Houston-based food giant / MON 5-18-20 / Three goals by same player / British heavy metal band named for torture device

Monday, May 18, 2020

Constructor: Christina Iverson

Relative difficulty: Easy? Medium? People seem to find it easy, but I'd never heard of one of the themers, and therefore I was Way over my average ... 

THEME: MONOPOLY tokens (64A: Game whose tokens have included the starts of 16-, 20-, 26-, 49- and 55-Across) — themers start with tokens (former and current)

Theme answers:
  • BOOT CAMP (16A: Where Army recruits go to start training)
  • HAT TRICK (20A: Thre goals by the same player)
  • THIMBLERIG (26A: Shell game)
  • IRON MAIDEN (49A: British heavy metal band named for a torture device)
  • DOG TIRED (55A: All tuckered out)
Word of the Day: THIMBLERIG (26A: Shell game) —
The shell game (also known as thimblerigthree shells and a peathe old army game) is portrayed as a gambling game, but in reality, when a wager for money is made, it is almost always a confidence trick used to perpetrate fraud. In confidence trick slang, this swindle is referred to as a short-con because it is quick and easy to pull off. The shell game is related to the cups and balls conjuring trick, which is performed purely for entertainment purposes without any purported gambling element. (wikipedia)
• • •

What's stunning is that this theme seems not to have been done before (???). It is the oldest-feeling theme I can imagine, and yet a cursory search of the databases isn't turning up much. I guess it doesn't matter if it has been done; it *feels* like it's been done (to death), and wasn't really interesting to me at all. None of the themers are particularly interesting, except THIMBLERIG, which is "interesting" only insofar as I've never seen that word before in my life (or, if I have, forgot it immediately). Very very very familiar with "shell game." No idea who calls it THIMBLERIG. A Victorian bootblack, maybe? So the theme was not terrible, just stale-feeling (to me). Also slightly dated, as the boot and the thimble both got ... the boot a few years back. The fill also feels dated. Very. Nothing from this century. Even ICEPOPS strikes me as old-fashioned. Lots of super-common short stuff, and the four 7+ non-theme answers don't add much life. In fact, they pretty conspicuously add death, in the form of SHARK OIL, clued as a cosmetics ingredient, which ... why would you do this? Why would you put this in your grid? Can you really not build that NE corner without referring to the slaughter of endangered species for the making of medically dubious "health" and "beauty" products. I mean, you *know* it's gross. You put "controversial" in there to try to cover your ass. Boo. Serious boo. On Mondays, as on every day, I like my sharks alive and swimming and my THIMBLERIGs, whatever those are, non-existent.

There was some THIMBLERIG-adjacent stuff that screwed me up too. Just couldn't process "I RULE!" (a crossword answer whose time has come and gone) without the "I" (which was in THIMBLERIG). And then I couldn't figure out GAUDY (38A: Ostentatiously ornamented). Started out with SHOWY, and then when I got the "G" from TOGAS, I completely and utterly forgot how to spell GAUDY. This is what I wanted: GAWDY. Like BAWDY. Lawdy lawdy. Oh, and U.S. MAP also took me a few beats (8A: Many an electoral chart, in brief). Brain registered only "chart" and wanted something like "... pie?" Hope for something more modern and snappier tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS aha I knew there had to be Monopoly theme out there somewhere. Here's one (2015, WSJ)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:23 AM  

I don't understand Rex's complaint, "The fill feels dated." With the exception of THIMBLERIG the rest of the words are all commonly in use in the year 2020. True, there are no "new" words but that doesn't make the others dated (IMO).

One could argue that solving crossword puzzles is a very "dated" pastime, as they've been around for over 100 years.

NB 2:57 AM  

Never heard of 'shell game' or 'THIMBLERIG', so that area was incredibly difficult for a Monday!

Robin 3:08 AM  

I'd call it easy. Finished in 6:00+ despite alcohol. But also, not much of interest in the way of clever clues. So it was a Monday with very little to hope for. Mostly generic, with the only good item (IRONMAIDEN) balanced by the one crap (DIALER).

Loren Muse Smith 3:29 AM  

I really enjoyed trying to make sense of HAT, BOOT, DOG. . . maybe if I had gotten all the themers in place before seeing the reveal, I could have seen it, but I doubt it. This is a case where the reveal just made me smile...

and remember that I never really liked MONOPOLY that much. Too long. The fun thing about Monopoly is all the various roll-your-own rules people swear by. Piling all the money in the middle to collect if you land on Free Parking, not bothering with the auction of a property if you don’t want to buy it, not collecting rent if you’re in jail . . . and we always took out those pesky “income tax” and “street repairs” cards.

I liked the clue for OHIO. I imagine every demographic has a running joke at the expense of a nearby demographic. Here in WV, it’s a joke about how spectacularly bad OHIO drivers are. I have to admit, many times that I observed a bone-headed driving stunt, I saw an OHIO plate. Sorry guys. . . it must be true. (Of all the states I’ve lived in, the one with, hands down, The most courteous drivers was New Jersey. Swear. Maybe I just lived in the right community – Ridgewood, Bergen County - where life kinda resembles a Norman Rockwell painting, so everyone drives Norman Rockwelly. I sure miss Ridgewood.)

