Vegas casino named for African locale / MON 9-23-19 / Some hippie neckwear / African nation whose name consists of three US state postal abbreviations / Culture medium in lab

Monday, September 23, 2019

Constructor: Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy (2:48)

THEME: yak yak yak — terms for people who talk a lot:

Theme answers:
  • TALKAHOLIC (17A: One who yaks, yaks, yaks ...)
  • BLABBERMOUTH (27A:  ... yaks, yaks, yaks ...)
  • BLATHERSKITE (44A: ... yaks, yaks, yaks ...)
  • CHATTERBOX (59A: ... yaks, yak, yaks)
Word of the Day: BLATHERSKITE (44A) —
1. babbling, foolish person.
2. Blather.

[blather + dialectal skitecontemptible person (from Middle English skitediarrheafrom OldNorse skītrexcrementfrom skītato defecatesee skei- in Indo-European roots).] (thefreedictionary)
• • •

Super-excited to record a legit fast (for me) time in what feels like forever (not actually forever), and super-excited to see puzzles constructed by solo women on back to back days in what also feels like forever (and is probably fairly close to forever), but not very excited by this theme, or the fill. Let's start with the theme. The first themer is not a thing. Chocoholic: thing. TALKAHOLIC: extreme non-thing. And BLATHERSKITE!? Whoa. I mean, it's a cool word, but two things: a. it is not a Monday word in the slightest, and b. it doesn't mean someone who yak yak yaks. Not merely talkative. It's someone who talks nonsense. And BLABBERMOUTH? That too simply does not mean someone who yak yak yaks. A BLABBERMOUTH is someone who talks when they shouldn't, who reveals too much, exposes secrets, etc. The dictionary sometimes has someone who talks indiscreetly *or* incessantly, but common usage (and certainly the only usage I've ever heard) relates primarily to indiscretion of the speech, not the mere volume. Basically, CHATTERBOX is the only themer that I fully and whole-heartedly accept.

The fill, yeesh. "Retro" would be a very, very polite way of describing it. Why is there a plural CIAOS in ... well, any puzzle, but especially in an easy-to-fill Monday. Mainly the fill is just stale. AGAR SIAM IBET ... overwhelmingly 5-letter or shorter. The bottom of the grid is particularly substandard. HEH is never not bad, ATIE, same, and SHLEP is a var. spelling, isn't it? Really feels like it. I'd tear that whole section out and rebuild it with real words. I'm surprised I was as fast as I was today, given that I'd never heard of TALKAHOLIC, I'd barely heard of and certainly couldn't retrieve BLATHERSKITE, and I wrote in I'M OUT for I FOLD at 50D: "Too rich for my blood." Took me a bit to get TRASHY, too, and MUSE was clued like a thing, not a person, so slow there as well (52D: Creative inspiration). Also, ugh, casino clues. The worst. The worst. What a horrible waste of SAHARA (5D: Vegas casino named for an African locale). Oh well. Off to watch the Emmys so I can root for all the crossword solvers among the nominees (I know of at least four). See you later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:04 AM  

Although I'm probably guilty of being a frequent BLATHERSKITEr, this is a word I have never in my many decades of living ever seen (and frankly, this one time will be plenty).

Also, when I ScHLEP, I always ScHLEP along a "C" to include.

jae 1:19 AM  

Medium-tough. Three things gave me pause: SHLEP without the C, I pass before I FOLD, and BLATHERSKITE was a WOE.

I’m kinda with Rex on this one.

chefwen 2:17 AM  

For a super easy puzzle I had to sacrifice a lot of Wite Out. Had BLATHER MOUTH in at first at 27A, totally forgetting BLABBER, then BLATHER showed up at 44A and I went upside down for a minute. Sorted that out while wondering what a SKITE was.

Hand up for I PASS before FOLD.

TALKAHOLIC was also a new term for me, but I sure do know a few.

Always love a ACME puzzle.

emily 2:27 AM  

Omg I live on the west coast & rarely post, but I thought this was a bit harder than a Monday. Don’t have a clue what a blatherskite is, & agree w/ schlep-shlep.

Loren Muse Smith 3:14 AM  

It’s not lost on me that I’m re-entering this place with today’s theme, resident chatterbox that I am.

I see Rex’s point about the varying nuances of the themers, but they all describe someone who overtalks, whether they’re revealing too much or just yammering on.

