Wishing sites / MON 8-9-21 / Tattoos, informally / Informal get-together / Raging blaze / Hillary who climbed Mount Everest with Tenzing Norgay

Monday, August 9, 2021

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners


Relative difficulty: Medium (6:24 for me)

 


THEME: OPPOSITES....ISH —Three sets of words/phrases that when divided into two separate words (if they weren't already), have opposite counterparts in a corresponding section of the grid. The catch is that the two words in each set make up a larger word/phrase which does NOT mean the opposite of its counterpart. (There's got to be a better way to describe this theme, but I'm just going to leave that there and hope it makes some semblance of sense.)


Theme answers:
  • OVERCOMES (17A: Gets past, as an obstacle) // UNDERGOES (56A: Opposite of 17A?)
  • HIGH SEAS (25A: Where pirates roam) // LOWLANDS (45A: Opposite of 25A?)
  • LEFT OFF (35A: Omitted) // RIGHT ON (37A: Opposite of 35A?)

Word of the Day: COUCH GAGS (Visual jokes in the openings of "The Simpsons" (a tradition since the first episode) —

The "couch gag" is a running visual joke near the end of the opening credits. The gag generally changes from episode to episode, and usually features the Simpson family's living room couch. A typical gag features the Simpson family running into the living room, only to find some abnormality with the couch, be it a bizarre and unexpected occupant, an odd placement of the couch, such as on the ceiling, or any number of other situations.

In the syndicated version for the episodes from seasons 1 to 5, the couch gag for the episode is usually replaced with the one from season five's "Rosebud" where The Simpsons find an exact double of themselves on the couch (though the syndicated versions of the later episodes retain their original couch gags).

The couch gag is frequently used to make the show longer or shorter, depending on the length of the episode itself. For example, longer couch gags have been used to fill time in shorter episodes, such as in "Lisa's First Word", "I Love Lisa", "The Front",[19] "Cape Feare",[20] "Fears of Flying", "Monty Can't Buy Me Love", "Simpson Safari" and "The Bart Wants What It Wants". An extended couch gag was also seen in the first episode to use the new opening sequence, "Take My Life, Please", where the family chases their couch on a tour across the world. Another long couch gag was in the show's 500th episode "At Long Last Leave," showing a montage of previous couch gags. (Wikipedia)

 


 

• • •

Good Morning! I'm Colin, first time contributor stepping in for Rex as he finishes his vacation. I'm a classical pianist living in New York City and my crossword habit/love/obsession (depending on which member of my family you ask) got kicked up a notch during the pandemic. As the arts and live performances were basically shut down, I had more time and energy that needed an outlet. Crosswords helped me keep my mind active (and, full disclosure, helped me remember what day of the week it was). As we slowly navigate our way out of this pandemic, let us hope we can safely return to performing arts venues as artists and patrons soon. Now, onto the puzzle!


Overall, I thought this was a really solid Monday puzzle. I was impressed with the theme, both during the solve and afterwards. I struggled a bit in the NW (got ORS easily, but wasn't sure about which Sneaky laugh (14A: HEH) it was, nor was I confident enough to throw down HELICES (20A: Spiral shapes) out of the gate.) All of that to say, the first themer set I got to was LEFT OFF (35A: Omitted). When I looked at 37A, I hadn't yet put together that the opposite was referring to the two words of the phrase separately. Had I taken 10 more seconds and asked myself why on earth there would be a '?' after something as straightforward as an 'opposite', then it might have dawned on me. But it being a Monday, I neglected those 10 seconds of thought and went RIGHT ON. It all became clear what was going on once I got to LOWLANDS and I could easily cry OH OH (1D: "Pick me! Pick me!") to finish off the other two sets of themers.

 



While we're discussing the theme, a few things to praise and one thing to nitpick. To start with the good, I love that the opposites are TIGHT. First off, as full phrases or words, none of them have anything remotely to do with their opposite. Nothing. Nada. And when you treat them as two separate words, I feel like I could ask my 8 year old daughter, 'What's the opposite of (any theme answer in this puzzle)?' and she would respond correctly. OVER/UNDER, COMES/GOES, HIGH/LOW, SEAS/LANDS, LEFT/RIGHT, OFF/ON. There's not one that misses. Maybe an almost-4th grader wouldn't get seas/lands immediately, but once they discuss a certain Henry W. Longfellow poem about a certain Bostonian in a few years, I trust all will be understood. I also really appreciated that both the word form and the grid geography matched beautifully. It was nice to see the plurals (and singulars) match, as well as OVER and HIGH be above UNDER and LOW with LEFT and RIGHT on their respective sides of the grid. 

 

One small themer quibble (for me, at least) is that HIGH SEAS is two stand alone words, while LOWLANDS is, of course, one word. The other two sets match as either one complete word, or two words making up a common phrase. Notice I said quibble (def: a slight objection or criticism about a trivial matter). It's definitely not enough for a SEE ME (39A: Worrisome directive from a boss) situation, but is enough to mention.


Aside from the theme, there was a good amount of fill that I enjoyed. The long fill, especially, was a nice bonus for a Monday (although might have proved a bit crunchy for newer solvers). As a musician (who kind of speaks French), REVEILLES (2D: Wake-up calls played on bugles) was both solid fill and easy. Other nice longs were COUCH GAGS (see word of the day), COMBATANT (31D: Warrior), and SHELF LIFE (3D: Twinkies have a long one). I honestly don't remember the last time I ate a Twinkie. And I think that's a good thing. (Also, I googled it so you don't have to---In 2013 Hostess modified Twinkies so their shelf life went from 26 days to 45. Yay? I mean, Yay!) The other longs in the SE I don't love quite as much. SOUR CREAM (34D: Enchilada topping, maybe) is fine, but not something I ever OPT (10D: Make a choice) for on anything I eat. And I don't love ETSY STORE (33D: Place to sell homemade crafts online). ETSY has become a crossword staple, so adding STORE seems a bit redundant (especially when the clue specifically says online).


I initially had HELIXES instead of HELICES (20A: Spiral Shapes), which I am going to blame on going to music school. (I now know both are accepted forms of the words, but I'll admit that 'C' was the last letter I plugged in to finish the puzzle.) Helices was made harder by the fact that I am not familiar with NECCO (5D: Classic wafer brand) wafers. Smarties, hell yes. Sweet tarts, sure. NILLA wafers, absolutely! ....which is why I confidently wrote that in. That led me to NO HOW (5A: Not in any way, in dialect), but curtailed my progress with the gimme answer of ETUDE (15A: Practice piano piece). I now know Necco Wafers have been around a LOOOONG time, and while I still had HELIXES penciled in, I quickly figured out there is definitely not such a thing as a NECXO wafer. I might prefer that over a 45 day old Twinkie, however.

Most all of the other fill was average at worst with enough bright spots to keep it fun. There were plenty of so-so words with easy clues....but then again, it's Monday so to be expected. Loved seeing SUE (41A: ____ Bird, many-time W.N.B.A All-Star) who just won her FIFTH gold medal! Also enjoyed a decent clue for the ever-present REF (29D: One tweeting about football?) and a slightly tricky for Monday clue for LARKS (13D: Birds that do things just for the fun of it?). Also like seeing SELMA (54A: 2014 Ava DuVernay drama) in the grid.


 

 


A few things I didn't love:

  • TEC (21A: Private eye, quaintly) — This seems super old and quaint to me, and also seems to be appearing in the NYTXW with more and more regularity. Not a fan.
  • LASES (32A: Zaps, in a way) — I suppose this is better than the TASES I initially put in, but still don't love the word, especially on a Monday.
  • EGALITE (22D: "Liberté, _____, fraternité) — No problem with the word, of course, or the motto for Haiti. But the word looks really strange to me sitting in the grid without an accent aigu on both 'E's. Not to mention this does feel a little HOT (25D: Spicy) for a Monday.
  • A BREEZE (42A: Child's play) —I admit this works with the clue, but it both feels and looks clunky to me.  

Overall, a solid start to the week. Tight, solidly executed theme, some nice longs, some tasty crunch (for a Monday, at least), and a minimum of crossword glue. I'll take that every Monday, s'il vous plaît! 

 



One last note before I go -- I'm not going to insert myself into the .puz/AcrossLite debate (I say as I prepare to dip my pinky toe into the issue....). I haven't used that format in years but understand the frustration people are feeling as this shift will alter a long standing routine for many. I definitely think this change could have been communicated much better (i.e. with much more lead time), and with other options for solvers. However, I will say that I find the iPad app to be quite good. It's very user friendly, allows you to clearly see both Across and Down clues, and has zero ads. I much prefer it to solving on a web browser or on my phone. It's not perfect, by any means, but overall a fairly smooth experience. This is obviously not helpful if you don't have an iPad or tablet, so if that is the case, kindly disregard. [Removes pinky toe from water.] 


That's it for me! Hope you enjoyed the puzzle, and have a great week!


Signed, Colin Fowler, Court Musician of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

121 comments:

jae 12:13 AM  

Medium-tough but I had to chase down a couple of typos. Clever idea with a soupçon of sparkle, liked it. Jeff at Xwordinfo gave it POW. Alex said he was aiming for a Wednesday when he clued it.

@bocamp - I finished Croce’s Freestyle #635 without many problems. I think you’ll find it pretty accessible. Good luck!

@Z from late yesterday - today is the 9th, .puz goes away on the 10th.

Joaquin 12:14 AM  

Rather tricky for a Monday, and a perfect challenge for a newcomer. Much more satisfying than the Monday “fill-in-the-blanks” type we often get.

Harry 12:18 AM  

A delightful romp that may disappoint newbies who look to Monday for a straightforward and basic solve. I found this crisp and clean and a more satisfying solve than the typical forgettable spree that characterize many Mondays.

RyAnna 12:26 AM  

I had Tases instead of Lases, which was causing a ton of headaches for a Monday. Also had trouble with 'Lots' and didn't know 'Egalite', so that cross was really hard. In general, that whole section with Roz Lots Les Lases Egalite was quite hard, didn't seem very Monday-esque to me. Did enjoy the theme tho.

okanaganer 12:40 AM  

The theme is actually interesting in that it makes you think about English words/idioms. Eg OVERCOMES and UNDERGOES. I recall listening to someone confidently explain that "entrepreneur" is French for "between takers". In fact it means "undertaker" (also enterprise = undertaking). Even though "entre" by itself usually translates to "between"-- prepositions are tricky.

Believe it or not, there is a memorable movie scene concerned with the SHELF LIFE of Twinkies, from Zombieland.

JeremyS 1:43 AM  

I have a very high-tech/low-tech habit for solving the nytxw. I "print" the PDF on my computer, but instead of actually printing it, I transfer it to an e-ink tablet. So I solve the puzzle with "pen" and "paper" without having to actually use paper.

I like this strategy a lot, and highly recommend it for folks with one of these tablets at hand.

jae 1:51 AM  

I stopped solving the NYT puzzle on paper a few years ago (a) because I live in CA and we are not so slowly burning up trees and (b) have you checked the price of printer ink recently? I’ve been solving on the Standalone app for iPad which requires a .puz file input. So, in anticipation of tomorrow’s shift, I solved today’s puzzle on the NYT iPad app after reading Colin’s recommendation. Colin is right, it works just fine and is, at first blush, equal to the app I’ve been using. I’ll let you know how I feel in a week or so.

offbrand 2:42 AM  

Good theme but wow... this is not a monday at all.

Loren Muse Smith 4:56 AM  

Colin – I vote that you just do all the rest of the write-ups until Rex gets back. Yours was thorough, insightful, careful, and well thought out. Thanks for noting that the “geography” of the entries was fitting - I hadn’t stopped to appreciate that. (And I think if I ever found myself having to pluralize it, I’d definitely go with helixes because HELICES kinda sounds like some kind of Greek warrior.)

How cool to be shown these pairs of common expressions in this light. Very impressive not just to think of this and come up with possibilities, but to find pairs with the same number of letters. . . Bravo! I could find only TAKE OUT / GIVE IN and WALK OUT / RUN IN, but they aren’t symmetrical.

My favorite by far is the LEFT OFF/RIGHT ON because the meanings of the LEFT and RIGHT have nothing to do with the “opposite-ness” aspect of the pair. Hah. The cockroach had the right to live but was left to die. I’m going to be chewing on this all day.

“Surmounts” before OVERCOMES.

Hire was my first thought for the “fire” rhyme. That could be appropriate, too. And dire. Speaking of dire INFERNOS, I’m sending good vibes out to anyone near the Dixie fire.

Funny that the plural of helix is helices, but suffixes suffices as that plural. I’m sure there’s some kind of Greek-to-Latin-to-blah-blah explanation, but I’m too lazy to investigate.

I have learned these past two months that the concept of SHELF LIFE is highly relative to whose shelf it’s on. Apparently, Dad had told Mom that the best by stamp on food was just for the company’s inventory purposes. There’s stuff in her pantry that was good back in the Reagan administration. Then yesterday I came home from my first-ever pickleball experience (wow, is That a hoot!) to have Mom report that she had opened a pack of Nabs, bit into one, and had to run spit it out ‘cause it was “rancid.” I didn’t go all judgy on her ‘cause I’ll eat anything off the floor any time if no one is looking, especially if it’s a peanut M&M, Milk Dud, or Gummy Bear.

Alex – I really, really liked having these phrases shown in this light. This is one I’ll remember for a long while.

bocamp 5:09 AM  

Thx, Alex for a nicely themed Mon. puz. It was RIGHT ON! :)

Hi Colin; thx for the excellent write-up! I also had helixes before HELICES.

Just north of med. solve.

Not A BREEZE, but pretty cool, nevertheless.

Good start in the NW and Dakotas, then hit-and-miss the rest of the way, ending up at AS TO.

Overall, a fun experience. :)

@jae

Thx, looking forward to another battle with a Tim Croce Freestyle this aft. :)

@TTrimble

Finally finished the cryptic just before bedtime. SW quad was tough, altho, 3D was also challenging.
__

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Lewis 5:19 AM  

I know I’m using “wow” two days in a row, but yesterday’s and today’s puzzles, in my view, deserve it. Today’s for the theme (and for how skillfully and cleverly it is presented).

What a fresh feeling theme! Never done in the more than 100 years of crosswords. I was left thinking – how did he come up with these, these opposite-looking phrases that are anything but opposites? Nope-o-sites! And as hard as these seem to come up with, in Alex’s notes on XwordInfo, he explains that his original version had three additional theme answers. These answers showed up in Jeff Chen’s review and they are all worthy of experiencing, IMO:

COLDFEET / HOTHEADS
CATWALK / DOGRUN
STANDOUT / SITIN

Brilliant, and as refreshing as a perfect strawberry. You wow-knocked me over with this one, Alex. Thank you, sir!

staydetuned 6:25 AM  

👍🏼

Keith D 6:37 AM  

Can we stop this trend of finishing the write up by searching for words to object to? LASES? Really? Otherwise, good puzzle, good write up.

Anonymous 6:57 AM  

Re: Twinkies

Being from Maine and only about 20 miles from Blue Hill, I would be remiss if I did not inform folks about the 40+ year old Twinkie in a classroom at George Stevens Academy. A teacher was using it as an example of food preservatives. For the full story and videos, google “Maine Twinkie”.

— Jim C. in Maine

Texas Momma 7:00 AM  

Excellent write up about the puzzle with no political pontificating. Thank you Colin.

OffTheGrid 7:04 AM  

I liked this a lot. In contrast to yesterday's, this was made for solvers .

amyyanni 7:08 AM  

Exceptional Monday! Hello Colin. Lively and thorough review, thank you. Necco wafers were made by the New England Confectionery CO and were definitely an acquired taste for this Detroiter, transplanted to Boston as a young teen. https://images.app.goo.gl/kxsCgk9awL22Q1aW9

Brian 7:09 AM  

Solved like a Tuesday for me.

pabloinnh 7:21 AM  

First, kudos to Colin for an A+ writeup. You can bat leadoff on my All Star Writeup Team any time.

