Drudgery in old usage / MON 2-10-20 / Big name in athletic shoes / Mississippi port city with Air Force Base

Monday, February 10, 2020

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium for me (maybe slightly harder-than-usual for some, tho ... this fill, yeesh)

THEME: corny movie puns—maybe a nod to the Oscars (happening roughly now, i.e. Sunday night) — familiar non-movie phrases clued as if they related to movies (i.e. wackily):

Theme answers:
  • WORTH A SHOT (17A: Suitable for moviemaking?)
  • A LITTLE EXTRA (23A: Movie munchkin, maybe?)
  • CREW CUT (37A: Movie clip where the grips, boom operator and gaffer all appear?)
  • SETTLE A SCORE (47A: Finalize the music for the movie?)
  • DOUBLE TAKE (57A: Redo of a movie scene?)
Word of the Day: ALEC Waugh (63A: Author Waugh) —
Alexander Raban Waugh (8 July 1898 – 3 September 1981), was a British novelist, the elder brother of the better-known Evelyn Waugh and son of Arthur Waugh, author, literary critic, and publisher. His first wife was Barbara Jacobs (daughter of the writer William Wymark Jacobs), his second wife was Joan Chirnside and his third wife was Virginia Sorenson, author of the Newbery Medal–winning Miracles on Maple Hill. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow this is quite poor. If its release didn't roughly coincide with the Oscars, it would be truly inexplicable. It's just corny film puns. You can do this kind of thing ad infinitum with other words, like SET or CAST or what have you. But why would you? Why? Also, why is the fill this bad? This stale? This unpolished and implausibly carelessly clued. For instance, if you're going to put a very-much *not* "Big name athletic shoes" in your puzzle, first, don't say it's a "Big name," and second, don't cross that last letter with the last letter of a very very very unfamous author when that last letter could easily (Easily) be an "X." The only people who have ever heard of ALEC Waugh are people who have been solving puzzles for decades, i.e. from well before ALEC Baldwin was legit famous ... but then there was always ALEC Guinness, so I have no idea how ALEC Waugh ever, ever convinced anyone that he was puzzle-worthy. I mean, look at the first paragraph of his wikipedia page (above). The writer basically gives up on defining him in relation to any "writing" you've actually heard of and resorts instead to defining him in relation to three (3!) other authors, all of whom are more accomplished, two of whom Are From His Own Damn Family. Clue should've been [Third most successful Waugh]. The point is, cluing ALEC as a Waugh in *this* particular spot (i.e. crossing ETONIC at the "C") is objectively bad editing. It's Monday! Please pay attention to what you're doing.

Everything about this puzzle is just old, in the sense of stuck and stale. What the !?!?! is MOIL?! Fittingly, it is [Drudgery, in older usage]. This puzzle knows a lot about drudgery, as well as older usage. Everything from CABIT to AIWA to EKES to ALEC to ETAIL to ETONIC to ESAU feels musty. AWS just feels bad. The whole top row is garbage, and THUG is a problematic word that you can *easily* avoid (6A: Mafia enforcer, e.g.). UNGER is also something familiar much much more to older than to younger solvers (12D: Felix of "The Odd Couple"). Totally fine to put "Odd Couple" in your puzzle, but ... there's just not a lot here for anyone under 60. But if yesterday's emoji-based puzzle was just too youthful for you, well, here's your antidote, I guess. Me, I'll take the disease

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


tkincher 12:11 AM  

I came here to say what it looks like you've said: ETONIC / ALEC? On a Monday? What the Waugh?

Joaquin 12:15 AM  

The puzzle's difficulty was cranked up a bit for a Monday and Rex was a lot crankier than usual.

Mr. Alarm 12:21 AM  

As usual, Rex, I agree with your review of this puzzle. However, I do like puns. My favorite one is “A LITTLE EXTRA”.
But, some really dumb words in there, ETONIC especially; and a lot of words that start with “E”: ETAIL, ETONIC, ESAU, EAT, etc.

Anonymous 12:57 AM  

Came here to see if MOIL was word of the day. The fact that it wasn't speaks volumes about this puzzle. Much of it was actually very pleasant, but a surfeit or brand names and that unforgivable MOIL made the bad parts really bad.

And of all the ALECs in the world...

chefwen 1:42 AM  

Well, I’m obviously over 60 so I really enjoyed this puzzle. Thought it was fun and Monday easy. Knew ALEC WAUGH right away, so I must have read something by him, knowing me it probably was “ In Praise of Wine”. Sounds like something I would read and enjoy.

Only one write over by putting HEART in 41A before 43A, hate when I do that.

Solverinserbia 2:13 AM  

I had a Tuesday time. Lots of things were more obscure than a normal Monday or were clued in non-gimme ways. I'm not complaining about that. I think the theme is cute.

Anonymous 4:40 AM  

Well, I'm 36 and this came in at just a tad above average Monday time. But I knew this was going to be a very bad puzzle when I saw the byline. I thought the theme was fine, but the rest of the puzzle was pretty atrocious. Has Bruce Haight ever made a good puzzle?

Oliver 4:51 AM  

MOIL was new for me, I feel like I see PEON in every puzzle lately. I got ETONIC, but I can't think of a less well known sneaker manufacturer..

Brookboy 5:11 AM  

I kind of liked it, but the truth is that other than this review I won’t think about it ever again. I don’t regret the time I spent doing it, which, in the end, is the actual review.

