Sam who directed the "Evil Dead" series / MON 10-5-2020 / Worker for a feudal lord / Like Galileo, by birth / One-named singer with the 2014 hit "Chandelier" / Md. home to the U.S. Cyber Command

Monday, October 5, 2020

Constructor: Evan Mahnken

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Culinary phrases — ...Yeah that was the best I could do for describing the theme. Theme answers begin by describing what stage food is in the done-ness process. 

Theme answers:
  • RAW FOOTAGE (17A: Unedited film)
  • HALF BAKED IDEAS (29A: Off-the-wall concepts)
  • COOKED THE BOOKS (45A: Committed accounting fraud)
  • BURNT UMBER (59A: Shade of brown)

Word of the Day: CIS (13A: Opposite of trans, in gender studies) —
referring or relating to people whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex. 
(Oxford Dictionary)
• • •
You were expecting an Annabel Monday, huh? Well, sorry. Last month was the last Annabel Monday. 

Because I'm not Annabel anymore. My name's August now. I'm not CIS. Turns out, you can learn a lot about yourself when you're stuck inside all the time! Don't worry, I'm still the same graduate student you've been following since high school. Do worry that I'm still tired. Graduate school plus work equals some late nights. Ooh, work has been so awesome though! I work in a bookstore, and we've been moving to a new location, and I spent all of yesterday just unpacking books. It was amazing. 

Oh yeah there was a puzzle too. GEE I really enjoyed this one! Fun fill that you don't always see on a Monday like TRUSS and PISAN and the lovely PRIG. I also liked that we got "friend in France" for AMI rather than the tired "___ doing okay?" type clues.  (Wish I could say the same for ESE; I'm growing very sick of cardinal-direction clues.) Oh, and I'd never heard of the koh-i-NOOR diamond before; I would've made that my word of the day if there wasn't another word that was more relevant. Did you know it weighs 105.6 carats? That'd make a heck of an engagement ring. 

The theme honestly didn't do a whole lot for me this week, other than making me crave Ben and Jerry's Half-Baked ice cream. I didn't really get it until I read the writeup. BURNT UMBER is great fill, though. I think we should have crayon colors every week! Gimme the CERULEAN and GOLDENROD and CORNFLOWER! 

  • REN (60D: Kylo ____, Jedi-in-training seduced to the dark side) — Okay, I'll bite. What's the deal with this guy? Why do so many people think he's so cute? I mean, I kinda get it, I used to be the world's biggest Benedict Cumberbatch fan, but Adam Driver just doesn't have a weird enough face for me to get it. Also I think a bunch of people want him to kiss Rey but I thought he was the bad guy? I dunno. I guess people like bad boys, huh. 
  • TIT (6D: Relative of a chickadee) — No comment. 

  • DICE (51A: Equipment in Monopoly and Yahtzee) — Okay, I finally broke down and bought my first set of Dungeons and Dragons dice. I've been playing the darn game for years, but I usually just bum dice off my friends or, in dire circumstances, Google "roll 1d20". But I got a really pretty set and I'm super excited for them to come in! Oh, you want to know more about my D&D character? Well his name is Tad, he's a third-level barbarian, and he has a pet mouse and he's really scary-looking but he has a big heart. Are there any D&D crossword-doers out there? What are your characters like? 
  • IKE (25D: "I like ___"[1950s political slogan])  — So does everybody! 

Signed, August Thompson, tired--but happier--graduate student.  

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow August Thompson on Twitter]


Patrick O'Connor 12:07 AM  

Congratulations on your decision, August. Tell us next August Monday how you chose this name and not, say, Andy-Bill.

dan 12:09 AM  

Oh, hey, congrats, August! May you never stop learning about yourself!

I didn’t love this puzzle, but I am amused to find that LIEGE is one of those words that is its own opposite. I thought it was an error, but apparently it means either a king or lord, or a subject of a king or lord. Which feels ... not really useful as a word, somehow.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

Just when you think you at least have this one tiny corner of the universe figured out, in struts August to let you know you have exactly nothing figured out.

I thought this was a great Monday puzzle. Doable for a new solver yet not just a fill-in-the-blanks for those of us who are long-time solvers.

And ... don't forget to send Mr. Trump a get-well card. Today's joyride shows us he is suffering from the additional malady of cranial rectal defilade.

Pamela 12:27 AM  

Well hello, August! Congratulations on figuring it out- good for you! I wonder how many other lives will be changed radically through having had to hit pause on nearly everything we were doing up until six months ago. Lots of time to ponder lots of things.

For me the puzzle was easy-but that could just be my generation, which is at the opposite end of the life span from yours, August. I didn’t even notice some of the answers because I went through it so fast (not Rex-fast, just fast for me). I did notice, however, that the themers progressed from RAW to BURNT, which I thought was cute. This should be a nice one for newbies- a simple theme, lots of Xword regulars decently clued and no junk.

41A was my fave today.

Elizabeth Sandifer 12:33 AM  

1) What are your pronouns?
2) Did you actually do the genuinely epic move of waiting for a word like CIS or TRANS to appear in a Monday puzzle to come out, because if so you flat out win at trans.

JC 1:06 AM  

Happy for you, August. 2020 has been a time of change for all of us — it's wonderful that some of it can be positive.

