Chinese tree with fan-shaped leaves / MON 1-20-20 / 1984 language / Strive for epic effect / Back-and-forth changes to wikipedia page / Kind of wagon for pioneers / Deceived with fake-out in hockey / Ride for Quidditch player

Monday, January 20, 2020

Constructor: Evan Kalish

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:05)

THEME: GET THE PICTURE (56A: Comprehend ... or what 20-, 29- and 47-Across do, finally) — "final" word of each themer is another word for "picture"

Word of the Day: NEWSPEAK (40D: "1984" language) —
Newspeak is the language of Oceania, a fictional totalitarian state and the setting of the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), by George Orwell. To meet the ideological requirements of English Socialism (Ingsoc) in Oceania, the ruling Party created Newspeak,  a controlled language of restricted grammar and limited vocabulary, meant to limit the freedom of thought — personal identity, self-expression, free will — that threatens the ideology of the rĂ©gime of Big Brother and the Party, who have criminalized such concepts into thoughtcrime, as contradictions of Ingsoc orthodoxy. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one left me cold. The theme concept is just a tad too basic, the revealer doesn't quite stick the landing, the theme answers themselves aren't that snappy as stand-alone answers, and the fill was fussy—oddly old-fashioned despite one showy attempt at currency (EDIT WAR, which, to be fair, *is* probably the most interesting thing in the grid) (43D: Back-and-forth changes to a Wikipedia page). I actually found the puzzle tough for a Monday, which is why I was startled to see the clock at just 3:05 when I was done. If that's on the high side of average, it's only just so—maybe by 10 seconds. I feel like I lost almost all those seconds at the very beginning, when GOBIG and GUSSY proved strangely elusive. Both of those answers are unusual, which is fine, but they kept me from getting a quick early toehold. Rest of that corner is kind of depressingly crossword-common: UMAMI, OMANI (first answer), YIN, IMAC. There's a stodginess to BATIN (I generally hear commentators talk about "driving" or "knocking" in runs, though I'm not disputing BATIN's validity). Then there's ERMA (again) and DRE and AWOL and EEYORE etc. It all just felt a little limp. And then the revealer was, finally, a let-down. The thing that really put me off, the thing that made me lose most of my goodwill toward this admittedly OK, not-terrible effort, was the ostentatious Scrabblef*ing with those damn "J"s. PBJ, LBJ ... when you gotta go to initials, the "J"s are not actually adding value, and the fact that you keep shoving high-value Scrabble tiles in there with no added value just doesn't speak well of the overall decision-making. You're just cramming them into corners for, I don't know decorative reasons? At least the "X" that got shoved in the NE doesn't really mar things. I dunno. I react very badly to the "ooh, watch me pull a "J" out of my hat" act. Just make the overall grid unstuffy and nice, it's really all I ask on a Monday. "J" shmay.

Here are the things that gave me (a little) trouble:
  • 6A: Poker or snooker (GAME) — those two things felt close enough to each other that I really Really thought the answer would be something specific, not just (wah Wah, sad trombone!) GAME. Bathetic!
  • 19A: Black gem with bands (ONYX) — my eyes saw "gem," I had the "O," I wrote in ... OPAL. That is, as they say, my bad.
  • 29D: A diamond that has one is moderately expensive (CARAT) — I had the "C" but I still had to read this clue several times to understand the grammar ... it's really long, and you don't see complete sentence clues very often, so it's not that this clue was hard, just that it was weird.
  • 32A: Mate for mama (PAPA) — had the final "A" but was not entirely confident it wasn't DADA, so had to wait for crosses to make it clear.
  • 62A: Computer cable (WIRE) — had the "R" and only the "R" in place and so wrote in CORD—easily the worst mistake (in terms of time cost) that I made during the solve—unless you count "completely forgetting nearly everything about '1984' including NEWSPEAK" as a mistake, in which case *that* was the worst (40D: "1984" language).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:05 AM  

It does seem like the last few Monday puzzles have been a tad more challenging, which is fine by me.

But of much greater importance - how ‘bout those Chiefs!

