1986 Keith Haring antidrug mural / MON 11-25-19 / Batter's grip-enhancing goo / Distinctively shelled bivalves

Monday, November 25, 2019

Constructor: Daniel Mauer

Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe slightly north of Medium) (3:16)

THEME: ACK ACK — Ack Ack (February 24, 1966 – November 7, 1990) was an American Thoroughbred Hall of Fameracehorse. (wikipedia)

Theme answers:
  • SNACK ATTACK (17A: Reason to raid the fridge)
  • BACK ON TRACK (29A: No longer astray)
  • CRACK IS WACK (45A: 1986 Keith Haring antidrug mural)
  • YACKETY YACK (60A: Gab) (is this really how it's spelled? Not "yakkity yak!"? The song spells it "Yakety Yak" ... not sure where this variant comes from) 

Word of the Day: NASHUA (10D: New Hampshire's second-largest city) —
Nashua is a city in southern New Hampshire, United States. As of the 2010 census, Nashua had a population of 86,494, making it the second-largest city in the state and in northern New England after nearby Manchester. As of 2018 the population had risen to an estimated 89,246. Nashua is, along with Manchester, one of two seats of New Hampshire's most populous county, Hillsborough County.
Built around the now-departed textile industry, in recent decades it has been swept up in southern New Hampshire's economic expansion as part of the Boston region. Nashua was twice named "Best Place to Live in America" in annual surveys by Money magazine. It is the only city to get the No. 1 ranking on two occasions—in 1987 and 1998. (wikipedia)
• • •

Would've quit this about 10 seconds in if I weren't faux-contractually obligated to write about it. Whatever you think about the theme (and I'm pretty neutral toward it), the fill in this is atrocious. There is no reason a Monday puzzle that is relatively light on, or at least not jammed with, theme material should have fill this rough and yesteryear. Seriously, ONENO is one of those answers that makes me want to shut the computer and walk away, immediately. It was never good, and it's especially terrible now, when constructing software can help constructors find at least passable fill in these run-of-the-mill corners. There's literally no excuse for ONENO. I guarantee you that if you pull out the NW and W, even leaving DEALMEIN in place, you (yes you, probably) can get rid of ONENO and probably IDINA and INCAN and NOS in the bargain. Why stop there, though? Keep going. Get rid of RIAL and AGRA, the NEATO BIS, DYAN and her ALGAE, the ASIS KOI the hissing SSS MRI, ANI, WINED, all of it. Or most of it. The best thing in the grid was also the hardest thing for me to recall: CRACK IS WACK! You can dump the rest in the KOI pond. (a friend of mine tells me, per the "constructor's notes," that ONENO was put in *during the editing process*, which ... wow. Wow. I mean, if ONENO was edited *in* to this thing, I don't know which is up or down or left or right (and I don't even want to imagine what the grid looked like originally).

I forgot NASHUA existed, wow. I'm trying not to actually look at that corner because again, the fill is So bad (NES ATA!), but yeah, that slowed me down a bit. I know NASHUA exists only because I interviewed for a job w/ a school in NASHUA 20+ years ago. I have literally never been to New Hampshire. Ever. But then I've only been to Vermont once, and then only just a few years ago. And they're only a few hours from me. Weird. Anyway, NASHUA slowed me a tad. So did WINED (ugh) because of course I had WOOED, which is an infinitely better answer (42A: Romanced, in a way). Wrote in SSA instead of SSS (confusing my terrible and my Very terrible SS_ words). How in the world does this grid require cheater squares?!?!?!  (black squares after GASP / before ASIS—they make grid easier to fill but don't add to the word count; such squares are usually only used if filling the grid cleanly is demanding, which ... why today?? Maybe I should be grateful that this thing isn't filled worse, but I'm not feeling that charitable right now, now that I've found out that this puzzle actually *was* edited and we *still* ended up with this swill. I dumbly wrote in SADAT when I had -ADAT at 57A: Tore into (HAD AT), without even looking at the clue. Bad assumption. I have a feeling this will play somewhat on the harder side for people, but not too hard. Gotta run. Cheers.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Apparently "YACKETY YACK" is indeed something—a 1974 Australian film (thanks for the reference, Brian!). Oh, and also this:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

I asked my sons Mack and Zack to help me solve this puzzle but they said they lack the knack for words. So I turned the job over to Jack Black but he gave me flak about it. Finally, I decided to pack it in and I hit the sack.

jae 1:02 AM  

One the tough side for a Mon. I suspect The Coasters would not be happy with the 60 across spelling. I was kinda expecting a reveal having something to do with anti-aircraft guns. Not feeling the love for this one, no?

