Outer layer of eyeball / MON 4-27-20 / Rolls's partner in auotdom / Brand with redundant slogan kills bugs dead / Muppet with falsetto / Talk show host who won season of celebrity apprentice / Spiritual leader often picture sitting cross-legged

Monday, April 27, 2020

Constructor: Ed Sessa

Relative difficulty: Easyish (timer didn't start, so I don't really know)

THEME: AHA MOMENT (64A: Sudden insight ... with a hint to 17-, 24-, 40- and 50-Across) — two-word phrases / names where first word starts A- and second starts HA-:

Theme answers:
  • ANGEL HAIR (17A: Thin variety of pasta)
  • ACE HARDWARE (24A: Competitor of Home Depot and Lowe's)
  • ACCIDENTS HAPPEN (40A: "Don't worry, it's not your fault")
  • ARSENIO HALL (50A: Talk show host who won a season of "Celebrity Apprentice")
Word of the Day: Sir Frederick Henry ROYCE (43A: Rolls's partner in autodom) —
Sir Frederick Henry Royce, 1st BaronetOBE (27 March 1863 – 22 April 1933) was an English engineer famous for his designs of car and aeroplane engines with a reputation for reliability and longevity. With Charles Rolls (1877 – 1910) and Claude Johnson (1864 – 1926), he founded Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce initially focused on large 40-50 horsepower motor cars, the Silver Ghost and its successors. Royce produced his first aero engine shortly after the outbreak of the First World War and aircraft engines became Rolls-Royce's principal product.
Royce's health broke down in 1911 and he was persuaded to leave his factory in the Midlands at Derby and, taking a team of designers, move to the south of England spending winters in the south of France. He died at his home in Sussex in the spring of 1933. (wikipedia)
• • •

Started out kinda rough, with a cutesy-quaint clue for an alcoholic (WINO) and an evocation of lynching (NOOSE), but once I got out of that NW corner, I was surprised to find that things smoothed out and settled down, and by the end of the solve, damned if I didn't think this was a pretty solid Monday puzzle. It's got all the makings of a very dull grid—ultra-conventional shape means we are "treated" to (roughly) nine (roughly) 4x4 or 4x5 sections, which is never conducive to good fill, and usually invites a kind of crosswordese creep that is never pleasant. But, though the fill is typical and familiar throughout, it's never irksomely weak—like, never, not once—and the revealer, when it comes, provides a genuine, if gentle, AHA MOMENT. Nice little self-reflexive touch, with the AHA MOMENT coming with the answer AHA MOMENT. Are there a ton of potential A- + HA- answers? Is this theme too loose? I don't know, and since the answers that I *get* are solid, varied, and interesting, I don't much care. This Monday puzzle did its Monday job. It didn't dazzle, but it most certainly didn't flop. It Mondayed.

Not a lot to say about the finer points of the grid. Four long Downs provide color (and help offset the ordinariness of the bulk of the fill). Every one of those Four adds interest to the grid. It's a vivid and varied set. I'm seeing trapeze artists dressed as Odysseus and Achilles throwing open their arms to catch one another during a circus act ... and the circus is in ANCHORAGE, I guess. I always have trouble with ISIAH, or, I at least have to think about it, since the more common spelling (I think) is ISAIAH ... which honestly looks wrong if you stare at it too long. That -AIA- vowel string is like "you can't be serious." But no, that *is* how you spell it most of the time. Interestingly, when I try to google "Isaiah," the predictive text feature believes I'm looking for ISIAH Thomas, so people must misspell his name constantly. I hesitated at LEAR thinking it might be LEER (?!) (18D: Big name in jets). I thought maybe DESI before getting LUCY (29D: Ethel's neighbor/pal, on 1950s TV), which, now that I read the whole clue, and now that I think about the fact that DESI was the actor, not the character, is absurd. Though I was very fast with this one, I had to steer around ANN'S (39D: St. ___ (common church name)) (clue too vague for me) and SHINE (52D: What stars and bootblacks both do) (clue too thinky for me). Everything else fell in easily. Really wish the ARSENIO HALL clue (50A: Talk show host who won a season of "Celebrity Apprentice") had done him and everyone else the favor of remembering his historic run as a late-night talk show host instead of remembering him as having once been on the reality show of the world's vilest and stupidest person (it's really the whitest clue I can imagine), but otherwise, as I say, this one held up well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:20 AM  

Rex – “It Mondayed.” Love this noun-cum-verb and am adding it into the rotation forthwith. You get that language is playwithable, and that’s why I like your writing style.

A while back on NPR’s Ask Me Another, they had an AHA MOMENT game, where the answers had AHA within the phrase. Like Sea Hawks and panama hat. I actually like this approach better than today’s since it’s more like there’s this “moment” occurring as you make your way along the phrase. But I briefly looked into this with the shameless thought of poaching the idea for a crossword only to find that there really aren’t many two-word phrases that disguise the AHA this way.

So good on Ed that he took this approach to give us ARSENIO HALL, ACE HARDWARE, and ACCIDENTS HAPPEN. ANNE HATHAWAY 12 and ASSEMBLY HALL 12 would have been an option, too, with a tweaked grid. I mean, Anne is more current than ARSENIO. (I agree about the clue. My disgust with the pig began way back then.) But I’m still on the fence about Anne after reading about her prima donna egg scene. Hey. I guess you really should send stuff back if you don’t like it, but I’ve never had the courage; I’ll eat pretty much whatever the waiter puts in front of me and tell him that it’s great. Color me wimpy. To paraphrase Elsie de Wolfe: Be pretty if you can, witty if you must, eat the goddam shoe-leather TBONE if kills you. Unless it involves “proper” English posturing at the expense of the unwashed, I’ma smile and keep my head down.

UNC “college V.I.P.” – DEAN. You better believe it, buddy. (Hey, @Crimson Devil.)

“Doughnut shop attraction” – not just the AROMA but the siren call of a bunch of sweet fried fat with cool stuff on top.

