Harp-shaped constellation / MON 2-8-21 / Record label co-founded by Jay-Z / Liz's best friend on 30 Rock / Banned pollutant in brief

Monday, February 8, 2021

Constructor: Portia Lundie

Relative difficulty: Challenging (3:45 ... normalish Tuesday / fastish Wednesday)

THEME: LET YOUR HAIR DOWN (10D: "Loosen up!" ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) — hairdo types are found embedded (in circled squares) inside long Down theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • DISCOMBOBULATED (3D: Completely confused)
  • "TOMB RAIDER" (6D: Lara Croft, in film)
  • PERMAFROST (31D: Layer of soil that never thaws)
Word of the Day: ROC-A-FELLA (35D: Record label co-founded by Jay-Z) —
Roc-A-Fella Records was an American hip hop record label founded by rapper/entrepreneur Shawn "Jay-Z" CarterDamon "Dame" Dash, and Kareem "Biggs" Burke in 1995. It was operated as a division of Def Jam Recordings. [note: it's been defunct for eight years] (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a good theme, and the revealer is very good. It really, really should've been a Tuesday or Wednesday, because it was on the tippy-top high end of my Monday times, just above my Tuesday average and well within my normal Wednesday range. Long answers next to long answers, unclear cluing, and a weirdly isolated center all conspired to make this very slow (for a Monday). I don't want to focus on this misplacement too much, because, again, the theme is well conceived and pretty well executed. But place your puzzles on the correct days! Bah. Anyway, the theme. "BOB" does not break across two words in its answer, which is the gold standard for embedded words, but DISCOMBOBULATED is such a weird / cool word that it more than makes up for BOB's anomalous embeddedness. DISCOMBOBULATED was also part of what made the puzzle hard. I had DISCO- and still no idea what it could be. BRAID and AFRO break nicely across the two parts of their respective answers, and as I say, the revealer is superb. I'm just going to pretend it's Tuesday so I can force myself to have only, or primarily, positive feelings about this one. Hard to pull off an early-week themed puzzle with any kind of panache, so give respect where respect is due.

So mad at myself about being so slow on ROC-A-FELLA, and for botching J-LO as well (21D: Musical artist "from the block," familiarly). In both cases, I was in Monday clue-reading mode (i.e. very cursory, quick-glance mode), and with ROC-A-FELLA I didn't really register the Jay-Z part of the clue, and then with J-LO, I didn't pick up anything after [Musical artist...], and since I had "NICE ONE!" instead of "NICE JOB!" at 20A: "You did it!," my [Musical artist...] was three letters starting with not a "J" but an "O," so (OH SO!) so ... so, my musical artist came out ONO! "ONO from the block!" Yes, that very famous song lyric!: "Don't be fooled by the rocks that I got / I'm still, I'm still ONO from the block!" Wow. That is some kind of miss. In my very feeble defense, if you are gonna use "from the block" in your clue, the answer better damn well be JENNY. It's "JENNY from the Block," not "J-LO from the Block." Lyric specificity matters!! Speaking of JENNY (almost), I didn't know Liz and JENNA were "best friends," though I've only dabbled in "30 Rock" viewership, so maybe the clue is apt (1D: Liz's best friend on "30 Rock"). LYRA was hard (25A: Harp-shaped constellation). MCCOY should've been easy (5D: "Star Trek" doctor), but between wanting BONES, having one of the crosses wrong, *and* not knowing what ****ing letter the musical answer was supposed to be (*C* MINOR), I got slowed up badly there. PRIESTESS was weirdly hard, the "High" part of the clue only making sense in retrospect (11D: "High" figure in a tarot deck). LOL my knowing anything about a tarot deck. It's enough that I know TAROT is a thing that might appear in xwords. TOUTS was wicked-hard (32A: Ballyhoos). I had TO-TS and even then honestly wanted TOOTS. Yeesh. THERMO, yipes, again, only intelligible in retrospect (43A: Lead-in to -stat). Just nowhere near Monday-normal. But again, for a T or W, it's nice work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:07 AM  

Yep. Very tough for a Monday. But how can you not love any crossword puzzle that has DISCOMBOBULATED hiding a theme word?

jae 12:17 AM  

Tough, @Rex Tues. seems right. I needed more crosses than I typically do on a Mon. to fill in some of the answers...PRIESTESS, DISCOM..., LET YOUR..., EMOPOP.... Plus, at my age it takes a tad longer to dredge up stuff like JENNA and MCCOY.

Apropos of dredging stuff up there was a song called Killer Joe by The Rocky Fellers that came out in 1963.

Solid Mon., liked it. A fine debut!

chefwen 1:03 AM  

I didn’t think it was that tough. Got the theme after BOB and AFRO, BRAID helped me fill in the mid section. Pretty easy for me.

Love the word DISCOMBOBULATED. I experience that feeling often.

Frantic Sloth 1:15 AM  

Easy/crunchy combo sammich today.

Cute theme and who doesn't like the word DISCOMBOBULATED?
(Does this mean it's a good thing to be COMBOBULATED, like being gruntled?)

Couldn't stop seeing PERMAFROST as 3 different "hairstyles": PERM, AFRO, FROST. That last one's kind of a stretch

***Downtrodden Chiefs Fans Alert***

😒Sorry, but didn't TOM BRAIDER just win his 7th Super Bowl?


Cliff 1:36 AM  

Played slightly above my average Wednesday time. But I loved the long downs (theme) answers.

JOHN X 1:53 AM  


This was easy for a Monday. Or maybe I’m just smarter than you.

God bless

Andrea 4:40 AM  

Not a Monday, for me. Agree with Rex absolutely.
But then again, I’m not as smart as @JOHN X, I s’pose.

Dogfish 5:11 AM  

Not always fun to skip the theme, but I unfortunately... completely skipped the theme on this one. It's a cute theme, but I just didn't need to tap into it for any help - though the long downs were fun answers at least.

What I did notice (and I don't think I'm alone here) is how awkward the 25A/26D crossing was to spot errors at. The constellation 25A is also known as "The LYRE", and knowing an obscure district of a city that's five timezones away with sub-100k people in it made that Proper Noun / Proper Noun crossing Naticky as heck - especially on a grid with other awkward looking spots that felt more likely to be "off" (JADA/JENNA, ROCAFELLA/PCB). Felt like equivalent of "Which vowel goes in ?lford?" (London, 170k population), or "What vowel goes in ?nfield?" (London, 330k population) -not really a fun way to end the puzzle.

albatross shell 6:02 AM  

Hey, I've almost forgotten already but didn't some feller named TOM BRAIDER just win some supper bowl a ton folks ate through?

albatross shell 6:10 AM  

And didn't America just end an EVIL COWARD ERA?

OffTheGrid 6:28 AM  

Typical M for me. Surprised @Rex thought this was T/W difficult. I am not a fast solver. I note my times but don't formally keep track or figure averages. Today was 13+ which is probably near my "average". The long downs went in quickly and the fill was not onerous. The theme made itself apparent with no extra work needed. I quite enjoyed this one. And I was already in a good mood. I get my second Pfizer today.

Lewis 6:29 AM  

I am a lover of wordplay and [Scenter of the face] tickled me to no end. I see we have “At Last” in the ETTA clue, which echoes the “A-last” subtheme: JADA / ERA / LYRA / SAUNA / RIA / MEDUSA / JENNA / ROCAFELLA / YODA / ASTORIA.

