Tony who played 15 seasons with Minnesota Twins / MON 9-21-20 / Foamy drink invented in Taiwan / Horse developed in desert / Hawaiian kind of porch

Monday, September 21, 2020

Constructor: Daniel Larsen and The Wave Learning Festival Crossword Class

Relative difficulty: Medium (2:59)

THEME: two-word phrases where both words are "-ITE" rhymes 

Theme answers:
  • FIGHT NIGHT (17A: Time to watch boxing on TV)
  • WHITE KNIGHT (30A: One rushing in to save the day)
  • BRIGHT LIGHT (47A: It makes your pupils constrict)
  • QUITE RIGHT (64A: "Precisely!")
Word of the Day: BUBBLE TEA (33D: Foamy drink invented in Taiwan) —

Bubble tea (also known as pearl milk teabubble milk tea, or boba) (Chinese珍珠奶茶pinyinzhēn zhū nǎi chá波霸奶茶bō bà nǎi chá or 泡泡茶pào pào chá) is a tea-based drink invented in Taiwan in the 1980s that includes chewy tapioca balls ("boba" or "pearls") or a wide range of other toppings.

Ice-blended versions are frozen and put into a blender, resulting in a slushy consistency.[3]There are many varieties of the drink with a wide range of flavors. The two most popular varieties are black pearl milk tea and green pearl milk tea. (wikipedia)

• • •

Look, I don't know what the backstory is here, but this isn't a NYTXW-worthy theme. It's way, way, way too basic. Maybe, *maybe*, if the theme answers were, on their own, really vibrant phrases, you could get away with this, but as is, this isn't playful or interesting enough for *any* major daily crossword, let alone the "best puzzle in the world" or whatever. And the fill is oddly old and cruddy for a Monday. As I've said before, you can often gauge the overall quality of the puzzle before you're out of the NW corner, and that corner today, yeesh. I love baseball and knew OLIVA (2D: Tony who played for 15 seasons with the Minnesota Twins), but that is dated baseball crosswordese (esp. for a Monday), and LIGER and EVERSO had me worried that the fill was not headed anywhere good. It's certainly not much worse than average, I guess, but I expect much cleaner on a Monday. I mean, every Across from LANAI on down in the SW is just straight out of crossword central casting. The puzzle is also clumsily built, with giant Friday/Saturday-like corners in the NE and SW, as if the puzzle were trying to be a themeless and an easy Monday themed puzzle simultaneously, but succeeding at neither. Actually, the big corners are far better done than the themed portion of the puzzle. No idea how you can have that much wide open space and still end up at the maximum word count (78), but this puzzle did it. It just didn't feel like an experienced or careful hand was at the helm. I don't get it. If somehow a bunch of fourth-graders made this, then sure, I'll feel a little bad. But I never read constructor's notes at the Times' site and I'm not going to start today. This just isn't up to (what should be) NYTXW standards, theme-wise. 

Are we still expected to know things about "Desperate Housewives"? When will that show's "currency" run out? I outlived the "Ally McBeal" era (when you would occasionally be asked to know tertiary characters on that show for some reason), but sadly it seems the "Desperate Housewives" era is still upon us. Anyway, I didn't know BREE (38A: One of the housewives on "Desperate Housewives"). Beyond that, and OLIVA, there's not much here that's going to throw anyone off their game. I weirdly don't like NIGHT and KNIGHT being successive last words in theme phrases. Feels like cheating. They're homophones. After I got them, I was like, "How many other homophones are there??" But then that wasn't the theme after all. I also think that there should be *no* other "-ight"-sounding words in the grid, outside of the themers, for the sake of elegance. So I'm finding EVITE slightly annoying. In short: keep the NE / SW corners, tear out everything else, and make a themeless. Thank you, goodbye. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:15 AM  

Geez, Rex, aren't you as a teacher supposed to encourage students? This puzzle, while not the best ever, was done by a group of high-school students online. How 'bout giving them kudos for having an interest in YOUR hobby? How 'bout praising their effort while offering some constructive criticism (or even offering to teach them Crossword 102)?

Pamela 12:19 AM  

I had BUBBLETEA in Vietnam way back when we could travel- Oh, just last year. A lifetime ago. It had these little kind of gluey balls in it, sorta like gummies with no taste. And no foam. Sounds like the editor, or whoever came up with the clue, had no idea what it really is and assumed bubbles meant foam. No.

I got a little (tiny!) kick out of MAMA bear. Cute. Everything else super easy and meh.

bocamp 1:04 AM  

@ Daniel Larsen and The Wave Learning Festival Crossword Class - Definitely not a "solo" effort, but peachy "keen" just the same. Enough crunch for a good Monday workout going into the week. Thank you all and keep up the good puzzling! :)


"curiouser and curiouser"


"Ever so Gently"


In the (hyper-modern) Reti Opening , the "white knight" opens with nf3.

The Reti Opening is a very flexible chess opening that can transpire into other common openings for white. Instead of controlling the center with pawns, white looks to use his minor pieces to put pressure on the center.


Something Is Not "Quite Right" In the Universe, Ultraprecise New Measurement Reveals


Slip a padlock into the "asp" and Bob's your uncle! .

和平 🕊

albatross shell 1:14 AM  


Is ESS Curve in the road or Curves in the road?

Could " Precisely" clue 66D as well as 64 across?

