1957 title role for Frank Sinatra / MON 12-21-20 / Old NASA moon-landing vehicle / Classic computer game set on an island / 1960s hippie gatherings / Great Dane of cartoons informally

Monday, December 21, 2020

Constructor: Sarah Keller and Derek Bowman

Relative difficulty: Medium (somewhere in the 2:50s)

THEME: "SAY WHAT?" (71A: "Huh?" ... or a possible response to 1-, 19-, 25-, 48- and 57-Across — themers are ... what? Types of talk that are either incoherent or wrong or pointless or some combination, I guess:

Theme answers:
  • BLATHER (1A: Prattle)
  • MUMBO JUMBO (19A: Nonsense)
  • JIBBER JABBER (25A: Worthless talk)
  • GOBBLEDYGOOK (48A: Unintelligible jargon)
  • BALDERDASH (57A: Twaddle)
Word of the Day: EVA MARIE Saint (6D: Actress Saint of "North by Northwest") —
Eva Marie Saint (born July 4, 1924) is an American actress. In a career spanning over 75 years, she is best known for starring in Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront (1954) and in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest (1959). The former won her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Upon the death of Olivia de Havilland in 2020, she became the oldest living and earliest surviving Academy Award winner and one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema.
• • •

This is roughly the Monday equivalent of yesterday's puzzle: a loose list of vaguely related things, all of them redolent of times of yore, and then a grid that's creaky and, like the themers, has a cultural center of gravity somewhere in the middle of the last century. Look, I *love* EVA MARIE Saint, and she's welcome any time, but come on. SCOOB (!?) is what passes for a "current" cultural reference in this thing. "ZORBA the Greek" ... Paul ANKA ... LOVE-INS ... RED (!) CHINA ... "PAL JOEY" ... even the HIP stuff reeks of one-hit wonder datedness (BAHA Men, PSY). G.B. SHAW is a real yikes (only one step up from GBS, which thankfully you don't really see anymore — it seems to have been well and truly exiled along with RLS, EAP, and other literary monograms once thought worthy of grid space). Even the video game is old ("MYST"). Even the "Internet" slang is old (THE WEB!). BAD! SAG! Again, this isn't about bygone things per se, which are obviously an important part of anyone's knowledge base. It's just over and over and over, relentlessly, the presumed knowledge in this thing (and so many NYTXWs) belongs to those who are 65+; there's an arrogance, really, to the idea that you don't even have to acknowledge that other things have happened lately. It's deeply exclusionary of younger solvers. And again, I'm talking about degree here. Balance. There is no balance here. No generational balance. It's just dust. Everywhere. And the theme accentuates this, as most of these terms (which, by the way, have very little in common except kooky-sounding names) are now quaint and used only ironically, if at all. I mean, really, BALDERDASH? Actually, I might use BLATHER or MUMBO JUMBO. But the others, man, I don't know...

The theme could've been made a little more coherent if all the themers had had the same clue? Maybe? Like ... you probably could've gotten away with [Nonsense] for all of them. Probably. But what you have here is a not-terribly-coherent list, and it's weirdly extra long (just as yesterday's puzzle had an unusually high number of themers). More does not = better. It's just ... more of a just-OK, mostly boring thing, and all that "more" does is put pressure on the non-thematic elements of the fill, which is why it's not that great (OOO, ALAMB, BAAS, AER, LRON, etc.). That's all I have to say today. Hope springs eternal. Or, you know, hope stirs a little. Probably alive. Enjoy your day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:01 AM  

LRON Hubbard. There's a peach.

Poor @Roo. Almost a pangram save for one letter...if only it were spelled EPIffANY. πŸ˜•

I thought this was a spiffy (there ya go, @Roo!) little Mondee puzzle and I could imagine myself as a new solver getting a real kick out of the goofy theme and straightforward fill. Nice.
Also, who knew they would someday feature a theme consisting of most of my middle names?

The BLATHER PLAZA is where I like to hang out and engage in my best CHATTYCATHYing.


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium. Pretty smooth with an amusing theme. Again, liked it more than @Rex did.

melt before DRIP

Robin 12:08 AM  

Yes a mish-mash of things. But for those of us in our late 50s who haven't really paid attention to pop culture much for the last 10+ years, it wasn't terrible.

The themers were not completely terrible. I almost wrote in JIBBERJABBER with no crosses.

Anyhow, it was a Monday. My standards are never high for the #NYTXW are never high on Mondays.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

At least two of the theme terms are used in a TV ad currently running. Spectrum Mobile uses the words JIBBGERJABBER and BALDERDASH in their cell phone ad. I suspect their target audience is not limited to the over 65 crowd.

Loren Muse Smith 3:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 3:11 AM  

I was relieved to see Rex’s “medium” description; this was a pretty crunchy Monday.

@Frantic - check again. Your (and Roo’s) pangram comes in on a FLOE.

Buses had me thinking about how weird that plural always looks. [see also: gases] Then I started wondering why that’s even a verb meaning to clean a table at a restaurant. I investigated, and it seems to be a truncated form of omnibus boy - a guy who did various things in a restaurant. So then from busboy, our wondrously elastic language took the bus and verbified it. Your day is now complete.

Until this morning, I had never stopped to consider that VIA is a preposition. Duh. Of course it is. I love prepositions and how they work. They’re like little labels on the nouns in the sentence that aren’t subjects or direct/indirect objects. It’s easy to think that prepositions are those tiny little words - of, in out, on, for - that you explain (to your bored kids) are anything a bee can do to a box: fly in the box, to the box, out of the box. . . My fave is despite. Duct tape that box to a compliant bee and that little guy can fly despite the box. Oh, and because is now a preposition. This usage vaulted it to be the 2013 Word of the Year. It’s common (to many Rexites’ dismay) to have nouns become verbs, verbs become nouns. . . but to have anything take on a prepositional role is cool.

“Sudden thought that makes you go ‘Wow!’” – that I’m putting in more hours at school than any administrator or teacher. I need to slow my roll, or I’ma get sick.

I thought that for a snow angel, you’re supposed to wave your arms And slide your legs back and forth.

