Sharp's counterpart / MON 8-12-19 / Image in Jurassic Park logo informally / Mountaineering spike

Monday, August 12, 2019

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium (2:59)

THEME: O, B — all the themers begin with the sounds of those letters being said aloud:

Theme answers:
  • OBIE AWARD (17A: Theatrical honor)
  • OBI-WAN KENOBI (24A: "Star Wars" role for Alec Guinness)
  • OBEDIENCE SCHOOL (38A: Where education is pursued doggedly?)
  • OB/GYN DOCTORS (49A: Delivery people?)
  • "OH, BE QUIET!" (62A: "Hush, you!")
Word of the Day: "Blue SKIES" (22D: Irving Berlin's "Blue ___") —
"Blue Skies" is a popular song, written by Irving Berlin in 1926. // The song was composed in 1926 as a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy. Although the show ran for 39 performances only, "Blue Skies" was an instant success, with audiences on opening night demanding 24 encores of the piece from star Belle Baker. During the final repetition, Ms. Baker forgot her lyrics, prompting Berlin to sing them from his seat in the front row.
In 1927, the music was published and Ben Selvin's recorded version was a hit. That same year, it became one of the first songs to be featured in a talkie, when Al Jolson performed it in The Jazz Singer. The song was recorded for all of the major and dime store labels of the time. Another version of the song was recorded by Benny Goodman and his Orchestra in 1935 (Victor 25136). 1946 was also a notable year for the song, with a Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire filmtaking its title along with two recorded versions by Count Basie and Benny Goodman reaching #8 and #9 on the pop charts, respectively. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye performed the song in 1954's White Christmas. Crossing genres, Willie Nelson's recording of "Blue Skies" was a #1 country music hit in 1978. It was a major western swing and country standard already in 1939, by Moon Mullican, and in 1962 by Jim Reeves.
Thelonious Monk's 1947 composition "In Walked Bud" is based on the chord changes to "Blue Skies."
"Blue Skies" is one of many popular songs whose lyrics use a "bluebird of happiness" as a symbol of cheer: "Bluebirds singing a song—Nothing but bluebirds all day long." The sunny optimism of the lyrics are undercut by the minor key giving the words an ironic feeling. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pffffffft, no, not really, no. Just a bunch of the same sounds? There's not a real progression, no climax, no revealer, the central answer has the stress on the "B" unlike all the others, OB/GYN DOCTORS is hella redundant and also said by no one. Just a big "what the hell?" sigh from me. Not sure what is ailing this paper that it can't deliver on Mondays Every Single Week. I mean, for how much they talk themselves up, they should deliver every day, but a disappointing Monday is a particularly sad sight, somehow. The fill on this one is supremely, unnecessarily mediocre and stale. AABA should not be in any puzzle unless the situation is desperate. Rhyme schemes aren't great, and this one in particular, ugh. ACTUATE is a gross word that is gross, bury it in the yard. MOPEDS just gets [Two-wheelers]?!?! Doesn't exactly conjure up MOPEDS. Motorcycles, bicycles, some luggage ... all [Two-wheelers]. At least *try* to make your clues interesting. LOWLIT ... just looks wrong to me every time I see and/or say it (5D: Darkish, as the interior of a restaurant). This puzzle has no ear at all for the English language. I mean, [Sperm targets]!? That is definitely defensible, on a literal level, but why? Why would you? ELEC ASIN EIRE ESTEE WEENY OCOME!? OCOME on! BOO! (45A: "You stink!") Be more entertaining!

I really want the clue on OBEDIENCE SCHOOL to be [Where education is doggedly pursued?] instead of [... pursued doggedly?]. My way gets eight times more google hits. Also, if you google "pursued doggedly" in quotation marks, your first hits all refer to this here puzzle, which suggests awkward phrasing. I guess from a "comedic" (cough) standpoint, maybe you want to hit that "pun" (cough) word last? But I think the "joke" (...) comes across just fine with the actually sounds-better phrasing. Do SAGAS have "chapters"? That seems like a feature of novels, to me. I guess in the metaphorical sense of "chapter," sure. Still, that was one moment that slowed me down, especially since that answer contained the mystery which-bomb-is-it!? letter (N!? H!? Nope, it's A!) (12D: Detonation of 7/16/45) (actually the H-BOMB wasn't tested (by the US) until the '50s, so I guess that possibility was out from the jump, but who's thinking in such specific terms on a Monday!? Go go go!). Oh, um, just realized that the "A" in A-BOMB, that ... that stands for ATOM, right? Or "atomic," which contains ATOM. Right? The same ATOM that is actually also in this grid?? (27D: Quark's place). Ugh, this puzzle is fired!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

