Staples of British Christmastime theater / TUE 7-6-21 / User name on an Xbox / Hrs at the prime meridian

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Constructor: Katie Hale

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: ABBA (69A: Pop group with the hits 17-, 39- and 61-Across) — ABBA songs that have repetitive titles, all of which are 15 letters long (!), all of them clued wackily (i.e. with "?" clues, as if they were not, in fact, ABBA titles):

Theme answers:
  • "MONEY, MONEY, MONEY" (17A: All that a greedy businessperson thinks about?)
  • "GIMME, GIMME, GIMME" (39A: Demand made with hands outstretched?)
  • "I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO" (61A: Particularly enthusiastic cry at the altar?)
Word of the Day: Matty ALOU (32A: Felipe, Matty or Jesus of baseball fame) —
Mateo "Matty" Rojas Alou (December 22, 1938 – November 3, 2011) was a Dominicanformer professional baseball player and manager. He played as an outfielder in Major League Baseball from 1960 to 1974. He also played in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB)with the Taiheiyo Club Lions from 1974 through 1976. Alou was a two-time All-Star player who is notable for being the 1966 National League batting champion
• • •

I love ABBA, so this should've been delightful to me, but noticing a weird fact about three ABBA songs (repetitive titles + 15 letters long) is only the first part of putting together a solid puzzle, and unfortunately the other parts just weren't there. The main issue is the grid, which is built in such a way that we get a glut of short fill. Just an avalanche. Absolutely no reason for a 3x15 theme to have a grid this rough, this choppy, with this much short stuff. And the preponderance of short fill leads to the other issue, which is that the short fill is (perhaps not that surprisingly) very dull, very overfamiliar, very yesteryear. GAMER TAG (5D: User name on an Xbox) stands out like a goth teen at a white-tie gala, as it is the only answer that seems to have any experience of the culture of the last thirty years, the only answer that seems like it hasn't been dredged up from the bottom of Ye Olde Crosswordese Swamp. I'm exaggerating A DAB (or is it A BIT) :( about the fill, in that it obviously isn't wall-to-wall old and tired, but when you've got AROD *and* ALOU, which crosses OLIN, which crosses SNAPE (plus: it's from the last thirty years! minus: it's *$&%ing J.K. R0wling again), and then ABO TEM LETO LES NENA OMNI NANO and ANNA and her NYET and the STENO STYE and god knows what else (I'm out of breath), and then MR. COOL, which feels like it was never a thing but someone used it once and now it's in everyone's wordlist so everyone *thinks* it's a thing ... there's too much drudgery here, and so whatever joy ABBA might've brought to the table just gets drowned out. Doesn't help that you don't even know you're *dealing* with ABBA until the very end (if you solve top to bottom L to R, as I did). The whole solve, all I could think was "... why??" At least the puzzle eventually answered my question. But the actual work of getting from A to B, from NW to SE, was, well, work. The dutiful filling in of boxes. No lightness, no bounce, no joy. No ABBA vibes, frankly. Plus, this was a very, very easy puzzle that should've run yesterday (yesterday's puzzle having played, for me, like a very hard Tuesday or easy Wednesday).

On a technical level, there's one striking flaw with today's grid: you absolutely cannot cross ESPNU and SDSU, and you especially cannot cross them *at the 'U'*, as that is essentially crossing a word ("university") with itself. Baffling that this should even have been an issue, since it's not a particularly taxing grid to fill. Should've been comparatively easy to avoid that kind of abbr. pile-up, coupled with the egregious crossing. That whole SW corner ... ALINE? LES? REDOS? AROD? And the ESPNU/SDSU thing to boot? I know it's just a little corner of the puzzle, but you gotta polish things better than this. You can't just go with the first thing that "works." The SE corner is similarly anemic, but at least there, you have some excuse (i.e. ABBA is set in stone as the revealer, so that corner is actually quite theme-dense, and thus harder, in theory, to fill cleanly). No trouble with anything today except GAMER TAG (I know the terms separately, but I'm not sure I've seen them paired). Didn't know PANTOMIMES, and I have no clear idea what "British Christmastime theater" even is, but I had enough crosses in place there to make the answers very guessable. Wikipedia says, "Outside Britain, the word "pantomime" is often understood to mean miming, rather than the theatrical form described here," and that is certainly true for me. 

No idea why you would clue SINBAD as an absolutely undistinguished "2003 animated film..." (a "box office bomb"), especially when you're just going to give away the answer with "Legend of the Seven Seas." It's a weird cluing choice that brings no actual color or pizzazz, since there are no lively animated-film details in the clue (and anyway, no one actually saw the movie). Overall, it's dismaying to have a core theme idea that seems so promising, only to have it smothered by lackluster fill and tepid cluing. Gonna go make coffee now, and maybe listen to some ABBA ... or maybe I'll just listen to morning birdsong with the cats, and wait until Penelope (my wife) actually wakes up before I start the Swedish disco party. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Ben 6:04 AM  

Please fix the date heading of the previous post

Zygotic 6:32 AM  

I think Rex overstated it on the short fill. Or, rather, the north isn’t as bad as the south. BONY, OMAHA, TO ME (instead of TOME), AXIOM, BUMPED,… so not quite as bad as Rex made it out to be. I do have to wonder how much longer 99 Luftballoons has as a viable clue. How many other one hit wonders from 38 years ago make the grid? The south does seem a little like an ese primer, so Rex has a point, just not as bad as he says in my opinion.

Also, ABBA? I know my generation +/- 10 years has fond memories, but does ABBA really resonate outside that swath? Maybe they do, but it is hard for me to believe. Yeah, yeah, Mamma Mia, but the movie came off as OK Boomer Karaoke more than a multigenerational hit. I just don’t imagine a lot of 30 somethings doing a Swedish Disco Party. But maybe I’m wrong. I know I was shocked a decade ago to discover Glee had rejuvenated Journey for a younger crowd.

BTW - The constructor mentions elsewhere that they asked for a rewrite of that SDSU/ESPNU cross, but decided this was better than the rewrite.