A. Have opposite meanings
B. Mean the same thing
C. Mean different but not always opposite things
D. At times can be any of the above

Starting at 7D and going down the column you get
ERG ETA AIL ILK. Assuming you can turn left, right, up or down on any abutting 3 letter answer, 4 letter PoC, or black square you can reach: KOI ATE SETS WHO HIP PAT TUGS ASKS TIS LEI TNT ESS ASPS OOH EMU HEN KEN DOT URNS DAT ETS. Is that every one in the puzzle? I don't make much of that. ASK the no-name masked one.

goofytakemyhand 1:44 AM  

It takes one minute to read the backstory, but don't let it get in the way of tearing down a 16-year-old kid leading a class for middle and high schoolers to
"The Wave Learning Festival in their own words “has a commitment to lessen the educational inequities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the long-standing gaps in educational opportunity.”

Sounds like a very noble cause to me and maybe you should read up on the whole festival itself and the work they will be continuing to do in the future.

Respectfully, shouldn't that be something you'd encourage, especially as a member in the academic profession - or do you just prefer to selectively virtue signal rather than support a really fantastic concept run by teens/college students for teens?

Loren Muse Smith 1:50 AM  

@Joaquin and @bocamp - thanks for the heads-up on the backstory here. Very, very cool that this was constructed by students in an online crossword class offered through the . . .”Wave Learning Festival, a student-run initiative whose stated goal is to combat the educational inequalities that the pandemic has only exacerbated.”

Move over, J.A.S.A. – Daniel Larsen is here, and he’s teaching, too. @Lewis – you and your students could be next!

Rhyme themes may be old-fashioned, sure, but for a Monday, I liked this just fine. Those big corners for me were impressive: MARDI GRAS, I’M NOT HERE, TASTE TEST, BUBBLE TEA, OPERATORS, TRAIN STOP.

My generation – Pepsi Challenge. This generation (What. Gen-zzxyers?): Tide Pod Challenge. I saw a meme that said something like, When I was your age I had to eat Tide right out of the box. (The Pepsi TASTE TEST reminded me of those Pepsi Max commercials. If you haven’t seen Uncle Drew, it’s truly worth a look. You have to watch until the end. There’s also this one.)

71A “Requests” = ASKS. My first take on this was that they’re both nouns. I rather like the connotation of ASK as a noun. Man, that’s a big ask. I’ma have to think about that before I commit.

The clue for SETS had me pause: “Goes down, as the sun on the horizon.” Is “on the horizon” necessary? Like, does the sun set anywhere else?

“Brownish-yellow” feels like whatever it is, you don’t want any part of. Right? Curried chicken is OCHRE. That sludge under your water heater is brownish-yellow.

I looked into the LIGER. The dad is the lion, the mom is the tiger. There’s also a “tigon” – tiger dad, lion mom. Ligers can happen in the wild, but they seem to be the result of accidental matings between lions and tigers. Apparently big cats have blow-out keg parties, too.

Daniel and your students – y’all’re gonna have a fun day today basking in your success. You got an acceptance letter on just your second submission? That’s a big get. Congrats!

chefwen 2:29 AM  

Solved this fun Monday puzzle whilst sitting on our LANAI, I wasn’t wearing a LEI or munching on FRITOS, I was enjoying some Cheetos, which led to orange smudges all over my puzzle. I like a pristine puzzle, I might have to switch to FRITOS or Doritos.

jae 3:51 AM  

Medium. Cute, liked it.

@chefwen - I’m a big fan of smudge free Hawaiian Kettle Chips. Orange smudges might be a threat to our way of life.

staydetuned 4:54 AM  

Thought it was a fun and beautifully constructed puzzle, especially after reading the byline. Came here to see if the author of this blog (I can’t in good conscience call him by his moniker on here) might think so too. Surprise, surprise. This guy never ceases to amaze me. Which is why I don’t come here unless I’m already grumpy or want deliberately to be put in a bad mood.

Keep up the good work.

David 5:16 AM  

As so often in life, two things can be true at the same time: 1) commenters are right to say the wave festival class is a commendable effort to get kids more interested in crosswords; 2) Rex is right to say that this is a puzzle that more properly belongs in an inflight magazine than the NYT. The two aren't mutually exclusive.

Harryp 5:56 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith1:50am, If Ligers in the wild are accidents, their parents seem to make the same mistake over and over again for hours. Just saying.

ChuckD 6:12 AM  

Theme was a little old school but fine for a Monday - in fact I think tightly constructed because I couldn’t come up with other rhymes that work. Overall fill didn’t sparkle - but wasn’t UGLI either. Liked TINSEL x BRIGHT LIGHT and had the same reaction to the Pepsi Challenge as @Loren. Agree with Rex that Desperate Housewives shouldn’t have a place in the puzzle.

Nice start to the week - albeit a pretty flat solve. I can work with it.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

This theme is quite tight.

I made an internet-aided list of one-syllable ite-rhyming words, took out the ones used for the theme, and couldn’t make a strongly in-the-language theme answer out of what was left. (Hi, @ChuckD!)

And so I think this theme is Monday-worthy, where you want simplicity. Unusual for Monday are those big white blocks in each corner, but they too work for me because almost all of the answers in the corners are so well known.

I also love the image of a dozen total crossword newcomers coming up with a puzzle in ten classes, some of who may now be fired up to get into this constructing game, not to mention the image of a regular solver now thinking, “Well, if they could do it, maybe so can I!”

Daniel, thank you for your crossword passion and leadership in mentoring. Last Friday you turned 17, and you already have eight puzzles published in the Times. I don’t think we’ll have to wait all that long until you’ve published more puzzles than your number of years on earth.

