Fail ancient crowning stone / MON 10-12-20 / Special Forces headgear / College in Cedar Rapids Iowa

Monday, October 12, 2020

Constructor: Joe Hansen

Relative difficulty: Challenging (nearly 4, lol)


THEME: FLOWER / GARDEN (5D: With 50-Down, place that this puzzle grid represents) — circled (or shaded) squares spell out kinds of flowers, and (I ... guess?) are flower-shaped:

FLOWERS:
  • VIOLET
  • DAHLIA
  • AZALEA
  • ORCHID
Word of the Day: LIA Fáil (ancient crowning stone) (28D) —
The Lia Fáil (Irish: [ˌl̠ʲiə ˈfˠaːlʲ], meaning Stone of Destiny (or also "Speaking Stone" to account for its oracular legend) is a stone at the Inauguration Mound (Irishan Forrad) on the Hill of Tara in County Meath, Ireland, which served as the coronation stone for the High Kings of Ireland. It is also known as the Coronation Stone of TaraAccording to legend, all of the kings of Ireland were crowned on the stone up to Muirchertach mac Ercaec. AD 500. (wikipedia)
• • •

So many things had to go wrong for this to be as unpleasant as it was. First, it's Monday, and Mondays are often very good—the best themes are simple, with a nice, tight, interesting themer grouping, and then squeaky clean fill as far as the eye can see. If you blow a Monday, I get extra mad because it's clearly a day that can routinely be executed to a high degree of precision, overcoming even the occasional editorial malfeasance. But this puzzle ... wow. First, it's way way way too theme-dense for a Monday. What this does is make the grid buckle. The fill is just bad, all over. No one should have to endure stuff like LIA AINTI AGRI YAYAS EKEBY ACIDY ASA ISTO ONTV etc on a Monday. A couple of those, OK, but it was like being assaulted, over and over. Worse, there are no themers with actual ... theme in them? So the revealer was a bear to get without a ton of crosses. And then the cluing, it just didn't compute, over and over. Usually on a Monday I can run the first three Acrosses easily. Maybe I can't get one of them right away, fine, but the clues tend to make sense, anyway. Today, right off the bat, I couldn't understand any of the clues. Whiffed on first two Acrosses and only tentatively guessed the third. BEST ... from that present participle to a simple adjective was yikes (1A: Winning a blue ribbon). And FRAN!?!? I was born there, LOL. Seriously, no idea until (very late, toward the end) I got the "F" from FLOWER. Is it AVOW or AVER!? (14A: State as fact) Who can say? RATED R or RATED X? Shrug. A LEGO is a "toy"? Don't most toys hurt when you step on them barefoot? Four-letter word for [Sweetie]? Lots of options. Just flailing around. Obviously there are easy answers in that NW section too, so it was all ultimately gettable, but only after flopping around, with no real reward for the flopping. Ugh, the longer answers not being themers is so annoying. SERVE TIME instead of DO TIME (3D: Be in jail) ... it's just irksomeness all over. A very hot case of Trying To Do Too Much and just face-planting as a result. If this had been a Tue or a Wed, I'll admit it would've been a little easier to take. But only a little. 


Further, AZALEA is a flowering *bush*, and seems slightly out of place in your FLOWER / GARDEN. At any rate, I think of them as flower shrubs more than as flowers, per se. Beyond the theme (and all the yuck fill and vague cluing), I don't get why you give a good word like NICHE such an awful, bizarre "business" (???) clue (11D: Limited kind of market). A NICHE is a "market"? Isn't NICHE the adjective, as in "a NICHE market"? Seems like NICHE goes with "limited," but it's not clued that way. I mean ... your clue could just as easily have been [Limited], tbh. But even that is terrible. The authorial / editorial voice on this one just way far away from my idea of a good time. Take your show-offy "feat of construction" puzzles and ... well, put them somewhere I never see them, but above all keep them far away from Monday (or Friday, for that matter—some days are sacred).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

121 comments:

Frantic Sloth 12:00 AM  


First things first.
@Birchbark from yesterday. Bravo! Will you be my spirit animal? I worship at the altar of your brilliance and pray you always remain the benevolent deity you are. *swoon*

Oh, right. Crossword.

This is exactly the kind of puzzle that would have Circe'd me as a new solver. Fun theme to do and gaze upon once completed and interesting fill that was definitely gettable without boring the "now" me to tears.

Perfect for a Mondee.

One tiny nit/question:

I have an electric stove (much to my chagrin) and it has a BROILER. What's so special about gas stoves (besides everything) that warrants their solo appearance in that clue?

Knew nothing of LIA Fáil, but what fun learning about it and the ancestry of the Ypsilanti Water Tower. Those things sure do get around, don't they?


🧠.5
🎉🎉.75

Marty Grimes 12:24 AM  

I live in SF. When I hear “San Fran,” I immediately know the speaker is not from SF. No one ever says “I’m from San Fran.” No one.

Joaquin 12:25 AM  

Hey! C'mon Shortz. I'm already having trouble keeping track of what day of the week it is. Don't give us a Tuesday or Wednesday on a Monday.

Pamela 12:27 AM  

This didn’t play like a Monday for me. Clueing was very inconsistent, sometimes spoonfed, like the one for RENE Descartes, sometimes overly vague, as noted by Rex. So that how my solve went, in fits and starts.

At the end I looked for grid art, as directed by the clue, didn’t find any, shrugged, and forgot about it. For some reason the circles stand out more in the blog example than they do on my IPad, and I just didn’t notice them until seeing them here. So the theme, FLOWER GARDEN, was wasted on me.

jae 1:15 AM  

Yes, tough. Yes, not appropriate for a Mon...and yes, I was not all that fond of it either for the reasons you enumerated.

manitou 2:06 AM  

In the Across Lite version it looked like a crucifix garden. I thought the theme was going to be something about a military cemetery.

jenn 2:18 AM  

The broiler is part of the oven or range, not part of a stove. Also I didn't know acidy was actually a word until just now. Who ever says acidy instead of acidic anyway?

chefwen 2:27 AM  

Wow! I think Rex popped an extra crank pill tonight. I had no problem with this, in fact I really liked it. Loved seeing those little flowers popping up. So what if an Azalea is a bush, it still has pretty flowers.

