Swahili for freedom / MON 3-23-20 / Flat-bottomed boat / Cuisine featuring drunken noodles / Founder of McDonald's empire

Monday, March 23, 2020

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easy (2:40)


THEME: A HOUSE DIVIDED (53A: It "cannot stand" per 1-Down ... or a hint to 20-, 25- and 47-Across) — the letters in "HOUSE" are "divided" i.e. split apart in each themer, with HO- at the front and -USE at the back:

Theme answers:
  • HOPELESS CAUSE (20A: What a last true believer might believe in)
  • "HOLD THE APPLAUSE" (25A: "Don't clap yet")
  • "HOW COULD I REFUSE?" (47A: "There was no choice but for me to say yes!")
Word of the Day: Bob GRIESE (6D: Dolphins Hall-of-Fame QB Bob)
Robert Allen Griese (pronounced /ˈɡrsi/ GREE-see; born February 3, 1945) is a former American football quarterback who earned All-American honors with the Purdue Boilermakers before being drafted in 1967 by the American Football League's Miami Dolphins. Griese led the Dolphins to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances, including two Super Bowl victories in VII and VIII (a feat since matched by Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills with four consecutive super bowls, and Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowls LI, LII, and LIII). Griese was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990. He later worked as a television commentator, calling NFL games for NBC Sports and college football for ESPN and ABC Sports. Griese is one of three quarterbacks from Purdue to win the Super Bowl (along with Len Dawson and Drew Brees). (wikipedia)
• • •

I was just saying I don't need bland mediocrity, but here we are again. Again! Less disappointing today, because I have learned not to expect terribly much from this constructor. To be clear, this is very passable fare. I'd expect to see it in a lesser daily, not the NYT, but it certainly "works" on whatever level it's trying to "work" on. Or ... does it? If A HOUSE DIVIDED cannot stand, then ... are these answers even real? Because it looks like the divided house is standing just fine. All three answers, just ... standing there. So the whole premise kind of undermines itself. And Mr. Lincoln. By the way, pretty dicey move, pretending like the 3-letter crosswordese you've crammed into one of the corners of your grid (i.e. ABE) is actually a "theme" answer. That "author of the quote" reference is a component the puzzle didn't actually need, but now that it's here, it just seems sad; like the puzzle knows it's not good enough and is trying to throw in "bonus" stuff to compensate.


On Sunday night, I invited crossword Twitter to send me any comments they had on the Monday puzzle. I promised I'd post them, no matter who wrong they were. I am a man of my word



there are probably many catastrophes on ETSY
SCAM / SHAM dilemma
he's kidding, please no mail

And re: TEHEE...


Stay at least six feet away from other humans! See you tomorrow!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

    113 comments:

    Joaquin 12:07 AM  

    My take: A nice Monday puzzle with a well-hidden theme and workmanlike entries. Then, like a tornado from waaaaaaay out in left filed comes my penultimate entry at 65A (“What may descend before the moon?/TROU). Made my day! Unfortunately, at my age, it's too late to grow up!

    jae 12:41 AM  

    Medium-tough. Smooth and solid, so not a bad Mon. Definitely liked it more than Rex et. al. did.

    If you haven’t seen the Ray Kroc movie “The Founder” with Michael Keaton it’s worth a look. He was not a good human being.

    Anonymous 12:44 AM  

    Too many proper nouns crossing each other for a Monday (not to mention another French word, which fewer than 1% of Americans speak; does Rex speak French? It is FAR too represented in crosswords to not complain about yet he never does).

    Robin 12:53 AM  

    Literally a day after finally seeing a realistically spelled TEEHEE in the xw, we're back to the crappy old crossword-ese TEHEE.

    Does the editor pay no attention when scheduling the xw from day to day, or does he just look at them individually and say, "WTF."?

    Loren Muse Smith 1:03 AM  

    Word on the street is that Will doesn’t accept many of these divide-a-word themes anymore. I always enjoy’em, duh, and I have to disagree with Rex about the reveal. So much of the time there is a leap between what the reveal actually means and how it is applied to the themers. Indeed, that leap, the unexpected revisiting of a phrase is precisely what is fun for me. I see no problem whatsoever that the themers themselves simply DIVIDE the word HOUSE.

    I have tried to establish a Twitter account a couple of times but never really figured it out. Color me Luddite. No biggie. Rex – did you mine the responses for only the negative tweets, or were all the tweets negative? We have our share of extremely negative comments here, but I’m wondering if Twitterdumb (sic) is even more negative? Yuck.

    From late yesterday - @lorraine persing – Welcome! Pull up a chair and stay awhile! A while. Stay for a while. Stay awhile. Pull up a chair and hang out with us.

    48D – “Grand works” – I can’t remember what letters I already had in place, but here is a reenactment of my process:

    “Opus. Hmm. Its plural is opera. I wonder if my kids are aware that I know that the plural of opus is opera. Too short. Wonder if it’d impress them that I know this. Do people tweet negative comments about puzzles just to impress Rex? Aren’t we all trying to impress people all the time in our own way? Etudes aren’t really grand. Wait. Grand piano. Maybe. . . Huh? OPUSES can be a plural of opus too? Cool. Wonder if there are other words out there with two working plurals. No wait. Opera has been hijacked by the fancy music world, so it’s not really a plural anymore. Cool. Same with media, agenda, trivia, insignia. Candelabra. So are there nouns out there with two viable working plurals? . Yeah. They’re both used. Interchangeably? Brothers/brethren - certainly not interchangeable. You can fight with your brothers – fists and sticks. Fight with your brethren – leave the church to start your own church. Plurals, their foreign forms, Anglicizations, variants. . . what a glorious mess.”

    AMOK. Believe it or not, the variant spelling amuck used to be more common. Very, very weird that AMOK is more common now. You’d think it’d be the opposite. Someone should look into this.

    A HOUSE DIVIDED – my niece and brother-in-law are living upstairs apart from my sister and nephew because niece and brother-in-law were in California.

    Keep on keeping in, persons! I’m good to go – lots of tp, a thermometer, soup, keenices. . .

