"Star Wars" princess / TUES 10-25-21 / Shrek's companion in "Shrek" / Spike or Gypsy Rose / Connery who played 007 seven times

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Hi, everyone, it’s Clare for the last Tuesday of October! Happy fall — finally — or, as my sister has been trying to get me to say: Happy spooky season! I’ve been trying to get into the season (my favorite time of the year) by baking pies and reading some ~spooky~ books like “Rebecca,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” and, coincidentally, “Frankenstein,” all of which I loved. The weather has also helped — we just had a massive rainstorm in Northern California (five and half inches of rain!), which was desperately needed but which uprooted trees and caused flooding, giving everything an otherworldly vibe. 

Anywho, on to the puzzle! 

Constructor: Michael Schlossberg

Relative difficulty: Fairly easy
THEME: FRANKENSTEIN (58A: Doctor whose shopping list might include 20-, 34- and 42- Across?) — Each theme answer is something Dr. Frankenstein might use to make his monster. 

Theme answers:
  • NUTS AND BOLTS (20A: Basic, practical details
  • AN ARM AND A LEG (34A: What expensive things cost
  • LIGHTNING ROD (42A: Magnet for criticism
Word of the Day: BEE BALM (7D: Flowering plant also known as horsemint) —
Bee Balm (also commonly known by its scientific name, Monard, or bergamot, horsemint, and owego tea. It is a genus of flowering plants in the mint family, Lamiaceae. The plant is endemic to North America. The genus was named for the Spanish botanist Nicolás Monardes, who wrote a book in 1574 describing plants of the New World. (Wiki)

• • •

I found the theme quite fun and amusing. It was also certainly timely with Halloween coming up this weekend. For some reason, I had a hard time getting going at the top of the puzzle, so I actually solved this puzzle from bottom-to-top in a sort of piecemeal approach. That meant I got FRANKENSTEIN before I got any of the theme answers, which took a bit of the huzzah out of the reveal for me. Still, I appreciated the clever theme. 

The rest of the puzzle was a different story. It felt like the puzzle was made up of mostly three- and four-letter words that were crosswordese or just plain annoying (III, anyone?). For example… CHEF, HOGS, ALB, BLAB, ENGRTGIF, BBC, ARS, LIE, EEO, OHO, PLO, ALDO (why do so many end in O?!). I’ve also never heard of EGO SURFS (18A: Looks for web content about oneself) before, and did we really need plural AMANAS (1D)? I will always hate words like E-CHECK (65A), where there’s just an “e” thrown in front of a word to make it “virtual.” Then, having it cross SNERT (56D: Hägar the Horrible's dog) was particularly irksome for me, because I wasn’t familiar with it. 

I suppose some of the long downs were nice enough (BEGONIA, DEMURE, ELICIT, LAOTSE)? But that’s about it! 

  • I remember reading FRANKENSTEIN for the first time in my 11th grade English class and being very surprised by the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor — not the name of the monster. 
  • OREOs (16A: Treat with a 71%-to-29% cookie-to-cream ratio) are pretty good, but the Double Stuf OREOs — even though they apparently only have 1.86 times the cream of a regular OREO — are most definitely the best. 
  • Whenever I think of SEERS (28A: Crystal ball gazers, e.g.), I can only think of Professor Trelawney from Harry Potter and all of her shenanigans. Guess this is a perfect season for a Harry Potter movie marathon! 
  • Did I finally lose the battle I’ve been fighting with my sister over whether it’s called bubble tea or BOBA (5D: Word before tea or Fett)? Maybe you can all be the judge. I still proclaim that it’s called bubble tea and will die on this hill, while she claims that everyone instead calls it BOBA (tea). (We’ve since learned that it’s mainly called BOBA on the West Coast, where she went to school, and bubble tea on the East Coast, where I attended.) 
And that’s all! Hope everyone has a spooktacular Halloween and a great November! 

Signed, Clare Carroll, a Hocus Pocus devotee

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Dr. Bunsen 12:25 AM  

Very tough for me to finish, mostly due to the downs in the top part of the grid. Two long plant- related words side by side? (Crossing with “egosurfs” did t help). “Amanas”? (Still don’t know what this is). Boba tea? (This is most definitely bubble tea!)

jae 12:38 AM  

Easy-medium and faster than yesterday’s. AsideS before ADLIBS was my major erasure and I needed all the crosses for BEEBALM. Funny puzzle with a surprise revealer. Liked it a bunch and Jeff gave it POW (Sunday was POW for last week). u

G. Weissman 12:49 AM  

Nice review, Clare. Good points regarding the short fill and the fun theme. With the exceptions of DCON and ALDO, this puzzle seems Monday-easy to me. It did not leave me “calm with hints of mirth,” but then nothing ever has. I look forward to seeing what high praise will be sung about this okay-for-a-Monday puzzle. I’mi

bocamp 1:24 AM  

Thx Michael, for this pre-Halloween, FRANKENSTEIN Tues.! :)

Hi Clare, good to see you again, and thx for your writeup! :)


Smooth trip from the NW, down to the SW, over to the SE and ending up at BEE BALM in the Midwest.

Very enjoyable puz! :)


Condolences for the passing of your Grandma. 🙏

yd pg -1 (nice to see all the SB results from yd :)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

chefwen 2:20 AM  

A very timely puzzle for the witching season. Too bad we couldn’t fit black CAT in instead of ALLEY CAT.

Putting AsideS in at 1A messed me up big time in that upper left corner. DEMURE set me on the road to recovery. Other than that snafu, pretty easy.


okanaganer 2:29 AM  

Hi Claire, nice to get your take again.

Agree with pretty much all you said. But I have some extra nits tonight: what is with the archaic LAO TSE? That is so 1980s; it's LAO TZU or LAOZI or LAO TZE now, right Google?

And 25 down "Something played that's not a game" == ROLE. Except if it's a role playing game!! (RPG == the slightly less violent alternative to "rocket propelled grenade".)

In about 1974 my dad carried this weird appliance into the house. It was an AMANA Radar Range... the first microwave oven. We were instructed to put the food in, close the door, hit the button, and retreat to the other side of the room. The microwaves were dangerous!! Even many years later, we kept the thing in the woodshed at our lake cabin, connected by extension cords (seriously I'm not making this up) and would hit the button and take ten paces back.

[SB: td (Mon.) 0, final word that herb I never heard of except by a different name. When desperate, just mash together short words and see what happens!]

Frantic Sloth 3:58 AM  

So, FRANK EN STEIN walk into a bar. Says STEIN, "let me be FRANK." Says FRANK, "I'll have a STEIN." EN they all lived happily ever after hours.

I liked this theme. Only thing missing was Abby Normal's brain.
The fill was...there, being all Tuezzy, so I'll ignore it.

Sorry, Clare, but I don't have a dog in the BOBA/Bubble controversy. 🤷‍♀️

I did have a slow start up top, too, though not enough to change my attack plan. Ended up with a faster time than yesterday (Hi, @jae!)

Speaking of...@jae 1238am Thanks for clearing up which end of the week claims the Sundees.


Anonymous 4:46 AM  

Really dreadful fill, as Clare pointed out. Felt more like autofill was clicked a few times and very little effort was made to create interesting or graceful entries, to say nothing of some of the horrible crossings.

Stacking BBC, EEO? Please. Crossing them with BEEBALM, and ending with tow propers of ELIE and SEAN? Lazy. AMI and AIME crossing? Extra lazy. LEE LEI LEIA crossing? Did this even get edited? What's going on at the NYT team? This should have been sent back for a redo if they were so enamored with the theme.

Theme was fine and could have been a fun Tuesday if some effort had been put in on the fill. As it stands... a weak effort.

Del Taco 5:05 AM  

Fun puzzle, fun Halloweeny theme.
Good times.

Lewis 5:41 AM  

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

1. Digital color presentation? (4)(6)
2. Take to another dimension? (4)
3. Potential topic to discuss in science class? (6)
4. Go from E to F (4)(2)
5. It's just passing (3)


Lewis 5:46 AM  

Please forgive that my favorite clues list is a day late!

Conrad 5:49 AM  

@chefwen: Besides your missing black CAT, poor IGOR is nowhere to be found.

Lewis 6:47 AM  

I like to play “guess the theme” as I’m solving, but I had no idea what the theme was after revealing the three theme answers – not a chance! – thus that FRANKENSTEIN reveal brought me a big “Hah!”, not only as the answer to the riddle, but also because of the images – the little story – those three answers immediately painted in my head. That’s rare and special when a theme creates a mini-movie in my head, and triple bravo on creating that moment, Michael.

Then there were little side pleasures:
• Animals all over: PERCH, BATS, CAT, SWAN, DEER, HOGS, DONKEY, and wannabe backward EEL.
• The letters B, L, and A showing up together in BALM, BLAB, and ALB.
• The very beautiful DEMURE and ELICIT.

Hah and hurrah, Michael. I got a kick out of this. Thank you so much!

Anonymous 6:57 AM  

Editor should have added "source" to 21D, Venison.

Anonymous 7:07 AM  

Someone call a Wambulance!! STAT!

For me, the extra grit in some parts of the puzzle was welcome. Nothing to complain about. I rarely think about the fill in a qualitative sense. Seemed OK to me today.

Tom T 7:16 AM  

More of a medium for me, because of the various items Claire pointed out in the upper half of the grid. Thanks, Claire!

Two "hidden diagonal words" share the same line in the SE and a common first letter:

a) Decided, by the court (4 letters, rising diagonal)
b) Purloined (3 letters, declining diagonal)

Son Volt 7:25 AM  

COOL little puzzle. Agree on some of the short glue - but the 12 wide themers and revealer take up a lot of real estate - the NE/SW corners suffer the most.

I’ll take Princess LEIA atop BEER with my Horace any day. Learned EGO SURF but G CLEFS was awkward.

My inner anthophile loved the BEEBALM, BEGONIA and MEADOW subtheme.

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

Z 7:26 AM  

Whatever the October equivalent of Scrooge is, that’s me. As a kids’ holiday I’m fine with it. But seriously, somewhere between 11 and 16 you grow out of it. Well, most people used to grow out of it. The most annoying thing is all the slasher movie crap crowding the air waves (well, streaming waves, now). Puhleeze. Although I must admit that Friday the 13th: The Geriatric Years ads are amusing in a way I don’t think they intended. Or maybe they did.

Got to the reveal and just thought, “Can we not, please?” Fortunately, Shortz et al. don’t actually care all that much about running puzzle themes on the right day, so this is probably just a one off. But if tomorrow is another Halloween themed puzzle I’ll probably just take a NYTX vacay until next Monday. I have zero interest in doing a weeks worth of Halloween puzzles.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

We planted some BEE BALM in our front yard three years ago, and unlike almost everything else we plant, it seems to be doing well and even spreading a bit. Pretty much the only other exceptions to our brown-thumbism have been various ferns.

Adding to the Hallowe'en feel, we got BATS and a CAT and FEAR.

Yesterday we got the easiest Monday puzzle ever. Today, we got the easiest Tuesday puzzle ever. I liked the theme, but let’s get some challenge into those clues.

Unknown 7:35 AM  

Z - but you won't

Z 7:35 AM  

@Roo late yesterday - Sorry to hear that. take care.

@Smitty so late yesterday that it was actually this morning - But then nautical terms are bizarre things that you can either spell correctly or pronounce correctly but never both - 🤣😂🤣 - So true.

smalltowndoc 7:44 AM  

I agree 100% with Clare. The fill was horrible due to all of the junk she cited.

SouthsideJohnny 7:47 AM  

Cruised through this one at pretty much a Monday pace until I got to my last square - the S in ARS crossing LAOTSE - I tried 5 or 6 guesses and gave up. Very sad to have a Tuesday DNF on a Chinese guy crossing God only knows what an ARS Poetica is - maybe a novel, a movie, a poem, a sonata or aria . . . or maybe street food at a Shakespeare festival ? In my opinion, if the NYT Xword editorial team has a tragic flaw, it is the disinclination to avoid crossing PPP - leading to the constant flirtation with Natick-land. Granted, it’s their choice and they can do whatever they want - but I believe it creates a ceiling of just “above average” for the quality of their puzzles, when they could easily strive for and perhaps attain “stellar” by paying a little more attention to details.

amyyanni 7:52 AM  

Hiya Clare, glad to see you. Peppy Halloween puzzle. What IS the name of Frankenstein's creation?? Found BEE BALM growing right next to a BEGONIA rather satisfying, especially as those are two of the very few plants I can manage to maintain. (There's a lovely white begonia on the porch in fact.)
OK Clare: Happy Spooky Season to you and your sister. Hope you both get treats, the tea of your choice, and aren't too scared. 😱

Richard from NYC 7:54 AM  

Abbas is head of the PLA

Arafat was head of the PLO

Joaquin 8:15 AM  

Seemed like a Monday puzzle to me.

Being a "Halloweenish" theme I will relate my favorite Halloween memory:

Two friends and I, all 11 years old and on our last ever trick-or-treating, knock on the door of a garden apartment. An old man (probably about 30!) answers and when we say "Trick or treat!" he responds with, "Huh?"

So we explain the tradition and he asks us in and has us sit at his kitchen table. Then he makes us tuna sandwiches. I kid you not.

Of course, we made fun of this guy for years. Meanwhile, he probably got a lifetime's worth of fun telling everyone he knew about the time he messed with three kids on Halloween.

This all happened in the mid-50s. Just imagine if that had happened recently ...

TJS 8:17 AM  

THIS is the POW ? Good Lord...

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

I filled in 20A (NUTS AND BOLTS) and then 34A (AN ARM AND A LEG) and thought, oh a puzzle about body parts. And I was right!

Dr. Ants 8:27 AM  

@Richard from NYC - Per Wiki: "Mahmoud Abbas has been the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) since 11 November 2004..." He is *also* the head of the PNA (not "PLA"). I have to say I will never understand folks "fact checking" things without actually checking first. But I do hope you and everyone else has a wonderful morning ^_^

Oh and on the puzzle, like @Dr. Bunsen, I was hit hard by the two longer plant-related downs at the top that I didn't know., and crossing EGOSURF (which I've never heard of - and I'm a Millennial!). It furthermore didn't help that I initially had gUTSANDBOneS in at the first long across...

thfenn 8:33 AM  

Lol, @okanaganer, we did the same thing! I STILL take a couple of steps back. Thought this was a fine Tuesday. Casual Fridays where I work, at least when we actually went to the office, seemed to mean jeans were OK more than lose the tie - not many had those on the rest of the week. And I think PLO is actually just plain wrong, shouldn't it be PLA? But BEEBALM and BEGONIA are lovely, both as entries and flowers. @Z have soured a bit on Halloween myself - just doesn't seem to be as fun or innocent anymore, and I'm not a slasher pic fan.

jberg 8:36 AM  

@Clare, thanks for the writeup, but I feel a little sad for you -- solving from the bottom up, you missed the two best things about this puzzle.

1) After getting NUTS AND BOLTS and then AN ARM AND A LEG, thinking that the theme is something about pairs, and expecting to see 'cats and dogs' next (appropriate for the weather today in the NE); then seeing LIGHTNING BOLT and thinking the constructor has just given up on the theme - and finally getting to FRANKENSTEIN as a revelation. That was really great.

2) Not quite as neat, but having two parallel downs clued as 7-letter flowering plants beginning with BE... We have BEE BALM in the garden, but never heard it called horsemint. And I think there's a typo in the wiki article, it's Monarda, not monard (gotta Latinize those scientific names).

Is BAT SIN another Halloween reference?

Joe Banff 8:59 AM  

I live in Alberta. In my 64 years I have never seen it abbreviated Abl, Alta yes, AB yes. Abl no.

thfenn 9:06 AM  

@Dr Ants, definitely my error. The sad part is that I did fact check, meant to type PNA, just to compound things further, and that wouldn't be wrong, but still PLO is fine. Stand corrected.

Wanderlust 9:16 AM  

Like Clare and unlike Z, this is my favorite time of year. Part of it just because I love autumn, but I do also love Halloween. We have a big Halloween bash every year, always with a different theme, and decorate the creaky old house in a big way. Adults and kids in our household and others have roles to play in our show. In various years, I have played the ringmaster in a circus of horrors, a sweetly murderous granny, an ET experimenting on human subjects, a deranged writer in an asylum, a table saw operator who cuts off his own head - and Frankenstein’s monster as a suave ballroom dancer. Alas, no party last year or this year.

So yes, I liked the puzzle.

Other notes: ALB was my first out-of-country trip since the plague began. Went to both sides of the International Peace Park - Glacier in Montana and Waterton Lakes in Alberta. Both stunning. Fall is a great time to go - after the summer crowds and before the snows.

NECKTIES - I hope the pandemic kills them. In the before time, I had to wear them sometimes to meetings with important people. I hate them. Neck pythons.

ALLEY CAT: I live in the city, and every night I take my mutt into the alleys to hunt. She is obsessed and pretty accomplished, killing a rat about once every other week. She just shakes them and drops them - no interest whatsoever in consuming them. I asked the vet if this was OK, and he said, “Bring her to my house.”

Finally: ANNA. Why is she still in puzzles? I’m a big tennis fan, and Kournikova was an overhyped nothing who never won anything important. She was famous only for her sex appeal. Many more worthy ANNAs.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:26 AM  

There's another typo in the Wikipedia article, too, owego tea for oSwego.

Says I 9:29 AM  

I have to question the wisdom of letting a cat out to catch rats. Seems like a really bad idea.

Carola 9:36 AM  

Delightful, with a double fake-out at the end. Like @jberg, after the first two theme answers, I was ready to write in another "AND" phrase and was flummoxed by the LIGHTNING ROD. Then I got to the clue about the doctor and fully expected the answer to be something like an orthopedic or prosthetic surgeon. So, for me, FRANKENSTEIN was a terrific joke. But I think the theme is just all-around great, with those three phrases so nicely clued in a non-body-part way. A Halloween treat for sure.

Congrats to those successfully growing BEEBALM. My one attempt at adding it to my perennial bed succumbed to powdery mildew.

Do-overs: AsideS (hi, @chefwen), biOSURFS.

@okanaganer 2:29 - I mentally group LAO T?? with MAUNA ??A, musical pieces in a M??OR key, etc. Wait and hope I know the cross.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

A cute theme that I never would have guessed in a million years. This is because, having aciduously avoided horror books and movies my entire life, I don't know the FRANKENSTEIN monster's origin story. What did the good doctor do with the LIGHTNING ROD? Beats me. I did see Mel Brook's hilarious "Young Frankenstein", but I don't remember lightning. I just remember Madeline Kahn ("how twue, how twue"), Marty Feldman ("Walk this way") and Cloris Leachman and the spooked horse. There were lots of creepy, dark scenes, so I suppose there might have been lightning.

BEEBALM was a DOOK that I didn't get until I came here. Never heard of BOBA. And didn't know that the BEGONIA was known as horsemint. It was the "B"s that gave me the most trouble today.

Anyway, a lively, colorful romp that made for a fun Tuesday.

RnRGhost57 9:52 AM  

@Okaganer, agree with you about Lao-tse/Lao Tzu. It’s time for the NYT Xword to retire Chou Enlai, Mao Tsetung, etc. spellings.

I echo @Richard From NYC: Abbas heads the PLA, not the PLO.

Joseph Michael 10:01 AM  

A suh-weet Halloween treat full of body parts, sparks, a cat, a bat, a poison, and a monster waiting to be born.

Hmmm. Since this felt like a Monday and yesterday felt like a Wednesday, I wonder if tomorrow will feel like a Tuesday.

Fun puzzle overall. But when the National Biscuit Company first released the OREO in 1912, did they have any idea how many different ways their product would be described in NYT crossword puzzles???

tea73 10:14 AM  

I really liked the misdirect on the theme. LIGHTNING ROD??!! followed by aha. I've never actually read FRANKENSTEIN. I guess it's high time!

I've never understood the attraction of bubble/boba tea. I was no doubt influenced by my Mom who used to call tapioca pudding "fish eggs in glue".

I did find this (probably what Clare found too). "Boba tea, bubble tea, and pearl milk tea — in Taiwan, zhenzhu naicha (珍珠奶茶) — are essentially different names for the same thing; the monikers differ by location, but also personal preference. (In the U.S., the East Coast favors bubble tea, while the West prefers boba.)"

When we were in Hong Kong, I mostly saw bubble tea, in Taiwan I saw bubble tea (when translated into English.)

mathgent 10:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Are begonias perennials?

JD 10:37 AM  

Easy, and a theme I got despite my usual fog of obtuseness.

Barbara S. 10:48 AM  

Condolences to @Roo.

I think Dr. FRANKENSTEIN’s shopping list was a lot longer than this, but the whole thing would definitely be TMI – and yes, I noticed the word “include” in the revealer’s clue. Loved the BEEBALM/BEGONIA pairing. We had a lot of BEEBALM in the backyard before it mysteriously died and it really lived up to its name: the bees loved it. We had what we figured were at least five different species busily buzzing about in late summer (and this was in an urban area). After its demise, the asters and goldenrod took its place -- more beeloved plants. I’ve heard “bergamot” as an alternative name for BEEBALM, but never “horsemint.” And BEGONIAs were among my mother’s favorite flowers – and she loved flowering plants of all kinds. I remember BEGONIAs in the garden and pots of BEGONIAs around the house. BEGONIAs seem old-fashioned to me, Victorian or Edwardian or something one’s grandmother would cultivate with care.

There’s a lot of potentially creepy stuff in this puzzle if you go looking: BAT, CAT, SEERS, TWISTY, IDES, I FEAR, SOS. And let us not forget the NECKTIE murderer in Hitchcock’s Frenzy. And there’s even ALDO Ray who, it turns out, was in a comedy called “FRANKENSTEIN’s Great Aunt Tillie” and a short film called “FRANKENSTEIN’s Brain” toward the end of his career!

Last night I described my botched attempt to speed-solve Monday’s puzzle. For today’s, I didn’t try to go fast at all, just went methodically through at my normal pace. And found I was only 10 seconds slower than my Tuesday record! OK, I’m definitely rethinking my Monday approach.

@Tom T (7:16) – I don’t know if you’d count it, but there’s a 5-letter French word-diagonal in the south-central area.

yd -1 (missed an easy one -- d'oh!)
td pg -5 (in progress)

Malsdemare 10:58 AM  

I'm swamped today. I just wanted to tell @Roo that I'm so sorry for your double losses. Yes, getting old genuinely sucks at times.

Again, thanks all for your kind words of sympathy.

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

@Nancy, it was harnessed LIGHTNING through that ROD that brought the monster to life and generated the now famous line from Dr. FRANKENSTEIN: "It's alive!"

A Moderator 11:11 AM  

No Spoilers of Yesterday’s Puzzle. Either do a big alert or write obliquely about it.