KevCo 1:08 AM  

Yeah, this was pretty rank. Plus you have OTIS Redding and RESPECT(S) in the same puzzle. You should do something with that, maybe.

It felt in fact like a lot of answers related to each other, but not really in a fun way...AUDI & NEW CAR...SNACK ATTACK & NOSH...CHAT & YACKETY YACK...ORCAS & SCALLOPS...AYE & SAID OK...etc., etc.

Any puzzle that clues "PINE TAR" without mentioning George Brett is a puzzle that has shirked its obligations. Probably would have been fitting to clue IDINA Menzel with Frozen, since the sequel just came out this weekend and will no doubt be ubiquitous when I go home to visit my wee nieces and nephews this Christmas.

Anyway, Jets are finally looking respectable.

Anonymous 1:58 AM  

MRI is fine by me, it's sadly in my dialogue more than it's in the puzzle, though X-ray i could see going, those radiation bombs take such superficial scans, that kinda imaging is so last century. If it ain't 3T it ain't worth my time!

chefwen 2:01 AM  

I really enjoyed this one. It was whimsical with all its wackiness. I don’t take a magnifying glass to the puzzle so sub par fill doesn’t really annoy me, I just floss over it.

Loved SNACK ATTACK, I eat some really odd combination of things when one of them strikes. An omelette stuffed with Coleslaw comes to mind.

Fun Monday.

Todd 5:55 AM  

I think of ack ack as a term for anti-aircraft gun fire from the ground, not a race horse.

Lewis 6:02 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:05 AM  

Hah! Couldn't help but notice in this puzzle that REX is below AVERAGE.

This wasn't as now-you-see-it-now-you-don't as many Mondays, which I liked, but which new solvers may find frustrating. There were some lovely-to-me answers tucked in -- NADIR, PITH, ROKU, BATIK, GOTHIC, and NOSH. I don't remember CRACK IS WACK, but I do believe the phrase will carom through my head today, and maybe even more: "YACKETY YACK -- Don't talk back!", which I remember clear as day, not to mention the tenor sax solo.

Hungry Mother 6:05 AM  

A bit slow due to lots of trivia. Not a favorite.

amyyanni 6:54 AM  

Lots of fun. But then, I think a coleslaw stuffed omelet sounds good,@chefwen. Used to live in MA so NASHUA was a gimme but learned CRACKISWACK. Always like a little education in my puzzles. Anyone with a parrot (male Eclectus here) would get the original T.Rex clue. One good look at their claws and you are reminded!

Tea Man 6:58 AM  

Ho hum: Notwithstanding Rex's comment on "oneno," I actually like that one. As for the theme, I said OK. Not inspiring but not as offputting as Rex found it.

OffTheGrid 6:59 AM  

At first I thought SNACKATTACK might be a play on words for sneak attack. But just ACK ACK theme, which is Monday OK. ONENO is a palindrome. I guess that doesn't help. Disappointed that @Rex misused literally. " I have literally never been to New Hampshire." Either he's been there or he's not been there. I see and hear this misuse frequently. People just throw it in gratuitously.

Eliza 7:17 AM  

First filled in SEVEN for the no trump clue then corrected to ONE NO. Perfectly acceptable for any bridge player.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Themer 1: SNAKCK ATTACK. I have never heard nor seen this phrase in my life.
Themer 2: BACK ON TRACK. Good, solid, entry.
Themer 3: CRACK IS WACK. Absurdly, comically obscure for a Monday. This is not even a Friday entry. Saturday would be OK.
Themer 4: YACKETY YACK. a) This cheats by using the same word for the "rhyme". b) That's not the real spelling.

As Bill the Cat or Cathy would say, "Ack!"

OnenoOreo 7:23 AM  

Still new to crosswords and this is probably the ~20th puzzle I've completed. Strangely, this was one of the faster ones I've done. Maybe I just lucked out because I knew a lot of the "trivia" questions?

Still, I got tripped up on a few. ONENO was the last clue I filled in and YACKETYYACK made me want to yack all over my keyboard.

My Monday morning drowsiness certainly didn't help as I sat there singing "Rocket Man" in my head while drawing a complete blank on the obvious ELTON answer to 65A.

Overall, I enjoyed this one. After attempting yesterday's puzzle and wanting to rip my hair out I would have taken 5 YACKETYACKS today. Still have lots of practicing to do before I attempt another Sunday lol.

On that note, as a newbie I'm looking to keep doing Monday puzzles for now to get better. Are there any particular Monday puzzles from this year that you would recommend? Thanks and have a great day, everyone!

BobL 7:25 AM  

Glad the "Pack" didn't make it in. The 49ers are awesome. Pack is not back.