Full disclosure – I kinda thought it was garbledy gook. Makes sense, right? Garble? So could you say that GOBBLEDYGOOK is a rooster’s twattle?

Full disclosure #2 – I thought BALDERDASH meant not words that you couldn’t understand, but rather words that were full of BS.

I have tried to understand when it’s ok to have a partial list as your themers and when you need to have a complete list. Rex argues that this doesn’t fly ‘cause it’s a loose list. So? BLATHER, MUMBO JUMBO, JIBBER JABBER, GOBBLEDYGOOK, BALDERDASH. . .these are just fun to look at. And with a new horizon just ahead, here’s to having all the orange claptrap disappearing in our rear-view mirror.

@Roo – I’ve been so consumed with figuring out and mastering all the online platforms and sites that allow for remote teaching that my brain cells are just spent. So the explanation for my disappearance: because Covid.

W. Safire 5:38 AM  

Such a nattering nabob of negativism.

NotMe 6:08 AM  

Kent: Today on Smartline: this puzzle. Argle bargle, or foofaraw? Our guests Rex Parker and C Montgomery Burns...

ChuckD 6:23 AM  

Liked that BLATHER was clued as Prattle - could have gone either way. Not sure the theme was loose - maybe a little unfocused. How many other doublespeak/jargon type terms are there - hogwash, gibberish? Liked EPIPHANY over RANSACKS and for some reason I see LOVE BIRDS in the SW. Sinatra had both Kim Novak and Rita Hayworth to deal with in PAL JOEY - Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered look like they could be themers here.

A decent Monday solve - I enjoyed it.

pabloinnh 6:30 AM  

Old me thought the unifying theme here was that most of these themers are vaguely archaic, and since I'm becoming vaguely archaic, that didn't bother me as much as it did OFL, but I suspect that's true of almost anything you can think of. Very smooth solve here, I could have done it with just acrosses or downs, I think, but I didn't think of that until I had finished. Not quite an EPIPHANY, more of a realization.

What a pleasure to have @LMS back. Her take on prepositions made me think of my list of forty or so that was in my seventh grade English textbook and that we were supposed to memorize. I did that, but I don't remember because or despite making the cut. That may have been far enough back in the past that those words hadn't been invented yet. Anyway, welcome back, and thanks for everything you and teachers everywhere are doing despite (there it is) all the enormous obstacles in your way. Hope you get some rest.

Thanks for a fun Monday, guys. Did not reek of tommyrot to me.

BEE-ER 6:37 AM  

Pangram! 7 bonus points.

Lewis 7:12 AM  

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

1. Very picture of idleness? (6)(5)
2. Center of a circle or square, maybe (6)
3. Line outside the entrance? (4)(6)
4. Does some lifting (6)
5. Common material for a jacket (5)(3)(6)


kitshef 7:14 AM  

You know how sometimes we get complaints about a puzzle skewing old? Well, this one skews ooold. Of course, so do I, so I kinda liked it.

@LMS - in England, Balderdash is often used in the BS sense.

Z 7:18 AM  

I would have preferred a SAILOR Moon clue. TLC were kinda huge for more than one song. BOB’s Burgers would have been timely.

Were any of these theme answers ever not quaint or used unironically? The best I can come up with is maybe some movie characters using BALDERDASH, but even then the whole point was to allow the director/script writer to point out the character’s quaintness. I guess maybe MUMBO JUMBO and GOBBLEDYGOOK still gets used in regards to hucksters but again isn’t there just a little “SMH how can anyone get sucked in by this” irony implied?

Typical Monday time here (5:39). Enjoyed the solve fine. Surprised to learn that EVA MARIE Saint is still alive and even made a movie 6 years ago. I also didn’t realize she voiced Katara in The Legend of Korra - Boy Howdy, that would have been some interesting cluing. 😎

Hungry Mother 7:30 AM  

Not quite a PR, but I filled it almost as fast as I could type it in. Good start to the solving week.

SouthsideJohnny 7:41 AM  

I have to agree with the growing consensus that this one definitely skews old - with tentacles reaching all the way back to the Eisenhower administration, including EVA MARIE Saint, the Sinatra role PAL JOEY, Paul ANKA, G.B. SHAW, ZORBA the Greek . . . You could even include SCOOBy Doo, ROLO, RED CHINA and the Clampetts, lol.

I guess it is certainly acceptable to “run one for the geezers” on occasion, and the rest of it was Monday-easy so hopefully younger solvers won’t be discouraged. Personally, I could do without the Greek letters and the foolish tic-tac-toe references (which seem to be popping up here and there with increasing frequency, like weeds in the garden - maybe someone should BAN them).

Frantic Sloth 7:42 AM  

@LMS Ah! You passed my little test! πŸ˜‰ Clearly I was born without the observation gene of my ancestors. And now that you mention it, I actually remember typing in FLOE. Pathetic. πŸ™„

I might have posted this before, but speaking of prepositions...Hannah Gadsby.

Agree with @pabloinnh (+ everybody else) that it's wonderful having @Loren back and hopefully to stay this time! Besides, it's healthier this way. πŸ˜‰

With @LMS and @kitshef 714am on BALDERDASH.

@Lewis 712am Great list! Hope you're not overdoing and taking care of yourself as well. Come back soon!

Z 7:44 AM  

Not puzzle related but I think there might be Beatle fans here.

MarthaCatherine 7:44 AM  

@joaquin: Yes, I've seen that commercial. It's pretty bad, because they have the young main character mystified as to what this claptrap and flummery they're saying to her could possibly mean. Srsly, those words might be old and stale but there are few people over the age of about 6 who wouldn't know what they mean.

I liked this puzzle.

Travis Bickle 7:46 AM  

Omnibus boy. I drive a taxi.

Andy S 7:46 AM  

Could have used an appearance by George Bernard's brother Peter. Better know as PSHAW

Joe Dipinto 8:06 AM  

I assume that because he didn't compose the music for "My Way" but everyone thinks he did (no thanks to him), those involved here congratulated themselves big time over that "singer/lyricist Paul" clue. But Paul Anka *did* write lyrics and music for lots of songs, including his early hits "Diana", "Lonely Boy", and "Put Your Head On My Shoulder"; "It Doesn't Matter Anymore", which he wrote for Buddy Holly; "She's A Lady", a hit for Tom Jones; and the vaguely cringeworthy "Having My Baby" in 1974. Not to the mention the instrumental theme for "The Tonight Show" starring Johnny Carson.