    Jack 2:13 AM  

    Jae at 12:41. I can’t accept your conclusion. Kroc was brilliant. The McDonald brothers could have made (more of) a fortune if they had been more imaginative. What makes you think he was “not a good human being”?

    Anoa Bob 2:14 AM  

    Looks like the commentariat got upstaged by the TWITTERATI on this one.

    Would a HEALTH bar serve a HEALTH bar?

    Running AMOK is one of several Culture-Specific Psychiatric Syndromes listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic And Statistical Manual (DSM). Among the more, uh, unique examples in this line-up is KORO, described by wiki as "a culture-bound syndrome delusional disorder in which an individual has an overpowering belief that one's sex organs are retracting and will disappear, despite the lack of any true longstanding changes to the genitals.[1][2] Koro is also known as shrinking penis, and it is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders."

    Stuff like this can come in handy if you are a psych grad student teaching assistant trying to strike up a rapport with your class.

    chefwen 2:47 AM  

    I’m going with @jae, medium tough. I didn’t t whip through this one like a normal Monday puzzle and that’s a good thing (thank you Martha Stewart for that phrase) there was some thought involved.

    I really liked the clue for BORE at 14A, know a few of those.

    Going to check out that movie “The Founder” as I’m looking for things to do. Thanks for the tip @ jae.

    jae 3:39 AM  

    @Jack - Did you see the movie?

    Mike in Mountain View 3:55 AM  

    The theme looks strong and well-executed to me. I like that the HOUSE was divided in the same way in each and that the letters weren't circled so there was an aha moment when the revealer revealed the theme.

    The puzzle was Monday easy.

    Nice job, Ed!

    Can't believe there was a complaint about TETE. Sure, it's French, but tete a tete is a common expression among English speakers. Also, the crosses are fair.

    Vidiot 4:29 AM  

    Seeing "ALEE" two days in a row and "TEHEE" both oddly spelled and the same word two days in a row (aside from the six-letter spelling being the only one I've ever seen, it also nearly fooled me into putting in TITTER yesterday) just steams me. Am I the only one who just sees this as unforgivably lazy editing? INSIPID, even? If an editor won't maintain consistent house style, what is he doing?

    Very tempted to cancel/ABORT my relatively young NYTXW sub.

    BarbieBarbie 4:49 AM  

    Whoa, opera, opus, OPUSES. I’m going to obsess about this all day now. @LMS, what’s the singular of candelabra? Also you can add data, though in science-world it’s the kind of person you (LMS) often gently correct on this page who insists that others use the plural.

    I always like a puzzle that gives me an Aha and that bad-joke frisson at the same moment. Two thumbs up and more please.

    Anonymous 6:33 AM  

    I guess it's not enough anymore to critique a puzzle and leave it there. Now it's all about piling on, it seems.

    Cheap, juvenile and gratuitous.

    And certainly not what we need in the days and months ahead.

    You really need to rethink this, Rex.

    Hungry Mother 7:12 AM  

    Easy enough, but I found myself spending a lot of time on downs. I ignored the theme until the reveal made me confront it for a moment and then I ignored it some more. Very appropriate for the start of the week.

    QuasiMojo 7:15 AM  

    I had a harder time with this puzzle than any in the couch competition over the weekend. I just couldn't understand some of the clues. Why "late" true believer? I put in Hopeless CASES.

    CHERI means darling in French, or Sweetie. You could say it means Dearie. But you say Mon Cher or Ma Chere for my dear. Cher also means "dear" as in expensive. But not Cheri. (La Belle Oteri)?

    Um, "How Could I Refuse?" Bad joke: A HORSE divided?

    When I see a Tepee I TEHEE.

    Since when does mooning qualify as "all the news fit to print!"

    OMEGA, SEIKO, TIMEX... CASIO? I thought that was a calculator. Or a Shakespearean character:

    "’Tis my breeding
    That gives me this bold show of courtesy."

    Lewis 7:29 AM  

    Solid Monday theme, pitched just right for new solvers, even giving the new solvers a good shot at a non-Monday word, UHURU, by crossing it fairly. Zippy and fun, and thank you, Ed.

    I love the NE corner, stuffed with the terrific SKIFF, SCRAWL, KAHUNA, and FOO. That is one fun corner. And, speaking of SCRAWL, I love the clue BEQ gave it in 2016 -- [Opposite of fine print?].

    Here's a word that starts with HO and ends with USE: HOARDHOUSE. Too many of them out there loaded with TP!

    kitshef 7:38 AM  

    Well, all three themers are flawed. They should be:
    HOPELESS CASE
    HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE
    HOW CAN I REFUSE

    In the puzzle, those are not the in-the-language phrases. Therefore, the theme works as the divided HOUSES do not stand.

    TROU is fine. The clue used today is not.

    RAY KROC is so tied with Mcdonalds that people forget he did not found it. It was founded by two brothers named -- surprise -- McDonald.

    Anonymous 7:57 AM  

    Will Shortz saw your comment abouut "TEEHEE" yesterday and just had to f&$@ with you. Is he the Trump of crosswords?

    Mark Bulgier 7:59 AM  

    Never heard of the American football player or the TV channel, so their crossing made me run the alphabet. A bunch of letters seemed more or less equally likely but I guessed G and was rewarded. DNF avoided essentially by luck, but it didn't feel like a win. Weird feeling for a Monday. Anyone else Natick'd by that?

    Suzie Q 8:05 AM  

    I enjoyed this more than most Mondays. When I saw the second theme answer I knew something was brewing but didn't know what it was. The reveal tied it all together nicely and was not obvious so I say it was a success.
    I thought the clue for trou was clever.
    Seeing "pill" to describe someone was funny to me. I haven't heard it used like that for a long time.

    Anonymous 8:07 AM  

    Crossword Twitter people are tools.

    Anonymous 8:08 AM  

    Sorry, but chéri is “darling” French. Dear is “chère”.

    Anonymous 8:11 AM  

    The source of the "house divided" quotation is Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel according to Mark, 3:25. The quotation was commonly evoked in the Middle Ages and thereafter, as a warning against civil unrest and rebellion. I've not seen how Lincoln used the quotation, but if he did not cite its source it was no doubt because he assumed that everyone knew it.

