Film about food? / MON 5-4-2020 / Hermann who wrote "Siddhartha" / Brief race, in brief / Actress Christina

Monday, May 4, 2020

Constructor: Emily Carroll

Relative difficulty: Medium

grid borrowed from

THEME: Fowl Language — Theme answers contain a bird noise.

Theme answers:
  • PEEP HOLES (17A: Features of most hotel doors)
  • GOBBLEDYGOOK (24A: Gibberish)
  • QUACK DOCTORS (48A: Medical impostors, informally)
  • HONKY TONK (60A: Bar with country music 
  • USE FOWL LANGUAGE (37A: What the starts of the answers to 17-, 24-, 48- and 60-Across do, punnily?)
Word of the Day: ALDO  (CLUE) —
Aldo Gucci (26 May 1905 – 19 January 1990) was the chairman of Gucci Shops Inc. from 1953 to 1986. He was the eldest son of Guccio Gucci, who founded the company bearing his name in 1921.
From the age of 20, Aldo began work full-time at Gucci. He went on to open the first shop outside his native city in Rome in 1938[2] and soon after took over the reins of the company upon his father's death in 1953. Gucci became an overnight status symbol when the bamboo handbag was featured on Ingrid Bergman's arm in Roberto Rossellini's 1954 film "Viaggio in Italia". The GG insignia became an instant favorite of Hollywood celebrities and European royalty. When Aldo opened in New York in 1953, he planted the "Made in Italy" flag on American soil for the first time. President John F Kennedy heralded him as the first Italian Ambassador to fashion[3] and he was awarded an honorary degree by the City University of New York in recognition of his philanthropic activity, described as the Michelangelo of Merchandising.[4]
• • •
Hey! It's Annabel. How's everyone doing? I've been doing fine, considering the circumstances. Going on a lot of walks. Getting cabin fever. You know. Could be a lot worse.

I liked this puzzle! It has a lot of endearing qualities. Crossing CONK with HONKY TONK, for one, and the wordplay in clues like "Knight stick?" for LANCE. I did feel it was a little hard for a Monday--I got stuck in the top right corner for ages--but I feel like I'm always off base with these things. It didn't help that I've never heard of Christina RICCI. What was she in?

My one problem with the theme was that usually, I like to use the theme explainer (is that the right word? I mean USE FOWL LANGUAGE in this case) to help me with other theme answers, but in this case, it was the other way around. I guess that's what happens when you get punny.

  • EPS (41A: Mini-albums, for short) — An EP is what an artist releases at the beginning of their career. And graduate school is where I'm going to begin my career. Yeah--I can't remember if I announced this yet, but I'm going to University of Maryland for my Master's in Library Science! I'm really excited to be a tired graduate student. And honestly with everything that's going on it's nice to have something to look forward to. 
  • ARLES (19A: City that's the setting for several van Gogh paintings) — While we're all stuck inside, enjoy "Seascape at Saintes-Maries" for a little bit. Or the whole online Van Gogh Gallery while you're at it.
  • CAPERS (46A: Pickled green garnishes) — Ooh, I would kill for a bagel with cream cheese, lox, tomato and capers right about now. How do you all eat your bagels when you're eating from a bagel spread? I know some people put onion and more stuff on it, but honestly the tomato and capers are enough for me. 
  • IGOR (35A: Frankenstein's assistant in "Young Frankenstein") — And don't forget to pronounce it EYE-gor. 
Signed, Annabel Thompson

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]


jae 12:03 AM  

I’m with @Annabel on this one, medium and cute but maybe a bit tough for a newbie...ODELL, ECOLE, CALEB...Liked it.

To all of you doing the SB, how can I find out the total number of possible words beforehand?

Patrick O'Connor 12:13 AM  

Hello, Annabel, and congratulations on the decision to do the master's in library science. I am sure you will do all of the things expected of librarians in music videos: wearing big glasses and putting your hair up in a bun and shushing the lead singer, and then flinging the glasses off and loosening your hair and twerking, or whatever The Kids call it these days.

Cristina Ricci was Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movies, but I think I would most recommend her in the 1997 indie The Opposite of Sex, where she plays a Lolita home wrecker who sort of gets her comeuppance, but it all works out mostly okay, and Lisa Kudrow is excellent in disapproving mode, and there is gay eye candy.

Frantic Sloth 12:45 AM  

Hi, Annabel. Christina Ricci's IMDb page might be easier than trying to list her projects. She was most popular in the 90s, so that was before your time, no?

I agree with your review - I thought the theme was a funny and punny adventure and the fill seemed fresh, too. A tad difficult IMO for a Monday, but then my mind is still spinning from the Sunday puzzle theme, etc...never mind about that now.

Speaking of IGOR...has a NYT crossword ever had it spelled EYEGOR? I keep waiting for that, but I guess I shouldn't hold my breath.

Loren Muse Smith 2:23 AM  

Annabel – you’ll kill grad school! Congrats and good luck.

I’m with Annabel, @jae, and @Frantic Sloth - this one played tough for a Monday. I kept going back looking for an X (then a V and M), certain that Emily’s decision to go with JESTS/JAPE instead of tests/tape, nests/nape, or vests/vape came out of a pangram goal. I know we’ve had JAPE before, but it took a minute to get it.

Cute theme and wordplay in the reveal. (Annabel – some people call the explainer a “revealer” and some people - me - like to say “reveal.”) I’m reminded of all the CUCKOO TWEETS we’ve been subjected to over our morning covfefe.

Hard to come up with others. Cawdor Castle. Hooters. But the Hoot in Hooters isn’t really removed from its bird sound deal. As I type this I’m suddenly struck with other, uh, bosomsome birds: the B one and the T one. I’m too embarrassed to even type their names.