So he may have been just a lyricist on "My Way", but he was hardly limited to that role overall in his career as a songwriter. Once again, the NYTimes fucks it up.

RooMonster 8:11 AM  

Hey All !
Thanks for the update! Yes, slow down! I can tell by your posts that you are a very dedicated teacher, and a great moral person, but sometimes you need to look out for yourself, and not give as big a damn as you do. Not trying to demean you, but take it easy. I think I've gotten myself across correctly. Hopefully? :-)

Har! I see you see that others see the lone F that's in there. See? :-) But, thanks for the initial concern!

I liked this puz. I made (never completed) a Sunday size puz with this very theme. I'm glad Rex didn't have a chance to rip it apart! My themers were:
Didn't have any clues written for them, but the concept is the same.

Yes, pangram, which doesn't seemed forced, which is nice. I'll take it as a reason to sneak in an F. :-)

Like the ROLO commercial where the guy trips and starts rolling down the mountainside.
"I seem to be rolling out of control, which reminds me I have ROLOs" he calmly says. It's the simple things...

One F

frankbirthdaycake 8:15 AM  

Not too bad, but not the best. I rather enjoy dated references, but this puzzle was just a bit much. I’ve noticed comments about the Spelling Bee, so if just like to add that on September 3, 2020, the Spelling Bee rejected “cope.” I’ve seen a few complaints, but this one (to me) takes the cake. Cope is a boba fide English word. The rejection of “cope” was (is) even more galling given how difficult it is cope to cope these days. I just thought I’d share this. I emailed the Spelling Bee folks and received an auto-reply.

BocaBoy 8:18 AM  

Pretty straight forward for me. I’m an older guy so these phrases were familiar to me, as opposed to rappers names.

RooMonster 8:22 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

The expansion of outdoor dining. (Well, before the snow and Winter!) Open Air dining needs to stay, especially in warmer climates! (Me, biased,? Nah.)


Jack 8:31 AM  

A little off topic, but I know Michael writes the blog, and we also call him Rex. But where does OFL come from? The

Frantic Sloth 8:31 AM  

@Z 744am Mrs. Sloth wants to marry you now. She's a teeny tiny itty bitty eensy weensy skosh of a Beatles fan. Neither of us had any idea, so thanks for the link!

@MarthaCatherine 744am "Srsly, those words might be old and stale but there are few people over the age of about 6 who wouldn't know what they mean."
Exactly! Thank you! Nothing drives me more crazy than the "skewing old" complaint, which IMHO has reached "meta" proportions.

@Travis Bickle 746am *Groan* Took me a minute. 🀣

@Andy S 746am πŸ€£πŸ‘

@Roo 811am Thanks - it was all for a good cause! πŸ˜‰
You can tell when a pangram doesn't seem forced when Rex doesn't make his "scrabble-f'ing" accusation, right? πŸ‘

Z 8:33 AM  

@JoeD 8:06 - You totally lost me. Why are you talking about My Way?

frankbirthdaycake 8:41 AM  

@Jack 8:31, Our fearless leader, I believe.

pmdm 8:48 AM  

Maybe I haven't awoken yet but this puzzle seemed to require more thought than typical for a Monday puzzle. At least for me. Not that it was difficult. I guess I would say some of the commentary is nothing more than BALDERDASH.

Z: You will be happy to learn that Westchester has just agreed to settle a lawsuit that will result in the Dragon Coaster in Rye being available to future generations and crossword commentators. Assuming legislators are happy with the terms.

TTrimble: I must have been so sore from snow shoveling that I though a comment aimed at you actually originated from you because of my lack of focus. So sorry to confuse you.

webwinger 8:49 AM  

This seemed very un-Mondayish, but finished in exactly average time despite many first-time through blanks and second round write-overs. Surprising amount of PPP that trended very Christmas past—PAL JOEY? EVA MARIE SAINT? (At least she’s still alive, at age 96 per Google.) Haven’t heard RED CHINA mentioned in decades; likewise ZORBA the Greek and LOVE INS. And I’m guessing G B SHAW is one of those canonical authors that OFL has never read (just checked—maybe, maybe not). But I thought the theme was fun, and impressively dense; little dreck except maybe OOO.

Now I’m off for my morning walk, to enjoy watching the sun rise while sitting in a lovely outdoor plaza eating an everything bagel and sipping some of the world’s best coffee. And the temperature’s above 0 degrees (C) for a change!

Michiganman 9:00 AM  

@Z. Get ready to be skewered. The Beatles skew old.

Jim Sutton 9:12 AM  

Okay, so I'm one of those older people who "got" the clues and breezed through, but does every puzzle have to feature rap singers, boy bands, tv shows, and actors that I have never heard of and never will? Actually, the strength of a good puzzle to me is one that there are enough clues that rely enough on logic and general knowledge so that it can be solved even when I'm missing some of the lesser known, at least to me, references.

Samuel Lazarus 9:21 AM  

Blergh. This puzzle was just god awful for the newer solver I typically do Monday/Tuesday puzzles with. I found myself making excuses for the NYT....which is becoming a second-nature muscle these days.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

L. Ron also wrote “Battlefield Earth” and turned to Dianetics for his publisher, Campbell, who was looking for something different.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

24 Year Old solver here. I only started solving recently and can do up to Wednesdays pretty easily and occasionally get a Thursday.

This was a horrible crossword, If this was the first Monday I saw when I started, I probably would have quit then and assumed crosswords are only for people 50+.

The themers weren't that bad as I think most young people would have heard these in some sort of older media, or in modern media where they are used archaically.

However there was such a large amount of dated clues, with the top (especially the top-left being especially egregious (ZORBA and PAL JOEY), that is was very tough for a Monday.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

I’m with Rex in that it felt a little musty, bot that’s o.k.
@Pete yesterday: Telling someone to “grow a pair” is vulgar and sexist, implying women are cowards. Please spew your misogyny somewhere else. Thanks.

