Speaks impertinently to / MON 9-7-2020 / Designer Oscar ____ Renta / Where Jericho and Bethlehem are located / Entranceway to London's Hyde Park

Monday, September 7, 2020

Constructor: Gareth Bain

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: About a foot — Theme answers end in words relating to feet. 

Theme answers:
  • MARBLE ARCH (17A: Entranceway to London's Hyde Park)
  • TIC TAC TOE (25A: Kids' game that usually ends in a draw)
  • TAR HEEL (38A: North Carolinian)
  • LEMON SOLE (47A: Popular food fish that's actually a flounder)
  • ABOUT A FOOT (59A: How tall Barbie is...or what the ends of 17-, 25-, 38- and 47-Across are)

Word of the Day: VIREO (12D: "Black-capped" or "yellow-throated" songbird) —

The vireos /ˈvɪriz/ make up a familyVireonidae, of small to medium-sized passerine birds found in the New World (Canada to Argentina, including Bermuda and the West Indies) and Southeast Asia. "Vireo" is a Latin word referring to a green migratory bird, perhaps the female golden oriole, possibly the European greenfinch.[1][2]

They are typically dull-plumaged and greenish in color, the smaller species resembling wood warblers apart from their heavier bills. They range in size from the Chocó vireodwarf vireo and lesser greenlet, all at around 10 centimeters and 8 grams, to the peppershrikes and shrike-vireos at up to 17 centimeters and 40 grams.[3]


• • •
It's the first Annabel Monday of graduate school! The homework is pretty intense so far--there's a lot of it and it deals with heavy philosophical stuff like "What is information?" I love it though. I'm so excited to be a librarian!

On to the puzzle. I felt like it was a solid little Monday. Not too hard, some typical eye-roll clues ("go 'boo-hoo-hoo'"?), decent fill. No AGO or ADO or any of the way overused three-letter word/clue combos, which is a win in my book. And no baseball clues, woo-hoo! In fact, this puzzle was light on obscure pop culture in general. As all Mondays should be. There weren't even really any tough crosses I noticed. If there's one complaint I have, it's that we didn't really learn what kind of NERD Bain is; I like when puzzles show the constructor's interests, like if there are a lot of science-based clues or a lot of answers in French. 

Is Barbie really about a foot long? Can someone whose children have Barbies confirm? I thought six inches at the most (I even had FOUR INCHES written in). Other than that the theme was fine. Again, a pretty typical Monday, nothing to really write home about. 

  • RAGE (31A: Ranter's emotion) — Sing, O Muse. Nah, but for real, this one really stumped me for a while because for some reason I really wanted to put RAVE. Like ranting and raving? But I knew logically that that wasn't an emotion. Ugh. 
  • ANDRE (13D: ____ the Giant (legendary 7'4" wrestler)) — Let's take a look back. What a fantastic guy. 

  • WORK (58A: Ending for "right to" or "put to") — Now I know what you're thinking. "Annabel, you're in graduate school, but where are you working?" In an independent bookstore! It's one of my favorite jobs I think I've ever had, second only perhaps to my stint at the library. I'm still getting used to working retail but it's all worth it when I get to call people to tell them their books are ready. 
  • BIEL (42A: Actress Jessica) — Unbelievable. Un-Jessica-Biel-ievable. 

If you only take one thing from my writeup, let it be this: Go read "If BEALE Street Could Talk." Amazing and relevant.

Signed, Annabel Thompson, tired graduate student--hah, take that, commenters! Now that I've started grad school, I have a new excuse to include "tired" in my signature!  

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow Annabel Thompson on Twitter]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

In any other year, I would opine that YAM is a rather skimpy side dish for a traditional Thanksgiving feast. We’ve always had YAMs. But Thanksgiving 2020, if things continue as they are, will be just the two of us. So one yam will be plenty.

WhoisMark 12:47 AM  

Does Midge count for comparison by a ruler? https://tricityauctioncenter.hibid.com/lot/39386006/1962-midge-barbie-doll-by-mattel/

jcj 12:52 AM  

Huh. the offspring couldn't recall if the Barbies were packed away or given away so we couldn't test it ourselves but they were definitely closer to a foot than six inches. Per the Google machine, Barbie is supposed to be 5' 9'' manufactured to approximately 1/6 scale so about 11.5 inches.

I will say, for whatever reason, the "about" wordplay in the revealer made me smile more about the theme than anytime in recent memory.

Since I haven't commented here in years (and only a handful of times at all) this is my first chance to say that I enjoy getting your take on the puzzles.

jae 1:25 AM  

Medium. Very cute and very smooth, with an amusing reveal, liked it.

Frantic Sloth 1:28 AM  

@Annabel Yep. That's Barbie - tall and impossibly thin. Although, I seem to recall she's been redesigned in recent years. I could look it up, but I've already lost int...hey! What's that over there?!
Nice write-up and I agree this was a good Mondee puzz.

Cute theme, very little dreck and easy-peasy-plus for difficulty. And always happy to see MEL Blanc anywhere. His name alone is enough to make me grin like a Cheshire Cat. 😸
And look - there's TINKERTOE's little bro TICTAC! It's a family affair! (more Sly Stone?? Sure! Why not?)

For me, the theme revealer inspired thoughts of a new film costarring Daniel Day-Lewis and Hugh Grant: "About A Boy's Left Foot", but don't try that at home.


chefwen 2:41 AM  

So welcomed after Sunday’s puzzle.

5A made me smile, Dear Old Dad said to me many times “This is no laughing MATTER, young lady” I can even hear his voice, it was often paired with “wipe that smile off your face”. I knew how to exit a room quickly.

AGELong before AGELESS, my only mark over. Cute theme.

Anonymous 2:50 AM  

Well, to me at least VIREO would be tough any day of the week. Then again, it might be just because we didn't have those in Europe. Other than that a nice Monday puzzle. By the way, I think it missed a rare opportunity for a good cross-reference clue for SASSES through LIP, which would be especially fitting with the former sitting right atop of SEXTALK.

JD 6:18 AM  

Had a geology professor who in his final lecture showed a slide of Barbie and her measurements if she were full size. What this had to do with geology I can't tell you but found it online, 5'9”, 39” bust, 18” waist, 33” hips and a size 3 shoe." Top heavy for a size 3 to hold upright. You'd probably snap off at the waist.

And thanks to Leonard Cohen for keeping the Marble Arch top of mind.

@Frantic, You're killin' me, TINKERTOE's little bro TICTAC. Laughed out loud, tears in my eyes, for real. I stared at Tinkertoe a while yesterday.

Nice, fresh little Monday.

Hungry Mother 6:26 AM  

Very fast and a nice reprieve from two toughies yesterday.

Lewis 6:32 AM  

@annabel -- Gareth is a veterinarian, the puzzle has VIREO, BOA, and LIONS, so there's that.

Oh, it was a Monday, and while it filled in quickly, it wasn’t all reflex. The mind was involved, and that’s all I – a fairly long-time solver – ask for. In the recent past, it seems like more “non-Monday” words have been sneaking into this day’s puzzle, but fairly crossed, and that is the case today. I like it, raising the bar just a bit but not to a point of frustration for a new solver. Gives that solver something to be prouder of and keeps the ego in check.

I like the cross of SEX TALK and SESAME OIL and challenge all parents who are involved in the former to include the latter.

ARCH, TOE, and SOLE are admirably used in non-foot contexts in their theme answers, but the HEEL of TARHEEL actually refers to the heel of the foot. For a quick background on that term: Read this.

Gareth, good to see you in the NYT after a five year absence, and thank you for a solid, junk-lite, and involving offering. You have gotten the week off on the right foot.

Hungry Mother 6:33 AM  

Remembering a cruise with my wife and two granddaughters. We were out on the balcony chilling out when a six year old handed me a naked barbie and said, “Help me dress her, Pop-pop?” Taken ABACK, I was.

Rgbruno 6:52 AM  

58 across is tone deaf and borderline offensive for Labor Day. Right to work is anti-worker and anti-union. Put to work is condescending for the working person's holiday..

ChuckD 7:13 AM  

Nice workout for a Monday. Theme was a little loose but overall fill was solid. Liked the VA VA/VENICE crossing and CONRAD. SEX-TALK over YAM was pretty cool too and brought me back to Joe Jackson’s cover of Your My Meat.

Enjoyable puzzle. Surf was pretty flat yesterday and a few shark sightings. Unofficial last day of summer today is always bittersweet - but just the beginning of my favorite time of year at the beach.

JD 8:04 AM  

Whoa, hold on there! Wow, @Rgbuno, tone deaf is right and I missed it completely. But with with the National Labor Relations Board now comprised of Repulican appointees who are dismantling labor gains made during the Obama years, and union workers voting against their own best interests, alas the point is almost moot.

Still, I wonder if it was run today with good intentions. Such a deceptive term.

astroman 8:19 AM  

NYT thanks for including an anti-union propaganda slogan (right to work) on Labor Day.

Smith 8:32 AM  

@ Frantic


RooMonster 8:40 AM  

Hey All !
Well, tomorrow will be cool here in Las Vegas (read:85°), but today is going to be one of the hottest days this year, 114° for the high. Yowch! And I just went back to work Yesterday, so I'll be out in it in a black car with a black suit! (Empathy accepted!) Apparently a cold front is coming through.

Weather reports aside, this was a decent MonPuz. Themers were ABOUT A FOOT, har. Although LEMONSOLE seems oddly specific/not a thing. As in, SOLE can definitely be garnished and baked with LEMONs, but it's not a distinct thing. Wanted DoverSOLE. My nit, gotta have one a day!