And speaking of pairs. . . lots of nifty ones: EPEES and LANCE, COP/POSSE, TONED/STRONG, and ICE SKATER/TWIRL. I have to leave the room whenever there’s figure skating or balance beam on tv because I get beyond upset if anyone falls.

Also a sneaky little CROW(E) in the grid. That’s a bird sound verb, right?

I think if I snuck up on myself, I’d catch myself saying garbledy gook instead of GOBBLEDY GOOOK. Defensible.

Loved the clues for CELLOPHANE and EWE.

“Features of most hotel doors” - when released, they slam shut with a force that shakes the walls of my adjoining room where I’ve just drifted off to sleep.

Serendipity on the bagel comment. Sick of pretending that the Thomas bagels at Walmart are real bagels – they’re not – I braved it and made my own this weekend. Boiled’em and everything. I tell you, it’s not that hard. At all. My perfect bagel: split, buttered, toasted. Then cream cheese and smoked salmon. CAPERS are fine, but getting them out of the jar and placing them on the bagel takes too much time.

NAKED – in my speech, it’s pronounced /nekkid/. Period. I feel weird when I try to go all mainstream and rhyme it with hey kid. Lewis Grizzard famously makes this distinction: “Naked” means you don’t have any clothes on. “Nekkid” means you don’t have any clothes on . . . and you’re up to something. I have a really funny story involving a friend, naked, walking up the stairs at a vacant home (he had broken into) carrying a gallon of vinegar. One minute slower, and he would have been caught en route on the stairs by the owner No. I swear.

chefwen 2:46 AM  

Thank God we got Annabel today or we would have gotten a boatload from Rex re. GOOK. Phew!

About a hundred years ago, back in my steel selling days, my bosses wife was quite the fashionista and favored the GUCCI and Emilio Pucci lines. He liked to tease her by calling them GUCKY and PUCKY, he also liked to put fake barf and dog poop on her antique furniture and Asian carpets. Loved that guy.

Fun puzzle, one write over with Hot before HIP at 34A.

Mr. Alarm 2:55 AM  

Thanks for your thoughts, Annabel, and especially the Van Gogh image and website link. As a fellow artist - working a bit more in the tradition of his uncle Mauve - I love to study his paintings for their composition (probably the last thing people learn about Vincent is how both well-schooled and how much effort he put into the composition of his paintings). His use of colors are lovely too, of course. I am still pretty poor at getting past Tuesday NYT puzzles, but I thought today was pretty easy (14:00).

mbr 4:16 AM  

@jae: You can't find out the number of words ahead of time, but there are 2 options for help. First is the supposed (unverified) formula that once you get to Genius, you have reached 75% of the total points. (Not really what you asked for, I know, but some people can figure out the rest from there.) Second is going to NY Times Wordplay (Deb Amlen's column) and look for the post that usually comes from Doug. It starts with something like this: WORDS: 31, POINTS: 118, PANGRAMS: 1
and, if you need more assistance, has a chart of letter counts further down the post.

GILL I. 4:58 AM  

I guess squawk box wouldn't be Monday fare/fair?
I rather enjoyed this but I think it was a tad hard for a Monday. Lots of names I had to guess at. Didn't know that RICCI person nor ZOE Kravitz. I know my ALDO Gucci but bowling ODELL sounded like jibber jabber.
Has there ever been a PEEP HOLE in the history of mankind that you could actually see something that didn't look like a Snapchat cameo?
QUACK DOCTORS are fun to read about - especially the ones that tell you coffee enemas and exercise will make you lose you inhibitions. Would that be voluntary or involuntary? Just asking....
Another Monday...another day of hoping sanity prevails. Thinking about capers and cream cheese. I'm going to make some olive bread and continue watching "Kim's Convenience."

Pete 5:45 AM  

@Loren - You put the CAPERS on a dish, your cream cheese on the bagel, then invert the bagel onto the dish of CAPERS. Voilà! CAPERS in your bagel.

amyyanni 6:05 AM  

No fair, y'all have me fixated on bagels now and since I can't just pop out and get one these days, I will be all day obsessed.
Annabel, Congratulations and best wishes. In line with what @Patrick O'Connor said, check out "The Music Man" if you haven't seen it.
Agree with you, as have many. Liked this a bunch, but then, one of mates in quarantine is Simon, a chatty Eclectus parrot.
Thanks for the Van Gogh. Spent some time over the weekend looking at Hoppers online.

Hungry Mother 6:23 AM  

Kinda slow, but fun theme and a good challenge for the start of the puzzle week.

Lewis 6:37 AM  

In her 12 puzzles, Emily is just a Saturday away from completing the puzzle-for-every-day-of-the-week cycle. This is the second time she's Mondayed, and this is a high-quality, low-junk piece, even with a couple of non-direct clues.

Got me thinking about the words we use for bird sounds, and was struck about how many start with C: Cluck, caw, chirp, cheep, cuckoo, coo, cackle. Speaking of bird sounds, I liked Jeff Chen's final lines in his review: "Overall, some fun wordplay. Maybe even worth writing a 140-character message about."

Jofried 6:38 AM  

This didn’t feel like a Monday to me. Monday puzzles should have jokes not JAPES. But anyway....@mbr I just went to The NY Times Wordplay and I don’t see anything about the Spelling Bee. Where would I look specifically?

CDilly52 6:48 AM  

Good morning Annabel! Congrats on grad school. You have chosen well, both for a school and a field. Eons ago, I also went to grad school and received a Masters in Library Science (or Library and Information Science, the 1979 buzzword). I agree with @LMS. You will kill grad school. More importantly, you will love it! And the field you have chosen is so very exciting these days. Such fascinating issues surrounding copyright, social media, intellectual property, digital information, information brokering and on and on. Information and the access to information is the great social equalizer and the public library makes that access possible. Folks who think of libraries as book are so sorely behind the times. I sincerely hope you continue with Annabel Monday’s throughout your grad school career!