Pablo 1:14 AM  

One of the easiest mondays in weeks for me. I'll even post my time on here, 5:46. Might be my fastest Monday yet.

That being said, I agree with Rex for once. Boring and the theme just doesn't stick. Came here to see what I had missed from the theme just to see that it was about as simple as I thought.

Not a bad Monday, just not a good one either. The coolest entry might be SNICKERDOODLE and it's a themer and just not cool enough to be a puzzles coolest entry.

Still I'll take an easy one after yesterday's rough outing. For the record, I really liked yesterday's puzzle, but it was hard and I DNF'd on a ton of Naticks.

JMS 1:25 AM  

Bathetic!? Don’t you mean Bah-thetic!

chefwen 1:41 AM  

Fairly East Monday, my biggest problem was filling in the correct answer in the wrong space, which I seem to be doing that a lot lately. Time for an eye exam. I always have a problem with CONESTOGA, I want the T after the N for some odd reason, maybe I’m thinking of Constantinople.

Fun Monday, liked the theme.

Off topic. @GILL I, Congratulations on your win. I say this as I am sniveling at the Packer loss. As they say (whoever they are) There is always next year.

jae 1:42 AM  

Easy. Pretty smoothly and just about right for a Mon. Liked it quite a bit more than Rex did.

Lewis 6:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:08 AM  

I liked that the drawing words in the theme answers were used in a non-drawing context, and there were a number of answers that I would like any day of the week -- GUSSY, GINKGO, ACRID, EDIT WAR, NEWSPEAK, and GILD. I think this is an excellent offering for a new solver, with the just-right amount of resistance to get the solver involved but not frustrated.

What jumped out to me, maybe because I am not a new solver, is the cross of ERIE and ARIA. I found out on XwordInfo that among four-letter answers in the Shortz-era NYT, these are the second and third most popular. Can you veteran solvers guess what number one and number four are? (I'll post the answer in an hour.)

Hungry Mother 6:38 AM  

Very quick today. I wrote blt before PBJ as an unthinking reflex until I read the rest of the clue.

fkdiver 7:08 AM  

Nice relaxing easy holiday Monday. Take some Soma, Rex, and enjoy the day off. At least it wasn't written in Esperanto!

Suzie Q 7:19 AM  

I liked this a lot. I thought the clue for carat was clever.
The only clue I didn't care for was the one for wire. Why ask for a computer cable? Just cable would have been fine.
The theme answers reminded me of a woman (Emily something?) who used to post a drawing that would accompany the day's puzzle. They were wonderful.
I did find the definition of Newspeak to be chillingly current.

amyyanni 7:20 AM  

Lively Monday. Easy enough for Monday, but with some quirks. NW most challenging. CONESTOGA is one of my favorite words. Fun to say. Theme was clever enough (I'm a dyed in the wool doodler). Wish there was an MLK JR reference.

Irene 7:22 AM  

Nice Monday, but I had a Natick at DEKED and DRE which, according to Rex, makes me both unforgiveably old and female.

Lewis 7:22 AM  

Re my prior post: The number four most popular four-letter answer is ALOE, and number one is AREA.

Small Town Blogger 7:23 AM  


pabloinnh 7:37 AM  

where's OREO?

Or, as we say around here, wait until last year.

Sorry some answers slowed OFL down, that always makes him grumpy. It also sounds like he's been listening to the Mamas and the Dadas, confusion ensues.

I thought this was a fine Monday, keep filling things in smoothly, get to a semi-surprising revealer, look back and say, yeah, makes sense, and them go do something else. Hardest part was getting started with the GOBIG/GUSSY (a word used in these parts to express disapproval, "she's all gussied up") cross. A little push back is fine by me.

Thanks for the fun,EK. You can be on my Monday team any time.

Suzie Q 7:38 AM  

@ Lewis, I'm surprised Oreo didn't make your list.

Johnny Mic 8:19 AM  

Been reading for a while, finally making my first post. An enjoyable Monday for me. I've always liked the term PARTYGOER, and GINKGO was fun, I didn't realize that I didn't know how to spell that. Did anyone else groan a little at AIRACE? I had the AIR and said to myself "it can't be AIRACE, no one's ever said that".

