots of theme in a puz. This one is pretty darn high, 11, although TIS (Hi @Loren!) kind of a thin theme idea. Ratchet it up a notch, no other T's and R's elsewhere besides the themers. Quite possibly impossible. And why isn't 1A included for symmetry to 71A?

Those sniggling NITs aside, it was a fun puz. The Downs seemed easier than the Acrosses to me today. Again, failed to notice the extra wide grid. Aggravates me when I don't see it for some reason.

I don't get shamed into giving money to things I don't want to give money to. Just ignore the street beggars, and they move on. Some beggars definitely need the help, but how do you know? Some are dressed nicer than, and I just give them a scowl. And the ones with dogs actually piss me off, because if you can't even feed yourself, what are you doing with a dog? That may make me a bad person, but hopefully it doesn't get me BAD PR with y'alls view of me.

Anyway, not an EVEL puz, the right amount of push-back for a Monday, and of course my one-letter DNF, aRNE/PaSTIT. The reason for the A? Wanted PaSTIe for 10D at first. Har! Maybe been in Las Vegas too long?


mmorgan 9:30 AM  

Now we’re all dying to know what @Zerex said!

Hack mechanic 9:37 AM  

Decisive or derisive?

A real dog 9:42 AM  

All terriers are RAT TERRIERS. It's what they were born to do. Harass rats. Being annoying as hell is just a bonus.

Dr. Steve Jackson 9:48 AM  

@mmorgan 9:30AM

It was something about Z being Rex. Apparently there's a cover-up going on.

Lewis 9:53 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week
(In order of appearance):

1. Halfway home (2)(6)
2. Sign with the times (4)
3. Something scratched (4)
4. Garden item that sounds like the plural of another garden item (4)
5. It charges to do some cleaning (6)


Z 9:57 AM  

That RITA ORA ANI DiFranco ERNO Rubik ARAMIS car crash seems just a Taaaaad excessive, especially for a Monday. PLATO PIETA seems like a very Dada type work to me. I found DIALOG’s missing UE twice, EURO and EULER. I’m on the TEETER TOTTER about ordering the DOVES with TAHINI sauce at my local TRATTORIA..., i guess what I’m saying is I don’t have much to say about the puzzle.

@LMS - I never give money to beggars anymore. Here’s a good synopsis on why I defer giving to the non-adorable. And pretty much the same opportunity cost argument results in the polite, “sorry, not today” to the adorbs. If, however, an opportunity to buy books for a classroom arises through a charity like Donors Choose occurs I’m there. When I was living in Detroit and walking home with leftovers often we were also in the habit of giving the leftovers to whoever was handy and seemed hungry. Never money, though.

@Gill I - Aah, now I’m almost curious. Almost.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

My favorite comment so far today is @pabloinnh (7:53) trading in his Scrabble rack.

Second favorite is @Roo's BRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Z 10:03 AM  

@Dr. Steve Jackson - Oh, that. Well, clearly from my very authentic blog avatar it is very clear I look nothing like Rex.

Not OG RT Shaw 10:11 AM  

For the record, the Artie Shaw video Rex linked is not him or his band playing what you're hearing...the music's been clearly overdubbed onto a previous performance. Not sure why that was done except that the fidelity was probably better.

As for Artie's exploits, being good at any art form (or any other endeavor in life) doesn't necessarily come from being a good person, nor does the study of it make you a better person. History is littered with artists of all stripe who were terrible people...and, of course, good people too. I guess that is to say, you can like their art guilt-free...just realize that in loving their music, that doesn't mean you'd love to hang out with them. See also: Richard Wagner.

QuasiMojo 10:23 AM  

@Nancy, nice tie-in with the T. R. Theme!

Rita 10:32 AM  

Rex generally comes across as bitter and as humorless as our president. It’s nice to picture Michael laughing so hard with delight. Wish we saw that more in the blog.

trish 10:51 AM  

I agree I always thought Z was Rex

jberg 11:02 AM  

Tough theme for me to get. I got TOO TRUE and TEETER TOTTER pretty quickly, so I was looking for alliteration; then TROT OUT made me look for TRO variations -- I needed the revealer to understand what was actually going on.

I think "Rex Parker" is supposed to be a character, the creation of Michael Sharp, but with a personality of his own. It's hard to maintain,though, because he keeps bringing details of his personal life in. Also, everyone is different in person from their online personality.