I’m 75, so I fit right into Rex’s description of who might enjoy this puzzle, but I don’t see why puzzles that skew “old” are viewed negatively. If I am expected to accept rap and rap artists as reasonable fill, why is a classic like “The Odd Couple” not similarly acceptable? And why do things that are, say, 40 or 50 years old get knocked while things that are a thousand years old and more acceptable? It is puzzling to me why old age is so negatively portrayed in our society as the main goal of most living beings is to live as long as possible, which usually means getting old. If you’re lucky.

Anyway, Mr. Shortz, I beseech you to run puzzles that Rex might consider musty every now and then. If they were good enough for our parents and their parents (and a much younger me), they’re good enough for an occasional appearance now and then.

Brian 5:28 AM  

Felt stale and rough. Double my Monday time ... more like a Tuesday.

mathgent 5:57 AM  

I like Mr. Haight’s work. Intelligent cluing, amusing themes. Just like today’s.

Quasi: I just finished The Long Goodbye. Enjoyed it. My first Raymond Chandler. Thanks.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

@rex - Why do this theme? I'm guessing Bruce did it because it made him smile, and he figured if it made him smile, he figured it would make others smile, and in my case he was right. I found it cute and pleasing, lovely Monday fare.

I thought the puzzle was a bit bite-ier than the usual Monday -- Don't know if it slid into the frustrating-for-new-solver territory, that is, HARSH, but my impression was that it is okay on this score, just on the harder end of Monday and too easy for Tuesday.

I liked the First Name mini theme: FERN, JACK, TONY, ABE, ALEC, ANN, and the rarer ESAU and LURCH. I'm also guessing I'm not the only one who had TOIL before MOIL. And I liked having TONY (as in Randall) in the same puzzle with UNGER.

All in all, a most pleasing puzzle, IMO, on the BRIGHT SIDE.

And by the way, something in this puzzle is especially cool: Five adjoining letters in SETTLE A SCORE anagram to OSCAR!

Hungry Mother 6:41 AM  

I did a DOUBLETAKE at MOIL as I sailed through it. Nice relief from the weekend.

smalltowndoc 6:42 AM  

I generally agree with Rex on this one. But I disagree with one point he made, i.e., suggesting this puzzle is only for people over 60. I’m over 60, and I thought it sucked.

pabloinnh 6:48 AM  

There are strange things done in the midnight sun,
By the men who MOIL for gold...

What, nobody reads the classics anymore? Thought this seesawed between moo-cow easy (hi M&A) and Wed. difficult, although I have an ETONIC running top, even if it took me a while to remember it.

The theme MAY have had something to do with the Oscars? You think?

I like puns just fine, so OK with me. Also, as soon as I saw the constructor's name, I had a pretty idea of what OFL would have to say, and I was not disappointed. I got no problem with your stuff, BH. A little tussle on a Monday is fine.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

Rare to have even a single WoE on a Monday, so to have two (MOIL and ETONIC) is something. Plus HI HAT I know only from crosswords.

Two errors set me back a quite a bit today. COUNT headS was so obvious that even when things weren’t working I could not imagine that was the problem. And my baby-viewing noises were (the much superior) eWS, rather than AWS.

This Thursday I’ll be giving a talk on FERNs. If the room is even half full, it’ll be the largest group I’ve ever spoken front of. Kinda nervous.

amyyanni 7:17 AM  

Kept me busy during the Oscar commercials. Rex's points are quite valid. Did enjoy USAIN flashing by.

GILL I. 7:17 AM  

You forgot to add CREW CUT to the stuck and stale list. But at least we get a little HEART for Valentine's Day.
Let's see....eenie meenie miney mo....what'll it be? ETONIX or ETONIC. Hey, I almost penned in EBONIC. I wonder if PEONs MOIL for gold.
Not really much of a Monday fare but I'm betting Will wanted us to AWS a bit because of the Oscars which I didn't watch because it started off dismally and dull and I wanted to shout at Diane Keaton because her hat and coat looked like it had been hanging in her closet since the 70's. Someone asked why everyone looks like they wore used furniture. I watched returns of Gordon Ramsey's Hells Kitchen.
Can't wait to see what Tuesday brings.

Grouch 7:21 AM  

My only pleasure was A LITTLE EXTRA (movie munchkin, maybe?) I Have no idea why "maybe?" was added to the clue. In fact I have no idea why "?" was added to any of the clues. It would have worked just fine without them. I F****** hate "?".

Suzie Q 7:40 AM  

I am in total agreement with @ Lewis. I had some fun and needed to dig deeper than many Mondays ask me to do. I thought the puns were funny and helped me solve because I didn't remember 1D.
Poor crabby Rex never seems to see the bright side.
Also, why is thug "problematic"?

QuasiMojo 7:43 AM  

I usually skip Monday puzzles because they are not challenging enough but when I saw Bruce Haight's name I changed my mind. I'm glad I did. I found this a good puzzle with some light humor and a bit tough in places. Alec Waugh was a gimme. His semiautobiographical novel The Loom of Youth is a classic, an expose of the mistreatment of schoolboys in the British public school system. It was also one of the first books to discuss homosexuality openly and without sensationalism. This was back in 1917. Yes a tad obscure for a Monday and those sneakers were a naticky trap. I also was glad Haight didn't put TMC as a rival of HBO!

Michael 7:48 AM  

I don't think he could be the third most successful Waugh; that's Auberon, surely!

Michael 7:54 AM  

Only misleads on this were CAPO for THUG and CAP for FEZ, rest just flowed together. Slightly above average time. I knew ETONIC from some distant shoe obsessed middle school era...

