Big name in smoothies / MON 11-29-21 / Diamond author of popular science books / Prez dispenser?

Monday, November 29, 2021

Constructor: Enrique Henestroza Anguiano

Relative difficulty: Medium (i.e. normal Monday)

THEME: RUNNING START (54A: Early advantage ... or what 20-, 28- and 45-Across each have?) — [blank OF blank] phrases where the first "blank" (the "start" of the answer) is a word that can be a synonym for "run":

Theme answers:
  • STREAK OF LUCK (20A: Hoped-for experience at a casino)
  • DASH OF PEPPER (45A: Designer Giorgio)
  • BOLT OF FABRIC (45A: Fashion designer's purchase)
Word of the Day: JAMBA Juice (31D: Big name in smoothies) —
Jamba Juice, doing business as Jamba, is an American company that produces blended fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies and similar products. The company is co-owned—with Moe's Southwest GrillSchlotzsky'sCarvelCinnabonMcAlister's Deli, and Auntie Anne's brands—by Focus Brands, an affiliate of private equity firm Roark Capital Group, based in Sandy Springs, Georgia, operating over 6,000 stores. Jamba was founded in 1990, with the first store located in San Luis Obispo, California. The company has more than 850 locations operating in 36 U.S. states, as well as Japan, the PhilippinesTaiwanSouth KoreaThailand, and Indonesia. (wikipedia)
• • •

So let's start with the obvious problem, which is—"RUN OF LUCK" and "LUCKY STREAK" are both phrases, whereas STREAK OF LUCK is something you cobble together to make a theme work. Defensible? Yes. On the money? Hardly. Hard clank. Other than that, the theme is clever. I don't know why all the themers have to follow the ___ OF ___ pattern—it's totally unrelated to the revealer. Maybe there was some idea of consistency or higher level of difficulty or something? Hard to approve when the result is that you clank that first themer so hard. But I think the concept is good for a Monday. Concept, good; execution, so-so. Fill, completely unremarkable. Nothing you would call particularly good, nothing you would call particularly bad. I don't get why JARED / JAMBA was appealing, but it does get you a "J," which is about the most exciting non-theme happening in this grid, so maybe it was worth it. I thought JAMBA was a name *part*, but apparently they're just JAMBA now? Or "doing business as JAMBA," at any rate, whatever that means. I'm just telling you what the first paragraph of the wikipedia entry (above) says. That wikipedia entry is also notable for its second sentence, which screams "late-capitalist dystopia" harder than most opening wikipedia paragraphs do. The prominence of "private equity firm Roark Capital Group" in your juice company description really shouts "alive with flavor!" Mmm, conglomericious!

My hatred of E-CARD knows no bounds, but that's really my problem (37A: Digital birthday greeting). An E-CARD is a real thing, however ersatz and sad. The only slow parts of the puzzle for me were "OH, GOSH" (it's not hard, exactly, it just felt like it could be a million quaint euphemistic things and I needed several crosses to figure out which one) (6D: "Goodness gracious!"), and ILL-KEPT (perfectly good phrase, just ... again, quaintish, needed crosses) (10D: Poorly hidden, as a secret). I also wrote in TAHOE before CANOE (62A: Lakeside rental), but that was without actually reading the clue, so that's just a stupid self-inflicted wound is what that is. Everything else is a shrug. A BENIGN shrug. Ooh, except the clue [Prez dispenser?] for ATM. That, I like.* SEE ME tomorrow!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*pun on "Pez dispenser"; and since ATMs dispense money, and most U.S. bills feature pictures of U.S. prezidents, voilà! ATM = Prez dispenser!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

Medium. Very smooth and solid. Nice beginner puzzle which is what a Monday should be. Liked it.

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #664 was easy- medium for a Croce or a tough NYT Saturday. The somewhat embarrassing part is that took me much longer than it should have to get 36a. Good luck!

egsforbreakfast 12:47 AM  

Rex complains about STREAKOFLUCK, but I prefer to parse it as STREAK O’ FLUCK.

Also, if you’re going to complain about NRA, BUSH and FOX, regardless of how they’re clued, you should complain as well about JARED, who’s raising billions from middle eastern potentaters to accelerate the decline of democracy here.

