Gossiping types / MON 9-20-21 / One-named R&B singer with the 1999 6x platinum album Unleash the Dragon / Classic arcade game set in outer space

Monday, September 20, 2021

Constructor: Pao Roy

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Volcano parts, sort of — themers end with words for layers of earth, which have some tangential relationship to volcanoes ... then there are weird extra five-letter theme answers concerning what lava *is* (before and after, or rather after and before, an eruption) ... oh, and then ASHES, for some reason:

Theme answers:
  • GLUTEN-FREE CRUST (17A: Pizza feature for a specialized diet)
  • ASSUME THE MANTLE (34A: Take on a position, along with its responsibilities)
  • ROTTEN TO THE CORE (52A: Lacking any moral compass)
  • ROCKS (1A: What lava becomes after an eruption)
  • MAGMA (60A: What lava is before an eruption)
  • ASHES (27D: Volcanic emissions)
Word of the Day: J. COLE (48D: Rapper J. ___) —

Jermaine Lamarr Cole (born January 28, 1985) known professionally as J. Cole, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Cole is regarded as one of the most influential rappers of his generation. Born on a military base in Germany and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole initially gained recognition as a rapper following the release of his debut mixtape, The Come Up, in early 2007. Intent on further pursuing a musical career, he went on to release two additional mixtapes, The Warm Up (2009) and Friday Night Lights (2010) both to critical acclaim, after signing to Jay-Z's Roc Nation imprint in 2009.

Cole released his debut studio album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, in 2011. It debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200. His next album, Born Sinner (2013), also topped the Billboard 200. Moving into more conscious themes, 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014) topped the Billboard 200 and earned Cole a Best Rap Album nomination at the 2015 Grammy Awards. His jazz influenced fourth album, 4 Your Eyez Only (2016), debuted at number one on the Billboard200. Cole's fifth album, KOD (2018), became his fifth number-one album on the Billboard 200 and featured a then-record six simultaneous top 20 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, tying The Beatles. His sixth studio album, The Off-Season, was released on May 14, 2021. (wikipedia)

• • •

I'm confused. The *earth* has a core, and a mantle, and a crust, and volcanos ... are part of the earth ... but in allllll the cross sections of volcanoes that I am currently looking at online, not one of them includes CRUST, MANTLE, or CORE. See, here's one:

And here's one:

No CRUST, no MANTLE, no CORE. Again, those are parts of the earth, for sure, and volcanoes are, technically, parts of the earth, so ... OK, but this MAGMA / ROCKS / ASHES stuff ... I don't know, the words all seem only loosely associated with volcanoes, and the MAGMA / ROCKS / ASHES part feels super tacked-on. Also, starting with ROCKS and ending with MAGMA feels (no, is) backwards. There's just a sloppiness here to the execution that really needs unsloppifying. Further, while I really like THEY/THEM and EGOMANIA, the fill on this is a bit on the old-fashioned / crosswordesey side. ATTA and NENE!? You're bringing back both, in the same grid? But seriously, what happened in the SW corner. Surely an editor could've spruced that thing up pretty quickly. If you wanted to the very least possible, you could change PRAY / ANO to PREY / ENO, which, currently, 72.3% of solvers agree is the better pairing.

But if you just change PAGODA to something like ONEIDA you get much more favorable letter patterns in the Downs and the whole corner gets a lot easier to make clean. ANO GTOS AONE is a lot of not-great for one little section. You gotta mind the small stuff, because if it gets ugly, then all of a sudden it isn't small stuff any more. 

I should be fair to the themers, which I think are actually quite good as stand-alone answers. Still, the theme just didn't work for me. Hope you were more into it than I was. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:01 AM  

A bit more challenging than the typical Monday. And who would have guessed that a volcano themed xword would not have made us choose between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa?

jae 12:07 AM  

Medium. Got off to a slow start with MAGMA before ROCKS at 1a. Solid theme with some nice long downs. Liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did, an excellent debut!

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #646 was a medium Croce for me, however I did know what George Costanza was reeling into his bedroom window. Two sessions, good luck!

Monty Boy 12:51 AM  

I liked this one a lot, although SISQO does not feel Monday-ish. Maybe a bad way to spell Pancho's sidekick in old oaters.

I'm not an expert, but did have a couple of geology classes. Rex's diagrams are volcano parts, but volcanos wouldn't exist without mantle, crust, core. I'll concede that reasoning would extend to earth, solar system, universe, and big bang. Volcanos would not exist without those as well.

As I said, I'm no expert. I'd allow those words because this is a crossword, not a text book, a geology dissertation or a Wikipedia entry (always a reliable source)

Trey 1:19 AM  

No comment on a second 2 Broke Girls clue in a row? At least KAT was easier for me from her work in the Marvel movies and shows

Anonymous 1:41 AM  

i think starting with ROCKS and ending with MAGMA has to do with the physical proximity. MAGMA is closer to the CORE of the earth and ROCKS to the CRUST

okanaganer 1:43 AM  

Started off really wrong with MAGMA for 1 across. ROCKS was quite a letdown, sparklewise. I should know better, being a science guy.