Roberta 7:59 AM  

In terms of age, I'm 60 and enjoyed yesterday's and was almost offended by today's. Honestly it felt like a puzzle created for children, or someone just learning the English language. No creativity at all. Almost stopped halfway through but forced myself right up to that Alec/Alex guess. Guessed wrong.

golfballman 8:28 AM  

Don't know what all the fuss is about, personal best monday time 2:01 minutes.

Bruce R 8:46 AM  


"I generally agree with Rex on this one. But I disagree with one point he made, i.e., suggesting this puzzle is only for people over 60. I’m over 60, and I thought it sucked."

I wish this forum had thumbs up and thumbs down buttons, because this comment would easily earn a thumbs up.

SouthsideJohnny 9:00 AM  

It is a fair, if slightly dusty offering today. MOIR is just awful though - it’s sad to see Dark Matter (something so obscure or nonsensical that it is only discernible via the crosses) seep into a Monday now. That along with the very late-week (and so easily rectifiable) clue for ALEC drag this one down a notch.

I’ll give a (reluctant) pass to COUNT NOSES even though it is kind of dumb. Nobody ever “counts noses”. Oh well, I guess it’s tough for the Times’ editors to find a way to interject some level of mediocrity into their puzzle on a day-to-day basis - they were successful today at least.

Lewis 9:06 AM  

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

1. Daily run, for short? (5)
2. Racketeer's org.? (4)
3. Where a batter eventually goes to the plate? (4)
4. Sty inhabitants (5)
5. Looked over slides at home, say (5)


RooMonster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
I can see Rex's points. But disappointed he didn't venomize COUNT NOSES. Yikes, YIPES, EGAD, and all that. No one COUNTs NOSES. You COUNT HEADS.

Quick three-second-thought-of redo for THUG: 6A THIN, 15A VISA, which gets 8D ISO and 9D NAT. And that was three seconds. Probably could do better if I actually thought about it.

Although everyone here know Rex hates HAIGHT puzs (although he did have a positive review a while back on a HAIGHT puz), I have to agree with the negativeness of this one. Sorry, Bruce.

The theme itself was neat. Punny.

No complaints about BCUP yet.


Nancy 9:12 AM  

I read the clue again when I had A LITTLE E -- and nothing came to me. When A LITTLE EXTRA came in, I said "Aha!" and actually chuckled. Nice. I'm wondering if that was the first impulse towards coming up with the theme? I must go read Bruce and find out.

I found the other theme answers bland and uninspired. But this was a bit harder than the usual Monday and I liked that aspect of the puzzle.

MOIL for "drudgery in older usage"? It must be very, very, very, very old usage. Like maybe back in the 14th Century. When did MOIL morph into TOIL, I'm wondering?

Pepper 9:30 AM  

Because you were alive in the era of rap, and we weren’t alive during the run of The Odd Couple. Because rap is current, and The Odd Couple isn’t. What is even the point of remaining alive if you won’t be receptive to the present moment?

Pepper 9:32 AM  

As I was solving this I had to check what day of the week it was. Nauseating fill, would not bang

G. Weissman 9:34 AM  

Yet another example of how there’s no puzzle so poorly constructed that some folks on this blog won’t like it. I guess I’m glad that this forgettable exercise found its audience; I just wish that higher expectations led to better puzzles.

Z 9:44 AM  

I liked the themers, but AD FEE/AIWA was a warning flag. Four letter brand names beginning with A are always sub-optimal. Starting off your puzzle with one at 1D? Let me suggest that it is to be avoided if at all possible.

I know ETONIC. No idea how “big” applies. Nike and Adidas are the two big ones by market share. Googling ETONIC brought up a bunch of golf shoe stuff, so maybe it’s a big name in golf shoes? Any golfers have an opinion? But, yeah, crossing a less than really famous brand name with a first name where at least three consonants might work is also sub-optimal (besides ALEC and ALEx, ALEn is not implausible).

This really felt like a challenging Tuesday to me. Ignoring the “?” and writing in CREdits off the CRE certainly contributed to this feeling.

@Suzie Q - Because the term is generally only used in reference to Italian-American stereotypes and African-American stereotypes. I think the term was originally more generally a reference to anyone involved in criminal activity, but now there’s is a definite racial connotation. The classic example from sports is that if there is a player fight in baseball or hockey the term is not used, but it does get used when the fight is NBA players.

Petsounds 10:02 AM  

This is a perfect Will Shortz puzzle--fusty, sloppy, and trying too hard to be clever while ignoring connotation.

ETONIC hasn't been "big" in decades.

A MIDI skirt does not end "just below the knees." It ends halfway between the knee and the calf. Mini, midi, maxi: These are skirt lengths. A skirt that falls just below the knees is a skirt with no name. It's just a skirt.

ARID doesn't signify "low humidity." It signifies sere, extremely dry. And then there's ALEC Waugh, who wrote a lot of books, none of which anyone knows or cares about.

I say it's spinach and I say the hell with it. Feh.

Nicole 10:04 AM  

Munchkin when referring to people is derogatory. Period. I know not to expect better from an editor who routinely includes the names of racists and warmongers and casually throws in “thug” but damn, I wish the feedback they get about this did... anything.

sb 10:08 AM  

I'm guessing that they clued ETONIC as "Big name in athletic shoes" because most of the truly big shoe companies have short names (ex. Nike, Croc, Puma, etc...).

Bourbon Street 10:11 AM  

How does “The Odd Couple” skew towards old when there was the CBS version of the show that ran from 2015-2017 and starred Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon?

