Chinese region dubbed the "Vegas of Asia" / MON 2-3-2020 / Help-wanted inits. / World faith founded in Persia / Singer Mann

Monday, February 3, 2020

Constructor: Michael Schlossberg

Relative difficulty: Easy



THEME: Animal Anatomy — Theme answers are in the format "[body part] of the [animal]."


Theme answers:
  • EYE OF THE TIGER (20A: Theme song for "Rocky III")
  • THE BEES' KNEES (28A: Heights of excellence, metaphorically)
  • HAIR OF THE DOG (46A: Hangover remedy in which one continues drinking)
  • THE MONKEY'S PAW (57A: Classic horror tale by W.W. Jacobs)

Word of the Day: ALEE (10D: Sheltered, at sea) —
situated on the side of a ship that is sheltered from the wind.
"he motioned for them to move to the alee side"
  • (of the helm) moved around to leeward in order to tack a vessel or to bring its bows up into the wind.
    "she was veering around when the helm was alee"
(Google) 
• • •
Hi, it's Annabel Monday! I'm writing this on Sunday 2/2 which is Groundhog Day and also my dad's birthday, so everyone say happy birthday to my dad! I've been at my job at a nonprofit for a month, and it's going amazing--I love everyone there and I'm really committed to the work we're doing. It is SO weird to think that I started guest blogging in high school, because that now feels like an EON ago. Yes, I know that word isn't in the puzzle, but it's in like 90% of the Mondays I've done, so close enough.

Speaking of this week's puzzle, I think it's the first one that I've finished at anything close to a competitive time--okay, still at least twice Rex's average, but you have to understand that's very good for me, and part of that time was spent watching the Super Bowl. My point is, it was easy, which is fine for a Monday. Not a whole lot of exciting fill, but who AM I to judge? Embarrassingly, I knew KO'S from video games, not from boxing, but I can at least say that I've never used the HAIR OF THE DOG hangover cure, even in college. It was so cool to see AIMEE Mann get a shoutout! She's one of my faves, although I'm not including her in bullets because her music is...Often kind of a bummer.

Theme was pretty straightforward, easy to figure out and easy to get answers from once you had it figured out. There's not a lot to say about a well-done and simple Monday theme. I wish it had done a little more, maybe used some sayings that were a little more obscure, but then I guess that would have defeated the whole purpose of having an easy Monday.

Bullets:
  • DRY HEAT (38A: Feature of a 95° day in Phoenix, but not Miami) — I gotta say, I'm almost as sick of people complaining about not having dry heat as I am of not having dry heat. I get it! It's very humid and wet here and where you came from it's a nice little oven! We're both in Maryland and we know how the weather is now. Bah humbug.  
  • LARD (14A: Fatty ingredient in pie crust) — I had to incredulously ask my stepmom, "Do you use lard in pie crusts?" She responded, "Well, I don't!" 
  • ZIN (24A: Red wine choice, for short) — Oh, I had BIG for this. I thought everyone loved big reds! They're delish. 
  • SHA NA NA (44D: Doo-wop rock band that performed in the movie "Grease") — Morning earworm time!

Signed, Annabel Thompson, and I'm not very tired anymore honestly, so I'm taking suggestions for a new signoff.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]

53 comments:

Joaquin 12:02 AM  

Sometimes on these extremely easy puzzles, I will make an error that makes me feel like a ‘horse’s ass’. But not today - not an error, typo, or misread of a clue. Got an EASY A.

On the other hand … HOW ‘BOUT THOSE CHIEFS!

jae 1:18 AM  

Easy, simple and smooth. Just what a Mon. should be for a beginner. Familiar phrases and a couple of fine long downs. An excellent debut and Jeff gave it POW.

Loren Muse Smith 2:04 AM  

Very tight set of themers, if you ask me. They all have an animal following the definite article, and they’re all possessives, involving their body parts. So something like THE CAT’S PAJAMAS, RABBIT’S FOOT or THE LION’S SHARE won’t work. And the themers are all expressions in and of themselves, not part of a bigger expression. So THE HORSE’S MOUTH doesn’t fit.

