Jessica of "Fantastic Four" / MON 2-1-2021 / Bête ___ / Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, for two / ___ Reader (magazine with the slogan "Cure ignorance")

Monday, February 1, 2021

Constructor: Soleil Saint-Cyr

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: HIVE MIND — Theme answers end in...bee-related words? Types of bee?  

Theme answers:
  • ESSENTIAL WORKER (19A: One on the front lines during a crisis)
  • HOMECOMING QUEEN (35A: Crown wearer at fall football game)
  • US MILITARY DRONE (52A: Unmanned Dept. of Defense aircraft)
  • HIVE (57A: With 58-Across, collective consciousness ... or a hint to the ends of 19-, 35- and 52-Across)
  • MIND (58A: See 57-Across)

Word of the Day: EMIR (60A: Qatari leader) —

An emir (/əˈmɪər, ˈmɪər, ˈmɪər/Arabicأمير‎ ʾamīr [ʔaˈmiːr]), sometimes transliterated amiramier, or ameer, can refer to a king or an aristocratic or noble and military title of high office used in a variety of places in the Arab countriesWest AfricaAfghanistan and in the Indian subcontinent. The term has been widely used to denote a "commander", "general", or "leader" i.e. Amir al-Mu'min. The feminine form is emira (أميرة ʾamīrah). When translated as "prince", the word "emirate" is analogous to a sovereign principality. In contemporary usage, the term may indicate a Muslim head of state of an Emirate or a leader of an Islamic organization.

• • •
Before we get started, it's Black History Month, and this week is all Black constructors! Soleil Saint-Cyr is also a high school student, so 1) BE NICE TO HER ON TWITTER and 2) that's the coolest thing ever, I wish I was getting published in the NYT in high school! I hope she knows how awesome she is!
It's a very snowy August Monday! I'm writing this with my pajamas inside out and an ice cube flushed down the toilet hoping that I get to stay home from work tomorrow. Just kidding--I love my job. Who wouldn't want to work somewhere surrounded by books? Sigh. 

On to the puzzle! I'm gonna say it: US MILITARY DRONE is crosswordese, you'd normally call it an "unmanned drone," and also please don't get me started on the way the U.S. military actually uses the things. Are Yale students really called YALIES? Oof. I like the nod to OREO without actually putting OREO in the puzzle; I think my opinions on the amount of STUF the cookies should have in them have been well-stated over the years. Overall, pretty solid Monday despite the one gripe. 

The theme was simple and, well, sweet. (Like honey? Anyone?) BEAR HUG is good in a bee-themed puzzle too. I did a presentation on bees in sixth grade where I had to present in character as a bee and my best friend told me I was weird for getting so into it and for saving pictures of bees as "selfies" on my computer, but you know what, Kyra, I still think bees are cool, so take that. 

  • NSYNC (20D: "Bye Bye Bye" boy band) — The boy band craze just about missed me. I did have a favorite Jonas brother (Joe, of course, he had the best smile) but 'NSync was a little before my time. The craze is kind of back, though, with K-Pop. I don't have a favorite member of BTS but I'm actually really impressed by the vocal and dance talent some of these groups have! Don't get me started on Loona's choreography...
  • OSHA (34A: Factory-inspecting org.) — I'm just linking this video because it's really fun to watch a guy do a lot of work about something that really doesn't matter at all in the real world. 

  • AHAB (29D: "Moby-Dick" captain) —  My favorite Moby Dick quote: "Wherefore, for all these things, we account the whale immortal in his species, however perishable in his individuality. He swam the seas before the continents broke water; he once swam over the site of the Tuileries, and Windsor Castle, and the Kremlin. In Noah's flood he despised Noah's Ark; and if ever the world is to be again flooded, like the Netherlands, to kill off its rats, then the eternal whale will still survive, and rearing upon the topmost crest of the equatorial flood, spout his frothed defiance to the skies." ....Well, sperm whales are now considered "vulnerable [to endangerment/extinction]" by the IUCN, but in Melville's defense he was writing in 1851, so.
  • IMMA (31D: "___ Be" by the Black-Eyed Peas) — Throwback time! 

Signed, August Thompson, tired graduate student. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow August Thompson on Twitter]


Joaquin 12:14 AM  

A crossword by a 17-year-old high school student, and it's published in the NYT! What a great accomplishment for this young constructor. The puzzle definitely holds its own against any typical Monday offering (and better than many). Mazel tov, Soleil!

jae 12:14 AM  

Medium. The CUZ/WIZ cross made me pause. CUZ for Since seems a stretch.

Fun theme answers and reasonably smooth, liked it.

egsforbreakfast 1:09 AM  

Picking on USMILITARY DRONE is kinda fair, as it’s not really a phrase in the vernacular, but still, 3 themers that work well with 15 letters is great! Now think of what you were doing as a high school senior. I’m too embarrassed to say specifically, but I surely do like the debut of Soleil Saint-Cyr.

chefwen 1:18 AM  

Soleil Saint-Cyr, what a cool name, much better than Frommer.

I enjoyed this easy, but entertaining Monday puzzle. I avoid bees as I’m highly allergic to them, so I keep my distance, but I know how important they are and I appreciate them.

My neighbors son gives the bear BEAR HUGS ever. Because of this crap we’re all going through I haven’t had one in ages, I miss him and his hugs. Better times to come, I hope.

Birchbark 1:22 AM  

"Oh, now I feel my topmost greatness lies in my topmost grief. Ho, ho! from all your furthest bounds, pour ye now in, ye bold billows of my whole foregone life, and top this one piled comber of my death! Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!"

AHAB, Chapter 135, "The Chase -- the Third Day.

Loren Muse Smith 2:20 AM  

Hey, August! First, enjoy that snow. Second, I was mystified by your inside-out pajamas and flushed ice cube, so I investigated. Hah. You forgot about the spoon under your pillow. Who knew?