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Anonymous 8:13 AM  

    Crossword Twitter people are tools.

    GILL I. 8:28 AM  

    My cherie amour.....lalalalala.
    I liked @Martha's twitter because I LOVE RuPaul.
    Yesterday I wanted a cigarette, today I crave a Big Mac. @jae....RAY KROC wasn't a good human? Should I see the movie? I like Tom Hanks. He's recovering from the China virus.
    I agree with @kitshef 7:38. I even wrote the same thing in my white space margin. Aren't we clever.
    I sure did notice lots of esses. What else? I did a bit of an ooh la la when I saw the HO...USE at the end. I had to wait to get there, but I did, when I dropped TROU as my final entry. I've never mooned anyone because I think it's rude.
    My sweet 80+ year old neighbor has run out of groceries and she can't get anyone to deliver for her because no one is answering the phones. I've got a mask I saved from when the Fire Department gave them out for free during our summer inferno two years ago. I will wear it along with some big ugly yellow kitchen gloves. I'll wear my FOO DIOR outfit so that I don't look too ridiculous and hope some idiot who coughs, covers the spewing spit. Besides, I need milk and eggs.
    KAHUNA matata.

    Unknown 8:42 AM  

    In these scary times, constantly complaining about the XW editing seems so petty.

    LeaveItToYourGoat 8:52 AM  

    Seeing those Twitter comments makes me wince.

    Rex, please don't let this become a new thing. You're better than that. This blog is better than that. This place can already be enough of an echo chamber of negativity without the tweet mob chiming in.

    MR. Cheese 9:05 AM  

    I agrees with those who think the clue for “trou” was outstanding.

    Petsounds 9:13 AM  

    Meh to the max. If such a thing is possible.

    And any editor who allows TEHEE (or TEEHE--has that ever been used?) in a puzzle should be applying for unemployment the next day.

    To paraphrase Melania, DO BETTER, WS!

    Joaquin 9:13 AM  

    I agree with @ LeaveItToYourGoat (8:52) - Reprinting the tweets of a bunch of unknown tweeters is just turning the blog into another wave of "nattering nabobs of negativism". As if we don't have enough of that already from other sources.

    Nancy 9:21 AM  

    Intrigued by how different all the theme answers were, I decided to try and figure out the theme. This is not something I always do, btw. At first I thought it was an "AUSE" thing of some sort. Then I got to REFUSE and saw that it wasn't. Then -- Aha! -- I saw the "HO"s at the beginning and the "USE"s at the end and saw HOUSE. And I had it, I thought! Inside the HOUSE!!!

    Shows you where my mind is at right now.

    HEALTH crossing HOPELESS CAUSE seemed deeply ironic and very sad. OFF DUTY EMTS were alarming -- and I hope not a harbinger of things to come. When I go back to read y'all, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this has already been said more than once.

    Overall, a FINE Monday -- very smooth, with no junk and some resistance. Nice job.

    Hartley70 9:26 AM  

    Ahhh..Rex and his grumpy Twitter followers. Here I am again in disagreement. I thought this was a super Monday, no dreck whatsoever. The theme was cute enough and who doesn’t like Abe that I would want to know? As far as TROU is concerned, I have two thumbs up. It’s nice to finish with a laugh...especially in today’s world. Thanks, Ed.

    Unknown 9:27 AM  

    Could do without uzis

    Kathy 9:28 AM  

    Well, I chuckled at DROP TROU. Not a TEHEE, but a full-throated TEEHEE.

    Lewis 9:31 AM  

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

    1. Firm hand? (5)
    2. Standing on the street (4)
    3. Needs to recharge, maybe (5)(5)
    4. Land, at sea (4)(2)
    5. Race car, e.g. (10)


    CLERK
    CRED
    POWER CORDS
    REEL IN
    PALINDROME

    hansthecat 9:32 AM  

    @QuasiMojo, Omega is a Swiss brand. I have a Casio digital watch sitting in a drawer that I bought for $20 during the last recession. It’s still going strong.

    TEHEE is made-up nonsense. It doesn’t even scan properly: TEEHEE is a proper spondee, but TEHEE is clearly an iamb.

    Barbara S. 9:33 AM  

    Because of the bad cluing on CHERI (40D Dear: Fr. -- allegedly), I had chere filled in there which gave me the typo
    A HOUSE DIVeDED
    After getting the "keep trying" message on the NYTXW app, I stared and stared at the puzzle for the longest time not seeing it. It's amazing how the brain does and doesn't work, sometimes surprising one with the detail it picks up almost instantaneously and sometimes refusing to see the obvious.

    Susan DEY yesterday and LA LAW today. Coincidence?? Yeah, probably.

    I always liked YUL Brynner. He struck me as a very unlikely person ever to find his way to Hollywood, having been born in Russia in 1920 and speaking not much English until he was 20 years old. Possibly not in the top group of accomplished actors of his era but nobody could do fierce like he could.

    A highlight of the last couple of days on this blog has been posts from people who say they never or only very rarely participate. I'm thinking of @lorraine persing and many others. Thanks for talking about your takes on crossword puzzles and the puzzling community. It's good to have you here.

    Hanging in in troubled times.

    Z 9:35 AM  

    @Loren Muse Smith - Nope, everything that met his 30 minute deadline was posted. Nothing above “so-so” and one recommendation to compare and contrast with USA Today after the deadline. Actually he left out two viciously sarcastic comments. But that doesn’t tell us much about the puzzle. People who responded to his request are going to be people who finished the puzzle in the first 15-20 minutes and who have Rex in their Twitter feed. Almost certainly those people’s sensibilities are going to skew towards Rex.

    Hand up for thinking the theme works. It accomplishes what it sets out to accomplish. Hand up for wanting to suggest that TE HEE unnecessarily detracts from what’s going on. The rest of the fill isn’t awful and doesn’t upstage the theme, but TE HEE is odoriferous.