Annabel – yeah – we use Crisco for pie crust. I can’t believe you’re already out of school and adulting. Jeez Louise, it seems like yesterday that you roared into our world here. 2012, right?

BREEZED – hmm. @Nancy and @TJS (from yesterday’s discussion of “insisting that verbs remain verbs and nouns remain nouns”)… It seems that BREEZE was first used only as a noun, back in the 16th century. If the etymology site is correct, it became a verb in the 17th century. Book, chill, gift - these are more recent “nouns” that have been verbified. I’m assuming that you don’t allow yourself to say book a room or chill the wine? Heck, you can’t even google something because Google is supposed to be a noun. But these examples of anthimeria have occurred more recently. If we’re to join you both in not allowing words to cross over into other parts of speech, what is your cut-off date? If the change happened, say, over 100 years ago? Is that ok? But if it’s more recent, it’s not ok?

Such shifts occur the other way, too; verbs can become nouns. I enjoyed the solveThe reveal was spot-on… it was an epic fail… Are these usages objectionable because they’re not old enough? I’m not well-versed etymology and historical linguistics, so the stricture of using some "old-vs-recent" measuring stick is, well, a big ask.

@jberg - yay for kinda converting to descriptivism! @Z - I keep going back and admiring the quote you shared (Jan 16) from that famous linguist (hah) about scratching the surface of a descriptivist and finding, well, quite a judgy person. Guilty as charged.

Michael – I liked HEAR ME OUT so much that I looked – it’s a NYT debut, as is this puzzle. Congrats! As Mondays go, it’s the cat’s meow.

chefwen 2:06 AM  

Happy Birthday, Annabel’s Dad.

Fun, easy Monday, as it should be.

I grew up on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, every summer my brother and I would have bonfires down on the beach with our school friends and smuggled beer. It was an arduous climb back up the bluff so we would either go into the freezing water or walk down the beach a bit to pee. My best friend was too shy to go the beach route, so she would climb up the bluff a little bit to do her thing and use some foliage to dry off. Unfortunately the foliage she used was poison ivy. Talk about ITCH, The real kicker is that she did it two years in a row. 50 years later she still can’t laugh at it.

My skin will never allow me to like a DRY HEAT.

Geezer 6:01 AM  

Your story brings to mind the leech scene in Stand By Me. Where the legs meet is just not the place for this type of unpleasantness. Link to scene

GILL I. 6:32 AM  

@chefwen...The next time you see your friend, ask her if it felt like ANTS IN YOUR PANTS.
Fun Monday - ever though I feel like the elephant in the room. I actually wasn't sad the Niners lost. Those Chiefs played a really good game and deserved to win. Our food was good, though.
Loved all these animal clues. I like doing the AHA to the SHANANA.
In my neck of Sacramento, we have DRY HEAT and I wouldn't have it any other way. We can get up to 100 and have a slight BREEZE and it's outdoors play time. I've lived in humidity and my straight hair frizzles and SAGS.
Fun to see SADIE and thinking of her Day. I learned all about it at Circle F Dude Ranch Camp for Boys and Girls. This was in the humid swamps of Florida. I was told I could ask a boy to dance. I did. He was one of the counselors for the boys. He was tall, blond and very handsome. He smiled at me after the dance then led me back to my creaky seat. Never to be seen again.
Happy birthday to lovely Annabel's dad. Keep having as much fun as you can. Eat FETA and keep away from LARD. I use butter and cream cheese for my pie crust......

Lewis 6:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:38 AM  

A high-quality Monday, if you ask me. Some highlights for me:
* Lots of pop, including the very lovely HEAR ME OUT (hi, @loren!), and the paucity of draggy see-all-the-time answers.
* Lots of animals, including the theme animals, of course, but also ORCA, BAT, SWANS, ASSet, and wannabe MACAU.
* Lots of double E's (8).
* The sweet cross of FAM and THE MONKEY'S PAW

Tight, vibrant theme, and no SAGS overall. ACES and thank you, Michael, for one fine debut!

Joe Welling 6:42 AM  

One of my pet peeves: BICEP is not a word. Biceps is short for biceps brachii.

