Actor who played Andy Bernard on Office / MON 12-9-19 / Cheap in commercial names / Hit 1980s cop show / Sweet citrus fruits from Southern California / Weather phenomena from Pacific / Like Lindbergh's 1927 flight to Paris

Monday, December 9, 2019

Constructor: Ellis Hay

Relative difficulty: Easy (2:48)

THEME: plural colors — 15-letter phrases that end with a plural color (if there's more to it, I clearly don't know what it is):

Theme answers:
  • VALENCIA ORANGES (17A: Sweet citrus fruits from Southern California)
  • CLEVELAND BROWNS (26A: Only N.F.L. team that doesn't have a logo on its helmets)
  • RHODE ISLAND REDS (47A: Some chickens)
  • "HILL STREET BLUES" (61A: Hit 1980s cop show)
Word of the Day: Abba EBAN (25A: Abba of Israel) —
Abba Eban ([...] born Aubrey Solomon Meir Eban; later adopted Abba Solomon Meir Eban; 2 February 1915 – 17 November 2002) was an Israeli diplomat and politician, and a scholar of the Arabic and Hebrew languages.
In his career, he was Israeli Foreign Affairs MinisterEducation MinisterDeputy Prime Minister, and ambassador to the United States and to the United Nations. He was also Vice President of the United Nations General Assembly and President of the Weizmann Institute of Science. (wikipedia)
• • •

Dutchess, 2002-2019
HELLO, READERS AND SOLVERS IN SYNDICATION (if it's the week of Jan. 12-19, 2020, that's you!). It's January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. It's kind of a melancholy January this year, what with the world in, let's say, turmoil. Also, on a personal note, 2019 was the year I lost Dutchess, who was officially The Best Dog, and who was with me well before I was "Rex Parker." Somehow the turning of the calendar to 2020 felt like ... I was leaving her behind. It's not a rational sentiment, but love's not rational, especially pet love. Speaking of love—I try hard to bring a passion and enthusiasm to our shared pastime every time I sit down to this here keyboard. I love what I do here, but it is a lot of work, put in at terrible hours—I'm either writing late at night, or very early in the morning, so that I can have the blog up and ready to go by the time your day starts (9am at the very latest, usually much earlier). I have no major expenses, just my time. Well, I do pay Annabel and Claire, respectively, to write for me once a month, but beyond that, it's just my time. This blog is a source of joy and genuine community to me (and I hope to you) but it is also work, and this is the time of year when I acknowledge that! All I want to do is write and make that writing available to everyone, for free, no restrictions. I have heard any number of suggestions over the years about how I might "monetize" (oof, that word) the blog, but honestly, the only one I want anything to do with is the one I already use—once a year, for one week, I just ask readers to contribute directly. And then I let 51 weeks go by before I bring up the subject again. No ads, no gimmicks. It's just me creating this thing and then people who enjoy the thing supporting the work that goes into creating the thing. It's simple. I like simple. Your support means a lot to me. Knowing that I have a loyal readership really is the gas in the tank, the thing that keeps me solving and writing and never missing a day for 13+ years. I will continue to post the solved grid every day, tell you my feelings about the puzzle every day, make you laugh or wince or furrow your brow or shout at your screen every day, bring you news from the Wider World of Crosswords (beyond the NYT) every day. The Word of the Day is: Quotidian. Occurring every day. Daily. Whether you choose to contribute or not, I'm all yours. Daily.

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Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

Another day, another "Is that it?" It's hard to imagine why "phrases that end in plural colors" would be an NYT-worthy theme. There is the structural / architectural fact of the answers all being 15 letters long, but so what? I don't see how that is terribly remarkable or how it adds any kind of enjoyment to the solve. I expect a theme like this out of a ... let's say "lesser daily" puzzle. Much lesser, actually. And I'd have to say the same thing about the fill. There's not much in the grid to make you wince, but its over-reliant on the hoary and familiar, for sure. Mainly it's just dull. And two ugly partials? (IASK, ACAR). In a grid this easy to fill? I just don't see how this is up to snuff. And if your theme is going to revolve around colors, you probably shouldn't have any colors anywhere else in the grid. Makes things cleaner and more elegant that way (lookin' at you, WHITE) (30D: "___ Christmas" (holiday song)). Attention to details matters!

