Extinct megafauna species whose name derives from the Greek for "breast tooth" / MON 11-7-22 / Why the troubled look / Stage name for rapper Tracy Lauren Marrow / Like thick-crust, rectangular pizza / Kind of phone signal that's nearly obsolete

Monday, November 7, 2022

Constructor: Jill Singer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (***for a Monday***) (just a tad on the slow side is all)

THEME: "WHAT'S BUGGING YOU?" (36A: "Why the troubled look?" ... or a hint to 17-, 24-, 48- and 58-Across) — metaphorical insect phrases signifying disturbance:

Theme answers:
  • BUTTERFLIES / IN MY STOMACH (17A: "With 58-Across, "I'm so nervous! There are ...")
  • BEE IN MY BONNET (24A: "I can't stop thinking about it! There's a ...")
  • ANTS IN MY PANTS (48A: "I can't sit still! There are ...")
Word of the Day: SOBA (1D: Japanese buckwheat noodle) —

Soba (そば or 蕎麦, "buckwheat") is a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. The noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or hot in a noodle soup. The variety Nagano soba includes wheat flour.

In Japan, soba noodles can be found in a variety of settings, from "fast food" places to expensive specialty restaurants. Markets sell dried noodles and men-tsuyu, or instant noodle broth, to make home preparation easy. A wide variety of dishes, both hot for winter and cold for summer, uses these noodles. (wikipedia)

• • •

Gonna have to be a quick one today because despite the "extra" hour I am somehow strapped for time this evening. Conceptually this theme is very good. As for the execution, I wasn't so into it. Really didn't care for the split first themer, mostly because it slowed me down considerably, but also because splitting a themer that badly (putting part 2 wayyyy on the other side of the grid) kind of deadens its effect. I don't *want* to go all the way over the other side of the grid in the middle of solving my Monday puzzle. So I don't. I just wait. Which means I just get BUTTERFLIES. Which isn't terribly interesting. Also, I don't know how great the whole cluing conceit is. The use of imagined quotations, where we're supposed to complete the elliptical phrases ... I guess all those theme clues are supposed to be *responses* to the central question "WHAT'S BUGGING YOU?," but again, everything is so out of order that the theme just doesn't have the impact that it should have. It truly wasn't until I was all the way done with the puzzle that I was able to go back and see how everything was supposed to work. It felt a bit labored and awkward in execution. But I do think the core concept is very clever. 

The fill, however, yikes, I remain baffled that constructors aren't held to higher standards, aren't ordered back to the drawing board to make the fill smoother, cleaner, more polished. That BUTI ENTO IONO ECRU UNUM ESE center is pretty much inedible, and much of the shorter stuff all over the grid isn't much better (MTS ICET PHYS YAYAS APRS (!!?!!?!) etc.). I liked MASTODON, especially because it's having a (social media) moment right now as untold numbers of people flee The Bird Site. Bye bye, TWEETs! (I'm on MASTODON now @rexparker@mastodon.online, by the way, not that you should care in the slightest) (10D: Extinct megafauna species whose name derives from the Greek for "breast tooth"). I liked BY MISTAKE as well—that's a prepositional phrase I can get behind. I was slow today because of UDON before SOBA and ISH before EST (4D: Approx.). Also ENDO- before ENTO- and ATMO- before IONO- and absolutely no idea about BORN until I get Every Single Cross, what a weird clue (38D: Created). That's it. 

Oh, and one last thing: please go see DECISION TO LEAVE (2022), both because it's great and because I have questions.

Oh, and one *last* last thing: Happy 30th birthday, Andrew. Keep solving crosswords with your awesome girlfriend, Sophie—she sounds like a keeper!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:31 AM  

Cute theme, normal Monday difficulty. My only overwrite was @Rex udon before SOBA. Udon is made from wheat, not buckwheat. Guessed right on the APR/APy kealoa, but a wrong guess would have been quickly fixed.

Natasha 5:42 AM  

Really, really mad about the "extra" in "Extra amount for a waiter." In most (all) of the United States, tips aren't extra. They're optional, technically, but they are servers' livelihoods (and the livelihoods of the other people they, the servers, tip out). In many states, employers are allowed a tip credit, which means they can pay tipped employee's less than minimum wage, provided that tips cover the difference, BECAUSE THEY'RE EXPECTED. Tips aren't extra and they haven't been for many, many decades.

OffTheGrid 5:50 AM  

Lots of really easy fill with some trivia thrown in to add a wee bit of bite. Theme was good. I really liked the bonus bug at 66A, NATS. HAR! Also, BUSY, to go with BEE.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

Challenging for a Monday, in my book. That UNUM/IONO area is not for the average Monday solver, and precisely the kind of thing that keeps newer solvers from sticking it out. Didn’t care for the theme either. Only answer that was memorable was SICILIAN because ‘za rules.

Bob Mills 6:52 AM  

Good puzzle. The NW was harder than the rest of it, because of SOBA. I'd like to see a harder puzzle from the same constructor.

For Natasha: It's true that tips constitute a server's livelihood and are expected, but they're EXTRA FOR THE CUSTOMER because they go above and beyond the check.

kitshef 7:02 AM  

NW corner with AHA/OHISEE/SOBA/KNEE, and even PARADED was a Wednesday corner.

Yipes, there was a lot of junk fill today.

TTrimble 7:20 AM  

This Monday felt slow and sluggish. The time change messed with my sleep big time, and I made some of the same MISTAKEs that Rex did (udon, not SOBA; ENdO, not ENTO), and a few of my own (GELd, not GELT). No idea about ICE T (be honest: how many of you make a point of remembering the real names of rappers, sigh), and just filled, fiddled, floundered around. Oh, fiddle-faddle.

So it didn't flow for me. Add 50 percent to my ordinary Monday bill.

This whole tipping thing ought to go and be replaced by a decent wage for restaurant servers, instead of placing them at the mercy of jerks who order their filet mignons well done and with ketchup. (This is apparently a thing: that guys, it's mostly guys I think, who do this tend not to be good tippers. Don't ask me why. But I can think of one such guy in particular.) Tipping can be downright confusing as well -- different countries have different customs and expectations, for example. I tend to tip well because I've worked in restaurants, but waffle over how much to tip for someone who simply hands you the pizza box for the order that you called in for pick-up -- I thought the original idea is that tips are appreciation for attentive, caring service and so on. I'm just confused is all.

Thanks, Jill. It's not your fault that I had a lousy night's sleep. I liked MASTODON and IONO and GELT. And thanks for bringing back the memory of "I got ANTS IN MY PANTS, that made me dance, all the way to France, and come back in an ambulance."

SouthsideJohnny 7:22 AM  

If you are a newer sober and you thought MASTODON crossing ALTA was just a touch esoteric, well get used to it. Pretty much SOP for the crew at the Times.

Wanderlust 7:26 AM  

I liked the theme a lot, and wasn’t bothered by the split in BUTTERFLIES/IN MY STOMACH. It’s serendipitous for the constructor that those two parts have the same number of letters, as do the other two themers with each other. I can’t think of another expression that fits (Beetles in my bum? Cicadas in my skull?) so if the symmetry didn’t work perfectly you’d just have to toss the idea.

Agree with Rex that it was difficult for a Monday - I would even say very challenging. I ended with a blank space I just could not fill as the seconds ticked by. How is BEnETS attacks? Took a while to see that I had skipped over the “and” in the mountains clue, just thinking “or,” so I had MTn instead of MTS.

@Natasha — in DC, we’re voting on a proposition to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers to match the regular one. I THINK this is better for people who rely on tips, and I plan to vote yes tomorrow (could have voted by mail but didn’t). I do see ads from tipped workers saying this is bad for them but I know those are mostly paid for by the restaurant industry, so not to be trusted. I am curious how this has worked out in other places that have passed such laws. (Also, we passed the same law some time ago, and the DC Council just overruled us, which infuriated me, so I also want to vote yes just to say to those idiots that we really meant it.)

Son Volt 7:46 AM  

Forget the theme - who cares when the fill just REEKED.


I typically love Mondays - give them a lot of leeway when critiquing. Not today - this was brutal.

Gary Jugert 7:52 AM  

Yay Monday! I love this theme. And mastodons are way up on my list of favorite beings. I miss them.

Here's a partial list of what is bugging me (and thanks for asking):

-Asian cooking ingredients. This seems to be a great way to make a great puzzle less great. Why would I cook Asian food when every third restaurant is a great Asian place? I used to use my espresso machine steamer to make chai tea lattés at home, but I learned over the weekend how passionate many of you are that chai means tea in Asia and you're judging the status of civilization by how many stupid people say chai tea, so now I have to make chai lattés or just chais, since I'm tryna git smarter.

