Gripe / MON 8-2-2021 / Contacting privately via Twitter or Instagram / Country singer Lynn / Classic Corvette alternatives / Laugh ____ (something very funny)

Monday, August 2, 2021

Constructor: Kyra Wilson

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: Weather front — Theme answers start with a weather-related word. 

Theme answers:
  • CLOUD STORAGE (20A: Service offered by Dropbox)
  • LIGHTNING BUG (29A: Firefly)
  • THUNDERBIRDS (43A: Classic Corvette alternatives)
  • WEATHER FRONT (52A: What precedes a storm ... or a hint to 20-, 29- or 43-Across)

Word of the Day: STANS (Is a huge fan of, in modern slang) —

The origin of the term stan is often credited to the 2000 song "Stan", about an obsessed fan, by American rapper Eminem featuring British singer Dido.[1][2] The word has also been described as a portmanteau of "stalker" and "fan".[3] The word itself was added to the Oxford English Dictionary[4] in 2017.[5] The term was originally a noun, but over time evolved and began to be used as a verb as well.[6]

Stan (noun): an extremely or excessively enthusiastic and devoted fan
Stan (verb): to exhibit fandom to an extreme or excessive degree : to be an extremely devoted and enthusiastic fan of someone or something. 
From Stan, name of such a fan in the song "Stan" (2000) by the American rap artist Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III)


• • •
It's an August August Monday! My first August August, actually. I hope people make jokes about my name all month. 

I liked this puzzle a lot! No crosswordese really and not many proper nouns. I'm partial to easy Mondays because they're meant for new solvers. I suppose the clues were a little bland--none really stuck out to me as especially interesting--but hey, gotta find something to nitpick, right? Loved OAHU OVUM and TATA ATTA. Had MEDIUM for PINKER, GET for EKE and CLOUD SHARING for CLOUD STORAGE. Speaking of which, didn't love the DropBox namedrop either, it just felt ad-y; I would have clued it differently. But the puzzle remains nice.  

The theme was perfect for a Monday: simple, solid, cute. I do like themes that have a little more to them, but hey, when it works it works, you know? And I like storms a lot, too. When there's a thunderstorm my roommate likes to go outside with her dog, sit in the covered part of our yard and just watch the rain. I think that's really lovely. 

  • LUC (38A: Jean-____ Picard, Starfleet commander) —  I'm doing this puzzle with some friends and being made fun of for being a "Trekman" because of how much I liked this clue. I'm trying to explain that it's "Trekkie" but my tormentor will not listen. Anyway, here's a compilation of Jean-Luc's "Make it so"s. 

  • HALE (53D: Patriot Nathan) — I got this one immediately, and not because I know absolutely anything about history, but because I'm a bookseller and we've sold about a gazillion copies of the "Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales" series, which is a children's book series about American history. I learned today that the author's name is actually Nathan Hale (I'd assumed it was a pen name), and he's "channeling his namesake" when he writes. Pretty cool piece of trivia!  
  • META (41D: Self-referential) — I love love love metafiction!!! My favorite is Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, and my most recent read is Little Blue Encyclopedia (For Vivian) by Hazel Jane Plante. There's just something about it that I really like, I can't explain it. Do you like metafiction, CrossWorld? 
  • DRAGON (8D: Figure seen in Chinese New Year) — I've never seen a dragon dance in person, so I decided to look it up. This one is technically a lion dance I think, but still very cool! I might go into DC and try to see one next Chinese New Year. 

Signed, August Thompson, tired graduate student.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

[Follow August Thompson on Twitter]


David Grenier 7:35 AM  

Very enjoyable Monday. My time was horrendous because I was doing it while rewatching Taskmaster episodes on youtube, but that's on me.

Oddly enough my first pass (where I zip through all of the clues quickly and only fill out the answers where I am 100% sure there there is one and only one possible answer) didn't leave me much to build off of. This is unusual for a Monday but largely due to the lack of PPP. This made me worried it was going to be difficult, but when I went back and started to build off of those pieces it went swimmingly.

The theme was simple and cute, with answers I enjoyed.

I still have a visceral reaction to all E* clues that don't include the phrase "would have been called in the 90s", because no one ever says "Oh I ebanked today". But otherwise, great breezy fun puzzle.