O B or not O B? That is today’s question:
Whether ’tis nobler to suffer a DNF on Friday
Or to sail effortlessly through an easy Monday.

jae 1:10 AM  


travis 1:43 AM  

Considering Mel Gibson is an asshole and wasn't even in the good version of Mad MAX, it left somewhat of a bad taste to see him in the puzzle.

chefwen 1:53 AM  

After 17 and 24A I just went ahead and filled in OBI in all the longs, oops! Hello Wite Out.

I rather enjoyed this one, the reveal wasn’t really necessary, but it brought a chuckle.

Agree with Rex on OBGYN DOCTORS.

cseft 2:03 AM  

Quarks are the building blocks for many exotic elementary particles that never exist as parts of atoms. Even “common” particles made up of quarks (like protons and neutrons) do not necessarily need to be parts of an atom and can exist separately. What was an attempt at being clever simply turned into a bad clue.

Big Jim Slade 2:50 AM  

Jesus Rex you got triggered by ACTUATE? It's a great word that's used all the time in engineering. ACTUATE. ACTUATOR. ACTUATING. In fact, you weren't just triggered, you were ACTUATED.

@Travis 1:43 AM
Wrong. Mel Gibson was in The Road Warrior (1981), which is easily the best Mad Max movie. Sure he's an asshole, so what. You don't have to hang out with him and he definitely doesn't want to hang out with you, because you are too sensitive. Me, on the other hand, I'd drive up to Malibu and go drinking with that guy because you just know he's going do and say some real crazy shit and I'd like to see that.

Robert 3:37 AM  

"OB/GYN DOCTORS is hella redundant and also said by no one"
Rex Parker thinks OB/GYN physician assistants and nurse practitioners are worthless garbage whose existences should be ignored.

Hungry Mother 6:23 AM  

Broke out of a slump today with a very quick solve. My head cold and cough seem better as well, so the week starts out right.

Lewis 6:25 AM  

Props to you Jeff for coming up with a theme that's never been done before, one that introduces new solvers to sound-repetition themes, and one that, IMO, will give them a feeling of accomplishment to solve. I was never bored and appreciate your keeping my chops honed. Thank you for the work you put into this!

OffTheGrid 6:29 AM  

I think most people say O-B-G-Y-N, so I'm not sure what @Rex is talking about.

Clue for 1D would work for 12D answer.

Today's mini was fun, had a little extra twist.

Anonymous 7:13 AM  

I don't see that he said that, to be fair.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

After Rex's first vacation this summer, he came back all happy and relaxed (based on his reveiews). After he second one, he came back all curmudgeonly.

I'm not saying this is a perfect puzzle, but it is normal Monday fare - appropriate for rookies.

My second-favorite LUSH video.

Suzie Q 7:47 AM  

My feeling could not be more opposite from Rex. I thought it was great. In fact, actuate and obedience school are two entries that got marks in the margin. Wow. I sure am happy to start my day with a smile and this one did just that for me. Poor unhappy Rex.
I thought of @LMS when I wrote 36D. It is funny to me that the difference between lose and loose is the O but the difference in the way I pronounce it is the S.

I hope that if Mr. Wechsler reads this blog he reads the comments as well. I doubt that I will be the only one who enjoyed it.

pabloinnh 7:58 AM  

Another Grumpy Primate Monday,
Critics burnin' everywhere...

Well I thought representing the OB sound a little differently every time was clever, and BLUESKIES has me humming the tenor part of a really good choral arrangement our group sang, so I refuse to be angered by this one. Fine as an entry-level solve, and it is Monday, for goodness sake.

Thanks for the Mondecito, JW.

RooMonster 8:07 AM  

Hey All !
This was a fun little OB sounder puz. It is Monday, after all. Plus, an F right out of the gate. Sweet! And a low POC count. @Anoa, I only count seven.