Mike in Mountain View 2:29 AM  

Congratulations, August, on your new name and your self-discovery. As long as we can have August Mondays year-round, your many fans will be able to adjust to having no more Annabel Mondays.

Frantic Sloth 2:47 AM  

Well, hello August! Congratulations on what I can only imagine is a simultaneously liberating and terrifying rebirth. I admire your fortitude and wish you all the best. It's a shame you're still tired though.πŸ˜‰

As for the puzzle...typical Mondee fare, but a cute theme with a nice progression. Nothing getting my knickers in a wad, so that's a relief.


Pete 3:16 AM  

@August - all my love and support. I wish that this had some tangible effect, but words in the ether is all I've got. As an aside, August!? You're from the DC area, where August is associated only with being a hot sticky mess that everyone hates.

chefwen 3:23 AM  

Cute Monday with a fun theme. Pretty easy, as a Monday should be. A perfect puzzle for a beginner.
Had I to pick a favorite color out of a Crayola box it would be either BURNT UMBER or Periwinkle Blue, both fun to say and pretty.

jae 3:57 AM  

Medium works for me. Cute progression, liked it.

tompdavis 4:04 AM  

Under 6m which I count as an accomplishment given it was one handed on my phone at three am lying on the couch with a 7d old newborn sleeping on my chest. Welcome to crosswords baby!

mathgent 5:06 AM  

Steohen BREYER is a San Francisco boy. He sent through our public schools before going to Stanford. I knew his father, Irving Breyer, very well. We both worked in the office of the San Francisco Board of Education. Irving was the legal advisor to the board.

Conrad 5:44 AM  

Congratulations @August!! I disagree with @Pete -- August in the Northeast is a time for long seaside vacations and lots of ice cream. Great choice of a name!!

OffTheGrid 5:48 AM  

A 3-way natick today. RAIMI, ISLA, SIA. Whack-a-vowel, as they say. Otherwise good Monday.

Hungry Mother 5:55 AM  

Medium here also. A bunch of little hitches added up to a bit of a slow go this morning. The theme helped, but I resorted to a lot of downs.

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

Blessings on you, August, and a glass of champagne raised to your courage. Look forward to hearing more bits from your life.
I loved the puzzle, swept right through it, though the use of LIEGE as the serf is something I don't like much. Nobody says 'yes, my liege' to the farmer! However.

ChuckD 6:18 AM  

Liked this one fine for a Monday. The doneness progression theme was tight and actually better executed than the remaining fill. Favorite was HALF BAKED IDEAS. Nice with no revealer and no graphical help.

Lots of short gluey stuff in this one - the overall fill was pedestrian at best. Thought the CORONA clue was bad and too much of ABBR, ACCT and MBAS etc.

Have surfed a few different wonderful beaches in Maui - but really wouldn’t call it a surfing destination. The North Shore on the other hand...

Z 6:33 AM  

RAW to BURNT, so a commentary on someone’s cooking skills I take it.

πŸ–πŸ½ for learning LIEGE was an autoantonym. Seems the word has as much to say about the relationship as the individuals. I see it is related to “allegiance,” a connection that never occurred to me before. Thanks Monday puzzle.

@OffTheGrid - Good catch. All three are puzzle regulars, so the natickiness slipped past me.

@Joaquin - You lost me at the defilade part of cranial rectal defilade. That the man suffers from cranial rectalism has long been established, so him trying to prove he’s fine when the course of treatment suggests otherwise and thus endangering his security detail is just par for the course.

Hello, August. πŸ–πŸ½ for wondering about the name choice. I too have a first name* associated with the Roman Empire, so “August” sparked my curiosity.
*Actually a first and middle name that led to lots of Cleopatra jokes in junior high. Thanks Richard Burton.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

@August -- As one with a nephew who just went from Philip to Maya, and who has been filled with joy and relief ever since, I am so happy for you!

Re the puzzle, this theme brought a smile to my face – what an outstanding idea! -- and thank you for that, Evan. It brought back cooking memories, and I loved the progression. It spurred me to wonder, just for fun, if any answers could precede and follow your theme set, and in the middle of the night, my Crossword Angel woke me up with the following:


Anonymous 7:12 AM  

I've been playing D&D since I was a kid which was... well, it was a while ago, I think Reagan had just started his first term when I started playing. Currently I'm a DM, so no characters of my own, but my six players are: Frosty, a dwarven cleric of Moradin whose lack of a clan name we have yet to explore; Grissom Lucktrap, a charming bard who loves to bluff his way out of a situation; Keth, a half-orc barbarian; Malenfant, an emo elven rogue who dresses in black leathers and is always whining a bit; Quinn, a half-elven illusionist who might well be crazy; and Tenomis, a half-elven monk who tumbles like crazy through enemies but lands fewer punches than he'd like. (Technically at the moment, Keith and Malenfant are dominated by a vampire and so those players are playing two other characters, but I still think of them as these two.)

Happy gaming! May your dice never fail you.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Spit, was this ever easy. “Too easy for a Monday” may be an oxymoron, but if it isn’t, today’s was just that.

I’m starting to think the NYT doesn’t know any of SIA’s work beyond Chandelier.

I was a half-elf magic user-thief, for what it’s worth.

Eisenhower presided over three recessions in his eight years, and unemployment went from 2.6% when he took office to 6.6% when he left. So no, we didn’t all like IKE.