I noticed that JACK was opposite TONY (and as @Lewis noticed, Tony (Randall) was under Unger). Given the placement, I like the possibility that JACK is a shout-out to JACK Klugman.

JC66 10:13 AM  


Just wondering, have you ever watched The Wizard of Oz?

Petsounds 10:15 AM  

Correction to my own post: A midi skirt ends between the knee and the ankle. Apologies.

jberg 10:18 AM  

I liked the theme, though I still am not sure if midgets would be offended by A LITTLE EXTRA. I think not, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

I knew ALEC Waugh as a writer, and not from puzzles -- but I'm not sure. The four novels of his that I thought I'd read turn out to have been by Evelyn, and I've never heard of any of those listed in Wikipedia.

The grid seems tough for a Monday, for those who are about that -- the NW, center diagonal, and SE are almost completely isolated from each other, which always makes a puzzle a little harder.

A couple of things: first, cluing BEST as "_________ Picture" is so ridiculous that it must have been MEANT as a joke. EVERY Oscar category starts with BEST, so far as I know.

Second, since it's so much about the Oscars, it would be better not to clue TONY as another award. Plenty of other Tonys out there.

@Pabloinnh -- I don't know the poem, but it has to be by Robert Service, am I right?

@Z, I see your point about THUG -- sort of odd, though, since it's a Hindi word. I guess it's another case of the language's changing through ignorance.

Finally, I'm surprised by the hate for COUNT NOSES, an expression I've heard a lot. Of course no one actually counts them, it's synecdoche.

Joaquin 10:25 AM  

@Lewis - What an eye for detail! Finding the hidden OSCAR.

I know a rabbi who MOILs as a mohel.

Suzie Q 10:30 AM  

@ Z, All thug means to me is any big menacing thing of any species or gender. If it sets off a trigger with you and Rex perhaps you two should dial down your sensitivity switch.
@ JC66, Exactly. It also has since then become an affectionately playful term for toddlers.

Fred G. 10:30 AM  

Wow, so now “Thug” is worthy of a “danger alert”. I honestly can’t keep track anymore. I blame it firmly on RexWorld (academia) where they have their “safe spaces” with soft music, stuffed animals and coloring books to retreat to in the event that they are threatened by the fact that their tender ears and under-developed minds may actually be exposed to a word that they find disagreeable, or worse yet, an idea with which they disagree.

I’m looking forward to the day when the pendulum swings back and common sense will once again be the rule rather than the exception.

Joe Dipinto 10:32 AM  

This has an E tonic.

dadnoa 10:34 AM  

Without a thumbs up button, +1 is the way to go. This comment deserves a +1. Puzzle sucked.....and I’m getting tired of bra cups.....B,C,D, if we must use sizing, let’s go with the unisex small, medium, large, x-large, and my personal fave, the xxxl :)

Nicole 10:36 AM  

@jc66 Indeed. I’d like to believe language and cultural competency has improved since 1939.

thfenn 10:48 AM  

Really? You just HAD to reply like this?

pabloinnh 10:49 AM  


Your inference is spot on, it's from "The Cremation of Sam McGee", which is one of those things that's so familiar to me that I assume lots of people know it. Published in 1907 by The Bard of the Yukon himself, so our friend @Nancy's guess of when MOIL might have last been used is a little, um, early.

Mr. Benson 10:49 AM  

Not that AWS will ever be good fill, but Amazon Web Services has gotten pretty huge and would have been a much more natural and contemporary clue for it.

thfenn 10:54 AM  

One of my worst Monday times ever, but kind of enjoyed it in the end. COUNTheadS before COUNTNameS, before NOSES, LUnge before LURCH, sEe before GET. Thought ICEAX was missing an E at the end. Never heard of ALEC or MOIL. And worse, missed the ? On the CREWCUT clue so stayed with CREDITS forever. But kind of liked the themers along the way.

Carola 10:59 AM  

Cute and apt theme, creaky fill with a few BRIGHT spots (which for me included MOIL). One do-over: Tummy before TORSO.

Leslie 10:59 AM  

@pabloinnh Moil was my favorite part of this puzzle. It reminded me of my husband's lament,"they're not making action-adventure poets any more"

"There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee."

Rita 11:02 AM  

I enjoyed this. To read the comments you’d think I’m a cild of some lesser god.

Z 11:04 AM  

@jberg - It’s not really my observation. If I remember correctly, it was some NBA brawl and the talking heads afterwards who asked “why aren’t hockey players ever called THUGs.” As is my wont, the observation led to a little reading.

@Suzie Q - What an interesting reaction. What about “THUG is a problematic word that you can *easily* avoid” or “Because the term is generally only used in reference to Italian-American stereotypes and African-American stereotypes,” makes you think we are “triggered.” Again, people can use any offensive language they want. There’s even a phrase for it, “telling on yourself.” I’d go further and suggest that the origin of “political correctness” was the art of not telling on yourself.

@dadnoa 10:36- I see you’re commenting from a smartphone? How do I know? Because you obviously think that everyone is seeing your reply immediately below the comment you mean to compliment. Most of us are not reading on a smartphone and so have no idea what comment you’re talking about.

AppleGee 11:10 AM  

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who MOIL for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

The Cremation of Sam McGee, Robert Service. A favorite. I visited Lake Lebarge in the Yukon.

Pepper 11:21 AM  

I did. There was a gun to my head

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

The character's last name is UngAr, not Unger. Just sayin'...

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

I knew someone would get upset by munchkin-ALITTLEEXTRA. BTW, SHORT is hidden in WORTHASHOT.