Second, agree that this was a super Monday, although I didn't find much of it very challenging. LEFTOUT before LEFTOFF and the X before C gaffe were about the only slowups. Might have clued EGALITE as part of the French Revolution motto to make it even more Monday-ish, but since it's identical I guess it doesn't matter.

Also today I was reminded of how to spell REVEILLES, which used to wake us up at scout camp, but which I have never had occasion to write down.

Great job by you, AE-S. Absolutely Excellent Stuff. Please accept your Mondazo Prize with my compliments and thanks.

Son Volt 7:23 AM  

Liked this one - the elegance of the theme felt more mid week but the fill was fair and straightforward. Liked the HIGH SEAS and OCEAN tilt. HELICES is interesting as is the clue for PYRE.

My dad took us to the local penny candy store after church every Sunday morning. I was a Pixie Stix guy - my brother went for the NECCO wafers - he especially liked the repulsive black licorice ones.

Enjoyable Monday solve.

Unknown 7:32 AM  

Terrific Monday puzzle, and Colin's review tripled the pleasure.

kitshef 7:35 AM  

Sterling puzzle. The multi-layered theme is brilliant, and instead of coming up with a great theme then mailing in the fill, it's clear AES cared about the fill as well.

I can't remember ever enjoying a Monday this much.

Dr.A 7:53 AM  

I got really irritated with LEFT OFF. That does not mean “Omitted”. It means where you stopped. As in, I left off reading on page 22”. If you want “Omitted” it’s LEFT OUT. Just my personal rant for the day.

SouthsideJohnny 7:58 AM  

I’m with those of us who found it a touch difficult for a Monday - hopefully with nothing that will scare away or otherwise permanently scar a newcomer or two. The border between the center and the east should give a hint as to what one might expect more of as we move throughout the week (EGALITE next to ROZ and LES) - two foreign words and a proper name (crossing ABREEZE no less, the cluing of which also seemed a little on the tough side for a Monday). All in all, good puzzle and I enjoyed the write-up by our guest host today.

thfenn 7:58 AM  

What a great Monday, and a great write-up. @LMS, I too went with hiRE, thought it so appropriately went with 'fire' it had to be right, until ETSiSTORE didn't work anymore. And another hand up for tASES. Thought the opposite pairings were lots of fun.

@anonymous (Jim C), I'm 15 miles from Blue Hill, had forgotten all about the twinkie story. Thanks.

Zwhatever 7:59 AM  

Eaton-Salners is not generally a byline that sparks joy, here. My enduring association is with feats of construction that I have never found all that much fun to solve. So I was more than pleasantly surprised by today’s offering. This is the kind of knowing wink at the absurdity of what we do with language that I love. Opposites that aren’t. Just perfect. And solid long downs too, making this a smile inducing solve all around. NECCO and OTOE don’t wrinkle the forehead when the rest is lively. I do get Colin’s point about ETSY, especially since I think ETSY Shop is what artisans and artists tend to call their online STOREs, but I think it is defensible.

@LMS - “suffixes suffices” is a perfect example of why everyone misses you when you’re away. Now if I can only suss out what today’s avatar is.

@jae - Huh. Ending on a Tuesday makes as much sense as anything else about how they have handled this decision, but I read the announcement as they would stop putting out the .puz today. I’m also half hoping they modify their decision until some of the issues they learned about are attended to. At any rate, I will see what happens at 10 tonight.
As for your first blush assessment - Yesterday’s puzzle points to one of the ongoing problems with their own APP. The 3x7 section at the bottom is unnumbered in print (and in PuzzAzz) but has numbers in their own app. This means it looks like there are nonsense down answers in that section when the intent is for that section to be only read across. Their app is fine when the constructor just does standard things, including rebus squares. But beyond that their own app fails in many the same ways that .puz apps fail. I don’t know anywhere near enough about coding to understand why this happens, but here we have a format where the issue is solved (.ipuz) and the NYTX doesn’t use it. Just gob-smacking to me that this is so.

Zwhatever 8:03 AM  

@Dr A - I did another Top Ten List of all time great NBA players and I LEFT OFF Jordan again because he is over-rated.

JD 8:05 AM  

Admitting right now that I'm not a Monday puzzle fan. It's basically cue the Oboe, throw in Kit or Kat, maybe an Aria, etc. Done.

No How I was prepared for this when the Opposite thing started happening. And the words. Overcomes, Helices, Opera, Iron Age. Etude, Coral, High Seas, A Breeze.

Me in the summer of '72 in my hip huggers trying to be cool with Right On, popping a Necco Wafer. I loved the repulsive black licorice ones @Son Volt. But Pixie Stix ... who first had the thought, "Hell with it. Let's just sell 'em straight sugar." 🤩 What a concept!

This puzzle. Fun for kids of all ages. Some assembly required. Refreshing and much needed.

TKL 8:05 AM  

Totally agree about "tec" -- I never heard it before it started popping up in these puzzles!

Mikey from El Prado 8:08 AM  

Tricky Monday indeed. I had SETS for LOTS and had to chase that down.

Joaquin 8:20 AM  

I admit to not keeping up with the NY arts scene so I googled Colin Fowler (today's guest blogger) and found he's a pretty big deal in the world of music. I hope he always gets good reviews. His skill at reviewing is evident today.

Thx, Colin, for doing a super review of a terrific puzzle!

Anonymoose 8:22 AM  

Only nit in a very good puzzle. SESH I know, saying the whole 2 syllable "session" can be exhausting.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

@Z. LMS avatar is a cartoon army ant but I can't tie it to the puzzle.

Another Anon 8:30 AM  

@Z & @Anon. How about 31D. Warrior/COMBATANT?

Whatsername 8:34 AM  

Anyone experiencing issues with printing? I keep getting an error message since last night.

Wm. C. 8:37 AM  

When I was at MIT, the NECCO factory was in operation across the street from the Mass Ave entrance leading to the "infinite corridor," over 800 feet long, leading through several buildings. When the wind was from the west, the sweet sugary smell of the wafers would blow all the way down the corridor ... Lots of fun.

Speaking of the Infinite Corridor, twice a year (in Nov and Feb, I think), the rays from setting sun in the west line up perfectly with the corridor and light the entire way, naturally.

George 8:48 AM  

Best Monday in recorded history. There, I said it!

I disagree about the cluing of Left Off. It absolutely means "omitted", but is specific to omission from a list, rather than from a group.

Enjoyed the suffixes suffices wordplay above :)

Lewis 8:54 AM  

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

1. A host of answers? (6)
2. Follower of Christmas or Easter (6)
3. Stirrups, e.g. (5)
4. Bed cover (5)
5. Grand total? (6)(5)


TREBEK
ISLAND
BONES
MULCH
EIGHTY EIGHT

Nancy 9:05 AM  

Well, isn't this absolutely the best Monday ever!!!

No that's not a question, it's a statement.

Clever, crunchy, imaginative, well-executed and sometimes even funny (LEFT OFF/RIGHT ON), this puzzle would be very welcome to me any day of the week.

And it's completely free of proper names! This is how it's done, constructors.

Some questions:

Is SUE Bird the daughter of Larry Bird? As in: the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree?

What on earth is a COUCH GAG? Is it a joke about a couch? Is it a joke about a person sitting on a couch? Is it a joke made by a person sitting on a couch? Please enlighten.

Nice clue for SALON. And it's a nice clue for SHELF LIFE too, even though I couldn't care less how long the SHELF LIFE of Twinkies is. Since Twinkies are reliably LEFT OFF my diet (wish I were so virtuous about all edibles), I don't care if they last for 30 years or more.

A smooth, intelligent, entertaining puzzle. More such Mondays, please.

TTrimble 9:07 AM  

I've heard it said that visitors to the US marvel at the SHELF LIFE of American bread. Just today, sort of as clean-up duty, I made a sandwich with the last of eight potato bread hot dog buns that I believe was sitting out for weeks. Not a trace of mold. "Wonder Bread", indeed!

I knew HELICES, but this and @LMS's comments remind me of a friend, easily the most brilliant person I know well, who obeys his own counsel when it comes to plurals: they are all formed with an -s or -es. "Serieses", "basises", etc. Actually, a lot of his idiosyncratic plurals do appear in the dictionary, as I discovered once to my surprise. So "helixes" suffices.