Had no idea about SHARK OIL. No idea if it’s in any of my make-up. I thought the stinker entry today, the pc trigger, would be the NO CAN DO. Since it derives from Chinese Pidgin English, it’s considered racist. I tell ya, we’re gonna pc ourselves right out of saying anything. Participating here in this place with so many woke people alert to the myriad ways our words can insult, I’ve become a little more jumpy about the language I use. Is NO CAN DO bad because it’s “broken,” but Si, Senor is ok ‘cause it’s grammatically intact? If someone yells My feet are stained loud and fast to some students as they leave, is that speaker making fun of Germans? Asking for a friend.

Wonder if the people here who hate it when we take a word that’s typically one part of speech and use it as another part of speech, wonder if those guys wrinkle their noses at “stick-to-itiveness.” Y’all need to relax and go with it. English is so roll-your-ownable.

“One placing a phone call” – the loudmouth who sat down next to me at the nail salon and launched into a detailed description of exactly what the doctor recently pulled out of her ear. No. Really.

OMNI – there is this Chinese sign (with more than one iteration) whose English translation admonishes you to Please close the door omnivorously. What. Would a carnivore slam the door? With its teeth? Maybe an omnivore closes it more reasonably? Mystifying. Hey. It’s a funny mistake, but it’s a translation mistake. Not like the sign printed out in the US by presumably a native speaker that says If you are still feeling ill, please stay home and corn teen yourself. Epic.

GUAC, RYE, cups and quarts. . . I’ve been doing my share of experimental cooking during this lock-down, and boy howdy have I gone through the eggs. Luckily I just buy the cheap, non-organic, non-whatever eggs, so that botched chocolate Keto mud cake experiment was no biggie. Just cost me a nominal egg.

jae 4:07 AM  

Medium. Played the game, liked the puzzle.

@LMS - my sisters and I played Monopoly every Sunday morning before church with a plethora of made up rules. I pretty sure we never finished a game.

Anonymous 5:18 AM  

Yes @jae, my brother and I would play Monopoly for days at a time, having optioned that we could lend each other money. Seems to me we played it right until the moment we both realized we were sick of the whole thing.

Still thinking about yesterday's ancient omnivore and it's chuckly answer. Wondering if that word was the starter for the whole puzzle? And the maker just fit everything right around it? I wonder how anyone starts constructing... a bit mystic.

I enjoyed today's puz, slightly more difficult than Monday usually is. I had heard somewhere the word THIMBLERIG but had absolutely no idea what it was, and anyway thought it might have been thumblerig. So that kept me busy for a bit.

GILL I. 5:49 AM  

Well I suppose if you're going to go all Victorian, you might add DIALER. Are there any DIALER's left? I just ask Siri to do the job.
Yeah....I never heard of THIMBLERIG either. I also didn't know that a HAT TRICK was that three goals by the same player thing. I always thought a HAT TRICK had something to do with a haberdasher and his fedora up to no good.
Never knew about SHARK OIL. Why? Who invents these things. I use Tea Tree oil and no one was ever hurt.
Then I get to NENA who was quite possibly the worst pop singer on the face of this earth. How that red balloons song ever got past the Berlin Wall still makes me wonder.
What else....Oh, the theme: MONOPOLY. My sons one and only goal was to gobble up every single property he could then count all the cash - very slowly - when you landed on it. Lousy sentence, by the way.
DADS TO BE sounds so much better that "Baby Daddy."
Be safe and wear a mask.

BarbieBarbie 6:12 AM  

THIMBLERIG sounds like a matchbox tractor-trailer.

amyyanni 6:18 AM  

Once played Monopoly with three legal service tenant lawyers and they were the most cutthroat players ever. They surprised themselves and we never played again. Liked the puzzle; Congrats to the constructor on her first solo offering and reworking the entire grid to incorporate NO CAN DO.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

Played Monopoly off and on for decades with lots of players from many parts of US and never once heard anyone call the shoe the boot. The kick? Yes. Never the boot.

Hungry Mother 6:31 AM  

Very fast, including taking a moment out for a WTF for THIMBLERIG. I’m usually very accepting of strange looking answers, but this one got my attention.

Lewis 6:54 AM  

So the THIMBLERIG answer came from the NYT editors, according to Christina's notes, because her original entry, HORSE SENSE, wasn't entirely accurate (they said it should be "horse and rider", and that it was "less iconic" than the puzzle's other tokens). FWIW.

I'm glad THIMBLERIG was in the grid, because I never heard of it, and it's a fun word. I also like having something out-of-Monday in a Monday grid -- to let new solvers deal with having to put a little work into something -- so long as the crosses are easy. And they are with THIMBLERIG, except maybe for NENA (which was tough for me), but that crossing E becomes obvious when you get the theme.

The grid is ably constructed, and has a bright clean feeling to me, perfect for Monday. I also did a little research on SHARK OIL, not knowing about it or its controversy. I'm guessing it was a coincidence, but it turns out that an ingredient in OLIVEs can substitute for SHARK OIL in cosmetics, so I suddenly found the crossing of those two answers quite interesting.

pabloinnh 7:08 AM  

I made the mistake of accidentally seeing the revealer before I really started writing things in, so as soon as I had BOOTCAMP I was thinking MONOPOLY. Spoiled the surprise, but made it fun to see how the other tokens would be clued.

