Hate U Give heroine / MON 6-22-20 / Percussive piece of jewelry for Indian dancer / Lowest acceptable offers in stock market lingo / Typical physique for middle-aged guy

Monday, June 22, 2020

Constructor: Sid Sivakumar

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (2:53)

THEME: ESCAPEE (39A: Fugitive who, phonetically, is "hiding" in certain letters in 17-, 21-, 52- and 61-Across) — letter string "SKP" can be found inside all four themers:

Theme answers:
  • DESK PHONES (17A: Lines at the office?)
  • RISK-PRONE (21A: Willing to accept danger)
  • ASK PRICES (52A: Lowest acceptable offers, in stock market lingo)
  • JAMES K. POLK (61A: President between John Tyler and Zachary Taylor)
Word of the Day: Hula HOOP (5A: Hula ___) —
hula hoop is a toy hoop that is twirled around the waist, limbs or neck. The modern hula hoop was invented in 1958 by Arthur K. "Spud" Melin and Richard Knerr, but children and adults around the world have played with hoops throughout history. Hula hoops for children generally measure approximately 70 centimetres (28 in) in diameter, while those for adults measure around 1 metre (40 in). Traditional materials for hoops include willowrattan (a flexible and strong vine), grapevines and stiff grasses. Today, they are usually made of plastic tubing. (wikipedia)
• • •

Conceptually, this is wonderful. If I didn't literally "aha" when I figured out the theme (after I was done), I came close. I make this face when I don't get the theme immediately upon finishing, and I was just starting to make it, thinking it maybe had something to do with a letter "E" that had "escaped" from the themers (don't do that, please), and then I noticed the "hiding" letter string SKP and then I was like "o, wow, well, yes, that works perfectly ... [says ESCAPEE out loud] ... yup, checks out!" There is a small part of me that thinks getting the "K" from the single initial "K" in JAMES K. POLK (where it's already sounded out as a letter) is a minor flaw, and a bigger part of me that doesn't give a f*** about "stock market lingo" and thinks ASK PRICES sounds super dumb. But whatever, SKP is probably hard do perfectly and this one works and I finished in under 3 and had a genuine aha so Not Mad. Well, tiny bit mad at the revealer clue—the ESCAPEE is hiding in the answers, not hiding "in certain letters in" the answers. The ESCAPEE literally *is* the letters, and those letters are "hiding" inside the larger phrase. The clue phrasing is awkward and to my ear incorrect.

My cat does not get SLOBBERY when he gets a CAT TREAT, but some cats do and I like that those answers are symmetrical. TSKED is awful but I'm pretty sure I've used it in actual conversation ... semi-ironically, but still. BARPIN is about as boring a word for a piece of jewelry as I can imagine. I was like "OK, some kind of PIN ... EAR PIN? ... wait, BAR PIN? Really? Yuck. Snore." There is an "ear pin" in this puzzle, it turns out, but it goes by the name of "stud" and it goes in the PIERCED EAR at 18D: Place to insert a stud. Anything else to say about this? Not really. Nice work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Greatest Father's Day moment was learning that my daughter is dropping sub-5 times on Monday puzzles now. I had no idea. She keeps her training to herself. Here I am being characteristically encouraging :)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Easy. Clever and fun with some fine long downs...and, yes I had to stare a bit to grok the theme. Liked it a bunch and Jeff gave it POW. Nice debut Sid!

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

I liked this, but it seemed more like a Tuesday puzzle to me.

Patrick O'Connor 12:19 AM  

We are delighted to hear that your daughter may one day follow in your footsteps. May we recommend that she call herself Regina Parker? Or Posy, or Nosy?

Tale Told By An Idiot 12:24 AM  

“Ahem, Ariel. I know you want to melt your too too solid flesh with a concoction of eye of newt and a cat treat but you know it will just make you slobbery. And admit it, as an escapee from Prospero’s desert isle, you need to reel in your risk-prone nature, grab your prayer book, and hope you won’t be spotted when we cross the buffer zone.”

“But Inga, I want to soar across leas, use a hoop for a halo, sparkle like an opal and cavort with Eros ere it is too late. And you’re trying to bring me down to earth and make me a dull person who answers desk phones. I won’t have it. I am such stuff as dreams are made on.”
Ariel fled.

Our revels now are ended and we go back to our lives where people ask prices at the deli, shop at IKEA and do crossword puzzles.

(The author thanks Mr. Shakespeare for words from Hamlet, Macbeth, and The Tempest, and Mr. Sivakumar for words from his puzzle. The remaining words, and most of the arrangements, are the author’s own.)

egsforbreakfast 12:24 AM  

I agree (OMG) with OFL on this one. Really nice, well constructed theme, but the revealer was a clunker. It may have been edited to make it more understandable to newer solvers on a Monday, but it really would be tons better as “Fugitive who’s also hiding in 17-,21-, 52- and 61- across”.

I always like to look through the completed puzzle for words or phrases that can be taken in different ways or could be construed differently from their normal usage. Today I noticed that OUIJA could be taken as the Franco/Germanic equivalent of YESYES. Imagine my surprise and delight upon reading the Wikipedia article on Ouija and finding that this is, in fact, the likely explanation for the moniker.

Keep up the good work, TikTokkers!!!

Robin 12:28 AM  

Okay puzz as far as I was concerned. No aha moment for me, as I tend to pay zero attention to the themes unless it helps in actually figuring out some answers. Which on Monday it almost never does.

But I had a big nit to pick with the clueing for HALO. An angel's halo is an aura of light, often rendered in art as a golden ring or perhaps golden circle. It is not an item of attire, which is how I interpret the meaning of "wear".

chefwen 2:31 AM  

This was one, fun Monday puzzle. Took me a while to grasp the SKP deal after I was done, but I finally did. Of course it didn’t do anything while I was solving, but that’s okay.

Being a cheesehead and a Packer fan I wanted STARR to be of the BART variety, oh well, next time.