Clean-Up on Aisle Yesterday
@JC66 9:34 - I don’t think anyone ever said it wasn’t a NYC thing, only that it was only a NYC thing as a stand alone phrase.
@Anon9:31 - Sadly, no rolled R’s. Just a straight homonym for the word of the day.
@Anon8:49 - What the Shadow knows is that if it had been clued as a suffix the whole discussion would have been avoided. It was August wondering if it was a NY regional slang that launched the entire debate.

And, in an unrelated note, @Mr. Alarm 12:20 a.m. - There is nothing more to get. The whole CYLI thing was satirical because there is nothing more to the theme. Also, that was just a little bit of an inside joke for Fireball subscribers since the most recent Fireball Puzzle was a meta.

amyyanni 6:34 AM  

Confess to smiling at the AROD clue referencing he WAS engaged to JLO (#RedSoxNation, and we won again last night), along with the reference to BEN AFFLECK. In keeping with the theme, you can call me petty, petty, petty. Agree it could have been a Monday, though yesterday's was a speedier solve for me. Good Tuesday to y'all.

albatross shell 6:51 AM  


Not so bad as it looks. I like all the ALOUs and I only mentioned MEAN KNEE NANO because I liked the sound.

The themers sure sped up the solve time. And I didn't know they were ABBA songs until I saw the reveal. How many puzzles and I still do not knough? Knead to knough? Damn boro anyhough. Stop it Nough. NOUGH Now. No nough. Stop.

Oughkay. Moving on.

One double POC and two strays.

So MR COOL doing PANTOMIMES in a HOT BATH of TOMATO SOUP with SINBAD (is it better to SIN BAD or in SIN good?) asking for AXIOMS is about as much fun as I can get here. Maybe it's enough? Hope you folks got more.

American Liberal Elite 6:55 AM  

I loathe Abba.

albatross shell 7:02 AM  

@Ben 604am
Yes. I hinted about that in my first post yesterday. Nobody seemed to care. Maybe it should just stay that way. A tribute to a historic error, glitch, omission, booboo or whatever.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  


kitshef 7:18 AM  

Easier than any Monday in recent memory, which I guess means easiest puzzle in recent memory.

I overwhelmingly prefer earlier ABBA work to the later stuff. There is a charming innocence combined with ambition that is lost over the years. It is odd, therefore, that of the three songs we get today, GIMME GIMME GIMME - the latest - is my favorite.

Wish Ring Ring and Honey, Honey could have been worked in.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Help is available for anyone who couldn't handle the date error yesterday. It isn't healthy to be that disturbed by it.

Son Volt 7:31 AM  

For all you erudite types who bitched that yesterday’s theme was too simple - today you get a big hold my beer. ABBA is bad enough but the repeated word titles were brutal and belong in a People puzzle. If I was the editor and the constructor submitted this - I would have strayed from ABBA to the Zombies and told her no, no, no, no-no-no.

No joy in Mudville - mighty AROD has struck out.

Anders 7:31 AM  

ESPNU is not an abbreviation. It’s reasonable to believe the U in this trademark or brand name name derives from the word “University. But it does not stand for it.

mathgent 7:51 AM  

What's duller than today's crossword? Rex's criticism of it. Physician, heal thyself.

Shouldn't the clue for 64A be "All gerunds"? Gerunds are defined to be NOUNS.

I watched Coco Gauff, the delightful American 17-year old, lose to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon yesterday. Very disappointing, but Coco didn't play nearly as well as she did in the earlier rounds. I'm now rooting for Kerber to win the tournament. She won it in 2018 and has been ranked #1. She has a weak serve but she plays smart and has a sneaky-fast lefty forehand. And she's cute.

Frantic Sloth 8:04 AM  

"Okay", says I. "I guess this is the week for themes on training wheels."
3 words..."Yip" 3 phrases..."Yippee."
3...hang on...6 IDOs?? "Oh now this has gone on just about long enough...what? ABBA songs? Oh! Hey - that's kinda cute."

And that's how the claws get retracted.

Or, as Loretta Castorini would say, SNAPE out of it!

Found this easier than yesterday, but so what? Lots of PPP, but that's really starting to become the norm, isn't it? Ugh. Pfft.

@JD from yesterday and the day before. Finally found the hamster video (d'oh!) and loved it. I wonder if he went back to his cage voluntarily...odds are against it, methinks. 🀷‍♀️


Barbara S. 8:09 AM  

I don’t have much to say about this one. Fast solve because of the repetition. I’m always up for a (guilty-pleasure) ABBA theme but, as Rex said, ABBA wasn’t clear until the end, so the puzzle wasn’t as sparkly as it could have been.

• I always thought there was a fundamental difference between PRAMs and strollers, which Wikipedia denies. I thought the child lay down in a PRAM and sat up in a stroller. Hmm, further research required? (Or am I just wrong?)
• For me, common go-with for grilled cheese sandwich: sweet pickles – NOM! TOMATO SOUP is way down the list.
• If you got all your information from crossword puzzles, you’d think poor underused Jared LETO has only ever been in one film.
• Theatrical friends of mine (of English origin) used to stage a PANTOMIME (more familiar short form: PANTO) every Christmas until COVID hit. PANTOMIMES always feature fairytale characters, clear good guys and villains, at least one character who’s a cross-dresser, singing and dancing, and the plot is always even more ridiculous than anything you could ever imagine. They’re very kid-friendly.
• Extending yesterday’s link – More MONEY.

Barbara S. 8:14 AM  

Today’s passage is from the work of HILARY MANTEL, born July 6, 1952.

“In Paris the swaying lanterns are lit in the streets; lights shine through water, fuzzy, diffuse. Saint-Just sits by an insufficient fire, in a poor light. He is a Spartan after all, and Spartans don’t need home comforts. He has begun his report, his list of accusations; if Robespierre saw it now, he would tear it up, but in a few days’ time it will be the very thing he needs. Sometimes he stops, half-glances over his shoulder. He feels someone has come into the room behind him; but when he allows himself to look, there is nothing to see. It is my destiny, he feels, forming in the shadows of the room. It is the guardian angel I had, long ago when I was a child. It is Camille Desmoulins, looking over my shoulder, laughing at my grammar. He pauses for a moment. He thinks, there are no living ghosts. He takes hold of himself. Bends his head over his task. His pen scratches. His strange letterforms incise the paper.”
(From A Place of Greater Safety)

bocamp 8:22 AM  

Thx Katie; fun Tues. puz! :)

Easy-Med solve.

Started with one of my fave countries IRAN, (for the people, not the leadership), and ended with one of my fave groups, ABBA.


I Have A Dream ~ ABBA (for a free IRAN) πŸ™


Got Croce's Freestyle 624 in one long sesh. What a trip! East half much, much harder than the West. See you next Mon. :)

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

mmorgan 8:31 AM  

Pretty much agree with Rex, though I have limited of knowledge of ABBA and it’s mixed — I really like Chess but can’t stand Mamma Mia or however you spell it. Don’t know anything else they did. As a Noel Coward fanatic, PANTOMIMES was a gimme.

Carola 8:31 AM  

The CD ABBA Gold has gotten us through many a mile on Midwestern (i.e., nuthin' to see here, folks) Interstates, which made this one very easy: the first MONEY told me exactly where we were headed. PANTOMIME was a treat, and I liked HOT BATH x TOMATO SOUP.
Do-over: tyCOOn. No idea: GAMER TAG.

Nancy 8:40 AM  

"Oh, please don't be MONEY, MONEY, MONEY," I pleaded when the first MONEY came in.

"Oh, please don't be GIMME, GIMME, GIMME," I begged when I spotted the clue for 39A from six rows away.

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no! You're not going to be I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO, I DO," I wailed when I spotted the clue for 61A.

But, alas, alas, alas, alas, alas, alas -- they all were and are.

Now I find out that they're all the titles of song hits by ABBA. I didn't know that! Well, surely that justifies all the repetition and makes everything hunky-dory -- right?

As a matter of fact, no it doesn't. At least not in my 10D.

pabloinnh 8:44 AM  

Nice to start off comments with two things I totally agree with, viz.-@albatross shell's not realizing theses were all ABBA songs and @amyyanni's celebration of (another) Red Sox win.

I thought the theme was going to be "repetitious phrases which make the puzzle too easy". It was, but something else as well, as I found out.

PANTOMIME made me think of several Python sketches involving The Pantomime Horse, which were all hilarious.

A few too many actors from things I didn't know or whose first or last names I didn't know but the crosses were so easy that it didn't matter. This one played pre-Monday for me. I mean, the Venus de Milo was a STATUE? A "relaxing soak" is a HOTBATH? And so on. I mean, really.

I realize it's early in the week but I would have clued 5A as either "diastemas" or "diastemata". Now THAT would have toughened things up a little and a lot of folks could have learned something.

Easy breezy Tuesdecito, KH, with a lot of answers that just Kept Happening. Thanks for the diversion.

SouthsideJohnny 8:48 AM  

A lot of it seemed Monday-easy, almost as if today’s and yesterday’s puzzles got switched somehow - with one tragic flaw, which is the atrocious OLIN crossing SNAPE. I know, I know - the Harry Potter crap is going to be with us for the foreseeable future, so we just have to tolerate it - but seriously, crossing it with more Trivia is all on the Editors. They think it’s ok, and it’s their castle, so that type of sloppiness is deemed acceptable although (I believe) many if not most of the solvers here will find it undesirable at a minimum.

I wish OFL would post more critiques similar to today’s where he talks about the technical aspects and some of the intricacies involved in puzzle construction - areas where he has some expertise and can offer interesting insight and information. Much better than reading through parroted paragraphs of nonsense that he has to spew everyday on campus to keep his nonsensical liberal elitist credentials in order.

Nancy 9:05 AM  

Best blog comment so far? @kitshef's "This one played pre-Monday for me."

Perfect. Wish I'd thought of it. I may steal it one day.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

I’m OK with the JK Rowling character in the puzzle. Maxine Waters, otoh, should be avoided at all costs. Your mileage may vary.

JD 9:17 AM  

Same feeling as Nancy, lines 2 and 3.

Not fun typing I Do.

Cue @American Liberal Elite.

@JC66 from yesterday, Thank you.

albatross shell 9:18 AM  

@Son Volt
Juiced up.

rjkennedy98 9:20 AM  

This was such an easy puzzle, I just don't get how this ended up on Tuesday. Solved well under normal Monday time for me.

The reveal was about the only thing I liked in this puzzle. I guess it's cool that there are repetitive phrases that are 15-wide that are ABBA songs, but that's hardly enough to make this puzzle enjoyable to solve. Can't help but feel this should've been an interesting tweet instead of a full blown puzzle.

OffTheGrid 9:22 AM  

@bocamp. Many thanks for the "I Have a Dream" link. I don't believe in angels but I do believe that is one of the prettiest videos I've ever seen and I love love love the song.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

British PANTOs range from small affairs done in church or school halls to big productions on professional stages. Though performed during the Christmas season, their stories are usually twists on old fairy tales rather than typical Christmas stories. They involve lots of audience participation, slapstick, double entendre and cross-dressing.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

SO Rex things all things JK Rowling should be banned because ...? The extreme left wing crap being taught by college professors to our kids has contributed to the ruination of our society.

TTrimble 9:35 AM  

Easy puzz. I think I knew MONEY MONEY MONEY as soon as I laid eyes on the clue, and then knew the other themers were going to do that, except I didn't know the I DO would be for six times, and I didn't immediately make the ABBA connection (I don't know MONEY x 3 and GIMME x 3 as ABBA songs). Live and learn then!

As others have noted, this could easily have been swapped out with Monday's.

@Anders 7:31AM
You kind of left us hanging there, didn't you? Well, I looked it up, and it looks like the U of ESPNU stands for Universities. See, it says so right here. So if your only point is that Universities is not the same as University, then: c'mon.

But if that's not your point, could you please tell us, with a source that indicates that the information cited above is wrong, what the U stands for?

johnk 9:47 AM  

SOS! Not worth the paper I printed it on. Should have solved it in my head, like yesterday.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

@Anders - Adding to @TTrimble, how is ESPNU not an acronym? If you're asserting it is an initialism (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network plus the U) and not an acronym you're wrong, as all initialisms are acronyms.

Jeff B. 10:05 AM  

Easy puzzle. Good to see the ALOU brothers return.

Hard to understand why anyone listens to ABBA. And yes, MRCOOL was a thing, but that was a long time ago.

kitshef 10:09 AM  

@Nancy 9:05 - that was actually pabloinnh's line.

JD 10:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
johnk 10:15 AM  

But what about Sam Gerund? To behave like Sam is "to gerund". There's an adjectival form as well, as in "She hit a gerund ball down the third baseline."
Sorry to be gerunding so much, but I just can't help nouning off this morning.

JD 10:29 AM  

Deleted my previous comment because I left out a part.

Just noticed @Rex's "the only answer that seems like it hasn't been dredged up from the bottom of Ye Olde Crosswordese Swamp." That’s a gem and a coincidence!

I'm working on a manual, Ye Olde Guide for Insulting Your Fellow Americans Who Don't Agree With Your Politics (too long?). Still on chapter one, "How to Create an Opening for an Insult."

The subtitle is Nasty Business From Fox News and How to Apply It. Just to be clear.

Joseph Michael 10:35 AM  

Themes with repeated words are for me the bottom of the barrel. Add a Harry Potter character, an SDSU/ESPNU cross, and a band from 1984 that I’ve never heard of, and I’m already wishing it was Wednesday.

Themes with repeated words are for me the bottom of the barrel. Add a Harry Potter character, an SDSU/ESPNU cross, and a band from 1984 that I’ve never heard of, and I’m already wishing it was Wednesday.

Themes with repeated words are for me the bottom of the barrel. Add a Harry Potter character, an SDSU/ESPNU cross, and a band from 1984 that I’ve never heard of, and I’m already wishing it was Wednesday.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Anon 9:59,
If initialisms and acronyms are identical why are there two words?
You don’t think there’s a difference between a series of letters which can be pronounced as a word, and a series of letters in which each letter is pronounced discretely?

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

@JeffB. I want to help you understand why someone listens to ABBA, or Mozart, or Lil Nas X, or Garth Brooks, or Maria Callas. They like it and enjoy it. Don't be snarky.

jberg 10:42 AM  

@Barbara S. -- Pantos also feature opportunities for the audience to shout "Oh yes it is!" "He' Behind You!" and a couple of other stock phrases; and at some point the cast comes to the front of the stage and throws candy into the crowd. My wife and I love it -- whenever possible--i.e., whenever it isn't 2020--we travel to England to see the Panto at the Oxford Playhouse, which does a great job. Norwich isn't bad, either. They are very funny, with great singing and dancing, and have audiences ranging from about 4 (sometimes younger) to 90. Last year all the theatres were shut down, so the National Theatre created a free online version of Dick Whittington, available for a year, presumably until the next Christmas season. It's 2 hours 20 minutes; you'll love every one of them.

Oh, the puzzle. Unlike @Nancy, I liked the idea of having a theme of common phrases made up of repeated short words. MONEY MONEY MONEY and GIMME GIMME GIMME fit the bill nicely; I DO I DO I DO I DO I DO not so much, there's nothing idiomatic about 5 repetitions. But OK, it was nice to vary the number, and I could see that those were the only numbers available in a 15-space word. I had no idea that they were ABBA songs, and knowing that added very little satisfaction. I don't know if I'm outside the demographic (in my late 70s) or just don't like that kind of music. I've managed to learn Mama Mia (is that the right number of ms?), and that they cook up a good quatrain, but that's as far as I go. Rex's clip did nothing to change that opinion.

My difficulty with the crossing initialisms is that I've never heard of ESPNU, and until I saw the STYE I was looking for a U at the beginning. Then if fell into place.

Aside from that, there was REDOS crossing IDO at the D. With all those I DOs, it would be better to keep REDO out of the puzzle. I also found myself wondering if it was OK to use "the" as an answer as long as it was in another language.

@mathgent, right! If they're not nouns, they're participles.

I actually liked seeing the ALOU family again, it's been too long; and right around the corner from that EEL!

The NYT seems to have decided that the defining characteristic of INNS is quaintness. I don't get it. "Comfortable," "homey," yes, but they need not be quaint.

By the time I first picked up Harry Potter, I'd read The Wizard, The Lord of the Rings, The Dark is Rising, and the first book of His Dark Materials; in comparison to all of those, it was hackneyed and badly written. I guess as a parody of English public school culture, it's more interesting. But did she get better in the sequels? I feel like I should give her another try.

TTrimble 10:57 AM  

Various @Anonymopodes:
You are arguing over something @Anders never said: there was no mention in his post of either acronyms or initialisms.

Here's his post: "ESPNU is not an abbreviation. It’s reasonable to believe the U in this trademark or brand name name derives from the word “University. But it does not stand for it."

(I would like to know: if it's not an abbreviation, then what is it?)

SB: td p -16.

The Joker 10:59 AM  

The forgotten ALOU is Bob.

Nancy 11:01 AM  

Wonder why I did that? Apologies to both of you.

jae 11:03 AM  

Easy. I caught the theme at 17a (I know ABBA) and the rest was cake. Liked it more than @Rex did, nice solo debut.

@bocamp - congrats on Croce’s 624, fun puzzle!

GILL I. 11:04 AM  

@JD. You can always shorten it to: YOG FIY FAWD AWYP.
Well I, too, like[d] ABBA.... Then I saw my favorite Meryl sing like a banana peel in "Mama Mia" and I haven't picked up the beat since then.
Did AROD, ALOU and MR COOL walk into a TBAR? Did they order TIPSY TOMATO SOUP with A DAB of PINKO ROOT? Do TELL.
This is Tuesday and I always go sniffing for something that will tickle my feet. The little smile seeping from the corners of my mouth came with BONY. Why, you ask? because I love a whole cooked fish. It should be trout. A trout where the cook is actually standing by the rivers edge, fishing pole in hand, hauling in one after the other. Tossing them on the grill (after they are dead, of course).....I like them stuffed with jamon serrano and a big pitcher of Rioja wine. I took a picture of me finishing the trout. There wasn't a single piece of flesh left on the spine. Clean as a whistle. Even the stray cat was disappointed. (I left him some papas bravas)

sixtyni yogini 11:05 AM  

Well, since I too have strong feelings (loathing? πŸ˜‚j about Abba, I will simply add —it is a great band for crosswordese — only.
It’s like today’s puzz ….
😴 bland πŸ₯±
though twas was kinda fun
and I do appreciate the astute Rex critique on the fill.

Haha, yes, loathing.

Anon 9:39 11:05 AM  

@Anon 10:37 - Who said they were identical? Not I. Initialisms are exclusively made up of the first letter of the underlying phrase, acronyms not so much. Radar is an acronym which isn't an initialism. Sometimes there are words which have have the same meanings in some cases, but in certain cases they differ. Acronyms has, over time, come to be used more specifically as something pronounced as a word, and Initialisms as something pronounced as the letter string, but that's specific usage, not the definition.

Paul Statt 11:12 AM  

The SDSU/ESPNU cross would spelt a DNF for me, except that, given the context, it had to be a C(college) or a U(niversity), and I guessed right. Not acceptable.

A 11:14 AM  

Who likes this theme? IDOntIDOntIDOnt. I can’t (x3) believe someone thought this was a good idea. I actually, for the first time, read Wordplay, hoping to find that the constructor is a 12-year-old. Nope, she’s an adult. Possibly driven to distraction by her 3-year-old daughter, though, so maybe take away one demerit. But just song titles with repeated words? IMO, a good ABBA puzzle would be centered around palindromes. AROD DORA is a start.

I was appalled to learn that the editors, the MEAN HAGS, changed the best part of the puzzle, her original themer clues, into the worst. Katie wrote, “Originally, I had slightly different clues for the themers, which were changed by the editors as mine were deemed a bit too obscure for a Tuesday. Here are my originals:
MONEY MONEY MONEY: Triple crown?
GIMME GIMME GIMME: Excess demand?
I DO I DO I DO I DO I DO: Vow renewal?”
Katie, you was done wrong. Your clues are excellent, and would have vastly improved the puzzle for me. And they’re anything but obscure - the “crown” being money might be a bit of a stretch for US-centric solvers but get a few crosses and you’re rolling in dough. Major editing fail, TO ME.

I did like how ABIT and ADAB are joined by their backwards pal NOTA. And the Slitherin SNAPE crossing EEL. PRAM crossing RAG. I’m sure there are some who would consider CHRIS Hemsworth MR. COOL. And did you know that TOMATO SOUP is five 2-letter words?

Looking forward to watching some PANTOMIMES.

But first, to get rid of those saccharine earworms I’m enlisting the aid of birthday composer Elisabeth Lutyens. “Never Take Candy from a Stranger”

sixtyni yogini 11:14 AM  

Should have tagged @AmericanLiberalElite in my post. πŸ€—
Such a good pseudonym!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

The specific usage but not the definition?
What does that mean?
What is an initialism? What is an acronym?

Doc John 11:21 AM  

Hey, anything that evokes the wonderful show/movie “Mamma Mia” is OK by me!
Please, Rex, get over your woke JK Rowling hate. This woman has done so many wonderful things for the world but all you can concentrate on is one tiny aspect of her personality.
Before you point a finger, dear, take a cold, hard look at yourself.

Doc John 11:21 AM  

Hey, anything that evokes the wonderful show/movie “Mamma Mia” is OK by me!
Please, Rex, get over your woke JK Rowling hate. This woman has done so many wonderful things for the world but all you can concentrate on is one tiny aspect of her personality.
Before you point a finger, dear, take a cold, hard look at yourself.

Marty 11:21 AM  

I'm just honored to have included in today's puzzle at 23A.

CDilly52 11:23 AM  

@amyyanni- Go BoSox!! I was so hoping to see Sox-Cubs World Series, but the Cubbies have ranked even before the Allstar break! So predictable. I’ll just have to keep rooting for both. The one slovenly thing I have done in my first weeks of official retirement is binge baseball! My husband and I used to talk every year of my retirement and our plans to visit every MLB park in person. Perhaps I can convince my daughter (not so much a baseball fan) and son-in-law (as big a fan as I) to join in at least for the California tour. Again, Go BoSox!!! It bears repeating.

CDilly52 11:27 AM  

@Anders 7:31 am. I tend to agree. Gave this some thought as I predicted @Rex would loathe this one but crossed the “crossing U” issue off the list for exactly the reason you cite.

Joe Dipinto 11:35 AM  

This is the second time in less than a month that AROD is clued as J-Lo's ex. Pretty funny.

I'm surprised no one's used this as a theme before. It's been sitting there in plain sight waiting to be dumped into a crossword grid.

Mr. Cool and his pal Mr. Gentle.

A 11:50 AM  

@Z, I’m with you on ABBA but apparently there are reasons they have come back again and again. And again. ;-) The NYT recently reported that they are planning a fall 2021 “avatar tour,” ABBAtar, with new material. This insightful NPR piece from 2015 is worth a look.

@bocamp, guess I’ll have to check out those songs now.

Grouch 11:58 AM  

The ESPNU/SDSU answers are fine. So they share a U. BFD! So the U means roughly the same thing. BFD!

Whatsername 12:17 PM  

Much easier than yesterday and Monday/Tuesday should have been switched IMO but I’m not going to MOPE about it. Congrats Katie on your solo debut. Very nicely done.

I’ve probably said it here before but ARGO is an excellent film which I highly recommend. I learned the skill of STENOgraphy in school and still use it to this day. When I make notes in the margins of the puzzle, it’s almost entirely in Gregg shorthand.

Anyone remember Dolly the SHEEP? Crikey! We were stunned back in the day.

Sharonak 12:23 PM  

Why the hate on JK Rowling's Harry Potter characters? The first book was brilliant and a great pleasure to read. The rest were somewhat less so, but very, very good. I've read them all five times or more .
On the other had, I couldn't sit through one whole episode of The Simpsons and we get those characters twice as often.

old timer 12:24 PM  

Played so hard, and seemed so boring, that I did not bother filling in the U at the bottom, a tachnical DNF, though I used to go to the San Diego Folk Festival, at what was then SDSC. I will never think of the California State Colleges as Universities, though they technically are, since they award doctoral degrees now. SDSU has one of the ugliest campuses I ever saw, and indeed my local ones, SF State and Sonoma State are about as awful. (Humboldt State, on the other hand, is beautiful). Also, I have sometimes watched ESPNU during football season.

A PRAM is not a stroller. It is a baby carriage. Strollers are just as useful, and way more portable. The Brits need their PRAMs, though, because of the frequent rains. A PRAM provides some protection from rain, and also from the sun -- the most oppressive heat I ever experienced was actually in London. Thanks to blind luck, we stayed at a cheap hotel in Holborn (now gone, alas) that had its own pub, so once inside, I could have my pint without walking down the streets.

bocamp 12:38 PM  

@OffTheGrid (9:22 AM) yw

Happy that you enjoyed the song and visuals. It's one of my faves.

I don't believe in angels as physical beings, but rather as inspirational thots and ideas that appear in consciousness when needed, or when called upon.

@jae (11:03 AM) thx

Croce's puzzes are alway fun!

@A (11:50 AM)

Thx for the NPR article; good read.

g -5 (non-pangrammatic, so far) 🀞

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

The ESPNU/SDSU answers are NOT fine. They are a Natick, and it's only Tuesday. The joint U letter is NOT derivable by logic or even systematic guesswork.

The last time I rode a TBAR was 1970. Anyone had a much more recent experience than that?

Douglas 1:07 PM  

I liked the SDSU ESPNU crossing at the U. The U stands for University in both, so seems like a perfect cross.

Douglas 1:08 PM  

How is SDSU a Natick??? It is a very well-known major university.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

I thought of ABBA when I hit 17A. I wasn't positive about 39A though I now have a "gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight" earworm, but IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO confirmed the theme well before 69A popped up.

Thank you, Rex, for pointing out the cross of ESPNU and SDSU. I threw in a C for the U so DNF today. Colleges, college sports and college mascots are of no interest to me; I feel no dismay about missing that one.

TOMATO SOUP - the best version of it I ever ate was in the northern mountains of Sweden, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. I have spent the last 2 1/2 decades trying to recreate the flavors. I did run into a cute trick since then - make your grilled cheese sandwich and then cut it into little cubes to be used as croutons in tomato soup. Num (nom?)

Thanks, Katie Hale, and congrats on your first NYTimes solo puzzle.

What? 1:18 PM  

What’s worse than yesterday’s (non) theme? One guess.
Chen to Shortz - “What do you read my lord?”
“Words, words, words”
“But that’s not in today’s puzzle.”
“I mean it should have been, you dododo.”

burtonkd 1:24 PM  

really didn't want to fill in 61A, but then typing IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO was actually kind of fun. IDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDOIDO!

@anon 12:54 - I agree that TBARs were ripped out in favor of magic carpets at least 2 decades ago.

@anon 9:30 - it is not so clear to me that it is professors indoctrinating students. Just as much or more comes from the other direction. For that matter, would Fox broadcast the stuff they do if they didn't feel pressure from their viewers to put it out there?

NANO NENA fun in same puzzle, the band that did "99 Wasserballons"

I'm not sure grilled cheese and tomato soup are actually good, but I order it like a Pavlovian response every time.

STYE and PINKO are making my eyes itch

Douglas 1:28 PM  

And… they are absolutely guessable by even minimal logic. Many school names end in U and the reference to a college channel word also could end in U. Painfully obvious in my opinion.

Pete 1:37 PM  

@Anon 10:37 - It's hard to keep you anons straight, but you're obviously the anon who believes that definition 1A in your one and only valid dictionary is the sum total of the definitions the word, across all time and space.

To keep you quiet for eternity, resolve this valid sentence with your understanding of the world" "A ferret is a weasel, and a weasel is a weasel, but a weasel is not a ferret"

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Keep me quiet for all eternity?are you threatening me with death?
So in your example e are all initialims acronyms? Or are all acronyms initialisms?

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

If it’s hard to keep anons straight, how did Pete differentiate the one who “obviously believes that definition 1A… “ you see the problem with this bizarre assertion, right , Pete?

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Anyone who lives, and has been so for 40-ish years, in Appalachia Connecticut knows full well that ESPN isn't some random letters.
Entertainment and

I have a vague memory that the Corp. registered ESPNx, etc. as explicit trademarks some years after establishment. That doesn't alter the fact ESPN is an initialism.

Son Volt 2:29 PM  

@anon 12:54p - they’re not all gone and in fact they just built a shiny new one at beautiful Waterville in NH.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

It's hard to keep you anons straight

Just do what I do: use @[timestamp], which 99.44% of the time segregates the Mice uniquely. Once or twice an eon two Mice will post on the same timestamp, naturally.

Some, such as @Z, are sufficiently acute with reading to be able to identify individual Mice based on vocab, grammar, spelling, and the like from day to day. Not that such is worth the effort, anyways.

In any case, except for those foolish enough to post with their IRL email, we are all Anonymous.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  


It's easy to differentiate @GILL I from @RooMonster (just an example), but not one @Anon from another.

I'm a regular on this blob, but you can't tell who I am because I'm posting anonymously.

GILL I. 3:10 PM  

@Anony 2:50. Is it because I'm always blabbing about people walking into a bar? @Roo claims the HAR....I claim nothing but sheer nonsense.
My HOT BATH runneth over.
I need a vacation.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

Gill doesn’t seem to have had any trouble interacting with an anymore?
And why would she? She asks a question directly addressing anon 2:50s post.
The user names are childish. A masquerade. The stuff for kindergartners. A bit of make believe. They are, in a word, silly.
The time stamp and the contents of posts are all that’s necessary to disguising posters.

JD 3:47 PM  

@Gill, You may not have realized it but YOG FIY FAWD AWYP is actually Welsh for, "I don't want to type the a word more than once." Literally, "No two word I." Amazing πŸ˜€

Wiki 3:48 PM  

An acronym is a word or name formed from the initial components of a longer name or phrase, usually using individual initial letters, as in NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) or EU (European Union), but sometimes using syllables, as in Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg), or a mixture of the two, as in radar (RAdio Detection And Ranging). Similarly, acronyms are sometimes pronounced as words, as in NASA or UNESCO, sometimes as the individual letters, as in FBI or ATM, or a mixture of the two, as in JPEG or IUPAC.

The broader sense of acronym inclusive of terms pronounced as the individual letters (such as "TNT") is sometimes criticized, but it is the term's original meaning[1] and is in common use.[2] Language authorities such as dictionary and style guide editors are not in universal agreement on the naming for such abbreviations: in particular it is a matter of some dispute whether the term acronym can be legitimately applied to abbreviations which are not pronounced "as words"; nor do they agree on the correct use of space, case, and punctuation.

GILL I. 4:00 PM  

Oh my goodness to Betsy and everything else. I just have to share this with everyone. I was just outside on our patio watering my plants and all I see are MONARCH BUTTERFLIES. They are everywhere. We've had them before but nothing like this. A sign? Happiness in my heart. Like @bocamp always says.....Kindness to all........

Joe Dipinto 4:05 PM  

I'm a regular on this blob, but you can't tell who I am because I'm posting anonymously.

@Anon 2:50 - did you mean "posting amorphously"?

Anonymous 4:12 PM  

@Joe D

My first mistake this year πŸ˜‚

A 4:13 PM  

@mathgent, I was sad for Coco, too, but what a nice tribute from Kerber. Should be a good match with Barty.

@Barbara S, that’s the MONEY song I thought of. Love it, thanks for sharing.

Your excerpt today caused me to look up Camille Desmoulins. One of his writings was Discours de la lanterne aux Parisiens, and he became known as "The Lantern Prosecutor". I wonder if that’s a deliberate reference by Mantel. I also learned “sans-culottes.”

@Joseph Michael, your post made me laugh out fff.

@GILL I, you nailed it with your BONY fish! Whole fish, better than filet, fish at the river’s edge better than anything. My ideal breakfast.

@Joe Dipinto, thanks for the McCoy Tyner/Ellington. Now I have to look up Laura Rembert.

@bocamp, I know I learned a few things!

Pdxrains 4:17 PM  

Uhhhh GAMER TAG is not a thing. You have a username, a screenname, a handle....lots of words but nobody ever says GAMER TAG

RooMonster 4:22 PM  

@Gill I
Actually, I pilfered it from @M & A. 😁

I made a post today, but it didn't appear. Poor me, as opposed to YAY ME.

This @Anon skirmish is fascinating.

RooMonster Pilfering Guy

JD 4:26 PM  

@Gill, Are they coming up to you from Mexico? That's so cool!

bocamp 4:36 PM  

@GILL I. (4:00 PM)


@A (4:13 PM)

As did I. 🧐

pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to allπŸ¦‹ πŸ•Š

Joe Dipinto 5:21 PM  

@A – Laura Rembert looks to be a pseudonym for Harold "Shorty" Baker, a trumpet player in Ellington's orchestra who was featured on the first recording of the song, along with Ray Nance on violin (the titular "Mr. Gentle" and "Mr. Cool", perhaps). BMI shows Harold Baker and Ellington as co-writers. And if you search Laura Rembert at BMI it pulls up songs by Harold Baker, including this one. So...

There's a live performance online of Ellington, Baker and Nance performing it, which I'm having trouble linking at the moment.

Heloise 5:22 PM  

A helpful hint for avoiding anonymous posta is to tap or click on the word anonymous when it scrolls up. The post underneath it will disappear.

TTrimble 6:02 PM  

@Gill I.
Do you have milkweed growing in your backyard? Monarch butterflies love it. :-)

Anoa Bob 6:18 PM  

I gave up when I saw the first IDO at 61A. I didn't fill in the bottom section so never saw the ABBA reveal. No matter. I only know ABBA from crosswords so it wouldn't've helped. Totally out of my bailiwick.

Also didn't see my alma mater 65D SDSU. Go Aztecs! Kind of inelegant, though, to have a shared U (UOC?) with 67A ESPU.

It's hard to know what kind of constraints the three unusual grid-spanning themers put on puzzle, but the fill in some of the sections did have a first "this works" look to it. Sometimes going on to see what else is available in a section even after an "acceptable" fill has come up can produce more interesting, smoother fill. Easy for me to say!

Good eye albatross @6:51 AM on the lone Two-for-one POC (plural of convenience), especially since one of the pair, 47A GIVE IN, was a stealth POC and got its letter-count boost inside the phrase rather than at the end. 11D PANTOMINE gets its boost at the end. I count 5 single, stray POCs, at the ends of IBM, GAP, HAG REDO & NOUN. Overall, seems like a modest use of the POC to get the grid filled.

Anders 7:21 PM  

To one anonymous commenter: ESPNU is not an acronym either. It is not short for “ESPN University”. It is not a shortening of anything. There is no context in which you write out the channel name in full using the word “university”. It is just a made-up catchy brand name, complete in itself.

I concede there is absolutely no question the U in this brand name was chosen to suggest or evoke “university”. So one could fairly object on this ground.

But the U in this brand name is not an abbreviation that stands in for some longer word in a fully spelled out name.