Portia’s voice comes out loud and strong, which is wonderful to see in a debut, much less any crossword. This is the voice of a lover of the arts, including pop culture, or so it seems to me. As a solver, pop culture is one of my weaker areas, but I don’t worry about that in a NYT puzzle, where it will be edited so I’ll most likely be able to fill in what I don’t know – and I will learn new things. That’s a gift! Thank you, Portia, and NICE JOB on your debut!

OffTheGrid 6:39 AM  

NICE one!

albatross shell 6:44 AM  

Sorry @Frantic. I missed your comment. Minds in the same gutter. Oh. Different bowl-ing.

SouthsideJohnny 6:49 AM  

I agree with the consensus thus far that today’s puzzle seems pretty unusual for a Monday - and quite a bit “choppy” in places, which may have something to do with the unusual configuration of the grid which Rex alluded to.

I’m always less than thrilled when a puzzle starts out with a 1A and 1D PPP cross. Add in the Harry Potter reference crossing an “Ant-Man” something or other and this one could have come completely off the rails - fortunately the rest of it was pretty discernible (even if it was Tuesday-level difficult). So, overall a good effort and a bit of a welcome diversion from the usual Monday plug-and-chug entry-level offerings.

amyyanni 7:03 AM  

A challenging Monday is always appreciated because it lasts longer. Like that!

JOHN X 7:07 AM  

If you like the word RECOMBOBULATION go to Milwaukee Airport, the best little airport in the USA.

oceanjeremy 7:14 AM  

In defense of the puzzle, it is the *New York* Times Crossword. It seems like solvers might be expected to know a little bit about the city in which the puzzle is published, no?

I can also say that before I moved to NYC (checks watch) almost 20 years ago, I had never been anywhere near this part of the United States and had lived in Texas almost my entire life. Yet I knew that Astoria was a neighborhood in NYC (along with SOHO, Harlem, Williamsburg and others).

oceanjeremy 7:38 AM  

Came in well under my average Monday time on this, so I’m scratching my head a bit at everyone classifying this one as “challenging.”

And I even lost approximately 30 precious seconds chasing down a typo (STOO / WASO instead of STOP / WASP). Not to make excuses for myself, but I *am* solving on a first-generation iPhone SE, the smallest phone still in circulation (to my knowledge).

Re: CMINOR: I was about to scold Rex and say something to the effect of, “If I can memorize a few tennis names, some baseball terminology and (gag) golf scores then you should be able to memorize the circle of fifths so you can answer these key signature clues.”

Then I remembered that you’d need to know more than just the circle of fifths to get CMINOR. You’d also have to know the relative minor of every key signature. While that seems ridiculously easy to me (“It’s just a minor third below the tonic note of the key, duh!”) this *is* the kind of question that would probably be a toughie for high school orchestra students, and maybe even first-semester college freshmen.

So yeah, that question is probably out of place in a Monday puzzle. Otherwise I’m not seeing the difficulty in this one. I breezed through it, buzzed and barely watching the ball game. Beautiful puzzle, if you ask me.

Ted 7:48 AM  

I breezed through this in my normal Monday time, maybe a few seconds faster... just under 5 minutes. I'm not as fast as Rex, my very fastest time is going to be 4 minutes if I'm just typing and filling. So this was a normal Monday for me.

The clues he stumbled on I mostly had easy. MCCOY made CMINOR fall, no problem, and the whole top area was golden except for one snafu: LYRE/ESTORIA that I couldn't spot at first. :(

OPPS and AFTS are poor, but such short little things to complain about when the crosses are all solid. How often do we see MTWTF? I can't remember seeing that ever in about 7 years of NYTXW puzzles...

Ted 7:50 AM  

Oh, and patting myself on the back, I got the theme at 10D with only TOMBRAIDER (BRAID) and ONE letter (the O). Yay, me!

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Didn’t see the theme and kinda slogged through it. Some nice stuff mixed in with the names.

TTrimble 8:17 AM  

I didn't experience this as challenging either -- DISCOMBOBULATED went in right away, and LET YOUR HAIR DOWN went in very soon after laying eyes on the clue. But I suppose it was harder than usual for a Monday. ROCAFELLA was/is not in my vocab, and come to think of it neither is AFTS. (AFTS, WOE? Oh, don't tell me -- short for "afternoons"? I think I'm gonna hurl.)

Missteps include putting in sNagS before KNOTS, and I made a damned fool error misspelling TOMB RAIDER, which resulted in a lot of time tracking down my error.

@Frantic Sloth
I think about things like "COMBOBULATED" all the time, and good one on TOM BRAIDER.

What an ill-starred game for the Chiefs. Putting aside Brady's undeniable talent and Mahomes's ailing foot, there was a startling difference between the offensive lines: the Bucs' offensive line was incredibly effective and it seemed Brady always had about 90 seconds to work out how to complete a pass, whereas Mahomes was under constant siege and so many of his passes were thrown out of complete desperation. It was embarrassing to watch, really.

I don't follow football at all closely in recent decades (actually, I never did, but my parents were rabid Redskins fans and so I've been exposed to a certain amount). Thus, I had to look up intentional grounding, which used to be called much more often in times past. So I've just learned that as of 1993, the QB being inside the tackle box is a necessary condition for that to be called. Well, that explains that.

Speaking of QB: today's SB may just be the easiest of all time. I haven't folded on yesterday's (pg -4) yet -- if I get it, then that'll be five in a row for me. Then again, I have work to do today!

ChuckD 8:26 AM  

Nice puzzle - solved as a themeless. Liked the long downs and that odd central section came out fine. Not a lot of glue here so it was a smooth solve - typical Monday level time.

Wanted Bones in lieu of MCCOY and really didn’t like MTWTF. I filled both right in but I could see some having an issue with the LYRA x ASTORIA cross. Never watched 30 Rock so that was backed into - is the show crossworthy ?

Enjoyable solve to start the week.

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

@Dogish 5:11 AM-Next time I do the London Times crossword I promise I won’t complain if it references districts in London.πŸ˜‚

Joaquin 8:38 AM  

@Frantic Sloth (1:15 a.m.) - Re: TOM BRAIDER.

Too soon. Also, too funny.

Z 8:40 AM  

I saw Rex kvetching on Twitter about the placement so I e-solved to time myself. Yep, a full minute plus slower than my typical Monday (6:24 if you’re curious). I don’t really know what a typical Tuesday is for me, but I’m guessing six and half minutes is about Tuesday normal for me.

Nothing really stands out as a big slow down. Several answers weren’t as automatic as many Monday’s answers are and the grid is a little choppy. HI TECH was a little hard for me to see for some reason, and I waited for the cross on MTW-F because I always want it to be the better MTWrF (When scheduling a large high school using 20 year old software one needs to distinguish between Tuesday and Thursday). I have no idea how the day of the week calibration works, but when nothing really slows me down and I’m still 128% of my normal time I think calling this a Tuesday is fair.

bocamp 8:43 AM  

Thx, @Portia, for a crunchy Mon. puz; much to like about this one. "Nice job"! :)

Med.+ solve.

Slow, but steady progress with only 1A / 1D as ??. "J" sounded right, both ways.

"Nice job!"; one of my favorite things to say. πŸ‘

Ludwig Van Beethoven's 5th Symphony in "C Minor" (Full) ~ Beethoven Orchestra London

dbyd pg -1 - yd pg -2

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ TeamworkπŸ•Š

Jeff 8:45 AM  

Definitely a Wednesday, largely because pop culture is my outhouse.

The record label/pollutant cross is in Natick territory. I'd never heard of the record label, so "ROBAFELLA" seemed reasonable, and PBBs are a restricted chemical in various places around the world.

