Sandwich that might spill onto your hands / MON 3-30-20 / Many a marathon winner / Typographic flourish / Conveyance preceding Uber and Lyft

Monday, March 30, 2020

Hey everyone, it's Jordan Siff, live from day (week?) 18 of coronavirus-induced quarantine. This is my second write-up for Rex, so nice to "meet" you if you didn't catch my first one on February 24th. Certainly feels like a long month since then.

My commute, once a subway ride from Brooklyn into Manhattan, has been reduced to a walk downstairs into the dining room at my mom's house in Connecticut. In the off hours, I've been playing a lot of Scrabble, trying to up my cooking game, and just started Ozark on Netflix. Latest kitchen endeavor was these peanut-butter-oatmeal-chocolate-chippers from last night:

While socially distanced life certainly has its challenges, I'm very lucky to still have my health and my job, and I feel for everyone out there who has been impacted every which way by our chaotic new world. Hopefully the NYT Crossword and this blog provide some semblance of routine as the days increasingly seem to blend together.

Anyway, onto the puzzle...

Constructor: Lee Taylor

Relative difficulty: Medium (typical Monday)

THEME: PHRASES WITH NAMES — theme answers are all two-word terms or idiomatic expressions, where the second word is a common first name:

Theme answers:
  • BLOODY MARY (18A: Cocktail often served with a celery stick)
  • EVEN STEVEN (60A: All settled up)
  • SLOPPY JOE (4D: Sandwich that might spill onto your hands)
  • JOLLY ROGER (6D: Pirate flag)
  • SNEAKY PETE (31D: Very cheap wine, in slang)
  • LAZY SUSAN (37D: Revolving tray on a dinner table)
Word of the Day: AWNS (1D: Grain bristles)

  1. a stiff bristle, especially one of those growing from the ear or flower of barley, rye, and many grasses.

• • •

For the most part, I enjoyed this one! It played pretty easy, as Mondays should, and while the theme was by no means groundbreaking or ingenious, it was still a well-rounded sampler of phrases that all share a common thread. It was refreshing to see the majority of the theme answers running down rather than across, and I'm glad there wasn't a revealer because they can come off super cheesy when forced. Noticing the pattern over the course of the solve was enough of a revealer for me.

My one little complaint is that EVEN STEVEN was the only themer that didn't get an adjective ending with "y," and also the only one that rhymed, which made it feel slightly inconsistent with the rest. I never knew that SNEAKY PETE meant cheap wine, but highly recommend the Amazon Prime crime drama series of the same name. (When I first saw that clue, my mind went straight to TWO BUCK CHUCK, though I knew that wasn't actually the answer.)

If there are any Curb Your Enthusiasm fans reading, you'll know that this past season had a funny bit exploring LAZY SUSAN etiquette as well as the potential offensiveness of the term itself (starts about 30 seconds in):

As for the rest of the puzzle, I thought it held up pretty well considering that there were six theme answers packed in. There wasn't too much overly objectionable fill, though ONE G made me groan. It also could have been clued like the blood type O NEG, but that string of letters ideally shouldn't be showing up period - pick your poison I guess. RAY GUNS almost felt like a bonus themer, though Ray of course was the first word in the phrase.  For "Largest city in Switzerland" (25A), did anyone else put GENEVA first? Even if it's not as big, it might just be more top-of-mind for Americans than ZURICH. Finally, STRATA makes me think more about clouds than rocks, though I suppose it means "layers," so it could refer to a lot of things. Now I'm picturing Shrek saying "onions, they have strata..."

Four things:
  • REACT (9A: DO something) — Initially, I thought it was a typo that "DO" was spelled in all caps. It's still a weird clue because doing something is acting, and nothing here is really suggesting "do something in response to something else." Overall, it just makes me think of being yelled at: "Don't just stand there, DO something!"
  • SKYPE (20A: Alternative to FaceTime or Google Hangouts) — This clue feels very apropos for our current times, but Skype is so five-years-ago. It's all about ZOOM these days!
  • HADJ (33A: Pilgrimmage to Mecca) — I think this is usually spelled HAJJ, which threw me off solving for EDGIER at the cross. Also, mini-Muslim theme going since we get ALLAH at 16A.
  • RITA (66A: Actress Moreno or Hayworth) — Coincidentally, I saw Groundhog Day yesterday, and the female lead is Rita (played by Andie MacDowell). In other "Rita" news, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, who had both tested positive for COVID-19 and self-quarantined in Australia for a few weeks, recently returned to LA and apparently are feeling better.
Signed, Jordan Siff, Social Distancing Extraordinaire

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:07 AM  

Yesterday I mentioned Bill Dana in a posting here (in a discussion about Yosemite’s Mt. Dana). Today’s puzzle has as fill (56A) the word DUTCH. Here is how those two items relate:

sblum 12:24 AM  

Great review Jordan! Thanks for taking me on a hadj to that hilarious scene from curb from this season!

Mark F 12:43 AM  

Quick solve, liked the theme. HAJJ had me with HADJ too. Cool that Allah fitted in the grid in the East. Sorry that all this travel will have to wait.

Anoa Bob 12:51 AM  

I don't know if it's still current but there was a time when a SNEAKY PETE was what a pool hustler would carry. It was a cue stick that was well made with great balance and solid "hit", usually a two-piece cue, but one that looked like an el cheapo house cue stick. If you are trying to take some cash off an unsuspecting pigeon, you don't want a fancy looking cue stick to give away your game.

