Japanese sash / MON 12-7-2020 / Pouty expression / Insurance giant / Letters after nus

Monday, December 7, 2020

Constructor: BARBARA LIN

Relative difficulty: MEDIUM

THEME: BRIT-ISH — Theme answers end in British words. 

Theme answers:
  • WENT DOWN THE TUBE (17A: Travel by subway?)
  • CAN I GET A LIFT (27A: "Would you call the elevator for me?")
  • PASS THE TORCH (48A: "Hand me a flashlight"?)
  • CASH IN ONE'S CHIPS (63A: Use French fries as legal tender?)

Word of the Day: OSSO (62D: ____ buco) —

Ossobuco or osso buco (pronounced [ˌɔssoˈbuːko]Milaneseòss bus [ˌɔzˈbyːs]) is a specialty of Lombard cuisine of cross-cut veal shanks braised with vegetables, white wine and broth. It is often garnished with gremolata and traditionally served with either risotto alla milanese or polenta, depending on the regional variation.[1] The marrow in the hole in the bone, a prized delicacy, is the defining feature of the dish.[2][3]

• • •

***HELLO, READERS AND FELLOW SOLVERS IN SYNDICATIONLAND (if the date is Monday, January 11, 2021, that's YOU!)!***. The calendar has turned on another year (thank God), and while that might mean a lot of things to a lot of people, for me it means it's time for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. Last year at this time, I wrote about what a melancholy year 2019 was; my oldest dog had died and the world was kind of a wreck. And then 2020 happened, and I learned what a real wreck looks like. In February, my other dog died (R.I.P. Gabby). And then, well, COVID. And let's be honest, even with a new president, 2021 is going to be, uh, challenging as well. But I hope that the regular ritual of solving crosswords brought some solace and stability to your lives this past year, and I hope that my blog added to your enjoyment of the solving experience in some way. This year my blog will celebrate its 15th anniversary! I feel so proud! And old! A lot of labor goes into producing this blog every day (Every. Day.) and the hours are, let's say, less than ideal (I'm either solving and writing at night, after 10pm, or in the morning, before 6am). Most days, I really do love the writing, but it is work, and once a year (right now!) I acknowledge that fact. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog beyond a simple, direct contribution request once a year. No ads, no gimmicks. Just here for you, every day, rain or shine, whether you like it or, perhaps, on occasion, not :) It's just me and my laptop and some free blogging software and, you know, a lot of rage, but hopefully some insight and levity along the way. I do genuinely love this gig, and whether you're an everyday reader or a Sunday-only reader or a flat-out hatereader, I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

And heck, why don't I throw my Venmo handle in here too, just in case that's your preferred way of moving money around; it's @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which they did that one time someone contributed that way—but it worked!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. And my thank-you postcards this year are really special. They are portraits of my new cat Alfie (a bright spot of 2020), designed by artist Ella Egan, a.k.a. my daughter. And they look like this:

He's eating kale in that middle one, in case you're wondering. Anyway, these cards are personally meaningful to me, and also, I believe, objectively lovely. I can't wait to share them with the snail-mailers. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

* * *
It's another August Monday! This one in December. It's getting really cold out, and it's the busy season for the bookstore! Remember to go to your local bookstore when you're buying holiday gifts. Their employees might be really tired, but that's only because it's also finals season! And they'll be more than happy to take care of you. And one of them just might write for a crossword blog! 

Speaking of crosswords, the crossword. I've seen better fill, honestly, but I've definitely seen worse. No ERA this time at least. POST-OP belongs right above CAN I GET A (face) LIFT. I haven't had sushi in awhile, it would be nice to pull up a STOOL for some ROE. And really, that's about all I have to say about this one. It's a nice little Monday, but not anything particularly special. 

The theme was...amusing? British-isms are definitely fun. Again, perfect for a Monday, but nothing really new. And it left me wanting fish and chips. 

  • METZ (Chrissy of "This Is Us") — This was such a tough cross, I almost broke down and looked it up. Does that make me old, or young? I know nothing about "This Is Us" or its target demographic. 
  • PESTS (9A: Mosquitoes and gnats) — My personal favorite PEST is actually a parasite! The trematode Dicrocoelium dendriticum is a kind of parasite that lives on ants and "zombifies" them at night, giving them the urge to climb on top of stalks of grass so cattle will eat them. Weird, right? Nature is amazing. 
  • ACE IT (30D: Nail the test) — Speaking of which, wish me luck on my finals! It's more like "nail the paper" than "nail the test", but still. 
  • DASH (37D: Dot's counterpart in Morse code) — I've been watching too much Animaniacs, because I know my mind went to "the Warner brothers" first when I saw "Dot's counterpart." 

Signed, August Thompson, tired graduate student.  

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow August Thompson on Twitter]


chefwen 1:40 AM  

This was great. Took me back to my early years growing up in the UK, which I remember fondly. I still use the word TORCH instead of flashlight. Fish and CHIPS wrapped up in newspaper, a Friday night treat after swim lessons. Best night of the week.

Thank you Barbara Lin for a wonderful trip down memory lane.

jae 2:25 AM  

Easy. Smooth and delightful. Liked it a bunch!

Dale Gribble 5:54 AM  


I've never heard this word before and let the surrounding fills get me there. Never in a million years would I have gotten that.

Joaquin 6:04 AM  

I want to tell her that I love her a lot
But I gotta get a bellyful of wine
Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl
Someday I'm going to make her mine, oh yeah
Someday I'm going to make her mine

Lewis 6:35 AM  

I fancied this enjoyable Monday, especially on the morning after I started watching the new season of The Crown. The theme was delightful and charming.

I did enjoy the international undertone – EXPAT, SENOR, METZ, STAN, OSSO, OBI. I was careful to mind the gap between IDO and DRUGS. And Britain aside, there was also that lovely backward baseball pair of STEM and STAN.

But mostly I was left with a warm heart, echoing the fondness I feel for our overseas friends. Thank you for this, Barbara!

TTrimble 6:36 AM  

The puzzle was okay, but I have some nits to pick.

I guess the constructor didn't get the MEMO that the plural is -- here we go -- octopuses, or even octopodes lord help us, not the hypercorrection OCTOPI. Someone OUGHTA tell her.

I usually see it abbreviated as SEPt, not SEP. I never heard of sepuplets making the news.

MOUE doesn't look like a Monday word.

Hey, people don't normally *move* to the Cayman Islands to get tax relief, do they? People use them as a tax haven, sure, but you don't gotta move there to do it, AFAIK.

I see you got to -1 y.d. So did I. Let me guess: it was a word you never heard of. Amirite? (So, Ezersky, let me get this straight: AMAIN is beyond the pale, but this word is considered fine? It's unfair. The circumstances of my upbringing virtually guarantee I'm not going to know this word.)

Frantic Sloth 6:36 AM  

Weird. Solved the puzzle on the NYT website and the "congratulation" message didn't pop up, so figured I had a typo somewhere.
COMBed the entire puzzle twice to no avail, so I downloaded it and solved it in AcrossLite. Happy Pencil. WTF?
Went back to the website and decided to just re-enter the whole thing again and as soon as I typed the "M" of MEMO, I got the congratulations.

Oh, and apparently I finished in 3 seconds. Smell me!

Okay puzzle for the Mondee, with one major nit and one "local" side-eye.
Nit: It's WENTDOWNTHETUBES!! That is most decidedly an SOI (Singular Of Inconvenience. I'm sure Rex will have his way with it as well.
Yeah, okay - TUBE is what makes the "joke" work, but it's not the saying like the other themers are, so it's an all-around oddity.
Get outta here with it!

Local side-eye: C'mon. OCTOPI?? Have we learned nothing here??
Sorry @Z - you're shaking your fists at an uncaring sky. 😉


SouthsideJohnny 6:44 AM  

Interesting puzzle - crisp and clean for the most part. The mid-west almost had a triple-stack of PPP sandwiched in between two themers (OBI, METZ and BLEAK, if OBI counts as PPP). I had never heard the word CANT used in such a fashion, and of course never, ever heard of a MOUE, lol. So a bit of esoterica creeping into a Monday, which in my opinion is a slippery slope but that is a minor quibble. Congrats to the constructor for a fine effort.

Nickyboy 6:49 AM  

Aaargh! Plural pet peeve of mine!! The plural of "octopus" is NOT "octopi"!! Octopus is a Greek word, not Latin, so the correct plural is "ocotpod(e)s" (e is optional). Also acceptable and not as fussy is "octopuses", but never "octopi". What is this, the first time Shortz has edited a crossword puzzle?!

OffTheGrid 6:50 AM  

What a great Monday! Maybe GOAT. Neat, clever theme. Only 8 threes. I didn't count but seemed low in PPP. Interesting fill. Yet all within a difficulty level appropriate for a Monday. Good job, Barbara.

KRMunson 7:01 AM  

Thought this was a good Monday. Not a lot of old timey words or phrases. Liked the British theme. No complaints on this one!

pabloinnh 7:04 AM  

Exactly a Mondayish Monday and who doesn't like Britishisms? Eschewed some wonky spellings like tyre and kerb and centre and so on, but as they say, even in Canada, the crowd love it. And no Little Red Riding Bonnet or elephant's boot, so all good there.

@chefwen-Fish and chips in a newspaper for sure. In the summer of '71 my bride and I did Europe on $5 a Day and Eurail passes with our little orange two-man pup tent from LLBean. We found ourselves in Edinburgh and hungry as wolves one night when the fish and chips truck arrived and they were the best ever. We immediately went back for seconds. Have had lots of this stuff since, but they were definitely the most memorable.

Also my daughter-in-law is English, and my granddaughter, now 8, has lived there for the last two years, and as such I have some problems understanding her. The other day she came asking for "mahsking tape" and it was a beat or two before I caught on.

