Hombre-to-be perhaps / MON 10-26-20 / Yellow flowers in primrose family / 1980s gaming console in brief / Title woman in song by Beatles Spinners / Health professional who has your back

Monday, October 26, 2020

Constructor: Eric Bornstein

Relative difficulty: Medium (2:59)

THEME: "GET CRACKING!" (62A: Apt command to an 18-, 28- or 47-Across) — all the themers are occupations in which cracking (in one form or another) is involved:

Theme answers:
  • CODEBREAKER cracks codes (18A: One reading secret messages)
  • STAND-UP COMIC cracks jokes (28A: Professional joke teller)
  • CHIROPRACTOR cracks spines (47A: Health professional who has your back?)
Word of the Day: MUCHACHO (39D: Hombre-to-be, perhaps) —
1chiefly Southwest a male servant
2chiefly Southwest a young man (merriam-webster.com) (in Spanish, it's just a word for "boy")
• • •

If corny puns are your thing, then this puzzle works just fine. It's consistent, and the revealer has a certain spark, so ... yeah, there you go. It holds up. I have no complaints about the theme except that I continue to resent when "?" clues are used on themers when the theme itself is not "?"-clue dependent (see 47A: Health professional who has your back?). If your theme wackiness necessitates "?" clues all around, then by all means, go to town. But a randomly thrown-in "?" clue in a puzzle that doesn't specifically call for them, that's just confusing to me. Inelegant. Get your cleverness on somewhere else. Save it for the non-theme fill. Also, is there a difference between a STAND-UP COMIC and a stand-up comedian (the term I hear much more frequently)? Not faulting the answer, as it's certainly in-the-language, just wondering if there's even a subtle difference between the two. My initial inquiries indicate not. Maybe people just want to save two syllables because their time is valuable? I think I prefer "comedian" because it's a word with only one valence (whereas a "comic" can be a form of graphic storytelling). Actually I probably prefer it for totally unconscious reasons that have more to do with habit and experience. I think the first themer is a teensy-weensy bit of an outlier, in the sense that it's got a synonym for "cracking" built in ("breaker" meaning, essentially, "cracker"). But that's an issue that's too teensy-weensy to care too much about.

I felt really slow today, largely due to my not reading the clues correctly (this sometimes happens if I'm speeding through a Monday). I also roamed allllll over the grid in a real haphazard fashion (not a strategy that's conducive to speed). Read [Numbers for sports analysts] as [A number of sports analysts] and wrote in PANEL, lol. Had the "T" at 27D: Target of a camper's scalp-to-toe inspection and wrote in TENT (I associate campers with tents, and I do not associate TICKs with camping, since we have to do inspections like this any time we take so much as a long walk on a trail in the woods). [A physicist or a fashion designer might work with one] is a fine clue for MODEL, but it required many crosses and definitely slowed me down a bit. Wrote in CANDO (?!) before CREDO (30D: Words to live by). Wanted HOOLIGAN before HOODLUM (HOOLIGAN being a much better answer for 5D: Ruffian, too bad it didn't fit). And the clue on MUCHACHO just didn't register anything very clear to me at all. With all that sloshing around, I'm actually surprised I still came in under 3. That's all. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:03 AM  

Fun puzzle. Cute theme. Swift solve.
It's a Mondee.

No nits, really...save one:

39D MUCHACHO (Hombre-to-be, perhaps) got the arched eyebrow, but maybe I'm just sensitive because of a certain skank-bag's frequent, pejorative use of the word.

But, I doubt it.


Pamela 12:19 AM  

Silly and mild fun. No holdups anywhere, but it’s been so long since I even thought about travel that the shoe removal clue for TSA did not connect until later, after crosses filled it in. Also liked the clue for MODEL. I had no idea how the themers related to each other until the revealer- perfect. Not LOL, just quiet amusement. Plenty for a Monday.

Lee Coller 12:19 AM  
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bocamp 12:33 AM  

Thank you @Eric, for a "cracking" good start to the xword week!

Started well in the NW, then across to the G.L.s and on to NE, and the rest fell in short order.

"Aloe" and "aloha" both nicely worked into the puz.

"Stats" are fun, but they don't necessarily reflect the added value of "team" players. I haven't followed "stats" for many years, so maybe there are metrics now that reflect the value of a player's intangibles. In any event, the brass undoubtedly take everything into account; at least "I hope" so. :)

"Ernie" Banks, "Mr. Cub".