I have an addiction to ORCHIDS, can’t stop buying them. When they are past their bloom we strap them onto different trees in the yard and they bloom again every six months or so. So pretty.

Fun Monday for me.

Elaine2 2:31 AM  

Aren't broilers part of ovens, not stoves?

Anonymous 4:27 AM  

I agree this played like a Tuesday. I had different hangups than Rex, but my time came in as an average Tuesday. I did the Monday puzzle right after Sunday's, and, compared to the Sunday puzzle, this was pretty good. But the NY Times Sunday puzzle is a low bar, so I suspect that I feel better about this puzzle just because it wasn't the Sunday puzzle.

BarbieBarbie 5:00 AM  

@MartyGrimes: totally with you on San Fran. At least people-who-don’t-live-there have stopped trying to call it “Frisco.” Real people-who-live-there also drop most of the consonants when they say the real name, and honor the invisible wall somewhere near San Mateo that makes it impossible to have any connection at all to the South Bay. I miss it!

Funny puzzle. Tough for a Monday, but would be kind of easy for a Tuesday. Normally a Monday puzzle isn’t at all tricksy.

The flowers were cute (I like grid art), though my first thought after figuring them out was that AZALEAs don’t grow like that... so I guess I need to stop reading this blog.

Karl Grouch 5:35 AM  

Welcome to the Nonday puzzle.

Sue Chef 6:19 AM  

The problem with 27A "Parts of gas stoves' is that including "gas" is a deceit. It is explicitly asking for something that is exclusive to a gas stove as opposed to an electric stove. I entered ignItERS which messed up that quadrant for quite a while. Now for "stove". Someone has said it should've been "oven". Range is the "correct" term for a multi function cooking appliance like most people have. Stove is a common term in the language to describe that box that has an oven, a cook top, and a broiler. This can go on and on. The broiler in an electric range is usually inside the oven, whereas in a gas range the broiler is beneath the oven.

ncmathsadist 6:20 AM  

It's TANGY, not the made-up ACIDY

It's SQUEAKBY or EKEOUT, not EKEBY

PU!

Hungry Mother 6:42 AM  

When I grew up in the Bay Area, I was told to never say San FRAN or Frisco. When I went to Villanova, we abbreviated to Big V, never Nova. Times change and I guess I don’t. Easy puzzle, but I didn’t use the theme.

Lewis 6:51 AM  

This bouquet of flowers is a beautiful way for new solvers to see and experience that puzzles can employ tricks, that puzzles can be more than simply setting down answers to clues. It’s a first step, a tiptoe, toward Thursday.

When I first looked at the grid, I thought the puzzle was going to be about lollipops, but flowers are even better – who doesn’t like flowers? It was chewier than the piece of cake Monday usually is, but still went down easier than a Tuesday, IMO.

As your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must report to you that this puzzle has an unusually low number of double letters – anything less than five – with four. The last time this happened was 6/2. Also, I liked MAR abutting MAR, and NACH crossing NICH, not to mention LEGO / NACHO / AMINO / BRO / AMMO / BONO along with wannabees MARGOT and COE. I also noticed the pair BING and ACIDY, as cherries fall into that category.

Finally, with eight B’s, this puzzle is appropriately bee-friendly! A lovely puzzle, and thank you Joe!

Unknown 6:53 AM  

Did Monday's puzzle without thinking about the circled or shaded squares.
Little by little, answers fell into place. The process was challenging and stimulating. Finished with a sense of accomplishment.

ChuckD 7:00 AM  

I liked this one. Agree with Rex that probably should have been a Tuesday or Wednesday but whatever. Appreciate the construction to clearly define the flowers with their stems and include the relevant FLOWER GARDEN. The remaining fill was a little flat but thought the long center downs were cool - NOSE RINGS, BAILEYS, BALD EAGLE. Did Rex have a cocktail or two before his NICHE criticism - it’s a dense take. Do agree that AZALEAS are flowering shrubs - and could be in the category here of which one doesn’t belong.

Fine puzzle that played smooth and quick for me.

Joe Dipinto 7:18 AM  

In the streets of San Francisco
Gentle people with azalea bushes in their hair


Wasn't that other Margo person in more or less the same spot in yesterday's puzzle?

Giovanni 7:25 AM  

@sue chef Interesting! I always think of a range as those all-in-one double ovens people used to have in the 70s. I googled 1970 double range and saw a beaut in avocado green. My mom was a harvest gold gal herself.

SouthsideJohnny 7:31 AM  

Agree with the general consensus so far that this one was very choppy - never seemed to get into a rhythm. The already-discussed awful clue for BROILERS is the type of rookie mistake you might expect from a high school senior class project, which unfortunately seems to be acceptable to the Times with disconcerting frequency. This puzzle seems like it will be a bit of a slogfest for new solvers.

Unknown 7:34 AM  

Man, Rex is sure rubbing off on a lot of you.

William of Ockham 7:41 AM  

Neither FRAN nor FRISCO, just the beginning of a muddy yucky garden, not a Monday Garden

ow a paper cut 7:45 AM  

I liked this even though it was more challenging than most Monday puzzles.

pabloinnh 7:53 AM  

Funny, I live nowhere near CA and even I knew that San FRAN, or Frisco for that matter, is a no-no. I still wrote it in with the thought that natives were going to complain about it, and was not disappointed.

Took a beat to see that the stems were part of the flowers, so that was a nice touch.

Also, no problem with LEGO being the most-often stepped on toy that causes pain. Anyone with a young lego addict in the house learns not to walk around barefoot.

Tougher than usual Monday for me, JH, but still fun enough for me, so thanks.

MKV 7:53 AM  

> It's TANGY, not the made-up ACIDY

Pretty much. Very odd Monday. MMM instead of YUM? Death to BRO as well.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Legos are famous for being painful when stepped on.

Diver 8:22 AM  

I rarely, if ever, agree with Rex; but this one was truly awful.

57stratocaster 8:25 AM  

I can tell that my wife, who can barely do a regular Monday, would hate this so much, I won't even print it out for her to try. Monday's are supposed to welcome new solvers; this does not.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

As an Australian who has not yet visited Cali I had no clue San Fran was a no-no. It's definitely San Fran over here, but we do tend to shorten everything so that isn't too surprising.

TTrimble 8:41 AM  

I sometimes don't get Rex. Why are AINT I, EKE BY, IS TO, ON TV bad for a Monday? Aren't they pretty straightforward for many people? Why is he writing them as one word, when he writes SERVE TIME and RATED R as two words? Is he trying to make them look worse than they are?

And what's wrong with SERVE TIME? Perfectly well known phrase. And so what if you have to suss out if it's AVOW or AVER? Par for the course. Same with RATED R vs. RATED X (Rated X must be on the road towards obsolescence anyway, since most people who want porn these days find it online). What's the most common toy (piece) that you hurt yourself stepping on? That's right, a LEGO, because it's small and easy to miss. Most other toys aren't.

People have said and do say SAN FRAN informally, otherwise why would I have heard of it? It's completely immaterial that natives don't say it.

I'm of the belief that if you can plausibly substitute the answer for the clue in a sentence, then the clue is okay. Who's best this year in the Miss Personality category? Who's winning a blue ribbon this year in the Miss Personality category? See, it's plausible.

I agree that ACIDY is annoying. As words go, I would have preferred either
ACERB or ACRID, even if those aren't good fits. But knowing that the crossing down was almost certainly BAILEY'S made me dread that it was indeed going to be ACIDY.

Carola 8:47 AM  

Agree on "challenging" for a Monday - that's okay with me, but I agree with @57stratocaster that it could be a discouraging experience for a new solver. On the theme: cute idea, and I hate to cavil, but...three of the four FLOWERs seemed sketchy to me as GARDEN plants. Besides the AZALEA bush, around here VIOLETs just pop up in your yard, and I thought you needed to grow ORCHIDs in a pot. Otherwise, I liked the cross of NACHO and NICHE (CEO to team: "Folks, we need to capture the NACHO NICHE.").

Michael Page 8:48 AM  

And, again, what's with all the EKEs lately? Guess they got an extra case of them down at the crossword factory.

RooMonster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
GOOD THING. That's my puz assessment. Seems once again I'm in the "Liked" desert.

The FLOWER representations were cool. The NYTApp had the circles for the petals, and Green Squares for the stems. All started in the same spot, first left circled square. So that's nice and consistent. One in each corner. Plus, a Revealer! Disagree with Rex on the dreck. I'll say it again, ALL puzs have dreck. Get over it, or find another hobby. 😎

And who doesn't like "AINT I a stinker?"? C'mon man!

Had RATEDR first. Every time that clue is in, I get it wrong. If I put in RATEDR, it's RRATED, and vice versa! EVIL!

NOSE RINGS and BALD EAGLE as the long Downs. Very nice. And MARGOT Robbie is a BABE! (Ooh, is that UN-PC?)

Like @Lewis, I noticed all the B's as I was solving. Odd how one letter sometimes ends up getting used a bunch.

Got me in in French, RUE. Har.

One F (San FRAN, BRO. 😂)
BEST NACHOS - MMM
RooMonster
DarrinV

Barbara S. 9:12 AM  

I quite liked this one, primarily because of the cheeriness of the individual posies in the FLOWER GARDEN. There was a lot of XWese but that's nothing new.

I thought that was an odd use of the word "excuse" in the clue for ALIBI. "Defendant's excuse" to me would be more along the lines of "Sure, I murdered JOE SCHMO but he was trying to extort a million dollars from me/run off with my wife/cut down my favorite AZALEA bush on the property line between our two GARDENs." An excuse seems to me to (attempt to) justify bad behavior rather than demonstrate why you couldn't have done it.

@Lewis 6:51 a.m.
I did the same inventory as you and included OWE as a wannabe! There were also a lot of answers ending in a short-A sound (I guess a number of these would count as XWese):
KIA/ASA/NIVEA/TOLDYA/TONGA/ALA/LIA

Joe Hansen 9:17 AM  

Constructor here. As a fan of Rex’s, I always said that if I get a puzzle in the NYT, I want either a rave review or scathing review from Rex, since those are the most fun to read. I got my wish, with the latter. Haha. It was an enjoyable read, and an honor.

FYI, for the flower entries to work, the flowers had to be 6-letters long, and I thought I exhausted the 6-letter options (although Jeff Chen pointed out that ZINNIA would have worked as well). I did not intend for them to be stand alone flowers, necessarily, but flower names that, in the grid, were represented by stand-alone flower images (in regards to AZALIA being a flowering bush, not a flower). I recognize that these particular flowers, especially an orchid, would never live in a real-life garden together. Mostly I thought the flower images were cute, which is kind of lost when not doing it on the NYT app (where the “stems” are shaded and not circles). I did not intend to clue the flower stems (LET, LIA, LEA, HID). I had intended to leave them un-clued, to draw attention to the fact that they were part of the flower word. It was just a coincidence that the stems happened to be words on their own (although LIA is more than questionable). I do not remember what my original clue for BROILERS was, but I am enjoying the stove/oven controversy.
.
Thanks for solving!

Z 9:18 AM  

Circles, gray cells, and a cross referenced revealer, none of which actually helps solve the grid. Yep, trying too hard. And then the fill, oof. And that oof is a direct result of all the three letter word FLOWER stems, which forced a very choppy grid. I like the idea, but this feels like it needs a little more polish, and definitely a Tuesday puzzle.

I was asked about what makes PPP yesterday and today has a couple of good examples. ACDC clued as the band is PPP, clued electrically it isn’t. AIN’T I gets a Bugs Bunny Clue so I consider it Pop Culture. Meanwhile, RATED R gets a “sex and violence” clue but doesn’t reference any particular movie so I don’t consider it PPP. ALES is another one that often gets a Product Name clue, especially later in the week (Bass being a favorite because it can mean so many things), but today gets a non-PPP clue. The AC/DC PPP (can go either way) are the ones that irk me the most in high PPP puzzles.

@Frantic Sloth - As far as I know no kings have been crowned on Ypsi’s water tower. It’s not hard to see that men have an attraction to erecting obelisks and monoliths and the like. Seems sorta envious to me.

Harryp 9:20 AM  

The Hawaii State flower is a yellow Hibiscus, and can be found in a botanical garden, so I don't see the nit.

Banya 9:22 AM  

Rex, do you have apperceptive visual agnosia? Because every time a crossword has a shape, even if it's representative, you complain. These were all clearly flowers. I could see it without even filling in a single clue. This was fun, cute & exactly what I love on a Monday.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Unlike those nose-in-the-air, self important pseudo sophisticates from Snob Hill, Philadelphians happily refer to their town as Philly.


JenKlopp 9:29 AM  

Yes! Thanks for pointing out the bees.

JenKlopp 9:32 AM  

I really enjoyed your puzzle! (although agree about broilers)

Ellen S 9:36 AM  

My gas range (stove, box, whatever you want to call it) has the broiler inside the oven.

@Pamela, since you have an iPad, you could be using Puzzazz, which reliably renders the grid art as well as, or sometimes better than, the print edition.

EdFromHackensack 9:37 AM  

I had the same problem with. BROILERS (which are parts of ovens, not stoves) and entered ignITERS. but knew it was wrong almost immediately as the Irish liquor *had* to be BAILEYS. Tough one for a Monday - finished with no errors though I never sussed out the theme

Lewis 9:37 AM  

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

1. It comes out of a pen, either with or without its first letter (4)
2. Becoming new, in a way (6)
3. 44 years? (5)(3)
4. Org.? What org.? (3)
5. Doesn't sit right? (8)


OINK
WANING
OBAMA ERA
NSA
SLOUCHES

Blue Stater 9:38 AM  

Congratulations, WS. Seventy years of doing these, and today's is The Worst Monday Ever. By miles. Full of errors, as amply detailed above, and with a weird, fingernails-on-a-blackboard vibe to it as well.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

Take away the theme and the many annoyances attached to it, and I would have found this a pretty good Monday puzzle since it did require some thinking -- always a GOOD THING in my book. My CRITICISM is of the twin EVILS of annoying tiny little circles and annoying gray squares. Is this not overkill? Since I might have gotten dizzy trying to see where the FLOWERs were, I didn't bother looking for them. Nor did I miss finding them. Grid design-wise, I found it all Too Much.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

COE college is some Natick BS on a Monday

Z 10:01 AM  

Stove
Range (definition 12)
Oven
BROILER

Pamela 10:03 AM  

@ Joe Hansen- Congrats on your puzzle! And I’m glad Rex’s rant was entertaining. As a formerly avid gardener, I’m truly sorry that I completely missed the grid art. I solve on an iPad in the NYT app, and the stems were pale grey, not green. Even after getting the theme words- FLOWER GARDEN, forgot about the circles and didn’t see the flowers. I admit to being somewhat dense...sorry!

As for the AZALEA controversy, at my former home I had a grouping of them just outside the kitchen windows. After a long, cold, dark winter, when they erupted in bloom they certainly looked like flowers to me.

Jeff B. 10:20 AM  

A Stinker.

mathgent 10:21 AM  

I’m a San Francisco native and I agree with TTrimble. It’s irrelevant how we say San Francisco. San Fran is out there.,

There’s a great essay called How to Talk Like a San Franciscan written by Carl Nolte, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. It pops up if you Google it. He explains that we try to get the name of our town out as fast as we can, as if we’re embarrassed about how long it is. Carl says “Sampencisco.” I say “Saferncisco.”

As #Marty Grimes (12:24) points out, it’s useful as a litmus test. If someone says San Fran, we know they weren’t brought up here. BTW, are you related to Les Grimes?

We aren’t very respectful of other cities named after saints, either. We say Sanazzay for San Jose.

I liked the little flowers.

pmdm 10:24 AM  

While this puzzle was more difficult than most Monday puzzles, I didn't feel it entered the difficult level for a Tuesday. I felt that new solvers would have a struggle,but with the help of the crosses and the theme entries they would be eventually successful. I certainly would like to know exactly how new solvers reacted to this puzzle, from their mouths.

Some of the previous comments have aimed the criticism at Sharp that he pans puzzles include things that stump him. So when I read the "relative difficulty" rating, I asked myself if the rating were a prelude to a pan of the puzzle. While not really thinking the criticism is valid, I can understand why the criticism surfaces.

Interesting that Jeff Chen seemed to have thought the theme density was light today and Sharp concludes the opposite. I'd say I'm in the Sharp camp regarding today's density.

I like it when constructors stop by and leave comments here. So thank you very much, Joe, for a good puzzle (and it's not your fault which day it is published on) and your comment. You've set a high bar for yourself if you want your ensuing puzzles to be more elaborate, if that's the word.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

@OFL:
Who can say? RATED R or RATED X? Shrug.

well, is it R RATED or RATED R?? most often the bottleneck, not the different rating.

as many have noted, SAN FRAN shows up in all kinds of teeVee episodes, typically hard-boiled cop shows.

a broiler is part of any stove (that's the whole enchilada; the word used by itself is refer the burners alone as a 'stove top'), gas or electric. what's more, the more better one is electric. go into any restaurant kitchen (or 1%-er's), and you see a salamander, which is a rocket hot electric open front slide in broiler.

and, kind of an easy one. of the top row, only 1 took some time. being BANAL by nature, FRAN was a gimme to an East Coaster.

fireplace log holderS, as printed, is andirons; you need two to hold up the logs. a GRATE is a web of metal pieces, and singular.

who ever says AMITY for anything other than that HORRORville?

egsforbreakfast 10:41 AM  

Given the obscurity of LIA Fáil, perhaps an equally obscure, but funnier, clue for LIA would be “The first, and only, flushable and biodegradable pregnancy test”. (You can see it at meetlia.com.

There were Bs buzzing around the flowers like a fly on Mike Pence.

I’m not sure why so many comments are directed at the difficulty for beginners. Sure, this was slightly harder than an average Monday, but no one complains that a really tough Saturday is too hard for expert solvers. I think all solvers understand that some puzzles are difficult and some aren’t. They’re all still fun.

Nice concept, well executed Mr. Hanson.

Magpie 11:00 AM  

I'm perplexed about 25A. The clue is Her: Fr. - and the answer is ELLE. The problem is that the clue should be She. "Her" in French is variable, depending on the object that belongs to the woman. Her pants = son pantaloon. Her glasses - ses lunettes.

(Also, why is French abbreviated if the answer is not.)