Unknown 8:46 AM  

I actually like a Monday puzzle with a little teeth to it . . . . so this was fun!

Do folks think that Rex is actually this nit-picky IRL, or do you think it's just a persona he puts on for the benefit of this blog? Asking for a friend.

RooMonster 8:48 AM  

Hey All !
Easy! Fun! Debut!

Typical time and feel for me, so I'll take this ego-boost from y'all who found it difficult! Neat theme, in case Rex missed it (I don't think I read its in his review), the Revealer is LET YOUR HAIR DOWN, and the themer Hair Styles are in the Downs. So Portia is letting the HAIRs DOWN. Nice.

Pissed off at the Chiefs for laying an egg. Pissed off at the referees for being asshats on calls. Pissed off at Football. Boycotting next year already. Why root for your team when Tom Brasshole wins every year?

Anyway, seems to be a lot of debuts lately, also a lot of women constructors. Must be placating Rex, as he didn't start this year on a "hardly any women constructors" rant like he did for 2020. Ah, the beginning of 2020, when we were all anticipating a great year, pre-pandemic freedom. What a waste of a year.

I thought PERMAFROST was one word? Rex said AFRO was split twixt the word. Did get a chuckle out of 3D, which I had DISCO to start. DISCOconfounded? Har. One could say I was Completely confused. :-)

Four F's

Jeff B. 8:51 AM  

Definitely a better fit for Tuesday. JLO crossing LYRA slowed me down. In defense of ASTORIA, I've never been there, but I know it as the terminus of one of the subway lines, the R, I think.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Nearly Naticked at 1A on a Monday. I had to guess the J. I have never watched 30 Rock in my life and don't know why I'm expected to know the characters. Never heard of JADA either. Crossing proper names with a difficult-to-infer letter to kick off a Monday puzzle? I went with J because JENNA made sense even though JADA did not. I am surprised Rex did not take advantage of the opportunity to rail against Shortz's editing yet again, because this felt like a particularly egregious example of it to me.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Yeah, nice, with some creative but solvable fill, and some welcome female slants for a change! But would have been more fun if I was prepared going in by having it slated for a different day.

Lewis 8:56 AM  

@ted -- MTWTF has appeared four times in the past seven years, including today, and nine times overall.

mmorgan 8:58 AM  

Tough Monday for me, with lots of pop culture stuff I know nothing about, but eventually gettable from crosses. I expected Rex to bash the theme. Wrong again!

Z 9:00 AM  

Re TOM BRAIDER - I tried watching the big game last night. Please, god, just put me on the roller coaster in Rye with Liberty Mutual ads on repeat. I did make it almost to half time but I was just bored to tears. I know they claim the halftime score was 21-6, but c’mon man. If it were scored properly it was 3-0, or maybe 6-2 if you count like basketball. It seems just incredibly too apt that three scores is turned into “21” and two consolation scores are turned into “6.” It’s as if they went to the drunk in the bar bragging about his “conquests” for their scoring system. I’m also not surprised that Budweiser is a big supporter since I’d have to be drunk to enjoy watching a game. Personally, my favorite aspect is ALT descriptions for the sport. The classic is “Episodes of violence interrupted by committee meetings.” Some ultimate players/artists just did a comic strip explainer of football for the Ultimate player and described it as “BDSM Ultimate Frisbee.” That’s really good and apt.

Barbara S. 9:01 AM  

Thanks for the avalanche of birthday greetings yesterday – what a lovely group. I was telling my sister on the phone that I’d been thoroughly “happy birthdayed” by the blog and she (a non-blogger) said with amazement, “A bunch of people you don’t know wished you happy birthday!?” I told her that although I’d pass you all on the street and not recognize you, and although there’s a legion of things I don’t know about every one of you and never will, I don’t feel that I don’t know you. There’s something quite magical about getting acquainted with people through the written word. Recent research has shown that the areas of the brain used for speech and for writing are different. I think we see a more creative side of each other this way – even when we dash off our comments, they’re composed, in a way that casual speech is not. And when posts are carefully considered, well jeepers, they can get downright eloquent. Anyway, I think all this remains a mystery for my sister. Blog life is something you have to experience for yourself.

Right, the puzzle. I was more bothered than @Rex about the appearance of PERM not included with the circled theme answers – that seemed like a weakness to me. Otherwise I liked it and it didn’t strike me as particularly hard. I liked High PRIESTESS – I went through a Tarot phase in adolescence. Here’s a different sort of ROCkeFELLA.

Today’s quotation is from Jules Verne, born Feb. 8, 1828

“The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and life-giving. It is an immense desert place where man is never lonely, for he senses the weaving of Creation on every hand. It is the physical embodiment of a supernatural existence... For the sea is itself nothing but love and emotion. It is the Living Infinite, as one of your poets has said. Nature manifests herself in it, with her three kingdoms: mineral, vegetable, and animal. The ocean is the vast reservoir of Nature.”
(from “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”)

TTrimble 9:02 AM  

I'm sure we already agree, but unless one is or was pretty involved in musical practice, there's really no reason to have the circle of fifths memorized -- and it takes a great deal of practice to know instantly that E flat major has three flats in its signature. (It's much easier, if you have the C already, that C major is out of the question since there are no flats in that key signature, so C MINOR it's going to be.) Isn't it rare for a key to be clued that way, anyway? If so, all the more reason Rex shouldn't have to learn all that; just work off of crosses.

Personally, I still have to go, "okay, flat side of circle of fifths, F, B flat, E flat, okay E flat, subtract three half steps" -- with my modicum of musical experience, it's not an instant knowing. There's another technique: if on the flat side, then multiply the number of flats by 5 and reduce mod 12, that gives you the number of half-steps above C. (If on the sharp side, multiply by 7 and reduce mod 12.) I tried explaining this once to my piano teacher, and I might as well have been speaking in Greek. But to continue if you're still listening: this technique also works in reverse because 5 and 7 are nontrivial square roots of the integers mod 12. For example, D flat is 1 half-step above C, multiply 1 by 5 and reduce mod 12, that's 5, so there are 5 flats in D flat major.

I could go on about this, but the point has been made that any of this is probably way too esoteric unless there's really a compelling need to know, and crosswords will never create that need!

J in Canada 9:15 AM  

I usually rant about a proper name crossing another one, so 1A/1D could've been my downfall today, and since I usually start at the downs, my never having seen 30 Rock made me jump right to the 1A and the clue started out with "Actress/TV host ___" and I almost screamed. Then I managed to see "Pinkett-Smith" and knew JADA so I was off and running.
That gave me the D for 3D and I thought DISCOMBOBULATED? Does that fit? IT DOES!! I almost second-guessed myself on that simply because it was a Monday puzzle, but when the crosses in the NW worked out, I knew it was good. Figured that BOB was going to be some dude, maybe somehow being related to the two proper names in the NW corner.
I wouldn't have gotten C MINOR from the clue, but the down had to be either BONES or MCCOY and BONES would've made that N MINOR, so that wasn't going to work. That gave me the C and C MAJOR has no flats or sharps, so had to be MINOR.
By the time I got to the revealer, I had BOB and BRAID and just threw in LET YOUR HAIR DOWN without any crosses - possibly the very first time in my life I've ever done that with a grid-spanning answer, so I was feeling pretty good.
The stumbling block for me was ROCAFELLA which I had as ROCAPELLA because there's an singing group called ROCKAPELLA (they sing the theme for Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, in case that ever pops up). At least I knew that the town was much more likely to be FLINT instead of PLINT, so I was able to catch that.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Monday puzzles are usually my least favourite, so it was nice to find one with some zing for a change.

