Orange-nosed Muppet / MON 4-20-20 / Not watertight / Giant-sized TV, as in a stadium / Rhythmic heartbeats / Gulped down / Performed some hip-hop

Monday, April 20, 2020

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Pretty Easy (a bit under my average time)

THEME: BOY OH BOY (66A: "Wow!" ... and a hint to both halves of the answers to the starred clues) — the word "boy" can be placed after both words in the theme answers to create familiar terms

Theme answers:
  • BALL GAME (17A: Something to "take me out to," in an old song)
  • HIGH OFFICE (23A: The presidency, e.g.)
  • BAD NEWS (38A: Unpleasant tidings)
  • COWBELL (42A: Means of locating one from the herd)
  • SCHOOL PLAY (56A: Drama department production)

Word of the Day: LATEEN (18D: Triangular sail) —
A lateen (from French latine, meaning "Latin") or latin-rig is a triangular sail set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast, and running in a fore-and-aft direction.

Dating back to Roman navigation, the lateen became the favorite sail of the Age of Discovery, mainly because it allows a boat to tack "against the wind". It is common in the Mediterranean and the northwestern parts of the Indian Ocean, where it is the standard rig for feluccas and dhows (wikipedia)
• • •
Hey all and Happy Monday! I'm new here so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ben and I am a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. I have been solving crosswords every day for over two and a half years now and reading Rex's blog for just as long. Now that we are acquainted, let's jump in and talk about this Monday.

Overall it was a fairly easy and enjoyable solve. A few hangups here and there, but mostly smooth sailing due to a dearth of crosswordese that often plagues early week puzzles. Had ANODE for ONOFF and ACACIA for ACADIA. Also jumped to put in MEMORY for "Account of one's earlier days" (6D) which made a mess of the middle area until I was able to sort that out.

The theme works well for four out of the five answers, but HIGH OFFICE just doesn't hold up. Both terms, HIGH(boy) and OFFICE (boy), are dated and drag down the otherwise crisp theme. I especially liked BALL GAME for two reasons: 1. Game Boy is not just a different type of boy, but rather a handheld video game system, and it brought back the nostalgia of playing my Game Boy Advance (pictured below) on long family car rides when I was young. And 2. I currently am missing the BALL GAMEs of the baseball season, Let's Go Mets! In the absence of baseball, I did happen to catch a couple rounds of the "Thrilla in Manila" (44D) the other night and saw ALI bob and weave.
My Game Boy Advance SP and game collection
With regard to some of the other fill, BREECH (birth) does not pass the breakfast test and can surely be clued differently. I had to look up what a nuthatch (48A) looks like and it turned out to be a very pretty looking bird so I included a picture of one.
Look at this nuthatch!
I don't really like seeing ADOBES pluralized although I happen to love the rest of the SE, with the colloquial YES YOU next to the elegant KIMONO. Also, LIBIDO is an interesting answer that I haven't seen in many puzzles, so yay for variety. And if you are wondering why the symbol for TIN is Sn, I was too and the answer is that it comes from the Latin word for tin, "stannum." So now you can add that to your list of useless chemistry facts.

Four things:
  • 8A: Bump against in a crowd (JOSTLE) — I certainly hope no one is jostling in any crowds these days, stay at home and stay safe!
  • 39D: Knighted actor Guinness (ALEC) — I am a huge Star Wars fan, so it's nice to see the original Obi-Wan Kenobi get some love these days. “Use the Force, Luke.”
  • 25D: 1950s Communist-bashing grp. in Congress (HUAC) — The House Un-American Activities Committee was a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives that conducted investigations into alleged Communist activities. Not only is the committee a manifestation of a pretty ugly period in American history characterized by xenophobia and nativism, HUAC is also just an ugly looking answer. And it is only one letter away from a delicious, and definitely less infamous, answer - GUAC....
  • 27D: Astronomer Sagan (CARL) — Although I am far too young to have seen the original airing of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, I have seen a few of the episodes as well as Carl Sagan's interviews. Sagan was an incredible champion of scientific discovery and a true inspiration to generations of budding scientists. 
In honor of Carl Sagan, I leave you with one of his quotes: "We're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." Channel your inner star stuff and stay strong, everyone.

Signed, Ben Robinov, Apprentice of CrossWorld

P.S. Last week, ELMO and his pals demonstrated to kids (and their parents) around the country how to properly socially distance by having a virtual playdate featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda and Anne Hathaway. Well done, Sesame Street!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:14 AM  

A very solvable Monday for the novice and just a touch of crunch for the more experienced solver, with a clever “aha” at the end. Give that girl some attaBOY points!

Mr. Alarm 12:32 AM  

Thanks for the help understanding this (for me) frustratingly unfulfilling theme! Boyohboy is that sad!

I too was pleased to see “LIBIDO”, a word I often forget ( a friend once saw my roommates puppy dog slippers and said to a friend “there go a my libido!”. Agree completely about the ugliness of the word HUAC: “ Not only is the committee a manifestation of a pretty ugly period in American history characterized by xenophobia and nativism, HUAC is also just an ugly looking answer.”

Lastly, I have a neighbor who used to be an assistant to Carl Sagan!

Anonymous 12:58 AM  

Ben, I must know, what app and preferences do you use to get that black on gray grid. And is this combo to be paired with Catalina's day/night cycle settings? If so, your OS accessorization skills are beyond compare.

Anonymous 1:34 AM  

Crossword puzzles. My grandfather loved them. His daughter, my mom,, loved them. I grew up solving them. I once believed that crosswords had a chance to become something beyond a simple word game. There were some constructors who pointed in that direction. But they will always be just a simple word game. All of this criticism is years of waste. Nobody cares. You scrawl some stuff down and then you throw it away.

