Big name in DVD rental kiosks / MON 10-11-21 / Command to the helmsman from Jean-Luc Picard / German river to North Sea / Opening of an article, in journalism lingo

Monday, October 11, 2021

Constructor: Ben Pall

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: blank IT OR blank IT — four phrases that follow that pattern:

Theme answers:
  • TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT (17A: "This is my final offer")
  • LOVE IT OR HATE IT (25A: Like something that's polarizing)
  • MOVE IT OR LOSE IT (43A: "Get out of the way!")
  • MAKE IT OR BREAK IT (57A: Having no middle ground between success and failure)
Word of the Day: Muriel BOWSER (49A: D.C. mayor Muriel) —

Muriel Elizabeth Bowser (born August 2, 1972) is an American politician serving as the eighth mayor of the District of Columbia since 2015. A member of the Democratic Party, she previously represented Ward 4 as a member of the Council of the District of Columbia from 2007 to 2015. She is the second female mayor of the District of Columbia after Sharon Pratt, and the first woman to be reelected to that position.

Elected to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission in 2004, Bowser was elected to the council in a special election in 2007, to succeed Adrian Fenty, who had been elected Mayor. She was reelected in 2008 and 2012 and ran for mayor in the 2014 election. She defeated incumbent mayor Vincent C. Gray in the Democratic primary and won the general election against three Independent and two minor party candidates with 55% of the vote. In 2018, she won a second term with 76% of the vote. (wikipedia)

• • •

Only vaguely noticed the theme as I was solving, just enough to have an OK idea of the phrase structure, which turned out to be the whole theme, so maybe my sense of the theme was more than vague after all. Anyway, there's not a lot there, and the four theme phrases are not equally strong, by any means. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT and MOVE IT OR LOSE IT are unimpeachable, solid, just fine. LOVE IT OR HATE IT starts to skid a little, as it doesn't seem as snappy, and anyway, if I hear "LOVE IT OR..." my brain is completing that phrase with the admittedly horrid but nonetheless stronger ending, "... LEAVE IT," which, of course, you've already used in the "TAKE IT..." answer. But I'm happy to let LOVE IT OR HATE IT stand. It's MAKE IT OR BREAK IT that feels all kinds of off. There are "make-or-break" situations, but you would not use the phrase MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. No you would not. If you google "make or break," you see that it's an honest-to-god idiomatic adjectival phrase, defined by many different sites on the first page of hits, whereas if you google "MAKE IT OR BREAK IT," the only hits you get relate to a short-lived TV show about gymnastics from roughly a decade ago. So the TV show title is skewing the results massively, in terms of total hits, but *all* those hits refer to the TV show, not the phrase as it might be (but definitely is not) used in normal everyday conversation. You're better off ditching the wobbly MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, giving your grid mirror symmetry* rather than rotational symmetry, and making your fourth themer USE IT OR LOSE IT (a very very real thing that is conspicuous in its absence today).
This felt easy, though there were a lot of places where I hesitated or at least screwed up my face with a "really?" expression. I always hear / use "STOP *and* GO" traffic, so I didn't feel that great / confident writing in STOPGO (6D: Halting, as rush-hour traffic). There was a HAIR ___ and an ART ___, neither of which was instantly clear to me, and I have friends who work for RED HAT, so I knew the DVD kiosks weren't called that, but I went with something that sounded kinda like that, which is RED DOT. But the answer is RED BOX. Huh. I've seen those kiosks a ton, never really registered what it was that was RED. The kiosks are red, that's for sure. But BOX, sure, OK, I just used crosses to figure it out (45D: Big name in DVD rental kiosks). Would not have been able to answer Muriel BOWSER off the top of my head, but I have heard of her, so crosses got me there. Haven't watched network TV for years and years, so I'm only vaguely aware of who celebrity judges are on the various pointless awful talent shows that "American Idol" bequeathed to the world. I know Adam LEVINE as the lead singer of "Maroon 5." As a TV judge, not so much (10D: Adam ___, longtime panelist on "The Voice"). I also had -AL- at 39A: Lip service? and wrote in TALK. Seemed right. It wasn't (it's BALM). As you can see, that's a lot of rough patches for a Monday. But the rest of it was so easy that the rough patches hardly seemed to matter. Easy-peasy. I neither loved it nor hated it, though I did kinda hate MAKE IT OR BREAK IT. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*I realize now that mirror symmetry wouldn't work with 14s in a 15-wide grid—all themers would have to be centered, and you can't center 14s unless the grid itself is an even number, 14 or greater. Not sure you can get a 15, two 14s, and a 13 (USE IT OR LOSE IT) to work out symmetrically in a daily-sized grid. Not these ones, anyway. Nonetheless, USE IT OR LOSE IT remains a painful absence, and MAKE IT OR BREAK IT remains simply painful.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 12:10 AM  

Lately I've been doing the puzzle without looking at the byline until finished, and I've tried to guess whether it's a veteran constructor or a beginner at the helm.
What does it say that I'm batting close to (if not actually) 1.000 so far?

For instance, today is a pretty straightforward Mondee with a basic, yet tight theme. It's easy enough for the newbie without being a total pushover to keep us old folks engaged.

And all this done without a crap ton of PPP, which was all fairly crossed.
Recognized the mark of experience before the halfway point.

So, what does all this mean? Not a damned thing, but it interests me, and isn't that what really counts in the end?

Hello? [cavernous echo]


Rex suggests USE IT OR LOSE IT in place of MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, but that would be duplicating MOVE IT OR LOSE IT.
I get his point, but it didn't bother me.

egsforbreakfast 1:28 AM  

MAKEITORBREAKIT did seem a little stretched, but OKAY in the context. ROE crossing SEX was fittingly lascivious after just encountering the juxtaposed ONES UNIT at 11D and 12D.

On the whole, a niceMondat by Ben Pall.

Trey 2:12 AM  

Did not know BOWSER at all, and BAAL was a reach deep in the memory banks. That made this seem harder for a Monday than @Rex rated it

STOPGO made me think of Squid Game, and then we had REDBOX. Only needed a green answer to complete the image

Liked the RBG reference (SEX) cross (with ROE. Seemed fitting

chefwen 2:23 AM  

Fun, little Monday puzzle, enjoyed it. Easy with a wee bit of crunch. I’ve always heard use IT OR LOSE IT, not MOVE IT. That gave me pause, or as @Frantic would say “paws”.

Has anyone used one EYE DROP to help their vision? I pretty much need two.