Hungry Mother 6:38 AM  

Quick enough, but I had to yoyo back and forth from acrosses and downs to proceed. Helpful theme with some nice answers. Yesterday, I failed the LAT and NYT puzzles on the same letter of the alphabet.

Blackhat 6:51 AM  

5 names, 4 foreign words....

pabloinnh 7:19 AM  

You may not think that we have BUBBLETEA here in the wilds of NH, but you would be wrong, and I got that answer off the U, so there. This is a side effect of living near a college town.

Did I like this more than OFL? Of course. And having dealt with high schoolers for quite a long time I'm prone to the encouragement side of getting results. Good for all you guys.

Maybe not quite a NYT-worthy Monday, but fun enough. Thanks y'all, and keep at it.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Felt more like a Tuesday to me.

Lite Bright, making things with light;
Outta sight, making things with Lite Bright.

Having EVITE appear makes the puzzle a mite less tight.

SouthsideJohnny 7:32 AM  

I think Rex’s review was fair and appropriate, as the puzzle was “choppy” and probably could have used some work. He fully disclosed that he does not know and is not interested in the backstory, which is certainly his prerogative. Shortz decided to give the kids a chance and can see how it is received by the crossword solving public - which is of course his prerogative as well. Based on the early consensus here - it appears as though the up-and-coming constructors passed their first test with flying colors - congrats guys and gals !

Ari Stotle 7:39 AM  

One more thing to ban forever from crossword puzzles: Michael Sharp.

He reveals himself today to be just a very nasty human being.

hollasboy 8:15 AM  

I enjoy BUBBLETEA weekly and it’s never foamy. The “bubbles” are actually chewy tapioca balls that sink to the bottom...

gerry w 8:17 AM  

Never before have Rex and I agreed so completely. The Wave Project may well have great value but this puzzle was POOR. Weak fill, trite theme. NIGHT/KNIGHT repeats the sound -- ordinarily a minor issue but here the theme is the sounds.

Xcentric 8:37 AM  

Not a bad first attempt, Wave Learning Festival Crossword Class.
But it was a bit sub par for the NYT. Some clueing was OK for a Monday.
I actually think Rex’s critique is good for the budding constructors to read. It points out pitfalls to avoid when doing future puzzles. It was harsh, but then some of my best teachers have been my harshest critics. In fact, any budding constructor would get a master class in what to strive for and what to avoid when constructing a crossword puzzle by reading Rex and this blog.
Although I’ve seen it before, I still like the clue for aqua. Maybe because I love the beach and I love Watercolors. My lame attempts at painting in watercolor only make me appreciate the incredible talent of accomplished watercolor artists. That doesn’t discourage me, it just makes me want to learn more and improve my own work.
I hope that is what Rex’s harsh review does for these first timers.

Lewis 8:38 AM  

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

1. Polo grounds? (4)
2. Starts to de-camp? (5)
3. In-flight announcement, for short? (3)
4. Shot required for international travel (8)(5)
5. Certain sneak (4)


57stratocaster 8:39 AM  

A couple tough answers for the Monday-new-to-crossword-crowd, but overall a solid Monday. It IS a Monday puzzle after all, right?

Nancy 8:43 AM  

At FIGHT NIGHT, I knew the theme would be a rhyming phrase. When I read the 30A clue and knew the answer was WHITE KNIGHT, I realized they would all be "ite" rhymes. I then jumped ahead to the two remaining themers and filled them in on the clues alone, with no crosses. I do stuff like that sometimes to make an easy puzzle more interesting and challenging for myself.

This was a smooth and pleasant Monday and deserves kudos for being completely junk-free. I did wonder along the way why certain OPERA people were "standing by" in an infomercial, but soon saw that they were OPERATORS. Oh, yes. OPERATORS are standing by to take your phone call -- and your contribution -- just as soon as you agree to send it. I'm thinking of you, PBS.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 8:50 AM  

I think they should have given a bit more of the backstory in the print paper. Just the constructors' name didn't give enough of an excuse for the mediocrity, and I wouldn't even know where to look for those writeups you e-solvers seem to find online.

TJS 8:51 AM  

Yesterday : "Really hate the idea that asterisks are somehow stars".
Today : *maybe*...*any*...*no*.

But Rex, what if there were women constructors in the Wave class?

Anyone remember any other Daniel Larsen reviews. I have the feeling there's a back story here.

EdFromHackensack 8:52 AM  

Lewis - I always look forward to your top five.

Rex, C’mon, this is a Monday. Relax, it is only a crossword puzzle, and a fun one. You really get a sense of the breadth of NYTXS when you take today’s puzzle and compare it with yesterday’s.

TJS 9:06 AM  

Whats with all this "Not worthy of a Monday NYT puzzle " stuff ? Have you people been doing the Mondays we have had thrown at us in the past months? Sheesh...

@XCentric, nothing will be funnier than your "master class" description.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Accurate criticism.

Sir Hillary 9:23 AM  

Yes, very rudimentary theme. But so what?