I never say “barbed” WIRE. It’s “barb” wire. And ice tea, fine-tooth comb, and king size bed. These are in the spirit of ice water, that all of you scowling at this say all the time. [See also: ice cream, skim milk]

RAID with its redundant slogan. Hmm. “Kills bugs dead” is sooooo much better than “Kills bugs.” It really is. You don’t want your roaches just killed. You want’em killed dead. I get the issue with redundancy and have come to realize that English teachers are regularly training redundancy into our kids. Quickest way to pad a paper, to tease it from a few words to that full page required, is to redunancize it:

*The new recruits were nostalgic for their past lives as they assembled together outside in the yard waiting to preboard the airplane. – 22 words
*Recruits were nostalgic as they gathered by the plane waiting to board. 12 words.

ROYCE – from yesterday – your puzzle has generated 213 comments as I write this! Wow. I spotted some unfamiliar names among them. @Silk Violet, @fitzy, et al – hope you hang around. Hope you all feel welcome here. Welcomed. Hope you all feel warmly received.

Music Man 6:27 AM  

The blog entry heading reads Sunday with yesterday’s date

Lewis 6:34 AM  
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Lewis 6:38 AM  

High quality Monday puzzle. Offerings on this day should be easy without being insulting, almost all answers should be easily recognizable, and the theme should be clever and obvious, so new solvers can see and enjoy what themes are about. Check, check, check. Also, the best ones hold the interest of veteran solvers. Check and thank you Ed.

I like the echo coming from ROYCE, the first name of yesterday's constructor (Hi @loren!), and the Veni echo with the first two words of column five: AAH CAME. And the lovely:


GILL I. 6:41 AM  

I don't think I took more than two breaths and this was over (AHEM)....
Cute Monday.
What did I notice? The WING crossing the ANGEL. Fantasy ensues. I always wondered why they have wings and fly all over heaven. I just can't imagine my grandmother flying all over the place up there. I see her floating around, though. Right after she died I was afraid to do anything wrong in case she was watching.
RAID...I hate that stuff. I thought the commercials were funny, though, especially when the roaches went "POOF." Reincarnation, folks....I won't squish an animal dead in case it used to be my next door neighbor coming back to bite me.
I love me some I Love Lucy. My favorite scene - and probably everybody else - was her tripping with Ethel in that wine vat in Italy and making some bodacious red wine.
THROWS OPEN a window is my mantra now. Air-conditioner went kaput. New unit installed (hopefully) today. No T-bone steaks for a while. HELL......

Hungry Mother 6:43 AM  

Very, very quick solve. EPICHEROES filled itself in before I could even think about it.

amyyanni 7:05 AM  

Solid. Like the IDIOM clue. Say, Neil Diamond tweeted about being 1Across in yesterday's puzzle.

Joaquin 7:16 AM  

Here’s a message for anyone who did not predict Rex’s complaint about the WINO/NOOSE crossing: Welcome first-time readers of this blog.

We now return to our regularly scheduled posting.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Very easy even for a Monday.

capELlini and ANGEL HAIR have the same number of letters.

The AROMA of doughnuts makes mrsshef feel nauseated.

No fault of the constructor’s, I suspect, but puzzle has two of the “errors” that the NYTpuz make over and over again. AAH is not a sound of relief, AhH is. AAH is what you say at the dentist, or if you absolutely must, a call of alarm. Also, the idea that there were three MAGI is without any scriptural support.

OffTheGrid 7:29 AM  

@LMS. I once heard a politician refer to foreign products that are imported to the U.S. from other countries.

Todd 7:33 AM  

The word noose is an evocation of lynching? Really, it most be hard going through life the way Rex does, trying to find hate and racialism in single generic words.

Suzie Q 7:42 AM  

Nice Monday, fun enough.
I noticed a little car theme with STP, Indy 500, Rolls Royce, and GTO.
Plus a radar speed trap.
@ Loren is enjoying her exploration of the evolution of English and I'm having fun following her. I will say that "good on you" does annoy me.

Frantic Sloth 7:44 AM  
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Nancy 7:45 AM  

I saw the AHA early on and spent the rest of my solve wondering what the revealer phrase could possibly be?


But none of these were in the language, so I assumed the solution would be much cleverer than I had thus far managed to be.

It wasn't.

AHA MOMENT -- the only AHA phrase in the language I could think of, and, of course, immediately eliminated because it didn't work with the theme answers -- turned out to be the revealer after all. It makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the puzzle.

Leaving the theme aside, how does the puzzle work otherwise? The fill's not too bad for a Monday, but the cluing is lackluster and on-the-nose. I need to get my thinking fix elsewhere.

OffTheGrid 7:48 AM  

@Todd & Joaquin. This is a good Monday puzzle and @Rex said so quite emphatically. Your determination to criticize him demeans you.

SouthsideJohnny 7:53 AM  

I had not heard the word COTE before, so I learned something on a Monday.

ISIAH Thomas is a creep - just his presence in the puzzle makes me want to take a shower. Bert LAHR is somewhat of a crossword staple - was he the lion (or maybe the wizard, lol) ?

Rex is complaining about WINO and NOOSE, yet he lets the vulgar, gun-worshipping, n-word spewing misogynist Dr. Dre pass without so much as a passing comment. Rex is is definitely an odd duck, lol.

The Big House 7:58 AM  

STP is an oil additive - you don’t mix it with gas. Why are their so many mistakes in the New York Times’ puzzles - seems like they should have a fact checker or an editor give it the once-over before they publish it.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

Sometimes a puzzle is just a puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 8:06 AM  

For my money, this was about as good as a Monday puzzle can and should be.

Good fill - just easy enough for new solvers without being a big bore for the more experienced.

A theme that was fun and tight with a literal AHAMOMENT right where it should be - at the end.

And nary a nit was found that day. Good times!

Joaquin 8:13 AM  

@ OffTheGrid (7:48) - Rex produces a daily blog in which he usually expresses a dislike for something, that dislike ranging from mild to extreme. Does Rex's "determination to criticize" demean him?

I hope Rex can take some razzing from his readers. And I do believe he can.

Joaquin 8:20 AM  

@ The Big House (7:58) - STP does, in fact, make several gasoline additives, so that clue is correct as written.

TJS 8:21 AM  

Yes, Todd. Really.