Lewis 9:17 AM  

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

1. Feet in a pound (4)
2. Pop up a lot, perhaps? (3)(3)
3. A fine way to discourage foul language? (5)(3)
4. More venerated ... or ventilated? (6)
5. A real cinematic tour de force? (4)(4)


Tim Aurthur 9:45 AM  

The RECOMBOBULATION AREA at Mitchell Airport is the place after security where you put your shoes and belt back on and your phone and keys and stuff back in your pockets. This is the only example I've ever found of TSA humor.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

That would presuppose that “Rex” is a real person.

sixtyni yogini 9:48 AM  

Good one! Tight, fun, fast.
Know it doesn’t fit the theme, but I wanted “loosen up” answer to be
Do it! Happy Monday y’all!

RooMonster 9:49 AM  

*SB stuff*
I know...

It has happened. After months of getting close, finally hit the peak. QB! WooHoo!
Forgot how this feels! Dang, let's try not to go so long twixt Q's next time, brain!
(I left the QB Bee o my screen!)


Nancy 10:07 AM  

DISCOMBOBULATED kept me in this puzzle when I was sorely tempted at first to throw it against the wall. I mean you start me out with the JADA/JENNA thing and then you inflict on me the ROCAFELLA, TOMBRAIDER, EMO POP junk and then you choose to clue the perfectly fine word ADORE with a brand name and the perfectly fine word WASP with an utterly forgettable movie -- well, I'm not a happy camper.

And the thing is that the theme is cute. LET YOUR HAIR DOWN is the perfect revealer. And DISCOMBOBULATED is a wonderful word. This might have been a perfectly swell Monday if 50% of the pop culture trivia could have been avoided. Please keep this in mind, Portia, the next time you construct a puzzle. Fair enough?

mbr 10:13 AM  

Dogfish@ That obscure NYC district as well as the Waldorf-Astoria were named after John Jacob Astor, a man with a few bucks to his name.

oceanjeremy 10:29 AM  

Rex is his Crossword-World alter ego. He’s not secretive, you can google it and find multiple articles about him, his real name, his profession, etc.

Very much a Real Person.

Richard 10:34 AM  

So...is TOMBRAIDER gonna be invited to Mar-a-Lago? Inquiring minds and all that.

newbie 10:37 AM  

I get it, Dogfish - I feel the same way when I scratch my head over obscure (to me) parts of London and towns in the UK that may be well known for something (but not by me). That may be why I don’t try to solve a crossword in The Times of London - so you are to be congratulated on reaching out as far as the NYT for your solving experience.

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

Sigh. If I wasn’t already DISCOMBOBULATED enough after that SAD showing by my team last night, this certainly didn’t help. Star Wars, Star Trek, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Harry Potter, Ant Man, Jay-Z. I’ll take Pop Culture for $200 Alex. Didn’t ADORE it but must admit I did like ROCKAFELLA.

Well POOH about sums up my Super Bowl experience, a complete bust starting with that odd anthem performance. Was that OPPS, ALT, EMO POP or what? Where is Lady Gaga when you need her. But the flyover was spectacular. Wow! If only the Chiefs had run their famous WASP play. Still they would have needed a HI PRIESTESS to overcome the injuries, off-field distractions, and maybe just the tiniest bit of home cooking. OH SO. There’s always next year.

oceanjeremy 10:39 AM  

Yep. This is how I grokked it: I know three flats is E-flat major, and I just picture playing the guitar cord then finding the relative minor. In my imagination I can feel my fingers fretting the chord and I know it’s C-minor.

So yeah, I realize now that is “specialized knowledge” and maybe doesn’t belong in a Monday puzzle

Nancy 10:43 AM  

@Tim Aurthur (9:45) -- I believe that your coinage today of "TSA humor" will be remembered down through the ages as being just as funny an oxymoron as that golden oldie, "military intelligence".

@ocean jeremy and @TTrimble: I have a hard and fast rule for dealing with musical key clues in puzzles. I write in the M and the OR and then I wait for the crosses.

@Barbara S. (9:01) -- What a interesting post. I think what you said to your sister is an eloquent way to explain why we're all here. But as far as your Jules Verne passage that includes the line: "For the sea itself is nothing but love and emotion" -- I'm pretty hard pressed to find any "love" in a boiling, roiling sea, complete with undertow and the occasional riptide. For "love", I truly prefer a warm puppy.

mathgent 10:45 AM  

TTrimble. You say that you're not a football fan, but you saw the main reason the Bucs won better than the NYT sportswriters. It wasn't Brady or Gronk, it was the defense, particularly the pass rushers.

I do experience some disappointments in my life, but never that the puzzle isn't appropriate for the day of the week.

Most of the cluing was straightforward, but there was a goodly amount of sparkle. Eleven red plus signs in the margins.

Too many threes (22), not leaving room for many longs.

I have great memories of walking down the main street in ASTORIA, Steinway I believe. Greek music being pumped out of second story windows, Charming little shops, great food everywhere.

A 10:48 AM  

Happy no more football day!

Poor Chiefs. Oh well, at least TOM BRAIDEy and the Gronk thumbed their NOSEs at the EVIL Belicheck.

@Roo - Funny football rant! I especially got a kick out of your using ‘Brasshole’ for Brady. Our orchestra’s brass section bestowed Honorary Brasshole status on a violist once.

Very easy solve for me today. My first impression was ugh, TV/pop culture stuff; then ugh, MTWTF. But when MCCOY and the PRIESTESS appeared, my inner Eeyore wandered off (fun clue for STRAYED). Then LETYOURHAIRDOWN and DISCOMBUBULATED totally wiped out any remaining RETicence and I came to ADORE the puzzle. Yes, there were some of the usual suspects like ADO and ERA, and some PPP, but I didn’t mind because the payoff was worth it. MCCOY and ETTA I knew outright but the other names were easily got from crosses. J was the first letter that came to mind to complete the mysterious _ADA/_ENNA.

HAIR related entries/fragments, some noted by OFL and others:

Hey, @oceanjeremy I’m still on the SE also! It's a tank - I only have a screen protector on it, but it has survived multiple droppings. And I love how easily it fits in my pocket. Don't think I could do the Xword on it tho.

@Barbara - You took the thoughts right out of my head (and worded them very eloquently, thanks!). I was just yesterday wondering about the difference between shared real life and blog life. Enjoyed today’s quotation, and yesterday’s as well - keep ‘em coming!

@Lewis - Wonderful favs! (I still want to see stage mom as a cinematic tour de force)

At least we only had one EE today to yesterday’s twelve!

NICE JOB, Portia! If you listen to @Nancy, next time will be a gem.

GHarris 10:48 AM  

Though there was much I had to get from crosses, still I had virtually none of the difficulty described by Rex. Yet it still took me nearly three times longer to finish.
Tom Brady may be a world beater but there was one team that had his number in the Big Game. Yes, we long suffering Giants fans still have our Paris to remember.
I get a kick out of your metaphorical repeat of displeasure; your wall must be in terrible shape.

bocamp 10:56 AM  

@Anonymous 8:53 AM

Had somewhat the same 1A/1D experience as you, but had the advantage of having heard the name "Jada" in the context of an old, catchy tune: "Jada" "Jada" Jing Jing Jing - Chaparral High Chorus

@TTrimble 8:17 AM

Watched the highlights on YouTube this AM; totally agree wrt the "O" line performance (or lack thereof) for both teams. The ineffectiveness of the Chief's "O" line can probably be, for the most part, attributed to the excellent pass rush scheme and execution of the Bucs.

