Goddesslike pop or opera star / MON 11-21-22 / Requiring rare knowledge / Musical symbol resembling an ampersand / QB protection squads

Monday, November 21, 2022

Hello, everyone, it’s Clare for this random Monday in November, filling in for Rex! Hope everyone is having a great November and you’re staying warm wherever you are. As usual, I’ve been busy watching ALL the sports, with tennis, football, skiing, basketball, and now the Men’s World Cup on TV! I’m not at all happy this World Cup is being held in Qatar given the numerous human rights issues, and I absolutely despise FIFA and its rampant corruption, but I find myself happy for the players, as I can only imagine how much this means to them, and they didn’t have any say in where they’d be playing. So, I shall watch some and root on the U.S. men’s team, even though I could probably only name three of the players and think we’re gonna lose very badly. 

Anywho, on to the puzzle…

Brandon Koppy

Relative difficulty: Easy
THEME: WORLD CUP (64A: International event where 17-, 28- and 48-Across can be heard) — each of the theme answers relates to the men’s World Cup 

Theme answers:
  • VUVUZELA (17A: South African horn that produces only one note) 
  • OLE OLE OLE OLE OLE (28A: Repetitive cry of encouragement)
  • GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL (48A: Reeeeeeeeally long celebratory cry)
Word of the Day: NEALON (62A: Kevin ___, former "Weekend Update" anchor on "S.N.L.") — 
Kevin Nealon (born November 18, 1953) is an American comedian and actor. He was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1986 to 1995, acted in several of the Happy Madison films, played Doug Wilson on the Showtime series Weeds, and provided the voice of the title character, Glenn Martin, on Glenn Martin, DDS. (Wiki)
• • •
My thoughts on the puzzle can be summarized easily: Nooooooooooooooooooo! The theme is obviously timely, with the Men’s World Cup starting yesterday and with the U.S. playing today (at 2 p.m. EST), but the execution was disappointing, especially given how much room there was to have fun with this theme! You’ve even got GHANA (48D: Accra's country) already there in the puzzle. They’re in this World Cup and were also in the World Cup in the iconic 2014 group with the U.S., Germany, and Portugal, where the U.S. just made it out of the group before losing in the first elimination game to Belgium when Tim Howard almost saved the whole game by just about standing on his head. I digress. You also have EPIC WIN (26A: Victory of all victories) in the puzzle; how easy would it be to give that a World Cup clue? I can name half a dozen off the top of my head. Maybe put some team nicknames in there (Belgium are the Red Devils, England are the Three Lions, Canada are the Canucks — all of which could be pretty easily clued). Or, talk about some players (more than a few people know Messi, Mbappe, Neymar). 

I know GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL (48A) is fun to say (and sounds even better in Spanish, particularly when announcer Andrés Cantor does his trademark version, which lasts 20 seconds or more and, after a breath, is repeated for even longer). But just throwing a random number of “O’s” in a theme answer (it’s 12; I counted) feels lazy. And using the crosswordese OLE and throwing it in as an across five times feels lazy, too. I do like the word VUVUZELA (17A) and remember seeing those in the World Cup in 2010; I still have nightmares about how obnoxious the sound is and how loud they were. But as a whole, a theme that had so much potential but was boring is as bad as a failed panenka

Beyond the theme, the rest of the puzzle didn’t fare a whole lot better, in my opinion. It’s never a good sign when you have to clue your crosswordese off each other like with 27D: Co. honchos as CEOS and 35A: The "E" of 27-Down, for short as EXEC. I also never love clues with quotation marks where it feels like any number of words/phrases could work as the answer, and we had a seemingly uncommonly high number of these in the puzzle today with 2D: "My turn!", 11D: "Unacceptable!", 46D: "___ regret that!", 63D: "___ it on me!", and 15A: "Be quiet!"

There were still some good spots in the puzzle. 56A: Salsas, e.g. … or salsa moves as DIPS is a cute clue/answer. Same with 71A: What was all about Eve? as EDEN. ESOTERIC (39D: Requiring rare knowledge) is one of my favorite words, so that was nice to see there in the puzzle. I also liked ARCANE (66A: Requiring rare knowledge) and thought EYE CONTACT (30D: Something to maintain during a conversation) was a pretty decent phrase. RUN WILD (9D: Go crazy) is something you don’t usually see in a puzzle, so I, of course, liked that.

