Flower of tree Prunus mume / MON 7-13-20 / Dee director of Bessie Mudbound / One-named singer with hit Dark Lady

Monday, July 13, 2020

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (2:51)


THEME: MAH-JONG TILE (50A: Game piece on which 20-, 33- or 39-Across might be pictured) — I guess this is true ... I take the puzzle's word for it:

Theme answers:
  • PLUM BLOSSOM (20A: Flower of the tree prunus mume)
  • NORTH WIND (33A: Bringer of cold weather)
  • RED DRAGON (39A: Winged beast on the Welsh flag)
Word of the Day: Dee REES (65A: Dee ___, director of "Bessie" and "Mudbound") —
Diandrea Rees (born February 7, 1977) is an American screenwriter and director. She is known for her feature films Pariah (2011), Bessie (2015), Mudbound (2017), and The Last Thing He Wanted (2020). Rees has also written and directed episodes for television series including EmpireWhen We Rise, and Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams. (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt like I struggled a bunch with this one, but it's hard to use the word "struggled" with a straight face when your time comes in under 3. It's possible my new Monday normal is closer to the 2:30 than the 3 mark, which makes 2:51 feel ... slow? I dunno. All I know is there was a lot of stuff I just didn't know. I didn't know 1A: One-named singer with the hit "Dark Lady" (CHER), *for instance*! Yikes. When the hell was "Dark Lady" from. I know "Believe" and "Gypsies Tramps and Thieves" and maybe ... "Half-Breed," what was a song, right? Oh, and in the '80s, when she sang on the deck of a naval war ship in fishnets ... I forget the song ... why do I have Belinda Carlisle's "I Get Weak" in my head, that's weird. Oh, right, "If I Could Turn Back Time!" That's a CHER song I know. "Dark Lady," wow, no. So that meant my whole "ace the top row and then do all the Downs" strategy was 1/3 thwarted—I got the other two Acrosses up top and drilled down from there, then had to swoop back up to deal with the NW corner ... which was doubly hard because PLUM BLOSSOM!?!? Wow, no. "Prunus mume"? That is a Saturday clue and answer. Yipes. But with the other short easy stuff up in that corner, it wasn't That difficult to work out the singer and the flower. I had a little trouble getting OUTTA SIGHT (had the OUT-, wanted OUTSTANDING, which did not fit) (11D: "Awesome!"). Then had issues with TWISTS, which I can picture as a [Hairstyle option] now but could not retrieve At All while I was solving. The lower half of the grid was considerably easier. I forgot Dee REES's name, and the FOR YOU part of GOOD FOR YOU required some crosses (29D: Comment made with a pat on the back), but otherwise, superfast.


I don't know anything about Mah-Johng. Hell, I thought it was spelled Mah-Jonng or -Jongg ... where was I getting those extra letters from?? Aha! It looks like the double-g spelling is actually a thing. Good. I only feel half-insane now. Anyway, theme answers are things on the tiles, apparently. Interesting. So glad I didn't actually have to know that to solve (and enjoy) the puzzle. I think this is a lovely, clean, straightforward Monday. PLUM BLOSSOM and the clue on WREN (31D: Bird whose head doesn't make a sound?)* both seem more Fri/Sat than Monday, but on Mondays, when the bulk of the fill is easy to blow right through, a tough answer or two is not really gonna do much damage. In short, I have no real BEEFS with this puzzle. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*"head" in this clue refers to the "head" (or first) letter of WREN, the "W," which is silent, i.e. "doesn't make a sound"—apologies for over-explaining, but ... I get mail

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

126 comments:

Joaquin 12:00 AM  

I know absolutely nothing about Mahjong and I filled in the revealer on the downs so I didn’t notice it. Actually thought this was my first ever themeless Monday.

William of Ockham 12:08 AM  

Decent Monday

jae 12:11 AM  

Tough, more like a medium Tuesday, but then I’ve never played MAHJONG.

Smooth with some sparkle, liked it a bunch and Jeff gave it POW.

Coniuratos 2:09 AM  

Is PLUMBLOSSOM really that difficult when you've got "prunus" and "flower" sitting right there in the clue?

egsforbreakfast 2:16 AM  

Awfully hard to quibble with this puz. Arguably zero crosswordese, 7 POCs (which should be PsOC), and a theme that required the revealer to understand, unless you’re a Mah Jongger. A little BOOYAH OUTASIGHT action, and I feel like a boomer on ecstasy!!!

Wonderful Monday Mr. Agard.

chefwen 2:33 AM  

Rex, thank you for over explaining re. WREN that one had me wondering, tricky Erik.

I know nothing about MAH JONG. With PLUM in place I was thinking the game of Clue, wasn’t there a Professor Plum in that game? Memory fails. Anyway, more Tuesdayish for me and that’s just fine.

We have a gorgeous MANGO tree in our front yard and I absolutely love Mango. About three years ago I developed an allergy to mango sap, break out in hives if I touch one. I have my neighbors pick what they want and the rest fall to the ground and the wild chickens get them, breaks my heart. I guess they have to eat too.

Frantic Sloth 2:58 AM  

Impostor!

Okay. I know it's Mundee and all, but someone check Erik Agard's backyard for that telltale pod. I can't remember the last time I did a puzzle with zero corrections and it turns out to be constructed by my Moby?

J'accuse!

Then again...here's a theme that is simple, tight, and smooth with a revealer that - hey! - actually reveals said theme. I know, right?? What a concept! Maybe someone who plays Extreme MMM* would grok the theme before reaching that point, but not I, because I'm special. I needed to reread the themers and a-HA!

What a pleasure this little gem was. Were I a beginner solver, I would eat this up with a backhoe. Since I'm so much smarter now, (oh, Lord - could you just imagine the "before" picture??) a regular old spoon will do nicely.

With regard to yesterday's proffered Green Paint Bingo: As I've said before, I'm really more of a laissez-fairevoyant so I won't predict Rex-Specifics, but I'd wager a bag o' TATES he'll find this puzzle UDDERly scrumptious.

@Nancy(WA)** Is this post time better? Or worse? ๐Ÿ˜‰


*Mixed Martial Mahjong
**With (an) Avatar


๐Ÿง 
๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

Alex M 3:28 AM  

Cool to see both TWISTS and WEAVE featured as these are traditionally Black hairstyles, seems like a shout-out to WOC! Did Shortz miss that, I wonder...? "Dark Lady" is a lesser-known CHER tune but one of my favourites, definitely has a place on my Halloween party playlist! Highly catchy story song with an awesomely Archies/Scooby-Doo style animated music video. The clues for her and ENYA made it seem like they were being called one-*hit* singers at first glance, got my back up on their behalf twice! Really enjoyable solve by Mr. Agard, he's one of the good ones! :)

Frog Prince Kisser 3:34 AM  

The variation of Mahjong played in the U.S. is called Mah Jongg or Mah-Jongg (double-g), and is a game that uses equipment similar to that used by classical Chinese Mahjong, but differs greatly from that original game.