When I picture a THUG it's always a brutish looking white guy.

SNOT is an anagram of 4 letters in COUNTNOSES

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Uh, Nope.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Anonymous 11:25,

It sure is. Maybe this Unger character is a roommate of William Burrows?
Maybe they're all playing ping pong right now.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

I think Will Shortz was f*cking with Rex today.

Alicia the Gemini 12:12 PM  

In the movie with Lemmon and Matthau, and in the TV show in is UNGER. Is there a backstory or insiders joke that I missed ?

I’m guessing CABIT is NYC thing - never of it before. MOIL - definitely not looking to attract a younger audience with that one - and even risk alienating people who want to solve real crossword puzzles.

I agree that COUNTNOSES is groan inducing. There is just so much “junk” in the New York Times crosswords. I like the LA times and the WSJ better.

JC66 12:15 PM  


It's all in the context a word is used.

In the movie, the characters were called munchkins, which, BTW, was probably its coinage. Therefore, using it as a clue for a themer in a puzzle where the theme is movie puns seems fine by me, even if, in another context some may find it disparaging.

I just don't buy into the PC philosophy that, if a word or term is offensive in one context, it can't be used in any other context. In puzzles, it all depends on the cluing.

Also, as @Suzie 10:30 points out, munchkin is also a term used by some for toddler.

And yes @Z, a mafia enforcer is a THUG.

Joaquin 12:20 PM  

Ungar does, indeed, seem to be the way Felix's name was originally written so that would have to be the *real* spelling. But the tv series lists him as Unger, making that (sorta) correct also.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Lewis: I too loved the MTWTF clue/answer. The clue was something like "Range of days" or Days in a range." So I'm trying to think of some mountain-related answer but couldn't come up with anything. Then I got the MT from the crosses and was more convinced it was mountain related. But couldn't think of a three letter Mount. Finally got the rest of the letters from the crosses and was STILL thinking Mt. Something and so was very confused. MTWTF wouldn't register in my pea brain. Mount What The F***?????

Then I got it and am still laughing at myself.

jae 12:36 PM  

A tad north of medium. AIWA, IONA, MOIL, and the issues that Rex brought up make this one not particularly newbie friendly.

A timely theme, although Bruce at Xwordinfo says it is a coincidence.

I’ve seen better Mondays.

Joe Dipinto 12:39 PM  

BTW: Thanks, Rex, for the Dire Straits video. That song will (happily) be in my head for the rest of the day now.

Also: THUG is not problematic. You are an idiot.

Gio 12:48 PM  

I suck at crosswords but I can usually easily bang out a Monday. I hated this puzzle. I'm am athlete for 30 years, and I buy a lot of shoes, and I buy a lot of athletic shoes and I never heard of Etonic. I had to finally Google it having 5 letters and it still didn't come up. It's not a big name in athletic shoes, it is not! I also had Count Heads and other variations. I hated AWIA, I had SEGA. It was a struggle and not the least bit fun. The Oscars were a fun train wreck. I thought the punchline to Maya Rudolf's and Kristen Wiig's act, was They were going to rip off their hideous gowns and reveal something normal as they gave out the best costume designer Oscar. Maya looked like she had another outfit underneath. She appeared to be wearing Etonic sandals with her Mumu.

Gio 12:53 PM  

This tastes like the dog's dinner you stupid donkey now $#@% off! Gotta love Gordon Ramsey!

Teedmn 1:05 PM  

Waugh is me - I was sure ETONIx was a better brand name than the C version and I only know of Evelyn Waugh. Waah.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and grows
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.

That's about as far as I ever got in trying to remember that poem, and I'd already forgotten the MOIL part. Thanks for reminding me, @pabloinnh.

@kitshef, I got a better chuckle from your eWS than I did from A LITTLE EXTRA, as clued, which I did find amusing.

My favorite clue today was 52A's "Bangs on the head?" for HAIR.

I didn't think the first theme answer worked as a movie pun - to make it work in the correct tense, it should be SHOoT, but that's not a common phrase so... Maybe it's just me.

Overall, I liked this puzzle and found it fun. Thanks, Bruce Haight!

kitshef 1:07 PM  

@JC66 - I'm not sure there is such a thing as PC philosophy, but if there were, it would not say that if a word is offensive in one context, it can't be used in any context. Consider the word "boy". In a certain context that is a highly offensive term to use towards African-Americans. But no one rails against "baby boy" or "Boy George" or "boy scouts" as offensive to African-Americans.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

This puzzle is a good Monday crossword. Puns are what make crosswords fun! A final note: MOIL is a real word, Rex. Go to a used bookstore, get a dictionary, and educate yourself.

Nancy 1:19 PM  

Wow, what gorgeous, musical verse "The Cremation of Sam McGee" is. Written by a poet with an ear that would appear to be as good as Poe's, Tennyson's, Blake's and Kipling's. (My faves, ear-wise.) As a lyricist and occasional versifier, I am deeply embarrassed that I didn't know the poem, or at least that I didn't remember it. Oh, I could lie to you and say that I simply forgot the word MOIL, that I remembered everything else about it-- but it wouldn't be true. Thanks to @pabloinnh, @Leslie and @Apple Gee for referencing and citing it.

Z 1:20 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - Ugh. That’s the worst song on a great album. I’d have gone with Romeo and Juliet, but even the oddly spelt Expresso Love is a hundred times better.

@JC66 - Really? If only I had mentioned “Italian-American stereotypes” in my initial response. I’ll spare everyone a disquisition on the history of “whiteness” in America.

