City where you won't find Virgil's tomb / MON 1-18-21 / 1986 sci-fi sequel set in deep space

Monday, January 18, 2021

Constructor: Jeff Stillman

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:01)

THEME: American / European cities — four cities in America, clued as *not* their European namesakes:

Theme answers:
  • PARIS, TEXAS (17A: City where you won't find the Eiffel Tower)
  • ATHENS, GEORGIA (24A: City where you won't find the Parthenon)
  • NAPLES, FLORIDA (46A: City where you won't find Virgil's Tomb)
  • TOLEDO, OHIO (56A: City where you won't find the El Greco museum)
Word of the Day: Virgil's tomb (see 46A) —
Virgil's tomb (Italian: Tomba di Virgilio) is a Roman burial vault in Naples, said to be the tomb of the poet Virgil (October 15, 70 BC – September 21, 19 BC). It is located at the entrance to the old Roman tunnel known as the Crypta Neapolitana or grotta vecchia in the Piedigrotta district of the city, between Mergellina and Fuorigrotta. // Virgil was the object of literary admiration and veneration before his death. In the following centuries and particularly in the Middle Ages his name became associated with legends of miraculous powers and his tomb the object of pilgrimages and pagan veneration. At the time of Virgil's death, a large bay tree was near the entrance. According to a local legend, it died when Dante died, and Petrarch planted a new one; because visitors took branches as souvenirs the second tree died as well. (wikipedia)
• • •

This seems a pretty decent set of answers, and a pretty original way to clue them all ("City where you won't find..."). Wish there'd been a way to include the one glaring omission from this set: MOSCOW, IDAHO. While it's true that Moscow, ID is not as nationally well known as any of the others, there is a major university there (the University of Idaho); my mom grew up in Idaho, my grandma lived there until her death last year at the age of 99, and my aunt, uncle, and cousins used to live a short drive from Moscow (in Lewiston, ID), so I'll admit the place is probably more on my radar than it is on you, but still, the University of Idaho angle makes it legit and at 11 letters long it could've sat in the middle of the grid. The puzzle probably would've ended up more Tues. or Wed.-level in difficulty, though, just because Moscow, ID is a little more obscure, and the grid would've been tougher to fill cleanly, but it probably would've worked. Still, this set is fine. And I learned something about Virgil's tomb, which, who knows, maybe will come in handy when I start teaching the Aeneid yet again in a few weeks. 

I ended up with a fairly normal Monday time, but that average time masks the fact that I was Very slow to start and Very fast to finish. When the top Acrosses give me trouble on a Monday, I'm in trouble, and man did they give me trouble. The clue on PIN UP was by far the hardest (1A: Get ready to hem, say). Just no idea. There is a Monday meaning for PIN-UP and this ain't it. The Monday meaning is a racy picture, the hyphenated PIN-UP. The Betty Grable PIN-UP. The verb phrase, yeesh, that took several crosses to see. And then the next top Across, 6A: Hankering (ITCH), at four letters, I confidently wrote in URGE. Again, there is a Monday meaning of ITCH, and this ain't it. So two fat whiffs on the first two Acrosses on a Monday, when a mere twenty seconds of solving time is the difference between Easy-Medium and Medium-Challenging, yikes. Luckily the bottom half of the grid went much, much faster. The kind of fast that feels like flying. So I managed to get my time back to ... boring normal. 

The fill on this is a bit musty, a bit last-century in its predilections (can't remember the last time I saw MATA, and then there's the other crosswordese name part, ALVA, for instance) but it's a clean kind of stale. The one "look at me, kids! I'm slangy!" bit in the puzzle somehow also felt olden: "NERD ALERT!" I think Homer Simpson says this once, maybe, when he goes back to college and tries to be one of the Jocks. Somehow I find nerd discourse infinitely tiring these days. People brag about being nerds now; cool / pretty / rich people imagine that they are, or were, nerds, so, the whole insult angle ("Poindexter!") feels either dated or fraudulent. I don't mean to get IN A LATHER about it (is that expression still in use?), it's just that "NERD ALERT!" felt some combination of abusive and old-fashioned and didn't land for me. HAS-BEENS are by definition passé, and yet I really liked that answer. PHASE TWO is stupidly arbitrary, but harmless, I guess. Overall, a luke-warm thumbs-up today. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:05 AM  

I think Rex misread the clue for 1A. Jim

OldCarFudd 6:39 AM  

There is, in fact, a 1/10 (or thereabouts) scale model of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas.

Dogfish 6:52 AM  

I can't say I enjoyed that (especially after how much fun last week's Monday was) - a monument to settlers being terribly boring with their naming when they were invading? I think a lot of that lack of enjoyment, as someone not from the states, might be because the US Cities seemed fairly obscure? Especially NAPLES FLORIDA and ATHENS GEORGIA - the former in particular I wasn't able to find anything interesting for.

I mean, the theme is fairly loose - just using English place names alone, I was able to whip up a fairly convincing BIRMINGHAM, AL ; MANCHESTER, NH ; CAMBRIDGE, MA as a set of three where I've heard of all 6 places, and then you can probably tack on LANCASTER, CA (which I've not heard of, even though it has 150k people in it... uh, I'm assuming other people know Lancaster, UK, major historically owing to War of the Roses?). Or go Birm/Manc/Camb on their own, or find a 11 letter revealer.

And whilst the theme did nothing for me, I can usually survive that if the fill works - and on this highly segmented grid, there's kind of no excuse for it not to work. Instead, it felt *musty* - and that's a crying shame.

Not for me - but it seems so far that I'm in the minority to other reviewers.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

Fun puzzle, with some uncharacteristic and lovely bite here and there for a Monday. Thank you, Jeff!