I keep a little bag of CAT TREATS next to the chair I occupy in the living room. As soon as I sit down, my kitty is Johnny on the spot waiting for a fix. A little pat on my hand to remind me why she is there, if I don’t respond quickly enough her little claws are unsheathed to let me know that this is serious business. I comply. Speaking of kitties, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would love an updated picture of Alfie.

DESERT ISLE made me think of dessert aisle, so I had to get a little frozen after dinner treat. Chocolate Eclair, just waiting for it to thaw out.

Alex M 3:02 AM  

Hell of a Natick in the SE, INGA crossing OLGA with JAMES K POLK gumming up the works to boot. As a Canadian unfamiliar with less-accomplished US Presidents or either of those two ladies I was well and truly stumped.

Unknown 3:46 AM  

Aww, broke my Monday streak today. No fair crossing INGA and OLGA for us youngsters. :(

Of course it might have helped if I'd remembered the pasta is ORZO not orzi. *facepalm*

ChuckD 6:01 AM  

Played as a themeless to me - there wasn’t much of an aha at the end. Fill was typical - if not slightly more difficult for a Monday. The grid created boring shorts and those long downs that were flat - I guess DESERT ISLE and PRAYER BOOK were ok. Overall quick and workmanlike.

Hungry Mother 6:19 AM  

Quite quick, but ended up doing mostly downs. Very satisfactory start of the solving week.

Lewis 6:20 AM  

@sid the constructor -- Savor that rare Rex-word "wonderful"!

This is a debut puzzle (congratultions, Sid!) that feels like the work of a pro. Five debut answers on a Monday, including the lovely BUFFER ZONE and my favorite answer SLOBBERY. On top of that, there are four long down answers to complement the theme answers, a clever theme, and only ten 3/s! Plus a couple of wordplay clues on a Monday -- for OXEN and DESK PHONES! All wrapped in a very junk-light grid.

Impressive and auspicious. Thank you, and please don't be a stranger, Sid!

GILL I. 6:37 AM  

I missed the DESERT ISLE boat, and since I had time on my hands, I dutifully wrote in ESK ISK ASK ESK. Oh, OK....it's the SKP you idiot. You need the PEE, idiot. Where is Brenda STARR when you need her?
I just noticed EAU and ODOR. And then we have SOAR and REEL and, and, well, @Tale Told can fill you in on the rest.
I like Mondays where you have to do some thinking. PIERCED EAR made me do that. I had them done in Buenos Aires. I was 15 and visiting my Dear Old Dad. Someone told me that all you had to do was put some ice behind your ear to numb it and then jab a needle with some thread right through that piece of fat. Dad was afraid I'd get some awful earlobe disease so I had it done in a hospital. They missed the mark. I mean I don't have Bugs Bunny ears where you can have some freedom to jab here and there,. Instead, the nurse chose the bottom of bottoms to mark and pierce a permanent ugly hole in the only ears I have.
What else..... I liked DAD BOD. Is there a MOM BOD as well? I like the image of a little muffin top.
Goes steady with at 57D also brought on some memory lanes. I only went steady once. In High School it was required - like lab science. If you weren't going steady, you might as well just drop out. His name was Toby. Yep, that was his name. He was a senior and he had a car that mommy and daddy bought him. He always smelled of Old Spice and he chewed gum. He gave me his football ring so that I could wear it around my neck - which was required in those days. I lost it while jumping on a trampoline.
Nice Monday, Sid....This your first?

pabloinnh 6:54 AM  

Kind of a crunchy Monday (good!) and themeless for me as I found the wording of the revealer somewhat mystifying, but congratulations to SS on a nice debut.

Our cat Theo is still the only cat I know that will actually roll over for a CATTREAT. This happens at a certain time every day when I repair to my man cave for a preprandial libation. Down the stairs comes my cat, parks in front of me expectantly, gets the word, rolls over, and gets a treat. We do this three times and then I say "all done" and he turns around and goes back upstairs. No idea how I taught him this, but I always suspect he understands more than I know.

Timely Acrostic yesterday. History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme, as the saying goes.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Just not my cup of tea. I hate colloquial equivalency clues in my puzzles, and today we get:
Nothin’ = NADA (it begins at 1 across)
Um … I’m standing right here = AHEM (at this point, I have read exactly three clues and the puzzle has lost me)
Once again … = AS I SAID
You wish = HAH. This one is the worst of all, as the two are not only not equal, but not close.

I was all set to go on a rant about the HALO clue (hi, @Robin), but then I thought of the LA baseball team and it works.

I’m sure this puzzle will please many people. I’m just not one of those people.

Lorelei Lee 7:47 AM  

Desk phone, risk prone, cat treat and James K. Polk. What a fun bunch of words to say. And with an escapee hiding in the middle ... and slobbery!? It's a theme park.

Same with (*SB Alert) the Spelling Bee today. If you haven't, this is a great day to try it. Fun bunch of words to look at when you're done. Might remind you of the old Ghoti thing.

QuasiMojo 8:29 AM  

I can't oppugn the validity of this fine puzzle. And a debut? Bravo.

You too @Tale Told By an Idiot. Classic. I loved the image of a hula hoop as a halo!

Makes me want to listen to "Pearly Shells" on my Compact DISK PLAYER.

Nancy 8:30 AM  

When I saw the revealer, I woke up long enough from a puzzle I was pretty bored with to say "Cute! Nice revealer." Then I went back to sleep. A lack of challenge will do that to me every time. Although I did enjoy SLOBBERY and the lovely image and "feel" that the clue wrought.

Petsounds 8:34 AM  

@egsforbreakfast: Thank you for that amusing bit of OUIJA trivia.
@pabloinnh: I'm impressed by your cat trick--a term I doubt you'll ever see in a crossword puzzle!

This was a little harder than most Mondays, and I liked that. As so often happens, I didn't get the theme until I was finished--I'm more wordish than puzzleish. But like Rex, I appreciated it when I realized what it was. Rex thought ASKPRICES was "super dumb," but that's what my IRA statements say: "ask price" and "bid price," so I rather liked it. And hooray for DESERTISLE, SLOBBERY, and the definition for ANKLET, which was a nice stumper.

