It's hoisted on a brig in high winds / MON 10-25-21 / the Jet Walker Basketball Hall of Famer / World of ___ Wong / Former CNN anchor with true-crime series on the Investigation Discovery channel / Obsolescent TV hookup / Classic Nintendo character named after F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife / Hoppy quaff in brief / Long-haired pot-smoking 1960s stereotype

Monday, October 25, 2021

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Challenging (***for a Monday***)


THEME: EASY PEASY (64A: So simple ... like 17-, 24-, 40- and 52-Across?) — theme answers are all two words, first word starting "P," second word starting "Z":

Theme answers:
  • PAULA ZAHN (17A: Former CNN anchor with a true-crime series on the Investigation Discovery channel)
  • PETTING ZOOS (24A: Places where kids can feed goats and sheep) (how was this not "... where kids can feed kids"???)
  • PRINCESS ZELDA (40A: Classic Nintendo character named after F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife)
  • POLISH ZLOTY (52A: Warsaw currency)
Word of the Day:
CHET (the Jet) Walker, Basketball Hall-of-Famer (58A) —

Chester Walker (born February 22, 1940) is an American former professional basketball player.

Born in Bethlehem, Mississippi, Walker played high school basketball for the Benton Harbor High School boys basketball team. He graduated from Bradley University in 1962 as the school's all-time leading scorer. The Bradley Braves won the NIT Championship in 1957 and 1960. Walker's speed and agility on the court earned him the nickname "Chet the Jet." He probably is best remembered as a starting forward on the 1966–67 Philadelphia 76ers team, which some consider the best NBA team of all time. [...] 

A seven-time participant in the NBA All-Star Game, Walker averaged over 19 points and eight rebounds a game for the 1966–67 76ers, who won 68 games and lost just 13—the best record in NBA history at the time. [...] On February 24, 2012 (two days after Walker's 72nd birthday) it was announced that Chet Walker was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame by the veterans committee. He was formally inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts on September 7, 2012. (wikipedia)
• • •

There's nothing particularly "easy" about this theme, or the themers themselves, so I don't really get it, but I guess the idea is that it's Monday, and a Monday puzzle is the easiest puzzle of the week (usually), so ... close enough. That would be fine, except that this puzzle is manifestly tougher than most Mondays. Monday puzzles don't usually contain things / people I've never heard of before, and there are several such answers today, including CHET Walker (a Friday / Saturday answer, maybe) and TRYSAIL, which I just keep laughing at every time I look at it. What? What in the world is a TRYSAIL? Seems like even for nautical terminology, that's ... not a commonly known thing. Hasn't appeared in a NYTXW grid for 24 years, and *that* was on a Saturday, so ... on a Monday? ... yeah, that seems like a stretch. Again, whatever, put it in your puzzle, but the whole premise of the puzzle is "Easy," and since the themers aren't inherently easy, the puzzle should be ... but it's not. Not comparatively. Not compared to most Mondays, that is. Still laughing at TRYSAIL, by the way, what in the world? Also, the THYME clue is really hard (who's going to think of the *bygone* pronoun "thy"??), and what in the world is "The World of SUZIE Wong"??? It rings the faintest of bells. Bygone bells. But it's just clued here in quotes like it's a thing everyone knows—not even a parenthetical explanation. That's like cluing CHET as [___ (the Jet) Walker] and not giving us the "Basketball Hall-of-Famer" part. I like the theme concept fine, but the "Easy" part seems ... unaccounted for. Also, the fill is weirdly bad. That is harder to excuse. Grid just seemed glutted with weak sauce like OCTA REI STLO SEGO EIN IPADS LEB CFL POPO (always cringey) ENT ACACIA URSA ASEA ORSO etc. And there's no relief, no non-theme longer answers to turn to for entertainment, amusement, diversion. Except TRYSAIL, that is. Sigh. 


I will remember this puzzle TRYSAIL, primarily, but also for POLISH ZLOTY, which is an admirably nutty way to fill out this themer set. Most original thing in the grid by far. Weirdest moment for me was getting ZELDA and then, without looking at the clue (not recommended) writing in LEGEND OF ZELDA. It fit! It ... was wrong. Ah well. It was an admirable attempt at a no-look answer. Sometimes risks don't pay off. I love vanilla malts but a. I've never called them "malteds" and b. I've never ever thought of the malt as a subspecies of SHAKE, though ... yeah, I guess it is (54D: Malted, e.g.). They are totally separate categories on most soda fountain or ice cream parlor or Chock'lit Shoppe menus, but they're basically made the same way (+ or - the malt), so OK. Spelled SAGO the wrong way (that way, with the "A"), pfffft, that's some crosswordese I'm doomed to mix up for the rest of my life (48A: Western lily). So, to sum up: good idea, not noticeably "easy"-er than other Mondays (in fact, probably harder), with fill that seems pretty anemic. Oh, and TRYSAIL. Can't forget TRYSAIL.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. To answer my own question from earlier in the write-up: "The World of SUZIE Wong" is a 1957 novel / 1960 movie of some fame. The movie in particular is not always fondly remembered, since (according to some) it perpetuates Western ideas about Asian women that are "stereotypical and demeaning."


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

111 comments:

Frantic Sloth 12:16 AM  

I thought this was a fine Mondee. EASY PEASY, make mine cheesy. It wasn't a pushover, but enough effort (I imagine) needed to challenge the beginners a tad.

SNOOZE THYME beckons.

Until tomorrow.

🧠
πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰.5

bocamp 12:26 AM  

Thx Damon, for an excellent Mon. puz to start the week off with! :)

Med.

Top to bottom solve, with only one unknown: TRYSAIL. Wanted TRiSAIL, but PESKY wasn't having it. lol

Enjoyed reading STIEG Larsson's 'Millennium Trilogy' ('The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', etc.) as well as the subsequent movies.