The great "code breaker": "be sure to drink your Ovaltine".

Aloha ʻOe - George Kahumoku Jr. / Aloha ʻOe - Burl Ives

Always a joy to see Arthur "Ashe" in my puzzles. What a class act!

"Ran" hurdles and the 440 for the track team. Also "ran" my share of "errands" over the years.

Loved "Skee-Ball" at the Seaside, Oregon penny arcade back in the '40s and '50s.

Peace Frieden Paz ειρήνη Pax Maluhia Paix 🕊

GILL I. 12:34 AM  

@Rex....? Are you being a teensy weensy comedian?
This was easy, but so is drooling at a chocolate eclair in a Paris patisserie.
Adios MUCHACHO compañero de mi vida.

Birchbark 12:42 AM  

BITTER END -- From the Wikipedia artlcle, "Knots":

"As a ropeworker's term, "BITTER END" refers to the end of a rope that is tied off. In British nautical usage, the BITTER END is the ship end of the anchor cable, secured by the anchor bitts and the bitter pin in the cable locker under the forecastle. At anchor, the more anchor line that is paid out, the better the anchor's hold. In a storm, if the anchor drags, ships will pay out more and more anchor line until they reach the "BITTER END." At this point, they can only hope the anchor holds, hence the expression "hanging on to the BITTER END". (A bitt is a metal block with a crosspin for tying lines to, also found on piers.) ..."

chefwen 2:34 AM  

Me thinks OFL has been off his game the last few days. For me, this was the easiest Monday in recent history. Couldn’t fill my little squares in fast enough. Puzzle partner also filled his copy in record time.

Fun puzzle (I guess I like puns) with a fun reveal.

jae 4:11 AM  

Easy. Cute and smooth with some nice long downs. Liked it.

ChuckD 6:14 AM  

Nice puzzle - cute theme and clean grid - ideal Monday. When I was young I worked with an elderly British engineer - brilliant but a task master. When we were out in the field and I would start losing focus towards the end of the day he would always tell me “crack on”. I assume our theme today has the same roots. A little side eye to I HOPE x IM COLD - and with I AGREE it gives a self regarding voice to the puzzle.

Liked the long downs - SLY AS A FOX and BITTER END are excellent for new Monday solvers. Not great seeing MARX front and center but made up for by the inclusion of SKEE and TENON.

Enjoyable start to the crossword week.

Conrad 6:23 AM  

@Rex: From Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comedian) -- "A popular saying, variously quoted but generally attributed to Ed Wynn,[1] is, 'A comic says funny things; a comedian says things funny', which draws a distinction between how much of the comedy can be attributed to verbal content and how much to acting and persona."

As for the puzzle, what @Pamela said.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

A standout Monday, with a theme that elicited a spontaneous inner thumbs up and “Hah!”. With a five-letter palindrome (STATS), two five-letter semordnilaps (SET ON and TENON) and a six-letter one (SPACER). With an answer so in-the-language, it’s amazing that it’s showing up in the NYT puzzle for the first time (CHIROPRACTOR). And with an oblique-yet-satisfying cross – that of PEAPOD and I’M COLD, because those stir-fry pea pods to me are snow peas.

On top of all this, the GET CRACKING theme echoes an answer that drew a lot of attention a couple of weeks ago – VOCAL FRY.

A Monday puzzle that signals wit to new and veteran solvers alike – Bravo and thank you, Eric!

Hungry Mother 6:43 AM  

Seems like I spent most of the day yesterday with the Mini, NYT, SB, and LAT puzzles, so this was refreshingly fast. The mini took almost as long as the regular puzzle for some reason.

OffTheGrid 6:44 AM  

2D might help if stung by 1D.
16A has good 9A.
You can use a 42A to make a 23A.
Do 31D have a pleasant 38A.
I give this puzzle high 33A.


A Moderator 7:13 AM  

@Lee Coller - If you could ask your question without including a spoiler for today’s Mini your post would not be deleted.

kitshef 7:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SouthsideJohnny 7:24 AM  

There probably should be an abbreviation in the clue for STATS, and the crossing of ELBA and RAE is unfortunate. It was nice to see two class individuals make an appearance (Arthur ASHE and Ernie BANKS). Good puzzle - just what you hope for on a Monday.

