Pointy-leaved desert plants / MON 5-24-21 / Roughly 71% of the earth's surface / Three-ingredient lunchbox staple familiarly

Monday, May 24, 2021

Constructor: Adrienne Atkins

Relative difficulty: Medium+ (a tad slower than my usual Monday) (3:17)

THEME: BODY DOUBLE (61A: Stand-in during a film shoot ... or a hint to 17-, 25-, 38- and 51-Across) — common two-word phrases where both words are body parts:

Theme answers:
  • MOUTH ORGAN (17A: Harmonica)
  • RIB JOINT (25A: Place to get some barbecue)
  • KNUCKLEHEAD (38A: Dummy)
  • BACKLASH (51A: Negative repercussions)
Word of the Day: YUCCAS (31A: Pointy-leaved desert plants) —

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae. Its 40–50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of the Americas and the Caribbean.

Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta). Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the TaΓ­no word for the latter, yuca. (wikipedia)

• • •

Riding high on a beautiful summer day, complete with a 5-mile hike on the Rim Trail at Treman State Park outside Ithaca, and then book shopping and a vanilla malt, and then a fancy benefit dinner at our local vegan restaurant (first time we'd eaten in a restaurant in 15 months). An exceedingly good day. Maybe I'm a little tired or full or sun-addled or something because I kinda stumbled through this puzzle. Wasn't as tight and methodical in my solving approach as I normally am, especially on early-week puzzles, and so kind of meandered through the middle of the grid and ended up trying to back my way into the center of the grid and let's just say that there's a reason that NW-to-SE flow makes the most sense: the more you take that route, the more apt you are to fill in the *front* ends of answers first. Much easier to get stuff, generally, when you've got a piece of the front end than when you've got a piece of the back end. For instance, I had -HEAD today at 38A: Dummy and honestly -HEAD was zero help. DUNDERHEAD? CHOWDERHEAD? STUPIDHEAD? Bah. Whereas if I'd come down into the answer from the NW, I would've had some of the front end—easier to figure out what follows KNUCKLE than what precedes HEAD. I also just didn't know MOUTH ORGAN. I guess I've heard that term, but "harmonica" and maybe "mouth harp" (??) seem like more familiar things to me (actually, the harmonica is also known as a "French harp"). So the ORGAN part took work. As did the JOINT part of RIB JOINT. All told I was only about 20 seconds slower than usual, but on a Monday, that's kind of a long time.

As for the quality of the theme: it works OK. It's a pretty damn broad array of body parts here, and I'm not sure ORGAN is specific enough to qualify (any more than, say, LIMB would qualify). But each theme answer has two parts that are also, technically, body parts, so BODY DOUBLE is apt enough, and it's a nice revealer (a nice term in its own right). Outside the theme answers, the only trouble I had came when I typo'd SPA instead of SPF (29A: Tanning lotion fig.), and wrote in SPY instead of SLY at 35D: Apt letters missing from "_tea_th_". Clearly my brain knew SPY was apt, but that means my brain must have known the word in the clue was "stealthy," in which case my brain should've known that "P" was not an option. But my brain ... try telling it anything. Hope you had a lovely weekend. This puzzle seems a reasonably good start to the puzzling week.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

I thought this was the best Monday in forever. Perhaps just a bit on the hard side (for a Monday) with a theme that was not obvious (to me) until the revealer. Enjoyed it much more than a typical Monday.

jae 12:06 AM  

Tough Mon. and I’m not exactly sure why, except I kept needing crosses which forced me to JUMP around a lot, or sorta what @Rex said.

Clever and smooth and Jeff at Xwordinfo gave it POW. A fine debut!

Frantic Sloth 1:29 AM  

@Z (from yesterday) I got this iPad on sale and now it's only too clear why it was such a "great deal". Have to say that the old video thing rarely happens to me, but when it does it's usually short-lived. Yes. I blame Rye.

Wow. High praise, Rex.

I thought the theme and themers all worked just fine. Who knew there were that many DOUBLE-BODY-parts?

The fill was pretty good, too. No complaints or nits - and all this from a debut constructor!

Favorite entry: KNUCKLEHEAD
I wonder why...

Congratulations and well done, Ms. Atkins. Y'all come back now, y'hear?


egsforbreakfast 1:37 AM  

I got the theme and everything. But I’m not sure what body part LASH is (51A Negative repercussions....... BACKLASH). I just honestly can’t think of where my LASH sits. Please help.

Other than that, I enjoyed the puzzle a ton. Thanks and congrats on your debut, Adrienne Atkins.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

@egs Think eyeLASH.

Fun, easy Monday, loved the theme. Laughed when I came to KNUCKLEHEAD, commented to puzzle partner, “Hey, Robbie’s in the puzzle.
He got to 38A and burst out laughing. Robbie is a sweet, lovable Border Collie who we adore, but he’s not the smartest of doggies, he makes up for it with his goofy antics.

Ben 2:32 AM  

MOUTHORGAN was a gimme for me based on my high school devotion to A Bit of Fry and Laurie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzBQjBvFQVw

Loren Muse Smith 2:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 2:44 AM  

What a great aha moment! It took the revealer to show me that KNUCKLEHEAD and RIB JOINT involved two parts of the body.

@egsforbreakfast – @chefwen beat me to it: LASH as in eyelash. ( I piled on here because I have a helpful tip. Any of you interested in the best mascara out there – run, don’t walk, to Ulta and buy yourself some Maneater mascara.)

My excuse for explaining LASH is that I wanted to recommend Maneater mascara. For the other 46 people who’ll answer @egsborbreakfasts’s question. . . do you not read the comments?

I love a theme that has me thinking of other possibilities: eye teeth, head butt, ass kisser, crackhead, back tooth, bone head, tool chest. . . hah!