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

What is dming? And how does meta mean self reference? It would have been helpful if August addressed these questions. Jim

Conrad 7:37 AM  

I never metafiction I didn't like.

kitshef 7:38 AM  

There is easy, and there is very easy, and then there is this.

Started off with the across clues. The first thing I did not fill in based on the clue alone – no crosses – was BUS at 49A.

14A is another example of a needlessly wordy clue. The clue could (should) have stopped at “Egg”. The whole “to be fertilized” added nothing.

Tom T 7:51 AM  

Fastest Monday ever, even though my fingers kept whacking the wrong keys. Very easy, and enjoyable.

Son Volt 7:52 AM  

I could KVETCH about all the bad three letter fill forced by this choppy grid - or things like the TATA - ATTA adjacency but I won’t. It’s a beautiful Monday morning and I’m going surfing.

The theme here could be interesting in a different puzzle.

Monica in Minocqua 7:56 AM  

Where's Rex when you need him to call out all these offensive terms?

SOT?? OMG!! Puzzle should've been rejected.

MORONIC and OGLER?? Don't you feel for the stupid and perverted communities?

And if you look closely, NRA appears again, although at 45 degrees. Still, unacceptable.

oceanjeremy 8:01 AM  

Easiest puzzle I’ve seen in the NYTXW, but I’m running late for work — so hooray!

Zwhatever 8:03 AM  

While solving I felt like there were too many 3-letter answers, but I think that is because of the stack of threes tumbling through the middle of the grid. Post solve and looking again, it doesn’t look like an atypical number of threes to me (for a Monday).

I absolutely agree with August about the product placement clue, although I actually winced more at the A.P.P. clue for MAC right below it. We joke about Shortz being paid for all the Apple™️ clues, but I have no doubt that some marketing person has a pretty good estimate of the value of of a NYTX mention.

A perfectly cromulent Monday puzzle. Not quite as easy here as last week’s puzzle, but still pretty easy.

@Anon7:36 - DMING is short for Direct MessagING. And META.

rosebud 8:04 AM  

I love starting August with August and LIGHTNINGBUGS and a Blue Moon, too, with a little history thrown in for fun. Thanks!

Wm. C. 8:10 AM  

I forgot that OFL is away, so when I saw 12D (Drunkard => SOT) I figured we'd get a full dose of a PC-lecture! ;-)

Runs on Dunkin 8:12 AM  

“DMing” is direct messaging, like sending someone a private (direct) message on social media. “Meta” Crosswords are those that reference themselves in some way.

Joe R. 8:12 AM  

I was very confused to read “My first August August”, because I was sure you’d been guest blogging longer than a year. It took me a moment to remember that there was a time you did not identify as August, and a longer moment to believe that that had been less than a year ago. You are so firmly August in my mind. Congratulations on the august occasion of your first August August!

Nancy 8:13 AM  

It's nicely free of PPP and it's a good puzzle for complete novices. Other than that, I really don't have anything to say about it at all.

Runs on Dunkin 8:15 AM  

Disagree about 14A. “To be fertilized” makes it Monday easy. As opposed to say a clue that would indicate “to be eaten”.

Lewis 8:18 AM  

This puzzle has a lovely collection of varied answers. Here’s an example: My eyes just fell on the stack of OVUM / NERO / CLOUD STORAGE. That’s varied, and varied makes even a quick jaunt through a Monday puzzle interesting.

A very junk-lite grid, and Kyra’s notes showing her priority toward improving her puzzles bodes well for her future offerings. Then there’s that can’t-put-my-finger-on-it-but-it’s-definitely-there quality to the puzzle that had me feeling serene through this solve rather than simply mindlessly filling in the squares.

Having five palindromes – EKE, OXO, MOM, ATTA, and ETE – plus the neighboring anagrams ATTA and TATA was like sticking a sparkler on the top. What a lovely start to the week. Thank you, Kyra.

Lewis 8:22 AM  

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

1. Result of multiple paper cuts? (5)(5)
2. Speak in a husky voice (4)
3. Change hands, in a way? (5)
4. Utter (8)
5. It might have desks and drawers (3)(4)


TTrimble 8:23 AM  

Yeah, had to have been easy. I posted a time which is markedly better than my Monday usual.

This may be one of 15 similar responses, but DMING means "direct messaging". On the other hand, I don't know STANS. It sounds like a portmanteau where one of the components is "fans", but please feel free to fill me in.

That DRAGON reminds me that the dance studio where my daughter studies will probably be lifting its COVID-19 related restrictions and will be putting on its annual Nutcracker (connection: there's a DRAGON dance for Clara during the second half). This will be my last year on stage, in the GUISE of Drosselmeyer. I'm trying to decide whether/when to grow out my beard, which makes me look a lot older. My daughter Lydia will probably be one of the queens, maybe the Snow Queen (the other "queens" being the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Dew Drop). She would be wearing a TUTU for that.

Missteps: I tried lONg AGO before EONS AGO, and CLOUD ServicE before CLOUD STORAGE.

Nice write-up, August. You asked whether others like META fiction. I don't read it myself, but lots of "META" in my working life, as happens in areas that study concepts in which hierarchies pile on top of hierarchies.

yd 0

GILL I. 8:31 AM  

A Monday WEATHER and @August doing her August fandango tango.
I'm waiting for...and praying for.... a CLOUD to appear in my horizon. I don't want any LIGHTNING because they cause our dastard fires. THUNDER will always remind me of living in Cuba.
Why am I thinking of our winter or the summer of our discontent? We eat, sleep. live and survive because of WEATHER. My favorite.....the smell of flowers or cut grass after we've had a splash of rain DROPS falling on my head.
Nice Monday. I'm sending this to my daughter; she'll enjoy it.

bocamp 8:33 AM  

Thx, Kyra, for a perfect puz to start the week off with! :)

Hi @August, good to see you again; thx for the write-up! :)

Solve: just north of easy.

Got the NW, then down, around and ending up at AREN'T

Not grease LIGHTNING on this one, just med-LIGHTNING. ⚡️

Attended a performance of the Rockettes at RADIO City Music Hall in '68.

Very enjoyable Mon. xword. :)

Fun, Fun, Fun ~ Beach Boys

pg -1 dbyd / yd 0 (@TTrimble (11:08 PM yd); most likely the dbyd 9er you referred to)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

jberg 8:44 AM  

OK, the WEATHER words are in the FRONT of each theme answer, I get that. But the revealer also needs to stand on its own and WEATHER FRONT just...isn't. I read a lot of weather reports; they speak of warm fronts, cold fronts, occluded fronts, sometimes just fronts -- but weather fronts? No.

Aside from that, the puzzle was pretty good--although a sad reminder that with the COVID eviction ban expired, lots of people will have to come up with ARENT that they don't have.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

I hate that I laughed at this

Zwhatever 8:45 AM  

@TTrimble - STANS is the WOD, so just check out the beginning of August’s post.

Zwhatever 8:51 AM  

@jberg - I had the same reaction, but WEATHER FRONT is common enough to have a Wikipedia page, so I guess it works. Definitely #15 on my top 10 list of FRONTs, though.

TTrimble 9:00 AM  

Ah, thank you. I've passed by the Eminem song on XM radio, but never stopped to listen because I often find his voice really grating. (Not that I make a point of listening to rap to begin with. It has a way of finding me when Lydia is in the car.)

Twangster 9:18 AM  

Jim – Meta broadly refers to anything self-referential these days, such as a novel in which a character is writing a book, a news report about the news business, a meme about memes, etc.

Frantic Sloth 9:24 AM  

Good, solid puzzle for the Mondee. Clean and simple theme - ideal for the new solver.
But, I'm in no mood today, being absolutely apoplectic about the NYT decision to no longer support AcrossLite for the crossword. In fact, the .puz format will no longer be available for download at all starting August 10th.

Instead, they assume we'll all just fall in line and use that ridiculous, POS app of theirs.
I'm sending them an email to voice my...displeasure. If you feel at all similarly outraged - or even just a tad peeved - please do likewise. Thanks.