Hard to believe this is a debut puzzle. Nice job, Sid!

albatross shell 8:40 AM  

Kitshef 712am
Me: I just know I'm winning the big lottery today.
You: HAH or you wish or fat chance or no way.
All mean the same to my mind.

amyyanni 8:41 AM  

Love a clever Monday. This was really good. Was it Polk whose wife and child were killed in an accident prior to him taking office?

Z 8:46 AM  

JAMES K. POLK? Had the JAMES and the theme helped me not waste precious nanoseconds with that clue. In the spirit of Twitter/Crossword serendipity, I was seeing Grant’s opinion on the stupidity of POLK’s Mexican-American war yesterday. I didn’t realize that that barely remembered war of expansion resulted in the worst percentage of US combatants’ deaths, worse than WWII and Vietnam. Now I’m busy tracking down Jean Edward Smith’s 2002 biography of Grant. Not as amusing as @Lorelei’s rant about the use of “flighty” on Saturday being followed by “flighty” appearing in a Sunday clue. Still, it is always odd when a dead President I barely have ever thought about makes two appearances in less than 24 hours.

I liked the theme. It’s a nifty bit of wordplay. A couple clues gave me more trouble than usual for a Monday, and my failure to read the whole clue led to iMax before AMCS, so this ended up more in the challenging Monday end of solve time. Still it was fun. A fine Monday puzzle.

Todd 8:48 AM  

I think there are many things in the puzzle that "I don't give a fk about". Some far more obscure that stock market lingo. One hit wonder rap musicians for example. And the lack of financial literacy is a huge problem in this country so maybe Rex shouldn't be so dismissive of that world especially since I'd bet his retirement funds are in the the stock market.

RooMonster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
LOL at you, Rex, for your "Well la di dah" response! Good stuff. And I finished in 7:44, and not rushing. #humblebrag πŸ˜ƒ

I see what you did there with the third word in your post. I missed it Yesterday myself. Been getting my butt kicked at SB lately.

Liked this funpuz. SKP=ESCAPEE phonetically. Nice. Saw lots of K in puz, turns out there are part of theme, but the SE corner still contain lots of them! Couple double B's. Even a double F!

Congrats on your debut, Sid. I'll live vicariously through you!

Someone said earlier Jeff Chen gave this his POW, which 1) is awesome sauce for Sid as s debut puz, and 2) deflating to know the rest of the week might be, well, weak.

Three F's

Nancy 8:58 AM  

Forgot to mention that PIERCED EAR didn't pass my breakfast test. The very thought makes my knees buckle and my stomach start to churn. I'd as soon have my fingernails pulled out one by one as let anyone drill holes in my earlobes. Growing up, I knew plenty of girls who had it done and I always thought they were out of their everlovin' minds.

There was exactly one (1) year when I wore earrings at all -- the kind that clip on the earlobe. It was when I was 18, looked 11, and was trying to look older. But the clip-on kind hurt like hell afterwards, and I would come home from the party or the dance with very sore earlobes. Nor did earrings make me look older. With my jet black hair, dark brown eyes and fairly dark complexion, what earrings did was to make me look like a Gypsy hooker. And I don't mean big hoop earrings; I mean small, tasteful earrings. But any kind of earrings made me look exotic, whereas I was striving for the "All-American girl" look -- hard to accomplish when you're not a blonde.

At age 19, I abruptly stopped wearing any earrings at all. I have never worn them since -- not even for the dressiest, most formal occasions. Sometimes I'm at an event where I seem to be the only woman in the entire place not wearing earrings. But I've never looked back.

Wm. C. 8:59 AM  

I assume that the point that OFL was trying to make with his STARR pictures was that the "Hate U Give" heroine was an obscure piece of fill (STARR Carter). I certainly agree, never having heard of either the film nor the star ... But I never heard of any of OFL's pictures, either.

My thought before coming here was that it should have been clued as "Whitewater Controversy Investigation Head" (Ken Starr). But as @chefwen2:31 above said, Bart Starr of Green Bay Packer fame would also work better, and I agree a bit more so than my Ken. BTW, how did a location as remote and low-populated as Green Bay Wisconsin ever get a major sports franchise? Oops, I just got myself in trouble with a bunch of Wisconsinites! ;-)

Tale Told By An Idiot 9:05 AM  

Questions: 1. How do I “go blue”. 2. If I do so will I be allowed to comment without having to prove I am not a robot? (It is getting harder to distinguish myself from one, apparently.) Thanks in advance.

Barbara S. 9:10 AM  

Nice puzzle. It took me a second after the solve to get the "SKP" theme, but I too had a pleasant "Aha."

Typical physique for a middle-aged guy: DAD BOD -- ouch! I wonder if we might have some pushback on this one from the assembled males of a certain age. @Hungry Mother? And we also have the chap's ABS lurking at the other side of the puzzle. Poor DAD-BOD-guy hasn't seen or thought about them in years.

CAMEO crossed by OPAL, and to round out your jewelry collection, there's also BAR PIN (very popular in the Victorian era). Of course, you have PIERCED EARS. And speaking of jewelry, what did the NYTXW do before there was ETSY? I guess there's always been good old "stye."

INGA crossed by OLGA. (Where's "Helga"?) I can see how this cross was tricky for some.

We just had Fathers' Day. Here's some maternal representation:
"Along came a young girl
She's pretty as a PRAYER BOOK
Sweet as an apple on Christmas Day
I said, "Good gracious, can this be my luck?
If that's my PRAYER BOOK
Lord, let us pray."

That Was Your Mother

Did you notice PRAYER BOOK right beside 40D EROS "Love god"? Is it getting hot in here?

bauskern 9:13 AM  

How can someone pick a POW when it's only Monday? Or do they get to see *all* the puzzles ahead of time?

Liverpudlian Scouser 9:16 AM  

Dear Rex,

You omitted this star from your Starr studded music list above.

Thanks mate.


mathgent 9:27 AM  

I was expecting that someone would have found some other three-letter sequences sounding like a word. I came up with a couple of phrases.

