Elizabeth of the "Avengers" series / MON 7-6-2020 / Illinois city on the Illinois river / Rafael on the tennis court / Daly with a Tony for "Gypsy"

Monday, July 6, 2020

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: The Name Game — Theme answers are composed of a celeb's first name combined with a verb.

Theme answers:
  • VANGUARDS (18A: Pianist Cliburn plays basketball defense?)
  • JOYRIDES (24A: TV host Behar takes mass transit?)
  • GINGERSNAPS (35A: Actress Rogers flips out?)
  • BOBSLEDS (51A: Singer Dylan has fun in the snow?)
  • BILLFOLDS (57A: Businessman Gates gets out of the poker game?)

Word of the Day: DAN (46A: Martial arts level) —
The dan () ranking system is used by many Japanese, Okinawan, and Korean martial art organizations to indicate the level of a person's ability within a given system that could be generally described as a finite set that once achieved becomes an art that can be defined by some formalized system of patternism. Used as a ranking system to quantify skill level within a given set of specific patterns, it was originally used at a go school during the Edo period.[1] It is now also used in most modern Japanese fine and martial art.
• • •
It's lovely to see Lynn Lempel to kick off July! She's done a pretty average puzzle, no complaints here. I got stuck in the middle for awhile, which is probably my still-amateur status showing, but at any rate it's nice to get stuck, that hasn't happened to me for awhile. I wouldn't mind taking some BOBSLEDS on their MAIDEN voyages, it's been soooooooo hot lately and that would be a nice way to cool off. Interesting that we had both EDEN and UTOPIA.

I would've enjoyed the theme more if I'd gotten the first parts of all the clues--didn't know Joy Behar or Van Cliburn. But it was fun putting the words together! And I liked imagining a disgruntled Bill Gates at the poker table.

  • MICA (6A: Mineral easily split into layers) — I remembered this one from my geology class in college. They may have called it "Rocks for Jocks," and I may have been on the rugby team, but I still enjoyed it and learned a lot! Go on, ask me anything about volcanoes or glaciers. 
  • URN (29A: Large coffee vessel) — This one really threw me. I've only really thought of URNS as pots or vessels containing ashes (that sometimes get knocked over in sitcoms for comedic[?] effect). Has everyone been calling coffee containers urns without my knowledge? 
  • IN DRAG (12D: Dressed like RuPaul) — Leaving this bit from "La Cage" as your Monday earworm! Also yes this scene makes me cry. 
Signed, Annabel Thompson of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  

I've never heard the phrase LAYSIN for storing something. Actually, I've just never heard it at all.
And have no idea what a DAN is, even though I did study martial arts in my youth.

Are these obscure terms or am I an idiot? I guess those things aren't mutually exclusive, so...never mind.

Except for those 2 very minor nits, I thought this was a near-perfect Mondee puzzle. The theme was easy enough to grok, while also not being a go-down-the-grid-and-fill-in-the-rest-of-the-themers-because-they're-all-the-same type deal.

What a beautiful example of how to do a crossword for beginners. Solveable and fun!
GINGERSNAPS NOMORE, indeed! She's calm and happy now. 🙂


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

I would have liked this a lot more if all the clues “fit” as well as the Bill Gates/BILLFOLDS pairing did. As it was I found it kinda meh. But it’s Monday, so whaddaya expect!

Years - decades, actually - ago, my sister had a classmate whose real name was Ginger Snapp.

Tale Told By An Idiot 12:11 AM  

I was a maiden, Ginger snaps, and I succumbed to all your salty language about your - um - assets. I thought the flashes and glitters I saw were opal, but alas they were mere mica. I thought this was Eden, but alas it was merely a desert in drag. I am tired of joyrides on bobsleds! No more; I want to return to the days of yore when attire was modest and we could nod off to familiar lyrics.

I see, Oscar answers. Well then we will modify our plans, fill our billfolds and join the vanguards of people moving to the real utopia - Peoria!

Patrick O'Connor 12:19 AM  

Top of the evening to you, Ms. Thompson. The old coffeepots in offices and other communal spaces are more usually called coffeepots, but the fake silver ones with the little faucets in hotel breakfast buffets and at weddings are indeed usually called coffee urns.

egsforbreakfast 12:52 AM  

Nice little smooth puzzle for a post-holiday weekend.

Loved that 1A was a tennis clue after a good dose of no-more-tennis-clue bitchin’ yesterday. Course I love tennis and have never seen a tennis clue I didn’t like.


Alternate clue for 36D: Terse refusal to remove one’s hat? NODOFF.

Mr. Alarm 1:32 AM  

I genuinely laughed at the puns! Loved this puzzle (with Bob Dylan AND Van Cliburn, how can you lose??