Very nice Monday, BL. Thanks for the fun, and have a seat with the other Monday all stars.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

I’m 99.4% certain the expression is “down the tubes”, which is a problem. A pity, as the rest of this was breezy and fun. Only major goof on my part was artOo before ROBOT – a much superior answer, IMO. droid would have been better, too.

Never made the English connection. Though I've lived in the US for 96% of my life, the time living in England + English relatives made those words - for me - just words, not "English" words.

ChuckD 7:25 AM  

Liked this one fine - cute theme and smooth cluing. Top themer was WENT DOWN THE TUBE. MENNONITE, TAX RELIEF and POSIT were all solid. Don’t like to be reminded of KATRINA and didn’t know METZ.

Enjoyable solve and nice start to the week.

Hungry Mother 7:30 AM  

A bit faster than the average Monday. I caught on to the theme early on and cruised through the themers.

Brainpan 7:43 AM  

Just here to say that Octopi is not the correct pluralization of octopus. Ocotopuses or octopodi, octopods in a stretch, but never octopi.

bocamp 7:46 AM  

Thank you @Barbara for a fine Mon. puz to kick off the solving week! :)

Got the NW no prob, but ran into a bit of a hitch in the SE. Still, an av. time. for a very enjoyable solve.

Write-overs: "cash in the chips".

New: "Metz".

Hazy: "post-op"; "xis".

Side-eye: "Abel" (maybe "unlucky brother" or some such, but then it's a Mon., so …).

Fav clues/answers: all the themers; "fleas"; "cops to"; "robot"; "cant"; "steep"; "self"; "epic"; "stoic"; "oughta"; "posit".

WOTD: "expat"

LOTD: "Inuit"

SOTD: "Eso Beso"

FOTD: "osso buco"

Honey"comb" - Jimmie Rodgers

Traveled thru two of the "stans" in '70.

"Expat" here.

Learned to tune my uke with My dog has "fleas".

"The phrase "My dog has fleas" has been long used as a mnemonic device to aid ukulele players in the tuning of the instrument. Each word of the phrase is sung in the note order of G, C, E, and A — the standard tuning of a ukulele, from top to bottom string." - Fandom

y.d. p.g. -1

Peace Saimaqatigiiniq Pace ειρήνη Pax Sipala Paz 🕊

Willy 7:56 AM  

British-isms aside - and I liked this Monday fare - my cephalopod-obsessed, precision-minded granddaughter would remind us that the plural of octopus is not octopi but octopuses (4D)

Willy 8:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
reader 8:06 AM  

The correct plural of octopus is octopuses.

GILL I. 8:20 AM  

I finished this feeling chuffed. There was no argy bargy entry to be found. I'd call this a gem of a wonky Monday.
I'm happily married to a Scouser, so you give me Britishisms and I don't get my nickers in a twist.
MOWS MOUE TABOO and IGLOO are my local insurance agents.
Nice job, Barbara. I'll sit with ye on a STOOL and drink a cuppa.....

Anonymous 8:51 AM  


Is it naynim backwards?

pmdm 8:53 AM  

Pleasant puzzle but not pleasant comments.

We been here before with OCTOPUS. If one looks in the reference books (dictionaries), one would see that mostly all of them (if not all of them) give OCTOPUSES or OCTOPI as the plural. One presumes they provide the accepted English plural and do not bother with providing the correct plural in a foreign language. True, crosswords do include words in Spanish, French and so on, but there is no rule that a word derived from a foreign language must use the correct foreign language plural instead of an accepted usage in English for the plural.

TTrimble: Back in the days of taking pictures using film, the company I used to send my slide film for development used to print the date when the film was developed on the slide casing (is that the proper term?). The year and the day of the month would be printed as numbers, but the month would be printed as a three letter abbreviation. So many of my old slides have the abbreviation SEP printed on the casings. Most of the online dictionary sources (but not all) allow for SEP or SEPT as an accepted abbreviation. Don't know about your other nits, but the online reference works don't tend to support your issues that your shares with others who comment here.

RooMonster 8:58 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, people, weren't you around for the last OCTOPI kerfuffle? It's been covered, no need for any more corrections. We know, I - wrong, OPODES - right.

Also, to add to my nit, MOUE has most definitely been in a NYTXW before. Not in a MonPuz, but have seen it before.

That nit-picking complaining aside ☺️, liked the wacky clues for the themers. Actually figured out at the end that the ending words were British-speak. Yay me! One writeover, COin-COMB. Nice grid design, only 34 black squares. Low for a MonPuz.

Light on the dreck, XIS about the worst, but still a valid thing. Got OHO without even entertaining the idea of aHa because of the excellent clue! Low on the POCs, @Anoa Bob should be happy. Got an S ending non-POC in NEWS. Well, unless this one qualifies as several NEW things, ala the NEWs, not NEWS as in TV Headlines, weather, sports. Know what I'm trying to say?

Good puz, Barbara. I ACEdIT!

Four F's

Geezer 8:58 AM  

The poor dead OCTOPI have been mercilessly beaten once again. How about letting this one go?

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

re "MOUE"

I thought I'd never encountered this word before, but indeed I had, long, long ago. A quick internet search turned this up: "Dorian Gray stepped up on the dais with the air of a young Greek martyr, and made a little moue of discontent to Lord Henry, to whom he had rather taken a fancy."

thfenn 9:12 AM  

Had no idea the theme was Britishisms until I got here. Like @kitshef, these were just words, and I actually thought the theme was something like "fun ways to rephrase everyday phrases" or something.

Wanted R2D2 somehow for ROBOT but then couldn't remember if it was him or C3PO that talked that way. Also had FixED before FATED which took awhile to resolve. Fun Monday.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

what am i missing with XIS? nusXIS??

Nancy 9:31 AM  

Very cute, but would a revealer have made it even better? I'm assuming that everyone here knows, as I knew, that all these theme words are Britspeak for what we Yanks say. TUBE = subway; LIFT = elevator; TORCH = flashlight; CHIPS = French fries. But what if someone didn't?

The theme is pretty dense with 4 long entries and there's not much room for another long word like BRITSPEAK. So then I'm thinking that what if you clued it: Name of person who said that "Britain and America are two nations divided by the same language"? Wouldn't that be fun?

But who said that?? Was it CHURCHILL? (Too long, btw, to fit easily in the grid). So I Googled it. Nope, not Churchill. It was SHAW.* Not too long at all. Easy to fit in the grid. So I might have put in SHAW.

*Except that, although the quote has often been attributed to him, scholars can find no evidence that he actually said it.

What a shame. Still, if you're like me, you didn't really need a revealer anyway.

Lewis 9:35 AM  

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

1. Runs interference for the offense? (5)
2. 6-9 months? (6)
3. Dessert you might be liable to eat (5)
4. Temple offering: Abbr. (3)
5. Brand that comes out a head? (3)


Z 9:35 AM  

I believe OCTOPI are great on blinis.

@Frantic Sloth - It’s not my fistopodes I shake at the uncaring sky.

WENT DOWN THE TUBE sounds acceptable to my ear. Besides, WENT DOWN THE TUBopodes is a mouthful.

Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey, The Crown. Our fascination with the British Caste System has always bewildered me. Personally, I’ve never spent so much as a nanosecond on any of these shows but the temptation to hate watch is strong when so many of my fellow countrymen are so fascinated. Thankfully the urge passes.

Z 9:43 AM  

@Anon9:27 - The only thing you’re missing is the Greek Alphabet, where XI follows nu. Do enough puzzles and you will become quite familiar with chi and psi and rho and phi and tau. Letters like epsilon and upsilon not so much.

RooMonster 9:43 AM  

"Things we're thankful for"

The Poll workers, who counted (and counted, and counted) ballots, a good chunk of them who volunteered, whilst amid a pandemic.


Anonymous 9:58 AM  

So tired of this Greek/Latin debate. It's been an issue for centuries. We have no language academy that can settle these debates, so the best we can do is consult our dictionaries.

Everyone who complains about octopi needs to take it up with Merriam-Webster. They allow for both octopuses and octopi. Further, per their research, octopi is apparently the oldest of the 3 given plural forms for octopus.


mathgent 9:58 AM  

The best word in the puzzle experience for me wasn't in the grid. It was Britspeak, in Nancy's comment.

Lewis's list is strong evidence that this was not a great week for clever clues.

Very smooth. No junk. Happy Monday, everyone!

Frantic Sloth 10:14 AM  

Oops! Forgot it was August in December today. Good luck on your finals! But, please don't ever make me Google Dicrocoelium dendriticum again. 😆

@TTrimble 636am Agreed! With all of it (though I have seen/used SEP). And MOUE is a word I only know from crossword puzzles. (Hi, @Roo!)

@Nickyboy 649am LOL! Get in line, son. 😉

@kitshef 718am, @thfenn 912am Also missed the British/English connection since all the phrases are common to American/English as well...except WENTDOWNTHETUBE, of course.

@bocamp 746am Funny...I have OSSOBUCO as a FOAT. (Food Of All Time) 😉

Re: The Great Octopusesiopodes Wars Of 2020
Geez. I only mentioned it as a joke. Here's hoping the comments thus far do not forebode an ad nauseam rehash.🤞

@Z 935am Please don't say what you do shake at the uncaring sky. Your ear needs a cleaning. 😉

@Roo 943am Not to mention suffering attacks of all kinds from delusional trumpers.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Greek alphabet. Plural
Nu, then Xi

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:18 AM  

Ah, I see @Z refers to BLINIS so you must have gotten to discussing that 'S' on the blog yesterday, eventually. It offended me, but I was so busy celebrating the 6th anniversary of my ORION's adoption to post about it. But here he is in the puzzle, for maybe his 15th time, with a ridiculously easy Monday clue. 61A Constellation with a belt. I felt like I should take a picture of him with a whiskey bottle. (he's the picture next to my name)

Karl Grouch 10:30 AM  

Some useful definitions:

-STOIC (noun)=

1.(capitalized) :
a member of a school of philosophy founded by Zeno holding that the wise man should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief, and submissive to natural law.

2: one apparently or professedly indifferent to pleasure or pain.

STOIC (adjective) also STOICAL=

1.(capitalized) : of, relating to, or resembling the Stoics or their doctrines (Stoic logic).

2: not affected by or showing passion or feeling; especially : firmly restraining response to pain or distress.

Whence the world famous symbol of Britishness (see 46D clue).. and that's your revealer, @nancy.


Figure in Mathematics equal to eight times π.

Michiganman 10:31 AM  

@ROO. I really like your choice for recognition and thanks today. The poll workers and all election officials did such a great job conducting an election during Covid and amidst the predictions to the contrary. That is
what we should be celebrating as a nation. It should be the big story (after Covid).

This occurred in Michigan Saturday night:

"Last night, several individuals converged on the private residence of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, disturbing a peaceful neighborhood by taunting and intimidating her family and neighbors. They shouted baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and in videos uploaded to social media, at least one individual could be heard shouting 'you’re murderers' within earshot of her child’s bedroom. This mob-like behavior is an affront to basic morality and decency. In a civil society, there are many ways to peaceably assemble and demonstrate. Anyone can air legitimate grievances to Secretary Benson’s office through civil and democratic means, but terrorizing children and families at their own homes is not activism. This disturbing behavior masquerading as protest should be called out for what it is and roundly condemned by citizens and public officials alike."

bocamp 10:46 AM  

Missed the theme. Knew the Briticisms, but they've become so common they're almost in my wheelhouse. Didn't connect them to a complete theme. Too often forget to give more thot to the theme in post-solve analysis. Keep workin' on it bo.

@RooMonster 9:43 AM 👍 amen to your daily thanks and gratitude. Can't be over-emphasized. 🙏

@Frantic Sloth 10:14 AM - I'd say we've got it covered then. 😉

@TTrimble 6:36 AM / @Anonymous 8:51 AM

Backed into it early this a.m., almost right off the bat. Sometimes, a good sleep can do wonders. Combined ideas I had on two totally unrelated words/concepts and came up with it. Not "full value for the win", as is sometimes the saying in hockey, but I'll take it! LOL

y.d. 0 / t.d. n.p.g. -3

Peace Saimaqatigiiniq Pace ειρήνη Pax Sipala Paz 🕊

Richard 10:54 AM  

Anyone know how to pronounce MOUE? Without looking it up?

jberg 10:59 AM  

I’ve known the Greek alphabet since high school, but never put them in order beyond the first four. But between the NYTXW and long hurricane seasons, it looks like I’ll have to learn.

I got all the way to CHIPS before I realized that all endings were British. I think that’s because chips so clearly means something else in American— it’s what we call their crisps.

@Nancy, you might be able to get a revealer out of words they spell differently, like labour or honour.

jberg 11:00 AM  

@Richard—like the letter before nu.

Z 11:02 AM  

@Richard - I think Moo Eh.

Westword 11:03 AM  

The puzzle was fine. Didn’t get tripped up by moue because it’s an old-fashioned word you’ll find in some classic literature. But omg trematode? Specifically the liver fluke August mentions? Googled that and the world just isn’t the same.

Pete 11:04 AM  

@Z - You really should watch one of those series. You only need watch one, as they're all the same. Midway through the first episode you start to want each of them to die, just die. By the third episode, you're filled with a white hot hate you previously thought yourself incapable of. It's good to go through this process, to get used to that white hot hate. To be ok with the fact that it exists inside you. Otherwise, you'll feel uncomfortable when you learn that Giuliani leapt to the head of the line for the Mono-Clonal antibody treatment ahead of others who need it. Someone who, just maybe, hadn't worked so hard to destroy this country.

JC66 11:06 AM  

I always thought MOUE rhymed with cow.

Thanks for the heads up,@Richad, @jberg & @Z,

Z 11:09 AM  

M-W says @jberg is correct.

TTrimble 11:24 AM  

The message I'm trying to transmit is different from the message you are receiving. You'll notice that I said I see Sept more than I see SEP. That's just a fact. And, it's true, I do prefer Sept, and I briefly explain why, but I never said SEP was outright wrong, did I? *Of course* I accept that it's attested to.

I also regard OCTOPI as a hypercorrection (Wikipedia agrees). Sort of like saying "agendae". I don't like hypercorrections. If someone I don't know says "octopi", I wouldn't say anything; if it's someone I know, I might say something (and I'd say it very charmingly as well -- I'm really very sweet and charming, once you get to know me). But hypercorrections sort of set my teeth on edge, whether I show it or not.