@Barbara S. 9:01 AM 😊

Good Golly Miss Molly, that "jeepers" word rings a good old-fashioned bell. :)

@TTrimble 9:02 AM

Esoteric maybe, but fascinating. Maybe someday, I'll work to grok it; seems like it would be a good puzzle for those of us who love music, but are not knowing the basic frameworks.

@Lewis 9:17 AM

Perfect, as always. πŸ‘

@Tim Aurthur 9:45 AM

Thx for the explanation. :) Hope you don't mind my putting in the blue: Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport's 'Recombobulation Area' gets its own shout out on Jeopardy!

SB stuff

@TTrimble 8:17 AM 🀞 for 5 iar

yd pg-2 - missed a no-brainer and one very inferable. Quite a few came from recalling my "@jae's List".

@RooMonster 9:49 AM πŸ₯‡

Just embarking on today's SB 🀞

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

JOHN X 10:57 AM  

Did any body watch the big game yesterday?

I like how they had one of the cheerleaders dressed as a referee. That was a nice tribute, seeing as the ref's never get their MVP recognition in Tom Brady games.

I hosted a very responsible and socially distanced game party at my fortified compound in Malibu. What should have been a delightful evening turned into a disaster. I learned my lesson: never set out big bowls of cocaine and bath salts among the chips and dip. One guy we had to hit him with a firehose and he ran off into the hills and nobody's seen him since. There's cougars out there (and I don't mean like my over-tanned neighbors who live in mansions) and these wild cougars will eat your face off if they feel like. I don't want to drop names but it was Mel Gibson.

I'll probably be awake for another 72 hours so I ordered a couple of giant crossword puzzles from Amazon Prime that should arrive shortly.


Lions Fan 10:59 AM  

If so, and if he goes, I will stop being a fan of his. That'll show HIM!!

GILL I. 11:01 AM  

Amen to that @Barbara S....The B-Day greetings are always awesome. I've been coming here for quite some time and the people on this blog amaze me at times. At one point, I almost threw in the towel. It got a bit nasty and the trolls were taking over. We lost a lot of @Rex followers because of mud-slinging and name-calling. For that not happening now, I must now give thanks to the Mods who keep it at bay.
Oh....the puzzle. Well, I thought the theme was terrific. I did do a "oh no, please don't start us off with a 1A and a 1D name." You did. Dang. Just move on and see what the theme is and maybe you'll enjoy it more. I did. Now if you live in Sacramento you could sneak a WEAVE in there by including Howe Avenue. Hah....that would blow your top off. I get to J'ADORE and did a bit of a stink nose. If you like the smell of dryer sheets on your skin, then by all means, buy it. Only one Dior in the world will grace my body and it has a Miss in front of it.
Speaking of HAIR....MEDUSA's takes the cake. There are actual people who will don the do. I prefer the real MC COY and that's the DRRUTH.
"Guess it would have been OK if the DISCOMBOBULATED old drunk had skittled some kid on a zebra crossing."
@Whatsername. Whaaaaaaaaaa.

Carola 11:02 AM  

Before reading @Rex and the comments, I was going to say, "NICE JOB on keeping it Monday-level in difficulty while incorporating those unusually long-for-a-Monday Downs!" But I see I missed the mark there, not having appreciated how much I relied on "just happened to know" and some lucky crosses. Anyway - terrific theme, fun to solve, with PERMAFROST an outstanding bonus (a service no salon would want to advertise - no one would ever need to come back to have their hair re-frosted).

@John X 7:07 - I do like the word reCOMBOBULATION. One of my favorite things about shopping at our local pandemic-adapted drive-through farmers' market is the sign for the "Recombobulation Zone," the final stop where you pause to check over your order and close your trunk. Also, I smiled at your comment about Mitchell Field (you can tall how old I am) being posted at what my grade-school son would have called "airplane time."

newbie 11:16 AM  

Lol. Good plan, John X. But you sound as if maybe you’ve already been up for 72 hours (oh - perhaps that’s why you said “another 72 hours”). If you finish too soon, there’s always the NYT archives. Don’t leave any chips and dip out on the deck - cougars love that stuff!

Z 11:18 AM  

Interesting move by The New Yorker taking their puzzle to print, too.

newbie 11:25 AM  

Pretty much agree with everything Barbara S said.

Not too hard, as some Mondays, oddly, have been for me.

As usual, Rex’s opinion seems strongly swayed by his times, although that’s natural. I liked the cluing - different without being too obscure. J-Lo is kind of a gimme, really - c’mon, Rex! Sometimes our brains are just not on the same wavelength as the constructor’s. Or not awake enough yet - often, in my case.

Thought the whole thing was fun with just enough pondering and getting some words from crosses. Quickly went to discombobulated after half a second spent on disoriented. That was a good one.

Have heard of Jay-Z’s company but had to get it from crosses.

Had the C, so minor was easy to infer from the flats, without being able to remember all that music theory stuff, if I ever really knew it. Minor keys just have that sound, you know?

Happy belated birthday, Barbara S! Celebrate all month! Love the quote. Love the sea.

Masked and Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Cute debut puz. Feisty-ish, for a MonPuz. Bring it, Shortzmeister.

Things got kinda "hairy" at our solvequest house, right outta the chute, with a 1-A name of mystery crossin a 1-D name of continuin mystery. And M&A's when-in-doubt "U" just didn't seem to fit, at all.

Sooo … M&A is wonderin how many of these 78 clues were Portia darlin's. If the Shortzmeister is hereby [in theory] startin up his Constructioneer Clues Raw Week [with all unedited clues], the answer would of course be 100%. Howsomeever … if I'da been Portia, my clue for MT. WTF woulda been a bit more raised-by-wolves-ish, tho …

staff weeject pick: ADO. Actually, thinkin more along the lines of A DO, here … in honor of the puztheme. Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Winnie-the-___} = POOH. But -- M&A's thinkin Portia's original clue was probably somethin like: {Hoop's view from the rear??}. U go, girl.

Enough sparkle for the whole day-um week: DISCOMBOBULATED. Mar-vel-ous. And Har-vel-ous.

JENNA was the other puz debut word, along with the above sparkler. But it would be cooler, if Liz Lemon's best friend was called LIMEA. Or somesuch. IM&AO.

Thanx for the fun, and congratz, Ms. Lundie. Yer puz was a cut above.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Nancy from Chicago 11:40 AM  

@Tim Aurthor, I love the word "recombobulation"! That is the perfect term for that particular airport activity.

JOHN X 11:41 AM  

My jigsaw puzzles arrived like an hour after I ordered them. That’s what's great about Malibu: the delivery service is awesome, and you can get anything you want. Anything. The downside is that it catches fire all the time.

I ordered like a case of orange juice from the Ralphs down on PCH. Should be here any minute.

I also ordered some pizza from a place in the village. It went like this:

PIZZA GUY (PG): May I help you?
JOHN X (JX): Uh, I’d like to order a pizza for delivery, please.
PG: I have your phone number here, is your address (redacted)?
JX: Uh, yeah I think so.
PG: What would you like, sir?
JX: Uh, can I get a large plain cheese pizza? Plain cheese, with some green peppers. And some mushrooms, too. And maybe some black olives, and some sausage crumbled over it. So, a plain cheese pizza with that other stuff on it.
PG: Very good sir, will there be anything else?
JX: Uh, yeah, can I get ten more of those?
PG: Very good sir, will there be anything else?
JX: A small coffee.
PG: Certainly sir. Anything else?
JX: No. Put it on my account. Have the driver ring the bell at the gate.
PG: Yes sir.
JX: Tell him to keep his doors locked and windows shut until my security team gets there.
PG: Absolutely. He should be there in twenty minutes.
JX: Uh, thanks, bye.

And it all arrived on time as promised.

egsforbreakfast 11:50 AM  

Has anyone pointed out that the revealer contains the word HAIRDO? Seems like this could have been cleverly worked into the cluing, at least if it was a late-in-the-week puzzle. Something like “Loosen up inside?..... for a hint to the circled letters.

I often think how ravaged @Nancy’s walls would be if the paper were on stone like the Daily Granite from the Flinstones.

I’m not Q-Anon or anything, but I think the NFL probably gave the refs a subtle hint that it would be great if TOM BRAIDER got one more trophy. Unfortunately, the obviousness of the misofficiating will lead some to blame it on the presence of the first female Super Bowl zebra.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Aww! Couldn't do it in 3 minutes. . . Poor baby. . . boo-hoo. . . Gotta complain about something, so - IT'S TOO HARD FOR A MONDAY - Gimme a break.

Frantic Sloth 11:53 AM  

@albie 644am No worries – great minds, huh? (plus EVIL COWARD ERA much funnier!)

@Joaquin 838am Sorry, dude. I know it hurts. πŸ˜• (do you share my "warning-ignorer" affliction?)πŸ˜‰

@TTrimble 817am Yeah, I know the gruntled/combobulated discussions have adorned the comments several times before…it's almost to the point where it feels like a requirement to mention it.

@Z 900am So, you're a fan?

@Barbara S 901am Very well put – and couldn't agree more. Your poor sister doesn't know what she's missing!
Also, ditto on the PERM issue. I'm enjoying these quotes – are you going to continue, one hopes?

@Whatsername 1038am Yes, there is always next year – and I'm guessing many more years after that. As the wife says, "Buck up, little Buckaroo."

@mathgent 1045am Personally, I thought the Buc's defense was the MVP.

@JOHN X 1057am Just sublime. And I'm rooting for the cougar.

Didn't the Bunkers live in ASTORIA?

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

THERMO, yipes, again, only intelligible in retrospect (43A: Lead-in to -stat)

c'mon! thank The Lord for small favours. it couda been -nucular

And didn't America just end an EVIL COWARD ERA?

your wearing you're rose colored glasses today? MTG is still in the House, as well as the rest of the Congressional Insurrectionists?

must be a wavelengthy thing. seemed like any other Monday, in that the longs weren't obscure either in text or clue. the only one needing waiting was ROCAFELLA as that's not my ken. CMINOR is always a wait, since even though I listen to a lot of the genre, key isn't something I recall; not being a musician. well the M and OR are gimmes.

Brian 12:18 PM  

I loved this puzzle, and if Portia is reading these comments I hope she disregards a lot of the more condescending comments contained in this section. 30 Rock is absolutely gridworthy (as is Jada Pinkett Smith), and as a Michigander I can say that Astoria is hardly an obscure part of Queens. Bravo on a marvelous debut.

jberg 12:24 PM  

I got through it, and I did admire the theme, but man, the PPP. 5,6,7D are all from TV shows or movies. I eventually recalled MCCOY, once I got to MCC...; but the Lara Croft "in film" clue completely threw me off. Since she was (and is) a video game character before she got into movies, I figured the clue wanted the name of an actress, and it was starting to look like TaMaRA somebody. I finally got enough crosses to see RAIDER, and changed the A to a B.

JADA/JENNA was a pure guess, though--wasn't sure I was right until I came here.

@sRooMonster -- I had the same thought about PERMAFROST, which is indeed a single word. But if you look closely, @Rex hedged his bets by saying AFRO broke over the two "parts" of the answer.

What with one thing and another, I haven't been to the MKE airport (aka "Billy Mitchell Field," in a few years, but I used to try to use it when I could because of the great used book store in the councourse, inside security. I hope it has survived the pandemic -- I don't know of anything like it in any other airport.

Oh yeah, EMOPOP. Is this a thing? I don't want to believe it.

Pierre-Yves Houle 12:29 PM  

My fastest Monday!

Anoa Bob 12:30 PM  

With JADA and JENNA at 1 Across and 1 Down followed by MTWTF at 5 Across, I was thinking WTF, is this a TV Guide puzzle?

Sounds like some of yous got into a bit of a FROTH over last night's game!

I'm always at least suspicious if not cynical when I see or hear of someone who goes by "Doctor (first-name-only)". DR RUTH comes as close to an exception to that as anyone. At least she is cheerful and positive.

It's been pretty slim pickings lately for us dedicated POC (plural of convenience) watchers but at least today we get a two for one POC in the place where one is most likely to be found, in the bottom, right-most square. I'm not sure if the S at the end of 52D TAPA and 68A RANT counts as a two-fer, but, hey, I guess you can have just one TAPA, so close enough!

I wonder how many English words start with two prefixes like DIS and COM of DISCOMBOBULATED. That brings up the question "What does 'BOBULATED' mean?" Is it painful? All us BOBs want to know.

old timer 12:39 PM  

Someone complained that last week's puzzles were poor. Every simgle one of them was better than today's, including the one I hated. The 1A 1D cross was totally unacceptable, especially on a Monday. Like Dorothy Parker wrote in one of her play reviews, Constant Weeder just wanted to fwow up.

At least the Stupid Bowl is over, and congratulations to TOM BRAIDER, whom I did admire when he was a Pat.

I am delighted with our @John X today. But if you actually live in Malibu, you are a parvenu. We old timers (I grew up near Malibu, which used to send their kids to Santa Monica for high school) know nothing of your cougars. They were mountain lions, and pretty much kept to themselves. We also had sea lions, and for me a super-special treat was to have a meal at the Sea Lion restaurant on the shore. And the PCH was a wondrous road: three lanes, one NB towards Oxnard, one SB towards Santa Monica, and one in the middle, which cars in opposing directions could use for passing. The crashes were frequent and spectacular, and it did really help to own a sports car so you could spend as little time as possible in the suicide lane. I think they four-laned that road in the late '50s. The road was extra-dangerous because in the late afternoon, in the section that was East-West in reality, NB cars were heading directly into the path of the sun.

pabloinnh 12:51 PM  

JADA is not a name you forget, thank goodness, because no idea who JENNA might be, and thus it began. Thought this had some crunch for a Monday, never a bad thing. Had ro be MCCOY given the Monday M, for instance, and there was too much presently popular culture for me, but that's why we have crosses, thank goodness.

Late to the party as we were off house-hunting (traumatic, long story) and I slept in until 6:30 after being up late watching The Big Game. As for that, I'll only say I started feeling sorry for Mahomes as he ran for his life, and the officials did not decide the outcome. Oh, and I read online that someone observed that Brady does not sweat, which proves the theory that he is an android. I think this was meant to be taken humorously. I think.

sanfranman59 12:52 PM  

Very Challenging NYT Monday ... 41% above my 6-month median Monday solve time and 1.50 Rexes

How unusual for Rex to give a Challenging rating and post his solve time! Good for him. This is another new constructor for my solving database today, making three, including the WSJ and LAT puzzles.

I've been very slow with my solving today (collectively, it was my poorest performance in a month), so I don't know if this was actually tough for a Monday or just personal struggles. I think it's probably more of the latter. In any case, this is my slowest NYT Monday solve time since 11/12/2018. It didn't really seem all that tough as I was solving, but I knew I was slow finishing up in the east. I had a couple of silly errors in that area that caused me me to be very slow in picking up on the revealer, LET YOUR HAIR DOWN {10D: "Loosen up!" ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters}, even though I was aware of what was happening with the circles in the other long downs.

This was a perfectly fine puzzle that I didn't solve very well and missed my pop culture wheelhouse by a bit. My solve time suggests that it's more of a Tuesday puzzle for me, but again, I don't really trust this metric so much today. For those who are more familiar with the pop culture references, it's most likely slotted properly as a Monday. I look forward to more from this constructor.

mathgent 12:59 PM  

John X. You're in fine form today.

ChrisSaintH 1:06 PM  

I J'ADORE'd this puzzle, though agree with Rex. I can usually do a Monday in under one cup of coffee but this morning I finished the coffee before the puzzle.

Got tripped up putting SPOCK in for "Star Trek" Dr (wrong Spock!) and PRINCESS instead of PRIESTESS.

Now I will venture into Monday listening to my 2nd favorite symphony in C MINOR, Dvorak's 1st.

Wishing you all a COMBOBULATED week.

TTrimble 1:11 PM  

Ah, very nice. Sometimes I think it might be nice to take up the guitar.

I enjoy watching Rick Beato's YouTube series. Do you know about this? He's a rock musician, jazz musician, former music prof, a music producer, and now minor YouTube celebrity. I'm pretty much gobsmacked every time he gets really technical (which is all the time), deconstructing chord progressions "F major 7 to C sus 2 to D sus 2 A5 F flat 6 in the A minor chord" all really rapid fire. That type of detailed chordal analysis was never part of my background playing the piano, but it might be much more commonplace among guitar players. Plus, there seems to be a lot more talk of other modes (Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian etc.) that I just never heard much talk about in my meager experience with the piano.

Well, the trick of doing arithmetic mod 12 to work out keys is actually pretty useless, except maybe for doing crosswords, or as a side amusement in a math class with a good contingent of musical types. After all, it doesn't do much good to know how many flats there are in A flat major, if you don't know where those flats are! (B flat, E flat, A flat, and D flat, which I have to work out and don't know by heart.)

I haven't finished your logic puzzle by the way, but two things: (1) I've learned that this is known as the world's hardest logic puzzle (I've managed to avoid peeking at the solution), and (2) a mini-insight I had may be to ask a paradoxical question which neither the truth-teller nor the liar can answer according to the rules, whether with a yes or a no (or ja/da), but the random entity can answer because it is not compelled to tell the truth or to lie; it just in effect "flips a coin" and gives a random answer. Hence the question will be met with silence (and then you can flush out whether the entity is the truth-teller or liar), or you've flushed out the random one, and you can turn to ask questions of the other two. Anyway, the inability to answer reminds me of the robot on Star Trek whose head is set on fire when Kirk asks it to answer a paradoxical question.

If you have only three questions and each is answered with a yes/no or ja/da, then you only get at most 8 bits of information, whereas the number of possibilities is rather greater. But if there are three choices for questions, like ja/da/silence, then you get more branches in the decision tree. Something like this is at work in the classic counterfeit coin problem, where on each turn the possibilities for the left side of the balance are lighter/heavier/even, so one can potentially get 3 x 3 x 3 = 27 bits of information from three weighings.

JOHN X 1:16 PM  

@ jberg 12:24 PM

The used book store at Mitchell Airport (Milwaukee) is outside the TSA discombobulation/recombobulation checkpoint. You can go to the airport just to go to the bookstore and the museum of Wisconsin aviation (Billy Mitchell and James Lovell among others) and the complimentary pool tables and ping pong tables. All of these are accessible from the street. I used to change planes there all the time and I loved it.

The used book store rivals any used book store in a college town. It's the real deal, not merely an airport concession.

I bought a nice jumper sweatshirt that had "WISCONSIN" stitched above the left breast at the gift store and wore it every chilly day in Southern California for years. I still have it 12 years later.

- - - - - - - - - - -

@old timer 12:39 PM

"Cougar" is funnier.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Gotta get back to my pizza and puzzle and OJ. We still haven't found Mel but we found all his clothes.


Teedmn 1:21 PM  

This puzzle fell right between my Monday and Tuesday average so a wee bit crunchier than Monday but not so much that I became DISCOMBOBULATED. Speaking of which, that went in right from the DISCO.

I wasn't sure of the theme with only BOB's your uncle in the grid. The next one I was closing in on, I had BRA_D in place and BRAnD came to mind. But as soon as Lara Croft's TOMB RAIDER showed up, I knew we were talking hair and 10D's Rapunzel request clinched the deal.

Portia Lundie, NICE JOB and congrats on the debut.

@Barbara S, thanks for the Jules Verne quote but I'm with @Nancy. Reading "For the sea is itself nothing but love and emotion" gave me a mental aside, "Yeah, but he was 20,000 leagues under the sea!" (I was watching a show on the Antarctic sea last night and was nearly seasick from just watching the roiling waves, bringing up an emotion other than love.)

@M&A, thanks for the MT. WTF giggle.

pabloinnh 1:21 PM  

First QB today in some time.

To quote the immortal Homer Simpson, I am so smrt.

Jess 1:40 PM  

Loved today's puzzle. Felt easy for me and was my fasted Monday time this year! JLO, PRIESTESS! Right up my alley.

My daughter, THE WORLD'S BIGGEST BILLIE EILISH FAN was horrified that the puzzle classified Billie as EMOPOP, but whatevs.

bocamp 2:07 PM  

@TTrimble 1:11 PM

Good stuff! :)

@pabloinnh 1:21 PM πŸ‘

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ TeamworkπŸ•Š

Esther 2:23 PM  


Unknown 2:41 PM  

One of my best times ever, but I have worked with kids my entire life (I am 75). And got my covid shot Saturday...maybe it helped

Whatsername 3:15 PM  

@T Trimble and @mathgent: True it was the pass rush that made the difference but in fairness to KC, they were missing two O line starters with injuries, Fisher and Schwartz.

ChuckD 3:48 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - good call the show was fictionally set in Astoria but the house front in the opening is an actual house near the corner of Metropolitan and Cooper across from the cemetery in Rego Park - probably 5 miles to the east of Astoria. I used to drive past it all the time and see people taking pictures.

Barbara S. 4:03 PM  

RE the Jules Verne, I also did some head-scratching over the sea being identified with love and emotion (hi @Nancy and @Teedmn). It’s one of the reasons I chose this quotation, hoping for enlightenment from one quarter or another. That passage is part of Captain Nemo’s first speech, so it reflects Nemo’s view of the sea, which he may feel he’s tamed and turned into a comfortable, non-threatening environment, by constructing his seemingly all-purpose, never-fail submarine, The Nautilus. Nemo has totally rejected life on land, burned all bridges (as it were) and embraced life in the ocean permanently. Having thrown in his lot with the sea, he may now look on it as his mother, his father, his lover, really his All. I don’t know, I’m still a bit flummoxed (DISCOMBOBULATED?), but that’s the best I can do for a tinpot analysis.

I’m thinking of posting quotations based on the author’s DOB for a while – until I get tired of it. I don’t comment every day, so these will be intermittent. And they’ll always be at the end of my message, so easy to skip by those not interested.

Z 4:37 PM  

An Anonymouse wondering if Rex is real. I think this might cause a rift in the spacetime continuum and lead to the end of the universe.

@Unknown8:23 - On the 23rd of every month Rex is now posting a video of his solve. My impression is that the video tones down people’s reactions even though he doesn’t say anything different than he writes.

@jberg - My youngest was a big punk POP fan. “EMO” is short for “”EMO punk.” I’ve never heard of EMO POP but it didn’t strike me as a stretch that EMO POP punk is a thing. I have seen Phoebe Bridgers described as EMO folk and her SNL guitar smashing seems like a pretty “punk” moment.

@Frantic Sloth - So, you’re a fan? - Was I too subtle again?

I’m seeing some comments about TOM BRAIDER’s politics. As far as I can tell he is a really rich guy who doesn’t actually think much about politics beyond how it might help or hurt his brand. This makes him roughly on par with Michael “Republicans buy sneakers too” Jordan. His biggest “sins” is owning a MAGA hat and answering an ambiguously worded question affirmatively. His politics are just not something I care about.

bocamp 5:19 PM  


Yay! Finally aced one of Tim Croce's "Freestyles" (584).

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

Nancy 5:37 PM  

@Anoa Bob (12:30) Re DR RUTH. I wasn't going to say this, but your "cheerful and positive" remark has driven me to it. DR. RUTH is a real diva and from my observations, a real pain in the ass.

Of course it serves me right to have witnessed it by going to the most expensive Designer Floor at Bergdorf Goodman's to amuse myself when, in mid-winter, I was early for a dentist appointment right across the street from Berdorf's. I couldn't stay outdoors, and sitting in a dentist's office makes me edgy, so I thought I'd go to this ridiculously overpriced floor in this ridiculously overpriced store and study the shoppers. I expected well-coiffed blond model-types and their sugar daddies, but I did not expect DR. RUTH.

Because I'm not visually observant, I heard that awful voice (chalk on a blackboard) before I actually spotted her. She was hard to miss, though. There she was, perched in the dead center of the floor in an enormous overstuffed upholstered chair that dwarfed her tiny body. Saleswomen were running back and forth towards and away from her -- not just one but many, many --bearing ultra-expensive gowns and taking them almost as quickly away, as she gestured and voiced her disapproval in that awful, awful voice. You could have heard her in New Jersey. I thought that perhaps this was perhaps the way that Queen Elizabeth might have been treated. Only the queen would have been far more gracious, I'm sure.

My dentist appt beckoned, so I didn't get to see if any garment was eventually acceptable and if DR RUTH ever ventured into one of the dressing rooms to try anything on. I got the distinct impression that this was a woman who really, really liked being catered to -- perhaps even more than she liked clothes. (I had looked at the prices earlier; the gowns she was being shown were about $8,000 -- and that was probably 20 years ago.) So maybe I'm being unfair? When you're spending $8,000 for a bloody dress, I suppose you get to be choosy. But there was something so entitled about her and the haughty way that she treated the salespeople that I found myself disliking her intensely.

Anonymous 6:17 PM  

Never a Tom Brady fan but I admit he’s unarguably the greatest of all time in his sport:
My list:
Football: Brady
Hockey: Gretzky
Basketball: Jordan
Baseball: Ruth (that one is debatable above three are not)
Golf: Woods
Tennis: Federer
Soccer (metric football): Pele
Horse Racing: Secretariat

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

Overdoing the topic of ASTORIA here. But if you might think that the neighborhood was called eSTORIA, surely the existence of the world-famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel would give you a hint.

oriordan 7:26 PM  

Definitely tougher than usual for me.

I loved @Barbara S’s take on the camaraderie on this blog. It’s really very inviting and enjoyable; thanks to the @Mods for keeping it that way.

@JOHN X seems to be particularly fine form today ;-)

Joaquin 7:38 PM  

@Anoa Bob (12:30) Per the Urban Dictionary:

verb. 1. The opposite of discombobulate. To compose, or to leave confusion. 2. To leave a state of bewilderment and enter a state of rightness. 3. To full on thrash befuddlement.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  


you younguns!!!

Bill Russell changed the game, and won more trophies than anyone before or since or likely ever. Auerbach did have the advantage of the times when ball players were essentially indentured. But still, none of the players of the last few decades, when they could arrange for the combination with just about any other player(s) they wanted, have come close. And, further, there's the (specious) argument that talent has been watered down since the 70s or 80s, so Russell played against more better players than Jordan or James. Remember: Russell wiped the floor with Chamberlain start to finish.

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

I had an average Monday time, but a couple really tricky clues made it feel a lot harder than a normal Monday. AFTS, PCB, TOUTS, ADORE, and DR. RUTH all tripped me up in ways that normal Mondays don't do. Loved the theme and DISCOMBOBULATED, though.

oisk17 9:22 PM  

Bill Russell is not in my top ten. And I remember those Celtic championship teams.....but I don't come here to debate sports. And especially not politics! Just an awful slog, this puzzle. It's not that it is difficult for a Monday; I 'd have disliked it just as much on any other day of the week. SOME pop culture, sure! But Jada crossing Jenna - I got lucky. Ant man and the wasp? Mahershala? Alt country? Emopop? Rocafella? Yoda? jLO "from the block"? There were more. Most of these (the Jada cross exempted) are unobjectionable, but annoying to me. But this high a concentration of pop trivia should be avoided.

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

Do you ever get tired of making moronically sexist comments that you apparently believe to be amusing and clever? Didn't think so.

Heidiho 11:19 PM  

Yes! And the only airport I know with a used bookstore

oceanjeremy 11:50 PM  

I’m 100% 1st Gen SE until it dies out. I’m also protective of my headphone jack. I got an insurance plan on it so I get SE replacements every time it craps out until there are no more 1st Gen SEs to replace it.

I might just leave Apple whenever that happens...

oceanjeremy 11:59 PM  

Thanks for the YouTube recommendation — though I loathe YouTube and I’m not that technical of a guitarist. When I was a Theory Major in college my instrument was voice. Gave me a leg up in Jr High because my choral instructor taught all of us how to sight sing. When I got to college my Aural Skills lab teacher gave me an A in class most days and in exchange I’d run over exercises with the trumpet majors. If you’re studying theory and your instrument is voice, I always said your real instrument is your ear. Helpful in the studio as I can passably (somewhat) play any instrument — except for the ones where crafting timbre takes decades (bowed strings, e.g.).

Looked up and down for @bocamp’s logic puzzle you’re discussing. Don’t see it. Very curious!

bocamp 8:32 AM  

@oceanjeremy 11:59 PM

Good luck! "The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever" Made Even Harder.

"In 1996, the mathematical logician George Boolos published a paper describing 'the hardest logic puzzle ever' which he attributed to the logician Raymond Smullyan." (by Emerging Technology from the arXivarchive page on MIT Technology Review)

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

bocamp 9:53 AM  

@oceanjeremy 11:59 PM

I apologize for not putting up a "Spoiler" warning on my previous post. If you read only the first paragraph (containing the specifics of the puzzle itself) you're good to go.

Don't scroll down at all, if you don't want hints. I accidentally viewed the first hint, which is pretty much a no-brainer.

I've been working on this puzzle for years, filling up pages in my puzzles scratch pad, and so far, no cigar.

Good luck! πŸ€“

Peace ~ Health ~ Hope ~ Equality for all ~ Teamwork πŸ•Š

Amy 11:20 PM  

Yes the long answers (which were fab) went in instantly so I came in regular Monday time. Loved it.

Peter 2:52 PM  

Parallel to the Tom BRAIDer comments above, I must have been really tired on Monday because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what a Tom Braid was - was it a special name for the hairstyle that Lara Croft wears? Did Tom Brady inspire a certain kind of haircut? Then I googled it, and SMH.

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