NB 2:09 AM  

Solid Monday overall - felt like an ideal level for a Monday.

PEORIA, PEON and DAN connecting was the difficult bit for me.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

A fun, easy puzzle. Great one for beginners, easy and the long answers are funny and cute. I smiled at all of them and laughed at my first one GINGER SNAPS.

Love me a Lynn Lempel Monday.

jae 2:28 AM  

Easy. Cute and extremely smooth. Liked it.

Lewis 5:52 AM  

This is a tighter and subtler theme than it may seem at first glance. The second word of the theme answers all work as verbs as answers to the clues, but the answers taken as a whole are nouns.

So, say, MOLLY CODDLES [Actress Ringwald prepares eggs] wouldn't make it in this puzzle, because MOLLYCODDLES is not a noun. APRIL SHOWERS would work, but then again, I can't think of an APRIL as well known as the people in Lynn's theme answers.

So, kudos to Lynn for a very well done theme, and one that is a perfect set for introducing the concept of "theme" to new solvers, not to mention her usual perfect-for-Monday squeaky clean and beginner-friendly grid. Crossword making can be an art as well as a science, as you, Lynn, so amply demonstrate puzzle after puzzle.

GILL I. 5:54 AM  

To Lie or to Lay that is the question so I will just say: LAY Lady LAY and let bygones be bygones.
When I was in high school in the Palisades, my one girlfriend and I would take bets on who would have a NOSE JOB during the summer. We would study noses just before summer break and then study them again when they came back for the new school year. There were as many NOSE JOBS as there were powder blue mustangs.
This was a sweet Monday, as Mondays go. Lots of names. I liked seeing NADAL because he was featured on 60 Minutes last night. The Spaniards love him - but they also love vino tinto.
GINGER SNAPS at Fred and tells him some men can't talk and dance at the same time.
I can't remember the last time my husband and I did dinner and a MOVIE. Back during the Ice Age we'd go to Original Mels Diner and eat a cheeseburger then go to some movie. I think the last move we saw in an actual theater might've been "The Blob."
Another week to look forward to. Another week of hoping people stay safe and wear masks. Another week I will try very hard not to listen to the news - other than the weather. We'll see how it goes.

ChuckD 6:05 AM  

I don’t track my solve times but this one had to be right up there with the quickest. Theme was cute enough and the fill was straightforward and clean. Really liked how the grid provided the longs in the corners especially ABALONE adjacent to DALLYING.

Overall an enjoyable, fast Monday.

Hungry Mother 6:32 AM  

Superfast with a nice helpful theme. Woulda been a PR except for having oral instead of SAID. Good start to the solving week.

OLD 6:45 AM  

Easy puzzle. Just what I needed after putting up with all the noise of the 4th. Bill Lear of Learjets named one of his daughters "Shanda".

amyyanni 6:54 AM  

So appreciate a good Monday puzzle, especially after a long weekend. Thank you Lynn. Theme made me smile. Ginger Rogers fan here. Soup CAN & LADLES. Hamilton gave the weekend a bounce. So wonderful!

Lewis 7:17 AM  

@amyyanni -- I second your "Hamilton" rave.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

I guess I'll be the curmudgeon today. Theme didn't quite work for me as the meaning of SLEDS and RIDES is basically unchanged from answer united to answer divided. E.g. someone who JOYRIDES and someone who RIDES are both riding.

Also, puzzle suffers from ICF - insufficient celebrity fame. Annabel and I are different in generation, gender, taste in movies, music and TV ... but neither of us knew this JOY person.

pabloinnh 7:37 AM  

This is what it looks like when a pro does a Monday. Smeltish smoothness and fun and interesting answers. I can see not knowing VAN Cliburn as a function of age, but JOY Behar should be pretty easy for youngsters. And coffee URNS? What else do you call those big things?

@Joaquin-Went to college with a girl named Holly Wood. I'm thinking we may see more contributions like this as the day goes on.

Thanks for the fun LL. A practically perfect Monday.

webwinger 7:58 AM  

A pleasant diversion from Lynn Lempel. Some very nice answers—GAMBIT, ABALONE, MAIDEN, SIDELINE—and clues that were fresh but not too clever for the uninitiated—17A, 66A, 6D, 34D. Good use of repeated clue at 65A and 19D. A fine Monday.

That being said, today’s puzzle seemed stuffed to the gills with PPP, including all of the themers. Much to the constructor’s credit, this didn’t make it feel unfair or limit its appeal to a particular demographic. No names that seemed truly obscure, nothing approaching Natick.

MOVIE of the day: Last night watched Sorry to Bother You (2018), an amazingly done attack on racism and capitalism that never (well, seldom) allowed its preaching to spoil the fun it was having. Not for the squeamish, but highly recommended.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

I went to school with the Hogg twins, Ima and Ura.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

@Kitshef. I think you might have missed the part of the theme that the entry relating to the clue is a verb but on its own in the grid it's a noun.

Dexter Green 8:29 AM  

In keeping with the theme, how about "An Asian prelate commits a transgression." Cardinal Sins
. Cardinal Jaime Sin was the late cardinal archbishop of the Philippines.

bauskern 8:32 AM  

With no intro to the write-up that there was a guest writer, I thought, "What happened to Rex?" I never do Mondays, but glad I did this one. Super fun.

Unknown 9:02 AM  

Coffee URNS are what are out at banquet-type functions. I thought everyone knew Van Cliburn and Joy Behar. Especially considering how much trouble I have with the names on Fridays and Saturdays.

Crimson Devil 9:03 AM  

Ole Diz used to say “SLuD” into base, ‘tween Falstaffs. Re Ima-Ura, Holly-Wood, Ginger- Snapp, my vote’s for Shanda Lear, caught many redfish & specs on her isle; my personal favorite was bank trust officer (dealt with trusts/estates) named Reid Wills.

MarthaCatherine 9:05 AM  

Went to elementary school with Candace, who went by Candy, and whose last name was Kane.

During the same time period, lived next door to the Birdsong family. Named their daughter Melody.

KnittyContessa 9:06 AM  

Not familiar with Rafael NADAL or VAN Cliburn so I thought I was going to be in deep trouble on a Monday but easy to get both with the crosses. This was a fun Monday. BILLFOLDS was my favorite.

@Frantic Sloth you are not alone. LAYSIN and DAN were new to me!

TTrimble 9:07 AM  

Fairly straightforward, Monday puzzle. Relatively quick time for me. Didn't encounter anything beyond my ken. Well, except for ELOISE; I have no idea what the reference is.

I thought the theme, while straightforward, was cute. Can't remember the last time I saw a themed Monday.

@Frantic Sloth
Regarding DAN: if I understand correctly (and I might not), black belts go from the lowest 1-dan to the highest 9-dan (in certain forms of Japanese martial arts anyway, I guess judo or jiu-jitsu for example). I'm slightly more familiar with the usage in the game Go, where the dan levels similarly signify degrees of mastery. Below the dan levels are the kyu levels, where the numeration is opposite: a 1-kyu is just below 1-dan, and a beginner level is something like 30-kyu.

Also, LAYS IN: the only place I can recall seeing this usage is in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, where there's a long passage about a pot addict and the preparations he undertakes in advance of a massive weekend binge shuttered away from the world, and the items he "lays in" during those preparations.

Lewis 9:18 AM  

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

1. Coach for bench players? (5)(7)
2. Business checks? (8)
3. About which you might always say "Bee prepared!" (5)
4. What Franklin famously asked for (7)
5. They're worn on heads with tails (3)(4)


mathgent 9:21 AM  

Today’s was the opposite of Saturday’s. It had zero mysteries while Saturday had 18. I call an entry a mystery if an incomplete slot doesn’t fit something I know or doesn’t seem to relate to the clue. Today had two entries I didn’t know - DAN and OLSEN - but the crosses filled them in.

I’m still thinking about the Saturday. It’s not too hard to make a puzzle I can’t do, there are a multitude of things I don’t know. But I came so close - not knowing CLICKHOLE and 1A. It taught me that if a quarter of the entries are mysteries, I’m probably not going to solve it clean.

GAMBIT’s a great word. I got a kick out of VANGUARDS.

Whatsername 9:28 AM  

A perfectly pleasant Monday. In fact, a near perfect Monday. Very nice way to kick off the week and an excellent starter puzzle for beginners. Thank you Lynn. Well done!

Thank you also Annabel for guest hosting today. Answer to your question: coffee urns have been around for decades. Think of those large usually silver metal containers with a spigot in front. Often used at wedding receptions, church dinners and such.

Nothing against Mrs. T, but I miss the grace, wit and intelligence of Michelle OBAMA.

The pets and I all survived the fireworks for another year. Sitting on the back porch enjoying the blissful sound of silence. As close as I can get to EDEN.

RooMonster 9:32 AM  

Hey All !
What I do just before waking up? - ROO STIRS
Liked this cute MonPuz. Had 3/4 of @M&A's Jaws of Themelessness in the middle. Couple of cheater squares, but no harm, no foul. Wondering whose cluewas for DAN. Maybe Lynn didn't want another proper name outside of theme? Then again, there is ELOISE. And RIPA. So I'll just shut up.

Not that it matters, but the timer on the NYT site is screwy. I finished puz in 9 minutes or so, but when I come back from others puzs to review, it now says 31 minutes. Weird. Doesn't affect anything, just an observation. Doesn't happen every day, but enough to have gotten noticed.

**SB Stuff**
Surprised on 7/4 SB didn't except YANKEE. I guess because either proper noun or un-Pc-ness? Did get QB YesterBee, so Yay Me!

**SB over**

This PUP was a fun solve. Lots of easy ANSWERS.
What happens when you cut up some hamburger toppings? ONIONS, I SEE NO MORE.
Costumes in films - MOVIE ATTIRE

Two F's

TTrimble 9:48 AM  

@Roo Monster
I've also seen the time glitch, which seems to go away when I refresh the screen. My guess is that the wrong time is the difference between the current time and the time of opening the puzzle.

My guess is that YANKEE is considered a proper noun. Mostly I see it capitalized.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

in general DAN is synonymous with Black Belt. lower belts are various numbers of various colors. some prefer the term Sensei, which, some times, means any black belt who instructs. again, in general, schools (in the global sense) permit a black belt/DAN with his (almost always) school (in the location sense) to promote students only up to some level of belt below his, often 2 levels.

any way, easiest puzzle in a very long time; while I stopped timing long ago, this one had not one write-over and few "I'll wait for the crosses". none of the PPP were unknown. likely, also, a first.

LAYSIN sounds 19th century novel-ish. only Daly that fit (not including golfer John) was TYNE, but I know her only for that TeeVee cop show and being married to Georg Stanford Brown back before miscegenation was woke. Tony? no idea.

Bea Arthur 9:53 AM  

Yes, SB did not ACCEPT Yankee because it is a proper noun. It actually WAS excepted (from the list).

Frantic Sloth 9:58 AM  

@ChuckD 605am Good catch! I have a cousin named DALLYING ABALONE.

@TTrimble 907am Thank you for the very thorough explanation of DAN. Now I know it and know why I didn't know it at the same time! 😉
Also, the LAYSIN description was informative and amusing. Favorite part: "pot addict".

Moxer 9:58 AM  

Speaking of names, my wife had a friend whose name was “Teddy Bearer,” and her dad’s name was “Paul Bearer.” The comments on this easy Monday puzzle brought their names to mind.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

JOY RIDES, but Leno takes a stroll...
BILL FOLDS, but Nicholson remains in the game...
GINGER SNAPS, but Ringwald is sweet and caring...
(see below)

First, when my little gray cells weren't being challenged quite enough, I tried to guess the answers without reading the clues -- based on a few crosses. Then, with my mind still not fully engaged, I tried to think up apt ripostes to the themers in the puzzle. Not so easy. I tried for -----SHOOTS (VAN GUARDS) and -----SKIS (BOB SLEDS) but it was not to be. I did come up with the clues above, answers below:


It made me realize that while this puzzle was easy to solve, it wasn't so easy to come up with the cute themers. Wish it had been harder, but all in all, a very pleasant Monday.

Rita 10:03 AM  

Michelle Obama fans should be sure to see the documentary, also called Becoming, that follows her on her book tour. Or watch it and maybe become a fan if you are not now.

jberg 10:15 AM  

Nice Monday. I hadn’t thought about the noun/verb thing until reading @Lewis. VANGUARDS, BOBSLEDS, and JOYRIDES could also be verbs, but not the other two.

In UTOPIA, this puzzle would have no first names outside of the theme answers, but that’s a very minor point.

If you are storing things, you can LAY IN, LAY UP, or LAY BY a supply. The wonderful flexibility of English prepositions.

Coffee urns are just like tea urns, but with coffee in them. You have to dedicate your urn to one or the other, though, or the coffee taste will get into the tea.

Carola 10:18 AM  

Easy fun. I liked the contrast between DALLYING and the more energetic GUARDing, RIDing, SNAPping, and SLEDding and thought it was cute that FOLDing brought the series of activities to a close.

mrnovember 10:27 AM  

Wonder how many got your reference to the great DIzzy Dean?

JC66 10:53 AM  

Isn't DAN Japanese for URN?

Richardf8 10:56 AM  

This was a lovely puzzle. The funnes moment was imagining Ginger Rodgers having a flip out and ripping Fred Astaire up one side and Gene Kelly down the other.

Frantic Sloth 10:57 AM  

After reading the combination of @Lewis 552am and @Nancy 1000am , I'm even more appreciative of the cleverness of the themers. Nancy's examples were very creative and yet they don't meet the criterion Lewis delineated in his comment. Just color me impressed with it all!

@JC66 1053am LOL! (I also have a cousin named DAN URN. JK!)

Nancy 11:24 AM  

As you know, I comment before I read the blog, so I was crushed, crushed to see that @Lewis says MOLLYCODDLE doesn't fulfill the rules. Damn!

For Joaquin, et al, re funny names in real life. My closest friend in college had been in the basement of Seelye Hall, standing at the huge bulletin board where someone named Cricket Hearth had posted a notice. "Cricket Hearth???!!!" exclaimed Pat to Susan, "Can you imagine that there could be anyone in the whole world with the name Cricket Hearth??" An unknown woman standing right next to her turned and said: "Yes, as a matter of fact, my name is Cricket Hearth!"

@GILL -- I, too, knew a zillion young women who had NOSE JOBS back in the day. But it never occurred to me to place bets ahead of time on who would. Funny idea for a bet.

Sir Hillary 11:31 AM  

Great Monday fare from one of the great Monday constructors. Nice tight theme, minimal junk, appropriately easy -- this is a tutorial in early-week construction.

A couple of the cluing choices struck me as odd:
-- VAN Cliburn instead of Morrison?
-- DAN clued as such instead of as someone's name?

Nice clue for APRIL.

Some more...
-- Voice actress Foray is annoying*
-- Folk singer Stevens brawls**
-- Actor Liotta prohibits***


Ellen S 11:46 AM  

Thanks for reminding me, @Dexter Green. I’m an atheist Jew so what do I know? But when I was young, the proper way to refer to a Cardinal was “firstname” “title” “last name”, as in “Jaime Cardinal Sin”. At some point that changed, maybe around the same time as the British aristocracy stopped being George Gordon, Lord Byron, or Alfred, Lord Tennyson. I think the Brits still do it that way so maybe we in the US are still individuating.

I enjoyed the puzzle, think it must have taken some digging for people to find nits.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  


Stereotypes don't fall out of the sky deus ex machina, so placing a bet based on ethnicity would be better than a random set of lottery numbers. esp. if that Palisades is the one in New Jersey.

from memory:
"pugnatzala, which is a Romanian word indicating a girl with a pug nose, more recently of course a girl with a deviated septum that has been treated surgically for professional reasons."
-- Louis Gottlieb/1961

and not so much in recent years. less need to hide one's ethnicity.

Mary McCarty 11:58 AM  

Fast and easy, but since I (try to) work Mondays only on down clues, I had to break my own rules for 3D (DAwdlING or DALLYING?) and 8D (Cups or CANS?) Just what a Monday should be: a little name stretch (VAN—JOY), minimal crossword standards (ERR, ELL, ALAS, ISEE, an URN in EDEN!) but easy ones for beginners, no foreign words, except maybe DAN, which could have been clued a number of “gimme” ways, but a little crunch is nice, even on a Monday.

Lance 11:58 AM  

@lewis alt answers
Jean shorts or jean pants

kitshef 12:00 PM  

Re: Funny Names. Preserved Fish is my all-time favorite.

three of clubs 12:16 PM  

Damsels? Maidens? When are we...in the post-Roman empire period?

Frantic Sloth 12:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joaquin 12:20 PM  

@ Anon (11:50) - Your Lou Gottlieb reference stirred memories of having seen The Limelighters perform at the Ash Grove in LA in'61. He used that line in the show we saw, a show that was recorded and became the album "Tonight, In Person". And now I have some of the songs from that show on my personal playlist.

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Also, an extra suggested couple of themers that coulda been tied (thru cross refs) to entries already in the puzgrid:
1. {Seventh dwarf holds a White House press conference??}.
2. {Puz constructioneer does a planting??}.
(answers below)

yo, @Annabel darlin. Good blogjob. Nice bullets.

staff weeject pick: DAN. (DAN ZIGS? DAN ISHES? … yeah, probably not) Honrable mention as always to: PUP.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Perfect world} = UTOPIA. So obvious … a "perfect" world name would have to start with a "U", after all.

fave themer: GINGERSNAPS. sparkly fillins included: NOSEJOB. LYRICS. INDRAG. NODOFF. DALLYING.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Lempel darlin.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

* Answers to extra suggested themers:
1. DOPEY ANSWERS. Woulda worked real well with DONALD DUCKS.
2. LYNN SEEDS. Imperfect as this may somehow feel, it seems essential, for completeness sake.


What? 12:42 PM  

Didn’t know Van Cliburn? Fame is - who?

egsforbreakfast 12:46 PM  

@ GILL I 5:54

When I was in high school in the Palisades, my one girlfriend and I would take bets on who would have a NOSE JOB over the summer ....

At this point in your narrative, I believed that you and your friend were betting solely on which of the two of you would have a rhinoplasty!!! Had to guffaw mightily at the thought of you saying "Oh yeah! I'll bet I'll have a NOSE JOB!" And your friend spitting back, "I'll bet you won't"

Clue: Singer Morrison smiles? Answer: JIMBEAMS

Frantic Sloth 12:47 PM  

@kitshef 1200pm Now, that's funny! Any children named "roeland" or "roesmary" by any chance?

Anonymous 1:53 PM  

Three of Clubs,
Well, yeah. Everything after, say, 486 AD is post Roman Empire.

GILL I. 2:01 PM  

@egsfor...I know !!! :-0. I get that a lot. My life seems to be filled with HUH's ???? At least @Nancy knew what I meant. My nose is still mine and it's the Palisades in Southern California.

JD 2:11 PM  

@Three, Alas, yes.

Phil 2:44 PM  

years ago maybe early 2000, before 2010 I know for sure, Bill Gates use to play low limit poker in Vegas for fun. Shows how someone who has common sense can recognize their own skill level. Nothing to do with one’s bank roll. I’m sure regardless of his stature, it hurt to lose and loved winning.

Nancy 2:44 PM  

@kitshef (12:00) --...and I've heard that IMA HOGG was a real person, too.

Parents who name their children things like PRESERVED FISH deserve to be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Or maybe not allowed to have children in the first place. Really! What you think is oh-so-adorable can condemn your child to a lifetime of ridicule and bullying.

Random House 2:46 PM  

@Nancy in NY. Your Cricket Hearth must have had superstitious parents or been familiar with the works of Charles Dickens the Victorian writer. Or perhaps they were both.

Barbara S. 2:50 PM  

This is a bit flimsy, but

Clue: "VP Agnew makes a linear diagram."


Oh wait, are spirographs even a known thing anymore? They used to be a drawing toy that allowed you to make...well, spirals in different shapes, sizes and colors of ink. You could make quite complex patterns. And they were pretty. And there's probably a complicated mathematical explanation and accompanying terminology for how they work. Which I don't know.

And, oh no, is everyone going to jump on me for mentioning Spiro Agnew, who resigned in disgrace for criminal behavior? Somehow he strikes me as relatively innocuous in the present context, but a felony is still a felony.

I hardly have any time to blog these days but I still read you all avidly and wish I could be there when I can't.

albatross shell 2:59 PM  

I knew a Candy Boob. It was a name acquired by marriage. Another name by marriage was April Fairweather. A family of doctors. The husband Jack was awarded the French Legion of Honor for heroism in WW II.

The themes also had first names in the answers, last names in the clues.

Is there an exercise to strengthen just one AB ALONE?

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

That makes Gates a jerk. There is no poker table in Vegas with a limit in which Gates could lose fast enough to even notice the monetary difference. Assuming he loves to play and is on a jag, he could lose $1,000,000 an hour for a week. $168,000,000. That’s not a rounding error in his wealth. It’s impossible to see 168 mil. in 109 billion, Gates’s current worth.

Anoa Bob 3:14 PM  

I started drinking coffee when I was in the Navy out of desperation. Between regular work hours, watch hours, general quarters (Tonkin Gulf), refueling, taking on stores, re-arming details, we were all sleep deprived and were likely to NOD OFF anytime, anywhere. Coffee would help us stay awake through, say, a midnight to 4 a.m. watch.

There always was a large URN of coffee on the mess decks and the coffee always was awful, horrible, nasty, disgusting tasting black bilge water. Like I said, anything to just stay awake.

I didn't drink coffee for many years afterwards. I figured all coffee tasted that bad. I've come full circle though, and these days grind my own beans and use a coffee press, and the coffee is wonderful. I still have, however, a Pavlovian conditioned aversion response to an URN. Just the sight of one brings back visceral memories of that foul Navy swill.

@Crimson, I remember Ole Diz saying "He SLuD into third". When asked about it, he said that "SLuD is something more than SLID. It means sliding with great effort." Another Dizzyism I remember: When a batter whiffed he would say "Swung on, and missed" with lots of gusto on the "Swung on". In between innings he would sometimes ask his broadcast partner, Pee Wee Reese to go down to the concession stand and get them another hot dog and a Falstaff. (Falstaff beer was their sponsor.)

Whatsername 3:15 PM  

@Rita (10:03) I have read the book but did not know there was a documentary also available. Thanks for the recommendation.

@Nancy (2:44) Oh so true. Knew a woman who named her sons Dallas and Denver after the cities they were born in. I always thought it was lucky for them she never lived in Nacogdoches or Tuscaloosa. The worst one I ever heard was people naming their sons Espn after the sports network.