Lots of candidates for this theme – Dublin, Florience, Geneva, Gloucester, Madrid, Milan, Rome, St. Petersburg, Versailles, Vienna, etc.

I smiled at the thought of taking the big cities down for just one day by reversing the theme clues/answers, such as, with Georgia on my mind: [City where you won’t find the Floyd County Courthouse] – ROME ITALY.

Loren Muse Smith 7:06 AM  

Rex - When we lived in Chattanooga, Dad worked with General Motors and traveled a bit. Seems like he was always going to Rome, Georgia. (Hey, @Lewis) I live near Vienna, WV and Cairo, WV. Moscow, Idaho is more famous, I’m sure, but I had never heard of it. I agree that this is a fresh idea, and I like the way it’s clued.

@TTrimble – stooped as low as Vanderpump Rules, yet? It’s a train wreck of a show, and I adore it. Brittney, Jax Taylor’s wife, is from Kentucky, so their wedding took place in Versailles, Kentucky. (Hey, again, @Lewis) But, BUT . . . those Blue Grassians put their own stamp on it by pronouncing it /vur SALE/, and I for one am thrilled with their decision.

@jberg – sending good vibes your way. I’m so, so sorry about Allegra.

So I bought a birdfeeder recently after noticing some birds loitering around my front porch. This isn’t like me; birds just don’t float my boat. I don’t know what I was expecting but judging from the various bird profiles on the different seed choices, I did think that I was going to be treated to an explosion of color and beauty. Nope. Despite the picture promises, my birdseed attracts only drab little grey birds and big pigeon bully birds. (The only “explosions” are actually expulsions, and let’s just leave it at that, k?) So when this one portly cardinal showed up, I was thrilled and named him Fat Man. Sage saw what she thought was a female cardinal, decided it was Fat Man’s partner, and named her Robin. So then we started naming the grey ones, too, when this tiny rotund porker of a bird showed up. Hellloooooo, Francesca. She doesn’t come around a lot.

Now that I’m naming them and am learning to distinguish them, their drabness is vanishing. Up until this morning, I just figured they were all WRENs because it’s an unexciting name for even unexcitinger birds. But I checked this morning to try to discern the species, and I’m thrilled to report after a lot of squinting at pictures that they’re in fact Tufted Titmice. Now we’re talking. Epic name. I mean, not only is the, uh, stacked rodent element there, but you get the tufted festoonment. (Festoonery? Festoonation?) Some of my birds’ tufts look like understated afterthoughts (Marvis), but others have seriously coiffed, half-as-tall-as-the bird tufts (Anthony Hopkins). There are two others, Big Tony and Jennifer, who I think are titmice, but I’m wondering if they’re not little woodpeckers instead because they actually peck at the plastic of the feeder. All the time. I feel embarrassed for them if they’re titmice. Someone needs to do something.

mooretep 7:08 AM  


Agree with your take.

Thanks for the B-52s "Private Idaho" video. (Obviously Lip Synched)
Live version:
Saw them at a small club in Hartford in 1983. Small but energetic crowd.

They were from Athens Georgia.

SouthsideJohnny 7:10 AM  

The clue for AT SEA (confused) is a little down on the usage list for a Monday (the same can be said for UNIcellular and PASCHAL) - so sections of the puzzle definitely felt more like a Tuesday, which provided a bit of a challenge.

I got a nice chuckle when I realized that they went with OHO as the made-up-word-of-the-day. Apparently they scoured the globe and couldn’t find a foreign language that it meant anything in, so they just made up a clue as well (cry of surprise). I’m not sure what it is supposed to be - maybe it just sounds like some type of a noise someone would make, who knows. That Shortz is a shifty one, isn’t he, lol.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

Rex the clue on 1A was “get ready to hem, say” not him

Michiganman 7:25 AM  

The U.S. is full of city names that are better known as being old world. Some of you have Michigan connections. Are you familiar with Moscow, MI? It's basically an intersection with a gas station/store that may or may not still be in business. It's located south of Jackson on U.S. 12, which, in days of yore was the only highway connecting Detroit and Chicago. My brother lives in Milan, MI and my other brother lives in Frankfort, MI.

pabloinnh 7:31 AM  

The year I went to school in Madrid (Spain), my then girlfriend now wife tried to call me from far upstate NY, where she was still at our university, and the overseas operator heard Madrid (Spain) and told her it was pronounced MAD-rid, because there is a town in far upstate NY of that name. Eventually things got straightened out. Sure is easier these days. After graduation I got a job teaching Spanish in Peru (NY) which I know is not the name of a city, but was still a fun answer to where are you teaching?

Possible theme: cities and towns in NE named for cities and towns in England. Answer: all of them

Tripped on the starting blocks a la OFL by entering BASTE, which I thought was pretty obscure for a Monday, but gave me the B for BABY bear, also a disaster. After that, zipped on through.

TOLEDO (Spain) is a lovely city. Haven't visited TOLEDOOHIO, and wonder if it is equally holy.

Very nice Mondecito, JS. Liked it a lot.

OldCarFudd 7:43 AM  

Dogfish - The War of the Roses made it into Pennsylvania, I think. On the east side of the Susquehanna River is Lancaster County, whose capital city is also Lancaster. On the west side is York County, whose capital city is also York. Combined population of the two counties is about a million. There's a bit of rivalry between the cities, and they know which rose is which.

ChuckD 7:53 AM  

This one reminded me of the old George and Tammy song - they sang about Athens, Texas - Rome, Georgia and Paris, Tennessee. It’s a very loose and far reaching theme - fine for a Monday. Lots of names kind of got me IN A LATHER and overall the fill was pedestrian. SELMA is apt today I assume that was planned? Knew the PASCHAL lamb from the 12 years of catholic education.

@jberg from yesterday - I’m sorry - putting a dog down is brutal.