@Joaquin - So what you’re saying is UNGER/UNGAR is now going to enter the Olaf/Olav category of “Guess The Right Letter Because It Could Be Either”?

The Atlantic
Miami New Times

So, please, again, explain how THUG isn’t problematic. I’m sure the people at Ebony have no credibility on this.

Andrew B 1:37 PM  

Ouch. I got naticked bad in the SW corner. On a Monday? What was that!

Joaquin 1:41 PM  

Have to agree with @Z on the word "thug". I've spent a lot of time interacting with many clearly racist people and their go-to word now is almost always "thug". For a time it seemed they reveled in getting a *polite* word into their conversation; now it's just straight-up derogatory - they use the "T" word when they mean the "N" word.

So while I often make fun of Rex and his safe-space mentality, I have no problem with his characterizing the word as "problematic".

Masked and Anonymous 1:51 PM  

No major Haight-mail for this MonPuz, from our house. But, as many have mentioned, ETONIC/ALEC & MOIL were a bit feisty for a MonPuz. CABIT was raised by wolves but pretty inferable. The rest was smoooth enough for Monday government work. [That might not be much of a compliment anymore … let's just say it was plenty day-um good enough.]
Do they have a brand of booties for our feline friends yet, maybe called CAT-ETONICs?

Film-flam theme was just fine and funny. And it premiered during the Oscar program, so that's a plus. Had the usual Haightful-humor.
Puzgrid is only a Q short of a total scrabble-twerkin. Good for the kids that are learnin their ABC-letters, and who already know who ALEC Waugh is.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {What Tarzan swings from} = VINE. HEART clue was worthy of honrable/timely mention, of course.

staff weeject pick: AWS. Better clue: {Zig saw??}.

Thanx for yer wacko studio tour, Mr. Haight. Keep comin back -- worth it, just to see @RP's harlarious write-up reactions. Utter tour MOIL gripes usually ensue.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Anonymous 1:52 PM  


So I should use cruel or vicious ruffian in lieu of thug? A phrase to replace a very useful word? Hard pass.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  


Are you seriously saying that the TV character is Unger and not Ungar? Are you sure some imbecile didn't just write it incorrectly and it stuck in various publications? Why on earth would the character's name change? A change mind you which doesn't alter the pronunciation. It's beyond reasonable to believe that a fully developed character from a hugely popular play and movie would suddenly have a name change that only a typesetter would appreciate.

Maybe some thug was responsible for typing the credits and everyone was too afraid of him to say boo.

JC66 2:06 PM  


Yes, whether the term PC applies or not, my point was that it all depends on the context.

Your "boy" example is spot on.

Joaquin 2:13 PM  

Anonymous @1:52 - Perhaps one of these will work- unlike "thug", none of them have any sort of racial overtones and all can be used in polite company:

goon; bully, criminal, gangster, punk, delinquent, troublemaker

I assume you could come up with many others if you cared enough to give it a moment's thought.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

So how should “thug” be clued - or are you recommending that it be banned? Censorship seems like a harsh measure and a slippery slope.

What is a Mafia enforcer called?

Anonymous 2:34 PM  


Goon is close. The others lack the physical element required for thuggery. So no, criminal, punk troublemaker, even bully don't work.
Gangster certainly has violence attached to it, but more with a gun than the outright physical, that is bodily, element always associated with thuggery.

But why go to the trouble of a synonym? Thug is fine. A rich word worthy of use. And I'll be damned if someone with less than a superb grasp of English and its wonderful nuances proscribes the use of a word. Any word. Especially a member of the PC police like Rex or Z or apparently, you.

Joe Dipinto 2:45 PM  

As chairperson of the Italian-American Stereotype Committee, I'm rather nonplussed at the idea that a Mafia enforcer should not be called a "thug". I mean, we pay them the big bucks (yeah I said that) to act all thuggish and shit, at least until we kill them off like Luca Brasi. But if any of you genteel white, I assume, folks, can think of a more polite way to describe them, please submit a list of suggestions to me and I'll take it up with the rest of the Italian-American Stereotype Committee members. They may just say, "Aaa, fuggedaboudit. Let's eat." But it's, you know, worth a shot.

TJS 3:04 PM  

I am waiting for all the people who are offended by "thug" to join in unanimous condemnation every time a rap "artist" is clued in a puzzle. One-way street syndrome seems to be working here.

JC66 3:12 PM  

@Joe D

Good one!

Nancy 3:23 PM  

Put me squarely in the camp of @Susie Q and @Joe Dipinto re THUG. This is political correctness carried to the heights of absurdity. In fact, let me put it as melodramatically as I can:

If I had had the outlook of @Rex and @Z and others back in the 70s and 80s when muggings in NYC were at their zenith, I probably would be dead. Here's why:

Let's say I see a big, burly, scowling, hulking 20-something male staring at me on the subway. I get off at 96th and he gets off, oh-so casually, right behind me. Do I go immediately to the manned token booth and wait there, gesturing noticeably at him to the person in the booth and saying loudly: "That man is following me. I'm going to stand here for a bit", thus forcing him to go up the stairs ahead of me and then after he does, choosing the staircase that's catacorner to his, meaning he would have to cross both Lexington and 96th Street to attack me?

Or do I blithely let him follow me? He's not black!!! He's not Italian!!! He's white!!! Therefore, QED, he can't be a THUG. Everyone knows that only blacks and Italians are THUGS.