  • I learned today how to spell VUVUZELA (17A). I was convinced that it was spelled “vuvuzuela,” and that’s how I’ve been pronouncing it, too. 
  • With 25D: Latte art medium as FOAM, I remember when I had my first waitressing job and had to learn how to make lattes and the like, because I’m not at all a coffee drinker. The first time someone ordered an Americano, I immediately left the table and Googled what that was. Thankfully, it was quite easy to make. 
  • My only experience with the EURAIL (12D: Train service to 33 countries) system was when my sister and I were fortunate enough to take a trip across Europe. We did have one miserable experience trying to get our tickets, and another time we had to sleep outside a train station because we couldn’t get a ticket. But, on the whole, the system was pretty great! 
  • If you want to see a true GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL, I’ll share one of the greatest in recent memory. My team (Liverpool) was on the cusp of qualifying for the Champions League and had to win all of our remaining games. We were tied. On the final play of the game, Liverpool had a corner kick. Our goalie — yes, you read that right — came all the way up and scored one of the most beautiful headers ever, and I still don’t think I’ve ever screamed louder. Anyway, here it is so you can all marvel at it, too. (Don’t ask me how many times I’ve watched this clip.)
Signed, Clare Carroll, a USAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSAUSA soccer super fan

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 1:35 AM  

Medium. @Clare - Unfortunately the closest I come to being a soccer fan is watching Ted Lasso. That said, my only WOE was ZELLE. Pretty smooth, scrabblely, and apt, liked it.

@bocamp & pabloinnh - Croce’s Freestyle #762 was mostly on the easy side for a Croce. That said, the NE corner took me quite a bit longer than the rest of the puzzle combined. I almost cheated by calling my granddaughter for help on the “nail salon” clue. Fortunately, by the time she called me back I had had the necessary epiphany. (Yes, she did know the answer.). Good luck!

Anonymous 1:59 AM  

'standing on his head's - sounds like someone likes to read reddit

okanaganer 2:13 AM  

Hi Clare! Your Nooooooooooooooooo! reminds me of some moments from the Simpsons.

The World Cup always reminds me of my younger brother, a soccer player and fanatic. I remember him getting up at 3 am to watch the final game live. Miss you, Keith.

Did the puzzle by looking at only the down clues, which is a method that depends on how easy those down clues are. And here there were a bunch of WTF?s, leaving a whole bunch of blank columns.. kinda like if your hard drive hits a patch of dust, say. But the theme helped, as kinda kindergartenish as it is: OLE x 5, G + Ox12 + AL, eg.

Still I ended facing two answers in general proximity that I have never heard of: ZELLE? (clued) and SMAZE??!? (unclued for me, so really difficult). Seriously, we already had SMOG, do we really need another "Air pollution portmanteau"? What finally bailed me out there was THE DEETS. From the clue I thought "well, DEETS is too short!" Then, remembering the great THE discussion yesterday, I got it. The THE again!

[Spelling Bee: Sat: pg-1, missed this 5er, Sun currently pg-1 missing a 6er.]

Prefab 2:21 AM  

I enjoyed this one a lot more than Clare did, but it did feel to me like a midweek puzzle that got moved to a Monday to coincide with the start of this year's World Cup. A cross like "THEDEETS" and "SMAZE" just feels way too hard for a Monday.

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

Similarly with OATERS crossing ATT. This was tougher than I anticipated.

willzimjohn 4:04 AM  

DNF. "zelle" (never heard of it) crossing "vuvuzela" (know the word to see it but couldn't come up with the "z"). Bad feeling, not being able to finish a Monday.

OffTheGrid 5:22 AM  

WOW!That's one ugly puzzle. Luckily I had wasted only a few minutes before I left. STINKO!