Lljones 4:52 AM  

What the hell is BOOYAH?

Vermontah 6:03 AM  

Awfully glad you explained the silent head of the wren. I solved the clue, just because of crosses and how many breeds of birds would fit w_en? I was awfully confused, though, because we've had a little family of wrens living at our house all summer and they are far from silent, they actually have a most lovely song. Very pretty. Until they see the cat, then it's an alarming squawk which kept waking me up in the morning. Stupid cat. Leave them wrens alone!

GILL I. 6:20 AM  

And @Rex didn't mention that nary a male name in sight? Do I get 10 points? And look at the ethnicity: CHER = Armenian, RUTH= Jewish, Dee REES= African American, ENYA= Irish ( I don't know LOHAN nor HATHAWAY) and then we get the Asian reveal of the colorful MAH JONG (with one G) TILE. I would've thought he'd be in heaven....BOOYAH.
Nice little predictable Monday from Erik.
@chefwen...Oh dear...I almost live for MANGOs. We also had several trees in Havana. I'd climb one of them , pinch and squish each one until the ripest one ended up in my hands. I'd peel them right there. I also did the same with our avocados.
By the way, in parts of of India and China its' considered polite to BURP. It's a sign of complement to the chef. Imagine that! My son would've loved it.

David 6:21 AM  

I'm 60 so someone in a younger generation please help me out. When I took AP tests back last century, I took math, science, English and a foreign language, Spanish. There was no "AP LANG" test. Has that changed?

Hungry Mother 6:22 AM  

Very fast. I played MAHJONG once and thought of gin rummy. I’ve heard my grandkids say BOOYAH, but I’ve never used it.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Erik's puzzles, whether Monday or Saturday, feel polished, just right, not a nick anywhere, final, can't be improved, unsullied. They are crafted with wit, intelligence and confidence, and they just sit there, shining. There are many excellent puzzle constructors out there, but Erik is up there in the cream.

Here's a Monday puzzle that doesn't insult the intelligence, that teaches new solvers that there can be answers out of your knowledge that you'll get anyway, that clues can be non-direct and clever, that answers can have spark (OUTTA SIGHT, by the way, is a NYT debut) and that there can be little gimmicks, like the same-clued TWISTS and WEAVE, and the two successive cold weather answers.

Erik's contribution to Crossworld is more than his creations. He actively works to get under-represented participation in puzzle construction with his Crossword Puzzle Collaboration Directory. This should result, eventually, in more interesting puzzles that in their own way bring our diverse country closer together. As editor of the USA Today crossword, he publishes a higher percentage of puzzles by under-represented constructors (such as women) than other mass publishers.

You are a high credit to this pastime, Erik, and thank you for another gem today!

David 6:31 AM  

Last century I took multiple AP tests. Remember English and Spanish but no AP LANG...

amyyanni 6:35 AM  

Such a super start to the week. How stereotypical: as a state employee, inked in AUGUST without missing a proverbial beat. And so I am off to get ready for another exciting day of teleworking!

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Seeing 1D in a NYT puzzle was pretty hilarious, and worth the price of admission.

Do people know MAHJOHNG TILES? This feels like a theme that Will would typically be rejecting for being too “niche”.

And speaking of niche, “AP LANG”?? Go with K.D. or Fritz or Lana and be done with it.

pabloinnh 7:19 AM  

Hope you had out your Agard/OFL Likes It bingo card for today. Definitely the right choice, with "clean", "straightforward", and so on. OK with me, because EA is definitely one of my favorites.

And now I know something about mahjong, or at least more than I did, other than its name and that tiles were involved. Definitely a revealer I could never have predicted.

Very smooth Monday with just enough crunch. Thanks again, EA.

ChuckD 7:35 AM  

Maybe tomorrow’s puzzle will feature the Lindy and Charleston since my grandmother liked those too in addition to Mahjong. A straightforward and quick Monday which I thought was full of flat fill - given the constructor’s usual offerings. Wanted cheers instead of YELLS - given her musical acumen CRAP crossing CHER is fitting and I think the only time I’ve heard the slang BOOYAH used is by Stuart Scot on ESPN. Liked the ON A TEAR/NANA cross - but otherwise I’ll pass.

@amyyanni - lol from a fellow civil servant AUGUST also went in without thinking

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

Garnish for a Corona? Mask!

albatross shell 8:11 AM  

Breaking news;

This just in from Wikipedia for what its worth:

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition (commonly abbreviated to AP Lang, ...)

Nancy 8:24 AM  

I was thinking as I was solving that the puzzle was far less mindless than most Mondays and that it was holding my attention. I didn't yet realize that it was an Erik Agard puzzle: Nine out of ten times I don't look at the constructor's name before plunging in.

I now think that Agard and Monday may be a perfect combo. Monday forces Erik to temper his Saturday sadism and to cross such Agardisms as BOOYAH fairly.

As for the theme: I've never seen a MAH JONG TILE and it didn't matter at all as far as solving was concerned.

One WEAVE but a plural TWISTS for the two hairstyles? Can you wear your hair in TWISTS or just in a TWIST? Well, I guess if you have the same coronavirus unruly mop that I have right now, you can probably twist it into a zillion TWISTS is you want to.

Liked the puzzle.

Wayne Rhodes 8:24 AM  

So much fun today as it is my mom’s 90th birthday and the clues are a lovely bday greeting. Her name is Sonia BLOSSOM. She’s played with MAH JONG TILES for 80 years and she is grandma ( ok NANA) to our two kids. Happy bday, mom!

Nancy 8:27 AM  

If you want to.

RooMonster 8:28 AM  

Hey All !
I see Jeff gave this his POW. Ugh, it's all downhill from here. Look forward to "this puz sucks" comments for the rest of the week.

Although this was a nice puz, it doesn't seem to rate this high of praise from Jeff, Rex, and y'all (IMO, of course). Maybe I'm cynical. Yeah, that's probably it.

The fill was nice and junk-free. Simple theme, which is a MonPuz staple. Some fun words like BOOYAH, TODOS, CRAP, BEEFS, BURP, HIDEY.

cheer for YELLS first, but Anne and PANELS fixed that.

I was born in AUGUST, so at least it's got that going for it. ๐Ÿ˜‹ Har.

Three F's
FROST FROTHS
RooMonster
DarrinV



bauskern 8:31 AM  

I think if you solve on paper, you enjoy the experience more. I find with the online version, with the relentless clock ticking, it immediately injects a time pressure element into the experience. I'm not sure how someone could be bogged down for a while and yet still finish in under 3 minutes, pretty impressive, but I think I have a better understanding now of why M is so focused on his solving time and how that morphs into his enjoyment of the puzzle. For me, I'll stick to paper.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I'm surprised at you all. How many one-name singers are there? Always try CHER ... it fits the best usually, nice letters. ENYA is a second choice and here we had them both, lovely. No need to know what they sang. No need to know anything about MahJong either, just fill in the squares. Surely RED DRAGON needs no reason to explain it, for one.