RooMonster 3:30 PM  

@Bea Arthur 9:53
I now it's ACCEPT! I blame auto-correct! (That's my story...) Thanks for the correction.

For all those wondering what the V is in my first-post signoff (I know you're all trembling with anticipation!), it's not for "the fifth" (as I believe it was @Z who suggested that, which is actually quite humorous), but the initial of my last name, which is... *Drum roll* (har)... Vail. The reason I'm divulging such info? To tell you if I ever had a son, I'd name him Noah. Noah Vail. 😀

Had a teacher in high school, Mr. Case, unfortunately didn't name his son Justin.

RooMonster Mash Guy 😋

Pdxrains 3:37 PM  

No I agree. One could Lay something Away or lay it up. To lay in is to rest on something like a hammock. Totally weird. Maybe regional dialect?

Anonymous 3:38 PM  


Well, if your a country fan (I'm not) it ought to be Long Black Vail. How I know the title is beyond me.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

lay in:
To store for future use: lay in supplies for an Arctic winter.

according to https://www.thefreedictionary.com/lay+in

Unknown 3:57 PM  

I have to lay in a supply of firewood for the winter

GILL I. 4:16 PM  

OK...Here are my two contributions....: Harry Bawls and Ben Dover.....(sorry).....Feel free to get up and groan.

TTrimble 4:20 PM  

@Barbara S.
Spirographs! Love 'em, back in the day and now. The relevant mathematical terms for the types of curves one generates are epitrochoids and hypotrochoids. If you place a wheel so that its cogs are interior to a surrounding annulus, then with your pen you generate hypotrochoids. If they are exterior, then you generate epitrochoids.

Special cases are epicycloids and hypocycloids, which would correspond to the case where the "hole" where you insert your pen are on the actual circumference of your wheel. Physically you can't really get these with a Spirograph; you can only come close. But they come up in geometry, and they are entrancing. Here's a fun page with some cool animations of iterated hypocycloids.

Somewhat related is the "pentagram of Venus". Taking a geocentric point of view, if you imagine the sun "revolving" around the earth in a circle (it's an ellipse, but one which is very close to a circle), then Venus would trace out a path which looks very much like a Spirograph curve, "revolving" around the earth 13 times (*) in the 8 years it takes the sun to revolve 8 times. Here, a picture is worth a thousand words. So during the 8 year cycle, Venus comes as close as possible to the earth 13-8=5 times, hence the trajectory takes on a pentagrammatic form. Something that would surely appeal to the mystic lurking inside ancient astronomers and within New Agers today. Perhaps all the more if one remembers that 8 and 13 are consecutive entries in the Fibonacci sequence. Coincidence?

Apparently Kepler was in love with these facts. (Many of you may know he had this idea of the planetary motions being connected with the Platonic solids, all according to God's plan. Somehow the 13/8 ratio has a Pythagoras-cum-Fibonacci tinge to it.)

Oh, and now I learn that Dan Brown duly registers these (or related, perhaps garbled) observations in The Da Vinci Code. I mean, well, of course he did. You can rest assured he wouldn't miss something like that.

(*) Not exactly 13; it's 13.004.

JC66 4:26 PM  

DAN also means LAYS IN in Japanese.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  


just for yucks, look up Hitchcock's (now, there's a name!) thought on the end of "North by Northwest". it wasn't a mistake.

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

When I was in graduate school, there was an amateur musician (singer maybe; I don't remember any more) who would appear on school concert programs whose name was April Showers.

pabloinnh 5:43 PM  

Well just to not feel left out and keep the ball rolling, there was a girl at the high school where I started my teaching career whose name was Velvet Jock, and I'm not kidding.

Don't know if this one will make it past the mods or not, but in a singing group I was in we had a fine bass whose name was Hugh Bower, and his name was misspelled in the program once as "Hugh Boner". I told him they spelled "Huge" wrong.

And now off to the hootenanny, for some good songs and some yucks.

ChuckD 5:48 PM  

@ Gill - I think Harry Bawls went to school with Hugh Jass and Jacque Strap.

RooMonster 5:48 PM  

@Gill I
Hilarious!!! Thankfully I was by myself when I read Harry Bawls, or else I'da been looked at like I was a loonie!

@TTrimble 4:20
Dang, that made the ole brain hurt! Good stuff.


Barbara S. 7:01 PM  

@TTrimble 4:20
So glad you addressed the Spirograph. Fascinating. Those animations are cool. I never knew the word "hypotrochoids" during my spirographing days but I guess I knew them. The Pentagram of Venus is quite beautiful -- I'm assuming that curvilinear plot (by Greg Egan) is somewhat simplified?