Fun puz; liked it a lot! :)

@okanaganer (3:28 PM yd) πŸ‘ for a great week of SB

Even tho it's in our word List, I missed it too. I tried it with the wrong vowel, and was remiss not to try the other two vowels in its stead. :(

Btw, thx for the fun UNPLAYABLE LIE vid. The pocket shot would definitely fall into that category! LOL

@Eniale (5:40 PM yd) πŸ‘ for your SB results

Speaking of Lake Washington, I found out from a cryptic puz the other day that Seattle is located on an isthmus.
___

yd pg -3

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

okanaganer 12:48 AM  

In Canada we would call this theme EASY PEA ZED. And we listen to Zed Zed Top while driving our Acura zed dee exes.

The Grim Reaper's implement is a SICKLE, isn't it? SCYTHE, you say? Ooh of course the internet has more than one page explaining the difference.

[SB td pg -2, a couple hours til midnight but good enough...]

PhysGraf 12:48 AM  

First? Moi?
I still had a normal Monday time (7:30ish) but definitely did not know the PPP save a part of Zelda (I knew Zelda was in there just not sure where). In addition to obscurities, it also seemed out of the Monday ordinary to have clues with multiple possibilities... i.e. 67A could have been WEENY instead of FRANK and 57A could have been multiple countries but is usually clued for ISR not LEB. Both of these were totally easily peasily gettable from crosses but it still felt odd to have to skip them until they revealed themselves.

drnickmd 1:12 AM  

Wow. Well said Rex. Learned a lot today, which is not normally the case on a Monday. The “easy” is certainly misleading, if not downright ironic.

egsforbreakfast 1:53 AM  

I found this to be Mondayish EASYPEASY. Just more in my house o’ wheels than Rex’s, I guess. His incredulity about TRYSAIL is like someone saying “SERVICE LINE, WTF is a SERVICE LINE?” Either you know it or you don’t, but it is definitely not obscure. I also have to call thyme-out on the rant about THYME. It seems like a very easy Monday clue/answer.

I didn’t see the PZ commonality of the themers until I got to the revealer, so a nice aha for me.

I liked that the OOZE/OUZO cross from a few days ago was strongly echoed in the SNOOZE/ORSO cross today.

On the whole, a very good Monday puzzle. Thanks Damon Gulczynski.



jae 2:31 AM  

Tough. This was more like a Tuesday +. I mean POLISH ZLOTY and PAULA ZAHN do not seem like a Monday answers....or exactly what @Rex said. Fun theme, liked it.


@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #654 was pretty easy for a Croce. I finished 75% on my Saturday walk and the rest in the first 1/4 of my Sunday walk. Good luck!

albatross shell 2:47 AM  

Rexie pleasey, No more according to some. It reminds me of the History Channel's ghosthunters-ancient aliens-hidden treasure-althistory-altscience shows that always are filled with "some people say" nonsense statements. Just don't. Tell us who or why or something real or just skip it. Own it or leave it alone.

PEASYEASY? PZ EZ?

You lost me on CHET. Pretty easy with the jet nickname. Of course I read the Chet the Jet books. Dog detective. Pretty fair crosses too.

TRYSAIL. OR TRYS ALE? Windy rainy weather coming? Houst the drunken sailor. But I rate it a wednesday because of the SAIL part. Crosses are not near as friendly.

But if you are a beginner I think you are not as anal as folks here. Getting all but a few squares is pretty satisfying and encouraging enough for new solvers. Folks here miss that.

Of course there was ACACIA POLISHed ZLOTTY POPO RIAL LANA IS CILIA STIEG. So Rex is probably right about the difficulty overall.

I'd rate the fill as fairly solid but unexciting.

Was that ELPASO twice in a row or was one DELRIO?

And did anyone get the Muse's avatar yesterday? The red leg high heel boots football team.

Anyhow that's what some people say.

chefwen 2:55 AM  

EASY PEASY here. One mark over with SUZIE over SUsIE. Big whoop.
I can’t fin d anything that would merit this challenging.










Had no hang ups other than spelling SUsIE with an s before Z.

Anonymous 4:42 AM  

Definitely not your average Monday level, due to all the trivia and proper nouns. Had no idea about PAULA ZAHN, nor SUZIE WONG, TRYSAIL, CILIA, SEGO, ....actually struggled with the NW opening corner. Eventually got the fill from the crossings, but kept thinking this was not what you'd want or expect from a Monday, which I generally think a non-solver should be able to tackle and feel gain some confidence. Pretty bland fill and yawn theme. Having seen what puzzles get rejected from this team, I'm surprised this made the cut, but I guess seniority and being published numerous times creates some bias.

jayahre 5:42 AM  

If I had never done a crossword puzzle before, and was told that Monday was the easy day and built up the courage to try this puzzle, I may have never tried a crossword puzzle ever again.

I’ve been doing these daily for about six months and this felt like a Wednesday.

NB 5:44 AM  

THYME is a spice? I've only ever known it as a herb.

B. Gordy 6:02 AM  

Lots of plurals (IPADS, SATS, ZOOS, LANAIS, ORBITS, LAPSES), but the one word that really, really, really requires the plural form? Nope. PIP? Really? Just one PIP? There is no we she is getting on that midnight train to Georgia with just one PIP. Not gonna happen. Uh-uh, no, uh-uh

EricNC 6:22 AM  

@chefwen. Agree absolutely. Our wheelhouses must match. Faster than my Monday average.

Lewis 6:26 AM  

I like this puzzle because it was not only fun to solve, but it also didn’t insult my intelligence. There are those who believe that the answers on Monday puzzles should be, well, easy peasy. But I believe differently.

I believe that Monday solvers have pretty much the same vocabulary and intelligence as end-of-week solvers. What they don’t have is experience with filling in grids and with tougher cluing. So, Monday puzzle cluing should almost all be direct, as is today’s. This way the new solver gets comfortable with filling in a grid. It would also be helpful to have one or two clues on the easier end of tricky, to give that solver a taste of what’s to come later in the week, such as “Round trips?” for ORBITS.