I have to share an anecdote that will date me horribly. The first widely available home computer, the Radio Shack TRS-80 (or “”Trash 80” as it quickly became called as the competition surpassed it) made its debut in the spring of 1979 corresponding to my first semester in grad school.. It fascinated me with all the possibilities for information storage and retrieval that “might someday” be accessible to everyone! I laugh as I look at my iPhone 8.

It was literally a game changer and as you know (and I am certain will study) the digital explosion has changed the way we all access information. All we had at university libraries then were the massive and seemingly magical data bases that could only be accessed through the university librarians because of the complicated manner in which the searches had to be devised. And people were grateful to get reams of data in only a few days or a week at most! From 1979 to now, the explosive development of the information superhighway has been fascinating to watch.

My graduate thesis and project was to experiment with the ways that the desktop computer might be put to use in information management, storage and retrieval. Just then, Rutgers and Pittsburgh were the leading “library schools” and it seemed they were so far on the cutting edge! Anyway, for my final project in advanced cataloging, I used my husband’s huge brain and his avid interest in computing to create a program on the TRS-80 (with its cassette tape storage, mind you) to catalog, store and retrieve with a codex of terms (no free text searching for that little machine’s tiny brain) the information in our vast home library of . . . wait for it. . . . LP albums! It was pretty hot in 1980! My husband and I laughed often at that project and how utterly antiquated it is now. He ultimately created his own business designing software for educational record management that has allowed hundreds of school systems here in Oklahoma have affordable online systems that will readily communicate with the State for reports etc. his clients miss him now that he is gone. As a teacher, he was able to communicate with his clients better than the average pure “computer guy.”

You are going to have the time of your life, Annabel. Best wishes. I shall look for your name in the literature in years to come. Although I ended up using my library degree as a lawyer, I am on our city library board and try to stay plugged into the librarianship world.

Couldn’t agree more with your excellent review this morning. I think everyone has already said all of the things I would have said, so I won’t repeat.

Happy Monday all. I apologize for the off topic trip down memory lane this morning! Stay well one and all.

Music Man 7:07 AM  

I couldn’t help but think of two examples of QUACK DOCTORS (48A) who have been in the news recently: Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Phil. How the once-mighty have fallen.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Tons of fun, though woefully misplaced. Would have made a good Wednesday puzzle.

Why oh why go for ZOE/ZONE/EKES in that SE corner? DONE/DOE avoids a ridiculous PPP entry at no cost. Or HONE/HOE. Or LONE/LOU/UKES. Or TONE/TOE. Why deliberately use an actress (?) that 2% of your audience will know?

Theme is a little tighter than just bird noises. They are all sounds from domesticated fowl (chick, turkey, duck, goose).

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Huh, for once this one was easy peasy for me, zipped right through it with only one correction, quell/QUASH. That fell pretty fast with ADELE. WISP meant I didn't have to agonize over EPS which I didn't understand at all. And I have to say, GILL, I wish there had been room for Squawk box!
And Hooray for you, Annabel, go for that Masters!

Suzie Q 7:27 AM  

The top middle section was the only rough spot for me. I don't know the TV show, I'm not up on my Bible characters, and I haven't a clue about pro bowlers. Other than that the puzzle was fun.
I hope @ Loren explains to us what her nekkid friend was doing with that vinegar.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

So instead, you brought it up.

OffTheGrid 7:36 AM  

And the president plays a QUACK DOCTOR on TV.

pabloinnh 8:00 AM  

I know ODELL Beckham Jr. well enough, as he made one of the most spectacular catches in NFL history, but a quick reading of the clue had me thinking about someone bowling. Nice little misdirect there.

Otherwise fun stuff. I saw the revealer in the middle so I left that for last. HONKYTONK ties in to the Merle Haggard course we're teaching (Zooming) right now as it was the country sound that came out of Bakersfield, where he grew up. See also, "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother".

Nice review and good luck, Annabel. You'll be happy to know that the yellow house in Arles that is in the Van Gogh painting is still yellow and always repainted to keep it yellow. Don't mess with success.

Frantic Sloth 8:04 AM  

Oh....My....SweetBabyJesus!! There aren't enough ableist words to describe how I feel today. Finally, F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. I get it.
As I'd hoped, everyone's various approaches yesterday melded together in my subconscious overnight and woke me up with a much-deserved-and-overdue b!tch slap today.
Once again, I thank you all most profusely!

I'm sure by time this posts, someone will have pointed this out, but some of you are reading 7D "Pro Bowler" as "professional bowler" - for obvious reasons. In this case, it refers to the NFL "All-Star" game, known as "the Pro Bowl" and OBJ has been a participant three times.

@GILL I. Love squawk box!

@LMS You certainly have interesting friends. Nekkid, vinegar, abandoned house, stairs. Yep, sounds like a movie pitch to me.

mbr 8:12 AM  

@Jofried: You have to scroll through the comments to the Wordplay column. As of 8:11am NY time, it is the 13th message from the top. There is no separate thread to comment on Spelling Bee, so commenters use the crossword puzzle column instead. The information you are looking for usually pops up within 30 minutes of the new SB being released.

webwinger 8:22 AM  

I quite liked today’s goofy theme. Caught on about midway through the solve, but still erred by entering FOuL in the revealer, which stayed until the bitter end, as I wondered how the rare variant uAND made it into a Monday puzzle. Finally realized my error and changed the u to E. Fill was fine, though I was hoping there would be a reprise of EIEIO.