GILL I. 11:12 AM  

We're back from our bucolic existence of a month of living in Auburn. At least I get my comfy bed back.
A puzzle with some Halloweeny vibe....@Frantic..yep....FRANK AN STEIN did walk into the bar along with DEER BEER, LEE, BEE and SEERS. They ordered a side of NUTS. SNERT, the bar tender, charged them AN ARM AND A LEG....They drank the ARM. The HOGS ate the LEG.
@Joaquin...I've always loved Halloween. When we lived in Cuba, very few natives knew about trick or treating. We "Americanos" had no problems telling them about our customs. We'd always go to the ritzy Biltmore area to collect our goodies. We'd tell the unbeknownst, that in America, people always gave money to children on this holiday. We assured them they would go to heaven and God would reward them when they got there. It worked. We'd get enough money to buy pirolis for a year.
I enjoyed this puzzle if only because of FRANKENSTEIN. Who doesn't love a crazy scientist who creates a monster with bolts coming out of his neck? Where is Boris Karloff when you need him?

@Mals. Just getting caught up on late posts. So sorry to hear about your sister. Sisters have an incredible bond. There are 3 of us - still alive - and when we get together, it's magic. But your comment about wanting to get shot out of a cannon, brought a smile and laughter (sorry if this offends)...because my Mom was actually shot out of one (sort of) when she left us. She and her best friend (who died 2 weeks after Mom did) were put in a fireworks cylinder and shot up into the air over Keene NH. It was magical. Best fireworks display ever. Smiles in heaven.

Frantic Sloth 11:21 AM  

I'd like to add my belated condolences to @Malsdemare and @Roo. @Mals Your sister Joyce sounds like someone I would have loved to know and I don't say that lightly! @Roo Deepest sympathy for what's been a rough year. Safe travels to both of you. ❤️❤️

@Z 947pm last night Thanks for taking the words right outta my mouth - and saving me from having to be the snark. 😉

Perry 11:21 AM  

Mostly an OK puzzle. The only thing that really stuck out for me was 44D ("Item left at home on casual Fridays"). That felt like a full-on anachronism. Like anybody wears a NECKTIE anymore or, for that matter, goes regularly into the office.

The necktie was always a stupid, pointless accessory. I will not mourn its demise (if it does, in fact, pass completely out of fashion).

Z 11:27 AM  

Gah! The Weekly Gorski is a Halloween Quote Puzzle. Fully expecting Cerberus to be my escort the rest of the week.

@Barbara S - For the longest time 6:00 was an impenetrable barrier on Monday. I just could not break it. I started doing the Newsday puzzles on Monday as well. Those I could do in under 6:00, sometimes even under 5:00. That seemed to be the key, because now (well, up to the dropping of the .puz format) <5:30 is typical and I <5:00 has happened. My timing days are over because I despise the NYTX app so always just print the puzzle. Next weekend will be a test, since I’m traveling to a tournament and printing the puzzle won’t be an easy option.

Legume 11:28 AM  

I, too, ended up (so to speak) going from bottom to top. can never remember how to spell that princess' name, apart from the L. had to wait on BBC/itv, of course. just spent the last week on Block Island, and now know what all the names of that red thingee are called.

so, tell me, what do you call a clue that's too easy for even Monday, aka 23A?

puzzlehoarder 11:28 AM  

My take away from this puzzle was that yesterday's whiners are getting their Monday easy puzzle a day late. Not so fast there, some people still find the short crosswordese to be a problem. All anyone has to do nowadays is go to xwordinfo and click on the clue lists to see how many times these entries have been used. More importantly they can see at a glance all the variations in the editors' approaches to cluing them. In a matter of months you could learn what used to take years to acquire. Of course that wouldn't be as much fun as coming here and complaining.

AMI is a case in point. This is its 257th appearance in the Shotz era alone. If you look down its xwordinfo list you'll see it's always been clued as a variation on "French friend" or as a partial. It's never been a name. That didn't stop multiple commenters from complaining that it was a potential Natick in a recent puzzle because they thought it could be an alternative spelling of the name AMY.

I hate a dnf as much as the next solver and despite having solved regularly even before WS became editor I find those xwordinfo lists to be an invaluable resource. Read those lists regularly and before you know it you'll be complaining about how easy the puzzles are just like I do.

yd -1 (an easy one too)

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

@Joe Banff:

not abbr. in the puzzle like that either.

egsforbreakfast 11:40 AM  

I think that this puzzle got Jeff Chen’s POW because the theme leaves you mystified until you get a big aha at the perfect revealer. For that reason, I too very much liked the puzzle. The fill was so-so, but I have to disagree with Clare about her list of Crosswordese. Words that are legitimate but are seldom encountered outside of crosswords are Crosswordese. CHEFS, HOGS, BLAB, TGIF, LIE, PLO and ALGO (all from Clare’s list), are not Crosswordese.

It was nice to see our old yummy friend OREO back.

Do Star Wars fans generally prefer BOBA Fett or Bubble Fett?

Thanks to Clare for a nice write up, and to Michael Schlossberg for a scary good puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 11:53 AM  

@Nancy – Your Madeline Kahn line was "It's true, it's true!" and it's from "Blazing Saddles", after Cleavon Little unzipped his pants (sound effect only). But she did have "seven or eight quick ones" with the monster in YF.

JD 11:56 AM  

@Frantic/@Gil, 😀 both of you. Yesterday I wanted to be shot out of a cannon. Now I want to go in a Roman candle. That changes the plan from being cremated and inurned in a Chock full o'Nuts can.

Why was the monster's head flat in the black & white Frankenstein?

Orangeblossomspecial 12:01 PM  

I preferred Sunshine Hydrox rather than Oreos, but the company couldn't last. Pity.

Whatsername 12:01 PM  

@Roo and @Malsdemere: Very sorry to hear your sad news from yesterday. Neither old age nor illness makes the loss any easier. My sincerest sympathy to you and your families.

I’ve been off-line for a few days after LIGHTNING fried my modem Saturday morning. It was nice to ease back into solving with this easy AND entertaining Tuesday, I liked it a lot. Young FRANKENSTEIN is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I couldn’t help but think of that scene featuring the great ACTS of Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Terry Garr and Madeline Kahn: “You take the blonde and I’ll take the one in the turban.” A Mel Brooks classic.

bocamp 12:15 PM  

Enjoyed the company of many ALLEY CATs back in the day. First one whose name I can recall, was BEEtleBAuM (love these coincidences). More recently shared space with indoor CATs with more conventional names. lol 😽

@okanaganer (2:29 AM)

Good tactic; I recalled that one from the past (which was right up today's ALLEY, so to speak), but ala @Barbara S. (10:48 AM) & @puzzlehoarder (11:28 AM), missed an easy one. :(


Couldn't drop off to sleep last night, so got up and managed the right 1/3 of Croce's 654. Hope to finish it today.

td pg -2 (may do some ot's today; hopefully not 9 ala the Illinois/Penn St. game)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Z 12:23 PM  

@Perry - Having lived through the polyester leisure suit era, please trust me when I caution you to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

@egsforbreakfast - Bubble Fett fell victim to the third trilogy and is no longer considered canonical. As I recall that was very controversial.**

@Frantic Sloth - Yah. I was hoping that the first one was meant to be snarky misreading of intent to be funny. One could certainly read @Lewis’ post that way if you wanted and I’ve been known to call attention to unintentionally awkward phrasing myself. But when they doubled down on actually being insulted I did the old SMH. Granted, not everyone knows that @Lewis has taught a class on crossword solving for beginners so was writing, I think, from the same line of thought I was. That is* that our dirty little secret is that what looks impressive from the outside (solving in ink, knowing all about the Oise) have unimpressive mundane explanations.

@unknown 7:35 - You’re probably right. But I’m guessing they won’t all be Halloween Crosswords. However, I’m full expecting my other subscription puzzles to be Halloween Based. Gah.

@Legume - Hold on to your hat. SEAN Connery is the Yma Sumac of Bond actors. Anyone younger than 37 wasn’t even born the last time he played Bond, and anyone under 50 wasn’t born during his primary run as Bond. Yma was still performing well into my adulthood. I only know about her because of crosswords. Just because a PPP clue is easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone.

*I wonder if in 2,000 years “i.e.” will have been replaced by “t.i.”
**Reading for typos and now I wonder how many people even know about the whole Star Wars Canon v Star Wars Legends thing. Oh well, trust me, it’s a nerd joke riffing on @egs most excellent joke.

EdFromHackensack 12:30 PM  

Lewis, thanks for the Top 5. I was looking for it yesterday, oftentimes it is the highlight of this blog.

mathgent 12:32 PM  

A good way to spend a few minutes. Cute theme.

My favorite posts this morning.

Lewis (5:41)
Joaquin (8:15)
Wanderlust (9:16)
egsfor... (11:40)

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Halloween theme came early, but at least there was (at least) one, this year.

I believe U could also add BEER to FRANKENSTEIN's themers shoppin list. Anyone with "stein" in their name would surely be a fan. Asst. Igor could also buy some REDS & abnormal brains, while he is at it.

staff weeject pick: III. Mainly cuz it was Claire darlin's poster ugh-word of the day. Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW.

Real interestin placement of longball nonthemer entries, in this puzgrid. Most of em were doubled-up, in the middle. Plus then EGOSURFS and ALLEYCAT, crossin em.

LIE, LEE, LEIA. We have an ahar bingo, there.

Thanx for the schlocky fun, Mr. Schlossberg. Happy Halloween to yah.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Frantic Sloth 12:42 PM  

@GILL 1112am LOL! Leave it to you to know, be related to, or just be someone who's actually been fireworks. God love ya! P.S. I'd (always) rather be in your bar.

@Z 1127am What does it say that when I read your "...and <5:00 has happened" line, all I can think of is pharmaceutical side-effects?
1223pm Gee, I miss the days when I thought I was the center of everyone's universe. No I don't. Hey - you think anyone will still be here in 2000 years?

@JD 1156am I don't see why we can't combine all three in some sort of turducken-y cancancan. Ask if you can borrow @Z's Star Wars Canon.

thfenn 12:43 PM  

@Roo, sorry I missed yours from last night, and sorry for your loss. Aging's tough, and I'm grabbing all the time with my father that I can.

@Gill I, that sounds like a fabulous send off - had no idea that was actually possible. LoL, once cremated I presume.

@mathgent, LOL, what on earth did you say this time?

carol 12:57 PM  

Hey Claire and all,

I can’t figure out what « IRI » means in reference to a grandfather clock ?!?

SharonAK 12:59 PM  

Alhough I did this puzzle a bit faster than usual, and was enjoying the theme answers without any idea what the theme was, I had half forgotten them when I got to the revealer. This made the realization all the more fun when I glanced first at lightning rod than at an arm and a leg, and if ciurse nuts and bolts.

I could not relate to the gripes about the fill. There are always short answers (Thank Heavens, say I and there were some lovely longer ones.

carol 1:08 PM  

Oops! My mistake! III = 3 o’clock

Trying to keep up in the Great White North

GILL I. 1:26 PM  

@JD 11:56. Hmmmm. stuffed in a can chock full o'nuts. Now there's a thought. I can already pick the nuts I want to be stuffed with....then send me off into a sky full of pate de foo gra. @Frantic can hold the can.
@thfenn. Well...yeah...she was cremated first. Can't even imagine her being stuffed into a fireworks canister even though she was a petite femme fatale. Sorry for the morbidity but we all have to go sometime or other...let it be pleasant....And with that thought...@Roo...even with sadness, I hope you have very fond memories.....