Z 7:41 AM  

Except for the “under 3” part pretty much what Rex said. Not on the puzzle’s wavelength. On a typical Monday I have to read a handful of clues twice. This morning I read more than a handful thrice. I don’t think it was anything special about the clues, just not quite clicking here. The theme and its revealer were nice enough, As @Pamela said, Not LOL. Just quiet amusement.

What @Frantic Sloth said about MUCHACHO. Absolutely nothing wrong with the word but I would never use it because the guys who look like me who do use it tend toward skank-baggery.

@Chuck D - What? The dude wrote books.

@kitshef - I can do three or four syllables, but two is beyond me. And in the three syllable version that R is like the vermouth in a dry martini.

pabloinnh 8:03 AM  

My only problem with this one was I got a couple of the themers and my solving connections led me down to the revealer, whoops, as I was going to try to figure it out before I got there so I spoiled that for me, shucks. I did think it was a good potential Aha!, FWIW.

MUCHACHO went in off the M, of course. Was wondering if there would be some objection to that one, and hoped not. So far so good.

Head-to-toe TICK checks are routine here during TICK season, and we're not camping. We used to never worry about them, and now they're everywhere. My wife hates them with the hate of a thousand suns.

Perfectly fine Mondecito, EB. Wish the revealer had been in the SE instead of the SW, but that's a real nit. Thanks for the fun.

Airymom 8:13 AM  

A comic is someone who performs as a stand-up comic. A comedian is a performer, for example, acting in a movie or TV show and is funny in that role.

So, Melissa McCarthy is a comedian because she plays funny characters in movies and on TV, but she is not a stand-up comic.

Robin Williams was both.

There is a good article by Brian Roth called "Comic vs. Comedian---What's the Difference." You can Google it.

Nancy 8:45 AM  

There's a lot to admire about this puzzle. The play on words in the revealer is sort of inspired and I never would have figured out the connection among the themers on my own. And then you've got some very un-Mondayish clues for MODEL; IDEA and the wonderful combination clue/answer BITTER END. Finally, there were actually some words I didn't know as clued: TARE and TENON.

Still, for me, the solving experience was not enough of a challenge to make the puzzle especially interesting or engrossing. Because pretty much everything I haven't mentioned was completely on the nose and I was able to fill it all in on automatic pilot.

Anonymoose 8:52 AM  

Except Robin Williams was rarely funny. His strength was dramatic roles.

Frantic Sloth 9:01 AM  

FWIW, a clarification:
When I reread my comment, it does look like my issue is with MUCHACHO. It isn't. My problem is with "hombre" and the clue itself.

RooMonster 9:04 AM  

Hey All !
This puz CRACKed me up!
A little dreck, but made up for by the longer Downs. Liked the CRACKiness of the theme.

Had some great contenders for @M&A's EZ category.

A nice, pleasant MonPuz. Not much more to say. ☺️

What was that pangram YesterBee? Yikes. The day before, too.

Two F's (plus two nice, non-forced X'S)

mathgent 9:33 AM  

Nancy summed up my opinion beautifully.

I like the definition @Conrad (6:23) gave. I would say that most performers doing standup today are comedians. Standup comics usually needed a partner, like Jerry Lewis, Lou Costello, and Gracie Allen. Red Skelton was a comic who did it alone. Robin Williams was both.

Z 9:59 AM  

@Anonymoose - De gustibus and all that but WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?

FWIW - My issue isn't with MUCHACHO isn't with the word either, or the word hombre, it's with certain people who use them and my desire not to be perceived as one of them.

@Airymom - But what is the difference between a COMIC and a comedian? If you look up the etymology of both you will find they are awfully close in original meaning, and "acting" is a part of each. I think these later distinctions are attempts to create a distinction that didn't exist originally and don't really exist even now in common usage. I think the distinctions can be made, but using these words to make the distinction doesn't really hold up once you finish the article.

Also, I do wonder if everyone realizes that a STAND-UP COMIC is acting. It is increasingly common for them to draw on personal experience, but that persona on the stage is not the person.