Barbara S. 8:26 AM  

Hmm, I wonder if Lauren Bacall was in the house with that nekkid guy.
HASHTAG -- #Stories we're waiting to hear.

TJS 8:35 AM  

If you do take-out from a restaurant, where the hell do you eat it?

albatross shell 8:45 AM  

Wasted many microseconds worrying about what disDUE could possibly mean.

More time lost thinking how the clue for EATIN also likely means that you ate out.

I suppose I always thought the GOBBLE in GOBBLEDYGOOK was a reference to the Sounds of Turkeys. Garfunkel couldn't talk Simon into that one. It seems to have been maybe retrofitted to become the languages of goblins. I guess you might think of Goebbels too. The Texas congressman who coined it in 1948 was referring to government-speak. Sounds like turkeys to me.

I did have to circle back around to the north but ended with a below average time for a Monday or any day since it is a M


Allie 9:14 AM  

The best Christina Ricci movie is Now And Then. '90s girl classic.

Barbara S. 9:15 AM  

46D I had a bONK on the head, which gave me bAPERS for "pickled green garnishes" -- it was easy to "C" my mistake.

HONKY TONK is an interesting term. There's the country music connection, for sure, but also HONKY TONK piano music in the Ragtime era of the 1890s -- Scott Joplin and others.

This puzzle made me correct a misconception I had about the meaning of CREDO. I thought that rather than being a "belief system," a CREDO was a declaration of belief like the Apostles' Creed, something you stood up with a group of people and recited out loud. I realize now that it has a wider meaning than that.

I liked UNDUE crossing UNTO, and the presence of both SCHOOL and ÉCOLES (in honor of Annabel?).

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
QUACK DOCTORS? Is that a thing? I've heard, "That DOCTOR Is a QUACK" before.

Agree this was a touch on the SLOP ITCH side for a MonPuz. The SW corner was a little toughie. HESSE was unknown to me, yes, I don't read (I can read, you know what I mean), but even if I did read all these works that keep popping up in the crossword, I wouldn't remember that Authors name, as my ole brain is a sieve like @Nancy. Plus the not-often-seen QUASH.

Never heard of Christina RICCI. Dang, thanks for making me feel old.

Wow, no M's, that's weird. You'd figure pangram with the Q and J. Bit as you said, also no V or Z. But M? Enjoyed your nekkid definition.

Six K's today, that's high for the K, even though over time gets used more than the F (speculation with no hard facts!) Also Five W's. Who knows why (har) I notice these things.

An overall good puz. 8 minutes, not trying to hurry. I'm getting beat these things!

Now back to the insanely addictive SB!

One F

Petsounds 9:20 AM  

Took me forever to get CELLOPHANE, and even when it was filled in, I had to repeat it a couple of times out loud to tie it to the clue. This is not a complaint--I thought it was brilliant!

Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle for all the reasons everyone has already written, and I agree--it was a big tough for a Monday, especially that northeast corner. No problem with that either.

I do feel that lately I'm seeing certain words on a daily basis in the crosswords I do (this one, WaPo, USA Today--yeah, lotta free time!): EWE, LANCE, EPEE, and ADELE and her numbered albums are also making the scene pretty frequently.

The bagel talk is killing me. I was craving a good bagel yesterday morning. I like an onion bagel, untoasted, with really good cream cheese. Period. I mean, I'll take the smoked salmon if you have it, but I'm good with just the shmear.

Nancy 9:24 AM  

Cute, well-made, and with themers that are surprising and unpredictable. While most of the other clues are Monday-straightforward, there are a couple that are quite nice and made me scratch my head. I wasn't at all sure what dogs do in the spring: MATE? ITCH? TREE (squirrels)? Oh, yes, SHED. Nice.

But CELLOPHANE (11D) was the best. Almost Friday-worthy, I'd say. I sort of wanted jELLO something-or-other, but there's no such name as RIjCI.

As Mondays go, this was an especially enjoyable and playful one.

Lewis 9:30 AM  

@cdilly52 -- Very nice post!

Lewis 9:33 AM  

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

1. Group without power? (5)
2. Knockoff of a Greek sculpture? (3)
3. Down-to-earth type? (5)
4. Prize for a doc, maybe (5)
5. Places to exchange dollars for quarters (4)


shari 9:42 AM  

Annabel, Thanks for the fun, interesting review. I am especially grateful for the gift of the Van Gogh website link. Your posts make me smile.

albatross shell 9:50 AM  

Blacksnake Moan: Christina Ricci, Samuel Jackson, Justin Timberlake. All fine performances. Excellent blues too.

mathgent 9:55 AM  

My favorite use of capers. Spread out a slice of smoked salmon, squirt some lemon juice on it, pepper generously, lay out a row of about ten capers, roll into a tube. Resist the urge to eat it all in one bite.

USEFOWLLANGUAGE tickled me. It’s fun to say HONKYTONK.

Z 10:13 AM  

Clearly our constructioneer understands puns. So So So bad it is great. I loved this. No idea on difficulty because I was interrupted three separate times. JESTS/JAPES probably is more of a Monday puzzle trying to Tuezz, but nothing more really stood out as not Monday appropriate to me.

It seems Christina RICCI is in that sour spot where neither the youngs nor the olds quite know who you are. It looks like she is still very active, but for me she is either “Addams Family” or “not Christina Applegate, the other one.” Fame can be cruel.

@Frantic Sloth - LOL. Yep, like one of those magic eye pictures where you can only see the image by not actually looking at it. Also, thanks for the Pro Bowler explanation. I was planning to go look at the clue to see what @GILL I meant by her comment. I can understand not knowing ODELL Beckham Jr, but thinking he was on the PBA tour was befuddling.


xyz 10:14 AM  

HARD Monday - oxymoron

Another vote that the king didn't do this one

John R 10:32 AM  

I enjoyed today's puzzle, especially the clue for Cellophane. Part way through I thought it might be related to Cell Phones - maybe taking pictures of all the home baked goods people are posting these days (in place of the pictures of the meal they were just served at their favorite restaurant). When it finally filled in from the crosses I had to re-read the clue to get it. For me, that was even more fun than the theme itself.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Now, why would my eyes see 'bowler' named Beckham???? I guess they need washing again. The second time around, they cleaned up. May haps I should get some teeny wipers mounted in my glasses frame, like you see on Mercedes headlights?

Average Monday, it seemed. Except for that damned ODELL, got it clean on the second sweep. Did wait for the cross on CREDO/CREed out of due caution. Ditto for CALEB, being a Buddhist from birth.

Crimson Devil 11:01 AM  

Mathgent and Pabloinn: also like HONKYTONK and reference to Merle, one of tha best; Redneck motha and Good-hearted woman. Reminds of line by late spouse to “welcoming” spouse, Darlin, there are just too many HONKEYTONKs on my way home!
I, too, muse as to what LMS’ nekkid vinegar-toting pal coulda been up to....

Doug Garr 11:01 AM  

Yes, this was more like Tuesday Wednesday but I solved it unusually fast because sometimes you're just dialed into the clue-constructor wave lengthwise. Like Annabel I couldn't get the reveal till all the theme answers were in place. I kept thinking (forgetting it was Annabel Monday) that hey, maybe even Rex will like this one.

egsforbreakfast 11:06 AM  

I’m with most of you on this one. Very sweet for a Monday.

The term “fowl”, it turns out, applies only to birds kept for their eggs or flesh. Hard to come up with other good themers if you accept this constraint.

I was amused to see the command working down from 17A: PEEPHOLES END ORELSE. Hear, hear.

One think to add about finding SB info. When you go to Deb Amlen’s column and press the comment symbol, if you next click on Reader Picks, you almost always get Doug’s comment with that day’s stats as he first entry. BTW, could someone tell me what he is signifying when he puts “Bingo” after the number of Pangrams?

Kathy 11:06 AM  

The theme was cute and the tough items (even JAPE) were easily gettable from crosses. An enjoyable Monday for me. Anyone else finding that the XW has become a “what day is it?” memory aid?

Speaking of TWEETS, how are so many out there “quarantine baking” during this flour shortage? There hasn’t been any flour in the markets here in R.I. since the very beginning when it seemed that everyone pulled out their cookie sheets en masse. And there I was caught with about a cup of flour in the house because I really don’t bake that much anymore. But something about this situation has caused everyone to crave comforting baked goods and just the act of baking has been soothing to many. There IS still a ready supply of boxed cake mixes, although today’s box mixes are terrible. I swear they used to be better years ago. Hence, my baking experiment of late, doctoring up box mixes and taking notes to come up with a few easy treats worthy of injecting empty calories. Some promising results so far!

@CDilly52. Your stories never fail to resonate! The history of computing and data retrieval is indeed fascinating. In mid-life I went back to school for an MBA in 1987 when the desktop PC was just exploding onto the office scene. I experienced the subsequent information and data-crunching evolution in the corporate world for the next almost three decades. And now we have portable phones that outperform rooms full of computers! Tech evolution is geometric, I wonder what we will be doing in ten years.

Good luck, Annabel, savor the grad school experience!

Newboy 11:16 AM  

Nice to see girrrrls day in Crossworld, so first thanks to Emily for a nice clean grid even with its FOWL LANGUAGE, and Annabel for her usual spot on critique. Wish OFL could EXULT this distaff doozie. But it was Monday, and that meant a Monday puzzle, so soon off to the archives for a Thursday to linger longer....tried July 21, 2011 by this Michael Sharp guy just for fun. It turns out to be a cheesy effort, of course, but I found it delicious. And then the commentariat for the day’s response. Wow, there was @jae, @chefwen, @gill, @jberg, @z etc. I felt like I’d just walked into a reverse universe reunion. Even @evildoug showed up. It turned out to be as much fun as a Rex Parker solve video. Thanks @ALL, this crossword thing might just get me through the Trump era with my funny bone intact.

Linda R 11:19 AM  

@jae and @mbr - Here are 2 ways to find the total number of words in the Spelling Bee:
1. Go to
2. Go to the Wordplay column,* scroll to the bottom, and click on "Read XXX Comments" - then at the top of the comments, click on "Reader Picks." The first comment under Reader Picks is Doug's on the Spelling Bee.
*To get to the Wordplay column, go to and then click on "READ ABOUT TODAY'S PUZZLE ON WORDPLAY." (Then scroll to end, click on Read Comments, then click on Reader Picks.)
If there's a direct way to get to the Wordplay column, I hope someone will post it.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

To all those doing the Spelling Bee, tells you how many words there are and their lengths without the risk of seeing any of the words and getting spoiled! :)

webwinger 11:31 AM  

@Annabel: Congrats on your heading for MLS. Many librarians (aka information scientists) in my extended family. It’s a great field, more so today than ever. My recommendation for a Christina Ricci film would be Mermaids from 1990, in which she costarred at a very young age with Cher, Bob Hoskins, and Winona Ryder; it has a theme song (“Shoop shoop”) that will get stuck in your head forever.

@LMS: I can only imagine how hard it must be to get an authentic bagel in rural WV! Congrats on taking the initiative and making your own. Fort Collins has Gib’s New York Bagels, one of our reasons for settling here. They also sell a variety of excellent cream cheeses for the perfect schmear. (Wonder if that word has ever appeared in the NYTXW?) When I buy one of those little ridiculously narrow and tall jars of capers, the first thing I do is transfer them to an empty 8-ounce shallow tub originally filled with cream cheese from Gib’s.

@Lewis: Have been meaning to write how much I enjoy your weekly top 5 clues lists. Please keep them coming!

More thoughts on the “Stockholm syndrome” (data posted yesterday at 1:57 pm): If 25% of Stockholm’s approximately 1 million residents have COVID antibodies (seeming to imply that they had recovered from infection, mild or asymptomatic in 99% of cases based on a confirmed case estimate of 2,000-3,000), then the fatality rate would be about 260/250,000, or 0.01% of those infected, roughly the same as seasonal flu. A lot of assumptions there, but still interesting to consider…

jae 11:32 AM  

@mbr - Thanks, Doug was helpful. @sb players - would it be cheating to post the total number of possible words here daily?

@Jofried - if you tap Readers Picks at the top of the comments section Doug is near the top.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  


I've been handcuffed to the bread machine for some years (cranberry with white/wheat mix is the demand) in another NE state, and King Arthur blue bags have been gone for weeks. Wifey called them and they weren't sure when they'd get more wheat. Lots of reports of bread flour not being available all over. I guess there must be more bread machines out there coming out of the basement. OTOH, latest issue of 'Block Island Times' says no cases. It seems that one guy was gotten off island before infecting. May haps we'll be able to go this year. One hopes.

BZZZZZ 11:42 AM  

A third way is to become "Queen Bee". (finding all the words on the SB list)

Masked and Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Liked this MonPuz a lot. It had 'tude. And GOBBLEDYGOOK. And a punny revealer, too boot. thUmbsUp.

Four question-marked clues [includin the revealer clue] on a Monday … Nice! Especially luved the clue for CELLOPHANE.

staff weeject pick: RIA. Feisty, for a MonPuz. Honrable mention to the TAD-->TAP-->TOP-->COP weeject ladder.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {"___ bitten, twice shy"} = ONCE.

fave fillins included: SCHOOL. CELLOPHANE. ARGYLE. QUASH. Top-notched word hard to say three times fast: SURER.

If U didn't have the theme mcguffin all figured out before 48-A, QUACK probably smacked some sense into U, pronto.

Thanx, Ms. Carroll darlin. Cool MonPuz that weren't cheep on the nanoseconds-burn.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. Good job, Annabel darlin. Primo illustrated bullets.


Anonymous 11:56 AM  

17-A just had to be PEEPHONE. You know, those hotel bathroom wall phones.

CaryinBoulder 12:07 PM  

I got introduced to the word JAPE through this book by the a-little-bit-off-in-the-head science fiction genius, Philip K. Dick: The Man Who Japed . He also wrote “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” which was turned into the classic film, “Bladerunner.”

My blues radio alter ego is The Red Rooster, aka The Howlin’ FOWL, so the reveal was certainly in my henhouse. In the words of the gentle blues great, Mississippi John Hurt, in the song “Richland Woman Blues”:

The red rooster said, "Cockle doodle do do"
The Richland woman said, "Any dude will do"
Hurry down, sweet daddy, come blowin' you horn
If you come too late, sweet mama will be gone

A contemporary pop reference would’ve been CALEB Nichols from the just-concluded finale of Season 3 of “Westworld.” I’m still waiting to wake up one day to Thandie Newton stroking my cheek and saying, “Don’t worry, dahling. None of this is real.” BTW, I read recently that there will indeed be a Season 4.

My wife doesn’t like x-words and I keep thinking that if I got her to do a Monday she might get into them. This probably would not have been the Monday to try that. But I liked it, with just enough to chew on yet still a dozen or so seconds faster than my average.

jberg 12:21 PM  

Very nice puzzle; and I, for one, am glad she went with JAPES/JESTS, rather than the more prosaic options. I used to read Nero Wolfe novels, and Wolfe would often tell someone to stop his JAPErie, so I saw it right away.

A better clue for CALEB would have been "constructor Madison," but maybe that wouldn't play on a Monday. I had no idea about Moses's activity as a spymaster, but CALEB was the only 5-letter Biblical name starting with C that I could think of, so I was happy when the crosses confirmed it. (No Cecil in the Bible, I think that must be Norman.)

Ah CAPERS. Saturday night I cooked fried dabs from a recipe where you squeeze a lemon into the skillet, dump in a whole small bottle of capers, stir for a few seconds, and pour it over the fish. It's a winner.

Since we are in the age-group advised to stay at home, my son has been picking up groceries for us -- we give him a list and he goes to the store. It's very generous of him. Anyway, the first week I requested 5 pounds of all-purpose flour, and got it. The second week I requested 5 pounds of bread flour, but got 10 pounds of all-purpose. When I asked him about this, he explained that that was the only flour in the store. I hadn't known there was a shortage until then! (I ordered the bread flour online from King Arthur, and it got delivered 4 weeks later).

@cdilly -- thanks for the amusing technology stories. Apparently now it's a real problem that many states have basic systems programmed in COBOL. (If it ain't broke, don't fix it, was the approach.) They need to update them for telecommuting, but all their COBOL programmers have retired. Someone has put together a COBOL corps specifically in order to help with this problem.

@Loren -- please, please let us have that story!

Me too for thinking a Pro Bowler was someone on the PBA tour. At least it didn't turn out to be a cricketer.

@Annabel--thanks, as usual! You'll love librarianship.