There's really nothing to say here. This is the second time I'm seeing NILS Lofgren in a puzzle in the past few days, though the last time I saw him (and I already forget where ... one of those puzzles I solve Downs-Only, like the LAT or Newsday) he appeared in full-name form. I feel like I haven't seen him in forever, and that his fame is maybe not what it was 20-40 years ago. But he's been a crossword MAINSTAY forever, so current fame be damned! Most constant solvers will know him and the youths can just catch up, I guess. See also Abba EBAN, whose name elements I continue to transpose / not know the proper order of. EBAN Abba sounds perfectly fine to me. I tore through this puzzle, for the most part. I hesitated some at 3D: Like Lindbergh's 1927 flight to Paris (speaking of erstwhile fame) (SOLO), and then dumbly tried to write in EDHARRIS when I saw the EDH- at the front of 43D: Actor who played Andy Bernard on "The Office" (ED HELMS). This is why you should read *all* of the clue and not just the first word before starting to fill in the answer. Still, none of these hesitations set me back much—I'm back in the 2:40s for the second week in a row (after having what felt like months of sluggish-for-me Mondays). But breeziness is not enough. The theme should have a solid hook, something to make it cohere more than just the last words belonging to the same very general category of thing. More than identical lengths. More.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:10 AM  

C'mon, Rex. Check your calendar. It's Monday.

For any long-time solver, today's puzzle was easy with many familiar crossword entries. New solvers will find it doable. And that's the way it should be.

Mike in Mountain View 12:11 AM  

Theme also had geographical lead-ins to the colors (two cities, a state, and a street), so it's pretty tight. I admit that there's nothing that ties these geographical references to each other (other than that they are geographical references) or to the colors (other than each theme answer on its own), and there's nothing that ties the colors to each other (other than that they are colors), so this wasn't an aha moment theme. But it was OK.

Loren Muse Smith 12:42 AM  

As @Mike in Mountain View responded to Rex’s. . . the theme should have a solid hook, something to make it cohere more than just the last words belonging to the same very general category of thing. More than identical lengths. More.. . . the other aspect to this group is that all the words before the color are places. So DRESS BLUES or PEARLY WHITES would not fit. And the colors are the bigdaddy main color names, not secondary color words like BALTIMORE RAVENS or my avatar. And the plurals don’t feel forced like, say, DEVONSHIRE CREAMS. And the place names are full-on proper nouns, not adjectives like MANDARIN ORANGES.

I cannot think of any other possibilities as natural as the list Ellis used, and I liked this a lot.

As regards the WHITE in the grid, I didn’t notice its colorness, so I wasn’t able to give it the stink eye. I did have _ H _ TE in place and was wondering if there were a song I Hate Christmas, I swear. Sheesh. (I really don’t hate Christmas.)

DIAL and hang up are gonna be more and more obscure as the memory of those dinosaur phones disappears. I’m sure bajillion of young people have never given carbon copy much of a thought, either.

Liked the LULL/RALLY cross. And CLEAR crossing ACNE is hopeful.

Ellis – a fine Monday with a nifty set of colorful themers.

Randy (Boulder) 1:10 AM  

*EL* NINOS? Really?

JJK 1:27 AM  

I thought this was a perfectly ok Monday puzzle, although the theme was kind of dull. But I’m just going to mildly complain about the number of sports-related clues in nearly every NYT puzzle. Ugh, I never know them! Because I’m not interested in sports and therefore can never retain any of the information about the teams, the cities, the nicknames, the schools, the leagues, etc, etc. I invariably have to get them from crosses - not a terrible thing but annoying sometimes. And, although obviously a lot of women do like sports (including my own daughter), I have to say I think the frequent sports references are an indication of the male-orientation of the NYT puzzle.

jae 1:40 AM  

Easy-medium. Reasonably smooth, newbie friendly, but a tad meh unless I too missed something.

MexGirl 1:57 AM  

EL NIÑOS is an absurdity of EPIC proportions.
Nope. Nope. Please don’t.

chefwen 2:05 AM  

Monday easy, I wasn’t SMITTEN with it, but it had some high points for me. We have a few RHODE ISLAND REDS tucked away from the pups. They are sweet, little ladies (as I call them) and are very prolific who provide us with lovely eggs every day.

O.K. Monday.


Coniuratos 2:27 AM  

So I can't be the only one who saw 51A with no crosses yet and immediately threw in "BIRD", right?

albatross shell 4:39 AM  

M-W dictionary endorses ELNINOS.
I know, a world with no standards.
Lettuce wine.

Lewis 5:37 AM  

As @mike and @loren delineate, the theme is tight, and yet Ellis came up with four equal length answers. Good work, sir! Can anyone here come up with another 15-letter theme answer that doesn't sound like a stretch? (I haven't been able to.)

A quick post-solve perusal shows a CAST aside, a connection of BROWN and NOSE, and a mini-theme of double L's (6). The theme answers made for a lovely palette, and SMITTEN, SCRIBBLE, and CRUELLA added vim. Thank you for this, Ellis!