JamieP 9:35 AM  

On The A Team, Mr. T used to tell Murdock to "quit your jibber-jabber!" That was 1983, or yesterday by this puzzle's standards.

TTrimble 9:38 AM  

Usual litany of complaints from both sides of a generational gap. Folks, you just have to keep expanding your horizons! Expand!

(It helps of course to have teenagers around, who will let clueless Dad know about the latest memes and such. Also, I let my daughter assume control of the XM radio dial when we're in the car together, and that has the side benefit of helping me stay modestly "current" about pop music trends.)

Re: G.B. SHAW. Aw, Rex, get over it. Quick, what do the initials in G.K. Chesterton stand for?

Usual kind of Monday for me. Yay, pangrams!

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Was I ever slow (for a Monday) in the SE. I wanted EPIPHANY, which I just wasn't seeing, to be some sort of EPIc idea. And I wanted "to go through hurriedly" to be some sort of RAN. I also wanted SLIT instead of SEAM for the "line down the length of a skirt."

So some thinking was definitely required -- which is what I most hope for on a Monday.

Too much PPP -- but it was mostly from my era. PAL JOEY, EVA MARIE and ZORBA were gimmes. Not BAHA, though. And the Popeye song kept going through my mind. He's not a SAILOR, strictly speaking; he's "Popeye the SAILOR MAN." Remember? (Hope I won't get an earworm.)

The nonsense words were cute and I loved the revealer. This puzzle reminds me of the GOBSMACKED puzzle from several years ago. I liked GOBSMACKED so much that I brought it into conversation whenever I could. In this one, I already use GOBBLEDY-GOOK from time to time. I doubt I'll be adding JIBBER-JABBER anytime soon. And BALDERDASH is just too quaint and old-fashioned.

GILL I. 9:39 AM  

Why do I have this sudden urge to sing Yakkity Yak? My BLATHER runneth over.
I like that little JIBE JAB corner. Did the turkey GOBBLE up GOOK?
Well...it is Monday and it does sit a tad much on the old man's fence counting his sheep, but I don't mind a little MUMBO and a little JUMBO now and then.
Let's see where the mind wanders.....Hmmmm..... LOVE INS and glad for all that is holy that I managed to be under Franco's fascist regime in Spain during this episode of hippiedom. There was something creepy about wearing beads, wallowing in the mud and singing kumbaya that held no interest for me. I much preferred running with the bulls.

Andrew Heinegg 9:39 AM  

There's nothing quite like quoting a Spiro Agnew malapropism to ratchet up the credibility of your comment

Z 9:52 AM  

@Jack - Our Fearless Leader - said with ironic affection or, when pronounced “offal,” with ironic derision. Mostly from Rocky and Bullwinkle I think.

@Frantic Sloth - Those high value letters were all fairly natural so no scrabble-f*cking. I feel like ALEXA makes pangramming easier.
Also, thanks for the preposition video.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

For everyone who didn't know PAL JOEY, boy, do I have a treat for you! And no it's not one of the many famous songs from the show: Bewitched; Funny Valentine; I Could Write a Book. No -- it's one of the most infectious, happy theater songs ever written. It's also one of the most politically incorrect songs ever written -- but who cares? It's my second favorite song in the show after Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.

You already know, Joe D, right? THIS one!

Try not to get an earworm, people.

EdFromHackensack 10:00 AM  

sure it skews old, but where in the rulebook does it say crossword puzzles have to include cutting edge lingo. PALJOEY, EVAMARIE, ANKA all fair game and nothing to complain about.

mathgent 10:07 AM  

Eva Marie Saint. She's 96 now. She made her big screen debut in On the Waterfront. She wasn't overshadowed by the many heavyweights in the picture like Brando and Steiger and won an Oscar. So charming in everything I saw her do.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

No such country as Red China. They used the current spelling of Mao's name, but went with a tired and reactionary old sobriquet. Nurses are far more than dispensers of TLC. Clue and answer were insulting to a profession of front line heroes.

ghthree 10:18 AM  

I agree with REX that replacing all the theme clues with "Nonsense" would give the puzzle more coherence. But it's not that big of a deal. (BTW what part of speech is "OF" in that last sentence? An interjection, I suppose. Or perhaps just nonsense?)

BTW, where did Rex get the air quotes in his comment about the clue for 15Down? Nowhere in the clue (or anywhere else) is there a suggestion that the answer is "current." He's just set up a straw man and demolished it.

Now the good news: By this time next year, both the virus and the current administration probably will be over.

Stay well, everybody.

Joe Dipinto 10:22 AM  

@Z – I brought up "My Way" because it's probably the most (the only?) famous song for which Paul Anka wrote lyrics but not the music. And I would bet it's what sparked the clue.

The clue isn't technically wrong, it's just bizarre. It could have said "singer/songwriter Paul" and covered everything he does. What if there was a clue "Singer/lyricist Costello" for ELVIS or "singer/lyricist Springsteen" for BRUCE —wouldn't that seem idiotic? Well this is equivalent, to me.

I know it's minutiae and no one really cares, myself included. I'm just observing it as yet another occasion for wondering "Why did they do that?"

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

well. today is the depth of SAD, and tomorrow we begin the climb out. it's all good.

kitshef 10:27 AM  

@Nancy 9:57. It's catchy all right. But it rhymes 'beaut' with 'shoot', which seems an awful lot like rhyming 'hue' and 'blue'.

Carola 10:55 AM  

As I'm old myself, I usually don't notice when a grid skews old until @Rex points it out, but today, my reaction was, "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...." : PAL JOEY, EVA MARIE, RED CHINA (!)....I thought it was an extraordinarily unfriendly Monday for newer, younger solvers. Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln liked the play, especially the fun-with-English theme answers, the snappy reveal, and the parallel ARCHIVAL and RANSACKS, evoking the search for the crucial refererence.

Katzzz 10:55 AM  

Loved it. Because the themers were wonderful. Fun words about badly used words.