Humiliating admission: I've heard of Iggy Azalea, and I've heard of Iggy Pop, but I don't know how one differs from the other. Same thing for Nas and Li'l Nas X. So I just go from the context (and the crosses).

@Loren, reel-to-reel?? Are you promoting l to a vowel? You could make a case for that, I guess.

xyz 11:04 AM  

Cute-ish grid today, I did mine after pizza and wine last night was distracted, don't know how easy it is/was, but it went quickly, even quicker after ARTIE, I often go to the bottom of puzzles after my first ??? in the NW.

Reviewing earlier posts: Excellent! The overall theme of indignations alive for yet another day. Y'all just be sure to just unload on any Opera figure who happens to be in a forthcoming grid, you wouldn't believe just how much Opera Figures get in real life, talk about groupies?!?!?

Rex, being a curmudgeon myself, keep it up.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

So, Rex: y'all came in third. You owe your peons here an explanation. Was it a loss by a nose to second that lost by a nose to the winner, or was it a loss to Secretariat twice? :) Or is there a posted result someplace? Anyone? (And, yes, I know absolutely nothing about xword competi - tion).

Carola 11:10 AM  

Those intersecting theme answers are quite a work of grid art. The pattern reminded me of Mondrian's "Broadway Boogie Woogie".
A fun one to solve, putting up a little more resistance than the usual Monday and chock full of theme treats. I especially liked TOO TRUE and TROT OUT. REITERATE was cute crossing TORA TORA TORA. As for the rhyming RITA ORA: no idea.

Doug Garr 11:17 AM  

Michael, you have to post a photo of giving yourself a high five. That's gonna look awkward.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@A real dog:
Being annoying as hell is just a bonus.

We got some sort of wire hair from a shelter, we meaning The Wife by herself, and it spent the rest of its time in the household snapping and biting the hands that fed it. They might be useful left outside on a farm, but not much else.

Skippy, aka Asta, on the other hand, made the 'Thin Man' movies watchable. He was in 'The Awful Truth' (I thought he looked familiar!), too, and was unmanageable according to the Wiki. If you again watch 'The Wizard of Oz', keep an eye on Toto the whole way through. He's a better actor than the humans:

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Yesterday we had TURN TURN TURN. Today we have TORA TORA TORA. Is there a pattern developing?

I could scope an 'Animal House' xword. toga! toga! toga!

RooMonster 11:36 AM  

Giving money/food/water update:
I actually did give a bottle of water to a person at a red light about two weeks ago. Had my windows down, not sure why, because it was hovering around 100, but the guy asked for food or water, and since it sucks being outside in the heat, I gave him a bottle.

So see? I'm not totally without morals. :-)


Masked and Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Didn't know RITA ORA. Is TARO ROOT a thing? I betcha ROTO ROOTER is, in any case.

Lollapuzzoola blog pic question: What is @RP smokin? Also, wow awful nice trophies, for third place … what do the first place ones look like -- are we talkin Stanley Cuplike, or Oscarlike, or somesuch? And what do them first place couples smoke? Where can M&A get a coupla those?
How does couples competitions work? Can U talk amongst yerselves? Can U then listen in on other such nearby conversations, and get valuable hints? And can U smoke during the competition? Can U wear ball caps during the competition? Masks?

Hey cool, the themers ate up *all* the longball answers in the MonPuz grid today. Speakin of ATE, it gets staff weeject pick, due to it qualifyin as a themer, I think. Technically.

@Teedmn: Sure sorry about yer plane troubles. Hope U are home safe and sound real soon. I'll leave some runtz out for U.

Usually mighty hard to get a moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue out of Mr. Gordon. It just ain't in his genes.
Let's go with {Birds symbolizing peace} = DOVES. Genesis woman followed by Genesis man was also fairly friendly, tho.

The vermin-huntin dog in M&A always likes him some flourishes of desperation, so really treasured REINKS. har

Thanx for gettin m&e back into solvequests on an easyish note, Mr. Gordon.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

biter written while on the road:

Joseph M 11:59 AM  

When I think of Peter Gordon puzzles, I think of proper nouns. In this one, they account for roughly a third of the grid entries. Since it’s Monday level, I knew most of them but would still prefer more wordplay any day.

The grid construction is impressive and the theme clever and plentiful, but solving this was a bit of a BOAR. So I give it two STARRS.