Suzie Q 7:34 AM  

My bar is set pretty low on Mondays so I don't feel nearly as critical as Rex this morning (or any morning).
I liked the theme answers. They're fun to say out loud.
It was full of non-Monday fill like nadir, Sartre, and sabotage all of which I liked. I'm not sure why wined set Rex off. Sure, we usually pair it with dined but the clue says "in a way".
I've been to New Hampshire on my way to Maine. When you are not from New England it is funny how quickly you go from one state to another.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Apparently Rex doesn’t play bridge; therefore, “one no”, a common bridge term, shouldn’t be in the puzzle.

Peter P 7:49 AM  

This one finished slightly faster than Monday average for me but, oof, I have to agree with Rex about that fill. The one that almost naticked me was the IDINA/BATIK cross. (Guess you can say I almost got BATIKed, har har.) Luckily, "A" is the only vowel that really makes any sense there, but I had no idea on either of those clues and that sure as heck did not feel like a Monday cross to me.

Having not seen or really heard much about "Rocketman," my brain, for some reason, went straight to John Glenn instead of Elton John. Oops.

GILL I. 8:04 AM  

@chefwen...Omelette stuffed with coleslaw???? Please don't tell me you use Miracle Whip! My favorite SNACK ATTACK is peanut butter and pickles, slathered with real mayo on white bread.
Oh...the puzzle. A little on the tough side for a Monday. I liked ONE NO. I bid it lots and my partner always groans. You need at least 15 high cards points. Try going for four no.
I've been to New Hampshire (Hi @pablo) but had trouble with NASHUA. I'm a Keene girl. Here in California it's a DuI (driving UNDER the influence). Held me up with that CRACK IS WACK. I probably have heard it but for some reason I wanted Nancy's JUST SAY NO. As if.
If I'm in the right mood and you are really good, I usually always LAUGH at puns.
I need to go kneed some bread.

Laura 8:05 AM  

You have 25 years to coe from. Just dive in. But they get harder if you go way back.

pmdm 8:14 AM  

Being a Benny Hill fan, this puzzle got me hearing Yackety Sax in my head. That fails as a possible entry for this puzzle, Too bad, because my reaction to this Monday mess was not positive.

Calling it a mess is a bit excessive. It struck me as a puzzle new solvers would trip up on. The comments posted here may change my mind.

Lewis 8:24 AM  

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

1. Line out the door? (4)
2. Occasion to speak up? (6)
3. What most pop-ups are (4)
4. Some needlework (11)
5. Places where drivers get tickets (7)(7)


kitshef 8:30 AM  

@OnenoOreo - give April 22 a try. Rex hated it but I enjoyed it a lot, which is rare for a Monday for me.

Nancy 8:38 AM  

So I SAID OK to NOSH [GOSH! GASP!] and ended up giving into my SNACK ATTACK. DAMN!

Not much to say about this capably executed but very AVERAGE Monday. CRACK IS WACK was new to me, giving the puzzle a bit of minor interest in one small spot. Otherwise not very exciting.

Dorothy Biggs 8:55 AM  

Boots Randolph's hit is spelled Yakety Sax. I can see how a person might spell "Yakety" with a C, because if you didn't know how it was pronounced, you might think that spelling had a long A sound. But you YAK when you yammer or gab. Adding the C is to say that you "yack." I think it's been spelled Y. A. K. in NYT xword puzzles every time that I can remember. So, I'm calling shenanigans on this spelling. I like "yakkity yak." It's a nonsense phrase and deserves a nonsense spelling, IMO.

Also, while I appreciate themes that help with the solve, I don't like themes that enable me to just fill in the blanks. Once I knew the conceit, I knew that the end of each themer was going to be -ACK...so that was about 9 gimme squares I just filled in. Then, with the other themers, once I located an A, C, or K in the first half, I could just fill in the ACK there. All told, there were probably 15 squares that were fill-in-the-blank. That's too many.

Not my favorite puzzle for a lot of the reasons Rex pointed out.

SouthsideJohnny 9:03 AM  

Definitely agree that the IDINA/BATIK cross is a notch or two too difficult for a Monday. PINETAR might have been better served if clued along the lines of “spitballer’s secret weapon”, lol. The clue for RESPECTS seems very weak, although I guess somewhere, somebody will say “We need to respect the rules today” - or maybe not.

RooMonster 9:06 AM  

Hey All !
I thought it was "Standing on ambient music guy Brian" - ON ENO. Har.

Rhyming puzs aren't usually Will's schtick. But this one had the extra feature of having all the rhymes the same. ACK ACK.

Really enjoyed @Joe Dipinto's story from YesterPuz. I never finished the SunPuz, I always have trouble with Frank Longo puzs at one sitting. His puzs are in one of our free Weeklies here in town, and I used to do them in the bathroom over the course of the week. (Well, it's boring just sitting there doing nothing. Well, nothing else...) I didn't even get through reading all the comments.