@LMS - dig deeper lol. You’ll find the Blue Tit (ouch), the Marsh Tit, all the chickadees and of course the one I’ve always been fond of - the Great Tit. I like the juvenile you.

Joaquin 7:56 AM  

Whatever the opposite of ‘Natick’ is, that was today’s puzzle - easily recognizable, well-known cities that every crossword solver can quickly get.

[@Whatsername - Hennething exciting going on in KC?]

bocamp 8:00 AM  

Thank you, @Jeff; a fine Monday puzzle to kick off the week. Loved the theme! :)

Medium solve. Pretty much on my wavelength.

Charlotte "Brontë's" Jane Eyre is one of my favs.

The US has come a long way since "Selma", and still has a long way to go, tho, it's sometimes hard to see progress when caught up in the ebb and flow. In spite of recent events, Dr. King's words still ring true: "We shall overcome"!

The Morehouse College Glee Club performs "We Shall Overcome"

pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

amyyanni 8:02 AM  

Used to live in FLORENCE MA, not too far from BERLIN NH, but both state names too long for a puzzle. Now am about 30 miles north of the NAPLES in the puzzle, which is south of VENICE, FL. And the capital of KY, hi Andy Beshear!
Delightful solve. MLK JR Day: good day to channel hope and dreams.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Probably my personal best time for a Monday: 6:01. I actually don't even like doing it so fast. Less time to enjoy doing something I like.

Twangster 8:29 AM  

I feel like I've seen this theme done before but perhaps not.

As ChuckD says, it's reminiscent of the country song (We're not the) Jet Set that George Jones and Tammy Wynette did (written by Bobby Braddock), which was later covered by John Prine and Iris Dement.

Here's the George and Tammy version:

Dr. Jillian 8:43 AM  

Fun Monday. Moscow, Idaho is a glaring omission? Huh? How about Rome, New York being that this is the NEW YORK Times ? Yasir Arafat is lucky he isn’t a Republican.

TJS 8:53 AM  

There is a Paris, Illinois and a Marseilles, Illinois(pronounced Mar- Sales).
There is a Goethe Street in Chicago, (pronounced Go-Thee).

KRMunson 8:55 AM  

Paschal threw me a bit. On a Monday?

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Isn't anyone?

Nancy 8:56 AM  

If this is a dupe, I'm sorry -- I don't know if my comment went through or not.

"Absence of" is an especially fun way to clue an answer and this is a cute, fun theme. You don't even have to be knowledgeable about geography to enjoy it -- as I decidedly am not.

Every time I think there are no new theme possibilities under the sun, someone comes up with an imaginative idea that's never been done before -- well, at least I think it hasn't. How would I know, after all?

There are also some really nice Downs to give the puzzle a bit of sparkle: NERD ALERT; IN A LATHER; and especially HAS-BEENS. While I found it pretty easy as a whole, it's nevertheless a smooth and well-executed Monday.

Z 8:57 AM  

I wonder if it was ATHENS GEORGIA or Rex’s Moscow musings that prompted the B-52’s video. Either way, 👍🏽👍🏽. Anyone else enjoy that video while imagining that it was @Lewis as the lead singer with @Muse and @Frantic on back-up (@Muse on keyboards - definitely a hairstyle I can imagine her sporting while watching The Bachelor). No? Just me? Well, you are all welcome in my own private Idaho anytime.

Versailles, Ohio! Pronounced ver sales. Not too far from Russia, Ohio, pronounced Roo Sea Ah. Home of one of the earliest and longest running ultimate tournaments, attached to the local Poultry Festival. 1,200 or so drunken ultimate players camping in rural western Ohio and chasing plastic and raising money for leukemia research. Most definitely as crossworthy as Moscow, Idaho. 😎

Challenging (for a Monday) here. Yep, PIN UP and ITCH both baffled me to the point that I got both almost entirely from crosses. Also, WHIR always throws me because I want it to be WHIRr. Why should I think it needs a second R? No idea, but I do. The theme doesn’t thrill me, but the cluing was cute.

Laura 8:58 AM  

Loved the puzzle, the theme and a few clues on a Monday that mde me think.

You are fortunate, Rex, that you don't get the nerd hype. As a child we were losers, picked on and lonely. And it turns out we "won". We are often admired or envied, and asked for help. People just like us are heroes on tv. Humor based on the old view is hilarious.

Mr. Cheese 9:01 AM  

@LMS - the first time you see a painted bunting you’ll be hooked for life.
Be safe ...

RooMonster 9:18 AM  

Hey All !
There is a Moscow, PA, north-ish of Scranton. I'm originally from the small town (roughly 2500 residents) of Jermyn, which I think has British roots as a name. Plus, it was the Birthplace of First Aid! And the Windsor Inn, home of the Second Best Wings in the World. About 20some years ago, the state put in a new highway going from Scranton to Carbondale, and actually made Jermyn an exit! Wow, movin on up!

Anyway, that little aside aside, thought this a pretty nice puz. Cool idea of cluing cities as Not Those Cities. Fun. Easy, 2.5 Rexes. And two double F words. What more can one ask for?
ALVA is a small town in Oklahoma, BTW. (The State, not the Song.) For 28A-29D, would've changed it to SALMA/ADAM, just to get rid of a non-theme city name.

Then again, NYET could be "Something out of this world in The Big Apple?"

Four F's

JonB3 9:23 AM  

Continuing the theme of weird ass pronunciations of foreign US cities, there's upstate NY's Cairo - pronounced Kay-row. Exit 20 of the Thruway.

pmdm 9:27 AM  

Pleasant puzzle. Big thumbs up from me.

LMS: The pretty birds around the NYC area tend to fly by while they are migrating, so perhaps around springtime and fall you'll be treated to a wider variety of colors. As far as I know, the male cardinal is the most colorful bird in the NYC area (bright red in mating season). For those who live in the NYC area, try driving to the Bear Mountain Bridge from Peekskill and park at the ancient toll house. Hike up the trail to Anthony's Nose during raptor migration (quite a hike) and you can view migrating raptors at eye level along the way. Drab, but magnificent.

Patty 9:27 AM  

Happy coincidence (?) to see Selma, as clued, in today’s puzzle. It’s important to remember and heed Martin Luther King from the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, more than 57 years ago: “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” The time has come to end judging people based on their immutable characteristics. Peace ✌️and Love ❤️.

Lewis 9:33 AM  

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

1. Without exception ... as in dry counties? (3)(4)
2. "No _____!" (or its response) (3)
3. Shower heads, perhaps (5)(2)(5)
4. Frost accumulation (5)
5. Remains to be seen, say (6)(7)


Unknown 9:35 AM  

You misread 1A-it is prepare to hem, which you need to pin it up first. But you're a guy so you don't know that.

Grown-Up Autistic Kid 9:38 AM  

So this is what a perfect Monday looks like, although you don't want a 51A driveway.

Really, Will? ____ and feather fixes it for Monday.

Glen Laker 9:45 AM  

Spoiler alert: Toledo, OH is definitely not as lovely as the Toledo in Spain

mmorgan 9:50 AM  

There’s also a Moscow, Rhode Island that people in RI don’t even know about.

This was a nifty Monday in my book. Very nice!

Sixthstone 9:51 AM  

It all changed for nerds after the classic film "Revenge of ...". Or perhaps it was Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and computers in general.

Fun, easy Monday.

For all the potential cities to choose, I think this set is right on. All pretty well-known (both the USA and international counterparts).

mmorgan 9:57 AM  

And Maine has a Calais (as in France) — but pronounced Callous.

MKV 10:09 AM  

> And Maine has a Calais (as in France) — but pronounced Callous.

And a Paris, and a China, and a Mexico. We're a weird state.

Harry 10:12 AM  

I thought another good thing about the theme was that there was a progression. I'm surprised Rex didn't say anything about it, because I know how he hates it when there isn't a progression, but I thought the sequence of going from something so easy as the Eifel tower, passing through the pretty well known Parthenon, and ending with more challenging Virgil's tomb and El Greco was nicely done.

Smith 10:14 AM  

Easy, under 2 Rexes. NERD ALERT is annoying, but thank goodness no Tide Pods today. Happy MLK, Jr's bday as we continue to anticipate peace and nonviolence...

Also, some guys sew, so they might know how to PIN UP a hem, my dear departed Dad, for one.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

well, having had to do some clothes making, PIN UP is not what you do to Get Ready To Hem: you get ready by BASTE-ing the hem. fits, too. only scratch out. considered ATHENS ohio (foobaaahh, and all that), but was wise enough to count letters before taking pen to paper. figured Virgil would be in Rome, but letter counting... similarly for El Greco, New Madrid in Missouri (home of the New Madrid Fault, and source of the largest Eastern earthquake in these United States)...

JD 10:23 AM  

An early settler of Texas was from Paris?

Pleasant Monday. But Darn, I'd rather have these things take a little longer and make me think a bit, it keeps me off the streets. I smashed my previous record (whatever it was) with 7:54. Minutes. Just a matter of knowing this stuff, which most of my contemporaries surely will. Except if you didn't know what an Overhead Door was, you've probably never seen a Tar(red) driveway.

@Smith from yesterday, Har! If that sign were on my beaten path, I'd have the same thought you did every single time I drove by.

Carola 10:26 AM  

A Monday that succeeded in being easy, interesting, and delightful - maybe not a rare treat, but one to be celebrated. I smiled at @Rex's difficulty with PIN UP; apparently, he's not a sewer. I do agree with others that PASCHAL is on the tough side for a Monday puzzle; childhood years of singing Easter hymns about the PASCHAL Lamb helped me out there. Do-over tolLS before PEALS.
@amyyanni, Wisconsin has a Berlin, too, pronounced to rhyme with twirlin'.

GILL I. 10:27 AM  

Well tickle me pink. I've been to PARIS, ATHENS, NAPLES and TOLEDO....but I've yet to visit the USofA version.....Should I? I've been to TEXAS, GEORGIA, FLORIDA and OHIO and yet I've never eaten their BBQ, Pecan pie, Key lime pie, or a Pawpaw....Should I? I think KALE is from California where you eat green stuff that tastes like caca.
If you're going to PIN UP you better include Betty Grable. If you're goin to MATA you should include Juan (because he's cute as hell and he plays for Manchester). So I had fun.
Mondays always get me going in the "what can I think of" category. My favorite is the TIE in front of the mirror. I use to watch my dad do his in the morning before dashing off to the office. When he'd leave, I'd scrounge around his neat little tie rack and pick out one for me. I spent hours doing the best Half-Windsor knot this side of the Mississippi. I was one proud little kid.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Was just looking at my decades old Calphalon, stamped 'Commercial Aluminum Cookware Company Toledo, Ohio', still pristine (the skillets, anyway). No non-stick spray on, just pounds of aluminum, heavily anodized, and slick as a Mambo dancer, to quote the great AB.

Hungry Mother 10:45 AM  

I used to live in NAPLESFLORIDA and my brother used to live in ATHENSGEORGIA, but I was still slowed by the themers a bit. Overall, a very nice offering.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Wisconsin has a Berlin, too, pronounced to rhyme with twirlin'.

so does CT, including pronunciation. must be a New England thing.

bocamp 10:58 AM  

Mom was born in Moscow, ID (coe not cow); the family moved down the road to Clarkston, WA (just across the Snake River from Lewiston, ID.), and eventually ended up in Eugene.

We spent many vacations at Florence on the central Oregon coast. Lots of fun roaming the dunes.

Have Anna's year round. Occasionally, "wrens" will land on the balcony railing, looking longingly up at the hummingbird feeder.

Used to accompany some of my alternative school students to their classes in the main school for extra support. Home Ec was one of my favs, and yes we did "pin ups" prior to hemming. Can't recall if we used that terminology, tho. 🤔

Happy and meaningful MLK Day! ❤️

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

JBH 11:01 AM  

Re POINDEXTER clue: today's NYT includes an obit for Sylvain Sylvain, key member of the New York Dolls, of which David Johansen aka Buster Poindexter was lead singer. Coincidence?

A 11:07 AM  

@Z, if you listened to Peter Paul and Mary as a kid you may remember 'The Marvelous Toy.' Whirr, with the extra r, was what the toy did when it stood still. Here's the last verse:

The years have gone by too quickly it seems
I have my own little boy
And yesterday I gave to him
My marvelous little toy

His eyes nearly popped right out of his head
And he gave a squeal of glee
Neither one of us knows just what it is
But he loves it just like me

It still goes "Zip" when it moves
And "Bop" when it stops
And "Whirrr" when it standsstill
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will

Michiganman 11:08 AM  

Ah, Toledo, Ohio, the home of the historic Town Hall Theater. After telling our parents that we were going to a party, my buddy and I went to said theater. But not to see a movie or play. I'm talking burlesque; naked women and dirty jokes. We were 16 or 17. I don't recall any issue getting admitted. We drove down from a small town in southern Michigan. Ohio also had fireworks and 3.2 beer if you were 18. Those were the days.

Whatsername 11:18 AM  

Very nice and a clever theme I thought. All the cities were easily recognizable for a new solver and not too many Propers.There’s also a PARIS in Missouri about 50 miles from where I grew UP.

A few years ago I served as a community judge in a high school debate contest. They were PAIRED OFF, assigned a SIDE of a random question to argue, and given 15 minutes to PREP. Some might say NERD ALERT at such an event, but those kids were sharp and they knew their business. It was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be to declare a winner.

Wishing all a pleasant and peaceful Martin Luther King Day. A man who looted nothing, burned nothing and attacked no one, and yet he changed the world.

Tom R 11:33 AM  

For that matter, there is a New Berlin WI.

Not sure who I am responding to near the top of this list (JBerg?) but wanted to know what bird feed you were using. I had a very similar experience trying to attract cardinals (which I finally did) but early on just a whole bunch of wrens, some of which are quite colorful. Everyone seems to prefer the oiled black sunflower seeds, which is good because I can buy a huge bags that are cheap. I now feed a flock of wrens, one male cardinal and several squirrels (who have their own feeder).

Place names - grew up in Boonville, MO, named after Daniel Boone, but the founders were not all that literate.

jae 11:34 AM  

Easy-medium. Cute and smooth. A fun Mon., liked it.

L E Case 11:43 AM  

Glad to see Klinger, My Own Private Idaho, and Paris, Texas, but this write-up was crying out for a reference to the fantastic John Prine/Iris DeMent song, "We're Not the Jet Set." It's the theme of this puzzle!

Masked and Anonymous 11:46 AM  

Cool theme idea. Must be tons of themer candidates, out there. How'bout a nice 15-long one: MECCA CALIFORNIA [Home to the Intl. Banana Museum].

staff weeject pick: CTA. Cooler clue, for @RP: {Feline in disguise??}.
fave moo-cow mos-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Russian "no"} = NYET.

fave sparkler: SEVERAL. Looks impressive, somehow, cruisin smack-dab down the puzgrid center, between Athens and Naples.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Stillman. DARN good job.

Masked & Anonymo1U


Anonymous 11:49 AM  


There is a certain macabre irony that The Great Satan's Last Day is within spittin distance (well, just one full day, in fact) of MLK day. Must piss him off to no end. That, and losing to Sleepy Joe. The icing on the cake will be when Sleepy Joe has NSA release all the intercepts between The Great Satan (and friends) and Putin (ditto). And, just to rub it in, between The Great Satan and the core insurrectionists. What's the penalty for treason?

KnittyContessa 11:50 AM  

Enjoyable Monday. I started off on the wrong foot. Had baste for 1a and urge for 6a but quickly corrected myself.

@LMS if you want to stoop a little lower try 90 Day Fiance. I try to convince myself it's educational because you get to see a glimpse of life in other cultures but who am I kidding?

sixtyni yogini 11:52 AM  

Loved it!
Such a clever theme and with so many other pairings, might have made a fun Sunday puzz.

Greg 12:26 PM  

It bemuses me that it seems like the more "musty, a bit last-century in its predilections" the fill AND the cluing are, the faster my times are.

D Spencer 12:29 PM  

It all has to do with perspective and your own experience, I suppose.
My first guess was Paris, Idaho - which fit nicely until I started the downs.
I liked this puzzle and had a record finish time on it.

mathgent 12:31 PM  

Very imaginative cluing for the four themers. Delightful. Pleasant little puzzle.

Does "Here comes Poindexter!" come from a movie or tv show?

I was in Athens Georgia for the men's college tennis championships in 2000. They have a 5000 seat tennis stadium and have hosted the event often, every year 1977-89, a few times since. Cool little college town. Stanford won that year, one of the seventeen championships they won under coach Dick Gould.

old timer 12:43 PM  

That George and Tammy song was certainly running through my head! "We're not the jet set. We're the old Chevrolet set" Nice grin for a Monday. I have never been to any place mentioned in the song, though I have been to all the ones in Europe.

Speaking of which, I always wanted to walk or ride through the Grotto to see Virgil's tomb. It was part of the Grand Tour, back in the day -- or as Macaulay put it, the ultimate limit of the Cockney tour of Italy. And I did go to Naples, and thence to Pompeii on the train. But one of the defects of modern improvements is when I went, a few years ago, there was a high speed train Rome to Naples. So we could go there and back, and still stay in our Rome hotel. In former times, I would have devoted four or five nights just to Naples. In modern times, I could simply take my daughter to Rome for a week, she could fly back without using too much vacation time, and I could stay a couple of extra nights down near the Coliseum, and fly home myself.

Teedmn 12:44 PM  

Yes, George and Tammy's version of the Jet Set was what first came to my mind also, due to listening to it innumerable times when my mother was really into country music in the 70s. A while back, I was trying to remember the cities mentioned in the song and all I could think of was Athens, Georgia but that didn't fit in with my memory. I looked at an atlas and it seems like every southern state has an Athens, a Paris, a Rome, etc. Whereas Minnesota is more likely to have an Ulm (New Ulm, that is) and Mora or other German or Swedish town names. I guess it all comes down to who got to name them...

So it was a cute theme for me, and an easy solve. I jumped a step in hemming and went straight to "baste" at 1A but PAPA bear's hard bed reeled me in there. My bells TOLLed first and I went retro to PHASE one, having not read the clue closely enough. OOPS!

Thanks, Jeff Stillman

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

@Anonymous 11:49
Socialist much?

Karl Grouch 12:59 PM  

The opposite of Natick is Tickan.

Babylon Bee 12:59 PM  

A dangerous, far-right extremist has suggested that we treat people of all races equally, shocked and horrified sources confirmed Friday. hateful bigot has been canceled for his controversial comments that people should be treated with respect no matter their skin color.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character," said the dangerous, alt-right extremist, according to sources. "I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls.”

The offensive comments were platformed at large protests and marches, and everyone associated with the problematic racist has also been canceled.

"I mean, this is literally Nazism," said one progressive Twitter user. "He might as well have grown out a little mustache and invaded Russia. We are scouring his old Facebook photos for swastikas and racial slurs as we speak. I'm sure there's a ton of hateful stuff there."

jberg 1:05 PM  

@Tom R, that wasn't me, that was @Loren. (And thanks for the kind words, Loren).

FREON has been outlawed for decades, since it was one of the main causes of the ozone hole -- I guess this puzzle was submitted a long time ago.

Growing up in Wisconsin, I was told that Berlin was originally pronounced the normal way, but was deliberately changed during World War Is; sort of like the Cincinnati REDS during the McCarthy period.

Nifty theme, OK fill.

jae 1:16 PM  

Me too for baste at 1a before I read the Goldilocks clue.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  


in new product, perhaps. the re-fill ban, for home air conditioners, went into effect either last year or the year before. the folks here decided not to get the re-fill. if the machine develops a leak, we're SOL. swell.

bocamp 1:31 PM  

@mathgent 12:31 PM

Why is "Poindexter" Slang for "Nerd"? (and Where the Words Nerd and Geek Come From)

Origin of "Poindexter" (Felix The Cat)

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Whatsername 1:34 PM  

@jberg from yesterday: Awfully sorry to hear about your fur baby. It’s the absolute worst part of having pets, but they trust in you all their lives to do what’s best for them and making that decision is just part of it. I’ve heard people say they wish our pets could live as long as we do, but think of how much harder it would be for them if they were the ones who had to go on without us.

@Loren: You didn’t say what kind of seed you bought, but that will certainly make a difference in the types of birds you attract. Black oil sunflower seeds are always a good choice and very little waste. Titmice and cardinals love them, as do woodpeckers, finches, nuthatches and Carolina Wrens.

@Joaquin: Hennething new? 😄 He is the man for sure this week. Word is that Mahomes should be primed and ready for Buffalo. I’ve alerted the paramedics to be standing by in case of another nail biter. Whew!

@TomR: I came of age only 40 miles NW of you in a tiny village called Keytesville named for its founder James Keyte. I’ve visited Boonville a few times, quite a picturesque spot.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

I went to college in Moscow - a place I will always remember as the Athens of the inland northwest. A town of about 30,000, Moscow had its own symphony, ballet, and opera companies, and three (three!) movie theaters. For a kid who grew up 30 miles from a movie theater, it was heaven.

It was also the site of a great social experiment. The drinking age in Idaho was 19, while ten miles across the border it was 21. Every weekend the students from Washington State University would pour across the border to get stinkin' drunk, while we UI students, at least the ones I hung out with, considered ourselves to be sophisticated social drinkers, urban aesthetes, martinis in hand, discussing which of the three movies to see.

Seemed to me then and seems to me today that a drinking age of 21 encourages binge drinking.

Anyway . . . I understand that Moscow has changed considerably as has most of Idaho. Armed protestors stormed the state capitol back in August, some shouting "sig heil," but the news didn't get much national play.

Some things remain - you can still drive twenty miles north of Moscow and find yourself in the towns of Princeton and Harvard.

Z 2:15 PM  

Regarding the Great Him Controversy of 2021, did any of you correcters consider the possibility that it was just a typo?

@michiganman - You went to TOLEDO? Not the Windsor Ballet?

@pabloinnh - The holes in TOLEDO OHIO are mostly in rusted out Jeeps, so, yeah, very holey.

Barbara S. 2:16 PM  

There’s a lot to like here. “Romantic-placenames,” U.S.A., plus the BRONTËs, plus MATA Hari with a ROSE in her teeth. Enough to put you IN A LATHER.