Not sure why RAY GUNS (9D) was not part of the theme. I guess its symmetrical counterpart, SATISFY, would be problematic.

"Nobody told me there'd be strange days like these
Strange days indeed
Most peculiar, mama"

John Lennon

jae 1:42 AM  

Delightful easy Monday, liked it a bunch.

@Jordan - Ozark is a twisty fun ride, if you liked SNEAKY PETE on Amazon you are really going to enjoy Ozark.

...and if anyone is looking for an amazingly uplifting escape movie (an alternative universe is involved) “Yesterday” is currently available on HBO.

Solverinserbia 4:47 AM  

Call me Roger Bannister because I finally broke the 4 minute mile, er, puzzle! I've been focusing every Monday for months and got 3:53 today. Ended on SNEAKYPETE because we all thought it was TWOBUCKCHUCK

amyyanni 4:52 AM  

Easy breezy Monday, very much appreciated.
Had no idea SNEAKY PETE had so many meanings. Hi Jordan, thanks for the spot on review. Stay well.

Loren Muse Smith 4:58 AM  

Hey, Jordan - thanks for pinch-hitting. As per my daughter’s suggestion, I’m watching Tiger King on Netflix. Oh. My. God. It is the most compelling train wreck I’ve ever watched, and I go pretty train wrecky when it comes to tv.

I, too, found EVEN STEVEN to be the outlier, but not because it doesn’t end in Y. (I didn’t even catch that difference.) Rather, EVEN STEVEN is the only themer that is not a tangible thing. EVEN STEVEN notwithstanding, I liked that the set does *not* include phrases that describe people – so no PEEPING TOM or NEGATIVE NANCY. Others I thought of: dapper dan, brown betty, jiffy john, electric bill. Just yanking your chain with that last one. Calm down.

Love that our SUER is a homophone for sewer. The sewer suer. Ahem.

@Anoa Bob – interesting tidbit about SNEAKY PETE. Thanks.

I have to say that my CAR goes up and down on the neglected, pot-hole-ridden dirt road that I have to negotiate to reach the main road. Rural livin’.

Yeah – that setting for La Boheme. A ridiculous “garage” came to mind before I confidently filled in “garden.” Oops. Hey – I knew it was Puccini, so there was that. No. Really. I knew that.

My bigmama’s table had a LAZY SUSAN, and whenever we visited, I was obsessed with this contraption. It felt so exotic and sexy and monopolized my every thought at meals.

John Child 5:22 AM  

A little ditty from my childhood: “LAZY MARY will you get up! We need your sheets for the table.”

QuasiMojo 7:06 AM  

Yikes! This took ages to finish because the app kept telling me I had an error. Me? An error? Harummmph!

Turns out CAB is not the word needed here for the space you stand in in an elevator, although that is what I've always called it. And a quick google backs me up. I never checked the Bloody Mary crossing it. My eye read the B as an R. In a DAZE? DO something, I said. I fixed it.

Also never heard of Sneaky Pete. I hear he has a beard now.

SATIATE before SATISFY. I want it all.

Since I love a challenge I gotta say I enjoyed this change from the usual blah Monday offering.

Oh and Thanks for filling in!

Lewis 7:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SouthsideJohnny 7:10 AM  

Would prefer not to need to know the opera (or is it a ballet?) reference at 29D on a Monday. The rest of it was pretty workmanlike. Enjoyed the Lou Monte props in the comment above.

Lewis 7:11 AM  

Having 58 theme squares in a puzzle is hard to pull off without lotso' junk, and wily Lee did just that. Good eye, too, Lee, to notice that our language has such a set of adjective/given-name phrases, and be the first (I think) to make a puzzle out of it! I had fun zipping through this, Lee. Thank you!

I too thought that EVEN STEVEN was an outlier for the reason Jordan mentioned -- that lack of a Y ending the first word. I would have preferred NOSY PARKER, which would fit, but maybe it's too obscure? Trying to think of other theme answers with that Y, all I could elicit was STEELY DAN, and I found out that it has a very colorful origin, worth looking up, having to do with a steam powered device.

Speaking of Google Hangouts (in the clue for SKYPE) there's a GOOGLE hanging out in row 8.

G. Takovic 7:14 AM  

With respect and affection, how I imagine Rex might have started this review...

"Not sure where to start to tell you how bad this is. First, the theme doesn't work. At all! Let's start with four themers having "y" ending modifiers while one outlier doesn't. Basic rule for themes: consistency. This doesn't have it! And while it was good to see two women among the themers (though still only 33% of them, I suppose it's still progress), the adjectives essentially trash them - they are LAZY and BLOODY. And SNEAKY PETE? What? Is that a thing? Well, I guess maybe. But the first mention as cheap wine in a google search is on the 4th search page? Pretty obscure. Maybe legit in some universe, but on a Monday? Can Shortz even tell the difference between good wine and cheap wine?"

Then he'll go on about the lousy fill, the bad cluing, a couple of answers he hated, a couple he liked, a few curious things about the grid, and then sidetrack a bit to something about Kenya and Obama's birth certificate, before mentioning that, while holed up at home, they are eating a lot of sloppy joe's these days. And then close by reminding us to keep safe and stay healthy.

You stay safe and healthy, too, Michael!

kitshef 7:17 AM  

I, too, have never heard of SNEAKY PETE used this way. With that plus LESAGE in the grid, that's a lot of unknown territory for a Monday.