Didn't count this as a BOO or a FLOP like Mr. Rex. Not quite HOT STUFF, but perfectly fine for a MonPuz.

Today's For CRYIN Out Loud Dept., how did I get to be 50?? What happened to my 30's and 40's? That's right, all you Rexters in Rexville, tis me Birthday. The big, monumental, astounding, phenomenal, ridiculous, 5-0! *Fanfare**Fireworks**F-BOMBs* :-)


Clueless 8:08 AM  

Thanks for Blue Skies 🌌 back story.

Captcha of two wheelers 😊

Nancy 8:09 AM  

No thinking required. The high point of the puzzle for me is @Joaquin's opening comment. Nice one, @Joaquin.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

the constant use of OBIE really grinds my gears

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

The redundancy is in "doctors." OB/GYNs don't call themselves "OB/GYN doctors" and neither do their patients.

Wm. C. 8:50 AM  

I didn't see the OB theme until I came here. Isn't it unusual to have a themed puzzle on a Monday?

The Northeast was a mystery to me for quite a while. I couldn't get "Sharp's Counterpart" or "xxxPound" ... What, "THE" leading a piece of fill??? X___Xylophone??? Finally got FLOP offa OBIE and PENPAL

Oh, well ... Good to have a bit of a challenge on a Monday.

davidm 9:08 AM  

Too easy, even by Monday standards. I got OBIE AWARD AND OBI WAN KENOBI right off, and the theme, such as it is, was obvious. I liked the cluing for OBEDIENCE SCHOOL, while agreeing with Rex on the clue’s word order. But by then, I already knew that the answer had to start with an OB sound, so the answer to an otherwise nice misdirection clue was obvious. I never time myself, but if I had, I think I beat Rex’s time, which would be a first for me. :) Still boggled that he finished yesterday’s puzzle in under ten minutes. It took me more than an hour.

Joaquin 9:18 AM  

Thanks, @Nancy, for the props. I appreciate it! And back at ya, as I always enjoy reading your takes.

jberg 10:00 AM  

The revealer is bugging me. What is QUIET about the theme, since each one involves pronouncing O B. What am I missing?

xyz 10:01 AM  

MIDWIFE and OBSTETRICIAN (didn't fit, so it had to be OB-GYN) is the more proper name for 'delivery people', Malpractice rates have some that are qualified as "OB-GYN" only doing GYN. Oh Will ...

Upset at Mel Gibson in a puzzle? If ALL Hollywood A-holes were off limits, who would we be left with? So - Now do we get to re-instate KEVIN SPACEY? No matter what you think, see The Usual Suspects and L.A. Confidential again. Brilliant stuff.

A puzzle-full of rotten fill, do today's WSJ for a more proper Monday.

Super easy stuff be here

JC66 10:14 AM  

@Chefwen & @jberg

I don't get how/why (62 A) OH BE QUIET for "Hush, you!" is a revealer?

Lewis 10:30 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Hearts that don't beat very much (5)
2. Going rate (4)
3. Company with a for-profit foundation? (4)
4. It can pass when you pass (9)
5. Start of an anti-coal petition (4)(5)


RooMonster 10:44 AM  

There is no Revealer. The last OH BE is just a continuation of the OB sounder theme. Five themers, no Revealer.

@Wm. C.
Every MonPuz has a theme, in the NYT. The way the NYTXW works, is Sunday is themed and 21x21 (sometimes one column bigger or smaller, up to Will to decide if bigger grid I'd warranted), Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are themed and are 15x15 (again, bigger or smaller). They start easy, get progressively tougher as the week goes on. Friday and Saturday are themeless, 15x15. Friday is the easier of the two.

RooMonster Public Service Announcement

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

There is no revealer.

bauskern 10:59 AM  

If Rex hates Mondays so much, why does he do them? I think we're all just being trolled. I thought this wa tad tougher than the usual Monday, & didn't notice the theme until I came on to this site. Thought ALIBI was a clever answer.

Doug Garr 10:59 AM  

Laughed my way through this really fast all the time thinking BMM -- for Michael panning it, as in "bad mood Monday?

Joe Dipinto 11:07 AM  

I don't have a revealer in my print edition. Is the 62a clue different online maybe?