GILL I. 11:03 AM  

Ah....flowers for my Monday. One of earth's greatest natural beauties. Lovely colors blooming in order to attract the bird and the bees and then procreate. God has a mysterious way of bringing us mere mortals, some awesome awe.
I suppose if you're going to get all flower snobby, you could cry that AZALEA is. bush. But...it has a flower and that's what we're talking here. I have several of them in pots and my little hummingbird friends, Bossy Boots and Chutzpah, love them. Could you have fit a little Yarrow in there? The Blue Jays seems to be attracted to them as well.
I walk my pups every morning and take a small pair of scissors with me to snip a little something I might find along the park. I always have flowers in my abode. I'd give anything to be able to snip my spent ORCHID and stick it on a tree like @chefwen can......What a treat that would be. Munching, maybe, on some NACHOS and singing "Where have all the flowers gone."
Thank you, Joe for stopping by. You're a class act. I'm not so sure I'd be as civil as you, had our OFL been this critical of my puzzle. I thought this was clever. Maybe not Monday clever, but still it was good for the goose and the gander.

Frantic Sloth 11:05 AM  


@Joe Hansen 917am Thanks for stopping by and what a great sport you are! My kinda peep! (Sorry) FYI Doing the puzzle on the NYT website with my iPad, I had both the circles for the petals and the shaded squares for the stems - in this case, the best of both worlds IMHO.

@Sue Chef 619am That about sums it up for me. 👍

@Joe D 718am It's a good thing I already swallowed my coffee! That would have been a messy spit-take to clean up. That visual...it cleaves. (Yes, I C the pun now)

@Giovanni 725am Yes! The 70s color schemes of a modern kitchen. We had hues of both avocado and "rust" (more chichi than orange, dontcha know)

@pabloinnh 753am Ditto! Even we Back-Easters don't slander that great city with "San FRAN" or "Frisco" - Yeesh!
Also agree on the ninja-esque hazard of the LEGO. Small, but mighty in its mischief.
(Hi, @TTrimble, et.al.!)

Like others, I had a problem with ACIDY. Then I remembered "sciency" and "mathy" and how I had no room to talk. 😆

@Roo 851am I'll take a seat with you and @Lewis and @Barbara S on that "liked desert" oasis. I come bearing (tiny) gifts!

@Barbara S 912am Right! Not to mention that if one really had an ALIBI, one wouldn't even be a defendant!

@Z 918am My (unfortunate) point exactly! 😉

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@Magpie:
(Also, why is French abbreviated if the answer is not.)

space, and since it's not THE clue just a modifier, it's irrelevant by the accepted rules. as I understand them.

pmdm 11:19 AM  

Egsforbreakfast: Seems that Monday puzzles have to satisfy two characteristics: that they are solvable for new solvers and that they encourage new solvers to come back for more. It is the second characteristic that is the issue today, even if the first one is mentioned more. The first doesn't mean that all entries have to be easy, but they have to be solvable.

That's why the LIA entry is OK: if you are not a cartoon fan (and younger solvers may not be familiar with Buggs Bunny catchphrases), DAHLIA should be gettable. At least that's my take. Perhaps new solvers will take issue.

Canon Chasuble 11:20 AM  

What a great puzzle for a Monday! Clever, awkwardly clued in places (just enough to make you think twice before entering an answer), visually interesting, and just otherwise lots of stuff to make one actually THINK, and not just write in answers rotely. Thanks for making the Monday puzzle interesting AND worthwhile solving.

SouthsideJohnny 11:21 AM  

It’s always nice when the constructor stops by to provide their perspective on things. It’s good to know that the foul smell emanating from the clue for BROILERS was not Joe’s idea (yes, it is technically a legit clue - but there is a saying to the effect that just because you can doesn’t mean that you should).

@Joe H - do you have any thoughts on what appears to be (another) sloppy situation with the Times and foreign words (ELLE in this instance). It also appears that you had nothing to do with the very obscure LIA - especially for a Monday. It would be fun to get your take on those as well. Congrats on getting your puzzle published and for getting panned by OFL !

What? 11:21 AM  

As usual for a Monday, too easy for an experienced solver. For a beginner? Don’t know.

jberg 11:38 AM  

In the printed paper, the flowers consist of 4 circles for the petals and two shaded squares for the stems; only they are shaded gray, not green. While it was annoying at first to see BOTH circles and shaded squares in the puzzle, it made sense once I got the theme. And, as @Joe Hansen notes (thanks for stopping by!), it's a puzzle, not a picture of a real garden. They are all flowers, and he has made a garden out of their names, not of the flowers themselves.

The problem with stove-parts is that stoves have been disassembling themselves. Now you can get a "stove-top" that is not attached to any stove, but built into your kitchen counter; and a free-standing oven or broiler. I've had stoves where the broiler was in the oven, and others where it was in a separate compartment underneath the oven. And of course everyone is correct when they say it's all as true of electric stoves as of gas ones. I once had a cabin with a wood cookstove, and it had a broiler, too.

I saw 5A and cried "Oh no!" out loud, shaking up my wife, as I knew what outrage it would arouse here. I refused to write it in until I had FRA from crosses, whereupon I gave up and put in the N.

Helpful hint: when you AVER something, you are asserting it to be true; but you are not swearing anything. When you avow it, you are taking an oath, which will come back to harm you if you do not keep it. For example, Donald Trump avowed that he would see that the laws were faithfully executed.

Blackhat 11:45 AM  

10 names, 3 foreign words....

sixtyni yogini 11:47 AM  

I dunno. No fixed ideas about how Mondays should be....except maybe fast n easy.
Liked the flower 🌺 theme. Fun and easy with enough teeth to make it interesting.
🤩👍🏽🧩👍🏽🤩

JC66 11:50 AM  

Now I see why @Sanfranman abandoned this blog. ;-)

Frantic Sloth 11:56 AM  

@GILL I 1103am I love Bossy Boots and Chutzpah - perfect hummingbird names! Blue Jays are tough birds, but it could be said that hummingbirds are the Ninja LEGOs of birdage...especially around nectar!

@JC66 1150am LOL! (So glad "Frantic Frisco" ended up in the cutting room floor!) 😉

Whatsername 12:00 PM  

Kinda have to agree with Rex today. This was a little more difficult than usual, seems more fitting for a Tuesday. Also have to agree the themers are an odd mix, especially a hardy shrub with a tropical bloom popularly grown in pots. Granted, each is a FLOWER which might grow in a GARDEN, but it would be rare to find them all together in one place.

I noticed in Rex’s grid all the letters of the theme answers are circled. But in mine (app on an iPad), only the “blooms” at the top are circled, and the bottom two letters - or the stems - are shaded. Didn’t make a huge difference but the flowers are not quite as easy to see as they are with all circles.

@Roo is right. Margot Robbie is a major BABE. She’s also a very talented actress with a wide range of acting skills. Besides Tonya Harding, she portrayed Sharon Tate in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and I just watched her this weekend in Bombshell as one of the victims of the salacious goings-on at Fox Network. Very good movie if you haven’t seen it.

Aelurus 12:04 PM  

I liked this a lot. FLOWER GARDEN. Flower heads and stems. Agree with Rex about the vague cluing and more thinking involved right away in the NW, but wasn't bothered. Didn't know LIA FAIL, and that is unusual for a Monday puzzle, but still wasn't bothered. Maybe because I had a piece of dark chocolate after breakfast? I might try that more often!

bocamp 12:07 PM  

Thanks @Joe for the bouquet! A lovely, fragrant creation to start the week. 💐

Within a minute of my ave. Mon. solve time.

I usually don't pay attention to circles (unless to aid the solve) until the post-game analysis. So, I was delighted when I noticed (on my iPad) the flowers on stems (altho, white on gray, I can imagine the colors). Nicely done. And, imo, a garden can certainly contain whatever the gardener so desires. I'm told some even include greenhouses bouquet w/"azaleas"
___

@Frantic - thx for the links :) Had a vague idea of the "Lia Fáil" Coronation Stone of Tara. Otoh, I had no idea what a "standpipe" is, and now I know at least two types: storage tank and inside pipes.
___

@Joe Dipinto - What a great song to kick off the new week. Thx for the link. :)
___

Youngest granddaughter is a "Lego" wiz if ever there woz. And, yes I've stepped on one or two; ouch! :(
___

@Anonymous 8:32 AM - You're a breath of fresh air, to go with the newly cut bouquet! 💐
___

Fond memories of visiting Gramma in the '40s, sitting on the pantry floor, reading my uncle's Bugs Bunny comics. 🥕
___

@ Lewis 9:37 AM - Totally agree with your "Top Five" list. :)
___

Mildred Ella "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias

Caught a pass in the "end zone" on the final play of the championship game (flag football, EWC, Cheney, '75).
___

Kukla, "Fran" and Ollie

@jberg 11:38 AM - thx for the "aver/avow" refresher; one of these days it WILL sink in. LOL
___

And, finally, a big "Thank You" to @Joe Hansen 9:17 AM, not only for a wonderful puzzle, but for stopping by to comment. Nice to see a contributor show up here. 💐



Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 12:07 PM  

@RP: har. Good MonPuz mornin to U too, Sunshine. Sooo … if U grow on a bush, U can't be a flower? This is bad news for roses, dude. Agree this puz is kinda on the feisty side of puzzlin for a Monday, but, hey -- bring it, Shortzmeister. Just made it more interestin, to the M&A. Gave my nanoseconds somethin to do.

M&A did an immediate uh-oh, when he saw the grid. Both The Gray Areas and The Circles. Is that a first? How are all platforms gonna make this (possibly) critical distinction? [yo, @AcrossLite] Turned out not to be all that critical, tho, sooo … ok.

staff weeject pick: MMM. Scotch Tape plug. Wanted YUM at first, but MMM (as in cinnaMMMon rolls) is also acceptable.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {"___ a stinker?" (Bugs Bunny phrase)} = AINTI. Nuthin green painti about that. Entered that answer without any letters already crossin it.

Theme was pretty easy to spot, really. Had the V-I-O-LET one pretty early, so assumed either colors or flowers theme. 5-D soon confirmed which one. Piece of cake, with flours in it.

80 words! Nope. Buzz. Over the limit. Otherwise, neat puz. Was some mighty nice Ow de Speration on ACIDY, too boot.
Thanx for yer bloomin puz, Mr. Hansen dude.

Masked & Anonymo1U


**gruntz**

Masked and Anonymous 12:14 PM  

p.s.
Shoot. That there Bugs Bunny moo-cow easy-E MonPuz clue might even be easier than this one:
{Donald Ducks releasing his ___ returns}.

Just sayin.

Th-th-that's all, folks.

M&A Cartoon Desk

Unknown 12:27 PM  

In 1969 we purchased an avocado, self-cleaning double oven and it continues to work perfectly! We tried to purchase a newer model, but with all the features that we have, it just does not exist..

old timer 12:29 PM  

Worst time ever for a Monday (I only time myself Mon and Tue). This should have run later in the week, and I feel sorry for any Noobs who tried it today.

I used to live in SanFRAN and used to visit it often, before the recent unpleasantness. The Born and Raised group, the people who think the most important thing in their life is where they went to high school, do slur sanfrancisco in colorful ways, but basically, they call their town "The City". Never Frisco! And I guess never San FRAN, though that term is used in the rest of the Bay Area as a shorthand.

The "gas" specification for BROILER is correct. Electric stoves have a BROILER in the oven. With gas ones, it is under the oven, so "oven" would be wrong. I really wanted to have a gas cooktop and oven, but an electric broiler. No room, really, and I find myself using the gas BROILER a lot less than I would with an electric unit. But there is no way I would have any kind of electric cooktop, and I've tried them all.

Giovanni 12:51 PM  

Rex is complaining on twitter that a DAHLIA popped up in his backyard today.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

@old timer:
With gas ones, it is under the oven, so "oven" would be wrong.

only in the olde days, and only in teeny inner-city apartments, with expected teeny appliances, as I had in Boston's North End in the 70s. built that way, I expect, for cheapness, since both the oven burner and broiler are run from the same gas supply line, thus saving a few pennies. the one I use now comes from the early 90s, is a double (small on top, large/convection on the bottom) with broiler in both.

KnittyContessa 12:54 PM  

Count me in the like camp! I didn't take the time to look at the theme until I finished solving. Loved the little flowers, thought it was very cute and clever.

Frantic Sloth 12:54 PM  

@Whatsername (High Noon) Enthusiastic ditto for everything said in your last paragraph!

@bocamp 1207pm And thank you for the "Babe" link. Have you read her autobiography? I find it more than curious that they were denied \

@M&A 1207pm "Sooo … if U grow on a bush, U can't be a flower? This is bad news for roses, dude." Haha! Can you spell too-SHAY? 😉

@TTrimble 1218pm To be clear, I wasn't laughing at the song; I was laughing at the "azealea bushes" in their hair. But, I see your point. And I do remember that show! Sometimes, it seems like Michael Douglas has been around since Moses...

Now I'm gonna go shoot myself over this travesty of a nomination hearing that will end up meaning absolutely fuck-all.

Unknown 1:02 PM  

@ Joe Hansen 9:17 You truly are a classy guy. Given that Rex described your puz as being unpleasant, bad, annoying, irksome, yuck and terrible, you handled his surliness with rare grace & good humor. Something we rarely see in rex himself.

One quibble: an ALIBI is not a defendant's excuse, it actually is a "defense," i.e., "I didn't do it." An excuse is the rationale for the crime (necessity, duress) but the alibi is a complete defense. One we rarely see, although in today's linked world, probably a lot easier to prove than in the old days.

And again rex fails to reveal his solving time on a puz that he finds challenging . . . *sigh* I think trump will reveal his tax returns before that ever happens! LOL

Teedmn 1:05 PM  

I had FLOWER first, so when the circles filled in, I saw VIOL, looked again and found the ET in the stem. Such a sweet thing. My biggest struggle was turning "inane" into BANAL. It's not very often that an NFL team name helps me out. (LIONS).

My husband didn't grow up reading myths like I did, so when we saw a commercial recently for Pandora jewelry, he didn't understand why I began musing on why a company would choose Pandora with her box of woes as its name. Sure, she had a box and you can have a box of jewelry, but, I don't know. On the other hand, I dislike the music streaming service Pandora enough that I feel it is well-named - open their "box" of music and you're sure to get something woeful. I prefer Spotify.

Joe Hansen, thanks for the flower garden. I'm just sad that my flowers are dying in the cold, autumn air.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

There are two ways ELLE can be wrong for "her" and one, very weak, way it can be right.

I saw her face: J'ai vue son visage.
I see her: Je la voie.

That is her (which really should be "that is she" but OK): C'est elle.

There are so many better ways to clue ELLE than with this grammatically shabby way.

Kath320 1:14 PM  

Take your San Fran and shove it up your Frisco. Sheese!

Unknown 1:17 PM  

@Mods
Was there something wrong with my post? I can't think of what it might be. I see @Frantic Sloth was able to respond to it before it was removed.

sanfranman59 1:24 PM  

I've been working my way through the catalog of archived NYT puzzles and like to read Rex's reviews of them. I'm up to February 2009 now, which is about 2-1/2 years after he started blogging here. His opinion of Will Shortz has done a complete 180. It seems like every review these days includes some sort of shot at the editor. I wonder if it's just a case of familiarity breeding contempt or if he and Will had a personal run-in somewhere along the way (or both, I guess)?

CT2Napa 1:35 PM  

From Collins online dictionary:

I’m going with her. Je vais avec elle.
He sat next to her. Il s’est assis à côté d’elle.
I’m older than her. Je suis plus âgé qu’elle.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Woulda been a great Tuesday or Wednesday (the theme was necessary to complete for me), but demoralizing as a Monday.

SharonAK 1:50 PM  

Quite a surprise to find this rated challenging and to have so many commenters agree it was hard for a Monday I went through it faster than usual.
And found the flower garden fun. Did think that only in Hawaii would you find orchids in a garden, but missed the fact that azaleas are a shrub. Nevertheless, I have had them in a flower bed (in Texas) as I do another type of flowering shrub here in Alaska.
"Serve time" sounds as common as "do time".
As some have commented "stove" is a very common word for the appliance that includes range top and oven. What many of us grew up with and a lot of people, especially in apartments still have. I don't know how many now call it a range, but i'd guess not the majority.
Fun puzzle which I think a beginner could enjoy. (since I don't even try Fridays and Saturdays I guess I am a forever -about thirty years now - advanced beginner.

A Moderator 2:12 PM  


@Unknown 1:17

If you're @Ttrimble, your comment was removed because it contained a spoiler for today's SB. When reviewing comments prior to posting, I automatically OK those from the regulars here. I didn't see the problem with yours until reading your complete (long) comment after it had been posted.

bocamp 2:56 PM  

Chances are, it's either an "oven," a "stove," or a "range." But why can't everyone agree on a single name? What's the source of this confusion?

@Frantic Sloth 12:54 PM

I may have read it many years ago, not sure; but I will definitely put it on my current reading list. "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias along with Jim Thorpe are my candidates for the all-time greatest athletes list. I'm sure many others from around the world would be worthies, as well.



Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊

Joe Dipinto 3:38 PM  

@JC66 11:50 – You've conjured up @sanfranman! Spooky...

Simpson 3:43 PM  

^^^ This ^^^

JC66 3:47 PM  

@Joe D

Yeah, spooky is right.

bocamp 3:53 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 12:54 PM wrote:

"@bocamp 1207pm And thank you for the "Babe" link. Have you read her autobiography? I find it more than curious that they were denied \"

I forgot to ask you to clarify your apparently truncated last sentence. BTW, I did find an archived copy of her book online, and have converted it to pdf.

Thx, again, for the suggestion. :)



Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊


Doug Kalish 4:05 PM  

I enjoyed it and here 30 mi S of San Fran (yech) people do indeed have violets, dahlias, azaleas and orchids in their flower gardens.

Frantic Sloth 4:13 PM  

@bocamp 353pm Yeah, that was something I decided not to pursue and then forgot to delete. It had to do with the Zaharias couple being denied adoption and wondering why and then I decided that was a stupid question. 🙄
Do you have a link to that book? I was just thinking of looking for it to buy, but is it OOP? (Not the SOC used recently.)

bocamp 5:00 PM  

@Frantic Sloth 4:13 PM

Re: the "Babe"

Thx for clarification: I'll do some digging to see if I can come up with something re: the adoption issue.

The book is from the "Internet Archive." You can read it in book form by clicking on the "See other formats" link.

I convert what I can to pdf for more flexibility with fonts, sizing, etc.

This Life I've Led: My Autobiography

Let me know how this works out for you. :)



Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊

GILL I. 5:11 PM  

@Frantic...Bossy Boots and Chutzpah are two little Anna's that have come to visit me for the last couple of years. I recognize them by their coloring. I'm wondering if they might've been raised by humans because they have no fear of me. Chutzpah comes right up to my face and if I haven't changed the feeder, she lets me know. Truly wonderful little critters. Have you ever seen one of their little nests? And some people don't believe in a God.... :-).

chinch 5:16 PM  

@Joe Hansen 9.17am So cool of you to stop by, and respond to Rex with such humor and grace. Thanks for the terrific puzzle!

Unknown 5:19 PM  

What a whining, blame-everyone-but-me twat. Go back to bed.

chinch 5:25 PM  

San Franciscans are often insufferable, and not just because they so predictably object to San Fran and Frisco.

Frantic Sloth 5:35 PM  

@SharonAK 150pm You should give Fridays and Saturdays another go. Once you get a toehold, just hang on for dear life and stubborn those suckers out! They will fall – trust me. If I can do them, anybody can.
Unsolicited pep talk brought to you by Who Asked You? Who Asked You? - The know-it-all non-aerosol spray repellant favored by 9 out of 10 blogs. Not harmful to children and pets, but deadly to gasbags. Except this one.

@Joe D and @JC66 Whatever you do, do not say "Beetlejuice!"

@GILL I. 511pm It's clear to me that they recognize and have befriended you after all these years! How wonderful! From what I understand they're pretty selective about "manmade" nectar – it must be fresh and critter-free! (Ants think they own everything, the little bastards) I've only seen pictures of the nests, but they're almost as adorable as the birds themselves. You might need to get one of these.

TTrimble 5:51 PM  

Dear Mods,

Yes, sorry, that was me at 1:17.

(I'm trying to think of how anything I wrote could have been an SB spoiler, because I try to be careful about such things.)

Anyway, to avoid this happening in the future, would it make any difference if my name were in blue? I'm a moderator on a website where there is some means of communication between mods and users, so that if there's a problem with a post, it can be pointed out somehow and the user can perform an edit to address it, rather than have the post deleted and lost forever. Is there anything like that here?

Thanks for all you do.

A Moderator 6:03 PM  

@TTrimble

Unfortunately, on this blog there's no way to communicate pre-posting.

If you go blue and include your email address in your profile, I could email you, but that would blow my cover, which wouldn't be good.

However, going blue would allow you to delete a post you want to edit and you won't have to prove your not a robot.


Your deleted post talked about your reaching Genius and something else, which was the spoiler.

Birchbark 6:34 PM  

@Frantic (12:00 a.m.) -- Golly -- thanks. On reflection, the TAPIR would make an interesting spirit animal.

A Moderator 7:27 PM  

@TTrimble

I guess you don't realize that you're (1) discussion gave away info and is a spoiler.

kitshef 7:48 PM  

Back from a weekend hiking, and so far have done the Saturday and Monday puzzles. Both were huge disappointments. Normally it's a bit of a treat to have a few puzzles to catch up on. But Saturday had an unknown foreign name crossing an unknown TV name. Today had LIA FAIL. Blech, I say.

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

You did it right, like me. Trying to figure out what the theme is only hurts your time.

TTrimble 9:17 PM  

@Mods (esp. 6:03 PM)

"If you go blue and include your email address in your profile, I could email you, but that would blow my cover, which wouldn't be good."

If I may, I would like to tender, respectfully, a suggestion: it's very easy to set up a gmail account (e.g., mods@rexparker.com or whatever) so that the identity of the sender is completely hidden, and so that an explanatory email could be sent to the email address of anyone in blue who is having difficulties with publishing posts and who is presenting in good, non-troll-like faith.

Of course no moderator would be under any obligation ever to send such an email. But at least they could, without blowing anyone's cover.

We have something like this in place at the site where I am a moderator. Thanks.

bocamp 9:29 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

-10 🤞


Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊

GILL I. 9:52 PM  

@Frantic....Visions ...oh my...visions. Thanks for a birdie laugh.

albatross shell 10:11 PM  

@Lewis re:best clues
Org.? What org.?

I confidently put in WHO. Ignoring that the O stands for Organization. Anyway it made me think of Abbot and Costello.

Z 10:39 PM  

@sanfranman59 - I’ve never seen Rex say explicitly, but I’ve inferred that Rex has found WS lacking on responding to criticism, especially around being tone deaf on issues like racism and sexism.

@giovanni - I looked at the tweets and I’d hardly call that “complaining.” What is this beautiful, horrifying thing in my backyard? and then It's a dahlia, LOL, perfect #Monday #NYTXW

RebeccaL 10:40 PM  

I thought it was charming.

bocamp 11:24 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

-6 and toast 😴



Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊

albatross shell 11:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
albatross shell 11:47 PM  

@ whatshername, Joe Hansen

In my yard I have 3 types of orchids, 3 types of violets, 4 azalias, and occasionally have a dahlia.
Orchids grow wild in most places here in the East. Also, Google azalea flower gardens. You won't regret it. Hit images.
Thanks for the fun, Joe. A Monday to chew on. And a garden of delights. I consider ALIBI a small thorn. Even though I know the dictionary says the clue is correct and I filled it in, I just don't use them that way.

jaymar 12:35 AM  

Got this all but the stems didn’t show and couldnt
Figure why letters of plant names were missing
Re San Fran- in this part of the world its THE CITY

jae 1:15 AM  

*****SB Alert****

-5 and still looking for the second pangram. Missed yesterday’s by 1, a spelling I might not have gotten.

bocamp 10:58 AM  

**** SB ALERT ****


-4 🤞w/both pangrams; will work on it this AM, then switch to the current SB



Peace Síocháin 평화 Paix Melino 🕊

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

I take issue with "nacho." It is not a KIND of chip. It is a way you dress up a chip of your choosing.

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