Longtime Disney chief Bob / MON 9-13-21 / Turkish title of honor / Face app that creates bizarre photos / Title word sung 52 times in a 2000 hit by 'N Sync / Shades of blue used in print cartridges / German city in Ruhr Valley

Monday, September 13, 2021

Constructor: A. Tariq

Relative difficulty: Medium, maybe a little harder than the average Monday

THEME: groups — familiar terms clued (wackily, of course) as if the second word were a term for "group":

Theme answers:
  • HOUSE PARTY (17A: Group of Washington politicians?)
  • ICE PACK (29A: Group of diamond jewelry wearers?)
  • DEEP SET (47A: Group of profoundly insightful people?)
  • SEMI CIRCLE (61A: Group of big rig haulers?)
Word of the Day: AGHA (19A: Turkish title of honor) —
Agha, also Aga (Ottoman Turkishآغا‎; Persianآقا‎, romanizedāghā; "chief, master, lord"), is an honorific title for a civilian or military officer, or often part of such title, and was placed after the name of certain civilian or military functionaries in the Ottoman Empire. At the same time some court functionaries were entitled to the agha title. (wikipedia)
• • •

Ehhhh ... this felt a million years old. Also, because of the "?" nature of the theme, slightly harder than a normal Monday. HEADS-UP was the one zingy answer, but then it duplicated the "UP" from DRAG UP, so ... that kind of undoes a lot of the good of the zinginess. I WIN and I WISH intersect :( Both ESSEN and ODESSA somehow escaped from Ye Olde Booke of Crossworde Place Names holding pen. I think AGHA helped them break out. There is somehow more than one cyan? And, of course, IGER is here again for some reason. He just shows up. No one invites him, and yet no one is surprised to see him. He's just there. Like a lamp. Two of the themers are way too short—I really thought 11D (VEGETABLES) and 28D (HODGEPODGE) were going to be themers. By rights (and length / position) they should've been. They are in the same position vertically that HOUSE PARTY and SEMICIRCLE are in horizontally. And yet, not themers. But the dumb short 7-letter ICE PACK and DEEP SET somehow are themers. It's all so weird. And the clues don't reorient the meanings of the words enough to be really zany. Well, at least the HOUSE PARTY clue doesn't. You've got the "group" meaning of "party" and the "woo hoo!" meaning of "party," but making the HOUSE part Congress means you've also got the political meaning of "party" interfering with whatever wordplay you're trying to get going there. It's clunky.

I guess the theme concept is OK. I mean, it works, technically. But the results aren't exactly hilarious, and as I say, the theme material is pretty dang thin. With a theme this thin, I expect a very clean, very snazzy grid. The grid is neither of these things. Why do we clue INDIE as if it's not mainstream? It's a term that has lost all meaning and lots and lots of self-styled INDIE music is extremely mainstream (37A: Nonmainstream, as music). A pirate's treasure is BOOTY. It just is. Any answer but BOOTY (say, LOOT, for example) is only going to be disappointing (34D: Pirate's treasure). O wow this stylization of NSYNC as apostrophe "N" space "S" lowercase "ync" is so godawful (36A: Title word sung 52 times in a 2000 hit by 'N Sync) ... it's bad enough that I live in a world where NSYNC (or N*SYNC) songs are basically oldies, now you give me this alt-spelling? I am going to stop thinking about this puzzle now. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


JC66 12:13 AM  

Couldn't access the puzzle using the .puz link. I guess The Times wised up.

jae 1:11 AM  

Medium I think. I did this on an unfamiliar app so it went a tad more slowly. The downs had a bit of sparkle and the theme worked for me, liked it. Nice debut.

Frantic Sloth 1:45 AM  

Your basic easy ese-y Mondee. Simple theme and fill - good starter puzz for new solvers.

Nothing to love or hate, so....yeah. It's done.


No more .puz links - obviously why the games page was down "for maintenance" the other day. The only time that little BS message appeared in all the years I've been doing the crossword online. These people are really starting to cork my cheese.

Anonymous 2:15 AM  

An error in the puzzle today! A cruise ship is the OPPOSITE of a liner. Wikipedia, at least, agrees with me.

chefwen 2:18 AM  

You don’t have to be SMART to fill this puppy. Easiest Monday ever, a great puzzle for beginners. My only mark over was filling in a correct answer in the wrong space. Hate when I do that, and I do that a lot. Grrr.