Preferred Customer 7:23 AM  

Nooooo, �� no more Annabe...Whew, August is here. ��������������������

BTW enjoyed the progression from raw to burnt. Sometimes that's what happens to my toast.


Z 7:40 AM  

@Preferred Customer - A weird Blogger thing is if you preview a comment with emojis Blogger turns the emojis into those weird question mark thingies. If you hit publish without previewing first the emojis appear. This is why you will rarely see links and emojis together in one of my posts.

Small Town Blogger 7:56 AM  

Please to meet you, August! Congratulations, and may this new life bring you nothing but joy and happiness!

SouthsideJohnny 7:56 AM  

Usually Monday puzzles are pretty crisp and clean - this one felt quite choppy though. The foreign word (ISLA) crossing (what I’m guessing is a vocalist) SIA and a TV director (RAIMI) is really poor form (at least in my book). Rex coined the phrase Natick for that type of nonsense, but I feel that laziness would be just as accurate.

Elaine2 8:12 AM  

Congratulations, August, nice to "meet" you. Looking forward to more August Mondays.

Annabel Thompson 8:13 AM  

I prefer he/him or they/them, thank you for asking!

SouthsideJohnny 8:25 AM  

————- SB Alert —————

Has anyone else noticed a disconnect between the circle in the NYT crossword app (has a T in the middle and an X in the periphery) vs. the online version (with the G in the middle)? They both seem a touch more difficult than usual - the X in the app and only one vowel online don’t help the situation.

Ted 8:27 AM  

Welcome August!

A pleasant Monday puzzle to usher in your new era!

Blackhat 8:27 AM  

14 names.....7 foreign words.


RooMonster 8:31 AM  

Hey All !
August... Hmm, how silly of you to change your name, wanting to go by some other random name... (says RooMonster). πŸ˜‚

Anyway, that poor attempt at humor aside, I got a kick out of the "cooking progression" theme. Sounds like my cooking! "I'll just set the temp to 400, leave it in, oh, about 45 minutes". BURNT. Or I get nervous and it ends up HALF BAKED. Cooking is a science.

Not super duper fast for a MonPuz, which is cool. I try to read the clues quicker than normal on Monday to be able to not immediately right answers in. Makes the puz last a bit longer. I also look at the clue for sn auto-filled word. Hate to miss anything.

This was a fun puz, nice fill, neat theme, SOOTHing. DICE. (Would that be the opposite of NO DICE?) I think only writeover was NEWage-NEWERA. Thought 42D was gonna be OKboomer. Har.

Four F's

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Looking forward to many more August Mondays! How perfect to announce with CIS in the crossword this morning!

Nancy 8:48 AM  

What a perfectly awful-sounding meal! There was a missed opportunity here -- the opportunity to make this somewhat tepid (pun intended) theme actually quite funny by adding an apt revealer. And I've found just the revealer. There's a TV program on the Food Network titled WORST COOKS in America. Now that would have been funny!

Never miss a chance to add humor to your puzzle if you can -- that's what I say. But taken just as it is, the puzzle has some nice, colorful fill -- RAW FOOTAGE and HALF BAKED IDEAS being my favorites. Cute.

Pamela 8:52 AM  

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

@Southside Johnny- It’s been said here that the printed Bee has little in common with the one on line and is far less interesting, so I never look at it.

But today follows the Monday-ness of the Xword, i.e. easy, in spite of the single vowel. I’m already at QB with relatively little effort compared to any other Bee I’ve worked on in the few months since I started doing them.

EdFromHackensack 8:53 AM  

always hesitate at MAji/MAGI. Other than that no real resistance. Liked the theme. Good luck August.

OldGuy 9:08 AM  

Kitbag? Army?

CS 9:10 AM  

I really liked this one - perfect for a Monday, cute theme, some PEPpy fill.

I agree with August about Kylo Ren..... name works great for a puzzle but yech. Sorry, Adam Driver is not hot and the character is pure evil. Now Harrison Ford - that's the kind of conflicted character whose bad deeds are more like mischief than evil

Happy October all

- CS

Tori Sandifer 9:11 AM  

My sister Elizabeth really won the comment on you Winning at Trans, so I have to do the less exciting option of suggesting August August.

Very glad to read an August Monday and looking forward to many more

JBT 9:23 AM  

IS it just me or did anyone else think Bob Ross paintings when you got the BURNT UMBER answer? We need a Bob Ross themed puzzle, happy trees!

pmdm 9:26 AM  

Jeff Chen voices some interesting complaints about the fill in today's puzzle. I suspect the complaints would not apply to almost everyone who comments here. His comments demonstrate to me that he is not 100% in Shortz's corner. And how difficult it can be to construct a relly good Monday puzzle.

Can't say I enjoyed solving the puzzle, but I did not dislike it. If it were just a bit more difficult, it might have seemed to me a perfect Tuesday puzzle.

burtonkd 9:27 AM  

@Joaquin - surprisingly, this was one of the less graphic side trips to the urban dictionary.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

> Spit, was this ever easy. “Too easy for a Monday” may be an oxymoron, but if it isn’t, today’s was just that.

New best time on a Monday on this one, we just ripped through it. I think we probably missed a third of the clues because we didn't need to do the acrosses.

JC66 9:50 AM  

Welcome @August and mazel tov!