They could have gone the goofy route:
-- Acrophobia: height fright
-- Fun on a breezy day: kite flight
-- Apse, perhaps: rite site
-- Rash reason, maybe: mite bite

LIGERs can results from mating in the wild? Where? Do lions and tigers have any common territory in the wild?

pmdm 9:24 AM  

The only requirement I tend to have for a Monday NYT puzzle is that any trivia entriv I don't know is easy to get by filling in the crosses. By that requirement, this was a fine Monday puzzle. I am always put off a bit by those who impose their own demands on a puzzle meant to be easy for new solvers. Did you dislike the puzzle? If you did, you can certainly say so. Could it have been better? That's not the point for me. For me, the point is whether most new solvers enjoyed solving it. It's a puzzle not aimed at experienced solvers, so their valid reactions to me are not the point. Is it a bad puzzle? Only if most new solvers were pt off by it. And that's a characteristic that most experienced solvers might not get right. And I don't mean that to sound condescending.

According to the constructor notes, the team's first puzzle was not accepted for publication. So even if one thinks the bar is set too low, there is some kind of quality bar set for a puzzle to be accepted. Perhaps duplication of theme is a bar that is set too low. But at least to me, this puzzle felt like a proper Monday experience. Am I damning with faint praise?

Nancy 9:33 AM  

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I thought a LIGER was something out of either "Harry Potter", "Lord of the Rings", or a drunk-as-a-skunk Rudyard Kipling. Imagine my surprise to find out it's a real animal -- the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. Who knew? What's more, it's only one of two such hybrids, the other being a TIGON -- the offspring of a male tiger and a female lion. After searching for their respective photos online, I have come to the following conclusion:

The TIGON looks fiercer and is more handsome and charismatic.

The LIGON looks sweeter and more cuddly.

You're welcome.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Can I very cautiously ask something about Saturday's puzzle? Spoiler alert - please don't scroll down if you haven't finished Saturday, Sep. 19 yet.

How is PEARL an answer where the clue is Beauty?

Crimson Devil 9:48 AM  

Good to see newer constructors comin on, and to see reference to KENKEN, excellent game, on a par with SB, and, of course, Kyrie.

RooMonster 9:51 AM  

Hey All !
@Greater Fall 8:50
Go to

Will normally doesn't like rhyming puzs. It was fun to see this today. Kind of makes me feel more depressed, though, as this was only the second puz sent in and it was accepted. My piss poor puzs, I won't tell you how many I've sent in, it's embarrassing!

I actually liked the nice open NE/SW corners. Filled nicely, too. Cuts down a bit the black square count, there's 35.

EVER SO slightly tougher than a normal MonPuz, which is good. A little puz resistance on Monday is welcome to me. UPROOTS neat, usually UP words have it at the end.

Overall, a nice puz, regardless of OFLs screed. QUITE RIGHT!

Two F's

Carola 9:56 AM  

Medium here, with a appropriately easy theme and some trouble spots elsewhere (OLIVA and LIGER + misremembering which bear had which bed and failing to count squares for EManate). Nice job on the long Downs! I especially like the clue for OPERATORS.

@chefwen - Back when I was teaching .... sitting in my office on late fall afternoons, grading student essays as the sun began to SET in my west-facing window, I'd head for the vending machines for a restorative bag of Cheetos....and then have to repeat to myself over and over, "Don't get orange dust on the papers, don't get orange dust on the papers!" That stuff is impossible to brush away. I didn't want to mess up their work orreveal my snacking habits.

Sgreennyc 10:06 AM  

Another Trumpian critique by the most obnoxious man outside of the White House. These are students Rex, you nitwit.

What? 10:20 AM  

Lions and tigers are found in Asia. There are no tigers in Africa.

Z 10:21 AM  

I guess Wight KNIGHT would be something else entirely and QUIght RIGHT isn’t. Oh well. I did like it more than Rex but was wondering just how old this class was. I’m a tad surprised this was done by high schoolers. Tony OLIVA is not a name on the tip of every (any?) high schooler’s tongue.

I find the “how could you?” responses far far far worse than Rex’s write up. There’s even a phrase for what you all are doing, the soft bigotry of low expectations. Disagree with Rex on the merits of the puzzle, but stop with the condescending pandering, please. High school age teens are perfectly capable of hearing criticism and deciding what is worth listening to and what is just some old guy screaming in the dark best to be ignored.

@TJS - 😂😂

***Saturday Spoiler Alert***
@Anon9:39 - Pearls are noted for being beautiful so “pearl” is used as a metaphor for beauty. Strings of pearl aren’t as fashionable as they once were, so perhaps the comparison is a bit dated these days, but it was an easy answer for me.

Frantic Sloth 10:23 AM  



Crimson Devil 10:35 AM  

I actually had Tony Oliva’s baseball card, and many others, location unknown.

mathgent 10:38 AM  

Weak sauce.

jberg 10:46 AM  

I kinda agree with OFL about the theme, but tho long downs redeem the puzzle. I guess I should try some BUBBLE TEA.

3/4 through, thre was only one ITE and a whole slew of IGHTs. Then I got to QUITE RIGHT, so it was ok.

I didn’t mind EVITE, because it has 2 syllables— but I would have preferred not having TASTE TEST, because it comes so close to being a rhymed pair.

@Nancy, I don’t think you should cuddle with either of those creatures.

David 10:46 AM  

Other David here.

It was fine by me. Didn't much care for the "martial art with belt system" clue because the answer could be almost any one of them. Only error to write over was "home" rather than "here."

Congratulations on your puzzle, class. Take the criticisms with more grace than Rex is prone to doling them out and you'll learn.