Enjoyed todays @Joaquin rhyme post. We have some talented peeps here. DAMN.

Todays puz did have some less-than-stellar fill. And kind of harder entries for a Monday. Agree with the DRIP/IDINA/BATIK cluster as being tough. GOSH. APART from that, it wasn't too bad. Wouldn't say NEATO, but didn't GASP like a contestant on the Price is Right when they see a NEW CAR. Never an AUDI, mind you, but still NEW.

Both REX and myself, RUE, although Frenchified, made it in the puz. One writeover, ETali_ for ETCETC.

Been a while, here's some Random Nonsense for ya
MR. I - Ian McKellan?
EL TON - Heavy weight in Spain?
HA DAT - Funny in New Orleans?
GO THIC - Gain weight?
IN CAN - Using the restroom?
GOT HIC - Drank too fast?
LEA SHED - Actress Thompson's shack?
SABOT AGE - Old French shoe?
OK, I'll stop now.


squawk 7700 9:08 AM  

I take exception to "DWI" being clued as an 'infraction'.....it is in fact a criminal offense.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

The "Crack is Wack" mural has been a NYC landmark for over 30 years. Anyone who has driven or ridden the Harlem River Drive southbound has seen it. This is the NY Times puzzle, after all.

Carola 9:13 AM  

I dunno. An impressive array of ACKs, but.GOSH...those partials...the creaky crosswordese...the "on a Monday?" entries....
I liked the GOSH-NOSH cross and appreciate the grid more after reading @KevCo's pairings.
@Peter P - Me, too, for wanting "Glenn."

Clover 9:14 AM  

Language evolves over time! Words can be used in ways that transcend their literal (sorry) meaning :)

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

I had the same association with yackety yack. I wonder how Benny Hill would play today? Probably wouldn't. Ah well, chalk up another casualty to bad taste and the Me too crowd.

I like the puzzle just fine Mr. Mauer. Sabotage, Alexis De Toqueville, pith, rovers as they relate to NASA. All good stuff. Thanks.

Petsounds 9:33 AM  

Kudos to @KevCo for this: "Any puzzle that clues "PINE TAR" without mentioning George Brett is a puzzle that has shirked its obligations."

Very easy, even for a Monday--I'd have had a record time had I not made so many typos. Butterfingers this morning. Enjoyed the theme itself, but as is too often the case these days, there wasn't any joy in getting all the fill. How would it be if certain words were banned from crosswords? OREO, ONENO, HADAT, SILENT, IP[O/A]D. It would be fun to find out. Know what else it would be fun to find out? How the NYT puzzles would change if Shortz were no longer editor.

Dan M 9:35 AM  

Hi all, constructor here. Figured Rex would be cranky about the fill, which I admit is pretty trivia-heavy for a Monday (relatedly, pretty sure the reason ONE NO was edited in was to get rid of SAKI crossing LEIGH, which would have likely been pretty Naticky for a lot of folks). That said, despite the relatively average theme density, all those CK pairs everywhere *really* put a strain on things. Went through several grid patterns before finding one I could fill with any semblance of fairness. Regardless, glad people seem to have largely enjoyed the theme, which I think is pretty fun (and for the record, YACKETY YACK is definitely a thing outside of the Coasters tune, and has a few spellings that are used pretty often, so I'll 100% defend that themer.)

pabloinnh 9:38 AM  

Jeez, what di ONENO ever do to OFL? Something awful, I'm guessing. The things that make our primate grumpy, oh dear. If I get a ONENO hand, it's exciting (hi GILL I). Bid that sucker and hope for an encouraging answer.

Yeah, NASHUA was a gimme for me. Could also have been clued as "one of two or three cities in NH". I guess everyone knows Manchester because of the primaries, Concord is the capital, and Keene has a division of the state university system. Anything else with 30,000+ people is kind of rare. Those of us who live here like that. Also, Rex, I've never been to Binghamton, so there.

Thought this was OK for a Monday and am waiting for JoeD to link us to Black is Black, which I kept expecting somewhere in this one. Nope.

CDilly52 9:38 AM  

@Gill, I’m with you in the PB, pickles (always dill for me), real mayo, white bread. Haven’t met many who understand the beauty of this.

Kathy 9:40 AM  

I sailed through this until I hit a Natick at AGRA/RIAL
I also made an error at WINED, I had wooed.
I agree, YACKETYYACK looks odd with c’s in it.

As a newer solver, I enjoyed the puzzle. Probably because I got down to four squares pretty quickly so it was an ego boost. Being a boomer (NEATO) and a former bridge player (ONE NO) certainly helped.

