Locale for London's Royal Opera House / MON 10-28-19 / Salivating animal in classic conditioning study / Barnyard honker

Monday, October 28, 2019

Constructor: Zhouqin Burnikel

Relative difficulty: Easy (2:45)


THEME: OUT OF DANGERS (59A: Safe ... or how the last words of 16-, 23- and 49-Across are made?) — last words of themers are anagrams of DANGER:

Theme answers:
  • TAKE A GANDER (16A: Look (at))
  • ARIANA GRANDE (23A: Singer with the 2018 #1 hit "Thank U, Next")
  • COVENT GARDEN (49A: Locale for London's Royal Opera House)
Word of the Day: COVENT GARDEN (49A) —
Covent Garden is a district in London, on the eastern fringes of the West End, between St Martin's Lane and Drury Lane. It is associated with the former fruit-and-vegetable market in the central square, now a popular shopping and tourist site, and with the Royal Opera House, which itself may be referred to as "Covent Garden". The district is divided by the main thoroughfare of Long Acre, north of which is given over to independent shops centred on Neal's Yard and Seven Dials, while the south contains the central square with its street performers and most of the historical buildings, theatres and entertainment facilities, including the London Transport Museumand the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is one of the best NYTXW puzzles I've done in a while, and I'm only just realizing today how much seeing Zhouqin Burnikel's name on a puzzles feels with that increasingly rare feeling of hope. She has a long track record of solid puzzles, and lately, in the past year or two, I feel like the quality of her work has ticked up significantly. Maybe even more than the word "ticked" suggests. If it's a Monday or a Tuesday, I want her on the job. This puzzle is simple and elegant, and it's the latter bit that people might not notice, given how easy the puzzle is, and how basic the theme concept seems. I mean, anagrams ... I've seen "last-words-anagrammed"-type puzzle before. But there are a couple of features to this puzzle that I want to highlight, because they are the difference between this puzzle's being adequate and boring, and this puzzle's being what it is, which is delightful. First, the theme is light. That is, there are just four answers. Now, with this theme, the number of themers is kinda locked in, but still, there is something to be said for a very tight theme in just three or four theme answers. If every one of them hits the mark, then you've got the pleasure of a satisfying, complete-feeling theme *and* you've got breathing room to make a clean, even enjoyable grid. Next, look at those themers—all real things. All good phrases / names. COVENT GARDEN is especially nice. There's nothing wobbly about any answer in this set. It. All. Works. Bing bing bang. Further, the cluing on the themer makes it perfect. We don't get just DANGER as our revealer, we don't get some other phrase ending in DANGER with some other weird revealer pointing to the anagramminess of it all. Instead, we get the a solid stand-alone phrase with a clue that ties everything together Perfectly. Burnikel's work reminds me of Lynn Lempel's: prolific, disciplined, artful, playful. Just what I want to begin my solving week.


I want to say something also about the way the grid is built, because it is actually a bit bold and daring. In an alternate universe, there's a grid with these same themers but with a more conventional staircase of 5-letter answers through the heart of the grid. Imagine the initial "E" in ESTREET and the the second "A" in GALA turned black, and the adjacent black squares turned white ... and then do the same on the other side of the grid for symmetry's sake. Something like this:


In that universe, the grid is probably somewhat easier to fill. It's also almost certainly more boring, because the center is self-contained, cut off from the NW and SE corners, and full only of 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words. Here, however, we get ROADRACE to ESTREET to TIMELAGS, 8, to 7 to 8, which not only gives us a nice interconnected set of answers, but gives a more open overall feel to the grid. It's a 78-worder (the max) but it *feels* more open because in addition to the (nifty) long Downs in the NE and SW (PAVLOV'S DOG is especially great), you've got this 8-7-8 combo linking the NW to the SE. And, on top of this, there's no apparent compromise in the fill. It's clean. Everywhere. Theme tight and clever, fill clean overall, with augmented sparkly long stuff. Give this constructor some f***ing credit, because she deserves it, and she especially deserves it on a Monday, when the easiness of the solve probably leads most of us to underrate the complexity and craftsmanship of the endeavor. The End.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. special thanks to Mike Nothnagel, a veteran constructor who is also currently my house guest and with whom I just had a long conversation about this grid. We got into the weeds about stuff like themer spacing, the difficulty of handling 12s, etc. He's very smart and nerdy in the best way. Anyway, he's the one who specifically brought up the issue of how the center of the grid is constructed and how unusual (and bold) it actually is.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

80 comments:

tkincher 12:07 AM  

"This is one of the best NYTXW puzzles I've done in a while..."