Today I'm feeling all smart and intellectual because THIMBLERIG is a word I've known for a long time. I can even tell you the first time I saw it, which was in a Davy Crockett comic book, when Davy called a dishonest gambler a THIMBLERIGGER. Its meaning was obvious from the context, and it's not the kind of word you forget. So like OFL, I find comic books to be literature of underappreciated value.

Thought this was way more fun than the usual fill in the blanks Monday, maybe a Monday+. Just seeing HATTRICK made me miss the Stanley Cup playoffs even more, especially since the Bruins were having such a good season. So it goes. Nice job, CI. Didn't feel stale to me at all.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

I have this really neat idea for a themed puzzle, but I’m one entry short.

Hey, I know, I’ll comb the dictionary for an insanely obscure term that no one will know that fits my theme. That’ll work!

And to compensate for that, I’ll make the rest of the puzzle embarrassingly easy, so that literally the only thing anyone will remember when they are done will be my obscure term.

Yeeesss… [gleeful rubbing of hands]

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

Pretty easy, but kind of interesting for a Monday. Played Monopoly a lot as a kid, never payed much attention to the tokens. They'd often get lost and we'd replace them with coins, nuts and bolts, paper clips, whatever. Rex's rant, as usual, proves how very Rex-centric his opinions are.

Suzie Q 7:37 AM  

Writing thimblerig I felt that I had heard or read of it before but had no idea what it was. I would not have guessed shell game. It sounds like something from a Dickens story.
All of that aside I thought it was a fine fun Monday.
I never had enough patience for Monopoly. Even worse was Risk.
Shark oil was a head-scratcher and a downer.
Nice debut.

Unknown 7:51 AM  

THIMBLERIG... Familiar only because I remember that at some point in the Broadway musical “The Music Man” con artist Harold Hill is referred to as a thimblerigger.

xyz 8:09 AM  

I hereby virtue signal SHARK OIL before it becomes completely outrΓ© to do so

THIMBLE RIG is just fine from crosses, but I'm certain very few found it a fill-in-the-blank.

Good Lord, I've seen far worse passing here as much more than acceptable.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 8:12 AM  

Why would a loaf with seeds be especially RYE? All loaves are made of seeds, ground up; and sometimes you add seeds such as caraway, or sesame, or cracked sunflower, whatever. Dill.

TJS 8:19 AM  

Lucky to land on a pile of money, collecting rents, auctioning off properties,making your own rules, eliminating taxes and street repairs...That's a lot of references in one paragraph, @LMS..Subtlety or serendipity?

mathgent 8:29 AM  

Do people still play Monopoly very much? I don’t think that my grandson even knows what it is. Mindcraft is the only game. I never got interested in Monopoly because the strategy is so basic. Buy every property you land on.

Somehow I got a kick out of DADSTOBE.

I seldom do the Sunday crossword, but my cousin alerted me to it. He knows that I like puzzles unclogged with Terrible Threes. This one was chock full of longer words, almost 60%. Enjoyed it immensely. I also learned from the note that Byron Walden, whose puzzles I have long enjoyed, is a mathematics professor at Santa Clara University. Santa Clara Is a Jesuit university just down the road from my alma mater, the Jesuit University of San Francisco.

Doug Garr 8:36 AM  

Well I had OIL for GAS and PHONER for DIALER and I forgot what a VLOG was so I had BLOG first and those were the only hiccups. Agree with Rex on this. Especially the THIMBLERIG which is so antiquated even an old codger like me never heard of it. It is the precursor of three-card monte, however, which is now the preferred street sleight-of-hand scam. Two aces and a queen are the preferred tools in NYC. This thing never gets old and I'm still amazed that so many tourists get scammed out of twenties. But then again, these mechanics are so good that most of the time I can't figure it out when the money is on the line. It's a treat watching these guys, especially with their confederates who know how to "win" until they identify a mark.

KnittyContessa 8:52 AM  

Fun Monday puzzle even though I never liked playing Monopoly. I learned about THIMBLE RIGS and SHARK OIL and I was reminded how much I miss hockey.

Ari Stotle 8:56 AM  

"I guess it doesn't matter if it has been done; it *feels* like it's been done."

Because MY truth is more valid than THE truth."

Nancy 9:11 AM  

Wow! Who knew that MONOPOLY changed its tokens so often? Certainly not me. I'm sure I played MONOPOLY at some point back in the day, but neither my brother nor I had our own set, so I probably only played it at the houses of certain friends, meaning I didn't play it all that much.

I don't remember which token they were using when I played it, though I'm pretty sure it wasn't a BOOT.

But look at how much self-confidence that takes on MONOPOLY's part. Changing your identity and "brand" so frequently. It's like the young woman who changes her hair style and color every other minute. "Look at me -- I'm so beautiful that I will remain beautiful whether I'm sporting an auburn BOB, a blonde ponytail or a brunette chignon."

Nothing much else to say about this easy, straightforward puzzle except this: Why would a heavy metal band name itself after a torture device? The names that rock bands choose for themselves have always been one of the Great Mysteries of contemporary life.

Pete 9:16 AM  

Nothing to say about the puzzle, other than it was a Monday puzzle which ran on a Monday. There's some solace in that, perhaps.

My invading horde of Scarlet tanagers has reached 4 males, with an unknown number of females likely lurking nearby. There was a male cardinal near them, a tepid pink imposter amongst the truly scarlet. They, and a few catbirds, were picking at insects on the leaves of the cedar trees in my backyard. I wish them well in that endeavor, but really wish they would move to the oak trees in my front yard, and dine on the insects causing the galls there. There are hundreds of them, fuzzy white and pink galls causing the new growth to fall off, most likely killing these oaks.