Nancy 10:56 AM  

Touche, @kitshef! Well played. I didn't remember that. Obviously, though, the melody is so infectious that I either didn't notice or didn't care if I did notice. Probably the former.

bocamp 11:04 AM  

@Sarah & @Derek, thx for a fine Monday puzzle. Lots of crunchiness to make it a challenge. :)

Slightly over av. time.

Enjoyed playing a similar game to "balderdash" in the '70s. Just used a dictionary, and had house rules, which included points if anyone couldn't keep a straight face when your definition was read. I'm sure there are many on this blog who would have garnered extra points for their defs. LOL

Peace πŸ•Š

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Didn't know "Zorba", so had to check to discover that it wasn't Zonba/Cleans

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

The ovine equivalent of the equine “neighs” should actually be “bleats.”

Smith 11:13 AM  

So good to see you! I retired at the end of June so don't have to deal with all that stuff anymore. They had me teaching ESL to K-2, not at all my thing but it's a K-12 cert and they drop you wherever they want. It was a nightmare. You have my sympathies. Remember to rest. And know that we're always delighted with your insights.

JC66 11:28 AM  

Hand up for immediately thinking of the Spectrum Mobile TV ad.

Malsdemare 11:28 AM  

I know all those crazy words and welcomed them into my Monday morning. So many of them are useful in describing our illustrious leader, though blithering idiot, my favorite, didn’t make the cut.

The word for the day is “misocainea,” meaning hatred of new ideas. Seems to be an epidemic of that these days.

@LMS. My dog Ryley and I have been doing remote read to the dogs via Google Meets with kids just learning to read. Watching the teacher—someone with a degree in early childhood education NOT computer technology—juggle 5-6 tiny tots all on devices in their homes with Dad working on his phone in the background, trying to guide one child's reading, helping her sound out words, being supportive and encouraging, all the while making sure the other 5 children are doing something independently as they await their turn, managing microphones and video? I'm exhausted just watching her for 15-20 minutes. And she does this ALL DAY! Covid has produced some amazing heroes and you and teachers everywhere are many of them.

For those curious, the early reports are that these remote reads are beneficial though it’s hard to see how. Before we began, I thought the benefit would be for the teachers, give her/him a break. But that idea went out the window with the first session. The kids do notice the dog but they don’t interact with him; they check him out and then focus on their book. But if others think it’s worthwhile, we’ll keep logging in and doing our part.

Granny the Great 11:30 AM  

Our fearless leader

TTrimble 11:31 AM  

Oh, we used to love playing the Dictionary Game as a family! Our rules: people took turns being "It". It finds a word in the dictionary that no nobody else knows (scout's honor), and writes down the true definition on a slip of paper; everyone else writes down their own definition on a slip of paper that they think the others will vote for as the true one. It collects and reads out all the definitions (trying to keep a straight face) and tallies up the votes. I think this is very close to if not identical to BALDERDASH. I don't think we had the rule that if It cracks up while reading a definition, then whoever owns that definition gets a point. Not a bad rule!

Definitely helps to have word-lovers around to play that game, but usually the results are hilarious regardless of that. And yeah, we played that game mainly in the 70's.

Hey, @bocamp, how's SB going? :-)

TTrimble 11:37 AM  

Oh, meant to ask and then forgot: why does that same Simpsons clip, the one about Beethoven's Fifth, keep showing up in Rex's reviews? Bug in the program? Or do other people not see this?

old timer 11:50 AM  

BALDERDASH is one of my favorite words, lovely to say and amusing to hear. Now when I saw JIBBERJABBER I immediately thought of "blibber-blubber" (my tongue isn't made of rubber!). Blibber-blubber is a hap-something (@LMS would know the term, meaning appears exactly once in the language). Blibber-blubber appears, to my memory at least, only on Fox in Socks, the greatest book ever written for parents and children, by Dr Seuss. I think I read that book aloud to my kids well over 100 times.

But I digress. The terms in the puzzle are not all that old-sounding, and are in current use. Just like "malarkey", President-elect Biden's favorite term. In fact, I fully expect to have a President soon who *uses* BALDERDASH, replacing a man whose every tweet is that, when it isn't pure GOBBLEDYGOOK. He'll probably avoid MUMBO-JUMBO, a term that somehow sounds racist.

The problem with the puzzle really is, you have to be very old to remember PAL JOEY and EVA MARIE SAINT, and maybe even Paul ANKA. I am so old I remember when he wrote and sang some of the sappiest love songs in history.

egsforbreakfast 11:50 AM  

@LMS. That probably explains the bewildered stares I received when I used to ask restaurant owners whether they were currently hiring Omni boys. Of course, restaurant owners are currently not hiring anyone and are receiving no special treatment from governments even though they’re economically and socially far more important than the airlines. But it is always good to see you here, LMS, and I pray that this mess doesn’t grind you down too much.

@Nancy. It would be awkward and quite risquΓ© to wear a skirt with a slit running it’s whole length! I only laugh because I also put in slit before SEAM.

If LOVEINS are “1960s hippie gatherings,” what were the hippie gatherings of other decades? Like the famous Flower Childre for Ike rallies of the 1950s, or the Brood Stock festival that was all about cosmic energy at Reagan’s ranch?

I liked the puzzle, but wished it get off of my lawn.

Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Cool. An ode to Trump Tweets puztheme.

Reasonably smoooth fillins. Only ?-marker clue I saw was mostly goin for humor: {Where spiders get their information?} = THEWEB.

staff weeject pick: OOO. Interestin to reflect upon how many solid [well-known & in good taste] weejects are based on three of the same letters…
* AAA. The VIA folks.
* EEE. Slightly desperate shoe size thingy.
* HHH. VP under LBJ.
* III. RRN hall of famer.
* SSS. Slightly desperate ... hisss.
* TTT. Make fun of?? [Get it?]
* UUU. Just becuz M&A luvs U so much.
* WWW. Spider info source.
* XXX. Cousin of OOO -- or moonshine/porno rating.
* ZZZ. Snooze-alarmingly desperate.
But, I digress …

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Popeye's profession} = IYAMWHATIYAM.
fave long-and-sparkly: EVAMARIE. Luv that NxNW flick. Primo stuff. R.O.T. forever!

Thanx for hangingangin up on us, Sarah darlin & Derek dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. Happy B-Day, Crosswords.


Dogfish 12:01 PM  

*waves with his first NYT crossword*

.... is it a sign from the crossword gods when your first (admittedly having read blog for several months now) is literal gibberish?

Unlike others, noticed the pangram pretty early on... aaaand felt that the pangram was forced to detriment of fill - anything which requires a ZORnA/CLEAnS cross! Also got caught with GOBBLEDeGOOK/NeU - mostly because that's how it's spelt on this side of the pond, and my understanding of y'alls University acronyms boils down to "three or four letters with a U somewhere in there". Generally a blech grid for me - though the nonsense words were all familiar and not dated, I can't say the same for 6D, 8D, 11D.... but at least 64D had a 2014 remake, and I know a video game obsessive. Would have absolutely loved a Legend of Korra clue on 6D (not that I'd have got it, but still!)

(Also: Does anyone know how to get Blogger to behave on Firefox? I can log onto my dashboard there, but by the time I'm back here it's logged me out again. Chrome it behaves just fine... though I think only because I've logged out my other two e-mails. Bah humbug!)

kitshef 12:14 PM  

@bocamp - our name for that game was Croquignole, the first word chosen the first time we played. So many words I know today only from those games; propolis, thenar, apomict ...

Newboy 12:15 PM  

Rex (aka Our Fearless Leader) is almost old enough to enjoy a mature Monday. Entering the themers was a SNAP and then revisited other ole timers like EVA & ANKA, so it was just fine. I asked ALEXA and she knew them all as well. Then the blog brought @LEWIS for a recap of weekly highlights and a grammar lesson from a sorely missed and overworked @LMS for even more fun.

Today’s capstone experience, however, was @Frantic’s great clip that introduced another new person to watch as this winter drags on. So true as I recall our grandson's response to multiple attempts to give him his own, special name: Me-- "you're a brave little pumpkin." Him--"I'm just a kid!" Took longer than it should have for former educators to learn & adjust. Spectrum kids are on their own wonderful wavelengths; may they each find that special niche as did Temple Grandin or Hannah Gadsby. I’ll never again be able to see a penguin without smiling!

Bgross 12:20 PM  

I agree. I am a professional RN with 2 Master's degrees. It's insulting to see TLC used so often to describe a nurse's role, especially these days when lives depend on their professional expertise. NYT should do better than this.

ghostoflectricity 12:25 PM  

"REDCHINA" c/w "GOBBLEDYG***"?! WTF were they thinking?! Did they consult the Proud Boys when they were constructing this nod-to-racism/far-right-wingism puzzle???

bocamp 12:51 PM  

TTrimble 11:31 AM / @kitshef 12:14 PM

That early version of the "Dictionary Game" was definitely a favorite at college and later with the family after it became known as "Balderdash". Continued using the dictionary and house rules. One of the words that stuck with me is "mahout".

@TTrimble 11:37 AM

Don't see any "Simpsons clips" in Rex's comment section. Maybe open the blog in a different browser to isolate the issue to your current browser.

Mostly -1 & -2s.; 0-less for the better part of a week. :( t.d. p.g. -3

Peace πŸ•Š

chasklu 1:02 PM  

thought it was inspired by the Spectrum Mobile ad.

christine 1:10 PM  

Ageist much? I liked it, I’m 57.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

the whole RN/TLC thing meme is clearly promulgated by those still think that today's RN is just an LPN, aka, what a real nurse was in the 1930s.

see the wiki for duties.

but: "It has been an ongoing debate for years, but Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are now facing a serious vocational choice as many traditional hospitals are currently phasing out the position in favor of more qualified nursing colleagues. ;
here: https://blog.nurserecruiter.com/are-lpns-being-phased-out/

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

nah, Cricket or Consumer Cellular. phones for geezers.

Unknown 1:24 PM  

I dunno. Mondays for me tend to hover in the 5 min range (my touchscreen isn't always as responsive as I need it to be) but this one came in at 4:20.

While there is certainly plenty of dated stuff, I respectfully disagree on "SCOOB". That was the title of a Scooby-Doo film released within the last 2 years, so there's that.

Masked and Anonymous 1:34 PM  

Just for completeness, the only same-three-letter runs that have never ever been used in a NYTPuz are:
GGG. JJJ. NNN. QQQ. TTT. UUU [an outrage]. VVV. YYY.
Good to know. Must try to use some of these 8 poor shunned outcasts in runtpuzs, from time to time. Be warned.

BTW: My original good list probably shoulda included MMM. As in: "Cinnamon rolls … MMM!"


Frantic Sloth 1:37 PM  

@Newboy 1215pm 😘 I'm so happy you enjoyed the clip (you, too @Z!) and hope this means the entire special is in your future! If I may make another suggestion, you might have seen this already, but there is a delightful (for so many reasons) show on Netflix called "Love on the Spectrum" and here is the trailer, which frankly, doesn't do it justice.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

30 year old here. Only been doing the NYTXW for a couple months, but this way by far the toughest Monday I've seen yet. Rex isn't wrong...

Pete 1:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thfenn 2:00 PM  

Liked the puzzle, didn't like the review. I'm tired of "skewing old" being a criticism - particularly when being current hardly feels like being better and
when regular reminders abound that forgetting history condemns one to repeat it. The RN answer annoyed me. Talk about balderdash. What you want from your partner's 'touch' is TLC. What you want from your RN is expert professional medical care. @Z am going with the offal variant today.

newbie 2:07 PM  

Fast, fun. Almost made me wish I timed myself. Joaquin already said the rest. Obvious that the inspiration for this one came from the commercial. πŸ˜‰

Z 2:21 PM  

@TTrimble - Try refreshing the page. That’s worked for me in the past when I’ve had yesterday’s videos still showing up.

A Moderator 2:23 PM  

If your post only exists to insult another commenter expect it to get deleted.