I was an ASTEROIDS whiz in 1981. I remember on my lunch break from my summer job at a liquor store, putting a quarter in an ASTEROIDS machine in the mall, and playing for my entire one hour lunch break, and finally passing off control to some wide-eyed kid watching me play. "Hey, kid, you wanna take over? I have to go back to work". I had about 4 million points amassed and felt like a God.

Which reminds me, for 45 down I read the clue as "Actress God". Say what?...who? I guess I need new glasses.

I am back to using Across Lite, thanks to @kitshef. Happy happy!

Frantic Sloth 1:47 AM  

What Rex said.
Except for that "empirical data" gathered from 94 Twitter voters. Please.
And except for all that constructioneering advice because I know squadoosh about that stuff.


Laura 1:48 AM  

I kinda of love this puzzle. I think the theme wasn’t volcanos but earth science in general. Brought me back to seventh grade. I especially liked the subtle humor of 44 down because as far as we know, Earth is pretty much the only contender.

chefwen 1:50 AM  

Easy/ medium here. Was not familiar with ASSUME THE MANTLE, so that threw a wrench into the system. SISQO was another HUH?
The rest rated easy. Love the word MAGMA, it’s just fun to say. And I do love a good PINOT. Three Saints is the PINOT of choice in this household.
Good start to the puzzle week. Thanks Pao Roy.

Anonymous 3:43 AM  

I thought this theme was fun and clever. But wild that we had another 2 Broke Girls clue today??

Lexta 4:28 AM  

The order of the themers was dictated by their physical arrangement where the crust is above the mantle which is above the core. Then, magma needs to be at the bottom because it’s in the earth while the rocks are above. Ashes makes no sense, of course.

(I enjoyed this because I finished it without help. As a non-native speaker with very little knowledge of American sports, brands and pop-culture in general, this always feels nice.)

Son Volt 4:42 AM  

Rex - consider the grid as a physical cross-section of the earth. A volcano is an opening in the Earth’s CRUST that releases MAGMA from the HOT CORE and MANTLE thru the surface. So the construct is correct with MAGMA at the bottom and ROCKS at the top. It’s a clean, Monday theme.

Don’t know how ASTEROIDS and ASHES end up within the Earth’s structure but other than that the fill is pretty straightforward. The Q word crossing is midweek type stuff. THEY/THEM is neat - not sure we’ve seen that in a grid before. Wonder if MEGA DEAL and EGOMANIA crossing LAKER refers to Lebron. NINE PM and IDLER are clunky.

Enjoyable Monday solve.

Anonymous 5:50 AM  

Haha! 1979? '80? and Space Invaders for me. Hours, eventually, on one quarter. When Asteroids came out, I thought, "Do I really want to spend so much life on these things? More will be coming." Still glad I had the sense at 23.

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

Not easy for me. Took 4:30. I guess I’m slower this early, but I’ve had fridays and saturdays that’s I’ve finished in under 5 minutes, so I’d say that this Monday was pretty damn tough!

Joe Welling 6:30 AM  

No mention of the bogus plurals of ROCKS and ASHES, but not MAGMAs?

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

I thought Rex would have a seizure at 4D (two days in a row with this obscure, low-brow, already canceled, no-name-cast sitcom debacle! Ye gods!).

There's no accounting for what ticks him off. I guess the diatribe about inaccurate geology sapped whatever rage he had going.

I liked it.

Lewis 6:34 AM  

So many nice touches here:
• Lovely answers: SQUEEGEED, PAGODA, PIQUE, LITHE and all the theme answers.
• Clues that include interesting bits: [Sticky part of a gecko], [One piece of evidence of a planet’s habitability], [Number of provinces in Canada].
• Answers from a wide palette: Geography, geology, the arts, astronomy, religion, sports, gender.
• Nuanced theme, with the earth’s layers, plus that volcano’s MAGMA / ASHES / ROCKS, coursing through them.
• The constructor’s notes (in XwordInfo), which warm my heart.

Pao, this felt like a puzzle made by a facile constructor, one who shapes the puzzle, rather than one with less control. Congratulations on fulfilling your dream of getting a puzzle in the NYT, and with all this promise you’ve shown, I hope you continue to create them. Thank you so much for this one!

OffTheGrid 6:37 AM  

Having magma at 1A and yea at 20A sure didn't help the ONSET of my solve today. But 3D had to be CLUE so I got that corner sorted out. The rest was a smooth ride. Sure glad I got SISQO from crosses.

pabloinnh 6:52 AM  

Is that both Broke Girls? Are we done with them? I really have no idea, but I sincerely hope so.

I liked this one fine. After CRUST and MANTLE i saw what was going on and wondered if the last one was going to be CORE and how that would be achieved. It was, and very nicely, so that made me happy.