Lewis 5:45 AM  

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

1. Group concerned with things that are NSFW? (4)
2. Pipe cleaner brand (5)
3. Clean, as a lab coat? (6)
4. League leader, informally (7)
5. How a security guard might say goodbye? (5)(6)


Klazzic 5:49 AM  

Color me unimpressed.
My German Shepherd, fresh out of canine school, solved this puzzle in just under seven minutes. Said my pup, "Wasn't RUFF at all."

kenji 6:10 AM  

I get it, if--as I infer @Randy (Boulder) is--you're referring to (plural) boys in Spanish. But then what WOULD BE the right way to refer to the weather phenomenon in plural?

Karl Grouch 6:13 AM  

This grid is clean and open minimizing the terrible threes and creating space for decent fill.

The four 15-letter themers are more than fine, hard to find and coherent.

But the clueing is terrible.

Monday-easy yes, but this was borderline insulting (winter olympics need for snow! apple tablet for ipad! Please!)

And then there's #EL NINOS#@$.. If this can pass editing, I wonder what can't.


[ @lewis, there's an australian soccer team called Bentleigh Greens, but that would be too stretched.. ]

Hungry Mother 6:18 AM  

Like a knife through butter. Got the theme, but did most of the downs.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

Another shortcoming in theme is that only for two of the answers is the color descriptive—oranges ands reds. The Cleveland football team is named for a man called Brown and the TV cop show uses blues to describe a mood of sadness (though I suppose possibly it alluded to the police uniforms maybe).

Taffy-Kun 6:32 AM  

The only legitimate way would be “El Nino”s (sorry about the missing ene per my current keyboard)

Suzie Q 7:35 AM  

I thought this was a fine Monday.
As someone else noted "honk" wasn't my first choice either.
Seems like Rhode Island has been seen a lot lately.
I liked the theme combination of place and plurals color. Well done.

GILL I. 8:03 AM  

@kenji 6:10. Los Ninos? EL NINOS made me do the "el wince."
What else? HILL STREET BLUES was a favorite in this household. I'd be in the kitchen and hear the intro music, I'd stop stirring the pot of SPUDS and join the other half to watch. I loved me some Veronica Hamel...she's aged beautifully.
Let's see...what else? first BEAU or should I say MAIN STAY? He was a Seabee and getting ready to be shipped off to Vietnam. I was 16 and getting ready to be shipped off to Spain. Disneyland had a special for all the enlistees and we spent the entire day playing with Goofy. Minnie Mouse looked exceptionally fetching in her polka dots. Gee...we had such fun.
I'll make a copy of this one for my daughter who is coming over today with my little Hadley Rose. She'll have some fun with this one. She might not know what SMITTEN means, though.
ALOHA from the Sacramento Ecrus.

mmorgan 8:04 AM  

I’m with those who say, Hey it’s a Monday, not so bad, good for newbies, etc., chill!

I’m originally from RI and (at least when I was growing up), Rhode Island Reds was one of those things you heard said in relation to RI but about which no one in RI had the slightest idea. Though I have a vague recollection of a hockey team or something with that name.

SouthsideJohnny 8:42 AM  

I feel the same way about Disney references that @JJK does about sports-related clues (not terrible, but annoying), so CRUELLA crossing ELSA should have been scratched and reworked (full disclosure - I don’t know if CRUELLA is a Disney tie-in or not, nor do I care to bother to look it up). Nice to see that ACNE is back after a brief respite (no OREO’s today though) - sidebar question: would it be valid to have the clue be “Possible cause of acne?” And the answer be OREO ?

Brit Solves NYT 8:50 AM  

Pretty simple Monday, pleasant enough to solve, and that's fine with me!

Randy (Boulder) 8:52 AM  

Trying to think of a reason one would want to pluralize the El Nino weather phenomenon. It wouldn't come up all that often, right?

This was one of the strongest El Nino patterns I can remember.

El Nino phenomena occur in a cycle.

I hate El Nino years because we get so much snow.

It seems like a weather writer should be able to avoid the ugly El Ninos or "El Nino"s.

Anyway, EL NINOS seems like bad fill because it is not a phrase anyone would choose to write or say.

This whole discussion makes me feel like I should retroactively fail 7th-grade Spanish. :(

Tony 8:52 AM  

To me, Monday means easy and accessible, not poorly done, second rate, haphazard, etc. (Same standard, different goal.) This is not to say I would describe the puzzle in the latter terms.

BTW, I'm a relative newbie to the crossword world. Out of curiosity, what is the last puzzle that Rex liked and thought well of?