Lewis 9:59 AM  

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

1. Down-hearted softies? (6)
2. Batting equipment? (4)(9)
3. Lightly lined apparel (9)(4)
4. Jacket material ((5)(3)
5. Intellectual property (5)(5)


jberg 10:10 AM  

When the first entry was WAS, followed quickly by WASP, ALL, ALOE, and SOY, I looked for a very easy puzzle. I was not disappointed. DIG up before AT, I’ll say before I AGREE, and waiting for crosses for SADIE over SArah. That was it.

Great theme, though.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

my word. not one mention, as I type, by either OFL or any commentator for the sine qua non of CRACK jokes: the venerable plumber observation. a slow Monday all around.

GILL I. 10:53 AM  

@Z.....As is typical of the Spanish language, where you live and speak changes the meanings of a ton of words. You learn quickly which ones not to use. In Cuba, MUCHACHO or Muchacha is a servant/maid. Also in Spain. I guess you wouldn't say MUCHACHO to a Mexican unless you're in a gay bar. Another word that comes to mind is saying "chucho." In many Spanish speaking countries, it is a word of endearment. You'd sometime hear "hola chuchita" from a parent to a small child. In other countries, it refers to the (ahem) nethers parts. Also, Chucho is sometimes used as a nickname for Jesus. Go figure.
Just don't tell anybody to close the "cajon" in Chile.

Frantic Sloth 10:58 AM  

@Z 959am You get my meaning. My problem is that whenever I hear the word "hombre" now, I have a visceral reaction because of "certain people" who use it ad nauseam in connection with a "rationale " for mass deportation and securing our borders against (non-white) "illegals". Maybe it's a personal problem. But it shouldn't be.

Qwerty 11:01 AM  

Like @Chefwen I blew threw this puzzle in record time. Now. This does NOT make me doubt @Rex’s time, but damn, I simply do not see how he can make so many mistakes and come in at a time like that! This is one of the few times when I decided to TRY to go fast. I felt like I filled in as fast as possible (for me)...boom, boom, boom...and the timer still said 4:32. Maybe if I hold my breath and type like my life depends on it?

Debbie 11:22 AM  

Sexy SADIE is not about a Beatle's woman. It was written about the Indian guru Maharishi. Kind of surprising how often SADIE is clued as a Beatle's woman or girl.

Rug Crazy 11:36 AM  

Clue on 26A - I really doubt the veracity of the story. why no royalty?

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Hmm... MUCHACHO has raised that issue. Since man does not live by bread alone, I maintain a steady diet of 'Law & Order' re-run consumption, and there is an episode in the late period (Cutter is DA) where Hispanics are being attack on the street by teenage thugs. One of the alleged perps is mixed: dad is NYC fish belly white, while mom is beige Argentine. In the course of the cross, Cutter elicits from mom that she had dissembled, pretended to be household help when first interviewed by the police, to which she replies:

"How could anyone look at me and think I'm a groncho?"

Rubirosa (Spanish parents) gets Cutter's attention, writes on a pad, and Cutter elicits from mom that groncho, in Argentina, is derogatory. Very. For myself, a new bad word to my vocabulary.

'L&O:CI' did a similar trick. In this episode, the victim is mom. As the case develops, it turns out her parents were Argentine Jews, found out because, in part, she used a word, which I can't quite spell and the innterTubes doesn't offer up, isn't Spanish, but rather Ladino; which, it turns out, is a kind of Argentine Yiddish. Another word to my vocabulary.

Grouch 11:58 AM  

I have enough trouble navigating English. Please don't ask me to understand the nuances of other languages.

Bax'N'Nex 12:09 PM  

As a Chiropractor myself, what a thrill (ok, it doesn't take much to thrill me, I know)to see CHIROPRACTOR in the NY Times Puzzle! I immediately texted my wife and daughter who, probably, not as excited as I was.

I know MANY of my colleagues will take sanctimonious exception to the use of "cracking" your back in reference to our profession (because we don't actually "crack" anything), but I thought it was good fun.

Fun puzzle for a Monday and nice way to start my week.

A little Chiropractic fun

ChuckD 12:17 PM  

@Z - writer yes and purveyor or even father of modern sociology I’ll give you. But also the bootstrap for so many other attempts to define the nature of communism that he never really wanted to deal with. My comment about seeing him in the puzzle is less about his legacy but more so about having to read both sides’ take on him. Similar to seeing Trump, Obama, Castro or any other polarizing figure - I don’t want to deal with that stuff when I’m puzzling. Shakespeare, Yeats, Ruth vs Bonds, Gram Parsons etc - all fair game.

Lol - that said I’ve seen no one discuss him yet. Maybe he’s become more mainstream than I thought.

bocamp 12:20 PM  

@CDilly52 9:45 PM (yesterday) - "OC & Cat Daddy", what a precious anecdote! 😽

@Birchbark 12:42 AM - Thx, always enjoy learning the origins of metaphors. :)

Bitter end

"The Bitter End" by Randall Garrett

"The Bitter End", included in the "Lord Darcy" anthology by Randall Garrett.

@Lewis 9:59 AM - Bingo on your "top 5", as always :)

Raw snow "peas" are great, but sugar snap "peas" are even better, imo. 😋

Adele - Someone Like You - HD (Live Royal Albert Hall)

@Roo - Yup, yesterday's was a beaut; familiar with it, but just wouldn't materialize when the chips were down. Pretty sure it's appeared in the NYT xword, too.

Peace Frieden Paz ειρήνη Pax Maluhia Paix 🕊

Carola 12:34 PM  

Nice Monday! Talk about CODE-BREAKing - I spent some minutes pondering, "How are these professions alike?" but couldn't come up with a single IDEA. I loved the wit of the reveal.
Help from previous puzzles: NES. Do-overs: CREed; vowel trouble with HOODLeM.

@Birchbark 12:24 - Thank you! Such a familiar phrase, and I'd never paused to wonder about its origin.

Masked and Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Nice MonPuz. M&A was also sorta relieved tho, that MOONER was not a theme answer. [har. Not.]

staff weeject pick: RAE. No candidate today really stood out between the cracks, but RAE is at least a word, almost however else U choose to anagram the letters. Primo weeject stacks in the NW & SE, btw.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: Lotsa worthy candidates. When in doubt, go with a longball, sooo … {Goddess who lent her name to the capital of Greece} = ATHENA. I mean, duh -- Anyone know the name of another city in Greece that might be its capital? SPARTA? [Goddess of Spare Tires?] THESSALONIKI?

fave sparklers: HOODLUM. SLYASAFOX. BITTEREND with DRY & its weeject stack of convenience (WSOC) crossin it at the end.

Thanx for the great fun, Mr. Bornstein. And congratz on scorin yer second NYTPuz. Consider yerself a(n) habitué, now.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


camilof 12:46 PM  

@kitshef You had me attempting to pronounce 'comfortable' with just two syllables for about a minute straight... 😅

Teedmn 1:01 PM  

This played very EASY for Monday. I did have to exchange body parts at 31D, started with OXeyeS (and thought "daisies, not primroses, right?"). And I hesitated in entering EASY at 61D because 68A is always a nebulous answer for me (Nec? NCR? NES, WII, whee!)

I liked the theme, found it clever and apt. Thanks, Eric Bornstein, for a nice sophomore NYT puzzle.

@birchbark, fascinating info on the BITTER END.

@Frantic, thanks for the hombre clarification. I was scratching my head on when I might have heard anyone say MUCHACHO since the early 70s. That's when my Spanish-speaking cousins would come to visit from NY State and my uncle would refer to them as muchachas and muchachos.

egsforbreakfast 1:08 PM  

Bitter end brings to mind several boat-related memories.. I spent a few days now and then anchored at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. I still think of it often because I fairly frequently wear a Bitter End Yach Club T-shirt, and regardless of whether I’m in Topeka, Kansa or Kathmandu, Nepal, someone will always exclaim on having been there. Since Hurricane Irma, the exclamations devolve into laments over the subject. But I understand it has been rebuilt and is probably once again a great place to drink. I remember drinking there while Rod Stewart’s “The First Cut is the Deepest” played, and debating profoundly with our waitress, Jasmine, whether the first cut really is the deepest.

Second, I noticed among the boats for sale on Oct. 28 by the Port of Port Townsend for non-payment of fees is the Anchor Dragger. This name appeals to me about as much as would “Always Sinks” or “Filled with Mold”. Maybe one of you swells at the Rye Marina should buy it.

Anyway, as Monday puzzles go, this was sleek and fast, so thanks Eric Bernstein.