TSA agent’s job description. CID.

Your dentist’s exclamation after looking in your mouth. ODK.

Almost three quarters of the entries were four or five letters. Caveman vocabulary.

bigsteve46 9:29 AM  

I just don't see how anyone can complete a puzzle in 2 minutes and 53 seconds - I just don't. (I admit it took me 19 minutes and 41 seconds - that's pretty lame for a Monday; so maybe I'm just beaming in from a distant, slower galaxy.) But 2:53???

Nice Monday puzzle with a bit of a bite. Got bogged down in the "slobbery/bar pin" neighborhood - but its an exceptionally lovely morning here in power Westchester County (NY) and I was no doubt distracted by the birds chirping and leaves gently blowing just outside my sun room window, and I'll blame the elements for the 16 minute and 48 seconds gap in Rex's and my solve times. So there: I feel smarter already!

jberg 9:32 AM  

It came out all right -- but I was disappointed with PIERCED EAR. You see, I had got PIERCED from the crosses, but told myself, "wait! It might be a lip! That would be a sign of trendiness (well, for the 1990s); so I left those three letters blank, only to have it be an EAR after all. Should have remembered it was Monday.

Fine puzzle, though.

Who is this Brenda STARR Rex is posting? Is she related to the girl reporter in the comics? Or just stealing her name?

Ah, JAMES K POLK -- ineffective is not quite the term; he was very effective at expanding the US territory available for slavery, with the annexation of Texas as a state, and the territory seized from Mexico.

@Wm C -- I can't see any comments since yours, so maybe you've been answered already. The short version: in olden times, many smaller cities (Syracuse, Fort Wayne) had major league sports teams. In the case of Green Bay, the team got into financial trouble, and got out of it by selling non-voting shares of stock to people in the Green Bay community. The response was overwhelming; but it left them in a situation where it was very difficult to move. There would certainly have been lawsuits, and tons of ill will. They did play some home games in Milwaukee for a few years -- but with the completion of I43 it wasn't that hard to get to Green Bay from anywhere in the state (except for the NW, which related more to the Vikings), and then TV revenue mushroomed. So that's why they're still in GB.

kitshef 9:33 AM  

The clue for STARR, as has been pointed out, ignores a bunch of well-known possibilities in favor of an obscure one. We have had some comparisons recently to New Yorker crosswords. The New Yorker will do that every time. In addition to the good suggestions already (Ringo, Ken, Bart), you could add Brenda and Blaze.

@albatross shell 8:40 - yes, that is exactly why I hate CECs. To me, HAH in that context would mean "I'm with you - that'd be nice". But You Wish would be mean "that won't happen and you are an idiot".

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

A different moderator 10:08 last night,
Thanks for the reply, but it was woefully incomplete. Isn’t calling someone an asshole clearly hostile?
That’s a quote from z two nights ago around 11:20PM. It’s still there. My complaint remains the same: there are different sets of rules for the favored. That’s lousy.

Lewis 9:37 AM  

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

1. Does the dishes? (5)
2. Bunch of romantics (5)
3. Windy event? (6)
4. Unlikely place to find bars (4)(4)
5. Strenuous thing to pull (3)(7)


Barbara S. 9:49 AM  

@Tale Told 12:24
Loved it!

****SB ALERT****
Now that I’ve fallen back to earth, I feel I can talk about SB again. I was afraid that all my braggadocio over my AMAZING, UNPRECEDENTED and HEROIC success was becoming tedious in the extreme. But man, the glory that was…sigh. [Shaking herself out of a reverie] It was a great run while it lasted: 8 QBs in 9 days with a final continuous streak of 6. But I missed QB on both Saturday and Sunday. One of the words I failed to find yesterday has already been mentioned: I won’t dwell on painful subjects by repeating it here (except to say that I knew about IM but I didn’t know about OP).

Best of luck to all SB players today. I’ve already found a ton of words but they seem to want another ton.

“To Infinity and Beyond!” (still channeling Buzz.)

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

POLK is one of the few Prez (from memory) who routinely has his MI in reference. no idea why. was there some other famous JAMES POLK active at the time? well, OK Dubya does come to mind, and for that very reason; he's so forgettable. Truman occasionally; legend has it that the S. is standalone, not short for a name. And Grant.

so, OK not unique.

Whatsername 9:52 AM  

This seemed a tiny bit tougher than usual for a Monday but not bad. After looking at the revealer and no proper name jumped out at me, didn’t even try to figure out the theme. Then came here to learn it is simply three letters. An abbreviation? An acronym? An initialism? Whatever. Very nice Sid. Congrats on your debut work.

Going steady in high school meant your boyfriend gave you his class ring and you wrapped angora yarn around the inside of it so that it fit. And if you were really cool, you changed the yarn to match your outfit every day. Then you got with your BFFs in the basement at least once a week and asked the OUIJA board if you were going to get married. It was exhausting.

TJS 9:53 AM  

Straight from your comment to my comment : Rex, you are one weird dude.

Another Anon 9:53 AM  

@Anonymous 9:37. I went back to read Z's comment after you whined about it the other day. He referred to assholes but did not call an identified individual an asshole. I believe that is a significant difference.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Another mod,
Come on!, That is a risible claim. He was referring to a specific post. He invoked the time of the post.
I’m not whining, I’m pointing out the double standard. You’re doubling down on a patently false claim.
As you state it, if I make a general claim, say, that people who play ultimate are assholes, I’m in the clear because I haven’t named a specific individual? Good to know.

TJS 10:00 AM  

Great title for a Sixties Tell All: "I Lost It While Jumping On A Trampoline".

Lorelei Lee 10:01 AM  

@Z, (Written in my best Southern accent :) That wan't a rant son. Just some passionate opinin'.

And I think Amazon has your book: https://www.amazon.com/Grant-Jean-Edward-Smith/dp/0684849275/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Anon 949
I dunno, ever heard of LBJ, Or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Rutherford B. Hayes?I’d even include Chester A. Arthur?