I, too, had HAjJ at first.

I strongly second @jae's recommendation of Yesterday.

Now I have a huge craving for an AERO bar.

Hungry Mother 7:33 AM  

PDQ this morning, but not a PR. All fun that was over all too soon. I guess there was a theme? Dunno.

pabloinnh 7:55 AM  

I dunno, thought this was a wicked easy Monday, which is probably redundant. Bunch of modified names, OK by me. The HAJJ spelling is news to me, I've always used the D form.

Hey @LMS, lots of potholes here too, but how about frost heaves? The road to our local ski area makes you think of sailing on a choppy sea. Go slow or go look for your hubcaps.

Used Skype maybe three times, and now it's obsolete? Although our hootenanny leader is trying to organize a Zoomhoot. Time to catch up.

@G. Takovic-Bingo, although possibly too true to be funny. Now how will we know when Rex uses you for a fill in?

Solid Monday, LT, and Jordan, thanks for filling in. Good job you.

GILL I. 7:57 AM  

Well I saw a bit of a religious thing going on here. We start with THY will be done, we have MARY and JOE and the PRAYS along with the HADJ pilgrimage kissing ALLAH along with ZION and finally ELMER Fudd.
EVEN STEVEN definitely needed something Y at the end. Can you use Debby Downer or does she spell her name Debbie ?
We've been using SKPE a lot lately. I hate it because if I don't put my eyebrows on I look a bit zombieish. Why do you lose your eyebrow hairs as you get older?
If you haven't ever sat through "La Boheme" and someone has given you seats to the opera, be prepared to watch "Mimi" take like about an hour to die in that damn GARRET.
Jordan....Just last night we started watching the final season of OZARK. I LOVE that series.
Be safe....DON'T touch your face and use lots of Purell when you venture outside.....

Suzie Q 7:58 AM  

Yesterday we had Listen clued "Here's the thing..."
Then today we have Look clued exactly the same.

This required more thought than the usual Monday in a mostly good way.
Awns is some old school crosswordese. I relate this answer to awnings to help me remember.
I only know one part of the history of Steely Dan but it is not steam powered.
Just yesterday I learned about the origins of the Jolly Roger.
I'm not sure why 9A is clued with two capital letters. My thoughts were wandering in the misdirection of a hair gel or something.
Never heard of Sneaky Pete either.

RavTom 8:12 AM  

If you’re Jewish, you know the clue for ONEG is “the dessert spread that you sit through the Friday night service waiting to eat.”

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Here is a 1955 reference to "Sneaky Pete" wine in this clip from "The Blackboard Jungle" starring Glenn Ford and Sidney Poitier:

Johnny Mic 8:25 AM  

I just did a Netflix Party viewing of Groundhog Day on Saturday! All involved parties agree the "party" didn't add a whole lot to the experience. Bill Murray is the best. I've heard of a Sneaky Pete, but as a pool cue that looks like a cheapo bar cue (but, obviously, isn't).

B. Cruthers 8:33 AM  

@Anonymous (8:15 am) Nice find!!! Thanks. Though I'd say Sydney Poitier, Jamie Farr (Cpl. Klinger) and Bill Haley and the Comets (Rock Around the Clock) fared a tad better and had a bit more impact for being part of the film than did the expression SNEAKY PETE, :)

OffTheGrid 8:37 AM  

Another really good Murray movie is St. Vincent. It didn't get a lot of attention but I liked it a lot.

Jake W 8:47 AM  

This puzzle has no business being a Monday – ROAN, LESAGE, and HADJ spelled with a D? SNEAKYPETE is apparently slang from the 50s, which does not do wonders for anyone under the age of, what, 70? And I'd be fine if I never say the answers ESAU and OGLES again.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny – you don't know that La bohème is an opera and prefer something more "workmanlike"? Please take your toxic masculinity elsewhere.

TJS 8:48 AM  

@GTakovic, On the money ! And thanks, Jordan, for the Larry David clip. We need all the laughs we can get. Ah,yes, the puzzle : A decent Monday theme holds up, Thank God there's an archive for these shut-in days, and this blog to start the day.

OffTheGrid 8:51 AM  

Mini mini themes:

ALA crosses ALLAH

@GILL I mentioned the religious mini theme.

xyz 8:54 AM  

Thanks for Kicking Us To the Curb. Best ever.

Z 8:58 AM  

How you know you are an experienced solver? You write in HA - J and look at the cross.

How you know it is English? GYROS and HEROs are homophones.

How you know you went to Holland High School in the late ‘70’s? 56A caused you to say out loud, “If you ain’t DUTCH you ain’t MUCH.” Being religious sorts like this puzzle, Nazareth was also involved.

ESAU, ZION, SNEAKY PETE posing riddles at the Pearly Gates, HADJ, ALLAH, THY, ... this puzzle feels like it was written for a comparative religion class. Where’s Isis and Ganesh, though?

Two thumbs up here.

@LMS - The Dan LeBetard Show was going on and on about Tiger King last week. Not my cup of tea, but you are most definitely not alone in the “OMG compelling train wreck” viewing audience.

Z 9:03 AM  

@Anon8:48 - What are you going on about? Getting from not wanting an opera clue to “toxic masculinity” is just a wee bit of a stretch. Plus you misread what he wrote, the “workmanlike” comment was a description, not a statement of preference.