GILL I. 2:48 AM  

Well here we have a DIET DISH of SLOP that someone STUFFS with a SLEW of MOLE in ADOBES and SWALLOWED with a side of HUAC. BOY OH BOY. Just kidding.... but someone had to say it.
So this was a Monday?
So I liked YO YOS hanging out with HIGH OFFICE followed by PLAY BOY and BAD BOY....Hooboy! LIBIDO is kinda cute crossing BALL and JUMBO TRON crossing COW. What else......Nuthatch on easy Monday?
Thanks, were too kind!

jae 2:51 AM  

Medium. A solid but not particularly colorful Mon. At Xwordinfo Lynn said she had a “hard time remembering much about the construction of this one”. Liked it.

@Ben - thanks for helping out. Are you home or still at school?

chefwen 3:01 AM  

A fun Monday puzzle by one of our Monday Queens. Loved the theme. I tried to find something I didn’t care for and failed.

My only fix up was at 49D. I sold steel to tool and die makers for 15 years in Milwaukee and we always referred to getting ready for production as RETOOL not TOOL UP, same amount of letters, same idea, but it didn’t work, O.K. TOOL UP it is. You win.

Thank you Lynn for another stellar puzzle.

Brookboy 5:06 AM  

Really enjoyed this one. I liked the theme, and despite Ben’s disdain for HIGH and OFFICE, I think all the themers were good. This seemed to me to be an entertaining, clever and rather witty puzzle. Really excellent.

My wife and I have visited Acadia National Park in Maine on several occasions, so that was a gimme for me.

Excellent review, Ben. I hope you get as much enjoyment from crossword puzzles as I have for many years. There are many worse ways to spend your time.

Loren Muse Smith 5:34 AM  

Hey, there, Ben! Appreciate your take on today’s offering by the gifted Lynn Lempel.

Every once in a while this kind of word-that-can-follow-both-parts theme is fun. Fun to think of others. TOY SOLDIER, (in the UK?) OLD BAT, POOR HOUSE, DOWN HOME

Speaking of down, boy - @Gill I, I might add that TOOL UP shares the grid with LIBIDO.

Ben – thanks for the nuthatch picture. I had never heard on one, either, but I’m really taken with the term “nuthatch.” It’s like a souped-up version of childbirth. . .

In retrospect, the perfidious blowhard’s entry into this world could be seen as not so much a childbirth as a full-on nuthatch.

I kinda hesitated at the clue for SWALLOWED. You can swallow without gulping. Like if you’re on your first date and trying to be all polite and mannerly. When I do gulp water, like if I’m really thirsty, I have to count the gulps. It’s an ocd thing - I’m powerless not to.

It’s been so long – I guess you give a child a TSP of cough syrup? That’s such a small amount. Sometimes I resort to Nyquil in a desperate attempt to sleep, and a TSP just wouldn’t get’er done. Sadly, neither does a tablespoon. NOR does melatonin, chamomile tea, breathing exercises, lavender spray on pillowcase, or valerian root.

I love the ROM COMS that end in marriage. Especially the vapid Hallmark ones that involve a prince with both a scheming queen mom and haughty beautiful contender. (@Brookboy – yeah, there are much worse ways to spend your time. What is wrong with me? Sheesh.) I guess they’re an escape from all the ick. And it’s a relief just to veg out and be a lazy slug. I’ve never really given much thought to the ins and outs of movie-making, but I get now that there is always a best friend (usually darker skinned with wild hair) so that the viewer can understand heroine’s thoughts and feelings through her confessions to said friend.

@Aelurus from yesterday – I own that very condensed OED and keep it in my classroom!

If you haven’t seen Will Ferrell’s hysterical skit on SNL, you should. COWBELL.

OffTheGrid 6:59 AM  

This is one of the best Mondays I've seen. Clean fill and a sharp theme. Nothing wrong with HIGHboy and OFFICEboy. For me the theme was an after-the-solve thing but that's totally OK. Also, nothing wrong with childbirth in a puzzle, BREECH or otherwise. I'm familiar with nuthatches. There are two main types where I live, the white breasted and the red breasted. When you see them on a tree trunk they are usually upside down with beak pointing toward the ground.

Lewis 7:00 AM  

@Loren -- You can add FLY PAPER to your list of possible answers.

I love it when I learn things in a Monday puzzle, as I did with LATEEN and nuthatch. I think LATEEN is fairly enough crossed for Monday, to start to hone new puzzlers' solving chops. The puzzle gave my brain a quick and happy spin, and thank you for that LL.

I did like the O-backs: LIBIDO, KIMONO, OHO, ENO, ELMO, and I'D SAY SO.

And the two answers that could-but-not-really be followed by BOY:
1. TIN boy -- Jack Haley's WOZ character, in his youth.
2. NOR boy -- City housing the U. of Oklahoma, in its early days.

QuasiMojo 7:19 AM  

Thanks for filling in Ben. Great job.

Lewis loved your "Tin Boy."

Was hoping for Life Buoy!

@Nancy, was playing hooky yesterday. I often skip Sunday puzzles. But I saw your late comment about Voight. @Barbara S deserves the kudos. She figured it out before me. I only got it at the end of the day thanks to you and Joe making it a no-brainer. At first I wondered, "Wait a sec... Ryan O'Neal won an Oscar???" :)

kitshef 7:21 AM  

One of the easier puzzles I can recall.

Maybe if you are a bit younger, and HUAC and IRA and ALI and ALEC and CARL are not gimmes, this had some teeth.

But Great ____ of China seems like an insult to our intelligence, no matter your age.

I had a little chuckle at Ben's "dearth of crosswordese" after going through ELS, OHO, OAR, USA, TSP, ODE, LOL, ILIE, LED, EDS, ET AL, ENO and SOU.

Hungry Mother 7:28 AM  

Very relaxing solve today. No slogging in sight. It will take me another day to fully recover from the weekend fare from NYT and LAT, but today helped. I noticed a bunch of Y’s, but didn’t notice a theme until the reveal.

Smith 8:02 AM  

@Nancy from yesterday

Haven't done the puzzle yet because I'm working and these days save it for after lunch and before online "office hours" for my ESL Kinder, 1st, 2nd graders [sigh].

I remembered that you live on the UES, which is why I thought you might have seen the Cohen show...

but of course even with all the money, time, will in the world it is (was and with luck will be) impossible to see everything - see below.