Seemed just a bit hard for a Monday, what with the French (ETUDE naturally plays to the strength of our guest blogger, but also LES, NEE, REVEILLES, and EGALITE), and also COUCH GAGS and IRON AGE and CNET and perhaps EDMUND. (Actually, that the IRON AGE would post-date the Bronze Age surprises me a little, since bronze is an alloy and iron isn't, but maybe it's something to do with melting points and when such temperatures were first achieved.) Personally, I had more trouble coughing up COMBATANT and A BREEZE (not child's play for me!) and the STORE after ETSY -- gee, I thought ETSY was solely online, whereas I think of a STORE as involving bricks and mortar.

That said, I really liked the puzzle and the theme.

SOUR CREAM is something I definitely OPT for. On nachos, huevos rancheros, etc. Yum.

Funny what people complain about here. Allow me to register a complaint about 6:37 AM, who complains about people complaining about words they don't like. (Stop saying "complain"! I'm sick and tired of it!) Actually, I can relate a bit to not liking LASES. Sometimes I laze around the house. But I don't think I ever lase around the house. Who LASES, anyway?

@bocamp
Congrats on the cryptic. Yeah, 3D was tricky. I didn't like how 14D was clued; the definitional aspect strikes me as inaccurate, according to how I use the answer in a sentence.

dbyd 0, yd still pg -3, td TBD

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

This was challenging for a Monday. Most of it fell into place relatively quickly, but I was hung up for quite a while on HELICES crossing OTOE. ABREEZE and LASES are terrible. TEC I've seen before but hope never to see again. Enjoyed the long downs and the wordplay on OVERCOMES and UNDERGOES, but I groaned at RIGHTON as the opposite of LEFTOFF. Seemed closer to Wednesday-level difficulty to me.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

Parts of this were great but parts left me feeling like a Sad-Eyed Lady of the LOWLANDS. UNDERGOES and OVERCOMES and HIGHSEAS and LOWLANDS are conceptually related. The first refer to trying experiences, the second to environment. LEFTOFF and RIGHTON? The words are opposites, but there's no conceptual relationship.

TTrimble 9:38 AM  

The transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age is explained more by economics than what I had guessed. Live and learn! Or, crossword-solve and learn!

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Colin - Thank you for this excellent write-up filled with humor, insight and very fair critiques. I look forward to reading your reviews in the future!

Loren Muse Smith 9:44 AM  

Look. I couldn’t come up with anything. It’s a COMBAT ANT.

mmorgan 9:45 AM  

Wow, that was unusually challenging for a Monday. And it was fun!

My final comments on the loss of AcrossLite for the NYTXW:

Contrary to what some have alleged, those of us who use AcrossLite do pay for our NYT and our NYTXW subscriptions. Using AcrossLite is not a way to get the puzzle for free. It is just a different way to solve.

I appreciate those who say they solve on paper. I did so for decades. But I have a lot of trouble solving on paper now — my hand just doesn’t work like it used to.

With AcrossLite on my iPad, I use the large grid/full keyboard format. A great look and so easy to use. (On my desktop all the various options are pretty comparable.) I prefer to solve on my iPad and none of the other apps are — to me — as appealing. PuzzAzz has some great features but neither that nor the NYT app provide the same layout options as AcrossLite.

So, please, solve the puzzle however you like. For me, I’m losing the way I like most to solve it and that makes me frustrated and sad.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

@TTrimble:
Who LASES, anyway?

dermatologists. the odd stray hair where it shouldn't be can be taken out with electrolysis, which hurts or skin LASEr, which not so much. might need to zap it more than once, of course. and if you want to denude your pits, the LASEr is the only option.

TTrimble 9:58 AM  

@Anonymous 9:50 AM
Thanks. I was only kidding around.

Nancy 9:58 AM  

Thank you, Lewis, for citing the themers that didn't make the cut. They're plain wonderful, too, and show how inventive AE-S must be to come up with so many that work so well. With all that excellent material, my inclination might have been to have turned this 15x15 into a Sunday 21x21. Would the rest of the fill have suffered? I have no idea, but I suppose it's not worth the trade-off if it would have. But still, I always think it's a shame to waste good material.

I see that Colin explained COUCH GAGS in great detail. Thank you, Colin. It's a cute idea -- but it's not enough to make me watch The Simpsons. Those awful, awful, grating, ugly voices, you see. I just can't watch cartoons of any kind for that reason.

@TTrimble -- I love sour cream too, though I try not to eat it anymore. But because "grease foods" rather than sweets are my real food temptations, it's a lot easier for me not to eat Twinkies than not to eat sour cream.

GILL I. 9:59 AM  

This was a Monday? You mean I had to put a thinking cap on? And French? I speak some French because my step-mom is French and she's originally from Nice and I've spent time there and I can order a baguette and bouillabaisse and beef bourguignon but if you ask me to spell these things I'll tell you I'm really American and I'm obtuse and I can sorta speak most anything in a lot of the Romance languages but then you ask me to spell REVEILLES on a Monday? At least I knew how to spell ELLE. Phew. Long winded spew over.
But did you like this?...you ask. But of course I did. I'm not sure newbies would.... but I only care about myself. And speaking of myself.....Colin....what a delightful write-up.
This is for @Nancy and her query about COUGH GAGS:
A doctor accidentally prescribes his patient a laxative instead of a coughing syrup.
Three days later the patient comes for a check-up and the doctor asks: "Well? Are you still coughing?"
The patient replies: "No, I am afraid to."
Now you know why it's a visual joke on the Simpsons.

More smoke...more haze....red sun...I need a vacation.


pabloinnh 9:59 AM  

@LMS-Didn't see the avatar but it looks like a GI ANT COMBAT ANT!

Ex-Radarman 10:07 AM  

Okay, I'll register a nit. 44D: radar doesn't ping. It doesn't make any sound. Sonar is what pings.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Never in my 80 years have I heard of WESTIN or TEC so ... Naticked on a Monday.

RooMonster 10:13 AM  

Hey All !
Nyah-nyah, I didn't fall for the HELIxES! Nyah-nyah!
Har.
Thanks to previous puzs, I knew it could've been either X or C, so left it blank, and knew NECCO also from previous puzs. Have never actually had a NECCO Wafer. Vanilla Wafers aren't my snack of choice. (Oreos!)

What a cool concept for a theme! Opposites that aren't opposites. And an extra layer that Colin pointed out that I didn't catch, "It was nice to see the Plurals (and singulars) match, as well as OVER and HIGH be above UNDER and LOW with LEfT and RIGHT on their respective sides of the grid." Tres cool. Good construction, AES! And light dreck. And wasn't A BREEZE. Made you think for a MonPuz.

My not t isn't about the puz, it's about @Jeff Chen giving it the POW. Dang, now the rest of the week is not going to be as good. Oh well.

Had LEFTout at first, pleasure to change it to OFF. 😁 Had listened to REVEILLE many times when I was in the Army, but still don't know how to spell it! hiRE first for PYRE. PYRE much better answer for the clue.

We have two WESTINs here in town. One is about a block East of The Strip, which used to have a casino, but they took it out! Weird for this town. Second one is in Lake Las Vegas, which is a hand made lake just West of Lake Mead, and a large area with expensive houses. Sorta far from The Strip, roughly 30-40 minutes traffic pending.

SHELF LIFE. I was just perusing a website about "Myths", and one of them was that Twinkies don't last forever. That might be a "myth Myth". I think as long as they are sealed tight with no air getting in, they'll last a long time. Other snacks similar to them also.

@Z gets an Ultimate shout-out with DISC. Closest ROO is boggle style backwards in 9A. Don't have any @EDMUNDs here. We had a @SUE once though, no? No TOM or ROZ. Or RATs. Har.

How far out are the HIGH SEAS? 50 miles? 200 miles? Or just when you can't see land in any direction? Curious minds, and all that.

Four F's (LEFTOFF, what a word!)
RooMonster
DarrinV

Nancy 10:19 AM  

Not COUGH GAG, @Gill. COUCH GAG. Sheesh.

(Or was that a cute little @GILL GAG?)