Perry 11:04 AM  

My only issue with today's puzzle is that bubble tea is NOT a foamy drink. Bubble tea is a lot of things, but foamy is not one of them.

egsforbreakfast 11:20 AM  

Rex presents a pretty much valid crItique of the puzzle if the backstory isn’t known. Will Shortz works in a department that has been tasked with opening up the games to a more diverse set of players, which necessitates more diversity in sourcing. This puzzle, published without virtue signaling, sends messages to noob solvers and wannabe constructors, that are in keeping with the evolving mission of the Gray Lady.

I’ll bet that a lot of you have been to peewee baseball games or junior soccer. Sometimes, you watch sports for other reasons than seeing the worlds finest athletes competing at their prime. Same with this crossword. Here are some youngsters, collaboratively creating a crossword that is at least AAA, under the tutelage of a major league pro. I think it’s wonderful that they have learned enough that some of them will,no doubt, become familiar names to us over the years.

Thank you Daniel and congrats to the Wave Learning Crossword Class.

Masked and Anonymous 11:33 AM  

M&A gives the class a B+. yeah … That MIGHT be about RIGHT.
I give whichever students who did MARDIGRAS, TINSEL, KARATE, and/or BOTCH a solid A, tho.
And a kooky "present" award to the writer of the clue for FEEL.
To the student that came up with DAT: har

staff weeject pick: EMU. Important, that the students be encouraged to use U's, from the getgo.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Bear whose bed is too soft, in a children's story} = MAMA.
fave moo-cow ?-mark clue, of 3 entrants: {Repeated question from an owl?} = WHO.

fave themer: BRIGHTLIGHT. Sneaky "pupils" reference, in its clue.

Classy puz, y'all. Thanx and congratz, to the whole student body. Especially keep an eye on that FEEL clue writer, tho … that one's kinda different. har

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 11:56 AM  

Mr. Larsen and his class,

Well done. Be proud. But most important, pay Mr. Sharp no mind. He's really little more than a crank at this point.
Looking forward to your next offering.

CuppaJoe 12:26 PM  

Bubble tea with tapioca pearls is popular beyond it’s both tasteless and overly sweet flavors in San Francisco; really, people form long lines. I’ve been to meetings at “Boba” cafes; it can be ordered with varying degrees of sweetness but the least sweet ones are still too much. I tried it a couple of times but refrained at the last meeting. Yuk!

I believe it’s a recent phenomenon and have come to the theory that there is a reason boba cafes can be found at bus transfer points and densely in chinatown. Seems the main targets, that is customers, are high school and college students looking for an extra sugar jolt for studying.

sixtyni yogini 12:41 PM  

I liked it. Haha but then I’m fairly new at this. 🤗
It was easy and fast but no where near 2 minutes! (How is 2 minutes even possible? 😎😜😎)

GILL I. 12:44 PM  

@Greater fall is right. A little background story would've been nice. In my margin I wrote my IGHT got up and left with frIGHT. I take it back. This was sweet like BUBBLE TEA floating in tapioca balls.
OFL writes: "Are we still expected to know things about Desperate Housewives..." Yes. You see, BREE was married to Rex. Yep...that's his name. I'm going to share with you one of her little gems of a quote: "To be honest, the only thing I don't like about sex is the scrotum. I mean obviously it has its practical applications, but I'm not a big fan." See?...aren't you glad you asked?
I liked IM NOT HERE. Haven't we all said that at one time? I once had a dear sweet neighbor who thought it was perfectly acceptable to come over anytime of the day without an invitation . I don't always need one, but she'd usually ring the doorbell (or even walk in if the house wasn't locked) at all hours. The hours she chose would usually be around the time I'd be cleaning house in my undies.
We're back up in the hills of Auburn. It's nice now. But for some reason, I'd prefer to be with @chefwen and sitting on her LANAI. We could eat some Cheetos together and smudge away while overlooking the ocean. One can dream?

Jeff B. 12:51 PM  

Kudos to the high schoolers for the effort. But to the editor, this was not a Monday puzzle.

Teedmn 12:51 PM  

Hah, my first thought at seeing 2D was that this puzzle must have been constructed by one of the current or ex-pat Minnesotans out there, but not even close. Tony OLIVA, still a household name around here.

This was a super-easy Monday, maybe not as easy as last Monday, but the theme made for easy-filling. I thought it was cute - with no reveal needed. And the long fill answers just ENDEARed it to me EVER SO much.

Nice job, Daniel and The Wave (sounds like a pop band) Learning Festival.

Ernonymous 12:53 PM  

I learned LIGER in that movie Napoleon Dynamite. VOTE FOR PEDRO!

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

I didn't know anything about the organization when I was solving, other than it was some type of class, but I found the puzzle delightful and fresh for a Monday. I'm surprised at the negativity. Mondays are usually pretty boring but this one was fun. I actually had the thought "what a difference it makes to have several minds at work instead of just one." You get a much more varied field of clues, not just sports and opera or whatever the constructor has a boner for, and clues felt a lot less old-fogey than average. As for BREE ... we can have ORR (retired for 40 YEARS) and OTT (dead for 60!) and ASHE (still semi-relevant due to having a stadium named after him, but still) in literally every other puzzle, but a TV show that's been off the air for less than a decade is too stale? Okay, white men. And for the elders, BUBBLETEA can have a cheese foam topping so it's not wrong, per se, just not as obvious. I've never commented before but seeing a good puzzle torn down by a bunch of grumps has driven me out of lurker mode.

Elizabeth Sandifer 12:54 PM  

It would be a fairly egregious mistake, I think, to assume that because Rex has a job in academia he has somehow inherited an all-encompassing responsibility to encourage students in all cases, including in his hobbies where he is manifestly not being paid.