GILL I. 8:21 AM  

I'm still giddy over yesterday's win. Sorry, @chefwen...Can you still wear some cheese on your head?
I rather enjoyed this puzzle. Took me a while to get SNICKER DOODLE; probably my least favorite cookie. Got to COMEDY SKETCH and thought there might be some sort of correlation with SNICKER and COMEDY. was all about drawing a picture. Cool beans.
I like GAG REELS. You see them a lot on FaceBook. PICTUREs of friends and funny outtakes draw me to that social media every day. Try can be fun (if you leave politics out)....
Sorry, @Rex, but I'm a big fan of J. I like G's as well. MUY bonito.
Off to glorify our win after half a decade of nada. Don't call me on Feb 02.
@Teedmn from late yesterday....I loved you Janis Joplin story. I saw it before the game started and was going to comment at half-time but the pups needed walking. Anyway, I love stories like that. Usually when I comment, everything important has been said so I go looking for something that brings back a memory or two. I probably bore every one to tears - but I don't care. Your story was cool beans!

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

DRE crossing DEKED is almost a Natick, but not quite.

I guess it isn't because DR_ was almost certainly a person's name, and DRE is short for Andre, whereas if you put in any other vowel you don't get a known name.

the redanman 8:45 AM  


This puzzle gets you out the door and without an OREO

SouthsideJohnny 8:51 AM  

Interesting romp for a Monday - a little crunchier than the usual fill-in-the-blanks fare, which is welcome from time to time. I always thought that CONESTOGA were just called covered wagons - so I learned a new (non PPP) term today. Similarly, I have no clue what a SNICKER DOODLE is, but was able to get it from the crosses.

Yesterday’s offering seemed pretty dichotomous - many people either loved it or hated it (I thought it was awful). Hopefully the remainder of this week will bring us something lively, clean and light on esoterica like we have today.

GILL I. 8:52 AM  

Sorry...make that @Malsdemare. I might still be drunk from last night.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Given your totalitarian tendencies it’s not surprising you don’t remember 1984; n.b. it was meant as a warning not a how-to manual.

Nancy 8:58 AM  

I thought the theme was weak, but the fill was better than the usual Monday fare. And yet, despite answers like CONESTOGA, NEWSPEAK and EDIT WAR, the puzzle as a whole didn't have much personality.

Speaking of EDIT WAR, who knew? I thought that editing Wikipedia was a cooperative affair. It's a war? Maybe we should get our info elsewhere. It sounds like a real mess.

I can't find anything really wrong with the puzzle, but I didn't have a whole lot of fun solving it.

DianeS 9:10 AM  

Can someone explain why Rex takes issue with the letter “J”? It seems pretty innocuous to my untrained eye.

If anyone is interested, USA Today has an MLK themed puzzle out today (Monday easy on the New York Times difficultly scale).

kitshef 9:29 AM  

My beef is that COMEDY SKETCH and LOTTO DRAWING are dull as dishwater. SNICKERDOODLE, now that's a themer. Mondays must be a bear to create. How do you make things interesting for the everyday solver while maintaining the "easy" standard demanded by the Times?

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Wikipedia is usually a cooperative effort, but on some controversial topics EDIT WARs do break out, with one faction putting in material that another faction then changes or removes.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

A Moderator Says

Just a heads up, if you want to comment on a puzzle other than today's, please avoid spoilers.

burtonkd 9:43 AM  

@Gill,I - agreed about the snickerdoodle cookie being least favorite. I think people make them just so they can say the name.

DRE across DEKED doesn’t qualify as a NATICK because only one of them is a proper noun (it is just 2 things you don’t know and now you do). And if you haven’t heard about Dr. Dre either through rap, TV, movies? or the ubiquitous over-priced headphones, that is on you for living high in your tower or low under a rock:)

@Johnny Mic: I thought AIRACE was odd for the opposite reason. ACE is definitely an expert military pilot, but the AIR part doesn’t sound idiomatic. Is there a TANKACE, GRENADEACE, WATERACE, GROUNDACE, etc.?