I feel so bad for you (and all Californians, Oregonians and other Westerners), @GILL, living every single day with the smoke from all those fires. It must be a real nightmare.
Wouldn't this be a wonderful time to get the hell out of there and come to NYC? You've been looking for the chance and this would seem to be it. Could you?

Crimson Devil 10:27 AM  

Good Mon; especially LEFTOFF/RIGHTON.

Zwhatever 10:29 AM  

@mmorgan - Mason apparently didn’t know/realize how many people used AcrossLite for the reasons you do, along with other similar reasons. This is why you announce such moves early. If they made the announcement that the change was happening in February instead of now, they’d have given themselves a chance to learn what they didn’t know they didn’t know, and maybe fix some things. It’s a rookie mistake to think you know everything you need to know when making a big decision. Indeed, I don’t think the team realized how big the decision actually is.
Apple is famous/notorious for doing this kind of thing, but they are good about letting third party businesses support the old tech through the transition period.

@LMS - It was early and I had deleted COMBATANT from my puzzle memory already. That’s good. @Everyone Else - Now that Muse is off hiatus it is time to remind you to always check her avatar.

mathgent 10:52 AM  

I don't think that the three pairs of clever themers are enough to justify all the praise today. The Lewis disease is spreading fast.

All I got out of it was reading Todd Trimble's link about bronze v. iron (giving way to steel). That was good.

johnk 10:53 AM  

HEH! As with most Mondays, I solved it in my head.
Enjoyed the theme, especially the symmetry of the "opposites."

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

this will be my last NYTX...I just canceled my subscription...will not solve without .puz....

Nancy 10:59 AM  

Because I have a true Luddite's fear and loathing of everything technological -- including all gadgets, all apps, and especially how they relate to each other -- I can see I've been rather cavalier in the way I've made light of the demise of Across Lite (whatever it is). It never crossed my mind that there might be legitimate reasons why some people can't solve on paper -- in the manner that (as @Z and I like to say) God intended.

So I owe an apology to @mmorgan and to everyone with a similar problem. I really didn't understand your concerns-- and I suspect that they may not understand over at the NYT puzzle department either.

May I make a suggestion: Go over the heads of the new hires at the revamped puzzle department and write directly to Will Shortz. I have found him over the years to be an exceedingly nice man. Tell him in precise medical detail why you can't solve on paper. Tell him why Across Lite is the only app that works for you and/or is the only option open to you. (He'll understand why even if I don't.) Perhaps he'll make the Department re-think their decision or at least find you a workable alternative. It's certainly worth a try.

jberg 11:03 AM  

I got the first two themers and thought, "Ah, first words that mean up! Thant's a bit lame." So I was really happy when I realized the opposites thing. And, you know, he at least clued TEC as "quaint" instead of slang, so overall a good puzzle. My only real nit would be the plural REVEILLIES, as I think that's a particular tune. But i could be wrong.

@Loren, I could see it had to be a COMBAT ANT, but the striped abdomen slowed me down, as it looked more like a combat wasp. I guess you have to take what you find.

Just to confuse the theme, here's a little song about the lowland sea.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

@Roo:
SHELF LIFE. I was just perusing a website about "Myths", and one of them was that Twinkies don't last forever. That might be a "myth Myth". I think as long as they are sealed tight with no air getting in, they'll last a long time. Other snacks similar to them also.

long ago and far away, I saw some teeVee show about something or other, which included (for good reason, I suppose) a discussion of food preservation. an example was canned Civil War provisions. can't find a cite for that, but found this:
"Cans found in 100-year-old shipwrecks were still sealed and safe to eat"
https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-canned-food.htm

likely grey and mushy, though.

as to Twinkies, or anything else for that matter: so long as there is some oxygen in the containment and any kind of hungry wee little critter (wee as in microscopic), it will go bad. which is why canned goods are 'cooked' after being sealed. also why many snack foods are bagged with a shot of nitrogen displacing the oxygen.

Carola 11:10 AM  

It was a treat to have a Monday challenge - and one that led to such an "all's right with the world" result (see @Colin's 3rd paragraph, about the pleasures of the theme). Making it hard for me: 1) not knowing COUCH GAGS and being sure it was WESToN, thus leading to pirates roaming where HoG???....... 2) LEFT Out contrasting with RIGHT iN (which I took as a homophone for "write in"). It took a good while for the scales to drop from my eyes and reveal the elegant pairs of phrases.

@Colin, your write-up was like A refreshing BREEZE. I hope you get invited back as a regular.

Joseph Michael 11:12 AM  

Nice to start the week with an elegant theme by Alex and a thoughtful review by Colin. Thank you, gentlemen.

It is said that when archeologists opened the ancient pyramids of Egypt, they found LOTS of half-eaten Twinkies. They believe it‘s a clue to the mummification process.

The Three Stooges had a leader?

Richard in NM 11:14 AM  

I'm with @ Ex-Radarman 10:12 am, that sonar emits an audible "ping" whereas radar emits a visual "blip." (Just re-watch "Hunt for Red October" for confirmation: Sean Connery, "One ping only.")

Twinkies: can't think of them without recalling the "Twinkies Defense" raised by Dan White in the 1978 assassinations of San Francisco Supervisors George Moscone and Harvey Milk. The defense claimed "diminished capacity" because White had ingested such a large quantity of sugary substances (viz., Twinkies) that he was unable to appreciate the nature or consequences of his acts. The jury must have bought it because he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. Served five years of a seven year sentence and, once released from prison, committed suicide. How's that for a happy start to your week?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

about that app. (I solve on paper and always will so my doggy isn't in this fight)

some have referenced that .puz files are just that, and therefore transmittable to others, which is the real reason NYT has killed the app; they think they're losing money to folks who don't pay the vig. they should know that Microsoft and Lotus and IBM (among a slew of others later on) at the time of the clones learned that 'shared' application files were what kept the game alive. put another way, folks learned how to use 1-2-3 and Word and lots of other applications from 'shared' copies. it took a few years, and applications no longer had copy protection or those damn dongles. the fact is, folks that used the 'shared' 'free' versions couldn't afford or wouldn't afford to pay for the application. Microsoft and Lotus and IBM only lost 'customers' they never had and never would get. the same is true of this puzzle. people who ignore the past, and all that.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Colin's write-up is great. One thing I realize that I've been missing with some of the guest bloggers is the amount of SPECIFICITY that Rex provides. He will go on at length about a single answer or clue, which makes me think about that item a lot more than a shallower review of a lot of items. Colin also goes into that detail that I have missed with some of the guest bloggers.

JD 11:50 AM  

@mathgent, I actually did realize I might be having a moment of @Lewis type joy (that's a compliment @Lewis).

For me, the three theme answers were clever, original, and properly placed (over/under, etc.). It was a thoughtful comment on the English language about something I'd never considered. The language was upbeat. It took some thinking.

Then there's what it didn't have. No despots, long-dead celebrities, 50-year-old movies, Marvel superheroes, Game of Throne clues, obscure celebrities, oboes, bras, or arias, sloppy clues, touchy political issues, the notorious, Etail and all the other E's, etc. It didn't pander to any generation with made up things like Menu Page.

That would be a lot for any day of the week. And I've never understood how a boring puzzle is supposed to lure new solvers. This showed doable doesn't have to be boring. But I agree that @TTrimble's bronze v. iron link was fun because I'm a dweeb and I liked thinking about how trade over millennia has had the same dynamics.

Unknown 11:57 AM  

November 1965 - I'm on KP duty and the mess sergeant just finds a tin of chocolate pudding from WWII.

He made it. We ate it. Delicious!

egsforbreakfast 12:00 PM  

If 20A HELICES had been clued as “Bugs attracted to a she louse”, then nobody would have wasted their precious nanoseconds on the x vs. c dilemma.


@Nancy. After reading your first comment today, I wonder if my understanding of the term “proper names” is incorrect. I quote directly from your comment:

__________________________________________________________________

…….And it's completely free of proper names! This is how it's done, constructors.

Some questions:

Is SUE Bird the daughter of Larry Bird? As in: the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree?

____________________________________________________________________


Regardless, like @Nancy and many others, I absolutely loved this puzzle. Best Monday ever in my solving experience. And also a really good write up. Thank you to both Alex Eaton-Salners and Colin Fowler.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Curious about @Nancy's comment about proper names. There definitely are a few.

Joe Dipinto 12:16 PM  

Hey.

So this was a theme that actually worked. They *do* exist.

I hope Necco addicts are aware that the wafers are back in circulation after being off the market for a few years. Even the sometimes elusive all-chocolate rolls.

Who's the cat that won't cop out
When there's danger all about?
—Shaft!—
Right on.

GILL I. 12:18 PM  

Holy SOUR CREAM on my enchiladas....@Nancy....I'm dyslexic ....and was so proud of my cough. I feel like the Simpson's roasting on an open fire.
Because I refuse to go out in the haze of my life (Thank you @Nancy for your concern)...I will tell you about a shelf life story:
Back in the days that President Kennedy urged people to build bomb shelters and protect themselves against atomic fallout, I think just about every single family in Southern California that I happened to be acquainted with, had a back yard with one of those things. Why...I never knew, since my Mom thought it was the most ridiculous waste of money and if we were going to die, why not just drink a bunch of martinis. Anyway, when I came back to California in the late 70's, I went to visit an old friend of mine. She and her husband had bought this lovely old house in Temecula and to their surprise and delight, it came with the original 60's bomb shelter. It was still in pretty good condition. In one corner (next to the port-a-potty) was a little closet with food in it. They found about 100 cans of deviled ham, coconut milk and Heinz ketchup. No Twinkies (they had good taste)...but Arlene said the deviled ham still looked good.
I'm only bringing this up in case you need to build a bomb shelter.

Masked and Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Great blog write-up. Great MonPuz. With a little dab of spicy feistiness.
xwordinfo.chen rated this puppy Puz Of the Week. M&A tends to agree, week-unseen.

Superb theme mcguffin. Tremendous fillins (other than EGALITE).
Opposite of WESTIN = EASTOUT, btw. WESTIN coulda been clued that way, and meant more to M&A than "Hilton competitor".

Had pretty much the same precious nanosecond issues as did @pabloinnh: LEFTOUT before LEFTOFF. HELIXES/NECXO cross. Didn't know near enough French to get EGALITE.

staff weeject picks: EMO & MOE. Weeject anagram pair -- a relative rarity.
fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Wake up calls played by bugles} = REVEILLES. Nice, long gimme, at our fort.

Some of the sparkly-est of fillins: SHELFLIFE of Twinkies [Their secret ingredient: cockroach DNA]. INFERNO. ABREEZE. COUCHGAGS [M&A has these, when TV drug ads accidentally go un-muted].

SESH. har

Thanx for the opposition, Alex E-S dude. Darn great job.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


**gruntz**

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

@Nancy: SUE Bird is not Larry Bird’s daughter but her fiancé, Megan RAPINOE. was in the puzzle recently.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

First year in the service at the tender age of 18. I got a c-ration that was made a year before I was born. I ate it. Was quite good by c-ration standards.

mathgent 12:30 PM  

@JD (11:50). "I've never understood how a boring puzzle is supposed to lure new solvers." Great point! I got interested in the puzzle because it was hard (and not boring). From time to time, I boast (in a tasteful way, of course) that I do the New York Times puzzle every day.

Nancy 12:34 PM  

@jberg (11:03)-- I laughed at your ironic "lowland sea" find. It's very apt for today's puzzle. And my response to your blue link was pretty ironic too -- in that I knew exactly what the song in question was, could sing both the first and 2nd verse almost verbatim though I haven't heard it for 50 years, but couldn't for the life of me remember the name of the damned ship. I would have searched for it under the title "Lowland Sea" and never would have found the song. Ah, yes, "The Golden Vanity"! Now I remember. But who did I hear sing it back in the day? The Weavers? Pete Seeger? (Actually he did, but that's not the version I listened to.) Oh yes, Peter, Paul and Mary.

Here's their version. I like it a lot better than the one you linked to. But maybe it's all about youthful memories.

TJS 12:39 PM  

The dreaded Monday POW,

@Anon, 10:55. I bet we all are hoping you are one of the dreaded Anons, but I doubt it because they would not be this considerate. I am betting you are one of the non-troll Anons, so sorry to see you go.

@Z, re. Jordon :"you so funny."

Thane of 13th 12:42 PM  

@Nancy, no proper names?!! I guess you mean no proper names unfamiliar to you. I count at least 20!

Thane of 13th 12:46 PM  

Completely free of proper names?!!! I count at least 20!

bocamp 12:47 PM  

I sympathize with those for whom the demise of .puz will cause discomfort (or result in a dropped subscription).

I realize that with the various computers/devices, operating systems, printers, etc., my 'printing experiment' may not have the same result at your end.

I normally solve on my 12.9" iPad Pro, but here's what I discovered when I opened the NYTX (NYT website) on my MacBook Air to print the puzzle.

Options:

• Puzzle

⊙ Standard Layout (completely filled one ltr sized sheet, incl. all clues)

⊙ Large Print (two sheets, one for the grid, one for the clues)

⊙ Left-handed Layout (mirror image of Standard Layout)

• Solution

• Newspaper Version (same as Standard, but leaving a wide margin on right side of sheet)

• Ink Saver (gray instead of black)

I did notice that on last Sunday's puzzle, the editor's note was included (top left), and altho, the jigsaw puzzle rectangle at the bottom showed an outline of the pieces, the printout didn't show the outline (nor did the Across Lite copy show it).


@TTrimble (9:07 AM) 👍 for dbyd

Thx :)

Yeah, agreed on 14D; I guess an artist might think that, altho, still kinda corny. 🤔
___

td pg -2

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

JC66 12:49 PM  

Great puzzle and write up (talk down?).

Agree on blip vs PING.

@GILL

Sounds awful.

If you come to NYC, drinks are on me.

Del Taco 12:55 PM  

This is a TUESDAY puzzle

Andrew H 12:55 PM  

That is clever!

Nancy 1:02 PM  

@Thane of 13th and others: Yes, I've been corrected about that over on the Wordplay Blog, too. The proper names were either so familiar to me or so fairly crossed -- or both --that I didn't even notice they were there. I didn't know SELMA from the clue, but all the letters came in on their own. Ditto ELANTRA which I didn't know at all. Ditto EDMUND, which I once knew but couldn't remember. And is there anyone who wouldn't know "Phantom of the OPERA"?

When proper names cause nary a moment of bafflement or annoyance, it's sort of like they're not there at all. But I did misspeak -- I should probably remember to tally them up* before making such a pronouncement in the future.

*But tallying them up would be quite laborious, so I probably won't :)

Teedmn 1:03 PM  

Wow, I didn't know AE-S had it in him to make a puzzle easy like this. Usually his puzzles leave me hurting, and not always in a good way. But this was fun.

I loved the "Place to go for highlights?" clue for SALON, "One tweeting about football?" for REF and "Birds that do things just for the fun of it?" was super for LARKS, loved it.

Thanks, Alex!

Unknown 1:12 PM  

To Colin, What a nice write up. And clear proof that one can point out aspects of a puz that perhaps could be improved, without resorting to snarkiness or general stinkiness. Rex and Clare should be taking notes from you!

I too found this Monday to be a speck tougher from the typical Monday, but so what? Are we really that afraid that a newbie will be so scared off that they never attempt a puzzle ever again? Seriously? For more important things to be concerned about, just go to the first page of today's NYT . . . .

Arthur Wenk 1:15 PM  

Necco Wafers were a standard when I was a child (a long time ago!) My mother would take us three kids to the supermarket and give us a quarter, good in those halcyon days for six candy bars (usually five cents apiece). By the time we had each made our two choices--from among Three Musketeers, Forever Yours, Snickers, Mars Bars or, yes, Necco Wafers--my mother would have finished shopping.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

@Arthur Wenk:
Forever Yours

A sure sign of a high class upbringing; not the Milky Way hoi polloi.
(for those not in the know - FY and MW are the same inside, but the FY is coated with dense dark chocolate)

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

My apologies that this post isn't about. puz or Across Lite, but for anyone interested in a thread from a few months back, there was a genuine Eephus pitch thrown in the big league's yesterday. Brock Holt of the Rangers threw a 31 mile an hour Eephus for the ages.

And though it doesn't advance anything at all, and is fact absolutely idiotic to even post, I'll say it anyway. Necco wafers stink. They've always stunk. But i sure dig that eternal hallway angle.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

I agree, but then again, "I left off bread from my shopping list."

bocamp 3:30 PM  

@Anonymous (2:43 PM)

Thx for the EEPHUS mention. ⚾️

Holt appeared at the ONSET of the bottom of the 8th inning and mixed it up with mostly EEPHUSes and a few LASErS for good measure. The 2nd & 3rd hitters went to LEFT & RIGHT respectively. 3 up, 3 down inning.

The fans loved it! 😁
___

0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

A 4:25 PM  

Colin, what a breath of fresh air after yesterday (and some others too) - I was all ABREEZE! I was wondering if the Rex-placement would catch the 'geographical' arrangement of the themers, and of course you did, and so much more. You covered all the bases. Very intelligent review. You get my vote as first call sub!

Alex, I wish all the Mondays were this good. The other days too, for that matter, with the appropriate difficulty level. So full of life and wit, but in an UNDERstated style.

Two writeOVERs - LEFT Out/OFF and hiRE/PYRE. Took a minute to realize I was going nowhere, NO HOW, with INuER_O. But only needed the blink of an eye to get PYRE - I can just hear Connery’s “One PING only” directive from The Hunt for Red October.

ETUDE/HUMS nicely balanced by LESS/NOISE, and the OPERA was a HOT topic at the best SALONs.

I've driven an ELANTRA, and it was surprisingly comfortable, well-equipped and fun to drive, in the “sport mode.” I have mixed feelings about the lane assist and adaptive cruise control. Something eerie about having my steering and braking controlled by a remote computer.

Do pirates “roam” the high seas? I thought they sailed them. I do see there’s a song “Where Pirates Roam” by one Bob Danziger.

I’m a RAT. No complaints about the clue, but in the Great Race the RAT didn’t follow anyone. He rode on the Ox and then jumped OFF to be first to finish. Pig was last.

Reynaldo Hahn, born August 9, 1974 was a Brazilian born French composer. Here is one of his most popular songs, L’heure Exquise with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and pianist Jérôme Ducros. It’s well worth the 3 minutes.

A 4:30 PM  

Forgot to include the name of the poet and the English translation. The link only includes the original French, which I'll include here as well.

Reynaldo Hahn, born August 9, 1974 was a Brazilian born French composer. Here is one of his most popular songs, L’heure Exquise with countertenor Philippe Jaroussky and pianist Jérôme Ducros. It’s well worth the 3 minutes.

The poem is by Paul Verlaine.

L’heure Exquise

La lune blanche
luit dans les bois.
De chaque branche
part une voix
sous la ramée.
O bien aimée.
L’étang reflète,
profond miroir,
la silhouette
du saule noir
où le vent pleure.
Rêvons, c’est l’heure.
Un vaste et tendre
apaisement
semble descendre
du firmament
que l’astre irise.
C’est l’heure exquise!


English Translation © Richard Stokes

The white moon
Gleams in the woods;
From every branch
There comes a voice
Beneath the boughs...
O my beloved.
The pool reflects,
Deep mirror,
The silhouette
Of the black willow
Where the wind is weeping...
Let us dream, it is the hour.
A vast and tender
Consolation
Seems to fall
From the sky
The moon illumines...
Exquisite hour.

Chuck 5:02 PM  

In my 77 years I have probably read well over a 1000 detective mysteries, and the only times I ran across 'tec' were in a couple of old Dorothy Sayers mysteries.

GILL I. 5:05 PM  

@JC 12:49...ANY TIME, AMIGO. You, @Nancy and @Susan and anyone else in the NYC area who cares to joins us...I use to sip a few at Hannraty's (sp?) off of 98th and Broadway back in the day but I think it burned down. You guys pick the spot.....

Stephen Minehart 5:31 PM  

Probably the most interesting Monday I remember, and still felt Monday easy. I am not sure I have ever heard or read the word REVEILLES in the plural form, and helix must be about a thousand times more common than HELICES, but both are legitimate words, so no foul.

Anoa Bob 6:07 PM  

I'm with those who rated this one as being an excellent Monday puzzle. I thought the theme was both clever and conceptually tight. The symmetrically matching themer words/phrases themselves have no systematic relationship to each other but their two constituent parts are respectively the exact opposites of each other. And on top of that the relative locations of the themers in the grid are consistent with the meanings of the first parts of the themers. (Or vice versa.) Nice double up if yous ask me.

Mathgent @ 10:52 AM and JD @11:50 AM, yes, there are three pairs of themers, but that means there are six stand-alone themers, and that's quite high for a themed puzzle, especially an early week one. Typically we see four or maybe five themers.

I can't help but notice when a POC or two show up in a grid and today there were several including a few of the two for one POCs variety, where a single S boosts the letter count and hence the fill power of a Down and an Across. It's easier to for me to OVERlook these infelicities, however, in a puzzle of this overall caliber.

Now hear this: I was a Sonar Technician in the Navy and 44D PING can be the NOISE sonar makes both in transmission and its returning echo while radar is NOISEless, both in its transmission and its return. My bet is that the association between a radar screen blip and the sound " PING" comes via sci fi movies or TV shows. They often take liberties with the basic physics of sound. Sound, for example, doesn't travel through space but you wouldn't know that base on sci fi shows going way back into the previous century. N.B. It is science fiction. Sonars make NOISE, radars are NOISEless.

As you were. Continue ships work. That is all.

CDilly52 6:12 PM  

Well done, welcome and thank you for substituting Colin. You are in great company and certainly rose to the challenge. I especially enjoyed your questioning HELICES. I am not a fan of the faux “Latinizing” of plurals, but after over 60 years of solving this and other daily puzzles, I simply wrinkle my nose and move on.

Other than the HELICES complaint, I found this very good for anMonday. The cluing was just a tad more challenging and clever than usual but, in my opinion within Monday “solvability zone,” for wanting a better description.

I do a fair amount of congenial wagering on Division I NCAA sports events with friends and couldn’t help but thinking of that and my gaggle of friends with the “over-under” and “on-off” juxtapositions. Almost time for NCAA Football to start! Go Buckeyes! I can root for my husband’s Sooners in every sport other than football, especially women’s sports, and the “football issue” was the first thing in our relationship upon which we had to agree to disagree. There weren’t many important other things in that list, I am proud to say.

Meandering today. Must be the heat and humidity.
Hasta mañana!

Nancy 6:13 PM  

Anon 2:31 -- It sounds like the difference between Forever Yours and Milky Way is just like the difference between Mounds and Almond Joy. And why don't you list one or both of them as "signs of a high class upbringing"? They're what I used to buy back when I bought candy bars. Along with the occasional Nestle's Crunch and Hershey's with Almonds. You don't consider them "high class" either? I feel totally dissed, candy-wise.

@bocamp 3:30 -- I stopped watching baseball a very, very long time ago as I've often mentioned on the blog. Your Eephus link is far and away the most entertaining baseball clip I've seen in 50 years. If baseball was always that much fun -- and funny! -- I'd probably start watching it again.

TTrimble 6:29 PM  

TREBEK was in the NYTXW recently, and I'll use that as a feeble excuse to share what I've just learned: that after 16 guest hosts (which effectively amounted to auditions for permanent host for Jeopardy!), it is all but guaranteed that they have settled on their decision.

It's to be Mike Richards. If you're going "who?", but had been following Jeopardy! since Trebek's passing, then he was the second guest host. About all I know about him is that he's some sort of producer/executive suit for the program. And he's tall.

As you might be able to tell, I'm bummed. I didn't know who he was, but I wasn't impressed. Apparently, I'm not the only one disappointed. One of the fan favorites was Mayim BIALIK (who has also been in the puzzle, I think), so you can imagine how they feel. I liked her. I also liked Ken Jennings, who was the first guest host -- his schmooze ability was quite ALRIGHT, and he certainly has the intellectual heft, which didn't exactly leap out at me in the case of Richards. I also thought Buzzy Cohen (another past Jeopardy! winner) would have been just fine.

