Mythical woman after whom element 41 is named / MON 2-22-21 / Key for Debussy's fille aux cheveux de lin

Monday, February 22, 2021

Constructor: Barbara Lin

Relative difficulty: Normal Monday except for KYIV, what the hell was that!?

THEME: POOL (64A: Game suggested by the ends of 20-, 38- and 55-Across and 11- and 34-Down) — themers end in words related to billiards:

Theme answers:
  • GIMME A BREAK (20A: "Jeez, lighten up, will ya!")
  • ON CUE (38A: As expected)
  • OUT OF POCKET (55A: Like medical expenses you pay for yourself)
  • TOWEL RACK (11D: Bar from the bathroom?)
  • ON THE BALL (34D: Alert)
Word of the Day: Niobium (6D: Mythical woman after whom element 41 is named) —
Niobium, also known as columbium, is a chemical element with the symbol Nb (formerly Cb) and atomic number 41. Niobium is a light grey, crystalline, and ductile transition metal. Pure niobium has a Mohs hardness rating similar to that of pure titanium, and it has similar ductility to iron. Niobium oxidizes in the earth's atmosphere very slowly, hence its application in jewelry as a hypoallergenic alternative to nickel. Niobium is often found in the minerals pyrochlore and columbite, hence the former name "columbium". Its name comes from Greek mythology, specifically Niobe, who was the daughter of Tantalus, the namesake of tantalum. The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, making them difficult to distinguish. (wikipedia)
• • •

Disappointing on all levels, this one. The theme is a remedial type that feels like it was probably done a hundred times in 90s and 00s puzzles. Last words are all related to [X] ... ok, well, the answers you use should be sizzling and the revealer should probably be colorful and the grid should definitely be whistle-clean ... and none of these things are true. BREAK isn't even like the others, in that it's an act, not a piece of equipment. ON CUE adds nothing and should probably have been ditched. All it does is make the fill in the center of the grid really awful. No one's gonna be begging for a fifth themer that's five letters long. There is no such desire among solvers. Make your themers hot and your grid immaculate and no one's gonna notice if you have four themers or three themers or five themers. ON CUE adds nothing, takes away a ton. That ON CUE section (i.e. the middle) is the worst part of the grid, fill-wise (except perhaps the SW, about which, more below). No good way to clue POCUS, so you get a laughably easy fill-in-the-blank. EAUS!??!!? Wow, really Really thought the plural of EAU was EAUX ('cause it is). EAUS is garbage, though only slightly more garbage-y than OHIOU, which looks ridiculous. It's a Monday puzzle with a simple theme, why is this grid not totally smooth? No excuse. Theme is boring, executed poorly, and the fill is subpar all over.

The clue on "OK, NOW" doesn't make sense to me (50D: "All righty then ..."). Doesn't strike my ear as correct at all, maybe because "All righty then..." has a stand-alone feel, either ironic or conclusive (something you'd say when wrapping things up) rather than introductory. Had the "OK" and still no idea what was supposed to follow. But that's a minor issue. The major issue is KYIV (53D: Ukraine's capital, to Ukrainians). I mean ... KYIV. It's Monday, and you wanna spell KIEV like that? And ... why? It's a regular old 4x5 corner in a Monday puzzle, how in the world can you not fill it in a way that spares us KYIV. I took a very quick, non-software-aided pass at that computer and found two alternatives fairly quickly. A little time and attention, and you'd think you could get out of there without resorting to KYIV. If things were better elsewhere, I could forgive this corner, but things are better nowhere. Monday grids just have to be more polished than this in 2021. They have to. Please.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


newbie 12:29 AM  

Sending out thoughts of good health for @Gill - green jello (shot), crossword and humor lover. Now to finish the puzzle - I already like the shoutout to Ohio University! Some of it seems very familiar - ALPACA, GENA, EURO, EWE - but no complaints.

Have a great day!

Robin 12:51 AM  

One of the scientists at my office was Ukrainian. So I thought KYIV was a gimme.

And one of my brothers got his PhD at OHIOU.

But yeah, I saw EAUS and wondered if Re would tee off on that one.

Elaine2 1:18 AM  

"EAUS" is inexcusable. Otherwise, just "meh."

egsforbreakfast 1:32 AM  

I mostly think Rex got this right, except for the Kyiv rant. If you read (as opposed to watch or listen to) even a fair amount of international news these days, you’ve notice that many news orgs are now using Kyiv, apparently at the behest of the government of Ukraine.

My time was lightening fast (for me) and I didn’t even think about a theme until I was done. When I saw it, it was a meh moment.

Green jellos shots for all, but especially @ Gill I.

Whoosey Whatsis 1:55 AM  

Being the capital Ukraine, KYIV came up a lot in the first Trump impeachment hearing.

chefwen 2:08 AM  

I have no doubt that our GILL I will come through with flying colors, she’s a strong and positive person.

Now, about this puzzle. Where’s our @ACME when we need her the most?

I have never seen the KYIV spelling of Kiev, but I don’t live in the Ukraine, so there’s that, they probably think Kiev is weird.

O.K. Monday, just a little lacking, as Rex said.

Loren Muse Smith 2:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 2:28 AM  

@Gill I – thinking about you.

I completely disagree with Rex’s opinion of ON CUE. Didn’t bother me a bit.

But I don’t build grids and hence didn’t understand that ON CUE in the center mucks things as regards filling the grid. If its inclusion forced OHIO U, then, well, fair enough.

I have to agree that EAUS looks weird. And crossing that Franglish word with German HAUS. . . I feel bad for my fledgling-solver-non-languagey daughter.

The BREAK stood out to me, too, as an outlier. Get another piece of equipment there instead. CHEESE STICK, MEMORY STICK. Or have another verb themer like FROM SCRATCH.

Back to drek. . . solving a Monday knowing a novice will be trying it later makes me notice things I normally wouldn’t notice so much since it’s all about the theme for me. The KYIV, EAUS, OHIO U are all usually just pesky watermelon seeds I tolerate on my quest to uncover good stuff. Today they’re more apparent, and I nervously checked to make sure they’re all fairly crossed. They are. That HAUS/EAUS cross, though… That’s a tough one for a science-leaning novice.

Spent a year one weekend in GENOA. That was The single most humid place I have ever been. And I’ve been to New Orleans.

I can’t be the only one who was going the soap route for the bathroom bar, right? But “bar” can be a verb, too. Hmm. Bar (someone) from the bathroom? My vote would be my nephew’s friend who visited a couple of years ago and deposited his used toilet paper in the trash can rather than flush it. This on a sweltering summer day. In a tiny windowless bathroom. I was the lucky discoverer.

Considered “pummeled” before PEPPERED. I guess you PEPPER someone with questions but pummel them with snowballs? Maybe you can pummel someone with questions if they’re really probing, huge questions coming at the perp really fast? 44, I pray, will be pummeled with questions for the foreseeable future.

Wanted “bore” for 36A.

Loved reading the clues for 15A, 16A, 17A as a little vignette.

But that’s a slippery slope, reading hidden stories in the clues. I mean sheesh. Now look at the clues for 19A, 20A, 23A, 24A. If you squint, you can imagine the account of a fumbling little assignation. With Alf.

Loved the clue for 9D PACK UP. What a difference that UP makes. Going to Cancun = Pack your stuff. Shamed out of office = PACK UP your stuff.

Coniuratos 2:33 AM  

KYIV vs Kiev is a case of Ukrainian vs Russian transliteration. Just a little nicer to not refer to Ukraine's capital in the way its former colonial masters did.

Geneva Girl 3:19 AM  

EAUS no! I guess you forgot to study for your French exam Ms Lin.
Eaux yes! This is the correct plural of eau.

jae 4:12 AM  

Easy-medium. What @Rex said except for @eggs the KYIV rant. Full disclosure, my bride is Ukrainian and that’s the correct translation spelling.

Unknown 5:57 AM  

Surely Ukraine‘a capital to Ukrainians would be Київ!

Conrad 6:02 AM  

In defense of 29D, the clue reads "Évian *and* Perrier," not "Évian *et* Perrier." Therefore, perhaps, a little Franglishization is permissible.

Anonymous 6:02 AM  

Sorry, but "lightning"

OffTheGrid 6:14 AM  

Clue for POOL is simply "Game suggested by......" No mention of equipment. Rex, read the clues.

Typical and solid Monday, IMO.

Rug Crazy 6:40 AM  

Rex nailed it, again

Pantaloons 6:51 AM  

Eaux, not eaus.

ncmathsadist 6:53 AM  

It's EAUX, not EAUS. That was very annoying indeed.

Anonymoose 6:56 AM  

Is the earth still spinning?

Is the sky still blue? (I won't know 'til sunrise)

Is water still wet?

I'm asking because Rex shredded a female constructor's work* and I'm scared!

*Without justification as I see it.

Jim Lemire 7:05 AM  

SWAK (67A) ??? Just a random string of letters to me. Can anyone please clarify?

Lewis 7:07 AM  

Some random observations:

• You think you can divorce your brain from current events while doing a puzzle, but I had INPEAC_ and my brain shouted “H”.
• Four palindromes – highly unusual in a puzzle – OTTO, EWE, LIL, ANNA.
• TOWEL RACK is a NYT debut – how can this common phrase have never appeared here before? (It has appeared in puzzles in other venues…)
• There’s a mini-theme I’m going to call “finito” – OTTO, LIPO, EURO, MISO, EGO.
• CAST is appropriately near GIMME A BREAK.
• The KGB ended in 1991. It has been replaced by the FSB. Because I had to take out FSB from one of my puzzles because the editor thought it was too obscure, my ears are sensitive to it, and as a result, I’ve noticed it a fair number of times in news stories. So, crossword editors, will you consider accepting this answer? It’s crossworthy!
• The theme reminded me of the only time I’ve ever been hustled by a pool shark, who turned out to be a world-renown yoga teacher. Talk about feeling like I entered an alternate universe!

Barbara, thank you for a puzzle that awakened memories and more. Nice one!

Aaron Riccio 7:11 AM  

Sealed With A Kiss, if that helps. It's bad fill.

Hungry Mother 7:14 AM  

The kid across the street had a full-sized POOL table in his basement when I was a teen, so I know the game well. I didn’t notice the theme until the reveal. Very nice Monday.

SouthsideJohnny 7:15 AM  

I thought the theme was adequate for a Monday. It does seem like the Times once again squandered an opportunity to provide us a nice crisp, clean, (relatively) breezy newcomer-friendly Monday offering - but instead resorted to their usual habit of taking something that would be elegant in its simplicity and gunked it up with foreign words and other assorted garbage. Yes, KYIV is a valid and acceptable translation of Київ - but no way it belongs in a Monday puzzle (and btw, the cluing sucks - because that is not how the Ukrainians spell their capital - anymore than we translate Washington, D.C. into cyrillic in our everyday usage). Then they added in more dreck like INTL, NIOBE, HAUS and the absolutely atrocious EAUS (today’s requisite made-up-word-of-the-day).

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

@Jim - Sealed With A Kiss.

Anonymous 7:21 AM  

@Anonymoose. And no mention of the 5 to 2 female to male count in the puzzle. Lucy Liu, Anna Quindlen, Bronte sisters, Gena Rowlands, Niobe vs. Lil Nas X & Otto von Bismarck.

ChuckD 7:35 AM  

Liked this one for the most part. The app version did not highlight the correct themers when at POOL. Thought the themers were fine - overall fill maybe a little clunky in spots but it was normal Monday difficulty for me. Liked TORMENT and PEPPERED. I take no issue with KYIV and ON CUE.

A little ugly but I tend to agree with @Conrad on the Franglish of EAUS.

Typical Monday here - enjoyable solve.

kitshef 7:45 AM  

29D should be EAUX, n’est-ce pas? I “fixed” that because of HAUS, but that’s just a terrible error on Will's part.

Other than that … this is what I expect a Monday to be – a gateway puzzle for new solvers.


Joe Welling 7:49 AM  

The KYIV spelling of Kiev was much in the news about a year ago. My impression was that it was now the accepted spelling in English. (Just like we use "Beijing" when we once used "Peking.") Otherwise, it's hard not to get by the crosses, so the complaint is like a complaint about learning something by solving a Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

It’s been KYIV for most news outlets since the yam’s extortion of Ukraine: Put down the comics, Rex, and read the news.

bocamp 8:20 AM  

Thank you, @Barbara; a good puzzle to start the week. :)

Med solve.

Slight holdup at "Kyiv" in the SW; otherwise smooth sailing.

Rented a "haus" in Munich near the site of the '72 Olympic Games. Construction was underway by the time I departed for Afghanistan in '70.

"Sealed With A Kiss" ~ Brian Hyland

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Casimir 8:32 AM  

I am almost always forgiving of OFL over his frequent rants over political questions obliquely raised in the NYT crossword puzzle, though I often disagree with him. At a minimum, he often makes me reflect on matters from a different perspective, which is always good.

However, for a guy who is so concerned about the smallest bits of cultural imperialism, etc., you would think he would applaud Ukrainians and the rest of the world using the name of Ukraine's capital city in their own language, rather than the language of their oppressors.

In case you need to be convinced about why Ukrainians might feel very strongly about this small point, see Holomodor.

Nomcebo Manzini 8:37 AM  

Can't believe Rex didn't excoriate OPER. I'm really suspicious - not for the first time - that someone had submitted to Rex' predecessor, was rejected.... perhaps years later dusted it off, tweaked & resubmitted.

THAT would fit with KYIV and EAUS - good reasons why a different (but slightly OCD mind) might have said, "NYIT!"

And for the millionth time - what's Will's #1 responsibility as puzzle editor? (SURELY, getting all clues to B+ or higher.) Even acknowledging the truth in Rex' voiced-way-too-many times "observation" about the NYTXW demographics, OPER is beyond fusty. It's as close as an xword can come to "having bedbugs."

Cliff 8:40 AM  

BREAK can be both an verb and a noun in pocket billiards. "John has the break this round". My dictionary confirms this usage. Likewise, both POCKET and RACK can refer to the object and to an action in pocket billiards. "Okay, rack 'em up! I just pocketed the eight ball!"

Barbara S. 8:48 AM  

I can’t work up a lot of feeling for this puzzle, either positive or negative. It’s just there, and some of it is fine and some less so. I liked all the animal answers: EWE, ANTS, CORGI, MANX, ALPACA, GNAT, OXEN. I looked up “aardvark” (in the clue for ANTS) and found 3 interesting things:

1) the word is from the Afrikaans,
2) the animal “is the sole extant representative of the obscure mammalian order Tubulidentata,” another wonderful word which reminds me of that Lion King song, “Hakuna Matata”,
3) aardvarks share a common ancestor with elephants, manatees and hyraxes, an animal I’ve never heard of, which looks a bit like a pika. (See Wikipedia for more such tidbits.) The relatively close relationship of aarvarks, elephants, manatees and something that looks like a pika seems quite astonishing given the obvious visual differences between and among them all.

@M&A from last night
Thanks to the Builders Co-op for the insight into puzzle construction in answer to my query.

Today there’s a poem by EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY, born Feb. 22, 1892.


I'll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill's crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May set them down and rest.

There shall be plates a-plenty,
And mugs to melt the chill
Of all the grey-eyed people
Who happen up the hill.

There sound will sleep the traveller,
And dream his journey's end,
But I will rouse at midnight
The falling fire to tend.

Aye, 'tis a curious fancy—
But all the good I know
Was taught me out of two grey eyes
A long time ago.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Rex, sorry, on Twitter and elsewhere, Ukrainians and their supporters are clamoring for Kyiv. Kiev is the Russian way to say it.

RooMonster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, Rex, I liked this puz. But after reading you, apparently I shouldn't have.

Not sure if my puz standards are lesser than some, but heck, it was a nice, good romp of a MonPuz for me. POOL terms. Simple, effective, five themers, decent fill. Every puz has dreck. Either deal with it, or find another hobby.

That chippiness aside, I do agree EAUS, as has been pointed out by a bunch of y'all. Truth be told, my foreign language knowledge is not good, so as solving, EAUS was fine by me. Didn't know it's supposed to actually be EAUX. But we crazy Americans are always changing foreign words to meet our spelling and pronunciation, right? So I'll give that one a pass.

Another Revealer in the second-to-last row. Rex so mad at puz, he didn't even mention it. Is this the "new normal"? Weird how a bunch of Revealers have been there lately.

I have a pool table, that's been getting plenty of use lately. It's nothing special, 3 1/2 x 7, bought it used, non-slate, got staples poking up (not high enough to reroute a BALL) in the felt from the whatever-surface-thing is under the felt. Har, at least I got it level! Had a nicer one when I was living in CT. It was a 4 x 8, with a ball return system! But, left it there when I moved. Left it to my former roommate, who ended up selling it. At least he called me and told me!

So a nice puz to me, Barbara Lin! Don't let the naysayers get you down. :-)

One F

Birchbark 8:56 AM  

TORMENT, AGONY, COWER, OUT OF POCKET medicals, GIMME A BREAK, EMOTE, ALL CAPS. This is excellent if unsmiling. And of course, the bygone KGB crossing the better-spelled KYIV (see @Coniuratos 2:33).

I wouldn't mind more Mondays like this, which to me solved as a themeless with a bonus theme. Yes, it's tough and feels oldish (I'm currently in 1996 archive-wise and may say so). Yes, it paints from a palette agnostic to the @Rex arbitrary "shoulds" of "sizzling ... colorful ... squeaky clean" (all good enough, but not as invented dogma, excluding much to the good). Historical continuity is a virtue that constantly teaches if it is remembered, faults and all.

Casimir 8:57 AM  

Well -- hoisted on my own petard! Should read: see Holodomor.

My apologies to my Ukrainian brothers and sisters.

Blue Stater 8:59 AM  

It isn't often that I disagree with OFL, but I really don't get the rant on KYIV. The clue did specify that it was the Ukrainian spelling (transliteration from Cyrillic, really), and, as several have pointed out, Kyiv has been all over the news because of the Trumpsters' pointless efforts to pin trivia on Biden. A lovely city, even though the Germans did destroy 80% of its housing stock, a calamity whose effects persist even to the present day.

Giovanni 9:06 AM  

SWAK: Sewer Workers Are King (Ed Norton)

pabloinnh 9:11 AM  

A Mondayish theme on a Monday with some esoterica thrown in. All in all about what I expect from a Monday, and KYIV does not have me tearing my hair out, nor does the anglicized version of EAUS. I have a real, not a "faux" gas fireplace and do not refer to its contents as GASLOGS, so there is that. One time I was down in my man cave where the fireplace is with a friend who heats solely with wood and I hit the remote control and we had a fire and he made some disparaging comment about the ease of all that, which was deserved but caused me to ask him innocently Oh. How do you do it?.

@LMS- I have seen the used toilet paper in a wastebasket practice in rural Honduras, which they blamed on "weak pipes". I've had far more experience with sewer pipes than I wanted and think they were trying to flush something like newspaper, and that's enough about that.

OK Monday by me, BL. I'll never think of chicken kyev in quite the same way.

Tori Sandifer 9:11 AM  

"In a while" as the clue for ANON is one I'm still trying to figure out. NOME had me doubt POEM and OPER for a while (which by the way is NOT what's under the 0 on a phone keypad any more). Over all, ew.

Giovanni 9:16 AM  

KYIV is fine. My trouble was ANON. You people have been solving so long no one thinks that was not a Monday answer, especially crossing Niobe. I saw Anon once before in a xword but I forgot about it. I DNFed on that cross.

SWAK: anyone else immediatamente think of The Honeymooners? Norton put SWAK on an envelope and Ralph blew a gasket "sealed with a kiss????" No Ralphy that's Sewer Woikers Are King!

Z 9:19 AM  

Fascinating. Considering that my Twitter feed skews left of left and I’m a recovering news junkie I’m surprised that I’ve missed this KiEV to KYIV clamoring for change. Let me state before poking around the interwebs that I have my doubts about this alleged Ukrainian v Russian spelling. Some reasons for my skepticism:
1. Get out of here with “correct” spelling with a transliteration. “Preferred” - okay. You may have noticed, though, that English spelling is a wee bit capricious, and what we are talking about is trying to approximate sounds, sometimes even when there aren’t actually comparable sounds in standard English.
2. The reason we now spell it Beijing instead of Peking and Mumbai instead of Bombay is so that we say Beijing and Mumbai instead of saying Peking or Bombay. What, exactly, is the phonic difference between KYIV and KiEV?
3. The Russians spell it “KiEV?” Last I looked Russia was still using the Cyrillic alphabet.

To be clear, I don’t actually know. Maybe there are actually good reasons to prefer the Y to the I. But as of 9:19 I’m skeptical.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

It's always a pleasure to have a Monday in which you often need some crosses to fill in an answer and where the cluing is imaginative and makes you think. My favorite was "One of thousands in a Rose Bowl float". I must say I had absolutely no idea and, until I had some crosses, the curiosity was killing me.

I was also quite taken with "How extraterrestrials come, we hope" and "Bar from the bathroom."

I solved as a themeless and, when I saw what the theme was, I must admit that I didn't really care. But it led to a nice puzzle with grown-up fill -- so it accomplished its most important purpose. I liked this one.

TJS 9:25 AM  

Here's Rex, leading the cheers for more female constructors. This was a nice clean Monday with an approachable theme to boot.

"I took a very quick, non-software-aided pass at that computer"...Huh ???

You're listening to two friends arguing about something, and when they stop, "OK,now" seems just as fitting as "All righty then".

Wishing you a quick recovery, @GILL I.

G. Weissman 9:27 AM  

Rex’s review today is spot on. KYIV ... GIMME A BREAK. See what I did there? Etcetera.

TTrimble 9:29 AM  

Heh, I knew to hold off on the ending of EAU until more information came my way. After all, people have been known to pluralize "gateau" as "gateaus", which the purists (if they are consistent) must decry as well, but it's attested in English and: what are ya gonna do? Oh, and EAUS is a word valid in Scrabble. Again: what are ya gonna do?

Answer: get over it. Look, I hear you and all and you definitely have my sympathies, but I don't think it's actually breaking crossword rules (see also the comment by @Conrad 6:02 AM). Just be alert to such possibilities and soldier on...

KYIV is also fair, especially in light of what @egsforbreakfast said (but I'd add that even the TV networks have begun using this spelling). You're going to be a stickler for a French ending but then get put out by this?

There's a good chance that within 10 or 20 years, "Kiev" will go the way of "Peking". Not completely eradicated, mind you: you can still enjoy your Chicken Kiev and your Peking Duck. But that's how it often goes.

(Rex is in especially demanding king mode this morning. More sizzle! More color! It must be whistle clean! Some of you may have realized that with me, all roads lead back to Bugs Bunny, so with that in mind I offer this as an analogy.)

Okay, I agree with Rex here: OHIO U makes my nose wrinkle a bit. It makes me think of a generic triangular pennant that Richie Cunningham would have on his bedroom wall. (Was his town Kenosha WI or something?)

POCUS "is laughably easy": maybe so, but then again it's a Monday. OK NOW: I'm on the fence about Rex's critique. I know what he means, but I think I can imagine other intonations which are neither ironic nor conclusive. For example, imagine you're debating some fact with a friend, and you say, "All righty, then, let's see what Google has to say." See what I'm saying? That in this case, OK, NOW should be substitutable for "All righty, then"?

Speaking for myself, I thought it wasn't so bad. No horrible abbreviations (INT'L is not horrible) or initialisms. The PPP was not over the top. HAUS and EAU are really basic foreign words. About right for a Monday. Provided a few minutes of diversion. I give it a pass.

newbie 9:32 AM  


Puzzled over: EAUS. KYIV.

Remembered enough h.s. French to wonder if it should be eaux but since EAUS looked ok (I’ve probably seen the Anglicized version somewhere - see below) I thought that must be right because haux didn’t seem to be right for a Germanic language. In the end, I guessed s.

According to
“Given a word of French origin which ends in "-eau" and whose plural is created by adding an "x", such as "gateau" or "chateau" (in British English, at least), how is the possessive plural formed? There's no firm rule on this. In many cases, either "x" or "s" is acceptable.”

If there isn’t one already, we should think of a name (like Natick) for one foreign word crossing another. Any ideas?

I knew that the mysterious “they” had changed the pronunciation of Kiev, thanks to the first impeachment, but the new spelling is confusing. Yi or iy? Many nanoseconds will be wasted on that decision every time!

And if we can Anglicize eaux why can’t we Anglicize Kiev?

So now we say keev, which would seem better spelled the old way in English - Kiev (“ie” as in “grieve” - (easier to remember just to make it one syllable) whereas Kyiv seems as if it should have two syllables like the old pronunciation - keeEV, or now rather kee-iv. Funny. Too much trivia to fit in my brain. I still don’t know half the countries in the world since they’ve changed the names of so many countries and capitals.

What if the French start asking us to say Pah-REE? We’d never get that “R” sound right, right?

Looking closely, the clue said USSR which, like the KGB, is no more, at least officially. So that was correctly, if trickily (especially for a Monday), clued. My love for international spy novels served me well on that one.

I’d put in the link for the old song “Sealed With a Kiss” but it would take me too long. Very romantic for a teenager at the time.

Keep smiling!

EdFromHackensack 9:39 AM  

GASLOGS? thats a thing? My complete palette of knowledge concerning rapper’s names comes from NYTXW

Ferguson 9:40 AM  

Correct, but Rex sometimes seems to live in an alternative world.

Ferguson 9:41 AM  

Why? Plural of eau which fits perfectly

Casimir 9:42 AM  

Regarding points 1&2, I do not speak Ukrainian, but I have been to Ukraine and spent time in Kyiv. I assure you that the word is pronounced Kyiv in Ukraine.

What is the difference you ask in point 3? I am not a linguist, by I have ears, and there is a clear difference. Kyiv is pronounced approximately (to my ear) K-yi-v. This differs significantly from the English pronunciation of Kiev Key-ev. It is therefore precisely analogous to Beijing and Mumbai.

Moreover, while both Russian and Ukrainian share the Cyrillic alphabet, Ukrainian has letters the Russian alphabet doesn't, including, crucially, one of the letters in the word Kyiv. This explains the difference in transliteration. Ukrainian is related to Russian, but is a separate language with it's own pronunciation.

Finally, why isn't what actual Ukrainians use as the name of their capital city dispositive, as it has been for other countries/peoples?

newbie 9:44 AM  

@Lewis FSB is not “too obscure” for a crossword! That editor is wrong! Even on a Monday - better than Kyiv (y before i? There go those precious nanoseconds again!) Lol.

Nancy 9:55 AM  

@pabloinnh (9:11) -- Re: GAS LOGS. Yes, I was wondering about them, too. My brother has one of those fireplaces where you flip a switch and the fire comes on. Or should I say the "fire" comes on? I've always wondered "How do they do that?" I mean I know the fire can't be real, though it sure looks real. But I've never thought about the LOGS. Are they also not real? If they're not LOGS (as in wood), then what are they? Surely they're not made of GAS -- which is what GAS LOGS sound like. It's all a mystery of advanced tech to me.

@Barbara S (8:48) -- I know you didn't write the POEM, but what's with "the gray-eyed people" thing? I don't think I even know any gray-eyed people; I only know brown, blue, green and hazel-eyed people. And yet Edna's built an entire one-woman hospitality industry around them. I mean if I ventured by there, I wouldn't be offered any mugs or plates-a-plenty or a nice comfy bed? (I have brown eyes, don't you know, and could never pass for a "gray-eyed" person.) What you're doing is highly discriminatory, Edna, that's what I say!)

mathgent 9:57 AM  

Nancy expressed my feelings beautifully. She's good at doing that.

Carola 10:03 AM  

With the first two theme answers in place, and reinforced by TORMENT and AGONY, I feared that we might be BREAKing prisoners on the RACK - you know, a playful torture puzzle. Anyway, I was relieved to discover we were actually in a pool hall and not a dungeon. Enjoyed writing in IN PEACE and PEPPERED, liked the parallel ALPACA and ALLCAPS.

Z 10:06 AM  

Alrighty then. A quick perusal of the interwebs and I can summarize the arguments down to, “KYIV is better than KieV because the Russians are bastards.” I must say “The Russians are bastards” is hard to argue against as long as the kleptocracy they have remains in power.

Oh, the rest of the puzzle. I dunno. Took me a long time for a Monday. The theme is what Rex said it is. Last words are all X is fine for a Monday, but the clever clue for TOWEL RACK is perilously close to putting lipstick on a pig. OUT OF POCKET would have been my favorite if they had gone with the “unreachable” meaning, but being Monday they had to go with the more familiar insurance co-pay meaning. Nothing excites me more than insurance lingo. Yessiree Bob, let’s get down with health insurance talk. So, yeah, kind of Meh on the theme.

I thought Rex overstated the case on the fill. EAUS... Yeah, I guess English isn’t the only language with occasionally arbitrary spellings idiosyncrasies. I agree with him that KYIV on a Monday is a bit outré, but then I see the KGB crossing and presume the constructor couldn’t resist making a political statement.

oceanjeremy 10:07 AM  

Gotta agree with Casimir.

On the pronunciation point, there is a significant difference between the two-syllable "Kee - evv" and the one-syllable "Kyiv." It's pronounced just like it looks — one syllable, "Kyiv." With a soft "i" like "if" — not a soft e like eff.

And on the dispositive point: Yes. When a group of people ask you to spell/pronounce their name/city/country a certain way, you do it — especially when it's a change based on erasing a colonial or occupational history.

It's not being "politically correct," it's not "virtue signaling" — it's something a lot simpler. It's called "not being an a##hole."

tea73 10:08 AM  

I have a friend whose son has been in KYIV for the last few years. I think it's fine for us all to learn the correct spelling especially as we've been alerted to what is up.

I despised spelling the plural of EAU. I guess I shouldn't have spent a year in France.

I know this gimmick has been done in a million variations, but I thought it was fine. We are talking Mondays here!

@GILL I. best wishes for your upcoming surgery.

Paul & Kathy 10:12 AM  

I didn't like the center either, but here in the year 2021 you should know the city name Kyiv by now. I'm pretty oblivious in general and I even knew that from the news.

oceanjeremy 10:19 AM  

Didn't even blink at KYIV, didn't even occur to me that it was non-Monday fill.

I groaned a little at EAUS, but didn't bother me too much.

No, I got waylaid at the most embarrassing spot: The very, very southeast.

I raced through this puzzle, and was about to finish in around 5 minutes (the fastest I can ever solve a puzzle on my tiny iPhone SE first generation) when I just whiffed on the southeast. Not being familiar with Ms Quindle, I threw in "ANNe". Which left me with STeL_ for "What holds up an ear of corn" and "SWA_" for "Letters on love letters."

I was so intent on finishing quickly that my brain had a bit of a short circuit and I kept wanting "Letters on love letters" to be XOXO, and I kept searching around for what I might have had wrong. And "What holds up an ear of corn" I kept wanting to be something related to a produce stand, so I thought "STALL?" — then I had the aha moment with ANNA Quindlen.

I then stared at the very southwesternmost square for more than two solid minutes before I even remembered what SWAK means. I swear SWAK is something I have only encountered in crossword puzzles. I have lived 43 long years (just celebrated a birthday!) and have sent and received many, many love letters (I'm a hopeless romantic!) and have never, ever, ever seen SWAK on any notes or letters. Never encountered it in pop culture. Never encountered it in novels or nonfiction reading. Never encountered it in documentaries, casual conversation, nothing. I have only seen it in crosswords. And somehow my brain just blanked on it last night.

So I solved in 8m42s when it should have been just over 5m.

If you've ever wondered about the origin stories of a grudge, this is the birth of mine against SWAK. Forever more I'm going to despise it.

(Even when all actual fault here lies in my own malfunctioning brain.)