A few bits of crunch thrown in here. Not a nit, just an observation, that. Nice fill overall. TRACTS was oddly clued.

Anyway, gonna put a LID on it, and go to blazing hot WORK. SOB.

Two F's
I need ICE ICE baby!

ow a paper cut 8:42 AM  

This was excellent. I like baseball clues : )

Unknown 8:47 AM  

I had no idea the "right to work" was so offensive. I had a teaching job many years ago where we were forced to join the teachers union. As far as i could tell, all they did was put out a monthly magazine lauding themselves, and taking a huge chunk of my paycheck each month. I never really thought about unions before that, but that experience soured me on them. A similar situation went to the supreme court a few years later, and i recall that the court ruled that that practice was illegal.
I thought that rex would be here, ranting about the sexism inherent in the Barbie doll. Instead we get a nice guest critique of the puzzle. If I had one criticism of this puz, it is the reference to the EPA as a protector of the health of the natural world/and of us. Under Trump, that is no longer the case. The EPA has ceased enforcement of many laws that were designed to keep us safe.

Lewis 8:48 AM  

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

1. Space force, informally (4)(1)
2. Key used to get out, not in (3)
3. Roman foeman (3)
4. Tower over the field (4)
5. Gets one over on (6)


Sixthstone 8:50 AM  

This was a perfect Monday. Good fill, not hard but made me crank on the brain a bit. Solid themers and a clever finale.

pabloinnh 8:50 AM  

This is exactly the kind of Monday I like. Just a little resistance, cruise along, try to see what the revealer might be, i. e.--what do these things have in common? And then having said revealer be in the proper place in the puzzle (at the end), and then enjoying the wordplay of ABOUTAFOOT (hi @jcj). Good stuff.

Small nit with Annabel who seems to think that "rave" is an emotion. Oops.

Is a LEMONSOLE a fish? I thought it was a preparation.

Nice Mondecito, JB. Don't be a stranger.

RMK 9:20 AM  


Nancy 9:21 AM  

Of course TIC TAC TOE usually ends in a draw. Within the first 8 minutes of their very first hour ever playing it, even the youngest children will have figured out how to avoid a loss. And that means that there will almost always be a draw. Making TIC TAC TOE one of the most boring games ever devised.

So it turns out that LEMON SOLE is flounder. And flounder is one of the most boring food fishes in the sea. No wonder I never order LEMON SOLE. No, the way to go is Dover Sole, or at least it was back in the days when it didn't mean emptying out your entire bank account to order it as an entree. And with a great sauce it's even better.

So we have a boring game and a boring fish. Who knew that the FOOT could produce such boredom? Well, on the other hand, I bet the MARBLE ARCH is swell. And I have nothing but nice things to say about TARHEELs.

A pleasant puzzle with a serviceable theme and some nice un-Mondayish clues for LIP, BOA and ABACK. And a word I didn't know: VIREO. I've seen it in other puzzles, but probably not in Central Park.

Z 9:26 AM  

Gareth Bain used to have puzzles regularly and also comment here regularly. His voice has been missed on both fronts, so seeing the byline alone made me smile. And, yes, VIREO struck me as very Bainish. Hand up for loving the ABOUT A FOOT revealer. Just perfect. A couple of oldies (Yoko ONO and MEL Blanc) but a generally clean and professional grid. 👍🏽👍🏽

@Lewis - Your SEX TALK challenge cracked me up. If they can work in FETA cheese and a YAM too they get into the Parenting Hall of Fame.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Agree. About the yams, too. Would've guessed about 8 inches for Barbie but whatever. Only nit I have to pick is: it makes lemon sole sound like a kind of fish, when I think it's a fish dish. A little like saying a popular food hen is really lemon chicken! Well, not quite. But it's a good Monday puzzle. Do-able but not a pushover. - newbie

John H 9:42 AM  

Nerds are not necessarily brainy (19A). A person can be a dolt and a nerd at the same time.

Barbara S. 9:46 AM  

Was stopped in my tracks by AGELESS RAGE across the center of the grid. Hard to see anything else.

Annabel Thompson 9:53 AM  

Lol--"rave isn't an emotion" was what I thought immediately after my brain jumped to RAVE

Katzzz 10:13 AM  

"I am so excited to be a librarian!"
Don't think those words are heard very often. Love it. Good luck, Annabel!

CDilly52 10:13 AM  

What fun! A well constructed Monday with a very clever theme and Annabel!! I enjoyed the solve and the theme and found nothing about which to complain.

Happy grad school, Annabel, and what an amazing time to be in “Library School” as we called it in the dark ages when I received my MLS!

The very first Radio Shack TRS80 home computer went on the market the year my thesis/project was due. My husband, fascinated by the future of computers started working with the TRS80 at home in between caring for our newborn daughter and teaching math and music to junior high students. He was a dynamo, for sure.

We had a new prof in grad school, with a shiny new Ph.D from Rutgers and he was all about “the future of information” . . . in 1979. Those discussions about how accessible electronic information was going to change the profession inspired me. We had no email, no internet, and the Reference Librarians were the keepers of the big data bases. Imagining a world in which those complex search queries were obsolete seemed like science fiction.

Hearing about what the “big information science” grad programs like Rutgers and Pitt were already doing was mind blowing to those of us whose librarian frame of reference was not very broad at all. But it inspired me.

I started playing with the TRS80 myself and with lots of technical help from my husband, (after trashing my original and very pedestrian thesis/project ideas), we explored “the future” of accessible information through the use of home computers, and we created a searchable data base on the TRS80 of our massive LP collection.

By the time the year, my project and graduate degree were complete, the TRS80 had already gone from the cassette tape storage system to the first giant “floppy disc” and the Commodor and very first Apple home computer were about to debut. Everything my “futuristic” prof had said was coming true and the information superhighway did in fact start changing the field of library and information science forever. I’d love to sit on in your philosophical chats, Annabel. The very same ones we enjoyed in 1978-79. What is a library? A librarian? Information? What’s a book?

One thing has not changed. The public library is the great societal equalizer. Free access to uncensored information Is what public libraries provide. They are a critical community building block. Here, our library provides literacy training, ESL, tutoring for all grades, all subjects, certified Kindermusic for the wee ones (yep, the very same program other parents pay for in private studios)band so much more.

Librarians are marvelous folks. Enjoy your journey!

mathgent 10:14 AM  

A little research tells me that lemon sole are native to north Atlantic waters near Europe. Are they also caught off our East Coast? I suppose they are if they are a “popular food dish.” I haven’t seen them here in the Pacific coast. Petrale sole is popular over here.

How sad. They were the best clues of the week.

I don’t get why Lewis says that sesame oil should be included in a sex talk. Is it a joke that’s going over my head?

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

re: Barbie

I recall years ago, some wag noted that a full size version could only exist with most lower torso organs missing. And a few ribs, I think.

Frantic Sloth 10:18 AM  

@Lewis 632am 😂 If I were a parent, I'd take you up on that challenge - and woe unto the offspring on the receiving end of that discourse!

@Smith 832am 😂 😂 I'm an easy mark.

@ Rgbruno 852am 👍

@JD 618am "Snap off at the waist" is sad, but true (and funny!). Re TINKERTOE yesterday: I was probably overly-proud of that one, so saddened to see no response. Eh. C'est la vie. ☺️

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Vireos are exceedingly common in North America. Odds are most of us have one very nearby. In the East, the red eyed vireo calls all summer long. Even on the hottest days. If you've walked in the woods for any length of time you've hear him sing: "Here I am, see me. Up in the tree. Here I am, see me" etc.
Solitary ( or blue-headed) vireos have basically the same song but it's slower and the phrases are a little farther apart.

Clare if you're clocking us idiots, what--at its most foundational is information? As an epistemic idea you have me hooked. Thanks in advance

Anonymous 10:27 AM  


You must remember this, a kiss... wait, wrong meme. Here's what you, and your like, must remember: all those decades ago, when you and your like thought America Was Great (post WWII, not before of course), there was a middle class, both white collar and blue collar just because unionism was strong and protected workers. They say the South Shall Rise Again, which really means maximal exploitation of workers (which raises the question - what high wage places can all that production be sold; ummm Blue States?). Your Bosses shipped Your Jobs off to China, et al just because they're allowed to. Real income for the 99% has been falling since the OPEC oil embargoes and the rise of the Radical Right, propelled by hidebound Southerners.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Oh-no!!! I'm sorry Annabel, I just addressed you as Clare. In a hurry and old are my lame excuse. Again, my apologies.

Pete 10:29 AM  

@Unknown - In any industry where there are comparable populations of unionized and non-unionized workers, safety (injuries, deaths, days lost to injury), pay, benefits and general working conditions are all markedly better in unionized shops over non-unionized ones, and by a large margin. Any industry, any time, any where. That's why companies try so hard to prevent unions - it's much cheaper to pay the insurance in case someone dies due to working for you than it is to put in the safety measures to prevent the death.

You were lucky as a teacher, most of the hard work of the unionization had already been done. That doesn't make they worthless.

Pamela 10:29 AM  

I’m with the consensus today- Nice and easy but some thought required, minimal sports and junk entries, simple but solid - and coherent- theme.

A couple of non-gimme’s: Needed LAMA to get LIP, VIREO didn’t click right away, wanted endLESS at first, didn’t know TORI or LAGALAXY, which came almost completely from crosses.

I distinctly remember working out on paper all the possible entries for TICTACTOE until I came up with the foolproof way to never lose. Second grade? Third? No idea when. But I was among the first, and unbeatable until the rest of them caught up.


I quit yesterday, at G with 6 words to go. Looking at the answers today, I’m glad I did. There was one I should have gotten, but most of the rest were (to me) unlikely compounds- words I’d already gotten with ‘A’ stuck on front, for instance. Glad I didn’t waste the effort.

Today looks like fun, at least so far. I wonder how I’ll feel once I’ve gotten through the first burst!

Z 10:34 AM  

LEMON SOLE. Bain is a veterinarian, not a chef (well, at least not professionally).

@mathgent - My first thought was Belle and Sebastian

pmdm 10:39 AM  

SO, from the comment above, Barbie is 5'9". And at XWordInfo she is 5'11.5". I don't own a Barbie (or any doll for that matter - not my thing) so I can't resolve the difference.

Delightful Monday. Delightful write-up.

And perhaps off the subject, I always though "right to work" to be a euphemism for "right to fire" and replace one worker with a cheaper one. And while union officials may not always do good things, the proper protections of a collective bargaining contract are often worth the tradeoff. In my opinion. The demise of unionism tends to be accompanied by economic inequality. In my opinion. It may be possible to come up with examples that validly contest my opinion, but one should not forget about the forest when amongst the trees.

jberg 10:53 AM  

It’s getting late and I have to get right to work. So I’ll just say I liked having the first foot part suspended from the TARSI.

Dave S 11:05 AM  

Good luck to Annabel, and I enjoyed the writeup. I was a library grad student a dozen or so years ago, and while I'm sure it's changed you do still get to deal with the interesting and slightly strange people who want to be library grad students, so I'm sure that's still fun. Puzzle was fine for a Monday, though I somehow managed to misspell that most famous of French days of the week (in my defense I had just wrapped up a session of Duolingo Spanish), leaving a cross of "note" which also didn't jump out as a mistake. So my "pretty good for me" time turned into a " not so great for me" time, but at least being a Monday that didn't mean TOO much.

egsforbreakfast 11:11 AM  

In case you wondered about Rex’s take on this puzzle:

Theme: About a foot. Parts of human feet turn out to also be parts of other things, while a Barbie doll turns out to be “about” 12 inches tall. (My math/science/tech friends tell me that twelve inches equals one foot, which I guess is something that solvers are supposed to just know).

Anyway, I knocked this out in 37 seconds, solving on gessoed canvas with acrylic paints. It would have been a Monday PR except that I stopped to renew my drivers license mid-solve.

There was nothing I didn’t particularly not like about this puzzle. But why a foot? Doesn’t Barbie have other parts? And why single out a woman and emphasize her diminutive stature? The Twitter-verse is abuzz with speculation that that decision came directly from the editors. For more on this subject, see the excellent opinion piece “How to Virtue Signal about Random Answers in Crosswords” by Michael Sharp.

The fill itself was like going to a 1990 Boys Club meeting. TICTACTOE, CONRAD, ERRATA, ANTE, NERD, AHOY, STAFF and on and on. And then the constructor thinks he’ll appease everyone by throwing in a known gay (TALESE).

I’m just glad it was pretty much over before I started it.

Signed, Rex Parker, World King of Cross

GILL I. 11:13 AM  

I like that this starts with a LIP and ends with a LID. Mind wanders and I think ABOUT A FOOT might be ANDRE the Giants SEX TALK.
A nice Monday with some SOLE to its bones. @mathgent....I lived for Petrale. Memories of waiting in line at Tadich Grill and ordering it. Herb Caen was always holding up the bar with a martini and schmoozing with the locals.
Mind wanders some more because it doesn't know what else to do. Ah...the EPA and its current administrator, Scott Pruit. He and POTUS want to eliminate regulation of the coal industry by ignoring science. Lets keep a dying industry on life support....replace high ranking scientists and do some employee gagging and censoring climate data. Not to be outdone....the mayor of San Francisco better clean up the mess the homeless leave behind... you know, all those needles they use and their potty habits that end up washing into the Bay and the ocean. Clean water is a must, you know. Oh, and screw the Central Valley and the disgusting water they are made to drink. Ah, yes....the EPA does such a fine job.
Now I get to Barbie because no one can touch @Frantics TINKERTOE's TIC TAC. I think if I ever sat down to lunch with her and @JD, right after dessert, you'd have to haul me off to a funny farm. Anyway Barbie and I never saw eye to eye. She actually gave me the heebie jeebies. I don't know anybody who had boobs nor a waist like hers. My favorite go-to doll was Raggedy Ann.
@Roo...I feel for you. We had 110 yesterday and today it's expected to get up there as well. High winds are expected tomorrow and so is the fire warning. More fires...more smoke and more bad air to inhale. I think I'll continue to watch re-runs of Nurse Jackie. I need a fix.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  


finally got around to reading the rest of the NYT. imagine my surprise, here it is Labour Day, to read https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/06/opinion/labor-unions-republicans.html

"In the years since, unions, cooperating with employers, have vastly improved the lot of working men and women."

guess who and when?

Ike, 1952

ghthree 11:20 AM  

I agree with John H.
A nerd can be stupid as well as lacking in social graces. The epitome is the title character in a two-act play "The Nerd," which my wife and I saw in Florida about forty years ago.

The answer to 46 Across reminded us of the following exchange from Act 1:
(First character has just answered his friend's phone because he's closer to it and his friend is relaxed on the other side of the room):

First character: "They want to know your favorite sexual position."
Second character: (after slight reflection): Third from the top.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Because you don't own a doll, you can resolve the difference? What a bizarre claim. The doll has a height. whether you own one or not is immaterial. You could've resolved the difference the way any difference involving facts is resolved. By finding or citing accurate information. I don't any dolls either, but a 6 second search tells me Barbie is about a foot tall. sounds like 5'11" and 1/2 to me.


As for unions. Please. They're well past their sell by date. You'd be hard pressed to name a more pernicious force in American education, and therefore society, than the American federation of Teachers. Unless it was the crooked and murderous Police unions.

JD 11:51 AM  

@pmdm, Vaguely recall the prof saying something to the effect that Barbie would be an Amazon, so I'd go with the taller. Poor Barbie can't speak for herself so...

@Frantic, Take heart, it may've been hard to see amid the pitchforks and smoke in The Great Theme Uprising of 2020. I'm still laughing (for real).

Carola 11:54 AM  

@ Annabel, nice to see you back - I'm glad you're continuing!

After ARCH and TOE, I saw what was afoot....but then I forgot as I was interrupted by a Zoom call from my 7-year-old granddaughter, after which I took no notice of the HEEL and SOLE. Thus the reveal was a satisfying surprise, with the added fun of the zany Barbie connection.

Re: SEX TALK - my parents avoided this entirely (explanation: Midwestern Norwegian Lutheran heritage). Remaining in AGELESS memory is the day when checking out books at the public library, the librarian slipped in an extra book that had been secreted behind her desk, saying that my mother had called and asked her to include it. Mortification City. Also, I understood nothing, but of course couldn't ask. Years later I was enlightened by John O'Hara (From the Terrace).

Z 12:05 PM  

If I were a Californian this news would cause RAGE. Sitting in the beautiful Appalachians it just makes me go “Really 2020? What next? Record heat in SoCal while Boulder has a winter storm warning?” Be safe out there.

Frantic Sloth 12:37 PM  

@JD 1151am "The Great Theme Uprising of 2020" 🤣🤣

@Z 1205pm 🤬 Yet another reason to gag on (🤮) gender reveal parties. 🙄

Anonymous 12:39 PM  


your local teeVee whether critter might mention this, but for most of the lower 48, esp. autumn-winter-spring, the most important factor in day-to-day is the Northern Jet, which stays straight across Canada, oh Canada about 1/2 the year. even in summer, should it loop south, the temperature doesn't fall into freezing. BUT, once we get past meteorological summer (1 June to 30 September; yes not the same as solar summer) the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO to whether nerds) does make a difference. modulo the mechanics, it fluctuates, and in so doing will cause the Northern Jet to loop south, with the 'point' of the loop being anywhere from lee side of the Rockies to damn near the Atlantic, and the depth of the loop as fall south as the Florida citrus groves.

the Rockies, more or less, are the western boundary of where the loop begins, so that's why there'll be snow on the lee side and a blast furnace windward side. some say [la|el]-nin[a|o] affects the NAO to some degree.

RooMonster 12:41 PM  

Well whaddya know. LEMON SOLE is a fish type. Thanks @Z for the link (10:34).
Always fun to yammer about something without looking to see the facts! *Red face* 😳

**Barbie Alert** (Har)
There's a girl somewhere in the world (see? Too lazy to look it up!) who has a figure like Barbie, and uses make-up to give her face the doll appearance. I'm sure you can Google it. Plus, there are women out there with impossibly small waists. You can look that up, too.

And, one more thing, where's our @BarbieBarbie been?

RooMonster Talk First, Look Later Guy

old timer 12:47 PM  

I am fascinated by the SEX TALK that includes references to SESAME OIL. I too tried to learn something from From the Terrace. It was a little short on details, but I did find adults committing adultery.

As for the puzzle, I thought it was hard for a Monday. 16 minutes pen on paper, and I have done it in 8. Too many clues where the answer did not leap immediately to mind.

I was delighted, though, to find today is Annabel Monday.

bocamp 12:55 PM  

Thank you @Gareth for the "sassy" but "'sole'-filled" start to the week! 🧚‍♀️

@ Annabel, your write-ups are always fresh, if not "sassy". I love my library beyond "words", (pun intended). I found "If Beale Street Could Talk" on my local library's website. I see the audiobook is immediately available for checkout. I don't get out much (don't own a car), so the library's digital collections are invaluable, e.g., ebooks, audiobooks, RB digital mags, Acorn TV, Kanopy TV, etc. 🤓

@ Annabel – BTW, the "Un-Jessica-Biel-ievable" vid was worth the price of admission! 🥛

Definitely a va-va-voom puzzle to start the week:

"The first documented use of the phrase is on the April 21, 1949 episode of The Morey Amsterdam Show. Art Carney portrays "Newton the waiter" in a sketch and uses the phrase. He later recorded a song entitled "Va Va Va Voom" (1954). It was popularized a year later by car mechanic Nick in the Hollywood classic Kiss Me Deadly (1955), which helped the catchphrase to be remembered and reused many decades later in advertisements and pop songs."

From Leonard Cohen's "Halleluj'ah"

Baby, I've been here before --

I know this room, I've walked this floor:

I used to live alone before I knew you.

I've seen your flag on the marble arch:

Love is not a victory march;

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.

Wonderful Andre documentary on Crave TV.

Have a peace-filled and joyous day! 🕊

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

For Labor Day

Don’t bother with your own legacy you’re busy shi**ing on the long dead who aren’t here to care. Go burn down every Starbucks. That’ll show them. Torch the Target. Tear down every monument. Deface every memorial. But what have you built? What do you leave behind?

So take your benzos. Watch your porn. Get Uber to drop off your dinner. Buy an adult coloring book. Have sex with strangers to ease your crippling anxiety. It’s not you. It’s the system really. It isn’t fair. Go cancel someone. Dox someone. They deserve it. You’re the good guy.

Don’t write an epic novel worth building a statue to remember you. Go troll seven year old problematic tweets ever on the hunt for the boogeymen. See now you’ve accomplished something. Cancel everyone. You’re a warrior now. A real hero.

And lastly whatever you do never ever take even a moment to self reflect on your own failures. Never own them. Never take a hint of responsibility. Remember you’re just a helpless victim of circumstances beyond your control. This all means nothing. Its like you weren’t even here.

Joaquin 1:03 PM  

@egs... (11:11) - For The Win!

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

And lastly whatever you do never ever take even a moment to self reflect on your own failures. Never own them. Never take a hint of responsibility. Remember you’re just a helpless victim of circumstances beyond your control.

please explain. the rest of your comment, up to here, reads like a screed against Snowflake Lefties. yet this is a pixel-for-pixel description of The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). what's your point?

bocamp 1:13 PM  

Right to Work Laws and Fear at work

God Bless all Laborers 🙏

Peace 🕊

JC66 1:13 PM  


I actually laughed out loud at your ABOUT A FOOT/ANDRE the Giant/SEX TALK comment. Hilarious.

chance2travel 1:21 PM  

Never heard of a VIREO before, but at least the puzzle provided reasonable crosses.

Happy to have VENICE in there so I could reminisce about traveling.

I'm thinking Bain is a foodie - with the YAM FETA and LEMONSOLE in the south.

Am I the only one who plunked A$$ for 1A? (Something that may be bitten or busted) 🤦‍♂️

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

Anon 1:11

The last graf is of piece with the ones which preceded it. I'm sorry you fail to see that. I suppose then that it's not surprising that you fail to understand the post. As for its meaning- res ipsa loquitur.

Richardf8 2:13 PM  

I was wondering why I had MARBLE ARCH in my head at all; thanks for noting that. May his memory be for a blessing.

Richardf8 2:18 PM  

Wondering if it’s tone deaf, or an on-the-nose, cogent reminder of what’s at stake this election. For all the build-the-wall talk, I’ve seen lots of white collar professional jobs go overseas. So glad that Trump is safeguarding fruit picking, abbatoir, and janitorial jobs for Americans.

Richardf8 2:28 PM  

Unions have made such tremendous improvements through collective bargaining that they have improved the prevailing standards for even non union workers, which is why, at this point in history, you don’t see much benefit from joining. The problem is that with the loss of collective bargaining, those standards tend to slip. In teaching, that leads to larger class sizes, less protection from unruly students, and more administrative overhead landing on your desk. If a student levels a false accusation against you, the union will have your back, and you will see that there is a return on investment with those dues.

bocamp 2:40 PM  

Speaking of the "Tar Heel State" , I'm 2/3 of the way through William R. Forstchen's "After" trilogy which, so far, has centered in and around the town of Black Mountain near the Asheville area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The novels deal with the aftermath of an unexpected nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack over the United States, especially as it affects the people of this area of North Carolina.

Having not yet read the third book of the series, here's hoping and praying for a positive ending (or rather, for the potential of revitalized United States).

Peace 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 2:47 PM  

"Standard dolls are approximately 11 1/2 inches tall" - Wikipedia, on Barbie Dolls

BEALE/BIEL/Bain. Cool.

staff weeject pick: HAW. har, with extra awe.
bonus themer pick: TARSI.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Singer Yoko} = ONO. That pup almost filled itself in, while M&A was still solvequestin up in the NW corner.

fave entries: PARTHENON. LAGALAXY.

Thanx, Mr. Bain. It was within an inch of greatness.

Masked & Anonymo1U


pabloinnh 3:20 PM  

@egsforbreakfast-I'm with @Joaquin in saluting your outstanding contribution to crossword criticism. OFL often reads like a parody of himself, so he's hard to parody, but I would say you aced this one. Well played.

Reminds me of the late lamented Rex Porker, for those of you that remember him, which is high praise indeed.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

not for nuthin, but y'all should read Hiaasen's latest - "Squeeze Me".

bocamp 3:34 PM  

Mel Blanc, "The Man of a Thousand Voices" and a fellow Portland(ia)er . 🌹

Eh, What's up Doc? 🥕

Peace 🕊

Anoa Bob 5:00 PM  

YAM has appeared in a grid over 50 times during the Shortz era and it is almost always clued as a Thanksgiving dish, as it is today. Have any of yous ever had YAM for Thanksgiving? I never have and I bet most of yous haven't either. And after looking at images of YAMs and reading about their texture and taste, I don't think I want to try one. I'll stick with sweet potatoes, which is what most of the so-called YAMs actually are.

Although ARCH, TOE and SOLE are in non FOOT related theme phrases, the same can't be said about HEEL. TAR HEEL originally referred to a ship yard worker during the days of wooden sailing ships, one who specialized in using pitch and TAR to seal spaces between hull and deck planks and after working around the stuff all day would literally have TAR on his HEEL.

And I'm still scratching my head over the reveal. So Barbie is ABOUT A FOOT tall (which I take to mean nearly 12 inches or around 12 inches tall), and I was thrilled to learn that, but an ARCH, a TOE, a HEEL or a SOLE is each PART of A FOOT. To say they are ABOUT A FOOT sounds like a misuse of ABOUT. So for these reasons this one came across a bit wobbly for me.

Ernonymous 6:01 PM  

@egsforbreakfast your post made it worth stopping in, that was hilarious.

@frantic good one about the Tictac and Tinker Toe Brothers. You're a riot, Alice, a real riot!

bocamp 6:03 PM  

Robin Williams' I Yam What I Yam

bocamp 6:08 PM  


Dear "SB"ers – I missed yesterday's SB; anyone know if they're archived?


Peace 🕊

Dan Stelly 8:54 PM  

I can't get over the coincidence of the LA Galaxy handing crosstown rival LAFC a 3-0 defeat on Sunday night, making the clue of "California soccer club" a fairly prescient one with some bragging rights mixed in.

kitshef 7:57 AM  

I found this about the same level of difficulty as the most recent Saturday. A lot of that was my unwillingness to give up on dover SOLE, which I have heard of. I have not heard of LEMON SOLE. Also, Yee=HAh - I've heard of. Yee=HAW - no.

Sven 10:45 PM  

Psycho? You know what's PSYCHO?? Getting into a shower BEFORE you turn the water on!

Unknown 1:47 AM  

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thefogman 2:34 PM  

This was simply a very nice Monday puzzle.

Burma Shave 9:18 AM  


TORI: “SEXTALK is just AGELESS chatter,
it’s not HONEST, only ERRATA.”
ERIN: “AREN’T you SECURE in the sack
when you ARCH up ABACK?”


spacecraft 11:57 AM  

I hoped that my password was SECret, reasonable enough, and that caused some completion delay; thirty FEET can't be right for a Barbie--unless you're ANDRE the Giant, I guess.* However, I was able to SECURE the solution shortly after.

Despite ERIN appearing directly under 10-across, I'll reserve my "VAVA-voom!" for DOD Jessica Biel. Now, enough of this SEXTALK.

Mini-word ladder from the first across to the last: LIP->LID. Clockwise from 1a we have LADS. Though VAVA and DELA seem a bit desperate, most of the fill is "within acceptable parameters," per Data. I wouldn't call VIREO a Monday-level word, but then I'm not a big bird-watcher. For an area that's supposedly bug-free (relatively), we here in Las Vegas seem to have a robust avian population, including, unfortunately, pigeons.

A [ahem] pedestrian theme, fairly well executed; only one of the theme answers actually refers to a foot part {TARHEEL). Never been to the WESTBANK, but MARBLEARCH was a gimme. And yes, they really do have soapboxes on Hyde Park Corner--and no shortage of speakers atop them. VIREO...or, birdie.

leftcoaster 3:07 PM  

From LIP to LID, the LADS (hi, rondo) SECURED as smooth and easy a finish a Monday could possibly offer.

rondo 11:50 PM  

Indeed, Jonathon Higgins' LADS. Yeah baby Jessica BIEL. I've been on BEALE, just not the sound-alike,

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