On a blog that caters to an audience that presumably enjoys words (word puzzles, wordplay, word origins, etc.), I think I can feel quite at my ease sharing likes and dislikes regarding words and word usage. I actually find it fun. Heck, other people do it, why not me? I'm not saying my likes and dislikes are better than anyone else's, yours in particular. But I often have my reasons for them.

One other thing that might help you read me: I intentionally play up the grumbling somewhat. Like a lot of people do here. Admittedly, that might be hard to detect in my case (other people might wink more noticeably). But just so you know.

egsforbreakfast 11:29 AM  

This puzzle had my stomach tied in knots once I hit 4D and knew that I’d be reading dozens of OCTOPI-related rants in today’s blog.

Perhaps 23A, which crosses OCTOPI, should be clued”Hipster lingo for 4D.”

What’s the difference between a “Palindromic kitchen item” and “Like a recovering hosp. patient, perhaps”. Amazing to read these clues, both from the last 4 days, and see that the answers differ by one letter.

Pretty fun for me all-in-all. I don’t approve of the SOC use of TUBE, but that’s a nit. Overall, good job Barbara Lin.

trebore 11:40 AM  

Don't a lot of insects have okto podia?

bocamp 11:56 AM  

Barbara & Jeff comments at "XWord Info": here.

Jenni Levy comments at "Diary of a Crossword Fiend": here.

t.d. 0

Peace Saimaqatigiiniq Pace ειρήνη Pax Sipala Paz 🕊

Masked and Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Brit jargon theme … different. Can't help but like different. Slightly MonPuz-feisty theme, in that it featured ?-marked clues.

Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary says OCTOPUSES.
It also says the plural of OPUS can be OPUSES or OPERA. Who knew? M&A didn't know.
Didn't know METZ, either.

Staff weeject pick [of only a MonPuz-lite 8 choices]: XIS. Better clue: {Sixbackpack??}.

Always a treat to get ?-marked clues on a Monday. Had em, as all the themed clues, plus also that there 40-A {Pet peeves?} = FLEAS, as a bonus. Not a real mind-bender of a ?-marked clue, but its scampy heart was at least in the right place.

Toughest puzturf, for a MonPuz:
The METZ/OBI/MENNONITE area. Also toss in OCTOPI there, dependin on yer dictionary's religion. But I imagine most people got OCTOPI. Bet they wouldn't, if the OCTOPI clue had been {Generous servings of 3.14??}.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Mexican mister} = SENOR. Howsoever … That woulda made a heckuva clue for DOSEQUISSPRITZER tho, sadistically speakin. [Sorry -- a CORONASPRITZER would be far too dangerous, without a mask on the spritzer & spritzee].

Nice lil write-up & Bulletsi, tired grad student August.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Monday biter:

Nancy 12:04 PM  

I've seen MOUE pretty often in novels and have always pronounced it to myself as "Moo". I've never used it in conversation -- why would I?; why would you? -- so I haven't *tested* it. Now, not necessarily believing any of you nor being sure of my own private pronunciation, I'll go look it up in my Webster's.

An anecdote: I was at least in my 30s, maybe even in my 40s, I'd been sick with something or other and I said self-pityingly to my mother: "I have such leTHARgy." It was a word I'd seen written often enough, but had never uttered myself or heard anyone else say it.

"You have such WHAT???!!!" responded my horrified mother (from whom I inherited my love of both language and crossword puzzles, btw.) "You have such WHAT???!!!"

Well, look, the adjective is leTHARgic -- which I'd heard plenty and used plenty. So who would have guessed that the noun would be pronounced LETHargy? Certainly not me.

Moral of the story: Before using any new word in polite conversation, look up how to pronounce it first.

(I just looked up MOUE. It's MU with two dots over the U. Which I think it means MOO.
MEW would have a straight line over the U, right?)

FWIW, I hate these arcane pronunciation symbols. I much prefer using rhymes or homophones to clarify pronunciation.

Chickie 12:05 PM  

Only one I had to look up. Guess it’s our word of the day 👍🏻

Masked and Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Best moue-cow MonPuz clue: 54-A's {Pouty expression}.


Z 12:15 PM  

Moo Eh did you say?

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

If memory still works, the only time I've heard it was in some 1930s movies, and was MOO.

CDilly52 12:48 PM  

Good luck on finals!! The pandemic has just been brutal for all of us, but I mourn for all students whose education at whatever level has been interrupted and no doubt diluted in some fashion because of the sudden necessity to shift the delivery format. School at whatever level is challenging enough without having to acquire the information in a manner “other than.” I was visiting with a neighbor whom I have known since his birth 18 years ago. Poor Jack is in a horrible (and justifiable) funk because the best half of his senior year of high school has been made much less enjoyable than usual. All of the fun “seniors only” activities have been cancelled and of course the much anticipated “senior skip day” is meaningless since they are all home anyway. That used to be something our local seniors thought was just so much fun. They (supposedly) picked a random day to pass the word that “tomorrow is skip day” and all seniors would suddenly not be at school. They would typically plan some sort of activity and pile into cars and all show up somewhere.