The Joker 8:56 AM  


Nancy 9:22 AM  

I love clues that provoke curiosity rather than just make you cough up arcane trivia. So that I loved, loved, loved the clue for CLEVELAND BROWNS (26A). First of all, I didn't know that they're the only team that doesn't have a logo on their helmets. Did anyone know that? And then, second, it made me wonder and scratch my head about why they don't. My conclusion?

I have absolutely NO IDEA.

Here's a first for me. I hated both Saturday's and Sunday's puzzles so much that this one -- a mere Monday -- is my favorite puzzle of the last three days. Yes, a dullsville theme, but no pop culture junk and some decent fill. I liked SCRIBBLE, SMITTEN and MAINSTAY. They sort of roll off your tongue. "Cough, cough" was a nice clue for AHEM and THE WAVE was a nice answer to "Crowd activity at a stadium." A better-than-average Monday, I'd say.

Ebañ 9:31 AM  

Is the Christian deity, God or Jesus?

I'm an atheist, but it seemed a bit wonky to refer to Islam's god (ALLAH) as a "deity." Are we celebrating the Christian deity's birth in a couple of weeks? To you Christians, does it feel weird to put it like that?

Also, is a pimply outbreak ACNE...or are the pimples themselves acne?

I had ---K for "Angry driver's signal." Where I'm from, our angry driver's signal contains a four-letter word ending in K...but it ain't HONK.

And "weather phenomena from the Pacific" is El Niño and La Niña...El Niño is only one of them.

Z 9:43 AM  

I think I will momentarily scream..........

All better.

Anyway. I hate to burst your bubble, but “el niño” has been appropriated into English, where we pluralize weather phenomena by adding S to the end. So, “EL NINOS are in the news more often these days,” for example. cf octopuses not octopodes nor octopi.

I doubt that seeing that the first half was place names would have changed Rex’s take all that much. It’s a fairly tight set (ORANGES and BROWNS are used differently from REDS and BLUES) so good enough for a Monday. I do like how REDS and BLUES are word play even if it’s the common, everyday sort that everyone does. I liked this fine, even if the notion of saying ALOHA to the ICIEST WHITE Christmas made it seemed just slightly split personalityish.

JC66 9:43 AM  

@Randy (Boulder)

Just curious, do you happen to know how often EL NINOS occur?

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Cincinnati REDS

Randy (Boulder) 9:54 AM  

Hopefully, never again!!

RooMonster 9:57 AM  


(Quick hit, back later)

pabloinnh 9:58 AM  

Have to say that ELENINOS really sounded grating to me too, minus the plural article. Points off for that one, ewtudiante. Then I was thinking, if I were a used car dealer and sent one over to look at the ElDorados and ElCaminos, would that be OK? I'd say definitely maybe, so I'll give ELNINOS a pass and call it way Spanish is making its way into our language, not always with absolute accuracy. Que sera, sera, and all that, and please pardon my absence of diacritical markings. Points off there, profesor.

Thought the puzzle was fine for a Monday, even if it was a speed writing challenge. Enticing folks into crossworld is a worthy exercise, IMHO.

Thanks for the fun, EH. I'll be looking for more of a puzzler next time.

Z 9:59 AM  

@Nancy - I don’t know for certain, but the original Cleveland football team was owned by Paul BROWN. I guess it wasn’t easy to turn him into a logo.

@Ebañ - I’m not following your question. Christians call their deity “Jehovah” or “The Holy Trinity.” Ancient Romans had lots of deities. There’s Krishna and Odin and Gaia and Hera and Ganesha and and and.... Oft ignored fact, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in the god of Abraham (they just believe different things about that deity). Nothing particularly odd about using “deity” instead of “god.” People tend to use “God” when referencing the one they believe in, but that’s a different discussion altogether.

leah712 10:15 AM  

Again, "Wan" would be a clue for ASHEN, not ASHY. Correct clues for ASHY include "like unmoisturized skin" or "like the end of a cigarette." This just came up last week.

bigsteve46 10:18 AM  

I sympathize with the people who don't care about sports, ignore Disney stuff, etc. My "bete-noires" (is that plural okay?) are, more or less in order: 1. Star Wars stuff; 2. Anything Harry Potter; 3. All things from TV shows I never watch, "The Office" being a good example. And as Kurt Vonnegut liked to say, and so it goes. That's the puzzle world. Unless you are one of those people who won Jeopardy 42 times in a row, there are going to be gaps in our normal-mortal knowledge. Working around those gaps is what make x-word puzzles challenging. And, oh yeah: those people who comment about how easy a Monday puzzle is - and the people who feel they have to comment every day whether they have anything interesting or original to say? Go walk the dog or join that commenter who runs a marathon every morning before breakfast.

Kathy 10:26 AM  

The tiny state/Island of Rhode Island makes yet another appearance!