GILL I. 12:21 PM  

@Kathy 11:06. I've been making bread for quite some time - way before COVID. When I went to get my favorite King Author or Bobs Red Mill, and the shelves were bare, I was more than miffed. I ended up ordering on-line. I did the same for my beloved yeast. Unfortunately, you can't just order one little old bag...nah, you gotta take LOTS. I don't care. I've shared with all my friends and @chefwen told me how to freeze yeast. By the way, making bread is the most cathartic thing I've ever done. There is something wonderful about pounding the hell out of your dough. Actually, I prefer the no knead which is easy. It can be daunting if you ever watched Julia Child make bread. I wish I could find a clip of her whacking that dough around her kitchen - a lot of it ending up on her apron. The truth is, it's really easy - you just need a good cast iron pot to bake the bread in and the 18 to 24 hour patience to have it rise....The aroma after is comes out of the oven is the sexiest thing going around right now.

Pamela 12:22 PM  

Another vote for good puzzle. I thought this was more interesting than a typical Monday, but not harder.

I had CELLO early, and expected a musical theme. It took a few more crosses to make me abandon that idea, and another moment of blankness before my brain switched gears and got the joke. Favorite Aha moment of the week. Oh, right, it’s Monday. Well then, the last seven days.

@Lewis, your list would be my next five faves. The musical twist, my current pursuit, combined with the film misdirect, which recalls my career, put today’s clue in first place on mine.

@LMS Nekkid on a stairway, with vinegar?! Please elaborate!

johnk 12:37 PM  

Too easy!
While it's TRUE that dogs SHED in the spring, it's also the case that they do so in the summer, fall and winter - like SNOW. And not just ONCE.

JC66 12:39 PM  


I thought this might be a good substitute.

Carola 12:49 PM  

A very lively and lighthearted start to the week - it's nice to put down the paper being left with a smile, for a change. I thought JESTS and JAPE nicely set the mood and thank @Annabel for pointing out the closing HONK x CONK.

Add me to those who were faked out by the Pro Bowler, except in my case, it might even be worse: I thought, "Wait, there are two ODELL Beckhams Jrs, and one of them is a bowler?"

mbr 12:52 PM  

@egsforbreakfast: Bingo means each letter was used once in the pangram.

BJD 12:55 PM  

I would siggest to Annabel that EPS are often released by established artists. Especially true recently with the popularity of Record Store Day to support independent record stores.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Loved this puzzle. My last for a while I think.
Got fuoughed and have no paycheck for,well, I don't know. Anyway, today's paper was my last home delivery.

Thanks for all the insight and bon homie.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

They need to update them for telecommuting, but all their COBOL programmers have retired. Someone has put together a COBOL corps specifically in order to help with this problem.

well... lo those many years ago I worked at a software house that sold to the insurance sector. the corpus of code went all the way back to 370/COBOL, but they wanted to spiff it up, so they 'converted' the COBOL files into DB2 tables, and built a java/applet browser lipstick front end. the smart clients took the existing source (not that unusual for large clients) and ignored the web. the shop I was in is now a ghost town. building a spiffy web app on a foundation of sand doesn't work. never did. the problem with state systems isn't COBOL in particular, it's the infrastructure's inability to handle the traffic. pulling COBOL geezer cowboys out of their fishin holes won't change that. unemployment software apps built to a spec of a few thousand a week max will collapse if you add a couple of zeroes to the load. same thing happens with private sector software.

most state gummints use bought in software, just like most insurance companies. amazing how easily big bidnezz (public or private) will buy in something that represents its core competency.

otts 1:19 PM  

A Fun Mon. Puzz Thought some would give it the bird, but not so far.
P.S. Thanks Joe D. For the periods etc.

old timer 1:28 PM  

I'm a HONKY TONK man! By Johnny Horton. Accept no substitutes. At summer camp when I was 13, and we played the grooves off of that one.

Nice writeup, Annabel. I am wracking my few remaining brains trying to figure out how you could devise a Library School project that required spending a month or two in ARLES. It really is the best place in the South of France. Avignon may be more impressive, Cannes and Nice more ritzy, St-Tropez more sexy. ARLES somehow has everything you need and not more than you need. A BOFFO Roman arena, a huge and well-used river, and a very nice bridge crossing the river. Oh, I don't know, "bibliotheques du Midi, a cross-cultural investigation" might do.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

@jae. 11:32
Yes, that would be cheating. Genius is 70% of total points not 75%.

Old Actor 2:05 PM  

@Pete- Great idea. Why didn't I think of that?

Frantic Sloth 2:21 PM  

@Z - Speaking of LOL…Your link had me thinking Adele, you sly boots.

@Kathy 1106am RE: XW as memory aid. Why do you think people get so rankled when the puzzles don't follow the "usual" daily pattern? Quarantining just ups the ante. ;)

@jae 1132am I don't think it would be cheating, but speaking only for myself, I'd rather you didn't. Reason being I don't want to know such things until I consider myself stuck beyond all hope.

@old timer 128pm "…wracking my few remaining brains…" Do you keep them in formaldehyde jars in your laboratory? Just don't use the one marked "ABbyNORMAL. ;)

webwinger 2:23 PM  

Oops, decimal error at 11:31. Should have been 0.1% (1/1000), but still the same for COVID and flu.

@Cary: Thanks for the shout-out to Mississippi John Hurt, one of my favorite blues artists, with a wonderful life story. I treasure an album he recorded live at Oberlin College a few years before I went there, one of the few vinyl recordings I kept from the old days.

@old timer: Agree with you about Arles, about as perfect a place as you’ll find on earth. Went there about 40 years ago, still fantasize about going back. San Remy is another wonderful Provencale town associated with Van Gogh.

@Anonymous 12:59: Send me an email. I might be able to help.