BLATHERSKITE was new to me, too, but I like it.

I got a kick out of LECTURES running through two of the motormouth themers. And speaking of my husband, I have a new word for him: caulkaholic. There’s no household repair that he can’t execute with his trusty caulk gun. I swear. I buy caulk at Walmart almost every week, notice BEADS of caulk in startling places.

Love the word THWART. The only other word I can think of that begins with that cluster is thwack. Thweet.

“Pitt” (sic) before STEM. Ouch.

Fun clue for MALAWI. Arcane mindgame.

As regards the plural CIAOS – It does look weird in isolation, but we sure pluralize our goodbyes in English:

I’m not good at long goodbyes.
The perfunctory goodbyes were brief before the gasbag was hauled off to prison for tax fraud and treason.
Sometimes I adore perfunctory goodbyes.

And I bet on the Italian Bachelor Cristoforo di Harris probably says Di 'i tuoi CIAOS to the guys who didn’t receive a rose. (I’ve never studied Italian, so I’m sure that’s a crappy translation.)

Andrea! Always a pleasure.

Solverinserbia 4:02 AM  

I liked the clue for MALAWI. I think a good way to make clues more Monday is to give a clue that breaks them up into smaller units, sound units, or in this case spelling units.

Teedmn 5:08 AM  

This puzzle provided a couple of TRASHY YucKS (as in chuckles). The UGLY duckling and a STAKE through the heart. We got the A version of BRIARS today. I had small fissures = CRannies, which I thought was so clever of me to think of right off but it didn't allow me to REV my engine so I had to change it.

Nice job, ACME.

Now I have to SHLEP (I vote for adding a C) my luggage down the narrow circular stairs of my guesthouse and travel eastward to my next Icelandic destination, Eglisstaðir.

Brookboy 5:17 AM  

I enjoyed doing the puzzle, but I think I'm also with Rex in my view of it. Maybe a tad less critical, though.

Never heard of a BLATHERSKITE before, but I do know about compulsive talkers. My brother was one. He could, and often did, buttonhole some poor soul and go on and on and on (and on and on and on, ad infinitum). This made things like sitting next to him at some gathering turn into a game of chance, the unlucky loser stuck in that seat. Once at a family lunch gathering to commemorate the passing of our aunt we contrived to have him seated next to an elderly retired uncle who had hearing problems and pretty much tuned it all out. They made the perfect pair: my brother, the compulsive talker, going on and on to the practically deaf uncle who didn’t say a word, just nodding occasionally and having his lunch.

Truth is, though, that my brother’s compulsive talking was more sad than anything else. It was almost like stuttering in a way. It certainly was socially debilitating. I don’t think it’s all that common, but I have encountered other compulsive talkers occasionally. But none as severe as my brother’s.

Taffy-Kun 5:20 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taffy-Kun 5:30 AM  

Say Goodbye to your pets with a Doggie “Ciao” and an Iguana “Miss you”

Lewis 5:42 AM  

Acme's puzzles always shine with energy -- ZEAL, THWART, SHLEP, SEZ WHO, HYPE, and all the theme answers. Lovely to learn BLATHERSKITE, and an excellent lesson for new solvers that they can get a word they don't know from crosses. I like that EDGE touches the border, and SPOOL is one marvelous semordnilap, consisting of loops as it does.

A remarkable thing about this puzzle is the number of answers that can be employed both as nouns and verbs: TAPE, SPOOL, EDGE, STEEL, REBEL, SLIP, STYLE, SIGH, SHLEP, MUSE, SWAB, LEGS, PROP, BEADS, OGLE, STAKE, STEM, TAIL, HYPE, MELT, TILL. And there may be more than these 21.

No matter what my mood when I enter the chamber of one of your puzzles, Andrea, I leave it with a smile, today no exception. That's a priceless gift you impart, and thank you greatly for sharing it!

Adam Cooperman 6:44 AM  

I think of SHLEPing as being more about carrying something like, "I had to schlep this couch all the way across town and now you don't want it!?" So combined with the alternate spelling, the cluing really tripped me up on that one.

I vaguely remember hearing BLATHERSKITE somewhere (it doesn't autocorrect if that means anything) but I could have sworn it was SKATE not SKITE and combined with struggling on SHLEP having an A start off INSTEP really threw me off. That was another kind of rough clue for a Monday imo.

OffTheGrid 6:46 AM  

This was a much better than adequate Monday. Easy enough and a simple theme that shows new solvers how a theme fits into a puzzle. TALKAHOLICS is a fine entry. It has always seemed odd to me, though, that we use "aholic" as a suffix for various things like work and chocolate. A person addicted to alcohol is said to be an alcoholic. Yet there is no such thing as workahol or chocahol.

QuasiMojo 6:56 AM  

My word! All those YAKS, I thought I was in Tibet. One of my fastest times too. But I'm with Rex today. Except for watching the MEs.

amyyanni 7:06 AM  

Had a longer solving time for Monday, and I knew WILT, CARL & SIAM. No idea why. Enjoy a Monday that requires more time to complete. Wonder when I retire if I'll feel a little left out of the world on Monday mornings. Happy Autumn, can that be a thing?

kitshef 7:24 AM  

A surprising number of misdirects for a Monday:
Alas - SIGH
intEr – EMBED
Also, never heard BLATHERSKATE – rare to have a new word on a Monday.

Despite all that, came in as medium difficulty.

Really, though, I want to complain about adding ‘aholic’ to everything to make a new word. The ‘ohol’ in ‘alcoholic’ is part of the root word ‘alcohol’. The suffix being added is just -ic. One who works too much should be a workic. One who talks too much, a talkic. Shop – shopic. And so on. And given that alcoholic ends in ‘oholic’, why does (almost) everything else get ‘aholic’.

RooMonster 7:25 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I rather enjoyed this nonstop Yakfest. Disagree with Rex on the themers not fitting. You almost described BLABBERMOUTH in your screed. Quote "who reveals too much". Sounds like someone who Yaks, no? And TALKAHOLIC is a very apt descriptor. So there.

Liked the consonant run of ZWH in SEZ WHO.

Had a good chunk of writeovers, for a MonPuz, shOaL-ATOLL, pits-STEM, alas-SIGH, fDA-RDA, iMBED-EMBED, HEe-HEH.

Nice one ACME! Don't let the bastards get you down! 😋

Side story on SAHARA. They closed a few years ago, then became the SLS, now it's back to being the SAHARA. Odd.


Joe R. 7:32 AM  

People of a certain age will know the word BLATHERSKITE, thanks to the cartoon Duck Tales. It was the secret code word used to activate Gizmoduck. Of course, even there, it was picked because it was supposed to be a word that nobody would ever say.

Hungry Mother 7:44 AM  

A bit of a strange theme, but easy crosses made it pretty simple. Had a few WTF moments, but maybe my mind is a bit foggy yet.

pabloinnh 8:12 AM  

Well I got BLATHERSKITE from the BL, so I get an extra dessert. One of those words that you hear and can't forget. I'm with @LMS in not minding all the nuances of overtalking, OK answers by me. (By the way, LMS, if you're husband is fixing everything with caulk, he's
ignoring some root cause, says this old maintenance man. Sort of like putting a piece of black tape on your "check engine" light.)

My real quibble is the "No problemo" clue. I realize this is a losing battle as it's in the language, but the word in Spanish is problemA. It's one of those words that ends in A, but is masculine, but it's not problemO. This is fingernails on the blackboard stuff to me. OK, I feel better.

Very nice Monday, for which thanks ACME. I like a little crunch with my Mondays.

SouthsideJohnny 8:24 AM  

Foreign words, made up words (looking at you TALKAHOLIC) and nonsense or totally arcane words like BLATHERSKITE should be forbidden on Monday and Tuesday, period end of story If having that type of trash is the price to pay for having a theme - skip the theme, get another theme, get another constructor, or better yet, get another editor.

GILL I. 8:42 AM  

A Monday ACMEesque of a puzzle. A Yakaholic fest with a new word. Yay BLATHERSKITE. I rather like that I have to look up a new word and hope that I can just throw it out there and watch my friends look at me like I'm an idiot....
I like to BLATHER here on this blog but in person I'm really more of the listener. People, in general, like to talk about themselves. Just sit and talk to someone you've just met and ask them what they do. You have to pretend to care and you have to smile. It's good for passing the time of day when you're bored.
@Brookboy...Your story brought on a smile. In my fairly large family we aren't really yakers - we just talk loud and interrupt each other. I guess we could be called loudaholics or interrupterholics. But you reminded me of my dear friend Karen and her (since passed on) husband. He could talk the socks off of you. If you start a conversation with " I just made this really good black olive bread" he would interrupt and tell you all about black olives and his trip to Greece. He would then segue into politics and everyone would all of a sudden have to go to the bathroom. Doesn't everyone know one of these?
I always enjoy Andrea's puzzle because she always elicits a smile or a memory or a story. I like her MATES sitting pretty atop of SWAB and the clue for MALAWI. Cool beans.