Based on pronunciation, I thought GINKGO was spelled GINGKO. They leave a terrible, stinky mess on our NYC sidewalks in the fall.

I wonder how DRE did on the GRE and SAT? Might make a good COMEDYSKETCH...

SEARS SAN DIGIT = Burns without fingers?

You wouldn’t be much of an AIRACE if you NET NADA

Would SATAN GILD ONYX to tempt one with beautiful riches?

Okay, I’ll stop and apologize...

Rita 9:57 AM  

I decided to learn how to edit Wikipedia pages to add a link to a controversial statement made by a senator. My addition was improved by one subsequent edit and then lasted a few days before someone removed it. I left it at that. I guess I could have pursued it and entered an EDIT WAR. In any case I learned a lot about Wikipedia. If you”ve never tried editing a page, I recommend it.

As for the puzzle, this old lady liked the theme, but was also naticked at DRE and DEKED. LBJ and PBJ seem fine to me. It would never have crossed my mind that a constructor was somehow showing off by including them.

David Sinclair 9:57 AM  

Really weird. Felt super difficult while I was solving, but beat my average time by a lot. Got tripped up on 6 down (collection of funny outtakes). Had “bloopers” first, then changed to “outtakes” (yes, I know); finally got gag reel from the r of snickerdoodle (which is a totally fun answer). Germane to nothing, my niece loved your comic book class!

Z 10:03 AM  

Crunchy for a Monday. I agree with Rex about the LBJ force, but I think the asinine clue for JENNY makes PBJ worth it. GUSSY sounds like a word straight out of Petticoat Junction, an old TV show about an even older mythological America. I did spend at least one precious nanosecond imagining a GUSSYed up SATAN in satin. Looked strangely orange instead of red. Just me?

Oreo has to be #5.

@Nancy - the only difference between Wikipedia EDIT WARs and the same with Britannica is that the general user is well aware of the Wikipedia ones. Even better, at the top of Wikipedia articles is a “Talk” tab. Click on it and you will find out all about how and when an article was edited and the discussion behind those edits. The SNICKERDOODLE talk page is a fine example. For a critical reader with a healthy dose of skepticism Wikipedia is a vast improvement. Wikipedia isn’t perfect, but that all encyclopedias are imperfect is somehow ignored.

@SouthsideJohnny - No clue about SNICKER DOODLE? I’m so sorry. One of the all-time great cookies.

@DianeS - It’s a crossword constructor thing. The same letter that are of higher value in Scrabble are harder to use in making a crossword for the same reason, fewer words use them. Some constructors think getting Q, X, Z, and J into a puzzle is cool. Others think of it as almost inevitably impacting puzzle quality so frown on it. In this case Rex is arguing that PBJ and LBJ add nothing to the solve, so reworking those corners with better answers, eschewing the J’s would be better.

Lewis 10:08 AM  

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

1. Routine activity? (7)
2. Bud's place (3)
3. "Emergency calls" may save you from them (3)(5)
4. Things that get overlooked? (6)
5. Insurance for the crash-prone (8)


Peter P 10:10 AM  

@Southside Johnny - A snickerdoodle is basically a cinnamon dusted sugar cookie, with a bit of a tang (more on that below). But I disagree with the snickerdoodle naysayers: they are my favorite cookie, and pretty much the only one of two cookies I bake (the other being seckuloos, a Dutch/Belgian/European cookie that has become somewhat known for being the cookie in "cookie butter.") There are no good commercial snickerdoodles, at least none that I have found. One of the keys is that it should be made with cream of tartar and baking soda as the leavening agent, not regular baking powder (which is usually a different acid-base combination.) When the cookies are made properly, there is just a touch of "tang" left in them from the cream of tartar. If it ain't got that tang, it don't mean a thang. That flavor is essential to the snickerdoodle. The texture should be a thin, light layer of crisp on the outside and soft chewy bite on the inside, which also is helped along by the leavening agent -- it gives the cookies a different texture than a plain ol' sugar cookie. If you want a good recipe, Google "Mrs. Siggs Snickerdoodles." This makes the perfect snickerdoodle.