This is almost verbatim what I said out loud after finishing this. A fantastic entry, fun and tough-but-fair in all the right measure.

It would have been a 10/10 for me but it's got a GOOSE in it, and we all know how much trouble they are.

Z 12:22 AM  

CC’s praises have been sung by the commentariat for quite awhile now, sometimes undeservedly so in my opinion. But I agree with Rex, lately the praise has been deserved. E STREET looks a little like cheating since those letters are so useful, but the result on the rest of the grid is worth it. As for the anagrams, I hate doing anagrams in my puzzles but they didn’t bother me today because I didn’t have to solve them. Rather, at the end there was the nice discovery of how the themers were connected. Also, nice of the constructor to include a CARB in the puzzle so we weren’t burdened with another no CARB RexRant and the tedium that ensues in the comments.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian 12:38 AM  

“THEME: OUT OF DANGERS” s/b Singular?

JJK 1:30 AM  

What a fun Monday and sweet puzzle. A personal best time for me too. I enjoyed reading Rex’s riff on the construction aspect - being a non-constructor, I like hearing a bit about how it’s done, and how it’s done well.

Alex M 2:17 AM  

I thought Rex might enjoy this one! Beauty long answers, very sparkly. Just a few seconds off my best-ever time. OPART/UPI was a bit of a Natick for me, cost me the record, but very, very nice nonetheless.

jae 2:22 AM  

Easy. Solid and smooth or what Rex said, liked it a bunch.

Brookboy 2:29 AM  

What a pleasure to read such a positive review. Rex, I was beginning to think that you didn’t have it in you. Let me congratulate you on being so encouraging in your remarks.

I agree with pretty much all of Rex’s comments (for a refreshing change). I enjoyed solving this one very much. Wonderful Monday puzzle.

Ellen S 2:39 AM  

Loved this puzzle. What Rex said except for the technical stuff about the grid, which I didn’t understand.

G Note 3:19 AM  

Great, easy fill for a Monday puzzle. A delight to work on!

Loren Muse Smith 3:53 AM  

Terrific write-up, Rex.

I’m with @Z on this – if I have to have anagrams, I’ll take’em like this. I really like that the anagrams are all real words and not contrived mixtures made up of the last part of one word and the first part of the next word.

“Alfresco” vs INDOOR. I always feel ashamed when my dining-out companion wants to sit outside and I smile brightly in agreement. Inside I die a little death. Unless it’s say 62 degrees and arid and I have my sunglasses, I want no NO part of eating alfresco. I want fakey temperature control. I want low lighting. I want no wind. But more than that, I want to hide this embarrassing side of me, so I always agree and then am miserable. There is a Right and a Wrong here, and my feeling is the Wrong one. Heck – there’s even a sexy fancy Italian phrase for eating the cool way, but only an anemic English word for eating inside: INDOOR. I guess it could be worse – they could call eating inside alsuffocante.

Since we’ve moved up the hill and gone back to HughesNet, TIME LAGS are ridiculous. It takes over an hour to download a book on tape, and I can’t even stream anything on tv.

“Cook under a hot flame” – dining alfresco in the spring or summer.

“Love to death” – we’re about to start Of Mice and Men with my freshmen. Gulp.

“Swellhead’s problem” – hmm. They’re growing every day.

A fine Monday offering, CC.

Lewis 5:20 AM  

The reveal OUT OF DANGER was very clever. "Out of" hasn't been used this way -- to introduce anagrams -- in NYT puzzles EVER, at least in the search I just made. So even with 66 NYT puzzles to her credit, CC comes through fresh as ever. And with a grid that's smooth as a Berry, no less. Brava, CC! Whenever I see your name above a puzzle, I know it will be a masterwork of quality.

Hank 6:05 AM  

TED Cruz, Trent LOTT & The Hunter constellation ?

Its Biden time again !