@OnenoOreo. Welcome to the blog! I’m a newbie too, started the NYTXW in January, lurked on the blog for months, finally jumped in earlier this month.

@Gill I. I still remember that surge of Adrenalin when partner opens one no and I have an opening hand!

CDilly52 9:54 AM  

This is a Monday puzzle so I forgive a lot, especially when for me there is lots of fill to hold my interest. I found this to be adequate, fun in spots and very Monday. Easy for me.

C zar 9:57 AM  

Totally messed up by filling DIAN Cannon, which gave me YACKETIYAK, which looked totally reasonable. Took me longer to find that error than it had taken to do the rest of fill. CRACKISWACK is a hoot.


Z 10:04 AM  

Upset padre’s cry when their child makes a mess.


The NYT’s cut the bridge column years ago. Shortz must have missed the memo. Seriously, bridge players, ONE NO is bad because it’s pretty niche and it’s letters might as well be cheater squares. Would “Ultimate forehand” as a clue for “flick” be okay with you? And yet there are more registered ultimate players in the US than bridge players (and based on my experience, lots of us solve the NYTX and read Rex) and flick has more interesting letters than ONE NO.

Monday DNF. I had IDINA and dINED, leaving NEd CAR. Given all the rest of the fill and my general disinterest in famous people and resulting ignorance, I went with the Price is Right prize being a rEd CAR. WACK as CRACK, eh?

@OneNoOreo - Great nom de blog. I agree with the just start doing them idea, maybe working backwards. I would also encourage you to tackle the Tuesdays, too. Yes, they are harder, but close enough in difficulty to push the boundaries without overwhelming you.

Z 10:10 AM  

@Kathy (and @OneNoOreo too, maybe) - AGRA will be back. You might want to read up on the Taj Mahal.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Another specious argument from Z . I know a lot of people who play bridge. I also know a lot of people who play golf and tennis. Few, if any, have registered to some organization, I don’t know anyone he who plays ultimate frisbee. Granted, it’s anecdotal evidence but the idea that frisbee is anywhere near as popular as bridge is laughable. I do find it cute that he feels he must defend Rex though.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

A quick Google search shows more than 25 million Americans play bridge while about 3 million play ultimate frisbee.

Rastaman Vibration 10:38 AM  

@squawk 7700 When I googled “infraction” the first definition that came up was “a violation or infringement of a law or agreement”, so it seems pretty legit (of course, you are free to take exception to anything you want - in fact Rex may be the “king of taking exception” in addition to his other talents).

@Dan M, thanks for stopping by, it’s always nice to get the constructor’s perspective. And congratulations, you only registered a 3 or 4 on the Rex Grouchiness Scale, which is becoming a rarity these days !

EG in TO 10:43 AM  

Long time lurker, but I had to chime in because this puzzle reminded me of this classic Louis Jordan tune

pabloinnh 10:47 AM  

Not to pile on, but @Z regarding O NENO--are you thinking of nino (excuse my lack of tilde)? Spanish has "nene" and "nena" for a small child, but no "neno".

David 11:03 AM  

I kind of liked this one and pretty much sped through it. Being a New Yorker, Crack is Wack was a gimme. The other ack ack answers were simple enough as well.

I should think, in the 1990s, one being interviewed at a school would literally have to be at that school to be interviewed. Yet Rex has never been in New Hampshire. Huh. By the way, Nashua is less than 50 miles from Natick.

One no was also easy enough for this never played bridge person to suss out. As usual for an early week puzzle, I don't even know what half the keys were or, for that matter, answers—until I come here. I am happy that Gayle was clued properly, as a "personality." I also liked Alexis de T, having read his essays long ago and revisited them every now and again.

Thanks @Dan M for a fine Monday puzzle.

Ben 11:03 AM  

It's always odd to me how Rex often seems to wear his ignorance of a given person, place, cultural touchstone, etc., as some kind of a badge of honor

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

RooMonster entered first, but... my clue (shorter, of course to fit the page), "blame for Ambient". or may be Ambien.

albatross shell 11:32 AM  

Well at least it wasn't eNENO.
I actually thought the clue/answer was fine and moved up to dandy since it was a palindrome. I missed that. I enjoy reading bridge columns and think bridge is a great card game and know bidding, but do not play because I am pathetic at remembering what cards have been played.

Rex: below average puzzle.
Puzzle: below average Rex.
Thanks to whoever above. I missed that too.

I did notice there did seem to be related answers: ONENO DEALMEIN (nice perfect cross also). AUDI AUTO ROVERS NEWCAR.

The harder areas of the puzzle were not particularly rewarding.


