Hurt in the bullring / MON 12-2-2019 / Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, to Madonna / High point / Many an Eastern European

Monday, December 2, 2019

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: LOWER THE BAR— Theme answers contain the word BAR, which is in a lower spot each time it appears.

Theme answers:

  • BARE MINIMUM (3D: Smallest possible amount)
  • RED BARON (5D: WWI fighter pilot who is Snoopy's fantasy opponent)
  • LIONEL BARRYMORE (7D: Classic actor who played Mr. Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life")
  • CABARETS (40D: Businesses like the Kit Kat Klub in a hit musical)
  • LOWER THE BAR (28D: Reduce one's standards, as illustrated, respectively, in 3-, 5-, 7-, 40- and 28-Down)

Word of the Day: AMES (City that's home to Iowa State) —
Ames (/mz/) is a city in central Iowa approximately 30 miles (48 km) north of Des Moines. It is best known as the home of Iowa State University (ISU), with leading Agriculture, Design, Engineering, and Veterinary Medicine colleges. A United States Department of Energy national laboratory, Ames Laboratory, is located on the ISU campus.
In 2017, Ames had a population of 66,498.[7] Iowa State University is home to 36,321 students (Fall 2017),[8] which make up approximately one half of the city's population.
• • •
Annabel Monday! Woohoo! And on time this time, even! I'm still enjoying interning. Capitol Hill is a cool place. But I'm looking to apply to library school next fall! Cross your fingers for me.

I liked this one a lot! And I'm starting to notice that I tend to really like the easy puzzles, which maybe says something about me? But then again, Mondays are supposed to be easy. And at any rate, some really interesting cluing here (amid a couple typical Monday duds like ALPS and ERA).  Had TANGOS for SAMBAS which I guess means I need to go back and redo my musical education (especially with stuff like syncopation). I'm not sure that you can just call sheep's milk EWES milk but eh, I'll let it slide. And I'd like to know who a boll weevil isn't a PEST to. I guess to a spider, it's just lunch?

I can't say enough positive things about the theme! There aren't enough Monday themes that really use the crossword format in an interesting way! And this one also worked for Down-only solvers?! Awesome. Everyone, take clues from Ms. Lempel. She really raised the bar with this one. Even if there's no way on earth I would have gotten LIONEL BARRYMORE without crosses.

  • ECTO (38D: Prefix with plasm) — Did you know I only just saw "Ghostbusters" for the first time a few weeks ago?!?!? Same with "Beetlejuice." I kind of got all my old campy must-see Halloween movies out of the way this year. 
  • OGRE (42A: Fearsome figure of folklore) — Hey, ogres are more than just fearsome! Didn't anyone else have the picture book "Shrek" when they were little? All that dude wanted to do was be gross and be left alone. 
  • POX (59D: Disease that causes a skin rash) — Missed opportunity for a "A pox on both your houses" reference. Just sayin', we had "Moor" (which, is that problematic? I'm not sure), we could have had a very Shakespearean puzzle!
  • EEL (57D: Long-bodied fish) — That's a moray.

Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]


Joaquin 12:06 AM  

I always thought dogs, little ones in particular, yipped. Apparently they YAP. My dog is an eighty-pounder and she neither yips nor yaps but rather, gives those smaller dogs the “are you yapping at me?” look.

Jay 1:30 AM  

What was the English immigration policy in the middle ages? Less is Moor.

chefwen 1:36 AM  

Pretty painful puzzle with LABOR, BITE, GORED, BURN, SORE and POX. I know there’s a joke in there somewhere, I’ll have to work on it.

Nice and Monday easy, thank you Lynn Lempel.

jae 2:25 AM  

Medium-tough. More liked a Tues. Pretty impressive, liked it a bunch!

Loren Muse Smith 4:11 AM  

The sheer symmetry of the BARs lowering down the grid is terrific. Each B occurs exactly one space down from its BAR to the left. So, say, LOMBARDY would fit for 40D, but the BAR would be two spaces lower than the BAR in BARRYMORE, so … it wouldn’t show the Lempelegance that we’re accustomed to.