Whatsername 1:10 PM  

I liked this, corny puns and all. I mean if you’re going to do corny puns then Monday is the day for it, and these were cleverly done. Interesting to read Eric’s and Jeff Chen’s notes on how this one came about.

I’m late posting because I slept in on this COLD, rainy/almost snowy morning and then made a pot of beef stew for dinner. The AROMA is already mouthwatering. I HOPE it tastes as good as it smells.

kitshef 1:58 PM  

DIG AT is pretty bad. As to the rest – it’s Monday. Expectations are low but this exceeded them.

Rex jokingly suggests people use "comic" rather than "comedian" to save syllables. It seems to me that people have a tendency to do the reverse, presumably to sound smarter. I have twice recently heard people use 'comfortability' in a sentence - a six-syllable non-word in place of the two-syllable 'comfort'.

Basically, we had a perfectly good noun in comfort, and an associated adjective in comfortable, and people are taking that adjective and making a noun out of it by following the pattern of 'impossible', and 'impossibility'.

Also FWIW, I am agnostic on whether you pronounce 'comfortable' with four syllables or three, provided you don't drop the 'r' sound.

Z 2:10 PM  

@Gill I - Thanks. I didn’t know any of that. The guys (mostly) I don’t want to be associated with are the ones avoiding their preferred terms (wetback, beaner. and illegals). I guess I could give them some credit for not being that offensive, but I don’t. As for all the various meanings, it’s easy to forget that the versions of Spanish spoken by Mexicans and Mexican-Americans aren’t even the same, let alone all the other dialects out there.

@Chuck D - So not so much Karl himself as everyone else telling us what he really meant. I find it more than a little amusing that Mr. “religion is the opium of the people” evokes so much religious fervor. It’s been a few decades but I have always felt he got the economics wrong and human nature wronger.

@egsforbreakfast - I am legally required to point out that The First Cut is the Deepest is an early Cat Stevens song and Sheryl Crow is much better looking than Rod Stewart.

Apropos of nothing in today’s puzzle, we occasionally get tricky clues for collective nouns like a parliament of owls or a murder of crows or a pride of lions. Well, given the news from Utah, everywhere Trump has had a maskless event, and the vice president’s office, Twitter* has created a new collective noun, “an infection of republicans.”

*Well, a small corner of Twitter at least.

Barbara S. 2:12 PM  

I had a cracking good time with this one. One also thinks of firecrackers, safecrackers, cracking wise, cracking eggs -- crack is a hard-working word.
When I was a little girl, my friends and I had what I now see as a really macabre chant. We'd walk down the sidewalk saying, "Step on a crack, you'll break your mother's back. Step on a line, you'll break your mother's spine." Yikes, what was that about?? Pathological rhyming? My mother actually had a bad back, so I always felt quite guilty saying it.

There's also this BITTER END reference. The launching point for the careers of many musicians and comics/comedians in the 1960s and beyond.

***SB ALERT***
The SB today is a murder hornet! (Sorry, I couldn't stop myself.)

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@Barbara S. Also, if we stepped in a hole we broke our mother's sugar bowl. Serious, but not requiring a CHIROPRACTOR.

Masked and Anonymous 2:33 PM  


Anti-proctology campaign slogan: Get Cracking -- Vote Against the Spread!

Anti-Trump campaign slogan: Get Masks on -- Vote Against the Pandemic Spread!

A cool possible follow-up puztheme revealer: GET FRACKING. Doesn't seem to have quite as much traction as a campaign slogan right now, tho.


@Whatsername: That warm beef stew of yers sounds sooo good. On this Brr IMCOLD day, M&A could almost eat that thru a mask. Enjoy. [GET SNACKING.]

bocamp 2:39 PM  

@camilof 12:46 PM - ha-ha, me too :)

Maybe two, if one elides the "or" to make "comf" / "turble" or "comftur" / "bul". The "r" sound is almost not there. Spoken normally, for me it's two syllables. Spoken more slowly (with hand clapping) it's three: "comf" "tur" "bul" Many may pronounce it, "com" fort" "a" "ble" As @kitshef suggests, "agnostic" may be the way to go. 🤔

@Bax'N'Nex 12:09 PM - Vid, too funny 😂

Speaking of "cracking", Mom was big on "chiropractic" and more or less anti "conventional medical". Lots of cold compresses, merthiolate, Mercurochrome, iodine, Mentholatum, Band-Aids, etc. The only doctor visits I can recall were for tonsil removal (remember the ice cream cone more than the surgery), and casting both legs (with knobs on the bottom for walking) due to fractures of the calcanei (heel bones), as a result of jumping from the garage roof too many times.

@Z 2:10 PM wrote:

"It’s been a few decades but I have always felt he got the economics wrong and human nature wronger."

Agreed, although his intentions were pure; but we all know about the "good intentions" proverb.

Steppenwolf - Born To Be Wild ("Easy" Rider) (1969)

@Barbara S. 2:12 PM - Just puttering along, so haven't been stung too badly, yet. :)

Peace Frieden Paz ειρήνη Pax Maluhia Paix 🕊

Unknown 2:53 PM  

@ Nancy 8:45 "Still, for me, the solving experience was not enough of a challenge to make the puzzle especially interesting or engrossing."

Uh, not to state the obvious, but . . . . it's a Monday, and so not designed to be challenging for someone of your pedigree. If it had been harder, then people would be complaining that the puzzle felt more like a Tues/Wed. I get that this is a pretty picky crowd. I don't know how much of that is by nature, and how much is the general aura promoted by the chief blogger.

But to complain that a Monday puzzle didn't provide enough of a challenge to a very experienced solver is a little [ fill in the blankety-blank ].

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

It’s been a few decades but I have always felt he got the economics wrong and human nature wronger.

quite the opposite. the economics comes down to a single proposition (even more true here and now, then in England and mid-19th century): to the capitalist, only labour is a controllable expense, thus can be exploited. the rest of cost, both direct and indirect, is subject to contracts. the only way out of those is bankruptcy. the cost of capital is, esp. these days, the same everywhere, thus no capitalist has an advantage in acquiring it.

you can see the effect quite explicitly in the Orange Sh!tgibbon's (not my coinage, but I cleave) touting of 'the stock market has never been better'. it's a lie, of course, but there is a truth, long known to anyone who sat through and paid attention to even an Econ 101 course: stock prices are 100% inversely correlated with 'the' interest rate. with Fed chairs (and their peers elsewhere) since 2009 keeping 'the' interest rate at or very near 0, those with fungible moolah have a simple opportunity cost: get near 0 on Treasuries, or bet on stocks and capital gains. and they have, in droves.

IOW, the only way for the capitalist to make money is to squeeze labour. that's the reason Apple and everybody else decided to shut down USofA manufacturing and buy it from China (and other Asian countries, dictatorships preferred): near slave labour. can't beat free.

/here endeth the epistle

pabloinnh 3:15 PM  

Warning: The following discusses SB only. If this is an annoyance, continue to next post. Thank you.

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

@Barbara S.--It took me an inordinately long time to get to Genius, which I finally did. After I do this I generally check the SB answers for fun to see how many more I would need to get to QB. TWENTY (20), that's how many! I'm done with SB for today, unless I discover I have insomnia, when I may continue. I mean, really.

Also, they found the murder hornet nest by fitting a murder hornet with a radio transmitter. I'd pay a dollar to see that being done.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

@Bocamp. You must have been lucky enough to avoid mumps, rubella, measles, chicken pox, impetigo, asthma, frequent ear infections, and miscellaneous lacerations requiring sutures. I also got vaccinations as they became available, notably poliomyelitis. I wouldn't have wanted my parents to rely on chiropractic (The noun that looks like an adjective).

Anonymous 4:47 PM  


I have found the Bee very tough lately. Even missed some pangrams. I'm starting to feel like an idiot. Quiet music on the radio helps me relax and concentrate but maybe I need a new tactic. Any suggestions?

bocamp 5:26 PM  

@Anonymous 4:31 PM

As if I had a choice. LOL

Had some of the usual suspects in the '40s: measles, mumps and chicken pox. It was isolation and TLC for all of them. Yes, I do recall (now that you mention it) having stepped on a nail once and having to get a tetanus shot (or some such). For the ear infection, it was cig smoke. Mom would take a puff from Dad's Camels.