Frantic Sloth 2:26 PM  

Oh, dear. @GILL. Why did I think your sister was alive at the time? I didn't mean to make light of the service. My profound apologies, mi amiga. In my poor excuse for a defense, nothing surprises me about your or your family anymore, so I assumed it was just another thing you did. Plus, there's my ace-in-the-hole excuse: me. 😘

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

I knew I couldn't use "$$$" for 19 Down (STP), but that's where the brain goes any time I see the words "gas station"

The Joker 2:47 PM  

Some commenters today seem to think the Mahmoud Abbas leads the Public Library Association.

Malsdemare 2:56 PM  

@GILL, please tell me how it was done. We remaining sisters are contemplating getting one of those party cannons that shoots confetti. We’d write funny stories and “love yous” on paper, shred it and shoot it into the air. Trouble is what to do with confetti everywhere; cemetery would hate it, as would neighbors and park people.. And fireworks is sooo much better. Details, please!

Hartley70 3:10 PM  

My condolences, @Roo.
@Gill I, stop! You must be pulling our LEG, and ARM for that matter. But then again, maybe not. I love your idea. I have a friend who wanted to be cremated and put in the ocean in Maine, but was adamant that the fish must not be able to swallow her. After a good deal of debate, the family gathered and mixed up a nice size tub of cement, mixed her in, and let it harden. When ready, they tipped her in the briny deep off the side of a boat.
Fun theme today, I enjoyed the reveal. Otherwise it was Tuesday.
@Mathgent, seriously? I guess you had a bit of the devil in you today, as my Gran used to say, and deserved a smack on the wrist. LOL!

Joe Dipinto 3:11 PM  

@Orangeblossomspecial 12:01– Hydrox was rebooted in 2015, it's now owned by Leaf Brands. I've yet to see them in stores anywhere, but I don't really shop the cookie aisle. We always had Hydrox, never Oreos, when I was a kid. Hydrox actually predated Oreos by four years. Also, it doesn't say so in this article, but I believe Hydrox are kosher whereas Oreos are not.

Today's movie clip.
Is this what you'd call a meet-cute?

Condolences to Malsdemare and Roo.

GILL I. 3:57 PM  

OK....for those that want to be shot up in the sky (or maybe mixed in with some good scotch).....:
First, of course you have to be cremated, otherwise you won't fit in any type of canister. Then you have to know someone who is sending off fireworks. My Mom's best friends' son was a fireworks wizard and every Fourth would send them flying off the pier in Keene. No permit required; no dead birds...just the amazing ooh's and aah's of seeing the people you love being sent into a flash of glorious lights and blazing saddles. I highly recommend it.
@Hartely...amiga. I never pull a LEG nor an ARM unless (ahem) well...you know.
@Frantic...we need to talk....Are you free?

Frantic Sloth 4:06 PM  

@GILL 357pm I'm not free, but I'm reasonably affordable. 😉 If you're serious, you can email me.

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

I'll go check today, but Hydrox is before Oreo and what made the original different was the use of vegetable fat rather than animal fat. that would make it kosher. and healthier.

Nancy 4:43 PM  

@A -- Many, many thanks for your link to and recommendation of the PBS Holmes episode "A Scandal in Bohemia" from the 10/20/21 blog. I watched it just now and absolutely loved it -- even though I couldn't get it on my TV and had to watch it on my laptop. It's a terrific episode and makes me wonder: why didn't I watch all the Sherlock Holmes episodes back when they were on? Heaven knows I watched all the Christies. I'm thinking that maybe the first one in the Holmes series was boring or stilted or old-fashioned or something. But this one was great. Highly recommended to the blog.

Eniale 5:08 PM  

Had no trouble with this nice Tuesday puz, though I had to wait for some crosses (echoing comments about LAO TZ etc). Never saw any Frankenstein films - eschew horror of any kind, even humor - but I did read the book last year thanks to Grandson's request for comment about school essay question.

SB: yd -7; today -2 including 1 pg. Maybe hubby will help later.

Smith 5:12 PM  


Hi from the other end of the day. If you have time, try reading FRANKENSTEIN. I had not read it since high school [other end of the life?] but my book club read it last winter and boy does it look different. Aside from the bizarre framing devices (two!) it is a fascinating meditation on many subjects.

This book club re-reads a classic about once a year including recently A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I didn't even have to re-read as I apparently committed it to memory at some point, and Rebecca, about which I had much the same reaction as I did to FRANKENSTEIN- no wonder my mother recommended re-reading. The older me is in such a different place that the perspective is almost unrecognizable.

This is probably too long already, but I do re-read Anna Karenina about every 15 years for the same reason. I related so to Dolly as a nursing mother, and wondered how a man could have so much knowledge. On previous reads I don't think I even noticed her...

I know, so many books, not enough time to read, let alone re-read. Plus all the magazines and the newspaper and puzzles!

Super easy today. Faster than yesterday. Hm.

Eniale 5:14 PM  

@bocamp late yd: Re "isthmus", dictionary definition says that's a narrow piece of land between stretches of water. Seems to me Seattle's more mainland than isthmus - but I'm sure the Kitsap Peninsula just across Puget Sound would qualify.

Smith 5:21 PM  

Missed yd. Condolences to Roo, twice, so sad, and to Malsdemare on the loss of your sister. Loved your ice cream analogy (went back to check). Know quite a few folks like that and it's just so hard when they aren't here anymore.

Anoa Bob 5:23 PM  

Thought the theme was first rate but with 37 black squares we get a lot of short stuff for fill. Hard to make those 3s and 4s consistently interesting to solve. The plural of convenience (POC) makes enough appearances---two in the top row alone---for this one to merit a "POC assisted" rating in my book.

I'm at the age to think about such things but since cremation uses a lot of energy and creates both toxic and greenhouse gases, I've been looking into Green Burial options. The basic idea is to minimize any negative impact we leave behind when we leave this earth.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

The Thai dish referenced in 61D is tom *yum* goong. Not yung.