Anonymoose 9:03 AM  

Thanks a lot. Now we'll have a GYRO pronunciation slugfest! HAR

Z 9:13 AM  

Keeping with the religious theme, but on a more serious note, Angel from Montgomery.
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin'
Is just a hard way to go

Nancy 9:13 AM  

You know what makes this good? None of the theme answers is a person. This thought came to me because I started to try to come up with themers of my own and the first one into my mind was Peeping Tom. "But that's a person," I said to myself, "and none of these are. How clever."

There probably are other inanimate things out there with People First Names, but, look, it's early and it's dreary out, and I didn't get enough sleep and I'm tired and no one is forcing me to try to come up with any. So I won't. But it's a nice, smooth puzzle, nicely conceived and executed. Very easy, too, but it's Monday.

Lewis 9:19 AM  

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

1. What may descend before the moon? (4)
2. Little pointer? (3)
3. Rider on a carousel? (8)
4. Person on horseback? (7)
5. Dog days of winter? (8)


gzodik 9:19 AM  

Why are constructors still ignorant about "roan"? From Webster: "having the base color (such as red, black, or brown) muted and lightened by admixture of white hairs"

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Yesterday, I found out that our @Quasi is much, much younger than I thought. A veritable toddler :)

Today, I found out that our @Anoa Bob may be a pool hustler. And that our @GILL has no eyebrows. But, GILL, one doesn't necessarily lose one's eyebrow hairs as one gets older. (See my photo on, if you doubt me.) If you're in need, I'm willing to share.

ghkozen 9:53 AM  

Allah is the Arabic word for God, not the “Muslim” word for God. Arabic-speaking Christians, etc. also refer to God as Allah, just like, say, Spanish-speaking people refer to God as Dios. Let’s not put up with Will Shortz’s persistent and the unnecessary othering of Islam and Muslims.

Z 10:16 AM  

@ghkozen - ALLAH is the Arabic word for “God.” Arabic holding a special significance in Islam, ALLAH is also the word used for “God” by most Muslims, regardless of whatever language they may be speaking. Shortz is often accused of a certain myopia on such topics, but this is pretty straightforward and accurate. Just as an example, my Muslim students never said “Swear to God, Mr. Z.” They always said, “Wallah, Mr. Z.” Usually right before lying to me (because they were kids and kids do stupid things to get out of trouble)(Yes, they called me “Mr. Z”... well, at least to my face).

Tori 10:32 AM  

Great job Jordan! & Welcome back!

I didn't like the spelling of HAJJ, that threw me, and I take offense at ROOS and NONO just because....ew. And ONE G. Also just....ew.

Also looking back on the puzzle this turns out not to be true, but it felt like there was a lot of plural/present tense throughout. It was just a lot? Maybe I'm just grouchy this morning.

QuasiMojo 10:41 AM  

@Nancy, Old enough to still have a unibrow.

The name game is not too hard. Those not people (although Bloody Mary was.) and who eats a Sloppy Joe with his hands? Not I, but Inalso eat pizza with a knife and fork.

I thought of a few in just a couple of minutes:

Billy Goat

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Yes, it's a Monday, so intended to be easy. But the amount of common Crossword-ese and overused fill in this puzzle is ridiculous. Way too much ROOS, ERR, ALPS, AJAR, OGLES, SERIF, etc. etc.

jberg 10:47 AM  

ONE G could be "how much our planet weighs you down." But the existing clue is better. I liked it all right, although I did notice the awkwardly rhyming EVEN STEVEN. And ideally, you wouldn't have other human names in there, such as LEROY and RITA.

I initially questioned the pluralization of ALOES, but Athol Fugard wrote a play called "A Lesson from Aloes" so that's licit.

That's all I got. Thanks, Jordan!

Michiganman 10:55 AM  

I'm listening to our governor, Gretchen Whitmer, giving an update on COVID 19 issues here in Michigan. It is refreshing and hope-inspiring to see a leader who is really a leader, knows what she's talking about and defers to experts appropriately. If only there was this commitment at the national level. Agent Orange has made his relationships to the nation's Democrat governors a personal feud. He referred to Gov. Whitmer in a tweet as Half-Witmer and, characteristically, described her as blaming others for her ineptitude. He should be so inept. Glad he doesn't feel threatened by women.

Unknown 10:59 AM  

At 3:32, my fastest solve ever! Woohoo!

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Another ONE G clue could be early generation of cellular service.

What? 11:08 AM  

Easy, even for a Monday. After BLOODYMARY and SLOPPYJOE, got the rest without any crosses. Boring!!!
11, 12, 13 D, have to be half dead to miss these. And most of the rest just the same.

GILL I. 11:09 AM  

@Nancy....I'd pay to have some of your eyebrows....I wouldn't even mind the plucking.
Oh joy, today I found out our @Quasi is really Frida Kahlo.!
Following @Z's "How you know it is English?" thread. Last Night I made Swedish meatballs. I used American fed beef with New Zealand lamb. I didn't have any sour cream so I used Greek Yogurt. Threw in some Mexican cilantro and Indian cardamom. Added some English Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt. Pantry was empty of noodles so I piled everything on top of Italian polenta. Sounds disgusting but was yummy.
We are the world.....lalalalalal.

Barbara S. 11:10 AM  

Dedicated to everyone feeling travel-starved, and to the beleaguered world itself, hoping for happier, healthier times --

In Apr. I went around the world with some friends. We landed in Zurich. Even Steven played polo in the Alps with Elmer on a roan pony that nips. Those nags sure go at a clip! But Even Steven couldn't level that playing field. Lazy Susan, always in a daze, took a taxi to a sale in Italia with Lee. She always has that shopping itch to satisfy. She said she was looking for a vee-neck in edgier wool. Jolly Roger ogles and then hit on Rita on the Greek island of Gyros. Wow, did he err. Jeez, what a no-no. The amnio tests look fine, though. I just hope her father doesn't turn out to be Aries. Bloody Mary and Garret tried tai-chi in Canton. Who knew the door was ajar? You know, Chinese ERs only coast one G. Well, I hope she heals real fast. Aloes, they say, work wonders. Sloppy Joe and Leroy had that mishap with ray guns in Australia. They were pretending to hunt roos. Thank goodness the geyser washed away the evidence and the suer backed down. Sneaky Pete ate Aero Bars with a Kenyan named Esau in Amsterdam. They went Dutch. They didn't react when an alto said Pete was her hero. They just exchanged a nod, so happy to be together without Skype. I abandoned them all to see the Middle East. I had a look at Zion, but I really wanted to see life from a Muslim slant. I traveled with a man named Serif -- I mean, Sherif Gavin, observed a Hadj and found out how many times a day the believer prays to Allah. What a multivarious world, turning on its axis every day! This trip was in the very upper strata of my experience. But now I'm broke; ergo, back to teaching ESL.

RooMonster 11:15 AM  

Hey All !
This seemed relatively junk free to me. I see complaints, though, about junky fill. I respectfully disagree. Sure, there's a few Abbrs., but most of the fill is fine.

@Tori 10:32
ROOS is ew? I take offense at that! 😋 (Just joshing ya. A friendly poke!)

Enjoyed this MonPuz. Just a Q off from a pangram. Fang, couldn't fit it in anywhere? I did try to put on either in the NW or SE corners, bit couldn't come up with any good fill.

Have seen both HADJ and HAJJ, and like @Z said, it's one of those words where you write in HA_J, and wait. Like the clue Mauna ___, write in __A, wait on crosses.

Funny about RAY GUNS, could've changed SATISFY to SATE SLY for two more themers. Ok, so it makes no sense. 😀

Four sets of OO's in the NW and N Center.

ROOS! Har...

One F

QuasiMojo 11:20 AM  

Ignore my last comment! I didn't get the theme,the names have to be in the second half. My bad. Duh. I'll just go and comb my unibrow.

kitshef 11:26 AM  

@Quasimojo - but in the puzzle, the names are all in the second part of the answer, a la Spinning Jenny.

JC66 11:26 AM  


Sounds delicious. If I counted right, you're missing 2 and a half LAs.

pabloinnh 11:41 AM  

@Z (9:13)-
Just read that John Prine has been hospitalized with COVID-19.


webwinger 11:49 AM  

Thought this was harder than average for a Monday; as others have pointed out, a number of relatively obscure entries, although as @Lewis frequently points out (tho not today, for some reason) it’s good for NOOBs to get exposed to a low dose of x-word-ese (AWN, anyone?) Liked that LOOK today was used in precisely the same way as LISTEN was yesterday—and as some forward-LOOKing commenters pointed out it could be. And who knew ONEG was such a versatile guy/gal?

@G. Takovic 7:14: OK, prove you’re not the real @Rex Parker! Actually, whether you are or not, please make a habit of visiting when there’s a sub filling in for RP. Much as I enjoy these breaths of fresh air, I (like many of you, I’m sure) always find myself wondering what OFL would have written (though, as GT demonstrates, it may not be all that hard to imagine).

Finally, keep those recommendations for movies and TV coming in, fellow shut-ins…

Malsdemare 12:00 PM  

Ooo, ooo, @Nancy, pick me! I have always had more hair than needed. Gotta shave my big toe, for god's sake, otherwise my feet look like Yeti's. But the eyebrows left a couple years ago and I have no clue how to do the pencil thing. I'd ask my big sister, she with no eyebrows, but she went blind last October (don't ask) and can no longer teach me the art. So, what's the trick?

@lms. We live at the end of a private gravel road and the pot holes are so big that I've permanently benched my Prius; I'm afraid of damaging the rocker panels. Our road crew was going to fix it but it’s been raining for forty days and forty nights so lord knows when it'll be drivable. At least it’s slowing everyone down, not that there's much traffic other than deliveries.

I liked this puzzle just fine; EVENSTEVEN bothered me, but that's because I've been reading 18th century German and Latin birth records and it’s spelled STEphEN (or STEphENus).

Thanks to Jordan and Lee for a nice Monday.

I've never been much of Tv watcher, but lately I've been watching Madame Secretary. That show depicts so many close calls with total disaster that this quarantine/shelter-in-place things seems totally reasonable. Although I did see a cute post that said the March era is coming to a close, launching the April age. That sounds about right.

Whatsername 12:09 PM  

Nice Monday, very pleasant and then someone else said, well rounded. Thank you for guesting today Jordan. Next time try some butterscotch chips in those oatmeal cookies.

BLOODYMARY is my favorite cocktail because you can have it any time of day and not feel guilty. I use V-8 juice which makes them healthier and even more guilt free. I read that liquor stores can’t get can’t keep Everclear vodka on the shelves because people are using it to make hand sanitizer. Back when we were free to roam the world at will, the ex and I went on one of those JOLLYROGER pirate ships from some Caribbean island. If you’re not jolly when you board, you will be after enough rum punch.