Anonymoose 5:33 AM  


Barry 5:39 AM  

Goooooooooooooood Clare! 😉. from: Judy and Barry

Lewis 6:05 AM  

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

1. Guy at the front of a long line (4)
2. It's equivalent to a cup (6)
3. Spent time in the Outback, perhaps (5)
4. Question asked without reservation? (2)(4)(4)(5)
5. A little off? (2)(4)


Anonymous 6:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JJK 6:47 AM  

This was just awful for me, I feel like I’ve been robbed of my nice little Monday puzzle. What with words I couldn’t remember the exact spelling of (VUVUZELA) to unknowns (ZELLE, SMAZE) to a bunch of nasty sports abbreviations (ATT, XFL, OLINES) it was all just a big ugh!

Anonymous 6:50 AM  

ETAL is not a list ending abbreviation. It’s two Latin words, only one of which is abbreviated.

Wanderlust 6:56 AM  

@okanager I tried your technique of solving a Monday using the down clues only. It should have gone well because it didn’t take long to figure out that one of the grid-spanning answers was going to be almost all Os. It took a while to see the pattern of the other one and then to realize it must be a World Cup theme.

But once I finished the down clues and started filling in my guesses for the acrosses, I made too many mistakes, such as aMAZE (obviously) and ARCAdE. I also thought the GOOOO——L answer would be the Spanish version, with a penultimate O instead of A. That made me change “aye” to “pro” - and neither of them were right (YEA). So I had to give up. I’ll try again next week.

Clare, I feel exactly as you do about this year’s World Cup. I am so furious about it being in Qatar and the corruption of FIFA, but you can’t blame the players and I will follow it. (My favorite detail from a recent NYT article about how the Cup ended up in Qatar was an anecdote about PR people prepping the emir on how to answer tough questions from reporters. The PR guy asks, “How can you say you’ll welcome everyone when homosexuality is illegal in Qatar?” He answered, “It’s illegal in every country … isn’t it?”)

We do a work pool on the World Cup, and because my workplace is very international, it gets quite heated. I am picking Argentina over England in the final, partly because it seems like everyone is picking Brazil and I want to be the sole winner!

DSM 7:03 AM  

Glad Clare didn’t pull any punches. The World Cup is a fine thing to write a theme about, but this puzzle is not the way to do it. Theme is trash, other fill just as bad. Typified by the ancient crosswordese OATER made plural to enhance the execrability.

Gary Jugert 7:06 AM  

I'm amazed
I've never heard of SMAZE
I've lived in Denver many days
in thermal inversions I sit on a chaise
sometimes the whole west is ablaze
it sends the roans and bays into a craze
the gays, the fays, all in the same maze
going through a phase of eating Lays
and over-praising local plays
in the smog my spirit sways
as sun rays can't raise
my spirit in clear-aired ways
and it weighs down my ways
as I gaze into dusty airways
like eating from ashtrays
almost always on my birthdays
I've written essays on these displays
and raged in doorways and hallways
and in three of my Hyundais
on the byways and highways and alleyways
polluting Mondays and holidays
and nowadays the runaways and stowaways
don't need resumés or protégés
to paraphrase in cabarets
my tirades on SMAZE

Also, (ehem, Clare) soccer sucks.


1 Zap egomaniacal nerf herder to some.
2 That which is to be avoided lest ye be fated to serve her highness's needs.
3 Person listening to NPR but failing to join the fundraiser... you know who you are.
4 What will happen the day pumpkin spiced lattes return.


kitshef 7:12 AM  

Easy, despite some arder individual entries (looking at you, ZELLE). The thing is, everything was either moo-cow easy or hard enough that I could immediately move on, rather than spend time trying to puzzle it out.

I know it's ridiculous of me, but it really irks me when people use the generic 'World Cup' when they specifically mean the FIFA World Cup. Dozens of sports have World Cups, and most have neither GO..OAL nor VUVUZELAs involved.

SouthsideJohnny 7:17 AM  

Agree with Clare that the GOAL and OLE themers are a real cop-out, but at the end of the day probably just a misdemeanor offense (I don’t have a dog in the hunt, I don’t usually get all that jazzed by the theme entries anyway). Some unusual (although not ESTOTERIC or ARCANE) gunk in todays grid - I suspect that ZELLE, SMAZE, THE DEETS, and even the NEALON dude will be responsible for the brunt of the eyebrow raises today. So it seems like a little bit of a break from the usual NYT Monday fare, which for me resulted in an enjoyable Solve (although I did get the Z in the ZELLE cross and avoided the dreaded Monday dnf).

Johnny Mic 7:27 AM  

I thought this was pretty fun and cute. I wonder if cluing some of those possible football adjacent clues as themers would have made it too tricky for a Monday? This was super fast for me, and I didn't notice any of putting fill as I raced through and smiled about the theme.

Joe Welling 7:39 AM  

Do the three American football answers count as extra themers?

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

Repeated OLE is bad enough, repeated O is bad enough, having the two of those be almost 2/3 of your entire theme is horrible. Also, agree with others that ZELLE and SMAZE don't really belong on a Monday. For some reason I had no trouble with VUVUZELA despite not paying attention to sports. Some things osmose into my brain in spite of my defenses.

Lewis 7:50 AM  

As a seasoned solver, I know I’m going to easily solve the NYT Monday puzzle, so why do I do it at all? Because I know from experience that the grid will have spark – sometimes vibrate with brilliance – and will have elements, intentional and unintentional, that – even on Monday – happify my brain. Besides, I love to see inspired creations by word lovers (or maybe I should say after yesterday’s puzzle, verbumophiles).

Some of today’s finds:

• A quintet of lovely four-letter semordnilaps: EMIT, ETAL, STUN, SPAN, DIVA.
• The sweet PuzzPair© of ARCANE and ESOTERIC.
• Three American football answers in a puzzle about another sport that most of the world calls football. (Hi, @Joe Welling!)
• The near-neighbors of VUVUZELA and the HUSH UP / THIS WON’T DO cross.
• A pair of post-solve TILs: That the VUVUZELA can lead to hearing loss to those three feet or less away, and that a concerto has been written for the VUVUZELA (a monotone instrument) and orchestra.

Another well-worth-it NYT Monday. Thank you for a very nice morning buzz, Brandon!

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

@JJK: My feelings exactly. Along with Clare's NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Worst Monday in recent memory.

There are so many really good puzzles available from other sources every day. In particular, the LA Times puzzles have improved dramatically with the new editor, Patti Varol. Loads of great indie puzzles every day. The NYTXword is no longer the be-all and end-all, and puzzles like this one prove it.

Whatsername 7:56 AM  

Liked this well enough but echoing Clare, the OLEs and the OOOOOs initially struck me as lazy. On the other hand, VUVUZELA and SMAZE were both total unknowns. EPIC WIN was a nice bonus entry and I love HUSH UP which I like to say to my “little “brother and my dogs. A good Monday solve but not particularly exciting. Overall my reaction was: Okay then. Now do I have everything in place for Thanksgiving dinner?

I’m sure I would’ve found it more entertaining if it had been about a sport I follow but all I know about this game is that it involves kicking a round ball. Therefore thankful for the “general” nature of the theme and I felt fortunate to have Clare’s expert opinion. However, using team nicknames or names of players would’ve made it far more difficult so I’m glad Brandon kept it simple for soccer dummies like me.

Son Volt 7:58 AM  

I typically don’t like tribute puzzles - they’re never done right - today is no different. The 28a and 48a spanners dumb down this grid to the who cares level. I have no interest in soccer but would think there is more relevant content that could have been used here as Clare mentioned. Top teams - players - geography etc. Let him RUN WILD.

SMAZE is not a thing. Knew ZELLE from the inane commercial they run on repeat - although I guess it’s worked. Liked THIS WONT DO, ESOTERIC and EYE CONTACT.

GOOD ONE Comin’ On

World Cup has no real meaning to me - this tribute did nothing to change that.

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Was fine, but OATER is always rough

Iris 8:02 AM  

Horrible puzzle, all those stupid Os, jargon, sports narcissism. Not a Monday.

Dr.A 8:10 AM  

Well that was a minor thrashing, so I’m glad you got today’s puzzle because Rex would have thrashed it even more, I would imagine. I agree wholeheartedly, this annoyed and dismayed me and I thought that for a Monday, crossing XFL with Gooooooaaaaaaal which could have been Gooooooat if you are not watching the World Cup and is also a sports term was a bit of a rough spot but took only a brief re-think to rectify. Maybe it’s just me. Hated it!

mmorgan 8:30 AM  

Clare’s Noooooooo sums it up for me. And with those OLEOLEOLE’s, it should have been GOOOO[etc]OOL — with no A. A few cute and clever cues/answers, but those grid-spanning answers became clear way too early and sucked the fun out of the puzzle for me. Yeah, I know it’s Monday, but…

Thanks, Clare. I can only imagine Rex’s scathing review.

Smith 9:06 AM  

Ok puzzle. Seems like cheating with those ridiculous long answers (thought h.........rAy first). I remember VUVUZELA from 2010 although not the sport (sorry, @Clare). We were in Greece with my Dad and two teens and everywhere we went there were crowds of (mostly) men around whatever TV was available, screaming their heads off and the VUVUZELAs blasting... mystifying to all of us.

How is it so few people know about ZELLE?? Our bank constantly asks us to sign up, but it has a lot of reported serious problems. Venmo has been fine - useful to communicate financially with the kids.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

Can you imagine a DNF on a Monday????!!!!

But when you've never been to a World Cup, what on earth do you make of the last letter of GOOOOOOOOOOOOOA-?

I was thinking of an extended "GO TEAM!" Or just an extended "GO!" Or even an extended "GOOD ONE!". (Oh wait -- we already have that at 44D.) An extended "GOODY!", maybe?

The last thing I thought of was an extended "GOAL!"

I guessed right on the VUVUZELA/ZELLE cross, but this one got me. And that's because I didn't know the last letter of XFL.

I found the two long and repetitive themers of this puzzle quite ridiculous -- infantile, even -- right up until the very moment of my crash and burn. And even though the puzzle proved crunchier than I thought it would be, I still don't like it.

pmdm 9:11 AM  

Z would be angry about the theme: a tribute puzzle! And I would side with him today. I don't care for soccer, which made me not care about this puzzle. Not a nice way to start the week, at least for me. But if the puzzle were a trubute to the Stanley Cup ...

Gene Weingarten 9:14 AM  

Clare, I disagree totally! This one made me laugh, which is a rarity to be cherished.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Easy????!!!! Noooooooo. Worst Monday in a long time.

Gene Weingarten 9:21 AM  

... it was also the only Monday in memory where we could not solve it using only the Downs. Tough for a Monday.

pabloinnh 9:27 AM  

Knew (or hoped something was coming at VUVUZELA and the mystery was finally revealed with WORLDCUP. I kid, of course, because I solved this while watching England v. Iran. As a former player and coach and ref and having free time and a big tv, I'll be watching as much of this as I can. I'll even give the OLE's and the GO---AL answers a pass. I can even say I've been to a Premier League game and a La Liga in person, so how about that.

Also liked seeing EURALI pass. My wife and I went all over Europe more than fifty years ago, using our EURAIL pass and staying mostly in our little orange LL Bean pup tent. Good times.

Hey OATERS, where ya been? Thought you might have gone the way of the adit or the atle. Nice to see you.

I enjoyed your tribute to futbol, the beautiful game, BK. Best Kickers in the world going at it. Bring it on, and go USA. Thanks for all the fun.

Acrosticians-Thought yesterday's was pretty easy but I sure didn't see the quote coming based on the answers I had come up with.

@jae- I'll give the Croce a shot. It's also Tough Monday in the New Yorker and there's lots of soccer to watch. Full schedule today.

Geezer 9:27 AM  

Total disgust with OLEOLE............. and GOOOOOO........AL. I don't expect much from NYT puzzle world anymore but this was just so really really bad. Not to mention(but I will)VUVUZELA, ZELLE, and SMAZE.

RooMonster 9:29 AM  

Hey All !
HOOOOOOOOOOLY MOLY. As funky an answer that the GO...AL answer was, it's amazingly enough an actual thing, as you would hear that at almost every single soccer(fùtbol) match.