@whoever it was last week who enjoyed Schitt's Creek and recommended Kim's Convenience (and I'm terribly embarrassed that I can't remember who it was): thanks!!

I was sorry to see that we missed Kim's Convenience when it was at Signature! We are more than season subscribers and devastated for them and all the creative people they've had to put on hold. My usual plug: Signature is the best theater deal in NYC (current circumstances excepted, you know). For the price of one ticket to a Bwy show, four people can see new theater or sometimes fascinating revivals (Master Harold was incredible) and the results are consistently amazing.

End commercial.

Looking forward to all your puzz comments later.

CDilly52 8:10 AM  

Ms. Lempel never disappoints. What a classy, clever Monday offering! And welcome, Ben! Nice job today, especially your observation that this opus is almost entirely devoid of crosswordese. I had to smile at Ben’s observation (from his observation point of 20 years) regarding playing his game boy “when I was young.” Ah, youth! Good job, Ben. I look forward to your future opinions.

It took me a bit to understand the theme. I was up very late last night reviewing contracts and have a conference call shortly. Hopefully a nap to follow!

So disjointed this morning. I’ll be back later to catch up with this. Happy Monday!

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

I know what looks exactly like what Ben used. It has nothing to do with Apple though. It's an Android NYT xword app in the dark mode.

Suzie Q 8:29 AM  

Nice puzzle and nice review. I did not feel high boy was an outlier. I own two of them. Maybe the name is not as common as I thought.
This has been a nautical education with bobstay yesterday and lateen today. Somehow I knew lateen.
My first impulse always is to misspell the park as Arcadia.
Thank you for the wonderful Carl Sagan quote.
I was uplifted by it. Then I read the comments and @Anon. 1:34 managed to bring me down.

Kirstin 8:37 AM  

Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to lose our breakfast over the thought of a BREECH birth. You were delivered. Everyone who reads this blog has been delivered. It’s natural. Get over it.

Charles Flaster 8:44 AM  

Puzzle excellent.
Loved Ben’s review.
Thanks LL.

Nancy 8:45 AM  

I'm struggling to find anything at all to say about a rather dreary puzzle that required no thinking at all to solve. Well, OK, -- one observation about the 4D clue for EDGY:

I've known people who are EDGY, but who are not at all uptight.
I've known people who are uptight, but who are not at all EDGY.

End of things I have to say about this puzzle. Too easy and mindless even for a Monday? I'D SAY SO.

Z 8:52 AM  

This puzzle was challenging due to SCOL Syndrome (Sleeping Chihuahua On Lap). As soon as I finished the puzzle said chihuahua decided her dog bed would be a better sleeping spot.

On the QoM grading curve I give this a C. Ending with ENO SOU is fine for your average constructor but when you are one of the two reigning Queens of Monday the standard is much higher.

Until @LMS’s gave us her Nuthatch musings my favorite part of the puzzle was considering who or what might fit the theme answers:
BALLBOY GAMEBOY - Lowest selling GAMEBOY game ever
HIGHBOY OFFICE BOY - The lad who makes sure everything is neatly stored.
BAD BOY NEWS BOY - Keith Olberman.
SCHOOLBOY PLAYBOY - That was my youngest in 7th grade. Always with the flock of girls around him.

@kitshef - You didn’t consider Great Rice of China or Great Bone of China or Great Time of China? The possibilities are endless.

xyz 8:56 AM  

I was born a BREECH and I pass the breakfast test every day, in fact I ace it. LIBIDO begat BREECH, oh to be an ivy snowflake

Z 9:06 AM  

@Anon8:17 - iOS in dark mode looks the same. For those wondering, on an iPad the setting is under Display and Brightness. You can choose between Light Mode or Dark Mode, set it so it is Light Mode from sunrise to sunset and Dark Mode from sunset to sunrise, or customize the time it is in Dark Mode. I presume it is similar on an android device. I think the idea is that Dark Mode is less likely to exacerbate insomnia.

@Suzie Q - 1:34 is a fine example of misery hating to be alone. Just remember, they made a special effort to come here and complain, so it seems they don’t even believe their own words.

Airymom 9:13 AM  

Hi Ben, welcome--maybe you know Jacob S. from Columbia, MD. He went to Penn, but is two years older than you. I know him from camp. Nice write-up---welcome to the blog!

Kathy 9:13 AM  

I was thrown off by WOW clueing the theme so I needed to read the commentary to get that it was BOY!! I must disagree that highboy is a dated term. But that goes to the ongoing debate on what stands the test of time vs. what is a trend du jour. I vote highboy a classic

I sped through this one, as I generally do now on Mondays (yay!), but then it took me five minutes to find a typo I made along the way. A fair and square entry-level NYT puzzle.

Who couldn’t help hearing “more cowbell!”

@LMS. Tsk, tsk!

...and a warm welcome to apprentice Ben, stop by again soon!

Nancy 9:14 AM  

The discussion about BREECH that's taking place reminds me of one of my mother's best-remembered anecdotes:

When Mom was in the final stage of delivering my [younger] brother, through the fog of whatever medication was permitted, she heard her obstetrician -- who happened to be Mortimer Rodgers, older brother of composer Richard Rodgers -- say: "Oh, my God, it's BREECH!!!!"

Mom said that she panicked and started saying "Oh, no, oh, no!"

She said that Dr. Rodgers then said in the calmest voice imaginable: "Relax, Dotty. It's my problem now. I'll take care of it. Go back to sleep."

And it all turned out fine.

Barbara S. 9:25 AM  

Serviceable Monday.

8A JOSTLE is one of my favorite words. But these days I'm just jostling with my husband and the cat.

19A MOUNDS When I think of edible MOUNDS I never think of the commercial candy but of a cookie my mother used to make. In fact, it was my very first *favorite* cookie. Sugar, cocoa, canned milk, marg (all of which you boiled), then added vanilla, coconut and oatmeal. No baking, they just set into MOUNDS on waxed paper. Probably everyone who bakes has made them -- they're not rare. But what a treat for the child-me.