    Regarding French - There’s so much French and so many French derivations in English that the plaint against TÊTE seems more than a little misguided. Simple rule of thumb is that if there are two words for something in English, one crude and one polite, the vulgar word comes from good old anglo-saxon and the high-falutin one comes from French.

    TJS 9:42 AM  

    Boy, Rex is losing it. I dont think his PC rants annoy me as much as his take on this simple Monday puzzle - nitpicky to the point of absurdity. I would wager that the entire first paragraph from our esteemed Doctor of English, "Medeivalist" and Professor of Comic Books would be rejected by any high school teacher as needing more clarity of thought.

    Gee, those twits really make for interesting reading. No wonder Rex prefers reading them to our offerings.

    @LMS, am I wrong or don't you attend a puzzling contest annually? How could you ever hope to compete with speed solvers while your mind is traveling down so many worm-holes of extraneous thought. My mind works the same way, by the way. I always have time to follow random thoughts evoked by some crossword entry. One of many reasons I have enjoyed this habit for over sixty years.
    Sun is shining and beer still being sold to-go, so all is passable in the DR.

    burtonkd 9:45 AM  

    -@jae - I was wondering if Ray Kroc started as a bad human being or became that over the course of the movie. Definitely not a good look for him.
    - Hands up for waiting for complaints about TEHEE and TROU. Both just xword glue. Like the moon, nothing to see here, move on.
    - If ever I need a reminder that I'm not missing anything by not keeping up on Twitter, the write-up today did the trick. Just basically a big snark-off as far as I can tell.
    - So today the fact that all the themers are solid in-the-language phrases are used against them?
    - @Anoa Bob, looks like auto-corrupt messed up your joke
    - @Quasi, I confidently put in CHERe, oh well...
    - @Lewis, was it a fair cross for UHURU? Seems like ScAM would work as legitimately as SHAM. UcURU does seem less plausible.


    the redanman 9:50 AM  

    I don't get the widespread dread for this puzzle.

    It is Monday, fairly to very easy for experienced solvers and a very Monday (Easy to see and understand) theme.

    KnittyContessa 10:11 AM  

    I thought it was a decent Monday until I got to TEHEE. Now it's the only clue I remember.

    Teedmn 10:20 AM  

    In my very large and comprehensive French-English dictionary, CHERI is defined as "adj beloved, darling, dear(est)". (Parentheses on dear(est) are not mine.) That makes today's clue legitimate for me.

    I agree that the recidivism on TEHEE from yesterday's TEEHEE is unfortunate.

    I enjoyed this theme. I found it fresh and unobvious. While I think @kitshef is correct that HOLD your APPLAUSE is the usual phrase, I don't agree on the other two, both of which rang true to me.

    When I first heard "drop TROU", I was in college in the late 70s. I found it hilarious then and the first time I saw it in the NYT crossword, I also found it hilarious. Since then, I've seen it in the crosswords more often than I probably ever heard it in the wild, but today's clue made it enjoyable again.

    Ed Sessa, thanks for the clean and engaging Monday puzzles, and all those Twitter bombers can just buzz off.

    pwoodfin 10:21 AM  

    Will isn’t the Trump of crosswords. Rex/Michael is. The predictable daily rants from Rex against Will is no different from Trump’s rants against the media. Poor Donnie, forever plagued by truth. Poor Rex, a victim of Will’s competence. (And success.)

    Nancy 10:22 AM  

    Too many of y'all to cite by name, many of you my dear friends, but I don't get what you're doing, I really don't. I see by your comments that Rex today has spewed his usual venom and vented his usual spleen and indulged in one or more of his daily rants. Only today, he's joined by his army of mindless, inane twitterers, too. Which means even more to read. More to suffer through. More of a waste of your day. More to make you angry or outraged or sad. Why are you doing this to yourselves??? Why, why, why??? No one's making you. It's not the price of admission to the blog. And it's not as though Rex is a skillful or entertaining writer. No Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker or H. L. Mencken, he. Not even a John Simon. He writes with a sledgehammer, not a pen dipped in acid. He *also* has the *most* peculiar *style*, what with *the* asterisks *thrown* around willy-nilly in the *middle* of sentences -- and only *he* can possibly say why.

    I wouldn't bring it up at all, except that it seems to make so many of you so unhappy so much of the time. Is it a "I just can't quit you" sort of thing? Maybe we should dub him "Rex, the King of Brokeback Mountain."

    Anonymous 10:26 AM  

    Thanks so much for putting Nicky Blitz out there for us again. House is such a great headbanger love song!

    pwoodfin 10:29 AM  
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Michael Greenebaum 10:34 AM  

    This puzzle passed the "entertainment value" test: I had no idea what was going on with the theme answers until I hit the revealer. And that was a lovely "aha" moment.

    OffTheGrid 10:35 AM  

    @burtonkd. I entered ScAM initially but didn't like it because bogus is an adjective and ScAM is used as either a noun or a verb. But I continued on and got the "not Quite" message when I finished. I studied my grid for the error and ultimately changed to SHAM/UHURU. My Swahili is rusty.

    Jett 10:40 AM  

    Just one thing: the plural of "opus" is "opera," not "opuses." Ugh.

    Sir Hillary 10:42 AM  

    Puzzle was fine. I don't remember seeing HOUSE as the split trick before, and I liked it.

    If we needed more proof that the commentariat on this blog are a googolplex times more insightful and clever than @Rex's Twitterati, @Rex provided it today. Of course, we didn't need such proof.

    OffTheGrid 10:43 AM  

    This was a good Monday puzzle. It would have been better without the forced theme. The fix would be to simply shorten the 53A clue to "It cannot stand".

    Anonymous 10:49 AM  

    I laughed out loud at 65A. It's the clue that makes it particularly funny.

    JC66 11:00 AM  

    @Quasi

    The clue for 20A is "last" true believer.

    @Poggius

    Here's a link to Lincoln's HOUSE DIVIDED speech.

    QuasiMojo 11:02 AM  

    @HanstheCat, thank you for the info on Omega. I still have a Swatch somewhere with a picture of Mozart on it. I got it in Salzburg. I bet it's still working too. :)

    Another Anon 11:09 AM  

    Ya think?