Joe Dipinto 12:07 PM  

Doughnut-shaped roll (BAGEL) really threw me...Looks like BAGELs and BIALYs are frequently sold together ← Rex

You're lucky you didn't get run out of NYC this weekend.

Yeah, so -- a puzzle built on Artie Shaw. Very cutting-edge. Fun fact: while most songs from that era have a 32-bar structure, "Begin The Beguine" runs a whopping 108 bars from start to finish. And Artie's arrangement doesn't have a beguine rhythm.

I saw the Pietà when it came to the World's Fair in 1964-65. It was in front of an eerie blue backdrop. As I recall you circled up and around it on a slow-moving escalator.

11 themers: Spinal Tap would be proud.

O Borneo, Borneo, wherefore art thou, Borneo?

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle and the comments

JC66 12:32 PM  

@Anon 11:05

Since you asked, here are to rankings at this year's Lollapuzzoola . Just click on the "Pairs" tab (3rd from right up top) to see the @Rex's (aka Michael Sharp's) score.

RobertM 12:42 PM  

Love the BAGELs T-shirt on Michael’s solving partner! Timely...

Z 12:43 PM  

@jberg - Iggy Pop is more our age, never wears a shirt when performing, is from West Michigan (like me), and is sometimes known as “the Godfather of Punk.” Iggy Azalea could be our granddaughter, almost always performs wearing a shirt (leaked GQ pix aside), is from Australia, and is too recent to have any really cool nicknames based on musical styles influenced by her. Otherwise they are exactly the same.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

@JC66, et al

By a head and a nose. Worthy of a high-five, I'd say. But then, I admire both person and persona.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Everybody should track down the 'Parts Unknown" episode with Iggy. It's a pre-suicide episode, so has Bourdain's voice over narration from post. One might say that Iggy on-stage bears little (these days, at least) resemblance to off-stage.

pavel_nyc 1:21 PM  

Is Z actually Rex? That explains a lot.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Anon 11:05,

Sharp and his wife were closer to 8th place than first place.

EV 1:31 PM  

My father was nine years old in Liverpool when war broke out. He and his sibs were evacuated to his father's home in Galway, Ireland, then brought back after six months because the war was phoney. They lived through the Blitz in the basement, coming up every morning to see what was left of the neighborhood. By the end of it, theirs was the only habitable building on the street. Ten or so years later, he had to do his Military Service (saluting the Union Jack every day - the Horror!) The Drill Sergeant would yell AAHh- TEEeenn- SshAAhn! The squaddies' joke was that he was screaming Artie Shaw's name so loud Mr. Shaw could hear it clear across the Atlantic.

Liked the puzzle


Anonymous 2:39 PM  
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Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Please, just shut up.

Birchbark 3:21 PM  

@Teedmn (2:49) -- Sorry to hear it and hope you got a flight back by now. I was delayed at LGA a few weeks ago and felt both relieved and sorry for myself when I got home at 3:00 a.m. "This too shall pass."

Hank 4:05 PM  

Rex can be a bit caustic but I don't find him to be bitter. As to humor, he has flashes of his own and shows an appreciation for humor in others as well.

Why compare him to The Commander of Cheese ?

Cassieopia 4:27 PM  

@Rex nice write up today. Congrats to you and your lovely spouse! Puzzle was fast and easy and a great Monday.

Jeff B. 4:34 PM  

Enjoyed it. Medium for me, but if I'd seen the revealer earlier, it would have been easier. Maybe I should be searching out revealers?

Fortunately, I know about ARTIE Shaw; did not know RITA ORA. How many people would get both right away?

This one makes me want to go to a TRATTORIA.

Thanks to OFL, by any name, for a more relatable blog post!

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

given that the distribution of scores is heavily left-skew, first and second being much more distant from third is from the remaining numbers, being numerically closer to eighth is not significant. it's still a high-five.

Z 5:55 PM  

@Anon1:29 - Try that subtraction thing again. 25100 - 24760 = 340, 24760 - 23960 = 800.
@Anon4:38 - Huh? The distribution is skewed left, but I don’t follow the rest of your reasoning. While overall the scores are bunched towards the high end of the range, that wouldn’t tell us anything about the relationship between three specific scores. Here are the Pairs intervals from 1st to 8th, 100, 240, 230, 45, 305, 85, 135. Not much to glean from those differences.
Anyone notice that half of First Place in pairs was former frequent commenter and current Sunday WaPo constructor @Evan Birnholz?

Anonymous 5:57 PM  

I think that the times of the pairs winners would be significantly slower than the times of the individual winner if they competed against each other. . The fastest solvers are so fast that a partner would slow them. The pairs competition is a niche competition for (relatively) slow solvers. I’m still impressed. Rex and spouse beat my wife and me handily.

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Try looking again. Rex would supplant the current 8th spot, not have the same score as the 8th spot. The key number, besides the Sharps, is the 7th place score. Subtract 340 and the Sharps would be in 8th.
Gosh youre dull.

Nancy 9:31 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (12:07) -- Re: the extended length of "Begin the Beguine": Musicologist and author Alec Wilder was noted as saying: "Around the 60th measure, I started pleading for them to End the Beguine."

JC66 10:14 PM  


Good one!

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

@Anon 6:39
Actually, they would've landed in the sixth spot not the eigth. Your point, however, still stands.

Chris 11:26 PM  

Perhaps is just such tired old gossip that no one even thought it worth mentioning, or does nobody know anymore that the oft-married Ava Gardner and the even more times married Artie Shaw were once married to each other—though they keep a discreet distance in this puzzle.

Z 11:29 PM  

@Anon10:34 - I think the point was that Rex and his partner were closer to 8th than to 1st, so not so much. Math is hard, it seems.

@anon5:57 - You would think, but Rex finishing 24th (which is where the Pair’s score falls) out of 319 is pretty typical for Rex. He’s lightning quick compared to most of us, but he’s definitely in the second tier when it comes to speed. Compare his daily posted times to the times posted here. So solving as a pair doesn’t seem to have had a significant impact on solving speed.

Burma Shave 10:09 AM  


they’ll TROTOUT another STARR.


spacecraft 11:06 AM  

What, no love for John TURTURRO?? C'mon, man. And being an out-of-towner, vis-a-vis New York, I never even considered BIALY. I heard of a Miriam BIALY; who knew she was named after a pastry?

This was one of those "Oh, look what I can do!" puzzles, which are unimpressive more often than not. Today is a representative example. It would have been really boffo if the themed R's and T's were the ONLY such in the grid, but there are several others. I agree that theme density made for some unfortunate fill, but thus does Monday dawn.

I'm in the large crowd who needed every single cross for RITAORA, but after Googling her (post-solve, of course), I immediately awarded her the DOD sash.

It isn't terrible--and it does have a RATTERRIER, so...par.

Diana, LIW 1:08 PM  

I agree with Rex on the obscurity of the singer's name - Rita????

That and a few others were Wednesday-worthy clues/answers, the rest was Monday okay.

And, yes, lots of theme here. Fine with me!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoast 3:08 PM  

Doesn't ANY Monday puzzle ever earn a rating other than "easy" or "medium"? Guess not, but this one is more challenging and clever FOR A MONDAY than most are, IMO.

Yeah, the theme is pretty clear after seeing the ARTIE revealer, but theme answers are not all that obvious without helping crosses, as for RITAORA or TRATTORIA. And throw in the non-theme TAHINI and ORNE for good measure.

Indeed, all the themers stand out on their own, sans the revealer and crosses that made this a Monday in the first place.

This puzzle is a Monday stand-out.

rainforest 3:22 PM  

Har. Looks like the constructor missed the perfect opportunity to include *RUT* and *TAR* in some paving application. @rondo would've loved that.

So, instead of P's and Q's, it's T's and R's we have to watch today. Maybe not the most impressive theme per se, but certainly appropriate for a Monday, and notable for its intersecting presentation.

Is there a difference between a RECTOR and a "pastor"? Can you have both in a parish?

TAHINI with falafel is not awful. Quite savory actually.
Good Monday puzzle.

rondo 4:43 PM  

Once UPON a TINE, 80 years ago, there was a lot more going on between AVA and ARTIE than in this puz; here almost all you get between them is a BAGEL and a BIO. Maybe SHE tells all in that BIO; I doubt ARTIE RECTOR. Faint recollecTION of yeah baby RITAORA from intermittent subscripTIONs to Rolling Stone. Mostly Ts before Rs which are the sounds, just not in ARTIE order. Found this kind of a BOAR.

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