59A I think EDIE Falco has suddenly taken over from Issa RAE.

3D Interesting that PULSES are vegetables as well as heartbeats. I think they're legumes -- beans, peas and the like -- but I didn't look up the word derivation.

57D I liked the clue for OHARE because Bulls and Bears tend to make you go somewhere else mentally. (But, come to think of it, maybe not if they're capitalized.)

@chefwen 3:01
Thanks for addressing TOOL UP. I wondered if that was a term that was actually used.

@QuasiMojo 7:19
Quasi, you're a gentleman. But I really think we must declare ROLF a three-way tie between you, @M&A and me. We all got it independently of one another in a short period of time. So we each get to keep the gold medal for 4 months of the year.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I didn't love the theme - a few of these terms are dated and not particularly clever ("office boy", "School boy") - didn't get the satisfaction of the 'aha' moment out of these.

I would strongly disagree with your statement that breech doesn't pass the breakfast test! I personally loved this clue.

Roberto 9:39 AM  

Fun fact. A nut hatch is the only common bird that can climb down a tree trunk.

rageismycaffeine 9:46 AM  

I'm with Nancy - "Uptight" does not equal EDGY. I've never equated the two in my mind. What an odd clue.

thfenn 9:52 AM  

MEMOes crossing HeadOFFICE held me up for way too long on a Monday, but finally got through it. And nuthatches, Acadia, and baseball all brought find associations and memories, lol, as did libido and tool up, thanks @LMS.

TJS 10:00 AM  

Why would someone decide at 1:30 in the morning to tell everyone that they are wasting their time?

pabloinnh 10:03 AM  

Are nuthatches really that rare? We have them all winter at our bird feeders, and as @Offthegrid points out, they are usually upside down. Fun to watch. They and the chickadees keep us and the cats entertained.

LATEEN is new too? Seems to me like it's been around crosswords forever. I liked this puzzle a lot, just right for a Monday, couldn't figure out where the theme was going until the revealer and, bang, there it was. Nice. None of the -BOY terms seemed dated to me, probably because I'm dated. No GAMEBOYS around "when I was young".

Thanks for a Monday that knows how to Monday, LL. More like this would be aces with me.

Z 10:07 AM  

@Barbara S - You reminded me of this comic.

@rage and @Nancy - EDGY as “on edge” not EDGY as “on the cutting edge.” I have heard and seen it used both ways.

Hand up for understanding that BREECH doesn’t pass the breakfast test. I’ve been on hand for one emergency c-section and two VBACs and none of them are appropriate breakfast topics. Do I really need to list all the “natural,” even daily, bodily functions that don’t pass the breakfast test or can we all agree that that argument doesn’t hold up to a half nanosecond of consideration?

Lewis 10:13 AM  

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

1. Seasonal pickers (10)
2. Enters without looking, say (5)(5)
3. School of the future? (3)
4. Distressing character in the Bible? (7)
5. Like kids, but no mom or dad? (6)


Joaquin 10:13 AM  

I have no problem with 4D, Uptight/EDGY. EDGY can mean two different things: Nervous (or on edge); or avant-garde. In this puzzle, the clue referred to the former. One can be edgy without being edgy!

Anonymous 10:21 AM  

For shame Ben!!! You should know what a nuthatch is. I'd bet almost anything there's one withon 200 yards of your house right now. Closer than that if any of your neoghbors have feeders.
I'd also wager it'll be a white breasted not a red breasted wjich is the species in your picture. A good choice.
Hurrah for the Red and the Blue.

RooMonster 10:24 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, feeling a tad Randy are we? You've been cooped up too long,!

Nice MonPuz. Different in the fact of having two Revealers. What I meanean by that, is normally a "word that follows both parts of the answers" is just one word, like it could've been BOY HOWDY, but Lynn got teo BOYs. Hopefully you know what I'm trying to say. Often times not even I do!

Nice 4 square block of F's. Only ones in puz. They've been grouped together lately. Power in numbers. Har.

This is your typical MonPuz in all it's glory. And I mean that as a compliment. Nice one, Lynn!

HUAC! (pardon me)

OBI Wanna Kimono 10:29 AM  

Oh that sneaky google! I was just surfing the net after doing this puzzle and an ad for KIMONOs popped up. They know everything. Although I'm a long shot for buying one.

John R 10:30 AM  

I enjoyed the review, Ben. Thanks for the definitions of HUAC and LATEEN. Those were new to me. Your comment about the game boy made me smile. My memory of them was that my sister used the threat of confiscating their game boys to keep her grandsons in line.

I didn't understand EDGY as an answer at all when it filled in from the crosses, but then realized I had misread the clue as upright instead of uptight.

Frantic Sloth 10:33 AM  

Welcome, Ben, and thank you for your review. Nicely done.

Hand up for RETOOL. Never heard of TOOLUP, but that just means I never heard of it.

Hand up for HIGHBOY being a classic and not a dated term.

Hand up for the @Z 906am and @TJS 1000am responses to Anonymous 134am

No hand up or down for BREECH.

@LMS Loved your childbirth/nuthatch thing. If the NUT that was HATCHED is re-elected, does that mean the White House gets RETOOLed?

puzzlehoarder 10:35 AM  

A little more than a minute over my average Monday time. Oddly MEMOIR was my first slow down not LATEEN. I recalled that word as LANTEEN most likely conflating it with lantern. It was very easy to convert to it's correct spelling.

MEMOIR was one of those brain farts where you blank on a common word.

Even with the HI in place at 23A HIGH OFFICE didn't pop up. Then again it's been pretty debased of late.

When I first read the clue for 8D I accidentally read the 18D clue over again. Now I'm wasting time trying to come up with JIB.... something. Little mistakes like that add up. PARODY was another brain fart. The end result was an extra minute of solving and that was it.

Some of the commentariat have repurposed TOOLUP. Cabin fever?

albatross shell 10:35 AM  

Yes an amusing racy side: a LAPful of LIBIDO LED To a SWALLOWED TOOLUP with someone in a BREECH KIMONO. BOYOHBOY inDEED.

Then an EDGY ELMO, a BADNEWS OUTLAW and an ALI LOOP. But even though I do not miss them as much as I thought, I would love a BALLGAME, especially an NBA PLAYoff game.

@Frantic Sloth and whosoevercares
Cold brew was very smooth and tasty. Big plus convenience after is made. I brewed it 20 hours in fridge using a 1 to 2 coffee to water ratio. Expecting 8 to 1 dilution of concentrate. It was best to my taste at 5 or 6 to one. The taste was better, but somehow reminiscent of Tasters Choice. Made from concentrate? Lack of bitterness? Haven't had TC but once or twice in 10 years, so take this as a non-judgemental comparison with a grain of salt, just one element of the taste. I used one to one mix of Guatemalan medium roast and substituted Columbian dark for my usual Honduran dark (coffee store cut back on some choices cause of Covid). Going to try again with all dark beans and maybe slightly less coarse grind. I use a regular grinder so getting an even grind at a coarse level is difficult so erred, perhaps, on the too coarse side. All suggestions welcome. MyK loved it.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:36 AM  

I was delayed getting here by trying to do the new 'two not touch' puzzle. Got half way through and became mired. It would be easy to do on computer, where you could try a guess and use 'undo' back to the bifurcation and try the other way, but it wasn't immediately obvious how to notate guesses.

Oh, the crossword. Too bad Katahdin didn't fit, I thought that was also a national park but maybe not. Et in Acadia ego.

Frantic Sloth 10:38 AM  

@Z 852am Great Scot of China

Barbara S. 10:42 AM  

@Z 10:07
Hilarious double entendre -- I love it!
Oh, and the comic was funny, too.

dadnoa 10:53 AM  

+1 for the touch of crunch. Welcome, Ben. Clever Monday write-up, clean, fun, enjoyable. Am the parent of a UPenn alum. Go Quakers!

Frantic Sloth 10:54 AM  

@albatross shell 1035am Thank you for the update, though I'm not entirely sure whether that was an up or down vote. ;-)

Also lacking the best equipment for attaining any semblance of perfection, I started trying out quite a few brands of concentrate - just for yucks. Finally settled on something I'll likely never give up (love it!) but I'm not sure what the blog rules are regarding recommending certain brand names of products, etc.
Feel free to email me if you're interested - or maybe someone here can enlighten me about such rules?

Judith Butler 10:59 AM  

"Breech" doesn't pass the breakfast test?? Rex would never say that. So vaginas are distasteful to you? I just had one for breakfast, but you probably haven't experienced that yet up in your ivory tower. Take a gender studies class, kid.

Aketi 11:03 AM  

TOMTOM would have added two girls into the mix.

Nancy 11:03 AM  

@Z and @Joaquin -- I already did define EDGY according to its "on-edge, nervous" connotation. But I still don't think there's any real similarity to "uptight". The nervous person is quite likely to spill her emotions all over the place, to anyone who will listen. The uptight person is likely to not want to discuss or reveal her emotions at all. Under the right (or wrong) circumstances, most people who know me say: "BOY OH BOY, is she ever nervous." I don't think anyone who has ever known me has ever described me as uptight.

Whatsername 11:04 AM  

Good morning all and thank you Ben for a pleasant review. Your comment about playing video games when you were “young” made me smile. That’s the type of nostalgia to preserve for the early chapters of your MEMOIR. You’ve probably seen all the baseball movies, but I recently watched Moneyball, based on the Oakland A’s 2001 season and thought it was a great film. Brad Pitt bobs and weaves and does a great job of portraying manager Billy Beane.

@Loren: None of those things works for me either, but if you haven’t tried Benadryl (antihistamine) or Bonine (for motion sickness), both of those knock me out cold.

@Z (8:52) Keith O as BAD boy NEWS boy is perfect! Just imagine what he’d have to say if he was still doing political commentary these days.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

I agree that there's nothing wrong with the clue for breech (and, as a woman who has been through labor, was honestly much more disturbed by your "ew, gross" reaction to any mention of childbirth than the clue itself).

mb 11:10 AM  

Great review, Ben, and welcome! Very sharp observations and agreed on all accounts. Looking forward to future reviews.

Crimson Devil 11:11 AM  

Exc cluing for OHARE; and aMUSEd at LIBIDinOus comments.

webwinger 11:14 AM  

Fast smooth solve today. Nothing special in the theme, but about as nice an example of this well-worn type as I can imagine. Fill was uniformly solid, clueing straightforward but not insultingly so. Overall a fine Monday, no surprise considering its constructor.

ELMO is the name I have given to the magnificent American elm tree in my new avatar, which I pass on my morning walk most days. He managed to survive the Dutch Elm plague in the mid-twentieth century (which caused loss of 75% of North American specimens), making his presence all the more inspiring today. I make a point of tickling him as I go by—a welcome reprieve from social distancing. (Note how almost free of snow he is already, just 3 days after our recent big too-late-for-winter storm.) Old joke: Why are all Tickle-Me-Elmo toys male? Because before they leave the factory they are test-tickled. Har.

Free associating from the theme takes me back to a book I read (or maybe just a review of) long ago called Oh Boy, Babies! about a classroom “experiment” in which male middle schoolers met with mothers of infants, to be shown how to hold and handle them, an opportunity often afforded to girls at that age but seldom to boys. Seemed like a great project; no idea if it went anywhere. (Quick google shows it to be an out of print title from 1980, just one review on Amazon—too bad.)

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

You sound fun. Good luck with the HPV.

What? 11:18 AM  

All those in favor of Ben replacing Rex, raise your pencils.

jberg 11:19 AM  

I knew LATEEN right away, but not what it actually meant, i.e., that the sail was triangular. Puzzles are so educational! Also learned that a building built of ADOBE is an ADOBE, and two of them are ADOBES (which would not be true of the bricks.)

Fun theme, I always like themes that work for both words of a pair. It certainly went fast, though.

@pabloinnh -- I've learned that there are two kinds of people, those who pay attention to words and those who don't. If you don't notice the differences, they all look pretty much alike (big or little, I guess). And if you know more details, you know more. I can tell my nuthatches instantly, but show me a Savannah sparrow and I'll say, "it's a sparrow!"

Thanks for your write-up, Ben!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

I can't think of a clue more timely than HUAC. In an era in which the mayor of New York wants you to rat out your neighbors for sitting with friends, we need to be reminded of the social disaster that witch hunts imply.

Swagomatic 11:21 AM  

Well, I solved this one with only (mostly) the Down clues, so I never noticed the theme. I guess I should have read the Across clues when I was done, because it's really pretty clever.

Tale Told By An Idiot 11:36 AM  

BOY OH BOY, there is really BAD NEWS from the HIGH OFFICE: The BALL GAME and the SCHOOL PLAY are cancelled; if you JOSTLE anyone in your LAP around the LOOP your knuckles will be RAPPED and you will be declared an OUTLAW. If your mask comes UNTIED or is LEAKY, you - YES, YOU - must ring a COWBELL to warn of your approach, or hide behind the WALL. We do not want to end up in the ICU.

Still, when you write your MEMOIR of these times, remember not only the ROMCOMS you watched but the good DEED your neighbor did for you and the OASES of calm that you found.

Willard 11:54 AM  

We all have our own breakfast tests. Breech birth doesn’t pass Ben’s apparently. My guess is he’s only been reading Rex’s portion of the blog the last two years or he would’ve known not to share this. As soon as I read it I figured he’d get shredded by the sanctimonious commentariat.

Lewis 12:05 PM  

TYPO ALERT -- In my clue list, #5 should read: "Like kids, but not mom or dad? (6)" (I had "no" for "not" -- apologies!)

egsforbreakfast 12:15 PM  

@Z 8:52. As my son said after I emailed him our vacation photos, “Great PICS of China”.


(Answers below)

Incense burner in Exodus
Caped crusader
Urban transport

Golden Altar
City Bus

BillT 12:22 PM  

I have an issue with the 51D cluing. A satirical work is called "satire", not PARODY. Parody and satire are two different things. Otherwise, good puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Runtiest Possible BOYOHBOY Themer Contest:
M&A's entry: POGO.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Great ___ of China} = WALL. A gimme, since VIRUS is a bit too long.
staff weeject pick: SOU. Mainly becuz it splatzes a "U" in the endin puzcorner, allowin this most excellent MonPuz to end with an extra admirable flourish.

Thanx for havin all them good old boys gang up on us, Ms. Lempel darlin. It was fun, without bein too easy. It was a primo constructioneerin feat. It was, like, COWBELL … more, please.

Masked & Anonym007Us

p.s. Good blog-sub job, Ben dude. Cool CarlQuote. Thanx.


Anonymous 12:30 PM  

hi @willard, et al. no sanctimony here. I don't think the term "breech birth" is breakfast-test worthy. likewise "breastfeeding." all natural events.

and yes "adobes" is a word. here in sw Texas they're the topic of lots of conversation. once they were houses for poor people who couldn't afford wood to build walls. you went out, dug a hole, filled in some square forms with dirt, water, and some sort of bonding agent, let them dry, and built a home one brick at a time. now they're trendy and desirable. the local governments are trying to tap into this by taxing adobes at a higher rate. this tax has trapped lots of poor folks, descendants of settlers who were "dirt poor."

liked this fine monpuz by LL. I was hoping for a "they call me Mr Tibbs" clip.

and. team, time for some of you to review the it is/it's/its rules. smh

Tim Aurthur 12:46 PM  

Shouldn't ADOBES be in the southwest? I've heard the plural version from relatives in Monterey, where a tour of the old adobes is highly recommended.

pabloinnh 12:57 PM  

@jberg-I'm with you on identifying the different kinds of nuthatches immediately. As for sparrows, wrens, and all their like-colored kin, my favorite term is "LBJ", which is short for "little brown job".

Teedmn 1:00 PM  

I thought this puzzle was a romp rather than a ROUT. I liked seeing JOSTLE and SWALLOWED next to SLOP. I found the clue for COWBELL (you can never have enough, can you?) intriguing and for some reason, the clue "Latin list lopper, in brief" for ET AL nearly made me LOL.

The only thing that I didn't like was thinking that there was no way in hell you could do this puzzle with a female slant, including the revealer. No "girl, oh girl", no game girl, high girl (at least as a piece of furniture!) No bell girl and do we really want to talk about PLAY girl?

At least we had a female constructor. Thanks, Lynn Lempel, for one of your cute Monday works.

Carola 1:28 PM  

Seeing Lynn Lempel's name at the top of a Monday puzzle always gets a BOY-OH-BOY smile from me, and as usual I found this one a pleasure to solve, with its nicely hidden theme, happy reveal, and the joys of JOSTLE and JUMBOTRON.
SCHOOL PLAY + COWBELL: shades of a fourth-grade production of The Sound of Music at our neighborhood elementary school, with an adapted script written by a class member. Memorable line: the Captain, asked about the disappearance of the Baroness from his life: "I dumped her."
@Tale Told By An Idiot, I like your story!

jae 1:33 PM  

@lms & Whatsername -

Benadryl has been linked to dementia so you may want to limit it as a sleep aid.

An occasional very low dose of Ambien might be more helpful.

CaryinBoulder 1:35 PM  

Well, I have to hang out for another hour or so updating the web version of my pre-recorded radio show so listeners know what song they’re listening to, so I have time to blather. (If you’re looking for a musical pick me up, it’s currently airing on KGNU-FM ; this afternoon it’ll be archived at Groovin’ for Geezers )

For me this had a bit more crunch than a typical Monday. Of course, that might’ve been because my brain ignored the plurals in the clues for OASES and ELS, which totally obscure LATEEN, a word I was unfamiliar with anyway. As for HUAC, Ben should have said “a manifestation of ANOTHER pretty ugly period.” The path that the mouth-breathing bloatard is leading us down, has plenty of echoes of that time. And, while I am sorely missing my BALLGAMEs, the fact that lapdog Hannity thinks we should open up the country so he can sit in the stands and eat a ballpark hotdog, make me want to toss my Hebrew National. (If you saw John Oliver last night you know what I’m referencing).