I must agree with Rex about ECARDs. They turn laziness into a seeming virtue.

The puzzle was okay but not all that interesting.

okanaganer 1:02 AM  

Personally STREAK OF LUCK sounds realer than Run of Luck.

Why clue a word like WATTS as a name? Well, it was a guy's name until it became the worldwide unit of energy consumption. And is not worldwide energy consumption a much more interesting topic than... a minor actress? Guess not.

JARED and JAMBA crossing was a total guess for me; fortunately J was the least goofy letter here. BARED and BAMBA not so much.

[Spelling Bee: td (Sun.) 0; my last word took a while (got it after supper!) because I always want to spell it with an O. In fact Merriam-Webster in my link uses the subtitle: "less common spelling of (the word spelled with an O)". A few other goofy words on Sun.]

chefwen 1:08 AM  

I had no problem with STREAK OF LUCK. Ive had a few of them in Vegas and I would most likely say that before run OF LUCK. I also had no problems at all with this easier than usual Monday. One write over, I was renting a cabin before a CANOE.

albatross shell 1:19 AM  

*Sunday* spoiler* alert*
well yesterday we were age 10 and today we BENIGN.


STREAK O FLUCK me, Rex. Yeah yours are more common but having a streak of (bad or good) luck is not exactly unheard or unsaid. And I am unfairly sure you would've been all over them if the running words were not consistently first or symmetrically the same length. But what of that. At first I used a ink composed in part of me own blood but as that were not make an acceptable carbon, I acquired an electric typewriter...
Sorry my friends had a post Thanksgiving Firesign Theater party I was unable to attend and I am a sea of rue.


ORSON IRENE JAMBA JARED ANA LES ICE KEN PAX BAE TAD LAM SEGA HALLE ann ARBOR walked into a bar and it hurt. Setup and punchline or neither. They couldn't find the hi-RES CUE.


Excuse me, is this your bar of soap?

Trinch 1:28 AM  

Personally, I only take out hundred at the ATM, so Prez Dispenser did not work at all for me.
Side note: One benefit of posting a comment at 1:30am is that I am free to dream. Once I wake up... then it's back to Jacksons for me. Hopefully Tubmans soon.

Larry Gilstrap 1:30 AM  

Starting at square one and working counter-clockwise, revealed themers beginning with STREAK and BOLT, so lightning was anticipated. Not so much, this time.

What makes a Monday puzzle a Monday: "Roman peace" cluing three letters is pretty definitive. Misdirection and nuance appear later in the week, but you knew that.

When was the last time any automobile manufacturer offered T-TOPS as optional accessories? Maybe, it's time to relegate them to Jay Leno's Garage.

KEN dolls involved fun while shaving, or being shaved, and what part of his little plastic body was hirsute? I would Google it, but I fear spam from either Mattel, or Harry's, or far worse.

Thanks to OFL for posting late enough for us Left Coast night owls. Fun solve.

Conrad 5:12 AM  

Before reading the clue I had DASH OF P_____ and thought, "Oh, please please please be DASH OF Pizzaz!" But alas, my hopes were ... er, DASHEd.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

Excellent puzzle for the newer solver. It’s gettable, though that solver may need to employ a bit of effort, making it satisfying. It teaches the concept of theme – as many new solvers have no idea that puzzles have themes – with a reveal that makes this zippy theme clear. It has some lovely answers to enrich the quality of the solve – MUESLI, RAGTAG, ILL KEPT, EARSHOT, and ECSTACY.

What I liked best that this puzzle has for the newer solver, something that is often AWOL in Monday puzzles, is a trio of wordplay-centric clues – [Prez dispenser?], [Modern love?], and [Motley, as a crew]. Yes! Newer solvers can, IMO, handle and enjoy wordplay, and putting some simple wordplay clues in a Monday puzzle, will whet their appetite for doing more.

My own favorite part of the puzzle was something I don’t remember seeing before, a bunched-together triple-semordnilap. It’s in the lower middle, with EDIT, SEGA, and TANG.

Congrats on your second NYT puzzle, Enrique, and thank you for making it!

Gene 6:53 AM  

Rex, you’re not the only one the hates E-CARD. It makes me groan every time it’s in the fill. Lame!

Bob of Concord 6:59 AM  

I loved Rex's rant on Jamba-- screams late capitalist dystopia, and shouts "alive with flavor." Also had to agree with his insights on the sadness of E-cards.

Tom T 7:18 AM  

There's a nice 5 letter Hidden Diagonal Word in the grid today, more of a midweek word than a Monday. Here's your clue:


There's also a personally heart-warming diagonal sharing space with the ATM, which might be clued as "Recent world champs on a scoreboard" -- ATL.

Bit of a side-eye to ONUSES: "OH GOSH, IRENE, the ONUSES are on you!"

Lewis made me feel better about thinking ECSTASY had 2 C's in it. That was a quickly corrected write-over for me when I realized I had never heard "Bad cafeteria food, say" described as cLOP.

Answer to the daily HDW:

BASAL (begins in the 47D block and moves south and east) In that same diagonal string you find MBAS, matching the answer for 42A.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

It’s a Monday, so all I ask is a consistent theme and low junk ratio, and this fit the bill. It has the grotesque BAE, though.

ORSON parallel to HALLE – fair? I think they are both in the ‘truly famous’ category, and anyone who does not know ORSON will know HALLE and vice versa.

JAMBA crossing JARED? Both gimmes for me but I can see potential issues there.

Would have loved to see MARATHON MAN as a themer, but it’s the wrong length.

Son Volt 7:24 AM  

Workable theme - flat fill for the most part. I’ve heard STREAK OF LUCK - but more commonly as bad/good luck streak - refer to Zevon.

Segmented grid resulted in lots of 3 and 4 letter entries with no spark. I’ll double down with Rex on E-CARD especially dead center. ONUSES doesn’t help. Liked OVERT, ILL KEPT and the ECSTASY - HALLE stack.

Theme was fine - just needed a little more juice overall.

JD 7:42 AM  

Why do I want to say eye of newt?

A good, upbeat training wheels Monday. Ice Pax. Yens and Slip. Sega and Tang. Lam and Are. Les is more on Monday @Rex. And as @Lewis pointed out, "bunched-together triple-semordnilap." Remarkable.

According to Crossword Info, in 1943 Ana was clued as Town on the Euphrates, in Iraq (Edna, what's that town on the Euphrates!? In Iraq? Yeah). This year it's been Actress de Armas five of the 15 times it's run in the NYT. Not remarkable, but interesting.

"...what part of his little plastic body was hirsute?" Phrase of the day @Larry Gilstrap. You can search Google in Incognito mode and Mattel will never know you were there. Three little dots in the upper righthand corner.

Joe R. 7:48 AM  

Dear Rex the Cranky, first of his name,

If you’re going to go on a rant about the first theme answer like that, please do 15 seconds of research first. Had you done so, you would have realized how wrong you are. “Lucky streak” googles to 893k results, while “streak of luck” gets 613k. So yes, lucky streak is slightly more common, but streak of luck is most definitely a thing.

Yours truly,
The crossword peasants

SouthsideJohnny 7:52 AM  

Interesting that JARED gets a pass from OFL and JAMBA incurs the wrath of Rex. It’s unlike poor Rex to miss such a marvelous opportunity to whine and moan - maybe he forgot to take his woke vitamins over the holiday.

Pretty workman-like Monday - others have already mentioned the few real winners and the couple of rough spots. I got a kick out of the JAMBA/JARED cross - nice job by the Times ensuring that the beginners learn early on that you will have no rest from the Trivia Tests here in the NYT Crossword Zone.

Two unfortunate realities today - it appears as though ECARDs and BAEs are going to be with us for a while.

MaxxPuzz 7:56 AM  

Ditto on STREAK OF LUCK. Hear it and say it all the time, in fact more often than Rex's 'more common' alternatives.

jberg 8:07 AM  

The theme was obvious once I had STREAK and DASH. Since it was so simple, I was hoping for a great revealer, and I wasn't disappointed. I think they all had OF in them because they had to start with a noun (though I guess all those could be verbs) so you need something to get the length; OF is one way to do it, and once you do it twice you'd better do it every time. I thought it was very well done. Another nice touch: none of the the theme words was clued as a syllable for RUN, although the first came close.

For some reason, while solving, I thought ILL KEPT was a play on ILL-KEmpt, but of course the latter would be un-, not ill-. I also had SEGo before SEGA, an odd mistake.

OK, I'll admit it -- I send E-CARDs all the time. If you make your own cards, of course that's better. But if you buy them from Hallmark, I don't consider that preferable to a nice animated scene from Jacquie Lawson.

A good start to the week!

Z 8:12 AM  

I"m pretty sure I saw Triple Semordnilap play at Club Soda, our favorite dance club, in the early 80's. They were a reggae band as I recall.

A fine Monday offering.

@JD - Town on the Euphrates, in Iraq - Ah, yes, when small towns on the Euphrates were part of the common knowledge. How I miss those days.

@Albatross Shell late yesterday - Oops, sorry. Definitely should have made it clear that I was impugning the seeming reading choices of the constructor.

Z 8:18 AM  

Since it seems to be the assertion of the day, let me assert that it is usually either STREAK OF good LUCK or STREAK OF bad LUCK. LUCKy STREAK is almost always good, but STREAK OF LUCK needs a modifier. Unless one is being wry, "I've had a STREAK OF LUCK, all bad."

amyyanni 9:03 AM  

Lively Monday, especially with Irene Cara dancing through. Had the FAME album: could sing "Hot Lunch" right now. Agree with the 2nd paragraph of @egsforbreakfast. Was in the cabin with @chefwen until we located the canoe. And @kitshef highlighted a snafu for me: had Samba Juice...still had dancing on my mind, I guess.
The Rita Moreno interview on 60 Minutes last night was delightful.

Lewis 9:15 AM  

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

1. Id checkers (9)
2. Including an unlisted number? (4)
3. The book of numbers (6)(5)
4. Started a new turn, perhaps (4)
5. Super wrong identification? (3)(1)(5)


bocamp 9:37 AM  

Thx Enrique; smooth puz to start off the week! :)


Tried out a new method for this one: started at 1A, then tabbed my way thru to the bottom. Probably got 1/2 the answers; went back to 1D and did the same, then filled in the remainder. Might consider this for future xwords.

Both JARED & JAMBA were new to me, but 'J' seemed the likely choice.

Had 'enemy' before RIVAL.

Enjoyed the solve! :)

@Joe yd re: cryptic

The NE was tough; only 27D remains unsolved. 🤞

jae (12:05 AM)

Thx, on it later today. :)

okanaganer (1:02 AM) 👍 for 0 yd

Always looking for the 'a' version, as well as the 'o' one, as well as these two.

yd 0*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

RooMonster 9:39 AM  

Hey All !
Safely on shore in my CAbin before venturing out on the lake in a CANOE. But since AbA de Armas wasn't around, and ONUSno was opposite as clued, did figure it out. Drank some TANG to celebrate.

Slightly tougher than a usual MonPuz. 10 minutes for me instead of my usual 7. #Humblebrag I missed BAE. Odd. I like to look at every clue, even if the answer auto-fills. LACK OF FOCUS. (I know LACK isn't a type of RUN, work with me here people.)

Your MARATHON MAN could've went in the Center row as a fourth Themer. Rearrangement of Blockers would've been required. Might've kicked it into TuesPuz territory.

Har. You need to get Triple Semordilap as your Friday night band at Z's Placebo and Tentacle.

Spelt MUESLI as MUSELI first. Every time. See also ECSTASY. Exstasy. Har.

Four F's (Thanks Themers!)

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

When you have a wonderful name like Enrique Henestroza Anguiliano, you can FLUCK my Bic any day of the week.
@Our friend, @Lewis, is right. This is a perfect Monday for anyone trying their hand on a NYT puz. It might've been a tad heavy on all the people crowding into the local bar, but the bartender, NERF, was happy to supply the RAG TAG group all the SLOP they wanted.
My only two pauses.....I'm not up on my Oaty cereal and my smoothies have scotch in them. Does that count?
Hey @Larry Gilstrap....Good to see you again. Have you had any Cubano lately?

RooMonster 9:58 AM  

As for YesterBee
-3, with 2 I should've gotten, but the one that's not a word I never would've got. 😁 Starts with a G.

RooMonster Never Knew Bees Could Kick My Ass Guy

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

@okanaganer - I would hardly call Naomi Watts a "minor actress." She has received two Academy Award nominations, BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations and won a SAG Award, among others. That being said, yes always better to avoid PPP when possible.

Carola 10:38 AM  

Fun to solve: STREAK and DASH clued me into the theme, so I got a nice dose of solver's gratification when I could write in the third phrase with no crosses, but that was followed by total puzzlement for the reveal (I could only think of "A leg up," which apart from legs being involved in RUNNING didn't fit in terms of meaning or length). I liked having to work - not all that hard, but still - for the unveiling. Meanwhile, entries like RAGTAG, EARSHOT, ILLKEPT kept me smiling....not your RUN-of-the-mill Monday fare.

Do-over: Me, too, for CAbin. Help from previous puzzles: BAE, SEGA. No idea: JARED, IRENE.

Whatsername 10:46 AM  

Being an old bureaucrat, I was off to a RUNNING START with AWOL at 1A. My streak continued as I then DASHed onward and made a BOLT for the finish. A fun theme and nicely put together Monday puzzle which any rookie solver out to be able to do and have fun in the process.

I tried my best to turn my STREAK OF LUCK into a STRAIGHT FLUSH but it wouldn’t fit. On that note, I have to agree I raised an eyebrow at that particular themer since I’ve always heard it referred to as a stroke of luck. As in “I hit the jackpot with my last dime in that slot machine. What an incredible stroke of luck that was. What ARE the chances?”

Joseph Michael 11:06 AM  

My only two hesitations in this Monday easy puzzle were trying to remember how to spell MUESLI and guessing what letter to insert in the box between —ARED and —AMBA. Otherwise I BOLTed through this with barely a thought or blink of the eye.

For the sake of Rex’s blood pressure, I’m glad JARED was clued as a science writer.

Weird word twists: ONUSES, LETEM, UMPED.

The word of the day, however, is definitely FLUCK. I imagined a Marvel Comics superhero named STREAKO FLUCK flying overhead while the awed citizens of Gotham point up and say IT’S A PLANE.

Nancy 11:13 AM  

It's nice that the uses of STREAK, DASH and BOLT were all non-RUNNING uses. I suppose, in addition to all the things that Lewis points out the puzzle teaches novices, it will teaches them to look for alternate meanings from familiar words.

This is the first time I've ever been grateful to JARED Kushner. It made the smoothie "big name" JARED -- not so "big" to me, btw -- the obvious choice in the mysterious JARED/JAMBA cross. Otherwise, I might have DNFed on a Monday. (Of course, I never call that kind of natick a "DNF" so I guess I wouldn't have DNFed after all.)

Smooth, nicely executed and with a very apt revealer. But, for me, completely unexciting.

Masked and Anonymous 11:31 AM  

Startin to look like BAE is here to stay, in the xwords. The STREAK OF BAES continues.
But gotta give staff weeject pick to ATM, for its primo clue. (Nice weeject stacks in NE & SW, btw.)

X-Men RACE OF MUTANTS, anyone? yeah, didn't think so.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Called strikes and balls at a game} = UMPED.

fave fillins included: LIMEADE [puz ADE so rarely gets a fruit prefix]. MUESLI. ECSTASY. RAGTAG. BENIGN. EARSHOT.

Thanx for the rush, Mr. Anguiano dude.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Nancy 11:31 AM  

To those who mourned Sondheim's death on yesterday's blog: I left you (late yesterday) one newspaper tribute link to read and a list of some of his best YouTube interviews. He was a wonderfully engaging and revealing interviewee and I'm sure you'll find them interesting and enjoyable.

mathgent 11:34 AM  

The worst puzzles are those which are so bland that they don't stimulate any good stuff from the talented people here. Oh, well, there's still time.

Tim Carey 11:47 AM  

I continue to be astounded at the high level of condensension toward "newer solvers" on Monday. If that is all you have to say, maybe you don't need to post every day... be a little more gracious, folks.

Tim Carey 11:49 AM  

Thanks for telling me what is good for me, Lewis. We "newer solvers" all love it when you encourage us in such a condescending way.