Hand up for liking MAGMA buried in the bottom and waiting to work its way to the top to become ROCKS, which did not occur to me instantly. Pumice maybe, or something a little more specific. Lots of rocks around here, but not too many of volcanic origin.

Was SQUEEGEED a debut? What a great word.

And just when I think I'm getting a handle on the various Disney princesses, thanks to the granddaughter, now they want to know who's voicing them? Really? I think the last real voice I could identify in a Disney production is Julie Andrews, and she will always be my favorite.

Congrats on the debut, PR. Premium Rating. This puzzle ROCKS. It is in fact a MAGMA opus.

AMS Digital 6:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
bocamp 7:15 AM  

Thx Pao, for the early week explosion; definitely a ROCKSolid output! :)

Med. +

Good start in the NW, moving counterclockwise and ending up at THEY THEM.

Like the way CORE, MANTLE and CRUST were layered.

Mia HAMM, as good as they come! ⚽️

@TTrimble šŸ‘ / @linac800 šŸ‘ for 0's yd

yd pg -6

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all šŸ•Š

amyyanni 7:21 AM  

Pleasant and creative start on a cloudy Monday morning with some light rain. Congratulations on your NYT debut, Pao.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Two Broke Girls is apparently the new Mary Tyler Moore Show - one where the actors are thought to be not just crossworthy, but Monday-easy.

Theme doesn’t work for me. Based on the placement, you would think MAGMA comes under the earth’s CORE, and ROCKS above the CRUST, and most oddly ASHES in the MANTLE. But MAGMA and ROCKS are both part of the crust – neither in the mantle or core – and ASHES are in the atmosphere.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

Will Shortz: the NYT self-ANO-inted a-hole.

TTrimble 7:33 AM  

Objectively, this might have been tough in spots for a Monday (although I can't quite tell; would RIGA and SISQO and COLE be examples?), but the puzzle went relatively quickly for me.

I also think it's a nifty little puzzle. Pretty clean fill: twelve 3-letter words, which I ASSUME is relatively low. SQUEEGEED and ASTEROIDS: pretty awesome.

As we speak, there are significant volcanic eruptions happening in the Spanish Canary Islands.

Rex, Rex, Rex ("No CRUST, no MANTLE, no CORE"). Here's a tip, using the present example: if you're curious to know what crust, mantle, core have to do with volcanoes, try going to Wikipedia and apply ctrl-F to the article on volcanoes using these search terms, and read. ATTA boy.

yd 0
td pg -3

Alan 8:14 AM  

I’ve never understood the animosity toward the word NENE. It’s the state bird of Hawaii, isn’t it? I visited Hawaii once and there were signs all over the place about leaving the nenes alone. Seems like a legitimate entry to me.

JD 8:19 AM  

The layers have some tangential relationship to a volcano? Woo, there's an understatement. Ya think? Snarky geek laugh.

This was middle school geology. A fun, clean little puzzle. Yeah, yeah Magma should be above Core, but still.

And it would've been fun to see some of the Hawaiian language terms geology uses (pluralize this one - 'A'ā), all those vowels waiting to be called into service.

But all this and Squeegees. Tougher Monday for me but real fun.

Sank 8:20 AM  

Terrible. Ashes? In volcanic references it's alway just ash. Have never heard that a volcano is spewing "ashes". This whole puzzle never came together for me.

bocamp 8:27 AM  

@jae (12:07 AM)

On it! :)

@Lexta (4:28 AM) šŸ‘

@TTrimble (7:33 AM)

šŸ¤ž for the -3

td pg -1 (37 m on t ⏰)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all šŸ•Š

Nancy 9:00 AM  

Is GLUTEN FREE CRUST crunchy? Well, it doesn't matter, because the puzzle is. I found this light-years more interesting than the usual Monday puzzle. And I learned something, too. Lava becomes ROCKS after an eruption (1A). Who knew? I thought it became ASHES, but no -- ASHES seems to happen earlier, during the eruption (27D). All of this, btw, is something I'd much rather find out in a puzzle and not in real life. Nor do I imagine I ever will. NYC has plenty of concerns, but active volcanoes are not among them.

SQUEEGEED is a DOOK. KAT and SISQUO are fairly crossed and are therefore forgiven. A lively, fun Monday that I enjoyed.

Hartley70 9:00 AM  

Too too too easy when I don’t even have to pause fo breath. “Oh look how close those two Qs are in the mid-west”, crossed my mind but not much else. I know it’s Monday but I didn’t get a single zing while solving and those zings are my coffee substitute.
However, in retrospect, the Mother Earth theme was rather nice and I’m not into Rex’s quibbles at all.