C.W. Ese 6:38 AM  

No Ott? No Orr? No Ono? No Acne? What sort of FAKE NEWS puzzle is this? ;)

Hungry Mother 7:12 AM  

My coffee didn’t have a chance to cool enough for a single sip today while I solved. I did more downs than acrosses, but no fumbles or stumbles.

amyyanni 7:13 AM  

Agree with @JJK: thanks, Rex, for taking the time to discuss the construction. Very interesting. Puzzle creators, I am learning, are altruistic. They devote countless hours to provide solvers a few moments of diversion. Classy start to the week.

kitshef 7:29 AM  

My one NIT is I feel like when you are specifically talking about loading speeds, you would say LAG TIMES, rather than TIME LAGS. TIME LAGS is absolutely a valid stand-along phrase, just not one used for the phenomena described.

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

No rant about "normalizing" NRA supporter Ted Cruz? Rex didn't even go off the rails telling us about all the other ways that "Ted" could have been clued.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

I especially liked that with the gander there was also a goose.

Lewis 7:37 AM  

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

1. Device on which to get texts (7)
2. State of Japan (3)
3. They usually come with bikinis (3)(5)
4. Many of the world's rulers use it (6)(6)
5. Mark of a scam artist (3)


E-READER
ZEN
TAN LINES
METRIC SYSTEM
SAP

GILL I. 8:11 AM  

@Loren...I invite you to join me for lunch or dinner somewhere on the Sacramento River in the summer. Dinning alfresco while the cool Delta breeze wafts around your body and doesn't include mosquitos, no-seeums, gnats or unwanted smells. It's heavenly. We don't do humidity here.
So glad @Rex enjoyed this. I hope Mike Nothnagel visits more often.
Nary a NIT to be found with CC's performance. She's always primo IMO. Loved the GANDER honking at the GOOSE. I just wish CONAN had been clued as the barbarian. I also liked they way she clued SAG. So much better to have an old couch rather than droopy TATA's.....

Suzie Q 8:12 AM  

For me the best part of this lovely puzzle is the phrasing of the revealer. That kicks it up a notch. Nice to see such quality work.

Having a house guest seemed to keep Rex focused on the puzzle and the merits of construction like in the good ol' days.

Nancy 8:14 AM  

You omitted one of the available anagrams, Ms. Burnikel. I saw this immediately because I used this particular set of anagrams in one of my 41 anagrammed verse-puzzles -- a collection offered to Will Shortz back in 2013 for consideration as possible Variety Puzzles in the NYT. He did not leap at the chance. But, hey, you can always change your mind, Will.

Some of you here have seen some of these anagrammed puzzles. But I don't think you've seen this one that uses today's set of anagrammed words:

GENIAL HOST

Let us take a stroll around the ------.
The sky is clear and bright and there's no ------ of a storm.
Last month the weather ------ from cold and blustery to wet,
But now the day is beautiful and warm.
Come and take a ------ at my tulips.
Afterwards we'll sit and have mint juleps.

Nancy 8:22 AM  

From yesterday: Warm thanks to @jberg, @puzzlehoarder, @Fred Romagnolo, @M&A, @JC66 and @Z.

ncmathsadist 8:36 AM  

This is the best Monday puzzle in a long time.

Charlesworth 8:43 AM  

Wonderful puzzle but honoring two GOP jerks could have been avoided.

OffTheGrid 9:01 AM  

Moderator, Do you think FPBear 8:39 is appropriate for this blog?

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Don't melt.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

@OffTheGrid( 9:01) I certainly don't - for this blog or any blog

Charlesworth 9:35 AM  

Lol! Whatever. Enjoy the idiocracy.

Z 9:51 AM  

@OffTheGrid - Apparently not. So that’s at least two comments approved than deleted by the mods today. And some of the other comments are pretty asinine as well.
@JC66 - It really doesn’t seem to matter if Rex writes a positive review or not.

@LMS - My wife is exactly the opposite. Restaurants are all seemingly 5°colder than comfortable for her. If we have to eat INDOORs she makes sure to bring a sweater even when it’s 95° outside. And then there’s this interior design fad where it’s all high ceilings and exposed hard surfaces so that there is a constant din. My voice cuts through the din, but my wife’s voice tends to disappear leading to a lot of “I missed that” and “could you repeat that.” We dine alfresco a lot.

Mary McCarty 10:00 AM  

@Nancy, I see RANGED on your anagram puzzle, but don’t see how it could have been used here, with each anagrammed word being an entire separate word in a real phrase, instead of something like “arRANGED a meeting”. That cleanness in this puzzle is especially admirable as Rex and LMS mentioned. Makes for an elegant Monday, inviting new solvers to continue. Thank you, ZB!

jberg 10:01 AM  

I saw TAKE A GANDER and expected animal metaphors, but that singer straightened me out. Easy fun puzzle.

The GANDER has a matching GOOSE; I think PAVLOV’S DOG was looking for SCHRODINGER’S CAT.

My personal usage is to say “I’m all ASEA” when I’m clueless, but “at sea” for the 27D clue; but the dictionary does not support this practice.

David 10:18 AM  

Yeah, Lott wasn't the best kind of Republican but c'mon, he's been gone a long time. I didn't even notice the clue for Ted, having done that on downs. Even so, he's there and in the news, why let that disturb a remarkably fine Monday puzzle? Further, a remarkably fine puzzle built on anagrams, which I usually dislike. "Out of Danger" was icing on the cake.

I had just a few write overs. Had my usual mis-spelling, "Issac" and Inside as the opposite of al fresco. Where and when I grew up we always said "indoors," I don't believe I've ever eaten in or on a door. Well, maybe a Dutch door?

Nifty work. Thanks.

Nick Danger, Third Eye 10:31 AM  

I guess there wasn't enough space for "I spell my name Danger." (Firesign Theatre, as I'm SURE you all know.)

Nancy 10:42 AM  

@Mary McCarty (10:00) -- Good point. I hadn't thought of that. I tried to force Google to give me WIDE-RANGED, but it wouldn't. It would only give me WIDE-RANGING.

Of course, I like embedded anagrams in crosswords because they're more challenging. But it wouldn't have worked for a Monday, I agree.

Colby 10:46 AM  

TIMELAGS is redundant, IMO. 3:43 for me-- and I felt like that was blazing fast. 3:34 is my record. I don't think there's anyway I'll sniff the 3 minute mark.

Andrew Heinegg 10:53 AM  

Why don't you just tell your device of choice to send in a comment to the blog every day that, whatever Rex wrote, it is disgusting and unjustifiable. Think of the time you will save.

the redanman 10:53 AM  

Had to be good no OREO, but it did have ASEA

Rullly easy

TJS 11:00 AM  

Tell me what is "artful and playful" about ots,imo,nev,upi,she,and,nit,goo,not? I get that for fellow constructers there are some points of interest but for someone to gush over a puzzle that took 2:45 to complete is beyond strange to me. I use coffee and a puzzle to get my brain to engage in the morning. This one was not created with the solving experience in mind, imo.

Joe Dipinto 11:02 AM  

The yacht rang, her pronouns are they/them/their now.

A marvy Monday puzzle, not the least bit mazy or mothy. The themers and revealer are spot-on. A little heavy on proper names, but overall, 62 down clue with answer?

Monaco's too far away, let's do some laps just across the Colorado border instead.

RooMonster 11:04 AM  

Hey All !
Easy peasy CC squeezy!

Remember when I said yesterday that all puzs have dreck? CC comes around and makes me eat my words! Har. OTS about the worst, IMO.

Nice puz. Ckean. Haven't heard TAKE A GANDER in a while. Is that missing an AT, though? (Uh-oh, getting NITty) COVENT GARDEN was odd in the fact that it seems English towns/places always seem to have extraneous endings. Like COVENTSHIRE or COVENTINGHAM or some such. Who knew they could be terse?

A GLEE of a puz.

STRAY GOO
RooMonster
DarrinV

Petsounds 11:19 AM  

Rex's discussion of puzzle construction made my head spin; I won't be constructing any crosswords in the near future! But when I re-read them, I began to see how important even the small aspects are to creating a really good puzzle.

And I agree with pretty much everyone: This was a really good puzzle. Enjoyed it tremendously and loved OUT OF DANGER.

Masked and Anonymous 11:20 AM  

yep. Primo MonPuz. CC has been a fave constructioneer of M&A's for quite a spell now, and it was great to see @RP heap such super-nice praise on her work today. I reckon he musta *really* appreciated seein CARB, instead of the deadly NOCARB?
Superb blog write-up, btw. Downright cheery.

Unusually non-scrabbly puzgrid -- just a coupla K's bouncin around in there. This can be the price sometimes paid for smoother than snot fillins. PAVLOVSDOG alone was worth most of that price, and it did have some semi-scrabbly V's, too boot.

staff weeject pick: OTS. Plural abbrev. meat. Sits within the nice weeject stacks of the NE & SW.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Checker after reaching the other side of the board} = KING. OTS also had a giveaway clue, but why should it get all the glory.

Thanx for a great MonSolvequest, CC. U do good work. Way to stay away from AG-NERD.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


**gruntz**

Crimson Devil 11:26 AM  

Excellent Monday puz, thas two days running.
Nice write-up too.

jb129 11:37 AM  

Yes, best Monday puzzle in a long time. I smiled when I was done.

JC66 11:39 AM  

@Z

As of 11:36, I count 3 trollish @Anon comments (included the ones deleted).

I'm too lazy to go back and check, but I believe that's a much lower % than the day I made my observation that @Rex's negativity seemed to bring ought the trolls.

Leslie 11:42 AM  

Absolutely squeaky clean puzzle--a great way to start the week. @Nancy I would love to see your 41 anagram puzzle/poems. Is there any way that could happen?

eddy 11:48 AM  

Very funny comments about Ted Cruz and Trent Lott. The serious point is, Rex is not consistent when he blasts the puzzle or the cluing for including controversial names or figures. If you can't have Assange, you can't have Cruz. IMO, all names are appropriate, even Trump...although that one does give me pause.

Fun puzzle, a little longer than it should have been for me, as I was caught not knowing Covent Gardens, "Coventry Gardens" stuck in my head. Also, Ariana who? My Achilles heel is pop culture icons who I only know from puzzles. Glad I got all the downs.

Petri 11:52 AM  

My fastest Monday ever, at a pretty darn speedy 3:15, made more enjoyable on a very, very nice puzzle. Fun solve, nice grid. LOTT as INERT GOO and TED between IMSAD and EGO is just petty and dumb enough for me to enjoy it so here we are

Anoa Bob 12:02 PM  

My first thought on seeing TAKE A GANDER was that it's a 12-letter partial. Maybe "Pilfer a barnyard animal" would have fixed that. Please don't throw things at me. I thought the rest of the puzzle was fine.

Lot of CARBs in yesterday's puzzle. So I guess that today's 6A "Paleo diet restriction, informally" kind of balances things out. I think I will cash in on the diet-du-jour craziness. It's called the Anoa Carbohydronic Diet. You eat nothing but forest undergrowth, uncooked. Early reports show that it cleanses the bowels wonderfully, detoxifies instantly and melts away stubborn belly fat. Send me mucho $, in unmarked bills, for details.

Sorry if that was tedious for you @Z. No, wait, I'm not sorry at all. You should be the last person on this bored, er, board, that complains about tedium. You know, the pot calling the kettle black thingie.

Maybe 17A ESTREET could be clued as a cyberspace address.

Jyqm 12:06 PM  

Since I often chide, it seems only fair to give credit when it's due. So thank you, Rex, for an entertaining and interesting review of a lovely Monday puzzle. I particularly enjoy your insights about the construction process; it's one of the reasons I started reading your blog in the first place. I honestly wondered while doing the puzzle if you would bombard us with complaints about "neutral" clues for the odious Trent LOTT and TED Cruz, or maybe even TONYA Harding. Glad to see the focus today on the puzzle itself. Thanks again!

Nancy 12:07 PM  

@Leslie (11:42) -- The entire batch is in hard copy, alas. But a fair number have been specially typed up online and sent in emails to various Rexite friends. I'll need to know your email address, which you don't have posted, in order to send you what I do have online. Which I will be more than happy to do. But since my email isn't posted either, you'll have to get it from one of the people on the blog who 1) has their email posted and 2) knows mine. Don't remember who is posted and who isn't, but some people who know my email address are Lewis, GILL, Jberg, Teedmn and JC66. Hartley and Aketi also know it, but they don't read the blog every day. Good luck finding me. I'm flattered that you asked.

Cassieopia 12:43 PM  

Agree agree agree - as I was working this my one thought was, “soooo smooth!” A pure delight to solve!

Shout out to the very nice NYT digital games software tester I met at a conference in Toronto. I don’t think he posts here but it was super awesome to meet a real-life human associated with the crossword community. It was hard for me not to go all fan girl on him 🤪 But if you’re reading this, Hi Phil! Your talk was great! 👍

And CC - thank you for a wonderful Monday! You hit it out of the park!

RAD 1:10 PM  

Don't forget the worst part about eating outside. Bugs!

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

I try to miss the constructor's name before I solve in order to avoid any "constructor bias" but I failed today. Last night, I wanted to check something on Sunday's puzzle and went to the xwordinfo website, around 7:30 PM CDT and CC's face was already up on the home page so I knew in advance who made today's puzzle. How early does Jeff Chen post? Geez.

Knowing this was a CC puzzle, I wasn't surprised to find things like ONION BAGEL and PAVLOV'S DOG as bonus fill but I still lifted my eyebrows and thought, "Wow" as I filled in the revealer. So nice, especially since I join others in thinking this was going to be a play on animals puzzle, based on 16A.

57D, PREY brought back a conversation I had last night. My husband was reading "fun facts" for kids in the Sunday comics; he spluttered and said, "That's not right". They were discussing why tigers have white spots on the backs of their ears and stated they were there to scare away predators. Riiiight, what PREYs on tigers? I Googled this and exactly nothing regularly preys on tigers. Perhaps a leopard will eat a very young tiger cub, and angry elephants, buffaloes or brown bears might attack but... Another theory was that young cubs used the ear spots to follow their mother in tall grass, but, if so, why do males have them? In the end, no one is certain about the reason for the white spots. I was just glad to find out they existed.

Zhouqin Burnikel, thanks so much for this cute Monday. Very clever theme.

@Gill I, great write-up. Primo IMO! And I also enjoyed the SAGging couch clue for the same reason.

Flying Pediatrician 1:26 PM  

CC had the NYT and USA Today puzzle today! TED is in the former and TED DANSON in the latter. Curious what others think of the USA Today puzzle; the app is super-glitchy and the daily puzzle is a far inferior product, but I really enjoy the weekly tournaments. Others?

JC66 1:30 PM  

@Flying P

Today's WSJ puzzle by Gary Cee had TED Danson, too.

Flying Pediatrician 1:35 PM  

Hmm ... my USA Today crossword app says 28 Oct 2019 puzzle is by Zhouqin Burnikel just like today’s NYT puzzle?

JC66 1:42 PM  

@Flying P

Here's the link to the WSJ puzzles.

Check it out. Could be three puzzles have TED today.

Malsdemare 2:04 PM  

@Leslie. Contact me; I have @Nancy’s email address.

Lovely, lovely puzzle. But then I expect no less from the lovely CC.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

What we here in the USofA saw as "Secret Agent" was made/shown in the UK as "Danger Man". And thence, "The Prisoner".

Joaquin 3:14 PM  

Guess I missed the memo. Will someone please mansplain to me "CC"? TIA.

Not in the loop 3:20 PM  

Who is CC?

Jyqm 3:25 PM  

@Joaquin -- "CC" is Zhouqin Burnikel's nickname. I guess that, like many Asian-Americans, she decided to adopt a nickname that is easy for English speakers to pronounce rather than hear her real name constantly butchered. ;)

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

is anyone else amused by the paleo diet thingee?? that got them to about age 35 at expiry. we should want this?

pabloinnh 3:37 PM  

Hey Nick Danger--thought you sat around your office reading your name in the glass on the office door: "regnaD kciN". That would give us another anagram, but not another word, alas.

Did this at 2 AM here in Ireland because our hotel room was over a night club, whose music ceased at 5 AM. Liked it anyway. That's how good it was.

Thanks CC.

Pete 3:48 PM  

@Joqquin - The constructor, Zhouqin Burnikel, goes by CC Burnikel in real life. It's the NYTimes policy to only permit using the person's legal name, so they insist on Zhouqin.