Suzie Q 8:51 AM  

Good Monday fun. Nice to see Andrea's name and know I will have smile when I'm done.
I had a grandmother who was a non-stop talker. Behind her back we called her Grandma Gab.
Loved the new word! More fun to say than pottymouth.
What does Rex have against casinos?

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

@kitshef- Similarly, -gate is added to scandals that have nothing to do with Watergate. Any linguists out there ? Is this the natural evolution of the language or is it objectionable ?

Sir Hillary 8:57 AM  

When I opened the paper and saw the constructor's name, I was happy with anticipation. Unfortunately, the puzzle itself was like an long monologue from any of the theme entries -- I couldn't wait for it to be over. Fortunately, it didn't take long.

TILL tomorrow...

OffTheGrid 8:57 AM  

@Kitshef. Glad to have an ally and thanks for elaborating. See my 6:46 post.

Lewis 9:04 AM  

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

1. Something that may be chocolate covered? (3)
2. Have the best time, say (3)
3. Chain letters? (5)
4. Completely behind (6)
5. Reacts to losing one's hearing, perhaps (7)


Anonymoose 9:05 AM  

People that do this are Gataholics.

davidm 9:17 AM  

Great to see so many words I love in the puzzle recently, like POPINJAY (clued as a guy who likes to drop in unexpectedly, hah!), PICARESQUE, and today, the lovely BLATHERSKITE. TALKAHOLIC is certainly a thing — it’s a portmanteau or neologism, and yields more than 10,000 hits on Google. The only thing I didn’t like were all the yak-yak clues — I wish they had each been misdirection clues, so the theme would have been disguised until the solving occurred.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

Count me in as someone who thinks TALKAHOLIC is an adorable coinage and may -- who knows? -- find a permanent place in our lexicon one day. But also count me in as someone who has never once heard of a BLATHERSKITE. Any relation to a cheapskate?

Is it kosher now to clue nouns with verbs? It didn't hinder my solve in any way, but I'm just curious. And speaking of kosher, yes, SCHLEP is spelled with a C.

A cute, chatty puzzle that was "no problemo" for me.

gfrpeace 9:28 AM  

I object to AWOL as a noun (one who might be caught off base). And I don't know what 'Turkey' is doing in the drumsticks clue for LEGS.

Z 9:32 AM  


Hard for a Monday but I liked this a lot. Once again Rex's clue parsing seems a bit off. Yeah yeah, a BLABBERMOUTH shares to much info because they yak yak yak. Works just fine. I swear, Rex is turning into an anonymouse on clue parsing. Secret, don't worry about how a clue doesn't work, figure out how it does work.

@kitshef, @offthegrid, and @anon8:56 - Language evolves and the changes don't always (ever?) make a lot of logical sense. Look at that BLATHERSKITE etymology, apparently an old fashioned way to say "he has diarrhea of the mouth." We all get the image, but logical? So however nonsensical the -oholic and -gate suffixes may be we all understand the coinages.

@Suzie Q - That was an odd toss off. Is there some interesting way to clue SAHARA that we're missing?

I'm also not buying the "stale" accusation. RUTH, TRASHY, CARL, MALAWI, EMBED, HTML, seems more 21st century than much of the moldy fill foisted upon us. Plus, an @LMS shout out.

Huh - The comment box is insisting that I post from my other Google Account. Google has been giving me weird problems lately. Anyway - going to use the Name/Url option

Jyqm 9:39 AM  

@Joe R. — Yes indeed! I was about to write, “Let’s take a poll: Who knew the word BLATHERSKITE already, and how old are you? (No need to answer: you’re in your mid-thirties.)”

RooMonster 9:45 AM  

@Joe R. 7:32
Ha! I watched Duck Tales like crazy "back in the day"! However, with my wonderful memory, I don't recall BLATHERSKITE being said to Gizmoduck.