It's just ridiculous. THUGS come in all colors and nationalities. If you were a small, not terribly strong, not terribly speedy woman like me living in NYC back then, you didn't think about color or nationality. You rather paid attention to the tiny little hairs on the back of your neck. That's what helped keep you safe.

Oh, and btw, one of the great screen portrayers of THUGS was Bogart. He was a high society WASP who went to Princeton.

Unknown 3:35 PM  

Why does Rex even do the NYT puzzle, unless it's just to complain?

Another Anon 3:51 PM  

clue should be "backward guht"

Rebel Rebel 3:54 PM  

Touche Nancy, the woke folks here desperately attempting to invent something to take offense to now find themselves skewered by your rapier wit! Well done.

Unknown 4:02 PM  

Etonics were big in the 1970s.

Joaquin 4:04 PM  

My final words on "thug". I am not advocating banning the word, which is why I used Rex's word "problematic". But ... context matters. And my experience is overwhelmingly this: when a bigot refers to a Black person as a thug, he is using that word as a substitute for the "N" word. Every time. @Nancy's example is an entirely different scenario.

I try to be considerate of others and not use language that I know will offend them. There is nothing PC about it; it's just common courtesy.

Ragu 4:38 PM  

@Joaquin. I don’t have a dog in this hunt. It does seem to me as though you are swimming upstream on this one. When a bigot uses any words like that in a pejorative manner, you can almost instantly tell by his/her context (and poor grammar) where the motivation lies (lays?).

However, many people use the word “thug” to describe (you know) thugs without any racial overtones. it doesn’t seem fair to usurp their vocabulary because of a few ignorant bad apples.

In terms of White Knighting to benefit people of color - just listen to any mainstream rap artist and you will (or at least should be) appalled at the terms they use to refer to and describe each other. “Thug” is way, way down on the list of things to be concerned about IMHO.

bert 4:38 PM  

"Peon" two days in a row... Neato!

Gio 5:05 PM  

Oy, my mom was buying my shoes in the 70s.Funny I remember Buster Brown and Thom McAn from then though.

Gio 5:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Language Sleuth 6:01 PM  

"lies" is grammatically correct.

RooMonster 6:33 PM  

@La Donna E mobile
Just a quick courtesy post to let you know about your posts. You're new here, so you probably don't know this. Absolutely no harm is meant.

When you post a response to someone else's post, it doesn't go directly under that post when you are using the computer. It does on a phone, but when you see it in the computer, it's just another post with no relevance to anything else. That's why people here use the @ symbol and reference the person they're responding to. Like I did at the beginning of the post. So your 5:08 reply to Joe Dipinto 2:45 isn't under his comment on the computer. It looks like a non-sequiter and gibberish.

No offense meant, just wanted you to get your responses to go where they were intended. ☺️

RooMonster @Guy

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

Wikipedia has the play's character being Felix Ungar and the TV show's character being Felix Unger.

Ungar is the German word for Hungarian, so anyone really named Unger probably had an ancestor named Ungar who changed the spelling of the name.

Gio 8:16 PM  

@roomonster thank you, did I do that right? I'm not offended at all and appreciate the tip.God forbid I post any more gibberish beside my usual gibberish.

Gio 8:19 PM  

@JoeDiPinto leave the gun, take the cannolis

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

This was puzzle #1 (of 3 preliminaries) at the Westport tournament

A few people solved it wicked fast, even under 3 minutes (!)

I didn't much notice THUG, and don't recall anyone else commenting (this was over a week ago), and it could easily have been changed to THEN/ENO/NETS unless ENO was already in the grid of course

MOIL does seem kind of rough for a Monday; again, I didn't notice it at the time

I kind of remembered ETONIC from bowling, um, years ago (hanging head in shame?), and ETONICS certainly wouldn't have fit.

albatross shell 8:31 PM  

I liked this puzzle more than most. Check the symmetrical word placements:

A nice triple juxtaposition:

A GREAT wee-un: FEZ which always reminds me of ...the one with the FEZ he turns and he says ... . Alas, no LSD, no TRIP.

MOIL to Sam Mcgee to Service. Which reminds me of:
There's a race of men that don't fit in,
A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don't know how to rest.

Good rap version done by Peter Stampfel.

COUNTING NOSES common idiom for counting people or votes. Especially votes on a board or committee.

Kate E. 8:47 PM  

I do the puzzle with my 14 yr old most days. And once we finished he said “I hate to be cliched but this was the most ‘OK Boomer’ puzzle ever.” And I got to say he’s pretty right. Weak sauce.

Jessica 9:59 PM  

Never heard of etonic shoes .. I don’t think they are a “big name”. Also I hate answers that are sounds - aws as an example.

Joe Dipinto 10:25 PM  

@La Donna È mobile 8:16 – yes you did that perfectly (shout-out to @RooMonster!). Also: if the person you are responding to has a lot of posts in the thread, you can add the time of the post next to the person's name (as I did here) to make it clear which post you are responding to.

p.s. I was listening to a Carlo Bergonzi cd containing your namesake aria earlier.

@Z – must disagree about "Making Movies", "Skateaway" was always my favorite. Immediate earworm whenever I hear it.

Anonymous 10:58 PM  

what's funny is that MOIL is a homophone for the guy that cuts off the best part of your putz. fits for this puzzle.

kitshef 11:00 PM  

Gotta pipe in on the major argument of the day - best song on the Dire Straits album Making Movies. It's Tunnel of Love. Romeo and Juliet, Skateaway and Hand in Hand are fighting for runner-up. But all four are magnificent.

Santino 1:25 AM  

Rex, You are my hero. Thank you for that well needed laugh after that annoying solve (I'm 29)

Droog 11:37 AM  

Z, hockey enforcers are called Goons. Not exactly complimentary but I don’t see the world go trigger happy every time it’s used.

spacecraft 12:00 PM  

UHOH, it's the Haight of mediocrity again: Bruce EKES out another one. Too bad I don't have a lot to say--I certainly have the time. Our clubhouse is closed (though, of course, our rents aren't reduced--despite some of the total is for amenities). Thank God I don't have a job. My heart goes out to residents here who do work and are now (most probably) laid off. Will they get evicted?

Quote from "The Stand:"

"Things fall apart; the center does not hold."

I will omit mentioning what the speaker of that line does next.

Diana, LIW 12:12 PM  

Wow - I did this puzzle w/o even noticing BH was the constructor. I used to ALWAYS have a tough time with his constructions. Guess I'm growing up. Or he's becoming more mainstream.

Any SyndieCats planning on traveling in the near future. I still have plans, but they are looking pretty dismal. Any ray of hope will be appreciated.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the plane to take off

Burma Shave 12:32 PM  


a DOUBLETAKE and you GET the perfecta.
On the BRIGHTSIDE IT’SOK to ask for ONE more,


leftcoaster 2:25 PM  

Love the wordplay of this theme. Also the added bite of AIWA, HIHAT, ETONIC. Then include the good long down as bonuses, with COUNTINGNOSES instead of heads and looking on the BRIGHTSIDE instead of dissing this Monday gem by Bruce Haight.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

On Rex's enemy list, Shortz is #1, Haight is #2.

rainforest 3:17 PM  

Oh boy! A Bruce Haight puzzle. One of the few constructors who make me want to read OFA just to see how much he trashes a puzzle, especially one I like.

I liked the theme of re-purposing common phrases to apply to the making of movies. Rex always asks "why this theme?"; "why these terms?". Maybe I'm being simplistic, but, well, it is a theme, and pretty well done here.

As for the fill, it's fine. ETONIC is a shoe brand of which I've worn two pair: a pair of golf shoes, and a pair of sneakers. I had a jewel of a tape deck made by AIWA. I don't know if either of those brands are offered anymore, but I don't care. The rest of the fill was just dandy, especially MOIL.

Overall, a nice Monday with a little more crunch than usual. Nice effort.

Wooody2004 3:48 PM  

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

Discovering the SOFA KING famous! story and the Strong Language blog. Wednesday. Thanks @Teedmn.

Watching Boston's Amanda video but imagining singing "Verandaed". Thursday. Thanks @Rex.

Learning about Sue the T-Rex at Chicago's Field Museum. Friday.

"That JCTS clue had my petticoats in a whirl. What on earth is a Boca Burger? I hope it's not made of Raton!" Saturday. Thanks @QuasiMojo. One more reason why this forum needs a thumbs up button.

Reading the New Yorker profile of Donald Glover and the show "Atlanta". I will binge watch it soon during the Shutdown in Seattle. Saturday. Thanks @Teedmn.

rondo 7:52 PM  

OFL's Haight hate is just amazing and predictable.
OTOH, anything by Mark Knopfler / Dire Straits is amazing in a really good way.
Hows about ANN-Margaret?

I haven't jumped ahead in time to read OFL's comments, but it would seem that there are other things to consider. This puz was not that terrible.

Anonymous 8:40 PM  

Looked it up, it's Ungar in the play and movie, it's Unger on the TV series. Leave it blank until you get the cross, I guess.

muons 12:22 AM  

About 30 years ago I enjoyed reading a book by Alec Waugh I found in a used bookstore in Kent, Ohio: "Bangkok: The Story of a City". It is mostly about the ruling family, the Chakri Dynasty. Waugh wrote it because he was particularly fond of the city. I read it because I had recently fallen in love with a woman when I was visiting Bangkok (now my wife of 28 years). At the time, I did not know she was a member of the Thai royal family.

Anonymous 8:57 PM  

Way too rough for a Monday. Too many proper nouns and vague clues. I only got aiWa and dcOn from the cross. 10a couple have been any size cup, coupled with never having heard of 16a or 10d and 19a possibly being lugs or tugs gave me a dnf in the upper right. Then I got stuck in that lower left corner that Rex pointed out. Other than those three corners it felt Monday quality.

As Petsounds pointed out, though, a skirt which goes just below the knee is called a "skirt". A midi goes halfway from knee to ankle (or midthigh).

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

I thought the theme was OK, but the fill had some clunkers. The poorest fill was all in the down answers, which made things hard for those of us who solve without using the grid or the down clues. I stalled in a few spots because I was slow to accept ETONIC (e-tonic, like an antivirus program?) and DCON as plausible fill, and I kept favoring CUBIT in lieu of CABIT. I remembered Will Shortz mentioning MOIL on the NPR puzzle a few years ago but still held off on that until every across was certain.

I'd have gotten rid of MOIL by changing HAIR to HALT, and I'd have gotten rid of CABIT by changing BEST to BEEN, but that's a matter of personal taste.

On the other hand, I thought UNGER and ALEC were fair. I'm nowhere near my 60s, but The Odd Couple is classic TV just like Happy Days or M*A*S*H, and I'm sure we can all name the main characters from those. It's a fun coincidence that the show's two stars, JACK (Klugman) and TONY (Randall), were placed opposite each other in this grid. I've never read Alec Waugh but have heard his name enough times for that to be straightforward once I realized it had to be four letters.

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