Faster-than-average puzzle for me, and I enjoyed it especially because my favorite cookie was in it. 1D and 1A proved to require a little more work than usual, but the rest of the puzzle fell neatly in place.

Lewis 10:11 AM  

For those who inquired about the most used 4-letter words in NYT crosswords, especially OREO, here are the top ten in order from 1 to 10:


Anonymous 10:37 AM  

My grandma Augusta's nickname was Gussy.

mathgent 10:38 AM  

This is to praise the Sunday puzzle. I didn’t do so yesterday because I solved late. Nancy knows that I don’t do the jumbo Sunday and emailed me yesterday to say it was a winner. So happy she did!

It is one of the most impressive crosswords I’ve ever done. Sorry that so many of us didn’t like it. Pleased that some of my favorite commenters shared my enthusiasm. Nancy, QuasiMojo, John X, malsdemare, Carola, jc66, jberg.

Joe Dipinto 10:46 AM  

I don't have any PBJs or nachos but I have PB cheddar crackers. Help yourselves.

This was a fitting tribute to MLK Jr., wasn't it? All those Ms and Ls and Ks strewn strategically all over the place. I happily count J as one of my own initials, so Rex can go to where Satan awaits him.

@Peter P, thanks for the tutorial on Snickerdoodles. I don't think I've ever had one.

I liked the puzzle. Perfectly calibrated for a – what day is this again? Oh, yeah...

DianeS 10:47 AM  

@Z - thanks for the explanation. I would definitely vote against “shoving” something into the grid just to prove a point, but LBJ and PBJ seem appropriate for a Monday, no ? I agree the donkey clue sounds foolish though.

Malsdemare 10:56 AM  

Thanks, @Gill. I am jealous of folks who who get trips down memory lane via a location or a song. That happens to me as well, but not nearly so often so this was a little mini vacation in the middle of the frozen midwest, thinking of those nattily dressed Notre Damers, tidy haircuts, loafers, not sandals, polo shirts, chinos. Long time ago!!

Don't the Girl Scouts sell SNICKERDOODLEs? I know their Samoas have replaced thin mints as my fav cookie. Cookie season is soon, n'est pas?

Puzzle was just fine. I've been doing puzzles from the archive and they frequently beat me up and leave me by the roadside. They are a real lesson on the hazards of pop figures. Actors from movies 25 years ago, really old cartoon characters, politicians. I can see someone in 25 years scratching her head over Davis Jr., SEARS. loved CONESTOGA, glowered at NEWSPEAK.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King.

Peter P 11:15 AM  

Ack -- *speculoos is what I meant to write above. No idea how "seckuloos" came out.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Are we going to talk about how, inexplicably, the correct legal spelling of a signature on a check is "indorse," and not "endorse?"

Nancy 11:23 AM  

Thanks, @Z (10:03). I have a hunch that I may enjoy looking up the "Talk" section of Wikipedia and being made privy to the back-and-forth that took place between contributors a lot more interesting than looking up the info for its own sake.*

*FWIW: I look up info only when it's needed, as in the case of crossword puzzles, or when it's driving me crazy that I can't remember a name or fact that's on the tip of my tongue and I know I won't get to sleep unless I find out what it is. Or maybe to settle a friendly dispute with a friend over, say, who starred in a particular movie. Other than that, I can go happily through life without loading up my brain with a lot of extraneous and disparate facts. I'll only forget them anyway.

GHarris 11:30 AM  

Snicker Doodle? Must be something consumed by envious baseball fans who scoff at the historic success of Yankees. Being an old fashioned guy my taste in glass of milk go alongs was limited to Hostess Cupcakes (chocolate of course), Mallomars and chocolate covered graham crackers.

Crimson Devil 11:33 AM  

Re EDITWAR: last I checked, Forrest Gump was listed on Wikipedia as a member of past Univ of Ala football team !!
RTR !!!

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

a computer cable isn't a WIRE, it's constructed from a passel of them.

can someone explain to me why I insist on EyeORE???

apparently, I've never had a SNICKERDOODLE, since it sounds like a Snickers bar, which is peanutty and I hate those and wouldn't ever accept a SNICKERDOODLE.

Chris 11:46 AM  

I'd like to have seen LBJ clued by a reference "Signer watched by MLK," making reference to the famous 1964 photo of LBJ signing the civil rights act.

Masked and Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Liked the feisty-for-a-MonPuz clues. Made it harder to come up with moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue candidates. Theme was fine, but perhaps a tad on the bland side -- M&A is always a sucker for themes with some built-in humor.

sparkly fillins included: GINKGO. CONESTOGA. MELODY. GOBIG/GUSSY.
staff weeject pick: MUY. Honrable mention to them scrabble-twerkin J-twins: PBJ & LBJ. PBJ has the Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, btw.
Shoot -- the whole NYTPuz xword output has had Patrick Berry Immunity (or maybe Truancy) for nano-eons, now. Come back to us, PB1.
Better MUY clue: {"That tastes doog!" ??].

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Ross of the Supremes} = DIANA.

Thanx, Mr. Kalish. Was too hard to fit "GRAFFITI" into a themer, I reckon. Too bad.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


BarbieBarbie 12:21 PM  

@SuzieQ, I think it’s because it’s a Monday. “Cable” could be either a noun or a verb. “Computer cable” is a noun.

Almost a PR on this one. A few seconds off.

jberg 12:43 PM  

@Gill, good catch on the SNICKER-DOODLE resemblance to COMEDY SKETCH (first word funny, last word arty). Too bad he couldn't carry it all the way through!

I agree with a lot of what Rex said, but this puzzle had some redeeming points. ERIE close to HURON (why can't we get all five of them in a puzzle sometime?); GRE and SAT on the same line. And the AIR ACE Red Baron shooting down those SPADs from earlier. Also,I learned something about the 1st Psalm, so there's that.

WIRE did bother me, since a computer cable is normally a bundle of several wires. Close enough for crosswords, I guess.

It's not that a J is bad; it's that putting it in a corner means you have to find a word that ends with J; There's Ms. MINAJ, but if you have only three letters, you pretty much have to work with TAJ, HAJ, or MAJ -- none of which is ideal -- or resort to initialisms, as here, which are even less ideal. I actually thought it was a plus to use both LBJ and PBJ, rather than only one. What I would really have liked is if the latter had been clued as"Lyndon Johnson's favorite sandwich."

JC66 12:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 12:49 PM  

Hand up for never knowingly eaten a SNICKERDOODLE.

@chefwen, et al

Wait'll next year was coined by pre-LA Brooklyn Dodgers fans when the team lost in the World Series to the NY Yankees in "49, '52 and '53. They finally beat the Yanks in '55, but lost to them again in '56. They then moved to LA and didn't get back to the WS again until '59.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

Easy for a Monday - I would have had a faster time if I hadn't had to go through GINgkO, GINKhO, GINKGO. I knew it had a weird spelling but couldn't nail it down without crosses. I love the shape of ginkgo leaves but I've heard you don't want a female tree in your yard - the fruits smell awful, I'm told, rancid butter being one of the milder descriptions. Minneapolis went through a replanting frenzy on boulevards a while back and ginkgoes were one of the varieties planted. They were supposed to be planting only male trees but some were apparently mis-SEXed.

SNICKERDOODLES - I think they're fine for a mild-flavored cookie. I've never made them myself so I have no idea if the ones I've had were made with the cream of tartar recommended by @Peter P. I'll have to ask next time I run into one.

Thanks for the Monday puzzle, Evan Kalish - I can DIG IT.

Z 1:31 PM  

@DianeS - Personally, I split on the J’s (BTW - I was using the other definition of “asinine,” I liked the JENNY clue because it didn’t require knowledge of some obscure actor). I think a person’s reaction to the J’s might very well come down to taste (see @jberg).

@Nancy - Be careful. I don’t usually review the Talk pages because it can suck you in the same way Reality TV sucks in @LMS or car accidents sucks in gawkers driving past.