ArtO 9:24 AM  

Well, THIMBLERIG was certainly not Monday fare. Otherwise, nice original theme.

@LMS If you think Ohio drivers are bad, you haven't spent time in the NY area where the sine qua non of bad driving is attributed to New Jersey drivers...which from my observation is well earned.

RooMonster 9:29 AM  

Hey All !
Got to the Revealer with just HAT TRICK as only themer, and with the wording of the clue, threw in MONOPOLY right off. Surprising this theme has never been done in the NYT before. Nice find, Christina.

I played many a MONOPOLY game when young, mostly with my mom and sister. It always sucked when you ran out of money and had to sell your hotels, then houses, and finally the properties. Then you had to sit there with nothing and watch everyone continue. What a rotten game! Hasbro (was it them?) came out with all kinds of Special Editions, remember?

Seemed lots of Abbrs. in here, let's see, USMAP, PRO, SYSCO, OER, VWS, GPA, IDTAGS, SOPH, VLOG, DMVS, NSA.

But, still a nice MonPuz. With everyone on the odd THIMBLERIG thingie. So, the EDS made her change it to that. Hmm.

Congrats, Christina!

No F's, *Sob*

File as fog 9:38 AM  

I’m sorry. Shark oil is to modern parlance as parlance is to modern parlance. Sheesh

Lewis 9:40 AM  

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

1. Country music? (6)
2. Lines on a record (6)
3. Group featured on many "Sesame Street" episodes (4)
4. Where many stop and smell the rosΓ©s (4)
5. Doesn't travel, say (8)


Lorelei Lee 9:52 AM  

@Rex, Shark Oil upset your day? Here's one from Sunday, June 3, 1945 that's kinda interesting 108A: Man with glowing future: HITLER. Yah. That's just one clue from the reality they were living. Check out the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project for more of this. Margaret Farrar was the "woman editor."

Nice Monday. Not a lot of the Ono Acne school of thought.

Everyone of a certain age has a Monopoly routine memory. Sooo much rule bending, breaking, and creating when we were kids. And oh the cheating (Mom's calling you hurry (rob the bank of a c note...)! That's what made it fun!

@LMS, "The Botched Chocolate Keto Mud Cake Experiment and Other Tales from Quarantine Life." You need to get started on that right away. Just pure gold.

RooMonster 9:56 AM  

Back to gloat at hitting QB in the ole Spelling Bee today! AT LAST, I RULE!
Must've been easy...

RooMonster Where's My Prize? Guy

pmdm 9:59 AM  

The point of a NYT Monday crossword is that it is easy to complete, not that every entry is easy to fill in. From that viewpoint, some of the complaints seem to me off the mark.

Yes, it is stunning that this theme has not done before (based upon the research of others). And yes it does matter. It may not necessarily influence one's reaction to the puzzle (probably nor should it), but given common requirements for the puzzle it does matter.

Overall, it seemed to me that this puzzle was constructed on a higher level than most Monday puzzles. With ACME seemingly retired from the business, I hope Christina becomes Queen of the Monday puzzles. (Is that a sexist comment? Not meant to be.)

Lorelei Lee 10:19 AM  

@Roo! Congrats. I just hopped over here from SB to give myself a break. Stuck solid at Nice. Damned with faint praise.

Z 10:23 AM  

DIALER and NENA give this a very 1980’s feel, while IRON MAIDEN drives the musical timeline back into the 1970’s. OMNI Magazine was also late 1970’s - 1980’s (looks like it lasted until 1997 - those last years were the era of small children so I missed most of its last decade). So, yeah, this felt dated here, too.
I’ve mentioned before that our oldest is big into board games and his opinion of MONOPOLY is slightly lower than my opinion of macrobrew pilsners.

I liked this fine, but would have preferred more current entries.

I assume the students in Columbus say that HI in the middle thing with a knowing wink. ANN Arbor and OHIO in the same puzzle gave this a B1G feel.

@Lewis - I guess, but horse sense would have been fun, too.

@Greater Falls - Look at the RYE options the next time you’re at the grocery. There will be seeded and unseeded varieties.

JC66 10:30 AM  

Back in the day, I was intimately involved with marketing for Toys R Us and worked with most, if not all of the toy manufacturers, One of the more interesting things I learned was that for a game to be successful, players had to be able to find ways to cheat.

OffTheGrid 10:50 AM  

The clue for RYE reads simply, "Loaf with seeds". There is no one to one matchup implied. Some RYEs are unseeded and some seeded breads are not RYE. Personally, I dislike seeded bread.

egsforbreakfast 10:56 AM  

For an interesting take on today’s theme, Google “strip monopoly”.

burtonkd 11:08 AM  

@LMS & ArtO - NJ Drivers. Living in NYC, NJ drivers are the butt of all bad-driver jokes and derision, even getting the "bridge and tunnel crowd" designation. While on a tour through the south, our bus was cut off by a driver at the Houston airport. We joked that the driver must be from NJ, and you guessed it, there they were perpetrating their bad driving thousands of miles from home.

@mathgent Maybe autocorrupt victimized you, but the game is Minecraft, where you mine and build, not Mindcraft. We thought that was okay for kids since they were being creative and "building" stuff, but some kids really seem totally addicted to staring at the screen. Maybe the socializing nature of the awful Monopoly game is better for people in the long run. We all turned out okay, right? In minecraft, there are apparently kids who run around and destroy every one else's work at world building. Hiding behind internet anonymity for horribleness starts early, eh anonymice?

As for SHARKOIL, could you not make the case that it is good to put in a puzzle because it increases awareness of the problem? Every mention in a puzzle is not a tribute. Now if I could only get the one phrase I can remember of the Red Balloons song out of my head.

I mistakenly thought an IRONMAIDEN was a kind of a chastity belt. My friend won tickets to see them at the Charlotte Coliseum by calling into a radio station that was giving away tickets in the middle of the night to the 7th caller. He was the 1st,2nd,3rd all the way through to the 7th caller. They put on a great big hair show!

Ernonymous 11:19 AM  

NENA is on my list of xwordese, but she hasn't shown up in a bit. I only know all about her red balloon song from xwords. But the damn thing is catchy, I hummed it to myself when I saw the clue, now its stuck in my head. Dreadful song, catchy annoying melody. XWORDESE 101.

Carola 11:46 AM  

Having never played MONOPOLY nor heard of THIMBLERIG, I found this a tough Monday. Enjoyed the challenge and learning the new word.

Whatsername 11:48 AM  

Haven’t played Monopoly in years, but my favorite token was always the race car. I guess I thought it would help me advance faster. Certainly it’s an old game but I did not find this puzzle particularly “old” feeling. To the contrary, it was better than the average Monday with plenty of zip. Congrats Christina, on your solo debut.

I did raise an eyebrow at DIALER which seems to reference rotary phones. We don’t really “dial” any more so much as we press or tap or even speak the number. I take fish oil as a supplement but was not aware SHARKOIL is used in any particular product or that it is a subject of controversy. Interesting. Loved the clue for RINGO. I never see the word TOGA without remembering the brilliantly funny John Belushi in Animal House. Grab a brew, don’t cost nothin. TOGA

Malsdemare 11:57 AM  

@LMS, A.Word.A.Day was written for you today. I read it right before checking here and instantly thought of you. Too funny that you say exactly the same things this morning, though with a lot more color ("roll-your-ownness"is brilliant).

THIMBLERIG caught me up as well; It simply flew over my head. But given a shell game involves hiding something under a cup or some such (Thus RIGging something?), I could sorta squint with one eye, tip my head 38 degrees, get the light just over my left shoulder and see how the word might fit.

Gotta go read the rest of youse.

Swagomatic 11:59 AM  

I liked this puzzle. I, too had never heard of THIMBLERIG, and I had THuMBLERIG in there for a while. Two pencils up (even with the SHARKOIL).

What? 12:11 PM  

Yes, never heard of THIMBLERIG but it’s a CROSS word puzzle. The crosses filled in easily so I can’t understand why anyone would get mystified, especially since the theme gives it away (at least the first part).

Malsdemare 12:14 PM  

Okay, I'll jump in. In Ohio, especially Cincinnati, the bad drivers are from Kentucky; all of them, even if they have Ohio plates. And in New Hampshire, the bad drivers are "Massholes." My bet the worst drivers ALL come from a neighboring state. Here in Illinois, they are invariably from Indiana.

I'm just saying... 12:14 PM  

I'd rather have a Monopoly theme than a bunch of rap singers and actors in minor tv shows. Come on, Rex, it's not like people have stopped playing Monopoly.

Z 12:25 PM  


jberg 12:28 PM  

I enjoyed the theme, once I got to it, but it was a struggle to stay awake, what with clues like "Product of Chevron or Shell," "Rivers, in Mexico," and other overly simple, overly literal entries. (That's unfair, though, I loved clues like 71A, "word before lion, level or legs.")

As for the theme, I got BOOT, then HAT and thought "Oh no, articles of clothing --can't it be more than that??" Then I got IRON, which after a few nanoseconds of pondering made me think "Monopoly!" I immediately checked the clue for 64A, a likely-looking spot, and there it was! I might have got THIMBLERIG anyway, just from plausibly (never heard of NENA, would have tried NoNA or NANA first, but they didn't work with that cross.) So that was OK.

@loren, cool closing line, I almost missed it. And I really enjoyed your avatar, in part because I didn't remember that token, which led me to Duck Duck Go and to the discovery that there is a hot online market in Monopoly tokens. Apparently some people collect them. What a world we live in.

Here in MA we have a Registry of Motor Vehicles, aka RMV, so I put that in and got DOG TIREr. It didn't really fit the clue, but I loved the concept. My stepdaughter's family has a very large, very affectionate, very excitable dog. I'm gonna suggest that the next time we come over to visit (if only!) they hire a dog tirer to give him a long workout that morning. With me and my dog it's the other way around -- she's a John-tirer.

My other stepdaughter had to evacuate New Orleans at the time of Katrina. Maybe that flood-blocker clue should have had "perhaps" at the end.

Finally, 56D. My first reaction was that Tennyson's line is "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die...," so the quotation marks around the version used in the clue seemed inappropriate. But perhaps Tennyson was adapting an existing saying? Does anyone know?

@Gill, I no longer follow hockey, but there was a period of about 3 years when I watched every Bruins game on TV (and they were all on TV). Fans actually throw their hats onto the ice when a HAT TRICK is achieved. I don't think they get them back, but I suppose they bring cheap hats for the purpose.

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

@RP … U old THIMBLERIG denier, U! THIMBLERIG was also a riverboat gambler dude, somewhere in the Davy Crockett flicks, as I recall. Was an apt name.

@muse: Little M&A was a gigantic board game fan. Do agree, that MONOPOLY played a bit longish. We always sped it up a tad, by dealin out about half the properties, free of charge, at the get-go. Then U had some serious landrushes goin on, right away. Fave all-time board game: Cabby. U woulda liked it … it's actual tagline was "The game with rules made to be broken!"
Also, little M&A *made* a few of his own board games; fave, by my friends' account, was Big Screw (The Stock Market Crash Course). But, I digress ...

Was MASK ever a MONOPOLY token? I always liked to use the lead pipe as my token (stole it from my Clue game). I think maybe today's puztheme had that strong dejavuosity feel, becuz there have been sooomany clues about MONOPOLY tokens, over the puzyears.

By the way -- hope y'all kinda liked this puz a little, cuz it was rated Puz O the Week, over at xwordinfo.chen. (I liked it a lot, cuz it was all about board games, of course.)

staff weeject pick: VWS. plural abbreve meat.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Square ones won't fit into round holes} = PEGS.
fave non-MASK entry: VLOG.

Thanx for the fun and games, Ms. Iverson darlin. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


GHarris 12:38 PM  

Fine Monday puzzle, weird write up by Rex. How can a never done before theme be stale?

Canon Chasuble 12:40 PM  

A Hat trick, so I was taught comes from Cricket, a game where NO goals are scored. A bowler who took three successive wickets, an absolute rarity, was awarded a hat for his amazing feat.

johnk 12:41 PM  

I guess Rex didn't like that there were no recent pop/rap singers/songs, TV shows or texting abbrs. I liked it for the same reasons.
It would have been nice to see GO in the NW corner, JAIL in the NE, etc. And I agree that SHOE is the token, not BOOT. Still, a nice job for a Monday.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

Were thimbles ever used to hide the pea?

JC66 12:50 PM  


Some magicians do HAT TRICKS, too

Teedmn 12:57 PM  

Since the last time anyone was able to convince me to play MONOPOLY was around 1974, there was no way I was going to figure out this theme without the revealer. But my aversion to the game did not color my reaction to the puzzle; I though it was a fine Monday, though I do agree with Rex that it is surprising that it hasn't been done before.

As someone who wears next to no cosmetics, I have no idea what beauty benefits SHARK OIL is lending or what it's used in - MASKs perhaps?

Eleven, twelve, dig and DELVE. Some things never get lost in the memory.

My husband and I tried to make our first RYE bread in our bread maker last week. Something went wrong and it rose really strangely and the crust was nearly impenetrable. It's going into some future savory bread pudding, I guess. I usually have pretty good luck with bread but not this time.

Christina Iverson, nice catch on the MONOPOLY theme, thanks.

QuasiMojo 12:57 PM  

I only know the song "99 Luftballoons." We sang it as "LEAD Balloons." Give me NINA Hagen anyday.

@Nancy, were you playing Mah Jongg rather than Monopoly? I'm beginning to think you lived in a gilded cage as a child, surrounded by literate lyricists, opulent oenophiles, and tennis tycoons at the Algonquin Round Table. I had to survive endless games of Monopoly with my siblings that always ended with one of them overturning the board in a huff.

As for gruesome Grand Guignol names for Heavy Metal bands, I just assumed it was because listening to their music IS torture.

Greg 12:58 PM  

i liked it. I didn't groan over the fill, and I learned a new word, THIMBLERIG. How many Mondays' does that happen?

Barbara S. 1:51 PM  

Funny "DIALER" video

GILL I. 2:23 PM  

@Teedmn 12:57....I've been baking bread for a long time. I used a bread maker exactly one time and it was a disaster. Waste of money. The only "tool" you really need is a Dutch Oven to bake the bread in. That.... and some patience. I make a cool beans no knead RYE with beer and it's fool-proof. Prepare your yeast, rye flour and beer in a big bowl, cover it, and I place it in the microwave to rise for 18 to 24 hours. Slap that little puppy in a very hot Dutch Oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pot and let her go for another 15 minutes. Now, since I'm bored, I like to make little decorations on the tops.....Little leaves are the best.....

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Why Rex always so grumpy?

john towle r 2:52 PM  

Thimblerig was one of Davy Crockett’s Tennessee volunteers at the battle of the Alamo.



Whatsername 2:55 PM  

@Malsdemare (12:14) I’d say you’re absolutely right about the neighboring states theory. Here in Missouri, the worst of the worst are from Kansass with some serious competition from Iowa (Idiots Out Wandering Around). Sincere apologies to any and all from either of those perfectly lovely states.

pabloinnh 2:58 PM  

I'll second what @Malsdemare had to say about what we call bad drivers here in NH. Usually they're zipping by you on an interstate. In the winter they're going skiing. In the summer I'm not sure, but assume they're in a hurry to buy tax-free liquor.

Thanks to the M&A for adding another voice to THIMBLERIG showing up in Davy Crockett. Don't know if he saw my AM post--sometimes posting on here is like putting a message in a bottle and giving it the old heave-ho. You never know who's going to pick it up.

pabloinnh 3:06 PM  

Hey @Roo-

Just went back to see if I could find the last two words I needed for QB, and by God I did! This was not easy, it was nearly impossible, and I suggest you give yourself the proper amount of credit (tons), because that's what I'm doing. Good on us, mate.

This may happen again someday, but you can only do something the first time once.

Doc John 3:11 PM  

I'd never heard of THIMBLERIG, either, but it didn't matter because I got it through the crosses and didn't even see it until I was done.
I will leave you with my favorite Wacky Pack.

Doug Kalish 3:50 PM  

What else would you use on a squeaky shark?

Hungry Mother 4:06 PM  

My son, who lives in Vegas, says that all the worst drivers from all over come there and rent cars. That theory explains a lot of the experience of driving in that city. My own observations: Massachusetts drivers are the fastest and rudest but also the most skilled; Pennsylvania drivers are the politest and worst; Delaware drivers don’t know how to judge distance and speed so they tailgate and pull out in front of other cars; NYC drivers honk the most; Florida drivers are the most dangerous because they don’t use turn signals and lose the big picture (like, “Where am I and why am I here?”); Ohio scones are the worst: like muffins as Larry David abhors.

Birchbark 4:51 PM  

@Pete (9:16) -- We had a couple of scarlet tanagers last year, the first I'd seen in a very long time. None so far this year. But hummingbirds, Baltimore orioles, and rose-breasted grosbeaks are all back and active in the last few days, in full spring plumage that verges on the GAUDY.

Anoa Bob 4:58 PM  

The last time I played Monopoly was around the last time I played Bingo, which is to say long ago in the last century. Games that depend heavily on chance never were much fun for me, especially those involving rolling the dice. I've played some, but it was usually as a social thing rather than for a fun-of-the-game thing.

IRON MAIDEN was a downer. Not the group but the "torture device" mentioned in the clue. I haven't systematically studied torture devices but have run across their descriptions from time to time over the years. I'm always left in disbelief at how cruel people can be. Some of the devices weren't even meant to get their victims to make false confessions but rather to kill them in the most diabolically sadistic way possible. Human depravity at it's most extreme.

My advice is to never learn about torture devices like the IRON MAIDEN. Once you do you may be like me and can never, ever erase those images from your mind.

Must look for something else to change that mental thread. Aha! Found it. Counting POCs. They're not as thick as the last couple days, but not by much. The grid starts off with BOBS and RIOS, continues with some NUNS wearing TIARAS, and wraps up with EYES and PEGS making a two-POCs-for-one-S in the lower, right-most square. There is also the harder-to-spot DADS TO BE. Okay, I feel better now.

JC66 5:12 PM  

@Anoa Bob

If they we're to torture you, they'd probably use an ESS-shaped device. πŸ˜‚

Nancy 5:25 PM  

@Quasi -- I've been wracking my brain trying to remember what games I played at a young age and I simply don't. I remember no board games other than Scrabble, but I would have been an older child when I played it, not a younger one. I don't think we were a board game family. I think we were a card playing family. Maybe I played early easy card games with my brother like Crazy 8s and Go Fish? I do remember sport-y competitions with my brother who's five years younger. Marbles* and jacks and later on ping pong (at resorts; we didn't have a table); likewise shuffleboard and hand shuffleboard. Jimmy eventually had a mini pool table in his BR. We sometimes went into the building courtyard and threw a tennis ball around. I had a damn good arm, if I do say so myself.

I had a good friend from age 11 on with whom I played card games. All the rummy games: Canasta and 500 Rummy and Gin. We also played Hangman and Ghost and Charades. I know I did play Monopoly at some point, but I don't remember with whom or when. I remember nothing about the game except I think there was pretend money in it.

My problem, @Quasi, is my fuzzy memory. Never in my entire history of posting here has it ever seemed fuzzier than it does right now. I simply have no memory of what games I played and didn't play, with whom or when. My childhood is one big blur --with certain days and events that are fairly vivid and all the rest...not at all.

*I only remember marbles because of Mrs. Fromkes. She was a querulous woman who lived below us and called my mother to complain that Jimmy and I were causing her chandelier to shake. Mom came running in to see what terrible thing we were doing and...we were playing marbles on a thick wall to wall carpet with padding under it. She said we were doing nothing wrong and left the room. (Now why do I remember that incident out of an entire childhood of forgotten games?)

Z 5:41 PM  

Friday, July 11, 2015
Saturday, December 5, 2009

It’s why we have an archive.

JC66 6:35 PM  



JP in CA 6:57 PM  

I agree with all who were surprised by Rex's writeup. I spent my entire solve thinking, "Rex is gonna *love* this!" Interesting theme and theme answers, plenty of "sparkling" fill, and hardly any bad crosswordese. All at day-appropriate difficulty. Wish Rex were more aware of his own moods so that there's more consistency in his write-ups; really seems to be at the whim of whatever emotion he happens to be feeling in the moment. Truly a shame today, as I think by Rex's own standards this is a fine puzzle, and certainly far, far better than typical for the NYTXW.

Teedmn 8:58 PM  

@Gill I, I would also eschew the bread machine but my husband likes his gadgets. At least it gives me the opportunity to say my RYE went awry.

Z 10:27 PM  

@JC66 - Do those puzzles for enlightenment.

JC66 10:32 PM  


I did them before I ???'d you.

What am I missing?

Unknown 10:37 PM  

“Thimblerig” was the name of the gambler who was a member of the Tennessee Volunteers in the 1960 movie ‘The Alamo’, which starred a John Wayne.

Proud Mamma 12:04 AM  


Jerry Geiger 12:51 AM  

Rex must have the thinnest skin on the planet. Getting upset at a word, literally a *word*, because it describes something bad is the most entitled thing I've ever heard of. It's ok to be angry that SHARKOIL is a thing. It's not ok to be angry at someone for simply mentioning the word "SHARKOIL", breaking the safe space in your head where no one is allowed to make you think about anything that isn't sunshine and rainbows. If we never acknowledge that certain evils exist, nothing will ever be done to stop those evils. To be angry because you were made to recognize evil is therefore the most unproductive selfish thing I can think of! If your emotions are so uncontrollable that the mere mention of factual realities related to anything "bad" sends you into childish fits, maybe you shouldn't be doing crosswords. Matter of fact, you should avoid dictionaries, encyclopedias, the news, and most media all together!

Loren Muse Smith 3:03 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 4:31 AM  

This one was weird. Monday easy and then Thimblerig outta nowhere. Got that one from the crosses but had GRIP for 57D with no way of knowing whether the pop. 5858 Colorado town was Espes or Estes Park. Also got stuck at the 33D/47A cross. The EEOC is a thing. EOC is a thing. I'm dubious at whether EEO is a thing and while I have heard of odeons it's been a minute since Latin class.

thefogman 9:14 AM  

Typo in my newspaper’s copy at 26A made me pause a moment - Shexll instead of Shell.

Burma Shave 10:33 AM  


AMY’s a PRO at BOOTCAMP, OLIVE drab TOBE portrayed in;
DOG TAGS on the UNIT’S champ, my DATE is an IRONMAIDEN.


spacecraft 10:42 AM  

Well well, a Monday with some teeth; go figure. The NE, in particular, gave me fits, what with all those letter add-ons. USMAP, IDTAGS, blech. And sticking two UNITS arbitrarily into the clue made it tough to see. Also, on the other side, THIMBLERIG was a total unknown. Having -MBL- plus already knowing the theme gave me THIMBLE--but the RIG part: woo baby! AMI was hard to parse. Not so with close relative DOD AMY Klobuchar. And what's with this DIALER? What millennium are we in?

This grid is Acronym City. Lots of vowelless ones, and then EEO to balance. Constructors purely love that one, as they can present any iteration they choose: EEO, EOE, etc. So, a cobblestone street compared to the slick boulevard that is our usual Monday fare. Different. Birdie.

rondo 11:01 AM  

@foggy - Both the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Mpls StarTrib had the same typo.

The MONOPOLY set I grew up with was one of the early versions, but had no playing pieces at all by the time it got handed down. We used pieces from another game to play it. So the themers weren't clicking with me. Never heard the term THIMBLERIG.

Shout out to MN Sen. AMY Klobuchar. When she was still the Hennepin County Attorney, the top-rated local morning radio show always called her "Busty" AMY Klobuchar. They stopped that years ago, but people still call her that in casual conversation. I've had the chance to meet her a couple of times at ribbon cuttings, etc. Senator AMY is a really a nice person. Yeah baby.

Seemed like a normal Mon-puz to me.

AM/FM Howard 12:04 PM  

THIMBLERIG was a character in the original Disneyland television series production of Davy Crockett circa 1955. A series that swept the nation and led to kids all over the country singing the Ballad of Davy Crockett while wearing coonskin hats. He was played by Hans Conried

Diana, LIW 12:36 PM  

After yesterday's clue with "Twelver" in it (which was correct - I did have to look it up), I was suspicious of "Shexll game" - the clue which appeared in my paper today for 26A. I've heard of shell games, and THIMBLERIG made sense to me, but there was that "X" in the clue. Huh? said I.

Anyone else have that in their Syndie (or otherwise) paper?

Aside from that, this was a fine Monday. And as you know, I love Mondays. Even if there is an OBOE without the obligatory "Oreo" cookie. Mnnn, maybe that's where the term "cookies" in computerize came from.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 12:38 PM  

No, I'm not lost in a "fog," - I just should read others' answers before I post. Tho I did look at @Rex.

Lady Di

leftcoaster 4:48 PM  

Monopoly is an established, traditional game, yet it can be tweaked from time to time, as is the present case with its neat little tokens.

The token DOG in DOG TIRED is a new one to me, though its clue made it an undoubtedly appropriate player. A belated welcome to Mr. DOG, whatever your name, your breed, and wherever you are.

The RIG in THIMBLERIG and its "Shexll game" clue were oddly obscure. Another one was NENA the singer and her "99 Red Balloons". Finally, needed the crossing V to get VLOG which is Vaguely familiar.

Enjoyed the puzzle and delighted with the theme, reVealer, and Virtually all of its fill.

Cheerio all!

rondo 5:23 PM  

The original by NENA -99 Luftballons (neunundneunzig Luftballons):

strayling 6:48 PM  

I got mugged by this one at THIMBLERIG/IDTAG. Without searching, thimbleriB/idtaB seemed just as plausible so I had to resort to the Googles.

The rest of the puzzle was breezy and fun, so I won't complain at being made to learn something new.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP