Criticize Sega's hedgehog design / MON 9-28-20 / Priestly Gaul or Celt / Small lobsterlike crustacean

Monday, September 28, 2020

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy (2:42) 

THEME: "verb A noun" — common words are clued as if they were three-word verb phrases with the second word "A":

Theme answers:
  • PROPAGATE (18A: Support the pasture entrance?)
  • CARDAMOM (24A: Check someone's parent to make sure she's of drinking age?)
  • METAPHYSICIAN (37A: Was introduced to the doctor?)
  • CASTANET (53A: Do some trawling at sea?)
  • PANASONIC (60A: Criticize Sega's hedgehog design?)
Word of the Day: CARDAMOM (24A) —
Cardamom (/ˈkɑːrdəməm/), sometimes cardamon or cardamum, is a spice made from the seeds of several plants in the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to the Indian subcontinent and Indonesia. They are recognized by their small seed pods: triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin, papery outer shell and small, black seeds; Elettaria pods are light green and smaller, while Amomum pods are larger and dark brown. // Species used for cardamom are native throughout tropical and subtropical Asia. The first references to cardamom are found in Sumer, and in the Ayurvedic literatures of India. Nowadays it is also cultivated in GuatemalaMalaysia, and Tanzania. The German coffee planter Oscar Majus Klöffer introduced Indian cardamom to cultivation in Guatemala before World War I; by 2000, that country had become the biggest producer and exporter of cardamom in the world, followed by India. // Cardamom is the world's third-most expensive spice, surpassed in price per weight only by vanilla and saffron. [...] Cardamom has a strong, unique taste, with an intensely aromatic, resinous fragrance. Black cardamom has a distinctly more smoky, though not bitter, aroma, with a coolness some consider similar to mint. (wikipedia)
• • •

I finished this in "Easy" time, but the themers themselves were probably harder to get than your typical Monday themers. Question-mark clues always involve extra thought, and reparsings can be particularly tricky. Today's weren't exactly tough, but they might've been tough enough to slow you down a little. Luckily (if you enjoy solving quickly), the non-theme stuff was incredibly easy. I blazed through it with only slight hesitations here and there. The theme is solid, the fill anemic but inoffensive. It's a perfectly acceptable Monday effort. But here are the things that kept this theme from really sizzling. They are little things, but cumulatively, they cause a lot of wobble. Let's start with the tiniest thing—I'm really distracted by CAB A RET in what looks almost like a theme position (longer Across answer). CRAWDAD is the same length but doesn't bug me at all. Why? Because CRAWDAD doesn't sound like it follows the theme pattern (three-part phrase with "A" in the middle). Obviously CAB A RET is meaningless as a three-word phrase, but I'd've gutted my grid of all "blank A blank" words *except* the themers, just to ensure that they really pop. Next, the clue on CARDAMOM is really clunky. It's chiefly the "someone's parent" part. There's gotta be a better way to do that. It's clear that you're trying not to have "mom" or a synonym of "mom" in the clue, and that is very hard to do, but still, "someone's parent" feels vague and tortured. Also, all the reimagined verb phrases are in the present tense *except* MET A PHYSICIAN, which is past tense, which makes it a noticeable clanking outlier. Lastly, and worst of all, you can't use an indefinite article ("a") for SONIC. There's just the one. Unless there's a planet of hedgehogs, all named SONIC, that I don't know about. I get that the clue is asking you to imagine one of a bunch of potential designs, but that's pretty contrived. Other than all those things, the theme is fine. Just fine.

Guessed all the top Acrosses correctly on the first go, which (once again) may account for my faster-than-average Monday time. Actually, I didn't just get them immediately, I also got Every Single Down Cross immediately. So first three Acrosses, first thirteen Downs, very little hesitation. I was kind of methodical and slowish with my typing from there on out, and still came within 15 seconds or so of my record. The only answers I can remember not getting immediately and having to come back to are ORCHID, STIGMA, and CHAPEL. Looked at the ORCHID clue with only the "C" in place and nothing registered. Wanted something more Hawthorne-specific for the [Scarlet letter, e.g.] answer. And I guess I never gave the actual *size* of a CHAPEL any thought (45D: Small place of worship). Not much else to say about the fill here. It's very out-of-a-can. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

Clean, tight, and appropriate difficulty without boring me to tears - the ideal Mondee puzzle.
Fun theme with the _____a_____ format, but what's the meaning of CAB A RET? (both literal and idiomatic) 😉

Color me entertained.

Thanks to everyone who offered kind words and encouragement yesterday (both directly and indirectly). think I'd rather take an OPPORTUNITY to share a MARS bar with Judge TANEY than relive that rodeo. 😘


Joaquin 12:07 AM  

Five unrelated dad-puns. No revealer. Thud!

Pamela 12:22 AM  

Super easy, also very pleasant. I smiled at the themers as they appeared, thought, ‘Oh, that’s nice,’ and never slowed down. If an answer didn’t occur to me immediately, I just moved on until enough filled in to leave no doubt. I agree that CARD A MOM was awkwardly clued, but that nit is only worth mentioning because Rex did. Nothing spoiled this puzzle for me, it was a lovely Monday treat.

jae 12:55 AM  

Medium. Smooth and a nice example of the “mess with words” genre.

Liked it.

egsforbreakfast 1:24 AM  

CARDAMOM: ID Dad’s wife?

I know it’s not perfect, since the correct answer would be CARDMOM. However, Lynn Lempel’s theme clues aren’t correct in the same way. E.G. 18A (Support the pasture entrance), would really lead to the answer PROPtheGATE. To avoid using the word “A” in both the clue and answer, you are kinda forced to either this expedient or a verbose and awkward phrasing.

Anyway, other than that and “Send a sunbeam by taxi“ (CABARay), I thought this was a good, tight and fun Monday puz. Thanks, LL.

Loren Muse Smith 2:10 AM  

This did seem a little harder than my usual Monday. That cider or ale can go in a “mug” afforded an author “Moan” Didion. Oops.

I love any theme that makes the solver reconsider a word. My favorite was actually CARD A MOM. Rex, I see your point about CABARET, but I would have lived the rest of my life never having noticed that. Your point on PAN A SONIC is well taken; the guys who pan him could also banaNAS. Hah.

Loved the clue for ATE ‘cause it juxtaposes two seemingly opposite verb particles. Gobble it up. Gobble it down. The house burned up. The house burned down. Cool.

DJT before RAT. Well. In my mind.

ROAD RAGE is such a thing, right? I mean I’m a pretty nice person. I always leave a ri-di-cu-lous amount of wiggle room whenever I have to be somewhere. (Ridiculous as in sit in the car in the FedEx parking lot for twenty minutes ‘cause they’re not open yet and one minute before they open this man pulls up and goes and stands at the door and gets served first even though I was there way before he was anyway I digress.) So these factors notwithstanding, if I get behind a log truck or a tractor with no rear-view mirror, this spectacular rage washes over me. It’s awful. I morph into a small lobsterlike crustacean angrily waving my claw at the oblivious farmer. Dumb. I just need to chill.

Lynn – you always deliver. I’ma be thinking of themers all day.

“Throw your support behind a guerrilla leader?” BACKACHE
“Decant that Barolo?” PREPARED

chefwen 3:00 AM  

Oh @Loren I wish you hadn’t mentioned CHE in a positive note, you’re going to get @GILL I all riled up and rightly so.

I liked seeing MOM and DAD together, even if one of them wasn’t a theme answer. Very easy and very cute Monday puzzle. Ms. Lempel has them down pat. PAN A SONIC came out on top for me.

DavidP 4:27 AM  

PAN A SONIC makes sense if you’re aware of the redesign of the movie character after the trailer came out and fans panned the design of that Sonic (as opposed to the Sonic from the game).

Conrad 5:51 AM  

@Frantic: I missed all the vitriol yesterday. You go on posting just as you do, as many times as you want. Then post one extra for me. If the anonymice don't like it, let them go to another blog. Or to hell.

Lewis 5:54 AM  

Playful and delightful to me. The theme had me at PROPAGATE, at which I let out a “Hah!” at its silliness and randomness. There have been other themes before in which larger words were reparsed into smaller words that describe something, but never like this, so it felt new and sparkled with whimsy. And I love how METAPHYSICIAN rolls off the tongue. I believe this theme will charm new solvers into wanting to do more puzzles.

Monday cluing is all direct, so hopefully there are interesting answers, and there are! Those that hit my sweet spot are TACIT, ABUNDANT, STIGMA, CRAWDAD, DRUID and all the theme answers save for PANASONIC. I also smiled at ANNIE crossing MINOR.

LL’s bean does it again, a shining Monday beauty. You put me into a happy place once again, Lynn. Thank you very much!

tompdavis 6:10 AM  

If you don't know Didion's first name, MUG also works with 10D. I know MOAN is not a name but there are stranger ones... Would have had sub 5m if just for that.

ChuckD 6:18 AM  

Cute theme and clean, straightforward fill = perfectly fine Monday. The themers were a little corny - but got a snicker from me - CARDAMOM being my favorite. Had the same side eye as @Loren with the JOAN x JUG crossing - don’t like JUG and didn’t know JOAN. Majority of the fill is workmanlike- not a lot of sparkle. Always wonder whether a constructor like Ms Lempel has actually listened to Illmatic or does NAS come out of some database just to fit.

I’ll take this for a Monday.

Hungry Mother 6:46 AM  

DNF on a Monday? I raced through it incorrectly, having mUG instead of JUG. I coulda been a contender.

kitshef 6:50 AM  

I honestly do not believe I have ever seen an ORCHID in a corsage … although truth be told I have probably seen only a half-dozen corsages up close in my life.

Nice idea for a theme, but too easy. Got every one with no crosses.

Mrsshef and I were on a hiking vacation in Switzerland. Hearing a cuckoo in the wild was trippy … you think you are hearing a clock when out in the middle of nowhere, then realize that it is an actual cuckoo. Anyway, the last night we went to a fancy schmancy restaurant to celebrate (or whatever the word is) the end of the trip. The restaurant had a prix fixe menu. The choices for the main were scallops or HORSE … and either of us eat seafood. Fortunately, after some conferring they were able to do falafel.

OffTheGrid 6:58 AM  

This was a delightful Monday solve.

Regarding JUG vs mUG. mUG is only an alternative if there is an author out there named Moan Didion.

Z 7:07 AM  

@ChuckD - It Ain’t Hard to Tell

We all know what kind of fiction mOAN Didion writes.

JOAN/JUG is pretty natural, but mOAN/mUG would have been PPP free so just a teensy wee say itsy bitsy wee bit better. To my mind that makes the J more scrabble-foreplay.

My favorite themer was CASTANET because a little Alejandro Escovedo in the morning is always a good thing. “I like her better when she walks away” is the greatest “we’ve all been at that party” lines ever. (bonus points if you can identify the backing band in the video)

A solid Monday.

Blackhat 7:08 AM  

11 names, 1 foreign word.

Frantic Sloth 8:15 AM  

@kitshef 650am I believe the word you're looking for is beJOAN the end of a trip. 😉(Which sounded wonderful, BTW)

See also @Z's "scrabble fore-play" for additional entertainment-dollar value...assuming you're entertained. 🙄

pabloinnh 8:16 AM  

The cider/ale container went from KEG>MUG>JUG for me, producing some interesting first names, which was dumb, because I know JOAN Didion perfectly well.

Clue for CARDAMOM was OK because you need an indefinite person to go with the indefinite article. CABARET could either be "Give a taxi, or some red wine, to someone who is no longer working". Actually, no, no it couldn't, and I'm glad LL didn't even try that.

@LMS--Perhaps you should have been a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across silent seas. Or maybe that's what you had in mind and I'm just being redundant.

Very nice Monday, LL, for which thanks. I enjoyed it more than OFL, which is my wont.

Nancy 8:26 AM  

What a delight to finally have some cute wordplay rather than a pop culture trivia fest. A really nice Monday, smooth as can be, with no junk and no crosswordese. Some juicy un-Monday-ish fill like TACIT, STIGMA and DRUID. Here's one I'd give to new solvers: it won't frustrate or discourage them, but it won't bore them to death either.

It feels really strange to be enjoying a Monday puzzle so much more than the incomparably awful Saturday and Sunday that preceded it.

(@kitshef and @pmdm -- I responded to your Acrostic recommendation late on yesterday's blog.)

ChuckD 8:32 AM  

@Z - Pete Buck and all those Seattle dudes. In the early 80s knew McCaughey in the Young Fresh Fellows - but really never bought into that stuff. Don’t know the guy playing lead. Actually met Kelly Hogan who appears to be backing up and Neko Case after their set one night in the city - very cool people.

Escovedo is an enigma to me - really like his country lean but can’t listen to his bluesy/rock stuff. Gravity is still my favorite of his - probably because of the steel sound.

Lewis 8:40 AM  

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

1. Shake, as one's tail (5)
2. [More tuna, please] (4)
3. Force feed (7)
4. Unbiased opinion, e.g. (8)
5. Collection of seeds? (7)


RooMonster 8:41 AM  

Hey All !
Add me to the list of those reading mOAN Didion books. Anything is possible with names. Engelbert Humperdinck anyone? (And he actually changed his name to that!) So, mOAN... sure.

One-letter DNF on a MonPuz! Ouch! No LUAU for me.

And what, pray tell, is a META PHYSICIAN? An ethereal doctor? A doctor who speaks in the third person?

Did think theme was neat. Nice job, Lynn. Further garnering MonPuz goodness standard. Curious how many iterations of the themer clues Lynn went through.

11D - Making the 4 on a hole listed a 4.

No F's (I sense a (bad) pattern here)

albatross shell 9:04 AM  

If one is upset that CABARET looks like but is not a theme answer, shouldn't on be more upset that ONAPAR is not single word? I admit to not checking the dictionary about that.

Z 9:25 AM  

@Chuck D - DING DING DING. Definitely some incarnation of The Minus Five. I like all of Peter Buck's side projects. Also love when Kelly Hogan performs with Neko Case. As for Escovedo, I've seen him live several times, always with a different backing band (though never solo on a covered bridge) and I've loved them all. Once was in a very intimate setting with basically a string quartet for support (I'm pretty sure the set list relied heavily on Gravity), but usually with a more typical rock band configuration. I love all his stuff.

Gotta love auto-corrupt. I caught it changing "bitsy" to "betsy," but missed it changing "weensy" to "wee say."

Unknown 9:45 AM  

Are you as annoyed as I am that the NYT keeps implying that ASAP means immediately. It literally stands for As Soon As Possible. That may or may not mean immediately. I keep filling in Stat, which does mean immediately.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

wanted cAd before RAT, since the clue is 'dirty rotten scoundrel'. a RAT is a bad guy who 'rats out' to the Pohleece. just consider the movie, 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels", not gangsters, but grifters. "The film tells the story of two con men competing to swindle an heiress out of $50,000." [the wiki]

from the on-line dictionary, for CAD
"an ill-bred man, especially one who behaves in a dishonorable or irresponsible way toward women."

Mammy Yokum has spoken!

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

60A's cluing deficiency can be overcome by using the drive-in restaurant rather than the video game character.

Joaquin 10:05 AM  

Scandal involving ballot measure: PROP A GATE
Brooklyn son gifts old lady with vehicle: CAR DA MOM
Southern boy fished and devoured: CAST AN ET
One star Yelp review of cheesy drive-in: PAN A SONIC

Whatsername 10:12 AM  

Fun Monday! I had to think a little but not too much. This would be a great puzzle for someone new to crosswords. I could see a beginner feeling really good about finishing it. My favorite was CARDAMOM. I don’t recall ever using it in a recipe, but I loved the clue for it.

When I was a young girl I used to help my dad seine CRAWDADS out of the pond to use for fishing bait. Fancy people refer to them as crayfish, and in the south they’re called mudbugs. Some people boil them in huge pots with Cajun spices and consider it fine dining, but I’m not among them. Too many memories of dragging them out of the muck and having my dad chase me with the ones that had pincers big enough to grab onto a barefoot toe.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

there is such a thing as metaphysics, too lazy to look up exact def., but usually associated with philosophy or lit. crit. I think. in any case those who practices it is a ...

Newboy 10:33 AM  

Cute, but still a Monday. Thanks Lynn for making the most of a sweet idea, and feel free to ignore Rex.

Z 10:52 AM  

@unknown9:45 - If your boss tells you she wants your paperwork on her desk ASAP, trust me on this, she means preferably yesterday but 15 minutes from now will have to do. If you think ASAP means “as soon as I get this stuff I think is more important done” the next conversation with your boss will be uncomfortable, assuming it is with your boss and not HR.

@10:12 - Did you consider that @Roo was jesting?

Carola 10:55 AM  

All one could want in a Monday - an easy-to-get-yet-witty theme and ABUNDANT other pleasurable entries. For me, the theme winner was CASTANET; also liked the virtual CHAPEL with ecumenical attendance by an Old Testament prophet (AMOS), the POPE, an ARABIC CLERIC, and the generalist METAPHYSICIAN. Moment of sad silence for VERDI, ASAP!, in honor of all the shuttered opera houses, whose survival of the pandemic seems doubtful.

Joe Dipinto 11:03 AM  

For a party some years back I created a matching column puzzle with my friends' names on one side and cryptic-style clues for them on the other. In the instructions I used this very example

Check age of a parent = card + a + mom CARDAMOM

to illustrate how cryptic clues work. But in a cryptic puzzle it would be permissible to have the A in both the clue and the answer.

What? 11:15 AM  

Clever but not a challenge. Well, maybe for some, so Ok.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

anon 10:12,

Metaphysics is philosophy dealing with first principles ( of things). Sometimes you can substitute ontology for it.

Metaphysical in literature is generally reserved for a particular era of poetry. Really, it's a quite term and should be used only when referring to a select group of 17th century English poets.
You can thank Dr. Johnson for the term, though many find it wanting, preferring instead, baroque.

Mary McCarty 11:19 AM  

Re:the JUG/mUG and stAT/ ASAP dilemmas—when in doubt I always check the cross (JOAN, AMP); much faster than putting in the wrong choice and having to fix it, if speed is your goal. My goal is more about enjoying the interplay between crosses, which is why I prefer crosswords to acrostics.

GILL I. 11:30 AM  

Is there another name for nit a pick? solve so quickly, I'm amazed you'd be able to look at CAB A RET and think it a blank a blank word. How about LU A US or even T A RA? No?
This was enjoyable and clever for Monday. I like Lynn and her puzzles. I'm a tad surprised that some of you didn't know JOAN the solipsistic, histrionic, Didion. Try her "The Last Love Song."
My favorite was CAST A NET. My one time Spanish boyfriend bought me a pair of those things because he thought I'd look good as a distraught gypsy in a fringy dress with taps on my shoes. He also wanted me to put a thorny rose in my mouth and look like I knew what I was doing. I failed.
@chefwen....HAH! That's ok. He's dead. Executed by the Bolivians and his hands were cut off. See? There is justice after all.
@Frantic. Consider yourself anointed. Only the best, the funniest, the smartest, get the rude rub. In the end, you come out cooked to perfection... :-)

Whatsername 11:32 AM  

@Unknown (9:45) Point taken regarding the definition of ASAP, but in my many years of service with the federal government - where acronyms were born - ASAP was always understood to mean immediately if not sooner.

@Frantic: I don’t do Sundays so I missed the dustup yesterday, but it sure was nice of you to let the mice GNAW at you for a change and give @Z a break from it. Post your little heart out, dear friend.

jberg 11:39 AM  

One of the great things about this theme is that the pronunciation doesn't change at all (which rules out most of your suggestions, @Loren) -- although if they all changed, that would also be great. But consistency!

I've always said CARDAMOn, but I just checked the Penzey's website, and they spell it with the seccond M, so that must be what it says on the jar in my cabinet. says either is OK - the M is latin and the N Greek - but the clue made it obvious, anyway.

There's a science fiction story where articial eye parts are available. A surgeon is in the midst of replacing one, when he discovers there are none in stock -- so he calls the eye-parts warehouse and asks them to send one over by taxi. "Sure," they reply, "we'll be happy to CAB A RET for you!"

@Kitshef -- in my experience, often a single orchid constitutes the entire corsage, qualifying it as a 'corsage flower.'
I liked seeing both VAL and CAL, and the RIGA/CAIRO crossing of capitals. And the CRAWDAD on HORSEback, now I think of it.

A single nit: when you think of a large sports venue, I think you think of a stadium rather than an ARENA. But I guess, objectively, an arena is large.

Rich H 11:50 AM  

I don't understand the complaint about "CABARET"? The clue did not have a question mark so was not part of the theme? Or is it that it could have been? I am a newbie here so pardon my ignorance.

linac800 11:59 AM  

Hi All,

Been reading this blog for quite a while but have never commented before. I truly enjoy the erudite banter, and learn something new every day. But today I can't resist - plunked in METAPHYSICIST so naturally for 37A before sussing out the last two crosses. Must be becuase I'm a physicist - why do those physicians get all the glory?

Cheers, and keep on keepin' on @Frantic Sloth - you're a treasure.

sublicon 12:18 PM  

First time I've ventured into the comments and I am pleased so many people had a lot of the same issues I had - "Moan", "Cad", etc. Will come here more often to feel less alone in my bumps along the way.

Barbara S. 12:19 PM  

I liked this a lot and kept letting out small hoots as I solved. I wonder if there’s a term for this type of wordplay: the reparsing of long words into their individual syllables to get a new meaning. I tried to research the question and got nowhere. I also tried to make up my own and didn’t get much farther. Pronunciation is a problem with most of these (hi @jberg):

Wager one’s exam = BETATEST (but B.T. is 2 words?)

Label some firewood = TAGALOG (this looks good, but the pronunciation’s definitely incorrect)

Bash into Mr. Aykroyd = RAMADAN (cultural insensitivity)

Protect Mr. McKellen = GUARDIAN (lacks the ___a___ format)

Check IDs in the northernmost state (abbr.) = CARDINAL (right, don’t quit my day-job)

albatross shell 12:30 PM  

@jberg 1139am
Thanks for the CARDAMOn research. I thought M looked wrong and sounded wrong, but I only googled and discovered M was correct. I didn't check any further. Thought I had been wrong for 50 years. Acceptably variant. I'll settle for that.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Rex makes METAPHYSICIAN an outlier and gives his reason. I’d suggest another problem. It would seem to me that the theme answers work best when the object of the verb has nothing to do with the complete answer. Thus *propagate* has nothing to do with a *gate*; cardamom not related to moms, and castanet is not related to nets. In antiquity (and later) a *physicus* studied the natural universal–earth sciences (plants, animals, weather, tides), which included anatomy and such things as the soul (i.e. the soul as a life-giving form, which made an acorn turn into a tree instead of a chicken, or an embryo turn into a human rather than a duck). While a physician was usually medicus in medieval Latin, through a process I do not understand (but may be known) some medical doctors came to call themselves physici, perhaps because medical remedies involved so many areas of natural philosophy.

Metaphysics involved all areas beyond the scope of the physical–e.g. theology, Platonic forms, and whole other areas of learning that I do not understand. (Mathematics was sometimes, but not always, considered to be a bridge of sorts between the physical and metaphysical.) Thus metaphysics has sometimes been considered to derive from what is “beyond” (meta) the physical–wiser heads, I think, say this isn’t true. It really had to do with the sequence of the curriculum–you studied metaphysics *after* you studied natural philosophy. In any case, a metaphysician is so closely tied to the meaning of physician that clue becomes an outlier (*panasonic* may be problem too–I know nothing about “Sega’s hedgehog”.)

The only other areas of ancient philosophy were ethics (politics, personal conduct, and household management or economics) and perhaps logic and dialectics, although the last were sometimes viewed as assistants to philosophy rather than parts of philosophy itself.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

mathgent 12:39 PM  

My spice shelf has a dozen or more little bottles of stuff I bought for a recipe and never used again. I thought that I had CARDAMOM but I just checked. I thought it was spelled with an N.

I got a spelling lesson today. I thought that it was spelled “propigate.”

The best thing I can say about the puzzle is that it had no junk.

When Gill spoke about castanets, I was reminded of dinners at my aunt’s house when I was a kid. They were traditional Spanish meals with five or six courses including an immense caldron of garbanzo stew. After the dishes were cleared away, my aunt would put on her flamenco dress and perform the jota while two or three of the guests played the guitar. She set the beat with castanets in each hand.

ghthree 12:51 PM  

It's funny that my wife Jane and I consider corny puns "childish," while Rex and most of is followers consider them "Dad" jokes. A generational thing, I suppose.

Nancy 12:58 PM  

@GILL (11:30) -- Chuckling at your description of Joan Didion (who might quite appropriately be called MOAN Didion). I've seen her interviewed from time to time and I call those segments "Interviews to slit your wrists by." She falls into a very special category of mine: Women I Really Wouldn't Want to Have Lunch With.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

so... did you today in your state of bliss SPIKE the puzzle into the wall? comedy does come in 3's.

Masked and Anonymous 1:18 PM  

PANAMAHAT = {Criticize the latest parental chapeau purchase??}. Kinda feeds on the other themers nicely.
PAJAMABOTTOM = …. nope …. ain't gonna mess with that one. (But, I regress.)

staff weeject pick: CAB. Better theme-respectful clue: {Lower the above average grade down one notch?}.
honrable mention to @Muse darlin's DJT RAT substitute.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {2,000 pounds} = TON.

@RP: CABARET also caught the M&A stink-eye, but not a biggie. No themelike ?-mark clue, so no foul.

Thanx for the easy fun, Ms. Lempel darlin. Always a pleasure.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Teedmn 1:30 PM  

Super easy but fun Monday. The kind of puzzle where I wonder if I could get down to @Rex times if I were right-handed and didn't have to keep lifting my arm to see the clues. Though my first time at the ACPT, I accepted a second copy of the puzzle so I could use it to look at the clues straight on and I kept forgetting to look over there. Muscle memory had me looking down and under.

Not that I really care about my time except on, well every day, but Monday and Tuesday I have expectations and aspirations for a fast time.

My eyes were drawn to CABARET when I was counting up theme answers but not because I noticed the middle A aping the theme but just because of its length and placement in the grid, the same as with CRAWDAD. Not a flaw, in my book.

JOAN Didion's book, "The Year of Magical Thinking", resonated greatly with me, so I had no close encounters with mOAN today.

Was it a Freudian slip that I wrote in ROArRAGE in at 3D before DIET came to my rescue?

Thanks, Lynn Lempel, this is a clever theme, as is usual for your puzzles.

Frantic Sloth 1:42 PM  

@Conrad, @GILL, @Whatsername, @Linac800 Aaaaaw! You guuuuuuyz! Thank you for adding your voices of support. Coming down with a serious case of the warm fuzzies. Being raised Catholic, that can only mean one thing: impending doom. But what a nice way to go!

@GILL I can definitely imagine you as "a distraught gypsy in a fringy dress with taps on [your] shoes." Not that there's anything wrong with that. 😘

@Z 925am (I wish JD would return so I can call you Z Dad once again – I miss our little Juvenile Delinquent) I saw "we say" and thought it was me. But, I believe you're on an iPad and so auto-corrupt should have been my first stop on the "huh? train."

@jberg 1139am LOL! and *groan* on CAB A RET(in a taxi?)

@mathgent 1239pm Whoa! What fun you must have had at your aunt's. Good food and entertainment many of us can only envy.

For the record, I wasn't complaining about CABARET like @Rex, but I did actually notice it on my own. I just didn't care. No harm, no foul, and apparently, no good joke about it from me. 🤦‍♀‍

But some very nice follow ups from a number of you! Kudos!

Whatsername 1:51 PM  

@linac800 (11:59) Welcome! Glad you joined the conversation.

@sublicon (12:18) Ditto. Y’all come back now.

On the subject of to join or not to join the comment blog, I have a philosophy when it comes to “fitting in.” Concern about such things subsides considerably with age, but I’ve always felt like - wherever I go, how I look, what I wear, etc. - there will always be someone better than I am, so I just do the best I can and try not to allow comparison to be the thief of joy [T. Roosevelt]. The same philosophy applies here. There will always be someone smarter, wittier, more knowledgeable than I am; I absolutely guarantee you that. Many days I feel like I’m way out of my league, but occasionally I have the thrill of feeling like I’m almost ready to hang with the smart kids. Granted I’m usually back in the remedial class the very next day, but it sure is nice while it lasts. So don’t worry about measuring up because it’s all about the crosswords and the camaraderie. New voices mean new ideas and new friends. As @GILL would say, the more the merrier.

bocamp 1:57 PM  

@ Lynn - skookum! what a refreshing, invigorating way to start the week! A puzzle that speaks to me. Thank you for inspiring me to "cast a wider net" in my daily thought processes, through the "propagation" of "metaphysical" thinking."

Ave. Monday time.

Cabaret - Liza Minnelli

Going To The Chapel Of Love - The Dixie Cups

Re: "mug" vs "jug" - seeing "Moan" Didion sets off my "spidey" alarm; I'm thinking, "what letter makes more sense as a first name, and at the same time, works for the 'container'"? Conceivably, "Moan" could be a "pet name" for Moana, so, what's the most logical choice? "Joan" is far more likely than "Moan", and both "jug" and "mug" work, ergo: "Joan".

Aside 1 - Ironically, a Google search of "jug of cider" vs "mug of cider" favors "mug" by a very wide margin.

Aside 2 - Dropped in "jug" immediately (without having seen the clue for "joan"); reason being: "cider container" invoked two initial connotations: 1) "moonshine" and 2) for me, "container" has always conveyed a sense of relative "largeness," hence: "jug" over "mug".

Aside 3 - I knew "Joan Didion", so all of the above is moot for me. Just sayin' what I would have done, had I not known. :) Easier said than done, right? LOL

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Miers Paz Mir 🕊

Barbara S. 2:04 PM  

This is only very tenuously on topic (if it’s on topic at all), but I feel compelled to tell this story about Mr. Phillips, my seventh-grade teacher, who was among my very favorite of all my elementary school teachers. He was funny and a bit subversive in regard to the rules and the normal ways of doing things. I remember one time he was giving us a spelling test, declaiming the words we were supposed to write down in a loud, clear voice and then using them in a sentence to um, clarify meaning.

MR. PHILLIPS: “Innocent!” I say again, “Innocent”. ‘When she walked through the cloud of perfume, she was innocent!’

CLASS: Dead silence for a couple of beats, then raucous laughter.

Only Mr. Phillips could make the tedious this much fun.

In this puzzle -- references to my two favorite films during my young and impressionable phase: CABARET and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. RAT, clued as “Dirty rotten scoundrel”, made me think of Holly Golightly’s RATs, super RATs and super RATs in RATs’ clothing. My, my, what’s a girl to do?

Finally, are none of you mathematicians going to tell the ADDERS joke? Don’t ask me to explain it; I can’t. But I know it:

Noah released all the animals from the Ark and told them to go forth and multiply. Two snakes looked up at him and said, “We can’t multiply, we’re ADDERS.” Noah looked upon them with compassion and said, ”Fear not! I will build you a log table!”

Unknown 2:29 PM  

@ Whatsername 1:51
I find that most of the "smart kids" on this blog tend to post & re-post a lot, as if they want us all to appreciate just how truly smart they are.

@ nancy, re: your second post, before you totally bash Joan Didion, have you ever read her books? "The Year of Magical Thinking" remains one of the most touching, powerful books I've ever read.

I get that rex can do a Monday in under 3 minutes, and I am duly impressed. But for him to then casually mention how "slowly" he was typing in his answers just confounds me!

Sometimes I wish posts had a word limit. That's it, this is my one post for the day.

Frantic Sloth 2:37 PM  

@Whatsername 151pm Beautifully said and I couldn't agree more on every single word you wrote! It wouldn't surprise me at all if trepidation was the overriding emotion of most first-time commenters. I know it was for me, and more surprisingly, our much-beloved @Loren Muse Smith who recently expressed having similar reservations when she was a newbie.

And to any lurkers out there who are feeling shy about joining our little corner of the world, we can empathize and welcome you with open arms.

So, come on in - the water's jolly!

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

It's not precisely the same as you call it "joining the blog", but it surely applies to fitting in.
Read C.S. Lewis's trenchant essay called The Inner Ring. I assure you, it will not disappoint.

GILL I. 3:08 PM  

Unknown 2:29.....Nancy didn't say anything about her writing, just that she wouldn't want to sit down to lunch with her after seeing her in an interview. Not everyone can come across as a Sir David Attenborough and sing with a voice....she sorta comes across like she needs more Dijon in her Caesar salad.
@Whatsername.....Ain't we all just smart kids wearing grown up pants?
Oh I wish I were an Oscar Myer Weiner......

Anoa Bob 3:40 PM  

One of the themers reminded me of an episode of "Cheers" where they are competing with their rival Gary's Olde Towne Tavern in a chili cookoff. Gary's has been beating them year after year, so Sam and the crew decide they need some super exotic and rare seasoning to give them the edge this year. They discover this little known herb that should do the trick but they can get only a tiny amount of this very expensive stuff, just enough for one pot of chili. When it arrives, Sam carefully opens the envelope to look and the bartender Woody comes over to check it out. When Woody bends down to smell the herb, he lets out a huge sneeze and the precious powder is blown all over the place. Their plan is undone. Woody yells "Why didn't you tell me? I'm allergic to CARDAMOM!"

Aelurus 3:47 PM  

Liked this clever and easy Monday.

@Loren 2:10 am, @Barbara S 12:19 pm, @M&A 1:18 pm: What fun to see what else can be done with the themers. It's hard. All I came up with:

KNOCKABOUT: Disparage a prizefight

MANATEE: Stand by a golf peg (but that's just silly! oh. but I guess that's okay)

@Frantic 1:42 pm - I noticed the CABARET thing too and didn't care either. @JBerg 11:39 am - fun CABARET story!

RooMonster 4:17 PM  

@Barbara S 2:04
Took the ole brain a minute, but that joke finally clicked. A "log table" ala a "multiplication table". 1x1, 1x2, etc.

Have to give a Har to all the back and forth-ness lately about "to post or not to post." Fun stuff. I started posting here with the Five-weeks-later-syndication people, as I didn't get the NYT or have a puz subscription. I finally did get the subscription, and then jumped in with both feet. Got a couple of welcomes, but I think I was mostly ignored! But did that stop me? Heck no. I can still imagine people seeing my name and just scrolling past!

Anyway, welcome to all the "newbies". ☺️

RooMonster As Long As It's A Good Post Guy (Har!)

bocamp 4:29 PM  

A Big Welcome to the new(er) commenters!! 😊

**** SB ALERT ****

Packed in yesterday's SB with 5 to go for QB. 4/5 were unknowns. :(. On to today's :)

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

SharonAk 4:30 PM  

I ttkhougfht this was fun. And interesting fill for a Monday

@Joaquin 12:07 am
I do not understand your comment. I never expect a reveal on a Monday.
And the themes were well related by type of word play.

Z 5:05 PM  

Hey, new posters. Awesome.

@Rich H - The CABARET thing is what I would classify as inelegant. Because of its length and placement CABARET looks like it could be a theme answer, so it would be more elegant if there were no xxxAxxx answers.

@Gill - What the NBA ref did when the sun god complained about the call - T A RA

@M&A - Pajamabottom is a chapter in mOAN Didion’s new book.

Whatsername 5:23 PM  

@Anonymous (2:53) Goodness! That is certainly one for the smart kids’ class, but I muddled through it. One passage which jumped out at me was “A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out!” I suppose the desire to be accepted is something we never really outgrow.Thanks for the suggestion, quite enlightening.

@GILL (3:08) Exactly! “Then everyone would be in love with me.“. 😊

Nancy 6:02 PM  

@Unknown (2:29) -- I read "Year" and it's compelling and well-written. Joan Didion is a talented writer, no question about it. But I always hope that, were I to meander off to have a women's luncheon comprised of talented people, I wouldn't walk out of it any unhappier or more depressed than when I walked in.

I'm looking for humor and I'm looking for warmth. Enough humor and I'll give up some of the warmth. Enough warmth and I'll give up some of the humor. And the person should be both a great conversationalist and someone who listens in a way that makes you feel that you, in that particular moment, are the most interesting person on earth.

Please give me permission to choose a list from among women who are both living and dead. Here's one possible such list:

Norah Ephron
Gloria Steinem
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
Oprah Winfrey
Barbara Walters
Ann Richards

And of course our @Gill, who has both warmth AND humor, would have to be at the table.

TTrimble 6:03 PM  

@Barbara S.
Wow, my brain must be fried. It took me way longer than it should have to get the joke of dear Mr. Phillips. Just to show you my own crude sensibilities, I thought at first it was some underhanded fart joke. :-P

Actually, he sounds like a sweet guy.

And the adders joke! Oof! That would have to be about the dadliest of dad jokes if your dad were a math teacher. I might try it out on some of my mathematician pals, just to enjoy their pained-cum-indulgent reactions. :-)

(How's the SB going?)

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

I was reminded of the ADDERS joke but didn't dare post it. I usually get either abject groans or else a bunch of huhs?

Frantic Sloth 6:48 PM  

@Anoa Bob 340pm That's the very first thing I thought of!! Unfortunately, I don't have your smarts, so I decided against mentioning the Cheers thing, thereby exposing my second most important source of knowledge (after the cartoons of my youth) - TV shows. It was the first time I'd ever heard of CARDAMOM and have remembered it ever since. Alas, these days everything is an "unattainable retainable". BTW, wasn't it a Bloody Mary recipe? Of course I could be wrong...if you can imagine that...🤷‍♀️

bocamp 6:48 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

8 to go for QB; tough sledding!

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

GILL I. 7:09 PM  

@Nancy....May I be so bold as to also extend an invitation to Michelle Obama and Helen Mirren? They would also keep us warm and filled with humor. Also....may I suggest Restaurant David Toutain in Paris? We could order seared foie gras and some parmesan gnocchi.....
Everyone would be in love with me......

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

There are a lot of great sentiments in that piece. But for my money, you got the ne plus ultra zinger. So pithy. So true.
I’d say the smart kids would do well to keep up with your discerning eye.

Z 7:51 PM  

@Anon6:22 - As long as there are not a bunch of abject “Huh?”s you’re good. At least some of us like a good (i.e. terrible) groaner.
(You try to punctuate multiple grunts of bewilderment and let me know how you think it should be done)

BTW - A local player’s nickname is mOAN, short for “Simone.” As is often the case, I knew her by her nickname before I knew her actual name. As a new to the area person I wondered just a little about the source of that nickname. My fuddled musings were more colorful than reality. (BTW - The power of nicknames - more than once someone has come up to me on a random ultimate field and introduced themselves as Rexites since I am Z on the ultimate field, too).

Nancy 8:05 PM  

Inspired choices, @GILL!!! They'll each add a very special je ne sais quoi to the occasion. And I won't say no to Paris, either. Nor to seared foie gras. But parmesan gnocchi??? Vraiment??? A Paris???. I think I'll hold out for Coquilles St. Jacques.

Whatsername 8:05 PM  

Apologies to the Mods for multiple posts today. Just wanted to say thank you to @Anon (7:34) and to @Nancy (6:02), that is an amazing list of incredible women. I was going to suggest the addition of Mrs. Obama but the incredible @GILL beat me to it.

A Moderator 8:15 PM  


Don't make a habit of it. ;-)

Barbara S. 8:34 PM  

@TTrimble 6:03 p.m.
I'm glad you got a chuckle or two. Your response to the Mr. Phillips story (my post, 2:04 p.m.) makes me think I should clarify that he was playing with the near-identical-sounding "innocent" and "in a scent" (in case there's anyone out there still puzzled).

I thought all mathematicians knew (and loved?) that ADDERS joke. Do feel free to disseminate it far and wide. And, @Anon (6:22 p.m.), aren't the groans and the head-scratchings all part of the fun? I'm glad you enjoyed it, @Roo (4:17 p.m.).

****SB ALERT ****
Well, my recent SB performance has been nothing to write home -- or to the blog -- about. I looked at today's odd group of letters and thought, "Dammit, this must be a misprint!" But I got to 4 words from QB before throwing in the face cloth.

I didn't get QB yesterday either, also 4 words from target. I was annoyed they didn't accept BABBLY, BROLLY, BOBBY (all main entries in Merriam-Webster) and BADDY (listed as a variant spelling). And, speaking of @RooMonster I tried to create a new sport for him (which they also wouldn't go for): ROOBALL.

I do hope that you, my dear fellow-SBers, are faring well in your spelling exploits.

chefwen 9:34 PM  

Hey, I thought y’all were coming here for Cheetos.

Pamela 10:15 PM  

****SB ALERT*****

No joy for me yesterday or today, either. Today I only need 3 more words, but I’ve had enough. Nice to see that I have so much company!

bocamp 10:40 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

5 to go here :)

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

JC66 11:30 PM  

****SB ALERT****


I'm going to sleep in a few minutes. How're you doing? ;-)

bocamp 12:19 AM  

@ JC66 11:30 PM

3 to go with a half-hour to lala land. 😴

I may decide to start earlier in the morning with the SB and not continue it the next day if I haven't finished.

I filled out their questionnaire and suggested that an archive would be appreciated.

Sleep well :)

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

bocamp 12:27 AM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ JC66 11:30 PM

Oops … I forgot to put the SB alert on my last post. My bad :(

Here's what I wrote:

3 to go with a half-hour to lala land. 😴

I think from now on I'll pack it in at bed time and not continue the next day. I'll start the SBs early in the morning from now on.

I suggested to the SB editor that it would be appreciated if they could establish an archive.

Sleep well :)

Peace Frieden Maluhia Pace Vrede Paz kapayapaan Paix mir 🕊

TTrimble 12:53 AM  

I'll tuck this away at a time when people are less likely to see it -- it's too nerdy for words. Closely related is the principle that the more you explain a joke, the funnier it becomes, and I don't want anyone to get hurt laughing.

Tables of logarithms (log tables) give a means to multiply two numbers by adding two other numbers called their logarithms. If you want to compute a product ab, you look up the logarithms of a and b, add the logs together, and then see what number has the sum as its logarithm. That number is the product.

So the poor little snakes who don't know how to be fruitful and multiply can still do so, with the help of Noah's log table, and by being the adders that they are.

FWIW, the obsolescent slide rule (which must be collector's items by now) worked on the same principle: the numbers were spaced according to a logarithmic scale. They're really quite lovely and it's a shame they went the way of the dinosaur.

albatross shell 1:56 AM  

@jc66, bocamp
Save a gotta space here if you two would
share a room. :)

Michael 7:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Z 8:40 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 5:52 PM  

FWIW, the obsolescent slide rule (which must be collector's items by now) worked on the same principle: the numbers were spaced according to a logarithmic scale. They're really quite lovely and it's a shame they went the way of the dinosaur.

When I was a young whippersnapper at Clarkson, long before it called itself a 'University' (back when there was one English "instructor", not a professor and a bunch of Canadian hockey players) you weren't properly attired without a holster on your belt for said slide rule. You got your rule when you registered as a Freshman, either a Post or K&E. Holster was your responsibility.

Burma Shave 8:51 AM  


I’ll CASTANET to find TARA, and UMA,
ETAL., among them I ROTATE,
and I’ll CARDAMOM, the KIND who’s a puma,


rondo 9:24 AM  

None of the commenters, including OFL, paid enough attention to the clue to ‘get’ PANASONIC. Just as Rex would ‘PAN a Lempel’, which he just did, a person could PANASONIC; it’s the work product (in this case a ‘design’) being PANned, not the creator of it. And these folks pat themselves on the back for being so smart/clever.

When CARDAMOM and CRAWDAD get together, do they PROPAGATE?

UMA and TARA and JOAN and ANNIE can fight it out for a yeah baby. I might go for ANNIE Potts.

I thought it was wacky enough. No LYE.

thefogman 10:06 AM  

Not perfect, but pretty decent. Better than most Mondays in spite of the MINOR flaws, and fun to solve. No erasures.

Diana, LIW 11:43 AM  

I love Mondays. This one gets an Easy A.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting breathlessly for...

leftcoaster 2:13 PM  

Theme: Things people might do or have done. Makes for a smooth Monday solve, though a bit anticlimactic.

leftcoaster 5:11 PM  

An LMS-ism: “Cast”, as in CAST A NET, is used correctly in both the present and past tenses.

JC66 5:19 PM  


Also in some Spanish dances, ;-)

leftcoaster 6:54 PM  

@JC66 -- Well, yeah, that is a given, isn’t it?

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