Would “Richard Thompson song, ‘_____ of Death’” be too hip for a Monday, or any day? As clued, WALL could just be pre-filled. When I was in college the dining hall used to serve us some kind of tasteless chicken croquettes that we always called MOUNDS of Joy. (We also used that descriptor for the attributes of well-endowed co-Ed’s.)

Loved Lewis’s NOR clue.

Enough babbling. At least my daily sipping of good mezcal has kept me a HIGHBOY in my isolation.

TinPT 1:38 PM  

This is my favorite Monday puzz in a LONG time. Had BREaCH before realizing my error at the end. Also that “u” in HUAC crossing ROUT was a bear. Played more like a Tuesday or Wednesday for me, but the challenge was a welcome one. Loved the mini Chicago theme with ELS, OHARE, LOOP. I’m working on a brand with an OUTLAW archetype, which makes advertising fun (beyond grateful to still have work and to be able to continue, and hurting for the millions who are less fortunate). Bonus to see a nuthatch in today’s clues. They’re tiny and adorable and defy gravity with their sideways tree-hopping. Definitely a favorite of this bird lady. Thanks for the Sunday afternoon treat!

Joe Dipinto 1:42 PM  

Breech baby, breech baby
There on the sand
From July to the end of September

Yowza! – Charcoal/black shirt-suit combo with teal pocket square: does this boy Ben know how to dress a puzzle in style, or what?

No problem with BREECH – and, it doesn't appear to be cluable in reference to anything else (no singular breeches, thank you). All around nice effort for Monday.


kitshef 1:44 PM  

&M&A - how about "BB"? B-BOY has appeared in the Times puz, so has some kind of immunity.

Barbara S. 1:55 PM  

RE Anonymous 1:34 a.m.
This may just be a troll ridiculing us and telling us that what we do is useless


when I read that comment I think this: if you take out all references to crossword puzzles, constructors and word games, you're left with a passage that traces someone's journey from youthful enthusiasm to ultimate disillusionment. I wonder if this has been taken from a literary work or a film, if the original had nothing to do with crosswords, and if the passage has been adapted to both needle and test us.

pabloinnh 2:26 PM  

@JoeD-Well, there are BREECH loading rifles, but maybe that doesn't pass the breakfast test either.

GILL I. 2:31 PM  

My great uncle, Philip Zimmerman, was an architect who loved ADOBE structures. If you've ever been to Twentynine Palms and visited The Little Church of the Desert, he helped build it. He did most of the design and actually did it for free. He helped design the ADOBE house he and his wife, Irene Zimmers lived in. The house is now called "Irene's Adobe." I spent a lot of time in that house when I was small. It could be 100 degrees outside and inside it was cool as a delicious chocolate ice cream. Irene would have locals come and patch up needed crumbling walls. The patching was only done with local clay that came from Joshua Tree National Park. There was straw involved as well. Beautiful structures.
@Frantic....I think just about anything goes as long as name calling isn't thrown in. @Rex has always been lenient with what we've posted. So have at it!

Joe Dipinto 2:42 PM  

@pabloinnh – Oh you're right. Nah, that clue would be a problem too.

Suggestion for people who habitually feel that "_____ doesn't pass the breakfast test": Don't eat breakfast. Problem solved.

webwinger 2:45 PM  

@Judith 10:59: Touché! And talk about EDGY (of the non-uptight variety)—in comparison with your comment the bluish note sounded today by our @LMS could have come from Goody Two-shoes.

You do sound like fun. Imagine it would be a hoot sitting between you and JOHN X in a bar (6-foot separation and wearing appropriate PPE of course), maybe joined by Evil Doug. Best of all, you are not Anonymous. Look forward to hearing more from you.

@Nancy 9:14: Enjoyed your Dr. Mortimer story. Very different from today’s typical (video consulting?) OB/GYN, and while the change has generally been much for the better, I wouldn’t say it’s inappropriate to feel a tiny bit of nostalgia for the paternalistic manly woman’s doc of yore. (Saying this as a medical insider but very much a gender outsider. Nancy brought it up, after all.) I seem to recall that back in the day if BREECH presentation was detected at the last minute (now a rarity in the First World with universal ultrasound monitoring) the delivery overseer would sometimes reach way in and somewhat forcefully rotate the soon-to-be newborn. (That image is truly a bit much for breakfast, but hey, it’s afternoon now.) I believe in most cases c-section is used today—but please correct me if wrong. (BTW, the obstetrician who delivered me and my brother was named Dr. Botsch—seriously!)

Well, I guess now I’ll have all sides upset with me again...

JC66 2:57 PM  


Since you brought it up, back in the day, my ex-wife's gynecologist was Dr. Cherry of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Joe Dipinto 2:59 PM  

@webwinger → Well, I guess now I’ll have all sides upset with me again...

Don't worry, you redeemed yourself with "Dr. Botsch".

marlene 3:13 PM  

question: what exactly about "breech" doesn't pass the breakfast test? it's a perfectly normal thing that isn't age inappropriate. i'd be far more concerned about the appropriateness of "libido" if anything.

Barbara S. 3:14 PM  

@Joe Dipinto 1:42

Thanks for posting the Hugh Masekela link. Listening to his music shot me back to a night in, I think, February 1993 in Seattle. I was there for a conference, it was the last night, and a couple of chums and I were wandering around, taking in the city and bidding it farewell. We found ourselves outside a tiny venue in which Hugh Masekela was playing and we thought it was impossible that we'd be able to just walk in at the last minute. But we did, and he was great and at the end we floated back to the hotel. What a great memory!

Azzurro 3:24 PM  

Welcome, Ben, and thanks for the solid write up!

Frantic Sloth 3:36 PM  

@webwinger 1114am Love your ELMO Dutch Elm story and the tickling ritual.
@GILL I Thank you for the clarification, but now I'm all tempted to name-call! JK - I'll leave that to (some of) the anonymice. ;-)

Joe Dipinto 3:55 PM  

@Barbara S – I love when those sort-of impromptu, "well let's just check it out and see" decisions turn into the best time ever.

Btw, the "Coming Home" reference in your post the other day completely sailed past me. That was dumb of me.

Whatsername 4:13 PM  

@jae (1:33) Thank you. I was not aware of that fact about Benadryl. I rarely take it because I usually wake up with a terrible headache from it, almost like a hangover. The Bonine - generic name Meclizine - is more effective for me with no residuals.

Masked and Anonymous 4:14 PM  

@kitshef - In fact, BBOY has the Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. Very nice find. The only thing that made the elite panel of judges hesitate: BB repeats the *same* BOY twice. This would sorta be like usin COWCOW or BELLBELL as a themer in today's puz, f'rinstance. But, but -- with the first B firmly in place, one cannot help but contemplate whether M-BOY might be a thing …
Example: "M-Boy -- them are terrific cinnamon rolls!"

M&A Awards Desk

Ernonymous 4:32 PM  

@anon 1:34am

I care.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Well said. Agree with you.

pabloinnh 5:12 PM  


The nice young surgeon who did my wife's hip replacement was Dr. Machete.

Nancy 5:36 PM  

@webwinger and @JC66 -- Such a small world. My GYN was Dr. Sheldon Cherry, too.

A wonderful, wonderful doctor. But I was always surprised that, with his name and with all the medical specialties available to him, he chose that one!

Now, with Dr. Botsch, it wouldn't have made any difference what specialty he chose.

. 6:00 PM  

I think they’re called aptonyms, My family had a dentist named Dr. Paine.

Barbara S. 6:31 PM  

I once had a doctor whose name wasn't odd, but he blew every stereotype by looking like the head bouncer in a biker bar. He had the bedside manner of a provoked bear. Thank god he was a specialist and I didn't have to see him for long!

Z 7:23 PM  

Dr. Crouch just fixed my dog’s knee.

Joaquin 7:26 PM  

My wife sees an internist named Richard Payne. Maybe he should have gone into urology.

egsforbreakfast 8:05 PM  

The oral surgeon who installed several fake teeth for me was Dr. M. Plant.

JC66 8:17 PM  


The G is not the only thing you're missing.

The doctor's names cited above are real (and funny), not just made up puns [except for @Joaquin (have you considered penis reduction?) & @Z (didn't realize you were joking until @egs posted)].

RooMonster 8:22 PM  

In the spirit -
My proctologist - Dr. Butts
My urologist - Dr. I. P. Freely
My OB/GYN - Dr. Titz

Har. Im sure you know mine are fake!

RooMonster Doctor Doctor Give Me The News Guy

egsforbreakfast 8:51 PM  

@ JC66 8:17. Please google dr. M plant twin falls Idaho. Then please write an apology in ALL CAPS to me. This was not a joke.

JC66 9:14 PM  


I truly thought after @Z's & @Joaquin's posts, that you were following suit.


Z 9:17 PM  

Western Carolina Veterinary Surgery

Z 9:19 PM  

@JC66 - No need to apologize. The number of times I was joking and taken seriously still leads by about 457-1.

egsforbreakfast 9:19 PM  

@JC 66 Thanks for being a stand-up person (don’t know your gender) about that. I spent a lot of time in the M. Plant office. Hope you noticed that ALL CAPS was actually meant to be a dental pun.

JC66 9:30 PM  


OK, marginally funny. ;-)


BOY, am I missing stuff today!

Ernonymous 11:38 PM  

My mom was a receptionist at a Urologist for many years She would answer the phone: Dr. Jones Office, can you hold?

spacecraft 10:51 AM  

This triggered a MEMOIR from when I was in a SCHOOLPLAY ("HMS Pinafore."):

When I was young I served a term as OFFICEBOY to an attorney's firm.
I cleaned all the windows and I swept all the floors--
And I polished up the handle on the big front door!

[chorus] And he polished up the handle on the big front door!

I polished up the handle so carefully that now I am the ruler of the Queen's Na-vee!

[chorus] He polished up the handle so carefully that now he is the ruler of the Queen's Na-vee!

God, that was...that was sixty-some years ago, right around the time that Joe McCarthy and the HUAC were doing their thing. A beautiful time and an ugly time.

And "time" was my first thought for the theme: game time, high time, office time--but ball time would be a pretty thin stretch. This puzzle was so well done that I didn't even notice that the central sevens were part of the theme! I picked up the "time" thing again with PLAY...and then hit the revealer. This caused a self-Gibbsslap of JUMBO proportions.

There are names in here who have rightly earned multiple DOD honors, but this time I have to hand it to the builder of this magnificent castle, Lynn Lempel. Along with an eagle.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  


and BOYOHBOY the NEWS that followed:


Burma Shave 11:48 AM  


and BOYOHBOY the NEWS that followed:


rondo 12:15 PM  

Lynn apparently doesn't have any trouble finding BOYs. IDSAY that's a lot of them. There's also plenty of COWBELL (some of you may get that).
The four corners RULE.
@spacey's probably right. YESYOU Lynn.

rainforest 1:43 PM  

Swell Monday, as usual Ms. Lempel.

School play, eh? Well, I have appeared as the Frankie Avalon character (twice!) singing Beauty School Dropout in Grease, and once as King Herod singing King of the Jews in Jesus Christ Superstar, while a school administrator. Let's just say that reviews were mixed.

Puzzle was easy, yes, but still had areas that gave pause. Evidence of competence and care in construction. Also, Ms. Lempel does RULE, @rondo, and she demonstrated how to LURE us to the corner squares.

Diana, LIW 3:49 PM  

Yes - perfect for the newbie and this Monday-loving solver. Go Lynn!

Diana, LIW

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