Ontario used to have a Berlin, but that got hurriedly changed partway through WWI. So did Prussia, Saskatchewan. Canada was in the First World War longer than the U.S., so we had more time to stew over the “inappropriateness” of these names and change them. Berlin became Kitchener, named after Lord Kitchener, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for War. He’d recently been killed AT SEA when his ship ran into a German mine. From this vantage point, the name Kitchener has itself sparked controversy because of Lord K’s military actions in the Sudan and South Africa. In 2020, some residents proposed changing the name again, but I’m not aware this idea has gained any traction. I remember one oddity in the news story I read about this: at the time the name Kitchener was adopted, one of the other suggestions on the ballot was Corona.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Where you won't find my favourite football team: Liverpool, New York.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Since this is MLK day, I think it should be pointed out that most, but probably not all, of the US towns which took names from classical antiquity did so out of racial fear. Certainly this is true of many towns in NY state which took so many names of antiquity. The fear was native Americans. Those living in the middle of nowhere (NY state away from the coast) feared that they would somehow be absorbed into native-American culture, and they clung desperately to what they knew was the best of Antiquity, that is Greece and Rome. This sort of fear of "going native" shows up everywhere, especially in American literature, as I am sure Rex could testify.

Things like this have occurred elsewhere. St. Augustine was from a pretty nondescript town in north Africa which had the name Hippo. Hippo was Greek for horse, and a horse in Greek antiquity was rather useless--chariots were already passe in Homer's time. Greek aristocrats loved horses because aristocrats love useless activities--such pursuits are a sign of aristocracy. Hence all sorts of Greeks began attaching *hippo* to their names--Hippocrates, et al. I suspect there were never many horses in Augustine's Hippo, and the town took the name not because it was sophisticated but because it feared it was not.

By the way, Toledo, Ohio, has a very fine art museum, especially fine since the town was never particularly distinguished. For the Midwest, Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago have excellent art museums (for traditional, Eurocentric collections), but Toledo could be added to that list.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

sanfranman59 3:52 PM  

Medium-Challenging NYT Monday, about 11% above my 6-month median Monday solve time.

As I was solving, I felt like I'd seen this theme before. Sure enough, it's similar to William Frank McCreery's 1/7/2009 theme, though in the previous puzzle, all of the theme cities were world capitals whereas the commonality in this puzzle is that they're clued by landmarks. The only exact repeat is ATHENS GEORGIA {24A: City where you won't find the Parthenon}. PARIS also appears in both, but is PARIS, Maine in the previous grid.

Other thoughts:
-- 'baste' before PIN UP {1A: Get ready to hem, say} slowed me down at the get-go. I'm shocked that Rex complains that the cheesecake-y Betty Grable clue would be a better Monday clue for this answer. He's usually lambastes clues and/or answers that objectify women.
-- PASCHAL {5D: Easter-related}? On a Monday??? That one seems to me to be about ten orders of magnitude more obscure than anything else in this grid.
-- What's with the product placement free-for-all in the SE?: ETSY {35D: Online market for craftspeople}, SONY {54D: ___ Pictures, one of Hollywood's Big Five studios} and DIOR {53D: Designer Christian}. Heck, even FREON {62A: Refrigerator compound} is a trademark name. At least spread the advertising out a little.
-- Maybe it's because of the themers, but there seems to be an abundance of PPP in this puzzle.

Unknown 5:31 PM  

That is a John Prine song, Ain't we got Love.

Unknown 5:33 PM  

@ amyyanni
I'm not sure that Florence, MA is geographically close to Berlin, NH, but I was surprised to learn that:
Florence, having a thriving silk industry in the 19th century, was named in 1852 after Florence, Italy, for its own thriving silk trade in Europe.

Shout out to Miss Flo's diner!

TTrimble 5:36 PM  

Not a lot to say about the puzzle. I liked it okay and thought the theme was good (and I'm really digging the informed comments by Poggius on early American history of why these names, drawn from classical antiquity -- the name Poggius is fun, too).

Re PASCHAL, naturally I'm reminded of Blaise Pascal who was a 17th century mathematician and philosopher. I suppose many of you know about his Pensées and about his eponymous wager, about why it makes sense to believe in God. I also suppose many of you have heard of Pascal's triangle, which embodies an extraordinary wealth of numerical patterns. But I'm sure only a few of you will have heard of Pascal's Mystic Hexagon, discovered when he was only 16. It says roughly this: take any ellipse (which you can create using a loop of string and thumbtacks) and mark off six points on the ellipse however you like. Connect those six points by a hexagon. Then, for each pair of opposite sides of the hexagon, extend those sides to lines and mark the point of intersection between those lines. You will get three points, one for each of the three pairs of opposite sides. Pascal's theorem states that those three points are collinear: lie on a straight line. If you try it out, it may strike you as something of a miracle that this is always true. (It also works not just for any ellipse but for any conic section, if you know what those are.)

Oh, sorry, I should have warned you before the last paragraph: NERD ALERT!

Wikipedia informs us that the name Pascal derives from the Latin paschalis or pashalis, which means "relating to Easter", from the Latin term for "Easter", pascha, Greek Πάσχα, from the Aramaic pasḥā (Hebrew pesach) "Passover" (since the Hebrew holiday Passover coincides closely with the later Christian holiday of Easter, the Latin word came to be used for both occasions).

Thanks for that link re the origin of NERD. The actor who played Arnold Poindexter in Revenge of the Nerds is Timothy Busfield, who went on to become one of the principal cast members of thirtysomething (playing Elliot Weston). He's done a lot of directing since then.