I’m sure there are many physically fit DAD’s that will not be happy with 52A. I guess that’s where MOVE IT OR LOSE IT comes into play.

jae 3:51 AM  

Mediumish. Did not know BOWSER and TULSI was a faint memory from the primaries. I also had to go back and fix some fat finger typos so this was not a smooth Monday solve for me (there may have been pre dinner drinks involved). Fun theme, liked it.

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #652 was pretty tough. Good luck!

...oh and I’m still staring at the last 4+ empty squares of the Stella Z. puzzle

Loren Muse Smith 4:14 AM  

At least twice I looked at the top to double check the date. This played Wednesdayishly for me, no matter that I got the trick pretty early.

What @Trey said – liked ROE crossing SEX (as clued), and, yeah, that southwest corner was tough; it actually delivered my dnf. I couldn’t remember BAAL, either, and didn’t know BOWSER or NEWSIES, so I guessed “Newbies” /Dowber/ Daal. BAAL is such crosswordese that I feel a bit ashamed. Trey, you should too. Love ya, man, mwah.

Speaking of which, “kiss” before BALM. Then “buss.”

Cool to have TIO under SAM.

And MOVE IT OR LOSE IT crossing TOILET. Ahem. It’s an age thing, and you better heed the “that’s my CUE” signal, buddy. (That clue for TOILET has me reconsidering W.C. Fields’ name.)

@chefwen – good point on the eye DROP. I have to say just one works for me, though.

TIE is superfluous for the “ponytail necessity.” Sometimes I wish I had enough HAIR for a jaunty little ponytail. Bad hair day? No problem. I’ll just throw my luxuriant mane up into a thick ponytail and get on with my business. Sigh.

This has probably been talked about before, but I dunno, men seem to be pretty good-natured about the term DAD BOD. I can’t imagine any woman cheerfully accepting mom bod.

I love the verb TABLE. At a meeting, an issue can be tabled by the chair. Hah.

Gotta go overthink the lesson plan for my first observation day after tomorrow.

PS – PSA: just a reminder that the A, E, I, O, U (and sometimes Y) are simply the letters for VOWELS. English has anywhere between 14 and 20 VOWEL sounds, depending on your dialect. Follow me for other phonological fun facts.

oconomowoc 4:46 AM  

I was surprised by the clue "Like something that's polarizing" since all four theme answers appear to be "polarizing". I always thought that word meant gravitating to either of two opposite sides.

NB 5:21 AM  

Easy except the SW was really difficult - BOWSER, NEWSIES, BAAL and EARLE made it really tough and not easy to guess.

Conrad 5:41 AM  

@chefwen, @LMS: I only have one eye that works and I often only use one EYE DROP.

Lewis 5:45 AM  

I’m going to wax philosophical for a moment.

Every person has two sides, one that is the same from birth to death, and one that is different every second. The same side is that person’s tone, the feel you get from that person that is different from everyone else, that makes that person themself. The different side reflects age, inner growth, mood, what that person is going through – making that person every moment someone they never were before..

The NYT crossword has these two sides as well. The same side reflects the overarching feel, one of innovation, high quality, and focus on excellence, while the different side, well, each day brings a sparkling new puzzle, and over time, these puzzles evolve, add new emphases and tricks.

We here mainly focus on the different side, the puzzle of the day. But let us not forget that other side, how good these puzzles are overall, how obvious it is that great energy and effort went into each one, that there is a constant effort to not only please, but also lead the solver. The Times puzzle feels different from that of other publishers, and it stands out in a good way.

Let us not forget the gift that we hold here. We are fortunate indeed.

Lewis 6:29 AM  

I liked the casual feel of the given names scattered about – HAL, CATE, MEG, and SAM – and I especially liked the final column with its two semordnilaps (EMIT and STEP) plus a palindrome (TAT, and the puzzle has two more, TOOT and ESE).

This is an excellent puzzle for new solvers, one they will solve but still have to put some effort into, so they will feel not only successful, but hungry for more.

Thank you, Ben, for easing me into the solving week ahead with a puzzle that filled in quickly but still had enough answers (AKIRA, ANISE, FARSI, BAAL, STOP GO, and BHAT) to ENGAGE me. Thumbs up!

Son Volt 7:06 AM  

Cute theme - clunky fill. Not as smooth as the better early week puzzles. Don’t have an issue with MAKE IT OR BREAK IT - although I think the common usage is just MAKE OR BREAK. Taylor will add “move it or shake it.” Couple of double VOWEL words - BAAL, KEEL, STEEP, TOOT. Other than the great EARLE and WOO atop SEX - not too much flash here.

Enjoyable Monday solve.

kitshef 7:40 AM  

Have never heard MAKE IT OR BREAK IT used as a phrase, but it was easy enough to fill in.

There is this thing on sports radio where it seems like every show has to have some kind of ___ it or ___ it segment. They all want to stand out so they all use different words, as though the words you choose for the segment will hide the fact that they are ripping off everyone else. Love it or shove it, like it or hike it, like it or lump it, etc.

Zwhatever 7:49 AM  

Two are stand alone, need no other word phrases. Two are not. LOVE IT OR HATE IT and MAKE IT OR BREAK IT both need a “you either” in front of them. Or a reduction to get the in the language phrase, MAKE OR BREAK and LOVE/HATE. So the theme doesn’t quite cohere.

Team Easy here. So much so that I didn’t realize NEWSIES was in the puzzle until reading about it here. BA’AL was a gimme, good Dutch Reformed boy that I am. I particularly enjoy this passage from the Wikipedia article: The word's biblical senses as a Phoenician deity and false gods generally were extended during the Protestant Reformation to denote any idols, icons of the saints, or the Catholic Church generally. Heh heh, nothing better than calling people of different religions the spawn of Satan, is there? I wonder if BA’AL has ever been to Guitar Town. I also have to wonder if those of you who do not own any Steve EARLE albums had an issue with that crossing A, though. MEG Ryan, Steve EARLE, and BA’AL… What were you saying about PPP, @Frantic Sloth? That corner is a wee bit of a cluster.

I think DAD BOD is frequently a compliment. Still in shape just not obsessively so. Still attractive, but with more going on in life than spending three hours a day in the gym followed by three hours of grooming.

I don’t know about this STOP GO, thing. I have only ever heard it as STOP and GO traffic. But I also avoided anything resembling a long commute most of life, so hardly an expert. I would occasionally have to make a trek to Lansing for some meeting or the other, and so would be cruising at 80 while the people heading into work would be crawling along in bumper to bumper traffic and I would wonder “is it really worth it?” Me, my commutes were between 7 and 11 minutes.

Decent Monday puzzle.

SouthsideJohnny 7:58 AM  

Interesting - to me it seemed like a Monday-level (easy) puzzle with Weds or Thursday-level trivia (BAHT, BAAL, BOWSER, the TV Host, and TULSI ?) - which could obviously just be a wheelhouse thing, but they don’t all seem like household names for sure. Look to CATE Blanchett if you want Monday-appropriate PPP - even AKIRA can get a pass today as it’s not so much PPP anymore - it’s more crosswordese like OTT, the ALOU’s and even Ernie ELS to borrow from the sports world - I’m sure a lot of people don’t know or care who they are, but recognize the names cuz they pretty much appear all the time.

mmorgan 8:05 AM  

I’m still in pain from the absence of USE IT OR LOSE IT. Otherwise, a pleasant Monday.

The Joker 8:05 AM  

One day aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Commander/first officer Will Riker and Lt. Commander Deanna Troi approached Captain Jean-Luc Picard to inform him that they intended to marry. To which he responded, "ENGAGE!".

Zwhatever 8:15 AM  

Starting to see a little bit of Wheelhouse it or Outhouse it type comments so I did a quick count of the Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns. The PPP is just below the line at 32%. There a couple of PPP-adjacent clues I didn’t count (like for CHALETS), so this puzzle is close enough for me to label it as having excessive PPP, which is certainly borne out by the comments so far.
For those new here, when the PPP gets to 33% or higher we almost always see comments about the puzzle being very easy and very hard. If the PPP is in your wheelhouse the puzzle will be easy and it might even feel like there isn’t very much PPP. But if the PPP happens to be in your outhouse the puzzle will be challenging. Same puzzle, diametrically opposed solving experiences. Apt. This is usually more obvious on the weekends where solving times are long enough to highlight the difference for solvers.

bocamp 8:22 AM  

Thx Ben; nice challenge for a Mon. puz! :)

Med. +

No prob in the top 2/3; slower in the bottom 1/3.

NEWSIES / BOWSER/ REDBOX were unknowns.

Still, a most enjoyable adventure. :)

yd pg -2

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

Twangster 8:30 AM  

(15 letters, too)

Unknown 8:38 AM  

To newcomers:

The magical 33% line that Z posits for PPP I think exists more in his own mind than in reality. Yes, when the amount of proper nouns hits a certain threshold, some folks are going to start to struggle. But there's no magic number (or if there is, I'd like to see the research). A lot depends on the position of the PPP and how much of the puzzle it consumes. The length of the names will also be a factor.

While I agree with Rex that the MAKEITORBREAKIT was the weakest of the themers, I don't know that it deserved so much dissing. Overall the puzzle had a solid Monday feel, with four grid-spanning themes. To me there might have been an overabundance of 3s, but that might go along with the territory of having so many long crosses. Someone here who is a constructor might know if that is true.

BALM was clever. And thank you Lewis for your perspective. It is a welcome balance to Rex's daily shtick and much of those who drink his Kool-Aid. If the puzzles are really that atrocious, why are you here every day?

amyyanni 8:39 AM  

Slept in a bit this am. Very amusing Monday puzzle. Good start for the week. Hope the weather stays cool for the Boston Marathoners today. And that there is at least a ray of at least figurative sunshine in your day.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Thanks Lewis. Love this sentiment!

Nancy 8:52 AM  

A cute and lively theme. A bit more crunch than some Mondays. I quite liked it. But what's this MOVE IT OR LOSE IT clue??? It's so incredibly...rude!

MOVE IT OR LOSE IT was the only phrase that wasn't in my lexicon. It was the only one I needed crosses for. I had filled in all the theme answers without reading the clues and this one was no exception. When MOVE IT OR LOSE IT came in I thought: "That's nice! An admonition to exercise. Move those triceps or lose them! Move those quads or lose them! A great new maxim that I and everyone else should take to heart if we want to stay healthy."

But, no, it seems to mean "Get out of the way!" You're kidding, right? Don't you dare say that to me, bub, or you might just lose something! Fair warning. The very idea!

But other than cluing MOVE IT OR LOSE IT very differently, I thought this was a puzzle that worked well. It's a Monday that I would certainly give to a neophyte -- knowing they'd find it entertaining. But it doesn't insult the intelligence of the veteran solver -- and that's a very good thing.

pabloinnh 8:56 AM  

First it was Adam DRIVER causing a slowdown and today it's Adam LEVINE, who I don't know from, well, Adam. Easy crosses though. Steve EARLE I did know, also BAAL. so no problems there.

My granddaughter and her family call a HAIRTIE a "pony". This was news to me. Two sons, no daughters, I'm finding out lots of stuff.

Someone in the area still has a big TULSI Gabbard billboard on their lawn, complete with a nice picture of the smiling candidate. I never saw the point of leaving this up but now I see it was a crossword aid. Thanks, somebody.

Hand up for the MAKE/BREAK thing sounding off.

Altogether a perfectly serviceable Monday, BP. No Big Problems, but sadly, no Best Puzzle award either. Thanks for the fun.

Frantic Sloth 9:11 AM  

Forgot to mention that I agree with Rex, on STOPGO screaming out for the "and", but I also don't care. I can do that sometimes.

Is it really so wrong that I deduced BAAL from vAAL of the "The Apple" episode from the original Star Trek series?
Is it?

@chefwen 223am πŸ˜πŸ‘

@Loren's 414am πŸ˜‚ W.C. Fields link reminded me of a little quip. In 1995, we were on a bus crossing Central Park just prior to a visit by Pope John Paul II. At one point a long row of portable toilets (added at the outer edge of the Great Lawn in preparation for this momentous event) became visible along the 86th St. Transverse. Someone* exclaimed "Look! Pope johns!" and the ensuing raucous cacophony of guffaws was deafening.**

*Okay, maybe "someone" we know
**Okay, maybe just a titch of hyperbole

What @Lewis 545am said. πŸ‘ Always at the back of my mind despite the occasional (?) crankfest I may or may not display.

@Z 749am One corner (where the crosses are fairly inferable) does not a crap ton make. IMHOPancakes.
Also, I think it's just adorable that you think of DAD BOD as a compliment. 😘
815am I see you did the maths. Still not a crap ton.

Nancy 9:21 AM  

Aha! I see there are other Rexites who also do early week puzzles without necessarily reading all the clues. Those who wanted USE IT OR LOSE IT for 43A -- @Frantic, @ chefwen and @mmorgan so far -- must have thought (as I did) that MOVE IT OR LOSE IT was about exercising and not about getting out of the way.

I predict that, as the day progresses, there will be additional solvers doing the same thing.

Carola 9:22 AM  

A quick solve for me (luck of the draw on knowing all of the names), but two of the theme answers left me scratching my head: I don't seem to have heard either MOVE IT OR LOSE IT or MAKE IT OR BREAK IT and can't really feature how they'd be used in a conversation.

I learned Muriel BOWSER's name in connection with Trump's June 2020 hold-up-a-Bible photo op in front of St. John's church.

Lewis 9:33 AM  

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

1. Animal that's also a plant? (4)
2. What may be drawn with black and white (5)(4)
3. Cry heard at a shoe auction? (5)
4. More than discouraged (7)
5. Cause for switching positions (3)(5)


mathgent 9:34 AM  

The price I pay for the enjoyment I get from reading this blog is having to read Rex's daily nonsense. He sounded like a parody of himself today.

Very nice puzzle. Smart cluing, lively theme, some sparkle.

Catholics don't study the Old Testament much but I do remember reading about BAAL.

I hope that Todd Trimble hasn't left us for a different playground. He's a cool guy.

RooMonster 9:42 AM  

Hey All !
After reading @Lewis' 5:45 comment, I wanted to sing Kumbaya.

No complaints about ONES and ONEUP? Y'all are slipping. πŸ˜‹

MAKEITORBREAKIT doesn't bother me one wit. Sounds like a phrase to me. So that's all that counts! 😁

Liked this puz. I have a sorta kinda DADBOD, you know, the protruding gut with a slender-ish frame. Since my new job (10 months), I have to walk around some more, so the gut has diminished some, which is nice. Still farther away from six-pack abs than an actual six-pack. 😁

Toughest spot for me was center-east, TULSI was a who?, and BALM weirdly tough to suss. BAS was wanting to be TAS or RAS.

RED BOX is all over town here, and are quite popular for renting VIDEOs. I imagine some never get returned. Pitfall of VIDEO rental things.

Anyway, just rambling. Seems most here either LOVEITORHATEIT. I'll go stand with the LOVE IT crowd, even though I really only like it. With my DAD BOD. And a GLASS of ANISE. WOO!

One F

EdFromHackensack 9:50 AM  

whiffed on BAAL/BOWSER. ugh on a Monday. DADBODS is NOT a compliment at all.

Zwhatever 9:51 AM  

@Unknown - I won’t bore everyone with the backstory yet again, but the 33% mark is based on observation and has been supported over a fairly long time. It is a bit subjective as to what qualifies as PPP (is the Alps in the clue enough to make CHALETS a PPP answer?) and there are some flaws (for example, it treats 3 letter answers equally with 15 letter answers), but 33% is a fair guideline supported by years of crosswords. Don’t believe it? Simple enough to test. Count the PPP each day (please share your list each day so people can check your work) for a month, and divide it by the word count each day (available at if you don’t know the little trick for figuring it out yourself*) and watch the comments. I suppose it is possible that a puzzle with >33% will not elicit the wheelhouse/outhouse phenomenon, but I have yet to see it. There are occasional suggestions to lower the threshold to 30%, but there are occasional puzzles in the 30-32% range that don’t elicit a lot of wheelhouse/outhouse comments.
Having arrived at the number it makes sense. As the percentage of PPP increases the possibility of high PPP sections increases. If you happen to know BA’AL, Steve EARLE, and Meg Ryan that SW corner is especially easy because you barely spend 2 precious nanoseconds there. But if any two of them is a WOE you are reduced to running the alphabet or some other solving technique. These high PPP sections are basically unavoidable at 33% (our mathematicians can probably explain why), so that is why thats the cutoff. There have been puzzles with even lower PPP that are problematic, but they are an exception rather than the rule. Sundays, especially, will have themes that are PPP based and they will be problematic for some people even though the overall PPP might not be that high.

*Start with the number of the last across answer (today it is 64) then count all the answers that start as both an across and down answer (57, for example) - these will be top left - to get the total answers. So today, start with 64 then count answers 1, 6, 9, 25, 37, 39, 41, 42, 49, and 57, ten of them so 64+10=74 words in the puzzle.

JD 9:55 AM  

It's Conch Sam, conk, Take It Or Leave It.

This was like rummaging though the mental drawer of stuff that's just there.

Neighbors had a great big Conch shell when I was a kid and we'd hold it by our ear to listen to the ocean. In journalism school the first class was Lede writing.

Daughter with the curly hair was always losing her Hair Ties. Good friend I haven't seen in a while speaks Farsi. Etc.

Of course there's no Make It Or Break It. There could be a Make or Break moment. But if you put an "It" in there how do you break something you didn't make?

Dad Bod, Mom Jeans, good natured ribs you smile at, then stroll to the bedroom to check yourself in the mirror for denial.

Already tired of Okie. Can we go back to the cookie now? Monday, Monday.

Joe Dipinto 10:03 AM  

I feel like the last two get the actual expressions wrong: they should be USE IT OR LOSE IT, and YOU BREAK IT, YOU BUY IT, the latter from another realm altogether. "Be careful handling that fragile statue of Baal! Make it or break it!" (Huh??)

burtonkd 10:06 AM  

I don't get the fuss over MAKEITORBREAKIT. Totally in the language and used enough that someone decided to make it the title of their show. @Zomegazuzz:), I wouldn't precede it with "you either" - more like "you gotta". Get your DADBOD off the couch and go for whatever challenge is in front of you, consequences be damned.

Lewis, your philosophical waxing answered a puzzle I've wondered about, but couldn't put a finger on. If everyone else already knew about your "tone", I didn't get that memo. I was once told that you'll never remember what a teacher taught you, but you will remember exactly how they made you feel.

Whatsername 10:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teedmn 10:17 AM  

I agree with Rex on his quibbles about LOVE IT OR HATE IT (my brain could only hear LOVE IT OR list IT because I love that HGTV show) and also MAKE IT OR BREAK IT but it didn't jump the shark for me so it's fine.

I've said this before here (and have to repeat it because someone keeps cluing this answer this way :-) ), but I've never heard someone say, "I care" when offering sympathy. It sounds awkward and insincere. "I care" is only heard after someone asks, "Who cares?" Am I right?

Thanks, Ben Pall, and welcome back to constructing.

Zwhatever 10:24 AM  

My sense is people think DADBOD means Chris Farley or John Candy when it is often more Paul Rudd. For the record, You can find “best DAD BOD” articles on the interwebs if you look. I’m more granddad bod despite not being one.

@Frantic Sloth - Well, didn’t I say just below the crap ton line but close enough to explain why we are seeing the easy/hard comments?

@mathgent - It has been awhile. I was thinking of you and @TTrimble when I was mentioning people who might be able to explain why 33% makes the wheelhouse/outhouse thing inevitable.