Compare perhaps the X in “The X Games” taken as the brand name of a particular event. That is chosen to suggest “extreme” as in “extreme sports”. But it is not an abbreviation for the full name “The Extreme Games”.

GILL I. 7:53 PM  

@JD....They HAVE to be coming from Mexico, me thinks. @TTrimble....I've tried growing milkweed in pots but my neighbors cats piss in them. I've heard the Monarchs like Monterey Pine as well and we have a few lurking in our shadows. Man...they are sweet little critters. One even came up to me and asked me for a drink of water. it.

Mr. Alarm 8:07 PM  

Thanks for the reply, Z. I don’t get the joke/satire, thus I still don’t understand what the earlier commenters - that I asked - who seemed to “get”…something (“duh”). But I appreciate your reply. (I’m also not familiar with the “Fireball Puzzle”. Will investigate.)

Mr. Alarm 8:41 PM  

Rex: I’m trying to understand your apparent hatred for JK Rowling’s fictional writing (Harry Potter), because of something she wrote privately. I know she wrote and explained why she wrote it, and intelligent people can argue either side of that.

But the debate between the art of the artist and the life and words of the artist has been going on for a long time. The obvious example of course, is Richard Wagner and his words and writings, apart from his music. (And some would even say his music, as well, is controversial.)

I’m just wondering, where do you draw the line? I’m pretty sure if you look through art history, at various composers, painters, writers, and musicians, you’ll find something they said or wrote as really objectionable today. Even Shakespeare has been criticized recently for his delineation of Jewish people in the Merchant of Venice.

Where do you “draw the line” in accepting or rejecting works of art because of the artist’s extra-art sentiments?

Anders 9:24 PM  

@TTrimble I don't consider those acronym sites to have any authority.

Whenever ESPN itself refers to the channel it is ALWAYS, ALWAYS just ... "ESPNU". I don't think you will ever find some letterhead or official communication from them in which they ever write it out as "ESPN University" or "ESPN Universities" or anything like that. One could imagine lawyers reviewing their communications to make sure it is always just ESPNU, their trademarked name.

In addition, unlike ESPN, which began as an abbreviation (though the official channel name was changed to simply ESPN in 1985), ESPNU has *always* been just ... ESPNU.

As I said, ESPNU is a brand name. The name of the channel is ESPNU like the name of a certain peanut butter is JIF and "UberX" names a class of service on Uber. It's never been an abbreviation for some longer official name. X in a brand name sounds cool to many people. Putting "U" in the brand name has an effect of suggesting college.

Yes, it is very natural to interpret this brand name as some kind of abbreviation. But that is an interpretation.

Zygotic 10:23 PM  

The AVCX this week is a collaborative meta puzzle co-constructed by Paolo Pasco and Banksy. Alrighty then. Heading to the printer. If you don’t hear from me for a few days you know why.

albatross shell 11:10 PM  

ESPN does actually stand for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. Legally formed entity now owned by Disney (80%) and Hearst (20%). ESPN created ESPNU to cover college, university, and at least now high school sports. It is claimed, as TTrimble found, the U stands for Universities. I could not find where ESPN actually said that anywhere. But many places claim it is so. But no source is given. The implication is obvious. The fact needs support. More interesting is the supposed slogan the Network has used: Never graduate. I assume referring to the fans as stay a college fan forever. And not referring to the players. So abbreviation and initialism and dealer's cholce on acronym, but still mostly a brand name. Also today's boro (which doesn't quite fit any of those things, maybe just a shortening bread).

JMS 1:39 AM  

I gotta say, the first sentence, “I love ABBA”, put me off of reading the rest of the entry...

Musical history for all the wrong reasons.

Matt 2:07 AM  

I didn't read all the comments, but hopefully someone else pointed out this is the third appearance of MONEYMONEYMONEY, the second of GIMMEGIMMEGIMME, and the third of IDOIDOIDOIDOIDO (5x repeated phrase, not sure why everyone was saying 6)... and one of the above in an ABBA-themed puzzle. As soon as I read the greedy businessman clue, I filled in all 3 spanners, then got really bored.

sasses 2:38 AM  

Monarch butterflies in So Cal too. Fun to watch while doing the xword. All is well in the garden!

TTrimble 5:36 AM  

I caught what you said at 7:21PM and accepted it, that and also the further amplification of 9:24PM. Thanks for replying!

thefogman 10:37 AM  

I liked this one a lot. Yes, there is a bit of junk fill, bit Mamma Mia! - there’s no need to go bananas about it Rex,

Geome 11:18 AM  

Neat curve ball on 31 down as NYT was a gimme. Turned out they wanted the synonym...

Burma Shave 11:20 AM  


a HOTBATH with ANNA trying.


EightAndEight 11:43 AM  

Those who show concern about everyday English phrases containg the word NIP seem to have no such trouble whenever ABO appears in the puzzle. (Hint: Ask any Australian.)

spacecraft 12:28 PM  

Who knew? Actually, I recall hearing 61 across, but never would have guessed that the actual title was the entire FIVE-time repetition. I'll say that the groom in that ceremony is one lucky dude (a guy, of course, is never gonna say that five times). But the other songs? I don't recognize them. The ABBA reveal at the very end was a sort of TOMATO surprise.

More ranting about Rowling, yet not a word about leading off, at 1-across, with that icon of human rights IRAN. Put a sour taste in MY mouth. Between the two, I'll take JK any day. In fact, out of sheer defiance, let's make her DOD. At least she's got MONEYMONEYMONEY!

IDO agree on the U(niversity) crossing. Almost better to put a cheater square there. We have NENA and NANO, now all we need is a Hawaiian bird and Mork's farewell. Or, NONE of the above. It's...not awful. Par.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Leto? Nota? DNF.

leftcoaster 3:00 PM  

GIMMEs all over the place, except for a couple of pausers. Wondered about NENA (“99 Luftballoons band”) and had pOtATO before TOMATO.

Actually wasn't aware that these were ABBA’s songs, but can’’t complain about a puzzle that helps fill themers and all right to the end. I liked the puzzle, but I have to agree it might better have been run on a Monday.

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