On the subject of names, my husband once worked with a colleague called Joe Gotobed. (Hmm, shoulda posted that later in the evening.)

egsforbreakfast 7:07 PM  

And of course who could ever forget that lovely young lady Anita Dick?

Barbara S. 7:21 PM  

P.S. Talk of Mr. Gotobed prompted my husband to look him up on the website of the institution where he works. He was greeted by the headline:

"Gotobed Retires"

The article mentions that Joe was the "go-to" guy in computing. Don't you just wonder how many times he was asked if he was "woke"? It must never have stopped for that guy.

Z 8:45 PM  

Grids for Good update.

Barbara S. 8:57 PM  

Cute picture of Rex's Alfie on that link (if you scroll down).

TTrimble 10:39 PM  

@Barbara S.
Greg Egan's plot of Venus's trajectory does seem to be a close rendering of the sketches made by astronomers working with geocentric models. Here is a sketch, from the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1771), showing the trajectories of the sun, Mercury, and Venus.

I found a pretty nifty video of the Ptolemaic epicycle model for these motions. If you peer closely, you can make out the circles rolling around circles that produce these trajectories, a la spirographs.

Ptolemy's model actually worked really well. But over the centuries, as more and more accurate data came in, the epicycles produced by having just one circle rolling around another were, annoyingly, seen to be a little off in places. So they had to "add more epicycles" (e.g., imagine a circle rolling around a circle which rolls around a third circle, etc.) to iron out some of the discrepancies. Thus, the old models over time were becoming uncomfortably complicated.

Copernicus pursued the idea that calculations based on heliocentric coordinates would be simpler, but his models (a competitor in the marketplace of ideas) also had its complications. It was really Kepler who provided a giant advance when he proposed that planets revolve in elliptical orbits, speeding up as they got closer to the sun, according to precise mathematical laws. And then it was Newton who provided the shatteringly simple conceptual explanations for Kepler's laws of motion. It is truly difficult to overestimate the sweeping scale and power of Newton's contribution.

(Sorry -- I'll step away from the lectern now. You gave me an opening and I ran with it!)

Frantic Sloth 12:44 AM  

@Z 845pm That's wonderful news! Do you happen to know if they're overwhelmed with donations/emails? Sent my receipt last Thursday and still waiting. Follow-up email went unanswered. Any suggestions for some other way to contact someone?

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

Seemed fine for a Monday. The crosses were all easy enough that I'm not even mad about the "no one actually says these words" ALGA and LAYSIN or the antediluvian trio of TYNE, ELOISE, and GINGER.
Used PEDDLED instead of PEDALED for 41D and can never remember whether the OLSEN sisters use an E or two Os but guessed right this time.

thefogman 10:19 AM  

Not much to MODIFY here other than the clueing for18A and 24A like Annabel pointed out. CNN’s VAN Jones would work for 18A, but there’s a shortage of famous Joys, and therein lies the rub. Aside from that, this was a very decent Monday puzzle.

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

Typical smooth, large-cornered, junk-free Lempel grid, but with clues so dumbed down that it became virtually a list of gimmes. I mean, by the time I hit the center and saw GI____SNA__, I didn't even have to look at the clue; just wrote in GINGERSNAPS. I liked it, liked the nice flow and the care taken with the fill (L.L. hallmarks), but it was just too easy. It's like having cereal for breakfast. I enjoy it--but there's little protein, so I'm hungry before lunch.

DOD is the lovely and charming Kelly RIPA. Man, do I miss live audiences!

Congrats to Colin Marikawa, whose wonderful eagle on the 16th won him the PGA title; more will be heard from him, for sure. This one, though, rates only a birdie.

rainforest 3:00 PM  

A typically clean-as-a-whistle grid by Lynn Lempel. Very easy but very competently constructed.

@spacey - I was rooting for either Jason Day or Tony Finau, but Morikawa's play on the 14th and 16th was amazing.

leftcoaster 3:02 PM  

"What's in a Name?"

Lots of them here, current and old. Nice collection, maybe even including, say, DAN Quayle and Barbara EDEN, among many others.

Nothing really wrong with a proper names theme and fill. Enjoyed it.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

With all the people, who are putting in humorous names, both real and imagined, it brought to mind two real names from back when I was young. And it also made me think, parents can be unintentionally cruel. A police officer from the town where I grew up, had the name: Harry Dick. A high-school classmate of mine, had the name: Dick Kapinus(last two syllables of last name, of course, rhyming with male genitalia).

Diana, LIW 6:38 PM  

Gotta love a Lempel Monday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 7:54 PM  


Her SIDELINE was BOBSLED slides,
she SLID because that's how JOYRIDES.


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