Unknown 11:50 AM  

“Conglomericious.” Brilliant! Thanks!

bocamp 11:53 AM  

I Always think of Usain when BOLT shows up in a xword: BOLT runs 100m in world record time of 9.58 (Berlin, 2009).

td pg -7 (timed out)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Joe Dipinto 11:58 AM  

@bocamp 9:37 – Re 27d in yesterday's cryptic: Keep in mind different meanings a word could have and look at the clue carefully.

I couldn't get 17d and 26a for awhile (it didn't help that they crossed each other).

pabloinnh 12:08 PM  

I hoped the ARED AMBA missing letter would be a J, only because the nice young man who took over my teaching position is a JARED and he's a sweetheart. Had been there two years when he had the yearbook dedicated to him. Keeps me up to date on all the department intrigue, which is still petty and ego-driven. At least the interesting stuff is. Also nicely met the challenge of teaching a foreign language remotely, which is something I would not even like to attempt.

More good fortune-- if a JAMBA smoothie has appeared in the wilds of NH, it has escaped my notice. Total unknown.

Otherwise the puzzle was a pleasant enough exercise in filling in the blanks. I've been doing the USA Today puzzles lately (E. Agard, ed.) and lots of them have this kind of theme so very familiar.

Nice little Mondecito, AEH. Adequate Enjoyment Had by this solver, and thanks for the fun.

Anonymous 12:14 PM  

@Joseph Michael

What's your problem with JARED? Did your puzzle have a different clue? In my copy it was
_____Diamond, author of.............

RooMonster 12:21 PM  

@Anon 11:10

SouthsideJohnny 12:50 PM  

@Anon 12:14 - I personally don't have any problem with JARED - in fact I said I got a kick out of it (I'm never thrilled with the concept of crossing PPP, but that is pretty much a global aversion). I did say that I was surprised that Rex didn't avail himself of the opportunity to use it as an excuse to manufacture something to be offended by (he's really, really proficient at that).

mathgent 1:08 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Lewis (9:15)
Tim Carey (11:49)

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

STREAK OF LUCK sounded just fine to me. I asked my co-worker, he said it wasn't right but while doing the puzzle he was okay with it. I'm trying to decide if I'm thinking of STREAK OF Light or is "streak of luck" really a phrase? LUCKY STREAK doesn't sound okay to me - I think that's more LUCKY STRike, which is what, a mining term? More like the apt description of my bowling technique. (I can't imagine it originated with the cigarette brand.) Anyway, by now the STREAK OF LUCK sounds meaningless to me after repeating it so many times.

Rex did make us laugh with the JAMBA rant - conglomericious is delicious.

Enrique Henestroza Anguiano, thanks, nice job.

bocamp 1:23 PM  

@Joe Dipinto (11:58 AM)

Great minds! lol

When I hit the hay last nite, thinking about 27D, a somewhat unusual def came to mind, related to something one might 'knock' on. So, when I get back to that cryptic later today, I'll definitely be looking at all possible defs. Thx for the tip! :)

Loved the 'empty charger' at 26A.

td 0*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

GILL I. 1:40 PM  

@Tim Carey 11:49. I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or you're just that one little turd on the birthday cake.
@Lewis is an accomplished crossword puzzle maker and I think he teaches a class on how to solve puzzle. I don't need to speak for him because he's a smart cookie and can defend himself.
I have some friends that are waaaaay smarter than I and yet they are intimidated when it comes to solving the NYT puzzles. I've tried to get many of them to start with a Monday. If you make it too hard, you won't get the "newbies" to even want to try and solve.
I think just about everybody here loves the solving experience. I'm not sure how I would be able to get through my day without my "fix." Trying to get as many people hooked on the process is a fun goal and Mondays are the way to get started.
Your ungracious oaty cereal runneth over.

Unknown 1:45 PM  

@ Tim Carey
I don't think Lewis (or any other poster) is being condescending when they refer the "newer solver." Not deliberately.
In fact, Lewis consistently comes across (via his posts) as a genuinely nice guy who always finds something positive to say about the daily puzzle. He's a nice (and necessary) counterweight to rex's almost constant negativity.
Honestly, I wish @Lewis would simply start his own blog.
And tangentially, I really didn't understand rex's rant against STREAKOFLUCK.
It's a phrase, even if Rex and Z (or whatever his latest moniker is) tell us it isn't.
To me STREAKOFLUCK is implicitly good.

egsforbreakfast 1:52 PM  

@Anonymous 12:14. How odd. Mine was clued “Incompetent son-in-law of the Donald.”