    RooMonster 11:12 AM  

    Hey All !
    RAY KROC, I had KROk, what a KROC of (expletive deleted)! :-)
    Apparently don't know my French 101 (or is CHERI 102?) words. Dang.
    Did know UHURU, as I've used that before in a puz or two I've made. It fits in some neat places. Also, great word for @M&A. UHURA is the Star Trek person, so it's flexible with that U or A ending.
    Know football, so GRIESE not a problem here, but I can see how it could mess up never-heard-of-him people. Especially crossed with HGTV, which for those not in the know (I don't watch it personally, but have heard of it) is Home & Garden TV.
    And now some Rambling Rumblings...
    TEHEE eschewed that E we finally found yesterday. TEHEE, TEPEE, what's next? TRE for TREE? ROBERT LE for ROBERET E LEE? It's a slippery slope my friends!
    Clue for TROU is awesome! I think I'm reverting to becoming a teenager with silly clues like that!
    I need some THAI drunken noodles.
    In these virus times, as soon as I got KEYPADS, the ole brain screamed out, "Don't touch them!" Sad...
    KAHUNAS a fun word. Big Cheese, Big KAHUNA, Head Honcho, The Man (sorry, sexist I know), Mr. Big (see previous aside), Queen Bee (equal opportunity:-)), Large and In Charge. Feel free to pile on.
    Phrase for the times - Ah FOO! An achoo!

    So apparently HORDEs of morons are not paying attention to the Stay Home warnings of everybody/thing. Why? If we all just sit our MOONS at home, this pandemic will be over quick. Unreal. /Rant

    Four F's (1 in themers)
    OFFDUTY (Aren't we all?)
    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    TJS 11:28 AM  

    @Nancy, I can only speak for myself, but I am never "angry, outraged, sad or suffering" from my daily reading of Rex. Annoyed that or educational system is producing professors at the doctorate level with his self-confessed blind spots and over-sensitivity to supposed PC outrages, yes. But he is the one who decided to lay all his thoughts and prejudices out there for our judgement, so why should we not respond?

    I suppose I could skip Rex and go right to the comments, but I would have a hard time figuring out what people were talking about. And I gave up on commenting cold without reading anything first, since I unknowingly criticised your puzzle last week.

    egsforbreakfast 11:37 AM  

    I agree that Michael seemed to be looking for a way to amp up the negativity by implicitly inviting the trolls to slam the puzzle semi-publicly on his blog. However, what really bothers me about his write up is that, as is frequently the case, his main criticism falls apart if you read it carefully. He maintains, in this case, that the themers aren’t “even real” because the divided house still stands. However, the clue for 53A is “it cannot stand” for which the answer is A HOUSE DIVIDED. No one, not even Michael would argue that this is anything but straightforward and obvious. The clue to the themes is the phrase “a house divided”. It includes no reference to standing, sitting, falling or doing anything else. It is amazing to me how often he lazily neglects to read the clue before denouncing it and the NYTXW and WS.

    Carola 11:38 AM  

    Liked it. A fine Monday theme and that nifty SKIFF, SCRAWL, KAHUNAS cluster to establish a good mood from the top. I also liked the HEATH Bar next to ORTHO, thinking about toffee meets braces. I also wondered about TEHEE crossing HAHA ("You thought after yesterday that it was gone, but no!")

    From yesterday: Thank you to @Rex and all who contribute here. I'm grateful for it.

    Crimson Devil 11:53 AM  

    Pre-moon descent wonderful clue.

    Frantic Sloth 11:54 AM  



    In my experience, the only ball that provides a no-fail entertainment for a cat is made of aluminum foil. They're much too odd and contrary to do anything like this. Oh, look! A cat video! Ever see one of those??

    On to the puzzle.

    There's that TEHEE again. All my life I've spelled it with 4 Es and believed that to be the only way to spell it - until that little 3-E'd bastard started showing up in crosswords and I was like (for you, @LMS) "wait...what??"

    Being young and impressionable (now I'm old, but still very impressionable) I just accepted it as the "proper" spelling.
    Then recently Rex very gently mentioned his mild displeasure (as is his not-wont) about TEHEE and just a smidge of my self confidence returned home. So pleased!

    Jump to today (you'd better pole vault - it's a ways) and OPUSES. Now I've got 'em! Everybody knows it's OPera and just for today I'm smarter than the NYTXW!!

    I'm gonna need a bigger day.

    So, who knew that the cumbersome and ugly mouthful that is OPUSES is actually the "most common plural of opus in English" (according to some fly-by-night online dictionarial site)?

    *sigh* Back down a notch, you arrogant self-esteem.

    But, hold on there! There's additional ammo against the dastardly TEHEE found in the twitter comments Rex posted! I am indeed not alone!

    And so, we end our story with our heroine maintaining her esteem's status quo, no worse for the wear and perhaps even a tad cocky, blithely ignoring the fact that reality awaits.

    Moral of the story: Don't count your chickens until they tweet.

    Or some such nonsense.

    Be well, all!

    Now...I read! (Always save the best for last!)

    puzzlehoarder 12:00 PM  

    Sub Monday time inspite of my lack of familiarity with HGTV. I had to change BINS to TINS.

    Any regular solver of the NYTXW should have had the UHURU/peace connection beaten into their heads years ago.

    @ Nancy, I agree with everything in your second comment. However today's twidiot list just means an extra swipe or two in order to skip over our host's waste of time comment section.

    @lms, interesting info on the connection between opera and opus. I had an OPERAS/OPUSES write over today so I guess I'm clueless on that.

    One of yesterday's Spelling Bee words that I missed was "fora." I had to look that one up. Turns out it's the plural for "forum." I had to wonder (Is there such a word as "scrota"?) A quick check of my Scrabble dictionary confirmed it. I guess this means the people who follow our host on Twitter are actually his scrota. I'll refer to them as such from now on. Does this mean that our host drops TROU before he puts that garbage on the internet? Hard to un-see but food for thought.