Easy even for a Monday, so aptly serves as an entry level experience. But nothing really made me smile.
Kinda meh that the theme was apparently long words with colors in them. Unless it was deeper than that. (Go to blog)

Oh, plural colors.

@Klazzic. NOW I’m smiling!

William of Ockham 10:28 AM  

Best part of this puzzle is the absence of OREO.

Suzie Q 10:36 AM  

@bigsteve46, Gee, am I that boring? Sorry if our daily breakfast meeting bores you. We can't all be brilliant and witty but I just like hanging out here. You kinda hurt my feelings.
p.s. I walk the dogs after the puzzle.

ghkozen 10:47 AM  

Why is "Allah" clued as a "Deity of Islam?" It's just the word for God in Arabic. Arabic-speaking Christians also refer to God as Allah. Nobody would say that the French worship a deity named "Dieu" or that the Spanish worship a separate deity, "Dios." The cluing furthers an Islamophobic framing that Islam worships some foreign God unrecognizable to proper God-fearing Christians. I've seen Shortz clue it like this before, and he should be regularly and roundly condemned for it.

Joe Dipinto 10:53 AM  

If @pabloinnh is okay with EL NIÑOS then I am too, even though I think it looks and sounds ridiculous.

WHITE should have been excised but otherwise this was fine, imo. Is Rhode Island turning up a lot in the puzzle these days? I feel like this is the third occurrence in the last two weeks. I like the adjacent SIDE and PLAN, which are often mixed and matched puzzlewise with A and B.

With a click, with a shock
Phone’ll jingle, door’ll knock
Open the latch...

Ellen S 10:55 AM  

@Z, I think @Eban’s (oops wrong keyboard, doesn’t do diacritical) point was Allah isn’t a “Muslim” deity, but the Arabic name for the same deity Christians and Jews worship. But I’m also an atheist so what do I know?

I had to really search but I found some fairly credible uses of EL NINOS, like Scientific American. But obviously it struck me wrong or I wouldn’t have done all that hunting.

Not really thrilled with the puzzle but I don’t like coming here without finishing it. I don’t know why — it’s the side convos that appeal to me, like discussions of octopodes v -pi.

RooMonster 11:09 AM  

Hey All !
Where's the PURPLES?

Nice MonPuz. Did it fast, was easy-peasy LEMON YELLOWS squeezy.

Had no writeovers! YAY ME! Seemed to be assaulted by L's throughout puz. Counted 18 of 'em, and as @Lewis pointed out, 6 Double LL's, 4 of which are crammed together in SE.

But that's no biggie. Zipped through puz in approx. 5 minutes, great starter for new to crossword folk. Alas, though, no F's. PLAN for some next time, Ellis. 😃

We get an ALOHA today to make up for no HAWAII in YesterPuz. Funny line there, ALOHA OPEC LAVA. Kinda sorta agree with Rex on WHITE being not the greatest with your theme being colors. But, fishing for nits, so I'll stop.


Birchbark 11:12 AM  

@William of Ockham (10:28) -- OREO is there, but you have to put on your spectacles and triangulate to find it. Start at the O-R in 17A. From there, make a left upward diagonal to the E of 15A. From there, return straight down to the O and your wish is granted

The circularity of "O" reinforces the logic by which we discover this black-and-white Easter egg whose omega returns to its alpha. A sadder and wiser letter, no doubt, on learning that the journey ends where it began.

Rug Crazy 11:14 AM  

I'm with Randy. El NinoS?????

mathgent 11:17 AM  

The constructor comments on Jeff Chen that one of his constraints was not having too many Terrible Threes. Bravo. He only had ten.

@bigsteve46: Nice comment about working around our gaps in knowledge. I follow sports avidly (our Niners were magnificent yesterday), but I know very little about Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Simpsons, world geography, current slang (I'm a geezer), biology, etc. But I'm happy to have learned a little in these areas over sixty years of doing this puzzle.

Like Gill I, I loved Hill Street Blues. "Be careful out there!"

PERK is one of my favorite words. I suppose that it is short for "perquisite."

Peter P 11:30 AM  

I don't have a problem with El Niños as a plural (lots of words that enter English from other languages end up following English pluralizing conventions, which is completely normal and natural) but I did find it a little bit forced of a clue, because I can't remember ever hearing El Niño in the plural.

Overall, I found this a fun Monday. My brain froze at the ECONO/ETO cross for almost a minute, but the rest of the fill was breezy, and I enjoyed the theme.

jberg 11:47 AM  

The theme is tight, but not that interesting. It needs a good revealer -- "colorful places" fits, but doesn't really knock one's socks off.