Carola 2:03 PM  

AMEN to SNICKERDOODLEs, for the reasons @Peter P. enumerates. Public Service Announcement: this recipe by Joanne Chang is excellent. @GILL I. and @burtonkd, I can only think you haven't yet encountered a proper one :)

I thought it was a fine Monday puzzle with a solid theme, and, besides the cookies for me, a MELODY for the ARIA, NACHOS for the PARTYGOER, GAG REELS x COMEDY, and NEWSPEAK along with the the olden-days CONESTOGA.

old timer 2:06 PM  

surprisingly tough for a Monday, for the reasons OFL cites. I did like the revealer.

I just can't find a comment yesterday from @teedmn about Janis. @malsdemare had a story from Wikipedia that mentions a fellow who knew her while she was rehabbing in Brasil. Too late for me -- I gave up on her when she left Big Brother. But before that I thought she was most amazing singer I ever heard -- still do!

I have a story though. My friend (who also was in awe of Janis) and I went to see Donovan at Winterland, and Janis and her boyfriend from Big Brother sat right next to us. All through the concert, we were exposed to Janis's running commentary on Donovan. It was the ACME of SNIDE, and I totally agreed with her.

Kathy 2:29 PM  

I made several attempts at the Saturday puzzle and finally gave up. I wasn’t enjoying it so I didn’t even bother using either check puzzle or hubby clues. I usually enjoy the quest even if I can’t finish, but not this time. Many personal Naticks and even the theme fell flat for me. Saturday was an AP puzzle and out of my league.

Today’s puzzle was very easy for me but I thought the theme was weak, so kinda “meh” overall. @JBerg’s idea would have spiced it up!

I enjoyed reading @Malsdemare’s walk down Janis Joplin and Cincinnati Memory Lane yesterday. I grew up in Cincy as well and we actually graduated the same year, although by senior year I had moved to Cleveland with my family. I’m sure we share many of the same fond memories of the Queen City. My favorite, buying a long strip of tickets and riding the Shooting Star at Coney Island over and over again...back when you could do that.

Kathy 2:41 PM  

Forgive this retiree who often forgets what day it is. My previous comments were on two puzzles, yesterday’s Sunday’s puzzle (not Saturday’s) and today’s. That’s what I get for trying to comment on two days at once.

RooMonster 3:02 PM  

Hey All !
Work keeps interrupting my solve/posting time. I hate that. :-)

OK puz IMO. The "finally" in the Revealer clue was a nice misdirect, wondering why they "do, finally", as in at last, not because they are the final word.

When did UMAMI become the default word for Savory? Why not just say Savory? Asking for a friend.

Everybody missed GAGREELS crossing COMEDY.

Re:the J's, if you can shove 'em in there, why not? GO BIG or go home.

Liked @Lewis four letter word list. Sometimes I have some choice four letter words while doing puzs... IMAC can't be too far down the list. AMEN. :-)


bailorg 3:45 PM  

@ Anonymous: The back of my Bank of America checks say "ENDORSE HERE"

I also want to thank Rex and the above commentator for highlighting the USA Today crosswords. Great MLK theme puzzle today and fun puzzles overall.

JC66 4:15 PM  


If you click on the link that @Anon provided, you'll see s/he wasn't saying ENDORSE was wrong, but that there's also iNDORSE.

rosebud 4:41 PM  

I enjoyed it thoroughly, with snickerdoodles and eeyore, and ponce de leon from my childhood and then 2 of the Great Lakes just as they are in the news for rising water levels and Endorse on the day the NYT announced their endorsements for President, great way to start a cold icy week.

Malsdemare 6:20 PM  

@Kathy, those days at Coney (and nights at Moonlight Garden) are the best. Yup, get off Shooting Star and get right back in line. Good times.

john towle 6:46 PM  

Methinks 42 across would have been better clued as: Two-toed sloth running competition.



john towle 6:59 PM  

Um, three-toed. My bad.


kitshef 10:31 PM  

@john towle - I was thinking "The attempt to pass the Turing Test, e.g.".

Jessica 10:52 PM  

Never heard of snickerdoodle . Don’t know if that makes me young or old or just not having done enough puzzles

Peter P 12:43 AM  

@Jessica - well, SNICKERDOODLE is not going to show up in a lot of puzzles because of its sheer length. Whether it make you young or old, I don't know. I suspect it may be a more regional thing perhaps? Snickerdoodles show up in late 19th century cookbooks from what I can find on Google Books, so they're definitely not a new thing. But I've seen snickerdoodles at Aldi and Betty Crocker even has a snickerdoodle mix, so they're still around and not an exclusively old fashioned thing. I could swear I've even seen snickerdoodle ice cream. (Ah, yes, Ben & Jerry's had a batch:

Burma Shave 10:03 AM  


“I DIG_IT. Great SCOTT, what’s next?”


rondo 10:26 AM  

Despite OFL sticking to his shtick I thought it was fine for a Mon-puz; I ENDORSE it. How about that NE SEX/ACTS cross?
Right there in the place of honor, smack dab in the middle, AMID all else, is yeah baby DIANA Ross, or in the Syndi-cats case, DIANA, LIW. GETTHEPICTURE?

spacecraft 11:10 AM  

Did no one wince at the vowel list at 33d?? Talk about your desperation! I'm OK with the J's, but AEIOU makes me go "AAIIEEE! Oh, you!"

This one did have a little meat on its bones, including the NW, but still appropriate for a Monday. Call it medium. I was expecting something about things done with a pencil for the reveal; the actual one seemed off a tad. I'm not sure that the result of doodling could be called a "PICTURE."

Hand up for Opal; just a bit too fast there. DOD Diana Ross rightly occupies center stage; very honorable mention to JENNY Agutter of "Logan's Run." Nice to see NEWSPEAK in the grid: plusgood. Add to the four-letter frequency list: EKED/EKES. Unfortunately. Par.

P.S. I don't know what happened with the Sun yesterday, but they printed a puzzle from 2017: "SQ's me." Didn't like that one the first time around. I sure hope this was a one-time glitch.

rondo 11:46 AM  

@spacey - that's the one I got, too. Through alternate means I got a copy (in living color) of the one that should have run - full of emojis as clues for movies. DIANA, LIW had that one show up in her paper, so I guess it's the capability, or willingness, of the local papers to print such. Probably also a nudge to get an electronic subscription.

Diana, LIW 11:52 AM  

Yes, @Spacey, yesterday's puzzle kinda went nuts. I got the emoji-laden one. Others received others. Like they just threw in a puzzle.

Ah, but Monday, Monday. You CAN trust that day. Especially when I appear in the mix, as @Rondo notes. Think I'll go get some SNICKERDOODLE ice cream (by Enlightenment, no less) to celebrate. Better than a morning donut!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Wooody2004 12:28 PM  

My five favorite moments from the blog last week in Syndieland (in order of appearance):

Reading about the 5 times Crayola fired their crayons and the history of burnt umber and raw umber. Wednesday. Thanks @JoeDipinto.

Learning that the language spoken in Natick is Inuktitut, and its unique alphabet. Thursday. Thanks @Joaquin.

Learning the many ways that John Wayne was killed on film (by a giant squid one time and by an octopus another time!) Friday. Thanks @Anonymous.

Learning the lyrics to Desmond Dekker's hit Israelites for the first time (Poor me, Israelites). Friday. Thanks @JoeDipinto.

Discovering Al Jarreau's cartoony Mornin' video, listening to the cajuny Irma Thomas, The Soul Queen of New Orleans, and discovering Gil Scott Heron's catchy The Bottle. Saturday. Thanks Rex Parker.

rainforest 1:50 PM  

Maybe I don't know what a SNICKERDOODLE *really* is. The counsellor at one of the schools I worked at made some for Christmas. They had pecan pieces and chocolate chips in them (I don't remember any cinnamon) and they were crunchy and delicious.

I liked this puzzle almost as much. It had some crunch too, and a theme I liked, including its revealer. I also appreciated many of the non-themers as well. Most of them have already been mentioned. GUSSY was great.

BAT IN was just fine. The stat is called "runs batted in" after all.

Good Monday puzzle, J's included.

leftcoaster 1:51 PM  

Go big, try sex. Amen.

leftcoaster 3:22 PM  

Oops. @Burma Shave had already covered that, as I should've assumed.

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