William of Ockham 9:55 AM  

Tits are lovely birds

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Pack up your troubles in your old kitbag

Frantic Sloth 10:08 AM  

@Pamel 1227am I swear I wasn't copying you! As we know, the 2+ hour "delay" is misleading. Plus, we must have great minds. πŸ˜‰

@Z 633am Never knew Michael Palin was a friend of yours. Now, if they would move the Ypsilanti water tower to Rye...
Okay - that's enough of that.

tea73 10:16 AM  

Congrats August! Enjoy your new name and identity.

I found this crunchier than your average Monday, but no real hiccups. For some reason it took me forever to see PRIORTO.

jberg 10:20 AM  

@August, congratulations on your transition!

I liked the theme, but of course @Lewis made it even better. All those theme answers might need a Sunday, though.

@Old guy, pack up your troubles in your old kit bag... I think that’s a song from World War I, though, so the term may no longer be in use.

Slight cavil about the clue for LIEGE, though. The relationship it can be either end of is that between lord and vassal, neither of whom is a “worker.”

Z 10:21 AM  

@pmdm - I got stuck on his “highly educated” neighbors who got stuck on “abbr.” Also on the suggestion that anyone attempting the NYTX wouldn’t recognize the “e.g.: Sp.” part of Majorca, e.g.: Sp. No, the issue there is that Majorca is trivia crossing SIA and RAIMI, both pop culture, and they cross at a vowel, not a fairly common abbr. or two. I think obtuse or just plain outhouse trivia are almost always the obstacle for new solvers. FDIC, TERI Garr, PIERRE Curie, EVA clued by Uncle Tom’s Cabin,, FT. MEADE ... That’s the stuff that’s going to sink new solvers or send them to Uncle Google’s Cabin (and that’s just the top third). The double PPP natick at RAIMI/ISLA/SIA is all about PPP crossing at vowels, not a couple of abbreviations in one of the clues. Ah, well, just further proof that I see the world more like Rex does than like Chen does.

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

Ah...yes. Liberated Annabel. Good for you - but do tell...why the name August? Or...why not?
So we go from RAW to BURNT. I'm so glad you didn't throw in a Frozen Pizza. Nifty idea. You added all the condiments to take you to BURNT: ACCT, MIT, TMI, HER GEE and we get a meal fit for the LIEGE.
Memories of my first attempt at cooking. I hadn't met Julia Child yet and other than watching an extraordinary cook we had with us make a soufflΓ© that was fit for a goddess, I thought "piece of cake." No. It came out flat as a pancake.
Did someone mention Bob Ross and UMBER? was @JBT. Please...for all that is anything near sane, please do not make a crossword with his "paint by numbers." Thank you.
I guess now I will go read Jeff and see what he has to say...or not.
The sauce is in the pudding....

RooMonster 10:29 AM  

**SB Alert!!**

Finally! Finally got QB today! WooHoo! Must've been easy... πŸ˜‹πŸ€£

I'll thank my LIEGEs. Har.

RooMonster Forgot What The Crown Felt Like Guy

Joe Dipinto 10:32 AM  

I like the name August. Not many famous Augusts, only Wilson and Strindberg come to mind. Just don't do "Augie".

Cool set of themers, this. But where is the revealer?? I need a revealer. I don't get it!!!

Let's hear something cheerful this morning.

Tim Aurthur 10:35 AM  

I was actually dismayed reading the first paragraph, thinking we'd lost Annabel. Imagine the relief. Better than relief.

Maybe an apt title for this puzzle would be Are We Done Yet?

Carola 10:42 AM  

@August, thank you for letting us know, and all the best to you! (Grandma of an 11-year-old trans grandson here.)

For me, this was an "all you could ask for in a Monday" puzzle, mostly easy but with a bit of bite and a witty theme. I thought the repurposing of cooking terms into unrelated areas was very creative, and offered the fun of anticipating what the next one would be.

Help from previous puzzles: RAIMI, SIA. Help from being old: KIT BAG (from that army song).

Lewis 10:43 AM  

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

1. Alternative to truth? (4)
2. Overdrafts? (8)
3. Spring or fall, e.g. (6)(4)
4. Clicking sound? (3)
5. Something you do with your buds (5)


Anonymous 10:47 AM  

August in the Northeast

C'mon man!!! I grew up in New England, which is surely Northeast, lived on Capitol Hill for a decade, and am now back in NE. DC is anything but NORTHEAST. It's Swampy South (which starts at the Mason-Dixon Line), and much of it is actually filled in swamp. (They call it Foggy Bottom for a reason.) But so is Boston, but that's a different episode.

ow a paper cut 10:48 AM  

I have chickadees and titmice on my feeders. Nice Monday puzzle.

Malsdemare 10:49 AM  

Most excellent, August. Here's to a lifetime of learning who you are.

Fun puzzle. I liked DWEEB especially. No real reason, just did. SIA was a "pick a letter, any letter" moment for me but the rest was just fine.

Now to enjoy my coffee with my virtual pod, see what words of wisdom y'all have.

egsforbreakfast 10:53 AM  

Congratulations, August. I don’t think anyone has pointed out here that August as an adjective means respected and impressive. Terrific choice.

The puzzle progression of doneness was cute and I enjoyed it. 53A raised one eyebrow, since PISAN can be a term used perhaps in a slightly derogatory way to mean Italian, as well as in a straightforward way to mean “person from Pisa.”

Anyway, good effort Evan Mahnken, and keep up the good work, August!