Wikipedia is careful to say "el niño phases" to avoid the plural-article conundrum, but I think it would completely in the (English) language to say "we've had el niños 6 years in a row now, high time for la niña." (I have to cut and paste from Character Map to get the right letter; is there a better way?)

Me too for starting to write in ED Harris. Oddly, I have little idea who he is, but the guy who does both my hair and my wife's took one look at me, turned to her, and said "I'm thinking Ed Harris." So now I know he's an actor.

OK, I used Wikipedia once, I'm not going to do it again-- but I have little idea about ISU, either. I went to the U. of Wisconsin, a Big 10 school, and I know that they've added more teams, but I don't think they've renamed the conference, so I'm guessing the Big 12 is somewhere further West, and the I is probably for Idaho, rather than Indiana. I wouldn't put money on it, though.

RHODE ISLAND REDS are not really red; and while VALENCIA ORANGES are really orange, so are several other fruits-- persimmons and quinces, for example. So I think the ORANGES as a fruit can be seen as not just the color, giving the theme a little more consistency.

For the theme to be really tight, though, EDAM should be replaced as well as WHITE. But hey, it's Monday.

Jeff B. 11:53 AM  

Easier than usual Monday, which is fine by me.

@Coniuratos: I entered BIRD too at 51A. HONK is way too tame.

@Nancy: It totally makes sense that the CLEVELANDBROWNS helmets have no logo because all they need is the color. It would be better if they were actually Brown and not Orange.

Masked and Anonymous 11:54 AM  

har. Always enjoy a @RP blog write-up/snark-up theme-rant that is totally off base. Dude musta been liquored up, or somesuch. Theme of place+color(s) is pretty tight, as others have already pointed out. Maybe if @RP learned to savor the xword a little, just for a few extra crucial nanoseconds? … just sayin.

staff weeject pick: AAA. Ain't many common triple letter weejects out there. The vowels are pretty well represented, tho: EEE (shoe size). III (Random Roman numeral). OOO (tic tac toe upset win). UUU gets about as much respect as M&A and y'all have come to expect from the xwords: nada.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Hawaiian greeting} = ALOHA. [Gotta also accept LEI US, I'd grant.]

Thought the fillins were pretty solid, considerin that there's 60 letters worth of themers, and we're tryin to do a MonPuz, here. Like @RP (kinda), M&A did enjoy the luvly nod to desperation afforded by ACAR and IASK. And if U gotta sneak in an extra color, deck it out with "Christmas", I always say. fave fillins included: CRUELLA. SCRIBBLE. NOIDEA. SNOW + WHITE (yer extra complimentary color).

Thanx for the colorful fun, Mr. Hue … er … Hay. Real good job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


jberg 11:56 AM  

@Nancy from yesterday -- loved your poem! I didn't see it until after 6 PM, so I didn't respond then as few would have seen it. Have you thought of getting it set to music? Or did you work in the opposite direction, viz., music before lyrics? Anyway, let's have more!

OffTheGrid 12:33 PM  

@jberg, ISU is IOWA St. U. I did some exploring and found that the Big Twelve conference now has 10 teams. The Big Ten has 14 (which I knew). My son told me the PAC twelve has changed its name over the years to accurately reflect the real number of schools. Historically the conference went by the names Big Five, Big Six, Pacific-8, and Pacific-10.

I liked this puzzle but the snark has rubbed off on me. Here's my nit: Tied and LACED do not equate. I have several pairs of shoes. All are LACED. None is tied. (I'm in my sock feet at the moment)

RooMonster 12:36 PM  

And my team, Pittsburgh Steelers are the only team who have their logo on only one side of the helmet.

Something about money saving originally, I think.

RooMonster Non-Football Expert Guy

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

So easy it essentially became a speed writing contest to see how fast I could scribble in the answers. This is not a challenge.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Wouldn't 17A be more properly clued as "from Florida", as the Sunshine State is by far the leading valencia producer? I believe California is better known for its naval production, that is neither ships nor lint, but rather oranges.

Anoa Bob 12:47 PM  

I live on the Gulf of Mexico and know that there is a negative correlation between summertime El Niños in the Pacific and hurricanes in the Gulf. The stronger the Pacific El Niños, the less likely Gulf hurricanes will form.

After the first two themers, I couldn't help but wonder if ACAPULCO GOLD and PANAMA RED would make an appearance.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

Post-solve, I went looking for the theme. Early on, I had circled CIAO in the (sort of) center of 17A, but couldn't find similar meaning in ANDBRO (26A) (I did notice LAND was in both 26A and 47A, still no theme help). So I decided to wait to look for a theme. Colors, um...

Yeah, I missed the place-color combo. And I wondered, why these colors? Blue stuck out as not being in the same family (otherwise, ORANGE, BROWN, RED, all fall colors.) WHITE, well it contains all the colors so, okay?