BAGGED – like a bajillion others I had to make a store run on Thanksgiving morning to get more carrots and Coke Zero. At 5am, there was only one line open with an honest-to-gosh cashier, but said cashier was awol. I stink at those self-check deals and invariably panic and muck something up. So this woman and I were standing there waiting for the cashier to ring us up. A manager came over and suggested we do the self-checkout. Before I could assure him I wasn’t in a hurry, the woman behind me crossed her arms and recited a clearly well-rehearsed line: We’ll be happy to do that if you give us an employee discount. Wait. What? Don’t include me in your snarky trouble making. She looked at me as though we now formed this team of solidarity. I don’t have strong feelings about this either way, but I was too much of a weenie to speak up and extricate myself from our little union. I just looked at her and raised my eyebrows. She was older than I am, so I wondered if she stood there refusing to put her stuff in bags. Wondered if she went into the gas station asking for an employee discount for pumping her own gas. Did she still dial 0 and ask an operator to connect her call? Maybe insist at Wendy’s that the employee leave his position to come around and fill her Coke cup for her? I’ve never resented all the stuff we do for ourselves now that used to be done for us. I just know that I feel dumb when I try to do the self-checkout. And half the time can’t find the water button at the self-serve soda station at Wendy’s.

I can’t see the word CABARET without remembering the line from Non Campus Mentis where some hapless college student wrote Cat berets were a favorite form of German entertainment.

“Modern viewing for couch potatoes” – slinking off to bed and watching the Bravo tv app quietly under the covers while my husband sits up and reads some book by Mahan on naval warfare. I can lower the bar with the best of’em.

Hungry Mother 5:52 AM  

Flew through this one and enjoyed doing it. Just right for my Monday morning. Coffee hadn’t cooled enough for a sip.

Lewis 5:52 AM  

Lynn is so consistently good, with puzzles that have bounce and themes that snap. If there were a crossword Hall of Fame, she's there. This is what you want a new solver to experience, a puzzle showing wit and providing fun. One demonstrating that a puzzle can be a thing of beauty. This is what we get from L.L.'s bean every time. Once again, thank you Lynn!

The Bard 5:57 AM  

MERCUTIO: I am hurt.
A plague o' both your houses! I am sped.
Is he gone, and hath nothing?

BENVOLIO: What, art thou hurt?

MERCUTIO: Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 'tis enough.
Where is my page? Go, villain, fetch a surgeon.

[Exit Page]

ROMEO: Courage, man; the hurt cannot be much.

MERCUTIO: No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
church-door; but 'tis enough,'twill serve: ask for
me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I
am peppered, I warrant, for this world. A plague o'
both your houses!
'Zounds, a dog, a rat, a mouse, a
cat, to scratch a man to death! a braggart, a
rogue, a villain, that fights by the book of
arithmetic! Why the devil came you between us? I
was hurt under your arm.

ROMEO: I thought all for the best.

MERCUTIO: Help me into some house, Benvolio,
Or I shall faint. A plague o' both your houses!
They have made worms' meat of me: I have it,
And soundly too: your houses!

Romeo and Juliet, Act III, scene I

Frog Prince Kisser 6:35 AM  

Perfect Monday puzzle! Thanks much Ms. Lempel! However, re 4 Down, it should be noted that “Ode to Joy” was not Beethoven’s, but was a poem written by Friedrich Schiller that Beethoven revised and used in his “Symphony No. 9.”

Anonymoose 6:53 AM  

I hope nobody GOesAPE over this but my woke brain is in angst. This puzzle has at least 8 male references and only one female (and that's a sheep). The constructor is female. What to do?!! MYGOD! Wait. I just had an epiphany. It doesn't matter. It never matters. Whew!

Unknown 6:58 AM  

Enjoyed this one and also appreciate the symmetry of the bars. Nice work, Lynn!

@Loren Muse Smith hysterical! I can picture my late grandmother making that comment. She always had "the nice young man" take her groceries out to her car even if she could do it herself. She felt she was doing him a favor. You know, job security and all that.

amyyanni 7:06 AM  

Hi Annabel! Great write-up. Agree with just about everything. (Except for the Lionel Barrymore part.)It's quite a feat to construct a Monday puzzle that delights more experienced solvers.

Karl Grouch 7:08 AM  

One of the best Mondays ever.

Easy but not boring, original clueing, everything gettable from crosses (7d for example) and a huge AHA! once you get to the gimmick, since I guess most of the people solved this as a no-themer.

Kudos and chapeau bas Ms Lempel, you have my vote for the Hall of Fame.

[Since Rex is awol, allow me a nit just for conversation's sake:

The BARs should really be inside across words and thus be lowered horizontally down the grid.

That would have allowed to picture the word BAR as a bar and not as a column

But yes, I know I'm exagerating].

Suzie Q 7:16 AM  

Perfect Monday with nary a nit to pick. I always smile when I see Ms.
Lempel's name.
@LMS has her guilty pleasures and my is old classic movies. I'll be watching Mr. Potter before the month is done.
Not looking forward to my day of shoveling that awaits me.

BarbieBarbie 7:22 AM  

Yes, Annabel, I did have Shrek to read as a kid. The Feiffer version. It was great.

@LMS, the trick is to show the barcode to the vertical part of the scanner. If you are trying to show it to the horizontal part you are getting fewer hits, if you scan like most people

GILL I. 7:23 AM women? I'm incensed. MOE TOM ANDY and no BARbra Streisand? The horrors.
OK, so LABOR is my first entry and I winced...just a bit because MY GOD invented the epidural and made life sane.
I love Barymore but I liked him better in A Free Soul. It's A wonderful Life is a movie this household watches every year and it's so cloying. I'm more of a Dinner at Eight kinda gal.
Do people still fall for the Nigerian prince routine....I get tons of calls from my fake bank telling me to give them my PIN number because someone has stolen all my money and they need to re-set it. I get the URGE to BITE.
I never LOWER THE BAR. I don't even BAG my groceries. We're civilized here in California.
Lynn always has interesting Mondays. This one was pretty good despite some of the GORE.

kitshef 7:29 AM  

Easy peasy. Trying to think of anything other than figuring out the theme that took more than a nanosecond … I guess YiP or YAP, EVADE or EluDE, and for some reason LONESOME took longer than expected.

Annabel - as long as you are there anyway, while you're on Capitol Hill could you just get our representatives to put politics aside for the good of the country? Thanks in advance.

Kathy 8:02 AM  

Easy—even for a newbie like me. I actually blew through it before I went to bed which is a first for me! So I’m going to hazard a guess that the vets might have been bored. Lots of typical crosswordese, which I am ready for now, but which would have given me some tussle just a few months ago. What puzzle is complete without our slithery marine friend? And the other usual suspects showed up too—the ogre, the liars, and the Slavs.

But it was a Monday with a theme! Nice!
A good entry level NYTX

Laura 8:07 AM  

Delightful review..i got to prolong the fun of the puzzle with your witty commentary.

SouthsideJohnny 8:17 AM  

Wow, a crisp, clan puzzle with a theme that sparkles and pretty much nothing to gunk up the works ! This should be the standard to which the NYT aspires on a daily basis. Definitely an ODE TO JOY.

@Gill, we did have a Madge reference to prevent us from taking a goose egg in the all-important gender-neutrality metric (and which somewhat atones for the Babs sleight). Also, tangentially but not to be discounted, the constructor is a female, Annabel is our guest blogger today and day-in and day-out LMS provides a more interesting and insightful write-up than Rex’s inane drivel, lol.

QuasiMojo 8:31 AM  

EWES guys slay me. Enjoyable puzzle but I can't help thinking it would have been even more fun to see the bar-lowering dance LIMBO in the grid, perhaps in lieu of Sambas. And LIARS for internet scam artists seems a bit off.

Nancy 8:40 AM  

The BARometric pressure falls,
As snow moves in, and sleet, and squalls.

A BARrelful of clever clues
Might chase away those winter blues.

But what I get is BARren, BARe,
Devoid of any challenge there.

In fact, when all is said and done,
BARbiturates might be more fun.

Klazzic 8:42 AM  

Nice, review, Lynn. You've got what we used to call spunk. I was in DC for the first time last May and I'm going back again in May 2020. What a grand city. I'm jealous that you work/intern there. Good luck with library school!

jberg 8:45 AM  

At the dentist, waiting to be told I need a crown, so I’ll be brief. Lovely puzzle ! I really needed the revealer— even after I knew which the theme answers were, I couldn’t see that lowering BAR.

We’ve been seeing more of ACME lately—I hope that’s a sign!

Brit Solves NYT 8:49 AM  

Very nice puzzle, enjoyed the theme idea and its execution!

Teedmn 8:58 AM  

Since I didn't have a clue about the theme until getting to the revealer, I kept marveling at the great down entries, like BARE MINIMUM. In fact, for a brief moment, I thought that this might be a themeless Monday. That this was a Lynn Lempel puzzle was the only thing that kept me looking for the theme. And yes, it was a great discovery!

Thanks, Lynn!

Z 9:10 AM  

Felt tough for a Monday. I suspect because there are three sections with minimal connections, so it isn’t easy to flow from one area to the next.

@LMS - Nice catch. It also explains the way the theme answers are ordered in the revealer clue, descending order. Nice. As for the self-checkout - My local grocery doesn’t even have a check-out person until 7:00 a.m.

Only one woman? Hmm... We start off with a woman in LABOR, we get movies with women as the central characters with The Sound of Music and CABARET, we get Madonna’s EXES and Nigerian princesses. See, it ain’t hard to add a little gender balance to a puzzle AND without resorting to stereotypes in cluing RNS or HEMS. No male EGOS were harmed in the cluing of this puzzle.

Candied YAMS? Yuck. Why? Our obsession with sweetness ruins another food with so many better cooking options. Me, spice them up, give them a little bite.

Lewis 9:19 AM  

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

1. It gets pushed in a corner (6)(3)
2. Forceful one? (4)
3. Wind-up toys? (5)
4. A rancher might pull one over a calf (4)
5. Septennial symptom? (4)


Wm. C. 9:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:33 AM  

I guess I have to step up and say I hardly ever use self checkouts. One needs to preserve some minimum wage employment, and some interpersonal contact. I guess I would have preferred to keep people pumping gas for me too, but at the time they were going out the few cents savings mattered more to me and a lot of the interpersonal contact with the guys doing the pumping was moderately unpleasant. 'Hey, cool jeans you're wearing!' that stuff. Great Monday puzzle by the way.

Wm. C. 9:34 AM  

@Annabel, re your:
"...who a boll weevil isn't a pest to?"

who is the object of a preposition, should be WHOM, and ...

Ending a sentence with a preposition (to) is something up with which I cannot put!


Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Do people who use self checkouts ever think that they're helping eliminate jobs for people who, generally, have difficulty finding work?

Jyqm 10:35 AM  

Glad for an Annabel Monday, as I’m sure Rex would have been unable draw some parallel between the revealer and the NYTX’s editorial standards. I like the understated elegance of this theme, with each BAR perfectly positioned and perfectly hidden within each theme answer (none is even pronounced “bahr”). To do all that with minimal junk in the fill — a few too many ABBReviations being my only nit — is a nice accomplishment.

David 10:50 AM  

Indeed, Anon at 9:52, using a self-checkout is taking away jobs. And the money saved by the corporations doesn't result in lower prices, it goes to those who *really* matter, CEOs and shareholders. Keep that trickle-up goin' folks! I ask the same questions, but I bring my own bags and bag my own groceries; they got rid of baggers long ago.

When I was a kid pumping gas, we also washed the windshield and checked your oil. What a waste of manpower! My 90 year old mother with rheumatoid arthritis which twisted her fingers sideways had to pay extra to have her gas pumped by an attendant. When I drove down to the station and asked them why, they told me it was because she didn't have a "handicapped" tag. This at a station she'd be using for 50 years. Nice, huh?

As for the puzzle. Wonderful to see this on a Monday. Easy yet compelling. I'd labor to evade being gored by sticking to board games. And not to worry Annabel, there's nothing wrong with Othello being a Moor; they built a fascinating civilization.

Thanks Lynn!

burtonkd 10:50 AM  

@LMS, I think Wm.C has just set you up.

I used to have a hard time with self-checkouts also, but they must have improved them, bc I hardly ever miss these days. Produce that has to be weighed and coded are still a pain. I wonder if that woman behind you is a character regionally prevalent, bc that is a kind of self inconveniencing stubbornness I remember from my youth in NC.

Is it the quality of the puzzle or the tone of the review that leads to the lack of snark in the commentariat (gender rep jokes aside)?

Masked and Anonymous 10:59 AM  

har. Sooo … U kinda liked the puz, huh, Annabel darlin? (M&A did, too.) Primo write-up.

Cool theme. A harder variation: use "TNT" letters instead of the "BAR" ones, with revealer of LOWERTHEBOOM.

fave fillin by far: BOARDGAME. M&A used to make board games, as a young, naively still-unmasked lad. One fave was "The Big Screw" game. It was sorta stocks-and-bonds related, in a loopy way. Had a few Big Screw cards that wiped out all yer possessions, unless you had a Screw You card, for protection. The tokens were real big screws that I painted different colors. But, I digress.

I did think BOARDGAME was the first puzthemer for a spell, tho. But LONESOME just didn't seem to start to show a pattern with it, so I then looked elsewhere.

staff weeject pick: USS. Better clue: {Thiss Iss ___ (Savored show title??) }.
fave moo-cow MonPuz eazy-E clue: {Film studio with a roaring lion} = MGM.

Sorta agree with @muse about checkin yerself out. One nearby big store has almost all self-checkout lanes, with one looong line to punish all them that won't do it. M&A waits in the long line, out of plumb stubbornness. They do usually have someone assigned to help folks out, that crash and burn at the self-checkout option, at least. That person keeps pretty day-um busy.

Thanx for a great MonPuz, Ms. Lempel darlin. U do good work at tendin BARs.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


DJG 11:00 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith

That’s very funny. I “love” it when strangers enlist me in their battles without my consent.

I also far prefer the self-check because it’s almost always the fastest. Multiple servers, one line is way more efficient (basic queueing theory), but people don’t like it because of the psychology of seeing a long line.


I do wonder if this facilitates the elimination of jobs, but you still need people to supervise things. And also the company that makes and services the machines has to hire people. What will ultimately be the net effect? I dunno, but if you think robots will cause wide spread job loss then you should take a long look at Andrew Yang for president.

What? 11:13 AM  

Too easy, but that’s me.

Joe Dipinto 11:36 AM  

We took her groceries to the checkout stand
The food was totalled up and bagged

(Fun fact: the melody of Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne", from whence the above lyric, is the same as that of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture". And there's a sax solo at the end!)

This puzzle is great on so many levels. First, you can't immediately tell where the theme is, or if there even is one. Then, the revealer is in exactly the right place for you to say, "Oh!". And the layout is flawless.

It was amusing to have those two banes of our existence, EVADE and AVOW(AL), intersecting. My one small nit is the group of slightly clunky plurals: SAMBAS, LIARS, CABARETS, SERMONS. But no big deal. Excellent Monday as always from Lynn Lempel. I'm surprised Jeff Chen didn't give it a Pow!

Here's another "classic", to borrow 7d's adjective.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

What??? Librarian?? With eyeglass pearls???? I thought you were studying to be a shyster??? Did I miss the memo?? Or was that Fill In Frank?

GILL I. 12:05 PM  

@Southside...I know...this was my feeble attempt at a tongue in cheek jab to OFL's somewhat exclusivity rant. To be frank, I've always loved Lynn's puzzle even though this one had a lot of GORED BITE URGE OGRE PEST SORE. Almost sounds like a an orgy gone bad.
@Z....Thanks for the loud laugh...Are you sure no male EGOS were harmed?

Carola 12:18 PM  

Lynn Lempel - effortless elegance (seemingly effortless, that is). Lovely construction with the precise step-by-step lowering of the BAR and its phonetic disguising behind three "bears" and a "buh." Delightful reveal. There was something I liked, too, about how that last, lowered BAR sort of completes a circle with BARE MINIMUM.

Joseph M 12:59 PM  

LOWER THE BAR is an apt theme for today’s political climate with the centrally placed MY GOD an apt reaction to it. Lies, crimes, incivility, and vulgarity are becoming so commonplace that fewer and fewer people seem to notice or care. Where is the RED BARON when we need him?

Aside from that, cool puzzle, Lynn.

old timer 1:07 PM  

Of course I would never, when stymied by a self-checkout machine, just put away my card and walk off with the groceries, looking for all the world like I had completed the transaction. Never? Well, hardly ever!

OffTheGrid 1:13 PM  

LOWERTHEBAR theme with 2 "High point" clues for balance. And there are the ALPS right up there on top. SERMONS OFNOUSE are symmetrical answers. I got tripped by the avoid/elude/evade triangle. I tried a cross to establish a letter. I confidently put in pledge (2D-statement of affirmation), giving me an L in the #2 spot. ELUDE! But no. Great puzzle for all the reasons many have mentioned.

Z 1:26 PM  

@Gill I - They are notoriously fragile, so no guarantees.

@anon12:00 - I have no idea about the particulars, but young people are notorious for changing their minds. Maybe the idea of being a Law Librarian is more attractive than being a lawyer. $60K/year isn’t too bad for a median income. That’s about half of lawyers’ median salary, and the educational requirements are pretty high, but people still do it. And be careful with the librarian stereotypes. The ALA is not a group you want to mess with.

I use the staffed check-out, mostly because I usually bring my own bags and the self-checkout has a hard time coping. And I really appreciate that in my community the baggers still offer to help load the car. Lots of my neighbors need the service. Still, I have no problem with grocers going with self-checkout lanes. Preserving unnecessary jobs doesn’t make much economic sense. Providing ongoing job training, on the other hand, does.

Joe Dipinto 2:04 PM  

@Anon 12:00 -- did you mean Pearle eyeglasses?

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Still, I have no problem with grocers going with self-checkout lanes.

Really?? I sure do. In my versions of grocery stores, the self-check kiosks have shelves that fit the store's baskets. So, of course, the poorly educated show up with carriages loaded to the brim with heart attacks in a bag, and can't even figure out how to get them to scan. They take 2 or 3 times as long as cashiers to clear the stuff. I guess they figure the cashiers will manage to overcharge them??? Trump voters in masse. Gad.

JOHN X 3:00 PM  

This was a pretty fun Monday puzzle!

My favorite answer was GORED, especially since it was clued with bullfighting so it brought back some fun memories. I watched the running of the bulls in Pamplona a few years back. I never got to see a torero get gored (I always root for the bull, at rodeos too) but during the run I saw a drunk moron get gored, and dang if that wasn’t impressive. I’m pretty sure they took him straight to the emergency room, right after they got the bull’s horn out of his thigh.

As for self-checkout, it seems like that’s an ideal place to give yourself an employee discount. Just get two of the same item, hold them together thusly, scan one, and put both in the bag. I would never do this, of course, but whenever I go somewhere I like to develop theories on the best way to rob it. This is just an academic exercise. I actually prefer the staffed check-out, because I like being waited on. I like to call the checker “hon” and refer to the bagger in the third person as “the boy” or “your boy.” I’ll be reading a magazine from the rack and without looking up I’ll say “Listen, hon, have your boy put everything in the one bag there” and then I’ll put the magazine back in the rack upside-down, pay, and then walk out. “Thanks hon” I’ll say, without even acknowledging the bagger’s existence.

RED BARON was pretty cool too. His airplane didn’t have one wing, nor two wings. It had three wings. He got shot down and killed anyway, so there goes that theory.

JFe 3:30 PM  


...Rex’s inane drivel

Beautiful email to Rex which he posted on Facebook. And the touching comments!

“Here’s wishing to you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving. My wife Karen and I enjoyed your blog for many years. When we finished an interesting or tough puzzle (I do Friday and Saturday and she would do Sunday), we would check with you. Karen died a few months ago after a long illness and among the thousands of other things I will miss most and never have again (we were married just under 47 years) will be solving all kinds of puzzles with her.”

Thank you, Rex

GILL I. 4:35 PM  

@JOHN X...You forgot one crucial thing when you check out. Wait till everything is BAGGED then fiddle around with your wallet and try to find your debit card. Pretend to forget your password and then dig around for your money. Count out the change and be less a penny. Dig around your pants for the remaining penny. Then tell the cashier you forgot to pick up the charcoal and would she mind grabbing some for you. Oh...and while she's at it, the 10 lb bag of ice your wife told you to bring home.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

@Joe Dipinto:

no. this:

jae 5:51 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - I too thought this one merited POW from Jeff.

CDilly52 6:07 PM  

Clever, you @Nancy!

CDilly52 6:19 PM  

@anonymous 9:52. The problem with many of the jobs related to automation as they relate to the people these gadgets replace is that the “new” or “other available” jobs you mention typically are not “available” to the folks whose jobs the automation has replaced. Much like the voters who still feel abandoned by the Democrats with the closing of mines and textile and steel mills and the like, the jobs offered, or for which these folks might be (forcefully) retrained (there being no other alternative in the immediate vicinity) are not jobs in which these good people have interest and/or aptitude. The self checkout jobs in one of the more rural areas I serve are the only jobs that have any benefits for which these folks with little education, skill and experience are qualified.

As for the puzzle, I found it a nearly perfect Monday offering, and thought the theme exceptionally clever and well-executed.

Newboy 7:20 PM  

Nice puzzle & nice review leads to pleasant blog posts. Blimp worthy all around....but I do miss Rex.

Anonymous 7:46 PM  


There's one major issue with 'automation/robots/machines' taking over human tasks: Pollyanna (false) memory of the Great Migrations from farm to factory from the late 19th century to early 20th century. It took/takes more brain power (or skill) to work the land effectively than it did/does to turn a wrench (now, a power tool so that not even muscle power matters) in a factory. IOW, the transition for poor folk from the South (white and black) to middle class, unionized, Northerner was easy. No greater demand on labor, but better wages.

Today, how would you recommend that a 55 year old laid off coal miner (may be has a HS diploma?) become a data scientist? Ain't gonna happen. The Left thinks it can, while the Right simply blames Mexicans and Chinese for what American corporations do every day.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  



I should admit not the same anonymouse. Similar thinking, though.

Tybalt 7:48 PM  

In the quarto edition of 1597 the word used is pox . In the later editions Shakespeare changed it to plague. Both can thus be claimed to be correct

Joe Dipinto 10:08 PM  

@Anon 5:17 – Oh, *those*. :-)

Z 10:23 PM  

@Anonymous7:46 - The need for data scientists is not as high as you might think. Construction trades need workers in much of the country. Plumbers,, HVAC, and electricians are also in short supply. The local community college here is filling a local need by offering a program in craft brewing. There is data suggesting that the US needs another 50,000 truck drivers right now with another 100,000 positions to be filled in the next decade. What that 55 year-old coal-miner (and the 25 year-old coal miner) needs is someone saying to them, “stop thinking of yourself as a coal-miner. It is a figurative and literal dead-end. Do something else. And, no, not Wal-Mart.”

Good Samaritan 10:27 PM  

Forget the assisted checkouts what about the self inflicted ones. Did anyone look in on Nancy, she was jumping on the barbs in desperation? A cry for help perhaps.

Nancy 11:21 PM  

Thanks, CDilly52!

spacecraft 10:55 AM  

Well, maybe no women as such, but if we can take a slight liberty with ANDY we could convert to ANDi McDowell, and for DOD, that's close enough. Actually, honorable mention to the constructor herself, and to longtime contributor to this page and fellow (?) puzzle builder ACME.

Hard to imagine one who has never heard of LIONELBARRYMORE...MYGOD, I'm getting old. Oh well, beats the alternative. Anyway, a fun theme, hidden just well enough to make you wait for the revealer, but not obscure at all, and typically clean, for Ms. L, fill. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:32 PM  


Vanna READSUP on her GAME show,
BRO, it’s OFNOUSE to scowl


Anonymous 1:23 PM  

To my mind, the change in majors is secondary to the fact that not once was the word "tired" used. Geritol helping?

leftcoaster 2:11 PM  

A Monday-NEAT and clean SERIES of LOWERingTHE BAR by a master of easy Mondays.

Diana, LIW 3:37 PM  

good Monday all

a bit harder than the usual faire for the start of ye olde week. But not enough to LOWERTHEBAR for new c-workers.

Managed to be on time today.

Any new resolutions? Any having to do with chocolate?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 3:44 PM  

Too bad we didn't get Zanzibar for a last lowering of the BAR. I'll bet Ms. Lempel considered that, but grid restrictions... However, the puzzle today reeks of professionalism and care, even if poor @Nancy didn't have to "think" much. Aw.

Ms. Lempel never fails to construct Monday puzzles that are beginner-friendly yet do not waste the time of more seasoned solvers. Entries like FEIGN, READS UP ON, BAGGED, OF NO USE in addition to the themers 'raise the bar' for a Monday. Much appreciated.

She is a treasure.

rondo 4:00 PM  

Raising THE Mon-puz BAR by LOWERingTHEBAR. Perfect.

spacecraft 6:51 PM  

I never make "New Year's resolutions." If I decide to better myself (lotta room there!), I just go ahead and start in, whatever the date. Gyms are so crowded you can't get a machine...for the first two weeks in January. By Groundhog Day we're back to normal. If you're gonna do it, do it, calendar be damned.

leftcoaster 8:13 PM  

After working out at gyms over many years, I decided to switch to a new regimen of "Domestic Exercises": basic, everyday activities around home -- like walking, stretching, lifting, stair-casing, etc., -- that seem to work pretty well.

CL 11:30 AM  

LEGOS is not a thing!!!! It is the LEGO Company, which makes LEGO bricks. It is not proper to pluralize it with an S. "I play with LEGO." "I build with LEGO." never "I play with LEGOs." This is really bad editing Will Shortz. Any LEGO fan knows better. The LEGO company has tried many times to discourage people from improper pluralization!

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