A Monday right across the plate. My daughter has recently begun tackling early-week puzzles, so I’m experiencing the solves with her fledgling status foremost in my mind. Mental notes to warn her about what’s for us second nature… that “reader” (as it’s so often clued)? UTNE. Four-letter lake? ERIE. Honestly, there’s not a lot of drek this morning. Nice job, Soleil.

(Oh? And Sage? Remember when I said to you, You understand that one day soon you’ll start wearing pencil skirts, listening to NPR, and working crosswords, right? You just stared at me, Vulcan mindmelding your disdain. Better watch out. . . Bravo TV is next, buddy.)

Hard not to notice the GEORGIAN kicking up A FUSS with her “Stop the STEAL” embarrassment.

I have a PEER GROUP of ESSENTIAL WORKERS: my colleagues. This year I have a new co-teacher, and she’s deathly afraid of contracting COVID-19. She’s the hero in this nightmare - there every day, braving the &%$holes who refuse to keep their ineffective gators covering their noses.

I kept seeing HELLOS looking back at me and started wondering about HELLO’S history. The word actually didn’t really become a standard greeting until the late 1800s with the advent of the telephone. It was there, but it was maybe more of a Hey, you – excuse me? kind of thing used to get someone’s attention. I guess we still use it that way, too, sometimes. Actually, now that I think about it, when and how we use HELLO is . Greetings and small talk – what we in the business call phatic communication - fascinate me. In Japan, How are you? is a real question, not a greeting. In Zulu, you greet someone with Sawubona, which literally means, “I see you.” I love that. I have some people who never Really see me, so it’d be fun to start off our exchange with that little white lie.

“Faucet problem’ – the fact that to adjust the temperature requires only the slightest little push, so slight that it’s impossible, and you go from scalding hot to ice cold. I. Hate. That.

BEAR HUG. Hmm. I’m not a hugger, but I’m a hug studier. Some people like my mom go the BEAR HUG route. Warm, sincere, awkward (for me). Other people have the hug equivalent to the dead fish handshake: lean in a bit but touch only the upper half of the hugee’s body, one arm barely around hugee’s body and then. . . wait for it. . . that anemic little pat on the back. I’m such a hypocrite that even though I don’t buy into hugs, when I have to, I make sure to mask my discomfort with a real hug that belies my stand-offishness.

Soleil – I echo Chefwen. Cool name. Congrats on your NYT debut. I like this work de Soleil.

Loren Muse Smith 2:21 AM  

PS. From yesterday –

1. I donate to Rex even though we pretty much never see eye to eye. I don’t care. I learn a lot from his write-ups, and AND I do enjoy his writing style. The commitment he shows this place is staggering, and I’m eternally grateful for his time and devotion. I imagine there are commenters here who never read his write-ups and never contribute. Their choice. I would feel really ashamed to admit that I didn’t read him, didn’t pay him. But there again, I always feel like I have to buy that thing of whatever at Sam’s if I’ve accepted a sample. I get that I’m the other extreme here.

2. I'm not an anonymous fan. Obviously the meanest trolls here are all spineless anonymice. I know there are legit anonymous commenters, but I tell ya, if you really want to be read and noticed, you have to lose the anonymous status. Usually when I get the chance to read comments, I have a very small window and almost always skip anonymous comments. I have to pick and choose, and I just don’t have the time to choose your comment, too. (Actually, having a blue name could serve the same purpose; people who don’t want any part of my treatises skip my stuff, too.) I’ve been here a while now (my first and only foray into blog commenting), and I would say that the fewer anonymous posts the better. You can’t post anonymously at Wordplay, and that’s a marvelous feature, imo.

Alex M 2:57 AM  

That's exactly where I ended up as well, and couldn't figure CUZ until I realized they meant as in "we did it since there were no other options"/"we did it CUZ there were no other options". Still wouldn't have clued it that way, though.

Anonymous 3:04 AM  

I never would have guessed this was constructed by a 17-year-old! Soleil, I would like to stay anonymous, but I am female, marginalized in other ways, and have spent the last 10 years of my life exhausted and fighting for equality. You make me happy. And I enjoyed your puzzle even before I knew anything about you. I believe you have an incredible life ahead of you. Keep fighting. You're on top of the world right now. But there will be downs to counter the ups. Keep fighting. Keep going. You kick ass. File this away for 10 or 20 years from now when life feels less like a meritocracy. It will happen. Keep going. Your crossword rocked. You have it in you. Keep going. Ride this now, but save some of this high for a decade or two from now when you might need the boost. It's in you.

OffTheGrid 6:08 AM  

What a nice Monday puzz! I hopefully plunked in "Firstresponders" for 19A, missing the singular nature of the clue. Fitting isn't everything. "Z" was my last square. CUZ is a fine answer for Since. Thought fat Oreos were Double STUFf so I resisted that at first. I wondered if there was some new 4 letter disgusting variety of the famous cookie. (BTW I prefer Hydrox) Low PPP, interesting fill. I guess we're all into "The Bee" today.

MaryLou 6:12 AM  

I thought this was a fantastic debut puzzle. Congrats to Soleil Saint-Cyr! Loved the theme answers and fill.

I would respectfully disagree that US MILITARY DRONE is crosswordese. Crosswordese are words seldom found in every day conversation, usually short, "three to five letters, with letter combinations which crossword constructors find useful in the creation of crossword puzzles, such as words that start and/or end with vowels, abbreviations consisting entirely of consonants, unusual combinations of letters, and words consisting almost entirely of frequently used letters." (per Wikipedia) Also,  UNMANNED DRONE is a bit redundant with a drone being defined as "A remote-controlled pilotless aircraft or small flying device." (Lexico).