I'm always surprised how easily answers can slip past me when I'm solving for speed on an early week puzzle. Both ETO and ICIEST came up in comments and I had to go see where they were because crosses filled them both in, along with AAA, PBS, SIDE and PLAN. And ISU, thank goodness, because I have similar feelings about sports as @JJK 1:27 AM, especially college sports.

Thanks, Ellis Hays, for a breezy Monday that sparked some thought. Congratulations on your sophomore NYT puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 1:46 PM  

Btw, on the Editorial page in the Times today, there is a bunch of "letters" in the form of poem or song lyric parodies, which readers had been invited to submit. (My favorite is "Mr. Tangerine Man".) @Nancy, you should have sent something in, I'm sure it would have been printed.

Anonymous 2:16 PM  

Z-you apparently don't know at all.
The original Cleveland football team was the Rams. Yes, the same franchise that now plays in L.A. As for the Browns, they were founded not by Paul Brown but Arthur McBride.
Your theology is even worse than your football knowledge. But I'm not going to argue with a man who has said a number of times that Calvinism is the best explanation for... anything. But even you would agree the Christioan conceopt of the Holy Trinity is unique in religion, no?

Anonymous 2:23 PM  

unlike L&O, HILL STREET BLUES was (mostly?) about motor patrolmen, who were, in the 'city' where it is set, in blue uniforms. and, FWIW, according to other police procedurals, the other uniform is 'dress blues'. generally seen in funeral scenes and such. the sad connotation may have been intended. I expect so.

Frantic Sloth 2:51 PM  

I missed the geographical parts of the themers until reading comments, so there’s that. I rather enjoyed this puzzle and agree wholeheartedly with those who maintain it’s perfectly appropriate for a Monday.

And while I agree with Rex that WHITE as a color (some say it isn’t even that) shouldn’t just appear in some random place in a puzzle with colors as a theme, I also have to admit I never noticed that while solving.

Sometimes I wonder whether I will ever be able to dissect a puzzle like Rex and so many of the people here, but I’m not sure I want to. It seems I’m better suited to going through life (and crosswords, apparently)as a happy idiot who wouldn’t recognize a Natick if it peed on my leg.

Nancy 2:59 PM  

Joe D (1:46)-- I saw it today and I'm kicking myself three ways to Sunday because I am so damned absent-minded. I saw the notice in the Times about the contest on the day it appeared and I went completely blank at the time. Absolutely no ideas for a Trump poem came cascading into my head. I have to tell you that I'm spoiled. Ideas for poems and lyrics usually do come cascading into my head and the ones that do -- seemingly with no effort on my part -- those are always the good ones. When both the idea and the format aren't immediately there -- the slant, the "hook", the meter and the rhyme scheme -- I know that 1) I will struggle mightily and that 2) the result of all my struggles will be mediocre.

I also know that the best thing for me to do in such a circumstance is to walk away from the problem and let my unconscious take over. Ideas and solutions that don't come that Thursday may well come by the following Tuesday. For me, writing has never been 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration as the saying goes. For me it's always been the exact opposite. I wrote yesterday's poem in under 20 minutes.

At any rate, I made a mental note to myself to think about the contest again in a few days. And therein lies the rub. A MENTAL NOTE TO MYSELF ISN'T WORTH THE PAPER IT'S PRINTED ON.

If I hadn't forgotten, could I have gotten something in print? Who knows what I might have written and whether it would have been all that good? But there are two absolutely brilliant entries there today: "Mr. Tangerine Man", as you mentioned, and "His Favorite Things." I doubt anything I could have written would have been better, and more likely, it wouldn't have been as good. Those two people really have a terrific ear for verse. As for the others -- their various "takes" are interesting and compelling and they have something to say. But, alas, their scansion can be iffy at best.

Thanks for pointing this column out to me, Joe. You can probably find it, everyone, by Googling "NYT letters to the editor/Songs, Poems and Parodies" along with today's date. I recommend it -- it's amusing, often savage, and mostly quite well done.

And tha

Frantic Sloth 3:24 PM  


It’s funny because it’s true.

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

Cardinal in that sense references the bird. Have to go with Stanford Cardinal.

ccredux 5:02 PM  

I would have thought the weather related term is not used in a plural form; however the google definition includes “el niños” as the plural . I suppose the theme could have somehow included a geological-geographical element. RANGE, LAND, ISLAND, HILL but I don’t know how that might be done.

sanfranman59 5:46 PM  

There's an egregious error in the clue for CLEVELAND BROWNS ("Only N.F.L. team that doesn't have a logo on its helmets). Cleveland hasn't had an actual NFL team since they moved to Baltimore 24 years ago. However, the ownership of the faux professional team referred to as the Browns since 1999 happily stuffs their pockets every year with the hard-earned money of the unfortunate football fans of Cleveland.