Unknown 2:22 PM  

Wow - Tim Carey has been on this blog for 5 years and still calls himself "a newer solver"!

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

my original seemed to have gotten spiked. don't know why, and can't remember all of it, but this bit I do:

JARED has elevated to NRA status among the Woke Crowd.

Lewis 2:45 PM  

@tim carey -- It would have been helpful had I mentioned that I have taught many new solvers in my crossword solving classes at an adjunct at University of North Carolina (Asheville), and thus have a good sense of how these solvers react to puzzles. My comment was a compliment to the constructor and NYT puzzle editors on a puzzle that would make newer solvers happy, and it was indirectly advocating for what newer solvers like. But anyway, had I mentioned something about my teaching, it might have lessened the chance of it sounding condescending.

Phoebe Snow 2:45 PM  

I was delighted with the themer that Rex dissed, because it gave me this Paul Simon earworm: "I've had a long streak of that bad luck, but I'm prayin' it's gone at last."

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

One might wonder whether OFL gets his EARS HOT from all the kvetching he gets for his kvetching? may be tried to HAD A TIT, and got his EARS boxed for the effort?

bocamp 2:56 PM  


As you indicated, 'reading the clue more carefully', was 'perhaps' the key. Got it within a minute or two with fresh eyes and better perspective. :)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

sounding condescending

One of the continuing controversies among the Teaching Crowd (sub-class of the Woke Crowd, at least some places), is whether the edu profession (both practitioners and management) spends way too much time and money (proportionately, anyway) devoted to 'special classes' for the gifted (so-called) - AP this and that for example - way too little on those who are troubled by material. I spent grad school as a TA and then some time, difficultly, as a sub before I found proper employment. It was difficult to deal with those who honestly didn't get the day's material, even with multiple, and differing, approaches to said material. At times, even, esp. among the middle and high school crowd, were really bad apples who persisted in slowing down the class just for the hell of it. Not because they needed further clarification, but just to be a putz. Such behaviour tends to ensure a modicum of condescension among the Teaching Class. It is a two way street, although which is the narrow lane and which the wide one is up for discussion.

TJS 2:57 PM  

@Tim Carey, While I am often astounded by @Lewis ability to find something commendable in puzzles I think of as total dreck, I sincerely doubt he has a condescending bone in his body. Total misread by you, IMO.

OffTheGrid 3:13 PM  

@Tim Carey. I welcome your comments. I have sensed the very thing you're saying. It is a shame that folks are piling on(you).

@Gill. Calling someone a turd on the blog is grossly inappropriate. Any moderators reading this?

Nancy 3:57 PM  

@Tim Carey -- The genuine and deep-rooted niceness of my good puzzle-friend Lewis shines through his every comment. The Rexblog is extremely lucky to have him on board. Constructors are lucky to have the benefit of his sunny appraisals. Do I agree with him on everything? Almost always I agree with him on what the cleverest clues are; almost always on late-week "trick" puzzles; and very seldom on early week "novice-training" offerings that he is happy about and that I often wish weren't there at all.

We all were novices once, @Tim. When I began solving, I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a "crossword blog". (Maybe there wasn't all the way back then!) Like you, I didn't want puzzles to be "dumbed down" to my beginner level. I didn't even know such a thing was going on. I was always trying to raise my game to the NYT level. I tried to do the Times puzzle every day of the week, and if I couldn't, then I couldn't. No harm, no foul.

I can empathize with your not wanting to be "condescended" to because I was the same way -- but why do you assume that Lewis has you in mind when he talks about "the novice solver"? Isn't that just a wee bit self-centered of you? You can disagree with Lewis's "novice solver" philosophy without attacking Lewis's character and motives. As I say, he's one of the nicest people on the blog and we could all do well to emulate him. (Though I still do prefer my Mondays and Tuesdays to be on the tough side.)

Michael Page 4:11 PM  

AWOL: not a noun. Adjective (actually an acronym for an adjectival phrase). “Soldier” as synonym/clue doesn’t match: a soldier can be AWOL, but she can’t be AN AWOL.

JC66 4:28 PM  

@Lewis is a gem and needs no defending.

@Unknown 4:11

Then why does the Sergeant Major keep a list of the regiment's AWOLs?

pabloinnh 4:33 PM  

@Unknown-Yeah, I had the same thought when I read that clue. Was trying to fit it into a phrase like, "jeez, what an AWOL", but it didn't seem to work.

GILL I. 4:33 PM  

@OffTheGrid 3:13. I sincerely apologize. I certainly didn't mean for the sensitivities of your nethers to explode. It wasn't my intention to evoke anything as nasty as a little turd on someone who might've left it there by accident.....
Again....sincerest apologies.
I will now go look at some SLOP and a bit of FLUCK to make my day. I might also have a drink.

JD 5:21 PM  

@JC66, Or the mods can just stop letting @Tim Carey repeat that comment. What's this? The second and third time he's said it? Twice in one day?

Wanderlust 6:20 PM  

Amen. I just recommended to my sister-in-law - who likes xwords but thinks she won’t be able to do the NYT - that she will have no problem with M-W and probably later days once she gets confident with those.

Z 7:39 PM  

@Anon2:56 - What? The question is not whether the edu profession … spends way too much time and money … devoted to 'special classes' for the gifted, but is rather, “given x number of dollars, how should we allocate those dollars?” The issue becomes, in some places, why are the best teachers being assigned to the smallest classes with students who need the least support?

@Anon 2:28 - Allegations of Fogle having inappropriate relations with minors began in 2007, but did not gain traction until 2015 when the FBI uncovered that he received child pornography from an associate. Fogle pleaded guilty to the child sex tourism and child pornography charges the same year and was sentenced to 15 years, 8 months in federal prison, with a minimum of 13 years before becoming eligible for parole. He is currently incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution, Englewood. From Wikipedia - First time I recall the FBI being accused of being “woke.”

@mathgent 1:08 - Okay, now you’re just trolling. 😂🤣😂

@Roo - Friday Night it is.

Ian 10:36 PM  

Rex you need to get a life. “Obvious problem”? Really? That it a first world nit pick.

Larry Gilstrap 1:33 AM  


jedlevine 10:59 PM  

I started with a bunch of the downs in the NW corner, and so I had str....flu ... for 20 across. I kept thinking "straightflush" ("hoped-for experience at a casino". Probably since I'm an avid poker player.


thefogman 10:47 AM  

My newspaper lists Sam Buchbinder as the constructor not Enrique Henestroza Anguiano. Another new constructor. Again, Will Short is being lax with the editing and giving the green light to mediocre stuff. PS - The Syndie link is broken again.

thefogman 11:20 AM  

EDIT: Make that Shortz not Short.

Burma Shave 11:52 AM  


OHGOSH, the STAKES ARE a buck.
His RIVAL SPOKE as he viewed,


spacecraft 11:56 AM  

At 25 letters, our constructor breaks one record, anyway: length of name. ANA De Armas, IRENE Cara, HALLE Berry--all very different but all DOD-worthy.

Solid, workable theme, and I disagree with OFF about the "clank" of the first one. To me STREAKOFLUCK and lucky streak are interchangeable. It's fine. I was tooling along smartly, enjoying myself, until my very last entry: TTOPS. Ugh! I thought we'd gotten rid of those. It's been (mercifully) quite a while since I spotted my last one. Here's hoping the next hiatus will be even longer.

Till then it was headed for birdieland, but no. Par it is.

rondo 12:11 PM  

Sprinted through this puz. Only hesitation was the J in the 31 box.

SEAL the bottles of ALES in the corners.

Numerous candidates but ELITE STARDOM with HALLE Berry. Yeah BAE BAE.

Fun Mon RUN.

Diana, LIW 1:50 PM  

What a lovely RUNNINGSTART of a Monday to begin the week.

I agree with @Rondo - a Fun Mon RUN

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 3:31 PM  

A clever theme and generally good fill, especially ATM for “Prez dispenser?” Had to think about that one.

Liked the JARED / JABA link. Had CAbin before CANOE and RAGged before RAGTAG.

Does ECARD deserve its prominence in the middle of the grid? Not really, but gotta give it some space.

leftcoaster 5:06 PM  

JAMBA typo here.

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