Peace Frieden Paz ειρήνη Pax Maluhia Paix 🕊

Anoa Bob 5:56 PM  

****BS COMMENT****

It was sure nice while it lasted, kind of like when the first cold front comes through and there's a respite from the mosquitoes. But it looks like it was temporary and the infernal parasitic pests are buzzing again. Sigh.

Nancy 5:57 PM  

@ Unknown (2:53) -- My aim in writing each and every one of my initial blog comments is to make it as clear as I possibly can exactly how it felt for me to solve -- or not to solve -- the puzzle that day. Some of my blog pals are actually going to care about the truth and accuracy of my reaction. If I can get the kind of lovely reaction I got from @mathgent today, then I've done my job. I'm not here to talk about yourreally feel about a puzzle and not only what you think I'm permitted to say. Do we have a deal?

Barbara S. 6:26 PM  

@Anonymous 2:25 p.m.
Wow -- I never heard that one. But it strikes me that one's mother's sugar bowl is very important indeed.

****SB ALERT****
@pabloinnh 3:15 p.m.
I feel ya. I haven't been able to do any better than 14 to go, and I'm about done. As for the murder hornet -- THAT's miniaturization!

@Anonymous 4:47 p.m.
I've been playing the Bee for 6+ months, and all I can say is that I go through cycles and seasons with it. I'll go for a while getting frequent QBs, and then I'll descend into a long drought (and miss stuff I shouldn't), making me wonder about my cognitive powers. I don't think ambiance matters much for me. My abilities seem about equal in a quiet room or in front of television.

Z 7:07 PM  

@3:02 - Not the place for this so all I will say in response to only labour is a controllable expense, thus can be exploited. the rest of cost, both direct and indirect, is subject to contracts, is, uh, nope.

Birchbark 7:10 PM  

@Bocamp (12:20) and all interested in the BITTER END -- That's a very interesting critical follow-up in the "Worldwide Words" link. I do see the urgency in a big storm that that writer doesn't: a safely anchored boat snapping the anchor cable when there is no more play, or dragging anchor or going adrift in a harbor with all the prospects of collision or sinking, natural (reefs, shoals, running aground) and man made (other ships, platforms, piers, etc), or off from safety out into the deep and lost, to be seen again only on nights when the moon is full and the fog rolls a certain way against the tide.

But I also like that author's skepticism: There are so many word origin stories where what we read is more an example of nifty guesswork than grounded history. Thanks for passing it along --

jae 7:16 PM  

***SB comment***
Yesterday - 0
Today - Skip, based on previous comments.

Anonymous 8:34 PM  

ACB ! God Bless the USA. Bad day for misogynists.

bocamp 8:52 PM  

@Birchbark 7:10 PM - Yw, and all good points!

I was initially on the deck force (USS Bryce Canyon), so scraping and painting "bitts" was part of the job. Eventually got reassigned to the Gunnery Office.

@jae 7:16 PM - 👍

Peace Frieden Paz ειρήνη Pax Maluhia Paix 🕊

Anonymous 9:53 PM  

is, uh, nope.

well, if that were true, bidnezz wouldn't spend all that time and money union busting. they wouldn't have decamped to Asian dictatorships. and so forth. you can certainly disagree, but you thus need to provide some evidence. ya know?

bocamp 11:41 PM  


Peace Frieden Paz ειρήνη Pax Maluhia Paix 🕊

thefogman 9:55 AM  

I liked this one. It’s a good Monday puzzle. Nothing to get mad about here...

spacecraft 11:22 AM  

Not much to say about this MUCHACHO. Yeah, I WAS one of many who went for the wrong part of the OX's face; ink mess there. But a nice little theme, only three answers + the revealer, so fine for a Monday. EVA Mendes, take the DOD sash. Nothing outrageous in the fill: birdie.

Burma Shave 11:49 AM  


I’M sure you’re NEAR a BITTEREND.
you won’t EVER END UP in the PEN.


rondo 1:58 PM  

Hand up for OXeyeS. Otherwise it WAS ALL good.

Deferring to the musician, Carly RAE Jepsen earns yeah baby.

Good puz? IAGREE

leftcoaster 3:05 PM  

NEAR perfect Monday and as EASY as it needs to be.

Have to like the two long downs, SLY AS A FOX and BITTER END.

Paused over MUCHACHO and SKEE-Ball (?).

Good theme with an apt Monday morning wake-up-call providing a multi-use revealer.

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