But it just smacks of some insider thing. Some you may be quitting the NYTXW because of their recent decision. I may be quitting Jeopardy!.

Zwhatever 9:06 PM  

@TTrimble - There’s a notion in sports that one never wants to be the coach that follows a coaching legend. Anything short of exceeding the legend will be viewed as a failure and exceeding the accomplishments of the legend is basically impossible. The second coach after the legend has a chance to succeed against more realistic expectations. While different I think the same applies here. Only somebody better than Trebek will have a chance of being successful and welcomed by everyone and that person just doesn’t exist. I would not be at all surprised if the “permanent” replacement lasts less than 2 years. Also, apparently reports that Mike Richards has the job may have been premature.

@TJS - You know I used that example just to irk the idolators. 🤣😂🤣😂🤣 I was just pointing out yesterday to some young ultimate players that the NBA changed the rules for Jordan or he probably would never have won any championships. Facts like the NBA changing the rules to help Jordan win always disturb the faithful.

mmorgan 10:24 PM  

@TTrimble — I liked many of the guests and ferociously disliked a few (as hosts, not as performers or people or whatever). I hadn’t heard the news about Mike Richards but I have to say I did like him — a lot. He just seemed to have exactly the right vibe and the ability to make it about the contestants and the show and not about him. He felt comfortable and warm and fuzzy and a perfect fit to me, although of course he wasn’t Alex — no one could be. I realize we all had our favorites and that none of the guest hosts would please everyone, but if he’s the one then I hope that people warm to him in time.

Meanwhile, I just did Tuesday’s puzzle in what felt like a fraction of Monday’s time — and I did it using AcrossLite. Is this a reprieve or just the last day? Sigh.

Nancy 10:37 PM  

Oh, goody. Finally a chance to put in my two cents about who should be Jeopardy host.

What I care about most is someone who "wears well." Someone who doesn't tire me out. Someone I won't mind having in my LR five days a week, week after week after week. A Johnny Carson type of personality, but sharper and smarter. Many of those candidates were absolutely exhausting: much too excitable...or insufferably bubbly...or rah-rah over-the-top when what I want is cool.

Also it should be someone with a mellifluous voice. Many of the voices really grated on me. Dr. Oz's was the absolute worst.

My faves are Aaron Rodgers, Mayim Bialik, and Anderson Cooper. The very pleasant Ken Jennings is a 4th choice.

When I saw the producer guy (whose name I had since forgotten) I thought: "He's just okay, passable, yes, but not all that great. But I bet if he wants it, he'll get it: all he has to do is appoint himself." I really hope he won't get it, though he'd be better than some of the other candidates that I really couldn't stand.

Don't agree with you, @TTrimble, on Buzzy Cohen. What an exhausting personality. I needed an aspirin every night after I finished watching him:)

kitshef 10:48 PM  

Tuesday puzzle is up. .puz file is available for download.

TTrimble 11:01 PM  

@Z
Maybe so. Personal opinion is that Trebek was overinflated and the apotheosis (which the show promotes) is ridiculous. (It seems I'm not alone on this blog in thinking so: one can observe some shade thrown his way in comments here.)

He gave a whiff of being broadly cultured (although the basis of that remains vague). He was smooth and genial and avuncular, and comfortable, like an old pair of slip-on moccasins. Mostly I enjoyed him in his role, although there are occasional flashes where he puts one off as high-handed or superior (as when he would say "oh, no", in a manner that suggested the contestant was way off).

"Legends" and all aside, kindly do not deflect from my point that given the situation, which they want to make the best of, they're better off going with someone who can not only talk the talk of the answer cards and can schmooze at the 12-minute mark, but who can walk the walk. Someone like Jennings or Cohen, someone you could believe actually knows the answers. Whether Trebek was all that is not too clear, but with his manner, you could suppose it was true. I'm very sorry if his mom is reading this, but this Mike Richards fellow just wasn't convincing me in that respect.

Nancy 11:30 PM  

I was going to say: Put me in the camp of someone who thoroughly disliked TREBEK, although it's not considered good form to say so now that he's dead. But now I see that I'm on the link that @TTrimble (11:01) provides to an earlier Rex blog, and my dislike of TREBEK (written while he was still alive) and my reasons for it are made quite clear. No need to repeat myself here-- go look for my comment there.

TTrimble 11:32 PM  

@Nancy
Okay, the mellifluous voice thing makes general sense to me, but Aaron Rodgers?!?! Please, god, no.

@mmorgan
You have a point, but I'm not completely sold. Alex Trebek did make the show slightly about him; contestants come and go, but he was the star. So I'm not sure a bland pleasant-sounding type is quite what they need. The substance has to be there, IMO, or it's not going to work.

(Cards on the table: I think they should go with Ken Jennings. He really does have star quality in the context of the show.)

However, I'm enjoying hearing these opinions on who they should go with, which differ somewhat from my own.

Unknown 12:24 AM  

Not sure if people caught it but 22 D, is the motto of France, not Haiti.

Unknown 12:25 AM  

Not sure if others noticed but 22D is the motto of France, not Haiti

TTrimble 12:31 AM  

A small addendum to @Nancy. I agree with the sentiment, but would put in a word that Johnny Carson's acumen might sometimes have been underestimated.

I really admire how he handled Uri Geller (fun fact: JC had a background as a magician). And he would on occasion engage seriously with real thinkers, like Raymond Smullyan, who wrote some very nice popular books on logic puzzles (as sly introductions to the profound work of Goedel). I wouldn't want Carson to host Jeopardy!, but I come away thinking he had a decent head on his shoulders.

Joe Dipinto 1:07 AM  

As much as viewers loved Alex Trebek, his longevity in the job was a large factor in that equation. Really, nobody watches Jeopardy for the host. You don't want someone who is going to distract from the contestants, and most of the guest hosts already have high-profile TV presences from other gigs. Jennings and Cohen can still rack up mileage as tournament contestants so I don't think either of them will end up as host.

thefogman 10:28 AM  

Nice one. Maybe the finest Monday of the year. Best one in a long time for sure.

Burma Shave 11:09 AM  

ASTO NOISE . . .

When EDIE UNDERGOES A love SESH,
at the ONSET she just HUMS,
UTTERly HOT IF she DARES to enmesh,
RIGHTON cue she OVERCOMES.

--- EDMUND WESTIN

spacecraft 11:22 AM  

SOLID? Are you kidding me? Are we doing the same puzzle?? Yeah, okay, the theme: I OVERSIT what's COMINGOFF. But the fill! Where do I start?

At the beginning. Man, when your first three entries are ORS, OHOH and HEH, I sure hope you're not putting your WORST HAND BACKWARD. NOHOW.

But it doesn't get much better. And then there's "Omitted." That's LEFTOut. That's what omitted means: left out. It does NOT mean LEFTOFF. Quit, as in the middle of, THAT's LEFTOFF. Who's editing, anyone??

Sorry, but from here it looks like the pile of Monday submissions was pitifully small, and Will just shrugged and said, "Here, print this. I guess. At least the theme is sorta decent." Double bogey.

And that even though my E!A!G!L!E!S! crushed Atlanta in the opener! Fly!

rondo 11:52 AM  

LOTS of overwrites for a Monday. Had HELIxES at first, 'state' before UTTER,
and LEFTOut.

Anyone familiar with Zippy should know the character SHELFLIFE.

Familiar in these parts is/was the ship EDMUND Fitzgerald and Gordon Lightfoot's song about same.

EDIE F and ELLE M, HOT.

Fine Mon-puz.

Diana, LIW 12:27 PM  

Like @Rondo, I thought of HELIxES at first. Unlike him, I didn't write it in and have to erase it. Still - a tad over the usual Monday vocab.

Whilst this puz won't have the SHELFLIFE of a Twindie, twas fine with me for a Monday romp.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 3:02 PM  

Yeah, me too: HELIxES instead of HELICES, leaving NExCO instead of NECCO.

A first-rate Monday puzzle with ABREEZE of a theme.

Clever and enjoyable.

Diana, LIW 3:20 PM  

Forgot to mention. NECCO is one of my fav candies - usually have a roll in my car. Hence the "helix" problem was easily avoided.

Diana, LIW

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