Frantic Sloth 10:09 AM  

I've just read Rex's review and saw BARPIN for the first time as one word. Like something caused by indigestion. "I can't stop BARPIN from eating that entire lasagna."

And speaking of CATTREAT, where are the pictures of the kitten/cat?? How could you not take advantage of this golden opportunity? Silver platter, dude!

Hey, look! There's KANE again. This time not clued by whatever language they use on Neptune. No diggity doggity duggity whatever.

Now I wanna keep doing that DOOK-inspired thing and read the answers all screwy-like.

One look at ODOR, and I see the egress to where Patty O'Furniture sits.

Isn't AN KLENT some kind of designer?

Time to take my leave, but before I go, "drinksh are OMNI!" (As are apologies)

🧠.5 (kinda chewy for a Mundee)
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰.75 (mostly for entertaining myself)

Now to read you all. (Hoping to see LMS one of these damn days!)

Birchbark 10:14 AM  

@Wm. C (8:59) and others who may be interested -- "The Hate U Give" is an exciting, well-told young adult novel (now movie) treating race issues from the viewpoint of a girl whose family moves from an inner city neighborhood to a mostly white suburb. My daughter read it a few years ago on a teacher's recommendation. She shared several passages along the way, and by the time she got to the end we were pretty much reading it together. The sensibilities and stereotypes explored in the novel are modern, nuanced and timely. STARR's voice and observations hit home.

We bought the movie on Amazon Prime a few days ago but haven't watched it yet.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I beat Rex's time today (by five seconds)! I've been doing the NYT crossword for a couple years now, and every day I check to see if I can outdo the champ. Nice accomplishment for a Monday.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  


Blogger ate my closing remark, which I put in brackets, and it assumed, I guess, was an unbalanced tag. so here it is in plain text

end stream of consciousness

even so, what did survive was the fact that POLK naming is not unique, given the other examples I mentioned. by the way, LBJ and Roosevelt, don't count since they routinely contain full middle name. Hayes and Arthur do.

Crimson Devil 10:21 AM  

Nancy, your recounting re non pierced ear reminded me of a favorite hand-painted store-front sign (do love signs): “ Ears pierced while you wait.”

Check him out 10:23 AM  

This may be Sid's NYT debut, but he had a very nice puzzle in the LA Times on Saturday. I was impressed enough to bookmark a link to his site, Sid's Grids. (I don't know how to embed a link, but you can find the site easily.)

Z 10:24 AM  

@Anon9:49 - 4 out 45 seems to fit “few,” but there are some more, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Chester A. Arthur. Rarer is the full middle name Presidents. John Quincy Adams and William Henry Harrison seem to be the only two. And now I’m wondering if Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton are the only two not commonly referred to by their full first names or if how presidents were referenced in their own era has just been lost because we know them now from historians rather than newspapers. Oh, Teddy Roosevelt, so at least three. And Clinton seems unique because it always either “Bill Clinton” or “William Jefferson Clinton,” never just “William Clinton.” Anyway, I had the same thought as you for a fleeting nanosecond then pondered other things until your comment appeared. Yesterday’s name pondering was two-fold, the weird nomen/praenomen/cognomen thing in Rome and whether or not “Ulysses” was a common first name in the 19th century. Who would name their child “Ulysses” today? OTOH, I know INGA from crosswords and I have an aunt OLGA so that crossing was easy here even though neither has ever been president.

Joaquin 10:43 AM  

Speaking of Ken STARR, here's a long-ago winner of the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest, Vile Puns division:

"When the Independent Counsel emerged each night from the adjourned closed-door proceedings, reporters assessed how zealously he was currently prosecuting from his facial expression, which on one night might be that familiar affably light smile, while on another night it could be a menacingly dark scowl; and so, as our story begins, they surmised he was playing hardball, for it was a dark-Ken Starr-mien night."

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Good puzzle but should have been a Tuesday.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Nice to see Mike training another generation of speed solvers.

I opened an expensive bottle of wine last night. Took a taste. Wow, so good! I chugged at as fast as I could. The lobster we had for dinner, with truffles and caviar, inhaled it in less than a minute. Man, I finished those off quickly. So proud of my accomplishment!

Wait,huh? It could have been savored? I could have spent some time enjoying it? That's crazy! It's meant to be gotten over with as FAST as possible. Then on to my comic books and pulp fiction novels.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Benson? Olga Korbut?? Getting super topical these days NYT

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

To @Unkown at 3:46 am:

I believe Sid, the constructor, is in his mid-20s, so no one gets to claim their youth prohibited them from answering INGA or OLGA.

I'm way older and didn't know INGA either. But the crosses were adequate.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  


if one is a real intellectual, one can recite from memory that last sentence of Joyce's "Ulysses". the book is otherwise unreadable. except for the first sentence, "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed."

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Where the hell did we get "desert island" from, anyway?

Frantic Sloth 10:54 AM  

@Tale...1224am You had me at "eye of newt and a cat treat" and that's gonna be playing in my empty head all day!

@chefwen 231am Your kitty has you properly trained. And you were right about Alfie!

@GILL I 637am Are you mad?? Clearly, you do not possess a MOM BOD or you wouldn't raise its dreaded specter! LOL!! I must thank you and your high school steady for another (any!) opportunity for sharing this.

@pabloninnh 654am Lovin' your cat as well! Why do people seem surprised when you tell them cats can be "trained"? I've never had any other kind...at least, not as an adult. (me, not the cat)

@Lorelei 747 am "Desk phone, risk prone..." had me bracing for a poem or limerick of some sort. So now I gotta do that today. Thanks a heap. πŸ˜‰

@Quasi 829am Ach! You raise my bane from yesterbee?? Have you no compassion?? πŸ˜‰

@Nancy 858am I once knew a coworker who held your same view on ear- (or any type of) piercing: "I don't condone any form of self-mutilation" is more or less a direct quote. You kind of remind me of her - and that's a compliment. She was delightful and brilliant and said things like "I'm experiencing a peculiar odor." And we'd laugh and say "Oh, Bernice! You mean "something stinks!"? And she'd giggle because she knew she was smarter than all of us. I adored her.