    Anonymoose 12:19 PM  

    Maybe the plural of octopus is octopera.

    pabloinnh 12:20 PM  

    Didn't see the revealer coming-always like when that happens-so an OK Monday for me.

    My friend Jerry was helping me in my duties as a high school soccer coach and we both got called into the principal's office after an away game. Turns out that one of our more irrepressible players was mooning folks out the back window. We disavowed all knowledge and promised to berate him severely and didn't start giggling until we were safely away from the office, and that's my moon story.

    Hey @TJS-I envy you. We were in the DR ten years ago and really enjoyed it. My favorite part was finding out that every single native dominicano I talked to had a relative playing major league baseball in the US. Amazing.

    Thanks for a nice little Mondecito, ES. No puzzle until tomorrow, nuts.



    What? 12:22 PM  

    Cute and easy as expected for a Monday (except for 30D.). Rex took 2:40. What took him so long?
    When is Shortz going to eliminate bowing to newbies with these ridiculously easy Mondays? They can always find easy puzzles in any number of collections at bookstores (oops, I mean online).

    Z 12:23 PM  

    For some reason I am recalling that WordPlay commenters look down on Rexites as being too negative. I can’t imagine why that memory popped into my brain.

    @Frantic Sloth - I choose to believe that the proper plural is opodes.

    Z 12:24 PM  

    @anonymoose - Great minds...

    Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

    I've got no big problem with this MonPuz. After gettin the first couple themers, I kinda suspected where the theme mcguffin was headed to. But, hey -- if U want somethin deep for yer puztheme, the NYT MonPuz (or most other MonPuzs) is probably not the place to go look.

    Interestin crop of raised-by-wolves twitter tweets. Thanx for the inside survey, @RP. M&A doesn't normally see any twitter stuff, other than them raised-by-the-wolves Trump samples on the TV news.

    fave fillins included: KAHUNAS. SCRAWL. OFFDUTY. UHURU (yo, @Roo).
    staff weeject pick: FOO. Better cloo: {Lotsa leftover food??} And definitely honorable mention to good ol ABE -- enjoyed the theme-related show of weespect, to the 3-letter pups.

    Superb (and symmetrical!) pair of ?-clues, today, for BORE & TROU. Nice feisty touch, to give yer MonPuz a slight frisky edge.

    And yep, the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary only lists TEEHEE. Sooo … we maybe need a different clue approach altogether for sawed-off runtword TEHEE… ?
    However tho, TEHEE has been used a whoppin 124 times in the NYTPuz, while TEEHEE has been used a mere 21 times. Neither version has the Patrick Berry Usage Immunity.

    Thanx for the MonFun, Mr. Sessa. Appreciate yer efforts.

    Masked & Anonymo9Us


    The ultra-rare, unrunty, full-NYTsized M&A puz manifestation:
    **gruntz**

    (no refunds)

    webwinger 1:03 PM  

    Thought this was fine, time a bit more than average Monday. Theme worked OK for me. I feel like I can’t really say anymore whether a puzzle would be frustrating for a beginner, though I suspect today’s might be. TEHEE and the venom it inspires I find funny. Agree the clue for TROU was inspired.

    Did not like that @Rex turned over so much of his review to the x-word Twitterati. I have pretty much excluded all social media from my life, and feel it is much the better for doing so. BTW, is DJT still bombarding the world with inane self-serving tweets in his new role as a “war time” president? BTW again, I was way more impressed by Pence than by Trump in yesterday’s press briefing. I am at least somewhat reassured that our “genius” president seems mostly to be allowing people with real expertise to guide him now.

    @LMS 1:03 AM: I took 3 years of Latin in HS (it was still a living language back then), in part because I was misinformed that it would be valuable preparation for a career in medicine. The only benefit I could later see in that regard was being more accurate in declension of Latin nouns, exempli gratia recognizing that not every word ending in -us became -i in plural (opus, opera), that an -a ending could be either singular feminine or plural neuter, et cetera. After a while, though, I settled into a preference that most Latin derived terms be treated as though they were conventional English words (opuses), unless a particular Latin-derived variant form had come into English on its own, often with a different meaning altogether (opera). More expert opinion seems to go along with this now.

    gloriosky 1:10 PM  

    Disagree about fairness of crossing re: Uhuru, as sham, scam, and even possibly spam would have worked there. Doing the puzzle on paper, there was no way to know that scam was the wrong answer. A Natick for me.

    Smith 1:11 PM  

    @Z They don't necessarily have to be vulgar, more like "common parlance" vs. higher register:

    keep vs. retain
    weak vs. feeble
    cow vs. beef (boeuf)
    ask vs. enquire

    thfenn 1:22 PM  

    This HOPELESSCAUSE finished his first Monday puzzle with one pass through the acrosses and one pass through the downs. Fell into place so fast I spent time at the end going back and seeing what clues the completed answers addressed (HOLDTHEAPPLAUSE). Had to replace 'seikO' with CASIO, 'hippO' with RHINO, (yes, knowing that SSH as the start to 9D was probably problematic), 'fake' with SHAM, and 'aging' with YEARS in the process, but then I was done, with no time to appreciate either the theme or TROU.

    HIPPO went in because I was actually charged by one, a genuinely terrifying incident during a New Year's safari along the Mara River. I'm quite sure I looked like that Roadrunner (or was it Scooby-Doo) cartoon where whoever's running away is up in the air spinning their legs around before making any progress. THE treat my grandparents had that my parents never did was a constant supply of HEATH bars, so that was fun to see. UHURU, ICEOVER, and GRIESE all offered fond associations as well, to ultimately calm my nerves after HIPPO.

    Stay safe, all.

    Peter J 1:28 PM  

    @Smith - but vulgar comes from Latin for the common person, so common parlance is vulgar. On, cow is a female bovine, beef is the meat any bovine (from a steer and not a cow, if it's any good).

    @Nancy - do you often go to peoples houses, places of work and announce that you think they're obnoxious jerks? You can't come here, partake of what you like about it, without insulting your host, the sponsor and creator of this space? Spectacularly rude.