This was a mediocre puzzle, below the standard of the NYT. It has a cool backstory, but that backstory does not transform it into an especially good puzzle. Rex is largely right: the theme is bad, the fill is on the low end of adequate. The result is a seriously below average puzzle with a heartwarming backstory. Should that have been printed? Idk. Certainly it resulted in a puzzle I didn’t enjoy. Probably would have made a better “here’s a bonus puzzle and a short article about this cool program” than a Monday.

old timer 1:13 PM  

I think the review was spot on. My high school teachers could have written it, to explain the D+ on my paper. It is an insult to them to suggest they deserve special consideration for putting together a third-rate puzzle. They are presumably big girls and boys, and sometimes, just sometimes, you don't get what you want, but do get what you need.

(Actually, all I noticed in the paper was the name of a constructor I knew from previously published puzzles, who has up until now been first-class).

bocamp 1:32 PM  

@ Loren Muse Smith 1:50 AM

Skookum vid to the max! Kyrie for prez. :)


***Saturday Spoiler Alert***

@ @TJS

It was a slam dunk for me, too! In fact, it was a "pearl" of a clue, a beauty to behold. After the game, I needed to apply some "Pearl & Beauty"


she's a pearl, she's beautiful; liger a lot!


A day on "Lanai"


Imbibed "bubble tea" on many occasions at my favorite Vietnamese haunt on Hastings St. in Vancouver. :)


Daniel and class will survive the criticism and will more than likely benefit. As was previously mentioned, most of us have experienced "tough" instructors at one time or another. My toughest (an ex-marine) was also my favorite. Got a B+ from him on my IGY project in Jr. High; was over the moon, as I'd only ever managed C's and B-'s up to then. That B+ was a "pearl" to me. It was, indeed, a beautiful thing to behold. He even singled me out after a "faculty/student" basketball game for owning him on a couple of my patent moves (nothing in Kyrie's league, tho). LOL. BTW, "TLC" can also mean, "tough loving care." :)

Off to the dentist for a long, hard 2 1/2 hr. session; first time out of the condo since my last dental visit in Feb. 🙏

Peace 平和 salam maluhia vrede paix paz 和平 🕊

Whatsername 1:39 PM  

@Frantic (10:23) 🤣🤣🤣 😉 (Sorry @Nancy.)

@GILL (12:44) I’d love to join you. I’ll bring the barbecue flavored FRITOS and we can really make a mess.

I was late today and didn’t plan to comment but after reading the review and some of the comments I decided to chime in. I don’t see a thing wrong with this puzzle. I’ve been doing NYT crosswords for 20+ years and I didn’t find this one noticeably better or worse than average. Yes it was rather simplistic but isn’t that what it’s supposed to be on a Monday? I seem to recall others with similar themes and not this level of complaining about it. I thought it was a job well done. Thanks Daniel et al.

Sitting outside on what passes for a lanai in my neck of the woods on an absolutely beautiful last day of summer. May we never again experience another season like this one has been,

Howard 1:50 PM  

The puzzle was D- but because it was written by high schoolers I give it a C-. Rex is a curmudgeon for sure but he’s right that we should expect better from the Times. I doubt Maleska would have found this acceptable for publication. Last thought: I had bubble tea before I opened a show in 2002 and as is my superstitious habit, if opening night goes well I need to do the same thing before each show that I did opening night. Opening was a sell out and a standing ovation and I drank way too much bubble tea during that run. Bubble tea is, to be polite, disgusting.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

The phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” was coined by President George W. Bush in 2000 in a speech to the NAACP that marked the launching of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Bush asserted, Happy to see Z reference Bush 43 approvingly. Well done sir.

pmdm 2:10 PM  

I've said my peice already but, after reading all the comments, feel the need to add the following.

Thre's a difference in being cranky and being a crank. There's a difference in how you come off in words and how you come off in the flesh. There;s a difference between an opinion and a statement of fact. And there's a difference between a review and imposing one's likes and dislikes on the general public.

We live in an age where one or more of the differences I just voiced become confused in some people's mind. Especially in the political world. Based upon my feeble memory, it seems to me that such confusion invaded the comments posted here more often in the past than currently. That means that while things seem better to me, things could still get better. That's true of most things.

If you want to expand the universe, which the NYT probably wants to do, you may beed to experiment. So it is in the crosswrd world. Such experimentation may seem to some to be lowering the quality of the puzzles. Maybe they have a point.

Seems to me there are actually three different standards for weekday puzzles.

1) Mon and Tues: puzzles must be fairly easy and fun for new solvers to solve.

2) Wed Thurs: puzzles must be challenging and fun for experienced solvers to solve, with Thurs often including an unusual characteristic not common to crosswords. [Not common is not equal to rare.)

3) Fri and Sat: puzzles must be challenging for experienced solvers to solve. Clue might be intentionally misleading.

Sunday puzzles tend to combine the qualities of the second two categories but will also include a fair number of easy (gimme) clues.

Sadly, something published in the NYT must attract a wide variety of solvers. Hence, there tends to be a least-common-denominator factor in determining which puzzles are published.

Add to that the recognized need to publish a diverse group of constructors without discriminating against any specific group. (Nuff said about that.)

I read the paper primarily to be well rounded concerning current events. For me. the puzzle is a welcome extra. For those who only solve the puzzle, I understand there frustration. But if you enter a group that requires a LCD approach, you will be frustrated. You can do a lot, lot worse than solving a puzzle like the one published today. Not that believing that will lower the frustration level.

Z 2:24 PM  

@2:01 - Yep. Too bad Dubya was wrong about so much else. Paige, Spellings, and Duncan. I can’t imagine three worse Education secretaries, although DeVos is trying to out-worst all of them (and, yes, I know Duncan was Obama’s - still gawdawful - what a lost decade). Henry Ford, noted racist and anti-semite, is reputed to have said something like “whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.” So being right, even a genius, or having a good speech writer is good for pithy quotes but not necessarily anything else. I should add that anytime “good for a ...” wants to come out of my mouth that phrase stops and makes me pause, so I owe Dubya a thanks for that.

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

@Z As Abraham Lincoln said “ Stand with anyone that is right; stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.”

Unknown 3:53 PM  

Liked the puz.I didn't care for the clue for EMU, as I'm guessing nobody in 10 year's time will remember this set of commercials.
Someone mentioned the cranky old man yelling in the dark - - a perfect description of M. Sharp. hey, it's his blog so he can be a cranky old man if he wants.
and let's face it, his audience is pretty small, maybe 300 or so of us who mostly come to look @ the answers and read his criticisms for fun, and about 20 of you who really really get into it. With multiple posts each day. Awesome. I totally love & look forward to reading Z's posts on just about anything, because he seems to have an answer for everything!

jonkotaco 4:12 PM  

I was also wondering about the Pearl/Beauty clue. Unfortunately even this explanation doesn't make sense to me. In what context could Pearl be a synonym for beauty?

TickleBelly 5:00 PM  

There is a new trendy thing in the past decade called "cheese tea" that's Boba tea with a foam cap made with cheese and milk whipped into a foam.

But that is decidedly it's own thing. I've been drinking bubble tea quite frequently, in many different places around the world, for the past 15 years. And not once have I seen a foamy plain old "bubble tea".

This actually had me so convinced it was NOT bubble tea, that I was trapped in the sw trying to figure what to fill in a couple of the blanks around the H I had filled in for HEAD on 43a (a much more Monday answer, I would have probably expected a quoted clue here for BEAN).

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Z does have an answer for everything but it is very frequently wrong.
Take his last post. He affirm’s the post of 2:01 which claims George W. Bush coined the term soft bopigotry of low expectations. That is patently wrong. Michael Garson coined it. All 43 did was read it.
I assure one of those two things is very hard to do. The other? Well, every mouth breathing politician can do it, so judge for yourself.

chefwen 5:19 PM  

@Whatsername and @Gill. C,mon over, I’ve got the wine covered.

bailorg 5:31 PM  

So is there someone out there that does a daily NYTXW review that actually likes crosswords?

RooMonster 5:31 PM  

**SB Stuff**
Well, I Finally got it. QB. But, with an * (asterisk, star, whatever). 😋 Had to go back through my "previous-missed-list" to find it. Turned out I was only one away. I doubt I would've got it on my own.

Same for YesterBee, I was one short, turned out it was one of the pangrams. Let's just say it had to do with witches.

So a sorta celebration time. Q after a looong drought, but with a slight hand. I should feel good, but I don't for some reason.

Anyway, QB. Yay me.

RooMonster Q* Guy

pmdm 5:38 PM  

jonkotaco et al: There is really no logic at times to how symbols became symbols. The rose is a symbol of love because it was a popular flower for men to give their women lovers. The swan is a symbol of beauty, although I don't judge a swan to posess great beauty. And so on. Try to google "pearl beauty" and see what comes up. I did. It seems the pearl is a symbol for beauty. That is makes little sense to you does not alter the fact that many accept a pearl as a symbol for beauty. Welcome to the world of the crossword clue.

It helps to do a little research when a clue/entry pair make no sense to you. It also helps to come to a site like this and ask for clarification. As you have done. Hope this helps you a bit.

Pamela 5:50 PM  

*****SB ALERT****

@Roo- Congratulations!🎂🎊💥

I just got there too- must have been about the same time you did. Good for you for sticking with it!

Funny how every day at a certain point the letters look impossible. And some days they really are, but the Bee expects us to come up with some pretty strange arrangements to make it all the way. Today I was sure was one of those days, but then I got the last 2 holdouts and they were perfectly normal, recognizable words that anyone might use. Not a to be found anywhere.😊

JC66 5:52 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Hey Roo!

Mazel Tov.

I'm one away, but don't have any lists to consult so I'll keep trying during the commercials in tonight's football game.

Go Raiders. 😂

JC66 5:55 PM  

****SB ALERT****


Obviously, I was typing when you posted.

Congrats to you, too.

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

anon 5:03-Presidents are often credited with words they uttered written by others; cf. Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, JFK,

Whatsername 6:23 PM  

@chefwen (5:19) Thanks, if only I could.

Pamela 6:35 PM  

Re: Pearls = Beauty
While I was solving, I immediately thought of Pearls before Swine, and nodded wisely as I entered it into the grid. I nearly wrote that to@jonkotaco, but thought maybe I should check it first. To my great surprise, that particular phrase is from the Bible, and is translated as not offering valuable things to people who do not appreciate them. Not quite what I was looking for.

Then I went fishing around for anything I could find relating to the significance of Pearls and came up with lots of lovely ideas- innocence, purity, great value, but nothing at all that mentioned the two words together, except that pearls are beautiful.

I was fascinated, though, by the history.

“First recorded by a Chinese historian in 2,206 BCE, pearls have been valued as gemstones for millennia.”

Later, in Rome they were so valued- and expensive- that in addition to the tin, wheat and other prizes that he expected to win, Caesar may have hoped to find pearl beds when he invaded England. In that he was disappointed. Although there were oysters, they found no pearls. They shipped some back home anyway, to be eaten. And in the 1st century BC, he passed a law limiting the wearing of pearls only to the ruling classes.

Just a sampling of what I found through some random googling. But no example of a pearl/beauty definition. Sigh.

Swagomatic 6:39 PM  

I liked it quite a bit. Tony OLIVA popped right in. Kudos to the class!!!

JC66 6:56 PM  

****SB ALERT****

Well, I'm patting myself on the QB two days in a row.

Newboy 7:14 PM  

Late to the fray today following a morning of blood bank volunteer duty and ironically an afternoon blood draw following. No chance to read the commentary yet, but thought I’d save y’all for after supper....yep an Ozarks term that.

Today was a day when Rex needed to have read at least the constructor name...even better the notes at xwordinfo. I admire Daniel (and Sis Anne) generally & look forward to their collaborations. The giraffe it has been said is a horse assembled by Committee & today’s simple grid is indeed a puzzle assembled by a class, but on Monday I can live with that. OFL’s picking sarcastically at 4th graders confirms our worst fears: he is a YOUNG curmudgeon! His assessment, while accurate, begs the question (hi@z) of who will lead the next generation into the Crossworld of our impending senescence. Thanks Daniel for your contribution to the future and for the five late week puzzles that I’ve enjoyed immensely.

Milo 7:42 PM  

Bad taste Rec

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Anon 6:23
Only by the ill informed.

Newboy 8:09 PM  

@egsforbreakfast said it well & succinctly. My rambling point exactly!

jae 8:21 PM  

*****SB Alert*****

@JC66, Roo, Barbara, Pamela - Me too for QB today although the last word took a while. That’s 2 days in a row for me also.

@Roo - I go over my list every day hoping stuff will stick.

egsforbreakfast 8:23 PM  

With regard to the pearl= beauty questions, consider that Pearl Beer was such a beauty of a brew, that David Alan Coe himself immortalized it.

He drank PEARL in a can and Jack Daniels black .......... If that ain’t country, I’ll kiss your ass.

TTrimble 10:06 PM  

---[SB Alert]---

Whew, got to QB! The last one took ages, and yet it's so common. Nice to join Pamela, Barbara, Roo, JC66, jae; congrats all around!

bocamp 10:23 PM  

@ pmdm 2:10 PM

Eloquent! Par excellence. :)

****SB ALERT****

Congrats to all the "QB"s. I just got back from the dentist and am eager to see if I can get the last two words from yesterday's. If I do, I guess that would make me a "QB", once-removed. LOL


Re: "pearl" / "beauty", try thinking of a pearl as as a gem.

Peace 平和 salam maluhia vrede paix paz 和平 🕊

AdamTKincaid 10:38 PM  

Agreed. Rex’s normally (mostly) entertaining diatribes seem petty and fall flat here. Lighten up, dude. It’s a Monday.

me 12:59 AM  

I thought the same thing, there isn’t foam or bubbles in bubble tea. I’ve also only ever heard it called boba tea. If only there were a way for the constructors to look up information easily on a computer...

thefogman 9:58 AM  

Before I read his review I thought surely Rex will take it easy and not rip on a bunch of kid constructors. But he did anyways. It may be a tad harsh, but even so his comments about the quality (or lack of) of the puzzle are spot on.

Diana, LIW 10:23 AM  

Yes it's Monday - day they pick up the garbage. (I COULD be talkin about yesterday's multi-layer slog - but I'm not Rex)

And I do love a Monday - Mondays make up for all kinds of ills.

A CLASS act!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 10:39 AM  


EAGER to ASK, ‘Does this FEEL RIGHT?’”


rondo 11:13 AM  

Hard to BOTCH this one. EVERSO easy. Pretty decent for a bunch of H.S. kids not in the same room with each other.

Many folks believe, QUITERIGHTly, that Tony OLIVA should be in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the game's best hitters and an All-Star during his first eight seasons. OLIVA was the 1964 American League Rookie of the Year, an AL batting champion during three seasons, an AL hit leader five seasons, and a Gold Glove winner one season.

The four corners will SATE you with TEAS if you take a SEAT.

I FEEL SAFER with a NIGHT LIGHT. Nice Mon-puz.

rainforest 3:17 PM  

Haven't commented in a long time, but I'm pleased to see most of the old guard here--where's Spacey? Did I miss something?

Anyway, I thought this was a pretty good Monday. Revealer not needed for the theme, it was its own "zeit geit" as it were. Some nice longer answers, and wide open areas made for a pleasant solve.

Good start to the week.

leftcoaster 3:27 PM  

Good puzzle for and by the students.
I’m with rondo on OLIVA, a BRIGHTLIGHT for the Twins.

leftcoaster 4:05 PM  

Ahem... the crossword class is not really “kids”, it seems.

wcutler 4:14 PM  

Re: bubble tea, I just have to say that I was informed at a bubble tea shop, maybe in Hawai'i, that pearls are pearls, and the bubbles refer to the fact that the tea is shaken, creating bubbles. They aren't bubble bath quality bubbles, but there is a reason the drink cup is sealed with plastic on the top and put in that shaking machine - it's to create bubbles. One person's bubble seems to be another person's fizz (or fizzle).

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

zeitgeist, not zeitgeit.

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