Having trouble keeping up with the comments, so I'm gonna stop here. More later...maybe?

Bax'N'Nex 10:55 AM  

That was a lot of fun! What a great Monday. Thank you, Sid, for this start to my week.

Another Starr

Teedmn 11:01 AM  

The dignity of the CATTREAT eater compared to the SLOBBERY pup. DESERT ISLE, only the most clichΓ©d of cartoon themes. CAMEO STEREO and a PIERCED EAR PRAYER BOOK. While I hate to see the POW given on a Monday by Jeff Chen at xwordinfo, this certainly seems worthy. I had to look a couple of times before I noted the SKPs of the theme, so the theme worked too.

I was mentally complaining that presidents Tyler and Taylor didn't have a middle initial as clued but, post-solve, I went POLKing around and couldn't find one for either of them whereas POLK was often cited with his initial so that works for me.

Sid Sivakumar, great debut puzzle, congratulations!

egsforbreakfast 11:01 AM  

@ QuasiMojo 8:29. I know where you’re coming from, having just learned the word yesterday myself.

Our current miserable excuse for a president is referred to fairly often as Donald Trump and also as Donald J Trump. Not so much Don John. He sure can rundown a ramp. And also drink water!!!

Frantic Sloth 11:12 AM  

@Whatsername 952am "It was exhausting." LOL!

As of this writing, the last 6 posts I am reading are all from "Anonymous" of some sort. This would never be possible (well I say never but I more often say never say never. Punctuation omitted purposely.πŸ˜‰) BUT, what if one day we all posted as "Anonymous" and tried to decipher who was whom by style and substance (or, as in my case, the lack thereof)? These are things that occupy my mind. It's a gift. πŸ™„

Whatsername 11:13 AM  

@bigsteve46 (9:29) I didn’t believe some of those solving times either but WATCH THIS

Carola 11:14 AM  

What a fun Monday, with a TREAT-replete puzzle and commenters in top form. Like others, I had to pause a bit in order to spot ESCAPEE; I'm used to searching out letter strings that make words, and enjoyed this phonetic twist. The longer entries made for one pleasure after another, and I also liked the cross of KNEW and NEWT (as in, "I kNEW'T) and the KAT in the corner awaiting a CAT TREAT.

@Tale Told By An Idiot - I love your tales.
@chefwen - "Dessert aisle" - too funny!
@Crimson Devil - Me, too, for loving signs. Thanks for the laugh.
@Gill I - At age 21 I went the ice-cube-and-needle route, the procedure performed by an acquaintance of my mom's. I won't go as far as "harrowing," but it was certainly unforgettable. Earlobes are made of tougher stuff than one might imagine.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I’m pleased to hear of your adamant refusal to wear earrings. Do you have any tattoos? Both are societal conditioning traits most people accept without thought.

TTrimble 11:19 AM  

I've been doing the NYTXW every day now for the past six months,and while I share your virtual disbelief about those extraordinary times by RP, I've been watching my time averages go steadily down, and I'm coming to think that maybe he isn't outright lying. :-)

I could speculate at length on how he and others achieve such times (at least when things go their way), which for me at present are out of reach, but I think it's healthier just to take pleasure in my own progress. I started from a certain place and here I am now. Kind of like weight-lifting in my case, where there's not much point comparing myself to a jacked-up 23 year-old, but the relative gains in strength are certainly satisfying.

Lorelei Lee 11:20 AM  

@Frantic, I'd also like to see a short story on slobbery beginning with ...

Alex sensed immediately upon his mother checking him into Miss Neatenups home for boys, with it's motto "Hic ultimum Messiness (Slobbery ends here) etched in stone over the entry, that his comforting lifestyle was coming to an end, especially as it might pertain to the empty yogurt cups.

@Joaquin, Thanks for reminding me of the Bulwer-Lytton writing contest!

@Barbara S. I was cheering for you, never having been able myself to concentrate long enough for the QB!

GILL I. 11:27 AM  

@Frantic 10:54. I can always count on you for my loud, pre-morning dog walk, loud cackle. For your birthday, I was going to try to send you a Three Stooges rendition of happy birthday, but I forgot how.

@Nancy...When your Mom gives you Mallorca pearls for your birthday, you pretty much have to have your ears pierced. I had to have mine redone because the nurse who put two holes in there, suffered from hedonism.

@pablo.....I had a cat named Marmalade that did the same. It was the cutest thing on this earth. We only have dogs now. I try to silently eat a piece of cheese; these two can be 6 miles away, and yet they come wagging. They do the same with toast.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

would any of the speedsolver cadre admit to doing so on paper, pen or pencil? from what I infer, the cadre only use one of the apps, which, I'm guessing, allow you to just put in another letter in a box just like word processor, sort of. no erasing or scrunching into an ever decreasing amount of clear space in said box.

Masked and Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Cute & classy debut puz, with cute debut word SLOBBERY. BUFFERZONE was also a cool debut word, but hard to beat SLOBBERY. It is maSK Primo.

staff weeject pick: KAT. M&A's fave Comic CAT TREAT.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Like 2, 4, 6 , 8 ...} = EVEN. Tied with neighborin {Angel's wear} = HALO, actually.
{Lines at the office?} = DESKPHONES was pretty eazy-E, for a questionmark-clue, btw.

Only 74 words, thanx to some extra 10-long entries. All the letters present, save feisty Q. Most enjoyable solvequest, with just a touch of 'tude.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Sivakumar. But dang -- U know U got nowhere to go but down now, after a xwordinfo.chen POW and a @RP "Nice work". But definitely go for it, anyhoo.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Anonymous 11:44 AM  


well... consider it an additional puzzle. :):) and, in fact, you are welcome to join us/me (I could be all of them, in a schizoid sort of way) for those comments you think might cause more ado than you're willing to endure.

What? 11:54 AM  

Got reveal right away (I always look for it first things- it is designed to point the way, yes?) and then all downhill (meaning easy, non challenging). Couldn’t have taken more than a few minutes but I don’t time.
Anyway, now back to COVid and Trump.