But the answer set needn’t be mostly elementary school words. The puzzle newcomer is older than that. The new solver probably isn’t familiar with answers that regularly appear in crosswords but not Real Life, but words like GEISHA, SCYTHE, TRUANT, SCAMPI, maybe even CILIA – yes.

Having those words, plus a few outside the average vocabulary, like TRYSAIL and STLO, but very fairly crossed – is why this puzzle didn’t insult my intelligence and was lovely to solve. And, IMO, should be quite do-able to new solvers.

Thank you, Damon, for an easy-but-delicious-to-swallow offering!

Z 6:47 AM  

POLISH ZLOTY!
I filled that in without needing a cross (I did have a couple already) and did a GLOL (that’s a “guilty laugh out loud”) and an “On a Monday?” Guilty because currencies are mostly a learned-from-crosswords thing. I know lots of weird arcane stuff, but most of it I came by honestly through schooling or experience. But the ZLOTY? Nope. It exists in that weird corner of my brain along with four letter rivers, useful letter ornithology, the collected works of Yoko Eno, and the filmography of Yma Sumac. I always feel a little dirty throwing down an 11-letter themer on a Monday thinking that people who don’t live in the rarefied air of CrossWorld will think knowing ZLOTY is impressive.

@egsforbreakfast - As SAILs go the TRYSAIL seems uncommon enough, the kind of thing only actual sailors would know. Which made me ponder how many people today are actual sailors, i.e. go out on the water in the kind of sailboat ⛵️ that would use a TRYSAIL. I spent a fair amount of my youth driving past marinas and sailboats ⛵️ seem to me to be a very tiny minority of boats, and boat owners generally a small minority of people. This makes TRYSAIL a niche item of a niche form of a niche activity. Niche cubed, as it were.

@albatross shell - someone did explain yesterday. Naked bootleg.

@okanaganer - Thanks for the sickle v SCYTHE link.

Wondering if Damon has a sequel with EZ themers.

Flew through this in what felt like record while thinking there were way too many WOD candidates for a Monday. PAULA, ZLOTY, TRYSAIL, SUZIE Wong. CHET Walker was #5 on my list, but no complaints with the choice. My suspicion is experienced solvers will TRYSAIL through this, but newbies may struggle mightily.

OffTheGrid 7:00 AM  

I believe @Rex found this more "difficult" because he had to stop more often to read clues. I am the opposite of a speed solver. Today's offering took me about 12 minutes, which is probably about avg. for me. I don't keep track of my times but have a rough idea. Rather than mock TRYSAIL I found out what it is. It's a smaller version of a sail for use in high winds. I am somewhat familiar with reefing a mainsail for a similar effect.

Tom T 7:04 AM  

A Monday with some crunch!

Here's the clue for my "hidden diagonal word of the day" -- Soothsayer.

Also of diagonal note, two of the answers in today's puzzle APP (18D) and SEAL (5A) also show up as hidden diagonal words in the same grid. You'll find APP beginning in block #12 and moving SW, and SEAL beginning in block #36 and moving SE. How 'bout them APPles.

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

@Tom T. Do all your diagonals go either SW or SE? In other words, do any go up the ladder toward the NE or NW? Thanks.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Easiest puzzle ever.

They just had an article about the people who test the NYT puzzles. You would think with a whole team of them, someone would have known that THYME is an herb, not a spice.

Or that the big dipper is just a small part of URSA major.

Or that VCRs remain useful and important devices. (No? Just me for me then?)

Son Volt 7:24 AM  

Seemed trivia laden during the solve but I liked it. I could see a solver who is only interested in time questioning the depth of the fill - but it was smooth sailing here. It’s cute how Rex obsesses over a single entry like TRYSAIL. Go to Ray’s on the lower east side - I would get the vanilla egg cream but you can also order a vanilla malted - a subset of a milkshake that uses malted milk.

Like the TOKE - HIPPIE inclusion. ACACIA is a SB stalwart.

Enjoyable Monday solve.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

If I were a constructor I would definitely work "SNATH" into a grid. (But maybe not on Monday)

From @okanaganer's link:

A scythe is a farming tool with a long, slightly curved blade that’s mounted on a long pole (called a snath).

Smitty 7:40 AM  

A TRISAIL is the term used by sailors. TRYSAIL is the term used by Wikipedia. Who would you rather be with in a gale? Also BRIG is short for Brigantine but more commonly used to mean a ship's prison.
I liked this puzzle except for the POPO IPA section.

thfenn 7:45 AM  

Lol, gosh, this was super easy peazy, just shy of my record time. But fun and sneaky, with some clever cluing! Good puzzle for beginners, but me? Why just a knowing nod and occasional wry smile while I flew through it faster than I could type. Bring on Tuesday. MWAHHAHA.

SouthsideJohnny 7:47 AM  

Very interesting and probably as tough a Monday as we have had all year. ST LO, ZLOTY, SUZIE Wong, and TRYSAIL would all feel comfortably at home on a difficult Thursday. I’m not complaining, although three or four years ago I would have had a real struggle on my hands with this one. Today we get the OCTA version of what I believe is supposed to be “eight”, perhaps in Spanish - could have used you when I really needed you about a week or so ago when I was done in by OTTA and the Bronte babes.

thfenn 7:59 AM  

I thought this was a great start to the week. Love Acacias. Leaned toward scythe but had fun thinking about whether it might be a sickle (thanks @okanager for the link). Thought VCR could've been clued obsolete rather than obsolescence (LOL, but maybe not, @Kitchef). Had fun thinking through the difference between herbs and spices. Perfect start to the day. Hope everyone has a great week.

amyyanni 8:00 AM  

Selfishly, I enjoy a Monday that isn't totally EZ-PZ. Agree with Rex that POPO as a term for police. I was a public defender for years and never heard, let alone used POPO. Appreciate the homage to the end of alphabet Z (Zed). Spend a lot of time next to it, i.e., whenever involved in an activity that alphabetizes people by their last names.

Sioux Falls 8:04 AM  

Speaking of The World of Suzie Wong which is absolutely demeaning and perpetuates Asian stereotypes much like Flower Drum Song [A Hundred Million Miracles/ Chop Suey] —- I have usually heard the expression Easy Peasy…. followed by an Asian semi-pejorative that rhymes…

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Trysail and Suzie Wong = gimmes. But then a) I'm a sailor and b) I grew up in England in the 60s

pabloinnh 8:12 AM  

Caught on to the PZ theme after two themers and was just waiting to see what the revealer would be, and it was pretty good, so fine.

Hand up for finding this easy, probably as a function of age. The only new term in the whole thing for me was TRYSAIL, which was obvious from crosses.

Also, I know the difference between a SCYTHE and a SICKLE, having used both. Life in the country.

Boy am I smart today.

Fun little Monday, DG. You Done Good. Thanks for the fun.

Z 8:13 AM  

So you think you know the difference between herbs and spices do you …

Nancy 8:33 AM  

As @Lewis says: A Monday that doesn't insult your intelligence. I liked it a lot.

Actually, my intelligence wasn't all that intelligent today because I noticed the "Z"s, but not the "P"s. And therefore there was no chance of anticipating the clever revealer because I was looking for a pure "Z" revealer -- something like GETTING YOUR ZZZs. When I saw EASY PEASY, I thought "Oh, there must be "P"s too!" And so there were.

And if I'd noticed the "P"s, I wouldn't have too-hastily written cOPs instead of POPO for 40D. You may call them POPO, but I sure don't.

I tried to imagine how many P-Z combos I would have been able to conjure up myself. The answer I think is Plainly Zero.

Riddle: What does the non-English-speaking Windjammer captain say to the landlubber? Answer: TRY SAIL. (TRYSAIL was my only nit in what was quite an interesting, enjoyable and well-crafted Monday.)

JD 8:42 AM  

Easy for me. Kids were Zelda freaks (next up The Ocarina of Time), ship Lath (HGTV), Zloty (see Zwhat, corner of the brain 🀣). etc.

Only pushbacks were Cilia and Trysail (there is no Trysail, there is only do). Canada and Pesky settle those.

PeaZy would've made more sense in the reveal but there it is. Wondered if Peasy is a word on its own. Turns out it only exists in tandem with Easy as a "reduplicative." Webster says Flimflam is another reduplicative (but as one word) and so is Goody Goody. It's a big tent.

While I was at Webster ... it defines Pesky as Vexatious but Vexatious as Distressing. Vexatious married up. You can't blame it.

Decent Monday.

@Z, 6:67 am, post of the month (see me about your special parking space). Maybe year.

@Southside, St. Lo was the Oreo/Ono/Eno of 30 years ago. That and some WW II landing craft that I can't remember. The perks of being oldish.

Peter P 8:43 AM  

@Smitty -- I'm no sailor, but looking at Google NGrams, which records the printed usage of a word in the English language corpus, the spelling "trysail" is vastly preferred to "trisail."

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=trysail%2C+trisail&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Ctrysail%3B%2Cc0%3B.t1%3B%2Ctrisail%3B%2Cc0

The word shows up, of course, in Moby Dick (Chapter 123, "The three corresponding new sails were now bent and reefed, and a storm-trysail was set further aft;") Looking through Project Gutenberg turns up at least dozens (I gave up after page 10) of results with "trysail" in them, including book after book about sailing.

thfenn 8:47 AM  

Great link, @Z, thanks. LOL, I was using the leafy or seedy sorter, but much appreciate more nuance. And agree on ZLOTY, smiles, and the amount of stuff that's useful for crosswords that also gets passed off as knowledge.

Jess Wundrin 8:53 AM  

What's the exchange rate between the POLISH ZLOTY and the Czech ZLOTY?

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Let's all adopt SPICERB. Controversy over!

OffTheGrid 9:10 AM  

SCYTHE brought a Billy Bob Thornton movie to mind. TRAILER HERE

mathgent 9:20 AM  

I almost always like Damon G's crosswords. I think that he is a very bright guy. This is another good one.

I saw Chet Walker play a lot. He was on the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers that beat my hometown Warriors for the NBA championship in 1967. It was one of the greatest teams of all time, with Wilt, Hal Greer, and Billy Cunningham. All four are in the Hall of Fame. Walker wasn't called Jet at that time. He was 6'7" and 212 pounds.

They made a musical of Suzie Wong once. I remember a critic calling it the World of Woozie Song.





Anonymous 9:28 AM  

I dunno, Rex. My time was a bit below my Monday average, so I’d say it was easy enough. And here I’d always though The Legend of Zelda was based on The Prisoner of Zenda. (A name that, I just found out, autocorrects to “Zelda.” Guess that cultural referent is even more out-moded than The World of Suzie Wong.)

Airymom 9:29 AM  

LAD--museum curator--what does this mean?

Malsdemare 9:48 AM  

I’m not sure that I’ll ever have the same reaction as our host; he finds puzzles hard that I think are a cinch and dismisses ones that I love. Like this one. I’m in @Lewis’s corner. I like to learn new things, I gloat when I know something that others miss, I revel in discovering a theme early. All that applies to this Dan’s creation.

I’m a sailor though I’ve never hoisted a TRYSAIL; we’d reef the main or drop it and sail with just the job. I caught the PEASY antic at PETTING ZOO. SCYTHE is a lovely word for a dastardly implement; I’m pretty sure that’s correct. A sickle is what was/is on Russia’s flag. I remembered SUZIE WONG though I misspelled her first name; ZAHN fixed that. I think 50% of sports clues are out on my back forty so knowing TRYSAIL seemed fair recompense for CHET whoever.

I’m on the road, having spent t2 days in Philadelphia tending my grand kids while my daughter and her SO took a much-needed vacation. And for those 12 days, I watched in horror, from afar, as my sister rode a pneumonia roller-coaster and the rest of the sisters pleaded with heaven to give her one more chance. Didn’t happen; she left us Saturday. I’ll be home late today and will get ready for the flight to Seattle to say goodbye. Joyce always said she wanted to be shot out of a cannon; I wish we could do that; she deserves to have her wish fulfilled.

And yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself. There were five sisters (Lord how painful to write that “were”), known to the entire family, infamously, as The Sisters; I’m fourth, Joyce was second. #1 is 87 and in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. #3 is blind and memory-impaired. So now there are 4. and so the winnowing begins.

TJS 9:54 AM  

I broke the snath on my scythe. Was I pithed!

bagelboy 10:13 AM  

fixes: SICKLE for SCYTHE. Have heard of ALLIE (Ali) Wong for SUZIE. COPS for POPO. Crappy fill. Agree with RP comments today and yesterday too. Thought Saturday was a breeze though.

Richard Stanford 10:19 AM  

Crossing STLO with ZLOTY at a vowel was the only piece that felt unfair for a Monday. I could see others not knowing SUZIE and ZHAN, but that's eminently inferable from SU_IE, and the other tricky ones were all very fairly crossed.

wpier 10:20 AM  

Interestingly, since you considered this challenging for a Monday, I finished this faster than I do most - maybe it was lighter on some of the general knowledge clues that haven't made their way across the pond...

I was not able to make the connection between EASYPEASY and the theme clues, so thanks for the enlightenment there (perhaps the problem for me that zee becomes zed here in the UK).

jberg 10:22 AM  

It played pretty old, but not difficult, at least in the actual solve, where one is often working from crosses. A five-letter seasoning starting with T is bound to be THYME, so I wrote it in and then looked for the pronouns. No idea about the basketball player, but I had the C and it was likely to rhyme with "Jet," so CHET. I'm old enough to remember (though I never read) SUZIE Wong, but I wasn't sure about the s/z, and hadn't got the theme yet, so I left it blank until it became clear that _AHN was a surname, and SAHN wasn't plausible.

So I was sailing along Monday-fashion, but not at all ASEA, until near the end of my solve, when I got to TRYSAIL. I may well have known it, but still it seemed very out of place in this puzzle (Rex's point)--and there it is, dead center! I think the constructor was enjoying a little joke.

POLISH ZLOTY is fun for its weirdness, but the POLISH is a bit redundant. Problematic to me, since we have RIAL crossing it (not "Iranian RIAL"). But a minor nit, overridden by the theme.

@Southside, Latin, not Spanish (just so you'll know).

Ooh! I just noticed that TRYSAIL crosses three (count 'em!) themers. A nice touch.

rjkennedy98 10:25 AM  

So much trivia in this puzzle. It should not have been run on a Monday.

Also, I am really sick of the constant inclusion of CNN people in these grids as if they are common knowledge. Will Shortz must think everyone watches CNN, but their most popular prime time shows average less than 100,000 viewers under 55. Basically no one who isn't retired or sitting in an airport watches CNN. And yet, unknown and irrelevant hosts like PAULA ZAHN routinely make it in these puzzles as if they are major influencers.

Jill 10:34 AM  

Also it would be a sea lion balancing a ball, not a seal.

KnittyContessa 10:38 AM  

I finished well under my normal Monday time in spite of myself. I was sooooooooooooo convinced it was TRiSAIL. I knew it had to be PESKY but TRYSAIL just looked so wrong! I thought I had to have made a mistake. Never heard of a ZLOTY and THYME did not come to mind. I also had SicklE before SCYTHE.

Surprised to see CILIA on a Monday, too.

Enjoy the day!

Carola 10:42 AM  

The reveal was a double treat for me. I'd had "EZ as Pie" in mind, so I enjoyed the surprise of being wrong about that as well as the fact that the puzzle was the opposite of EASY PEASY for me. I had no clue about the CNN anchor or the Nintendo character (other than there'd have to be some play on ZELDA) or the brig accoutrement. But once POLISH ZLOTY went in, showing the same pattern as PETTING ZOOS, PAULA ZAHN and PRINCESS ZELDA were soon unveiled, along with TRYSAIL. I agree about the fine array of 5- and 6-letter Downs.

Do-over: slat before LATH. No idea: CHET. At least FRANK was in a bun and not another person I hadn't heard of.

Joseph Michael 10:44 AM  

Is it Wednesday already? This puzzle almost had me in the panic zone as I realized I was going to have to think in order to solve it. I knew there was something going on with all of those Z’s but didn’t notice the initial P’s until I got to the revealer.

So, come on, Rex, what did you really think about the word TRYSAIL?

CNN Special. Watch what happens when PAULA ZHAN and PRINCESS ZELDA walk into a bar at the PETTING ZOO and think it will be EASY PEASY to pay for their drinks with a POLISH ZLOTY.

Scott Gunther 10:56 AM  

I had one little issue with the clue for "thyme." While "thou" and "thine" are pronouns, "thy" is not. It is a possessive adjective.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

where I come from, Friendly's Territory, it was always called a 'malted milk shake'.

The Cleaver 11:21 AM  

@rjkennedy98:
Basically no one who isn't retired or sitting in an airport watches CNN.

Yeah, I hear ya. Anyone under 55 is slurping up rightwingnut propaganda in the their FB 'news feeds'. The death of western civilization in the hands of youngsters. Go read up the Facebook Papers in any real news organ.

thfenn 11:28 AM  

@malsdemare, sorry for your loss. I'm watching my dad decline (at 87, us kids still being spring chickens in our 60s). It's hard. Safe travels, and hope your farewells and remembrances help make up for not having a cannon handy.

Marna 11:28 AM  

LAD is 53 down 65 down is museum curator (ART)

bocamp 11:40 AM  

@jae (2:31 AM)

Thx; looking forward to it! :)

@Zwhatever (8:13 AM)

Thx for the excellent 'herbs' and 'spices' article. :)

@Malsdemare (9:48 AM)

Condolences for the passing of your sister. πŸ™
___

td pg -5

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

Tim Carey 11:49 AM  

Oh yeah, this was a terrific puzzle to challenge the beginners a tad... they gotta start somewhere learning about Naticks [PAULAkAHN/SUkIE and POLISHZLaTY/STLa] and then learning to be enjoy being condescended to by the crossword elite hoi polloi...

Carola 11:49 AM  

@Malsdemere 9:48, I'm so sorry.

Tim Carey 11:56 AM  

Thanks, Lewis for granting me "pretty much" the same vocabulary and intelligence as you all... very generous of you. And thanks too for making assumptions about my experiential shortcomings in such a gracious way.

Tim Carey 12:00 PM  

Oh, but I am sure someone will explain that CLUE does not equal DEFINITION. It's just a CLUE. It's a PUZZLE, darn it... just lighten up. You just don't have enough EXPERIENCE..

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Can somebody please tell me what PPP means? I've googled the heck out of it but only come up with pandemic-era government loans.
Thank you!

JD 12:06 PM  

@malsdemare, Sorry to hear about your sister. Anyone who wanted to be shot out of cannon had to be someone wonderful to be around.

A2JD 12:19 PM  

I'd put the difficulty somewhere between a Tuesday and a Wednesday. I've never heard of a trysail (nor has my phone, apparently),didn't know of Suzie Wong, and had forgotten Paula Zahn. Lath and acacia were also new to me, so that made for a rough start.

Tom T 12:22 PM  

Anonymous 7:18

I've been diagonal crazed for a couple of weeks now. I enjoy looking for them, and I accept them in any direction. Typically there are several diagonal words (rough guess 6 to 8) in every grid, mostly 3 letter words. I'm just picking one each day and writing a clue for it, which is fun to do for someone too lazy to even think about constructing a whole puzzle.

Today's clue, Soothsayer, reveals the word SEER--which begins in the 54D block and moves in a SE direction.

I haven't discovered a diagonal over 4 letters long yet ... but I'm hopeful.

old timer 12:28 PM  

I time myself M and T, and my time was almost half an hour compared to usual times in the 12 to 14 minute range. So, very hard for a Monday. And not particularly enjoyable. On a Monday, I look for what would be a Thursday or Friday puzzle in my local paper, which runs a syndicated puzzle usually not worth doing at all.

I did remember Suzie Wong, a novel popular in my parents' set, when I was 12 or 13, and sex was a taboo subject. Mind you it did not teach me a thing about sex, other than the fact, known even to schoolkids, that grownup men sometimes paid women for sex, whatever that meant. A very un-graphic novel in that department. She was hardly a stereotypic Asian woman, but a real person with a real life, and the leading man falls in love with her and they get married. You wanted Asian stereotypes, go see The Flower Drum Song. Which also featured Nancy Kwan in the movie version.

CHET was a total WOE. So was PRINCESS ZELDA (though ZELDA I know from being a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald). And the POLISH ZLOTY is just silly. The only ZLOTYs there are are Polish.

old timer 12:31 PM  

I should add, every lover of Patrick O'Brian's sea tales knows what a TRYSAIL is. And for the most part you only see them on full-rigged ships. Essential, during a storm, to keep the ship manageable.

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

@Tim Carey:
the crossword elite hoi polloi...

I've made that grammatical mistake for decades. I think it was Xword that finally made me go to the dictionary: hoi polloi is the underclass. folks can't be that and elite at the same time. unless, of course, Xword folks, as a group, are an underclass and there is an elite within it. could be.

mathgent 12:36 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

albatross shell (2:47)
B Gordy (6:02)
Lewis (6:26)

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

well, there is the US Buck and the Bongo Buck. sometimes indistinguishable.

Beezer 12:44 PM  

@rjkennedy98, PPP just may not be your thing but Paula Zahn has also anchored for ABC, CBS, and Fox News.

I enjoyed the puzzle and particularly liked the 40a inclusion of Fitzgerald’s wife for solvers who aren’t familiar with Nintendo games.

Zloty was a gimme to me also for @Z corner of brain reason and it may loosely translate to “gold.” I did look up Czech currency due to a comment above and as I suspected Czech currency is koruna, koruny, or korona (sp variants).

Joe Dipinto 12:49 PM  

There's an Uruguayan composer/musician named Pablo Zinger.

When we were kids my brother and I would see these two gray-haired ladies puttering around down the block sometimes. I'm not sure if they lived in one of the houses or if they visited someone there occasionally. Anyway, around the time they started showing up my brother and I learned the words "sickle" and "scythe", and we liked them a lot. But there were zero opportunities to use them. So we named the two ladies Sickle and Scythe. "Oh look, Scythe is out front raking leaves. I wonder what Sickle is doing."

I don't remember what they actually looked like; now I sort of picture them as a matched pair of Grim Reapers, as if we lived in a Charles Addams cartoon. Well, it *is* Halloween this week...

Maltedeg

tea73 12:58 PM  

@thfenn Fan of the WSJ meta?

I knew SUZIE WONG instantly though I've neither seen the movie, the play (William Shatner was in it on Broadway!), or the ballet, nor have I read the book. I did spend a couple of months in Hong Kong in 2018.

I wondered if the theme was lots of Z's took me a surprisingly long time to parse the revealer. The puzzle itself didn't seem that tricky despite not knowing CHET or PAULA whoever she was. My time was only a little above average for a Monday.

I've done quite a bit of sailing. There was a period when my Dad raced twice a week when we lived in Dar es Salaam. Short race Wednesday evening, longer race on Sundays. I'm not much of a sailor now, but I'm happy to pull ropes, duck when someones says "Jibe Ho!" and I've read all the Hornblower books and all the Patrick O'Brian Aubrey–Maturin series. I don't remember seeing TRiSAIL or TRYSAIL before, but I might have.

Agree that herbs are the leaves of plants, spices are generally roots and seeds, so THYME would be an herb.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I get to join the easy camp today - this mostly just flowed, including PRINCESS ZELDA and POLISH ZLOTY. I did question TRYSAIL but I wasn't about to put PESKi for "annoying" at 34A just so TRYSAIL would look better.

I went through three SU_IE Wongs; SUsIE but PAULA sAHN? Nah, must be PAULA kAHN and SUkIE Wong. The theme finally gave me the SUZIE.

Thanks, Damon, nice job!

@Malsdemare, my sympathy for your loss.

rjkennedy98 1:16 PM  
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Pete 1:42 PM  

I've always liked PAULA ZAHN. I missed her when she left CBS for the netherworlds of cable news/non-news BS. I see her every once in a while on a local PBS Fine Arts show. She either has great genes or a great Surgeon/Cinematographer/Lighting/Makeup crew, because she looks just as she did 30+ years ago. I was saddened to learn that she's hosting a "true crime" show because that's where failed new broadcasters go to get the last few million they can suck out of the industry.

Lewis 2:22 PM  

@timcarey -- That "pretty much" referred to those answers experienced solvers know because they show up in puzzles often, but not so much IRL. That's the vocabulary that experienced solvers have that new solvers don't.

Lyn 2:29 PM  

I enjoyed this immensely. Needed a lot of crosses. Recognized but couldn't spell Zahn/Suzie, but knew Zloty and Zelda.
As to TRYSAIL, I remember going to meet a boyfriend's family in CT. Every single sail had a different name. Looking back on it, I wonder if they weren't making it up.

thfenn 3:26 PM  

@Tea73, I've never done the WSJ crossword, but you got me curious (not being sure why you asked). Just did today's. Thanks!

Trey 3:41 PM  

Agree with Rex that the words were not typical for Monday (usually both words in a cross are relatively easy). My time was still good, so it was not very hard, but there were often times where I needed the crosses to see the answer. Was surprised to get the happy music with TRYSAIL in the grid, and expected to have to double check my answers to find the error.

Tom Q. 3:52 PM  

World of Suzie Wong was easy for those of us old enough -- it was a novel, a long-running play, and finally a movie (which I saw on TCM in the past year or two). It was considered pretty racy in its day. My wife says it was the first movie she sneaked into without letting her parents know.

I kept trying to find a way to make PESKY into PESKI, I so wanted TRISAIL. But I reluctantly left it at TRYSAIL, and that turned out correct.

As soon as I got PETTING ZOOS, in the wake of PAULAZAHN, I guessed EASYPEASY was going to be the revealer. I'm not usually that far ahead,

ccredux 4:27 PM  

At the drugstore soda fountain we would order a Malted Milk Shake. I don’t understand the criticism of TRYSAIL. I rarely come here but I can predict the blog. An answer doesn’t have a chance—either too easy or too hard. Very rarely just right,

Joe Dipinto 4:39 PM  

So apparently there was a book, a play, a movie, and a ballet of "The World Of Suzie Wong." When does the Suzie Wong videogame come out? What about the interactive art installation?

Nancy 5:27 PM  

I would kill for your memory, @mathgent! You were right about the critic who called te musical "The World of Woozy Song". It was the incomparable Kenneth Tynan and I had to Google to find it. Here's a reference:

According to theatre historian and Playbill archivist Louis Botto, the adventurous work was not well accepted by its critics. "At that time, the very acerbic British critic Kenneth Tynan was reviewing for The New Yorker," Botto recalled the reviewer's pan, "and that was the season the hit play had played called The World of Suzie Wong, and his headline of his review was "The World of Woozy Song."

A clever and funny review. But I'm glad it wasn't my musical being skewered.

puzzlehoarder 5:36 PM  

I don't think I'd call this one difficult. At most I did have to skip over clues more frequently than the average Monday solve. High value letters are generally give aways and PAULA ZAHN is a well known name.

@Malsdamere, I'm sorry to hear about your sister

Today we had ACACIA and CILIA both are SB regulars. Speaking of which...


yd pg-1 (should have doubled the L and figured they just weren't taking the word)

dbyd pg -1 (thought of it but didn't try it as I figured it was just a name)

DGD 5:42 PM  

Easy pk?

Anonymous 5:59 PM  

Yes “ The World Of Suzie Wong” is cringeworthy by today’s sensibilities. Therefore what ? You can say that about most fiction published before ten minutes ago. Ever read The Sign of Four ? Don’t get me started on Shakespeare.

Anonymous 6:14 PM  

@5:59

yer right!! let's party like it's 1859!!!

Barbara S. 6:16 PM  

Bit of a comedy of errors here. Monday is the one day on which I actively try to beat my best time. It seldom works, but a person’s reach should exceed their grasp and blah blah blah. One of the consequences of this quixotic quest is that I often misread and skip clues. I started off with a bang, glancing at 1D and thinking “There’s a word for unwanted gasps??” Then later I put YaP for YIP, resulting in a “Long-haired, pot-smoking HaPPIE.” I corrected that right away, but it did lead to distracting speculation about whether, in fact, hippies were happy. I’ve been mulling it over all day. But what really brought me down was putting in PEStY for PESKY. That was the hidden mistake at the end of the solve. In my haste, I started proofreading answers without looking at clues, and the down word at the “t” was TOtE, which looked fine if you didn’t re-check the clue. Anyway, it all got sorted out eventually and I ended up with a time that exceeded my average. With the wisdom gained from this experience still fresh, I tell myself that next Monday I won’t embark upon another of these breakneck, reckless solves…but I don’t believe it.

I liked the puzzle, though, and all its P/Z (PEASY) answers. Self-inflicted difficulty nullified the EASY part.

dbyd -1
yd -4 (only one was unknown)
td -1 (not sure if I’m finished)

Jane 6:53 PM  

@5:59 - LOL Been reading Jane Austen lately. The description of twenty something spinsters would not sit well with the woke folk.

Malsdemare 6:57 PM  

Thank you, everyone, for your kind expressions of sympathy. Joyce was indeed a character: funny, generous, exasperating, oblivious, imaginative, a consummate liar with the wonderful ability to not just laugh at herself but to tell outrageous stories of her missteps. She was 84, and lived every single day like it was an ice cream cone and she had to lap it all up before it melted.

Anoa Bob 7:38 PM  

Got the P Z theme after PAULA ZAHN and PETTING ZOO but was flummoxed by the reveal. Yeah, the "peasy" part refers to the P and Z phrases but I can't find any E Z phrases to correspond to the "easy" part.