But, the best cartoon of that time? Darkwing Duck. He was my hero!
*A cloud of smoke and he appears*
*Bad guys are out of luck,
Cause here comes
Darkwing Duck (lookout!)*
*(When there's trouble you call DW)*
*Let's get dangerous!*


Cassieopia 9:49 AM  

Absolutely lovely puzzle, with blatherskite as the star. Knew it somehow - all those Regency romances I read as a kid?

@jyqm not exactly but I will take the compliment and run with it.

davidm 10:17 AM  

Just like the modern TALKAHOLIC, BLATHERSKITE is a portmanteau, like so many words. It seems to date to the 17th century in Scotland, and became popular among American troops during the Revolutionary War, because it was in a Scottish song they frequently sang. Its popularity among English-speaking Americans peaked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. BLATHER = TALK and SKITE seems to derive from Old Norse and later Old English, and means s**t. So a BLATHERSKITE is someone who “talks s**t,” basically.

Nancy 10:27 AM  

@gfrpeace (9:28) -- I feel I've heard AWOL used as a noun just about forever. "The MP was sent to bring back the AWOL". Of course it's also used as an adjective: "Guess what, he was AWOL again." But for me, this clue was not at all controversial. The controversial clues were the "Yaks, yaks, yaks" to describe the theme nouns and the clues really should have been "One who yaks, yaks, yaks".

Rita 10:46 AM  

How does a term earn “thing” status? Talkaholic is In Wikipedia. Seems like that might be qualifying.

jberg 10:48 AM  

I love me an ACME puzzle, but this was not one of the best, IMO -- I didn't mind that the theme answers used different meanings of yak, yak, etc.-- but we knew that already from the clues, so I was hoping for something more -- either a hidden word, or the last parts meant something different, or something. It was a fun puzzle to solve though.

I sort of knew BLATHERSKITE, except that I put in SKaTE initially. Also, I thought it just meant "scoundrel," without the excessive-talking connotation. But of course that's the blather part.

Carl Yastrzemski's grandson Mike Y. played his first game in Fenway Park last week. Yaz introduced him, and he hit a home run. Only bad part was that he was playing for the Giants, not the Red Sox, but it was still a nostalgia fest.

@Loren, we're all waiting for you to come back and make the case why -aholic as OK!

newspaperguy 10:50 AM  

Terrific puzzle, and once again a blogger who is offended by a word he doesn't know. Try being a little curious.

OffTheGrid 10:56 AM  

@Nancy. The clue for 17A is "One who yaks, yaks, yaks ..." The "One who" is implied in the other clues which read "...yaks, yaks, yaks".

dadnoa 10:57 AM  

+1 for schlep with a C. I suppose shlep might be considered a variant.....but only by non-Yiddish speakers.....

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Workaholic is infinitely better that workic, because it sounds similar to alcoholic, and everyone understands what is being conveyed. Workic and shopic are just stupid. Stop being such a complainic

Z 11:06 AM  

Google is so weird. No problem here when I’m on my iPad, but on my computer it keeps going to my other account (nothing personal, people, but the other account exists for a reason and not having that info widely available is one of them). I also use google docs without problem except for one guy who sends me edit links and I can only view. He has sent me docs three times now and the same problem every time. When it’s Blogger I tend to blame issues on it being old code. But Google Docs?

Anyway @Z9:32 is really me.

@mmorgan late yesterday - There’s a secret handshake.

Newboy 11:08 AM  

Follow up on xword solvers & Emmy winners please. Usually skip Monday (and network tv entirely) so I just wanna see whose shows I might give a trial run during PBS pledge drives. BLATHERSKITE new to me, but imminently useful for the political slogs to come. Today I’m with Jeff Chen’s assessment on rather than OFL. Nicely played Ms. Michaels.

puzzlehoarder 11:18 AM  

I wish every Monday could be this entertaining. Dreading the usual lame pun laced fare this was a pleasant surprise. It didn't require more time than an average Monday but there were a quite a number of clues I had to skip over as their connection to the entry was not your typical reflex response that so many early week clues resort to. That alone gave this a late week feel.

Of special mention there was MALAWI and its clever clue but most of all this puzzle had BLATHERSKITE. That was a new one to me. The BLATHER half is of course familiar but pairing it with SKITE gives it that edge of vintage derision for someone whose verbosity is matched only by their ignorance. I love words like that.

@ACME, thank you for brightening my Monday.

Pete, aka Z's Mr. Hyde 11:21 AM  

@DavidM - 10K hits on google is nothing. It's the very definition of a term that has no currency. "Rhino Sex" gets 100k hits, and while it's legitimately a thing (c.f. baby Rhinos), it's not something has mainstream currency as a topic of conversation, even on the internet. TALKAHOLIC isn't a "thing" (Didn't Letterman while he was still on NBC have a running bit, "Is this a Thing or not a Thing?)

This was a big meh-- for me. I liked BLABBERMOUTH because it reminds me of the 2 minutes in the entirety of The Honeymooners when it was actually funny, when Ralph starts the timer when his MIL walks in the room, waiting how long it takes her to say something inappropriate. 10 seconds in, she does, and he starts calling her a BLABBERMOUTH. Repeatedly and at volume. I knew BLATHERSK[a]TE somehow, and that error took me forever to fix. I misread the clue on 46D as Marching [A]Synchronously probably because you're not marching unless you're marching synchronously (if you're marching asynchronously you're just walking) except for when you're marching over a bridge, when you're purposely marching asynchronously. I figured this purposeful asynchronous marching had a name, and it's ANSTEP. By the end of the day, ANSTEP will have 200 google hits, well on it's way to "thingness"

If the theme is all these words mean the same thing, and yet they don't, and some don't have the level of "thingness" to be theme entries, or

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

a fissure isn't a CREVICE, but a crevasse
"a fissure, or deep cleft, in glacial ice, the earth's surface, etc."
the innterTubes dictionary

yeah, you find some places that allow fissure as the 4th or 5th or 6th def. for CREVICE, but that's baddddd.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

@lms(3:14am??!!) In the puz 3 times: 42A,57A,52D.Is the last one a portmanteau?

Joseph M 11:41 AM  

No sense in yak, yak, yaking any more about BLATHERSKITE.

SEZ WHO is the question that the themers each answer. And SIGH is the response that the themers each induce. The moral: Whether you’re GAY, a SENIOR, or AWOL, nobody is gonna like you if you TALK too much.

In the Mixed Metaphor Department, I FOLD is more “What lousy cards” than “Too rich for my blood” which seems to be referring to a dessert not a poker hand.

Something about CREVICES seems a little TRASHY. And SHLEP should definitely be SCHLEP. But this was a fine Monday puzzle otherwise. I wonder who in the constructor’s life inspired it.

davidm 11:50 AM  

@Pete, I would venture to say that more people are familiar with TALKAHOLIC than BLATHERSKITE. TALKAHOLIC is of relatively recent coinage; I see no difference, in substance, between it and SHOPAHOLIC, which I have heard many times.

As to hits on Google, I Googled it again, and got more than 31,000 results. Don’t know why it turned up on some 10,000 on my first pass. I should note, further, that two scientists, in 1993, developed a TALKAHOLIC scale, to scientifically pinpoint people who, well, talk too damn much. In sum, this is a perfectly fine word.

In any case, whether something a “thing” or not is pretty subjective, and ultimately, I don’t think should be the standard for inclusion in a crossword puzzle, especially in the NY Times puzzle, where presumably regular solvers are pretty knowledgable, even about obscure words.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

@ Pete, Are you pleading a case for the "thingness" of blatherskite?
You win!

Joe Dipinto 12:11 PM  

♪ He's tradin' in his Chevy for a Cadillac yak yak yak yak yak ♪

TALKAHOLIC I've heard before, plus it was suggested for inclusion by the trusty Sam Ezersky, so okay be me. BLATHERSKITE otoh seems too uncommon for a Monday. ACM wanted to use TATTLETALE originally but Shortz nixed it as "not having the same ring as the others."

The Sahara seems too amorphous and sprawling to be described as a mere "locale". Like the Pacific Ocean, or outer space. I think of a "locale" as a more defined area: Siam, the Prado, a deli...

Don't talk back.

davidm 12:14 PM  

Words liked BLATHERSKITE, SHOPAHOLIC AND TALKAHOLIC are evidence of how language changes over time, and very quickly, too. If you go back some six hundred years and read, in the original, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in Middle English, which was then the gold standard of English, you are going to need a translator’s guide to what you consider your native tongue.

Language evolution seems to bear a lot in common with evolutionary biology — as in biology, there are clades, nested hierarchies, of words that evolved from common ancestors. And the reasons for the evolution are pretty similar, too: natural selection, and drift (pure accident).

Carola 12:30 PM  

A pleasure to see English at work and play, with these four creative word combos for various ilks of yakkers. I was kind of hoping that the Coasters' "Yakety-Yak" might get worked in somehow.

@Loren, Thanks for pointing out the intersecting LECTURES. I also liked TRASHY x BLATHERSKITE - reminded me of "trash talk."

@Anonymous 11:35, Thanks for the crevasse-CREVICE distinction.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

26D: “Make again, as hotel plans.” REBOOK, as Thomas Cook has collapsed. How apropos!

Bourbon Street 12:38 PM  

@ Pete 11:21 A.M. Thanks for the reminder about the Honeymooners BLABBERMOUTH episode. I looked it up on YouTube and had a good laugh. The scene gives credence to Rex’s criticism of BLABBERMOUTH, i.e. that the word is used for someone who reveals too much, as Ralph’s MIL gives away the ending of a murder mystery.

old timer 1:02 PM  

Oh frabjous day! @LMS has returned to us.

I record times on Mondays and Tuesdays, and my time was 9 minutes pen on newsprint, and that too with all the misdirects (that did not fool me long). Excellent puzzle, ACME, and full of great words like BLATHERSKITE. My M-W Collegiate has "one who blathers a lot" as its second definition so it is indeed a correct clue.

Nice catch on PROBLEMO, @pablo! It has always seemed wrong somehow, and now I know why.

Yakety-Yak, another gem from Lieber and Stoller for The Coasters, and the first 45 I ever bought. To annoy my mother, no doubt, when I was in 7th Grade.

TJS 1:05 PM  

A minor quibble, but many of our comments are. Cant agree with those who think "I pass" is an equivalent response to "Too rich for my blood. "I pass" is used in card games where bidding is involved. "I fold" or "I'm out" is used in games where betting is involved. Never heard any poker player say "I pass". Of course it's easier to just slide the cards into the middle of the table.
Oh, and people don't say "Hit me" in Blackjack.

Anoa Bob 1:25 PM  

BLATHERSKITE hit a little too close to home! When I retired from teaching, I continued to launch into miniature LECTURES when hanging out with family or friends. It's hard to turn it off after three plus decades of bloviating. One of my friends found a subtle but effective way to point this out to me. She bought me a T-shirt that said "If I'm talking, you should be taking notes". Touché.

Pete, aka Z's Mr. Hyde said... 1:40 PM  

@DavidM, @Anon 11:52 - I neither condemned TALKAHOLIC nor endorsed BLATHERSKITE. With regards to TALKAHOLIC I was just questioning DavidM's 10k as support. The fact that it went from 10K to 30K in one morning, the morning its use in the xword puzzle is being called into question, may give you some idea of how much it actually is used. I said I (kind of) knew BLATHERSKITE. It still doesn't fit in any of for a) a Monday, b) being well enough known, or c) meaning to talk too much.

@Rita - You know Wiktionary is crowd-sourced, no? I suspect Martin H adds to Wiktionary entries in puzzles that don't appear in reputable dictionaries. This to backstop his assertions that anyone who questions the validity of any entry in the puzzle is wrong, just plain factually wrong.

Unknown 1:48 PM  

Fun puzzle today, thanks ACME!
I have zero problem with the words TALKAHOLIC and BLATHERSKITE. It's fun to learn new things and they were both very easily gettable via crosses. I see TALKAHOLIC getting a real bump in its usage after this puzzle.
Remember, Rex will always find a way to hate on Andrea, so take some of his comments with a grain of salt.
If you want Yaz, you're gonna have to put up with a little SCHLEP!

Joe Dipinto 2:16 PM  

Okay, be me. And I'll be you.

(That should have said "okay by me" at 12:11.)

Lyn 2:28 PM  

My favorite was the clue for MALAWA. Had a lot of fun comparing state postal codes and African nations in my head.

JC66 2:29 PM  


You may be experiencing the same problem as @Joe Bleaux.

Samuel 3:13 PM  

Sure @Dadnoa but in my Yiddish world שלעפּ is Shlep everytime

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Filling in here for
@Always Check Your Grid
@Lyn 2:28
If you had MALAWA you had a mistake.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  


Z 4:28 PM  

TALKAHOLIC seems like not a thing to me, but if Psychology Today had an article on coping with one 9 years ago I’m guessing it’s just a thing I didn’t know about. Since my in-laws cannot tolerate the sound of silence it seems like a term I’d have run across before today, but today is a first as far as I remember. I do think something that was more of a thing 100 years ago is more crossworthy than something that’s a pretty niche thing today, so BLATHERSKITE is more crossworthy than TALKAHOLIC too me (and my iPad dictionary knows only one of them), but no real problem here.

@JC66 - Nothing stopping me from posting, the post just would not have been from “Z” but from the name my mother gave me.

@TJS - Not all that important other than it being unusual, but I agree with you.

@Anon12:32 - I saw that news and was dumbfounded. Thomas Cook is one of those companies you expect to be around forever.

@Anoa Bob - Nice, but I don’t know if “subtle” is the right adjective.

@Anon11:35 - Merriam Webster lists “fissure” right in the definition then has a nice explanation of the difference. Basically, a crevasse is a deep crevice. I wanted CREVasses, too, but realized I didn’t have the room.

JC66 4:34 PM  


I'm glad you are able to fix the look better in blue. ;-)

jae 5:31 PM  

@TJS & Z - I want to clarify that just because I put in I pass before I FOLD doesn’t mean I think the two phrases are equivalent. Frankly, I screwed up by not entirely processing the clue as I “flew” through the grid. Playing too much poker and not attending classes were two of the reasons I got asked to take a leave of absence from college my sophomore yes, I know that “to rich for my blood” means I’m out of the hand as opposed to I pass which is a check bet.

jae 5:33 PM  

@TJS & Z again - I also realize that I didn’t make this clear in my initial of the perils of brevity.

Mulberry 7:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired guy 9:24 PM  

Re: SHLEP/SCHLEP. It all depends on whether you think the word came into English from the German or the Yiddish. If the latter is the case (as I suspect it is), then SHLEP is correct. If you are transliterating Yiddish (or Hebrew) into English, there is no reason to write 'sch' for ש.

Mohammad Bilal 7:18 AM  

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Burma Shave 9:27 AM  


will ARGUE with ALL her dates.
That UGLY CHATTERBOX just might
SIGH and BLABBER while she MATES.


rondo 9:46 AM  

@AWOL CIAOS MANE EDGE is back for a Mon-puz. Where *has* she been? My one write-over was being AWAkE before being AWARE. At least I've learned to leave it at BRI_RS.

I was in attendance when CARL Yastrzemski knocked in his 1500th RBI. Only saw WILT play on TV.

Both RUTH and ELLA so accomplished, and with STYLE. Yeah baby.

Yeah, it was pretty EASY. SEZWHO? SEZ me.

spacecraft 11:41 AM  

A fun solve, and not the easiest ever. I have heard of BLATHERSKITE, a wonderful word IMO, so it wasn't that hard; easy-medium to kick off the week.

Theme lagniappe with LECTURES. (The lecturer never believes he/she's running off at the mouth, but the lecturee always does!) DOD is the incomparable ELLA. I have to believe OFC has something against ACMe; his pickiness goes beyond the pale today. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 11:51 AM  

I'm not AWOL, just took me a day to acclimate to a Calif winter. No fires here, but the rest of the state is in trouble. Not good.

Puzzle was good. Good Monday to all.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoast 2:39 PM  

BLATHERSKITE sold me on this one. Nice work, Ms. Michaels.

leftcoast 3:10 PM  

Just noticed that "trumpery" is a synonym for BLATHERSKITE. Man, how cool is that?

rainforest 3:47 PM  

A rare ACME Monday. That, and my natural tendency to "like" puzzles means that I must like this one, and I do.

4 themers which mostly are accurate enough, and a new one for me at 44A. I have a friend who actually refers to his wife as CHATTERBOX. That's a little disrespectful, but true in this case. TALKAHOLIC is one of those words that has arisen for strange reasons. Obviously based on "alcoholic", but there *is* such a thing as alcohol.
There is no such thing as "chocohol", or "workohol" or indeed, "talkohol". I think I've made this observation/objection before, but no one listens. Guess I'm a Cassandra.

Otherwise, a pleasant time was spent solving this EASY puzzle.

918Kisses 3:19 AM  

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