This was a perfectly fine Monday puzzle. Nothing wrong with it. For those dubious about the Mel Gibson clue, at least 21a avoided referencing a certain comedian. XWord Info says the constructor's debut was 7/17/1969. Happy 50! You too, Roo Monster!

The "best" version of "Blue Skies" is by Johnny 'Bowtie' Barstow. You have to hear it to believe it. Someday I'll learn how to post a link.

It's Monday, we need something cheerful and uplifting to start the work week. How about --

Romance is mush, stifling those who strive
I'll live a lush life in some small dive
And there I'll be, while I rot with the rest
Of those whose lives are lonely too

Or not. :-)

xyz 11:29 AM  

Revealer revealed:


Joe Bleaux 11:33 AM  

I will try yet again ...

Joseph M 12:03 PM  

I thought “Sharp’s counterpoint” was CHEN at

As an optimist, I see the puzzle as half good rather than half bad. A grid with HOT STUFF in it deserves at least a few points.

To those trying to figure out the revealer, relax. There isn’t one. The theme is just terms that start with an OH BE sound. However, the puzzle is CRYIN for a revealer to explain why this sound rates a NYT puzzle. The constructor mentions the crosswordese OBI as a seed for the theme. It might have been nice if he had found a way to incorporate that into a revealer of some kind.

Clue for 4D could have been “Poet Ezra’s sobriquet.”

jb129 12:22 PM  

I agree with David M - very easy.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

I need a reminder at the end of the Monday puzzle: "Go back and check for a theme."

Agree that OB/GYN DOCTOR is redundant. Grimaced at that one during the solve. Also grimaced at ELEC and a few others. But all in all, it was fine, I guess.

old timer 12:38 PM  

I thing OBGYNDOCTOR is an outlier, as well as redundant. Does anyone really say, "oh bee gee wye en"? Very common in print, of course, but if asked, I think most doctors and patients would refer to a doctor who specializes in pregnancy as an OB. Or obstetrician of course.

kitshef 1:01 PM  

Happy birthday, young @Roo.

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

I felt like I flew through this - actually came in 1/2 minute over Monday average. I suppose things like Rex's SAGAS slowdown were a factor. But I liked it.

My favorite was 62A - a change-up in the lettering of the themers yet a perfect illustration of the theme sound.

The "word of the day" info on "Blue Skies" was fascinating - 24 encores of the song? That's just crazy. Hey, I love the song too but really. The audience should have been able to sing the lyrics for Belle Baker after 24 repeats!!

Thanks, JW, nice Monday puzzle.

Happy birthday, @Roo - I've got you beat by nine years and six days so don't go CRYIN' about the big 50 - it's the new 30! (Or so we geezers kid ourselves.)

Z 1:07 PM  

Felt medium here. Agree that the theme isn’t much of a theme.

@cseft - Do ATOMs contain quarks?
@Robert - An OB/GYN’s physician assistant is referred to as a PA, not an OB/GYN PA.
@old timer - I hear O.B.G.Y.N. much more often than “obstetrician,” and O.B. alone only when the doctor only does pregnancy.

Myuen88 1:10 PM  

No bullets points? Rex must have really hated this puzzle.

Ralph 1:13 PM  

Football, whether the American/Canadian version or what we call "soccer," is played outdoors in stadiums. There is an "arena football," but I don't think anyone would describe it as the "big-time" version of football. I must be missing something.

chefwen 1:18 PM  

Well, I guess calling it a revealer was wrong, getting to spell OH BE out instead of just OB was kinda cute.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

People people people! The only person so far (that has weighed in)that seems to understand @Rex's OB/GYN doctors redundancy comment is @Robert 3:37am. Rex is saying everyone ONLY says OB/GYN...and NOT OB/GYN doctor. So this viewpoint would suppose that the only related professions that need qualification are, for example, OB/GYN nurses, nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants. Looks like one can make an "insensitive" remark with NO bad intent. Speaking of which to @Rex, I recommend reading The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff and think about why you should NOT be appalled and outraged when evil historical figures are put in crossword puzzles.
I thought this was a very enjoyable Monday puzzle! Thank you Mr. Wechsler!

Wm. C. 1:53 PM  

I have a friend, member of my CC with whom I play golf, whose medical specialty was OB-GYN. It turns out that he had to retire several years early, maybe 15 years ago. His clientele kept dropping, to the point that his practice became financially non-viable.