Smith 12:22 PM  


Hand up for timely acrostic! Hoo boy. How about those teens and their sign up prank? Agent Orange missed his five thousand soldiers applauding....

Smith 12:31 PM  

@Nancy 8:58

So funny... my mother did not have pierced ears and did not wear clip-ons for the reason you mentioned. So I felt pretty radical getting my ears pierced at 16, the age when parental consent was no longer required. But! My paternal grandmother, sophisticated German gal, was like, "It's about time!" So I felt deflated. I suppose it's barbaric. But pretty common...

Whatsername 12:38 PM  

@Tale Told (9:05) If you go blue, yes you can post your comments without going through the dreaded robot vetting process. I’m not very adept at explaining such things but perhaps some of the more tech literate folks like @Z or @JC66 or others might be able to help you.

QuasiMojo 12:39 PM  

I'm glad so many of you SB'ers caught my NOD AT yesterday's game. Funny that such an obscure legal term is acceptable but the much more common LIENEE wasn't last week. Sorry @Joe!

@Nancy, your brave tale of your travails with earrings reminded me of a lady I once knew, a society matron, who also wore clip-on earrings to fashionable soirΓ©es, but she had bandaids on her ear lobes underneath them. This was not a one-time occurrence. She wore the bandaids everytime she wore the earrings. She would have been smart to choose your wise path of ease and comfort.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

I suppose it's barbaric.

in certain cultures, it's a rite of passage, even birth. one report: https://www.incultureparent.com/the-great-ear-piercing-debate-in-our-multicultural-home/

JC66 1:07 PM  

@Tale Told

Love your posts!

If you go to google.com , you should be able to find an option to "create an account."

Once you do that, you can check the Google Account option when choosing an identity (under the Leave your comment box).

You then just have to hit the "Publish Your Comment" box to post...no longer necessary to prove you're not a robot.

Good luck.

old timer 1:16 PM  

Tough for a Monday, but a good puzzle all in all.

I was going to say, JAMES K POLK is the only President whose middle initial is invariably included when he is named. George W. Bush may seem an exception, but the reason there is to distinguish him from his father who was President before him. Call it the Quincy exception, because John Quincy Adams requires the use of his middle name to distinguish him from his Dad. Other Presidents are often cited with just their first and last names -- Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John (Jack) Kennedy, Ulysses Grant, etc.)

Then along comes Rutherford B. Hayes. True, in his own lifetime he was "General" Hayes, just as Ike was "General" Eisenhower for the rest of his days. But yes, he too is never, or almost never, named with no initial between the first name and last name. And maybe I could find "Rutherford Hayes" somewhere if I looked it up. But James Polk? He would be naked with out his K.

burtonkd 1:41 PM  

I thought this STARR was a good choice - most of us got to learn something new, plus Bart would have set off the anti-sports crowd and Ken would have turned OFL's rave into a pan.

600 2:06 PM  

Hmm. I do Monday puzzles downs first, and before BUFFER ZONE I had, first, NO MANS LAND, and then BARBED WIRE. Both fit. Imagine that. No one else?

Stayed hooked on the E being the ESCAPEE and hated the theme till I came here. The E in PRICES just didn't work. Anyway, thanks for clearing it up. It was a nice AHA even if you had to give it to me.

Joe Dipinto 2:21 PM  

@Rex didn't tell us what cocktail he drank and how it affected his solve.

"Honey, who succeeded Fillmore as president? James K. Polk?"
"No – it was Pierce, dear."

I always thought it was funny in "West Side Story" when the Jets taunt Anita by sneering "pierced ears!" at her. At one time I half-contemplated getting my left ear pierced. But I ultimately didn't think it would look that good, so I never bothered.

This was a solid debut puzzle. The only drawback was having to give the revealer such an awkward clue. But that's a minor issue. Good theme answers and good fill. Congrats to Sid Siv.

Richardf8 2:57 PM  

I Naticked on INGA/OLGA.
If after finding it I had thought it a fair cross I’d hang my head. Bot . . .

Pamela 3:16 PM  

Not much to the puzzle today for me, mostly fill-in-the.-blanks. Nothing to object to, either, and some nice new fill as noted by you all. I didn’t get the theme until coming here. And it’s here that I was entertained today. You’ve all been in rare form- Quite wonderful! I’m sorry not to be more specific, but there has been so much crackle I wouldn’t know where to start.

The ease of puzzling left me missing a challenge so I headed over to SB for the first time. Daunting letter mix, but I made it to Genius,trala. And I think I’ll leave it at that for today.

Frantic Sloth 3:32 PM  

@Lorelei 1120am I'd pay to read that! BTW, when you're "just opinin'" at somebody, aren't you supposed to include a "bless your heart" somewhere in there?

@Anonymous 1144am Thanks for the invite – can't say I've never been tempted!

@Tale Just don't be like me and get blue, then continue to trudge through the captcha process until whining about it on here brought wisdom from others. Then again, is anyone else that stupid?

@Joe D 221pm Thought you were headed somewhere "blue" with "POLK" and "Pierce". πŸ˜‰

Tale Told By An Idiot 4:03 PM  

Testing 1, 2, 3. If I turn blue, there will be no need to revive me as it will merely mean I was able to follow instructions from @JC66

Pamela 4:12 PM  

Congratulations! Also, thanks for the yarn spinning- always a welcome great!

JC66 4:15 PM  

@Tale Told

Mazel Tov!

Frantic Sloth 4:22 PM  

@Tale Told -- Congrats! Now you are "of the body" BWAHAHAHAHA!! πŸ‘Ύ

Anoa Bob 5:13 PM  

Our little village has some streets named for U.S. presidents. I live on POLK Ave. Hope there's no movement to rename the street due to JAMES K POLK's Mexican-American War legacy. We're only a few miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, so I'm surprised that POLK wasn't just skipped over when they chose which presidents to use for street names.