GILL I. 2:52 PM  

@JC 12:39...Thanks for that out loud giggle. Dan Aykroyd had her voice down to perfection - well maybe Meryl Streep did as well. Julia was my idol. My very first cookbook was her "Mastering the Art of French Coking." I still have it.
I watch PBS every Saturday morning and they are showing re-runs of her first back and white tv shows. The "chicken" ones crack me up. I keep hoping they will show the one where she drops the chicken on the floor and she does one of those "oh well, just wipe it off."

pabloinnh 3:19 PM  

@Allyoubakers- Interesting to see King Arthur flour popping up so much today. Their home base in VT is about 15 min. from here and right on the way to my son's house, so stopping by their cafe for fresh croissants or a baguette is nearly essential, or was. Closed for now but you can still phone in an order and do pick up.

Joe Dipinto 5:02 PM  

I lvoe King Arthur Flour.

Who wants to twirl?

Lady Godiva 5:53 PM  

King Arthur? Robin Hood?

Why do they name flours after mythical English heroes?

BobL 5:55 PM  

anon@12:59 or anyone

the site is great resource for many free xwords

GILL I. 6:01 PM  

@Lady Godiva...Because they rise to the occasion?

Anonymous 6:24 PM  

Gold Medal? what English hero is that?

people50 6:33 PM  

Decent puzzle overall, but I had a ton of trouble in the NE because I was 100% sure on "noble" which I had in place of INERT and I still think is a better answer given the clue. In my opinion a better clue for INERT would have been "neon or nitrogen, but not oxygen or hydrogen" as this would have precluded noble but allowed INERT.

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

nitrogen is not inert. it's half of ammonia, among other things. I love the smell of dirty diapers in the morning.

Lady Godiva 7:59 PM  

@ GILL I. 6:01 LOL!

people50 8:45 PM  

@Anonynmous: Nitrogen, the gas, is considered to be an inert in most contexts. Nitrogen, the element, may be a component of reactive compounds, such as ammonia, but that is irrelevant. "Nitrogen gas" refers to nitrogen in its very stable diatomic state (N2). The clue clearly refers to gasses. However, "Inert gas" is not rigorously defined concept and what one means by it can vary from context to context, so maybe there is a better way to clue the word inert than references to gasses.

VictorS 10:06 PM  

Annabel if you haven’t already seen it there is a great book called This is what a librarian looks like. And they don’t look like the stereotype. I remember taking our older daughter (now 21) for her first library card: you mean I can get as many books as I want? She still loves to read

webwinger 10:07 PM  

@GILL and @JC: Julia Child and SNL—what a delicious combination that was! Have never enjoyed and appreciated a Meryl Streep performance more than her portrayal of JC (the French Chef one)—particularly impressive given the familiarity of her persona to the public. If I recall correctly, there was a scene in Julia and Julie that had present day Julie watching the Dan Aykroyd spoof of Julia on a little TV in her tiny apartment. Favorite moment: Near the end, as they prepared to move back to the US from France, Paul Child telling Julia he thought she could have great success doing a television show on cooking, to which Julia responded by rolling her eyes and saying, “Oh, Paul…”

@people50: Makes sense. Thank you.

This just in: A cautionary take on the Sweden story, which does not (a la our tweeter-in-chief) disavow its potential significance. The authors note, as I have in previous posts, that there are some restrictions in place there.

What is most important IMO is that Swedish officials acted in a thoughtful measured way as the threat emerged. We shut down most of our country in panic over a two-week time period, and now, out of dire need, we are faced with the daunting task of undoing much of what was wrought, even as we see new COVID cases plateau overall (despite highly variegated local circumstances) at higher levels than almost anyone seems to have predicted just a month ago—considerably more per capita than in Sweden—and persisting for weeks now despite stay-home orders having remained in effect. What will happen to those levels in the next few weeks is truly anybody’s guess.

Of particular note, Sweden’s healthcare system has apparently come nowhere near being overwhelmed by COVID acute care needs. Recall that was the fear that was used to justify extreme mitigation measures—not expectation of reducing cumulative mortality and morbidity in the long run.

Burma Shave 9:00 AM  


and their CAPERS cause UNDUE anguish


spacecraft 10:46 AM  

I'd be interested to see OFC's commentary on this one. I thought it was rather good, with only the unfortunate EKES to mar the beauty of it.

Cute theme, punny apropos reveal, and fill to (mostly) delight. No fewer than six K's in the grid, plus a Q, a Z and a J--and none of it forced. This is what I call a STRONG performance. Four ? clues to liven things up, but all Monday-level, or Tuesday at worst.

I just re-watched "Avatar" the other night, so ZOE Saldana is fresh in my mind: DOD. BTW, I had Hot for "All the rage" at first, so I didn't escape without a writeover. Especially nice that four different FOWL are represented. The grid may be a TAD PPP-heavy, but that's no biggie. Have one more bird, Emily: an eagle.

Diana, LIW 1:37 PM  

Bruck buck buck buck. (That's my best chicken imitation.)

Tougher than the average Monday, IMHO. Again, due to PPP attacks.

Oh remember those innocent days of streakers? No, me either. Or is it neither.

Diana, Lady

rondo 1:48 PM  

You'd have to be 'cuckoo' not to like this puz. Yeah, there's lotsa names, but nothing too far out there.

How many fire trucks are RED anymore? Isn't it just the older ones in the fleet? Seems like all the newer models are that flourescent yellow color.

Options, options. From ADELE to ZOE. And Mmes. GRAF and RICCI. Think NAKED. Or not.

You may not give a 'hoot', but I thought it was pretty good.

rainforest 2:22 PM  

Very nice Monday puzzle: funny, punny, got no money honey. Also nice to not have OFA leading off.

This put up a bit of a fight in a couple places (well, maybe in the NW) and I was KEEN to see how the themers were related. Good revealer. Coulda used "hootenanny" in there, but the printed ones were all STRONG anyway. Clues for CELLOPHANE and SHED were great.

Liked it a lot.

leftcoaster 3:36 PM  

Neat, clean, and no caws to tweet fowl language.

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