RooMonster 9:24 AM  

Hey All !
We've had a good Monsoon Season of CLOUDS, LIGHTNING, THUNDER, and DOWNPOURS this year. Which is good, as much as people out here don't like rain in the Summer. Last year, we set a record of rainless days in a row. Still in a drought, but this year's rains have things looking up.

Liked this puz. Simple, junk-lite, coherent. Rex would've complained about the closed off NW/SE corners.

STANS was a new one on me. Have seen it clued as something like "ending name of several mid-east countries". Seems PSST and EKE are the new OREO and ONO. Remember a while back ACNE was in every puz? I miss OMOO. Where have you been hiding?

Rambling aside, nice MonPuz Kyra. Easy, tight theme, good fill. Mic DROPS.

One F

Carola 9:30 AM  

I think this puzzle would be a Monday delight for a new solver - easy and with an elegant repurposing of WEATHER vocabulary in the three theme answers. Also liked the crosses of DROPS + PIN and EGO + GUISE.
Happy August, @August!

Joseph Michael 9:49 AM  

If there’s a rating that means easier than Easy, this puzzle gets it. Liked the storm theme, but I suddenly sneezed and the puzzle was solved.

Paul & Kathy 9:54 AM  

I was expecting a blog rant about the decision to not support Across Lite anymore, but no Rex today so I guess other than in the comments, we'll have to wait until tomorrow. I can't wait.

Meanwhile, PR time today. Nearly filled the whole thing in from just acrosses.

frankbirthdaycake 10:02 AM  

I really enjoyed this one, even though I barreled through it in (personal) record time. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go much faster than today because this one pushed the limits of my texting skills and dexterity. I didn’t have any problem with the clues, although I feel fortunate that the “s” in “bus” gave me the “s” in “stans.” Good Monday. Nice write-up, August.

taylorevan 10:03 AM  

Did you happen to read Kyra’s write up about her puzzle, though?

JD 10:15 AM  

@jberg and @Z, I may be wrong (what a shock that would be), but it seems that the fronts that are reported (cold, et al) are Weather Fronts. You wouldn't find Weather Front in a forecast because the focus would be on a specific front. No?

Didn't we have a very similar weather puzzle in the past few months? Didn't Rex Kvetch about rain not being included? This one at least had Drops.

Anyway, a fresh, clean puzzle that reminded me of summer nights in childhood. It would rain and we couldn't play outside all day. By evening it would stop and we'd run around the wet grass catching Lightning Bugs and then letting them fly away. They're such obliging little creatures.

Been helping an elderly friend pack up to move. Heck of a downsizing chore. The movers come today. She was there in the Lightning Bug catching years watching us, then out of nursing school and onto her life in the city as an adult. Life is so strange.

What? 10:18 AM  

People experienced in doing crosswords (most of us I guess) can’t faithfully judge those directed at newbies, I.e. Mondays. Having said that, I judge today’s crossword as nice and easy. Is it really? I really can’t tell. All I know is I aced it about as fast as I could write.
As Niels Bohr said, all we can know are the results of experiments so no use delving further. Same here - no use delving.

mathgent 10:26 AM  

It didn't take long and I learned a couple of things. That's good enough. I'd heard of Dropbox but didn't know what it does. It does more than just store information, I read.

I trust Lewis that they were the best clues last week. Slim pickings.

From time to time, including today, we hear a complaint that a clue is not commonly used. That's a direct violation of Joaquin's Dictum.

Our local newspaper carries a cartoon panel called The Fusco Brothers. It's a good example of META fiction..

G. Weissman 10:38 AM  

I’m truly puzzled by the remark that this puzzle contains no crosswordese. This puzzle is a parade of hackneyed NYT fill answers: PSST, EKE, TUTU, NERO, ATTA, EURO, OGLER, ALOHA, OXO, ETE, GOO, RTE, OAHU, ALIT … on and on. The result is a quick and dull solving experience and a puzzle that feels like a parody. I am missing the reality check provided by Rex.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Since we're back to baiting Russia, something along the lines of 'former SSR' would be fun.

jae 10:40 AM  

Easy-medium. Pretty smooth and Monday friendly, liked it....except for maybe EBANK which doesn’t seem like a thing.

@bocamp - I finished Croce’s Freestyle #634 in 2+ sessions. It was one of those where after the first pass you think ”I’ll never be able to do this” but I kept chipping away at it and it turned out to be on tough side of medium on the Croce spectrum. That said, I suspect I would have had more problems if I wasn’t a big fan of the HBO series “Treme”. Good luck!

Peter in Chicago 10:43 AM  

I was not familiar with the term metafiction, but I immediately flashed on Tristram Shandy. Then I got stuck in my head because I cannot remember, nor have I since been able to find, who likened reading Tristram Shandy to the pleasure of riding a bicycle as slowly as possible without falling off.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

I think the correct pronoun for August is male (him, not her).

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

"but to Tristram Shandy, the eccentric 18th-century masterpiece of which Cyril Connolly once said, ”(It) reminds one at times of the youthful occupation of seeing how slowly one can ride a bicycle without falling off.” "

the innterTubes know all:

albatross shell 11:29 AM  

Well, easy. Easy peasy even. But I was defeated in having a "continuous" solve (no answers w/o some letters in after 1A or 1D) early on. I wasn't sure of STORAGE and couldn't get DMING off the D.

The thought occurred that @Nancy would be upset again with that newfangled stuff, but then thought it's a Monday. She'll get around it but will she learn from it or do her best to forget it? My money was on forget. It wasn't on not mentioning it.

Side notes
I believe Rex has skipped mentioning SOT or NRA several times of late.
Also there seemed to be many echos from yesterday's or other recent puzzles adding to its ease. Into double digits, not counting a misspelled "meglomania" I briefly had in yesterday. Correctly spelled it might have made a good clue.

One trend I am checking out is all these lovey-dovey reviews: Are they having any effect on the number of posts per day?

egsforbreakfast 11:46 AM  

In appreciation of a nice Monday puzzle by Kyra Wilson:




Let’s SOPUP some GOO
As we BUS to OAHU

And RARE DRAGONS roaring

With MOMs EXES named LUC

mathgent 12:08 PM  

My definition of META is something that is an X about an X. For example, the WSJ on Fridays has a contest to solve a puzzle about the Friday crossword. It is a puzzle about a puzzle. Metamathematics is mathematics about mathematics, Godel's theorems for example.

So, according to this definition, The Fusco Brothers is sometimes META, not always. A metanovel would be a novel about novels. I can't think of one immediately. There are some meta songs. "I'm writing this song for you ..."

Paris When It Sizzles, the 1964 romcom with Audrey Hepburn and William Holden written by George Axelrod is META. It's a movie about a movie that Holden is trying to write.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

One might not be able to prove it, but the oldest use (in common usage, anyway) is METAdata, which are the descriptors for the stored data in the IT world. That's not, depending on how one wishes to view 'self', as self-referential. In a relational database, and its inferior cousin the SQL database, that METAdata is in fact stored within the database file(s), but is distinct. the wiki mostly agrees.

old timer 12:32 PM  

I am so old, I remember when our August, under a former and poetic name, was a tired kindergarten student! Oh, maybe not kindergarten, but this puzzle was so Easy that my eldest grandchild, a rising fourth grader, could have solved this one, if he was used to doing the puzzles in our local paper.

The puzzle was so Easy, I did not bother to even look up all the crosses. Therefore, I missed our old friend Mr. SOT (aka Egbert Souse')

bocamp 12:33 PM  

@jae (10:40 AM)

Thx, jae; haven't watched 'Treme', so I'm probably in trouble. 🤞

pg -2

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Unknown 12:54 PM  

Guy is in train compartment with five people going through Russia. He starts kvetching on and on, I'm so thirsty. I can't tell you how thirsty I am. I never had a thirst like this in my life. After four hours the train stops and all five go out and bring him back water, coffee, juice. Are you still thirsty? No, no, thank you all very much. Are you sure? yes, thank you again. The train starts and he begins- I was so thirsty. I can't believe how thirsty I was. never was I ...

tea73 1:02 PM  

Not sure if I even know what metafiction is, but from the definition, I think the first example I read was The French Lieutenant's Woman. Spoiler alert! The author provides an ending, then tacks on another chapter saying something like, but maybe that's not what happened, maybe this happened! I threw the book against the wall. Interestingly, I loved the movie which figured out a very different way to give you the two endings. Apparently Jasper Forde's books (The Eyre Affair) which has literary characters coming to life counts. They are weird and delightful.

My husband and I have been tackling the Wall Street Journal's Friday metapuzzles for the last year or so. (Maybe since the pandemic began?) We always feel really smart when we get it. It's definitely addictive!

albatross shell 1:02 PM  

My two favorite metas: The guy who says he is lying and the guy going to or coming from St. Ives.

Or more seriously: the famous theorem and the detective novel The Third Policeman which I may never finish.
Metas about metas also are fun.

albatross shell 1:16 PM  

@old timer 2232pm
Yes, and properly accented. I'd say.

Oldest meta: The name of the one who must not be named.

Is every autobiography a meta now?

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Weather or not U liked the puztheme [themers with WEATHER stuff up FRONT], this sure was a well-built MonPuz. Almost all of it was moo-cow eazy-E, but my fave gimmoo clue was: {Ballerina wear} = TUTU.

Only items of mystery were DMING & STANS. Lost a coupla extra nanoseconds, tryin to think of somethin that I *knew* to go in theres. M&A just ain't with it, modern slang-wise. Always good to learn new stuff, tho. Direct-Message-ING. STalker-fAN. Got it.

fave fillins included: KVETCH. DRAGON. THUMB. EONSAGO.

staff weeject pick: LUC. Better clue: {"Use the fork, ___!" (Obi-Wan misquote)?? }.
Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

Thanx for the "fore"-cast, Ms. Wilson darlin. Nice job.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Teedmn 1:31 PM  

This was a cute, easy Monday puzzle. Unfortunately, the missing "rain" themer all too well describes the drought we're going through around here. It clouds up, thunders, lightnings, all for naught. Maybe a pitter-patter of raindrops and then it's gone. We could use two weeks of a daily inch, I think. Maybe September...

For some reason, the clue for 39A struck me as fun. In my head I was thinking, "Get the shampoo out (of the bathroom vanity)" so RINSE made me laugh.

Kyra, thanks for a fun puzzle. Keep 'em coming.

egsforbreakfast 1:48 PM  

Just need to point out that Aristotle’s Metaphysics is a tad older than any of the usages suggested here. Commonly, it is thought to be used in the sense of “beyond physics”, as it is about philosophy. However, I’ve also read that it was used simply to indicate “after physics” in the sense that Aristotle wrote it after “Physics”. Someone raised the possibility that it was used because the copy in the Alexandria library was beyond the copy of Physics as you walked from the entrance. Anyway, META is hardly a recent coinage, although its meaning has changed.

Mr. Alarm 2:15 PM  

That’s more like it! An easy Monday with no devious hold-ups!

Thank you, Kyra (and Will) - it’s an art to make a clean-filled and simply-clued puzzle appropriate for Monday’s.

Anoa Bob 2:43 PM  

When I first tried constructing I quickly realized that one of the biggest challenges to coming up with a set of workable themers is to not only to find candidates that are consistent with the theme core concept but also that have the correct letter counts. Having to satisfy both of those requirements elevates a themed puzzle's degree of difficulty and, hence, its overall rating it seems to me.

Today's grid calls for three 12-letter themers (and a 12-letter reveal), but one of the themers is not up to the task. Unlike CLOUD STORAGE and LIGHTNING BUG, THUNDERBIRD is one letter short of the mark. I always see it as a major flaw when this problem is solved by simply tacking on a gratuitous S to bring the letter count up to speed. That's just too easy and convenient and downgrades the puzzle's overall quality in my book.

Maybe it's ironic but I would say that a single CLOUD does not a WEATHER FRONT make. So maybe CLOUD STORAGE is a singular of convenience while THUNDERBIRDS is a plural of convenience (POC).

Along with a few run-of-the-mill single POCs there are several two-for-one POCs, where one S boosts the letter count of two entries, an Across and a Down. Along with THUNDERBIRD/GRIN, DREAM/GAME and STAN/EXE also get letter count POC boosts. I think all those qualify this grid as POC marked.

pabloinnh 2:47 PM  

Pretty sure this one came from the NYT Book of Easy Puzzles for Junior Solvers. STAN was the only outlier, and I just learned that from m a crossword. Thought it was the NYT, maybe not.

I had an interesting chat with the nice young tech who was putting a numbing agent on my eyeball before today's injection. (I insist on this, BTW). Anyway I had with me this morning's New Yorker puzzle which she noticed and we started talking about doing the NYTXW. She said she liked to do the minis and I asked how long they took her and she said she could sometimes finish a whole one in under ten minutes. i just said, well, it gets easier.

Back,finally, to being able to read comments and type something, so late to the party. Big part of my day got put on hold for a while.

Good solid if easy Monday, KW, which I recommended to my friend from this morning. I'll Keep Wishing for a later in the week effort from you.

Joe Dipinto 3:47 PM  

I hate "meta". Almost as much as I hate "performative". If there were a literary genre called Performative Meta, I would have to burn all the books.

@Pablo – lol.

Paul Auster 4:51 PM  

@Anon 12:20 META, as a prefix, has been around forever in the same usage as in METAdata, wherein one uses the science of a subject to analyze or describe aspects the subject itself. Metadata is data describing the data in the database. Metamathematics is a discipline in math, using math to describe other mathematical structures, i.e. Similarly for metaphysics.

In its standalone adjective form, I wouldn't say that writing a book about someone writing a book qualified as meta, writing a book about yourself writing the book would be meta. See Italo Calvino's if on a Winter’s Night a Traveler . So has someone else, but I can't remember his name. He was good though, really, really good. Should have won the Nobel

Zwhatever 5:47 PM  

I linked to Merriam-Webster earlier and it says the current usage (the informal “an X about X” type usage) goes back to 1988, although the link doesn’t provide any further detail. That would suggest some relationship to the usage of “metadata” as suggested by @anon12:20. Wikipedia mentions some earlier usages in the “an X about X” meaning, but it really seems to me that the current usage is more recent and I tend to think that the idea that it derives from “metadata” is right. That is to say, the origin is earlier but it didn’t really enter the vernacular until after 1988.
@Paul Auster - I think there are degrees of META now. Writing a book about writing a book would be META. Writing a book about yourself writing a book would be more META. Writing a book about yourself writing the book you are writing would be the most META.

@albatross shell - The autobiography of autobiographies would be META.

@Joe Dipinto - “Performative” doesn’t bother me. People who use it as an insult do.

@JD - I think you’re right about WEATHER FRONT, but it seems the most green paint of all the possible FRONTs to me.

Bill L. 6:00 PM  

@Anoa Bob 2:43 PM - The editor could have spared himself your POC rant with a simple clue change for THUNDERBIRDS by referencing the Air Force demonstration squad. Not that he reads these comments.

@Frantic Sloth 9:24 AM - I sent an email re Across Lite.

Paul Auster 6:24 PM  

@Z - I guess you've never read me, thinking I need to be informed about writing a book about my writing the book I'm writing about. That's essentially my first triptych. And yes, I know post 1988 usage of META, I just believe it has come to be without meaning in most cases. See awesome, radical, random, and most any drivel coming out of the mouths of babes these days. In the last 10,000 things I've heard as awesome, radical or random, precisely 0 have been any of them. Their use is a nullity, it has no context, relates in no way to what they are describing, ergo it has no meaning. And get off my lawn.

Anonymous 7:33 PM  

An easy fix would be "USAF demonstration squadron or team) with The...

Blue Stater 7:38 PM  

The 5A clue-answer pair seems wrong to me. "Just manage, with 'by'" = EKE? I have *never*, in 83 years of life and 50 years of teaching English, heard or seen the phrase "eke by." Never.

Unknown 9:10 PM  

@Blue @7:38

English teachers should get out on the street more.

Anoa Bob 9:23 PM  

Bill L. @ 6:00 PM, the base word is THUNDERBIRD. Clueing it as the USAF group without a specific reason, like it's related to the theme or some other aspect of the puzzle, would not change the fact that the pluralizing S is there for one reason only, to make an eleven letter entry fit a twelve square slot. If you are interested, I have written more about POCs, plurals of convenience, here and here.

By the way, your not the first person to see my comments as being a "rant" or something similar. Wish I knew why that happens but I can assure yous, it's totally a cerebral thing. No increase in heart rate, blood pressure, breathing patterns or Galvanic Skin Response, no raising of my voice, no throwing things, nothing like that. Todo es pacifico.

albatross shell 9:52 PM  

@blues tater(sorry I couldn't resist)
Spent some time trying to find and actual counterexample. No luck. I think you must be right about eke by.

X about X, self-referential. common usage. A man writing about himself. A man writing about his writings. A man writing about writings about himself. A man writing about himself writing about himself. Infinite rabbit holes out there. Soon it becomes unfathomable. A self reflecting on that self. I was testing the limits of common usage. I still do not know where it ends.

Metaphysics did not seem to be a physics about physics. Meta-mathematics with meta-theorems do seem to be meta in its current usage. Fist used
1920 to 1936 by mathematicians. G, E and B came out in 1979 added to its usage a lot I would think. Metadata seems more recent.

Son Volt 10:54 PM  

@Paul Auster 6:24p - so you’re saying the Quixote side track was purely META?

mmorgan 11:05 PM  


RooMonster 11:11 PM  

Right now, I'm writing right now about my writing right now whilst writing. 🤯


RooMonster I'm Too Meta For This Post, Too Meta It Hurts Guy

TTrimble 11:14 PM  

@Blue Stater
I wouldn't think that being an English teacher is a credential for being familiar with how language shifts and changes; that's more a province of linguists. I'm pretty certain I've heard "eke by". I would guess that "eke by" and "squeak by" are more or less interchangeable.

skua76 11:28 PM  

I was away for a couple of days...and now I see that Rex is away for 2 weeks...(and I have not looked at the rest of the comments as I do the puzzle in the morning) but I am extremely saddened that the NYT is no longer supporting Across Lite. And the referenced link was a 404 yesterday. WTF??

Zwhatever 11:35 PM  

@Paul Auster - Yep, never heard of you. What I haven’t read outstrips what I have read by at least a couple of degrees of magnitude.

Other media outlets already force you to use their not very good software to solve online, so I guess the NYTX moving to forcing people to use their crappy app isn’t too surprising. They want the page views, I guess. I have their app, but I only ever use it to see what the screaming is all about when they foul up some visual element and wreck a puzzle. I love the focus on editing more puzzles and improving our internal tools and processes bull shit. Best case, they moved somebody off prepping the .puz file to help with their crappy app. More likely scenario is they eliminated a position. I don’t see anything at the PuzzAzz site and my impression is that they prepare a different file format of the puzzle, so this may not affect them. Candidly, I dislike the NYTX app so much that if that were the only option while traveling I probably wouldn’t bother to solve. The NYTX is rarely the best puzzle I solve on any given day so why bother using their lesser app?

Blue Stater 9:29 AM  

@TTrimble - Actually, I would have thought that a career as an English teacher is one of the better credentials "for being familiar with how language shifts and changes." My field was English language. And all I said was that I had never heard "eke by" used as the puzzle required in order to solve it. That's the kind of judgment made by linguists, and I'm one of those, too.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Someone explain SHAK?

Blue Stater 8:05 PM  

@anonymous 12:40 PM: SHAK is short for "Shakespeare." Bad item, I think.

spacecraft 10:00 AM  

Sorry to--wait, don't say it--"rain" on Ms. Wilson's parade, but when your first two acrosses are PSST and EKE, things are not looking good. And it continues: EKE's symmetric partner ETE, EBANK, OGLER (OK I guess but definitely NOT the same as "gawker"), and the TATA/ATTA combo. You LIKED that??? An overused farewell and a 9/11 terrorist? Please.

Simple to solve, with a simplistic theme and a nice tie-in with "FRONT," appropriate for Monday. But the fill...bogey.

Burma Shave 12:09 PM  


she SHOOTs BOTOX all up FRONT,
the EONS for to WEATHER


Diana, LIW 2:26 PM  

I've always feared Lightning storms. But not Monday puzzles.

I forgive Monday for @Spacey's objections - they are there to teach newbies, IMHO.

Too bad it's the end of ETE...but fall is nice, too.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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