@AnoaBob (12:51 AM) I used to play in a pool league with a guy who used a SNEAKYPETE stick. He wasn’t a hustler, but I saw him absolutely humiliate more than one poor schmo who made the mistake of putting quarters on the table when he was shooting.

@MichiganMan (10:55) I read what was happening with your governor and your state, and I was appalled. People are dying and that monster is playing politics with medical supplies that could save lives. Now I see he has bragged that if the deaths are limited to 100,000 he will have done “a very good job.” God help us all.

@kitshef: Did the second (2014) archived puzzle which was titled “Change of Heart.” Have to say I had a lot easier time than I did with the other one (2016) which I will call “The Beast.” It was not difficult at all, and the trick not much different than a lot of other Thursdays. But the end result IMO was extremely annoying, so I can understand why it’s considered the most hated. The Beast on the other hand, was next to impossible and hands down the one I hated.

If anyone is curious enough to go back and look, I’m referring to the two puzzles in recent history with the record number of comments on this blog. They were 9/11/2014 (247 comments) and 9/15/2016 (256). Fair warning: both are Thursdays with some serious trickery.

GHarris 12:14 PM  

Flew through this one on my iPad and made only one change, from hajj to hadj still clocked in at 10 minutes. Don’t know how others get such quick times.@Anoa Bob one would have to be a real pigeon to play a dude who came with his own cue no matter how common it might look.( based on my own days hanging out in a pool hall a century ago.

KnittyContessa 12:15 PM  

Sneaky Pete made my day! I never knew what Rizzo meant in this scene from Grease. Mystery solved.

Z 12:23 PM  

@pabloinnh - Joan Baez posted this on Twitter, and everyone seems to be posting favorite performances.

Old Actor 12:33 PM  

There was a famous stage director who told a fidgety actor, "Don't just DO something STAND there".

JC66 12:35 PM  


Thanks for the links. RIP, John.

RooMonster 12:39 PM  

Just came back to say auto-corrupt seemingly always changes my "dang" into fang. Although I thank it for supplying an F, its very aggravating. Maybe if I keep having "fang" in for dang, it'll catch on and then it'll mean the same! Har.

Then again, I could proofread my post. But I've lost too many write-ups to slow down and have my phone decide to auto-refresh in the midst of my riveting posts. 😂

RooMonster Auto-correct Inventor Sucks Guy

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

What's not workmanlike about a clue referencing La Boheme?

No more obscure than Leroy Brown or Esau. A lot better known than SNEAKYPETE.

Bax'N'Nex 12:42 PM  

G.Takovic @7:14:

That's so funny, I was going to do that exact thing...a faux Mike review. Yours is MUCH better than mine would have been.

You DID forget, however, how he would have been disappointed in the choice of themers. "Why these names/things? There are so many others to choose from" (Of course if the constructor had chosen those other names, Mike would be dissatisfied with those also).

I don't solve for speed. I enjoy the process and diversion. But this was my fastest Monday ever (I think, since I don't pay much attention usually). Everything fell into place like I actually knew what I was doing.

BTW...on the NYT app on my phone/ipad, I do all the acrosses first. Then when the last across is entered or skipped, it takes me to the first open down. Then I do as many downs as i can before it returns me to the first open across, and so on. Does anyone else do it this way? Just curious.

Peace and Love,

Bax'N'Nex (not anonymous, I just play one on this forum)

CaryInBoulder 12:44 PM  

Thanks yet again to @JAE 1:42 for TV recommendations. We don’t have Netflix so have been exploring other worlds. Agree about “Yesterday,” which we watched a couple weeks ago; it’s a fun escape. Was pleased to discover just last night the Amazon Prime has four seasons of “Coupling,” an often hysterically funny British sex comedy that began in 2000. Watch the first episode and if you’re not laughing by the end, never mind. Another good Brit oldie (from the ‘80s) is the “Lovejoy” series about a roguish antique dealer, on Acorn — which Xfinity has dropped in our laps temporarily.

Oh yeah, the puzzle kept me busy for less than 10 minutes, which leaves me another 23:50 to fill with other things today. Here’s the best musical interlude to come out of the pandemic so far, “Stay the f@%k at Home.”

Joe Dipinto 12:49 PM  

Remember the time Mayor Pete, that sneaky guy, put a stock photo of a Kenyan woman on his campaign website and everyone's head exploded? Those days were fun.

This was a classy Monday effort. Six themers, downers to boot, very impressive.

The garret at the Met.

Masked and Anonymous 1:06 PM  

RAY GUNS. KEN YAN. ED GIER. AL OES. ARI ES. SUE R. ROO S. yep. Lotsa name-themer possibilities, here. And NO NO let's not overlook N ONO.

Light & fun MonPuz,definitely dominated by the theme material. Leftover long ball opportunities were limited, but did like: ZURICH. MISHAP. RAYGUNS. SATISFY. GEYSER. DUTCH.

staff weeject pick: SEN. Don't have a real SENse how many SENior SENators will be in DC, vs. SENt on home for a spell.
Or, as the puz might say: "Don't have much sen how many sen sen will be in DC, vs. sen on home for a spell".
SEN is also change-level money in Indonesia, btw.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Fudd who hunts "wabbits"} = ELMER. "Wascally rabbits", especially.

Didn't know LESAGE. But that's about it. Sooo … very few nanoseconds diverted, A LA ITALIA TAXI routes.

Thanx, Ms. Taylor darlin. Nice & appropriate name drop, LEE.

And thanx for the primo sub job, SDE Jordan.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I am one of the solvers who looked in vain for a name answer at 43D to provide the symmetry to RAY GUNS, which reminded me of David Bowie lyrics:

Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe
Put your ray gun to my head
Press your space face close to mine, love
Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah

I always thought Sneaky Pete was a cocktail made with cheap wine and bad beer, not just cheap wine like Mad Dog 20/20 or Ripple. Though why you would start with cheap wine and bad beer and make it worse is beyond me.

Like @Quasi, I was looking to be SATIated today - not a Monday word, but LESAGE wasn't exactly either so I feel I can justify my MISHAP ERR.

Thanks, Lee Taylor, your puzzle #3 was quite nice.

TinPT 1:09 PM  

LAZY SUSAN twice in two days (Clued as Lazy ___ yesterday)? Also SATIate before SATISFY. Similarly never heard of SNEAKY PETE, and didn’t know LESAGE but got them through crosses. This one was a PR for me in spite of the challenges.

QuasiMojo 1:10 PM  

@Kitshef, I know! I apologized for my blunder just before your comment appears. Good one with Spinning Jenny. Let's not forget Spotted Dick.

albatross shell 1:18 PM  

Tabloid talk?

Lotta A words.

Lotta non-theme names and could-be names

Lotta religious words and names

Lotta pairs or more of note

All kinda adds interest. Yes?


Plus a NOD to one of our own - ROO.

Typhoid MARY? NO NO BLOODY! Or rename it for the time being?

Be wise, all.

JC66 1:21 PM  


Great minds...see today's LMS avatar.

What? 1:51 PM  

Took me about 2 minutes. If I could write faster, could have broken the 2 minute barrier. Is this take your child to do a crossword day? The problem is not the fill but the clues. What goes back an forth on a street? Swiss peaks? From Holland? Ugh.

G. Takovic 1:56 PM  

@ Anonymous (12:42pm) and your comment: "You DID forget, however, how he would have been disappointed in the choice of themers. Why these names/things? There are so many others to choose from."

Yeah. I hear you. Heard it on my Twitter feed, too. I'll reproduce those tweets tomorrow. But, yeah, woke up late this morning and was a little rushed getting this done. Started the puzzle last night, but had a cocktail and fell asleep in my chair before finishing the write-up. So, anyway, yeah - what you said.

egsforbreakfast 2:00 PM  

Jungle Jim
Pearly Gates ( I actually know a guy named Gates)
Steady Cam

GILL I. 2:13 PM  

@Mals...Your Yeti feet made me giggle. I don't think I had hairy toes but boy my feet were big. Try wearing a size 10 shoe at the age of 12.....I was the captain of my kick ball team.
@Joe D 12:49....Thanks for the Nicole Car and her Mimi role. I was, I think, 16 when I first heard "La Boheme." My dad and mom were huge opera fans; they wanted to make sure my sisters and I became the same. Most soprano singers make my head hurt. The high pitch enters my left ear and goes straight up to my eyeballs. Dad took me to hear his favorite Monserrat Caballe at the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. She was quite a large singer and I kept thinking she was going to die any second. Well she did...finally (in the opera).
@JC66. Did I leave out a la?

JC66 2:29 PM  


I thought there were supposed to be 8 of them. ;-)

albatross shell 2:38 PM  

Yeti feet?
Checkout today's Six Chix.

[Un-Sneaky] Pete 2:46 PM  

@JC66 - He's not dead, at least as of 2:40 when it was reported that he had been upgraded from critical to stable. At least according to NBC News in Corpus Christi

tea73 2:56 PM  

I've never seen La Boheme, but I do remember when Rent was the big new musical it was a big deal that the GARRET got transmorgified into a NYC loft.

Agree one of these themers is not like the others. Boo hiss.

I spent a year in France and thought I was pretty well read, but I was never going to come up with Alain-René's last name. It's one of those novels that gets discussed a lot, but few courses actually make you read it.

Joe Dipinto 2:57 PM  

@JC66 12:35 – He's not dead yet.

Masked and Anonymous 2:58 PM  

First msg. correction: "wascally Wabbits" ... Otto Cowwect ambushed m&e, again.

Sunny June?

Early May?

Gloomy Gus?

Steely Will?

Honey Bee?

Ty Rex? [var.]

Utility Bill? [I'm pretty sure someone did this one already?]

Baby Ruth? [Ditto, probably?]

Shoot -- there's a Mountainy Heath of these kinda puppies.
Fun stuff, but better go and get to work on more of *these* puppies …


May all yer best wishes come true,

puzzlehoarder 3:00 PM  

Just another average Monday time. I ran into trouble right out of the gate with 1D. My brains' initial response when I called upon my pluralized three letter crosswordese list was ANIS. This then made me think NYLON for 14A which doesn't even fit. Dropping in LOOK and PONY quickly allowed me to see WOOL and remember AWNS but by then the damage was done. An average time was a forgone conclusion.

LESAGE had to be worked around. I had _ARE_ before I read the clue for 29D I confidently entered PAREE confusing "La Boheme" with "Les Miz". Easy to fix but a big mistake for a Monday.

I'm familiar with the phrase SNEAKY PETE but never knew where it came from.

I know I've been paying a record amount of attention to the news if I can come up with GAVIN just off the G.

Stay safe all.

JC66 3:05 PM  

@Pete & @Joe D

Obviously I misread @pabloinnh's post. Thanks for setting me straight.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

My father's generation (b. 1915) called any cheap bottle SNEAKY PETE. Heard in 30s and 40s crime movies, I suspect. Today's generic term might be rot gut (also from time immemorial) or specifically Thunderbird.

Rug Crazy 3:49 PM  

Yes, I had Geneva first, also, but I didn't mind EVEN STEVEN, as it is my given name

john towle 3:59 PM  

Well, good folks, this’n was a Jim Dandy puzzle, doncha know.

Dio la Nuova York e l’ Italia benedica,


P. S. Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway…The Duke

Frantic Sloth 4:07 PM  

Anyone else longing for the halcyon days of that liberalist (by today's [sub]standards)

Anonymous 4:14 PM  


The Pres who created EPA. And OSHA. And Clean Air Act.

Frantic Sloth 4:30 PM  

@Anonymous 4:14pm All of which would result in his being labeled a "socialist" by today's Republican standards, which is kind of my point.
The Nixon era seems quaint by comparison - and it was anything but.

Brad 4:54 PM  

Jord - great piece. Always enjoy reading anything you write!

Anonymous 5:46 PM  

The Nixon era seems quaint by comparison - and it was anything but.

Last one on this subject. I promise. I think.

Trump is Goldwater on LSD.

QuasiMojo 6:03 PM  

Hey Joe D, have you read this new book about the making of Chinatown yet? Sounds very good.

Newboy 8:16 PM  

yAWNS are my usual responses to Monday puzzles, but today’s name game was a refreshing change of pace. Thanks to Ms Taylor for a worthwhile grid and to Jordan for an equally enjoyable guest write up. Kudos to all the posters of links and suggestions for puzzles to fill these idle hours. I enjoyed doing 25 March 2010 from the archives this afternoon after finishing my volunteer gig in the blood bank canteen, that kept me from this post until now.

Glancing through the early posts, I feel moved to make a couple of non-grid responses: a. john-prine-stable-after-hospitalization according to his wife. B. Recalling yesterday’s porcine posts in light of the pandemic issues, please recall how earlier in the year new regulations put forth by the Trump administration, federal inspectors are no longer responsible for examining the animals before and after slaughter. Worked so well for Boeing and the 737Max! I truly understand the desire to deregulate, but ........🤑🤒🤕

Joe Dipinto 9:47 PM  

@Quasi – I saw some write-ups on that "Chinatown" book and immediately put it in my Amazon cart. I'll probably order it this week or next.

Z 10:18 PM  

@@Anon5:46 - I’d have gone with Strom. Or Wallace.

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

Seems to me that React makes for sense for "DO something" than act.

Burma Shave 10:31 AM  


BLOODYMARY dated that SNEAKYPETE schnook,
since those GEYSER DAZEd she’ll REACT and LOOK


spacecraft 12:42 PM  

Hand up for HA_J, waiting. Also for filling in EVENSTEVEN and asking, "Hey, where's the 'Y?'" Also for knowing SNEAKYPETE but not in the clued context.

Another mini-theme: first he OGLES, then he HITON...DOD RITA (Moreno or Hayworth, exactly as clued--take your pick). BTW, did you know that a well-known, often-aired movie was based on a (decidedly Uneven!) Stephen King novella entitled "RITA Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption?")

This was rather pleasant Monday morning fare. LESAGE is a bit of an outlier to kick off the week, but small potatoes. ONE G or O NEG (me!), could be worse. Fill includes some SNEAKY use of rare letters, with little or no disruption. Nice job, LEE. Birdie.

leftcoaster 2:20 PM  

Solid, neat Monday. Lots of proper names to back up the six themers:

RAY, ELMER, LES, GARRET, RICH, GAVIN, ARI, ED, LEE, KEN (no Barbie), SUE, RITA, LEROY, SAL, and ALs all over the place.

Probably more.

Wooody2004 2:28 PM  

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

1. "This puzzle has me in the mood for a caffe correto, That is literally translated as Corrected Coffee. It means coffee with a shot of booze in it. All coffee is mistaken and must be corrected!" Sunday. Thanks @Giovanni.

2. Live "25 or 6 to 4" by Chicago. Sunday. Thanks @Z.

3. Live "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)" by The First Edition. Wednesday. Thanks @MJB.

4. The Stall - I Don't Have a Square to Spare clip from Seinfeld and the Toilet Tissue skit from The Carol Burnett Show. Friday. Thanks @OffTheGrid.

5. Corona Virus Won't Ruin High School Choir's Performance|Localish. Saturday. Thanks @LMS.

rainforest 2:50 PM  

As for Mauna __a, don't commit to a D or J too early for HA_J.

Nice Monday puzzle. Appropriately easy, but entertaining throughout. Beyond the clever themers, (didn't notice the outlierness of EVEN STEVEN until the blog) there were numerous words that were zippy. Given 6 themers, the fill was unaffected even though there were lots of 3's. Liked it a lot.

rondo 4:23 PM  

There were more than enough names in this puz for any averageJOE, or sixpackJOE, or even JOEcollege. Hey, toss in SLOPPYJOE and it could be all about JOES. Also abounding in mini-themes. Decent Mon-puz.

Diana, LIW 5:17 PM  

I'm with the ?LESAGE? crowd, but gettable with the gluey cross of ELMER. Ah, kindergarten pays off at last.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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