When tripled catchphrase of the Muppets' Swedish Chef / MON 11-15-21 / Red-haired toy craze of 1996 / Title lyric heard 41 times in a 1965 Beach Boys hit

Monday, November 15, 2021

Constructor: Ian Rathkey

Relative difficulty: MEDIUM (normal Monday, maybe slightly on the slower side)

THEME: Verb ME, Name! — themers are all famous things or expressions that follow the pattern ___ ME ___, where the first blank is a verb in the imperative mood (a command), and the last blank is a name:

Theme answers:
  • "ROCK ME, AMADEUS" (20A: 1986 #1 hit by Falco)
  • "HELP ME, RHONDA" (31A: Title lyric heard 41 times in a 1965 Beach Boys hit)
  • TICKLE ME ELMO (40A: Red-haired toy craze of 1996)
  • "FEED ME, SEYMOUR..." (51A: Request from the voracious plant in "Little Shop of Horrors")
Word of the Day: Swedish Chef (4D: When tripled, catchphrase of the Muppets' Swedish Chef)
The Swedish Chef is a Muppet character that appeared on The Muppet Show. He was originally performed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz simultaneously, with Henson performing the head and voice and Oz performing the character with real hands. The Swedish Chef is currently performed by Bill Barretta. He is best known for his ridiculous cooking methods and the phrase "Bork, bork, bork!". (wikipedia)
• • •

This did not start out well at all. ANCHOR LEG was clued as a person (?) instead of a segment of a race??? (17A: Last runner in a relay). Per olympics dot com (seriously), "the last runner in a relay is called the 'anchor'." That person, a human being, is not called a "leg." A "leg" is a segment of a race. I have no idea, literally none, zero, what the hell is up with that clue. The "last runner" *runs* the ANCHOR LEG, she is not, herself, the leg. I had ANCHOR and thought "well surely that can't be LEG in those last three letters." But it was. Then there was BORK, which obviously was designed to be a ghoulish failed right-wing Supreme Court nominee, but then someone thought better and shifted it Swedish Chef-ward. I just remember the Swedish Chef said Swedish-ish gibberish. "BORK," specifically—totally unknown to me. Or forgotten by me. You know, "The Muppet Show" actually hasn't been on in forever, and that is an astonishingly deep cut for a Monday. Plus I had trouble parsing CHOP UP. Plus plus, the fill is just bad right up front. So the start of this puzzle was ragged and weird and oddly hard; I hit SITU, after already laying down BAA USN OAHU ASHE EDY ... and I kinda wanted to give up already. Things did not bode well for the rest of the grid at that point. This point: 

But then...

And just like that, my heart was back in it. I was just looking for a reason to care (and not groan), and Falco gave it to me. The Beach Boys's song and the 1996 toy craze came easily after that, and once I saw the pattern in the themers, I just went down to the final themer and wrote it in:

TICKLE ME ELMO is an outlier here, breaking the pattern of command statements (or confusing matters, anyway, as Elmo is, I think, asking you to tickle him ... you aren't asking Elmo to tickle you ... I don't think ... it's not "TICKLE ME comma ELMO." TICKLE ME is kind of a compound adjective, not, like the others, a command ... he is an ELMO who says "TICKLE ME" ... you see the confusion). Still, though, despite the Elmo hiccup, I really like the theme. Can't say I liked much of the rest of the grid, but the "blank ME blank" theme pattern is fresh and original and colorful and just right for a Monday. 

Little things made this play slightly slow. Aside from the stuff I already mentioned in the first paragraph, there's stuff like "UM, NO" (38D: "Er, I think I'll pass") (really hard to parse even with the "M" in place) and "I'LL BE" (oddly archaic, so again, not necessarily easy, even with a cross or two). I feel like "I'LL BE" needs a "WELL..." in front of it in order to properly fit the clue (55A: "Color me impressed!"). ASICS don't really seem like they're in Adidas's league, sales-wise, so though I know the ASICS brand well enough, that clue did not cause ASICS to leap to mind (49D: Adidas competitor). Everything else is pretty straightforward. Frequently stale, but not gruesomely so. I tried to no-look the last answer but ended up misreading the grid and inventing the OMELOT (I imagine an OMELOT is an OCELOT omelet ... not so much a delicacy as a desperation measure; that, or it's what King Arthur calls his omelet). Anyway, always read the clues, kids. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


egsforbreakfast 12:22 AM  

I’ll wear ASICS for ASEC, but IFEELSICK about ACING this MESS.

I’m not sure why Rex moans for about 6 paragraphs before pronouncing this a good puzzle. It seemed normal Monday-ish for me, although I agree with Rex about TICKLEMEELMO not quite fitting the mold.

A very nice debut for Ian Rathkey. Thanks.

Robin 12:49 AM  

Rex, I know you're 52 now, but it's like there's a generation gap btw you and my 58yo self. The Muppet Show was dead center in the heart of my teens and remains my favorite TV show from that era. The Swedish chef going BORK BORK BORK when he got excited was practically a catchword. The chocolate moose sketch, the video that you went with, was one of my faves, although the chicken in a basket sketch is right in there.

okanaganer 12:52 AM  

Actually struggled a bit with this! But the theme is likeable.

Agree that ANCHOR LEG seems so wrong, I actually tried ANCHOR MAN although really I knew that couldn't be true.

Other detours: SLED RIDE, and hilariously, HELP HER HONDA although that was a typo, not what I actually intended, but jeez.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; td -1, missing a 5, but not throwing in the towel 'til midnight.
My week, Sun to Sat: 0, -3, -1, -1, 0, 0, 0. The words I missed.]

Trey 12:55 AM  

My memory of Falco (the band) was the song Der Kommissar (later redone in English by After the Fire). Until today, I do not think I had made the connection that Falco was also the person behind ROCK ME AMADEUS. I like how the puzzle then included EDIE Falco at the end to wrap it all up. On top of that, there was EDY of ice cream fame. On top of all this, there is the second German-speaking musician from the 80s NENA with her Luftballoons.

Liked the clue for TEND BAR.

Lots of 3-letter answers, and many are very “meh” - UAE, OCT, TRI, BAA, USN, AOL and CIG. UM NO, YEOW and SGTS are 4-letter entries into this list.

For BORK, I missed the word “Muppet’s” in the clue and was unable to recall a real TV Swedish chef with the tag line BORK

Z 1:04 AM  

Metonymy anyone? Or is it Synecdoche? I can never keep those two straight. If I get them backwards is it rectonymy? At any rate, no problem with ANCHOR LEG here.

So many musical choices and Rex went with a Muppets Clip? FEED ME SEYMOUR.

A fine Monday.

Frantic Sloth 1:06 AM  

Not sparkly, but serviceable. Nice clean theme for the Mondee.


jae 1:07 AM  

Tough. Odd theme but kinda fun. Liked it. Nice debut.

SLEDdIng before SLED RIDE.
BORK (as clued) and FEED ME ...were WOEs.

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #661 was fairly easy or about 1.5 x a medium NYT Sat. Good luck!

chefwen 1:24 AM  

ANCHOR man in first. Puzzle partner, working on his own copy went into a five minute rant over the difference of LEG and man. Exactly as a Rex stated.

I was working on the LA Times Sunday earlier and had to laugh out loud at the 1A clue (spoiler alert if you plan on doing it). Question, Folksy greeting. Answer HOWDO. Brought back Sunday’s NYT lively discussion.

A little push back on a Monday is fun, I enjoyed this.

Harry 3:34 AM  

I braced for a Monday sprint, but if it weren't for the relatively straightforward themers, this would have filled like a Wednesday.

Didn't stumble quite so much as Rex, but whereas I slowed up a bit when I found I was running on a bit of gravel, he seems to be determined to solve a Monday at a sprint and suffered a couple of scraped knees as a consequence.

Anonymous 5:04 AM  

ANCHORLEG bothered me not at all. SLEDRIDE was the bad "not a thing" issue today. I had SLEDdIng but the cross had to be SEYMOUR. I really had to fight in that corner. SLED RIDE indeed! My other quagmire is on me. Never heard of ROCKMEAMADEUS. Can't say I ever heard of FALCO either (no scolding please). Otherwise a fine Monday. It probably would have helped if I had paid attention to the theme before I did.

Speaking of CHOP UP (14D), I'm enjoying "DEXTER-New Blood" on Showtime.

Nice to see the two big cats.

MarthaCatherine 6:20 AM  

Yeah, the comma thing. The difference between "Feed me, Grandma!" and
"Feed me Grandma!"

Lewis 6:34 AM  

@rex -- The King Arthur quip... "Hah!"

First of all, this was a fun solve for me, trying to figure out the last two theme answers after filling in the first two and seeing what was going on.

As Jeff Chen points out, the theme is tight. When Jeff can’t come up with a quality theme answer in addition to those in the grid, trust me, the theme is tight. Props to Ian for that, as well as for the NYT debut.

I liked the mini-theme of double E’s (6), the navy sub-theme of AYE, USN, MESS, and ANCHOR. I also liked the southeast corner short story of KEG, CIG, I FEEL SICK, MESS, YEOW.

The cross of OAHU and SUGAR prompted me to do a bit of research on the Hawaii sugar business, which was once huge, but it turns that after a magnificent century of production, things declined, and the state’s last working sugar mill produced its final shipment in 2016. You’re welcome.

I was impressed with how you stuck with this puzzle, Ian, even when finding a last theme answer was très elusive, and when so many grid designs weren’t working (all this according to your notes). That bodes well for your future puzzles. Congratulations, and thank you for the fun!

Tom T 7:21 AM  

Two quick Hidden Diagonal Words of note today, which I'll clue thusly:

1. "Going once, going twice, ..."

2. Radius connection

Medium feels like a good call for this Monday puzzle. No big hang-ups, but a slower than typical Monday fill, resulting in average solve time.


1: SOLD (begins in extreme SW corner)

2: ULNA (begins in the 38D block, descends towards SW)

OK, that's it: "Beam ME (up), Scotty"

Son Volt 7:25 AM  

Fun puzzle - simple elegance to the theme and decent overall fill. Didn’t know SEYMOUR but all the crosses were clean - although a little side eye to SLED RIDE. Liked SEA CAVE adjacent to MUIR and the two big cats.

No issue with ANCHOR LEG as the runner or swimmer becomes equivalent to the noun form. Tried to read GENET years ago but didn’t get very far.

Enjoyable Monday solve.

amyyanni 7:28 AM  

Having been the anchor in several long relays, anchor leg gave me pause. As the rest of the puzzle is a solid and amusing Monday, didn't stop for long. Agree that it did "play slow" but that's a good thing on Monday, IMO. Asics are very popular with runners, so moved right along there. Clever theme. 'Help Me, Rhonda' was playing everywhere, or so it seemed, the summer it debuted. A pre-teen, was just beginning to look up from my baseball obsession and remember discovering The Beach Boys.

bocamp 7:50 AM  

Thx Ian, for a very crunchy Mon. Puz to begin the xword week! :)


Lots of unfamiliar fill today, but once more, fair crosses eliminated the need for any guesses.


Liked this challenge a lot! :)

@jae (1:07 AM)

Thx, looking forward to Croce's 661 later today. :)


yd pg -2 (10 points shy of 0)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

mmorgan 8:00 AM  

Wow, a fun Monday! I generally like almost every puzzle I do, but lately I’ve been having many blah reactions (and, strangely or not, enjoying Rex’s reviews more than the puzzles themselves). But this was fun and perky and engaging. The top was unusually crunchy for a Monday — never heard of ANCHORLEG or ROCK ME AMADEUS (or Falco in 20A, though EDIE was another story). But they became clear enough from the crosses. I was glad there was no revealer (there wasn’t, was there?) since it would have had to be amazingly clever, and I would have gotten it after getting all the themers, which is rarely fun. In the end, this was cute and zippy and a pleasant way to spend a bit of time. Thank you for FEED ME SEYMOUR!!! I wouldn’t have minded seeing NOTICE ME HORTON in the mix, but I guess that may be obscure to many. But hey, ROCK ME AMADEUS meant nothing to me.

Dr.A 8:01 AM  

the doll was/is called “tickle me Elmo”.as in , “I want a Tickle Me Elmo for Christmas , Mom”

jberg 8:07 AM  

Yeah, I just put in ANCHOR, since LEG was so obviously wrong that I had to assume sexism on the part of the puzzle, and was going to avoid "man" until I was forced to it by crosses.

so then I had __R_ for the Swedish Chef phrase, and thought it might be 'poRK!' I never watched The Muppet Show, only the Sesame Street muppets, and I quit that before either ELMO or the Swedish Chef made an appearance. I do remember the year when so many parents thought they would lose the love of their children if they couldn't find a "Tickle Me Elmo" doll (well, I don't actually remember the year, but I remember the panic.)

If memory serves (an increasingly unlikely event in my case) we had NENA clued the same way within a week. Is there another way? I asked Duck Duck Go, which suggested the National Emergency Number Association (it seems to be for people who design and maintain 9-1-1 systems) and (far down the list) the Nokomis Neighborhood Association. I don't think the latter is crossworthy, though.

Free Kyle 8:22 AM  

Definitely skewed old . The four themers are pop culture ranging from twenty-five to fifty-five years old. Easy for me but probably tougher for younger solvers.

thfenn 8:23 AM  

Fun Monday. Definitely went with ANCHORman, and thought "ooh, can't wait for the blog". Also had MISdial first. Also weirdly wrote Rondha, but it was late.

I start a puzzle with a hope it will do me good, so did have high hopes for a reveal like DOMEPROPER or some sort of playful hint, but can see the problem there. But yeah, this one did me good.

mmorgan 8:24 AM  
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GILL I. 8:27 AM  

PREK liked to TEND BAR, but everybody called him Prick because he would CHOP UP the SUGAR in everyone's ICED TEA. BORK always sat in the MENS room and would MOAN...I FEEL SICK. NOLAN SECRETLY yelled "It's the PAELLA"...so just come out of the CAN. Good gravy RHONDA said, HELP ME....
AMADEUS just rolled up and DIED. SEYMOUR yelled "Never FEED ME again." ELMO was TICKLED pink even though his EGG was a CHOPPED MESS.
Everybody eventually went out and had a CIG.

pabloinnh 8:28 AM  

LEG or MAN, I wondered. Turned out to be LEG. OK by me.

ROCKMEAMADEUS ?? New to me, but there are probably lots of whippersnappers who haven't heard HELPMERHONDA, so fair enough. I also needed some crosses to remember who was doing the feeding. Sorry about that SEYMOUR.

Happy to see ICEDTEA. Seems like a lot of folks call it "ICETEA", which always grates. And I was afraid the "grotto" was going to be a SEACAVE, and it was. Bleh.

Big nit--Do you remember the famous Leroy Anderson song SLEDRIDE? Of course not. The activity is a SLEIGHRIDE and it should always be called that and nothing else ever. He dicho.

Congrats on the debut, IR, which Is Really a nice theme and a fine Monday. Thanks for the fun.

SouthsideJohnny 8:30 AM  

The theme entries are a hit song from 1986 (still Reagan?), a Beach Boys sing (probably LBJ), and a movie I believe also from the Reagan years. I'm guessing this one may not be all that new-solver or younger-age friendly. Was fine by me due to the wheelhouse effect, but I wonder if they spooked anyone today. I doubt many in the under 50 crowd will readily recognize the Swedish Muppet either, lol. Maybe the French dude at 19A skews younger, I wouldn't know (in fact - Jean could be a dudette so I'll just say I never heard of him/her).

I agree with @Z*.* and others that the clue for ANCHOR LEG is fine - I finally got in the habit of thinking of the clues as hints and not literal translations and my solving skills got better and my enjoyment level increased by a comparable amount as well (a lot of that insight is due to good advice received here, btw).

Cristi 8:39 AM  

Meet Official: Who runs anchor?
Coach (pointing to a kid eating fries): That’s our ANCHOR LEG.
Meet Official: Should she be eating right before the race?
Coach: I know…

Metonymy. Like marriage, it happens…for better or worse.

As to the Muppet mini-theme, BORK is a deep cut, but with gettable crosses, it brings a smile. And repurposing TICKLE ME ELMO seems fun, not an annoyance.

Enjoyed Rex’s omelot confession.

EJames 8:51 AM  

As a track coach we use the term anchor leg all the time. Anchor man? I've never heard it once outside of discussions involving Ron Burgundy.

I also teach math, so the linear equation made me extra happy this morning.

Hartley70 8:59 AM  

This was much more entertaining than the average Monday and a real pleasure to solve. The theme was a winner, with two longs I didn’t know, then Elmo and and Rhonda. Happy stuff! The fill was also a step up. NOLAN, GENET and NENA haven’t been overused (sorry EDIE) and it was nice to see YEOW rather than ouch or ohno. Thanks for a good start to the week!

bocamp 8:59 AM  

Bob Hayes was my fave ANCHOR. He ANCHORed the US 4 x 100 meters relay team at the '64 Tokyo Olympics.

""Bullet" Bob Hayes ran ANCHOR LEG for the United States 4 × 100 metres relay team in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Receiving the baton in fifth place, Hayes pulled ahead of four runners to win the race. A French rival, Jocelyn Delecour, remarked to the American lead-off runner Paul Drayton "You haven't got anything except Hayes", and Drayton responded "That's all we need, pal."" (Wikipedia)

yd 0 (found the missing -2 within 5 mins, with fresh eyes this AM) (now starting on today's)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Airymom 9:15 AM  

It was summer 20210. My son went to an all boys' sleep away camp and I worked there for part of the summer. Our agreement (which worked for eight summers) was that we would stay out of each other's way. There was a "sister" all girls' camp about five miles away. Each camp had a drama dept. and staged a musical. Camp staff would drive the boys in the cast to the girls' camp for rehearsals, and vice versa.

The third night of camp he walked up to me at dinner and asked to talk. A complete shock.

"Mom, I don't know what to do. They offered me the second lead here, for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", or the lead there, for "Little Shop".

I replied, "Well, two things to consider---'Forum' is a mediocre show, and not what I would pick for a camp show; while 'Little Shop' is fantastic. On the other hand, do you want to spend your days here or at the girls' camp?"

"I don't know, I don't know what to do?"

Well we talked some more and he still didn't decide.

The next day, the cast lists were posted and he was listed for "Seymour".

I saw him at dinner and said, "Congratulations!, so how did you decide?"

"Well, Mom it came down to this---do you want to be Obama or do you want to be Biden?"

I thought it was hilarious.

P.S. He did a great job and the show was a big hit.

Lewis 9:20 AM  

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

1. Something often lent, but never returned (3)
2. Copper containers? (6)(4)
3. Spare clothes (7)
4. Not-so-big shot (3)
5. Passages in a long story? (5)


Z 9:26 AM  

I am definitely on the SLED RIDE is a greater sin than ANCHOR LEG team. SLEDding is a thing. SLED RIDE is only a thing in the most tenuous of senses. That is, one does RIDE a SLED, but to call something a RIDE usually connotes something longer than the 10-30 second trip down the hill. Besides, you never go for just one RIDE. I’ve never heard anyone ever say, “Let’s go for a SLED RIDE.” So, that was a writeover.

OTOH - Odd how ANCHOR LEG strikes people as wrong. The use of one thing to represent something closely related to it is such a common thing that we have a word for the phenomenon. To use an example from the link, does anyone ever get upset with calling journalists “the press?” That seems like the same thing to me but no reporter ever screams “I’m a person not a machine.” Is it that “LEG” in ANCHOR LEG references a race segment rather than a body part so there is an added layer of possible confusion when using it to refer to the racer rather than the race? Or is it that some scold somewhere pointed it out and the thought stuck without people realizing we use metonymy all the time? At any rate, the answer is fine, and unlike SLED RIDE, is a usage I’ve heard.

RooMonster 9:33 AM  

Hey All !

Nice puz. Liked/heard of all the MEs. I FEEL SICK appropriately placed under FEED ME SEYMOUR. Poor SEYMOUR, didn't want to FEED Audrey II at first.

Thankfully no Jar-Jar Binks' MEESAs to be found. (Oh no! Now that's stuck in your head! A way to get rid of that, sing The Brady Bunch song.)(Oh, no! You're evil Roo!)

Or, just take in ROCK ME AMADEUS. Even if you don't know what the lyrics are.

Just noticed SECRETLY CHOP UP, appropriate for FEED ME SEYMOUR. Well, ILL BE.

Have a nice Monday, everybody!

Two F's

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

LOL. Rex, having never participated in athletics, bemoans anchor leg. That doesn't tell you everything about OFL, but as it pertains to sport, it tells you all you need to know.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

I threw this hard against the wall, so HELP ME RHONDA!

Now, what do I do? You try to get a repairman on the phone early on a Monday, of all days. I bet no one will be able to come until at least Thursday and I'll have to stare at that gaping hole for most of the week.

Sometimes, when a theme idea comes to you in the middle of the night, you should just say UM NO, roll over and go back to sleep.

Unknown 9:59 AM  

When you see FINS, you’re not seeing “signs” that sharks are ”nearby,” you’re seeing sharks.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

ANCHOR LEG was clued as a person (?) instead of a segment of a race???

Not the first, I hope, BUT fur cryin out loud!!! The person and the place in the team are referred to with the same term. Get a clue. Go look it up somewhere. And get ready, the Winter Olympics in Covid-Δ ravaged China is just a couple of months away, and you'll here this a lot.

the state’s last working sugar mill produced its final shipment in 2016. You’re welcome.

Welcome to single-crop soil destruction. Cotton did that to the Red States in the 19th century.

Pete 10:02 AM  

@Z - We use metonymy and synthetic douches all the time, just not ANCHORLEG for "person who ran the anchor leg". Google +"Usain Bolt" +"anchor leg" (or +anchorleg) and let me know when you get to a citation along the lines of "Usain Bolt was the anchor leg in Jamaica's win..."

@Nancy - for someone who doesn't read @Rex because he's too negative, you can be pretty cruelly dismissive of puzzles you don't care for.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I guess accruing a word list is the way to QB. **SPOILER COMING** for yesterbee!

I can't imagine any other way to get dolma, dolor, durum, & modulo.

The Joker 10:08 AM  

@Nancy. A gaping hole? WOW! You must use the stone tablet format of the puzzle.

Crunchy 10:08 AM  

I once ordered an ICEDTEA in a pub in England with my lunch. The server looked at me like I'd sprouted a third eye or something, made me repeat it and then muttered something along the lines of "I suppose we could put some ice in it." I realized my mistake and ordered a Coke, which is more standard fare and causes fewer cringes on that side of the Atlantic.

Also never heard of ROCKMEAMADEUS or Falco, but appreciated the EDY EDIE and, eventually Falco.

mathgent 10:11 AM  

I liked it. Good sparkle, smart cluing, novel theme.

Carola 10:19 AM  
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Nancy 10:22 AM  

The only thing that didn't bother me in this puzzle was ANCHOR LEG. I've heard it said often on TV -- used both for the final leg of the relay race and for the person who's running the final leg of the relay race. Perhaps it shouldn't be so used, but it is.

@Free Kyle (8:22) -- If this puzzle "skews old", then what on earth do I skew? I didn't know any of them up-front, although TICKLE ME ELMO did ring a vague bell. From somewhere.

@airymom (9:15) A very interesting camp performance dilemma. Your son must be very talented. But I must take (serious) issue with your calling "Forum" a "mediocre" show. While it's not "Company" or "Sunday in the Park", it's still brimming with Sondheimian wit and insoucience and fun. It's a completely delightful show that I saw twice: once with the original Zero Mostel and once with Whoopie Goldberg. And both times were pure pleasure. You compare it unfavorably to "Little Shop of Horrors". Well, I can't speak about the quality of a show that I never saw because I really, really didn't want to see a show about a plant that eats human flesh. In fact, I would pay quite a bit of money not to see a show about a plant that eats human flesh.

I have heard some of the score though. And while I much admire Menken's melodic gifts as a general rule, I don't especially like the campy Doo-Wop quality of this particular show which I find more jumpy and irritating than pleasurable.

Still, your son made the right decision in choosing the lead role in "Little Shop". Now if someone had offered him the lead role in "Forum", I would have thought he should definitely take that.

Joe Dipinto 10:41 AM  

Glad to report that 41 Help Me Rhondas is correct. (I had to check.) End of verse 1 + Chorus 1 = 14
End of verse 2 + Chorus 2 = 14
Chorus 3 = 13

@GILL re yesterday – yeah, wild boar burgers have been showing up everywhere. But that's not what we want. I see there's a bus that goes from NYC to Bradbury Vt. It's an 8-hour trip. @pablo, do you think it would be faster to get there by sled ride?

JD 11:08 AM  

Rock Me, Tickle Me, Feed Me, Help Me, I Feel Sick. No wonder, you're over stimulated. Time to go Night Night.

Fresh and clean, fun Monday.

One thing. I'm not sure CEOs aren't V.I.P.s at Board Meetings. That would be the board members and stockholders.

@Zÿgö, Might be regional. In Pennsylvania as kids we said, "Let's go for a sled ride." We never said, "Let's go sledding." Course, I grew up in the region known as Pennsatucky. We said lotsathings.

Joe Dipinto 11:16 AM  

Sorry, I meant Bradford, not Bradbury, at 10:41, for the Wild Game Supper. Bradbury has the Blackened Literature Supper.

Nancy 11:25 AM  

@Joe Dipinto "...but that's not what we want." Amen!!!

I, too, like @Joe and @GILL made the NYC Google wild boar trip. All it told me was that I would now have to make the NYC "destination" trip (via subway(s) or bus(es)) to access it. Only one restaurant listed on the UES, on First Avenue in the 70s, but it's a burger joint.* Everything else requires two (2!) subways or buses each way. And then I wouldn't be getting a wild boar loin (hi @GILL) or medallion or chop. If it wasn't a burger, it was a boar ragu atop pasta, a boar lasagna (that one sounded pretty good) or a boar risotto. (Hey, guys, if I'm taking two subways during a pandemic, can you at least make the boar the star of the plate?

Yes, I guess we'll all have to take a SLED RIDE up to @pabloinnh. A true "destination" meal.

*If it warms up enough to walk to the 70's burger joint and eat outside, I might actually try their boar burger. Can't hurt, right?

pabloinnh 11:25 AM  

@JoeD-8 hours sounds about right, but make sure you're going to Bradford VT, which is I'm sure what you meant, although the next town north is Newbury, so maybe that's how they list it.

Not sure about the sled ride, last winter was abysmal for snow. BTW, I think the lyrics for "Sleigh Ride" are cool.

The Cleaver 11:30 AM  


The main reason the USofA economy has fallen into the crapper in the last few decades is just because CEO's are not only on BoD's, but often the Chairman of such. Hard numbers are hard to come by, but when you read about some corporation blowing up, I'd wager it's a case where the CEO is also Chair: IOW, absolute power. Just like The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) so desperately craves over the entire USofA. Just like North Korea, Hungary, Turkey, China and other beacons of equity on the Planet.

The Theranos/Holmes fiasco is Major FUBAR example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theranos (Yes, she was CEO/Chair, of course.)

Whatsername 11:31 AM  

A pretty fair debut effort but calling this a Monday was a bit of a MISNAME. A little more than challenging with 19A, 37A, 46A, 27D all seeming like Tuesday clues IMHO combined with a theme of Proper Names which were all pretty stale. Only other title I could think of without googling was Gimme Some Lovin’ from the sixties which is even more obscure than what’s already there.

Seems to me like the singular of an Adidas competitor would be an ASIC, not multiple ones.

You know what else is a good eight-letter snow day activity? COLORING.

Carola 11:32 AM  

Nice one. A smiling tip of the hat to the constructor for coming up with this witty theme. After AMADEUS and RHONDA, it was fun to look forward to the next couple to be called on. Also liked the CHEETAH and OCELOT, ICED TEA and SUGAR, the SEA CAVE.

Do-over: extra before ADD-ON. Help from having kids in h.s. musicals: FEED ME, SEYMOUR. No idea: BORK.

JD 11:33 AM  

Correction, I meant CEOs are not V.I.P.s at board meetings and it's Pennsyltucky. Foggy brain today.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  


I often wondered where a former wife learned 'Pennsatucky', although she added a letter - 'Pennsaltucky'. Isn't most of it flat as a pancake? Except the Pocono's, naturally. Hard to go sledding on a pancake.

tkincher 11:38 AM  

For anyone with Disney+, The Muppet Show in its entirety is streaming on there these days. I don't think it's been on anywhere in a long time due to various rights issues, but they're a pretty fun revisit (especially the Paul Williams episode).

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

With regard to this puzzle.....EAT ME!

Just kidding, loved it.

Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Perfectly reasonable MonPuz. And, it has the rare central black puzgrid square.

Doesn't have any weeject stacks, but does have some cute weeject nooks of 3, in the NW & SE. Also the primo all-weeject row, across the middle. staff weeject pick: UAE, the country that's there for U, when U really need a mess of vowels.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Most populous Hawaiian Island} = OAHU.

fave raised-by-wolves fillins: PREK. BORK. SLEDRIDE. UMNO.

The Wall, to @Nancy: HIT ME, WITHYERBESTSHOT. har

Thanx for the all-about-ME puz, Mr. Rathkey dude. Nice debut. Congratz.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Anonymous 12:00 PM  

I don't think I agree with the difficulty ranking. Maybe I just had a lot more background knowledge for some of the pop culture references (or for the relay, a lack of knowledge getting in the way?), but I sent a new PR for Mondays with this puzzle.

I didn't get the theme until Feed Me, Seymour, but it made a ton of sense once I did. Helped me get past wanting "Barbara Ann" to fit for the Beach Boys cross.

Joseph Michael 12:13 PM  

Spare me, Rex. You’ve reached a new height of Monday morning grumpiness with your response to BORK. Now you’re offended not by what the clue is, but by what the clue could have been? UM NO.

Congratulations to Ian on his NYT debut. Fun original theme, though extremely demanding (ROCK ME, HELP ME, TICKLE ME, FEED ME. Is this puzzle ever satisfied?) Liked the fact that it was harder than the usual Monday, but next time please try to use fewer proper nouns (EDY, EDIE, NENA, NOLAN, etc.) It felt like the puzzle kept saying “Name me, Joseph Michael. Name me.”

I appreciated the fact that the themer names were all crossed so that they could be inferred if you don’t know them (ELMO was the only one who rang a bell for me).

Got surprisingly stumped by the clue “Butt.” It was the quotation marks that did it. (Why would somebody say “butt”?) CIG finally made itself known (but I still don’t understand why it looks like dialogue.)

Z 12:33 PM  

@Pete - Fair point. But, as others have attested to, we have heard ANCHOR LEG even if its use to indicate the person is less common.

@JD - Fair. No accounting for regionalisms. Still, SLED RIDE is basically non-existent in print, though it use looks to be growing (ngrams is not the right tool for the ANCHOR LEG question because it doesn’t give context). Also interesting how many places attach “-tucky” to indicate a certain level of condescension towards areas with high levels of Appalachian/southern migrants. That was a very common suffix for several regions around metro Detroit.

@Anom 12:00 - 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

@Anon 11:35 - Uh, no. The Appalachians run through Pennsylvania. Ohio, on the other hand, is basically a flat desolate wasteland.*

@Bocamp - 661 is on my clipboard, but did 662 this morning. The SE gave me trouble (I despise 58A, one of the few foods I will avoid at all costs) but otherwise medium Croce. When I got the answer to 31 I laughed (yes, out loud), but that may just be my sense of humor.

*Did I mention that I’m from Michigan?

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Anonymous 11:35,

Pennsylvania flat as a pancake? Huh?
And the Poconos are hardly the Commonwealth's biggest, highest or longest mountains. Hell, immediately to the West, the endless mountains go on , well, close to forever.
And of course the Appalachian ridge extends 150 miles from The Delaware Water Gap to Franklin County.

The Pa turnpike is considered a marvel of engineering precisely because it defeated so many mountains by building so many tunnels.

Flat as a pancake? That's Indiana. Pennsylvania is dominated by retreating glaciers which created the ridge ( mountains) and Valley system. It's also why Pa has so many fast flowing creeks. Those same retreating glaciers carved up NY state differently, which is why central NY has all those Lakes. ( and plenty of Mountains to the East)

Sheesh. Pa is flat is almost as unforgivable as Rex and his anchor leg idiocy.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

South East Ohio is actually very hilly. Quite lovely in fact. Especially for an armpit of a state. But at least it aint Michigan. ( U.P. exccepted.)

Seymour 12:53 PM  

In case anyone's interested, "Little Shop of Horrors" is back in NYC and now playing on West 43rd St. The live musical is a far cry from the Rick Moranis/Steve Martin movie, both of which are based on a 1960 Roger Corman horror movie spoof. Best part: what it says about dentists.

Luisa T 12:55 PM  

Thanks for the earworm NYTXWord…

mathgent 12:59 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Lewis (9:20)
Nancy (10:22)

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

high levels of Appalachian/southern migrants

uh, not so much around here, anyway. the allusion is to uneducated, poor, unhealthy, racist White People; they need not be Appalachian in immediate individual origin, although the attitude can be traced to there. all the races might live in the hollers, but the White People live upstream (think about it...). they also live in moderate numbers all over northern New England, and have for a couple of hundred years. my ancestors have been buried in Wilton for at least that long.

GILL I. 1:02 PM  

OK...To continue our wild BOAR excursion...Everyone is invited. Yesireebob. I've been on some bodacious bus rides throughout some wild and wonderful places BUT....and I mean BUT....the bus better have a nice CAN and a little bar in the back. You do know what eating a little wild BOAR does to you, don't you?
Are we still talking ANCHOR LEG? Reminds me of the chain gang.

JD 1:04 PM  

@Anon 11:35, As @Zÿgö pointed out, the Allegheny Range of the Appalachians runs through western Pennsylvania, so it's actually quite hilly. But we went Sled Riding in the roped off streets of our neighborhoods or down the slope from the schoolhouse. We vacationed in the flat, desolate wastelands of Lake Erie in Ohio 😀.

@Zÿgö Re Pennsyltucky, where I'm from we were all just hillbillies and admitted it. Gave notice of my retirement for the end of this month and plan to move back. We'll see how that goes.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

Especially for an armpit of a state.

good be worse. could be Worcester in Taxachusetts. one folk singer of my acquaintance, in bygone days, used to ad lib during a set, when he played a club there, "if God needed to give the Earth an enema, he'd stick the tube in Worcester". even got a laugh; of course, most of the patrons were totally stoned at the time. I expect that bit of patter wasn't original to him or Worcester.

Wanderlust 1:21 PM  

OK, OK, enough Midwest-bashing, people. Here's some pro-Midwest commentary: SEA CAVES made me think of my trip to Wisconsin and Michigan this summer. After a family reunion in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I headed north and went kayaking in Lake Superior, in the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin and Pictured Rocks in Michigan. Both featured beautiful SEA CAVES, which is odd because Lake Superior is not a sea. I guess Lake Caves doesn't have the same ring. Really want to go back in winter sometime to see them when they are framed in icy stalactites. (Stalagmites? I think I got it right.)

Noticed some of the same things Rex picked on but did not have a problem with them. TICKLE ME, ELMO also seemed a bit of an outlier because it's the only one that is not sung. That's assuming the monster in Little Shop sings "FEED ME, SEYMOUR"? I did come up with one more possible themer, "Kiss Me, Kate."

Agree that TEND BAR had a great clue.

bocamp 1:28 PM  

Hands up for 'regionalism' (and pronunciation variations), i.e., appreciation for differences.

@Zÿgö (12:33 PM)

Slowly working on Croce's 661. I'm guessing @jae will tee up 662 for us next week; will get back to you re: the Indian _ _ _.


Just started on Alex's 'Out of Order' variety puz; got the NW so far. Will keep an eye out for these 'OoO' creations from now on. Thx for the heads-up! :)

td pg -4 (timed out with 31 pts to go)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

okanaganer 1:41 PM  

[Spelling Bee: @bocamp 8:59am, same here!

I fell asleep last night while having one last try to get past -1, and woke up after midnight, the power saver had kicked in so just went to bed. This morning when the computer came back to life, there was yd SB staring at me. My "rule" is deadline of midnight PST; but just this once I thought: give it one last try. And 2 min later had it.

My last word (oh yeah, that one!) So: yd 0(*). The asterisk means: success, with an asterisk. So: QB streak 4(*) days.]

Whatsername 1:42 PM  

@Anonymous (11:48) Now I have an earworm for the rest of the day. And visions of scenes from Adams Family Values. I’m not sure which is worse.

tea73 2:16 PM  

I lived in Munich from 1984 to 1989 so seeing Falco, was fun. Such bouncy music!

Annoyingly slowed down by having HELP and reading Beatles...

The drive from New York City to Pittsburgh which we did many times because our son went to college there is one tunnel through a mountain after another in Pennsylvania. Beautiful drive.

Liked the theme a lot. Don't feel sick at all!

chefwen 3:08 PM  

@GILL. Tuscany region in Italy in the fall. Wild boar galore, you’ll fall in love.

Trey 3:20 PM  

Not flat. Just outside of Philadelphia there is a small ski slope for those who are members of the club that own it. Lots of steep hills along the Schuykill River in and just outside of Philly. Pittsburgh also has lots of changes in elevation. None of these are Poconos. My wife grew up in central PA - my recollection is that it was hilly as well

thfenn 3:26 PM  

I've got family walking the Via Francigena thru Tuscany right now, and the boar hunts are on. There are also wild boar roaming the streets of Rome, it seems. https://www.npr.org/2021/09/28/1041124299/wild-boars-rome-streets-food

Cat Lady of the Universe 4:55 PM  

Okay- ocelot and cheetah almost make up for the cat hate last week: The problem with kittens is that they group up to be cats.

Z 4:59 PM  

@Wanderlust - Pictured Rocks, the Tahquamenon River and the Tahquamenon Falls, Whitefish Point, eating fresh whitefish,… The U.P. is a wonderful place to visit for a week or two in the summer. I’ve even managed to do one Mackinac Bridge Run (which reminds me, where has @Hungry Mother been?).
If I were to rank the authentic Midwest States (not the wannabe posers) my order would be Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, the portions of Ohio and Indiana that abut either the Ohio River or a Great Lake, then the rest of Indiana and Ohio. Michigan traded the Upper Peninsula for Toledo and I think even Toledoans agree Michigan won that trade.

@Anon1:01 - In Michigan it’s used for areas with a high number of blue collar (i.e. solidly middle class) white people who migrated to metro Detroit for auto industry jobs from south of the Ohio River, specifically Kentucky, Tennessee, and maybe West Virginia. I’d say “racist” is also implied most, but not all, of the time.

GILL I. 5:17 PM  

@chefwen 3:08.....Oh, Lordy. To be back in Tuscany; go to Cinque Terre, eat the cuisine and drink the wine.....not to mention Florence...Oh, hell, all of Italy.
Just a little side note.....they eat wild boar in Spain as well. Again....forget the hamburgers, eat a delicious loin and do your cholesterol level a favor...... ;-)

Tex 6:18 PM  

Hell y'all, just come on down to Houston, get a car and drive north, stopping at the first Boar Hunting lodge that strikes your fancy. Just pick one before you get to Oklahoma, just because you can't trust a Sooner. $500 will get you a 3 day hunt, where you can kill all the feral hogs, Eurasian Wild boar and any varmints or predators you want. No limits, no judgement on random slaughter. We'll lend you the AR-15s, giving you 30-50 chances to hit one at a time. Guides extra, meat processing extra and mandatory. No license required for instate residents, out of state need a $300 license. No need to go to Vermont or Italy, get your boar meat here in the good old US of A!

Smith 7:19 PM  

Re: Pennsyltucky

Reminded me of the character Tiffany Doggett in OITNB, she of the nickname Pennsatucky. Never thought about it. Today's conversation has been enlightening (maybe this explains where Anon's former wife heard it).

Hardish Monday puzz. Made worse by a typo that I could not find...

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

Both featured beautiful SEA CAVES, which is odd because Lake Superior is not a sea.

Ah, but The Great Lakes are infamous (Michigan and Superior, particularly) for 'seas' as bad as the open Atlantic. There's a famous folk singer wrote and sang one about a boat called the "Edmund Fitzgerald" sunk by those 'seas'; true story, although the lyrics were his.

albatross shell 7:36 PM  

Your rectonymy wrecked me.

@Tom T
As an occasional reporter of diagonal words, long streaks of diagonal repeated letters and longer streaks of consecutive diagonal vowels or consonants, I have enjoyed following your current. obsession. Your SOLD is suitably crossed by SALE today. Intersecting at the L. Your ULNA overlaps NAME which which overlaps SEEM coming up from the bottom of that diagonal not to mention SEE MA and SEE MAN. Also if you allow a directly backward ricochet from the bottom of the puzzle you get ULNA ME ESEE which almost is a hidden themer. Which reminds me SUED A MA is Mozart backwards. So Sue me bro.

With that I'll exit stage left.

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

Oh, my!! Never had Netflix, so the acronym forced me to the wiki for translation. Which led to the definition of Pennsyltucky. Go have a look, he he. Pittsburgh and Philly metros are marked, while the rest of the state is just White; the entirety of the white counties ARE Pennsyltucky!! Damn, that must be depressing.

White Russian 10:13 PM  

Anon 8:09
Being white is not a bad thing. Good gravy.

Anonymous 11:42 PM  

@White Russian:

The map sections are white, not necessarily the inhabitants. As different from the two metros at the west and east; Pitt is Red and Philly is Blue. I guess there's an allegory there. Since the default background is almost always White (with Black borders) in the innterTubes pages, that's how the rest of the counties are displayed. Just to distinguish them from the two metros. There's nothing inherently wrong with being White; being a White Klansman from Alabama, might be.

albatross shell 11:57 PM  

Ever have a good white gravy?
I bet @GILL I has.

The Swedish Chef 7:34 AM  

Ever have a good white gravy?

Thanks to leaving this page active when I shut down last night, this is what I see Tuesday morning's start up. Which gives me the opportunity to say, well, no. La Madre made shit on a shingle fairly often, since we were a poor but unhappy family. I've come to despise white gravy.

kitshef 8:39 PM  

I seem to remember Dali also had a pet anteater.

FEED ME SEYMOUR is the one that didn't work for me. I feel like it should just be FEED ME.

Average Monday for difficulty, better than average theme.

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