Aside to @Carola, I needed an ICEPACK for my headache after that lousy season opener with the PACK. Quit watching at half time, ugh!

okanaganer 2:38 AM  

.puz dead... Guess it had to eventually happen. I am royally fucking pissed off with NYT. Go to H E double hockey sticks NYT!!!!

Loren Muse Smith 4:39 AM  

Rex – again, I really enjoy your writing. Loved that you had ODESSA and ESSEN escaping from that Ye Olde Booke of Crossworde Place Names holding pen. And IGER sitting there like a lamp.

Textbook Monday. It’s great that all the group names in the expressions have totally different meanings from their groupsomeness. (So say Janet Jackson, January Jones, and Janis Joplin could be J. Crew, but that “crew” probably still means a group.) Fun to think of others: Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz could form a gag order. An orchestra is an instrument panel. William Masters, Virginia Johnson, and Ruth Westheimer have their O ring.

Ok. So this is cool. Before STOMP, I was thinking “clomp” or “tromp.” Then THEN, we had LIMP. All these _ _ MP words for how you walk. In your pumps.

Face SWAP produces some really, really startling pictures. Like disturbingly startling. It’s addictive.

Made BAGELS yesterday ‘cause I’m taking in one to the dean of students who let me cry in his office because my students aren’t uploaded to Canvas from Springboard, and Springboard was my first training my first day, first wave of the tsunami of online platforms, passwords, clicks, drop-down menus, Zoom parking lots (?). . . and I have no idea how to do it and he was sooooooo kind and appropriate and helpful. Turns out he was a former math teacher at Turning Point AND he was an army ranger. So he’s eaten bugs. I asked.

I had no idea that you could call a plush toy a PLUSHY. Feels really British to me. After I change Nigel’s nappy and give him his plushy, I’m off to uni to study maths.

That someone counted the number of BYEs in that song confirms my belief that as a species (in a comfy first-world country), now that we’ve figured out how to get food and stay warm, we have a helluva a lot of spare time.

We’re starting to see lots of instructions on doors these days. I’m obsessed with whoever wrote this. Go big or go home.

Lewis 6:38 AM  

@loren -- Terrific post from top to bottom!

ESSEN in German means “to eat”, and so it is fitting that the puzzle contains BAGELS, EGG, ZITI, PASTA, VEGETABLES, and even ALASKA (as in baked).

Some tougher clues and answers for Monday mixed in with the easy no-thinks; a good HODGE PODGE for newer solvers. I love the word SINGE. That clue for OIL – [De-squeak] – made that voice inside of me that I keep trying to swat away call out, “Put de oil on de squeak!”

Thank you, A. Tariq, for a Monday puzzle in which I wasn’t on auto throughout, and WTG on your debut!

mmorgan 6:50 AM  

Wrote this last night:

Is the AcrossLite puz file now FINALLY unavailable?? So sad. Just solved in their stupid app and I spent the whole time struggling with it, I finished but I couldn’t focus on the puzzle at all. Took me at least 3-4 times longer. Yes I know I can and will get used to it but I may not bother and just cancel. AcrossLite is just so much easier on an iPad. It’s nice we had this respite but…. AUGHHHH!!!!

Oh and it looks like Puzzazz is also no longer possible either. An outrage, I tell you, an outrage! I am distraught.

Trey 6:54 AM  

I never look at the title of the puzzle before finishing - somehow missed that there was a theme. Just thought it was clever cluing. Enjoyable puzzle though

Kind of a repeat answer - TSHIRT and TEES

oceanjeremy 6:59 AM  

My fiancée solved this before I did, and called to me (almost as a warning): “This puzzle could’ve run in Highlights Magazine.”

I didn’t think it was quite that easy, but some clues were indeed appropriate for the 6-12 year-old set (the demographic for Highlights).

amyyanni 7:09 AM  

TIL about the 13 year old and the Alaskan flag. Think I'll look up the story. An okay Monday. Got me going. Good days to everyone.