It's good to see more young women and POC constructing puzzles."The whole United States of America is projected to become majority-minority by the middle of the 21st century if current trends continue, making the U.S. the first major post-industrial society in the world where the dominant group transitioned from majority to minority.[20] With alternate immigration scenarios, the whole United States is projected to become majority-minority sometime between 2041 and 2046 (depending on the amount of net immigration into the U.S. over the preceding years)." (Wikipedia) It is time the crossword constructor stats reflected who we actually are.

Tom Taylor 6:37 AM  

Congrats, Soleil!!

Had “autonomousDRONE” at first. It fits would have liked that better, though perhaps a bit redundant...

JOHN X 6:37 AM  

I honestly don’t give a sh*t who made the puzzle I just solve them.


* * * * * * * * * * *

Here’s a joke straight out of Ancient Rome:

Q: What did Julius Caesar say at the Roman bordello?

A: VENI ! ! !

/audience explodes into laughter and sustained applause

amyyanni 6:47 AM  

What jae and chefwen wrote. Congrats! Exceptional Monday. Rabbit Rabbit, all.

Lewis 6:51 AM  

BEARHUG to the NYT debut answer ESSENTIAL WORKER, true heros of the present. This is a very nicely done Monday puzzle, with more white space than the usual Monday (74 words when the average is 77), and yet the grid is junk-bare and accessible to newer solvers. HIVE MIND is a cool sounding phrase to me, and it reminds me of Congress (kidding!).

Props to Ross Trudeau, who has mentored Soleil. People like Ross are essential workers in CrossWorld, helping infuse freshness into future puzzles. Congratulations, Soleil, on your debut!

Lobster11 7:05 AM  

Hands up if you're an old-fashioned stick-in-the-mud like me who believes that the word "since" should not be used to refer to causality because it often creates ambiguity. I'm not militant about it, but today this almost prevented me from finishing a Monday puzzle for the first time I can remember. I had no idea about WIZ (know nothing about rappers) nor OCULI (although it looks familiar now in retrospect), so I was staring at _U_ for the clue "Since." Because (not "since"!) I insisted on thinking of the clue in terms of time, it took me a painfully long time to come up with CUZ.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

The problem here is that CUZ is informal for “cousin”, while CoZ would be informal for “because”. If we can’t be consistent in our spellings of informal shortened forms of words, anarchy rules.

Anybody else immediately think of Julie Brown when HOMECOMING QUEEN went in? Or the Rocky Horror Picture show when you saw the constructor's name?

kitshef 7:33 AM  

Hmmm, on reading the comments IMMA disagree this is a true Monday puzzle. This is a puzzle that is easy for veteran solvers, but I think of Monday as the day for new solvers. New solvers will struggle with things like UTNE, OSHA, MFA, EMIR. Two of those I've never encountered outside of crosswords, and I know the first time I saw UTNE I ranted about it for a while.

DeeJay 7:38 AM  

My children are 29 and 26. We suffer from a lack of teaspoons due to the spoon under the pillow thing back in the 90s/00s.

Lewis 7:40 AM  

I have to second @Z's recommendation for yesterday's (Sunday) Washington Post puzzle by Evan Birnholz. It is a wow from top to bottom, in its clean grid, answers from all fields, and especially cluing and the theme itself. Very worth doing, IMO, and thank you, @Z for the plug.

Frantic Sloth 7:43 AM  

I don't even know if this stupid thing is gonna post, so minimal effort here.

Smashing debut for the girl with a beautiful name and a very promising future!
Perfect Mondee with a little crunch.
Can't ask for more than that.

Hope I can read/write more later. Fingers crossed!


pabloinnh 7:47 AM  

After ESSENTIALWORKER I was looking for some kind of tribute puzzles to similar heroes of our time, but the bee theme works just fine for a Monday,

HOMECOMINGQUEEN will always make me think of "Daydream Believer", and YAM will always make me think of Popeye.

I think "A-frame" is the kind of non-hug hug @LMS is referring to, and the earliest telephone greeting was "Ahoy", if I remember correctly.

Getting ready for the latest East Coast Paralyzing Storm of the Century, which around here we regard as a temporary inconvenience.

Very nice Monday puzzle and what a smashing and impressive debut. A real ray of Soleil. Congrats and best of luck to a constructor with a very promising future.

albatross shell 7:52 AM  

No double POC. Only 3 single POC. Adding to the clean construction. The CUZ/WIZ cross did take some extra thought. Also CUZ I initially had TRek for TRIP the NE square turned into a knot I had to pull apart.

If you wanted an extra POC you could have had anonymous DRONES at 52A. Or w/o the extra POC, anonymous WORKER at 19 across. Maybe that what those masks are for. The masks might have been a nice addition to that future city silent movie or Chaplin's assembly line movie. And why is Lucy's assembly line scene more famous than Charlie's? Well they both do hit the spot.

Hungry Mother 7:59 AM  

Almost Natick in the middlle plus I invented the term, BEeRHUG. DNF on Monday. The horror!

JonB3 8:03 AM  

Re: Double Stuf Oreos: I'm want to twist off one chocolate cookie each from two and then connect the resultant two with the "stuf" together. Voila: Quadruple Stuf !

ChuckD 8:09 AM  

I try to separate my puzzle evaluation from the constructor. That said - this is a pretty cool first timer. Theme was fine - simple and clear. A little side eye to the redundant US but the inclusion of ESSENTIAL WORKER more than made up for it.

Didn’t like IMMA and OCULI and don’t like many YALIES. Too soon for the GEORGIANS but love to see the great MARVIN Gaye. I have too many OSHA certifications - not sure they would agree with the clue as they are more about workplace safety not the general Factory inspection.

Nice start to the week - a pleasure in the midst of a blizzard.

John H 8:25 AM  

Soleil Saint-Cyr is a lovely name. I have known of others with that surname, and they pronounce it "sincere." How do you pronounce ut Soleil?

Nfld educator 8:34 AM  

I always like to think about the constructor and what generation they are from as I am reading the clues. Would not have guessed a high school student with the Ahab, NSYNC, and Marvin Gaye references. Congratulations to our young constructor.

bocamp 8:36 AM  

Thx, @Soleil, for an excellent Monday puzzle to start the week! :)

Medium solve.

Bless all the "essential workers", to whom @Roo has previously paid a most deserving tribute. 🙏

"Gin", one of my fave card games. Also used to play a lot of samba with the great-aunts back in the day.

"Hello", My Baby ~ The Chordettes

yd 0

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Joe Welling 8:42 AM  

OFL said "I'm gonna say it: US MILITARY DRONE is crosswordese, you'd normally call it an 'unmanned drone,'" ....

Aren't all drones "unmanned"? Seems to me there are also civilian drones, and also military drones of other nations, so US MILITARY DRONE is a subset of the redundant category of "unmanned drones."

RooMonster 8:43 AM  

Hey All !
Hang in there, Snow-getters! Did y'all empty the supermarket shelves like always? I used to work in a supermarket in the NE (PA, then CT), and every time they called for a big snowstorm, people would buy all the water, all the bread, and a whole bunch of other stuff, like they wouldn't be able to leave the house for three months. (This was pre-pandemic, mind you. That's where the "buy all the toilet paper" mentality came from, BTW.) And then they'd leave the house either the next day, or on the second day. But did it discourage them from doing it again next time snow was called for? Nope. HIVE MIND mentality.

Anyway, nice puz. Easy, quick for me, even for a MonPuz. I don't go for speed, I like to have read every clue, so even when an answer auto-fills, I'll go back and read the clue. Shocker to all the speed solvers I bet!

My hold-up was also at CUZ, but at the C, not the Z. Watching the funny show Ridiculousness on MTV helped me to know WIZ Khalifa. And he was in that insurance commercial. OCULI as clued was different, isn't that usually clued as pertaining to the eyes? Add me to the group who said CUZ as clued missed the mark.

Congrats to Soleil on her debut. I made some puzs while in High School, never knew I could've submitted them at the time. I still have them somewhere. Those were truly hand made, as we didn't have the internet back then. (Well, I'm sure it was around, but not ubiquitous like it is today, on Every Phone.) Circa late 80's. Shocking to the 30 or less crowd of growing up internet-free, dial phones, three TV channels, looking in the newspaper classifieds for cars, etc. Good times. Not sure if my hand made ones were better than some I've made with Compiler help.

Man, I'm rambling today. Would've liked BEE somewhere in puz. Just a small nit. (Gotta have one :-))

@JonB3 8:03
Oreos had a special edition once, that was basically quadruple-STUF. It was called "The Most STUF". I ended up getting two total packages, and kept one of the wrappers for nostalgia purposes. Har. They were awesome! When they came out with Oreo Thins, I thought, "Why? Why would you REDUCE the creme?" I can see ChipsAhoy Thins, but Oreos. No no.

Anyway, I think I talked a little about the puz during this verbose screed. Thanks for indulging me!

Three F's

TTrimble 8:52 AM  

Nice job, Soleil, and congratulations on your debut! Nice job!

Could this be slightly hard for a Monday? I DUNNO -- I'm not good at judging these things -- but AKBAR and UTNE and OCULI and MARIANAS cause me to wonder. (I used to have a subscription to The Utne Reader -- is that still going? I'll check later. OCULI, plural of OCULUs which is Latin for 'eye', is a cool word.)

It amuses me that I put in hYPEr before TYPE A: certainly a go-go-go personality could be hyper!

I've never heard the objection of @Lobster11 to 'since' (CUZ). It seems naturally occurring contexts of real ambiguity would be pretty rare. We mathematicians use 'since' all the time in mathematical proofs in the sense of entailment, an assumption leading to a conclusion, and I wouldn't think twice about using it that way in ordinary speech.

@John X
I see what you did there! A sort of douche-y variation on that is the Roman pick-up artist who declared "Vidi, Vici, VENI!"

Literalistic me was alarmed picturing your neighbor's son who gives the bear who's been rummaging through the garbage a BEAR HUG, but then I realized you meant "best BEAR HUGs"! ;-)

BEE-ER 8:53 AM  

### SB SPOILER ###

I missed a few yesterday that I should've had. But boho? and loblolly? Google tells me the former is a type of dress and the latter is a southern pine tree. I'll remember for next time-NOT.

Z 8:56 AM  

August uses “crosswordese” differently than everyone I interact with either here or on Twitter about crosswords. If I’m understanding his meaning today, it is “a not in the language substitute for an in the language word/phrase where the ITL phrase doesn’t fit the answer length needed for the puzzle.” Which, sure, is a thing that needs a pithy term, but “crosswordese” ain’t it.

The puzzle definitely holds its own against any typical Monday offering (and better than many). @Joaquin pretty much nailed my feeling.

@Hungry Mother - It’s a bit early for a BEeR HUG. Maybe with lunch. 🍺

@kitshef - For me CUZ as in “because” and CoZ as in “cause.” This may be hyperlocalized, though because I have an Ultimate buddy who goes by CoZ.

@jae - @Alex M already explained it but just in case you missed it:
Since I love crosswords I comment here daily.
Because I love crosswords I comment here daily.
I comment here daily CUZ I love crosswords.

@Anon8:07 yesterday and @Anon3:04 - There are three options for posting, using your Google Account (going blue), or “Name/URL” (showing up black), or “anonymous.” If you’re uncomfortable with going blue, picking a nom de blog and going black is maybe something to consider.

@Lewis 7:40 - Yep. I know Birnholz disagrees with Rex on some things, but not on what makes a puzzle good. That frisson of “why won’t the obvious answers work” to the “Oho! I get why” to the “Ooh, way to put the cherry on top of this theme” was just high level competent construction all around. His puzzles aren’t all as good as yesterday’s, but they are consistently good and I can’t remember the last time one felt sloggy to me.