Austin 10:54 AM  

i don’t think i’ve ever seen MAJI in a crossword so you can probably stop hesitating on that one

Whatsername 10:58 AM  

Very pleasant Monday, good one for beginners. Theme was cute especially with the answers in progressive order. So thanks Evan and welcome August.

Certainly the pandemic has given us pause to reflect on many aspects of our lives. For me it has been a realization that I am not an island and that as much as I pride myself on my independence and self-sufficiency, I do need some human connection. The state of our world today is WOEFUL, much of which has been brought on by HALF BAKED IDEAS. Keeping in touch with friends and family has helped me cope with it all.

@JBT (9:23) First thing I thought of was the movie Fargo in which a “brand new BURNT UMBER Sierra” played a significant supportive role.

Nancy 11:03 AM  

πŸ‘πŸΌ Love your addition to Trump’s maladies!!!

Harry 11:09 AM  

Congrats August. Love the name.

I enjoyed the puzzle, nice themers, soem good fill, a couple touch spots for a Monday. All around enjoyable experience. the world is looking up.

SouthsideJohnny 11:17 AM  

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

@Pamela - thanks for the clarification. I agree that today's played easier than usual. I cruised through to Genius without much effort. I may go back and see if I can pick up the handful that are remaining as well.

blinker474 11:19 AM  

I saw at least two posts that took nasty shots at the President. Why do that when the man is sick, perhaps seriously ill? Let him be.

Pamela 11:21 AM  

@ Frantic- Not only did we think alike, it’s verbatim! And you’re right- that lag is a dragπŸ™„

@Roo Congrats! Well done!πŸ‘πŸŽŠπŸŽ‰πŸ’₯

@Lewis- I always look forward to your Monday lists. They remind me of better moments from the week before. Thanks!

April Wex 11:22 AM  

So happy for you August. However, as a fellow solver with a “month” name- get ready for all the lame jokes! I always enjoy your posts.

joefrombrooklyn 11:24 AM  

August, congratulations on your discovery and confirming who you are! Thanks for sharing with us.

My time was good but it felt like a slightly harder than normal Monday. I enjoyed the light theme. Most of all, enjoyed the write up!

Alex M 11:27 AM  

Congratulations August, I wish you nothing but acceptance and joy. I also whole-heartedly concur with your assessment of Adam Driver. He seems like a cool human, though (as do you!)

KnittyContessa 11:35 AM  

Congratulations August!

A fun Monday puzzle. The themers made me smile. Some clever clues.

Masked and Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Mighty good to meet U, @August.

Nice, HALF-BAKED MonPuz theme. Didn't see anything real desperate in the fillins … maybe havin both ABBR & ACCT is a little slightly RAW.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Dickens's "___ Twist"} = OLIVER. Interestin CORONA clue, btw. Kinda makes yah wonder how the CO-VID movie theater chain is doin.
staff weeject pick: ESE. Also had a moo-cow eazy-E clue. Sorta a moo-cow E-SE clue, U might say.

Longballs were ok, but lotsa plurals: DEBRIEFS. GROUPIES. OKSIGNS. I think my personal fave was KITBAG. Place to pack up yer troubles, as I recall. [Or, alternatively, take a short germy car ride with yer secret service agents.]

Very smooth solvequest, at our house. Can't recall any big nanosecond snags -- I think I had OAHU before MAUI, but it weren't for long, after I saw RAIMI needin to cross it. "Evil Dead" schlock flicks are gimme territory, for the weird likes of M&A.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Mahnken.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Birchbark 11:57 AM  

D&D character names -- I played for a few years in college, sometimes in weekend-long marathon sessions. Favorite and longest-lived character was Thel, a true neutral, half-elf druid.

Thel had an oaken staff with a living twig and leaf that he used for healing or bludgeoning as circumstances warranted. In the crescendi of pitched dungeon battles, Thel was prone to musing asides like "Would that I were in my forest glen now." Then right back to the fray, his staff leveling orcs, giant rats, trolls, dragons, demigods, barrow wights, etc. As we all grew in experience and power, a personal rivalry with longtime quest-mate Merrin, a neutral evil thief, evolved into near battles-to-the-death requiring all available wit, trickery, magic and brute force. My best friend at the time, and best man at my wedding, ran the Merrin character.

Other names I liked, though the characters died before they developed: Crow, a half-orc warrior, and Gitasnorfiti, a wizard.

Joe Dipinto 12:11 PM  

Oops. How could I forget August Darnell?

Doc John 12:17 PM  

Not much to say other than what's already been said except for Congratulations, August! That's quite a discovery, decision, and method of revealing to the world. At least there weren't any incendiary devices involved for your gender reveal!

TTrimble 12:32 PM  

Congratulations, August, on your life decision, and here's to a happier you!

Not much to say about the puzzle. It seemed fair for a Monday. The thought occurs to me that the Mondayest of Monday-strength puzzles seems to come once a month, but on a Sunday -- the monthly Bonus puzzle. I ripped through this month's offering faster than any Monday in recent memory.

---[SB Alert]---
Whew, finally,a QB. I was not as fast as Pamela, but I got there, and this breaks a spell of recent near-misses. I guess I won't attempt to say much more about it now, to avoid creating unease for the mods. But I'm tempted to allude to one word in particular that I've never used, and that I felt lucky to guess.

crayonbeam 12:34 PM  

What a bold and beautiful announcement, August!
Thank you for sharing it with all of us.
Wishing you love and support for all that is ahead.