TTrimble 7:14 AM  

A commenter asserts that a cruise ship is the opposite of a LINER. Hmm... I mean, there is some kind of distinction made; I wouldn't say "opposite". A LINER is built to travel oceans quickly and handle rough seas, but in some cases allow passengers to travel in style (e.g., the Titanic, or the Cunard Line). Cruise ships as such are generally designed for island hopping or other trips involving a lot of stops; they don't need to be streamlined for speed, but they can be. Some cruise ships were once called (and were indeed) liners; they came to be called cruise ships insofar as they fit the floating hotel concept. Source

So, it may not be a great clue, but some ships could be called both liners and cruise ships, so I think it accords well enough with @Joaquin's Dictum. (For some reason this nomenclatural (is that a word?) hair-splitting reminds of the Ship of Theseus problem. Was Theseus's ship the ARGO? I won't answer directly, but I'll point you here.)

LIMPS and LIMOS. We're skirting precariously close to Limu EMU.

A very straightforward medium Monday.

yd 0
td pg -4

JJK 7:14 AM  

My first (better?) thought for a bye, bye, bye song: Walking Song by Arlo Guthrie.

Son Volt 7:25 AM  

Decent enough Monday - not a lot of pushback or flair. Liked HODGEPODGE and learning about ALASKA. Didn’t like PLUSHY x OKEY or the entire SW corner. Agree with Rex that INDIE has normalized into its own.

Enjoyable, straightforward solve.

pabloinnh 7:31 AM  

Well this may have been easy for you art history majors, but I lost an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out _____ Lisa and Artist Vincent Van _____. Slow down, coach.

Ha ha, just kidding. The only themer that I gave the side eye to was DEEPSET. I suppose you could have a DEEP SET of something, but I'm only familiar with the adjectival use of the term, as in "deep set eyes". Live and learn.

I also confess to never (hi @bocamp) having used Face SWAP. I have drawn moustaches on photos though.

Nice entry-level Mondecito, AT. Congrats on a debut which was not quite and Artistic Triumph but was pleasant enough. Thanks for the fun.

kitshef 7:33 AM  

DRAG UP is a debut in the NYT crossword. I, for one, could have gone a bit longer without it. Especially with HEADS UP in the grid, too.

Is there any reason IGER/GENY/LINER was considered superior to IDES/DENY/LINES?

ICE PACK/ALASKA/OIL/SHORES/LOOT seems like the core of a story about the Arctic NWR.

SouthsideJohnny 7:46 AM  

I was pretty much sailing along in potentially record time and then . . . PLUSHY crossing DEEP SET. Never heard of a PLUSHY, and to further complicate what was up until then a plug and chug Monday, I didn’t know how to spell OKEY (considered most of the other permutations as well. - Okie, Okee, . . . ). I haven’t bothered looking up Plushy, so I don’t know if it’s a brand name or a generic term for some fuzzy nonsense (I don’t want to utilize precious brain cells trying to remember it for next time).

Not a fan of DAHL crossing AGHA on a Monday (actually not a fan of PPP crossing a foreign word on any day, lol).

Lobster11 7:58 AM  

I think some of y'all have forgotten what it was like to be a beginner, and how much crosswordese you've learned over time. As a beginner I would have been completely befuddled by the DAHL/AGHA cross; indeed, "H" would have been my 26th guess for that crossing square. I would also have struggled to come up with ESSEN, ODESSA, and maybe IGER.

bocamp 7:58 AM  

Thx A. Tariq, for the excellent 'groupy' puz. to start the week off with.

Med. solve.

Moved smoothly clockwise from the NW, ending up at T SHIRT.

On review, noticed I had MON for MES at 4D; fixed that and corrected a typo at AMT for ANT, and Bob was my uncle.

Speaking of Van GOGH: currently watching, 'Vincent: The Full Story' on Knowledge Network

Liked the theme and enjoyed the solve.

yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Crozier 7:58 AM  

FYI, Rex: inkjet printers often have two shades of cyan (and magenta), so “CYANS” is a legit answer.

Sarah Palin 8:28 AM  

OIL under ALASKA. "Drill, Baby, Drill!!"

Ω 9:02 AM  

Both Rex and @Muse comment on a clue I didn’t even see. Such is Monday. Do we have a term, yet, for the ratio of words in the clue to the number of letters in the answer? I nominate calling it the N*Sync. Today’s N*Sync was 12:3, for a 4.

Personally, if I want some pop music I’m going The New Pornographers or maybe Guster. But Bye Bye Bye is pretty good.

@Lobster11 - I agree. The kind of fill where non-crossword people wonder how anyone knows so much arcana and we all know the answer is something like “useful letters.”

Hand up for thinking there needs to be a single shade of CYAN for a color printer to work properly. I can think of many ways to pluralize CYAN, but color printing ain’t it.

Nancy 9:06 AM  

A cute theme and a minimum of junk, marred by a lot of on-the-nose cluing. Now what do you think is the lowest pair in poker? "___Lisa" wasn't easy enough? You had to mention Leonardo da Vinci too?

I always wonder if a puzzle that's slated for a Monday gets dumbed down by the editor? Because there are some attempts to make the clues interesting: about ALASKA (33A) for example. And that funny clue for BYE (36A): remind me, btw, not to listen to that song.

What can I say? It's Monday again.

Tom T 9:12 AM  

LMS, you brighten my morning each day.

Lewis 9:21 AM  

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

1. Word that rhymes with its exact opposite (3)
2. Stay-at-homes? (6)
3. Cause for alarm? (7)
4. It's often left on the table (4)
5. It may run from an emotional situation (7)


bocamp 9:32 AM  

Speaking of BAGELs (hi @LMS), I've been shorted on my BAGEL orders lately. Uncle G points to articles explaining why. English muffins will have to suffice.

@TTrimble (7:14 AM) 👍 for 0 yd

@pabloinnh (7:31 AM)

LOL, ok I'm sold; 'never' has its apt applications, so it's likely I'll never ever say "never say never" to you again. I might say, "it's never too late", but even that has its contradictions. ;-)

pg -6

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

RooMonster 9:37 AM  

Hey All !
Okay, what's up with the constructors name, A. Tariq? If he/she can use just A., why can't CC use her CC? She should write to Will, saying anymore, her puzs have to say CC Burnikel. /Justice for CC 🙂

Agree kind of a strange puz. Could be cause there's no Revealer, which led my ever shrinking brain cells to not catch the theme. Didn't concentrate enough, apparently. Gonna agree with @Anoa before he even posts that puz was POC-marked. Even though that normally doesn't bother me.

Surprised the KENYA clue passed muster for the NYT. Just sayin.

The IWIN/IWISH star cluster of IWI/IWI is kinda neat.

Har on your counting of 'N Sync's BYEs. Who goes counting inconsequential things? 😉😂

One F

Unknown 9:43 AM  

why is a group of truckers called a semicircle

Hartley70 9:47 AM  

I tore through this in record Monday time with no reference to the theme, so I give it an easy rating. I was, however, completely charmed by the center entry ALASKA. Wave that flag you dwellers in the Land of the Midnight Sun! That young fellow did a stellar job.

Jennielap 9:48 AM  

Pretty easy, altho I wanted Dredge instead of Drag for a bit. I didn’t get the theme at all. Figured it was themeless, hence the word Hodgepodge.

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Their rigs are called semi's. Circle as in circle of friends or colleagues.

Joaquin 9:57 AM  

Memo to @Whatsername: As was noted in a recent puzzle, "PHEW". Or perhaps "whew", with the "W" as in "win".

rjkennedy98 10:02 AM  

I actually liked ICE PACK the best. It made me think of Gucci Mane and his ridiculous diamond ice cream cone necklace. My only snag was that I put down DEEP NET before DEEP SET. Very easy rating for me.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Agree this was mostly very easy -- though too much crosswordese for a beginner.

Hated the cross of OKEY with PLUSHY. I've never heard of the latter. The former I had clued like it always is "OKIE". "PLUSHE" seemed as reasonable as any other answer. Couldn't be bothered to try any and every letter combo to close out the puzzle, so just gave up on that dumb one.

Agree with others that this shouldn't have HEADSUP and DRAGUP in the same puzzle. Weird.

And not only do I not think INDIE is still relevant as the opposite of mainstream, but I don't think it ever was. The opposite of mainstream is "ALT" or "ALTERNATIVE". Indie is just a genre, like rock or rap - and of which can be mainstream. That's how it's always been.

Fine puzzle, but not very joyful.

Whatsername 10:24 AM  

Well I liked this just fine. It was a solid Monday theme and grid, not too DEEP, and there’s not a thing wrong with that. A person brand new to solving crosswords should be able to TEE this UP and hit the green with the first swing. My congratulations to the constructor on a very nicely done debut.

My only complaint was that none of the answers I wanted for “group of Washington politicians“ would fit the space allowed.

Carola 10:26 AM  

I thought this was a superb Monday, combining a novice-friendly grid with an unusually creative take on a word-repurposing theme. I was surprised at @Rex's cavils at ICEPACK and DEEPSET because of their length - I'd say the fun is more in the wit of the meaning change than in the number of spaces it occupies.

@chefwen 2:18. Yeah, brutal. We dealt with it by watching Badger volleyball, as #2 Wisconsin polished off Marquette in 3 sets - after they defeated current national champions Kentucky on Friday. Way more fun.

@mmorgan 6:50 - I also solve on an iPad and have been using Puzzazz. I agree with you completely about the NYT app. We get the daily paper, so I'll revert to the folded up Arts section and a pencil.

GILL I. 10:37 AM  

I was puzzled by this puzzle but it's Monday. A group puzzle and everyone gets to sing Kumbaya.
Do we have to cater to just newbies? No? Well, we do have MONA and GOGH and AGHA which no one will get.
I actually like Mondays because I always find something to have a little fun with. I can't find anything to play with today. A BAGEL? So blah unless you slather it with blather.

Dan 10:40 AM  

Face swapping twins:


Joseph Michael 10:53 AM  

Liked the themers, especially SEMICIRCLE, but would have liked a revealer of some kind to hold this GROUP of groups together.

I WIN seems to be showing up a lot lately . Not sure if this reflects an UPbeat mood or a DEEPSET insecurity.

Group of workers working

Group of airheads

* Busy body
* Vacant lot

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

have to agree. an ocean LINER is a boat, and so is a cruise ship, and so is a canoe, but they ain't all the same thing. a few ex-LINERs ended their sailing lives as cruise ships; the Queens come to mind; the SS France and SS United States, too IIRC. the main difference, from a naval architectural point of view, is the height-to-draft ratio and LINERs had visible external keels and radiused bottom to side, while cruise ships are as flatbottomed as a Mississippi river boat from 1865. LINERs have much shorter ratios than cruise ships, i.e. they've more boat under water. it could be that with so much of the very tall current crop of cruise ships being aluminum superstructure surrounding vast open space ("village center" and such) a few decks above the water line, that short draft is allowed by whatever body regulates navel architecture. I've been on a cruise (not my idea, of course) that skirted an Atlantic hurricane. not anything like the teeVee ads.

OTOH, one of the sciency channels runs a series called "Somethingorother Cruise Ships", and in a few episodes cross winds have been a concern for the Captain. ya think?

The Cleaver 11:00 AM  

What???? Where are the birthers??? Make my day.

mathgent 11:03 AM  

I used to get annoyed when a no-brainer like this was published. I thought that if we all complained about puzzles like this, Shortz would listen and make Mondays more fun. But we don't want to do that. We just accept it.

Nancy's suspicion is correct. The editors do dumb down early-weekers. Constructors sometimes mention it when they comment on Jeff Chen.

So I'm accepting it, too. It's not the most boring few minutes I spend all day and it gives me entree our little playground.

Malsdemare 11:10 AM  

And the funniest lines award is a tie! "Just sitting there. Like a lamp." Vs. Loren's avatar.

I DNFd at IGER/GENY. For reasons I cannot explain, I simply failed to see the whole GEN Y thing. I'm a dope. The rest was easy-peasy so the fail is that much harder to swallow. The whole ICEPACK over ALASKA sitting on top of OIL wrecking the SHORES was pretty fricking mind-blowing. Ya' think that was intentional?

Loren, every time I talk to a teacher, I am swamped by my feelings of a)relief I'm retired and b) awe at the challenges they are facing and conquering. You're all just amazing.

Frantic Sloth 11:13 AM  

@Loren 439am OMSBJ* Another gem from you. (And that door sign leaves my 80HD appreciation in the dust!) Haven't used Face SWAP, but have you tried Talking Pet? Someone I used to know whenever tried it that one time and lost a day. So I've heard.

*O My Sweet Baby Jesus (for those going straight to hell)

Pssst. Math people. Do you all eat bugs? Could explain a lot.

Oh, I kid the math people! ❤️

@TTrimble 714am Only glanced at your "Theseus" link (for now). And of course I'm left wondering if Al Gore would keep that Pace U Museum piece in a Locke's Socks paradox lock box. Thanks for that.

*** Just In Case Alert ***

To everyone:
As ever, please assume the presence of a winky face next to everything I say.

Trey 11:27 AM  

A circle of semi trucks

egsforbreakfast 11:28 AM  

I don’t have anything of use to add about the puzzle. If you want something good, just re-read the entry by LMS, and be sure to check out her avatar.

But having DENIAL (50D) in the grid brought to mind an old joke that still tickles me. It circulated when Nixon visited Egypt during the days of the Watergate investigation. It involves an imagined scene at his outdoor press conference near the famous river.

American Reporter: Mr. President, we’re you involved in Watergate?
Nixon: I know nothing about Watergate
Italian Reporter: is that a denial?
Nixon: Of course that’s a the Nile, we’re in Egypt.

Groans cheerfully accepted.

jae 11:32 AM  

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #644 was medium on the Croce scale for me or approximately equal to a tough NYT Saturday. Good luck!

Joaquin 11:41 AM  

@LMS - "Vacant Lot". FTW!

Nancy 11:48 AM  

@Mals -- It's even worse than you think when the school staff apparently needs to be educated at least as much as the students. Loren's link today to the "Management Sign" at her school would be the funniest thing on the blog if it weren't also so appalling and so incredibly sad. Because it's not just the mistake of the one person who wrote it and pasted it up; it's also on all the other school administrators and teachers who read it and didn't take it down because they failed to notice anything wrong. The whole thing is mind-boggling.

TTrimble 11:50 AM  

@Frantic Sloth
Bless Pace University's heart. An affordable alternative for Connecticut boys and girls, and they even had a (now defunct) Museum of Philosophy! Keep chuggin' along, PU! Maybe that museum will one day funct again.

Your quip reminds me of Elaine.

Whatsername 11:51 AM  

@Joaquin: No kidding! The KC Cardiac Kids strike again. See my avatar. 😄 Wasn’t as pretty as I’d hoped but it’s a W and I’ll take it.

Mike Lindell 11:51 AM  

@The Cleaver. Yes, thanks for reminding me about that. I have in my possession the original Kenyan birth certificate that absolutely proves Obama was born there. It's in the same safe where I keep my documents proving the 2020 election was stolen. I know what's going on. Please buy a pillow. I am not nuts and I was never a cokehead. I can prove that, too. I also know all the places where the Dems are satanically eating babies. Sounds crazy but I've seen it. Please buy fine Egyptian cotton sheets. Oh, my head hurts. Gotta go.

P.S. I'll soon be announcing the new reinstatement date for Pres. Trump. I'm having problems with the horoscopes. Oh my god, I hope I'm not hallucinating again. I really gotta go.

Corny Teen 12:04 PM  

St Vitus Dance Group?

Circle Jerk.


Beezer 12:12 PM  

@mmorgan and Carola, are you using the actual NYT app or are you using whatever the crappy platform is that you get through from the NYT puzzle website? It is NOT the same as the separate NYT app which you access through touching an icon. I access all the other games though their website but not the daily crossword. I have an iPad also.

mathgent 12:14 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Loren (4:39)
TTrimble (7:14)

Douglas 12:15 PM  

Umm - the f word but can’t spell out hell?

Barbara S. 12:19 PM  

I liked it but it didn’t blow me away. I didn’t particularly notice the theme while solving, but I thought it was entertaining when I looked over the puzzle afterwards.

I liked the bluntness of some the clues/answers:
Rewards for early birds: WORMS
Old MacDonald had one: FARM
“You lose”: I WIN

Interesting about the ALASKA flag. I have an ALASKA flag bandana, bought as a souvenir in Fairbanks a number of years ago. I’m glad to know the story behind it. I was hoping the “De-squeak” answer was going to have something to do with mice (but then I guess it would’ve been the destruction of mice, so maybe best as it was). Hand up for pirates’ treasure being “booty” and bad memories being “dredged” UP. I looked up OSS, never having heard of the Office of Strategic Services, a wartime agency with a short life (3 years and 3 months) and a lasting legacy (the CIA).

Last night I thought up these “brilliant” themers and then this morning realized that they don’t fit the pattern of the puzzle because they mostly don’t change the meaning of the second word. But I’ll post them anyway because I’m perverse.

Kids climbing trees: SPLINTER GROUP

And an outlier:
Post-surgical patients: CUT CLASS

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Before planes utterly took over transatlantic travel, The Blue Riband was a big deal for ocean liners. I think the current holder is the same as it was in 1952. The SS United States crossed from NY to Le Havre in 3 days and 10 hours besting the Queen Mary's time set in the late `30s.
It's now little more than husk, docked in Philly rusting away. It's actually a sad sight. And a pity, because it has beautiful lines.

bocamp 12:28 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith (4:39 AM)

Gotta love that 'corn teen'. 😂

@jae (11:32 AM)

Thx, looking forward to it. :)

@Whatsername (11:51 AM)

Among other things, I'm in awe of those sidearm passes! 🏈


Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Whatsername 12:37 PM  

If you didn’t happen to notice @Loren Muse Smith’s avatar this morning, take a moment to take a look. Absolutely priceless.

Unknown 1:50 PM  

If not my fastest Monday ever, within 20 seconds of it . . . . .
I thought the theme was just fine, but it was sort of funny/sad to read rex grumbling about it . . . . .

old timer 1:51 PM  

A fine, fast Monday, just as it should be. (And I too wondered why the constructor is allowed to go just by an initial instead of a first name).

OBAMA is quite properly identified with Kenya. His father was from Kenya, and Obama's first book was "Dreams from my Father", a memoir inspired by his father's tragic death, though that was some time after his parents separated, and much of the memoir deals with his childhood in Hawaii. Obama was not born in Kenya, of course, but he was quite literally our first African-American President. (Side note: His mother's roots can be traced back to a little town in Ireland, which sparked a wonderful song, "There's No One as Irish as Barack Obama").

As always, a fine story from our Muse. She has a very understanding Principal.

Frantic Sloth 2:04 PM  

@Barbara S 1219pm Not to be a nag or anything, but when are you going to start constructing crosswords? Grab a partner (if you need one) and do it already! 😊

Malsdemare 3:03 PM  

@Nancy, I love Loren's tales of her school. But the management sign wasn't at her school. It’s an internet/facebook thing that's gone viral. Thank god; I don't want us thinking ill of Loren's school.

Ω 3:17 PM  

@Mondays are too Easy - BEQ does a hard Monday just about every week, The New Yorker’s hardest puzzle is on Monday, Stella Zawistowski puts out a challenge every couple of weeks, and there’s a regular Croce to challenge you.

Ω 3:19 PM  

Oops - fucked up the Croce link. Going to H E double toothpicks for sure, now.

Joe Dipinto 3:22 PM  

Sequel to themer #1 (even though I know this doesn't work):

• Group of Washington politicians after eating extra-spicy food?


Nancy 3:41 PM  

@Mals -- WHEW! Also PHEW! Glad I misread it.

JC66 4:22 PM  


Thanks for the Croce link.

SharonAk 4:27 PM  

@Carola 10:26
Agree with your first paragraph, especially about the wit rather than the length.

Am surprised several thought Agha was too hard for Monday. Maybe because I'm more ancient than them. In my youth the Agha Khan was in the news frequently. Didn't then know about Turkey, but the word comes easily to mind with a letter or two from crosses.
And Roald Dahls children's books were after my childhood, but they are famous and widely read.
@ Loren Enjoyed your Brit one: "After I change Nigel’s nappy and give him his plushy, I’m off to uni to study maths".
Spot On. Is that a Brit speak too? After 41 years of being married to a Brit some things are just absorbed so I can't tell.

Joaquin 5:11 PM  

@Whatsername - Great avatar (which I have already stolen!). Also, I learned a new word today from the KC Star, one which I hope will appear in a crossword soon:

Scorigami - When a game has a particular score for the first time.

iamjess 6:10 PM  

As the forum's resident Alaskan, of course I am tickled at the shoutout to our flag. We Alaskans are really, REALLY into our flag. As in, the lyrics to the Alaska Flag Song are as well-known as the National Anthem (and are painted on a mural in downtown Anchorage). The municipal flower baskets lining the streets of Anchorage are in the flag colors. Benny Benson, the 13-year old who designed it, has street names and schools named after him. Again, we are really, REALLY into our flag.

"Eight stars of gold on a field of blue,
Alaska's flag, may it mean to you..."

Anoa Bob 6:15 PM  

I understand that ICE is an olde timey slang for diamonds but calling people who wear diamond jewelry a PACK makes no sense to me. I don't care how wide you stretch the Venn Diagram Circle for PACK, I don't see it overlapping the one for "diamond wearers" anywhere, not even close. I thought the other themers were a stretch but that ICE PACK was a stretch too far. I'm both surprised that it made the cut for a NYTXW and that I'm apparently the only one in crossword land who feels that way.

POCs? The grid had a slew,
More than enough to make mention.
Rather than just a few,
It needs a POC intervention

TTrimble 6:20 PM  

Oh, TTrimble, you dum-dum. Pace University is in Westchester County, NY. It;s not far from CT, but my last comment was written with Post University in mind, which is in Waterbury, CT. Durf! :$

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

Post University in mind, which is in Waterbury, CT

if God needed to give the world an enema, he'd stick the tube in Waterbury. and Post, not that many years ago, was just a junior college making secretaries. same with Bay Path in Spfld. (well... they say Longmeadow today) my hometown.

Carola 8:27 PM  

@Beezer 12:12 - Thank you! After being shut out of Puzzazz, I thought my only way to the puzzle was through the NYTimes app, i.e., the one for the whole newspaper - I didn't realize that there's a separate NYTimes crossword app. I just downloaded it, and it looks to be much better; for one thing, I was able to enlarge the font size of the clues so that I can easily read them (on the games page in the Times app they are tiny and faint). I'll give it a try with tomorrow's puzzle.

TTrimble 8:47 PM  

It would be wonderful if "corn teen" could be seen as an eggcorn, a term coined by the linguist Geoffrey Pullum, whose ultimate origin was a mishearing of "acorn".

The fantastic thing about "eggcorn" is its plausibility in context: fancifully, an acorn is a kind of "egg" that can germinate to form an oak, and the "corn" suggests that it's a kind of hardened thickened egg. I believe that accidental plausibility is a necessary condition to be a true eggcorn in the linguist's sense. For another example, consider Alzheimer's disease misheard as "old timer's disease".

Try as I might, I can't see how "corn teen" could be a true eggcorn. Dang!

td 0

Anonymous 9:23 PM  

Are you ok?

TTrimble 9:59 PM  

So the context-free question of 9:23 PM leaves me wondering whether I should respond, but in case it needs saying, the "corn teen" of 8:47PM refers to an earlier post of @Loren Muse Smith which links to photos showing how the word "quarantine" is being rendered (and presumably heard) as "corn teen". And this reminded me of the linguistic concept of "eggcorn". Follow the links to find out more.

I think my other comments should be easy to understand. And yes, I'm doing really well -- thanks for asking. :-)

CDilly52 10:03 PM  

@LMS: what Tom T said! Thanks.

CDilly52 10:07 PM  

@Lewis- not only did I enjoy ESSEN and the food answers, but every time I see ESSEN, I long for a constructor to juxtapose the German verb and its food objects against the German verb frESSEN, which is the verb “to eat” for animals (non-human ones) with things a zookeeper might feed the residents. Raw meat fir the big cats and tons of sweet potatoes for the elephants and so forth.

CDilly52 10:13 PM  

@Lewis Re favorite clues. Spot on, my friend! My personal favorite was stay-at-homes because I did not need that clue or even read it apparently, and when finished glanced at BANDBS and saw BAND BS but when I did not get the “you aren’t done” notification just let it go and went in my merry way scratching my head. I was cooking dinner late that day and had one of those embarrassing head slapping “you idiot!!!!” moments when the words up in the ether separated themselves into B AND B. Great chuckle.

CDilly52 10:17 PM  

To true, @Nancy. All the years I worked with lovely, dedicated elected county officials here in very rural Oklahoma and I was constantly dismayed (and occasionally depressed) at the ooor quality of education demonstrates by these good folks’ written and oral communication. And they all praise their tiny rural school systems.

CDilly52 10:21 PM  

Can’t believe it is so late and I am just getting down to checking in and posting. As a Monday, I thought this was more interesting and fun and contained less cause fir eye rolling and heavy sighs than many Mondays.

Speaking of grammar and communication, why the hell does the stupid auto-error not know how to use apostrophes?

Until tomorrow. . .

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

What horrible things did that family do to you?
Nothing? I thought so.
Think for yourself.

Anonymous 10:53 PM  

@Anon 10:21

If you don't know, I ain't gonna tell ya.

Anonymous 10:56 PM  

@ The Cleaver
The mods won't allow anti-liberal anything (as neither will you)

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

@Anon 10:53
You Can't tell me, because the answer is - Nothing

Alex 6:05 PM  

Not happy AT ALL about not being able to solve in Puzzazz. It is definitely my preferred way to solve! I don’t know to whom I should complain. I want the puzzle to work in Puzzazz!

kitshef 10:56 PM  

@Alex 6:05 - there is a way. Email me if you want more info.

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