Hungry Mother 6:44 AM  

Pretty damn quick until I needed my wife to supply the ‘Y” in MONKEY. Senior moment?

BarbieBarbie 7:03 AM  

@LMS, I think the criterion for most people is whether or not a word makes you jump- that is, if it distracts you for a millisecond of “huh? oh, I see” time, it feels wrong. Some newly-evolved words are so obvious in their meaning that they get an instant Pass. “Adulting” and “medaling” work like that for me. Others have more of a burr-under-the-saddle effect. Those reactions probably do have an age component. “Impact” isn’t a word I verbify, because we already have “affect” and it isn’t longer. And to me it means the same thing. But I think “impact” has a kind of meteor-striking onomatopoeia that feels more descriptive to most people. I just don’t like it, because it makes my saddle hurt.

Still, it’s fun to yell at the weather reporters.

CDilly52 7:06 AM  

Easy and over all too quickly. @LMS, loved your avatar this morning. Maybe some day I will find a teenager (heck, an 8 year old!) to teach me how to be all techno-savvy. Took me ages just to figure out how to get one of my pix from my phone to show up. Anyway, fine puzzle, a smooth solve and clean grid. The theme works well and all the theme answers fit the concept. ACES!

kitshef 7:16 AM  

Ha! I always guess wrong on MACAU/MACAo, but today I had ONUS already in place. Take that, crossword Gods!

Not a winer, so I did not know ZIN was red. Had CAB for eons there.

No dog in last night’s fight, but I am happy for Andy Reid. Was at a party last night and three women and one man independently told me Jimmy Garoppolo is utterly gorgeous. I suppose it must be true, though I don’t see it.

amyyanni 7:48 AM  

So glad you are enjoying your work, Annabel. I've spent most of my career in non profits and happily so. And yes, my mom learned to use lard in piecrust from her Scottish mom. Good Monday puzzle, Happy Debut Michael! And HB to Annabel's dad. Great news all around: Punxsy Phil didn't see his shadow so early spring for all of you up north.

Suzie Q 7:52 AM  

Any puzzle with an animal theme is OK in my book so this was a winner.
Sly to have "I to" as the answer with judge in the clue.
Fun and a debut as well. Hope to see more from Mr. Schlossberg.
Lard is the only way to have biscuits like grandma used to make.

Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Rex’s dad had a birthday yesterday. Is it also Annabel’s dad’s birthday today?
Good puzzle. Got POW.

Laura 8:20 AM  

Glad to see you back and doing well. Decent puzzle but over much to quickly. Amusing review...alsi over too quickly.

Happy birthday Rex.

PapaLeroux 8:36 AM  

Happy belated birthday, Annabel’s Daddy!

Fun puzzle. We liked it.

RooMonster 8:38 AM  

Hey All !
BREEZED through in just a few tics under 7 minutes. NEATO.

Liked the theme. Nice to see so many debut constructors lately.

Not feeling very verbose today, so I'll just say SEE YA.

ADROIT ONUS
RooMonster
DarrinV

jberg 8:38 AM  

I’m a LARD man— in every sense of the word, unfortunately. It gives your crust a little bit of pork taste, especially good with apple pie. I have occasionally rendered my own, but the pork fat is hard to come by.

Good puzzle, but isn’t it MACAo? I’ll look it up after I post.

Happy Birthday, Annabel’s dad!

pabloinnh 8:39 AM  

This is the kind of puzzle you can finish by doing either only the acrosses or only the downs, i. e., way easy, but fun for a Monday with a nice theme and some good downs. Nice work and congrats on your debut, MS.

Said good bye to 150+ LP's yesterday, including a couple of SHANANAS, a very fun group. The downsizing has begun. A young man in the store picked my Beatles White Album out of the packing box and paid me instantly, super excited. "Now I have to buy a record player!", was his realization. Glad it made him happy.

Also congrats to the Chiefs, although the game felt like a movie I'd just seen a couple of times before. Also, dump the offensive chop. Please.