Michiganman 8:22 AM  

@The Big House. STP does market fuel additives. BTW, Is your moniker a Wolverine reference? Prison? Har!

RAD2626 8:26 AM  

Cute Monday puzzle. Agree with all of the positive comments. HOHUM next to APART pretty appropriate under the current circumstances although maybe HOHUM not strong enough. How about HATE IT. And certainly not HOHUM for all the heroes going to work every day and saving people. Thank you again. You are as brave as those who have defended our country for the past two centuries.

@kitschef. Three Magi in Claymation Christmas. Good enough for me.

William of Ockham 8:28 AM  

WINO - Just ERASE (Where was that today?) it from all dictionaries.

NOOSE evokes a touch of sadness in those of us with a hanging suicide in the family, but it is a fact of life; I could only feign offense at its inclusion. Lynchings and executions - we can revise those out of History for those offended I suppose.

Creepy ISIAH Thomas - pretend he never existed

Seriously people Let's not get hung up virtue signaling a word or two in an otherwise magnificently smooth fill-it-in Monday. This is the NYT here? We all care deeply about everything.

SOB on

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

He’s trying much too hard to be offended today.

webwinger 8:41 AM  

Nothing special, but this very easy (12 seconds from PB) Monday held together nicely IMO. Happy to find ELMO for the third time in just over one week (see avatar—back after a brief unexcused absence—unusual behavior for a tree, courtesy of Blogger). Haven’t read @Rex but expect typical responses to WINO and NOOSE. (Just peeked—hah!)

mathgent 8:50 AM  

A big bore for me. When Lewis calls it “high quality,” he must be speaking as a constructor, not a solver. Jeff Chen’s critiques also come from that perspective; that’s why his POWs are sometimes duds.

OffTheGrid 8:54 AM  

Netflix suggestion: "After Life". Ricky Gervais is a widower. There are 2 seasons of 6 episodes each. If you try it and like it you will find it over too soon, like a fun Xword. Another good Gervais series is the British "The Office" which preceded the American version. I know nothing of its availability except that I watched it on DVD from my local library.

thfenn 8:56 AM  

Was racing through this until I had to replace corneA with SCLERA and tenet with DOGMA. Went with AHAMOMENT before having a single letter in the themed acrosses, so that was fun. Really don't think of ACEHARDWARE as being in the same sphere as Lowe's and Home Depot, but ok. And the birder in me wouldn't let me leave the idea of a duckling becoming a swan alone. But a nice fun start to the day, which is what I want in my Monday puzzle, so all good.

Dcubed 8:58 AM  

Since I am a fairly new solver I thought it best to comment on a Monday puzzle. I have been trying to solve as fast as I can, but today I tried to relax and just enjoy the puzzle. And by golly if I didn't have a really quick time. Was a gentle AHA moment when the reveal came, but still put a smile on my face.

pabloinnh 9:04 AM  

Got the A-H phrase right away and then had fun guessing what the other long acrosses were going to be, missed the A-HA thing so that the revealer was really an AHA! moment. Love those.

I could sense in OFL's review that he was desperately trying to come up with the phrase, "a Monday that knows how to Monday", which I have been using for some time now. Since I have neglected to trademark said phrase, he's welcome to appropriate it.

Solid Monday, ES. Smooth as a smelt. I could call it a Monday that knows how to Monday, but that would be repetitively redundant (you can say that again!).

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

I set a new personal best time on this one.

Petsounds 9:23 AM  

@TheBigHouse: STP makes all kinds of additives, including those for gas. Back in the day, I was a true believer and dumped many a bottle into the gas tank of my Vega, which needed all the help it could get.

@Dcubed: So true! And if you're doing the puzzle online and racing to get a fast solve time, you're so much more likely to get typos.

Loved Rex's new verb for what this puzzle did. It Mondayed and it did it very well. I do agree that Arsenio Hall should be remembered for his considerable late-night accomplishments (Remember Bill Clinton wearing sunglasses and playing sax with the band?) and not for his agent's unfortunate decision to have him participate in what Rex so aptly described as "the reality show of the world's vilest and stupidest person." That was a sad misstep. Otherwise, very enjoyable. Thanks for a good start to the solving week, Ed.

TJS 9:26 AM  

213 comments yesterday, @LMS ? Yep, you're right. I just went back and read about the last 100 or so, so thanks for those who clued me in on the Ibiza location. Wasn't sure but too lazy to check yesterday.

As to being "Stuck in Santo Domingo", nope. Not stuck anywhere, but living for six months every year in the Punta Cana area. This year it might be for more than 6 months, who knows. We are on lockdown as well, 5PM to 6AM. Everyone stay safe.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Dogma is a subset of doctrine — all dogmas are doctrines, but not all doctrines are dogmas. A doctrine is a teaching of the universal Church proposed as necessary for belief by the faithful. Dogmas, properly speaking, are such teachings that are set forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

Todd 9:35 AM  

@Offthegrid. My comment is about Rex's little microrant and has nothing to do with the fact that he said the puzzle was good, bad or mediocre. It is about his totally predictable and completely absurd comment about the word noose. His attempts to bully the editors into accepting his very fringy view of what should and shouldn't be appropriate words in puzzles would be comical if it wasn't so pathetic.

MR. Cheese 9:40 AM  

@LMS - my favorite redundancy: an athlete who had some legal trouble said, “I’m looking forward in tthe future to putting my past behind me.”

xyz 9:41 AM  


I always thought puzzles were supposed to be fun. Speeding adds tension, like anyone needs that now ...

This one was fun and fast

RooMonster 9:44 AM  

Hey All !
Together we solve as one group writing answers in the grid to work out the solution in a group of comraderie as we ferret out the clued words of the puzzle.

Pretty good for a MonPuz. One mustn't over think when it comes to Revealers on Monday. AHA MOMENT was good as a tie-together-er for the themers. Each one has a MOMENT with AHA. *Mic drop*

Anyway, silly ramblings aside, fill wasn't tortured today. Some dreck, sure, but light. Liked @Lewis' vowel list. Got another CAR smack in the middle like YesterPuz. GTO.

Went to school with a kid who came from a family that had money, or at least financially able to have a big house and buy his 16 year old son a 1965 GTO. Oh, and he was good looking. And so was his sister! Out of my league, unfortunately.

No F's - F's feel fine for future fill, ya know.

Lewis 9:47 AM  

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

1. What it takes years and years to grow (3)
2. The night before on the day after, maybe (4)
3. They have little respect for brand names (6)(8)
4. Flight simulator? (5)(6)
5. A hot one can burn you (3)


Barbara S. 9:52 AM  

On the subject of elision (see @lms's "ice cream skim milk" link from 6:20):

It used to drive my mother crazy that so many newsreaders would say "Unita States." Another of her pet peeves was a commercial for "All" laundry detergent in which "housewives" were left with boxes of All to try for a month. They were then asked for the results of the experiment by a guy who elided his sentence into "How'dalldo?" That became a catchphrase for us, so that instead of asking each other how we were, we'd just say (with a wink) "How'dalldo?"

Currently, on one of the TV channels, the male voice that gives the "viewer discretion" warning says "the following program contains snudity." I don't know if this is reverse-elision or lazy enunciation, but that "S" sound sssticks around for way too long. I think this is the same guy who says "viewer discretion is avised," eliding the "D" out of existence in the middle of the word. None of this bothers me particularly (in fact I rather like snudity -- it sounds like snooty nudity, possible, I guess, if you have a killer body and you're overly proud of it). I just look on it as a quirk of this speaker and am fascinated that the network didn't ask him to re-record.

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Me again.

Regarding the Spelling Bee...
If anyone yesterday got CALLALOO or CLOACA, you are truly a genius!

Todays puz was nice. (Figured I had to say something relevant to the XW or else I wouldn't get posted!)

RooMonster Speller Guy

Z 10:11 AM  

More of an A HA MOMENT than an AHA MOMENT, but that’s how i hear it in my head, anyway, so it works for me.

I did have one pause of frisson at ACE HARDWARE. It exists in this weird spot, not really a big box store like Lowe’s or Home Depot, but not really a local hardware store. I really miss Duke’s in Dearborn Heights. Everybody working was related, they had all the weird things that our post-WWII era homes needed but weren’t common enough anymore for the big guys to carry, the dogs slept on the counter, I’d find stuff on a shelf that clearly had been sitting there since Clinton or Reagan or Johnson or maybe even Eisenhower was president, walking in with some unknown piece of whatever that broke and needed replacing and having the old man walk right to the replacement item, always buying a handful of tootsie pops along with whatever else. ACE HARDWARE wants to be that place, but it isn’t. Can’t really be a corporate chain and still be a local hardware store.

@Joaquin 7:16 - I chuckled. Here’s the thing, though, because you read Rex you noticed, too. Like it or not, we’ve been Rexified.

@Muse - regarding yesterday- doesn’t count because 63 of the posts were mine. As for Celebs caught on tape, I’ve read Yelp! reviews so know that the only difference between the celeb and too many others is that they are celebs. I can’t help but think, as I read some rant about how awful the service was, that maybe the reason the writer gets treated poorly is that the writer is an ass towards staff. What always amazes me is that the reviewers don’t realize how much they are telling on themselves.

@Todd - Rex didn’t mention race. I was just watching The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and there’s a scene near the end where Liberty Valance’s cronies try to incite a lynch mod against the Jimmy Stewart character. “Lynch” specifically invokes a type of lawless “mob justice.” Since Rex didn’t mention race, but that’s immediately where your mind went, you clearly must think of lynching in terms of the lynching of African-Americans. This suggests to me that the more important question is why this doesn’t bother you?

Ellen S 10:12 AM  

@Todd 7:33: so, what you’re saying is, nooses don’t kill people, Klansmen kill people? actually, I’m very much with @Rex on this. Racialism is not only embedded in our language, it’s embedded in everything, it’s not a thing of the past, it defines the present. @Rex had a lot of reasons for hating yesterday’s puzzle. I had one: ON A RAIL. It’s not innocent.

Mike Teavee 10:15 AM  

@Off the Grid: Second the After Life recommendation as well as the original The Office, which streams on Hulu (all 3 seasons) and Amazon Prime (first 2).

Anonymoose 10:16 AM  

I would never have gotten those or CALLA, KOLA, WALLAROO.

Z 10:20 AM  

“Lynch mod” - AutoCorrupt, fat fingers, or freudian slip? You decide. & why didn’t I catch that before hitting “publish?”

@Barbara S - “Snudity” - Love it. Adding it and Ectulleh to my vocabulary even though I don’t really know what either means.

Todd 10:22 AM  

@Z My first thought of lynching was absolutely of blacks in the south and I find the history of them extremely disturbing. A blot on our nation's history. But when I think of the word noose it doesn't automatic direct me to lynchings as it does Rex. And his obsession with trying to edit the English language at least as it applies to puzzles is what I find both comical and appalling.

Birchbark 10:24 AM  
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Pamela 10:25 AM  

Easy peasy. As I sped through it, I noticed and appreciated the inclusion of crossword regulars - LEAS, APSE, etc, with simple clues and straightforward crosses to help beginners learn. An almost perfect Monday.

My only unhappy moment was the clue for Arsenio. I’ve heard the T word since the mid-70’s and early 80’s, when I worked behind the scenes with models. Some of the agencies, one in particular, had regular ‘meet the client’ cocktail parties that the models were expected to go to. Some of the girls hated them- many of the men were married but had roving ways. In the dressing room while getting hair and makeup, etc, they would complain. Only one name came up so often that I remembered it- guess who? According to them, he was the most aggressive, and the grossest. I still remember one girl’s disgust as she said Eeeewwww! Decades later, the famous tape was no surprise.

Nancy 10:41 AM  

Love your elision riff, @Barbara S (9:52). Especially snudity. I'm thinking that Ira Gershwin missed his chance to make a great lyric even more memorable: "S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Nudity".

As for myself, I'm a world-class elider, but unpredictable. I say "ice tea" (you can't really tell with that one, can you?), but I also say "skimmed milk", or as close to it as I can manage. Where I'm the worst is with the "dontchoo", "wontchoo" and "cantchoo" thing. I suppose I must must have heard it that way in my family. Don't really remember. Anyway, it's an ingrained speech pattern and it would take an enormous effort and a lot of thinking-in-advance for me to say "can't you" and "don't you". (And it comes so naturally to the Brits.)

Where I get truly unpredictable is with the ee-ther/eye-ther dichotomy. My father said ee-ther and my mother said eye-ther and I seem to go back and forth between them. I'm not sure which one I use more or when, to tell the truth.

Birchbark 10:44 AM  

We went to ACE HARDWARE in Osceola, WI on Saturday. My daughter drove the pickup truck and parked it nicely. We got a new timer switch for the basement refrigerator and two big sponges to wash the cars.

ARGO, EPIC HEROES, and doomed old LEAR all in the same neighborhood. I was thinking about LEAR's rant in the thunderstorm last night as it rained. And everything is bird-songed, blue-skied and green this morning, just like in the movies.

ANGEL HAIR is our preferred spaghetti noodle. It always tastes better the next day.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I love your commentaries, Rex, and your push for greater diversity in the puzzles overall. However, it's not a great look that you're calling the way someone spells their name a 'misspelling'. No, his name is not Isaiah, it's ISIAH. I have an Isiah in my class right now and that is a real way people spell it- its not just crossword fuzzing.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Save your breath. Of course you're right. It's no even a close call.
It beggars belief that Rex wasn't invoking the lynching of African Americans. He din't have to say it; it is understood in today's usage that it means the hanging of blacks. When someone says gay these days, everyone knows it means homosexuality, not light-hardheartedness. You don't have to explicitly say it.
Likewise, no neutral observer can in good conscience can say Rex was invoking Jimmy Stewart or Dana Andrews (the Oxbow incident) or any other character in some dusty Western.

Ann Hedonia 10:53 AM  

I did not know Arsenio Hall was on CA. Hard to believe that vile reality show host would allow him to win. Wish they'd leave the short-fingered vulgarian out of my puzzles!

Joaquin 10:57 AM  

@ Z (10:11) - Agree with you regarding ACE HARDWARE. Sorta falls in a no man's land of retail.

My wife always refers to Home Depot as "church", because I go there every Sunday morning.

And here's how I would describe a true, old-fashioned hardware store: Wooden floors; overflowing bins of stuff you can root through without someone hassling you; and - most important - a staff of old guys who remind you of your dad, who can give you solid advice on repairing that 35-year-old valve.

What? 11:05 AM  

The usual Monday. Not bad but not challenging. Ok for newbies I guess but what about us vets? Brainism!!

Whatsername 11:08 AM  

Over 200 posts yesterday! And a debut constructor at that. Amazing! I don’t do Sundays but that almost makes me wish I had. Judging from most of the comments, it sounded like it was a lot of fun.

Speaking of which, this was a fun Monday, and I loved that my AHAMOMENT came upon revealing the aha answer. @Lewis pointed out one thing I also noticed - this was good for a beginner but still held my interest moreso than the average Monday would. Very nice.

@GILL: I love Lucy too. My all-time favorite scene is the Vitameatavegamin commercial. It’s just pure Lucille Ball doing what she did so brilliantly. I could watch it over and over again and it never gets old.

@Petsounds (9:23) I remember Bill Clinton playing the saxophone and looking so young and cool and with it. He gained a lot of attention from that and I always thought probably a lot of votes as well.

@Z (10:11) “Rexified.” Good one.

John R 11:15 AM  

I decided to solve today's puzzle on-line for the first time. I normally print them and do them on my clipboard. I think I could have done it faster on paper. I was not paying enough attention to the up and down indicators and kept getting letters in the wrong squares. When I finished for the first time, I got a message that there were errors. At first I thought I had spelled Arsenio wrong, but then it turned out to be a random letter in the wrong place.

I'll try again tomorrow and see if my technique improves with practice.

Carola 11:20 AM  

Terrific reveal! There was a slight lag in synapse transmission as I looked back over the theme answers, but then the lightbulb switched on. I loved the simultaneous all-purpose and puzzle-specific denouement.

@Birchbark, for me Osceola means pie at the Norske Nook.

@Ann Hedonia, now I'm in an emotional snarl, the jolt of pleasure at the wit of your name mixed with concern (I hope it's "just" because of current circumstances).

jberg 11:23 AM  

Good puzzle, although, like @Nancy, I yearned for a tighter revealer. I can't think of one myself, though, so I'll take it as it is.

A few years back my wife and I took some Italian lessons in preparation for a trip to Italy. One of the things I learned is that when you have a double consonant you have to pronounce both of them. Fortunately, I never learned the language well enough to speak it, so I did not have to attempt that feat of what I guess you would call "reverse elision." I generally slur everything together, so it would be especially hard for me.

@Z, I didn't know this either, but I looked up ACE HARDWARE because I didn't think it was a corporate=owned chain. I figured it was a franchise, because there is a lot of variation among stores. Turns out it's actually a cooperative, owned by its retailers.

I remember thinking, as I wrote in COTE, "this is the hardest thing in this puzzle."

egsforbreakfast 11:28 AM  

At the present time, I think we need to plan ahead before we revert back to our usual customs. We possibly might postpone until later a direct confrontation over foreign imports before we add an additional free gift as an unexpected surprise. Let me repeat again, we must never ever be overly redundant.

I actually didn’t much like the puzzle, but only because of how I solved it. I got going on the across clues and was able to pretty much solve without looking at the downs. This is unusual for me, and left me feeling kind of empty. I went back and read the downs, but somehow it just wasn’t satisfying. I did like seeing GTO. For some reason these were called “goats” in my high school days (I mean, I see the reason), and the two guys who had them in my high school never lacked for female companionship.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

ISIAH Thomas is a creep

only the geezer version. there is a younger one who is not.

didn't make much of the 'revealer', and I guess, if one did, it depends on how one pronounces. if A HA, then it has hint possibilities. if AHA, then not so much. I'm in the latter cult.

webwinger 12:02 PM  

I continue to muse on comments about “proper” English usage that have been flying around here with greater than usual frequency and intensity over the past week. I am myself a stickler for following established rules: Always careful in choice of nominative vs. objective case (including who vs. whom). Infer substituted for imply—no way. Still don’t like to see preposition-ending sentences or split infinitives. Even if I COULD carE LESS about these things, it wouldn’t be my style. Kind of like my passion for symmetry in x-words (which we saw elegantly violated just last week, by a new constructor, no less!)

I absolutely don’t think violations of such rules harm clarity of communication, but I keep coming back to the warning from @LMS to her students that they should understand they will sometimes be judged negatively for using the vernacular up with which they grew. Like many other things, language usage signals class in our society, thankfully less than in the England of Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, but still a lot. I don’t think it is excessively “PC” (or should I say “Rexist”?) to urge that people refrain from judging intelligence or other important qualities based on usage variants that are non-standard but culturally sanctioned or evolving toward general acceptance, and from correcting them in the speech of others. OTOH, I would join with Loren in recommending that young people learn to avoid harming themselves because of gaps in their knowledge of the English language. My advice to dictionaries (which I know they are eagerly awaiting) would be to recognize usage reality, but continue to indicate what has been the traditional standard.

Our local ACE HARDWARE, smack in the middle of the delightful downtown shopping district (said to have been the model for Main Street USA at the Disney Parks), and one of the few stores that was able to remain normally open for business through all this, has very much the look and feel (and smell!) of an old-time hardware store. Temps in the 70s forecast for every day this week as our town begins to awaken from hibernation. All atingle!

Z 12:05 PM  

@Todd 10:22 - Fair enough. I interpret Rex comments like the one today not as “eliminate this word” but rather as “I’d rather not be reminded of lynchings in my crossword puzzle.” Or even, if you take his posts as ongoing “advice to constructors,” that NOOSE in your puzzle is going to have solvers thinking about lynchings instead of AHA MOMENTs.

@John R - I’m mostly a paper solver, a clipboard solver for non-NYT puzzles, and only occasionally a digital solver (well, BEQ, the Stumper, and now USA Today, so less occasional than before)(which makes me ponder the difference between “less occasional” and “less occasionally“). All three exercise slightly different solving muscles. So, yes, the more you solve digitally the better you will get at it. There are also settings for your software. You might want to play with them to find the optimal settings for you. For instance, does the software skip already filled squares? You might prefer it to do so or not.

@Joaquin - As a guy just a half step above incompetent on handyman type tasks, those “old guys” saw me through all my home repair projects. I have to put “old guys” in quotes, though, because my go to place was a multi-generational family business, so some of the “old guys” were younger than me. Now I live in a place where the local hardware store is equal parts hardware store and tourist trap. The next closest place is an ACE HARDWARE, and Home Depot or Lowe’s is 40 minutes round trip plus whatever time I spend getting what I need.

@Anon10:45 - I see why you got that impression, but that’s not what Rex said. First there was the “-AIA-“ combo looks wrong part, than the “Isaiah” is the more common spelling part, and then the “when I put in ‘Isaiah’ google thinks I am misspelling ’Isiah Thomas’” part. That last part, especially, is confusing, but Rex is saying people must spell Isiah Thomas wrong a lot, not that “Isiah” is spelt wrong.

@jberg - I didn’t know that. There is still that “not quite local not quite big box” quality to every one I’ve ever been in.

@Anon11:42 - I’m a huge Bad Boys fan. But let’s not kid ourselves, these are men who spend a huge chunk of their lives from age 13 to age 35 in a sports culture that actively objectifies women as accessories. The Knicks period did not surprise me at all. Candidly, I’m more surprised by the number of men who come out of the professional athlete experience as decent human beings.

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

This MonPuz also had an AAH moment. (staff weeject pick)

Liked the theme idea. Now, to get all ultra-technical on its ahs(s), M&A would have to point out …
1. ANGELHAIR - gives us more of an AYE-HAY moment.
2. ACEHARDWARE - AYE-HA moment, good for 50% purity. Plus, this pup also has an AYE-HAR moment, which is pretty good stuff. So let's bump it up to 55% purity, out of respect.
3. ACCIDENTSHAPPEN - Well, kinda ok. Them a's are mighty short-soundin, tho. They don't sport that sidewise colon over the "a" sound, needed for absolute pristineness. Lets give it 66.6% purity.
4. ARSENIOHALL - Closer than snot to pure aha mo-meat. Best of the litter.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Largest continent} = ASIA.

Sparkly fillins included: THROWSOPEN. EPICHEROES. ANCHORAGE [M&A once set foot on its ground]. SCLERA [feisty! Woulda liked more of that]. ANEW/NEWT crossin. COUP, and "coop" in the 44-A clue.
Clues were nice and friendly. Helped keep the nanosecond-o-meter at bay.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Sessa. Cute revealer.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Aelurus 12:16 PM  

Rex, I also like your coined verb for this puzzle--it Mondayed very well.

@Petsounds, @Dcubed - for the first time I raced through the puzzle instead of sauntering and looking around. I solve weekdays on the NYT app on my iPad and found all that speed resulted in letters going in squares they had no business in. Also not noticing some of the words if I filled in sections with all acrosses or all downs. I was quite fast but on the whole I'll take the amble.

Two new words for me: COTE as pigeon coop and the hockey DEKE. The Columbia Journalism Review has an interesting article on "deke" etymology (and the bonus "Potemkin"). I don't know how to make a tiny URL, but this one isn't a paragraph:


Agree with those who abhorred the clue for ARSENIO HALL.

Didn't we have SCLERA last week?

@RAD2626 - There's a Claymation Christmas? Will look that up. Adore Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit.

Geezer 12:17 PM  

Observation, not a criticism: The theme works visually but not orally.

pabloinnh 12:47 PM  

Our local large hardware store with the post office in the back is now an Ace Hardware in the back and a pizza restaurant in the front. The post office is still there but has been partitioned off. Since I was our maintenance person for thirty years, I've spent more than my fair share of time in hardware stores. One of them used to have a cartoon cut out from a magazine by the cash register which summed up many of my experiences--

Customer: I need a, I'm not sure what you call this thing, but it has threads on the bottom and a thingie on top and it goes in the back of something with a slot in it.

Hardware guy: Half inch or three quarter?

@Awlurus-I always thought DEKE was short for "decoy". Are you saying it's something else? Egad.

kitshef 12:54 PM  

Bought a four-pack of toilet paper at Whole Foods today. Normally not a significant act, but first time I have seen toilet paper in any store since February 25.

@Anon 11:42 - the younger version spells it differently.

Birchbark 12:59 PM  

@Carola (11:20) -- Osseo, home of The Norske Nook, is actually about 100 miles southeast of here. My sister stops in for their pies on road trips, so they must be good. I've seen the sign but haven't been there.

We were at the ACE HARDWARE in Osceola, about fifteen minutes north, just on the other side of the St. Croix River. It's cut from the same cloth @Joaquin, @webwinger, and @Z described -- a great family business which has most of what you need, unless you need pie.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Thank you for the comment about our current president. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who thinks that way. How can half the country support him?

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

These thingS HAPPEN, but they don't always fit into the grid.

10D had me thinking of "The Night Before Christmas" when the sash is THROWn up.

ROVER and DOGMA, har.

Thanks, Ed Sessa for a Monday puzzle that was anything but HO-HUM.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

@Anon 11:42 - the younger version spells it differently.

oops! I guess my eyeballs need a cleaning. OTOH, I swear I've seen it spelled the 'no A' way on the telly.


it's no where near half. the true Trumpsters amount to about 30%, if that.

Frog Prince Kisser 1:28 PM  

@ The Big House 7:58 AM

I don’t agree that their are many mistakes in the puzzles, but their are times when even the very best of us make there mistakes!

albatross shell 1:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 2:07 PM  

Easy-medium. Delightful Mon. My take on this one is pretty much exactly what @Frantic Sloth said.

@Roo - I managed to get to genius on yesterday’s SB but I did not get any of those words.

Doc John 2:13 PM  

So nobody else seems bothered that both AAH and AHA were in the same puzzle? Especially when the puzzle centered on AHA?

Ernonymous 2:15 PM  

Ciao to all my paisani and non-paisani. I enjoyed Rex's write up today, he kills me. His description of He Who Must Not Be Named, as the dumbest and most vile person on the planet suffices. We know who you mean.
I spent $3.99 and rented Parasite on Amazon, the best picture and best director Oscar winner and loved it. Best use of $4 in ages. The movie is funny, but sad and so many twists and turns, it surprises you! Go watch it!
Baci a tutti!

Frantic Sloth 2:26 PM  

I have to admit finding the (Jawz) ad preceding this clip even more fascinating. In an "ew" kinda way, but there it is.

A recent airing of Annie Hall intersecting today's elision discussion brought Alvy Singer's Paranoia to my mind.

And DOGMA over ACCIDENTSHAPPEN brought back that old "My Karma ran over your Dogma" chestnut.

I really need to get out.

Frantic Sloth 2:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Dipinto 2:55 PM  

When I google ISAIAH the first entry to come up is the current b-ball player ISAIAH Thomas. ISIAH Thomas is nowhere to be seen. When I google ISIAH, the first entry to come up is former b-ball star/NY Knicks exec ISIAH THOMAS.

Obviously my Google is smarter than Rex's.

@jberg – you don't pronounce a double consonant twice in Italian. You just sit on it a little bit harder and for a little bit longer than you would the single consonant. It can have the effect of elongating the previous vowel slightly, or, conversely, stopping the vowel sound sooner. I'm sure my paisan Giovanni can elaborate. It's really not hard to master.

Carola 2:57 PM  

@Birchbark, I'm red-faced at not knowing my Osseo from my Oceola (actually, I do, but as I said, some synapse transmission issues today)!

JOHN X 2:57 PM  

NOOSE makes me think of the deserved and just fate of the Nuremberg war criminals, so if you don’t like NOOSE I assume you are a Nazi supporter. I guess in this context a NOOSE is also a Nazi supporter. A Tojo supporter too.

webwinger 3:03 PM  

As an inveterate fuss-budget over spelling as well as grammar, I long ago was struck by the unusual way ISIAH Thomas spells his name. Did not know his son used the conventional biblical version.

Recommended TV viewing today: NBC’s Meet the Press from yesterday, featuring terrific comments about COVID testing by Dr. Deborah Birx (concerning antigen vs. RNA tests for active virus) and Dr. Michael Osterholm of U Minn (concerning antibody tests for past infection and immunity). No spoilers from me here, but I came away feeling for the first time like I really understand why this has been so problematic. Also, SNL at home version from Saturday, with Brad Pitt brilliantly impersonating Dr. Anthony Fauci in the cold opening. I heard this was done partly in response to a light-hearted suggestion from Dr. F. himself—way cool!

Unknown 3:08 PM  

Isiah Thomas was featured prominently in last night's episodes of the Michael Jordan/Bulls documentary "Last Dance." Interestingly, a younger player, ISAIAH Thomas, was the recipient of angry tweets regarding Isiah and the Pistons' actions towards the Bulls following the episode.

GILL I. 3:13 PM  

@Pablito 12:47....HAH! Your maintenance person story reminds me of my own with my mechanic.....I've been going to him for over 10 years and I've threatened him with loss of limb if he ever decides to retire.
Me: Fred, there's something wrong with my car...it keeps jerking and sputtering. When I'm at stop sign it kinda goes rrrrraw, rrraw, sputter, cough, hiccup, blargh.
Fred: You need new spark plugs.
Me: How the heck do you know that without using that whatchamacallit thing you put my car on?
Fred: I can tell just by looking at you flailing your arms all over the place,...you need new spark plugs.
YEP. He ever leaves me, I'm breaking his arms.....

Frantic Sloth 3:29 PM  

ARGH. I keep having to delete and redo my comments. It's time I got back to my village.

Correct follow-up:

I realize that Jawzrsize probably works, but this is still my reaction.

Frantic Sloth 3:36 PM  

@GILL I 313pm Hilarious! FYI if it ever comes to that, I know a guy.

Whatsername 3:59 PM  

@webwinger (3:13) Brad Pitt was always good but he has really come into his own as he has aged. I thought he really nailed Dr. Fauci and especially loved what he had to say at the end when he took off his wig and got serious.

manitou 4:23 PM  

Isaiah Thomas the current player was named for the former, hall-of-famer Isiah Thomas but he is not the older player's son.

"Born to James Thomas and Tina Baldtrip, Isaiah Thomas was named after former Detroit Pistons Hall of Fame guard Isiah Thomas. A lifelong Lakers fan, James made a bet with a friend that his beloved team would defeat the Pistons in the 1989 Finals or he would name his son after decorated Lakers nemesis Isiah Thomas. The Pistons won in a four-game sweep, but James had already warmed to the name well before then. His mother consented to it on condition that it took the Biblical spelling." (Wikipedia)

George 4:34 PM  

Any puzzle featuring Bill LEAR, Henry ROYCE, a GTO, and my favorite pasta, ANGELHAIR is a winner, and who doesn't love HASH browns? Plus ANCHORAGE, my former home away from home before we got locked down in my home at home. And ACEHARDWARE, which I love much more than that orange store. Oh, a Bert LAHR movie was on TV a few day's ago but I didn't watch it. And speaking of RADAR, just this weekend I found my dad's Fuzzbuster RADAR detector in its original box with the purchase receipt for $89.95 + tax from August 1976.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Funny, my thought at 'noose' was roping a calf. Out of touch maybe?

webwinger 6:18 PM  

@pabloinnh 12:47 pm, @Gill 3:14: Good stories! Hate to steer back to the pandemic (though hard not to with it being the obsession of every day), but tradespeople who can quickly recognize a problem from hearing a somewhat disjointed description are not so different from doctors and others who need to make a diagnosis of disease. Medicine has become generally hyper-reliant on testing (in significant part because of legal and financial considerations), but a savvy clinician can still very often make a correct diagnosis just from listening to and looking at the patient. That’s a big part of the reason it makes sense to count COVID cases based on hospital admissions: Especially given extensive recent experience with the disease under difficult conditions, and considering that it now leads all other differential diagnostic possibilities, a skilled medical professional gatekeeper is highly likely to make the correct diagnosis even without testing.

Tim 7:27 PM  

Rex, you literally forgot about DRE

albatross shell 7:46 PM  

@manitou 423pm
You are completely correct.
I'm going to delete my comment with the incorrect info on that right now. Thanks.

Runs with Scissors 8:55 PM  

Fun Monday, even if it was over in less than 5 minutes. Not memorable, not dull, not barf-making. I'd say that's a win all around.

Ask the calf how it feels about the noose. Not that I care, but if you really need something to worry about....

@RooMonster 10:02 AM

"Cloaca" was a gimme, as a result of a misspent earlier timespan of my life reading Robert Heinlein....

Callaloo qualifies as a WTF.

tea73 11:21 PM  

Pretty sure no one will ever see this comment, but I flew through this thing. The only Monday I did quicker, I had already done it on paper and was curious how fast I could type in answers. (Answer not as fast as Rex.)

But what caused me to post, was wondering just when did Landrovers become luxury vehicles. When I was young growing up in East Africa, Landrovers were built like tanks and had seats with barely any cushioning. And you could get them started in a pinch by pushing them downhill. They were built for dirt roads, not luxury.

kitshef 8:10 AM  

@tea73 - some time in the 1980s

rondo 9:00 PM  

I had a post pulled off this site Saturday night for saying bad people were doing bad things in STPAUL and Mpls. If it happens again, I'm done here. Bad people were doing bad things - documented. If this site can't handle the truth, I'm done.

Burma Shave 9:13 AM  


would it HAPPEN with time to SPARE?


thefogman 9:56 AM  

I had more of a uh-huh MOMENT than an AHA MOMENT on this one. But Rex is right. It Mondayed nicely.

spacecraft 11:23 AM  

As I said before, ol' Ed is improving. Cleaned up his fill handsomely. This one does indeed "Monday" well, with an extra AAH for good measure (nice thing about that: you can use AAH or AHH, whatever fits).

Do not leave us, @rondo; how else will we keep our use of TAR straight? Plus, competition needed for my DOD (today I love LUCY Liu). Yeah babies unite!

Hand up for the yikes! moment: AERIALIST/ACCIDENTSHAPPEN. One recalls the Cirque malfunction during Ka that tragically claimed a life.

We must keep WINO around for the shtick by the late great George Carlin: "Wonderful WINO!" Call letters for a very funny radio station.*

The AHAMOMENT, as they say, was mild, but still there. Birdie.

*"Sunday! Sunday! Amphetamine Speedway!"

Masked and Anonymous 1:44 PM  

If any of U nice syndicated readers/commenters have trouble bringin up a runt puzzle here for a while, it's becuz the server lost em all, in mid May or so. Sorry about that, believe m&e.

When U see a **gruntz** link introduced by "server is fixed, yay @r.alph" or somesuch, in a future M&A comment gallery message attached to a late May NYTPuz blog writeup, you'll know they are back in business.

As always, no refunds. But thanx, if this news applies to U.

M&A Help Desk

leftcoaster 2:05 PM  

Perfect Monday, meets all of the requirements. Nice work, Ed Sessa.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

Is ANCHO RAGE caused by too much or too little ANCHO? Or are they equally heated arguments? ��

Diana, LIW 4:03 PM  

I had to laugh about what is in one's eyeglass frames. If you look at Mr. W's, it probably is part of his most recent meals and snacks. He wears his readers around his neck on a loop, and, well, shift happens. Food falls. And stays. For days. Sometimes he will hand me his pair to look at something I can't read, and it's like looking thru a snowstorm. So the LENSES aren't the first thing I think of. ;-)

A fine Monday, as ever.

And @Rondo - your post is still there - I responded to you yesterday. Catch up!!!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for clear vision

rondo 4:06 PM  

@anon– equally heated. Har. Good one.
One thing to notice today is that a decent Monday-level puz can be done with a low three count.
Jillian, Miller, -Margret, pick one of the ANNS, maybe even B. Davis before Coulter – politically speaking.
Looks like things have STARTed to cool down around here, a bit SANER. Might even be able to visit the office by Friday.

rondo 4:32 PM  

@D,LIW - that first post up top was from last night in case another 'disappeared'.

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