Thank you Eric, for a lovely start to the week.
M

maki-girl 8:35 AM  

Also happy to see these hairstyles! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

Petsounds 8:40 AM  

Agree 100% with @Lewis and @Nancy: Erik Agard produces cleaner puzzles than most and his clues, which range widely over eras and cultures, are also more fun and satisfying. When he's doing a Saturday puzzle, though, he can go off the deep end of the obscurity pool and make you want to tear your WEAVE and/or TWIST out. I've never seen CRAP or BOOYAH in a puzzle before, and I'd be happy if Erik did every Monday puzzle. A happy solving experience for beginners and veterans alike.

Pamela 8:41 AM  

Nice and easy today, with no C*** except at 1D. Finished almost before I started, which for me is more than 3x Rex. Raise my hand for appreciating the explanation for WREN. Potential Natick at REE?, who I never heard of, but ETAS was unmistakable, keeping the whole puzzle very fair. Lovely start to my day.

Taffy-Kun 8:41 AM  

My friends and I played Mahjong in Jamaica in the 60s as a fast-paced (low stakes) gambling and beer drinking game adopted from the Chinese community. As played by the Chinese there for high stakes, it was pretty far from the domesticated version popular in the US.

Did I mention that was the period I worked as an extra in “Doctor No”?

Z 8:54 AM  

What @Lewis said.

The clue is about the class title, not the test title. Schools offer an AP LANG course in preparation for the AP English Language and Composition exam and AP Lit in preparation for the AP English Literature and Composition exam. The entire list of exams is here. Note a similar parsing of a subject with the Calculus Exams.

@Gill I - Nice catch. AUGUST and FROST offered possibilities that were eschewed and the liar clue of course led me to think of Covfefe, but a guy free puzzle.

Dark Lady

KnittyContessa 9:06 AM  

Dark Lady had me smiling from the start. Fun Monday.

Surprised to see CRAP. Is that a first?

Harry 9:23 AM  

Much longer time than my normal Monday, but that's fine. I really enjoyed this one. Great fill! I really wanted 37 across to be glory rather than hidey, but I guess that is not NYTXW material (I did appreciate crap in the NW though).

Lewis 9:28 AM  

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

1. Word containing itself twice (3)
2. Sound followed by a whistle in cartoons (7)
3. Hollow-eyed expression? (9)(5)
4. Locale for house reps? (4)(3)
5. It's due south of Hollywood (5)


ESS
SNORING
CROCODILE TEARS
HOME GYM
MIAMI

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Lohan and Hathaway were both born in New York.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

What the hell does POC or PsOC mean? A little “over-explaining”, please.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

"Dark Lady" was a huge hit for Cher. The song went to #1 in the U.S. in March 1974.

Whatsername 9:36 AM  

Puzzle was okay and appreciate the explanation on the clue for WREN because I didn’t get it either. Like @Vermontah said, wrens sing the most lovely songs and are always welcome in my back yard. I have the cutest little houses for them that look like little log cabins. Had two pair of House Wrens raise their broods this year, and they have just recently brought the babies out of the nests. The little ones were funny when they first started flitting about. They would land on the porch railing very close to me and make little chirping sounds like they were trying to figure me out. Now that they have grown and gained some confidence they chatter away at full volume but don’t come nearly as close to me as they did. Between them and the Purple Martin colony, I have quite a symphony playing at times.

Had NOREASTER at 33A that held me up for a bit. Never played MAHJONG but it looks fascinating. Seems like in the movies it’s stereotypically Jewish ladies who play it. I love a good juicy MANGO. They are surprisingly high in carbs but worth it now and then.

TTrimble 9:47 AM  

@Anonymous 9:33 AM
Person(s) of color. Not to be confused with POS by the way, which I won't translate.

Urban Dictionary is pretty useful for such questions.

Unknown 9:47 AM  

FYI: mango sap and the skin has an irritant similar to poison ivy so touching the skin gives the rash. Just wear rubber gloves to peel them and enjoy! Too good to pass up!

Lou 9:48 AM  

It's my first time commenting here. I always read Rex's post after solving and enjoy wondering if we will agree or disagree. I love board games, but have never played Mahjong before. I don't even know if I've heard it said before, so I thought the M-HJ--GTILE I had at the time was an issue, but they all checked out and I hoped for the little confirmation jingle to prove true.

My Traffic Jams
*I didn't see TWISTS for a bit. And I'd think that a "Twist" would be more a hairstyle option.
Stylist: "How you would you like me to style your hair today?"
Person in Chair: "In twists."

*I read "The Princess Diaries" as "The Princess Bride" and wondered if Faye DunAWAY could somehow be squeezed into the answer from an unknown cameo. Nope.

*My eyebrows fell to my jaw when I read the clue "___-hole (place to secrete oneself)." I had HI-EY at the time and also looked at the word secrete as a discharge. I said aloud, "There's no way the Times would let HINEY-HOLE pass the breakfast test!" Then I saw TODOS and got the puzzle away from the toilet. There was already CRAP right up top too. And I've never heard of a hidey-hole.

My favorite cars on the highway:
RHOMBUS, PLUMBLOSSOM

Lemons:
A.P. LANG. is too dotted, BOOYAH is too dated

It was more of a weird road trip than a smooth ride for me.

(And thanks Rex for your blog and insight!)

Pete 9:51 AM  

I learned from kids 45+ years younger than I that English has been renamed Language Arts by Education PhDs. Because, you know, if you have a PhD in Education and can't actually figure out a way to teach the subject better, at least you can re-brand it to assert your value. Otherwise you'd just be useless.

mathgent 10:10 AM  

Absolutely delightful. Best Monday I can remember. Erik’s brilliance shines through.

Gill noticed the preponderance of women in the puzzle. Undoubtedly on purpose. The constructors he publishes In USA Today are almost all women. The ultra-prolific Ms. Burnikel appears constantly.

I dIdn’t know Dee REES but I’ve heard of Mudbound. Roger Rees was a favorite of mine. He won many awards for his serious work on the stage in New York and London, but I know him best for his comedic roles on Cheers and West Wing. He came to San Francisco with a one-man show shortly before he died five or six years ago. Anecdotes, reminiscences, two or three of his favorite speeches. Witty and utterly charming.

I have several CHER greatest-hits compilations and I don’t think that Dark Lady is among them.

Anne HATHAWAY! What a doll!

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

brb...just secreting myself in my hidey hole

jberg 10:20 AM  

@anon9:33–Plural Of Convenience— when the constructor adds an s to a noun to make it fit. Normal plural is POCs, @egs is having fun with grammar.

kitshef 10:20 AM  

@Anon 9:33 and @TTrimble. POC can mean a number of things in the world at large. In this comment area, it most often means Plural of Convenience - an answer that has an "s" at the end making it plural.

jberg 10:40 AM  

We had a mah jong game in the house as kids, but no one knew how to play, so we never used it, and I never noticed what was on the tiles. Still, I had a few crosses, and plum blossoms and dragons have Ann East Asian feel, so that was ok. Still wondering how the NORTH WIND is pictured.

@curiator—I had the same reaction. But Rex wants to fill in 1A without crosses, which you need in order to choose between CHER, ENYA— and isn’t there a Sade, as well?

Fun fact: cherries and plums share a genus. Fortunately “cherry BLOSSOM” wouldn’t fit.

I thing Hiroshima Day, August 6, should be a national holiday (of mourning), but it isn’t.

Sir Hillary 10:41 AM  

An excellent puzzle from one of the best constructors on the planet.

But let's be honest HERE...the bottom-right crossing could have been REEl/ETAl, and if certain other constructors were to place an unnecessary POC just for the sake of putting in a proper noun, it would be a major complaint in @Rex's write-up and therefore grist for the rest of us (which I guess it is for me in any event). I'm all for more women of color being represented in puzzles, but let's at least recognize that the effort to do so can occasionally conflict with other supposedly immutable crossword guidelines.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

You would love Mahjongg!

GILL I. 10:49 AM  

Yay...@Pamela got an avatar...Is that your violin?
You can ask for two strand TWISTS from your hairstylist. It's predominantly worn by Afro American men and women. TWISTS with an S is just fine.
I'm glad someone cleared up that HIDEY hole mess.

Nancy 10:49 AM  

Oh, dear -- I'm having another bout of Nature Envy today. This happens from time to time on this blog -- caused by Rexites who live a lot closer to nature than I do. I have to go to Central Park for my Nature; they are lucky enough to live amidst it.

Today, it's (to a somewhat lesser degree) @chefwen who has her very own mango tree. (@GILL doesn't count because, while she once had mango trees, she doesn't have them anymore.) Then there are @Vermontah and @Whatsername who have their very own WRENS singing in their backyards. In @Whatsername's case, the WRENS even have their very own houses, yet! We have many different kinds of birds in Central Park, and many sing, but I have no idea if any of them are WRENS.

Since I like birds more than mangoes, I am more envious of @Vermontah and @Whatsername today than I am of @chefwen. Except not really. I know from years on this blog that @chefwen has animals of every imaginable variety living on her property.

egsforbreakfast 10:59 AM  

@Sir Hillary 10:41. Substituting two crosswordese entries crossing each other would, I can assure you, have drawn way more howls from Rex and the commentariat than a POC on one word only.

TTrimble 10:59 AM  

@jberg, @kitshef
Ah, I stand corrected in that case. Plurals of convenience it is. Thanks!

Pamela 11:01 AM  

I came here expecting to try again to add an avatar as requested, but now see that my first attempt was successful. Quel surprise! But a happy one.

But as to SB...
Yet again I find myself in Genius territory, only 3 away from QB, which is where I got stuck yesterday. What an impossible group of letters! Grrr...

Mary McCarty 11:01 AM  

@Z re: multiple AP exams...back in the good ol’ days, Latin had 2 exams: Vergil (Aeneid) and Latin Literature (Cicero + option of Catullus, Ovid or Horace.) Nowadays it’s a little bit of Vergil and too much Caesar (IMHO)

Masked and Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Great themeless puz with a meta-mcguffin, at our house. Couldn'ta even spelled MAHJONG, if my nano-seconds' lives depended on it. Is there a MASKEDWINDDRAGON tile, in that there game?

Other than a little CRAP in the NW, I thought the fillins had lotsa sparkle. faves included: AUGUST. GOODFORYOU. OUTTASIGHT. FROTHS. RHOMBUS. BOOYAH.
Luved the WREN clue, BTW. Very runtpuzian.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Milk source on a dairy cow} = UDDER. Winner, for multiple reasons.
staff weeject pick [of a meager 8 choices]: TBS. The T is for TILE, the BS is for WINDDRAGONBLOSSOM.

Thanx for the mysterious game fun, Mr. Agard. Good job.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

Nancy 11:11 AM  

Agree on all points!!!!!!

pyroclasts 11:12 AM  

Happy that we youngins finally got thrown a bone with AP LANG

Taffy-Kun 11:20 AM  

The North Wind tile has simply the Kanji character for “North”

JCV 11:22 AM  

There are multiple AP English tests -Language and Literature

NYPuzzler 11:26 AM  

Haha I had the same issue- had to do many double takes with typo clue the ___-hole (place to secrete oneself) - Yikes!

TTrimble 11:51 AM  

-- [SB Alert] --

@Pamela
I was one away from QB yesterday and was really annoyed when I consulted the answer list this morning. TATTOO! Hiding in plain sight!

And right now I'm one away from today's, but it feels a little dirty. I can amplify later, but the part of speech a number of them have in common is guaranteed to make one go, "is this going to be acceptable? heaven knows! guess I'll try!" So, the solutions just don't feel very clean to me (and one really looks on the verge of being a proper noun). Anyway, yeah, I agree the letters are a bit nasty today.

Barbara S. 12:04 PM  

I'm surprised more people don't know what's on Mah-jongg tiles even if they've never played the game, because a staple of one-player computer games is a matching game which uses the tiles. You start out with a screen full of MJ tiles arranged across the field of play and also stacked on top of one another in all sorts of ingenious ways. The object is to find matched pairs and then click on them to remove them. BUT you can't just remove any old pair willy-nilly, oh no. There are rules about which tiles are available/accessible for removal and which aren't. You win the game if you manage to get rid of all of them, but there are certain configurations that are very hard to win, "Dragon" comes to mind. I surely can't be the only person in the assemblage who's played this!?

60A Sticking up for all the foodies here (of which I'm not one), food is a gourmet's passion, too. You don't have to be a glutton.

Yeah, wow -- CHER, RBG, LOHAN, NANA, ENYA, ARIEL, REES, HATHAWAY, SORORITY. Nine.

@Roo 8:28
RE birthdays. Dee REES and I were born on the same date -- she's my new sister! (Not the same year, though. Can I exchange my year for hers?)

burtonkd 12:08 PM  

Anyone who's spent any time in or around the African-American community knows WEAVE and TWISTS. Fun that they are both in the same puzzle.

@Nancy, as I'm sure you know, the birds are just about the only bit of true nature in Central Park, the rest a meticulously planned environment from hills to water features, etc. (Shoutout to the more natural Inwood Hill Park). I, too, am envious of hearing about the closeness to nature. Was mentioning to my dad in NC that I had seen my first bluebird in a decade and he nonchalantly mentioned there is a huge flock at his neighbor's feeder. Same with Z, I think, and scarlet tanagers.

I think it is a rite of passage to be on this blog to do an anti-Rex rant, then gradually accept your Stockholm syndromesque fate of actually missing him when he's gone.

@Joe et al, thanks for the great laughs the last few days inre predicting the rant.

So we've apparently gone back to drinking joke insensitivity pretty quickly...

Oh yeah, really enjoyed this puzzle!

Barbara S. 12:10 PM  

Should have appended this to my description of the Mah-jongg matching game

Pamela 12:41 PM  

Ay yi yi! SB, really!
@Ttrimble- I just got another one, now only missing one more. But this one is absolutely a proper name! What?!

Back to the puzzle...
Retro for me in a couple of places:
As a budding hairdresser once-upon-a-time, when we were still teasing hair into sky-high edifices, I became adept at producing inflated the French TWISTs which were so popular then. Within a year or two it all came tumbling down, when we all switched to flat hair and shoes. We made up for it by chopping off our skirts and piling on the eyelashes. That was even more fun!

WEAVEs, though, came into my life much later when I started working with fashion models. That’s a whole different story, or, more accurately, collection of stories.

Lots to like today, especially, as is usual, the comments here. Thanks, all!

jberg 12:46 PM  

@burtonkd, @Nancy -- oh, I bet you've got some pretty natural insects there, as well. And probably snakes. But the birds have been getting the publicity lately.

@TTrimble -- well, IRL you were correct!

I've been doing a lot of cryptics lately-- one a week from "Out of Left Field," plus occasional puzzles in the Sunday Times and AVC. The clue for WREN is pretty standard cryptic stuff -- there are about a million different ways to tell you to remove the first, or maybe the last letter of a word before combining it with something else. So if you liked that clue, try a cryptic!

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Burtonkd,
Definitely not scarlet tanagers.. At lest not a flock. They’re pretty solitary (save, obviously nesting season). And in all my years of birding I’ve never seen a scarlet tanager at a feeder.

Nancy,
There are loads of wrens in Central Park. The most common is the Carolina wren. It’s an inveterate singer. And loud! Worth a a google, because I guarantee you you’ll heard one if you spend my time at all listening for it. A lot of folks think it’s sounds like “cheeseburger, cheeseburger” or “tea kettle, tea kettle, tea kettle.”

Last note, for indoor/vicarious birding it is impossible to beat Manhattan birding on Twitter. Google it. The pictures are National Geographic worthy. Nd they’re all taken right outside your front door. Truly amazing.

GILL I. 12:51 PM  

I'm gonna wonder if I will show up twice again. I posted over an hour ago and nada.
First....YAY, Pamela and her new avatar. Is that your violin?
Re TWISTS: Yes...you use the S. You have natural TWISTS, cornrow TWISTS, curl TWISTS....predominantly Afro American although its' a hairstyle anyone can wear as long as you have the "look."
I'm so glad someone here cleared up that HIDEY hole thing. I was worried for a while.
@Nancy, speaking of birds!! That is the one thing I most remember about Central Park. I would go there very early on Sundays to do my crossword; very few people up at that hour but birds galore. I need a fix!

Lou 12:58 PM  

lol for real!

Carola 1:09 PM  

Something about the first theme answers struck me as poetic, and I liked the positive reinforcement of GOOD FOR YOU and OUTTA SIGHT - a very nice push to get me going on the new week

@Nancy, when I practice piano, a bird often joins me, chirping steadily in the birch tree outside the window. I always wonder if the message is, "Yay, a singalong!" or "Enough already!"

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

A nice Monday offering from EA today. My only experience with MAH-JONG was finding a game set in my Mom's friend's attic. She let me take it home in its beautifully decorated box. There were instructions with it but it was so far over my head that I never bothered to do anything more than lay the tiles out and look at them. I don't remember any of the designs and I wonder what became of it.

@Nancy, I have a wren that sings constantly while I'm in my garden - it is living in our bluebird house. The song is beautiful but they sure like to hear themselves, they'll go all day.

I can pull up most of the words for "Dark Lady", one of those songs that was constantly on the radio. And I wasn't completely surprised to see CRAP in the grid as it, along with CRAPPY, is accepted in SB. (No SB alert because I was talking about the crossword! :-) ).

Pamela 1:22 PM  

@GILL I- Thanks! And yes, that’s my fiddle, my quarantine buddy over the last few months. Last week, now that the rules are changing, I took her to the luthier for a couple of adjustments and he noticed a small opening in a seam, so she’s been away. I’m picking her up tomorrow, on my way to my lesson, which has only recently resumed IRL (just love that expression!).

Within the last few days, someone here posted about a documentary, The Violin’s Voice. I tracked it down on allarts.org and loved it so much I shared it with a bunch of string players I know. Just wonderful! So a big Thank you very much to whomever you are!

Pamela 1:30 PM  

SB alert——-

OMG, I just got QB! I tapped in a bunch of what I thought were nearly random letters and Bingo, that’s it. Seems crazy today. I don’t get it- what are the rules, anyway?!

Jeff B. 1:39 PM  

Interesting but difficult Monday for me. The opposite of last week, when M+Tu<today's in time.

egsforbreakfast 1:45 PM  

Because there was some interest in POCs, I’d like to point out that our own Anna Bob is a published constructor (NYT and others) who is passionate on the subject of POCs and LCI (Letter Count Inflation). A POC, of course, results from adding an “s” or “es” to pluralize a word just for the purpose of making your grid work, rather than to add additional information. Anna Bob, however, has analyzed the four different types of POC usage, the odious ness of which range from mild to eternally-burn-in-hell.

LCI, is an umbrella term for a bunch of other ways that constructors stretch out words for grid purposes only.

He has written long blog entries on his own blog about both of these subjects, and I found them interesting and eye-opening. If you want to see them, click on his blue name to go to his profile, then click his blue name under “My Blogs” at the top.

On the subject of birds, I had a bizarre and delightful bird experience yesterday. I was watering my vegetable beds with a hose nozzle set to”Shower”, which produces a spray cone of moderate force. A hummingbird started hanging out with me, about a foot from my face. It kept alternating its gaze between my face and the spray of water. After a good 5 minutes of this, it alighted on the water spray and let the force carry it a foot or two. It was a water slide without the slide. It repeated this 4 or 5 times, seemingly just for fun, then flitted off. I’m still smiling just thinking about it.

Frank Lynch 1:46 PM  

If you don't know Mahjong and saw Crazy Rich Asians, Vox explains the importance of the Maj Jong scene
here.

Whatsername 1:57 PM  

@Lou (9:48) Welcome! I live in the Midwest and what we call a HIDEY hole is the place you go to when the tornado sirens start blowing.

@Anonymous (12:49) Same here for the Scarlet Tanagers. I always watch for them in the spring when the Orioles and Grosbeaks arrive but I’ve never had the privilege of seeing one.

@Nancy (10:49) Yes, more than likely you have some of those gregarious little birds flitting about Central Park. They are small and hard to see but you may be able to identify by sound as their song is unmistakable. If you are interested, here is a link to everything you ever want to know about just about any type of bird:
Audubon Field Guide

Go to the Search box at the top and type in whatever bird you’re curious about. When the next page opens, you can listen to their most common sound by tapping the speaker symbol in the upper left corner of the bird image. If you tap on the individual bird, the next page will show detailed information, including a habitat map which will tell you whether or not they are commonly found in NY. Scroll down below the map and there will be other audio choices to hear all the different sounds they make.

If you type the word “Wren” in the search box, it brings up eight different types of wrens. Of those, only the House Wren and the Carolina Wren populate the northern states. House Wrens spend only the summer months in the north, while Carolinas are year-round residents. House Wrens are what I was describing in my earlier post that I provide about a half dozen houses for. When the males arrive in April, they will build several different nests and wait for the females to arrive. Once a female chooses a mate, she will inspect each one of the nests before deciding which one she likes. I have watched this little ritual a number of times and it is fascinating. Once she decides on a house they settle in for the summer and share the duties of raising the brood.

Well that’s probably more than you wanted to know about wrens, but I am always eager to share with someone who has an interest. And don’t get me started on Purple Martins which are practically a second career. In case you haven’t noticed I’m not just a crazy cat lady, I’m a crazy bird lady too. Somebody’s got to do it.

Nancy 2:10 PM  

@burtonkd (12:08):

TRUE NATURE

Can Nature ever be a bit too "natural"?
It can when every tree you see is pine.
(Or oaks...or elms...it really doesn't matter)
Then I prefer a man-made Park like mine.

Where Sycamores are nestled next to Chestnuts,
And Lindens mingle happily with Beech,
Where Maples bow their branches towards Magnolias,
And Dogwoods thrive. And Lilacs bloom. And Peach.

Where trees from every continent and country,
Show off their splendid leaves and lovely bark.
Now only God can make a tree: that's certain.
But only Calvin Vaux can make a Park!











































JC66 2:13 PM  

@Nancy

From one New Yorker to another, Brava!

Frantic Sloth 2:35 PM  

What @Lewis, @Nancy(WA), @Petsounds, et.al. have said.
(For the record, I know I call EA my white whale, but it's always been in that "love thine 'enemy'" kinda way.)

@Pamela 841am Loving your avatar! Beauteous!
@Whatsername 936am So envious of you and your bird community! Lovely description. Also, see @Nancy(WA) 1049am
@Unknown 947am (I just looked this up today) Mangoes are from the same family as poisons ivy, oak, and sumac which would explain that allergic reaction; however, this allergy can be as "mild" as that or as severe (and potentially fatal) as anaphylactic shock. @chefwen is probably (hopefully!) aware of all of this.

@Lou 948am Welcome! Enjoyed your "rookie" entry to our commentariat - keep it coming!

@jberg 1040 am Your suggestion of a Hiroshima Day on August 6th might be an honorable addition as a day of mourning or reflection, but this country doesn't know how to do that. And the inevitable mega-sales, champagne toasting, and/or barbecue (shudder!) celebrations would soon eradicate its true meaning from our collective mind. More's the pity. ๐Ÿ˜•

@Barbara S 1204pm Yes! There are a plethora of Mahjong APPS/Games out there and that is the only reason I "know" anything about it.
@jberg 1246pm Not to mention the sewer alligators! ๐ŸŠ
@Anonymous 1249pm Does that California Wren sound like this, by any chance?
@GILL I 1251pm Might wanna see someone about that stutter. ๐Ÿ˜„

@egs 145pm I might have heard or read a more enchanting story, but I don't know how that would be possible. Absolutely adore your hummingbird anecdote!

@Whatsername 157pm Thanks for the Audubon link! I see a rabbit hole in my future...

@Nancy 210pm ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘Lovely! Also, what @JC66 said.

***SB Alert!***

Congrats on QB @Pamela! Rules? Don't get me started...

Words not accepted in YesterBee:
(Words not accepted in today's Bee to follow late tonight or tomorrow)

TOTTO (There's DOGGO and CATTO...so, why notto?)
ROOTARY (It's a rotary, but underground. Trees gotta drive, too, you know!)
ARROROOT (Alt. Spelling of ARROWROOT. Duh!)
RATAROVY (Fusion cuisine creation [c'mon - they love these obscure ethnic food terms!] using RAT, ARROROOT and ANCHOVY - @chefwen, help me out, here!)


Hope this helps.

kitshef 2:49 PM  

@Whatsername - don't forget about winter wrens! I don't know if they are in Central Park, but for sure they are in New York. They are not the showoffs that Carolina wrens are, but are every bit as cute.

Jim Finder 2:50 PM  

Who says BOOYAH, when do they say it, and what do they mean by it?

A Moderator 3:08 PM  

@TTrible

I deleted your recent SB post because, when I initially read it, I thought the last two words you mentioned were spoilers.

When I checked at SB, I realized I was wrong.

Please re-post.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

Kitshef,
Winter wrens are definitely in Central Park. There’s a decent video of a pair from February 26th of this year on Manhattan bird left. That’s the sitter account I mentioned earlier.

Frantic Sloth 3:20 PM  

*** Ugh! Carolina Wren!

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

Kitshef,
Ferns!!! Kinda jealous. My wife’s late mother was Japanese and she and her friends used to collect ferns for cooking here in South Jersey. I assume they were fiddleheads. But don’t know. Shameful that I don’t know more botany for all the time I spend in the woods.

Whatsername 3:40 PM  

@egs (1:45) What an amazing hummingbird story! I have never seen one do anything like that! I’ve had them come up and hover and even sit on a feeder a foot away from me but that is just incredible.

@Nancy (2:10) Beautiful!! You may be envious of my backyard but I have dreams of someday seeing your magnificent park. It’s still on my bucket list; I may get there yet.

@kitshef (2:49) Good catch! When I went to the Audubon guide I failed to notice that there was a second page with more listed, one of which was the Winter Wren. They are uncommon in my part of the country and I’m not familiar with them, another reason I overlooked it. Thanks for pointing that out.

Barbara S. 4:18 PM  

@egs's (1:45) terrific hummingbird story reminded me of a cute encounter I once had. I was staying at my sister's in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia and there were hummingbirds everywhere. My sister had feeders dotted around her property and they were doing a roaring trade. One day I was sitting reading on the deck wearing a bright fuschia and gold flowered shirt (yeah, what was I thinking?). I became aware of a whirring sound very near my right ear and realized that my shirt was being cased by a hummingbird. I stayed absolutely still, listening to the wingbeats, till the hummer abandoned me for greener pastures. But that wasn't the end of it. Later that day I was indoors sitting next to the floor-to-ceiling windows and noticed that a hummingbird was just on the other side of the glass, yes, eyeing my shirt! Stalkingbirds! I took the shirt off immediately, fearing birds might damage themselves on the glass.

Some of the hummingbirds at my sister's that summer were very aggressive and there was lots of scrapping around the feeders. There seemed to be one bird in particular who was the originator of these scrums and of course we dubbed him(?) Attila the Hum.

tea73 4:32 PM  

I had to delete the MAHJONG game that came with my computer because I was wasting too much time on it.

Fun puzzle. I had dRAt before CRAP because NYT.

I also really wanted to put ENYA in the 1A spot, so was amused when she showed up later in the puzzle.

I do an exercise video currently that uses BOOYAH and I've always wondered exactly what it is supposed to mean. Now I know I guess.

Frantic Sloth 4:46 PM  

@Barbara S 418pm I thought your post was delightful enough and then "Attila the Hum" happened. Priceless! ๐Ÿ˜„

Anoa Bob 4:57 PM  

Just looked out the window and saw a silhouette of the anoa projected across the sky, so I fired up my desktop PC and came here to see if my services were needed.

Looks like other commenters have covered the basics of the plural of convenience (POC). The essence of a POC is that it's a shortcut. It's a quick, easy way to fill grid space but it doesn't add much of value or interest. It's like padding or filler in an essay exam just to meet the minimum word count. I think cheating is too strong word for a POC (or exam padding). Maybe fudging would be a better term.

Every puzzle I've ever seen, including mine, has had a POC or three in them.
I think it's how many and what kind that determines the overall effect on the puzzles quality. Same as with other grid-fill warts such as abbreviations, partials, crosswordese, Roman numerals, letter strings, etc.

I don't really have any emotional attachment to the concept. When I decided to try to call other solvers' attention to the POC, I followed the advice of my favorite psychologist/philosopher William James and tried to state my case as positively, clearly, unequivocally and assertively as I could. Maybe that's why it comes across as "passionate", but it's totally cerebral, not visceral.

Today's offering has a few POCs, including some of the two-POCs-for-one-S variety. Whether they drag down the puzzles value significantly or not is a subjective call. Along with the niche theme, those grid-filling POCs put this in the "not for me" category.

RooMonster 5:15 PM  

We have a type of bird here in Las Vegas, don't know what kind it is, can't describe it as I'm not a good descriptive person, but it has about 100 different sounds (give or take, it sure seems like north of 30 if you listen for a while.) They start tweeting about 3 in the morning.

Anybody have an idea of what it might be?

**SB stuff**
From what I gather, SB rules are no names, personal or corporate, no hyphenated words, no un-PC words, no curse words. Ay NYT.bee, there is a list at the bottom of the page which lists controversial words that aren't included that day. I try not to look at nyt.bee, but seeing as how I've been way short this past few days, might start. I missed a lot of easy ones I should've gotten YesterBee. I think my lost brain cells are catching up to me. ๐Ÿ˜‹

**SB over**

BOOYAH basically means (to me) "Oh yeah, there it is!" or "Oh yeah, there you go!" Or "Oh yeah, I did that!" But more forceful, if thatales sense. Like "Bam" from Emeril. Said mostly as a positive.

RooMonster BOOYAH Guy

Crimson Devil 6:09 PM  

Barbara S
Re h-birds and bees: Would’ve thought you’d have learned by now, the way to dissuade a hot-blooded bird on the other side of plate glass from harming himself is NOT to begin a fuchsia strip tease. Was there music or a pole involved?

Mr. Alarm 6:16 PM  

Thanks for that. Crosswords have a lot of terms and usages that can be very exclusionary to the uninitiated. It can be infuriating at times.

albatross shell 6:17 PM  

Booyah is a thick stew (Begium or upper midwest), or a statement I or we did good, I or we won, or mission accomplished. Cramer, the CNN stock market blowhard, uses it several times a show.

albatross shell 6:55 PM  

@Frantic
Why uhg on Carolina wren? I have house wrens and Carolina wrens. Both are entertaining. The male house wren built his nest in an eave outside my kitchen window. Then spent 2 days singing on a branch until the female showed up. He went totally berserk and kept trying to jump her while she went to the nest and ripped most of it apart and then rebuilt it to her specifications before she would cooperate.

I have a tripod of about 2 inch steel pipe 15 feet long in my yard for occasional heavy lifting and as garden air the test of the time. I The Carolina wren has built his nest in it the last two years. One or both wrens sing from the top of it and drop into it. Lots of wren chatter from inside. Neither of them ever seem to enter the other 2 pipes.

@Nancy
You might have nature envy and I love living in the country but I have restaurant museum arts concert city-grit envy. I love to visit cities. You probably love to visit the sticks.

Barbara S. 6:58 PM  

@Crimson Devil -- LOL!

Hubba Hubba

GILL I. 7:12 PM  

Well California is shutting down again. What a surprise. Hospital beds in and around Sacramento are getting full again and we've run out of testing.
Good news. My two hummingbirds - Chutzpah and bossy boots - still come up to me when I water my plants. They don't do an @egsforbreakfast water slide, but they do look at me suspiciously hoping I won't cough on them.
Stay safe. Wear a mask. It ain't over.

JC66 7:18 PM  

@Barbara S

I love the audio but miss the video.

@GILL I

Hang in there.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Roo,
Can’t be sure of course, but sounds like your pal is a mockingbird.
They have an amazing array of songs. In fact, they’ve been known to mimic car alarms( they’re part of a group of birds the great Roger Tory Peterson called mimic thrushes and their allies).
There are other birds with a pretty wide variety of songs, but mockers are notorious for singing in the dead of the night. That’s unusual.

RooMonster 7:57 PM  

@Anon 7:40
Sounds right. I have heard a car-alarm-ish tweet once in a while during their screed. And they're nonstop! You'd think their little voice boxes would get sore.

Roo

Barbara S. 8:27 PM  

@JC66

I delivered in a plain wrapper in order to leave the rest to the imagination. And isn't the fantasy always better...?


***SB ALERT AND POPPING CHAMPAGNE CORKS***

I just got QB with today's odd set of letters! Yay! After the last few days, I feared the muse had forsaken me.

Unknown 8:47 PM  

I jump on Roman numeral clues Roman numerals--I aced them in sixth grade

Z 8:53 PM  

@jberg2:36 Sunday - I ran across questions posed by Goethe that I think applies to your recent observations about not expecting puzzles to be primarily humorous: 1. What is the artist (or constructor) trying to do? 2. How well do they do it? 3. Was it worth doing?
Applying these questions to yesterday’s puzzle, Donaldson was trying to be humorous, but the themers weren’t very funny nor was the theme concept particularly worth doing. This is an ongoing challenge especially for large grids. If a constructor is going to go for wackiness on a Sunday they really need to go big, not settle for “Dad jokes” that not even most dads find funny. I think you are correct that there are other paths to making a good puzzle, but lots of times humor is the goal and then I think it is fair to criticize if the humor is tepid.

@Mary McCarthy - Latin is generally hard to find at the high school level anymore and it shows in the number of kids taking the tests. In 2013 3,500 kids took the Latin AP exam while 390,000 took AP LANG and 325,000 took AP Lit.

Nancy 9:37 PM  

Thanks for the Audubon bird calls link, @Whatsername (1:57). One could spend a lifetime listening and studying. So many kinds of birds. So many calls. I think I've probably heard more sparrows in the park than anything else. They sounded very familiar. So did crows.

Because of Hammerstein's "sweet silver song of a lark" and "lark who is learning to pray", I was expecting a lot more from the lark, frankly. Not so sweet. Not so silver. Not so prayerful. The Bewick's WREN wasn't half bad though. But my bird choir will be mostly comprised of warblers and orioles. They were the sweetest. And for my soloist (of the birds I listened to, that is; I only got to the "L"s), I have chosen the Lapland Longspur. Quite melodic, as birds go.

Pamela 9:42 PM  

SB ALERT*****

@Barbara S- congrats!
Can’t wait til tomorrow to rant about some of the admissibles today, one in particular.
END SB***

Such great bird stories today! Too bad I wasn’t on here when I still had CT and wondered who I was hearing. Back then I was too busy in the garden, which I completely re-invented over a 10 year period. My goal was 4-season interest, with low maintenance, bird and butterfly attracting plants. And were they ever attracted. Birds galore, and butterflies of all colors- we even had monarchs! In those days I never had time to do more than the Sunday puzzle, and even that wasn’t so regular.

Now I’m just a city girl, who loves Central Park and all the other stuff a city has to offer. Not these days, of course, so much is closed. But it’s still here and so am I.

Barbara S. 10:34 PM  

@Pamela ***SB***
Thanks and kudos to you, too. I certainly understand what you meant by your 1:30 post -- yikes!

Nancy 10:46 PM  

@Teedmn just introduced me off-blog to song of the hermit thrush. I've changed my mind. That's my choir soloist. Really lovely. Thanks, @Teedmn.

L E Case 10:50 PM  

If anyone knows this constructor, can they thank them from the bottom of my heart for starting out the puzzle with Dark Lady?

Frantic Sloth 2:41 AM  

@albatross shell 655pm I was correcting the error in my previous comment where it was autocompleted as California Wren. Hence the bold & italics for extra emphasis. I harbor no ill will toward any bird. ❤️๐Ÿฆข๐Ÿฆœ๐Ÿฆš๐Ÿฆƒ๐Ÿ“๐Ÿฆฉ๐Ÿ•Š❤️

Jenny Hubbard 3:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DigitalDan 2:28 PM  

Plink is a piano sound.

Plonk is a wine.

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spacecraft 11:07 AM  

I'm surprised that so many of y'all have never bumped into MAHJONG. It's all over computer game sites; though that version, where you have to remove pairs of tiles from a shaped layout, is a far cry from the actual game, which closely resembles rummy. However, the tile pictures are the same.

A NORTHWIND blew some FROST across this grid, a welcome relief from the southern Nevada AUGUST which is averaging daily highs of 110+ degrees.

The DOD stage is crowded today, but you had me at 1-across. It's not-so-dark lady CHER.

Pleasant, picturesque theme, a few clue twins and TWISTS (hey, it's Erik; he couldn't help himself), and another birdie.

thefogman 11:45 AM  

Erik Agar is a gift to puzzledom.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Some of the clues didn't sit right with me: YELLS for 64A? CHEERS, sure, CHANTS, why not, but YELLS? If you say so.

I've never heard of TWISTS as a hairstyle... just braiding or braids but the internet says it's common enough. Come to think of it, is a WEAVE really a hairstyle? It's an extension of your hair that you would then style in some way but is simply having a weave or not a style?

OUTTASIGHT (11D) AND BOOYA (12A) felt incredibly dated. Has to be at least 20 years since anyone used either unironically.

Overall, though, it's a Monday, it was easy, and I liked the themers.

Burma Shave 12:31 PM  

PLUMBLOSSOM ORNOT?

I'd ADD, "GOODFORYOU, man,
STUD you're ONATEAR,
first that STAR Lindsay LOHAN,
then ENYA and CHER!?"

--- ARIEL LANG

rondo 1:00 PM  

In answer to the question from @Coniuratos 2:09 AM who asked - Is PLUMBLOSSOM really that difficult when you've got "prunus" and "flower" sitting right there in the clue?
No, it simplifies it to the point of gimme.

But all in all this seemed like a tougher than usual Mon-puz. I've never seen a MAHJONG set, but I guess the game was popular once. I remember Mad magazine making plenty of jokes about it.

For those of you who thought clue for WREN was tricky, I suggest you stay AFAR distance from the Harper's puzzle.

Oh so many choices, but I'll go with the other one-named singer - ENYA.

This was up there with the BEST of Mondays.

rainforest 1:11 PM  

A Monday puzzle that was a bit tougher than usual, but once you get the MAH- at the start of the revealer, the puzzle fell. Actually, with a little bump in the cluing in the four corners, this could have been a Wednesday. Regardless, nice to have a Monday that put up a little fight. Enough gimmes to make it work well.

Liked it.

Wooody2004 2:13 PM  

Trump's HIDEY-hole is otherwise known as The Bunker, where he goes whenever he wants to stay OUTTASIGHT.

BTW, it's BEEN a hot AUGUST in Seattle, with many TWISTS and turns and lotsa people ONATEAR.

NOVEL coronavirus with a TWIST of LyME.

leftcoaster 2:51 PM  

An Agard Monday Special.

Has a bit of everything: Easy and challenging; old and new; plain and cute; good long answers and few 3-letter fills; and something for everyone.

Thanks, Erik.

wcutler 4:31 PM  

@jberg 10:40 AM "Fun fact: cherries and plums share a genus. Fortunately “cherry BLOSSOM” wouldn’t fit."
Peaches and apricots share the genus too, but they also didn't fit.

@Barbara S. 12:10 PM: thnaks for the link to the description of the solitaire game.

@Frank Lynch 1:46 PM Thanks for the link to the explanation of the Mah Jong scene.

Diana, LIW 7:47 PM  

My friend's mom and her friends used to play MAHJONG. All I remember was them betting "bem." Looked like fun

This puzzle was fun on a hot, hot, hot day - a string of 100's that are breaking records. So of course we had some carpet laid on the stairs today. Thank goodness for AC.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Monday Crosswords Hooray! OLE

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