SouthsideJohnny 8:45 AM  

It seems like we are seeing TAT clued without an abbreviation more frequently (although, “bicep” probably qualifies as an abbreviation - or a made-up word). Similarly with FAM - I guess we will accept “Mom” and “Pop” as abbreviations.

Issa RAE is definitely on a hot streak - and she appears with both her first and last names at times. Is that the crossword equivalent of being “ambidextrous” ? Maybe we shall just say she is “versatile” and leave it at that.

Has anyone here ever used the word FEH? Meh, yes and frequently - FEH, I’ve never used it or heard it. Is it perhaps a regional thing ?



Z 8:49 AM  

I think this was a very clean and tight Monday. Crosswordese is unavoidable, but today’s ese seemed less tired and trite to me. I was kind of hoping for another argonaut, but you can’t have everything.

@BarbieBarbie - I like your standard. If it’s going to make your readers’ saddles hurt consider a different word choice seems like good advice.

@LMS - I had to go look that up. Yes, my personal favorite linguist. But who am I to judge.

Michiganman 8:51 AM  

My Detroit Lions have never been in a Super Bowl but watching the Niners fall apart in the 4th made it easy to pretend it WAS the Lions. (no offense, @GILL)

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

FYI. There is a biceps femoris in addition to the biceps brachii.


The biceps femoris is a muscle of the thigh located to the posterior, or back. As its name implies, it has two parts, one of which (the long head) forms part of the hamstrings muscle group.

Z 9:06 AM  

Re: “bicep” - Yep, that ship has sailed. Merriam-Webster already has the back-formation singular as an alternative. American Heritage has it too, but it does add a “it’s widely considered an error” to mollify the prescriptivist ITCH.

@SouthsideJohnny - I think of TAT as more slang than abbreviation. For example, I would never write “tat.” when I use it. Although, as I write this I wonder what sort of mental gymnastics I must do to differentiate between an abbreviation and something that is just a shortened form.

Missy 9:11 AM  

What about bee's knees?

Nancy 9:13 AM  

A perfectly pleasant Mondayish puzzle. But if Jeff Chen gave it his POW, that doesn't exactly fill me full of hope for what's ahead the rest of the week.

By the time I entered the world, THE BEES KNEES had exited it as a phrase. It's hard to find an expression that's older than I am, but this one is.

I have found that HAIR OF THE DOG really works. As long as you make very sure not to consume the entire dog.

Re DRY HEAT. I experienced it once in Vegas in late June or early July. A group of us girls needed something desperately, I don't remember what, and had to walk across a courtyard of no more than 200 yards to purchase it. We even waited until after the sun had gone down. I was only 16, coped with heat a hell of a lot better than I do now, and I didn't think I was going to make it. I couldn't breathe, for one thing. DRY HEAT, wet HEAT -- they're both awful. One's a sauna; one's a steam bath. FWIW, I avoid both when I'm in a gym.

Finally, I knew @Loren would find some way to tell me that I had to, absolutely had to, accept "keynote" as a verb. She didn't disappoint :)

TJS 9:37 AM  

@LMS, I'm pretty sure your knowledge of etymology and linguistics is light years ahead of mine. I am more of the @BarbieBarbie school. Obviously how long a phrase has been in the language definitely informs my reaction, but there is also just a "grating effect" some of these constructions have on me. "Adulting" being a prime example.
Your reference to "Book a room" got me wondering how that turn of phrase arose; presumably someone entered your name in a reservation "book" is my guess. I think my kids use "book" to mean "leave", for some reason. No idea how that came about.
I spent about an hour yesterday searching for a classic rant from a Nero Wolfe story regarding the noun-to-verb phenomenon. Never found it but the search was still enjoyable. Now there was a character with an immense vocabulary. Rex Stout is the author. Highly recommended.

Nancy 9:40 AM  

@kitshef 7:16 -- Yes, gorgeous!!! I couldn't really tell last night under his ugly- looking (though very critical) helmet, so I looked up his photos online just now. And he really is gorgeous. His features, certainly, but even more his smile, which lights up his whole face. Compare the sincerity of it with, say, Tom Brady's frozen, insincere smile.

Speaking of the attractiveness of QBs, Mahomes seemed to get many more helmet-less closeups last night than Garoppolo. I don't know why. He had atrocious hair and he was chewing gum in a really unattractive way. He was not beautiful. It might have made a difference in who I rooted for, except that I was already firmly in the Niners' corner. I love S.F. And I really am The Kiss of Death. I've been jinxing the Giants for years and now I'm moving my black thumb to the left coast. My apologies, Californians!

Lewis 9:47 AM  

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

1. Nightcap go-with, in brief (3)
2. Single's bars? (4)
3. Keep the books? (5)
4. Spear carrier (6)(3)
5. Issue a charge against (4)


PJS
ARIA
RENEW
PICKLE JAR
TASE

M. Clark 10:28 AM  

13D: What Yoda asked about the man who presided at the Simpson trial.

Michael Page 10:39 AM  

Has Issa RAE become the STEN of the (no longer quite so) new millennium?

mathgent 10:52 AM  

Jeff Chen’s criteria for his POW don’t include most of the things that make a puzzle enjoyable for me. E.g., technical points, accessibility to new solvers, the grid. So even though this puzzle is a dud, the fact that it is Chen’s POW may not signal a bleak week.

Why is it a dud? No sparkle, no wordplay, junk (FEH, ORY, FAM), 24 Terrible Threes.

I’m a lot older than Nancy, but “Bee’s knees” was already out of date when I was a kid. The internet tells me that it began in the twenties.

I’m always happy to see Lewis’s list of the best clues of the week. Today’s list suggests that last week was not a winner in terms of cluing excellence.

MJB 11:03 AM  

I had been a Niner fan since they played at Kezar Stadium, but not anymore. The team should be called the Santa Clara Forty Niners and I'll never forgive them for the way they treated Colin Kaepernick.

What? 11:10 AM  

Easy but pleasant Monday puz, a perfect end to a weekend where SF lost the Bowl. Serves them right, lording it over everybody as the best place in the whole world to live. All I remember from my graduate years there are freezing nights, near death when driving home from Monterey in blinding fog, and growing tired of seeing the GG Bridge from my living room window (it didn’t take too long).

Lewis 11:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex M 11:24 AM  

I got EYE OF THE TIGER and HAIR OF THE DOG so then assumed themers would all be [BODY PART] OF THE [ANIMAL]. Ticked off to find that wasn't the case, but at least there was symmetry with the others being THE [ANIMAL'S][BODY PART].

Carola 11:38 AM  

I thought this was ACES as a Monday puzzle. I liked the parallel placement of the theme phrases: EYE OF THE TIGER and HAIR OF THE DOG interlined with THE BEE’S KNEES and THE MONKEY’S PAW. Also nice: MY MISTAKE balancing HEAR ME OUT.

I learned about EYE OF THE TIGER in a cool way. Strolling through Chicago’s Millennium Park a few years ago, my husband and I happened on an event in the band shell: a rock concert by and for school kids put on the organization Little Kids Rock. The closer was a performance by one of the Chicagoland sponsors and co-writer of the song, Jim Peterik, who strutted onto the stage in eye-dazzling rocker attire: a purple velvet coat, tight leopardskin pants, tall boots, shaggy hair, and aviator sunglasses. He gave a rousing inspirational intro and then tore into the song, with middle-schoolers as the band and chorus, and trading extended guitar solos back and forth with another professional guitarist. It was awesome. And I thought, “If that doesn’t get the kids to rush home and practice....”

jberg 11:39 AM  

@TJS -- I don't remember what book it's in, but there's a scene where Wolfe is reading the new American Heritage Dictionary and muttering to Archie about it. When a client shows up for an appointment, Wolfe demands to know whether he, the client, uses 'imply' and 'infer' interchangeably. It goes on for a bit after that.

the redanman 11:43 AM  

Super Quick - Decent, but a clear example of Crossword 101 Showcase.

I liked HammerTime in the Cheetos Popcorn Commercial. #OKBoomer me go ahead, you want to

@JoeWelling 6:42, join the I ____ Will Shortz use of Anatomy Club

that's enough random for now

chasklu 12:41 PM  

Using Google as a verb has a benefit in that there's no other precise word available. Lately I've heard "forever" unnecessarily changed from adverb to adjective just to make "permanent home" sound more cutesy for cute animals.... and gift could use the already established give, donate or present.

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

Congratulations, Michael Schlossberg, on your debut and on the construction of this sweet little Monday puzzle.

Annabel, perhaps your sign-off should be, "Striving to make the world a better place". It's a bit longer than "tired college student", but it sounds representative of what you're doing these days. Certainly, you make our first Mondays brighter. And EONS does make an appearance at 37A's PEONS.

For some reason, the clue for KRAUT makes me smile. 'Weiner topper that's "sauer"', hAHA.

albatross shell 1:22 PM  

What a travesty! Why aren't the theme answers in order of the number of E's in each one? Mehee.

Solid construction. Good if a couple of clues had more zip.
Lil Abner and Huey Lewis Are fun. Like all the Woodchucks too. They had a great handbook.

My DRYHEAT is in HOUSE. I would have TREED MYMISTAKE if I had one. BEESKNEES is never old, just antique. NEATO maybe not.

ENOS ANNO ONUS triplet of merit.

Would have been fun to extend the repeating the every other O sequence to an entire line of the puzzle.


THE MONKEYS PAW by W. W. Jacobs.
I guess Trump is a bit of a Republican monkey paw for some here.

@Z
I'm assuming your use of "gymnastics" was purposeful.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

the thing about DRY HEAT is that it's not always a benefit. if you live north of the Mason-Dixon line and have to heat your house for 7 months of the year, you'll know (or should) that 68 degrees indoors in January (with 10% humidity, or thereabouts) feels damn chilly, while that same 68 degrees in May with 40% humidity in your backyard is somewhere between comfortable and onerous, depending on yore tolerance. that's why those with forced-air heating systems (luck of the draw or not), if their smart, will have a plumber add a humidifier to the air handler. saves a chunk of moolah on gas or oil or coal or whatever you burn.

Anonymous 2:15 PM  

It's not just the Niners, but the whole of professional sports, NFL being the most retrograde, that treat their millionaire 'employees' like well you know... don't want to use the s word and get deleted.

emily 3:49 PM  

My mom & dad retired to a farmette in KS. The would sponsor the neighbor kid 4-H projects. One was a hog, rec’d some lard from the butcher. Mom made a pie... the best crust ever. Light & flakey. She usually used Cristo. Huge difference. The 1st time I made tamales, I used Cristo. What a mistake & waste of time... lard is the only way to go.

Bea 5:36 PM  

Do you ever have the feeling that you were *just* talking about things that happen to be clue answers?

Just yesterday, my partner and I were singing Bowser's part in the Sha Na Na theme song. I also referenced the Briar Patch (as in, please, don't throw me in there), and we sang aloud the guitar parts to Eye of the Tiger when hearing it on the radio.

albatross shell 6:33 PM  

@Missy 911am
If knee means where a leg is bent or bends (I'll check the latter this spring) then its OK. If knee means human-like bony joint, then maybe not. But if you use your powers of imagination and generalization you might let it slide anyhoo.

albatross shell 6:47 PM  

And for proof that the world is really strange: Yes, lard crusts are better than butter or crisco crusts. If anybody can tell me why, I'd like to know. It's also true lard makes the best potato chips too. The things you learn in pensyltucky.

Anonymous 8:02 PM  

Not a fan of Rush or RBG. The people who are cheering their cancers are vile.

Z 9:20 PM  

@albatross shell - It’s not just a pensyltucky thing. My mom didn’t make a lot of pies but she made a lot of tortillas, always with lard. She came to Michigan from Texas. We lived for a while in California. As far as I know she never set foot in Kentucky. Vegetarians Beware - authentic Tex-Mex is never vegetarian. The tortillas and the beans will have lard in them. If there was a way to add lard to the lettuce and tomatoes I’m pretty sure it would have happened. Sidenote, I also thought the -tucky suffix was a uniquely metro Detroit thing. Apparently not.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

Came here for thoughts on TREED...anyone? I'm always interested in a monday answer that leaves me flustered.

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