No PIERCED EAR here but the EAR ring thread got me thinking about EAR lobes. That brought to mind the first day of Navy basic training, aka boot camp. When we got off the bus, a guy in uniform meets us and announces he will be in command for the next few days. To our astonishment, he had a star tattooed on each EAR lobe! This was 1964. None of us had ever seen anything like that before. That was one salty sailor.

For the answer to the area-between-combatants clue, I thought of NO MAN'S LAND. It has the right number of letters. Ah, BUFFER ZONE.

Nancy 5:59 PM  

There's no one I'd rather see in blue than you, @Tale Told. You truly deserve to be in blue. Congrats on your success! And congrats, @JC66, on providing such clear, easy-to-follow instructions.

Also, nice Franklin Pierce pun, @Joe Dipinto.

Tale Told By An Idiot 6:12 PM  

Thank you, JC66, for the instructions and the rest of you for the welcome. Eventually I may figure out how to add interesting info to my profile.

Z 7:01 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 10:09 - Even on Twitter OFL is down to about one kitten pic a day.

@TJS - Thanks. Amazon only has the kindle version. If I can’t find it at my local used book store or library I’ll get the Nook version. Ebooks are always a last resort for me. Yes. I am old fashioned about some things.

@Anon10:51 - Merriam-Webster has a good synopsis on where DESERT ISLAND comes from. This not to be confused with the deserts in just deserts, an answer that has confused people at least twice before. Spelling Bee Question - If the combination d-e-s-e-r-t is possible does it count as one or two answers?

@Tale - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

Joe Dipinto 7:35 PM  

@Tale Told By An Idiot → Eventually I may figure out how to add interesting info to my profile.

Just browse around and cherrypick items from other people's profiles and add them to yours. Or copy someone's entire profile. You're welcome to use mine, but it's not very interesting.

JC66 7:45 PM  

@Joe D

How could Brooklyn possibly be interesting? πŸ˜‚

Anonymous 7:48 PM  


Isn't that the borough with a raft of perfect steak houses? The kind The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) prefers?

Joe Dipinto 8:06 PM  

@F-Slo, where are you? We need to go beat up @JC66.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

testing testing testing

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

testing testing testing

Z 9:08 PM  

@Tale - Click on your blue name. On the upper left of the new page will be an "edit profile" button. Click and fill in whatever seems worth sharing.

@Fra Slo - First, I love the plausible variations of your nom de blog. "Z" is a little limited in that department. Second, in lieu of kitten pics I changed my avatar to the chihuahua and the morkie looking cute together.

Z 9:09 PM  

@anon 8:23 and 8:25 - You passed.

Barbara S. 10:29 PM  

@Z 7:01
Did anyone ever answer your SB question? Or wait, maybe it's not meant seriously. Are you asking because of desert and dessert, or are you asking because desert has more than one meaning (per that MW article)?

August West 10:33 PM  

There is only one Grant biography worth owning. And it was written by Ron Chernow.

Runs with Scissors 10:36 PM  

So I finished this, looked back at the grid, and said HAH.

No, really, I ADMIT that HAH means "you wish." Example: "I'm gonna clean your clock at skittles!" HAH!!!

@kitshef 7:12 AM: There is very little I care less about than baseball, but dayum!!! Angel Stadiumm is 30 miles from Los Angeles City Hall, and in a totally different county (Orange, not L.A.) to boot. Doesn't matter what the idiot team owner calls it.

I never noticed the theme, such as it was. Had fun doing the puzzle, and that's all that counts. A bit of gold in them thar answers, including SLOBBERY. SLOBBERY is why animals do not inhabit my home (one of many reasons).

The LAVA is flowing these days. If one must be outraged, be outraged that an American citizen - ANY American citizen - was done in by a cop kneeling on his neck after he was subdued. Join with Dr. King and look beyond this social construct called "race."

EAU, to SOAR away from this DESERT ISLE and be an ESCAPEE. CATTREATS to all, and to all their ASK PRICES.

DESKPHONES have outlived their usefulness.

NEAT, ARIEL, being RISK PRONE got you a HOOP in your PIERCED EAR.


5 miles northwest of Angel Stadium

JC66 10:48 PM  

@Barbara S

I think @Z was making a joke about "just deserts" from a few days back.

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

it's late but, having forgotten earlier, one must point out that stock trading screens look like

but it's referred to as ASKing price, sometimes just ASK, but never ASK price.

thefogman 10:32 AM  

A SOLID Monday. Even Rex gave it a NOD.

spacecraft 10:35 AM  

A journalist whose name "escapes" me once quipped: "Why couldn't they catch the ESCAPEE? Because he was a fast runnee."

This was a bit of Monday fun. I didn't grok the trick right away, but after the first two it was hard not to notice the -SKP- matchup. One glance at the revealer clue and...yep. This is a tough triplet to find in the language; full marks to our debut constructor to find four. We can forgive the dropping of "-ing" in the ASKPRICES deal, for theme's SAKE.

Fill is above average as well. I can't run across the word PIERCE without recalling the scene in "The Birdcage" when Albert squeals "I PIERCED the toast!" Great stuff. DOD is ARIEL, the free-spirited lady who un-grumped the Grumpy Old Men, as played by Ann-Margaret. Honorable mention to the "Ladies -ga-ga" in the SE corner. Neat.

IREPEAT, this is a SOLID debut. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 12:13 PM  

What an adorable Monday puzzle! The joy did not SKP me!

Of course, the trope did make it a tad more difficult than the standard Monday, but that would be worth the payoff even for the newest beginner. Kudos!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 12:21 PM  




rondo 12:44 PM  

Yes, A SOLID Mon-puz. But where did that clue for STARR come from? Ringo too hard for Monday?

I've got both OLGA and INGA circled. Yeah babies.

NEAT concept.

Don 1:20 PM  


rainforest 1:40 PM  

Swell puzzle. One of the better Mondays in memory. Novel theme of a three-letter string masquerading as a word, or vice-versa.

Several long downs and a minimum of threes added to the fun.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

What if it's a Los Angeles Angel?

leftcoaster 2:19 PM  


Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Breeze of a puzzle. Theme? Oh, that... pay it no mind, and hope for a fun puzzle tomorrow.

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