Solverinserbia 11:37 AM  

I don't have any Monday favorites that I remember. Just go back chronologically one at a time. And add in Tuesdays quickly.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

A quick Google search shows more than 25 million Americans play bridge while about 3 million play ultimate frisbee.

well... I suspect the Venn diagram of those two populations would have 0 intersection. geezers in one, and Gen-something in the other.

jberg 12:09 PM  

Oh dear, @Anonymous 10:26, you called it 'frisbee.' Now we're going to be here all day!

Tough for a Monday, especially if one didn't know IDINA, and even tougher if one put in uNeaten cAke as the reason to raid the fridge. Peel for PITH didn't delay e as moch, nor did DuI (which we had a couple of days ago). It was OK, though.

No idea who George Brett is, but ETC ETC should really clued to Yul Brynner in "The King and I." Well,maybe not -- he said the whole words, and repeated them three times, not two. Like others, I was expecting Ack Ack as the revealer (side note: Wiki doesn't say, but I'm guessing the horse was named for the weapon; its sire was 'Battle Joined," and its grandsire "Armageddon" so a military name would make sense.) It's weird to have the double ETC without the double ACK -- and even weirder to have only a single AYE as a Naval response.

@Offthegrid -- what a great clue, "Palindromic bid." Bet we'll be seeing that one soon.

@DanM, thanks for stopping by! Always a nnice touch when the constructor does that.

GHarris 12:15 PM  

Never know whether they’re looking for DUI or DWI, both being correct. It was my only write over.

rageismycaffeine 12:16 PM  

Honestly never knew that CRACK IS WACK is a Keith Haring mural. my pop cultural touchstone for that phrase is Whitney Houston's denial of her rumored drug use. 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer. Somehow I doubt that clue would have made it into the puzzle, though.

This puzzle was a mess. I'm with Rex all the way. Other than the clue for 20 across, which made me smile. More than any pun ever has, anyway.

chefwen 12:28 PM  

@GILL I, were talking Asian slaw, no mayo involved and Miracle Whip has never set foot in this house. ACK!

Kathy 12:39 PM  

@albatross shell 10:32. Same here! I have always had an abominable short term memory so card counting was always my weakness. I would strategically choose which cards I would count. But I was good at finding a makable contract, which offset that weakness. No matter who my partner was or their skill level, I could usually suss out what they were mulling over while bidding and get us where we needed to be. Thus, my friends thought I was better at bridge than I actually was!

@ David, shall all posters report their mileage from Natick? I’ll play...66 miles

Unknown 12:46 PM  

Thought this was pretty easy, but I've never heard of biceps being referred to as "bis."

mathgent 1:00 PM  

I usually begin to read Rex to see if he has any information. After a few sentences today, I could see that he was all diatribe and I went to the comments. I was immediately delighted with Joaquin and his children, Mack and Zack.

Rex is like the playground director when I was a teenager. The director stayed out of our way while we had a good time playing ball. He would unlock the gates and keep bad actors away (like Rex edits out the trolls). We need Rex to keep this good thing going but we don't have to pay any attention to him.

GILL I. 1:01 PM  

@chefwen...PHEW. I thought maybe our blueberry muffin girl had gone off her rocker. I kept picturing that slaw that comes in a container that some people bring to a picnic and it's always made with Miracle Whip. Now Asian slaw can get my taste buds moving..... ;-0

Joe Dipinto 1:04 PM  

We have a request from Pablo in New Hampshire (Nashua perhaps?), a place Rex has never literally been to, for this golden oldie from September 1966 – with bilingual titles!

This is a perfectly fine Monday puzzle as far as I'm concerned. ONENO is fine, IDINA is fine (unless you're John Travolta solving this puzzle, then the answer is ADELE). I misread the clue for 51a as "Greeting in Canada" and thought, I guess we'll be wanting to build a wall up there too. Do people really call biceps BIS? Never heard that before. And who cares how YACKETY "should be" spelled when it's a nonsense word? Thank you to the constructor for dropping by; *some* of us liked your work.

Highbrow Monday trivia: Bizet's opera "The Pearl Fishers" has a character named NADIR who sings one of my favorite tenor arias.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

Isn't ACK ACK the sound the Martians make in "Mars Attacks"? At least, that's what immediately came to mind when considering this theme. I think Jeff Chen has gone WACK for thinking this could have used a revealer for new solvers. If filling in the second theme answer doesn't let you know what the theme is, then I just don't know what to tell you about your future in solving puzzles but it doesn't look good. :-)

So what WAS it about this puzzle that made it harder than the usual Monday? This took me a tad bit over my AVERAGE and it sounds like a bunch of the commenters and Rex did also. I can't see what was hard - all of those repeated ACKs should have made it easier, right?

My write-over was at the popular WooED spot. I stepped back and stared at BATo_ when I read the clue because BATIK is the right answer but ANI DiFranco came through for me.

From GOSH to DAMN to NEATO keen. But no GASPs.

albatross shell 2:05 PM  

Rex edits out the trolls?

A Moderator 2:16 PM  

@Albatross shell

You should see the comments we exclude.

Actually, you wouldn't want to.

chefwen 2:59 PM  

@Kathy 12:39 - 5100 miles

GILL I. 3:05 PM  

I'm waiting for my friend to pick me up and I'm having a glass of a really good Pinot Grigio so I'll pipe in before I leave:
Thank you moderators for your time and effort. Before you all came on board, it could get pretty miserable.
Merry Thanksgiving.....

Z 3:33 PM  

@pabloinnh - Dammit. Saw an entry in wiktionary and did not bother to look closely.

Let’s think about that “25 million Americans play Bridge” number. The US population is roughly 325 million. That includes children, so let’s put it at 275 million adults. So someone out in Google Land is saying that 25 out of every 275 Americans, 1 in every 11, plays bridge. Hmmm. Sure. That makes perfect sense. No wonder the NYT cut the bridge column but kept the crossword. Or maybe try not to be so credulous when a statistic seems to support your point.

Lewis 3:43 PM  

Kathy 12:39 -- 896 miles.

Denise Goldstein 3:55 PM  

Not a great Monday puzzle for me. Hate bridge clues bcz I don't play. Please help w 54 across - what isDJIA? Thanx

pabloinnh 4:21 PM  

@JoeD-Not Nashua, and literally have not seen Rex around here either, close to a small college, (but there are those who love it).

Just wanted to say thanks, again, and as usual. You Da Man.

Anonymous 4:24 PM  

@A Moderator:
Actually, you wouldn't want to.

well... how about telling us how many are spiked after the fact, "this comment has been..." and how many are spiked before ever being posted. and how does the former happen? one of us complains?

JC66 4:27 PM  

200 miles.

Z 4:31 PM  

What I didn’t know was that there was a white Bridge organization and a largely African American Bridge organization. Not where I expected to find the remnants of our racist history.
Anyway, I also finally found something about that 25 million number. It was in a NYT Op-Ed piece from 2005 and it doesn’t say 25 million people play Bridge, it says 25 million “know how” to play bridge. Here’s the relevant paragraph:
According to the American Contract Bridge League, 25 million Americans over the age of 18 know how to play bridge. These people are well educated (79 percent have a college degree), affluent (the average income is $62,000 per year), primarily white (71 percent) and older (the average age is 51). Of these 25 million adult bridge players, only 3 million play the game at least once a week. This is a huge decrease from the 1940's when 44 percent of American households had at least one active bridge player. from Bring Bridge Back to the Table, Sharon Osberg, New York Times, November 27, 2005. (The article insists on opening in the NYT app, so not including the link)

Okay, enough with that rabbit hole.

885 miles

A different moderator 4:43 PM  

@Anonymous 4:24 - We have to deny or delete fewer than we used to. There are several of us so that the whole day gets covered and provide coverage for when life happens. As for the occasions when a comment gets deleted after being approved, we try approve and sometimes it’s the second pair of eyes that realizes a comment is over the line.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

Okay, enough with that rabbit hole.

Not quite.

When I was in college, thus a Gen-something, some of us spent our time in The Hive for hours playing bridge rather in class or the lib. It is a strong logic and memory task. I'd be willing to bet (if someone else will do the research) that members of the CEO class have a very high percent who have, or still, play bridge.

albatross shell 4:55 PM  

I did not mean that there was no moderation or that moderation was not a good practice. But the moderation is based on general standards and not base on whether they are pro-Rex or ant-rex or pro or anti any particuar poster or point of view. I trust they protect us all equally. I am also unaware if Rex himself is In charge of any particular standards. If he is I suspect they are applied equally to all. There do seem to be anti-Rex trolls posting. As far as I can tell they have not been moderated unless they are obscenely rude or perhaps mindlessly repetitive, perhaps. Am I wrong about this?

Malsdemare 5:49 PM  

1057 miles.

Thanks, DanM for putting in an appearance; the constructor point of view is always welcome. And thanks, moderators. I remember some of those posts premoderation; they were pretty ugly.

I think if 25 million people know how to play bridge, they will know ONENO. I haven't played in 40 years and it dropped right in. Maybe it’s not Monday-worthy, but it’s pretty easy.

I liked the puzzle, but then I almost always do.

Gene 5:50 PM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. Thought it was original and fun.

