Stress between you and your former lover / MON 8-24-20 / Undercoat of oil painting / Money to tide you over

Monday, August 24, 2020

Constructor: David Alfred Bywaters

Relative difficulty: slow for me at 3:21 (so "Medium-Challenging," I guess)

THEME: "your former lover" [shudder] — EX- words clued as if they have something to do with your "ex": 

Theme answers:
  • EXTENSION (17A: Stress between you and your former lover?)
  • EXCLAIM (26A: Thing your former lover said about you?)
  • EXCOMMUNICATION (41A: Former lover's text, e.g.?)
  • EXPOSES (51A: Former lovers' stances in photos?)
  • EXPENDING (66A: Current lover who seems suspiciously preoccupied?)
Word of the Day: ESTHER (21A: One of a pair of Old Testament books with female names) —
The Book of Esther (hebrew: מְגִלַּת אֶסְתֵּר, Megillat Esther), also known in Hebrew as "the Scroll" (Megillah), is a book in the third section (Ketuvim, "Writings") of the Jewish Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) and in the Christian Old Testament. It is one of the five Scrolls (Megillot) in the Hebrew Bible. It relates the story of a Hebrew woman in Persia, born as Hadassah but known as Esther, who becomes queen of Persia and thwarts a genocide of her people. The story forms the core of the Jewish festival of Purim, during which it is read aloud twice: once in the evening and again the following morning. The books of Esther and Song of Songs are the only books in the Hebrew Bible that do not mention God. (wikipedia)
• • •

The vibe on this one is very '70s, hey baby, have you met my lovvvvvuh hot tub etc. Something about the phrase "lover" has always rubbed me the wrong way—like, we get it, you're f***ing, dial it back. The whole thing felt some kind of weird thematic mash-up of Rupert Holmes' "Escape" and Ambrosia's "How Much I Feel":

You get a bunch of free EX-s (once you grasp the theme), but then the whole weirdness of the "?" clues makes it harder than a usual Monday, so I don't know, maybe difficulty-wise that comes out as a wash. For me, the "?" stuff, and the reparsing it entailed, made it more Tuesday than Monday for me. I don't think I fully grasped any of the themers as I was solving them. I was just dimly aware that they were phrases where an EX was doing something, but the answers themselves were just EX words, so I just got crosses and sort of waited for an EX word to appear that looked like it had something vaguely to do with the content of the theme clue. Found the whole thing repetitive and a little boring. I also got weirdly held up in the north, where 5A: Oaf, ugh, that could be like two thousand things, and the first one thousand I guessed were wrong (LOUT was my main guess). Also had Hop TO IT, not ON IT—"Hop TO IT" feels way way way more idiomatically correct to my ears, especially as a command. Super-annoying to have the clue on the crappy fill be the thing that throws you off. ON IT could be clued so much more clearly and cleanly. And cluing OTOH as merely "transition" slowed me down too (7D: Texter's transition); no hint there that it's an abbr. One more slow-down at COSMOS, where the clue ... just did nothing for me (54A: Absolutely everything). I'm focusing on slow-downs because nothing else about the puzzle (after the "lovvvvvvuh" stuff) seemed remarkable.

[Only Prince may say "lover"]

IN TWO *and* IN TOW? That's ... bold. I teach Shakespeare not infrequently and still canNot keep all the Italian men's names straight to save my life. ANTONIO, sure, sounds right (25D: Villain in Shakespeare's "The Tempest"). Again, just got some crosses and waited for something familiar to arise. Don't think of TEA (like, black tea, normal tea, tea) as a "throat soother"—that's more "herbal tea." Did not expect something as generic as MESS for 42D: Target of a cleanup. "Target your mess with a cleanup, children!" Meh. REUNE will always be an awful word. Wish there were more fun things in this grid to talk about. Alas. Bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


David Eisner 12:29 AM  

"(7D: Texter's transition); no hint there that it's an abbr." I feel like text-speak can be assumed to be an abbreviation, tbh.

Eniale 1:06 AM  

@Ttrimble: How interesting that you just heard "Amazing Grace" for the first time. I need to refer you to President Obama's rendering of that during the funeral after the Charleston church massacre. That was truly, tragically beautiful.

Anonymous 1:44 AM  

Loved it. Super cute theme!

jae 2:01 AM  

Medium-tough, but a had to fix a typo in the center in the middle of my solve which threw me off.

Cute and smooth, liked it.

Brett 2:03 AM  

Why does the last themer mention *current* lover? “Current lover who seems suspiciously preoccupied?”

goldbug 2:11 AM  

I liked it quite a lot, apart from REUNE (there is no way that's a word, no matter what your Merriam Webster says). The last themer in particular gave me a genuine chuckle.

Coniuratos 2:38 AM  

Pretty fun. There's got to be a better clue for MAINE, though. Like yeah, I get that it's the capital, but there are a lot of Augustas in the US. And I don't even follow golf, but the (much larger) Augusta, Georgia, with the golf tournament is definitely the one that comes to mind.

chefwen 2:39 AM  

Best Monday puzzle in a long time, really enjoyed it. I truly did laugh or grin with all the theme answers. Had I to pick, I think EX TENSION would be my favorite with a close second EX PENDING.

Good one DAB, we need more Mondays like this.

Ann Howell 3:12 AM  

Felt more like a Tuesday, REUNE is awful, but other than that enjoyed the theme, especially with the cute ending!

Anonymous 4:35 AM  

A difficult monday, but EXPENDING actually made me chuckle which is a rare for a crossword.

BarbieBarbie 4:39 AM  

Thanks @Brett. I was mystified by the last themer clue too but your question cleared it up. You know your current lover is about to be your EX, I guess, because of the suspicious preoccupation. So your breakup is PENDING. I hadn’t noticed the “current” part of the clue until you pointed it out.
Fun puzzle, must have been in my wheelhouse, I found it easyish.

mathgent 4:49 AM  

ERDOS appeared in the puzzle last week, stimulating quite a bit of discussion here. When I think of Paul Erdos, I think of the Erdos-Szekeres theorem. There is a good Wikipedia article on it.

One of the simplest examples of the theorem is that any sequence of the integers 1 through 10 either has an increasing subsequence of four numbers or a decreasing subsequence of four numbers. The proof of the theorem using the pigeonhole principal is one of the most beautiful in all of mathematics. If you would like to see the proof applied to the example above, send me an email.

Conrad 5:22 AM  

@Brett: I think the "current" lover reference was because they're not your ex yet, but they're your "pending" ex.

ChuckD 6:12 AM  

Agree with Rex that although this went pretty quickly - felt more like a Tuesday. Started plugging in EX after the second themer - that’s never fun. I didn’t necessarily get a 70s vibe out of this - didn’t really get much of anything. Capital trivia with MAINE and ALASKA was odd. REUNE will get hammered here and rightly so. Didn’t mind the clue for COSMOS and liked how it crosses LENTILS. Other than that - there’s not a lot of great fill here.

Average puzzle to start the week.

Anonymous 6:19 AM  

@Brett. “Current” lover because they’re about to be a former lover. That’s why they’re preoccupied. So, they’re an ex pending the break-up that is, uh, impending.

That said, like Rex, thought the themes were strained and not much fun.

Hungry Mother 6:42 AM  

About average speed. The themers had an obvious beginning but were a tad more difficult to figure out. Limited number of names made for a nice Monday.

Lewis 6:49 AM  

The first four theme answers about the former lover had me thinking that the fifth would be the same, but no, EXPENDING was a surprise ending about the current lover, and very funny -- the perfect punch line that brought out a big "Hah!". More than just wordplay, and kudos for that, DAB.

Furthermore, the grid was not just junk-lite, a very nice set of answers. I got a big kick out of this Monday offering, and thank you for making it, David!

Why the relationship with your former lover ended? EXCHANGED
Who ended it, you or your former lover? EXTERMINATED

TTrimble 7:07 AM  

That's not what I said. I was echoing Rex's speculation on whether the naming of the TV show (The) Amazing Race was at all influenced by the name of the hymn. On a conservative estimate, the hymn I've heard scores and scores of times (including Obama's rendition). In fact I find it a little overplayed and I'm a little tired of it.

Today's crossword seemed overall competently constructed; maybe a bit harder than a usual Monday. 66A bugs me greatly: while solving I completely elided over the past/current switcheroo and had EXPENsIve at first; it seemed to me then that "pensive" works much, much better for "suspiciously preoccupied" than PENDING, to the point where I wondered whether the constructor had originally tried "expensive" and forgot to reclue later. On rising and seeing both "current" and the ex-planations from others to @Brett, I now view the clue-cum-answer to 66A as a real groaner -- just awful, really. Just my opinion.

Yesterday was a pleasant day for NYT puzzles, including the cryptic by the usual acrostic constructors, Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon. I've been a fan of them for years.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

I feel like this is a day where Rex, as a speed solver, missed out on a lot of the pleasure from this puzzle. If your approach to the themers is to put in 'EX' and wait on crosses, you are missing the joy of thinking about the theme clues and appreciating the theme answers.


"Yeah, that'll ever happen" does not sound SARCASTIC to me - I feel like it would normally be said without the cruelty implied in SARCASTIC. It's a phrase I might use to commiserate, rather than to mock.

Joe Welling 7:35 AM  

I think 66A was an edit. It formerly was clued "Former lover who seemed suspiciously preoccupied," with the answer EXPENSIVE. When it was changed to "Current lover," the "suspiciously preoccupied" part could have (and should have) been changed to anything that might lead to a break up.

JD 7:48 AM  

Started slow in the NW but once that corner broke and Extension built out, the rows fell like dominoes.

However, this classic is bound to run though my head today:

"The problem is all inside your head," she said to me
"The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to leave your lover"

Clueless 7:51 AM  

66A - prefer EXPENSIVE

Mary S 7:52 AM  


pabloinnh 7:56 AM  

The "preoccupied" part of the 66A entry had me wanting EX-PENSIVE for too long, as both involve thinking, I think, but that was a minor snag in an otherwise enjoyable Monday puzzle. It does seem a little too clever, maybe, for a Monday, but that's OK by me.

Thanks, DAB. You can be on my Monday team any time.

Frayed Knot 8:06 AM  

Light-hearted fun. I esp. liked the 4th themer. It reminds me of the joking way to introduce your girlfriend as your "future ex-wife".

The clue for axe was a reminder of the quirks of the English language.

Sly way for the constructor to slip in his monogram at 67D.

kitshef 8:08 AM  

@JF - my musical companion from today:

'Time and again I tell myself
I'll stay clean tonight
But the little green wheels are following me

Oh no, not again

I'm stuck with a valuable friend
"I'm happy. Hope you're happy, too."
One flash of light
But no smoking pistol'

Odd Sock 8:11 AM  

The theme got me wondering how many exes are being created by the lock-down.

Geoff B 8:11 AM  

I’m relatively new - about 13 minutes to solve. I actually enjoyed this puzzle.

Ernonymous 8:19 AM  

I enjoyed the write-up. Rex can be hilarious. I love his hatred for the word "lover" and it's so true, we know you're schtupping, dial it back!!!

Mickey Bell 8:19 AM  

Hop to it. Get on it. Not hop on it. Toneless clue cost me at least a minute.

pmdm 8:30 AM  

Gee I found this one Monday easy while some here did not. I'm surprised.

Jeff says this could have been a POW, implying that one later in the week is indeed a POW. Something to look forward to.

Andrea 8:32 AM  

On days like this I reslly miss LMS. Where is she?? Haven’t seen her posting in a while.
Knowing she was going back to school I truly hope she’s fine 🤞🏼

Dave Saltzman 8:43 AM  

I liked the theme, but disliked REUNE and ONIT. It was a fun puzzle to solve. My theory of why EXPENDING was used over EXPENSIVE in the southeast corner is that the D is part of DAB (67 Down), which happen to be the initials of the constructor.

David Andrew Saltzman

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Yeah, if LMS started her own blog, tell us where.

William of Ockham 9:05 AM  

First post David: Texting implies ABBR's, OTOH if you don't text, IDK

V Easy, decent Monday NYT today GESSO may not be NewbMonday stuff

Lewis 9:11 AM  

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

1. Request that's risky if you're over 18? (3)(2)
2. 17 and 18, but not 19 or 20 (5)
3. Island locale (7)
4. Flipper (7)
5. Show stoppers? (7)


Carola 9:14 AM  

A fun one, with a clever theme and an extra jolt of wit at EXPENDING, demanding from me a "Wait, what?" Until I got it. Just the kind of crossword reward I love, and pretty rare on a Monday, I think. I also enjoyed the long Downs, the BASS DRUM and SCULPTURE and especially the idea of SARCASTIC CHICKENS.

wordie 9:14 AM  

I think EXPENSIVE clued as preoccupied former lover could be made to work better

Erdos was a moron 9:15 AM  

1 10 9 2 3 8 7 4 6 5

Xcentric 9:17 AM  

Enjoyed the puns.
Clueing straightforward.
True, a few could have gone two ways (hop on it, hop to it) but the crosses were easy enough to sort it out fairly quickly.
Agree that reune is a terrible word, but hey, sculpture wasn’t a hard cross and now I can add reune to my crosswordese list.
All in all, a fun solve.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

"He's my lover." is so much better than the dreadful "I'm sleeping with him."

Rique Beleza 9:39 AM  

“Found the whole thing repetitive and a little boring.”

This is how I feel about this blog lately...

jberg 9:42 AM  

I had EXPENsIve first, but it’s not funny. EXPENDING is the punchline for the whole puzzle.

jberg 9:55 AM  

The theme was fun. And the states! Should have been more of them. OTOH, way too many partials—to clue things like DEO, WOE, EDWARD. And I’m with Rex re: ON IT. Hop ON IT means yo join an ongoing project; get to work is hop to IT.

To ETCH something is to eat away parts of it with acid. If you are wielding a chisel, you’re engraving.

TTrimble 9:58 AM  

There are very few good options in English for replacing "lover" with something else. "We're sleeping together" is too blunt for any but private conversations. My mom used to try "paramour", but that's just as if not more cringe-y, with a side order of pompous. "We're seeing each other" gets the idea across and allows listeners to draw their own conclusions without a lot of fuss. But a single word would be nice.

I'm surprised that no one, Rex in particular, recalled the SNL sketch series "The Lov-ahs", played by Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch. Here's a sample to refresh your memory.

Suicide Blonde 10:15 AM  

I watch a lot of old movies (30s and 40s) and enjoy the use of "making love" that I hear a lot. For example, the lady might respond to flirting by asking "Are you making love to me?" It sounds so polite but sexy at the same time.

TJS 10:18 AM  

@jberg, exactly. And I'm ashamed that I did not grok it until I got here. Just thought it was a crummy answer, not the best in the puzzle.

Way better than the average Monday, IMO. And some new hilarity from Rex,
uncomfortable with the word "lover". So upset the ole English perfessor called it "a phrase". This is obviously not a Monday set up for the time travelers. Too many misdirects, and they miss out on trying to guess the theme answers.

Weird that @Lewis fab five included 2 that I hated the most.

Pray for New Orleans, if that's your style.

Frantic Sloth 10:23 AM  

Is it me or does this puzzle seem like editing took a holiday?

How is 66A EXPENDING? That clue is a stretch for Elastigirl. Never mind - even she wouldn't bother reaching for it.

***CORER Warning***
Chefs only!!

11D Like "Yeah, that'll ever happen"??? So, Yeah and That'll walk into a unLike them. Yeah, it's a stretch even 66A wouldn't make. The point is there needs to be a "like" between "yeah" and "that'll" for that sentence to work. This is just IMHO because SARCASTIC? What do I know from SARCASTIC?

Speaking of...anyone else have a problem with 33D? I had P_R but needed the cross and _XCOMMUNICATION was no help.
Ha ha - I kid the Mondee puzzle!

[tap tap tap] Is this thing on?

Congrats to all the ANONs for the 70A nod.

Seriously, in all TRUEthiness, it was a great little Mondee puzzle with a cute theme and enough gimmes and posers to whet the confidence and curiosity of new solvers. Were I one, I would have loved this.

Alas, I am not. 😔


Larry 10:25 AM  

I used to work with a girl who was a major prima donna and huffed and puffed at being assigned anything outside her usual stuff. She moved in with her boyfriend. So I would always refer to her BF as her "lover". "oh, you went to the movies this weekend, did you go with your lover?" annoyed the hell out of her.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Speaking of messes, Rex your write up today is a hot one.
Anyone could make any clue or answer sound absurd if you write a sentence designed to do so. "Target your mess with a cleanup, children!" is a pretty good example. What mothers have said since the dawn of housing is " Clean up your (bed)room. It's a mess" The target would be clear from that perfectly natural construction. Instead, you contrive some bizarre construction to prove a grievance. That's what we call a Texas bullseye. And it's unconvincing.

johnk 10:32 AM  

Easy. Just picked up my pen and filled it out, like I was at the doctor's office filling out a medical history form. Only one write-over: CORER over PARER.

Nancy 10:36 AM  

Playful and smooth, with no junk fill. A very pleasant Monday.

kitshef 10:38 AM  

@Erdos was a moron said 9:15

Sequence does not imply consecutive. So in your example, 1-2-3-4-5 is an example of a 5-long ascending sequence, and 10-9-8-7-6-5 is an example of a 6-long descending sequence.

egsforbreakfast 10:39 AM  

@Coniuratos 2:38 am. “There’s got to be a better clue for MAINE”.

Yes, there are zillions of ways to clue it more obviously. But this was a teensy bit of a mis-direct, since most people would probably first think of the home of the Masters tournament upon seeing Augusta. It’s one of the ways that constructors keep crosswords more interesting than just “fill in the blank” exercises.

Former lover’s beer - Exporter
Former lover,s farm equipment - Extractor
Former lover’s seasonal rites - Extraditions

Whatsername 10:41 AM  

Really enjoyed this one more than the usual Monday but also had a little more difficulty with it. I could see the same theme on a Thursday with the EX part missing or in the black squares. Still, it was very cleverly done this way to make it suitable for a Monday and easier for beginners. EXPENDING was delightful, as @jberg said, almost like a punchline. My ex-hubby and I still keep in touch, by what I’ve always referred to as extext ... not to be confused with textlax.

This is the kind of word game I enjoy as opposed to spelling bee which drives me up the wall. A few other fun possibilities:

Grounds for Divorce. EXTORT
Former lover on stage. EXACTING
Former lover lifting weights. EXPRESSING
Former lover made assumptions. EXPOSTULATED
Former lover in a trial separation. EXTEMPORARILY
Former lover still cares. EXTENDER

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

I found it very easy, in the sense of needing only a few crosses to get the not-on-first-try. And REUNE is not a word. My fave is EXCOMMUNICATION. In addition to the obvious, there's the RC church practice of annulment, which is sort of the same thing, but in two ways:
1 - if granted, then the parties have, in the biblical sense, not COMMUNICATED, if you get my drift.
2 - if not granted, and one or both parties remarries, they risk being EXCOMMUNICATed. (perhaps less so today?)

JC66 10:56 AM  

@egs & @Whats

Good ones!

Frantic Sloth 11:09 AM  

LOL! @Rex I knew something was pecking at me beneath the surface, but it didn't hit me until that first paragraph. Nailed it.

@BarbieBarbie 439am [smacks forehead] Ohhh! See? Now that makes sense! Thank you!! Sometimes, the brain training wheels reattach themselves and I have to learn a new direction. I just love it when I'm stupid in such a public way - à la my previous rant.
No more callers, please - we have a winner! I dream.

@Carola 914am LOL! - SARCASTIC CHICKENS. "Yeah, like we taste like everything."

@TTrimble 958am "But a single word would be nice." How about "together" or "an item" (two words, but they're short!) or "boinking"? Maybe not that last one...

@Whatsername 1041am "... not to be confused with textlax." Awww! Thank you. ☺️ And what a great EX list by you (and others, but I especially like yours). The low-hanging fruit in my failing-the-breakfast-test is EXLax, but the clueing possibilities are ew.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Reune IS a word!

WA 11:23 AM  

One of the better recent puzzles.

Z 11:32 AM  

Don’t ask me what or where, but I recently saw a movie or TV show where a character used REUNE and my immediate thought was “they are a crossword solver.” Don’t know if “they” was the writer or if “they” was the actor, but you know I’m right.

@David Eisner - Agreed.

@Coniuratos - The MAINE clue is intentionally trying to misdirect you. See also “which coast this time” Portland.

@mathgent - I need to know what makes a sequence a sequence before I can even begin to get my head around the problem.

@TTrimble - I remember thinking “how have you never heard that song.” Something in the way you constructed the sentence required reparsing it in my head to get your meaning.

@kitshef - I don’t think it has anything to do with “speed-solving.” Lots of times, although not usually on a Monday, my strategy for a befuddling theme is to look at other cues and patterns first rather than pound my head against a theme conceit that just isn’t coming. That’s how I sussed out the time theme last week. That’s just solving to me.

@Anon9:27 - Or, you know, not share details about your sex life. “Significant other,” “partner,” “spouse,” or even “fiancé” (apparently increasingly popular even when there are no actual wedding plans) all seem perfectly cromulent without needing to let everyone know whether or not he gives you a WAP (now there’s an acronym we’re not going to see in the NYTX anytime soon).

@TJS - Prayers? I’d really prefer a government that knows how to prepare and respond for disasters. Prayers are for things beyond our control.

I enjoyed the puns. Thought the switch to “current” was a little too predictable, and the whole notion that one would be suspicious of your lover when they are pre-occupied feels a little needy. Yeah yeah, maybe they are steeling up their nerves to dump you, or maybe they have a life outside the schtupping. I see others like the punchline, it just felt a little too obvious to me. This has happened before, where catching on to a theme too early sort of destroys the “aha” moment. The journey is an integral part of the enjoyment.

TTrimble 11:33 AM  

---[SB Alert]---

QB! That's two in a row for me, although today's solve was not as pleasurable as yesterday's.

I think it's definitely in range of the SB-ers out there. There could be a few cases where you go, "really, that's considered acceptable?", but really nothing too outrageous. Give it a try!

What? 11:48 AM  

Clever and fun for Monday but not diverting for experienced solvers.
EXPENDING is a bit clumsy. I would use EXPENSIVE, former lover deep in thought.

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Fun theme. As @Whatsername pointed out, many neat themer possibilities to contemplate.
har. @RP can at least be thankful that the themer list in the puz didn't go all-goth, and use: EX-CITED, EX-PRESSED, EX-TRACTIONED, EX-ASPIRATED, EX-POUNDED and EX-TERMINATED.

staff weeject pick: AXE. Better clue: {One former lover in retreat due to ex-pounding??}.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Come-___ (enticements)} = ONS.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Bywaters. Great job. Hope yer marriage is goin ok?

Masked & Anonymo4Us

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Are we obligated to tell others if we're:

Doin' it
Dancing the horizontal tango
Doin' the nasty
Exchanging fluids
Hiding the salami
Being intimate
living in sin
Knocking boots
Sweatin' up the sheets

How about minding our own business and let others mind theirs.

Joe Dipinto 12:59 PM  

@Whatsername – c'mon, EXTENDER is alimony payments.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

@TT. You brag and then tell others they can probably do it, too. Just a little condescending.

albatross shell 1:04 PM  

Theme amusing. Nice location for the constructor's monogram.

Yes, people's lives and living arraangements have surpassed the words available to politely and comfortably designate them with social ease.

Which brings me to my minority report for the day. REUNE. Not a scrabble word. In the usage dictionaries. Aesthetically ugly at first seeing and hearing. And yes the whole transformation of nouns into verbs. But if you work involves organizing reunions would you not appreciate a verb meaning "to hold a reunion"? It saves a lot of superfluous verbiage. And isn't far better than the -ize type of formation. Yes, my first reaction was negative. But a little thought, dangerous though it can be, changed my mind. Say it a few times. Reune reune we reune in June. You have a better suggestion?

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

Pish-tosh on Rex's pooh-poohing of this DAB puzzle. If you solve DAB's weekly puzzles, as I have been doing for several years, you know that DAB specializes in clever themes in easy formats. And his recommendations of Victorian novels are always interesting, along with the artwork he links alongside them.

BOOR is likely to be his go-to word for an oaf, BOOR being a much more elegant word than "jerk". Refinement of usage seems to be a side effect of DAB's penchant for Victorian novels, in my opinion.

As for this being difficult, I finished well under my Monday average so perhaps that is coloring my feelings about it. I am embarrassed to admit that I missed the whole joke of the EX-PENDING - solving as fast as you can (though not that fast by Rex standards) means you don't read all of the clues. I missed the "current" part of the 66A clue and was thinking EX-tENDING would work better for a wacky ex- clue. Thank you, commentariat, for EX-tENDING my enjoyment of this puzzle.

Mr. Bywaters, thanks for the Monday treat and all of your other puzzles!

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

@kitshef, thanks for the "Ashes to Ashes" quote - I love that song.

And @M&A, I enjoyed your pointing out how gruesome this theme could have been.

old timer 1:24 PM  

A very amusing puzzle, and one of the best Mondays in a while. I too wanted "ex pensive" before the far funnier EX PENDING.

(I kmew EX's sister Pat once).

Z 1:30 PM  

@albatross shell - As elegant an explanation of verbification as one will ever find.

@anon12:59 - Wow. Just guessing that you have no idea why you should be embarrassed by that post.

It’s not @TJS’s fault, but his (perfectly reasonable) prayer request combined with Liberty University’s Board’s request for prayers today just tapped out my cynicism quota for today. Plus covfefe is in town today. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬
And, just to be clear, it’s not the sex, it’s the hypocrisy.

Ben 1:43 PM  

It's always fun, when playing the puzzle, to try to guess what random word Rex will take inexplicable umbrage with. I wouldn't have thought "lover" would be the one to get his panties into a twist.

JD 1:48 PM  

@Z, I play an addictively stupid game called Word Ferret. It's kind of like Boggle if you remember that. I think it uses the OED because there are few words it won't accept, and it does accept REUNE.

@Everyone, Augusta is the capitol of Maine. Which reminds me of hastily studying the states and capitols on the way to school in the fifth(?) grade. I think I manage to memorize my way to a B. Finally, it came in handy.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

if your a sports fan, then you've seen adverts for The Masters in the last week or so, thus the knee jerk need to write in GEORGIA, which, of course, doesn't fit. where the hell else could it be??? oh, one of them thar evil Blue States.

GaryMac 2:10 PM  

*** SB Alert ***
@TTrimble 11:33. That's two in a row for me as well. Overall it did seem to be a more mundane set of words than yesterday's interesting assortment. My last entry was along the lines of "I'll try this. I think it might be a word" and it was. Kinda like "I didn't know I knew that." I had to Google it afterward to see what it really was.

albatross shell 2:40 PM  

Ultimately language exists to serve the conveniences and purposes of people using it. Changes should not cause incoherence. REUNE does not even if "une" has no meaning. Maybe someday we will une all workers.

I am curious about your comment. Since I consider my explanation a bit inelegant even by my standards my first thought was he's throwing shade. Or maybe he is saying there is no elegance in verbification. And either way, he has not revealed his opinion of this
particular case: tolerance, intolerance, surrender.
As with thinking, asking questions can be dangerous. Who knows?

DigitalDan 2:42 PM  

Solving a crossword in the time it takes most people to type it from solved copy is, I would think, like downing a shot with a water chaser. How would one claim to have experienced it at all? Possibly my inability ever to emulate, should one want to, comes from my habit of trying to do all the acrosses in order and then returning for the downs, but I still don't see how it's possible Impressive, in any case.

Eniale 3:03 PM  

@ttrimble - Sorry I misunderstood!

*SB* Yes I made QB too, much easier than usual.

Pamela 3:25 PM  

I’m late to the party today, and haven’t yet read you all. I’m surprised that Rex found it slow- for me it was easy- peasey. Wheelhouse, I guess.

Only one thing stands out: I got stuck at 66A for a quick second or six, with EXPENsIve. Preoccupied to me is much more pensive than pending, no?

Otherwise, crosses corrected over-confident entries where applicable, and my time was only slightly longer than last Monday- 4 Rexes instead of 3. Not that I usually notice, or care. I only know because the app keeps track, and I only use the app so that I can do the puzzle the night before.

Pamela 3:28 PM  

OK, just read the first few entries, and I get it about PENDING now. And yes, it’s the best one.

Grouch 3:57 PM  

My god! Have some of you been living in your basements? What's all this pissing and moaning about Augusta, Maine. Georgia doesn't even fit the puzzle! This is the most run of the mill clue of run of the mill clues.

Barbara S. 4:12 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Wow, I was never going to get that difficult pangram...and I didn't. I also missed FRITTATA, which I should have found, so one head-scratcher and one head-banger.

But I got QB today -- yay! So happy to see a bunch of other Queens on the blog. Love all the glitter!

Whatsername 5:27 PM  

@jc66 and @Frantic: Thanks!

@Joe Dipinto: Alimony payments made me laugh. Kinda like EXTENDER warranty. 😄

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

It couldn't have been "hot to it" when the clue was "get *to* work"

Anoa Bob 5:34 PM  

Cute theme but not hard to come up with numerous EX amples, as earlier commenters have shown, especially when yous don't have to worry about matching letter-counts. That's one of the most challenging parts of coming up with a themed puzzle. Not only do you need theme candidates that work, that fit the theme tightly, but each themer must have a letter-count that matches its symmetrically placed themer (unless it's in the center row or column).

There's a way around this, a short cut, if you will, that makes it easier to get matching letter-counts. EXCLAIM, for example, has seven letters while EXPOSE has only six. POC to the rescue. Tack on an S to EXPOSE to boost its count. Problem solved. But that's a little too easy and is always points off for my rating of the puzzle.

Warning: If you try your hand at constructing, you may start to notice these sorts of things that normal, sensible people don't pay any attention to. Another EX ample: ON/ICE, CHICKEN/KEY, and SIGN/BET all share a final S. With each pair, you get two POCs with one S. Very convenient for filling the grid.

Since I started noticing this stuff, I can't un-notice it. It's like a curse. So I go looking for soothing balm elsewhere in the grid. Ah, there it is, COSMOS. Two of my science heroes are Alexander von Humboldt who wrote his treatise on the nature of the physical world Kosmos in the mid 1800s and Carl Sagan who did his COSMOS TV series a little over a century later. Sagan defined COSMOS as everything that ever was, everything that is and everything that ever will be. Yeah that did the trick, I feel en-balmed.

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

I've been wondering, too. Anybody know?

jae 6:33 PM  

@Z - the Cardi B song showed up on the Thurs. BEQ

@TTrimble - I also misread your comment about the song.

@Anon 9:27 - Beau and swain are also descriptive

*****SB Alert *****
Missed yesterday’s by 2 but @Barbara S. I also I don’t think I would have come up with the pangram. Today, however, me too for QB.

RooMonster 7:23 PM  

Hey All !
Liked todays puz. Forgot to comment on it! A bit of a crunch for a MonPuz. Neat themers.

***SB Readers Only***
Hey SBers. Congrats to all the Q's being crowned. I haven't commented on it in a while, because it's been kicking my butt lately. Embarrassed to tell you the last time I got Q. However, I did get the pangram YesterBee *pats self on back* and also got it today. Have to boost myself up somehow!
***SB Over***


pabloinnh 7:42 PM  


Congratulations to all and sundry. I behold your works and despair.

(I quit at Genius, as I had had enough fun by then.)

Unknown 8:30 PM  

Never heard of REUNE before. Apart from that, this was a delightful puzzle. Perfect for a Monday.

JC66 8:39 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Yes, congrats to all the QBs today.

I'm watching the basketball playoffs and I'm 2 short (2 4 letter words).

You've motivated me so I'll keep trying during time outs.

JC66 9:39 PM  

****SB Alert****

Well, I'm one short of QB, but, like @pabloinnh, I've lost patience and I'm throwing in the towel.

JC66 9:42 PM  

LOL, I just checked nybee, and the word I missed is the last word.

TTrimble 10:29 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Congrats to @jae, @Barbara S., @Eniale, @GaryMac. :-)

Yeah, I feel ya. I count the words numbered 5, 7, 19, 26, and the one you mention as arguably a little dodgy, a little unclean. (Obviously I can't go into more detail at the moment.)

Pamela 10:39 PM  

****SB ALERT*******

@JC66- I’m where you are, 1 short, and I’m done for the day. I wonder if we’re missing the same one,

Giskarrrd 11:05 PM  

Yikes. Having never heard the expression “the gift of GAB”, nor of GESSO (thinking I had heard of dESSO though) really screwed me up here - tripled my usual Monday time,

jackson marcus 11:26 AM  

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thefogman 9:51 AM  

I too had EXPENsIve before EXPENDING. It made me pause for a bit, but now I get it. Somewhat challenging for a Monday. Not one of the NYT’s EPICS, but not bad either.

Burma Shave 10:01 AM  


IN EXCOMMUNICATION so gut-wrenchin’,
TRUE, SHE’S had SKILL at sex,
now just a SARCASTIC EX,
from my PAST: an EXPENDING my pension.


Diana, LIW 12:28 PM  

X's and O's to Monday puzzles - they cast a fun spell on the rest of the week.

Thanks to @Teed's dad for teaching me about GESSO - once again it came in quite handy.

Di, LIW for Crosswords and Art

thefogman 1:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
leftcoaster 2:52 PM  

Just enough grit in this one to make it interesting, evocative.

Enough to stir mixed memories of bygone relationships, "Exes" one might say, some of whom I knew in the NORTH, in ALASKA. Faulkner said the past isn't dead, it's not even past. How right he was.

Liked the puzzle, BTW.

rondo 5:31 PM  

I had an EX-sighting a few months ago, not particularly exciting I must EXCLAIM. Nice Mon-puz where the constructor got to put in his DAB initials - vanity or happenstance? Did anybody mention the INUSE INTWO INOTOW trilogy; are there 'rules' ORNOT? RENEE Zellweger, SHES yeah baby AGAIN. Good enough puz for beginners' SKILL.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  


rondo 8:13 PM  

Had my arm rebuilt some years ago. Typing is sometimes problematic.

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