This was caused mainly by the fact that his clientele was steadily switching to female practitioners, because they felt more comfortable with them. I'd guess that the overwhelming majority of OB-GYNs are now women.

It's unfortunate that this development hadn't been predictable before he chose his specialization. Would have avoided a lot of financial loss and early curtailment of his medical career, which he loved.

GILL I. 2:03 PM  

@Wm.C. Maybe it's because men have absolutely no clue how giving birth feels like. Also, ask a man if he's ever had a yeast infection.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Hard for a Monday. It should have been a Tuesday.

JC66 2:36 PM  



Does your oncologist have to have cancer? Does your ophthalmologist have to wear glasses? Does your anesthesiologist have to be a druggie?

Groucho 3:06 PM  

I can't believe so many of you are having trouble understanding this puzzle.

Here it is:

No revealer, just 5 different ways to spell the O B sound.

49A OB

That's it!

CDilly52 3:59 PM  

@Lewis: I agree that we had some excellent clues last week and DEAR SANTA (and its clue) should go in the crossword hall of fame as someone mentioned the other day- that one made me laugh out loud when I finally got it!

CDilly52 4:15 PM  

@Groucho: my reaction exactly! This was a Monday puzzle. Accessible to newer solvers with some cleverness and “aha!” 5 different ways to represent the sounds “O B.” And it is a bit “chewier” than the average Monday or it was for me. I had to hunt for a minute to get started.

GILL I. 4:41 PM  

@JC66. When a man can tell me that it's normal to have an 8 lb bowling ball come out my vagina, then you and I can talk turkey.

GILL I. 5:19 PM  

Just to be clear and without causing any kind of up-roar, my first Gynecologist was a man. I would've asked him to marry me if I weren't already. He was the nicest man on this earth but after the 18 "push" can do's normal...women do it all the'll be over be for you know Vietnam they actually do this in the fields.....and so the beat went on....I wanted to kill him. My second was a woman. After my first scream she said "want an epidural?" Guess who I would have preferred to marry?

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

Definitely not normal to have an 8 lb bowling ball traverse a vagina. But a baby? Normal.

Glad I'm a mom.

captnjlp 6:41 PM  

For someone that hates the NYT crossword on a near-daily basis, you sure do a lot of them.

penryn 7:28 PM  

My doctor sister-in-law always pronounces it "o b gine", though I've only ever heard her say that.

Count me among those who found the puzzle perfectly pleasant, and also among those who didn't think about the "theme" until coming here.

GetWynded 11:14 PM  

Today was People Magazine easy.

Amelia 3:05 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Burma Shave 11:28 AM  


Fer CRYIN' out loud, OHBEQUIET,
ASIN no ALIBI to try it,


spacecraft 11:55 AM  

I cannot add much to what OFC said. To me, HOTSTUFF, which DOD Donna Summer both sang and WAS (!), is the marquee answer. The rest of it you can keep. Bogey.

Diana, LIW 12:56 PM  

Tougher than the typical Monday, Completed this in my eye doc's office whilst waiting for the dilator drops to work.

Plenty better than yesterday's trauma.

ObieWan, anyone?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting

rainforest 3:22 PM  

Oh be nice!

Monday? Check
Easy? Check
Consistent theme? Check
Reasonable fill? Check

Pointing out that ATOM and ABOMB in the same grid constitutes some kind of crossword felony has to be the worst (or best) example of just searching for something negative to say. What is the point?

I just don't understand why some people dislike this puzzle.

leftcoast 3:23 PM  

I like this one; it requires some attention, maybe even a little bit of TLC for an often-slighted Monday.

Nothing at all wrong with the OB's or their completed answers. If not HOT STUFF, all the themers are pretty darn good.

To the pickers: OH, BE QUIET [said softly].

leftcoast 4:33 PM  

Just looked at Rex's review. Boy, he really went out of his way to trash this one...and the NYT.

William Heyman 4:58 PM  

I thought solving crosswords was supposed to be fun. I never google or use any references and never time myself. And if the dog needs to go out, well, that is part of life too. I enjoyed this puzzle as I do most of them. And good wishes to all. Being 81 I better get them in while I can.

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