Havana Man 9:01 AM  

Very nice debut, Soleil. Better than many pros....

jberg 9:04 AM  

When I saw “rage” clueing something beside “ire” I knew I was gonna like this puzzle. Fill was easy but mostly fresh.

I used to subscribe to UTNE, the Reader’s Digest of the left.

Now we have to rush off and get our first COVID shot. Hope it goes well!

Thanks, August!

Unknown 9:10 AM  

I too took a second look at the WIZ/CUZ cross, but heck, it's a 17-year old's first published puzzle - - - yeah, totally going to give that a pass.

@ loren muse smith, I don't donate to rex because his blogs too often put me in a bad mood. I enjoy when he discusses the intricacies of puzzle construction and some of the more esoteric bits of this hobby. But his rants get old, his constant bashing of will shortz gets old (there's almost a degree of personal animus that comes through), and his harping against certain clues gets old. I know, I don't have to read his posts, but there's this train-wreck quality to them that is kind of fascinating. A lot of time you wonder *why* he devotes so much time to this when he clearly does not enjoy the bulk of the puzzles. (Plus I have wondered if he declares all that money as "income" when tax time rolls around . . . .)

As far as anonymity for the blog, given the level of craziness and vitriol out there, I would not feel safe . . . . I try not to troll, and not be an ass and hide behind a fake name, but I'd be careful putting my name out there. There's just so little privacy left.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Good Monday. Current clues. Good references. Wouldn’t have guessed a high school constructor good job

pmdm 9:13 AM  

It'll be interesting reading the write-ups this week. Seems like a no-win situation to be critical, given past complaints included in the write-ups.

Were I to list what struck me as the plusses and minuses of this puzzle, I fear I would list too many minuses. But overall, I'd rate it an encouraging debut. Sometimes it strikes me that new constructors make puzzles that more appeal to what they enjoy than to the general solver (whoever that is). Then at some point they begin constructing puzzles geared more to the general solver then to themselves. With that in mind, I eagerly look forward to this week's puzzles.

Harry 9:16 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. I thought it was fun and, to use a Rex word, fresh. I didn't have a problem with the drone clue - I agree that it is crosswordese, but it didn't make me stumble because getting the US part was easy and I knew the theme by that point - so I didn't stumble there.

The hesitation on cuz, OK, the sustained pause on cuz, prevented me from doing this in record time. But it wasn't the z, I had that, it was the c. So, oh well. It was fun.

TTrimble 9:18 AM  

*** SB Alert ***

*** Spoilers Ahead ***

To @BEE-ER: those I got and know to expect by now. (Sorry to brag, but yesterday was a QB for me.) But I was defeated on Saturday's by not getting CICHLID; the rest I got. That's another one for me to file away (and maybe I'll adopt @bocamp's and @jae's method of keeping a running list of past missed words). Anyway, BOHO is connected to 'Bohemian'. 'LOBLOLLY' I know is a word but I don't remember the meaning. Oh, it's a type of pine tree.

On to today's.

Lewis 9:24 AM  

Addendum to my original comment: There's not actually more white space in this puzzle (as there are 38 black spaces, typical for Monday), but it feels like more white space to me because the average word length is longer than a typical Monday. The word length is closer to what you get in a Thursday puzzle.

Nancy 9:29 AM  

An impressive debut by a high-schooler who definitely has a puzzle-making future. And three grid-spanners are impressive; you don't see that on every Monday. The tribute to the ESSENTIAL WORKER is timely and welcome: it's a phrase we think about a lot these days and all of them deserve a puzzle shoutout. I'm wondering if this is the first time the phrase has appeared? I never know how to check that, but I'm sure someone else can.

I join those who find the name Soleil Saint-Cyr really cool. If you decide not to make puzzles your primary career, Soleil, I can see your name splashed across a theater marquee.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  


Anonymoose 9:41 AM  

I think we should give novices more credit. They weren't raised by wolves, you know. They are people with a knowledge base and are interested in words.

Lewis 9:48 AM  

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

1. Paper tiger? (6)
2. None of it is good, as the saying goes (4)
3. Hot dogs do this (4)
4. Talk up? (4)
5. Holding up the line for? (5)


Lobster11 9:53 AM  

@TTimble: I first saw a recommendation against using "since" to mean "because" in the Style Manual of the American Psychological Association, but since then (see what I did there?) I've done a little Googling and confirmed that it's been a matter of longstanding debate among grammarians and such. The argument mainly comes down to the observation that in theory this can cause ambiguity -- think of phrases along the lines of "Y happened since X happened" -- but in practice the intended meaning is usually clear from the context (as you suggested).

Just don't get me started on the use of "literally" to mean, well, the opposite of "literally"....

GILL I. 9:55 AM  

A deeeelightful, A PLUS debut Ms Saint-Cyr.
I learned there's a rapper named WIZ and I finally spelled KEANU Reeves name correctly......
Hope to see more of you.

Michelle Turner 10:04 AM  

“ We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in the world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. But if the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel delightfully and unmistakably warm.” Chapter 11

Whatsername 10:08 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 10:09 AM  

@Kitshef (1:20 a.m.) Every once in a while, for reasons of scansion, I have used CUZ in a song lyric. Since the audience will hear it, not read it, it's only important that the singer know how to pronounce it. And while I generally don't like like slangy words like CUZ, I know that if I were to write it "'cause", the singer might pronounce it "caws".

I certainly wouldn't write it COZ, which is the spelling you seem to prefer. The singer would then pronounce it to rhyme with "bras". Or possibly with "knows".

I've never looked this up, @kitshef, to see if there's a preferred way to do this. But writing it as CUZ is certainly the most practical way to do it -- the way that best prevents mistakes from happening.

Mary (Tax Attorney) 10:10 AM  

@Unkown 9:10 AM: What makes you wonder that Rex wouldn’t declare “donations” as income ? You’re accusing him of being a criminal. Please cite evidence or retract please. Thanks.

Nancy 10:13 AM  

@Lewis -- Your #5 was my absolute favorite clue of last week and I was pretty sure it would make your list. I'm so happy to see it there.

Your #2 was also one of my faves.

Whatsername 10:16 AM  

Congratulations on being the youngest female NYT constructor ever to Soleil Saint-Cyr. (What a lyrical name!) Nice going! And happy 18th birthday on the 13th. From where I sit, just to be published is quite a feat at any age.

So HIVE MIND, I DUNNO. Is it like herd immunity? Speaking of that, nice shoutout to all the ESSENTIAL WORKERs, every one of whom deserves an A PLUS AFTER almost a full year of this hideous nightmare. I can’t wait to BEARHUG my loved ones again. I thought OCULI and MARIANAS were a little tough for a beginner, but otherwise this was a top notch Monday.

Hope all you folks in the snowy Northeast are safe inside. Sounds like this one is going to be epic.

mathgent 10:34 AM  

Lively. Enjoyed it.

What great poetic quotes from Moby Dick. I should read it again. When I first read it, I was too young to appreciate the powerful prose.

Another great week of clues. Thanks, Lewis.

Don't HOMECOMINGQUEENs usually wear tiaras?

I send Rex a few bucks.

Zack 10:39 AM  

IMMA Be is arguably a little theme bonus. Check out the cover art for the single (it's on the Wikipedia page).

Carola 10:48 AM  

This was such a pleasure to solve, guided through the grid by the sure hand of a talented constructor. What a terrific debut! I really liked the high-school references: A-PLUS, ASK OUT, HOMECOMING QUEEN, PEER GROUP, the PRISM from physics class, ASSIGN, as well as the up-to-the minute references to GEORGIANS and the ESSENTIAL WORKER.

Pedantry alert - I was interested in the CUZ v "coz" discussion, as for me the CUZ here was an automatic write-in, whereas I associate "coz" with affectionate references to cousins in English literature. I couldn't figure out how to search for it in 19th c. novels, but thanks to the online Shakespeare concordance, I can offer from As You Like It Rosalind's
"O coz, coz, coz, my pretty little coz, that thou didst
know how many fathom deep I am in love! But it cannot be sounded;
my affection hath an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal." (IV, 1, l. 1968)

@Soleil Saint-Cyr - Congratulations! I'm looking forward to more.

Newboy 10:54 AM  

Feeling guilty in north Idaho with sunshine &47degrees forecast for Groundhog Day as several posters flush those 🧊! I’m joining the PEER GROUP of posters awed by today’s debut grid. Had to run the alphabet to get that final central Z and on a Monday no less. Great always to see new faces adding to the fun HIVE MIND of Crossworld. Welcome Ms. Saint-Cyr; we look forward to your return.

Flinque 10:57 AM  

Ditto for me

What? 11:04 AM  

Soleil for Editor!

Doctor John 11:05 AM  

Congrats on the debut!!

Unknown 11:09 AM  

I'm impressed knowing that this puzzle was done by a high school student. Glad that they are starting February with a young black woman.

bocamp 11:17 AM  

@August, I was remiss in not thanking you for your write-up; much appreciated, as always! As for your "snow day", it may happen for you, but for many others it may not be so welcome. I pray that all stay warm and safe. 🙏

As for the "blue" / "non-blue" issue, I, for one, respect those who – for reasons known to them – contribute to this blog under the banner of "Anonymous", "Unknown" or other moniker of their choosing. I read your comments with as much interest as I do the so-called "blues". I look for the nuggets in every post, and find many jewels in yours. To those, of any status, who choose to be hurtful, please follow Glen Campbell's lead and Try A Little Kindness, in its stead. 🕊

And, yes I donate to Rex, both in appreciation of his labors of love, but also in appreciation for this blog and its commentariat.

@Lewis 9:48 AM 👍

@Whatsername 10:16 AM

A big YES, to "herd immunity" ASAP. 🙏

I've been a hugger, but not necessarily a "bearhug"ger. Looking forward to the days when hugs will again be a thing.

Looking forward to watching "Groundhog Day" tomorrow; lots of "bearhug"s in it. ☃️

Moby Dick is a book I had a hard time with (in the print version). I stopped after the first few chapters, which I very rarely do, once having started a book. Later, I decided to try again, this time via the audiobook route, and was blessed with a wonderful story, and ultimately, a far better experience.

@BEE-ER 8:53 AM / @TTrimble 9:18 AM

SB stuff w/possible spoilers from yesterday's

Yesterday I commented that "loblolly" (pine tree of the southern US) is #3 on my "@jae's List"; wrong: it's actually #2. LOL #1 is "longan" (tree/fruit) and #3 is "larboard" (old-timey "port" or opposite of "starboard"). These are the first three words I see every morning when reviewing my "list".

In my hippie days I managed to acquire a few "boho" traits ("bearhug"s among them), some of which are still with me. "boho" is such a wonderful word, in so many ways.

Now off to study the list and embark on today's SB. 🤞

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

What? 11:21 AM  

Soleil in French is “sun”. You could spend a lifetime teaching non-French speakers how to pronounce it.

JD 11:25 AM  

@Z and @kitchef, re CUZ as in “because” and Coz.

It must depend on our pronunciation of Because and Cousin. For me, Because as Oz and Cousin as Us in, so Cos and Cuz. But I've heard people Beh-cuz.

Heard a woman on the Food Network say "Cuckeh" as in the chocolate chip thing and I'm still scarred after years. She had a nasally twang.

@John X, best if you stay home this week.

Z 11:29 AM  

The Editorial Director of New York Times Games discusses this week’s puzzles.

Tom R 11:30 AM  

CUZ/WIZ gave me lots of grief, but otherwise pretty easy.

Instead of cluing AHAB from Moby Dick (who wants to celebrate whaling?) how about "..... the Arab, sheik of the burning sands." Or is that too unPC? or maybe too old (1962). Maybe clue you youngsters into the genius of Ray Stevens.

sixtyni yogini 11:40 AM  

☀️ ☀️☀️☀️☀️
Lots of sun for Soleil!

jae 11:41 AM  

I posted last night before I had a chance to look at Xwordinfo. I just wanted to add that this was an impressive debut and offer my congrats to Soleil Saint-Cyr on her record setting puzzle.

Pete 11:49 AM  

Great big thank you to the Mods today.

burtonkd 11:55 AM  

@Lobster11 - when the goal is to be precise as possible, avoiding "since" makes sense. In a Xword, where multiple possibilities and ambiguity is a feature, using "since" to mean because is not only acceptable, but desirable. You clearly know both meanings.

USMILITARYDRONE - wouldn't this fall more into the "green paint" category? A perfectly logical phrase, just not an "in the language" expression.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Excellent puzzle! I'd say a little harder than most Mondays.

People who live in New Haven CT. definitely use the term "Yalies"; it's not always a compliment...

JOHN X 12:27 PM  

@ JD 11:25 AM


A Moderator 12:28 PM  

@Pete - I have only needed to delete two comments, both non-puzzle comments insulting other commenters. I don’t know what my fellow mods have deleted.

Another Moderator 12:32 PM  

I haven't had to delete anything.

old timer 12:33 PM  

As a general rule, I think it is racist to have Blacks only puzzles, and sexist to have women-only puzzles. And if not done perfectly, the choice to do so can backfire badly. Give me a week of really bad Blacks only puzzles, I might conclude, "Well, that just proves Black people aren't as good as everyone else at this craft."

Yeah, but if done perfectly, we solvers get a wonderful week of puzzles, *and* the editors get what they are hoping for, a pool of very talented new constructors (and some old ones of course) and continued growth of the solving audience. That was certainly true when the had that all-women week a while ago, and I remember opining that it was one of the best, most solid weeks this solver ever experienced.

So looking forward, therefore, to the rest of the week.

My almost Natick was the CUZ cross. I was saved by OCULI, which was perfectly clued, though I at first fell into the trap of wanting "Ogees". I haven't looked it up, but I think the short word for because usually is "cos", and despite Shakespeare, CUZ is shorthand for cousin -- my only surviving male cousin sometimes calls me CUZzo.

Oh, and thanks to our marvelous Muse for her stories. Since West Virginia is, improbably, one of the best vaccinators in the Union, I hope her terrified colleague gets her jabs early and often.

albatross shell 12:35 PM  

My go-to HELLO song is always:

@Carola 1048am
Before reading your pedantry I was going to comment:
CUZ CUZ always means my parents' siblings children to me, I wUZn't confUZed at all.
Hey looks like I did anyway. I was also so going to ask about that striking C next to your name. It looks neon. Was it Carola's Crayola Crayons inspired? But I see it is a Cunnningham instead.

JD 12:36 PM  

@John X, Never mind. I thought it was high school kids.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Bee-U-tiful MonPuz. Congratz to the constructioneer, on her honey of a debut. Three grid-spanner themers and a revealer and only 74 words; heckuva rodeo.

Had some feisty spots in it, here and there. Lost just a few US military nanoseconds. I blame AKBAR/ALBA and IMMA and that last themer, mostly.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Bucks and does} = DEER.
staff weeject pick: CUZ. Cuz it speaks M&A's language.

Some primo sparklers: PEERGROUP. BEARHUG. GOTRICH. CUZ/WIZ combo. Also, nice shout-out to the CHEN-meister. And nice to see some ESSENTIALWORKER bee recognition, in these weird times.

Well-written timely clue for GEORGIANS, btw.

Thanx for the fun, Soleil Saint-Cyr darlin. Congratz on bein the youngest female constructioneer here ever, from the oldest masked dude, ever.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Unknown 1:08 PM  

@ Mary (Tax Attorney) 10:10 If you read carefully, I was merely "wondering," not "accusing" Rex of anything. It was idle speculation. There's no accusation to retract. With an estimated 1.6 million folks who cheat (2013 statistics, so likely higher now), he certainly wouldn't be the first. Maybe you can do his taxes for him! :)

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

I LOVED working on this puzzle knowing it was constructed by a high school student, and that all puzzles this week will have been created by Black puzzlers. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy while completing.
Elin, Portland OR

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

Soleil Saint-Cyr, congratulations on your NYT debut. I admire your determination to fill your pandemic time with a worthy pastime!

Splatzing in hurtS at 47D and the beginning of "senators", oops, at 32D make up my missteps today PLUS a pause to think about circular windows, 36D, where OC___wanted to be Oriel in my mind but I remembered OCULI in time to prevent more black ink spillage.

Although ants don't have the same hive behavior as the bee, HIVE MIND brought to mind this very interesting (to me) story in the New Yorker (2010).

WA 1:27 PM  

Excellent first puzzle. I must admit I got CUZ/WIZ wrong. I just stuck in an 'n."

tea73 1:42 PM  

Nice debut!

There's a long running Regency mystery/romance series by C.S. Harris starring one Sebastian St. Cyr, which I enjoy very much, so the name made me smile. I liked the concept, agree with others that US MILITARY DRONE fell a little flat. The Z in CUZ and WIZ was the last thing I filled in, but very gettable. I had no problem with it.

I agree that August's definition of crosswordese is off. I'd just say that the phrase is not in the language. If you take off the US it's fine.

Nancy 2:02 PM  

Just wondering if you happen to be an axe murderer, @Unknown (1:08). Just ignore my musings if you're not.