Can't say that I've ever tuned in to Vanderpump Rules, or Million Dollar Matchmaker, or... they all seem to carry the same whiff of tawdriness that is the basic Bravo formula for success. (It does bother me when I hear that someone on one of these shows winds up committing suicide while Andy Cohen with his 10000-watt permanently plastered smile just rakes it in -- that's what I MEANT by cynical before.) On the other hand, ahem, my hand goes up for having watched 90-Day Fiancee, mentioned by @KnittyContessa, which is not Bravo but TLC. [I'm blaming the missus for that -- she's the one who controls the remote. :-) ]

On a third hand, she is not to blame for my occasional watching of Dr. Pimple Popper. Hey, those are feel-good stories! :-)

Dunder 5:38 PM  

NERD ALERT, but isn’t ALIENS set on a moon and not in deep space?

bocamp 6:07 PM  

@TTrimble 5:36 PM

yw 😊

pg -3 (toughie)

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Barbara S. 6:09 PM  

Timothy Busfield was also on "The West Wing." He played a journalist, I think, who eventually dated C.J. Cregg. As I recall, he was a very likeable character.

That was an interesting one-episode revival of "The West Wing" broadcast right before the election. It was heartening that but one of the actors who played the major characters were still around to reprise their roles. I missed John Spencer but I could watch Sterling K. Brown read the phonebook. (Hey, I guess that's become an obsolete expression.)

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

Is this a great country, or what? From an earlier post I learn that Paris, Texas, indeed has a 1/6th-size reproduction of the Eiffel Tower. Google tells me it is topped with a cowboy hat. So go there, take a photo, do some photo-shopping (or whatever it is called), and no one will know. Athens, Georgia, has a modern housing complex call the Parthenon, and, unlike the real Parthenon, it has heating and air-conditioning. There's also somewhere in town a creditable statue of Athena. In Naples, Italy, or its environs, there is some question about the authenticity of Virgil's Tomb. But in Naples, Florida, there are no questions about the status of the late Virgil Grocescki (US Navy, ret.), buried, I believe, at St. Agnes's Church there. And at the Toledo Museum of Art, in Ohio, there is a splendid El Greco. And this one's not a fake, or a reproduction: it is a large "Jesus in the Garden [of Gethsemane]." I saw it some 40 years ago, but I needed Google to jog my memory.

Anon. i.e. Poggius, with a little too much time on his hands.

mathgent 7:56 PM  

TTrimble. If I had your email, I would make this comment off blog.

Do you know about the Pascal Pyramid? The Pascal Triangle is made up of the binomial coefficients. The Pascal Pyramid is made up of the trinomial coefficients.

ghostoflectricity 7:56 PM  

Lima, Ohio. Berlin, NH.
I love the film “Paris, Texas.” Harry Dean Stanton was so good in it. So were nastassja kinski and dean stockwell.

JOHN X 8:04 PM  

No one has mentioned the biggest one of all:


Bruce Fieggen 8:39 PM  

Anyone else notice that all three of Jerry’s friends have six letters? ELAINE, George, and Kramer.

Anonymous 9:15 PM  

Did I forget to mention, to mention Memphis
Home of Elvis and the ancient Greeks (sic)

TTrimble 10:22 PM  

I sent you an email.

Mr. Alarm 1:39 AM  

Hurray for my hometown, Toledo, Ohio.
Thanks to its great art museum, more than its name association, the Toledo Museum of Art got to host a wonderful El Greco exhibit some years back. A great art museum, with excellent Rembrandts and Van Goghs, but the town is part of the rust belt, so it’s in economic turmoil right now.

Tori Sandifer 10:17 AM  

I have yet to do a puzzle in which the clue for AT SEA gave a scenario where I would actually use the phrase AT SEA.

wrollinson 11:47 AM  

This theme does not seem very creative.

Town where you won't find the Times,_Iowa

kitshef 10:26 PM  

Can't remember the last time I crossed my fingers and hoped on a Monday, but it happened today with the PASCHAL/CIA cross. The former is a complete unknown. The latter ... it's a work of fiction, so the organization could have been fictional, which means it could be literally any letter.

Otherwise, a nice Monday.

And @LMS, when you do get WRENs, you will fall in love with them.

thefogman 9:28 AM  

Alright. But just alright. Four corners form PRAY. I pray for better puzzles....

Diana, LIW 10:50 AM  

After last week, I gotta say, once again, that I love a Monday puzzle. Ask your non-puzzle solving friends to fill one out and see what happens. Then you can act all Rexie and say "oh this is sooooooooo easy peasy" and they will be in awe whilst they are AT SEA. They will run to become alee.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Monday Crosswords

Burma Shave 12:29 PM  


that PAIR HASBEEN scratching each other's ITCH.


Anonymous 3:55 PM  


. . . those Blue Grassians put their own stamp on it by pronouncing it /vur SALE/

Us Blue Grassians pronounce it ver SALES

rondo 4:10 PM  

I wish they wouldn't persist in doing that: there is no TAR in your driveway, or mine, or anyone's. Too tired for the complete rant.

I guess MATA Hari was a yeah baby in her time, 100 and some years ago. Before she and her career were shot.

The Potemkin Stairs are not in OdessaTexas.

leftcoaster 4:49 PM  

Now I know where “Virgil’s Tomb” is.

PASCHAL is a good word.

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

I'm still laughing after reading your comment. As soon as I wrote in that three letter answer, I said to myself, Rondo rant reiteration enabled! Thank you for your brevity. And I'm still laughing.

spacecraft 6:23 PM  

There is also a Moscow, PA, in the Poconos. Picturesque little town. And how about Nevada, Ohio, with nary a casino. Weirdly, it's pronounced with a long A, to rhyme with "cicada." So, if you're a native Nevadan it's "Nevadda," if a tourist, "Nevahda" (a dead giveaway), or an Ohioan, "Nevayda."

Hand up for bracing for the @rondo anti-TAR rant. To me TAR is just another excellent reason to quit smoking. DOD is Julia Louis-Dreyfus as ELAINE. Or as herself. I don't care.

Theme holds, fill has nothing worse than TMAN; I PRAY (corners) we get more like this. Birdie.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP