Grilled Japanese dish on skewers / MON 7-12-21 / TV cable channel with Impractical Jokers / Appeasing idiomatically / Transform using mobile technology as a market / Fancy work from a manicurist

Monday, July 12, 2021

Constructor: Kevin Christian

Relative difficulty: Challenging (a minute over my Monday average, more of a Tuesday or easy Wednesday)

THEME: AFRICA (62A: Where this puzzle's circled letters can be found) — circled letters contain African countries:

Theme answers:
  • I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT (17A: Song lyric before "short and stout")
  • ALBERTO GONZALES (26A: Attorney general under George W. Bush)
  • THROWING A BONE TO (43A: Appeasing, idiomatically)
  • CHICKEN YAKITORI (56A: Grilled Japanese dish on skewers)

Word of the Day: CHICKEN YAKITORI (56A: Grilled Japanese dish on skewers) —
Yakitori (Japanese焼き鳥) (literally 'grilled bird') is a Japanese type of skewered pork or chicken. Its preparation involves skewering the meat with kushi (), a type of skewer typically made of steel, bamboo, or similar materials. Afterwards, they are grilled over a charcoal fire. During or after cooking, the meat is typically seasoned with tare sauce or salt. The term is sometimes used informally for kushiyaki (grilled and skewered foods) in general. (wikipedia)
• • •

You gotta do better than this. Random African countries? Why? Why these countries? Why is AFRICA sitting in this weird non-revealer place? Why in the world would you drag TOTO into it!? Ugh. It's like with the JIM MORRISON stuff yesterday: what are you doing? And why is this running on Monday? It's a Tuesday / Wednesday-type theme. I feel like the NYTXW is really desperate for good Monday puzzles, because they keep running Mondays that aren't Mondays, Mondays that end up harder than Tuesdays and even some Wednesdays. Random African countries ... by way of TOTO ... not really feeling this one. Plus TEAPOT in the first themer and TO in the third themer are just left out to dry, not involved in the African country stuff at all. Also, this puzzle made me have to remember a Bush II administration figure, ick. Just because the last administration was somehow much much worse does not mean I'm gonna be happy to see those Bush II ***holes again. And we're still doing NIP??? You know you can take that out with almost no effort, right? I mean, Anaïs NIN called, she wants to know why you never call any more? Or, just rewrite that whole tiny section, a million different ways, most of which don't contain any words that can be used as racial slurs. OK? Here try this:

Or this:

It's So Easy. You just have to care. And when your idea of "fun" fill is UBERIZE, well, we are not going to get along very well (10D: Transform using mobile technology, as a market). What an awful word (which I didn't know existed until just now). I liked NAIL ART (5D: Fancy work from a manicurist). That is about all I liked. AFRICA (the continent, not the song) deserves better than this. And how, how in the world do you leave MANGO LASSI on the table???? 

So much slow-down stuff. The theme type, for starters. And the themers themselves, yikes, I just needed lots and lots of help with the crosses. Well, not the first, that one I could get from the clue, but I couldn't remember if GONZALES was "Z" or "S" at the end, so that caused some hesitation. THROWING A BONE TO took a ton of work, as the clue is Saturday-hard (43A: Appeasing, idiomatically). And confession: I've never heard of CHICKEN YAKITORI. Teriyaki, yes. Cacciatore, yes. But YAKITORI was not, from my position, Monday fare. Totally fine answer, not disputing its legitimacy or validity. But that slowed me down. Also couldn't make sense of LAUGH from the clue (27D: Ha-ha) (a LAUGH is a ... ha-ha?) and as for AGE, that clue was a riddle, and I don't really do those (well, or happily) (40A: Number that never goes down). TWERKED had a "?" clue that, again, just stalled things mightily (41D: Brought up the rear?). The worst wound, though, was entirely self-inflicted (those wounds are always the worst because the only one I have to yell at is me): I had BAL- at 46D: Southeast Europe's ___ Peninsula (BALKAN), and I just put in the first six-letter European BAL- answer that came to my mind: BALTIC. Total disaster, mostly because it crossed YAKITORI, which, as we've established, I didn't know. Ugh. Also hesitated over spelling of JIBED (as I always do) (G? J? G? J?), and GO BIG wasn't exactly a slam dunk (29D: Pull out all the stops). So, in short: not the right day of the week, not a tight enough concept, TOTO tie-in is colonialist violence ... the end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:02 AM  

I hereby nominate 17-A as the worst clue and answer in the history of the NYT Xwords. However, my worst fear was not realized as the next themer was not “Words following “Twinkle, twinkle little star”. In fact, I thought the others were pretty good (and a good challenge for a Monday).

Frantic Sloth 12:12 AM  

Nothing to see here, folks. Basic Mondee-type theme and pretty good fill.
Solid and tight with a wee little bite.

Definitely could not get worked up about this either way. Can't say the same for OFL.


Peter P 12:30 AM  

I actually ended up faster than an average Monday by a good bit, but it's just because the puzzle happened to be in my wheelhouse (my wife and I just went to an izakaya a few weeks ago for some yakitori. I recommend the chicken hearts.) I was quite surprised by the fill; it definitely felt more like Tuesday fare to me. Alberto Gonzales also did not feel like Monday stuff. Never heard of UBERIZE, either. After finishing, I was left wondering what in the heck a BONETO is, and why I hadn't heard that idiomatic expression, only to realize after reading this column that my parsing could use some work.

Joe 12:58 AM  

49D Person who may speak with a brogue…should not be a Scot. Scots speak with a burr, not a brogue. The Irish may have a brogue.

Zygotic 1:42 AM  

One of the torture memo guys? Maybe I’ll be back tomorrow, but this puzzle deserves to be ignored.

jae 3:12 AM  

Tough. This played more like a Tuesday/Wednesday for me too. I mean ALBERTO GONZALES and CHICKEN YAKITORI are not exactly gimmes. Ambitious theme with some fun long downs, liked it more than @Rex did.

Unaffected 3:41 AM  

A must watch for any Toto/Africa hater/fan:

Lewis 4:54 AM  

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

1. Don't knock until you tried it (8)
2. Light brown seals (4)
3. Will can change it (5)
4. Île be there? (3)
5. Party animal? (6)


Shé di Felina 5:54 AM  

Faster than average but I did have to google ALBERTO's surname, having never heard of the actual person and having a rogue F in there thanks to an UBERIFY error that made it unguessable (the only word I think I've ever heard used in that context, and even then only in an academic article about the uberification of higher education so... a little ARCANE). That little area all got jammed up as I wasn't familiar with the Oklahoman city or the 60s character either.

Ha-ha also tripped me as I was looking for a synonym for ditch. I may have accepted JOKE ('a ha-ha'), but I'm not on board with LAUGH, especially with that hyphen in there.

I didn't hate it, but I'm not sure the theme added anything, neither assisting with the solve nor being thrilling in its own right.

Also, unrelated to this puzzle in particular but someone the other day was ranting about people discussing their solve times and I just wanted to say that I personally find it quite interesting. I think relative solving time says something both about the solver and the puzzle, and as a relatively new NYTer that also helps me figure out whether I'm just being a total dunce or if lots of folks were slowed down. And I like to keep an eye on my times (as the app records them for me automatically anyway) to see if I'm improving.

OffTheGrid 6:24 AM  

@Rex. Your NIP rants have gotten so very tiresome. Please just stop.

amyyanni 6:32 AM  

OK Monday. Enjoyed the cross of HUEY & LOUIE. I've a low bar today as this is my last workweek Monday. Retirement looms! Official last day in August but accrued vacation time begins July 19.

thfenn 6:53 AM  

The eentsy weentsi spider went up the water spout, down came the rain and...made it short and stout? Completely forgot what it's like to be a teapot, so that took a number of crosses to get. Also that TRU/KITORI cross was tricky. There is some elegance in the countries all being in 15-wides, but mostly I don't get why the theme stopped with Toto. "Often stripped from 62A" - ORE. "Many a Brit in the 62A civil service" - SCOT. "What UNICEF stirs in pictures of children in 62A" - PITY. "Lewis of concert relief for 62A" - HUEY. "Tourist reaction to 62A's poverty" - GAWK. "Rumble in the Jungle, e.g." - EVENT. I'll stop there. Very disappointed the constructors dropped AHUGANDAKISS. @Unaffected, thanks for the clip.

Anonymous 6:57 AM  

ALBERTO GONZALES right on top of TAINT and BUTT was a weird way to start my Monday

This 'n' That 6:58 AM  

Nice to see radio getting another clue. Format of much AM radio/TALK. Unfortunately AM talk radio is mostly far right cuckoo nuts.

A different Morrison today.

Feel free to JOIN IN(NS)

Wanted Republican for Disreputable sort but LOWLIFE also describes those people.

Liked BITE(R) and BYTE, OIL close to OPEC

Fun to see HUEY and LOUIE but miss DEWEY. Should have had all 3 or just one.



AT BAT Facing a pitcher just in from the BULL PEN

Irene 6:59 AM  

BART crossing TOTO did me in.
A classic Natick. And on a Monday!

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

"Chicken yakitori" is redundant (the "tori," technically "bird," means chicken here). Would Shortz allow "beef hamburger"?

Son Volt 7:08 AM  

Odd embedded word theme with the look what I found feel. No real interest level so it played clunky for me. I didn’t find it any more difficult than an average Monday. Overall fill did not GO BIG - TWERKED and UBERIZE? No cultural issue with having a guy like GONZALES in a puzzle - I just question whether he’s grid spanning worthy.

Not an enjoyable start to the week.

Quang Nguyen 7:17 AM  

Nip in the bud is a very popular idiom. Glad Will Shortz hasn’t caved to the mob on this one yet.

Barbara S. 7:33 AM  

I found this to be a tidy Monday, a bit harder than usual. I accurately predicted that Rex was going to write one of those reviews in which he says “but why these countries, and why this continent?” to which I always want to reply, “Why not?” I get there’s an arbitrary element to it, but that’s true of all themes. Embedding the names of African countries in four 15-letter grid-spanners seems fine to me – not the greatest theme ever, but quite acceptable.

A few write-overs: JIvED for JIBED, ObIE for OPIE (a mental block of long standing), BiTE for BYTE (a lapse). I liked ARCANE, I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT, and LOWLIFE. UBERIZE was new. Good crosses: BITER x THROWING A BONE TO and also AT BAT x THROWING; TOFU x FAT (unsaturated, of course); SCOT x SOBER (dour would have been better); BENT x TAINT. Also commendable: NOIR beside ORCA (where was “blanc”?), OVA near LOINS, and any mention of TONI Morrison (no relation to Jim).

Today’s passage, which I (I guess in my ignorance) found surprising, is by HENRY DAVID THOREAU, born July 12, 1817.

“In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta, since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahma and Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges.”
(From Walden)

kitshef 7:34 AM  

A little tougher than a typical Monday, especially considering all the help from the themers. But knowing the spelling of YAKITORI and LOUIE, and some odd entries like NAIL ART and UBERIZE made things interesting.

Would have liked to see Weezer worked in somewhere, given the non-stop airplay their cover of Africa got.

GILL I. 7:54 AM  

Is this a Monday with some BYTE?

@Barbara S from last night......Phew.

TTrimble 7:59 AM  

Oh, Rex. Well, let's start with where we agree. I'm happy to see this rated as "Challenging", because I opened this up hoping for a good solving time (yes, I've gotten into that frame of mind, and it ain't pretty). Finished with a Wednesday-ish time, despite the fact that I got the theme, the song, and the band pretty quickly. Hence my annoyance.

I'd not heard of YAKITORI either. Nor UBERIZE. Fell into a couple of traps with ALBERTO GONZALES (I misremembered the first name as roBERTO, and then of course there is the S/z ending to worry about with GONZALES). BITER as the dog? Ugh, BoxER might've been better. I agree with Rex about THROWING A BONE TO. (Oh, cute, I see what you did there, the dog-bone connection. Ha-ha, that's a LAUGH.)

A wriggle of amusement (another ha-ha) with the cluing for TWERKED.

Okay, onto the other annoyances. When Rex first began talking about NIP, it was with Rachel Fabi during one of their sessions, and he was actually pretty mild about it, saying that it was borderline but that he would avoid it himself, and he threw in an interesting story about one of his Japanese-American professors. Now, it apparently merits a three question mark alarm. Frankly, it didn't even register with me -- I just filled it in with nary a second thought. Everyone's heard of NIP in the bud. Didn't twitch my antennae in the least. Here's the thing: while I'm glad Rex is culturally sensitive, out of all the things going on in the world, this is the thing he chooses to get worked up about? (And don't tell me he wouldn't snark about his suggested NIn as ho-hum fill if someone else did it.) OTOH, I am finding his construction-related comments of interest, and he seems to have skills there. Would like to see some recent efforts of his.

And TOTO. Why is he hating so on classic rock? IMHO they were a good band -- plenty of talent there -- and AFRICA is a good song. (Weezer seems to think so as well, but I really don't like their rendition of it.)

Rex's suggested Mango Lassi -- cool, cool. But how in the world did the constructor leave that on the table, Rex asks? May I humbly suggest he didn't think of it? (Or do we know he did and rejected it?)

SB yd: -1. I missed a 6-letter word hiding in plain sight. Ah, the daily humiliation of this game. Why do I do it? I'm a masochist, I guess.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I also had BITE rather than BYTE, but figuring out the AFRICA theme let me see KENYA so it was helpful there. My longest pause was YAKITORI and TRU, having never heard of either. It seemed a bit deep for a Monday to me, but I’m fairly new to the daily solving thing.

SouthsideJohnny 8:04 AM  

I agree that the theme is too disjointed and doesn’t contribute much to the solving experience. Loved UBERIZE on a Monday - which is a shoo-in for the NYT made up word of the day (NAILART was a very distant second today). Is graffiti window art, or street art, . . . or exterior wall art, . . . or . . . is it vandalism ?

bocamp 8:12 AM  

Thx, Kevin for a very crunchy Mon. puz to start the week! :)

Med+ solve.

Not a walk in the park, but a fun adventure.

Good start on the top 1/3, ending up with a half-educated guess at CHICKEN YAKITORI / TRU for the win.

The AFRICA theme and TOGO confirmed the terminal 'o' in TOTO for me.

Fond memories of traversing the BALKAN Peninsula in '70.

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Keith D 8:20 AM  

Well, there you have it. NIP officially “cancelled”, regardless of context. Rex sycophants can stop trying to pretend that he “never said that”. Ugh.

“Please, NYT, only construct puzzles that agree with my tiny, narrow little view of the world.”

Carola 8:23 AM  

I'M A LITTLE TEAPOT made me LAUGH, and after that, the puzzle could do no wrong. I could, though, trying to insert Ghana for GABON, until crosses rescued me. I also liked UBERIZE + GO BIG, EXTORT, LOWLIFE, BALKAN, and having a Monday puzzle that put up some resistance.
Apparently TOTO's AFRICA is (in)famous for its mondegreens. For the song's "I bless the rains down in Africa," people have heard, among other things: I bless the grains, I bet it rains,, I crest the waves, I catch the rays, I guess Lorraine's down in Africa.

@Joe 12:58 - Thanks for putting your finger on why that clue bothered me.
@amyyanni 6:32 - Woohoo! Congratulations a few days early!

albatross shell 8:26 AM  

I was disappointed when "Sister Sue she's" from Randy Newman's My Old McConnell Home didn't fit.

[Verse 1]
Turpentine and dandelion wine
I've turned the corner and I'm doin' fine
Shootin' at the birds on the telephone line
Pickin' 'em off with this gun o' mine
I got a fire in my belly and a fire in my head
Goin' higher and higher until I'm dead

[Verse 2]
Sister Sue she's short and stout
But she didn't grow up, she grew out
Mama says she's plain, but she's just bein' kind
Papa says she's pretty, but he's almost blind
They don't let her out much, except at night
But I don't care 'cause I'm alright

Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home
And the young folks roll on the floor
Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home
Keep them hard times away from my door

AG A.G. bothered me. ALBERTO GONZALES being in the puzzle did not (except it took some time to remember his last name) torture me. He did cause others to be tortured. So remember that.

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

Puzzle was fine but I think I enjoyed the good old fashioned Rex Rant even more.

albatross shell 8:50 AM  

@Barbara S.
Separate posts? But its Thoreau.

I was leaving it to others but: BUTT next to TAINT and above TWERKED.

Nancy 8:58 AM  

There are some things, I suppose, to admire about the construction of this puzzle:

1) The theme answers are all grid-spanners.

2) The hidden place names all span two or more words.

3) The theme is educational, sort of.

I was also delighted to discover that 17A, rather than being some pop song I'd never heard of, was actually a little ditty that I sang all the way back when I was a child. I should have picked it up from "short and stout" -- but I didn't.

So the theme answers were nice. But then, TO GO with TOGO, you also had TOTO and TOFU and TOE. The surrounding fill was pretty dull, in fact. SUCH A DISAPPOINTMENT.

John H 9:01 AM  

Should have known it was GonZales because uberiZe would be the British version. But the worst is to include Huey and Louie leaving Dewey behind. That is unforgivable.

pabloinnh 9:01 AM  

Slightly crunchy for a Monday, and that's OK with me.

TEAPOY right away made me smile, as a member of our tennis foursome described his serve as "the TEAPOT serve". If you saw him standing on one leg and dipping toward the ground on his follow through, you'd know why.

UBERIZE? Really?

I read the clue for THROWINGABONETO and wrote it in with just a few letters as clues. Is this expression unknown elsewhere?

I had in fact heard of CHICKENYAKITORI but had to adjust the spelling a bit. Made me think of an old baseball joke involving Joe Torre getting out of the way of a runner coming in from third who asked him "are you chicken catcher Torre?". Sorry.

Congrats to @amyyanni. Hope this gives you more time to watch baseball and that the second half of the season is as good as the first.

Thanks for a fun Monday, KC. Your choice of countries and a continent did not strike me as any more random than most themes I've seen. Keep Constructing, you've got fans.

Arturo Fiquis 9:03 AM  

"Toto tie-in is colonialist violence"

And "Roxanne" is violence against pro- uh, sex workers

Mikey from El Prado 9:40 AM  

Same as Rex… about a minute over Monday average (but I’m sure my average is much higher).

So sad that Dewey didn’t make the puzzle. Maybe tomorrow he gets his own nod.

Cato the Younger 9:45 AM  

I suppose Michael thinks the old TV show Nip/Tuck was a FOX special with Tucker Carlson spewing hatred toward Japanese people?

But while we're at it, let's eliminate LOUIE from crosswords since that's just all about spitting on the sidewalk and showing contempt for other people.

And HONK, because, you know, that's like short for "honky."

And, geez, we can't allow UBERize because, mein Gott, Deutschland über Alles and all that that implies.

OPEC? Really? Bloody dictatorships like Saudi Arabia? Venezuela? Iran? Definitely should not be in the puzzle.

And, look, when you put LOWLIFE into a crossword, you are gratuitously insulting and demeaning most of my relatives. This should not be allowed.

There are so many thousands - hundred or thousands - of words we can find reason to ban forever from the crossword puzzle. Not to mention all the people whose names should never darken the door of the NYTimes puzzle office. Let's get that list going!

jberg 9:52 AM  

First, let me join in the crowd shouting "Where's DEWEY?"

Second, if you ask me to name someone who voices cartoons, I'd start and end with Mel Blanc. Well, I guess I knew that James Earl Jones is in some cartoon movie too - The Lion King, maybe? Anyway, I needed 75% of the crosses to see BART -- and then he was crossed with that little dog from Kansas (c'mon, it's Monday!)

The basic problems with the theme are, first, using 15-letter entries to hide 4 or 5 letter countries, producing those superfluous words that Rex complains about, rules out MANGO LASSI, A HUG AND A KISS, and Nancy's 20-letter SUCH A DISAPPOINGMENT. Second, starting with the lovely reference to a children's song and then going off in totally unrelated directions for the other themers. It might not be possible to have them all be children's songs, but surely there must be suitable songs. Finally, and more minor, it was sort of disappointing to have the first three themers all in West Africa and then go haring off to the opposite coast for the last.

TORI may mean bird, but there is pork YAKITORI all the same, so specifying CHICKEN is fine. Not like octopus takoyaki.

TTrimble 9:52 AM  

@albatross shell
Oh, missed the TAINT-BUTT-TWERKED trifecta. I like the way you think!

(Thanks for the kind words yesterday, btw.)

Does a cacciatore made with raw chicken make a CHICKEN YAKITORI?

Joseph Michael 10:01 AM  

Liked the word UBERIZE which neither I nor my spell check had heard of before, but it sounds like something you would do to your car if you were getting into the ride share business.

Wonder what was going through Will Shortz’s mind when he approved the clue and answer for 41D. Which, by the way, was the highlight of the puzzle for me. Also liked LOWLIFE sinking to the bottom of the grid.

@Joaquin, you made A LITTLE TEAPOT somewhere very unhappy today. It was already short and stout and now it’s part of the worst clue in the history of the NYT crossword? I’ll never be able to sing that song again. 😆

EdFromHackensack 10:14 AM  

BART/TOTO cross is definitely gettable and NOT a Natick in the pure sense of the term. What else COULD it be? I agree NIP is perfectly OK to use. As is CHINK. Rex likes to crusade for an issue that really is not there.

Tomas Nomas 10:18 AM  

Just a friendly FYI, Scots speak with a burr, not a brogue…

mathgent 10:18 AM  

Too hard for a Monday. That may be a concern for Will Shortz but not for me or other experienced solvers. Nancy has written eloquently about mindlessly filling in the blanks on so many Mondays. Who wants that?

Rex gets boringer and boringer.

UBERIZE. Happy to learn it.

Nice theme, nice puzzle.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I know Wikipedia isn’t authoritative but, for record, “ The term brogue (/broʊɡ/ BROHG) generally refers to an Irish accent. Less commonly, it may also refer to certain other regional forms of English, in particular those of Scotland or the English West Country.” Also, it’s nice to see some pushback against the silly NIP complaint. The tide is turning it seems. Good stuff.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

I have a solution to the other puzzle in today's NYT. The answer is: Birch Blanket Bingo Button

bocamp 11:05 AM  

@Unaffected (3:41 AM)

Watched the vid; wasn't familiar with TOTO or their AFRICA song. Listened to the song w/lyrics. Don't understand the 'hate'. Seemed like an ok song to me. What am I missing?

@Shé di Felina (5:54 AM)

Agreed on your 'solve times' comment. I've struck a compromise: turn off the timer for all xwords other than the current NYT and last year's NYT which provide some measure of progress (or lack thereof).

@amyyanni (6:32 AM)

All the best in your retirement! 👍

@TTrimble (7:59 AM)

Just about to pack in the SB yd when a hard-to-pick-out 6er appeared. 2nd time in the week this has happened. Thinking serendipity here. LOL

pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Whatsername 11:06 AM  

Seemed like an easy breezy Monday until I got hung up on a couple of places. Clever crossing of HUEY and LOUIE and a dynamite clue for TWERKING but what was up with those themers? I mean you couldn’t get much more simple than I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT but you follow it with a fairly obscure government official from 20 years ago. Then back to super simple with THROWING A BONE but why on earth that convoluted clue? Then on to the opposite end again with a Japanese dish most people have likely never heard of. Good grief! Make up your mind!

Normally I don’t like to comment on Rex’s review because well, it’s his blog and he can say what he wants. But really, the idea that NIP as clued constitutes a racial slur is so MOOT it’s “not worth debating.”

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

I am surprised that some had trouble with the T of BART. It seems like even non-watchers would have heard of BART Simpson somewhere. And if not, how many names are BAR_, some other letter? I guess BARb but then you have TObO. BARi? Then TOiO. BARy? TOyO. BART, if not the only feasible choice, is by far the most likely. And I can't even imagine the odds of never hearing of either TOTO or BART S.

Masked and Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Real shame that DEWEY ain't a country in Africa. Just sayin.

Neat start to the themers, with MALI circled within IMALITTLETEAPOT. Kinda made U wonder what was in store for this rodeo.

staff weeject pick: TRU. Cuz a 3-letter answer just can't handle the whole truth.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {It makes an auto shine} = CARWAX.

Thanx for the continental tour, Mr. Christian. Part of a series? I'm mighty sure @RP would luv that. har

Masked & Anonym007Us


A 11:30 AM  

Nice start to the week with a respectable Monday puzzle that’s trying to do A LITTLE Tuesday with it’s CHICKEN YAKITORI. Had JIVED before GO BIG forced the JIBE. The rest went very quickly, and I was happy to have the slight hesitation at the TRU cross bring me to just under average Monday time. Saw the reveal and actually said “oh, look at that.”

Fun coincidence for me to see HUEY and LOUIE (next to HONK): this morning something, maybe the NPR TOTES from yesterday, had me thinking of Dewey, Cheetham and Howe. Sure do miss Bob and Ray.

The workings of memory are mysterious. I had no trouble conjuring up I’M A LITTLE TEAPOT from 50 years ago, but had forgotten GONZALES. Oh yeah, that guy. Hey LOOK, he’s crossing EXTORT.

Today we SAY SO, yesterday we SAID SO. Another echo is PO PO, the two stacked POs inside POI and POT.

BITER makes me think of toddlers or horses more than dogs. Although I knew a daschund who was a BITER.

RIP, Esther Bejarano, one of the last members of the orchestra of Auschwitz. A YouTube contributor who I had subscribed to years ago, addiobelpassato, just posted this tribute: Esther Bejarano In Memoriam. Something odd, I’ve never seen a post that had no details, no way to comment and no share button.

The music in the tribute is noted as El Cant dels Ucels (though when I searched it came up Ocells), or Song of the Birds. Anyone know if Ucels is a real alternative?

Ok, very odd, the tribute link now says video unavailable - I'll see if I can find it again.

A 11:34 AM  

I think this will work. Esther Bejarano In Memoriam.

Doc John 11:37 AM  

They sum up the woke crowd as a whole- throw out something with many positives because of one negative.
Frankly, it’s fascistic- you’d better have lived your entire life as perfectly as we dictate or we will rip you to shreds.
And we wonder why we lose elections.

jae 11:37 AM  

@bocamp - I finished Croce’s Freestyle #628 in one and a half sittings. I’d put it as easy-medium on the Croce spectrum*.Good luck!

*Medium on the Croce spectrum = very tough Saturday NYT.

Kristin 11:52 AM  

I thought this was hard for a Monday, but for me that’s a good thing. Mondays are usually too easy, and I’m tempted to just skip them.

The Joker 12:33 PM  

I think this played like a hard Wednesday that should have been published on Friday as an easy Saturday.

Whatsername 12:43 PM  

@amyyanni (6:32) Vacation time is great but retirement is fabulous. However pleasant you’ve imagined it will be, it’s way better than that. Congratulations!

bocamp 12:48 PM  

@jae (11:37 AM)

Thx, I'm on it!


Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Chris 1:02 PM  

Mini Andy Griffith theme with OPIE and NIP it in the bud,a very common expression from Barney Fife.

camilof 1:06 PM  

Why do so many people come here to complain about Rex's writeup day after day? It's like you're shocked every single time he brings up a highly predictable objection to the puzzle that you vehemently disagree with. There are plenty of other xword blogs you could go to. Also, if you're upset that a word is getting 'cancelled' because you aren't personally offended, you'd better be from the racial group/ethnicity it's directed at... otherwise your opinion is not valid. Anyway, what are the chances he reads the comments? You're probably just yelling into the void – just like this rant of my own, I know :)

Anyway, about the puzzle... I agree it was very unpleasant to have to think about Alberto Gonzales, but has there ever been a palatable Republican Attorney General? But as others have said, the TAINT and BUTT pairing was terrific, especially under Gonzales which almost makes that clue tolerable. Constructor knew exactly what he was doing!

Also, google hasn't helped so I have to ask... what does OFL stand for?

Jeff B. 1:17 PM  

Not great but still some fun here. The worst was UBERIZE.

The best was the @JohnH (9:01) comment on it being unforgivable to leave out Dewey with HUEY and LOUIE included.

Douglas 1:32 PM  

My dog nipped my heels the other day. Now I guess I have to send her to racial sensitivity training. So sad.

Juanita Rivera 1:37 PM  

Alberto Gonzalez is the embodiment of the American Dream. Of Mexican descent, he was the second of eight children born to Maria and Pablo M. Gonzales. His father was a migrant worker and then a construction worker with a second grade education. His mother worked at home raising eight children and had a sixth grade education. Gonzales and his family of ten lived in a small, two-bedroom home built by his father and uncles with no telephone and no hot running water. After graduating from high school he joined the Air Force and later graduated from Rice University and Harvard Law School. He was the first (and as yet only) Latino American to serve US Attorney General. Impressive.

Liz 1:38 PM  

Twerked was a highly offensive answer. Yuk.

Douglas 1:38 PM  

Your intolerance is astonishing. People like to rant for the exact same reason you are ranting. It’s enjoyable. OFL stands for Our Fearless Leader - a stupid worshipping moniker.

ghkozen 1:40 PM  

Strongly disagree that it’s fascistic to say that when word has severe negative implications, and takes almost no effort to remove from use, that people can be asked to try to remove it from vocabulary. Frankly, it’s comments like this redefining basic human dignity as fascism that are allowing real fascism to advance unchecked. So great work there Doc!

Amateur linguist 1:52 PM  

@Quang Nguyen 7:17: if "nip in the bud" is such a popular idiom, why is "nip in the BUTT" such a prevalent eggcorn?
Makes me wonder whether Kevin Christian included NIP and BUTT in the same grid on purpose.

kitshef 1:55 PM  

@M&A - I think there is a typo in today's runt at 16A - should be "Helens"?

Bitter 1:56 PM  

Rex, the fact that you had to include a Wikipedia link to tell us what could possibly have been racist indicates that it probably isn't worth worry about. Nip? Seriously? I've never in my life heard that used as a slur, and in this instance it's clued as a very common "Nip in the bud" phrase. It may not have been a great fill section, but it's definitely fine.

Bryan 2:03 PM  

Yep, it's even more redundant than ATM Machine, hence why it took me a second when I saw the clue vs how many letters the solve needed to be.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

@Juanita 1:37: Gonzalez also twisted the Constitution to allow torture of detainees. But then, Barack Obama ordered drone strikes which killed over 1,000 civilians and nobody seems to kvetch when his name appears. So what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, I guess.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

Juanita Rivera,
Mr.Gonzales is an impressive man. Not for Z though. Too bad he sniffs at his inclusion in the puzzle. My only question is whether it’s because Mr.Gonzales is Latino or a republican. Either way, it’s vintage Z.

camilof 2:20 PM  

@Douglas Actually, my tolerance is what is astonishing considering how much ignorance I'm confronted with on the regular (not accusing you personally, I live in Missouri). The point is that if you hear the expression 'nip in the bud' or 'I got nipped by a dog' there is context, but someone picking up a crossword puzzle ends up looking at words that are stripped of context, and that may or may not upset them. Yes, I know the clue is the context in this case, but when the word is singled out it is more likely to evoke its pejorative meaning, if it has one. I assume you identify as white? *checks profile photo* Looks like it. Huh! But thank you for explaining OFL, and I do agree that ranting is fun.

As for the American Dream... one's humble background isn't carte blanche for the literal authorization of torture.

Masked and Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@kitshef: U are correct. M&A will grunt out a new version of that runt, below.

M&A Repairs Desk


TAGG 2:26 PM  

You beat me to the punch. Yes indeed. To lazily call the Scots' accent a brogue is not only ill-informed and but insulting.

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Anonymous 2:08
John Yoo and Jay Bybee disagree.

Unknown 5:24 PM  

day of retire👍👏🍻😴
the first day after😴😮🤔🙂😴
repeat, enjoy, you earned it

Anonymous 7:04 PM  

It’s 7:04 PM there are only 75 comments. I guess Z must be on vacation, Hope he’s having fun.

Anonymous 8:01 PM  

OFL is "our fearless leader," i.e., Rex.


Anonymous 8:13 PM  

From reading this and a few other of your crossword "reviews", you are potentially the most insufferable person I've ever seen online. Why is everything so negative with you. Not every little clue is bad just because you don't get it immediately, or because it has to do with something that triggers you for absolutely no reason.

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

Boo-Hoo. . . . It took me 4 minutes instead of 3 to complete the puzzle. . . You want some cheese with that whine?? . . . Due for my Nin/Tuck surgery this month (MUST not offend ANYBODY!!!!). . . Cheers.

Amy 9:39 PM  

Why does Rex hate geography? Very very easy for me this one, so disagree this was not Monday-worthy.

andrew 11:06 PM  

If the clue for “___ in the bud” was “person who likes Chicken Yakitori”, you’d have a valid point.

But I agree that in no way, shape or form this is an ethnic slur…just as Elaine Benes’ nickname after she sent out a too-revealing Christmas card was inoffensive, racially at least.

TheMKT 11:25 PM  

It's frustrating when clues or answers are so badly written that having an intimate knowledge of a subject like Japanese food actually makes it harder to solve. CHICKENYAKITORI? Similar to the poster above, I don't think I would see SALSASAUCE as an answer either. On a related note, I find the clues and answers pertaining to advertising often completely disconnected from language used within the industry. PSA? Ok, that's true. But ADREPS? Ugh.

CDilly52 12:25 AM  

🎶 Monday, Monday. . . Not good to me. . . 🎵 No wheelhouse credentials for me today. Oddly, the easiest answers for me were the long ones- thankfully! As @Frantic so succinctly opined, can’t get worked up either way and that’s kind of sad because I typically enjoy a breezy Mo day. Oh well, Tuesday looms.

TTrimble 11:20 AM  

yd -3. Two E-words I'd never heard of. td: pg -16. Am I crazy, or wasn't ROTO once an acceptable word? And PROPITIATORY would have been very SWEET; he should have put that one in for a COOL 19 points.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

I have no issue removing NIP from the language, on account of it being a slur, whether clued that way or not, so long as we agree to also remove OREO for the exact same reason.

spacecraft 10:20 AM  

Oh, come on, REALLY. He starts ranting about NIP and I'm..."Wha?" Then, "Oh yeah, THAT. Geez!" You have to be actively LOOKING to be offended. You have to begin your day thinking, "Oh, someone PLEASE say something offensive so I can roar in and chastise them! My day will then be complete!" Get REAL. Too bad your tendency toward that wasn't NIPped in the bud.

And that yet with a Japanese dish in the grid! Yikes! Anyway, a clever enough theme--and why not include TOTO? Throwing shade on THEM now? They dared to sound a little different. Shame on them.

The beloved TONI Morrison receives DOD today. I enjoyed the tour, and getting YAKITORI on crosses provided some welcome Monday crunch. Birdie.

thefogman 10:55 AM  

Pretty thin gruel - even for a Monday.

Burma Shave 11:57 AM  


TRU, I'MALITTLE unknown,
BUTT LOOK at the BULL Trump says,


rondo 12:08 PM  

So I wasn't imagining it. Even OFL recognizes that there has been a Monday/Tuesday flip-flop.

What must ALBERTO be if there is a TAINT between him and BUTT?

And where's Dewey? Unca Donald wants to know.

For those who missed it recently, Barney Fife and NIP it:

leftcoaster 4:35 PM  

There’s nothing not to like about this one.

Actually liked it all, given some extra leeway for some of the short fill. And AFRICA is an apt revealer, bringing it all together.

CHICKEN YAKITORI is a leading themer (though it took a BYTE or two to suss it out), but the others are pretty good too.

A good Monday morning wake-up call, even if a little late.

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