@anon 2:16 ... My homie, Paul Brown, absolutely was a founder of the Cleveland Browns. In fact, the team is named for him. McBride was a co-founder with Brown.

Jmorgie 6:55 PM  

Perq is a perquisite ... like a parking place. perk is wrong

RooMonster 7:15 PM  

Dang @sanfranman,
Bitter? (Har)

And shouldn't you be a 49ers fan?

Rebel Roo

sanfranman59 7:36 PM  

@Roo ... It's my curse to be a Cleveland sports fan. I was born and bred in NE Ohio and returning there next spring, where I can afford my retirement.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

San Fran,
Nope. McBride was the founder and owner. Brown was at The Great Lakes Naval station when McBride bought the team-- having been rebuffed by the real Pros, the NFL. Yep, The Reeves wouldn't sell a stake in the Cleveland
Rams, so McBride went to THE AAFL. Brown was a big deal owing to his success as a high school coach and later the head man at Ohio State, but in the very beginning, he was an employee. Not an owner.
As for your glib bit about the team's departure. That's a boring a cheap shot.

Anoa Bob 8:35 PM  

I think that WHITE, as used in daily parlance, does refer to a color. There are different colors of WHITE that you could choose in paints and dyes, for example.

In its technical use, it's not as cut and dried. Technically speaking, WHITE light is sunlight, and, as we know, a prism will refract sunlight into a natural rainbow of colors.

So, did the WHITE in the grid step on, so to speak, the color theme? If so, at least not egregiously I would vote.

Z 9:05 PM  

@Roo - EL NINOPODES. 😂😂😂😂

@jberg - option key or ctrl key plus a letter often works for adding some diacritical marks.

@Anon2:16 - Never knew the Rams were somewhere else before L.A. I did know that there was once a St. Louis Browns franchise, but that was a baseball team.
As for questions theologic, I was raised Calvinist and there’s quite a bit about it that seems fairly accurate. I mean, how much evidence does one need to conclude that men are totally depraved and must rise above their nature? Still, hardly a Calvinist these days. As for the uniqueness of the the idea of a “Holy Trinity,” no idea. Hermann Hesse had some interesting ideas on the subject. I mean, seems like the ineffable is ripe for all kinds of ingenuous creativity, so why should we assume anyone came up with a truly unique notion.

@sanfranman59 - Could be worse. You could be a Lions fan. Speaking of ineffable...

Solverinserbia 9:12 PM  

"We've had six El Niños since 1925."

I could see people saying that.

(number made up.)

Monty Boy 12:38 AM  

Very easy and appropriate for a Monday.

Also, very late - am I the only one to notice BROWN crossed with NOSED? Or maybe it's just my snarky mind at work?

sanfranman59 3:25 PM  

@anon 7:39 ... I concede your point that McBride was the one who wanted to bring another pro football franchise to Cleveland (in part because he was miffed that he couldn't buy the Rams) and was the money behind what became the Browns. PB was given an ownership stake in order to lure him away from Ohio State and, at least in my experience, is typically credited as a co-founder.

M 7:54 PM  

Do English-speaking Muslims address God as "Allah"?

kitshef 8:22 PM  

@Sanfranman59 - as a Bengals fan ... I feel your pain.

Liked the puzzle a lot for a Monday. Tight theme, not too junky.

spacecraft 10:14 AM  

@Nancy: What logo would you suggest the CLEVELANDBROWNS put on their helmets? What IS a "brown?" All the other teams have a bird, or an animal, or even an airplane or a saint, that you can portray with a logo. But you can't picture a "Brown," except to paint your helmet...wait, ORANGE?? Reminds me of the old joke: First prize in this contest will be a weekend in Cleveland. Second prize is a week.

I don't look upon out-of-pattern theme entries as clutter; I think of them as lagniappes. A little something extra for your trouble, Sir. In this spirit I enjoyed WHITE. It's all about point of view, I guess.

There are a few clunkers, already thoroughly mentioned, but to accommodate four gridspanners not overly objectionable. While not SMITTEN by this one, I'm more kindly disposed to it than you-know-who. Plenty of MENS names here, but only ELSA on the distaff SIDE. Ergo she wins DOD. Par.

Burma Shave 12:01 PM  


Her BED’S the ICIEST we know,
as cold and WHITE as the SNOW,
CRUELLA’s no kitten,
NOIDEA how to SHOP for a BEAU.


leftcoaster 3:10 PM  
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