Nate C 6:06 PM  

Wish the NYT had googled those THAI dishes before publishing the clue--"tom yung goong" is just plain wrong. A more correct transliteration of the Thai would be "tom yum goong."

pabloinnh 6:10 PM  

Back late, finally caught up with our old friends.

First, condolences to Roo and Mals. May the good memories stay with you and bring you comfort.

Next, agree with the laments about too much short fill crosswordese, and also agree with those who found the revealer delightful and unexpected.

Finally, will all members of the commentariat addressing "Clare" as "Claire" please stop doing that? Her names appears with her comments. This wouldn't bother me so much but it's a family name (Clare, that is), and people like to see their own names spelled as they spell them. Thank you.

Like this one, MS. Maximum Surprise revealer, for which thanks.

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

Agreed! No one would clue cow as beef. Or pig as pork.

Anonymous 7:03 PM  

Faster than average time for me, certainly faster than yesterday.

Who knew - in my are BEGONIAS are grown as annuals, but in warmer climates they are perennial.

Teedmn 7:33 PM  

@Anoa Bob, I'm with you on the green burial. I think there are three such places in Minnesota. I guess I should start looking into it seriously. Last month I attended the funeral of the 2nd one of my friends who didn’t make it to their 60th birthday. I'm 61 so the clock is ticking...

Joe Dipinto 8:05 PM  

The Thai dish...is tom *yum* goong.

Dear @Anon 5:53 and @Nate C 6:06–

Yeah yeah yeah, whatever. But what did you think of the clue for 64a? Clever, right? Right?

The New York Times Crossword editorial staff

albatross shell 10:12 PM  

I was thrilled with the revealer. Doing the whole blankANDblank, what's the connection, LIGHTNINGROD, now I am lost, Dr. hotdog AND brewski. Well done with a bit of mustard. Any failings not erased but ignored here.

For some reason ALDO Ray got confused in my mind with Adolphe Menjou. So that bar scene clip was a big surprise.

@Mals, Roo
Condolences and best wishes in your celebrations of the lives you care about.

Shot out of a cannon. Love it Went to sleep last night dreaming of ways to do it. Would a catapult over a pumpkin field do. Fireworks for the circus atmosphere. How zany is the rest of the family?
I have 2 sets of in-laws with four or more sisters. When they started working together just get out of the way. An irreSIStible force. Resistance is futile. I imagine you girls might be like that too. I was one of 4 brothers and another set of in-laws had 9 brothers. We were only like that if you got in the way of our baseball games.

There are begonias that are supposedly hardy to to zone 6A or maybe 6B. Not sure I'd count on it though.

The monardas are a delightful group of plants. Some are good for teas. All are good to the bees and the senses. A couple seem to be named horsemint and in some areas maybe beebalm is even called that. My favorite horse plant is horse balm which is aromatic (lemon) and is not a monarda. I usually find it growing in damp ditches along forest roads.

I was hoping for a belfry to go with you know what.




ELICIT illicit. Can you hear a difference?

Hartley70 11:01 PM  

I just read your post yesterday and I’m so very sorry for the loss of your sister. Joyce sounds fabulous.

Hartley70 11:02 PM  

Sorry, I hit publish by mistake. That post above was for @Malsdemare.

stephanie 11:07 PM  

for clare's personal data: i live in boston and we call it bubble tea, but the tapioca pearls inside the bubble tea we call boba(s). :) my favorite is honeydew milk tea with regular boba, or earl grey milk tea with regular boba and pudding. in the summer they had a slushie that was a sour apple and yogurt flavor and that was amazing with strawberry popping boba. my partner goes with the thai milk tea with half regular boba and half mango popping boba.

WRT to the puzzle, crunchier for me that usual but i loved the cute halloween theme and ultimately finished without help. had DEET before DCON, i always forget that one. FERAL CAT before ALLEY CAT. by some miracle - and by "miracle" i of course mean "many crosswords of yore" - i remembered SNERT. OIL before STP which had me thinking something about E-GOOGLES, and took me a minute on LIGHTNING ROD because i expected based on the other two answers that there would be an AND in the middle.

thefogman 10:03 AM  

All I know is that Burma is going to have fun with 22A.

DaffyDill Wpg 10:28 AM  

Not up here in Winnipeg Canada anyway.

spacecraft 11:03 AM  

Okay, we have letter-add-ons by the score already; we do NOT need to start in with the CLEFS! PLEASE do not think, dear constructors, that a precedent has been set today! Kindly regard 41-across as a misprint, or an example of the most desperate desperation.

Otherwise it was fine; even fun. Not 100% sure how the LIGHTNINGROD fits in, but yeah, I'll buy it. The critter does have to be electrified, to give him "life." So, really, do we all.

In poker we call AK ANNA Kournikova, i.e. looks great but doesn't win. Gotta agree with the "looks great" part: DOD. If we assign par values to "holes" repped by days of the week, then I'd say M/T would be your par 3's, W/T par 4's, and F/S par 5's. Accordingly, today's score is in the grid: a par III.

Burma Shave 11:59 AM  


DEMURE LEIA might BLAB, IFEAR she'll revolt,


rondo 12:06 PM  

Pretty easy. Can't see BEGONIA without thinking Flip Wilson's Ruby BEGONIA.

@spacey - good one re: yeah baby ANNA Kournikova.

Dr. FRANKENSTEIN also needs to get ahead. He needs somebody.

leftcoaster 4:49 PM  

A sparse collection of pieces, Dr. FRANKENSTEIN, but not a bad start. (Might add a NECKTIE, aka noose, though.)

Some of the fill needed a bit of time and attention: LAO TSE, BOBA, GCLEFS, and the melodious THAI food.

Had to TRY swirly and twirly before TWISTY.

leftcoaster 5:51 PM  

@BS -- Funny stuff.

Diana, LIW 6:12 PM  

Quite the recipe for the holidays.

Just saw an interview with Mel Brooks re the "remaking" of Frankenstein with Gene Wilder - hilarious.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP