Forlorn directionless type / MON 1-10-22 / Greener energy source / Neighbor of Ukraine once part of the U.S.S.R. / Perennial embarrassments for teens

Monday, January 10, 2022

Constructor: Lynn Lempel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (2:54, which is probably more "Medium" but with Mondays it's really hard to tell gradations of difficulty, since they're all pretty easy)

THEME: That "ole" black magic ...  — every themer ends with a word that rhymes with "roll"; the last two letters of the rhyming words are different in each case (I think every possible combo is represented):

Theme answers:
  • CEREAL BOWL (17A: Where to get one's Kix?)
  • BILLY JOEL (25A: Singer/songwriter nicknamed "Piano Man")
  • LOST SOUL (31A: Forlorn, directionless types)
  • EXIT POLL (40A: Survey of Election Day voters)
  • CLEAN COAL (... [sigh] ...) (47A: Greener energy source)
  • PIGEON HOLE (56A: Categorize simplistically)
Word of the Day: "CLEAN COAL" (47A) —
Coal pollution mitigation, sometimes called clean coal, is a series of systems and technologies that seek to mitigate the health and environmental impact of coal; in particular air pollution from coal-fired power stations, and from coal burnt by heavy industry. [...] Environmentalists such as Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's Global Warming and Energy Program, believes that the term "clean coal" is misleading: "There is no such thing as clean coal and there never will be. It's an oxymoron." The Sierra Club's Coal Campaign has launched a site refuting the clean coal statements and advertising of the coal industry. [...] The term Clean Coal in modern society often refers to the carbon capture and storage process. The term has been used by advertisers, lobbyists, and politicians such as Donald Trump. (wikipedia)
• • •

. Happy Newish Year! 2022! I hope you are holding up during these cold, dark days. It's early January, which means it's time for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. 

2021 was an important year for me, as my blog (this blog, the one you are reading right now) turned 15 years old! [noisemaker sounds!!!!]. That's a lot of years old. For a blog, anyway. 15 is also a pretty important crossword-related anniversary—maybe the only important crossword-related anniversary. The standard US crossword grid is 15x15, and now Rex Parker is also 15! Rex Parker, spanning the grid to give you the constant variety of crossword commentary: the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat (dum dum dum DUM!) The human drama of ... OK now I'm just channeling Jim McKay from the '70s-era introduction to "Wide World of Sports," but I do hope this blog has provided some insight, some entertainment, some commiseration, some solace, some sense of regularity during what are obviously pretty tumultuous and often lonely times. I hope it has enhanced your solving pleasure, giving you something to look forward to even (especially?) when the puzzle lets you down, and someone to celebrate with when the puzzle is wonderful. If it's also given you someone to shout at in disagreement, that's OK too.

A lot of labor goes into producing this blog every day (Every. Day.) and the hours are, let's say, less than ideal (I'm either solving and writing at night, after 10pm, or in the morning, before 6am). Most days, I really do love the writing, but it is work, and once a year (right now!) I acknowledge that fact. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog beyond a simple, direct contribution request once a year. No ads, no gimmicks. Just here for you, every day, rain or shine, whether you like it or, perhaps, on occasion, not :) It's just me and my laptop and some free blogging software and, you know, a lot of rage, but hopefully there's illumination and levity along the way. I do genuinely love this gig, and whether you're an everyday reader or a Sunday-only reader or a flat-out hatereader, I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

I'll throw my Venmo handle in here too, just in case that's your preferred way of moving money around; it's @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which I guess it does sometimes, when it's not trying to push crypto on you, what the hell?!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. Last year's thank-you postcards featured various portraits of my cat, Alfie, designed by artist Ella Egan, a.k.a. my daughter. They were such a hit that I asked Ella to design this year's thank-you postcard as well, this time featuring both my cats. And this is the result. Behold this year's thank-you card: "Alfie and Olive: Exploring the Grid":
We went back and forth on whether she should add more black squares to make the grid look more plausibly fillable (that's a Lot of white space), but in the end we decided not to crowd the jumping (or hanging?) Olive with more black squares, and instead just to leave the card as is, with the idea that the cats are exploring a grid that is ... under construction. Anyway, this card is personally meaningful to me, and also, I believe, objectively lovely. I can't wait to share it with snail-mailers (and oh, what the hell, if you are a PayPal / Venmo donor and you want one too, just say so in the message). Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

• • •

Amanda Carrington, Princess of Moldavia
Flew through this very clean Monday puzzle. I haven't been timing myself lately, and I assumed that I had lost a step, or many steps, speed-wise, as a result, but I clocked 2:54 on this one, which is roughly the Monday average that I had back when I was speed-solving and timing myself on a regular basis. There were a couple hesitations here and there, but for the most part there were no trouble spots. I misspelled ELI Lilly (as ELY) and absolutely blanked on MOLDOVA (38D: Neighbor of Ukraine once part of the U.S.S.R.), which still feels to me like a European country that some soap opera just made up (hmmm, turns out Moldavia featured very prominently in the '80s nighttime soap opera "Dynasty," which may be why MOLDOVA is striking me as fictional; but like MOLDOVA, Moldavia is also real: it's a former principality that's now part of Romania; we now return you to our regularly scheduled programming...). As far as the theme is concerned, I didn't really get why rhyming "oll" words made for an interesting grouping, but after I looked at the answer set a bit, I noticed that despite rhyming they are all spelled differently. That doesn't really alter, or add to, solving enjoyment; it's not the biggest "aha" in the world. But it does turn the ends of the theme answers from a fairly loose and arbitrary set of words into a much tighter and more coherent grouping. There's a rationale beyond mere rhyming. So OK. That's fine. It's a breezy Monday puzzle, and the grid is without gunk, so I can live with this somewhat tepid theme.

What I can't really live with, and what people began squawking about right away, as soon as the puzzle was released, is CLEAN COAL, which is a myth, a disingenuous and dishonest term invented by fossil fuel industry lobbyists. The burning of fossil fuels is by far the biggest driver of climate change. There is no such thing as CLEAN COAL. Booooo and hiss. What's truly horrible about the puzzle doing PR for the fossil fuel industry is that (according to the published Constructor Notes) a. the constructor knew that the term was iffy, truth-wise, and, worse, b. the editors changed her original clue from [Dubious term for a greener energy source] to today's much more coal-friendly [Greener energy source]. 

copied from Twitter, originally from "Wordplay"

CLEAN COAL is a dubious term. They should've stuck with "dubious term" if they were gonna use the answer at all. What's hilarious about their attempt to depoliticize the answer is that it only served to ultra-politicize the answer, and infuriate their actual solving base in the bargain. How was that a good idea? Anyway, if it's not working to end fossil fuel consumption entirely, then it's not "clean," the end.

Some more things:
  • 4D: Like most desserts (SWEET) — I mention this only because SWEET sits alongside ASS, and both of them cross PANTS, so I keep saying "SWEET-ASS PANTS!" to myself, in my head, like I'm complimenting someone's pants ... in my head ... just me?
  • 14A: Emerged, as an issue (AROSE) — this makes me laugh because it's usually my first guess in Wordle, which I've somehow become addicted to (nice to have a new addiction that only takes a minute or so each day). I guess either AROSE or ARISE is supposed to be the "best" first guess, given stats on letter frequency and combinations in five-letter words (source: people much nerdier than me). I get bored opening with the same word all the time though, so I mix it up, just for fun. Guess I'll never go pro at Wordle, oh well. Cute game.
  • 49D: George or Louis, to William and Kate (SON) — I try so hard not to know things about the Royal Family, please, won't you try along with me? Please?
  • 31A: Forlorn, directionless type (LOST SOUL) — Hey! Hey! Hey ... I am not "lost." I'm right here, thank you very much.
  • 3D: Perennial embarrassment for teens (PARENTS) — Hey! Hey! Hey ... I was a cool dad, though, right? Right!? Sigh ... 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


king_yeti 8:53 AM  

best post ever!!

Smith 8:57 AM  

No comments yet? Just Rex's template? CLUEANSWER CLUEANSWER CLUEANSWER. A clutter of clueanswers, perhaps. Huh.

Well, I thought it was easy, well under average time, also <2 Rexes.

Did not notice the theme or even think about it.

Those LOSTSOUL VALETS need to find new work.

kitshef 9:01 AM  

Clearly, 'big coal' is trying to take down Rex's site. Blog disappeared for a while this morning, and all comments lost.

Pretty much what Rex said, except "easy" rather than "easy-medium", and MOLDOVA was a semi-gimme (needed a cross to eliminate Belarus). MOLDOVA was fairly recently the unhappiest country in the world - or maybe it was in Europe.

Rex Parker 9:04 AM  

Dearest commenters,

I am sorry that I had to trash the first Monday post, along with maybe a couple dozen comments. Some link or video embed code was making my blog severely malfunction, so I redid it without external links and videos, and it now works. It's all mystical to me. But for the moment, all looks normal.

But I deleted your earlier comments. And again, I am sorry. Recomment away!


Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Congratulations 🍾

15 letters / years !

Nancy 9:08 AM  

Completely mindless. No thinking whatsoever required.

Whatsername 9:09 AM  

I tried to post earlier and thought my comment had been kicked off by the cyber COPS. Good to know it was only common gremlins.

The experience of a seasoned pro really shines through in the construction of this Monday beauty. Such a simple concept but so beautifully illustrated - and with six themers AS WELL.

PALL crossing POLS is certainly apropos in the current political climate. If our REPs in Congress had an audience, there would likely be a big derisive crowd of HOOTS. Or better yet – SCATS!

I couldn’t help but notice RURAL VALETS, a dichotomy rarely seen in the Heart of America. Around here, most people pretty much park their own pickup trucks.

Vera 9:10 AM  

There is no such thing as clean coal!

amyyanni 9:13 AM  

Recommend? My current book is The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict, about Hedy Lamarr and the Nazis.
And CLEANCOAL definitely made me stop solving enough to stare and actually do a double take. Agree with Rex.

marye 9:14 AM  

Thanks for calling out the idea of "clean coal" For more:

DJG 9:21 AM  

And what are the letters of today's NYT Spelling Bee game?



RooMonster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, Rex, sleep in today? Must've been too much excitement at the football games yesterday. As a Steelers fan, I need to compliment the Raiders on actually winning the game. Truth be told, the Chargers lost the game more than the Raiders won, as they took an unexplainable time out, which enabled the Raiders to run another play, which got them into comfortable field goal range. Had they just let the clock run, it probably would've ended up tied, thereby getting both them (the Chargers) and the Raiders in the playoffs, knocking out the Steelers. See? This is why Rex was late! 😁

Anyway, puz was a Meh here. I usually like Lynn's puzs, but still meh. I Do like the Themer amount, 6 crammed in without too much junk fill. That's impressive. But I took the last words as all one-syllable rhymers, and JOEL stands out as the oddball, it being two-syllables. I'm sure it is one-syllable in parts of the country, but it's two to me, and an outlier. YMMV.

Another kudos on the 7's in all the corners. Tough to stack 7's whilst crossing multiple Themers cleanly.

Another @Lewis L fest in upper middle. Not trying hard enough to get a ROO in. Change YOGA to HORA or TORA, and there ya go! 😂🤪

This LOST SOUL is gonna EXIT. You're welcome.

yd -5, should'ves 3

No F's (casts a PALL. Har.)

Lewis 9:29 AM  

This is beautifully put together with the six theme answers double spaced apart, and, of course, as with all LL’s puzzles, it’s junk-free. It’s a tried and true theme type very well executed, clued perfectly Monday lite.

Furthermore, it spurred me to imagine other answers of this theme genre, and I ended up with the lovely, if chimerical, visual of a North Pole swimming hole housing lemon sole by a grassy knoll.

And I like the END at the end.

I love how democratic the NYT puzzles are, with high-quality puzzles for every level of solver through the week, how it lets everybody in. And when it comes to Mondays, Lynn is top tier, so consistently high quality. Thank you for this, LL, and for a bright, zippy, and fun solve!

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Hey Rex - I am also hooked on Wordle. Fun addition to my morning puzzle routine!

Lewis 9:34 AM  

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

1. Time period or an anagram of one (3)
2. ID seen at the post office? (5)
3. Broadway show where everyone knows the ending (7)(3)
4. Really busy, perhaps (6)
5. Hardly a lover of hot wings (6)


JonB3 9:41 AM  

So nice to see MY last name in 25D. Thanks Lynn!

mathgent 9:48 AM  

Dear Mr. Shortz,

I work on your puzzles most days. I'm not very good at them. Some days I get less than half the words. But even on those days, I usually have some fun -- there's a clever clue, a different word, something I didn't know.

Today, I finished the puzzle, I filled in every square. But that's not a big deal. Where was the fun?

Frantic Sloth 9:56 AM  

CLEAN COAL. The jumbo shrimp of "green" energy.
What a bunch of cowardly pantywaists that editing team is to change LL's original clue. I agree with OFL - they only made it worse.

The puzz was a smooth, quickie Mondee and though it was typically easy, I liked it a bushel and a peck. Another pro at the HELM makes all the difference.

Mulva from MOLDOVA sounds like the latest spinoff* from Seinfeld, only instead of international travels, she's quarantining. I doubt it will be picked up.

*after Rochelle Rochelle, a young girl's strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk

Rex, love SWEET ASS PANTS, but now all I can see is SWEET ASS ANT PANTS. The visual of ants wearing pants** makes me feel happy to be alive.

** originally had "ants in pants", but that conjured a less pleasant image...and sensation.

Don't worry. I'm going. Cheers!


Beezer 9:57 AM  

Please re-post folks! It’s just not right that lazybones me should be up toward the top of the comments.

I must say that sometimes I get a little irked by @Rex political correctness crusade but I literally dropped my jaw when CLEANCOAL revealed as a “greener source of energy.” I just retired from the field of environmental regulation and…just NO! Much money has been made in this field with NO good results and the debacles typically cause consumer rate hikes to cover the costs of the failed experiments. This leads me to totally agree that ditching “supposedly” was a huge editorial FAIL. Rant over.

Otherwise, I think this must have been pretty easy because if I hadn’t been seized by a fit of sneezing I’m pretty sure I would have set a personal record on time. (@Nancy, I don’t try to speed-solve, but I get timed on the app anyway).

Carola 9:58 AM  

I like "fun with English" themes, so after BOWL and JOEL I enjoyed seeing what Lynn Lempel would come up with for the next "ole."

Re: @Rex's "...the last two letters of the rhyming words are different in each case (I think every possible combo is represented)" --He's probably been out of the news for too long to include in a Monday puzzle, but I immediately thought of "German chancellor from 1982 to 1998" (Helmut Kohl).

Smith 9:59 AM  


Liked it, also her book The Other Einstein

JD 9:59 AM  

It's a little known fact that Billy Joel's song originally started off, "Cereal Bowl, Lost Soul, Exit Poll, Clean Coal, Pigeon Hole, we didn't start the fire-errr." That whole, "Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray" came later.

It's true.

Jim Spies 10:04 AM  

This one was "easy" for me, as I was about 20 sec off my personal Monday best without really even trying. CLEAN COAL wasn't the only problem child in this puzzle, though.

JD 10:10 AM  

Oh my! @DJG, you weren't kidding!

Frantic Sloth 10:12 AM  

Okay. Now I know it's me. Commented 3 times - once after Rex's explanation - and still squadoosh. Taking my ball and going home.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

@Nancy. I say this as an admirer. Please consider forgoing Monday puzzles.

Whatsername 10:29 AM  

@Crimson Devil: If you’re about this morning… Roll Tide!

@Z (5:24) Thanks for the update on the Thursday kerfuffle. An apology was probably the right thing to do even though his original words were fairly measured IMHO.

@amyyani (9:13) Thanks for the recommendation. Historical fiction is my favorite genre.

@Frantic (10:12) Now you know it’s you? Not possible!

@Rex: Love the picture of you and Alfie and the artwork is nothing short of brilliant! I want to thank you for sharing your witty and scholarly insights with us. Every. Day. I’ve followed your blog for most of the 15 years you’ve been around; whether I agree or not, I always find something worthwhile. And - because I so appreciate not having to navigate through dozens of ads to get to the goods as I do on so many other sites (um well, actually because I want one of those cool cards) - the check is in the mail.

Wanderlust 10:39 AM  

Good choices. IDAHO and ICARUS should be candidates for your year-end best.

Zed 10:47 AM  

Geez Louise - - - The best comment I ever wrote and now it's gone. Your Loss.

jae 10:49 AM  

Easy-medium. Just about right for a Monday. Smooth with a wordplay theme. Liked it a bunch! MOLDOVA was a gimme because my sister and BIL spent some time there working for the State Department after he retired from USAID. I think the Moldovan government still sends her the occasional editing job. They are currently living in Manhattan somewhere near @Nancy.

@bocamp - Croce’s Freestyle #675 was a medium Croce or about 3X last Saturday’s NYT. Good luck!

Wanderlust 10:50 AM  

When I came to the blog today, I first saw (of course) the plea for support, and I thought “oh, gotta remember to donate today.” Scrolled down and saw no Rex post - just his template for a post. And I thought, “hmm, should I donate on the first day in history when Rex didn’t do a post?”

Glad it was just gremlins and will make my donation today - and would have even if Rex hadn’t slayed those gremlins.

Not much to say about the puzzle - can’t believe that WS would take out “dubious claim” from the clue on CLEAN COAL. I’ve been skeptical about Rex’s claim that WS has to be politically conservative - and shows it in his editing - but this one makes me wonder.

I also have gotten addicted to Wordle, and I am so glad you are only allowed to do one a day. I would binge solve them if allowed, then wonder where the day went.

GILL I. 10:52 AM  

This didn't fancy my tickle. But why? you ask....Well...for starters, it's a Lynne Lempel crossword and I usually love all of her puzzle. A Monday, while easy for the veterans, should then, at least, be sassy and fun; eliciting a few ooh's and aah's. Instead, it ended up on the scowl-o-meter front today.
But did you like anything? you ask. I did. I liked SWEET GOO and ANT in your PANTS. I liked seeing BILLY JOEL drinking a JULEP but those THRILLS were it....Punto final.
My first scowl was having to even think about William and Kate. They are both pretty useless, overpaid, Royals. There one job is catering to the Queen and going about their Royal duties like attending funerals, handing out "bravo, well done" certificates and going to a gazillion lunches and dinners. Kate is even worse. She gets praise for simply existing. I wish she'd take after Diana; at least Princess Di did immense good work and helped the poor and downtrodden. Kate? Well...she does care about children's mental health (who the hell doesn't?), so she tries to get people to listen to her. The problem is that she stinks on any ORATORY level and does a blah, blah, blah routine that puts you to sleep standing up.
And what is the next scowl?
I have never, ever, heard the term "CLEAN COAL." Well, maybe ex EVIL TYRANT Trump said that a lot. I haven't read all the comments yet, but I'm betting several will agree with @Rex on his distain for the clue.
It ain't a MYTH....No such thing.
I have to take my two little fur babies for a walk now. When I come back I will read ALL of you and hope you bring some sunshine into my fancy tickle.

Joseph Michael 10:53 AM  

A simple and SWEET Monday puzzle offering six different ways to spell a rhyme.

Billy Joel at his cereal bowl
Reads an exit poll about clean coal
And feeling like a lost soul
Retreats to an imaginary pigeon hole

Frantic Sloth 11:02 AM  

Somewhere, an Anonymous got his wings because @Z's and my comments have been kiboshed.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

Re: Linzer apology

What a bizarre thing tod. offer an aoplogy having done nothing wrong. I mean if peole misconstrue your benign comment, why should you be on the hook? It's almso as if impy someobne is a plaigairst ( and thus necessarily a liar and a theief) is as good as exlicitly calling them one. Who'd a think it? I mean, besides everyone not beholden to you or one of your fanboys that is.

JD 11:06 AM  

@Frantic, @Z, Aw c'mon you two! Nothing? I don't believe it.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Diana Spencer was an adulderess, playgirl and snotty child of wealth and privelege. That she was wronged by the royals doesnt abrograte her failings.

Frantic Sloth 11:13 AM  

@JD 959am 🤌💋🖐

bocamp 11:28 AM  

Thx Lynn, for another outstanding Mon. offering! :)


THRILLed to see a LL puz; nice way to start off the week. :)

Good ol' theme.

No EYESORES (other than COAL) in this one, and didn't have to STARE at anything too long.

"'CLEAN COAL' Technologies, Carbon Capture & Sequestration:

• Coal is used extensively as a fuel in most parts of the world.
• Burning coal produces about 15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
• Attempting to use coal without adding to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels is a major technological challenge.
• The greatest challenge is bringing the cost of this down sufficiently for 'clean coal' to compete with nuclear power on the basis of near-zero emissions for base-load power.
• There is typically at least a 20% energy penalty involved in 'clean coal' processes.
• World R&D on CCS exceeded $1 billion per year over 2009 to 2013, then fell sharply.
• The term 'clean coal' is increasingly being used for supercritical coal-fired plants without CCS, on the basis that CO2 emissions are less than for older plants, but are still much greater than for nuclear or renewables."

(World Nuclear Association)

Good to see one of my fave songs and artists: Hallelujah ~ Leonard COHEN (Live in London)

Enjoyable solve. :)

Thx @jae; on it! :)
yd 0* / td pg -3

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Overruling the constructor on "clean coal" (which almost no one without ties to the coal industry considers valid, and which the Sierra Club calls an oxymoron)? Honestly, I'm thinking about ending my NYTimes subscription over this. It's appalling.

Frantic Sloth 12:03 PM  

Going to try one last time...

CLEAN COAL. The jumbo shrimp of "green" energy.
What a bunch of cowardly pantywaists that editing team is to change LL's original clue. I agree with OFL - they only made it worse.

The puzz was a smooth, quickie Mondee and though it was typically easy, I liked it a bushel and a peck. Another pro at the HELM makes all the difference.

Mulva from MOLDOVA sounds like the latest spinoff* from Seinfeld, only instead of international travels, she's quarantining. I doubt it will be picked up.

*after Rochelle Rochelle, a young girl's strange erotic journey from Milan to Minsk

Rex, love SWEET ASS PANTS, but now all I can see is SWEET ASS ANT PANTS. The visual of ants wearing pants** makes me feel happy to be alive.

** originally had "ants in pants", but that conjured a less pleasant image...and sensation.

Don't worry. I'm going. Cheers!


egsforbreakfast 12:04 PM  

I once had a summer job making CLEAN COAL. it was a bittersweet experience and resulted in negative income for me. The job was an open secret, and we often got served jumbo shrimp with plastic silverware for lunch. But on the whole, it went over like a lead balloon and seems almost like true fiction looking back on it.

42D LETSLIP sounds like a slangy pickup line.

Nice, tight Monday puzzle. Thanks, Lynn Lempel.

Masked and Anonymous 12:20 PM  

This MonPuz had one debut entry: CLEANCOAL. IM&AO, there is such a thing: coal that U leave buried in the ground. Still -- and I hate to kick, but -- think I'da gone with FIELDGOAL, instead, for that ole sound-alike version.


staff weeject pick: LPS. Plural abbreve meat. Primo all-weeject [ORB-ILL-ERA-GAP] Down column in mid puzgrid, btw. Enabled by the rare dead-center puzgrid black square; nice save.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Birds in a gaggle} = GEESE.
bonus fave half moo-cow half no-know clue: {Jeans or jodhpurs} = PANTS.

Thanx for the fun, Lynn Lempel darlin.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

p.s. Congratz on yer 15 years and yer cute kitties, @RP. M&A has been proud to exist for & personally observe 13.2 of em (years, not kitties).


mathgent 12:29 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

Lewis (9:34)
Gill I. (10:52)
egsforbreakfast (12:04)

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

If you combine the precentage of electricity generated by Wind, Hydro, and Solar, you'd still be short of what coal provides for this country, clean dirty, hwtaver. It's slightly over 19% second only to naural gas.
What the country needs is more Nuclar power. That is clean.

Teedmn 12:46 PM  

"Ole Clean Coal" is what this theme said to me. I sifted through the theme answers for some sort of meta (maybe the first letters of the ole words spelling something?) but came up with just ole sounds. Okay, I can be happy with that. They were all interesting entries, anyway but I agree with Rex on CLEAN COAL; talk about MYTHs..

My Royals interest is on a par with Rex's. I had to kill 15 minutes at a Walgreens once, waiting out a post-vaccine observation period. When I mildly whined to the pharmacist that I didn't have anything to read, she sent someone out to the magazine rack for me - I told them anything would do. Except they brought me the "People" special Royals issue. I never knew previous to that moment how little interest I had in the Royal Family. I would have preferred any automotive or farming periodical to that. I looked at the pictures anyway.

Thanks, Lynn Lempel, this was a SWEET, easy Monday puzzle.

Baggy Jeans 12:48 PM  

What @Nancy in NY heckled from the back of the room.

old timer 12:49 PM  

My immediate thought on 47A was, the clue should have read, "Cleaner energy source, *they say*" "Dubious" for sure, but "they say" would have helped make it clear Big Coal's advertising has been challenged. I bet in Binghampton there are still many old houses with coal shoots. I once lived in a house in Tacoma where coal, if it was used originally, had been replaced by an oil burning heater, which was probably an improvement, and was lots more fun to use.

I really thought the puzzle was super-Easy, but in fact it took me 20 minutes to finish, while I have had Monday ink on paper times as low as 12 minutes.

smalltowndoc 12:53 PM  

Am I the only person who thinks BILLY JOEL’s last name has two syllables; i.e., it doesn’t rhyme with the other theme answers?

GILL I. 12:56 PM  

@Anony 11:07...Of course she was!!!! So was her ex-husband, Prince Charles. Don't get me started on all the Royals and their infidelities...the list is way too long.
I was simply saying that Kate Middleton is pretty, but a dud in disguise. Yes, she does all those charitable works required of her, but as far as I can see, she's better at smiling and waving than actually making any difference.
Princess Di on the other hand, did incredible work. I know most of it was after her split with eye roving spouse, but she will be remembered as the one person pushing for charities for the homeless and disabled. Her work in Angola to get them to ban and destroy the landmines that left countless people without legs (mainly children), and her constantly showing up at hospitals to give the homeless and the terminally ill, some comfort, will always be remembered.
So, amigo.....we are talking about a beautiful woman (both inside and outside) who happened to run off with a handsome Egyptian, and another beautiful woman who does her required duties and really, nothing more.
Thus the life of the Royals.....Or as we say in my neck of the woods "Are we talking about apples or oranges?"....
By the way, I've been married to a bonafide born and raised Brit and he and most of his family agree with me....
Cheers....I'm off to find a pub that serves Talisker.

albatross shell 1:26 PM  

Beauty of a Monday. Too easy? Clues too straight forward? For my taste yes. I am not sure either is a fault on Monday.

Humor. The PARENT clue. Rex also pointed out SWEET ASS PANTS and CLEANCOAL. I'd add the the final clue in the puzzle: Finale = END. Yep, a short list.

okanaganer 1:57 PM  

What did I type last night? Something like:
I did this puzzle looking at only the down clues; took about 7.5 minutes with only a couple of dead ends. For the teen embarrassments at 3 down I put PIMPLES. Later, the Grand speechmaking was ORATION. Easily fixed.

[Spelling Bee: yd (Sun) 0; QB 3 days in a row!
My week, Mon to Sun: 0, -2, 0, -2, 0, 0, 0.]

Finally feeling better after the worst cold/flu in at least 25 years. My sister, who I was with at xmas, said it's the worst she's EVER had. We were both negative for Covid, at least.

okanaganer 2:13 PM  

Hmmm... just tried to donate to Rex via PayPal and ended up with "Transaction failed... unknown error". Anyone else had problems?

Tom T 2:18 PM  

Not a record time for me, but felt like it could have been. No push back, and not much sparkle. But still a nice way to spend 8 minutes.

Carola 2:27 PM  

@smalltowndoc 12:53: "Am I the only person who thinks BILLY JOEL’s last name has two syllables; i.e., it doesn’t rhyme with the other theme answers?" No, I had the same thought. But where I live in the Midwest, we can stretch just about any vowel into two syllables. I even had my doubts about BOWL, which is awfully close to "bow-ull" in my house.

SFR 2:39 PM  

The SWEET-ASS PANTS mini-theme would have been extended if 20 across had called for a singular answer.

Trey 2:40 PM  

@Carola 2:27 - I am a native southerner and have been temporarily relocated to the Philadelphia area for over 20 years. I still pronounce Joel in a way that rhymes with the other words

Whatsername 2:41 PM  

@smalltowndoc (12:53) I had that same thought: Is it Jole or Jo-el? I tend to say it in two syllables but - based on the lack of comments about it - I’d say most people don’t.

@GILL: I’m not arguing pro or con here but just had a thought regarding Princess Kate. Even though she is not as active or as visible as her husband’s famous mum, she does what she does with an easy down-to-earth grace while setting an impeccable example for the royal family. Certainly more than can be said for a lot of the others in that clan. I believe the reason for her limited public pursuits may be in the interest of protecting her young family. She might be purposely trying to avoid the kind of attention that Diana attracted with her high visibility causes. Or it could be she has been told to keep a low profile and avoid the limelight in an effort to keep the rabid paparazzi at bay. No one could blame Prince William for not wanting to go through that again.

Trey 2:45 PM  

@okanaganer 1:57 - most recent info that I have heard around the hospital where I work is that the rapid tests are inaccurate enough for Omicron that even if they are negative, you should isolate etc as if you had a positive test.

I hope that you feel better soon. Assuming that you are vaccinated and boosted, it is very unlikely to progress to serious illness. There was a study released late last week or early this week that looked a about 1 million vaccinated people - the rate of serious illness (defined as hospitalization or death, if I recall correctly) was quite low, even though the risk of mild or moderate break through infection is a real number. This should give us all some level of hope that this will pass, or at least become manageable.

kitshef 2:51 PM  

Announcement today from the New York Times of a Diverse Crossword Constructor Fellowship

"We are excited to announce the first-ever New York Times Diverse Crossword Constructor Fellowship, which will begin accepting applications on Feb. 7. This fellowship is to provide mentorship and support for constructors from underrepresented groups, including women, people of color and the L.G.B.T.Q. community. We want our puzzles to reflect the reality of all Americans, which means we want to publish work that reflects a diverse range of cultural reference points, language usage and communities. This fellowship is for constructors who have not yet been published by The New York Times."

Here is the link

Doctor Work 3:07 PM  

Clean coal reminds me of a limerick...

If your industry's known to pollute,
And you can't, with mere facts, this dispute,
You should paint yourself green,
Saying coal can be clean,
And make sure that your spokeswoman's cute.

Elizabeth Sandifer 3:22 PM  

Pretty sure IRATE, with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 9th most common letters, is a better opener than ARISE, which swaps that T—the second most common letter—out for an S, merely the sixth most common letter, but perhaps there's some subtlety I'm missing.

bocamp 3:46 PM  

Fwiw, JOEL is a one-syll word for me, i.e., rhymes with the other ol's.

@okanaganer (1:57 / 2:13 PM)

Happy to hear you're both feeling better! :)

No prob with the PayPal transaction, here.

@kitshef (2:51 PM)

Thx for the link. :)
At the end of the article (see @kitshef's (2:51 PM) link ), under 'Word Games', there are excellent links to SB tips and Wordle history and info.

I've added a daily serving of 'Wordle' to my word-salad plate, and, yes, it's fairly easy, but a nice warm-up to the SB.
td pg -2*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Unknown 5:02 PM  

Well, if there's one thing this unruly group can agree upon, it was the unfortunate cluing for CLEAN COAL.

I too had PIMPLES for the teenage embarrassment, which caused the only stumble on what was otherwise a very workmanlike Monday.

I may not especially care for Mondays as they skew very easy, but I know *why* they are there, and they are often a good entry point for newbies to get into the fun of the pursuit. Today's was perfect in that regard.

I'm always bemused when @Nancy denigrates them for their simplicity. Clearly they are not constructed for the likes of her.

glwall3 5:08 PM  

Thank you for your blog. Not an expert. Probably medium. Interesting to see where I went wrong and what other thoughts are

okanaganer 5:10 PM  

@Trey and @bocamp... thanks! Actually our tests were the clinic kind: appointment, nurse takes nasal swab, results 24 hours later. I think the odds of us both being false negative would be pretty small.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

Serves me right fo not reading all the way to the end of your post. Of course 99% of is utter rubbish. But the Talisker, well, that more than makes up for it. I think I've told you about The Shack--I think thats waht its' called--just above the Tallisker disteillery on Skye. You simply have to, have to get there. Seafood in the rough. The best Ive ever had.
Damn!!! Now I want oysters and scotch. Curse you!

Trinch 6:10 PM  

Well in agreement with the sour note left by CLEAN COAL, but it did reminded me of one of the dumber things said by Trump…

“It's just been announced that a second, brand new coal mine where they're going to take out clean coal — meaning they're taking out coal, they're going to clean it — is opening in the state of Pennsylvania.”

Next think you know, he’ll suggest injecting bleach to cure COVID.

Zed 6:19 PM  

I’ve never heard anyone pronounce the JOEL in BILLY JOEL as two syllables. Well, maybe as a joke, but never seriously.

I’ve never understood American’s fascination with the British Royal Family. This song encapsulates my attitude towards all the royals. I have often amused myself imaging Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin playing the instruments with T. Paine on lead vocals (T. Paine not T. Pain although that might be fun, too).

@Doctor Work - 🤣😂🤣 👍🏽👍🏽

@kitshef - Better late than never, but lots of this mentoring has been going on by others for several years, now.

@Frantic Sloth 11:02 - Wings? I was thinking more “got a new bridge to live under.”

GILL I. 6:24 PM  

Whatsername 2:41......Yes, yes, yes....You are, of course, right about the down-to-earth.....I'm sure if I met Kate in person, she'd come across as utterly charming..
I get all my info on the Royals (ad nauseam, I might add) from my British in-laws. I don't read People Magazine (hi @Teedmn) so my juicy know-it-all comes from those across the pond. They only like the Queen and they loved the Queen Mum. I, frankly, don't give a monkey's patootie, but boy do I have an opinion about everything. Can you tell?

@Anony 5:28. Of course what I write is gives me something to do. And yes, I remember you mentioning The Shack in Skye. Speaking of the nephew in law was the one who brought me a bottle of Talisker from jolly ole England. Talk about falling in love!
I can't stand beer nor pizza.

RooMonster 6:29 PM  

@smalltowndoc 12:53
I said it first! I said it first! Nah Nah!
😂🤪 Har. My post way back at @9:28.
Thanks to everyone who just eluded over my deeply crucial words.
Har again. 😁

Oh, so it wasn't Football Hangover for Rex, just a glitch in the Matrix. Good to know.

RooMonster Should've Taken The Blue Pill Guy

Anoa Bob 7:17 PM  

Again, near identical grid entries from one day to the next. Yesterday it was EYE SORES at 124 Across, today it's EYE SORE at 10 Down. Coincidence? I think not. Seems to me the one day to the next duplications have been happening too frequently of late to be just coincidental. Is there some kind of meta going on here? And if so, how do I claim my prize?

Nancy 7:21 PM  

Thanks @Wanderlust, et al, for steering me Wordle, which I'd never heard of, btw. I went there just now and on my first encounter with the game I got the word on the fifth try. (Knew the word after the 4th and typed it in -- so I actually got it in four tries.) The screen told me I'd done "Great". Did I? What's considered good?

Anyway, I cut and pasted the link and sent it to myself in an email. I'm probably hooked already -- and probably for good.

JonB3 7:27 PM  

I received the 2022 NYTimes Crossword Calendar for Christmas. Today's calendar puzzle was originally published on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018 constructed by none other than Lynn Lempel. Here are the theme answers:

SCOOBY DOO (17A: Great Dane of animated cartoons)
MORNING DEW (24A: Result of overnight condensation)
NO CAN DO (38A: Impossible for me)
POSTAGE DUE (50A: Words on returned mail)
PAS DE DEUX (62D: Couple's ballet dance)

Interesting coincidence.

Here is Rex's writeup:

Smith 8:16 PM  

Re wordle: many useful first words, but think also on second and third... today was the first day I didn't get it on the 4th line because last week there was SIEGE, so repeating a letter seemed acceptable, alas not today. Got it on 5.

The concept is to not repeat (yes, split infinitive because we can do that in English and the meaning changes) any letters, get all vowels in, and most of the high frequency consonants.

Word games!

Also I venmoed my contribution to OFL no problem at all.

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

Not a fan of fossil fuels, but am certain that renewables aren't ready by a longshot. As an engineer that was at a university that invested heavily in clean coal technology, the goal was to remove the NOX SOX associated with coal to make it comparable to burning natural gas, not to be emission free. Any combustion will yield CO2. You produce CO2. Should you be phased out?

Actually, increased population increases human CO2 production, increases energy consumption, increases product consumption, and so on. However, population control as an environmental control gets no traction at all. All as all of our natural resources are depleted (fuels, metals, sand, fresh water, etc.), this should be entering into our conversation.

Anonymous 8:49 PM  

I heard nuclear is too expensive and green energy is only getting more affordable.

Anonymous 8:55 PM  

OK. so, there are two kinds of two kinds of coal (at least):
- anthracite, which is very hard coal and burns, relatively, cleanly
- bituminous, which is soft coal and burns vewy, vewy dirty

these are used in two ways (at least)
- thermal coal, used for heat generation
- metallurgical coal which is used to make steel

last I looked the USofA is about out of anthracite, so we're left with dirty coal
back in the Democratic days of unified gummint, the EPA, et al, pushed through law and regulation to require coal burning on the commercial scale to remove nearly all the particulates from the exhaust stream; typically referred to as 'scrubbing'. industry objected loudly, of course.

to see what a coal based city looks like, have a look:
keep voting for the Trumpster and his minions, and we'll live like that again.

oh wait:

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

@anon8:15 - I live in the Mon Valley (where the Donora Fog occurred). I think that things are a bit different than 70 years ago. I like how people from displaced locations read old stories and think that the same conditions exist from the early 1900s. That's like someone from rural areas saying that big cities are still corruptly run. Oh, wait...

Anonymous 10:01 PM  


you seemed to have missed the point. those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. clean coal is one such failure to learn.

stwidgie 11:14 PM  

Thank you for being here, Rex. I just solved the puzzle and was dismayed to see "CLEAN COAL". I recently retired from the EPA and it rankled to see that term, especially clued that way. I headed straight over here to see if you'd mentioned it and was duly rewarded. Thank you!
My PayPal is on its way.
You rock.

Joe Dipinto 11:31 PM  

Late to the proceedings. Two things:

1. JOEL is two syllables. If you say JOLE, please don't.
2. I love Wordle

Cashbox magazine's #66 song for the year 1984

sixtyni yogini 2:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Did nobody else balk at the "Burglary" / "Break In" cluing? Burglary is theft of an item. Breaking in is, well, just breaking in. No theft required.

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  


at the RURAL home of BILLYJOEL -
then she ESCAPED through A PIGEONHOLE.


spacecraft 11:38 AM  

Never in my life heard of Wordie, but I plan to look it up as soon as I'm done here.

What struck me about this puzzle was how FEW PPPs there were. I counted them: both across and down, and including threes such as CDC and ELI. I came up with 13. Don't know if I've ever seen that few in a grid. Makes me smile.

Nor was any of them an extreme outlier, MOLDOVA coming the closest. I worry that those folks may soon be living in a war zone. It's small wonder that one whose initials are LL should be fond of that letter; she's got 19 of 'em in today's offering. (Guess I was in a counting mood this a.m.)

Count this one a nice Monday birdie.

Diana, LIW 12:03 PM  

When is a GAP a distinct disparity that makes you SPIT? (in a good way) Why, in a crossword of course!

@Spacey - I do believe it is WORDLE, not WORDie. But..I certainly could be wrong. I've stayed away from playing it because I fear being sucked in to another obsession.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 1:14 PM  

Will Shortz should have left Lunn Lempel’s original clue for 47A alone. Climate change is real.

leftcoaster 3:15 PM  

It should be clear to all that COAL is not CLEAN and will never be.

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