In PREY related news, I was driving to my not-so-local hardware store, the one with stuff left over from the 1920s, looking for a part for a 50yo faucet. About 100' into a field by the side of the road were three Bald Eagles, one adult and two juveniles. One of the juveniles was feeding on a recently caught groundhog, the adult was just hangin around next to him, and the other juvenile was 20 yards away, sulking. Probably thinking that Mom or Dad liked the other one the best. This right smack dab in central NJ. Don't you just hate all those pesky regulations on insecticides, air and water pollution, and land preservation?

In faucet related news, they didn't have what I needed.

Z 4:55 PM  

@JC66 - Yeah, you’re right, down from days when Rex is especially vociferous. Still, since @grandpamike posted the first comment ever there have been comments that at least border on trollish no matter what Rex writes. Just kind of amazing me that Rex writes the kind of post the trolls clamor for and they still can’t help themselves.

@anoabob - Moi? When have I ever beaten a dead horse? (Don’t answer that)

@Eddy - Man, I really really dislike TED Cruz. But comparing him to Covfefe isn’t fair to him.

@Teedmn - I think Chen’s post goes live the same time as the puzzle. Sunday and Monday puzzles go live online at 6pm eastern, the other days at 10pm eastern. Rex is the only blogger (I think) who always waits until at least midnight.

@Anonymous3:28 - Yes. TBF - What was killing them probably wasn’t diet related all that often. But, yeah, grain cultivation is probably the single most important innovation to lengthen our typical life span.

Joaquin 5:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joaquin 5:26 PM  

@jyqm & @Pete - Thanks for the CC explanation.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

This write up is very educational. I did not pick up on any of that. Thanks for the “behind the puzzle” look!

Teedmn 11:55 PM  

Thanks, @Z. I knew Sunday's showed up earlier on Saturday than other days of the week but didn’t know Monday's puzzle did also.

Robyn S 8:15 AM  

Great puzzle - and my best score ever! 4:56- I'm proud of myself. :)

Burma Shave 10:30 AM  

GALA GALL

Well, SHE’s a DAHL, but NOT with EGO,
AND NOT TIMID when SHE’s randy,
so there’s no DANGER to TAKEA PHOTO,
or TAKEAGANDER at ARIANAGRANDE.

--- OSCAR ISAAC KAPLAN

spacecraft 12:48 PM  

I think our hero just closed his eyes when it came to the clue for TED, he liked the rest of it so much. Me too. No fan of gun-totin' Cruz, but as I've said before, it's just a name in a puzzle. Nothing to get in a twist about. Has OFC actually been reading yours truly?? Here's hoping.

The revealer phrase became famous in "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan:"

SPOCK (in dilithium chamber, dying): Ship...OUTOFDANGER?

So there. Full marks to Ms. Burnikel, and to full-named DOD ARIANAGRANDE. Who am I to disagree: Eagle!

rainforest 2:12 PM  

I didn't notice the constructor's name until I was about half way through solving, and I said to myself, "Self, this must be a Lynn Lempel", but no, a CC, and a great one.

Seems pointless to talk about the difficulty level; after all it's BMonday, but after reading many of the comments I went to the top and read what the blogmeister said. I have to say that I appreciated reading about the nuances of grid design, openness, connectedness, even if I'm not sure how important those things are. Well, I guess they are important because this puzzle was so smooth throughout. No crap fill (except for TED Cruz), many nice longer entries, evidence of competence everywhere.

Thanks, Ms. Burnikel.

leftcoaster 3:25 PM  

Another solid, first-rate Monday from Ms. Burnikel, as "easy" as it may be.

A Monday conundrum: Could this puzzle also be considered "medium" or possibly even "challenging" --"for a Monday"? Or should all Mondays be considered "easy", relatively speaking, by definition?

Oh, never mind.

rondo 3:40 PM  

I’ve met CC and she seems every bit as nice as this puz is good. Not everyone can put OFL into a good mood. Got the anagram thing after the second themer and the revealer is just SPOT on. There are PLANB options, but the complete ARIANAGRANDE? SHE gets a yeah baby. Fine puz IMO.

strayling 7:44 PM  

That was fun! As usual I did the solve-and-turn-into-a-story thing to lock it into my head, and halfway through I noticed that this puzzle was flowing so well it almost carried me along. There were a few choppy patches IMO, but I was never left ASEA.

Now I'm looking at a completed grid and wishing there was more of it to solve.

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