I can’t abide PEAS. But you pea-lovers out there? If you eat in the continental style (fork stays in your left hand, knife stays in your right) you can stab a piece of meat and then scoop potatoes and peas onto the top of your downturned fork, smash’em a little bit. Then convey the load to your mouth, fork still downturned. Seriously – you really can.

The clue for LATINAS reminded me of this. It’s worth a look.

BLAMEME looks like a less-exciting version of the bireme and trireme.

First thought for the pointy-leaf desert plant was agaves. I watched Bear Grylls take the topmost point of an agave leaf, break it off making sure to leave a strand of the fibrous leaf, and bam – needle and thread. I dunno, after that, he probably stitched up a gash in his leg or some such ridiculousness. I had to break up with Bear when I read about how staged his show was. It was a dark time in my life.

Ones leading the blind.

Gotta go make my fruit salad snack for school. If I do it ahead of time, then at my desk, I won’t have to deal with the, uh, cherry pits.

amyyanni 4:13 AM  

Bright puzzle, just a bit gnarly for Monday. Glad Rex had such a fine Sunday. Now I need to find something else to do instead of snooze because insomnia.

Ann Howell 5:22 AM  

Fun, easy Monday, perhaps more so because after living in London for over 10 years, "mouth organ" was a gimme. Any theme on a Monday is laudable, and this one was cute. Also like the long downs of SERVICE DOGS and STAKE A CLAIM. Overall a nice start to the week!

Lewis 6:29 AM  

What a lovely theme, simple yet never done before. Logic says, sadly, that one day original themes will all run out and we’ll be stuck with repeats, but after puzzles like today, I fill up with hope that fresh themes will continue forever and ever hallelujah.

Excellent Monday, so accessible to new solvers, and a great intro to the concept of theme.

My end-o-scope perked up at column two’s ISO / UNO / PLATEAU, echoed not far away by SLOMO. And speaking of 15A-clue’s “Boggle”, there are a couple of Boggle-style CATs to go with that SERVICE DOG, and a Boggle-style WEST (using the W of NEWER) to go with EAST.

A bright and beautiful creation, AA, and a very promising debut. Thank you and please don’t be a stranger!

The Joker 6:45 AM  

I was looking to see if there were any stray BODY parts in the puzzle. Would GAS count?

mathgent 6:49 AM  

"Which Attila are you talking about ?" "Attila the Hun." "Oh, him."

Wonderful clue for SLY. Is there a name for clues like that? I think that the Puns and Anagrams puzzle that sometimes runs on Sunday has had some. The daily crossword also had one not long ago.

SouthsideJohnny 6:53 AM  

Very enjoyable, perhaps a touch on the tougher side for a Monday - with basically a sprinkling of the usual cast of characters (apparently, the Times is being sure to indoctrinate the noobs early and appropriately). A couple of foreign words (UNO, ISLA), of course a Greek Alphabet representative (TAU), IPA - which appears so frequently that it doesn’t even require a clue anymore - in fact it would be a good choice to play Waldo if the Times decides to do a “Where’s Waldo” crossword week. They even snuck in a quick sports-related answer (MLB) - all-in-all a good job and a fine time was had by all.

Lewis 6:59 AM  

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

1. Rodin's thinker? (4)
2. Some bars returned to again and again? (6)
3. Peer of Ibsen (4)
4. Looking to steal, say (2)(4)
5. They might cut to the chase (5)(5)


Barbara S. 7:10 AM  

Happy Queen Victoria’s birthday! Or, as we used to call it when I was a kid, Firecracker Day! It’s a holiday up here in the senior Dominion, a fact which boggles Brits because they don’t celebrate it as a holiday themselves.

I thought this theme worked well. ORGAN is possibly a bit non-specific (hi, Rex), but I’m willing to cut the constructor some slack on her debut. (I wasn’t so accommodating yesterday, cranky me.) My only two errors occurred on the same line: “serene” for PLACID (I would have been better off with a PPP clue for Lake P.) and “yak” for GNU. Can I have been doing crosswords for this long without assimilating that a wildebeest is a GNU? “I’m a GNU/How do you do?” indeed. I guess we were never properly introduced.

I liked ECHOES, YUCCAS and especially BEMOAN. Also STAKE A CLAIM and SERVICE DOGS. I didn’t mind that today’s helpful canines appeared so soon after THERAPY DOG (last Tuesday). The challenge of eating PEAS with a fork took me back to 1971 and my cousin’s wedding, for which I was a bridesmaid. There was a luncheon before the ceremony (as well as a reception after) and during the lunch I was sitting beside my cousin (the bride). For some reason we were both as jumpy as long tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. I got so tired of shakily chasing PEAS around my plate with a fork that I grabbed a spoon and started shovelling them in. That set off my cousin, who was already teetering on the brink of nervous hysteria, and I fear our laughter made a bit of a scene. It was an omen. The marriage lasted less than six months. Let this be a warning to all prospective brides. (A warning about what, I’m not sure.)

And speaking of omens, today’s passage comes from MICHAEL CHABON, born May 24, 1963.

“A surprising fact about the magician Bernard Kornblum, Joe remembered, was that he believed in magic. Not in the so-called magic of candles, pentagrams, and bat wings. Not in the kitchen enchantments of Slavic grandmothers with their herbiaries and parings from the little toe of a blind virgin tied up in a goatskin bag. Not in astrology, theosophy, chiromancy, dowsing rods, sΓ©ances, weeping statues, werewolves, wonders, or miracles. What bewitched Bernard Kornblum, on the contrary, was the impersonal magic of life, when he read in a magazine about a fish that could disguise itself as any one of seven different varieties of sea bottom, or when he learned from a newsreel that scientists had discovered a dying star that emitted radiation on a wavelength whose value in megacycles approximated Ο€. In the realm of human affairs, this type of enchantment was often, though not always, a sadder business—sometimes beautiful, sometimes cruel. Here its stock-in-trade was ironies, coincidences, and the only true portents: those that revealed themselves, unmistakable and impossible to ignore, in retrospect.”
(From The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay)

kitshef 7:13 AM  

It’s very rare for a puzzle to so much bad cluing, but here we are.

PEAS are not challenging to eat with a fork. My two-year-old niece does it.

Clue for “SLY” is a type often used in the Sunday Puns and Anagrams. Hate them there; hated it here.

And 57A – “You don’t have to take responsibility for the mistake” – ye Gods, that’s awful.

@The Joker – how about “DOGS”?

Nice to have Loren Muse Smith back. Be sure to check out her avatar.

Son Volt 7:17 AM  

Nice puzzle to start the week. Theme is fairly tight - although I do like @LMS’s alternatives. Maybe more discussion about SERVICE DOGS today? Not a lot of sparkly fill here but nothing ugly either. Liked STAKE A CLAIM x BACKLASH and the great Asimov.

Enjoyable Monday solve.

JOHN X 7:26 AM  

This was pretty good for a Monday puzzle; I managed to fill it all in.

@LMS, here’s some more BODY DOUBLES:


Speaking of PEAS, I learned this poem in third grade:

I eat my peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife

Speaking of poems, I had a poem written about me in Saturday’s comments. I prefer to think of it as an ODE. Thanks @Nancy!

kitshef 7:29 AM  

Interesting that people are picking on ORGAN for being non-specific, but not, say, JOINT.

Things we have one of each: MOUTH, BACK, HEAD

Things we have several of, but all of the same type: LASH, RIB

Things we have more than one type of: ORGAN, KNUCKLE, JOINT.

And KNUCKLE is a subset of JOINT - that seems like more of an outlier than ORGAN.

Z 7:40 AM  

Typical Monday time here. Two minutes slower than Rex is still fast here. Theme works, stayed hidden until the end which is a plus in my book, and the fill seems better than the NYTX baseline. Nicely done.

It always mildly amuses me when the ampersandwich is a sandwich.

@LMS - I was thinking of last week’s Twitter sensation- the BLA MEME.

@mathgent - I’m sure it will surprise nobody that I hated the SLY clue. Nor that I never do a Puns and Anagrams puzzle. I’d sooner eat PEAS. While on the wooden roller coaster in Rye. With Rex bitching about the weather. And with some anonymous dude in the car behind mis-correcting everything I say.

@Frantic Sloth - Yah, I never buy tech from the discount bin. My iPad is so old that I have a hard time finding a replacement case for it, but it was top end when I bought it and has held up pretty well. I always assume my video thing is a Blogger issue, not an iPad issue. Better than my desktop since Apple has optimized the latest OS for a different chip.

Conrad 7:45 AM  

My Huh?!? moment was when I misread the clue for 6A. I thought it said Rabbit:frog::____:cat. I had to look at my calendar to make sure it was really Monday.

pabloinnh 8:07 AM  

Is MOUTHORGAN really that old-fashioned. I wrote it in without thinking twice. Maybe I'm that old-fashioned.

Only glitch for me was BEWAIL before BEMOAN. but that was easily fixed, and most of the rest went in just using acrosses, which is a fun thing to do on a Monday. Add me to the "didn't see that coming" nature of the revealer and having to back up and see how it worked, which I always enjoy.

Very nice debut and a solid Monday, AA. Agreeably Artful.

Hungry Mother 8:07 AM  

Pretty easy today. I sorta saw the theme as I went along and had no hesitation with the reveal. Very comforting after a bad puzzle weekend for me.

Bruce R 8:30 AM  

@The Joker - You asked for stray body parts. There's one hidden in 1-across, TITLE. Also, there's GAM in GAME, 15-across. Maybe more but I quit looking.

bocamp 8:34 AM  

Thx Adrienne for an excellent Mon. puz! :)

Easy+ solve.

Got off to a good start in the NW, finished off the top half, moved down and ended up in the SE.

Always good to see Jane EYRE, one of my all-time fave literary characters. Just finished watching the series on BritBox.

Moses Concas (Amazing Harmonica Street Musician)

yd 0 / @TTrimble Sat. 0 / @Barbara S. Fri. 0, Sat. 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

JD 8:45 AM  

Whoa! No Backlash from Rex, he practically Gushes. Oh, if all Mondays could be this much fun.

Made me long to be sitting in a Rib Joint with some of the DJ Knuckleheads I worked with at the radio station in 70s, listening to a local blues guy blow some mean Mouth Organ. But you really can't find that sort of thing where I live now and they're all home, retired, watching the talking heads enthuse over Phil Mickelson on their drive-in-movie-sized TVs. Plus the ribs wouldn't be as good without all the cigarette smoke in the air.

@JohnX, I thought you'd go with eyeballs, but I'm not disappointed with your entries.

@Birchbark, I've started reading Jim Harrison. How did I not know about him?

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Love the puzzle. Really love the sly clue. And love most of all that z hyphenated miscorrect, when his dictionary of choice doesn't. Nor do any of the good ones. Maybe the tides got him confused.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:14 AM  

I eat my PEAS with honey,
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps then on the knife!

Other than that, I disliked 'Do something else with' as a clue for REUSE. How 'bout 'do something again with'? doesn't have to be something else.

Z 9:22 AM  

@8:59 - Hmm… I was following this advice (although not from this particular website, I just found this). Basically, that “sc” construction could cause a pronunciation problem (it isn’t a diphthong here), plus I just made the aesthetic judgment that “miscorrecting” looks worse than “mis-correcting.” I did ponder that hyphen for at least 3 nanoseconds before deciding it was better with. But if you want to go without a hyphen you’ll get no quarrel from me. Now, please get off the roller coaster.

(BTW - Since the above is a bit snarky, I feel I should add that I do think @8:59 has a point. I just decided the hyphen adds a touch of clarity that others apparently feel is unnecessary)

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

just two nits:

sedate to PLACID the former being more common. I think
(which caused STAKEd CLAIM to correct, and sundry other crosses to mess up)
MGmt to MGRS collective noun or plural?

Anonymoose 9:24 AM  

I think the clue simply means re-purposing something instead of tossing it out.


Anonymous 9:34 AM  

See John X @ 7:26 A.M.
Read the comments.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

Take the loss. No reputable dictionary hyphenates the miscorrect. Subsisting your judgment for that of the many thousands of lexicographers who've put all those tomes together is, frankly, beyond narcissistic.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Aesthetics doesn't figure in spelling z. As you've said many times, maybe you could have looked it up, even in Merriam-webster, and avoided embarrassing yourself.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

Me, too, @Joaquin. I agree this is the best Monday in ages. What a clever, delightful and well-executed theme, Adrienne. The theme answers all seemed so, well, different from one another that I didn't pick up on the gimmick until I got to the revealer and began to think about it. Then, upon reading the clue and already having BO-------, I popped in BODY DOUBLE right away.

And thanks for treating me like a grown-up and not a KNUCKLEHEAD, Adrienne. Thanks for not cluing MEOW with, say, "sound a cat makes" and instead giving me that most un-Mondayish clue. Frogs say "ribbit"??? Who knew?

And as far as that whole cherry-tree thing being a MYTH. It sounds like something I once didn't know, then perhaps did know for a while, and then stopped knowing at some point. Now I know it again. Thanks, Adrienne.

eddy 9:59 AM  

Twenty seconds too long is the difference between easy and medium+? A sneeze might take away 20 secs. This is one reason I think this blog, and Rex himself, to be a bit persnickety.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

It seems that KNUCKLEHEAD has morphed in connotation since the time when I was a kid. Back then, parents (mine anyway) used it as a term of minor endearment, when we did something silly or funny. Nowadays, it seems to be viewed as a pure insult, as in 'Trumpsters are nothing but KNUCKLEHEADS'. OTOH, Wilbon seems to use it in the former sense.

RooMonster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
@LMS, Dang, saucy today!

Anyone say BUTTHOLE yet? 😁

Nice puz, a touch under 7 minutes here, which according to the NYTs tracking time thingie, is a full minute + faster than my Average. Ego boost, I guess. Funny how Rex says one day, "I don't time myself, I do the puz for pleasure", then another day times himself. πŸ€ͺ

Anyway, KNUCKLEHEAD was my favorite. Non-curse put down words are funny to me. I've been called a bunch of them myself, so I feel I can "un-wokedly" laugh at them. BLAME ME if you will.

MOUTHORGAN sounds risque to me. ☺️

Puz has nice ASSets. Har.

One F

Mary McCarty 10:33 AM  

Great to see LMS back today! You can tell the school-year-from-hell is nearly over by the adolescent focus on certain body parts. Your avatar was a hoot, but I nearly snarfed my coffee on your “cherry pits!” Hang in there, teach—all America is singing your praises, at least til next fall, when parents and the public go back to blaming schools and teachers for everything wrong with their kids.

Malsdemare 10:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Missy 10:44 AM  

You're kidding right? BACK!!!!!

Malsdemare 10:47 AM  

This puzzle brought back so many memories. YUCCA reminded me of the fabulous pottery hand-painted with a brush MADE from a yucca leaf just as @LMS described. We have wild yuccas in our yard. The deer eat the tops of all the leaves, leaving them looking pretty scarggly and weedy, but late summer they shoot up a tough stalk or two with a huge flower. Quite impressive.

I had chUCKLEHEAD, which had me scratching my head over that natural ability KhACK.

Per my mother, Pauline:

“I eat my peas with honey.
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes them taste quite funny.
But it keeps them on the knife.”

Having that memory jogged made the entire puzzle a winner. So thanks, Ms. Atkins!

Nancy 10:48 AM  

@JOHN X (7:26) From Saturday: So where is it written that a limerick can't also be an ode? Nowhere, that's where! Glad you enjoyed it!

@Loren --The European style of using a knife and fork vs. the American style has been used in more than one spy movie to blow a spy's cover. Sometimes it's the American whose cover is blown and sometimes it's the German's.

As one of the laziest people I know, I must confess to using the European method whenever I have a lot, a lot of meat that needs to be cut. With steak. With porkchops. With venison. Otherwise, I'd be there all night -- and I'm already an extremely slow eater. I don't pile anything else onto the fork such as peas, though, as that would be just TOO much, as well as very un-American. No one ever taught me to do this, btw, but if you're lazy enough and hungry enough...

JC66 10:50 AM  

@Frantic & @Z

It's not an iPad problem. I access @Rex on a MacBook Pro and have to refresh every day in order to get the current videos.

Tom R 10:50 AM  

Easiest Monday I can recall. I would like a little resistance, please.

Missy 10:55 AM  

BACK BACK BACK - Knuckleheads!

thfenn 10:59 AM  

Fun Monday, and left me curious about two broader themes now. Flow: I'm still trying to get good at this. On Monday's I tend to run through the Acrosses then run through the Downs and repeat until done. Other days it's more like a snake: NW-midNorth-NE-MidEast-MidMid-MidWest-midSouth-SE. Other days it's more like an X (NW to SE then NE to SW). Other days it's just wherever I can get a foothold and spread like ooze through the rest. Is there a preferred/advisable technique?

Themes: I still enjoy it when I get the theme and the answer helps me get the theme based clues. It's fun, sort of, when I finish the puzzle and then see that there's been one clever theme or another, but that usually just gets a shrug. Like today, three passes through across then down and I was done. Getting BODYDOUBLE didn't help me get KNUCKLEHEAD. Getting BACKLASH didn't get elicit an "oh these answers have two parts of the body - so 61A must be BODYDOUBLE". @Z, I think you're saying you prefer what I experienced today ("puzzle's done, now I see the theme"). My favorites are when I get BODYDOUBLE and that helps me get RIBJOINT, and next favorites are when I get RIBJOINT and that helps me get BODYDOUBLE.

One major misstep for me. I love baseball, am an avid fan, went with 'MBA' (you know, the Majorleague Baseball Association) for grp overseeing the world series. And it stayed there until I couldn't get anything for 'Assisted' from H_b__D. I know more about MLB than I know about most things, and still.

And one nitpick: 71% of the earth's surface is Water. OCEAN doesn't make the answer more challenging, just makes it more sloppy, IMHO, "roughly" or not.

Canon Chas 11:02 AM  

Moe, Larry, and Curly than Ms. Atkins for 38A. Acceptance at last from the NYT,

JD 11:26 AM  

@thfenn, Don't look to the NYT crossword for any level of accuracy in words relating to science. Or many other fields too numerous to list here.

@mathgent, Hilarious!

Jay 11:28 AM  

I think 20 seconds is the difference between medium and medium+, i.e. if a puzzle takes the average amount of time, then it would be considered medium. My guess is 30-40 seconds is what separates easy and medium+. When you're solving as fast as Rex is, I guess it makes sense that 30 seconds is a huge gap.

bocamp 11:36 AM  

My grade 8-9 science teacher, Mr. Barber (ex-marine), was famous for using KNUCKLEHEAD! One of my all-time fave teachers, tho.

PLACIDity rules!

No more P AND J sammies. Just P on an English muffin or bagel.

Cats and DOGS; just missing the otters.

Fond memories of the OCEAN. On the way to Seaside, Or., it was always a game to see who would spot the OCEAN first.

@Loren Muse Smith (2:44 AM)

Absolutely worth the look! ty 😊

May I suggest that we call out the 'lies' for what they are, but send out thots of Love to those who have partaken of the Kool-Aid. Imo, shaming is never part of the solution. πŸ€”

@pabloinnh (8:07 AM)


@Z (7:40 AM) & (9:22 AM)

I'm pretty sure I've used hyphens when I thot they'd be useful, even when not following Webster to a T. Language is, and should be, flexible. Each to their own.


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all MEOW & Woof πŸ•Š

Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Let's go to the videotape:
"About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water."

So, that's by volume. Toss out the Great Lakes and Lake Baikal, and there's precious little left.
"Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake by volume in the world, containing 22 to 23% of the world's fresh surface water. With 23,615.39 km3 (5,670 cu mi) of fresh water, it contains more water than all of the North American Great Lakes combined." [the wiki]

Those figures are *volume* of water, not surface coverage. Let's see if we can find that... according to here: https://gpm.nasa.gov/education/articles/earth-observatory-water-cycle-overview

surface fresh water is about 1.7%, again, by volume. of that ~69% is ice, lakes and rivers .27%

Doesn't seem to be a record of square miles water vs. dirt.

GILL I. 12:03 PM  

Nice little Razzle Dazzle Monday with no discernible kerfuffle. And then you give me MOUTH ORGAN. Although I consider my tonsils as my mouth doohicky, I liked it. Why, you ask? Because I owned a little Lee Oskar harmonica when I was a little thing. I heard Mickey Mouse play one and I figured if a rodent can do it, so can I.
Then BODY DOUBLE made me smile and think about another life I lived. I worked during the summers while living in Spain. Mainly, I translated for producers of American movies being made in Espana. I did become a "stunt woman" for a Harryhousen film called "The Valley of Gwangi." I had to ride on top of a horse, twirl a rope, and look like I was having a ball. I didn't fall off, so that was good. Then I got offered a little gig on a movie called "100 Rifles." Raquel Welch was the femme fatale and she couldn't ride horses very well. In those days most body doubles were men but they fingered me. Now I resemble Raquel like Howdy Doody does to Omar Sharif. In other words....gallop your horse though the desert, hope your long wig doesn't fly off and stuff your bra with lots of tissue. Don't look at the camera because everyone will know the gig is up and don't fall off your horse. I did it once. It was worth having some Tinto with Raquel (who is just about the most gorgeous person on this planet).
My GUSHES runneth over.

albatross shell 12:46 PM  

PB AND J: 2 components of a 3 component creation. Clue and answer each correct however.

Had two jump to unfilled areas 2 or 3 times. The only pieces of gnarl I found. Time an average Monday.

Only BACKLASH has neither double referring to a body part. RIBJOINT has RIB referring to a non-human body part. KNUCKLEHEAD has at least one if not both referring to human body parts. MOUTHORGAN has MOUTH referring to a human body part. I am assuming BACKLASH would be the preferred standard of all the answers for most people here.

MOUTH ORGAN and harp are familiar to me. French harp I had forgotten. Is FRENCH from the Cajun or the tougue action involved (ala kissing) or from France somehow?

@ the hyper-hyphen-sensitive Anonomous: Z is not the one embarrassing his-self. Look-a-little-closer-to-home.

A bit of benign tremor in my fork hand has made peas hard to eat. Mashed potatoes help. Bless shepherd's pie.

Monday irrelevancy special alert: Baseball. MLB.

Down here Maryland with son and grandkids. Two puzzles and 3 comments sections behind. We went to a game on Sunday. O's at Nats, so only one choice. Two grand slams. 12 to 9 score. One franchise record for runs scored lifetime for Washington.
They have an LOB stat (left on base) on the scoreboard. So I noticed what I never noticed before: the stat does not quite measure what I thought it did. Pitcher faces 4 batters in an inning. One gets on base. Three make outs. You might think there must be one runner left on base. But no. The runner disappears if he is forced out or tagged out without the batter reaching first base. You can see the logic behind this, but I always considered LOB to be an indication of a failure of clutch hitting or the success of clutch pitching. This seems to detract a bit from that judgement. I now think of them as Schroedinger's runners: you have to open the box and look at how the final out was made to see if they are still there.

I was also reminded of an odd play in a Georgia baseball game and the erroneous analysis of my unassisted triple play w/o touching the ball by one member of our community who insisted that the umpire would call timeout with for no reason whatsoever.
In that Georgia game, with runners on first and third, the runner on first (with the pitcher on the mound with the ball) ran out to right field and stayed there. No, he is not out for running out of the base path because he did not do so to evade a tag. After much yelling and confusion, the runner made it back to first when the defense was too smart to try to get the runner out, which would have let the runner on third score. That was purpose of the trick play. Longest play in baseball history too. No umpire called timeout. There was no reason to. Someone on this blog may have been the one to point that play out a couple years back. Feel free to identify yourself if it was. Thanks in any case.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

o-k. What-ever you say. Each of us should surely simply follow what he feels is right. Why have standard spelling or grammar or syntax at all? It's not as
I have e-very con-fidence that will work out fxxxffgahg. That's not the standard spelling of fine, but it's the one I prefer. Per AZ's argument, I too use fxxxffgahg for aesthetic purposes. And as you say it's flexibility and preference-- "each to his own" --that really matters.

Carola 12:55 PM  

A super Monday, so creative! I caught on to the DOUBLEd BODY parts at RIBJOINT and enjoyed seeing how few crosses I'd need to get the remaining two pairs. KNUCKLEHEAD is terrific in the center, and I give BACKLASH the "how did she ever think of that?" award. Besides the admirable SERVICE DOGS and STAKE A CLAIM, I smiled at the KNUCK-KNACK-BACK chain - reminded me of the old "knick-knack-paddywhack, give a DOG a bone...."

@GILL I. - I love your stories!

@Adrienne Atkins - Congratulations on your debut! I can't wait to see what you come up with next.

kitshef 1:02 PM  

The clue for the area of the oceans checks out. According to NASA (https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/earth/by-the-numbers/), the area of the earth's surface is 197 million square miles. That converts to 510 million square kilometers. According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean) the total area of the world's oceans is 362 million square kilometers. 362/510 = 71%.

The Valley of Gwangi is a wonderful movie. See it if you can.

Nancy 1:09 PM  

@GILL (12:03) -- OMG, I FOUND IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! You on a horse -- BODY DOUBLING Rachel Welch. It took a while, but I found it. Fast forward, everyone, to 2:34:00 of THIS LINK!!!

JC66 1:32 PM  


I don't know if it's what you were hinting at, but Dillon played the MOUTH ORGAN on Don't Think Twice. (BTW, today's his 80th BD.)


Want to start a pool to guess how many days go by until @Z goes troll free? πŸ˜‚

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

albatross shell,
Oh dear. Did you actually write his-self? Let's table the bizarre hyphen for now. You do know that the usage calls for himself, ( or if you prefer him-self) but on no account can it be hisself That's illiterate. Unless yo

As for my hypersensitivity. You are mistaken there as well. Z's post at 7:40 this morning took a gratuitous swipe at me. Unfortunately in his zeal to humiliate me, he made an error. His mean-spirited dig at me is the provenance of my post. I don't gave a tat's a** about hyphens.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Count me in on the pool as long as we start one where we guess how many hours go by before Z gets something wrong and refuses to acknowledge his error.


Anoa Bob 1:45 PM  

Okay, here's how to eat PEAS. Put them on your plate next to a big dollop of freshly made (not Instant!) mashed potatoes with a generous pad of butter on top. Push some of the PEAS into a bite-sized clump of the potatoes. They will stick in the potatoes and the delicious combo will then be easy to shovel into your MOUTH, regardless of what eating utensil your using. Scrumptious!

Whatsername 2:22 PM  

It’s not easy to stand out from the ordinary on a Monday but this one does. Very nice debut, Adrienne, and congratulations on puzzle of the week. I think I see a new star constructor in our future.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

oh fur cryin out loud. the Brits have it all figured out - mashed peas. it seems to be a delicacy, along with haggis, on that side of The Pond.

Whatsername 2:47 PM  

@GILL (12:03) I agree Raquel is gorgeous but I would’ve preferred having that Tinto with Burt Reynolds. 😁

@Nancy (1:09) Thanks for the link. That was fun to watch.

Petew 2:51 PM  

You know what's easier than mixing your peas with mashed potatoes, or putting honey on your knife or using a spoon just to eat them? Dropping them on the floor for the dogs, or throwing them away. Tastes better too. End of peas discussion.

CDilly52 3:04 PM  

@LMS. The other way to eat your PEAS comes from the following advice:

I eat me PEAS with honey.
I’ve done it all me life.
It makes the PEAS taste funny,
but it keeps ‘em on the knife!

pabloinnh 3:13 PM  

@JC66-Wasn't hinting at Dylan's 80th but certainly knew the date. I've co-taught a course on him and sing lots of his stuff and have even known to play a G Major MOUTHORGAN to accompany myself on a couple of easy ones.

I can still remember being surprised that a harmonica could also be called a "harp". Sheltered childhood, I guess.

CDilly52 3:23 PM  

A very fine Monday in my book. A tad more challenging than usual perhaps, but still within the wheelhouse of most newer solvers because of more accessible crosses at the tougher spots.

The theme was tight and at least to me entertaining I probably still need to get out more - but am continuing to be quite wary of crowds despite my vaccination. RIB JOINT made me hungry so It probably BBQ for dinner tonight. Of all the things About my state of residence that irritate me, exceptional BBQ remains one of the things for which Oklahoma is justifiably known. Ribs, pork and brisket, our best joints do it all well, but all manifestations of the noble pig are my favorites. When I travel through the state, I confess to being a sucker fir a RIB JOINT when I see one.

This was just plain fun on Monday. Congratulations to our constructor, Adrienne Atkins. I look forward to more!

Unknown 3:26 PM  

I really liked the theme, and sussed it out about halfway through, which made the puzzle a lot of fun. I thought a lot of the fill was pretty simple, but willing to overlook that for the fun theme answers.

Wayyy too much discussion about how to eat peas. I think everyone would agree that the cluing for PEAS was pretty understandable and reasonable, despite the precocious eating habits of a certain 2 year old. (See Kitshef @ 7:13).

Michiganman 3:29 PM  

Everyone, Leave Z alone.**

**Sorry Z, I couldn't resist.

JC66 3:39 PM  


Thought you might be alluding to Dylan when you wrote "Is MOUTHORGAN really that old-fashioned. I wrote it in without thinking twice. Maybe I'm that old-fashioned" in your 8:07 post.

I never taught a class but got to see him frequently in the Village when he first came to NYC and booed him at Newport in '65 when he went electric.

Anonymous 3:42 PM  

@Albatross, Someone pulled your leg on that Georgia baseball game story.

Unknown 3:46 PM  

Eye lash

thfenn 3:54 PM  

@Nancy, @Gill thanks for the 100 Rifles story and link! Gill if that's you on a horse and not Racquel the similarities are closer than you admit. Should we assume you weren't the body double for the love scene with Jim Brown a few minutes earlier?

thfenn 4:05 PM  

@kitshef (1:02) and anonymous (12:03) I stand corrected. Thank you. Nitpick withdrawn.

Anonymous 4:13 PM  

Anon 3:42,
Indeed they were. I don't believe there's any scenario that the baseball hasn't contemplated/ Naturally they have rule to cover it. In any even, they the shell's case covered. That runner would be called out pursuant to 5.00 (b)(2) for "obviously abandoning his effort to touch the next base."

Don't get him started on his inane infield fly rule triple play where no one touches the ball.

jberg 4:20 PM  

Back from two nights of quick vacation, nice to see all of you -- and nice to have you back here, Loren! I picked up the double entendre in your avatar, but not the one in your lunch; guess I'm too dainty.

By the way, did you ghost-write that line for @Barbara S about the cats in a room full of rocking chairs? (Or is is rocking-chairs?)

I know Rex doesn't read these, but somebody ought to tell him that a mouth harp is not the same as a harmonica -- it's a gizmo you hold between your teeth and pluck with your fingers.

Anyway, the puzzle -- lots of fun, when we finally got home at 2:30 this afternoon, a nice welcome back to Boston.

Anoa Bob 4:20 PM  

I think the number of posts complaining about the posts commenting on how to eat PEAS are starting to outnumber the how-to posts.

PEAS, like all legumes, rank very high on a number of nutritional measures. If fresh PEAS are lightly steamed, they will be al dente and produce a delightfully flavorful mini-burst when bitten into. If your PEAS are mushy and poor tasting then they have probably been out of the garden for too long or have been overcooked or both.

bocamp 4:34 PM  

@albatross shell (12:46 PM)

I like your LOB rationale. ⚾️

The 'skunk in the outfield' ploy is fun, both from a defensive point of view, as well as from an umpire's. Your point is well-taken re: umps not making calls hastily. This article contains some valid viewpoints, e.g., 'making a travesty of the game', but this rule seems to apply to the runners running the bases in reverse order. I didn't finish reading the whole thing, but there's another rule re: umps ruling on anything not specifically covered in the book (9.01 (c). However, as you pointed out, runners make their own base paths. So, bottom line, umps are not going to rule unless there's casebook evidence to back them up. Also, they're not looking for a game to be played under protest.

As a manager, I'd just have my chucker pitch, and let things shake out.

Maybe after the next practice, I'd invite any players who were interested to look at some other possibilities, e.g., if *R1 was not too far out in right field, and *F9 had a great arm, *F1 could disengage the rubber, fake a throw to *3B, and fire to F8. R1 would be forced to run directly back to *1B, and F9 could throw to home at anytime. Problem here is, once that throw goes to home, *R3 could head back to 3B, and R1 could head for 2B. My team would have a 'ball' with all the possibilities. ⚾️

Oh, and btw, you're also absolutely right about your previous sitch (the u.a. tp); the umps would call that I.F. as soon as it's determined that an infielder could make the catch with ordinary effort. No way would they see all the other stuff until later. Then, God help the careless runners. πŸ™

@Anonymous (12:47 PM)

You know as well as I, the idea is to still be easily understood when applying the flexibility principle to ones language usage. 😊

*s: R1 = runner on 1st; F9 = right fielder; F1 = pitcher; 3B = 3rd base; 1B = 1st base; R3 = runner on 3rd; 2B = 2nd base.

pg -20

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all MEOW & Woof πŸ•Š

pabloinnh 4:44 PM  

@JC66-Don't know if you read Esquire on line (it's free), but Charlie Pierce has a really nice piece on the birthday boy today.

JC66 4:59 PM  


Thanks for the tip. I'll check it out now.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

Love the hike in Treman State Park.... Ithaca is indeed gorges.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

@Anoa Bob:
If your PEAS are mushy and poor tasting then they have probably been out of the garden for too long or have been overcooked or both.

If you're old enough, and poor enough, and lazy enough (well, your family in sum), then you've been forced to enjoy Green Giant canned petit pois. OTOH, one might enjoy the re-run of Alton Brown's 'Good Eats' episode, 'Give Peas a Chance'. Yes a bit of a pun.

JC66 5:29 PM  


Really enjoyed the article. For any Dylan fans here's the link.

JC66 5:29 PM  


BILL W 5:30 PM  

Of all the poems about the guy who stabs his own mouth I think John X gave the best version.

Give that man a drink!

Joaquin 6:13 PM  

@LMS - Best avatar ever!
@Gill - Surely you jest. You're a dead-ringer for Raquel.

GILL I. 6:49 PM  

@Joaquin 6:13. I promise you that if I looked Like Raquel, I wouldn't be sitting at home making "Cubano" bread and having a turn at my "Whimsy" little art.....I would be sitting under a "palapa" sipping the best rum I could find and asking the handsomest man on the beach to fan my crackly face. :-)

Giskarrrd 10:11 PM  

I really liked this and thought it was the best Monday in a long time. Great fill, hardly any dreck (as much as Rex likes to point out abundances of crappy fill, he doesn’t spend much time on the absence of it most of the time) and a few beautiful long downs which is not very common for a Monday.

Maybe not the most ingenious theme ever, but certainly elegant and light and fun.

Oh and this was my second fastest solve on Monday ever. Though I’m still at about 2 Rexes, so that doesn’t say THAT much...

Z 10:20 PM  

In-Laws go home tomorrow night, so I might be able to reply to things a little earlier again Wednesday.

@bocamp - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½ - Yep. I was actually a little surprised that @anon claimed M-W had an entry for mis-correcting, I thought I was making it up. I also strongly suspected everyone here would know who I was talking about, too, when I put them behind me on the roller coaster. Well, I was half-right today. Language Change deniers are in my book on the same page as anti-vaxxers (i.e, not the people who might be hesitant about vaccines, I mean the charlatans selling anti-science), trumpists, climate change deniers, evolution deniers, and flat earthers.

@Petew - First, are you @Pete with a name typo? And second, you’re a person after my own heart. Snap Peas are fine, and maybe @Anoa Bon is right and I’ve just never had PEAs cooked correctly, but I’ve never purchased PEAS from a grocery in my life and will not knowingly even get a dish with them when I dine out. My Shepherds’ Pie has either corn, carrots, or both.

@michiganman - πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

@Everyone - Tomorrow, diaeresis, and is it really different than an umlaut.

Anonymous 10:33 PM  

I made no such claim. You’re obfuscating with your anti vaxxer nonsense, You put a hyphen in a word where none is needed. That is incorrect. Acknowledge that.
You are off your meds or bald faced liar if you say I made a claim that Merriam-Webster had an entry for mis-correct.

albatross shell 11:18 PM  

@Anon 138pm
So you self-identifying as some anonymous dude (mis)correcting Z you make an issue of his erroneous using hyphen and call it embarassing himself. Then when called on it he admits you were right and the polnt had merit you are still upset. You do seem hyper about something. You use the hyphen like a club. And when I say you are the embarrassment and put in an obvious grammatical error and an abundance of hyphens you just can't resist. Obviously again with no self awareness. Please just stop.

Anonymous 342pm
Ok it was 3 minutes of playing time and it was RI not GA. But it did happen. No leg-pulling.
Espn Skunk in the outfield.

He is really not abandoning his attempt to get to the next base. He is intentionally attempting to get in a rundown and helping his team get a run and ending up on second base himself. I noticed on my absurd triple play anonymous quit answering me when I asked on what grounds could the umps call time and do it in the 5 seconds it would take for the play to happen.

RooMonster 11:19 PM  

Peas are nasty.

RooMonster No Peas Guy

albatross shell 11:28 PM  

@bo camp
One clever response to the skunk is a variation of the hidden ball trick where 4 players converge on the mound and hide the ball. One goes to second, one to third, one to the skunk, maybe one to first. The runners do not know who really has the ball. What can the runners do?

spacecraft 10:03 AM  

Quite an ordinary, pedestrian Monday. Easy-PEAS-y to do, even with the "Oh, no!" of 46d. I am NOT "amused when the ampersandwich is a sandwich;" all such are huge turnoffs for me.

Theme is OK, it works, but it hardly sings. The fill has its moments, but nothing to negate you-know-what. Either--or both!--of the ladies mentioned in the clue for LATINAS will do for DOD. Bogey.

Burma Shave 12:35 PM  


don't BLAMEME, IT's her that's PLACID,
she should BEMOAN that fat PLATEAU.


Burma Shave 12:50 PM  

Remember JARTs? There's a JART in the corners.
The puz has BODY parts in the themers. Hot DOGS.

Diana, LIW 2:35 PM  

OK - good Monday start to the week. Let's hope we don't have a fiasco like last week, which shall remain 6 feet under the ground for me.

And we won't even mention the Sunday bomb. Pow!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 3:49 PM  

Clever and clean Monday theme from a musical MOUTH to a lowly LASH.

Pretty sure that either @spacey or @rondo or both will STAKE A CLAIM to the two LATINAS, JLo and Christina, and their very fine BODY assets. BLAME ME if I’m wrong.

Thanks for the fun, Ms. Atkins.

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