Cankee Yanuck 2:53 PM  

I'm an oldie, so had a Monday personal best on this one. Before I had any crosses for JIBBERJABBER I entered IDLECHITCHAT (clue is Worthless talk), but didn't take me long to get the correct answer. I liked the clue for FLOE (Raft for a polar bear).

GILL I. 3:02 PM  

@thfenn 2:00....I'm agreeing with @Rex and some other's with the "skewing old" moniker for today's puzzle. I believe Will S should want to bring in some "new" blood into the NYTXP. Those of us who have been doing puzzle for years know the SCOOB's the SAILOR's the TOXINS the RAGU and all the MUMBO JUMBO out there. It's been done so often, you can close your eyes and count sheep. Take a look at Damon Gulcznski's Friday puzzle for some "fresh" and current cluing. I think if you want to bring in some young newbies....you gotta go with current woke.
As far as TLC for the R.N.'s touch.....that, too is as old as the hills. It, too, bothers me no end. Of course they give us TLC but so does my spouse, grandparents and your dog sitter. Nurses are so much more than that. For me, I trust them more than most doctors.

Nancy 3:27 PM  

Loved the clip, @Frantic. Never heard of Hannah Gadsby before, but she's truly funny and very original. Glad to discover her.

@Mals (11:28)-- My favorite descriptive phrase was also "blithering idiot" for a while, but I've moved right along to "absolutely bonkers," which seems a bit more up-to-date.

I also love the word "misocainea" which is new to me. If I use it in conversation, will anyone know what I'm talking about?

So glad PAL JOEY was in the puzzle today. After 4 days of hibernating from snowy streets and godawful weather, I went out today in beautiful sunshine and milder temps, providing (as I always do) my own soundtrack to walk to (in lieu of headphones and ear pieces.) The song I sang today was "Happy Hunting Horn" -- joyful, infectious, exuberant, fast-paced, the absolutely perfect aerobic walking song. It put me in such a good mood!

@Egs -- Haha. Yes, a bit too revealing. I can see that now.

Z 3:33 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - Have you watched Atypical on Netflix?

@michiganman - All my 20-somethings like the Beatles. And early Pink Floyd. Those are about the only two musical acts from before 1990 that they all agree on. Besides, to beat a dead octopod, the issue is not skewing old, it is skewing old to the exclusion of any sense that a new millennium has started.

@Joe Dipinto - Hmmmm... Here’s the first line from Elvis’s Wikipedia entry: Declan Patrick MacManus, OBE (born 25 August 1954), known professionally as Elvis Costello, is an English singer-songwriter. (emphasis added)
My sense is that Paul ANKA is even more known for his songwriting than Elvis is, so the clue didn’t bother me.

Interesting RN discussion. I think of TLC as in addition to their medical training and my question has always been why we don’t have that expectation for doctors, especially given that we now realize that mood and emotions impact wellness and recovery. I see how always only mentioning that aspect of care functions to diminish nurses’ training.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

my question has always been why we don’t have that expectation for doctors

we do, or at least did. except it was/is called 'bed side manner'. good ones had an effective/affective one. I guess knowing of that phrase makes me a geezer? Marcus Welby vs. Herbert Bock ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hospital ).

thfenn 4:04 PM  

@Gill I., Thanks. I can get on board with that. Agree this was a good deal older than other times that criticism has irked me. And thanks for the Damon recommendation, might've missed that one. Fully agree on RNs.

newbie 4:09 PM  

I agree completely with:
"joaquin, MarthaCatherine 744am 'Srsly, those words might be old and stale but there are few people over the age of about 6 who wouldn't know what they mean.'
Exactly! Thank you! Nothing drives me more crazy than the 'skewing old' complaint, which IMHO has reached 'meta' proportions."

Those phrases were ALWAYS used in movies to denote old people or yokels or certain people who were just not with it - the types in the commercial, for example. "By cracky" and "you young whippersnapper" come fondly to mind. People weren't actually saying them in real life, except ironically (news flash: millennials and x, y or z-gens didn't create saying things ironically with eye-rolls!). πŸ™„
My mother at 96 never said any of them, although my Irish grandfather used to say "heebie-jeebies" in the late 1950s - but even that was just to be silly and tease the youngest grandchildren. Even Biden uses "malarkey" and other things as old sayings of his Irish parents, with a twinkle in his eye.

I thought classic, black and white movies were in during the pandemic - hence Pal Joey and Eva Marie Saint, so that seemed ok to me. Although I always thought Frank Sinatra was history from my parents' generation and was mystified by my young nieces' obsession with his music - like the pizza places that play it all the time. They even had a guy who sang like him as the entertainment at their weddings!

So the NYXW tossed a bone to the midcentury. No worse than expanding our horizons to pi, foreign languages, exotic recipes, obscure geography, ancient weapons or crossword-ese. Observe and learn, little grasshopper (weedhopper πŸ˜‰).

I am a bit puzzled by nurses' being quite so insulted by TLC being attributed to them. My RNs certainly gave me plenty of it when I was hospitalized for a week - and it's arguably more important, or just as important - as all the medical knowledge that we all know they have. Hey, we love nurses! They have advanced degrees. We get it. But it doesn't seem to me that saying that their special touch is TLC is so off-base, especially in these times, when they're holding up laptop screens so patients and their families can see each other. If that's not TLC, I don't know what is. And we love them for it, and are so very grateful. Please don't shoot the messenger - I'm just saying that I don't think any slight was intended - perhaps quite the contrary.

But whatever bothers you about the puzzle (or anything else) - this is the place to get it out, so I'm all for it. Cheaper than a shrink. Thanks, Rex! aka, OFL - hey - that's a throwback expression, too, isn't it?

Joe Dipinto 4:12 PM  

@Z – I'm probably not being clear (I reread my first post and wish I had reworded it). The Wikipedia entry buttresses my point. Yes, Elvis Costello and Paul Anka are songwriters. They contribute the music and lyrics, both, to songs. And they perform them as well, which makes them singer-songwriters.