Coming up with potential candidates that not only cohere tightly around a central concept---the theme---but also have matching letter counts for symmetrically located themers is what makes constructing themed puzzles so challenging. I always notice when one of the themers needs help from a plural of convenience (POC) to boost its letter count as happens today when PETTING ZOO needs a gratuitous S tacked on to match the letter count for POLISH ZLOTY. That easy peasy solution lowers the puzzle's construction degree of difficulty and, as a result, lowers the puzzles rating in my book.

Wasn't SUZIE Wong from Hong Kong?

Bard 8:00 PM  

Absolutely agree. Herbs are leaves and spices are anything else.

Tim Carey 8:14 PM  

Thanks again, Lewis, for your oh so experienced advice and counsel.

egsforbreakfast 8:33 PM  

@Malsdemere. I’d like to add condolences for your sister to those you’ve already received. Sounds like she lived a full and good 84 years lapping up her ice cream.

The SUZIEWONG comments made me chuckle about my recent faux pas-and-a-half when I asked my daughter-in-law whether they had plans for Columbus Day. If you are under 40, or frequently interact with any such people, you can probably imagine the ass kicking I received. Suffice it to say that in our family we now celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.

Z 9:47 PM  

@Malsdemare - I am sorry for your loss.

@Anon12:05 - I don’t think anyone explained. PPP is Pop Culture, Product Names, and Other Proper Nouns.

ST. LO was in the puzzle?

@TJS - πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ Good One.

@Scott Gunther - Everyone got so hung up on the spice question that they missed the real mistake in that clue. Good catch.
(BTW - My grocer sells THYME with the fresh herbs but also sells it with other spices - as does every large grocer I’ve ever shopped at - so I’m okay with it being called a spice)

@Tim Carey - Seriously? I mean, if you want, I bet several people here could work up some actual insults for you.

RooMonster 10:15 PM  

@Malsdamare
Wonderful anecdote about your sister. Sorry for your loss.

Not to diminish your loss, @Mals, but I too have sad news.

I'm out of town (back in PA) for my Grandma's funeral. She was 90 this past July, and ended up getting something I can't recall right now, but it was rather quick. Right on the heels of my Dad passing in August. It sucks as one gets older, you have to witness those close to you leaving.

On a different note, I did solve today's puz on my phone, however, with a S for the Z of SUZIE, and a fat finger misspell, ended up with a DNF, and an 11-in-a-row streak ended.

But really wasn't an 11-in-a-row streak, it just looked good on my computer screen.

RooMonster

JC66 10:56 PM  

What a sad day. Condolences to both @Mals & @Roo. I'm so sorry.

chefwen 11:20 PM  

Deepest sympathy for your losses @Mals and @Roo.

egsforbreakfast 1:30 AM  

@Roo. Probably way too late for you to catch this, but I’m so sorry. Getting old is a bitch. I’m off next week to my best friend’s funeral. We all just keep on slurpin’ that ice cream.

Smitty 7:08 AM  

@Peter P and others...I mentioned in my comments that TRYSAIL was the official Wiki spelling and perhaps they spell it that way in England or in Moby Dick, but google images for the word TRYSAIL vs. TRISAIL for the more common spelling among sailors.
Actually makes sense if you consider its shape is a TRIANGLE not a TRYANGLE.
But then nautical terms are bizarre things that you can either spell correctly or pronounce correctly but never both...Gunwales (gunnels), Bowlines (bole-uns) Coxswains (coxuns)

Amy 9:30 PM  

Fast fast Monday for me. So Easy Peasy is right.

thefogman 10:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:35 AM  
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thefogman 11:13 AM  

So much junk fill. STLO should not ever appear in any crossword. Especially not a Monday. ASHE and ASH in the same grid? Hmm…Not sure that’s okay. LEB? Just no. But I liked the clue for 55D. That’s it. In out of THYME. This one gets ASEA minus..

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Sometimes I just don't understand OFC. The term EASYPEASY ("Japanesey," continued James Whitmore in "Shawshank", citing today's mini-theme with SUZIE Wong and GEISHA) does not refer to the difficulty level of the puzzle. It's an expression with a homonym reference to P-Z, that's all. Geez-ee, gimme a break.

I do think that the POLISHZLOTY entry sounds green-paintish. Come on, if it's a ZLOTY, it's already POLISH. Desperate times...

I didn't think this was all that hard. Medium for a Monday, which means not much harder than a fill-in. Yes, I thought it was probably a TRiSAIL, but perhaps TRYSAIL would be an acceptable variant. Didn't spend a lot of time on it, so it was mot a PESKY spot. See?

PAULAZAHN will take DOD honors. This was mostly OK; give it a par.

Burma Shave 1:08 PM  

RIAL THYME

PRINCESSZELDA had something to SAY,
"The TOPIC of PETTING is okay."
ZELDA's LAD said, "Oh my!"
with a SHAKE and a SCYTHE,
"It's EASYPEASY when you OBEY."

--- PAULA ZAHN

rondo 2:21 PM  

From Wikipedia - The ZLOTY is the official currency and legal tender of Poland. It is subdivided into 100 grosz (gr). The widely recognised English form of the currency name is the POLISH ZLOTY. It is the most traded currency in Central and Eastern Europe and ranks 22nd in the foreign exchange market.
The word ZLOTY is a masculine form of the Polish adjective 'golden'.

FWIW, a ZLOTY is worth about a quarter USD.

PAULAZAHN, yeah baby.

EASYPEASY.

Diana, LIW 2:24 PM  

Too bad PESKY isn't peZky, huh? Yeah, you thought so too.

Thought it was a typical Monday, as far as the EZPZ quotient goes.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 4:43 PM  

This puzzle must’ve ended in the wrong bin. EASY PEASY? It’s actually a challenging Monday puzzle, very well done.

POLISH ZLOTY (seven consonants, three vowels and a y).

Damon Gulczynski (seven consonants, two vowels and a y).

Nice work, Damon.


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