Stephen Minehart 9:04 AM  

What is it about Two Broke Girls? Is Will Shortz on a campaign to bring it back? Makes me nostalgic for the days of CRETAN. Also, I disagree with Rex, PAGODA is way better than ONEIDA. Oneida is the New York State equivalent of Natick.

rosebud 9:05 AM  

I enjoyed it, especially FETA as summer’s bounty of tomatoes and cucumbers fill my kitchen…fun little puzzle to start the week.

pmdm 9:11 AM  

May the write-up be kinder than expected because the puzzle is the debut construction of a person who belongs to one of the groups Sharp seems to like to champion? To me, the entries may reek of EGOMANIA. I would give a bit of unwanted advice to new constructors: spend less time on trying to cram in entries reflective of your own interests and more time trying to create great puzzles. And no, I am not ROTTEN TO THE CORE but am a little dismayed by the number of entries championed by newer constructors that simply talk take aim at my (admittedly a bit unusual) interests.

So I am rating this puzzle as OK but not great.

Erin O’T 9:15 AM  

Count me among the 27% who prefer pray/ano and try not to confuse popularity with worth.

BWV1012 9:15 AM  

This is a delightful monday puzzle, rex! It has a personality and it wasn't hard but it had long answers. Nene and atta are def crosswordese but there's crosswordese in every puzzle. Not sure why so grouchy. I finished it and said aloud, "that was a great puzzle". Maybe I'm just happy it's a beautiful day in Boston...

Zwhatever 9:15 AM  

Tectonics Baby. W00T W00T!

@Frantic Sloth - With 207 votes in its still 76%-24% with lots of butthole replies. Only one diacritic matters and it is the ~ in AƑO. Tectonics Baby!

@Alan - It isn’t that we dislike NENEs, it’s that we are sick and tired of the crossword disrespect to Pewits and Scarlet Tanagers. Ornithology Baby!

@okanagner - Alanis Morissette was in Dogma. There’s your “actress god” for you. Theology Baby! W00T W00T!

Who knew that yesterday’s the Rock/Rolling Stones clue was a Monday Spoiler? Tectonics Baby!

Lewis 9:16 AM  

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

1. Cannery row? (4)
2. What may be considered worse when done well (5)
3. Ground shaking stuff? (6)
4. Tragic downfall? (8)
5. Small doodles, perhaps (3)(4)


RooMonster 9:22 AM  

Hey All !
Memo to Will: Simple easy fix for your ANO. šŸ˜ Clue it: Year, in Portugal. Bam, easy. Don't your test solvers know this?

Nice puz. Clue Iota equalling answer WHIT seemed at least a Wednesdayish clue. GOAS a DOOK. Surprised didn't make it a non-POC POC. Like: Panaji, India people. Why not? Other non-plural things get an S added. Neat to see two Q answers not needing the U along with it. Bad for @M&A, but still neat to see.

Did like the theme. Pointing out nits is one of the pleasures of life. šŸ˜ SQUEEGEED is a neat word. ASTEROIDS. Why are they in the Hemisphere, but Hemmorrhoids are in your ANO?

Two F's

GILL I. 9:26 AM  

Well, it is Monday and as Mondays go, it was Monday.
So we have volcanos today.....brought to you by Mt. Vesuvius and Mt. St Helens.
I visited Pompeii many moons ago and made the mistake of viewing some of the residents last remains. I had nightmares for about 20 years. Then Mt. St Helens erupts back in 1980 and I had nightmares about the people who refused to leave and died. I had nightmares for another 20 years. No wonder I'm a basket case.
Some people are afraid the earth will disappear because of ASTEROIDS blowing us up. Great! another 20 years of nightmares.
Wait....you have PINOT in there. All is well in Glocca Morra.

mathgent 9:40 AM  

Nice little Monday. No crunch but a bit of sparkle.

Thanks to @pabloinh (6 :52) I noticed MAGMA in the SE corner and ROCKS in the NW corner. The molten rock (MAGMA) climbs the grid from the MANTLE (which is above the CORE), through the CRUST, until it becomes ROCKS. Very neat.

We were in Maui a couple of weeks ago and saw lots of graceful little white birds on the golf courses. I thought that they were NENEs but they are actually cattle egrets. I think that I've seen some NENEs on Kawaii. They're bigger and have black heads.

Dave L. 9:51 AM  

I think as trivia, it's fine; however, people's outsize reaction comes from seeing it too much in puzzles over the years. Kind of like JAI ALAI and Yoko ONO, it starts to feel like a crutch for the constructor.

Carola 10:18 AM  

I thought this was really nicely done, with Earth's layers satisfyingly properly stacked from topmost to innermost and the theme phrases creatively repurposing the geologic strata. Maybe GLUTEN-FREE CRUST isn't particularly exciting as an expression or to eat, but ASSUME THE MANTLE and ROTTEN TO THE CORE I thought were terrific. I didn't mind the ASHES drifting down in the center; after all, they're part of the eternal earth-building churn. And then those 8- and 9-letter entries...for me, a top-notch Monday.

@Laura 1:48 - Enceladus is a moon, not a planet, but NASA says it has WATER: "With its global ocean, unique chemistry and internal heat, Enceladus has become a promising lead in our search for worlds where life could exist."

A 10:29 AM  

Kind of eerie this appearing today with the eruption of the volcano on La Palma yesterday.

Not sure why Rex was so disturbed about the theme - I thought this was fine, and I liked the bonus ASHES falling right down the center. At least he did say the themers were quite good. I agree - I particularly enjoyed seeing ASSUME THE MANTLE, which I hadn’t heard in years. Fun to get that one just from -EMA-

Mostly it seemed very straight ahead, with just a few unfamiliar names that went in easily from crosses. Looks like Shortz is going for Broke Girls, and didn’t we just see CAAN clued similarly, and SPF? Wouldn’t mind a break from GTOS, as well. Where’d SAAB and AUDI disappear to?

The soccer star and the NBA team were so famous even I knew them.

Fun cross at 6D/23A (despite the PsOC) - who hasn’t lost PENS in their SOFAS?

Speaking of the pitfalls of being able to enjoy great music from the comfort of my sofa, the Met performed an outstanding Verdi Requiem last week, a commemoration of the 9/11 attacks. It was broadcast on PBS - well almost - somehow the very last moment was cut off by an ad for a future PBS show. The Met Opera Musicians posted a link on their FB page to the entire performance. Well worth the hour and forty minutes.

Joseph Michael 10:58 AM  

Some of my best friends are volcanos, so I pretty much liked the theme, especially ROTTEN TO THE CORE. (Nothing wishy washy about that description). Also loved the word SQUEEGEED. Congrats to Pao Roy on the debut.

Not familiar with SISQO or the sticky parts of geckos, but found the solve easy overall. Like a breath of fresh volcanic air after yesterday’s slogfest. I wish the constructor had been granted his wish to change the LIU clue from Lucy to Simu. I’ve been enjoying Simu Liu on “Kim’s Convenience,” a funny Netflix series about a Korean family who run a convenience store in Toronto. Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Mr. Kim, the father, is particularly hilarious.

@Gill, I’ve also been to Pompei and had the same nightmares as a kid when I learned about people being instantly frozen forever in lava. What if you were doing something you didn’t want anyone to see and suddenly the volcano erupts and freezes you in that action for generations to come? Needless to say, it was a fear that shaped my childhood.

DOOK for the Day: GOAS.

What? 11:00 AM  

Thank goodness for NENE, otherwise my finish rate would fall.

Make!Do! 11:18 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyable Monday, I thought the Earth Sciences (not just volcano) theme was unforced and pretty elegantly done. But I should have learned that if I like it, Rex thinks it's garbage and vice versa

tea73 11:23 AM  

I played Asteroids and Adventure on the Arpanet back in 1977/78. As I recall the games were on an MIT computer and when they asked us who we were, we said, "Interlopers from up the river."

I'm embarrassed at how long it took me to see WHIT/WATER. No excuses, except CHIT seemed possible and I never checked the down.

I do not miss the days when you couldn't drive into NYC without being beset by SQUEEGEE guys. We used to foil them by turning on our windshield wipers and washing our own windows thank you.

bocamp 11:25 AM  

@A (10:29 AM)

Very much enjoy the links you provide. :). Unfortunately, got the dreaded: "We're sorry, but this video is not available." on this one. :(


One of my quicker Croces. Somewhere in the easy-med. range. Good guess on the 1A / 3D cross. Still trying to imagine exactly what it was George was trying to reel in (before YouTubing it) lol. See you next Mon. :)


Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all šŸ•Š

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Don't any of your comic books cover basic volcanology? I mean, we all know rocks for jocks isn't a course you'd ever be accused of having taken, but at least you could have a nodding acquaintance with the subject before embarrassing yourself.

Malsdemare 11:49 AM  

Oh, @Roo, " ASTEROIDS. Why are they in the Hemisphere, but Hemmorrhoids are in your ANO?" That wins the internet today!

I comment too late to add anything meaningful to the germane discussion, but I liked seeing THEY THEM in the puzzle. My younger grandchild recently said they identify as non-binary and last night was the first time I managed a conversation with the family that was asking about Z and I didn't slip up once! We're totally supportive of them so I'm thrilled I can show that support with respecting they're preference.

The area around Mt. Taylor in Grants, NM is littered with lava rocks. It’s a fabulous moonscape but hiking it is hard on the feet and impossible to do with a dog.

I still have no idea who 2 Broke Girls are but I knew who last night's Emmy winners. My favorite shows were serious winners. But, no, before you ask, I didn't watch. Award shows are not my thang.

Fun puzzle.

pabloinnh 12:00 PM  

@bocamp, @jae--After seeing your references to the Croces, but not remembering a specific number, I went looking for one and wound up with #640, which I did this morning. Now that's a crunchy kind of a puzzle! Liked it very much and wonder if there's a specific site for accessing these mind-busters.


jb129 12:03 PM  

Weird Monday

mathgent 12:05 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Joaquin (12:41)
Lewis (6:34)
pabloinnh (6:52)

Unknown 12:08 PM  

I love when someone humblebrags about how "slow" their 4:30 finish time was . . .

I thought that this puzzle rocked.
Some of the comments here border on being crusty; I say just go with the flow.

JC66 12:13 PM  


Try this link.

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

Pet peeve as someone who speaks Spanish: ANO means "anus"; "year" is AƑO. I would much prefer PREY/ENO.

Carola 12:20 PM  

@A 10:29 - Thank you very much for the link to the Verdi Requiem. I hadn't been aware that it would be available for streaming, nor had I noted the singers, which include three of my favorites, one of whom (Michelle de Young) I was lucky to hear in person in 2016 in a performance with the L.A. Chorale. I'm excited to listen!

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

I understand that the term DOOK comes from DO OK and it's used to describe an alternate parsing of an entry. I do not understand why SQUEEGEED or GOAS would be described as a DOOK.

Tale Told By An Idiot 12:26 PM  


“OK, but this MAGMA / ROCKS / ASHES stuff ... I don't know, the words all seem only loosely associated with volcanoes,“ said Rex.

I guess he wasn’t anywhere near Mt. St. Helens when it erupted in May of 1980. Magma flowed and became lava, rocks and ash flew and rained down. Perhaps technically the grey ashy dust that coated everything was called “ash” but when trying to clean the stuff up and off, it was “ashes” that we cursed.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

Would everyone please shut up about the ANO/ANO with a tilde thing?!! It has gotten sooooooo old. I can't add the tilde in the grid. Can you? I guess paper solvers can. We know what ANO without the tilde means, so just STOP! You have become insufferably tiresome.

Masked and Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Volcanic MonPuz. I can dig it.

U don't see a 2-Q MonPuz very often. Luved SQUEEGEED. Didn't know SISQO.

staff weeject pick: KAT. Was this broke girl named after Krazy Kat? That was M&A's all-time fave comic strip, by George Herriman. It was dependably nutty but nice.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {The "S" of L.S.U.] = STATE. Even gives up the first letter of its answer, right outta the chute. Total state of mooness.

@RP: I would hafta hesitate, on givin up PAGODA for ONEIDA. Dinna need to fash oneself*, about GTOS and A-ONE. And could always just go with PROW/ONO/WES, I reckon, to replace ANO.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Roy dude. And congratz on yer debut.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

* Scottish highlander lingo M&A is learnin, by watchin "Outlander" on Netflix. Time travel tale!

This here pup threw test solvers a curve:

The Modern Gal 12:40 PM  

He’s probably not Monday worthy, but as a 40-ish woman who was part of Sisqo’s target demo when that album was released, I appreciate it as a softball for me! Ask a group of women in my age range if they’re familiar with Sisqo and be prepared for a spontaneous rendition of the Thong Song.

old timer 12:52 PM  

In a very surprising turn of events, I have just been appointed King of Narnia, so my pronouns are now We/Us. And We were not amused today. SISQO has no place in a Monday puzzle. And the theme was inane, though I did love ROTTEN TO THE CORE.

Have to say, some lava does become ROCKS, and ASHES are what you find after a volcanic explosion. It is not ASH but ASHES that killed all those folks at Pompeii, a place well worth a visit. We did it in one day from Rome, thanks to the new high speed train to Napoli. A little train takes you direct to the site.

Someone mentioned computer games. For a brief time, my best friend from kindergarten worked for Bolt Beranek and Newman in their Los Angeles office. They had one of the earliest computers that featured video screens, and I spent a lot of time playing Space Wars with him, back in the 1960s (my friend was an MIT dropout, and no doubt met a number of BB&N folks in Cambridge). When I got my first Apple II computer, its gaming possibilities were still much more primitive than you could enjoy on a MEGA machine though I did play fair amount of Pong when I should have been working).

A 12:58 PM  

If the earlier link to the Verdi doesn't work (sorry @bocamp), here's one that is to the PBS free stream (available until the 27th, according to the Met Orchestra Musicians post). I think they are trying to atone for the snafu on the live broadcast. Met 9/11 Verdi on PBS

bocamp 1:01 PM  

@pabloinnh (12:00 PM)

@jae and I did the 646 today. You'd get a kick out of the George Costanza clue/answer. After the solve, I Googled it to get the full import. lol

See @JC66 (12:13 PM) for the link.

@Tale Told By An Idiot (12:26 PM)

Got the ASHES from St. Helen's up in Vancouver, BC.

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all šŸ•Š

Colette 1:03 PM  

Loved this puzzle! 3 clever long themers and 3 associated words in first, central and last positions. Wow! It doesn't usually get any better than that, especially on a Monday. Congratulations, Pao, on a superb debut! Please ignore all the other nit-picking. This was top notch.

Teedmn 1:05 PM  

When filling in 44D, I subconsciously added "for humans" (or, alternately, Saturday puzzle's 34D answer). Can we ASSUME life requires WATER, universally speaking?

Two episodes of Baader–Meinhof yesterday: Limp Bizkit's genre from Saturday showed up in a New Yorker article and Sunday's "2 Broke Girls" person showed up on the Emmy Awards red carpet. Gotta love it when the crossword clues are somewhat bolstered by outside sources.

While ROCKS didn't auto-fill (with the R in place, I was thinking "Rigid"), it was easy enough to fill in by crosses so I'm not seeing any difficulty for new solvers in this puzzle, though I think some of Rex's suggestions for improvement might have upped the challenge (Oneida, anyway.)

Pao Roy, I like your theme idea and the fill you chose. Congratulations on your NYTimes debut.

albatross shell 1:07 PM  

@All anons (except villager)
See this is the problem with anonymous posts. We deserve to know if @anonymous1230pm is himself one of the insufferably tiresome anonymous posters her/himself. I may even agree with her/him on the tilde issue (long CW tradition and practice), but I would like to know whether or not to enjoy the irony of whatever type it might be.

Zwhatever 1:15 PM  

@Tale - In ,…I don't know, the words all seem only loosely associated with volcanoes, and the MAGMA / ROCKS / ASHES part feels super tacked-on, I think “the words” reference CORE, MANTLE, and CRUST, those are the words he sees as “loosely associated with volcanoes.”

chance2travel 1:49 PM  

Ran through it so fast it was a blur. Started with downs and the freebie 1D RIGA, which crosswords have made me very eager to visit one day.

I liked THEY/THEM and the full spelled out ETCETERA. Also liked PIQUE and LITHE.

Not a fan of MEGADEAL or NINEPM.


By the way, I'm very pro GLUTEN, so feel free to send me your extra if you're GLUTENFREE.

bocamp 2:05 PM  

@A (12:58 PM)

Not your fault, Mimi. I get the same result on all Google search result vids, using both Brave and Safari browsers. I logged in to my PBS Vermont acct., still no go. Perhaps, it's because I'm not in the U.S. šŸ¤”

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all šŸ•Š

linac800 2:20 PM  

Thanks @bocamp for the šŸ‘ - a rare day I have the time to work on QB…. Usually get 20 minutes or so to shoot for pg and then have to let it go. Great respect for you and @TTrimble

linac800 2:21 PM  

@bocamp I’m in the EU and the GDPR requirements lead to many inaccessible US links

A 2:38 PM  

@bocamp, that's a bummer, but - I searched YouTube for met opera 2021 verdi requiem and it returned these videos. Hope you can watch them!

SharonAK 2:57 PM  

What Lewis said. (except the constructor's comments that I did not read)
Fun, the way the magma is at the bottom the core mantle and crust go up and the magma turns to rocks after erupting at the top.
And lots of goo fill.
How Rex could bother to whine over pray and alpo ain the bottom corner with all that good stuff to like???
PLus, personally I much prefer pray/ano to prey/eno.

And what's with all the commenters carping about the 2 Broke Girls and not about Sisqo and all the other obscure "musician" (not to my ear ) names we have to deal with.

pabloinnh 2:58 PM  

@JC66-Yep, that one works. It's where I wound up this morning, but not with this puzzle. Now I can sweat our another one.

Mil gracias.

JC66 3:03 PM  


To quote @bocamp, šŸ‘.

JC66 3:06 PM  


Btw, save the link and next Monday, refresh the page. That should work.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Humble brag at 4:30! Love it! some these folks have no idea how self-important they sound

Hartley70 3:26 PM  

I’m never getting over the NENE. Sigh. My three year old grandson decided two years ago that NENE was my name and he can’t be dissuaded. The two that have followed are carrying the torch.

bocamp 4:31 PM  

@linac800 (2:20 PM) / (2:21 PM)

Ty for the kind words. :) @TTrimble and I are hoping more SBers will briefly include results with their posts. Attaining QB is only one of many worthy results. Many, like you, have limited time to spare, making your results special. There's a sense of camaraderie in this sharing.

I think you're right re: my inability to access some content.

@A (2:38 PM)

Yippee! able to play those YouTube clips. Gorgeous! šŸŽ¶ I can picture you in the horn section, and can only dream of singing with that massive chorus.


You should be able to access a boatload of Croces: (right column near the top) > Archives > dropdown menu.

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all šŸ•Š

Nancy 5:55 PM  

@Hartley 70 (3:26) -- I know your real first name. I know your real last name. And like everyone here, I know your nom de blog. So how on earth did you get dubbed NENE by your grandkids? I'm thinking maybe they couldn't pronounce "Nana"? That must be it, right?

@Teedmn (1:05) -- Congrats on striking a blow against anthropomorphism. That's so true: humans need water to survive, but alien species might need something very different. Who knows -- maybe they thrive on methane or cyanide.

@old timer (12:52) -- I howled over your kingly "we/us" pronouns. I found it an inspired satire of something that I feel is more than ripe for being satirized right now. Maybe SNL can find a spot for you?

Anonymous 6:06 PM  

Top 5 best commenters on this site (in alphabetical order) :
1. Amelia
2. Anonymous
3. Joe Dipinto
4. Lewis
5. Nancy

Top 5 worst commenters on this site (in alphabetical order):
1. Anonymous
2. Blue Stater
3. Cleaver
4. Ocean Jeremy
5. Z

Teedmn 6:22 PM  

@Nancy, when we first moved into our house, the previous owners had stuck volcano rocks on the wall of our bedroom, going from the fireplace all the way up to the vaulted ceiling (very nice dust collectors). When we decided to get rid of them, they turned out to be very lightweight because they had so much air mixed in with the lava when it cooled. They also turned out to be as sharp as glass (obsidian, ya know) and when my husband dropped one, it cut him as it fell. We just threw them out the window onto a tarp and they shattered like glass. We replaced the rocks with a nice off-white marble with green veins.

Anoa Bob 6:43 PM  

Yea! A science related theme. Be still my racing heart. No, I don't think it would pass the critical eye of a geologist without some editing but for a crossword puzzle, it's first rate, dare I say A ONE, in my book.

In spite of all the constraints that the six themers must have put on the grid construction, the fill still managed to be top notch. I especially liked MEGA DEAL stacked next to EGO MANIA. Nice work there.

Yes I did notice a few POCs here and there but I think THEY/THEM were warranted in the service of a puzzle with a nice theme and good fill.

I'm with those who think that any state bird is fair game for an xword grid. Nothing croswordese about NENE, right? Now the Anoa, the smallest of the buffalo and an endangered species native to Indonesia, yeah, that's another question.

Yesterday we had TRUTH SERUM, today we get an example at 57A "PINOT noir (wine)". In Vino Veritas.

albatross shell 8:36 PM  

Wish I had some: PINOT TO NIP.
I wouldn't let a spanish asshole destroy my PAGODA. Well maybe if I got a beautiful lake in return. But in terms of crossword words PAGODA over ONEIDA and PRAY/ANO beats PREY/ENO only because I am more tired of ENO here than I am ANO and I try to like ENO cause he partnered with CaLE occasionally. Still do not like kale. Now buttercrunch or bibb...

I found GLUTENFREE-flour-bRead-CRUST a bit bland but excellent as a theme. The other two were good as theme and fill. I think one interpretation of the grid works well for CRUST MANTLE CORE. The volcano stuff is a secondary theme. I was really looking for ETNA somewhere. There is an ENTA and a 4 letter square:
but that's all.

Continuing the asshole theme, there is a diagonal POO in the SW (starting with the P in PAGODA and a parallel ASS in the NE ending with the S in YENTAS. Now that is a sentence I never thought I'd write. Hey, the POO ends with the O in ANO. Could life be any better?

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

I'll echo the consensus:

Yay to SQUEEGEED and ASTEROIDS. Boo to another Broke Girls clue. As for the earlier MTM comparison, at least people watched that show.

A lot of easy crosswordese, but it IS a Monday.

I cant read all of the clues and type answers in less than ~7-8 minutes, let alone if I have to pause on an answer.

RooMonster 10:20 PM  

In the spirit of @mathgemt, and today, @Anonymous 6:06
Best comment today:
@RooMonster 9:22

RooMonster Toot My Own Horn Guy

TTrimble 11:19 PM  

Nah, @Roo, you've got it all wrong.

Best comment of the day: @Roo 10:20 PM. :-D

JC66 11:27 PM  

Hey @Roo

What @TTrimble said.

albatross shell 12:37 AM  

Continuing with the POO theme.
_HIT clued as Iota.
I don't give an iota.
I don't give a S

sATER? Oh well. Glad it wasn't.

MaharajaMack 1:13 AM  

If they coulda worked in “Thong Song” the puzzle would be perfect.

MaharajaMack 1:13 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Burma Shave 12:07 PM  


ELSA is LITHE, her body TAUT,
ATEAM from SWEDEN called her HOT,
was good for THEM,


Diana, LIW 1:37 PM  

Remember those science fair volcanoes everyone made as a kid? Some could actually spew fake lava - maybe Rex has checked them out also. But I do agree that I haven't seen a CORE - cone, yes.

And while we're at it. I never can guess until it's almost too late whether we are going after DNR or RNA. Now and then it is obvious, but not often. I must get to the CORE of that problem.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 1:45 PM  

This puzzle might be the clunkiest clunker that ever clunked.

leftcoaster 2:43 PM  

Not just parts of volcanoes, but layers or elements of the Earth, including WATER. In other words, the whole schmear.

Also liked the cluster of SISQO, CINQ, PIQUE, and SQUEEGEED.

Quite a mix of stuff here, but fun to sort out.

spacecraft 6:48 PM  

Yeah, let's just call it "geology." Then you can do your cores and mantles along with your lava and magma. Ash, though, is collective when you're talking volcanoes. They do not spew ASHES. Just a helluva lot of ash.

And of all the possible COLEs there are (Songwriter Porter, Singer Nat and/or daughter Natalie just off the top of the head), do we HAVE to clue a rapper?

Kindergarten-easy, but I like the extras at the corners and the center (albeit a bad plural), plus WATER clued geologically. Give it a par.

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