-Last Friday's puzzle. It's still bugging me.

-My ongoing reminder, please say "OHO" rather than "AHA" whenever possible to help stem the tide of the AHAism sweeping this permissive society.

-Prefixes and suffixes are in the same category as directional clues -- ESE is ESE no matter how much lipstick you put on it -- along with university abbreviations, texting abbreviations, and rap stars. I think you get a little leeway on these, but I wish this puzzle had less sludge. Way less.

-Choices: ICE-T, ICE CUBE, VANILLA ICE. Discuss. I'm sticking with ICE CREAM.

-Who was the first person to think, "We should call it physical education instead of gym class?" I use the weight room at my university and during volleyball season I am the shortest person in the building.


1 Scissors.
2 What I did with my new sports car.
3 The talent of real estate agents everywhere to create beige walls wherever they go.
4 What cherry pie slice number two does.
5 #yum
6 One living in the shadow of Mt. Etna forgot deodorant.


pabloinnh 8:08 AM  

I found this toughish for a Monday in that I didn't start right in by reading a clue and writing in an answer, which is the usual Monday, had to surf around a little. That's OK by me, but maybe a little misplaced--Tuesday?

Liked the theme and the split didn't bother me. Nice to have a refresher course on EXO, ENTO, and ENDO. EXO I always get for "outside", the other two not so much. Also thought we had a good example of a moo-cow easy (hi M&A) clue with "cloth to dry off with" for TOWEL.

My 18 year-old cat Fenway did not get the memo about the return to standard time and has decided to sound the breakfast alarm at 5 instead of 6, so some adjustment is needed. His much more sensible brother sleeps all the time, a much more appreciated approach.

Nice solid Monday, JS. Just Slightly harder than usual, and thanks for all the fun.

pmdm 8:24 AM  

I tend to run through the clues and see how many I fill in. Based upon my count today, the puzzle wa more difficult than normal for a Monday. And usually on a Monday I fill in (most of) the theme answers by filling in the crosses. Not today. But I very much liked the difficulty level of today's puzzle. Not sure if to bodes wll for the rest of the week. We'll see.

I am pleased that Carola yesterday liked my comment. Makes me fell that I am not a unique outlier in today's world. I wonder if I will still feel that way after tomorrow's results are known.

By the way, the constructor said the fill was actually improved after the first iteration of this puzzle. Obviously not enough for the tastes of many who comment here.

Whatsername 8:26 AM  

I thought this was just a SUPERB Monday. Actually tough in a few places. I had to think and I had to concentrate and I had to work a little bit at it before I got to the AHA point. But the payoff was well worth it. Have to agree with Rex that I didn’t care for for the wide split in the first themer but no problem with the revealer in the middle. Sometimes that helps if you’re struggling with the trick and makes for a prettier grid too.

BUTTERFLIES and BEES - what a delightful theme! Why didn’t someone ever think of this before? Great job, great debut! Thank you Jill.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Before you decide tipping is bad go to restaurants in other countries where if you ask a question the waitress just said walks away and comes back when she feels like or sit in a restaurant where you know the native language but speak in English and the waiter attends to your every need but others are calling out and being totally ignored. The waitstaff expect a tip from you. So the service.
If you want your ketchup before you finish your meal keep the tips optional. And tip well

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Amy: even with the drawbacks noted, liked it more than usual for a Monday. In another life, I think I would have been an entomologist, so found the theme delightful.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

@Anonymous 6:32: 37D slowed me 'way down, because that description is also of Detroit pizza (which is 'way better than Sicilian, BTW). And also too, don't kids learn E PLURIBUS UNUM in school any more? UNUM should be a total gimme.

I've been taking the suggestion of one of the regulars here (Sorry! I can't recall who you are!) and going at Mondays with downs only, so the split theme revealer wasn't an issue for me at all. Cute Monday-ish theme and fill no worse than most other Mondays and better than many. Enjoyed it, Jill!

Oh--yeah, udon instead of SOBA, but SOBA is correct, so that's on me.

J.W. 8:58 AM  

If anyone made a mistake on 32A, it's the puzzle constructor and editor. You do a Family Feud survey on that one, you're gonna get a lot more [ENdO]s than [ENTO]s. I'd bet my next paycheck on it.

Also EAR (19A) is not what I'd consider distinctive or prominent about a dachshund. If you want to put a dog breed there, it should be a basset hound.

Cute theme. Everything else was pretty wimpy.

Tom T 9:14 AM  

Like others, I found this medium challenging for a Monday.

@ pabloinnh, another moo-cow easy answer (as clued) _____ Ed (gym class). Probably coulda gone without the parenthetical tack-on.

And speaking of moo cow, there a Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW), OINK, off the O in ENTO (32A), moving to the NE.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

Generally agree with Rex on this. UDON/SOBA plus NOPE/UDON options in first two down was too much for a Monday. ENTO shoulda been ENDO, and the theme execution was off a bit as noted. I like the idea of having an entry-level theme for a Monday, to get folks hooked/rewarded early in their experience of the Puzzle, and this was sort of a cute one. But because it was combined with needlessly challenging 4-letter answers (too many options), it would not have invited as many in as one would want.

Nancy 9:27 AM  

Will there be anyone who doesn't love this adorable puzzle, I'm wondering? Best Monday in a while and a theme I wish I'd thought of. Excellent clues to the theme answers. A perfect revealer. And the four long Downs, worked into a theme of such density, add extra elegance. Great job.

RooMonster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !
No "RooMonster In My Craw"? 😁

Simple theme that was quite fun. WHATS BUGGING YOU? Waiter, there's a Fly In My Soup. Or is that a hair? A Hare? Har. Wacky brain this morning... (I know it's supposed to be something either in or on your body.)

YANG YAYAS could be a band name.

Nice puz. A theme that seems like it should've been used before. Any puz followers that can verify that, or not?

Couple of nice multi-U words for @M&A, UNUM and UHUH. As for the F's...

One F

Lawrence Welk 9:34 AM  

what's SRT

Lawrence Welk 9:34 AM  

never mind..

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Great theme and clever clueing. although I cannot imagine anyone saying that they have ants in their pants. It’s always a parent, usually, or someone telling a child or another person that they have those ants.

I don’t get why this one is at all challenging. I was quite below my average ( which is nothing to write home about).

TJS 9:47 AM  

@Southside, I'm more of a "never sober" but I like your use of "esoteric".

So the Greeks had a word for "breast tooth" ?

TJS 9:51 AM  

The only thing that could make this worse is if it was awarded POW.

egsforbreakfast 9:56 AM  

A very appropriate crossing of TWEET and LIE. Not only do we have the boy/monster doing his thing, but Putin has unleashed the bots big time to make sure that no rational beings get elected. I also like the cross of AUDI with their Bulgarian subsidiary, BUTI, and with their army clothing subsidiary, UNI.

I was just a SQUAREENROUTE when I got ROUTed to 34D.

@Southside Johnny 7:22. As it happens, I am a new sober, although a longtime solver. Thanks for thinking about the needs of us who can no longer drink our way through a puzzle.

Nice theme and execution for a Monday. Congrats on the debut, Jill Singer. And thanks for a good puzzle.

AE (Ass Equivalent): STERN
HAEs (Hidden Ass Equivalents): BUTTERFLIES, Rear of a ship (11D), How one sends an embarassing message …… (33D)
ACG (Ass-Containing Garment): ANTSINMYPANTS

bocamp 10:00 AM  

Thx, Jill; an excellent early week puz! :)

Med-hard (somewhere between Tues. & Wednes. dif pour moi).

Nothing wrong with a tough Mon. to get the mental juices flowing.

Initially, bubkes in the NW; ventured REEKED, then got BERNIE, and the sector finally fell into place.

Have a hard time remembering SOBA (always want udon).

Nice leisurely stroll this a.m.; didn't BUG me at all that I couldn't keep up with the pace.

As for the Acrostic yd, not at all on the right wavelength. Nevertheless, a welcome challenge. Liked the quote very much! :)

@pabloinnh (1:29 PM ) 👍 for your QB dbyd! :)


Looking forward to your Croce pick for the week! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

NYDenizen 10:03 AM  

Wordle 505 2/6*

⬜R🟨A⬜ I 🟨S🟩E
🟩S🟩T🟩A🟩 L🟩E


Anonymous 10:13 AM  

i still get busy signals all the time

Liveprof 10:17 AM  

Can someone explain the baja/alta relationship?

Diego 10:21 AM  

Amusing theme, typical Monday solve—maybe a tad more resistance than usual—and a film recommended by Rex that I intend to see. It’s been getting great reviews. I watched My Policeman on Prime—AWFUL!—glad I didn’t pay to see it at a theater.

pabloinnh 10:22 AM  


ty. Liked yesterday's Acrostic, not many answers from reading through the clues but it filled in pretty steadily.

Looking forward to a Croce. Today's New Yorker is challenging but doable, even without knowing all the PPP.

Carola 10:31 AM  

I was going to say that the Muse of Crosswords had certainly smiled on Jill Singer with this theme, but that would be taking credit away from her inspiration - coming up with the perfect grid-spanning, 15-letter idiomatic WHAT'S BUGGING YOU? and finding three idiomatic "buggy" answers that fit symmetrically. Lighthearted and fun, masterfully constructed - a real treat of a Monday. A little harder than usual for me, too, not so much in the NW, where SOBA and PITABREAD combined to open things up, but rather in the SE, where I struggled to come up with ABILITY x BUSY signal (more obsolete than I'd thought, I guess, at least in my brain). Bonus: leaning the etymology of MASTODON.

DramaWritComp 10:37 AM  

I had ANGST IN MY PANTS wondering if I had finally met a Monday puzzle I couldn’t solve. Lucky guesses for ALTA. MASTODON, and TURKS saved the day.

Congrats to Jill Singer for a cute theme that raises disturbing questions about humanity’s relationship to the insect world. I wonder if nervous butterflies ever imagine people in their stomachs.

Joe Dipinto 10:40 AM  

@liveprof – Michelle Obama: "When they go baja, we go alta."

Mary McCarty 10:51 AM  

@liveprof (10:17). BAJA is Spanish for “low” or “lower”, as in BAJA California, the thin “tail” that extends down into Mexico.
ALTO means “high/tall” most of the time, as in Palo ALTO (tall tree), but, as I taught my Latin 1 students, ALT-really goes both up and down, can refer to both sky (“on high”) and sea (“the deep”)…depends on the context.

GILL I. 11:08 AM  

In a small town named OHISEE lived SOBA and BERNIE. SOBA was SICILIAN and BERNIE was from SALEM. The YANG family thought they were TURKS because both would BUTTER their PITA BREAD with UNI and they REEKED of ASIA BUTI.

SOBA loved to PARADE his NOIRE AUDI through EAST street and was always BUGGING BERNIE to join him. BERNIE wasn't BORN yesterday and wouldn't become a PAWN to his shenanigans . He preferred to
to go to the MASTODON inn and settle up his BAR TAB while sipping an ICE T.

On the WORST of days, you'd see SOBA wear his PANTS tied loosely around his STOMACH. You could see his YA YAS and it wasn't TWEET. BERNIE, a well know BUSY body, would use a STERN voice and yell " Showing your YA YAS makes my STOMACH ACHE...!" SOBA just laughed.

When the NATS played in OHISEE, you could see both of them PARADE down EAST St. wearing a TWO EAR ECRU BONNET. Because they REEKED of BUTI, FLIES would come. It would also AWAKE the BEES. It would SEAM like the megafauna loved the scent of BUTI and ATE some of the EAR. The ANTS would AWAKE from a nap and join in. It was the WORST ROUT ever between man and insects.

Their EGO deflated.... and with a TOWEL wrapped around each KNEE, they would make their way to the MASTODON. EMUS, the bartender would make them LIE down and apply some ICE. "UHOH" he'd whisper. "What's that IN MY MIT....?" "ARE YOU bringing the FLIES, the BEE and the ANTS to us?" Both would cry "It was BY MISTAKE!" ..."We just wanted to go to the PARADE and eat a nice piece of PITA BREAD with BUTTER on some BUTI UNI.... "SOBA was attacked in his YAYAS and I lost my ECRO BONNET EAR".....

EMUS took pity on the two and decided to give them enough GELT to get out of town. They left in their NOIRE AUDI and took the BUGS with them. What REEKED in OHISEE on the NATS day PARADE, never occurred again. The YANG family was very happy. The TURKS danced, the SICILIAN's were BUSY at the BAR...and what was once the WHAT'S BUGGING YOU slogan hanging over the bar, it now became "If YOU HAVE ANTS IN YOUR PANTS and BUTTER FLIES in your STOMACH, OHISEE welcomes you at the MASTODON Inn.....

beverly c 11:11 AM  

I enjoyed this sweet theme. The long list of 3 letter non-words pointed out at 7:02 @ kitshef was off-putting, but I wasn’t aware of them being excessive while solving, and when I glance back at the puzzle, there seem to be plenty of good longer answers.

I avoided Rex’s missteps so it was an average Monday in terms of difficulty. I'll happily tackle another puzzle by Jill.

jae 11:15 AM  

Tough, more liked a medium Tuesday. Me too for starting off on the wrong foot with udon. Fun theme but I agree with @Rex on the fill, mostly liked it.

@bocamp & Pabloinnh - Croce’s Freestyle #759 was on the easy side for a Croce except for the SE corner which was pretty crunchy. Good luck!

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

I agree with Rex. I wanted to add that I did not care for the NW corner of the grid; 2D UHUH, 14A OHISEE, and 20A AHA

bocamp 11:30 AM  

Appreciated all the EXTRA/'tip' comments. A sticky/tricky issue, indeed! 🤔

@Conrad (5:31 AM)

Thx for the APy mention. I had to look it up, and now have a clear understanding of APRS vs APyS. (via KeyBank) :)

@Nancy (9:27 AM)

Amen to your post! well said! :)

@pabloinnh (10:22 AM) yw :)

Thx for the heads-up re: the New Yorker xword; I assume it's the Patrick Berry offering? I'll tackle it while waiting to hear from @jae.

I solve the Acrostic differently than most (probably), in that I never read thru the clues per se. I hunt the grid for possible gimmes then by inserting one or more letters in the grid, work with the clue/s as they appear above. This method is clearly more challenging, but also very satisfying in the end. I never time myself on any puzzles, other than the NYT' xword (which provides a measure of my progress over the years).
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

mathgent 11:38 AM  

We saw Decision to Leave. It's in Korean with subtitles. It was promoted as a murder mystery, but it's really a weird love story. Liked it a little.

pabloinnh 12:00 PM  

@bocamp-It's a "challenging" Paolo Pasco, If you dig his stuff you'll like it.

@jae Off for a ride on the #759. Monday's are just too cool.

Alicat 12:16 PM  

Cute puzzle. Thanks, Ms. Singer.

Just finished Carl Hiassen's hilarious Squeeze Me about an infusion of giant pythons into Palm Beach resorts. A “fictitious” president with the code name MASTODON has his huge resort visited by the largest recorded python ever. Very funny satire and the notorious Skink even makes an appearance. Recommend it for tomorrow’s laugh-therapy.


Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Cool theme. thUmbsUp. Better than a ROACHINMYCOACH, even.
Split-up of BUTTERFLIES + INMYSTOMACH didn't bother m&e much.

Agree with some folks & @RP that there was some lush Ow de Speration offerins in this rodeo. fave: IONO.
But, hey -- it's been ten years since the last IONO use, so it was due.


fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Extinct megafauna species whose name derives from the Greek for "breast tooth"} = MASTODON. Oooh … and also its crosser {___ and Calcos Islands} = TURKS. Nope. nope. Even better: {What baba ghanouj is often served with} = PITABREAD. Nope. nope. This is tough to decide on, this week...
Let's just go with {E pluribus ___} = UNUM. And VOTE.

staff weeject pick: MTS. Plural abbreve meat. Buti … gotta possible better clue = {Bottles drained of all their Dr. Pepper, for short??}.

Thanx for the fun, Ms. Singer darlin. And congratz on yer flea-free debut.

Masked & Anonym8Us


Anoa Bob 1:22 PM  

I bartended for a few years while in grad school. Never like to run a BAR TAB (46D) for customers because sometimes after getting liquored up they would angrily declare that their TAB had been calculated BY MISTAKE and would stiff me or the server and not leave a TIP (54A). TIPs were our lifeblood because our hourly pay was so low. Plus we got paid via TIPs after each shift. Instant gratification!

Another plus when I started bartending was that our TIP income was tax free. We just paid taxes on our hourly wages. That changed when they started to tax the estimated TIP income based on the total $ amount of sales. So remember folks, your server or bartender is going to be taxed on how much your TAB is, so TIP generously!

It's devilishly hard to keep the fill squeaky clean when your grid has five longish theme entries, here two 11s, two 13s and a grid spanning 15. We also get four nice longer non-theme entries with PITA BREAD, MASTODON, SILICIAN and BY MISTAKE. So all things considered, the fill ain't bad at all. Even a bonus TWEET NOIRE to boot. Wonder if there will be more of those with the new ownership.

Is 23D UNI the plural of 39D UNUM?

Pewaukee Paul 1:27 PM  

Hi Rex, I'm curious about you filling in "atmo" instead of "IONO". Why did you put that in? By looking at the crossings' clues, couldn't you see that was wrong?

Beezer 1:32 PM  

Here is what I agree with @Rex about: The puzzle was medium-challenging for a Monday. With that said, I pretty much disagree with the rest. I think most new solvers can suss out the answers with crosses. Hey, I’m an old sober (hi @Southside) and I had to use crosses quite a bit in this puzzle. At any rate, I think @Rex gets a little bit more preoccupied with the speed of the solve. Fluidity schmooidity I say!

@Southside…is there even a tiny part of you that ENJOYS learning a part of a “foreign” language? Hey. I took Latin. My Latin teacher was so bad (sorry @LMS, she was NICE but I think by the time I had her she had a touch of senility) that I’m lucky to know E pluribus unum. So. I have never taken a “spoken” language. I LOVE the fact that I learn something other than English in the puzzle AND (let’s just say) from the bi-lingual “sandwich” sign in a wet hallway..Cuidado! I don’t mean to pick on you…well. I’m obviously picking on you a bit, but I hope you see it as good-naturedly.

@Natasha on tipping. I get your point and I guess my feelings are a composite of many of the others on tipping but I probably have a very “downer” view. Kind of in keeping with what @TTrimble said…in the past (lol…WAY past) tipping was for “good service” BUT I think the actual hourly wage for “waitstaff” was not as disparate as it is now. Also, with respect to what @Anonymous 8:46 said…I have had fine service in other countries BUT I had also been to restaurants in an ex-SSR (due to family visa) where the service was very much what Anon said…in other words, they would REALLY have to eff up to lose their jobs. (tourism wasn’t present so they had no reason to believe WE would tip). What I see now HERE is a restaurant industry that has capitalized on the fact that more and more people want to eat out BUT they don’t want to pay “the premium” that comes with that so, in order to be viable, they HAVE to keep the cost of the food as low as possible. Here’s the thing. I pretty much cook every day so if the 50 or more restaurants within a 1 mile radius of me go out of business (I’m not exaggerating) I will not be affected. (My grocery stores are another thing!) My “downer” viewpoint is that there are TOO many restaurants these days and that changing things with wages will cause the house of cards to collapse and that many people will be out of work rather than getting the wages they deserve. Ooh. I kind of put myself out there. Please be kind…

bocamp 1:38 PM  


Looking forward to watching 'Decision to Leave' when it arrives on Mubi (hopefully later this yr.) 🤞

I see you on MASTODON; looking good! :)

@pabloinnh (10:22 AM)

Ok, found PP's Mon. puz. The Patrick Berry one is from the latest New Yorker issue on Apple News+ (Nov. 14 ed.); so with both those, plus @jae's Croce 759, my Mon. solving plate will be full. lol
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

jberg 1:46 PM  

Remember how scathing Rachel Carson is about state entomologists? (In "silent Spring," if you don't remember.) They're people who know about insects; just change one letter and they are people who do ENdOscopy. So that's what I put in, of course, which gave me the beautiful crossing of AUDI/BUDI. Alas, it was not to be.

But it was a lovely theme, and for me, pretty easy -- once that you see that the first themer is BUTTERFLIES, you pretty much know the rest of them. Just on general principles, I didn't fill in ANTS IN MY PANTS until I read the clue, but if it had been anything else I would have taken them to court.

I only know SOBA is made of buckwheat because a good percentage of Japanese restaurants in the US list it on their menus as "buckwheat soba." I guess if you don't know that this puzzle would be tougher.

And it was fun learning what MASTODON meant. I don't know why I never thought about that before, it's pretty straightforward Latin.

Liveprof 2:05 PM  

Thank you Joe and Mary!

Liveprof 2:13 PM  

Tip income was never legally tax free -- it's just that there used to be no mechanism for IRS to know about it so it was up to the taxpayer to report it. Just like you are supposed to report money you find on the street. It was effectively tax free since few, if any, starving waiters or waitresses reported it.

My old tax professor used to say Code Section 61 was written by Gertrude Stein: "Income is income is income." If you got it, it should go into gross income (unless you can find a Section that excludes it).

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Tips have basically become a bailout of the restaurant owners. It’s now started creeping to all restaurants, not just full-service ones. Instead of paying a counter person $15/hr, they pay them $12 + tips (and count on customers being goaded into paying a tip for counter service).

In most places, servers make much more per hour (wages + tips) than the cooks, hosts, and even hourly managers. My guess is that if you paid servers a normal wage (ie what the cooks make) and eliminate tipping, most servers would be irate. I know some bartenders that make six figures (and I’m in KS).

Alice Pollard 2:42 PM  

the mamby-pambies who want to do away with tipping??? You obviously have never bartended. Speak not of what you do not know.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Pardon me, but I'm here for the Rex Rants *and* the Loren Muse Smith comments. I feel 50% cheated...

Whatsername 4:02 PM  

@Alicat (12:16) I read Squeeze Me some time ago but had forgotten about MASTODON being the code name for that fictitious prez with the yuge EGO. Thanks for the reminder which made me laugh out loud again at the memory. And I wholeheartedly join you in recommending it as an entertainment read - along with anything else by the brilliant Mr. Hiaasen for that matter.

@Anoa Bob (1:22) makes a good point about the fact that servers may actually have to pay tax on tips whether they received them or not. My philosophy is that if you cannot afford to eat in a place and leave a proper amount as a tip, then go to a place where you can afford it.

SFR 4:14 PM  

@ liveprof - California is actually 'Alta California'

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

To me, the worst sin here is not only is endo a reasonable alternative, but it looks fine with the cross if you are only filling intuitively and not a fan of poetry. "Bud, I have promises to keep and miles to go" honestly sounds more reasonable than but I if you don't already know it and we're somehow between the two.

I hate to be over critical, but to me that seems like the author spent zero time really taking a long hard polish look at their puzzle they planned to submit to the NEW YORK TIMES!

Blue Stater 5:13 PM  

This *was* tough for a Monday, but no mistakes (at least that I could see), so the difficulty was honestly achieved. But today's mini-puzzle -- ye Gods! I've *never* had a DNF on a mini. Can't imagine what (or if) WS was thinking.

dgd 7:11 PM  

Your joke made me realize that yes I know a much more common and sadder medical term that has the same first syllable. I of course heard of mastodon but never thought of what "mast-" meant in the animal's name.
In translation, it does sound very odd!

LateSolver 8:01 PM  

I work the puzzles across, then down, then fill in the balance. The across were slow, but the down notably easier.

Just before I worked the puzzle, my homepage an article suggested an article to me on making my own SOBA noodles at home, so that answer came quickly by coincidence. But being from WV originally, I prefer my buckwheat in the form of sourdough pancakes!

Anonymous 9:59 PM  

Extra ≠ optional. I think you’re misunderstanding the clue. You pay a listed price for a meal, and then an extra amount to the waiter. Whether it’s mandatory or optional, it’s still an extra payment on top of the menu price.

Anonymous 10:09 PM  

This puzzle was a little annoying, but I can admit that the reasoning for that is purely a “me” thing. While the split answer to 17/58A threw me to pause a bit extra, and I had to stumble a bit through some tortured clueing into a 7:09 solve, I know my gripe is only bc I’ve grown used to using Mondays to test my sub-5:00 solves. In actuality, it’s a great puzzle for a Monday, with all the elements that newer solvers should be learning: split answers, themes, crosswordese, etc., all at a digestible level. It was fun and fine, and a cute theme. I got my Monday’s worth.

thefogman 10:11 AM  

I read Rex’s review and feel the same. That’s what I like about him. He tells it like it is. Too many three-letter bits etc. Still, it’s a debut puzzle that Jill Singer can be proud of - hopefully, the first of many more.

spacecraft 12:05 PM  

Feel like I need a shower. I was surprised at the m-c rating, as I found the revealer early. From that it was easy to write in all the themers, leaving only the fill in between. This, while rough in places, provided no real roadblocks.

There is one fly in my ointment: isn't PITA already BREAD? This answer smells like green paint to me. It's okay though, as long as I can have some SICILIAN pizza. Par.

Wordle birdie, second in a row. The putter is heating up!

Burma Shave 12:47 PM  


and TWEETed, "Thought I SAW MY last chance,


Anonymous 4:49 PM  

Once I grokked the gimmick, it was easy peasy oh so breezy.

rondo 6:10 PM  

I worked it from top to bottom and did find it a bit of a challenge for a Monday.
Wordle birdie.

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