There always was an unspoken agreement not to mess with any major test days in classes that had other than seniors in them The teachers all made certain not to plan too much for a Friday or Monday second semester. Skip always seems to lengthe. The weekend. Anyway, just another sad thing about the Pan-damn-demic.

Puzzle was enjoyable for a Monday. Easy- breezy and not very junky. The theme was tight and interesting and very Monday-worthy.

I’m going to have to email my UK friend (a brilliant ecologist-economist whom I met as an expert witness in 1989 and with whom I have enjoyed a friendship since) to ask for a shipment of UK-made Cadbury milk bars. Those with the Cadbury label authorized by an agreement with Hershey and therefore made in the USA are (sadly) not the same. Usually a dark chocolate fan, I do occasionally jones for the silky smoothness of Cadbury milk chocolate once in a while. Once you taste it, nothing else satisfies the milk chocolate urge. Period. And there’s my shout out to all things UK this morning. Cheerio!!

Ethan Taliesin 12:57 PM  

Came here to point out the same as a lot of you already have. Octopus is of Greek derivation, not Latin. The plural is wrong.

Not good. Zero stars today.

TTrimble 1:03 PM  

I think the point is moo.

"FWIW, I hate these arcane pronunciation symbols. I much prefer using rhymes or homophones to clarify pronunciation."

I agree. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to IPA. Maybe if I take a seminar or something.

Teedmn 1:19 PM  

Eyeroll when OCTOPI filled in, thought, "Here we go, OCTOPodes!"

Quite easy Monday, no write-overs, fun Britishisms (though I'm with @Frantic on the TUBEs.)

Nice job, Barbara Lin.

GILL I. 2:03 PM  

@Nancy....My sisters and I were "da Bomb" when it came to mispronounced words. My first little gem was Yosemite which I called yoz e mite. No one said anything, thinking how cute it was. I managed to mangle Givenchy into give-a chee.... much to the horror of my beautiful French Stepmom. My Nana did step in when I pronounced my new big word "mischievous" into a mis-chee-vee-us. I was sure of that one. She really tried to never correct me but she did (often). We grew up pronouncing everything just as it was spelled. (sigh)....I still do the mangle fandango and get the stink eye......

albatross shell 2:05 PM  

I loved this puzzle. I filled in the NW square and thought this would be a too easy Monday. 17A started WENT so immediately dropped in WENTundergroUnd. Surprise surprise. What a great answer instead. The lack of an "s" did not bother me at all compared to Joy of that sparkling answer. The rather bland British theme was more than made up for by the snazzy theme answers phrases. The puzzle continued with easy but solid 4 letter fill combined with surprising stuff like MOUE instead of MOpE. Pronounced moo. What a nice moonday surprise.

Give up on the OCTOPI complaints. Language grows organically, not by ancient rules. OCTOPus has 3 plurals by common usage. ABACUS went through a similar Greek to Latin to English transformation. I suppose there is some reason it causes no controversy. Someone can let me know. I think OCTOPI was actually the most common plural used initially in English. Corrections welcomed. Usage counts in crosswords in any case.

From yesterday. The first unwritten rule in crosswords: clues are not definitions. I thought you might be wrong there. I thought I had seen old crosswords may had put clues above the list of clues. I couldn't find any. But the first crossword actually called them "definitions" (even though they were not all definitions). I could not find when they started to be called clues or if they were ever called clues in the printed puzzles. More info welcomed if anybody knows.

Z 2:13 PM  

@albie - I’m thinking that if it is an unwritten rule...

@TTrimble - the point is moo. 🤣🤣🤣🤣 👍🏽👍🏽

Anne H 2:17 PM  

I love all your posts, CDilly, but this one was my favorite because you know the difference between UK Cadbury’s chocolate and Cadbury’s made in the US by Hershey. It has an anti-melt chemical added that changes the taste! I am an unabashed Anglophile and a
chocoholic 😊 My brown dog, my constant companion during this pandemic, is Cadbury.
I talk to him all day long‼️

RooMonster 2:25 PM  

Ok, all you OCTOPI complainers, what's the plural of Ambulance?

RooMonster Ambulancopodes Guy

tekchic 3:00 PM  

OCTOPI makes me grumpy. Also MOUE does not feel like a Monday word... had to get that one in the crosses too.

albatross shell 3:11 PM  

You're the one that wrote it the unwritten rule yesterday. If the column of clues were at some time labeled "clues", then I would say it was actually a written rule. Who first called them clues instead of definitions or hints or whatever I thought might be of some interest. Just as the first puzzle calling them definitions might be. Just in case you missed the point.

Monty Boy 3:30 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Suggestion: Start cluing it as "eight legged pastry"

bocamp 3:38 PM  
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sasses 3:48 PM  

Loved your reference to Europe on 5$ a Day. It was our bible in the 60's and 70's.

bocamp 4:34 PM  

@lbatross shell 2:05 PM re: "definitions/clues"

The first chapter of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them by Adrienne Raphel may be what you're looking for. Here's a snippet:

"By 1913, Arthur Wynne had been put in charge of FUN. For that year’s Christmas edition, set to run on Sunday, December 21, Wynne was in a jam: he had space to fill but nothing to fill it with. He’d been instructed to add more puzzles to FUN, and Wynne, in desperation, turned his writer’s block into a grid, a diamond-shaped interlocking set of squares flanked by clues that ran differently across and down. 'FUN’s Word-Cross Puzzle' instructed readers, 'Fill in the small squares with words which agree with the following definitions'. The crossword conceit—here are clues, here is a grid, go forth and fill the grid with the answers to these clues—was born.”


Another old NYT Thurs. reco: Dec. 7, 1995 - not all that difficult except for one treacherous Natick. I guessed right. Will tackle your Sat. (11/1/2008) reco after lunch).

Peace Saimaqatigiiniq Pace ειρήνη Pax Sipala Paz 🕊

albatross shell 4:50 PM  

What do you call all the words in a CW puzzle with "S" or "ES" added to them?

What do you call all those intersecting words in crossword puzzles that are names or foreign language words?

A conveinence of plurals
A nest of Naticks
(Or knot)

bocamp 5:48 PM  


Enjoyed the Nov. 1, 2008 puz; took a few minutes to grok the deal. Finished in av. time. Keep the oldies comin'. :)

Peace Saimaqatigiiniq Pace ειρήνη Pax Sipala Paz 🕊

Brian 6:38 PM  

Moo ay as in hay

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Rex needs new blood for his early week substitutes. If the point was to get the perspective of new solvers then these two are too old.

bocamp 8:01 PM  

** "Moue" Alert**

A search of the blog comments didn't produce any links to its pronunciation. If someone did post a link, and and it was missed, I apologize. Here's Webster's: "moue" pronunciation. A number of other sites agree.

Peace Pace Amani Pax Vrede Paz Mir Frieden Paix Fred Paqen ຄວາມສະຫງົບສຸກ Barış Mír صلح Woof 🕊

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

Glad to see so many unhappy with octopi. I don't care what Merriam-Webster says. The OED gives octopi as rare, thank god. My vote is for octopodes, octopuses if you can't be bothered. It isn't that hard, people. I concur with TTrimble on criticisms of the puzzle.

NukeAbolitionist 8:28 PM  

Thanks. I'm amazed I have to go so deep into responses to find this out. Not a Greek scholar.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

Sorry. I was wrong about octopi and the OED. It is octopodes that is rare— my old eyes missed the comma. Not a surprise given how many people study Greek, a shame.

Anoa Bob 8:55 PM  

I liked the grid layout. Only 34 black squares left a very open feel to it.
There are no pinched-off corners and there's a nice flow between sections. I especially liked that diagonal cascade from the upper left to the lower right.

With four longish theme entries, going with 34 blocks is risky because of compromises in the fill quality that might be needed to get it done---abbreviations, partials, random conversational snippets, letters of the compass, chemical suffixes, plurals of convenience, that sort of thing. In view of how well this one was done, against those odds, I might have to lower my hunch that 36-38 is the optimum number of black squares for a themed 15X15.

And not a single two-plurals-with-one-S that I can see. That's rare in any puzzle..

RPCV Cameroon 9:52 PM  

John Cleese once said that one of the key differences between the US and the UK is that in the UK they speak English (and that when they have a world championship in the UK they Invite other countries)

FearlessKim 9:05 AM  


Roy Dimaggio 9:33 PM  
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thefogman 10:03 AM  

7D could have been clued to be a reveal. Britishisms are a form of CANT.

Diana, LIW 10:45 AM  

Good morning Monday. Glad to have you back.

Hey SyndieCats - please note. It's the annual "ante up and feed the kitty" time in @Rex-land. See the notes in FutureLand and you can see the cute kitty postcards Rex is sending this year if you choose to send in a donation. Just remember - this site has no ads, just good clean crossword fun.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 10:54 AM  


but he CAN PASS for A rube:


spacecraft 11:11 AM  

I almost WENT underground, but checked 18d for that U. Hmm, guess not. But fear not, @M&A, the U appears farther out, in (singular???) TUBE. But at least "underground" and "TUBE" are both Britishisms for the subway.

This was easy for me, having lived three years in Merrie Olde. I was also looking for "bonnet." "Lorry" would be difficult...

Cute theme, and average fill--nothing too obnoxious. Score it a birdie: all those golf score terms come from the Isles.

rondo 4:31 PM  

Hey, where's SKIPTOMYLOO? I understand it would take a Sun-puz to fit in TAKEMETOYOURLITRE. What?!? Now that's the wacky that's been missing.

Surely OFL would've cut this one down to XIS for the wackiness being in the clues. Remember yesterday's Syndi-puz?

And the OCTOPodes people show up on schedule.

Famously showing up in the corners is AMOS.

Nice puz.

leftcoaster 5:44 PM  

So it's a Monday, a good one, with a couple of lumps.

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