Pete 2:49 PM  

@Mods - I'm (pleasantly) shocked that 6D didn't get the bigots out.

Moe St. Cool 3:33 PM  

Soleil St. Cyr reminds me of Jill St. John

Charles Emerson Winchester III 3:38 PM  

Et ego. Rappers are and will remain a wilderness for me.

JC66 3:45 PM  

@Moe St. Cool

How about Lili St. Cyr?

A 4:20 PM  

Very nice puzzle, Soleil, and thanks, August for your fun writeup. This and finishing the wacko WaPo puz from yesterday made for an unusually pleasant Monday! And a properly distanced BEAR HUG to @LMS! I wasn’t a hugger, either, but then in college I spent part of a summer with a friend whose family were. Huggers. They said so, they meant it, and they wouldn’t let me off the hook. So I initially masked my discomfort, like you, but over time I came to embrace it. ;-) Also loved your Zulu “Sawubona! - I see you” and was intrigued, so I looked and found that its plural is Sanibonani!” What a fun word!

This one went fast for me. My hangup was in the same area as most of y’all, but not for the same reason. My gift shop was in the airport and my purchase was a MaG, making my “since/because” conundrum Cas vs. CaZ (think Boston accent). I know, MaG is abbreviated and the clue isn’t, but given what the SB tells me are and aren’t words, I’ve just been so confused.

Speaking of confusion, @Z, thanks for that link, and also for your non-spoiler description of the 3 stages of the solve. Definitely gave me hope when I was in doubt!

This is my first year to donate, and it’s CUZ I only recent started taking part. I figure if someone has to be subjected to my comments I should pay them. Everybody send me your PayPal links!

Tim Aurthur 4:34 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
A 4:37 PM  

Oops, that's contribute, not donate.

bocamp 4:43 PM  

SB stuff

npg -7 :(

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Joaquin 5:13 PM  

Recently I was at the used record store and I bought an album called "Sounds Wasps Make". After playing it, I thought it didn't sound at all like wasps. It was then I realized I had played the bee side.

oriordan 5:27 PM  

I have lurked on this blog for several years but this year I finally broke down and sent money to Rex, so I now feel OK about actually posting.

I agree with Unknown's comment about Rex's write-ups sometimes being too strident for my taste (which have held me back form contributing in the past) but I value both his dedication and his insight. I also greatly value having this forum with all the wonderful regulars who show up.My enjoyment of the puzzle is greatly increased by reading Frantic Sloth, Z, Lewis, Loren Muse Smith, bocamp, A, and many, many others. A contribution to keep that going seems completely in order.

And hello to you all!

JC66 5:47 PM  


Good one!

Welcome, @oriordan.

Don't be a stranger.

dan 5:55 PM  

I'm surprised that no one else is grumpy that USDA crosses US MILITARY DRONE. Like, somehow, that's Not Okay for me: two uses of the exact same initialism that cross.

Otherwise, this was fine, and, uh, 900x better than I could've done *CENSORED* years ago.

Lewis 6:03 PM  

@joaquin -- Hah!

Z 6:07 PM  

@Joaquin - That pun really stung.

bocamp 6:30 PM  

@oriordan 5:27 PM

I heartily join @JC66 in welcoming you to the commentariat. Happy posting! ☃️

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

albatross shell 7:04 PM  

Track 1 Clapping on the beat
Track 2 but (as in I'm not prejudiced,...)
Track 3 Is that suppose to be music?

Fish 7:35 PM  

Yes, I’m from New Haven, and we always called them Yalies.

Whatsername 7:39 PM  

@oriordan: Hello to you too where ever you are. And welcome.

Anonymous 8:45 PM  

i'm a bee

A 10:20 PM  

Well said, @oriordan, and welcome!

@Joaquin - Now for the “A” side. You got me curious and here we go (notice the credentials - names withheld to protect the wasps). From Research Gate:

“How and why do wasps of the genus Vespula create a croaking sound inside their nest?
I have been hearing a repetetive (sic) croaking sound from a wasp nest in a wall, which is different from the regular humming sound they normally make. I have been hearing it mainly late at night and early in the morning. What is the origin of this sound and why do they make it? Thanks

29th Aug, 2016
University of Zurich
Thanks for all the answers so far. Watching the video from Aniruddha I think it could well be some sort of antennal drumming. Cheers to all

26th Aug, 2016
Georgia Southern University
Alternatively, it could be rasping made by larvae.  There is some old literature claiming it's a hunger signal from larvae to adult workers, but I don't think there has been any detailed study of this.

26th Aug, 2016
Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
I have observed open nests of Paravespula in my lab and observed exchange of nutrients between larvae and imagoes. The adults knock on the larvae and then the larvae regurgitate a droplet which is taken up by the adults. The larvae croak with their mandibles at the wall of their brood cells and the adults feeds these larvae with meat.”

Antennal Drumming? Old literature about the exchange of nutrients between larvae and imagoes? I’ll leave anyone still dropping in to their own conclusions, but I’m thinking we on this blog flatter ourselves: when it comes to nerds, these folks are the pros.

A 11:17 PM  

Never MIND.

Joaquin 11:44 PM  

@A - Quite the coincidence. As I was listening to the "A" side, the first thing I thought was, "Man, this sounds like wasps exchanging nutrients between larvae and images."

The sad thing is I bought the record hoping to get some tips on how to talk like a WASP, and pass myself off as a snooty, upper-crust, Gentile, with roots in the British Empire.

ZenMonkey 4:03 AM  

I’m staggered to learn that this was constructed by a 17yo! Cannot wait to follow her career.

Anonymous 8:10 PM  

Mazel Tov Ms. St. Cyr! A delightful solve with some nods to us oldsters and fresh clues. Gratifying with a minimum of 3-letter words. And a nice nod to our essential worker bees. Lovely!

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