Bryan Holtzman 10:24 AM  

A Saturday-level clue for POCUS would be "ER bedside diagnostic aid" (POCUS = point-of-care ultrasound).

oceanjeremy 10:35 AM  

*southeasternmost (another brain fart — the last 18 hours my old noodle hasn't been operating at peak performance, apparently)

Lewis 10:36 AM  

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

1. This missing letters in _ U D W _ I S _ _ (4)
2. Way of Life? (6)(5)
3. Supporting character? (6)
4. Sink holes (6)
5. What goes right to the bottom (4)


Casimir 10:37 AM  

One last attempt and I'll subside. Kyiv is better because it is pronounced that way in Ukrainian, the language spoken in Ukraine.

Whether the Russians are bastards or not doesn't change the fact that Ukrainians are entitled to name their own capital in their own language.

Perhaps you don't see that dismissing Ukrainians' sensitivity on this issue as anti-Russian bias signals that you assume Ukraine is a province of Russia, whether that's your intention or not.

For many reasons that is offensive, as it would be for any country/people.

Whatsername 10:37 AM  

My only LIL nit to PICK was 50D. I associate OK NOW with the beginning of something as in getting down to business, whereas “alrighty then” seems more likely spoken at the conclusion of something, often accompanied by a shrug. Otherwise a fun theme subject, easy familiar expressions for the long answers, and a general lack of junk MAKE this what a Monday ought to be.

GAS LOGS are the best DEAL for a fireplace. I have a nifty little remote control that activates the flame ON CUE to keep the room at an even temperature. And the best part is there’s no need to COWER in the cold because the main part of the HAUS stays toasty warm without electricity if it comes to that, heaven forbid. Now if I only had a gas cook stove. And a POOL table.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Newsreaders have been saying KEE-V at least since the First Dethronement, but I don't recall seeing it spelled on screen or paper, so took some doing to suss the spelling wanted here. If memory serves, Ukrainian is also in Cyrillic, so is this just a matter of pronunciation between Russia and Ukraine, or different spellings? The wiki says they're nearly identical alphabets.

CDilly52 10:43 AM  

Sending good thoughts @GIL and hoping the facility makes extra green jello just for you!

I may be in the minority but I thought this hit all the Monday marks with above average aplomb. Except for the Franglishy EAUS. The theme was very Monday fir NYTXW but I thought the clues and fill just a bit better than usual. Liked the first three Across clues especially. Common-ish words with better than average (for a Monday) clues.

Especially enjoyed GAS LOGS. Cause I desperately needed mine this past week. Snow drifts that nearly covered my little Honda Fit, and kept me house bound until yesterday. I would be surprised if the -14 to -20 arctic temperature we experienced is not an Oklahoma record. We had rolling power outage, and my GAS LOGS kept me and the cats warm enough, my kitchen pipes froze and it was just a horrid week. So glad that we had a warm weekend and for the most part the snow is gone. Made me so grateful for what I do have with so many folks without so very much especially through this crazy winter storm.

Happy Monday!

egsforbreakfast 10:44 AM  

@newbie 9:32. Word for a cross of two foreign words = Natiqueau?

ow a paper cut 10:46 AM  


Crimson Devil 10:46 AM  

Kudos re: “yam”. Quite apt !!

newbie 10:47 AM  

Pablo - “I'll never think of chicken kyev in quite the same way.“ Not to mention Beijing Duck! Or Mumbai Sapphire Gin!

Apparently, there’s a delicious dish called Bombay Duck. Actually it’s fish, not duck. Leading one food writer to discuss the wonderful Bombay Duck that’s really fish that he had while living in Mumbai! Crazy world!

Seriously, though, I get the whole Ukraine thing and I’m on their side but can’t we just change our pronunciation and leave the spelling alone as an Anglicized, not Russian, spelling? Just wondering. I mean, we don’t put words in the Cyrillic alphabet - and, please, don’t start doing that. Otoh, since it bothers them that much, I’ll adapt. Otoh again, I can see why they want to say/spell it their own way but do they really care how we spell it (I wonder)? Perhaps just journalists are doing it because they want to seem “in the know” - as well as diplomatic types who rightly use the Ukrainians’ preference because they are dealing with the Ukranians.

File under itofts (I’m too old for etc.) Lol.

Mr. Benson 10:55 AM  

Odd to see someone insist on correct spelling of foreign words (EAUS vs. EAUX) and also insist on "KIEV."

pabloinnh 11:01 AM  

@Nancy (with a nod to @Whatsername)-Nope, the logs are not made out of gas, as the name would imply. They're ceramic, but they sure look real. There's a pilot light on all the time, like a gas stove. My remote has an automatic thermostat on/off feature which I never use, just turn it on until it gets warm enough and then turn it off. My man cave is in my finished basement so I only use it when I'm down there watching sports, i.e., every night in the winter. We're moving in a couple of months and I wish I could take it with me.

TTrimble 11:02 AM  

For those asking about ANON: it can me "in a while", but it really means, here, "in a little while". "In a minute/moment". Shortly.

Heh, my eyes have been described as gray! (Or grey, take your pick.) Actually, it'd be more accurate to say they're a blue-gray, or a "slate" as my mom has said. It's not as if, if I were to open my eyes wide for your close attention, you would affirm they're gray. It's more to describe how they might appear when they're slightly narrowed under a bright sun. Sort of a steely blue, not a bright blue or sky blue. Not sure if that helps...

Edna St. Vincent Millay was a BAD ASS. Love these literary excerpts coming from @Barbara S. You rock, Barbara.

(Best thoughts and wishes for @Gill I. Come back real soon.)

Unknown 11:05 AM  

Sorry Rex, but it sounds like you took a couple of nasty pills this am, or else simply forgot to be a nice person. We're dealing here with a silly game of crosswords -- not a solution to international terrorism -- hardly a reason for feeding your ego by demeaning someone.
Just my two cents.

jberg 11:19 AM  

I seem to have missed some news about @Gill; I'll send her my best wishes, just in case.

Well, I could see that it was going to be EAU (I hadn't noticed the fourth letter yet), and was a little miffed that the clue said "and" instead of "et," to CUE the French. But then I saw there was another letter so I put in the x, then saw HAUS and took it out again, muttering curses. No, no, no. It's bottled water, not bottled EAU, so you have to use the French plural. That kind of ruled the fun of the pool game for me.

I lived in Kyiv for about a month, once, on a Fulbright; so I'm not a fair judge of that one, although I do agree that one saw it a lot during Trump's first impeachment.

I don't know the standards for Mondays, but normally I'd like a more oblique cue for the revealer, something like "football _____" or "car _____"

Getting our second vaccine today, so gotta run.

Joe Dipinto 11:24 AM  

Ky The Fourth is too obscure a pope to be in the Monday puzzle.

Nancy 11:30 AM  

A special new crossword term for when two foreign words cross each other? Great idea, @newbie (9:32)! But we can't use today's example: HAUS is too easy and boring and EAUS is too controversial and peculiar. Let's all be on the lookout, shall we, for the very next time such a thing occurs. (Unless someone can research a previous one; I'm not terribly good at that, but maybe some of the rest of you are.) I'll be rooting for a Japanese word -- something at least as colorful as "Natick".

newbie 12:04 PM  

To give him the benefit of the doubt, I think Rex was giving the constructor a free lesson in Monday puzzle construction. A little too harshly, perhaps. Or maybe he was pointing out the things Will should have caught. Or both.

Always loved Edna. First book of poetry I ever bought - from Scholastic when I was 12 or 13. Didn’t recall this poem but I know more people with grey eyes than green or hazel. The first two usually dubbed blue, the last, brown.

egs@9:44 am - I like it! Or Natiqueaus? Natiqueaux? Natique? Or, in keeping with the way Rex got Natick, simply eaus? This is fun! But your Natiqueau may be the best.

Ocean@10:07 am - so, if I understand you correctly, it’s pronounced Kiff, not Keef or Keev? Now I really am confused. I might have to go through the impeachment testimony again.

I do think we should give more meaningful support to the Ukrainians (short of direct military involvement) beyond Kyiv, I mean. Actually glad I finally can remember how to spell it now.

As a friend used to say, “apropos of nothing” -

First time I heard Quebec pronounced Kebec and/or Keebec, I was in Quebec in 2001. Now I hear it quite a bit in the States but not ubiquitously. As far as I know, it’s not a problem. And Quebec has had a pretty contentious history with Anglo Canada.

And what’s with Care-a-BEE-an and Ca-RIB-ee-an? Don’t get me started! Also found in the same file in my brain: why did an acquaintance insist on calling her daughter’s diapers “nappies” long after she returned from a year in the UK? Enquiring minds want to know.

As my son would say, “Too much coffee, mom!”

newbie 12:10 PM  

Joe @11:24 am Hahah. Good one!

A 12:12 PM  

This puzzle took us on an INTL trip: England with the BRONTEs, Wales, Prussia, Russia, US, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, the Andes, and with the Debussy, France and Scotland: Girl with the Flaxen Hair. (This instrumentation has advantages over the original piano. I think Claude would approve.)

I don’t understand why poor Rex was in such TORMENT over this one. A perfectly fine Monday theme with only a few of the “usual suspects,” as @Frantic says. EAUS the only real EWE. Plus we get the KGB and the TSA together, sealed with a kiss from ANNA Quindlan. I know, there were no baseball references, that’s why he hated it. Actually only the token GOAL, clued as the hockey score but even that didn’t have to be sports related.

I tried pronouncing KYIV and Kiev and I prefer the former. I say it shorter, with one syllable, which is probably how I should say Kiev but I don’t. But why not just KYV? Or this that a Ukrainian rap artist?

Thanks, Barbara Lin!

pabloinnh 12:13 PM  

I'm for calling a two foreign word cross as a "xeno", as in "Man I got xnoed by those two."

kitshef 12:33 PM  

@Newbie 9:32. The "s is an alternative to x" only applies when the word has come from French into English, as chateau has. Eau has not. In English, you might say "we'll be staying in a chateau". You would never say "we'll be drinking eau". Eau remains a French word, and can only be pluralized with an x.

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

Looks like it's all been said, by the time M&A finally squeezed in his solvequest. Mosta what I'd say would be over-kyiv.

staff weeject pick: LIL. It's like a weeject selfie. Only 10 weejects of the 3-long-persuasion to choose from. Mighty unusual, for a MonPuz. Constructioneerin note: Puttin yer themer on line 4 instead of line 3 can help limit them weejects somewhat, so I'm told.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Shrink in fear} = COWER. Especially when I already had the CO_ER part. honrable mention to: {Abbr. below "O" on a phone} = OPER, since that was my initial entry point.

Verb/noun theme discussion thingy: RACK em up. QED.

Thanx for the fun, Barbara darLIN.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Teedmn 12:57 PM  

I liked this puzzle just fine. Rex's nit about BREAK being an outlier, well RACK can be both the tool and the action so one could be generous and take the latter position. And how many times have I said, "Man, that was a bad break", making it a noun (I'm not a great player though I love the game). My request would be to include chalk, felt, bridge, shark, masse, carom, maybe even talc.

Smugness abounded when I knew exactly what Barbara was looking for at KYIV. Well, okay, I knew there were two ways to spell KYIV, wasn't sure which was the Ukrainian's preference and thought that it might be KYeV. But I do remember the controversy that arose about the spelling when the first impeachment was being investigated.

Barbara Lin, nice job.

And @Barbara S, that's a very sweet poem. I wonder who Edna's grey-eyed teacher was.

The Joker 12:58 PM  

All righty then.... Kiev should be KYIV and EAUS should be EAUx. OK NOW the big question, plural of octopus, anyone?

Anoa Bob 1:22 PM  

I once bought a HAUS because it had a room big enough for a full-sized POOL table. Yeah, I love to shoot POOL. So any puzzle with a billiard theme is a winner in my book.

I wonder if GENA ever went to GENOA. That last letter sequence made me realize that ANON and ANNA are only one letter away from the world's smallest buffalo, an endangered species native to Indonesia, the ANOA!

@Joe D, I believe it was Pope KY IV who decreed that the LYRE would be the official instrument of the Muses.

newbie 1:30 PM  

kitshef@12:33 pm - I agree with you - I just found that explanation on, whatever that is, when trying to find a reason for eaus instead of eaux. Not saying it’s correct. Since she used two French waters with “and” and not “et” as I think someone already mentioned, she may have been going for the English or Anglicized version of the plural. Too tricky for a Monday, perhaps, but in keeping with her USSR/KGB usage - I was alerted to that one because I’ve seen it here before. Eau not so much. But, in fairness to Ms. Lin, I do think I’ve seen “chateaus” more often than “chateaux” - not that one sees either very often.

I like the puzzle, btw. But then, I usually think anything I have a problem with in a puzzle is my fault - only by coming to the blog have I found out that we can complain about the puzzle itself - LOL. I’ll always be a newbie, even if I did finish Friday and Saturday all by myself - a first that!

newbie 1:38 PM  

Pablo @12:13 pm - xeno is very good - succinct and catchy! 🙂

old timer 1:47 PM  

I have no trouble with KYIV, but EAUS is so unacceptable the whole puzzle should have been rejected or redrafted to avoid it. The sole use of EAU is in French phrases that have become part of English: EAU de vie, EAU de Cologne are the only to EAU entries in my dictionary. Hence the French plural, EAUx, is ineluctable.

The treatment of foreign cities in English is curious. We have Paris and Madrid, though we pronounce them differently. We have the French-based Lisbon and Rome and Vienna and Geneva, and Naples, and only Rome sounds like the way the French pronounce it. If people insist on changing Kiev to KYIV and Peking to Beijing, the only acceptable reason to change a long-established name is to make it come closer to the way it is pronounced in its home country.

On that ground, KYIV is OK with me, though it would be a shame to alter Moscow and St Petersburg and Warsaw and Prague just because the local spelling is a little different. I would change Naples to Napoli, because it sounds more romantic. And I'm grateful the Dutch call Amsterdam Amsterdam!

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

KYIV has been the preferred spelling by the Ukrainian government since 2018. It's not some obscure, wacky spelling. The AP and other news organizations are using it. Eventually, everyone will.

It took many years for Beijing and Mumbai to become universal, too.

I'm confused by some of the above comments. If a friend said she wanted to go by "Terri" rather than "Terry," would you start arguing with her that she shouldn't be changing it because you're used to the old spelling, and what's the point anyway since they are pronounced the same? I think we all would start spelling her name as "Terri" because our friend should have the name she wishes to have, as long as it's reasonable.

CreamyT 1:49 PM  

I looked this up on Merriam-Webster, apparently even the english "eau" is pluralized as "eaux"

A 1:57 PM  

Forgot to mention the shout out to @LMS with the LYRE clue!

@Barbara S., never knew any of that about aardvarks, especially that they’re related to elephants, manatees and hyraxes (the last also called dassies). “Aye, ’tis a curious fancy-“ Thanks!

@Nancy, so aptly put: “a nice puzzle with grown-up fill.”

@bocamp, enjoyed hearing SWAK - first time since I don’t know when. (@newbie, bocamp linked it at 8:20am)

@TTrimble, thanks for the Hasenpfeffer bit!

@Casimir and @oceanjeremy, I see I needn’t have put in my two cents on KYIV. Y'all covered it, although I think @Joe Dipinto got the last word.

@Whatsername, imagine someone (not naming any names, OFL) going on a ridiculous tirade. If you get a bit weary of it you might say either OK NOW or ALRIGHTY THEN as a CUE to let it go.

@CDilly and @Whatser, hand up for being grateful for my (manually lit) GAS LOGS and stove last week. Didn’t use the POOL table, though - too cold in the basement. CDilly, I’m also still chuckling over my reaction to “extra green jello.” I know you meant extra jello, but I’d like to see them try to make it extra green! Hope @GILL is recovered enough to enjoy hers soon!

@pabloinnh, I’d vote for xeno!

@Birchbark, my favorite phrase of the day is your “it paints from a palette agnostic to the @Rex arbitrary ‘shoulds’.” If you remove the personal reference it could become a classic. Or maybe even if you don’t.

CreamyT 1:57 PM  

Struggle for a Monday for the wife and I. Didn't know NIOBE/NOME, and ANON wasn't coming to mind. I didn't find KYIV too bad mostly because all the acrosses seemed fairly easy in the pattern we solved.

Also neither of us had ever heard of SWAK before. Granted, I don't think I've ever sent someone an actual love letter before. Am I that cold??

And OKNOW is just...not good. "All righty then" is a sort of dismissive or eye-rolling "Sure" or "Uhh, OK, whatever." Doesn't fit at all for me.

egsforbreakfast 2:06 PM  

Recently drank several eaux while eating two gateaux in one of my chateaux, all of which are located on plateaux where bateaux are a rare sight. Having this many chateaux, I also need multiple bureaux for those of my trousseaux that are not on the many tableaux. People are always saying to us, “Oh you Rousseaux, why not just use one of your portmanteaux?” I love these nouveaux idee!!!

bocamp 2:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara S. 2:19 PM  

@Nancy (9:55)
HAH! @Nancy, you’re the best: “an entire one-woman hospitality industry”! I let out such a whoop of laughter that my husband stuck his head around the door to see what was going on! Isn’t it nice that in her poetic imagination, Edna didn’t have to consider the rules and regulations of innkeeping, since she’s not about to submit this as a business plan to the local small entrepreneurial development bank. It’s a lovely image, though, I think: the inn as a warm refuge, welcoming all the grey-eyed stand-ins for Edna’s lost lover? mentor? grandparent? -- in any case, kindred soul.

@TTrimble, @Teedmn, @newbie, @A
Glad you guys are Edna fans, too.

sanfranman59 2:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephanie 2:29 PM  

/shrug it was fine, not bothered by KYIV although i had KYEV at first. also as it happens, DEDUCTIBLES fit where OUTOFPOCKET should have gone so that was a brief readjustment for me :) EAUS is a bit weird, but i figured it out easily enough. (my french vocab knowledge is abysmal but "eau de toilette" - toilet water! just kidding but...that's what helped me to solve this clue, ngl XD)

honestly the one thing that tripped me up was SWAK. i thought for sure it had to be some combo of X's and O's, and when the puzzle was all done i thought "what the heck?" and then, as i was typing it into google, my brain went "OH! sealed with a kiss." but has anyone ever written "SWAK" specifically? (a genuine curiosity.) sure i've seen "sealed with a kiss" or the lipstick prints, or X's but never seen SWAK as the clue implies. i guess most of my snail mail is exchanged between family members and non-romantic friends so, that could be the explanation.

if i tried to find something else to complain about, it would be that i'm a bit bored of typing "ATE IN" in so many crosswords. but overall a fine monday puzzle for me.

sanfranman59 2:39 PM  

Medium-Challenging NYT Monday ... 4% above my 6-month median solve time

It sure seems like Will has decided to make Monday a showcase for female constructors. This makes 12 of the last 13 and 14 of 16 with at least a female co-constructor.

I rarely get much of a charge out of early week puzzles and this one didn't move me much at all. It was fine. I don't recall much grimacing along the way and there was enough resistance to keep things interesting. That's just about all I ask from an easy puzzle. The theme is simple and (again) fine, though I never even saw the revealer. It's always nice to see a nod to my state of birth, current residence and my sister's alma mater (OHIO U {38D: State school SE of Columbus, in brief}). As usual, the spelling of GENA {54D: Actress Rowlands} was a coin toss and I made the wrong call at first with GiNA and I couldn't recall the Ukrainian spelling of Kiev (KYIV {53D: Ukraine's capital, to Ukrainians}), so the SW was a speed bump.

No thumbs (up or down)

@Loren (2:28am) ... Welcome back! It's always nice to read you here. Something tells me that you meant to say "45, I pray, will be pummeled with questions for the foreseeable future.", rather than 44?

bocamp 2:48 PM  

The kids have a bumper pool table; not so much of a space hog, and just as fun to play.

As for "eaus", given the context, that'll be a yes fromme", as per @Conrad 6:02 AM, @TTrimble 9:29 AM, Scrabble and @Will & staff. In most other cases, I'd go with "eaux".

One of my favorite songs to play on the guitar: Room Full of Roses ~ Mickey Gilley

If I sent a rose to you
For every time you made me blue
You'd have a room full of roses

And If I sent a rose of white
For every time I cried all night
You'd have a room full of roses

And if I took the "petals"
And would tear them all apart
You'd be tearing up the roses
Just the way you broke my heart

If someday you're feeling blue
And you could send a rose or two
Don't send me a room full of roses
I just want my arms around you

And if I took the "petals"
And would tear them…

@A 1:57 PM 👍

td 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

OffTheGrid 2:48 PM  

EAUS bothers me not at all. What does grind my gears is when I see or hear "I" as an objective pronoun.

JC66 2:55 PM  


I think @LMS was referring to questions from the Attorney General, the IRS and local DAs.

stephanie 2:57 PM  

and thank you, @egsforbreakfast, for this very enjoyable comment :)

newbie 2:59 PM  

Thanks, A and bocamp for the link to Brian Highland. And thanks, eg, for the laugh! I have to go now and get Alexa to play swak for me.

Unknown 3:15 PM  

Reading the very nice analysis in Wordplay, and then coming here to read Rex's ignorant rant about KYIV pretty much says it all about this blog . . . .

JC66 3:24 PM  


If you go to , you should be able to find an option to "create an account."

Once you do that, you can check the Google Account option when choosing an identity (under the Leave your comment box).

You then just have to hit the "Publish Your Comment" box to longer necessary to prove you're not a robot.

Hope this helps.

Good luck.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

My SWAG is that I've (in my callow youth) added SWAK to a B-day or Valentine's Day card.

Whatsername 3:30 PM  

@pablo (9:11) I have encountered those woodburning purists too who look down their noses at gas logs. I just smile and nod and say “alrighty then” and don’t mention the smell, the mess and the effort of wood, or the fact that it’s not even remotely as energy efficient.

@A (1:57) OK NOW, that’s an excellent example although I’d still be more inclined to say “alrighty then” in that situation (see above). But I get what you’re saying.

Add my enthusiastic hand up in favor of XENO. It’s a yes from me.

Maybe . . . 3:32 PM  

I was going to mention the same comment on KYIV, that English language publications, including NYT, currently use KYIV for Kiev. I noticed it in NYT beginning in 2019 and all through 2020 (and found an instance back in 2017).

bocamp 3:37 PM  

@newbie 2:59 PM 😊

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Amy 3:49 PM  

I love Rex but we have to accept that he is geography challenged. Kyiv is how we spell it now. Has been for a while. And I still can’t over his saying the new Defense Secretary is not worthy of crosswords. Sigh.

Z 4:43 PM  

@Casimir - You seem angry. Nevertheless, three things. First, you wrote, dismissing Ukrainians' sensitivity on this issue as anti-Russian bias signals that you assume Ukraine is a province of Russia I’m not sure how you got there from “Russians are bastards” and “kleptocracy.” And “dismissing?” How about “observing?” Because literally everything out there points to the idea that the change is wanted because KieV reflects Russian attempts to eliminate Ukrainian culture. Read again without assuming I disagree with you and you might realize I don’t disagree with you, at least not about Russian policy and practices.
Totally separate, KYIV and KieV are going to be pronounced exactly the same by American readers. I have no idea how to pronounce Київ, but based on both of these transliterations I’d go with “Key ev” or maybe “keev” if I had never heard it before. If Merriam-Webster’s pronunciation file is to be believed using a “V” is way more problematic than the “ie. So, no, KYIV is not a better representation of the Ukrainian name if the idea is to have Americans recognize that the Ukrainian name isn’t pronounced “Kiev.”
Finally, Ukrainians are entitled to name their own capital in their own language. This isn’t the question, but it’s also not actually the way language works. Commonly used names for foreign places are often barely related to what the people call the place themselves. Japan and Germany come immediately to mind. They’re called exonyms and a quick look on the interwebs says they are pretty typical in lots of languages. So the real issue is that this particular exonym comes fraught with politics (The Russians are a kleptocracy of bastards), not some sort of “right” to name a place in a foreign language.This is significantly different from the Peking to Beijing issue because that was more or less purely about having the written word more closely indicate the sound of the word.

@Casimir & @Several people - regardless of what transliteration should be preferred, Rex’s complaint was about the Monday worthiness of KYIV and uncle Google says he has a point.
Along the same lines, @Amy, what Rex actually wrote yesterday was, it's gonna be a while before I'm up to speed on this currently 1-month-old group of Bidenites. Good on you if you knew that answer, but Rex never said the Defense Secretary is not worth knowing.. Personally, the only Cabinet nominees that have gotten firmly lodged for me are Garland and Tanden because, well, Russians are bastards.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

I just smile and nod and say “alrighty then” and don’t mention the smell, the mess and the effort of wood, or the fact that it’s not even remotely as energy efficient.

There have been reports of Snowflake New England states experiencing smoke invasions just like the in the Hillbilly Hollers of yore, thanks to wood burning stoves. Not sure, one way or the other, whether pellet stoves are as nasty.

sanfranman59 5:51 PM  

@JC66 (2:55pm) ... At the risk of beating a dead horse (though I guess that's kinda what we do around these parts), the recently departed occupant of the White House was the 45th president. As far as I know, while the Justice Department, IRS and various DAs may have plans to question him, the same cannot be said about Mr. Obama, our 44th president.

JC66 6:12 PM  


Right you are. I guess neither @Loren or I can count. 😂

Thanks for setting me straight.

Anonymous 6:13 PM  

I think Otto von Bismarck should be cancelled. “Under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Germany's colonial empire was established on territories in present-day Namibia, Cameroon, Togo, parts of Tanzania and Kenya.” Sounds like a racist. How can we allow this ? Or, we can be adults and understand that once Rex and his friends start to try and cancel people and words the list is endless ?

chinch 6:20 PM  

@Anonymous 8.49 a.m., You’re right. The Kyiv v Kiev distinction is about pronunciation (not transliteration). Kyiv is pronounced keeve; Kiev is pronounced kee-ev, the latter being the Russian way to pronounce the name of the city.

chinch 6:26 PM  

Gonna have to second (actually 3rd) Casimir 9.42 a.m. and oceanjeremy 10.07 a.m. @Z 9.19 a.m.

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

@Anon 6:13- You are correct. Henceforth Otto should be clued only as the stoner bus driver from The Simpsons. Of course, only if the voice actor is a stoner in real life. On a related note, Harry Shearer will no longer be the voice of Dr. Hibbert because he’s apparently from a different color than this character. What about the main characters on The Simpsons who are yellow you may ask. No clue. I thought the show went off the air years ago until I read the Shearer story today. Sigh.

newbie 6:54 PM  

I think that’s 3 for xeno (I am abstaining/recusing myself so far) - we’ll see what sticks, as Nancy (I think it was) said.

I find it a challenge to prove I’m not a robot. Besides, identifying items in those blurry photos is a blast. In fact, I’m considering changing my handle to “I am not a robot.”

Regarding potus 44 and 45 ... maybe they were just trying to forget potus 45.

Anonymous 7:07 PM  

Well they counted Grover Cleveland twice thanks to Benjamin Harrison so that adds to the confusion. They’ll count Trump as 45 and 47 should he win in 2024 God forbid.

Anonymous 7:14 PM  

Just to hammer the zillionth nail into the coffin.

KYIV is in the news in a big way. A national leader whom the news media refer to as working in Kyiv has recently asserted that a former leader of a major world power attempted to solicit a bribe from him. You can't get more newsworthy than that.

And no one ever, ever, has used the word "eaus" in a sentence, in any language.

Unknown 7:48 PM  

So, did anybody want to comment on the puzzle?

Ernonymous 8:57 PM  

@anon 7:07 lol he won't be in any shape to run, let alone win with all his pending criminal charges, civil suits and financial problems. He'll say is is to raise money from gullibles and the media likes it as a story but it's 100% not a thing.

stephanie 9:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephanie 9:42 PM  

okay, i've fixed my profile problems! sometimes the simplest answer is the most obvious one, apparently. for anyone else who may want help, i simply clicked on the bit where it said "unknown" above my posted comment and that took me to the page i had been looking for to update my profile so i could add a display name and a picture. (i've now deleted my other comments about this so as not to clutter the comments with irrelevant...stuff, but many thanks again to @JC and @GILL for the encouragement :))

JC66 9:57 PM  


Almost there. When I click on your blue name, I get this:

Profile Not Available

The Blogger Profile you requested cannot be displayed. Many Blogger users have not yet elected to publicly share their Profile.

If you're a Blogger user, we encourage you to "enable access to your Profile" in blue.

Michael Norman 10:11 PM  

Imagine « Waters » in its place. They are equivalent

albatross shell 10:57 PM  

Thanks for the SWAK song link. I couldn't remember who the heck sang it. Would have guessed Pat Boone. I assume noone writes letters at all any more so younguns don't know it. But boomers not knowing it? Weird.

Nobody mentioned LMS's little picture. Draw bridge. Both POOL terms. Bonus points for her if the bridge is in KYEV GENOA or Crimea.

Also nobody mentioned that the NYT Crossword site lit up no across clues but only the down themers plus OHIOU. Never knew a pool bet with an IOU. The written clue was correct.

I'm with TTrimble's wait and see approach on the plural of EAU. And even on Monday you might get a rebus plural eauopode. It's a crossword. Take nothing for granted except OREO. I thought this was a fine tribute puzzle for short vowel-heavy E-words.

A 11:06 PM  

@Z, She said, he said….but context is everything. For your perusal, but more in defense of @Casimir and @Amy:

Rex in context: “The major issue is KYIV (53D: Ukraine's capital, to Ukrainians). I mean ... KYIV. It's Monday, and you wanna spell KIEV like that? And ... why? It's a regular old 4x5 corner in a Monday puzzle, how in the world can you not fill it in a way that spares us KYIV.”

“It’s Monday, and you wanna (sic) spell Kiev like that?” Are you sure this is solely a ‘Monday worthiness’ issue? Monday or not, how do you objectively read that sentence and not hear, starkly, “Kiev is right, Kyiv is wrong.”? “spell Kiev like that“ means Kiev is the way we spell it and why would you spell Kiev Kyiv? @Casimir, to quote the Dalai Lama, “Be Angry.”

And Rex in context yesterday: “It's funny that this puzzle thinks I already know not one but two Biden appointees. The whole thing with Biden's election is that I get to take a *break* from paying attention to political *$^% for, like, six months, minimum. I know his dogs and wife, and I know the Vice President, and honestly, I'm maxed out. OK, I do see JEN Psaki's name from time to time, so that's fine (69D: ___ Psaki, Biden press secretary) (also, look out for PSAKI (5), probably!). But it's gonna be a while before I'm up to speed on this currently 1-month-old group of Bidenites. Yeah, even this LLOYD guy, who, as defense secretary, seems *kinda* important”

“It’s funny this puzzle thinks I already know not one but two Biden appointees.” Sorry, even if you ‘wanna (sic) check out’, how do you avoid the press secretary?

But most offensive is this: “The Lloyd guy, who, as defense secretary, seems *kinda* important….” Do I even have to womansplain? First Black Secretary of Defense, AND he had to jump through extra hoops because he hadn’t been retired long enough. He is a big deal.

Sorry for the indignation; these points just seemed deserving of attention.

Oh, and by the way, you can say Russians are bastards if you want, but a great many Russians are beautiful people: musicians, authors, artists, poets, philosophers. It's just that their elected bastards have more power than ours.

Joe 8:47 AM  

The clue for 38D was ridiculous. Just say Athens.

William Fleiner 1:03 PM  

For the benefit of non-Buckeyes in this thread: As a graduate of The Ohio State University, I'm compelled to inform you (and the editor of this NYTXW) that OHIO U (Ohio University) is in Athens, Ohio, not Columbus The one in Columbus is OSU.

JC66 1:07 PM  

@William Fleiner

Reread the clue.

stephanie 6:30 PM  

@JC yeah, i did that on purpose. i don't have any profile info so i didn't see the point of displaying it :)

Pdhaws 12:16 AM  


William 12:17 PM  

...although if you’re gonna pluralize a French word, shouldn’t you use the French plural, “eaux”?

William 12:21 PM  

Thank you for the poem, that was lovely.

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