Gio 10:24 AM  

BAAL is definitely crosswordese but I never heard of it. The last time it was in the NYT was 5 years ago so I've never seen it being new at these.
BAAL was in Maleska's puzzles 135 times. During his years it appeared yearly between 3 and 7 times a year.. It was used 7 times in 1993. If you look at the graph on Word Info it has definitely dropped off in usage over the last few years. Anyone doing puzzles 10 years or more like Rex would easily know it.I think it needs to stay in exile. I was 95% sure it was BOWSER since she was in the news a lot this past year due to all the shenanigans going on in DC with these Trump nuts.
Just was strange to be stuck on a Monday.

bocamp 10:30 AM  

Enjoyed today's ITORIT theme.

Always mixing up Japanese directors, filmmakers, conductors, etc. Perhaps a mnemonic undertaking. πŸ€”

BOWzER is thoughtful and nice.

@jae (3:51 AM)

Thx, I'm on it! :)

Re: Stella's puz: sounds very familiar, lol. 🀞


I trust all is well with you and your research project. Are you still able to find some time for the SB?

td pg -4 (reg time)

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

Nancy 10:40 AM  

An EMOJI rant. Feel free to skip.

Never mind that they're ugly eyesores -- strewn helter-skelter over clean white pages. Or that they seem completely mindless and thoughtless-- a lazy and completely unsatisfying stand-in for the power of the written word.

What do they even mean?????

@Frantic (9:11) has one today after her DAD BOD comment. It's a face -- yes. Almost all EMOJIS are faces. But what on earth is that red thing on the right side of the face? Is it a tongue sticking out? Is it bubble gum? Is it a lollipop? Is it a rash?

And what's being indicated here? @Frantic agrees with Zuzz? She dsagrees with Zuzz. She thinks a DAD BOD is cool? She thinks a DAD BOD is an abomination? I don't have the faintest idea how she feels either about @Zuzz or about a DAD BOD from that stupid EMOJI with the red thing sticking out.

Then there's that particular face that so many posters here seem to like: that face with the big, exposed teeth. Is that a smile or is that a grimace? Does the entity with that face want to laugh uproariously with you or does it instead want to eat you for dinner.

Unsightly, mindless, and often totally baffling. There's the EMOJI for you. How I wish we could LOSE them completely.

Masked and Anonymous 10:49 AM  

This MonPuz played slightly feisty, at our house -- which is fine by m&e. Took extra nanoseconds, just to get the NW corner taken care of. Three names and a HAIRTIE and a ?-marked EYEDROP clue probably slowed the show down, up there.

staff weeject pick: TIO. Them Spanish aunts & uncles are nice, dependable gimmes, once you've solved enough of these puzs. Like TIO under Uncle SAM, too … as @Muse darlin mentioned earlier.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Opposite of WNW} = ESE. Actually, {Big name in DVD rental kiosks} = REDBOX, was also pretty much served up on a platter, at our house. See one of those, every time we pull into the Walgreen's parkin lot.

A lot of the long-ball fillins got a few points off for bein plurals. HAIRTIE & ARTBOOK &EYEDROP were ok, but kinda tame. This left TOILET IT OR REDBOX IT, to be faves for the day.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Pall dude. Off now, to practice up on my fave TULSI FARSI phrases.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

Whatsername 10:52 AM  

Well this was very nice. Easy enough for new solvers but with a fun theme to liven things up. I did think the Propers crossing in the SW corner was pretty tricky for a Monday but the rest made up for that.

There are probably a lot of ladies wearing mom jeans who think DAD BODS are just fine.

May your ladder never have too STEEP a STEP. You might LOSE your balance and DROP while you BREAK both feet like my poor brother did a few years ago.

The only animal I have ever intentionally murdered was a MOLE, once while wearing heels and a brand new pair of white Vera Wang capri pants. SRSLY. I’ve often tried to understand the reason for the existence of a creature that has no eyes and does nothing but dig tunnels underground. Eew!

We had a beautiful summerlike weekend but fall has moved in this morning after a front moved thru during the night. I was pondering a pot of stew but you won’t find any OKRA in it.

Thought for the day: NIKE is a four letter word.

Frantic Sloth 10:54 AM  

@Whatsername 1016am I can't imagine breaking 2 feet (or arms or legs or whatever) at the same time! Yikes! Poor bro! Oh, and not that you asked, but the MOLE actually does play a vital part in the ecosystem. What I really need is for someone to explain the reason for mosquitoes. Besides bat fodder. πŸ€”

@Z 1024am Ah, but you didn't actually say "crap ton", just "the line" which in my mind means excessive PPP. Didn't we recently have a couple that exceeded the 40% threshold? That is a crap ton. You say potato, I say have a nice salad instead.

@Nancy 1040am Assuming you actually want to know, the face after my DAD BOD comment is a wink while blowing a kiss - the red thing is a tiny heart. Is it lazy? Probably, but it also has the added benefit of being shorthand for the "I tease, still love ya" vibe I feel the need to convey on a semi-regular basis.
As far as the face with the big teeth, I don't see how laughing uproariously and eating you for dinner need to be mutually exclusive. ;-)

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

How have I lived this long (and I do mean long, thank you very much!) and not known that the "lead" story was spelled LEDE?

rjkennedy98 11:13 AM  

Having both DAD BOD and USE IT OR LOSE IT would've been awesome in this puzzle.

BAAL crossing BOWSER was a little tricky for a Monday. Luckily I remembered BAAL.

My first job was at RED HAT. Cool that @Rex knows people that work there. I'm still bummed that the open source company got sold to IBM.

Joseph Michael 11:14 AM  

Oh, Dad, poor Dad, they’re making fun of you again, and I’m feeling so sad. First, it was Dad jokes.. Now it’s DAD BODS.

If choice is to LiKE IT OR LUMP IT, I definitely LIKE this puzzle. But what’s with all of these choices? I’ve barely had breakfast and already I might LOSE IT. HATE IT, LOSE IT, or BREAK IT if I don’t make the right decisions.

I.suppose you might sometimes use only one EYE DROP if, for example, you only had a problem with one eye and it wasn’t a very bad problem. But it does seem like a crossword SOC (singular of convenience).

LEDE is a word that continues to perplex me. I always thought it was the LEAD that journalists were referring to in their stories. Then one day I discovered that it was more often called the LEDE. It was probably some Dad reporter who dreamed that one up.

TJS 11:18 AM  

@Lewis, enjoyed your comment. Insightful and well-put. Goes a long way toward explaining how you are always able to find a positive approach to your commentary. (In addition to the fact that you are a constructor yourself.)

A better than your average Monday, imo. And I agree that the PPP discussion has validity, but it is by no means a scientific analysis, any more than "dad bod" is a compliment. Put "dad" in front of anything these days and something negative is coming.

Stephen Minehart 11:18 AM  

@Lewis, feel free to wax philosophical anytime, I really enjoyed that.

Played like a normal Monday for me up until the last square...I did not know Ba'al or Bowser, luckily B is the first consonant in the alphabet, so the trial and error method took no time at all. Eventually, we Gen-xers will be old enough that BOWSER will always be clued with a Nintendo reference.

JD 11:22 AM  

@Nancy, Since you asked. Emoji are pictorial shorthand to communicate an emotion in casual online communication like a blog, or in a very short message like a text when they're all that's needed. Might be time to learn the language 😘. Some that are frequently used here:

🀣 Rolling on the floor hilarious

πŸ˜‚ Plain hilarity

😜 Wackiness

Goofy funny πŸ˜€

Whatever your wink means πŸ˜‰

Smirk or go figure 😏

Affection 😘

@Frantic, Egrets also like mosquitos.

Nancy 11:31 AM  

@Frantic -- That's a tiny heart? Who knew? FWIW, if you'd sent it to me, I would have thought it was a real put-down: that you were sticking out your tongue at me.* SRSLY, that's what I would have thought. So if at some point in the future you ever want to say "tease ya, still love ya" to me, it would be helpful if you put it into words.

*Maybe we can do a Martian experiment? Show it to a group of ETs and see how many think it's a tiny heart and how many think it's a tongue sticking out. I'd put all my money on the latter.

Whatsername 11:43 AM  

@Lewis (5:45) I agree completely with your philosophy. Yes we are fortunate and IMO get our money’s worth every single day. There are occasions when I grumble a bit but I know that my not liking something doesn’t make it bad or wrong and each puzzle is the culmination of someone’s sincere effort to entertain us. So whether I LOVE IT OR HATE IT, I do try to keep that in mind.

@JD (9:55) “then stroll to the bedroom to check yourself in the mirror for denial.” How funny and so true.

@Frantic (10:54) Bro also ended up having surgery on the left foot which now has several screws holding it together. He was in a wheelchair for weeks. I’m sure you’re right that even the lowly MOLE has a purpose. I just wish they’d work on the ecosystem in someone else’s lawn.

JC66 11:44 AM  


Just in case you're serious, if you can learn what FWIW & SRSLY mean, you can learn emojis (see @JD's 11:22 post).

Dad Bod 11:45 AM  

@Frantic - In the future, please don't say anything I don't understand, or use communication modalities I don't approve of. And, if it's not clear, "please don't" means STOP!

jberg 11:46 AM  

Well, if the Red Sox lose the next game, I can well imagine an announcer saying, 'It's MAKE IT OR BREAK IT for the Sox tonight' as the fifth game starts. On MOVE IT OR LOSE IT, though, I'm with @Nancy-- I've never heard it, and never hope to.

But these comments are further proof that I'm getting old; I'm an atheist, and haven't read the Bible since the 1950s, but asked me for the name of a false god and BAAL will spring from my lips. (Of course, that he is false is only Jehovah's opinion.)

@Anonymous 10:59; I did a little part-time work as a stringer for a left-wing weekly back in the early 80s, and the how-to-write-a-story sheet they sent me used the word "lead." But says LEDE originated in the early 50s, due to confusion with the lead that was used to space lines in manual typesetting. Now that the distinction has become meaningless, the spelling has gone mainstream. Go figure.

@Loren, I had the B already, and knew it was going to be BALM, but I really wanted it to be BUSS instead.

Wheelhouse/outhouse -- the one I found hard (and always to) was CATE Blanchett -- I always put in CAit first.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Make it or break it.
1. adjective Of, leading to, or causing an outcome that will either be a total success or a total failure. Often hyphenated when used before a noun. The decision to merge the two companies will likely prove a make-it-or-break-it move for both. These next few months are going to be make it or break it for us financially.
2. verb To either totally succeed or fail completely; to cause or result in such an outcome. With so many tumultuous things going on in the world, it feels as though the human race is going to make it or break it in coming years. In this industry, having a public, social following of users (or a lack thereof) will always make it or break it for a company.

Frantic Sloth 12:00 PM  

@JD 1122am Good to know that about the lovely egret. Can't help but feel that they could do better, though.

@Nancy 1131am Ha! Fair enough. FWIW I've tried to make an effort whenever addressing you to use emoticons when "necessary" because I remember your feelings about emojis.

Speaking of emoticons, where is TTrimble these days?? Did he mention he'd be absent for a time and I missed it? I do miss the occasional thing.

@Whatsername 1143am You express my feelings much better than I did. I'll wait until you pick yourself up after that shockwave....
LOL - I have stumbled enough times trying to mow my parents' lawn to completely understand your disdain for local moles. I hope your bro is doing much better now, but geeez!

@Dad Bod 1145am LOL! Aw, you're just acting out because of who you are. πŸ˜‰

Nancy 12:02 PM  

@JD and JC66 -- Don't like or respect these emojis enough to bother to learn them. (Even though I do appreciate @JD taking the time and trouble to fill me in. Thanks, JD.) But the emojis are both totally unclear and completely inane. Our @GILL's an artist; maybe she could conjure up better ones. Certainly she couldn't do any worse.

Here's what the emojis on JD's list look like to me:
1) Drunk
2) Growing a blue mustache
3) Childish/infantile
4) Surprised
5) Twitchy
6) "Who's behind me?"
7) Sticking out tongue

old timer 12:07 PM  

Good Monday puzzle, with a little bite to it, but nothing most solvers can't handle -- unless, as I learn here with surprise, they never heard of Steve EARLE.

Folks, EARLE is the man who wrote better songs than Dylan, or anyone else ever. Including a charming fairytale called Copperhead Road, about a Vietnam Vet who returns home with a brand new plan, a plan to make money, and to defend himself by whatever means are necessary, because he "learned a thing or two from Charlie, don't you know." And his most moving song, called "Jerusalem". I just heard a 10 minute version Earle did in Australia, worth every second of your time. But lots of good folks have covered that song. I got to see EARLE live once, at Warren Hellman's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. Old Warren, a very rich man from a family of bankers, thought the best use of his money was to bring the artists he admired most to play for free in Golden Gate Park. And isn't pleasing others the best thing money can do for anyone?

GILL I. 12:08 PM  

I am a MOVE IT OR LOSE it queen of the jungle. I get antsy and start changing my ambience. I'll pick up an object d'art and put it where I think someone will say "What the hell is that?"
Well...I thought this was a perfectly fine little Mondee (Hi @Frantic). I'm trying to get my friend, Patty, to start the NYT puzzles. She's a smarty pants sweet patootie and this was right up her alley. She finished without my help and cried....I LOVE IT....didn't HATE IT...except maybe all the names floating in the milk shake.
Speaking of having a nice meal....yesterday we went to Nancy's here in Auburn for brunch. It's a little diner with the best food this side of the Tijuana boarder. I had Eggs Benedict and she had a Reuben. We came back and opened up some Prosecco then tried to tackle the Sunday puzzle. After about 5 minutes and getting PSYCHOANALYSIS, we both said Pee You and finished our drinky-poos...fat, happy and ready for a nap.
Speaking of Biblical false god...@Aelurus....Are you the eye of Ra?

JC66 12:14 PM  

@old timer

I'm a big fan of Steve EARLE.

Let's see if he wins a Nobel.

Joe Dipinto 12:20 PM  

Baal ruled TikTok back in the day. Then Baal got cancelled for some influencing scandal. That why they haven't been in the puzzle lately.

Barbara S. 12:24 PM  

I had a very good friend (gone now and I miss him) who used to say "Move it or milk it!" when he thought the driver in front of him was stopping or slowing down for no good reason. I don't think he ever yelled it out the window, but he often muttered it under his breath -- and it always got a laugh if I was in the car.

Carola 12:24 PM  

@Nancy 10:40 - I'm not a big emoji user myself, but in my experience they don't have to be mindless or a sign of laziness. Our family has a three-generation text thread going that includes two middle-schoolers, so the messages are peppered with them and I've had to learn to parse the meanings (this sometimes involves first taking a screen shot and enlarging it so that I can tell what it is). The tweens and their Gen X parents use all kinds of images, not just the faces, and are creative in putting together a string that amounts to a sort of rebus, often pithy and funny. There are times when the pictorial repartee is snappier than words could be.

oldactor 12:27 PM  

A rule I live by is: Make it or Fake it.

Barbara S. 12:32 PM  

Forgot to add the crucial fact that my move-it-or-milk-it friend introduced me the NYTXW in or about 1970!

Thane of 13th 12:35 PM  

“Lead” and “lede” are somewhat distinct. A lead story is the top story (usually in a TV broadcast). The lede in an article is the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article, summarizing the most important aspects of the story.

Agree with Nancy. Emojis are idiotic and juvenile. It’s like civilization is in retrograde; soon writing will be in pictographs and hieroglyphics.

mathgent 12:38 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

Twangster (8:30)
Unknown (8:38)
Lewis (9:33)

Joe Dipinto 12:52 PM  

@Old Actor – I know it as "Fake it till you make it!"
<insert 6 emojis here

LorrieJJ 1:13 PM  


Anonymous 1:17 PM  

I'd give @Nancy's revised emoji meanings list a "rolling on the floor laughing" icon, but she'd probably say that I'm drunk.

JD 1:41 PM  

@Nancy, It's like my grandmother always said, "Better to light a cigarette than to sit and curse the dark." I think that's what she was saying. Might've been saying "curse the dog." Thick accent.

GILL I. 1:47 PM  

@Nancy...Just for you I changed my emoji...oops I mean avatar.
Our granddaughter loves the Disney movie "Moana" and she wanted me to water color the image of Pua, the pig and Hei Hei, the rooster. I did this for her....Although they are delightful creatures (unlike the blind mole @Whatsername squished to death), if someone acts like a pig or a cock, you can thank me.

Tom T 1:49 PM  

My son gave me a nice way to deal with the DAD BOD thing in July, when he gave me a Father's Day tee shirt that read, "It's not a DAD BOD, it's a FATHER FIGURE."

Was unaware of the crossword friendly journalistic term LEDE and dropped in LEad. Obviously would have caught it if I had paid any attention to ESE down answer. But it was Monday and I didn't check it; had to clean it up when I didn't hear the happy music.

Legume 2:11 PM  

lede is still used, most places. It defines how news writing differs from fiction (and Fixed News, etc.): the punch line comes first. And the reason: lots of news, esp. in small towns and cities, comes from wire services, which don't try to predict how many column/inches should, or will, be printed for a given story. Thus the text proceeds on the principle of diminishing importance, allowing for shorter printed stories in some markets without losing the gist of the story.

bocamp 2:24 PM  

Happy Thanksgiving Canada!

pg -3 (1st ot)

Peace πŸ•Š~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all ~ Gobble, gobble πŸ¦ƒ

Whatsername 2:38 PM  

@GILL (1:47) I’ve never even met Pua or Hei Hei but I love your renderings of them. And for the record, I didn’t squish the poor disgusting little rodent. I stabbed it with a fish gig which is like a teeny tiny little pitchfork.

Joaquin 4:02 PM  

Note to @Whatsername (10:52) - You note, "NIKE is a four letter word."

So is "Josh".

Oh well. It's only a game (but so much more fun when we win).

Zwhatever 4:20 PM  

Merriam-Webster politely cites the etymology as an “alteration” of lead from 1947. In other words, just another misspelling that’s become standard.

@JD 1:41 - I think I would have liked your grandmother. 🚬

@JC66 12:14 - Definitely as worthy as some. Mr. Zimmerman is right there with Jordan for me. But you knew that.

Hartley70 4:33 PM  

Aww, @Lewis, that post today was lovely and of course you’re correct.

This puzzle was a very nice and serviceable Monday. I have to say that after the first themer, I went down the grid and filled in the others before tackling the rest of the puzzle. That alone gives it an easy rating, and that’s just fine for an introduction.

@Teedman, I can imagine a scenario where I could use ICARE in sympathy. Madame X tells me some sad tale and finishes with …”and nobody cares!” I might sympathetically say, “I care!”

GILL I. 4:41 PM  

@Whatsernae....HAH! Next time trying using an egg frying spatula with garlic prongs. They won't bother you again. And by the way, @Frantic.....Ask yourself what good are cockroaches except to torment the living hell out of people (like me) living in a dump on 98th and Broadway. If only they could sing and dance.....

okanaganer 4:52 PM  

"Make or break" vs "Make it or break it" compared using Google Ngram Viewer. The shorter phrase is used about 50 x more often, in print at least.

JC66 5:06 PM  


Thanks for the link.

I'm probably biased, but I've followed Dylan since seeing him at the Gaslight in Greenwich Village all the time when he first came to NYC, then booing him at the Newport Folk Festival when he went electric.

Whatsername 5:36 PM  

@Joaquin: Me watching the game: πŸ˜„πŸ™‚πŸ˜„πŸ˜πŸ˜„πŸ€¨πŸ˜’πŸ˜•πŸ˜³πŸ˜¬πŸ˜–πŸ˜‘πŸ€¬πŸ˜« πŸ₯±πŸ˜΄ (Sorry Nancy.)
At least the rain delay made it so much later that I fell asleep and didn’t have to suffer the indignity of watching to the bitter end. πŸ™„

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

Just to pile on, I also use one eye drop every day. I have mild glaucoma (one drop is sufficient), just in one eye.


Anoa Bob 8:10 PM  

Seemed like it was a tad theme heavy, this one. After all the space taken up by themers and black squares, there wasn't a whole lot of room left for interesting fill. Like it or lump it, though, this is the Monday NYT puzz that we get.

I always get the Thai currency BAHT (63D) right away. I decided to ENLIST in the Navy and got to visit Bangkok back in the 60s. (Then it was back to SEA DUTY in the Tokin Gulf.) It's not an exactly grid fill friendly sequence of letters so I'm surprised it comes up as often as it does.

Looks like STOP GO (6D) lost an AND but MAKE IT OR BREAK IT found some ITs, so I guess it balances out.

I think OKRA is an ideal superfood. It's easy to grow in many warm climates worldwide, it's nutritional profile is off the charts and the pod, flowers and leaves are all edible. It was a staple in our garden when I was growing up and we had it several times a week, fresh in the growing season and canned other times. Whenever I hear someone say that they don't like OKRA I think to myself that they have never had it properly prepared, especially the garden fresh version. My favorite was pods sliced about 1/2 inch thick, dipped in egg wash, rolled in seasoned corn meal and fried in a cast iron skillet with about 1/4 inch of heated lard. The aroma, the flavors, the texture, beyond divine! Thus endeth my ode to OKRA.

albatross shell 8:14 PM  

MAKEITORBREAKIT was just fine with me. I have heard it. Certainly has some usage. First usage: 1914. Plus a sappy inspirational TV show. So what if MAKEORBREAK (first usage 1840, Charles Dickens) is 50 times more popular or ALLORNOTHING is 100 times more popular. They do not match the other phrases that all have a pair of ITs. That makes them irrelevant. I have one that also means the same thing that is not well-known and much more ear-catching: Duck or no Dinner. But I won't complain because it also does not fit.
MAKEITORBREAKIT doubles the rhyme, feels more active, and stands alone a bit better.

If you think that looks like a tongue, enlarge it or get your magnifying glass out. But why should you. It is clear you really don't care, and I CARE enough about you to respect that.

chefwen 8:49 PM  

@Wharsername - We had many moles where we lived in So Cal. I used to scoop out the kitty litter box and drop the poops down their little mole holes. They were gone toot sweet.

Anonymous 9:07 PM  

Mondays I always go for time. This one slowed me down fast. I finished, but in above average time. I thought a few of the clues/answers were above Monday level, so I would have rated this more than the EASY Rex gave it.

stephanie 9:58 PM  

at some point or another i copy and pasted this WC anecdote into my notepad, i forget from whence it came but, enjoy:

On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar famously walked off his show for a month after NBC censors edited out a segment, filmed the night before, about a joke involving a W.C. He abruptly quit [The Tonight Show] four minutes into programming after discovering that a joke of his that included the letters "W.C.", meaning water closet (a polite term for a flush toilet) had been censored. As he left his desk, he said, "I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of making a living than this."

Paar returned to the show on March 7, 1960, strolled onstage, struck a pose, and looked right into the camera. "As I was saying," he said "before I was interrupted."

Dear Madam:
I take great pleasure in informing you that the W.C. is situated nine miles from the house you occupy, in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds. It is capable of holding 229 people and it is open on Sunday and Thursday only. As there are a great number of people and they are expected during the summer months, I would suggest that you come early: although there is plenty of standing room as a rule. You will no doubt be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it; while others who can afford to go by car arrive just in time. I would especially recommend that your ladyship go on Thursday when there is a musical accompaniment. It may interest you to know that my daughter was married in the W.C. and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. There were ten people to a seat ordinarily occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expression on their faces. The newest attraction is a bell donated by a wealthy resident of the district. It rings every time a person enters. A bazaar is to be held to provide plush seats for all the people, since they feel it is a long felt need. My wife is rather delicate, so she can’t attend regularly. I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you if you wish, where you will be seen by all. For the children, there is a special time and place so that they will not disturb the elders. Hoping to have been of service to you, I remain,
The Schoolmaster

stephanie 10:10 PM  

@LMS not to put too fine a point on it, or take it too seriously, but, it's easy to be good natured about "dad bods" because it's a positive. dad bods are embraced - people talk about how they have a thing for/are attracted to dad bods. the term wasn't invented to be an insult. (some light hearted self deprecation at times, but that's all.) if the same were said about women, it would be derogatory, and thus it would not be cheerfully accepted. (see also: the massive pressure and profitable industry surrounding "bouncing back" after having a baby.) even "mom jeans" wasn't a favorable term, used to describe out of style and unflattering pants. it's a tale as old as time. just like men can be "players" [good] but women shouldn't be "sluts" [bad].

on a completely unrelated note, i didn't make the TIO SAM connection until i read your comment, that's a good one, thanks!

stephanie 10:34 PM  

heck and goddamn, i seem to have not pasted in the LEDE!!!

An English lady, while visiting Switzerland, was looking for a room for a more extended stay, and she asked the schoolmaster if he could recommend any to her. He took her to see several rooms, and when everything was settled, the lady returned to her home to make the final preparations to move.

When she arrived home, the thought suddenly occurred to her that she had not seen a "W.C." around the place. So she immediately wrote a note to the schoolmaster asking him if there were a "W.C." near the room.

The schoolmaster was a very poor student of English, so he asked the parish priest if he could help in the matter. Together they tried to discover the meaning of the letters "W.C.," and the only solution they could come up with for the letters was for a Wayside Chapel. The schoolmaster then wrote the following note to the English lady...

Joe Dipinto 11:11 PM  

@Stephanie – you left out the set-up part of the joke! Here's a link that has the whole thing. (One commenter notes that an audience today would never sit still for such a long joke and it would be scrapped for that reason.)

Charlie 11:27 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stephanie 11:30 PM  

@Joe Dipinto i know, i added it about 40 minutes before your reply but i suspect my comment was in mod purgatory while you were replying! apologies and thanks all the same though most definitely. what a facepalm moment i had when i re-read my initial published comment!

Charlie 11:34 PM  

Is there some weird pattern where the same word reappears in quick succession? Thinking of Okie now, but it seems to happen on a regular basis despite the fact that the puzzles are constructed by different people, etc. Thoughts?

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