Puzzle-wise I was annoyed that I forgot how to spell Sam Raimi's name. I guess it's a good month to revisit his films. And to revisit the idea of doing the puzzle before 9am.

Anoa Bob 12:41 PM  

I thought COOKED would apply to both both HALF BAKED and BURNT, under in the former, over in the latter, so it didn't seem to fit in as part of a progression from RAW to BURNT. Maybe something like OVER DONE would have fit better, going from RAW to HALF BAKED to OVER DONE to BURNT.

One theme entry reminded me of one of my all-time favorite Gary Larson "Far Side" cartoon panels Something tells me this thing is only HALF BAKED.

MarthaCatherine 12:56 PM  


Sir Hillary 12:57 PM  

As themes go, this one felt, well, not exactly rare.

But never mind that -- today is all about you, @August! Please allow me to add my most sincere congratulations, welcome and thanks. As a father of a trans male, I cannot claim to have walked in your shoes, but I have had a front-row seat to the experience of my son Leine (fka Elena). It takes tremendous courage to endure and evolve as it appears you have, and that is to be admired and 100% supported. So (returning to a theme reference)...well done!

Teedmn 1:02 PM  

August, congratulations on making such a life-altering leap. I still have my D&D dice from when I played in the late 80s. My character, Rainier, was an elf thief. We certainly never delved as deeply as @Birchbark seems to have; I don't remember many epic battles amongst our group.

I saw RAW FOOTAGE fill in and thought the theme might be body parts spliced into other nouns, but HALF-BAKED cured that half-baked idea!

With __EF_L in at 34A, I thought ruEFUL made the "In a sorry state" a very clever clue. Woe is me that it didn't turn out to be correct.

Thanks, Evan Mahnken, for an interesting theme on a Monday.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

I saw at least two posts that took nasty shots at the President. Why do that when the man is sick, perhaps seriously ill? Let him be.

just speaking for myself, it's called 'payback's a bitch'. this clown and his minions let 210,000 fellow Americans die just because he's a f!!ing moron (see: Tillerson), yet he gets treatment that only some billionaires could get. on top of it all, we're up to 12 of said minions sick with Covid just because this clown had to have a gloat party over some right wingnut judge, who is only any kind of judge because of him. it's not nice to fool Mother Nature. or Karma.

this clown sure gloated over NYC and Boston and other Big Blue Cities which were overwhelmed earliest, before anyone knew what might be done about it. payback's a bitch.

Roger D 1:14 PM  

@anon 1:02 You should let us know how you really feel. Holding everything inside you and suppressing your emotions is not healthy.

Nigel Pottle 1:14 PM  

I thought this was the most boring puzzle I’ve had in a long time. ALOE, PIN, ESE, TIT. And August must be very young not to know the Koh-I-Noor diamond. It’s been a crossword clue for ages. Even the progression was boring. Seemed an effort to grasp at something that wasn’t worth it.. Ho-hum. Oh well. Thanks for giving me a bit of entertainment August with your random post - although I think you are surely old enough not to giggle at TIT.

bocamp 1:32 PM  

Thank you @ Evan, the theme notwithstanding, for a perfectly prepared meal to start the week :)

@ August - You may be "tired", but your write-ups are always thoughtful and full of energy. Thanks for reminding me that I wore a "Adlai/Estes" button to school; and yes, there were politics in 3rd grade. Nevertheless, I still like "Ike". πŸ˜‰

@ Joe Dipinto 10:32 AM - thx for the "Oliver" vid; uplifting, indeed! :)

Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old "Kit-Bag", and Smile, Smile, Smile

"Burnt" turkey

The "Sia" / Nosferatu crossing "Natick" from a puzzle long ago in another galaxy, resulted in embedding both in my crossword mental data bank forever.

Pierre Curie

@ Anoa Bob 12:41 PM

Thx for the Gary Larson "half-baked" cartoon; he's my favorite cartoonist. πŸ˜‚

@ Preferred Customer 7:23 AM
@ Z 7:40 AM

There's a simple work-around if one wants to "preview" their post (knowing the emojis will be corrupted): "copy" the post prior to doing the "preview," then, if you're satisfied with it, close out the comment window, open a new one and "paste" your "copy" into it, with all the emojis intact. Hit "Publish", and Bob's your uncle!

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Pamela 8:52 AM

Congrats on your back-to-back "QB"s 🐝

@ RooMonster 10:29 AM

Well done! 🐝

@ TTrimble 12:32 PM

πŸ‘ 🐝

Haven't started yet. 🀞

@ SouthsideJohnny 8:25 AM

Which app are you using? My iOS app and the NYT Games website both show a center "G" and no peripheral "X".

Happy to hear you got "Genius"; I'm rooting for you to go all the way today! 🀞

Peace Paz Maluhia Paix πŸ•Š

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

@teedmn - Is buying D&D dice really such a life altering thing?

Whatsername 1:55 PM  

@Anoa Bob (12:41) That’s one of my Far Side favorites. My all-time most loved is the dog luring the cat into the dryer with “cat fud.” I sure do miss Gary Larson. Just imagine what he could do with the subject matter he’d have to work with these days.