Joe Dipinto 5:56 PM  

About 212 miles to Natick for me.

oisk17 6:00 PM  

First DNF on a Monday that I can recall. I AM A New Yorker, born and bred, but
Crack is Wack" means nothing to me. And I had "Ann" instead of "Ani" Never heard of Idina either, but got it from the down clues. But never thought of "Ani" as being anything but a black bird, and the cross came out to crackn's Wack, which seemed plausible, once the word "Wack" appears, who knows what other grammatical oddities might accompany it? Don't watch morning TV, so Gayle King joins Idina, Ani, and NES in the "means nothing to me" category...

Birchbark 6:51 PM  

This puzzle is offensive to pun-LAUGHers such as myself and to those who LAUGH with or at me.

But take a minute and imagine a world in which puns are purposely excluded from everyday discourse: that world is no pun for anyone. Worse, it is no pun intended.

It certainly made me think.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Anon 4:50
You can't get on it. Research be damned.
I'll offer another hypothesis. No Fortune 500 CEO, CFO or COO plays Ultimate.

RooMonster 7:54 PM  

2700 miles to beautiful downtown Natick for me.

I guess I'd better get started. :-)

RooMonster Road Trip! Guy

sanfranman59 8:04 PM  

@onenooreo ... Don't be too discouraged by your experience with yesterday's puzzle. Generally speaking, Sunday's are about a Thursday level of difficulty. IMHO, yesterday's was at least Friday level and my solve time suggested more Saturday-ish.

GHarris 8:06 PM  

DJIA. Dow Jones Industrial Average

Mike F. 10:07 PM  

9:15 today. I got 'Crack is wack' straightaway, which helped.

The Urinals' "Ack Ack Ack" woulda fit right in (or the Minutemen's cover of it).

Monty Boy 10:12 PM  

1752 Denver to Natick. I agree that some answers are a bit too tough for Monday, although my time was about average.

57Stratocaster 12:56 PM  

That makes my head literally explode.

kitshef 3:26 PM  

@Moderators - the comment from Anonymous at 1:26pm on the 11/25 puzzle is posted to the wrong day, giving a spoiler on tomorrow's (11/26) puzzle.

A Mod 3:40 PM  

Thanks @kitshef. I did have to stop myself from also deleting the literally abuse.

spacecraft 11:23 AM  

Ack! What OFC SAID (NOT OK!). ONENO is not enough. NO, NO, NO. There, that should do it.

It isn't ALL bad (DEALMEIN, CRACKISWACK). And the DOD stage is crowded; let's give it to IDINA Mendez this time. But the fill is just a jumble of I-don't-give-a-DAMN. @Daniel: Don't give up your day job. @Will: This IS your day job! Do it! Double-bogey.

Burma Shave 1:10 PM  


Less than AVERAGE puzzle for REX,


rainforest 1:35 PM  

I had no problem with this puzzle and I live about 3600 miles from Natick,

Diana, LIW 2:19 PM  

I totally agree with @Rainy. Tho at one time I lived quite a bit closer to both Natick and NASHUA. Maps are my friends...

And this was just fine for a Monday. A silly, dare I say, WACKY theme for a newbie to entice them into the crossworld.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
Don't forget to go for a walk today

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

From Syndication Land

"One no" is a common bid in bridge. If ONENO was the name of a rapper, Rex would have loved seeing it in the grid! Just saying...if something is out of your wheelhouse doesn't mean it isn't legitimate fill. I appreciate when I can learn something from a crossword puzzle!

leftcoaster 2:36 PM  

Just enough challenge here to make it an interesting Monday. Good fun and some WACKiness too. Throw a couple of good long downs like DEALMEIN and it's almost a romp.

IDINA and GAYLE were unknowns, but crosses introduced them.

Not a bad way to start the week at all.

rondo 3:18 PM  

Another hand up for WooED at first. I thought there were some nice long downs for a Mon-puz.

1376 miles to Natick, as the car drives. A firm I once worked for was the official city engineer for NASHUA, MN, pop. 68. Impressive, huh? NASHUA has become larger in population than neighboring Tintah, MN (for which we were also the city engineer) now pop. 63, since an F3 tornado blew down Tintah’s school building May 10, 1982 during a construction project we had there. Compelling for you all, I’m sure. A tree blew over and crushed the construction inspector’s truck. And people wonder why I fear tornadoes.

Let’s see, ANN and GAYLE and DYAN and IDINA are all available. But self-declared Righteous Babe ANI DiFranco is always a winner.

leftcoaster 9:03 PM  

Having looked at @Joaquin's comment at the very top, I was reminded that crosswords shouldn't be taken too seriously.

Anonymous 10:48 PM  

Geezers aren't the only ones who play bridge. Go to a Bridge club and see for yourself. Some people just want to pigeonhole others. I guess it makes them feel good about themselves.

From syndicated country - 2982 miles from Natick

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