    What? 1:28 PM  

    Couldn’t agree more. I don’t read Rex nor in fact most of the comments. No desire to fill my mind with rants/raves. I do, however, always gravitate to you -you are a wordsmith and a joy to read. You should replace Rex, as in fact you do in my world.

    Frantic Sloth 1:47 PM  

    For those of you who use Facebook or LinkedIn, I am sharing a video posted by my sister which might provide some degree of solace/optimism/practical steps one can take, etc. during this time.

    Biased though I might be, she's a pro at this stuff and each of you can decide for yourself whether to follow her challenge for the next 10 days.

    I'm looking forward to it myself (natch!) and I hope some of you join me. No pressure, no cost, or required commitment, but some positivity that might help us cope.

    10 Days of Shared Wisdom.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    @Z love opodes! (autocorrect wanted "poodles")
    @Anonymoose 12:19pm (and @Z) LOL!

    Anonymous 1:53 PM  

    @Peter J, Well said and Amen. Nancy is spectacularly rude and sanctimonious.

    Frantic Sloth 2:09 PM  

    This has been around lately. Good helpful hints from a four-legged.

    VancouverNana 2:10 PM  

    Believe that Lincoln used in his second inaugural address

    Lewis 2:15 PM  

    @burtonkd, @gloriosky -- I respectfully disagree. "Scam", and "Spam" are nouns. [Bogus], the clue, is an adjective, as is SHAM with this definition. (Yes, SHAM can be a noun too, but the other two words, at least according to Merriam-Webster, don't have a sense in which they act as adjectives.)

    Anonymous 2:34 PM  

    Peter J and anon 1:53,
    I think it's a fair guess that some regulars in this forum are quite lonely. Others in desperate need of ego gratification, and still others simply cranks. Fire away if you like, of course, but my gut says it won't help curb the poor manners, bloviating or any of the ills this place increasingly suffers from.

    albatross shell 2:51 PM  

    Well, I did not know the plural of OPUS was opera, so just count me among the doofera that make up the dooferati.

    Nancy 3:05 PM  

    @Peter J -- He's the creator of this space, but I hardly consider him its "host". And certainly not my host. He provides neither friendship, nor warmth, nor kindness, nor food, nor drink, nor really anything much in the way of interaction at all. He created this space to fulminate at length about his own opinions, not to hear ours. He created this space to put himself forward as a crossword puzzle guru. This is entirely in keeping with why almost everyone who creates their own blog does so and it's completely understandable. But let's not exaggerate his hostiness.

    By some miracle, he's attracted a commentariat of smart, funny, gregarious, friendly and interesting people. That and that alone leads me to come here. If the Rexites were to disappear, I'd be gone in a New York minute.

    I was moved to write my comment because once again so many people were complaining about today's rants and negativity. (Even Loren, for heaven's sake -- and she never complains, about Rex or anything else.) And I was once again baffled by what seems like pure masochism to me -- constantly reading him and constantly being annoyed when no one is forcing you to read him at all.

    If you are ever kind enough to host me IRL, @Peter J, I promise to be the model guest -- polite and gracious and appreciative. I just can't see Rex, while he is spewing out all that venom and bile day after day, as being anything that represents "host" to me. I think his nastiness makes him fair game for even the most scathing appraisal, if you want to know the truth.




















    Lori 3:07 PM  

    I enjoy this constructor and I think A House Divided is an apt topic as our government Makes America Gullible Again.

    john towle 3:23 PM  

    Is there a point during a moon when you become half-assed?

    You’re welcome,

    juanito

    Joaquin 3:26 PM  

    @Peter J (1:28) and Nancy (3:05) - Rex's motivation for starting this blog was likely as Nancy opined. But his blog has (I suspect) morphed into a years-long application to the NYT to replace Shortz.

    My sense of The Times hiring meeting when Shortz retires: "Hey. Here's a guy who has been calling us idiots for many years. Shall we hire him?"

    jae 3:37 PM  

    @Gill - Michael Keaton played Kroc in the movie and it’s a really interesting story about the creation of an empire. It got an 81% Rotten Tomatoes score. A related true story is the HBO documentary “McMillions” about how the McDonnald’s Monopoly Game contest was scammed. It got 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and involves a colorful bunch of characters including ex-cops and the NY Colombo mafia family.

    @Burtonkd - He seemed like an OK guy at the beginning of the movie, but he took a Walter White turn as he got richer. That said, I live in San Diego where the Kroc’s 3rd wife Joan’s philanthropy has been a force for good in our community.

    Smith 3:38 PM  

    @Peter J. Agreed, but I was responding to the spirit of the original post, where vulgar was used in the common (!) English manner. FWIW I had Latin from 7th grade thru high school...long time ago.

    Smith 3:42 PM  

    @Nancy, et al.
    I love reading your posts. Especially now. Thank you.

    Wundrin' 3:57 PM  

    @Nancy. What is meant by Maybe we should dub him "Rex, the King of Brokeback Mountain."? Anyone else know?

    Joe Dipinto 4:07 PM  

    But if you use the Latin plural "opera" for "opus" you'd have to pronounce it with a long O, and people would think you were talking about Oprah, and it would get really confusing. The Anglicized "opuses" is preferable.

    Speaking of long O, RIP jazz pianist Mike Longo, who fell victim to Covid-19 yesterday.

    Monty Boy 4:11 PM  

    OK puzzlers, time for a little Xword humor:

    Frazz xword

    Geezer 4:23 PM  

    @Nancy. I'm wondering why you describe Rex's write up today as spewing venom and venting his spleen and ranting. I have to wonder if you read it. The worst thing he said was that he doesn't expect much from this constructor. He described the puzzle as "very passable fare" and then described what he thought were its weaknesses.

    Z 4:31 PM  

    Was reminded of this apt song on Twitter. It’s almost as if Twitter is a diverse place with lots of interesting people posting there or something.

    @Joaquin 3:26 - I have no doubt that Rex thinks he would do a better job than Shortz. That’s not the same as wanting the job. My guess is it will be Agard or Steinberg, but there are some others who would be good.

    Sorry people, but I’m having a hard time differentiating between Twitter and the Commentariat. Let’s see:
    1. Meh
    2. Meh
    3. A satirical “Meh.”
    4. Another satirical “Meh.”
    5. A plaint about “drop trou.”
    6. Eh (I guess Meh took to long to type)
    7. #3 again
    8. A negative reaction from someone who got great praise when she subbed for Rex
    9. A funny negative review
    10. “I misread a clue and it was kind of apt”
    11. SHAM/UHURU was a bad crossing.
    12. Turns AMOK into a dook for humorous effect.
    13-16 TE HEE is awful

    Yep - Those 16 responses are so much worse than what the Commentariat would ever write. Oh, wait... we wrote all those things today.

    @Smith - I guess having to explain the joke means it didn’t work, but I intentionally swapped “vulgar” for “common” because “vulgar” is from Latin. Conversely, I used the low-brow “highfalutin” for the higher register descriptor. Yeah, I know, “keep your day job.”

    QuasiMojo 4:38 PM  

    There used to be a gay bar on the Upper West Side called The Works. Maybe it's still there. I always called it The Opera since that is what the plural of opus, i.e., the Work, is. And god knows it was full of divas. :)

    Newboy 4:45 PM  

    Ahhh, today’s comments on English’s plethora of class based vocabulary (deer/venison, etc.) brought 1066 to mind when William the Bastard was winner and thus became William the Conqueror: one of history’s more memorable linguistic transmogrifications. Ever since the 1% gets the upper crust and we scullery maids subsist on the burnt bottom of the loaf. Sorta sounds like a congressional bailout bill?

    Any puz that recalls the Great Emancipator can’t be as bad as some thought. Don’t bother with Mon/Tue most weeks, but this week is a “novel” experience and had me over the moon though my trou remained in place—unusual for any Hash House Harrier. I can forgive all except that TEHEE/HAHA crossing which was truly laughable in the wrong way.

    Coffee & @Rex in the AM ; @Gill & wine in the PM; @LMS & @Lewis as needed. Repeat daily. My personal prescription for days to come.

    May I make a plea to posters to revisit their profile & add/update details. Often I’m finding some really interesting stuff (thanks @Teedmn for sharing “Bicycle Rider” on YouTube) other times an icon click reveals nothing beyond disappointment with a blank page.

    jonhoffm 4:46 PM  

    Correction for Rex - it’s a “user of the quote” reference as I am sure that Honest Abe would give credit to Jesus, the author of the quote (Mark 3:25).

    Joe Dipinto 5:01 PM  

    @Wundrin' 3:57 – "I wish I knew how to quit you" is a famous line from "Brokeback Mountain".

    Nancy 5:15 PM  

    @Z (4:31), 2nd paragraph. My guess is either Joel Fagliano or Sam Ezersky. They both assist WS at the NYT and I would imagine they're being groomed to succeed him.

    No, @Geezer (4:23), you're right. I didn't. I scrolled past as usual. But it's much harder for me to scroll past the commentariat when they're complaining about his negativity, as many did today. I'd miss so much enjoyable other stuff in their posts. And thus -- skipping him, reading [mostly] everyone else -- I usually end up seeing Rex reflected through the eyes of others, rather than directly. It's sort of like being in Plato's Cave :)

    Teedmn 5:16 PM  

    @Newboy, thanks for checking Rockthrow out. "Bicycle Rider" is one of the classics. Glad you liked it.

    Joe Dipinto 5:50 PM  

    This puzzle cries out for a theme song, preferably one sung by 80% of 40 down.

    webwinger 6:20 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    webwinger 6:27 PM  

    @Peter J 1:28, Anons 1:53, 2:34, and @Nancy: Disagreeing with and criticizing @RP is part of why we are here, sometimes seeming almost like a patriotic duty, in addition to assuaging our loneliness, gratifying our egos, venting crankiness, and bloviating. I’d guess you would find much poorer manners in just about any other blog you dipped into, and even here absent moderators. (In fact that used to be the case, the great majority of it coming from you, Anonymous). Furthermore, I consider it very poor form to lob an ad hominem attack at one of our regular contributors from beneath the cover of anonymity. OTOH, Nancy, it doesn’t seem right to castigate Rex’s review without having read it…


    Another friend of LMS. 8:13 PM  

    Yep!!

    Another friend of LMS. 8:27 PM  

    Not sure how many years ago we were there, it was more than ten, possibly twenty...but, yes about a relative or friend playing b- ball in the U.S.

    Another friend of LMS. 8:36 PM  

    I agree .

    Another friend of LMS. 8:38 PM  

    Yes

    Richardf8 9:06 PM  

    “He's recovering from the China virus.”

    We want to be careful here, lest anyone assume that recovery from the China virus confers immunity to the Porcelain virus.

    Anonymous 10:38 PM  

    haven't read the 108 comments, of course, so I'll be the umpteenth to say: RAY KROC didn't found McDonald's.

    DoesItinInk 11:05 PM  

    The singular of candelabra is candelabrum, though in common usage the plural form is used for both the singular and plural.

    Anonymous 11:19 PM  

    @Richardf8:
    We want to be careful here, lest anyone assume that recovery from the China virus confers immunity to the Porcelain virus.

    no one knows how long, or even if, covid-19 immunity persist for those that survive.
    "It's unclear whether people who recover from COVID-19 will be immune to reinfection from the coronavirus and, if so, how long that immunity will last."

    "Researchers do know that reinfection is an issue with the four seasonal coronaviruses that cause about 10 to 30% of common colds. These coronaviruses seem to be able to sicken people again and again, even though people have been exposed to them since childhood. "

    here: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/20/819038431/do-you-get-immunity-after-recovering-from-a-case-of-coronavirus

    PuzzleCraig 1:07 PM  

    For the folks whining about "tehee", go to the Google Ngram viewer. The spelling "tehee" is predominant in all eras in all the available English corpora. And the word has appeared as spelled in the NYTXW since the Farrar era back in 1950, before most of the naysayers were born.

    Anonymous 5:54 PM  

    The complaint is about cheri. There were two French words, glossed over tete.

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