Unknown 2:00 PM  

What bothered me the most about this puz is the implication that professors are more interested in TENURE than in, say, actually teaching people; and that inventors are more interested in the PATENTS, then in say inventing something that will benefit society. But maybe that's the reality of living in a hyper capitalist society.

Re: someone who posted earlier about people laying off of Trump who is sick, you know, it would be a whole lot easier to muster up some sympathy for him if he hadn't lied about the virus and downplayed it for 6 months, and if he hadn't ridiculed Joe Biden for wearing a mask, and if he had listened to his science advisors, and if he had modeled good behavior . . . . .

Barbara S. 2:09 PM  

August! I wish you strength and courage when they are needed, and happiness at all times. Thank you for introducing us to more of your whole self.

I liked the puzzle with its spot-on progression. ASPER could have been clued as PPP in a Canadian context as Izzy ASPER was a well-known media baron in his day. TRUSS is an interesting word which has relevance to turkey roasting (hi @bocamp). I really wish TUMBER was a thing so BURNTUMBER could have been a DOOK. I liked the “Fine, stay angry!”/BE MAD pair, and TENURE and PHD being side by side in the grid. I misread “Band hangers-on” as “Bad hangers-on” and thought at first they were being a little hard on GROUPIES.

****SB ALERT****
Kudos to @Pamela (for today *and* yesterday), @RooMonster, @TTrimble, and best of fortune to @SouthsideJohnny and @bocamp. I got QB today too, after completely bombing out yesterday at minus 6 words. And, dammit, some of those I really should have remembered, although others I didn’t know.

You may have noticed a cryptic note from one of the Mods last night about not revealing SB spoilers. I’m compelled to confess that was directed at me. I submitted no less than two posts in which I tried to introduce a topic of discussion so clumsily that I unwittingly revealed something I shouldn’t have. Thanks to the eagle-eyed Mod who nipped my posts in the bud before I completely embarrassed myself! What I wanted to talk about was whether anyone thought the SB was more difficult when there was more than the usual one pangram.

bocamp 2:22 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****


Peace Paz Maluhia Paix πŸ•Š

SouthsideJohnny 2:30 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Bocamp -I'm also on an IOS platform - it's weird, I just went back an checked and the SB puzzle with the center G loaded up. No clue, must be gremlins. I'm one 5-point word away from finishing and I don't know if I'm going to get it, lol.

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@Barbara S.:
TRUSS is an interesting word which has relevance to turkey roasting (hi @bocamp).

well, if you are of a certain age and gender, you may remember magazines like 'Argosy' and 'True' with teeny ads for such a device (noun form, obviously) in the back pages for suffering readers. unless the reference is specifically to a bridge design, that's the only thing I go to.

Simpson 2:56 PM  

I’m a level 9 Tabaxi bard named Nypp!

bocamp 3:20 PM  

@ Barbara S. 2:09 PM

Re: "truss", Good catch! I didn't connect the dots… πŸ˜‰

**** SB ALERT ****

Congrats on the 🐝 and thx for the "best of fortune" sentiment. Must have paid off! 🐝

@ SouthsideJohnny 2:30 PM

Ah, the mysteries of cyberspace. LOL I've got faith in you! some of us have been known to "whack-the-letters" in such cases. πŸ˜‰

Peace Paz Maluhia Paix πŸ•Š

bertoray 4:03 PM  

Hi Augest. Congratulations, and a big welcome back!

GreggVL 4:07 PM  

Thank you for being yourself, August!

Bill MacGillivray 4:24 PM  

I dont believe it is correct to call a "liege" a worker for a lord. A liege is someone who owes allegiance to a lord, e.g., a knight whom the lord may call upon to go to war. The allegiance is somewhat mutual, since the knight or lesser noble can call upon the lord for assistance as well. Hence the ambiguity in the word. But a "worker" never!

BobL 5:04 PM  


enter "The Far Side" and you'll get your daily dose of Larson

Birchbark 5:28 PM  

@Anon (1:38) re @Teedmn (1:02), @anon (7:12) and @August re dice:

Mine are long lost somewhere in this house where long-forgotten storage hides. The dice are jumbled in with the little metal figurines of monsters and characters, in a small Danish cookie tin labeled "Original Carlsbad Oblaten." Someday, maybe I'll find them and write a novel. Or better it's someone younger, going through a bunch of stuff in the closets, wondering what's making the weird cookie tin rattle. And a new adventure begins, as I imagine it. Or they'll toss them in the junk heap, as is more likely.

I think one reason people focus the dice is because they look cool. So many different shapes for different randomness ratios, from four-sided triangular pyramids to almost-round twenty-siders.

Randomness is crucial to a game that's mostly invented by the players and dungeon master as it goes along. It takes important elements of the experience outside of anyone's control, as in life. It is also exciting.

Randomness in the battle: e.g., success of spell or sword-swipe, level of damage when the enemy strikes back, factoring in the character's innate strengths and weaknesses and experience (level).

Randomness in the character's innate strengths and weakness, decided once at character creation and rarely if ever modified (though experience may compensate): e.g., a physically weak but very intelligent character might make a good wizard, but won't survive long as a fighter. The opposite is true of many successful fighters Successful thieves have high dexterity and often high charisma, etc.

There may also be some old-school or other hipster-geek "cred" that goes along with the dice. They don't imply cell phones or screen time.

JC66 5:34 PM  

The discussion of D & D dice, peaked my interest, so I Googled and found these images. Pretty nifty!

Lynnatny 6:44 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@bocamp - What does "whack-the-letters" mean? I'm stuck on one four letter word today and assume it's some weird letter order but I just can't see it.

Whatsername 7:22 PM  

@Unknown (5:04) Thanks for the tip. There are also a couple of pages on Facebook you can follow.

bocamp 7:40 PM  

**** SB ALERT ****

@ Lynnatny 6:44 PM

"Whack-the-letters" is a version of "Whack-A-Vowel" which derives from "Whack-A-Mole".

Some may not consider it "Hoyle", but I'd venture most of us have resorted to it from time-to-time. πŸ˜‰

I'd recommend starting with the center letter and punching in every possible four letter (within reason) combination, starting at 12 o'clock and moving clockwise until you're back at 12. Next, start with the letter at 12 o'clock and use the same method until you've used all seven letters to start your four letter combos.

**** SB SPOILER **** from a recent SB

I was -1 (one word short) on a recent puzzle which included the letters, t i a e x. I already had "taxi" and I'm sure I'd tried "taxe", but somehow let "taxa" slip by, thus a "-1 fail". :(

Hopefully this makes sense. :)

Wishing you bonne chance with that last trickster! 🀞

Peace Paz Maluhia Paix πŸ•Š

albatross shell 8:04 PM  

I was hoping Lewis would include the Sunday clue about his own name. Too egotistical for him I suppose, or maybe distancing himself from the nickname LEW.

dadnoa 8:05 PM  

+1 for the congrats. I was born in August, I think it’s a great name! Sounds, well, August:) And +1 for the 6D no c0mment. My first thought was.....really? Some editor thought this was a good idea? And totally agree about crayon colors.

Brittany 8:12 PM  

Ha I do like this progression now that you pointed it out!

Richardf8 8:57 PM  

Thanks so much for showing me the Google dice thing. I’ll forget about it by tomorrow but I love learning new google parlor tricks. Siri can do it too.

Personal best on this puzzle, which was more about dexterity than the solve. I found the theme cute, liked how it progressed down the grid, and didn’t find the fill ghastly.

As for letting Tit into the puzzle, it’s been done before. I recall one that had both Tit (or maybe teat) and Ass in it. Clued very chastely, of course. But then again, the NYT actually let a genuine bona fide effenheimer into one of its articles too (quoting Melania), so yeah, we’re living in someone’s eschatological vision. And it’s no accident how closely that word resembles “scatological.”

*** SB Alert ***
I actually got QB today. It’s much nicer when you know how many points you’re shooting for, so thanks for pointing me to NYTbee!

Pamela 8:59 PM  

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

@bocamp, @TTrimble- Congrats! Also to whomever I missedπŸ˜‰

@SoithsideJohnny- Your original question was about the discrepancy between the online Bee and the lesser one in the printed version of the paper. They are not the same. On line, though, I don’t think it matters which platform you use, the game is the same.

Pamela 9:03 PM  

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

@Barbara S oops- meant to get you in there too! Congrats!

Ernonymous 9:24 PM  

Hey August, nice to hear from you, you are a strong person. Sending you all my best wishes.

Monty Boy 10:14 PM  

I liked this one a lot, except maybe the Sam director. Had to have uncle Google confirm.

And who is this august person Monday subbing? Oh, it's August. Welcome!
[Its a crossword blog so a pronunciation misdirect is OK]

And are we to expect
alerts in addition to
*************SB************. now??

Music Man 6:00 AM  

True, about SIA. Her biggest song to-date was the #1 hit “Cheap Thrills” in 2016.

Music Man 6:06 AM  

Me too. I love the name August. I’m an August Leo, too, so perhaps that has something to do with it!

Music Man 6:13 AM  

You’re right... not too many other famous Augusts, other than the two you mentioned:

Mr Abdullah Ibrahim 6:12 PM  

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thefogman 8:59 AM  

13D and August’s revelation saved this puzzle from being forgettable. Played more like a Tuesday or easy Wednesday especially in the NE corner. Lots of junky fill. The quality of the NY Times puzzle is WOEFUL lately.

Burma Shave 9:39 AM  


OURS is a POOR one for THEBOOKS,
TERI’s HALF-BAKEDIDEA to relieve me,
here’s how HER WOEFUL SCHEME looks:
she’ll show HER TIT, then try to DEBRIEF me.


Diana, LIW 2:11 PM  

Tougher than the typical Monday. Still, didn't give too much trouble. The long answers were actually the easiest. Probably due to my Crayola childhood - all 64 colors!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 2:50 PM  

I thought the RCD (ESE) might NEGATE things, but it turned out to be OK. A shame though that dinner got BURNT.

When I was a kid, the St. Paul Pioneer Press used to have a column that kept track of the local 'society people': "OLIVER" Towne. Har. True though.

Humorous caption for the photo of two birds in the write-up.

"Put zee kendle beck." Beck in HER day, TERI Garr, yeah baby. "Rrroll, rrroll, rrroll in zee hay."

Not much to BEMAD about, unless you lost an election.

leftcoaster 3:35 PM  

A good Monday puzzle with a self-revealing theme. Elsewhere, six double-OO’s caught my eye, as did the reinforcing crosses of RAIMI/MAUI/ISLA/SIA cluster.

Most notable today is the appearance of our still tired but happier reviewer, August Thompson. Wishing you all the best, August.

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