But calling someone a singer/lyricist suggests that the person, as a rule, writes *only* lyrics, never music. And that just isn't true of Paul Anka (or Costello or Springsteen). So the clue seems weirdly incomplete as written.

newbie 4:20 PM  

@Nancy - I sing to myself while walking, too! Very softly, but a lady heard me recently and smiled - nicely (I hope). I think it was "A Lovely Day. "

Anonymous 4:26 PM  

@newbie. I loved your comments about TLC. Maybe those voicing dissent would prefer being tended to by Nurse Rached.

Christopher P. 4:27 PM  

Yay for me. A new record time of 8:28. I know this is nothing compared to most of you and Rex (who called this puzzle "medium" difficulty). On the occasions that I check this blog I find that Rex and I almost never agree but really, on what planet was this medium?

At the same time, this is not a good thing for me because I do not do crosswords to break record times. The whole point for me in doing a puzzle is to step out of time... which is something I hope we all have in common. Hopefully, I will simply mark the occasion when I score the next new low and won't be ruled by the need to do it. Best of holiday wishes to everyone.

Jennifer Monroe 4:52 PM  

Happy National Crossword Puzzle Day!

Nancy 5:21 PM  

@newbie -- Anyone who loves to sing while they walk is a kindred spirit. Check my 9:57 link for a song that is SO great and joyful (and aerobic) to walk to you'll want to claim it for your own. It's easy to sing, too -- limited range:)

RooMonster 5:24 PM  

@Jennifef Monroe 4:52
Thanks! Didn't know such a thing was, well, a thing. But why is it on the Shortest Day of the Year.

Which also means -
Happy Winter Solstice!

RooMonster Tired Of Winter Yet? Guy (Har, too bad three months worth ahead!)

Z 5:38 PM  

@Joe Dipinto - D’Oh. It was only on my fourth rereading of the clue (just now after reading your latest) that I realized the clue said “lyricist.” I saw “lyricist” and thought “songwriter” every. single. time. D’Oh.

@anon3:49 - Speaking societal expectations here not actual training, but “good bedside manner” is a nice bonus, not a basic expectation, for doctors. Since we’re using TV shows for examples, House. I do think this is changing a bit, but slowly.

@newbie - all the medical knowledge that we all know they have. I think what I’m reading is that not everyone does know that and worse, treat nurses as if they don’t have that training. I appreciate them sharing this.

Unknown 5:44 PM  

This is almost a partial list of roller coasters with cool names:
I'm sure there'll be a GOBBLEDYGOOK at a Six Flags near you soon...

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

to further complicate the matter (why else post here, right?), there is the Nurse Practitioner (NP), an almost-doctor: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nurse_practitioner

crayonbeam 7:16 PM  

The more puzzles I do, the more I can tell which ones Rex is going to hate. At 6 seconds off of my PR, it's hard to complain about this one. (Or even yesterday's - my tweenager knows about Cozy Coupe because every pre-school has one... having kids is good way to dip into other sources of information.)

I understand Will Shortz's editing style so much that when I do other puzzles I actually miss it - they just don't flow for me in the same way. That being said, I agree that it's time for a regime change at the NYTXW. Shortz's old timey point of view is getting in the way... and he doesn't have peers or editors who feel comfortable standing up to his expertise. If he were one of many, things might be better.

Elizabeth 11:44 PM  

Agree about the datedness. One tiny way to update: clue TLC as “What a good father provides”

newbie 9:46 AM  

Anonymous 4:26 pm - thanks! I needed that!

Z - good point. Just wanted to point out that the TLC is just as important - often more important - from the patient's point of view. That they're underappreciated for their expertise I get (believe me, moms get it), but not underappreciated by everyone. I guess it's kind of like thanking soldiers for their service.

Nancy - wrong time, LOL, but I looked it up anyway - very funny song. Good beat, easy to dance to, I'll give it a 75 (or was that scale 1-10? I forget) - I'll have to add it to my repertoire after Christmas carol season is over! 😊

thefogman 10:05 AM  

I get what /rex is saying, but even so I liked this one a lot. I don’t care if there is lots of old stuff in it so long as the puzzle is fair and fun to solve. This one is like Bernie Sanders sitting in his sensible parka and his frumpy mittens. Somehow it’s hip in its unhipness.

Burma Shave 10:43 AM  


on his HOMEPAGE a HIP and ABUT,


spacecraft 11:12 AM  

@M&A: Thumbs up on your tribute to NxNW: my #1 favorite flick all-time--and DOD EVAMARIE Saint has a lot to do with that, oozing class from every pore. Too BAD she's been stuck into this bunch of [pick a themer]. Unfortunately, the theme describes much of the fill as well. Strange that OFC, a known hater of pangrams for their own sake, didn't mention that. But as soon as I got IRAQ/EQUAL, I thought to myself "somewhere down south there's gonna be an X, I'll bet on it."

I won. Or, lost, depending on how you look at it. Too much of this one:

PAUL (home after John Coffey "helped" him and responding to his wife's question "What did the doctor say?"): Oh, GOBBLEDYGOOK, mostly.

Sorry, EVA MARIE my love, you can't save this bogey.

rondo 11:13 AM  

OFL says " a cultural center of gravity somewhere in the middle of the last century". Well let's see: USERID THEWEB HOMEPAGE do not seem to be from the 1950s. EVEN LOVEINS and LEM get you to the late 1960s, SCOOB 70s, MYST 90s. Popeye the SAILOR started in the 1930s and GBSHAW well before that, so they fall into 'classic', not mid century. Sometimes I wonder.

Take a STAB at the TABS in the corners.

EVAMARIE Saint, yeah baby.

It's Monday, whaddya want?

Diana, LIW 11:32 AM  

Unlike @Foggy, I rarely read what OFL has to say - I might scan it, but who needs to know he didn't like another puzzle. Rex - get OVER it, whatever IT is.

This puzzle didn't get over on me. In fact, we rather liked each other. Hooray for Monday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
and mittens

leftcoaster 3:17 PM  

I, too, love EVA MARIE Saint. Her parts in "On the Waterfront" and "North by Northwest” are unforgettable.

(Oh, liked the puzzle a lot.)

leftcoaster 7:29 PM  

@Diana --

You’ve probably noticed that Bernie and his mittens have become an internet meme. Warmingly and amusingly so.

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