My nit is OLE x5. There's usually only 4 in the chant, no? OLE, OLE OLE OLE. Or am I thinking the Australian chant? Either way, one too many OLEs. OLE!

Speaking of Accra, GHANA... I work at a Classic Car place (I've told you before, but in case you didn't remember 😁), and we sold two cars to Accra, GHANA. So for me, that was a gimmie. 👍

Four OO's crossing the 12 O's. No ROOs, though. Maybe someday we'll get in a PABLOOOOOOOOOO for @pablo. Har.

Three F's

The Joker 9:32 AM  

VUVUZELA, because there aren't yet enough ways for people to be obnoxious.

BobL 9:43 AM  

Fun puzzle

Alice Pollard 9:49 AM  

I had vELLE so a rare Monday DNF. Never heard of SMAZE, is that really a thing? I’m a little tired this morning - stayed up until 2am watching Elton’s live streamed concert from Dodger Stadium. Absolutely amazing

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

SMAZE is definitely a real word and not nearly as obscure as others we see here. According to the fine folks at Google, it was used much more in the 50s and 60s and has dropped in popularity.

And I’m surprised no one has mentioned today is the second day in the row we’ve seen GENA Rowlands. I know we’re going to see repetitive words, but really?

SharonAK 9:53 AM  

Have any of you ever heard/seen "oater" outside of a crossword puzzle?

@Lewis, Not surprised o learn about the vuvuzela causing hearing loss. Painful ad obnoxious at a game

I was happy to se the ole line as I found the puzzle unusually difficult for a Money.
The Gooo..al line was a puzzler for me and after seeing the clip of Andre Cantor I'd rather forget it.

Enjoyed arcane and esoteric. Had to laugh at myself for not thinking of flaw when it was so obvious
Do't believe "same" is a word. Why would it be when it sounds awful and we already have "smog".

Thank you Lewis for the clues of the week. Had missed wo of them.

paige worthy 9:54 AM  

I found this puzzle absolutely delightful. Like I was grinning throughout my unusually long solve time. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

The huge OLEOLEOLEOLEOLE GOOOOOOOOOOOAL in the middle were enough for me to laugh, so the puzzle is a win for me.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

never heard of SMAZE

Diego 10:15 AM  

Sophomoric. . . glad it appeared on a Monday.

Beezer 10:23 AM  

Easy puzzle even though I am not a fütbol fan. I thought the puzzle had some pretty good entries in spite of the themers.

@Okanaganer, I totally agree with you on SMAZE. I will admit that if SMAZE had been first, it is probably more accurate since the phenomena is more haze than fog. Also, these days it’s mostly auto emissions and VOCs causing ground level ozone and not so much smoke (thank goodness) that’s involved.

Personally I LOVE ZELLE. I actually feel much more comfortable with it than PayPal or Venmo and it is much more convenient.

bocamp 10:28 AM  

Thx, Brandon, for this timely WORLD CUP tribute; OLE! :)

Hi Clare; good to see you again. Thx for your thots! :)

Med+ (Tues/Wednes time).

Not sure why I took so long to complete THIS ONe.

Got off to a good start in the NW except for the 'Z' in the VUVUZELA / ZELLE cross (made the right guess for the WIN).

Always have a hard time with where Accra is located. Need to come up with a mnemonic.

Fun Mon. challenge; enjoyed the battle! :)

Thx @jae; on it! 🤞


Thx for the New Yorker mention; will give Anna's puz a go! :)

Yd's Acrostic: tough, but doable in the end! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Carola 10:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beezer 10:32 AM  

@anonymous 9:50…well, I was alive in the 50s and 60s but hadn’t heard of SMAZE. Like I said, it’s more accurate but maybe smog is easier to say and more inferable…I dunno.

Joseph Michael 10:33 AM  

Best clue ever for EDEN and some nice fill, such as ARCANE and ESOTERIC, but when I look at all of those repeated letters and wasted real estate, I feel inspired to write a poem:


jberg 10:34 AM  

You lot can be a TAD stuffy at times. Sure, OLEOLEOLEOLEOLE and GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL are outrageous. That's what I loved about them. Don't do it every day--probably not ever again--but enjoy the novelty! I certainly did.

But there should have been a coupleof other entries:

What you can't get at 64-a (BEER)

47-A locale with appalling human rights record (QATAR)

Like Clare (to whom thanks for the write up and the video clips!) I always thought it was vuvuzuela--I got as far as writing in that third U before noticing that I was going to run out of space.

Linguistic question: can you really have a portmanteau as one element of a portmanteau? Especially since smog is already hazy in its own right.

For you downs only solvers: what did you make of 68-A, GEN A? Age cohort in the mid-19th century?

Silliest partial ever: _____ Fernando.

Quibble: is EURAIL an actual train service? I thought it was just a pass you could by to use on various European trains.

Tom T 10:38 AM  

I'm with @RooMonster on the OLE cheer coming in pairs, making 28A even more annoying. I pondered what would happen if you removed the 5th OLE and shortened the GO...AL answer by eliminating the first 3 O's, making 36D into COGS instead of COOS and changing the 43A COG to DOG (which would then cross EYED). You would have to rework both the SW and NE corners (and, I suppose, you would lose the two grid spanner answers, which are very rare for a Monday).

Worked my way at a steady pace from top to bottom on this one, with the M in OHM/GMC bringing on the Happy Music. Apparently it's my 30th straight day without a dnf (according my online stats); I've only had one longer streak in my two+ years of daily solves, which reached somewhere in the forties.

Thirteen percent of the letters in today's puzzle (25 total) are O's.

Carola 10:41 AM  

I found it a TAD difficult for a Monday, which I liked, and I appreciated the help I got from the theme - cued by the VUVUZELA and the calendar. The OLE line seemed lazy to me, until I reached the GOOO...AL line, which struck me as audacious and funny. I thought they made a great pair. I missed the complementary football references, distracted as I was by the nods to Star Wars, with SPACE, the Death Star design FLAW, and HAN SOLO atop the almost- AT-AT.

Do-over: I'M in. No idea: ZELLE, NEALON. New to me: SMAZE.

@Gary Jugert 7:06 - I enjoyed your ODE to SMAZE.

@Clare - Thank you for the clip of that goal. In return, here's one of my favorites, by Miroslav Klose, Germany v. England 2010.

Tom P 10:42 AM  

I like this one a lot more than Clare did. Enjoyed the tirbute to the World Cup, and finished in exactly my average time for Monday.

Joe Dipinto 10:50 AM  

I can never remember if it's VUVUZELA or ZUZUVELA or VENEZUELA or ZUZU'S PETALS.

egsforbreakfast 10:51 AM  

I think 28A is better described as a teen girl’s obsessive chant after seeing Titanic. O LEO LEO LEO….

Also 48A is simply wrong, and I am cancelling my subscription due to this egregious editing error, meaning that all of my future comments will be made without the benefit of having seen the puzzle. What’s that? You assumed that was already the case? Anyway, everyone knows that GOOOOO…..OOAL actually ends in two Ls.

We was havin’ a terrible tussle gittin’ our squirrel gravy off’n our plates. But once we switched to Dawn detergent, that GOODONE gone away.

Why is a skillful conversationalist like a symbolically important yet thoughtfully sensitive person? They both utilize EYECONTACT (Icon tact).

This puzzle contains several entries that are ESOTERIC and ARCANE. I can’t remember just now what they are. Oh yeah, ESOTERIC and ARCANE. I figured as soon as I got VUVU entered that this would be a World Cup tribute. Who’d have ever imagined that Qatar would lose the opener? My pool bet had them winning the final vs. Brazil. It still could happen, as this is just group play (which sounds like a polite circle jerk).

I played organized soccer until I was 65 and am totally psyched for this WC, despite the unfortunate locale. And I quite liked the two suspect 15ers. It’s more than ok to break out of the usual XW mentality occasionally, and this puzzle was a shining example of doing so. I had a very good time with this one. Thanks, Brandon Koppy.

Masked and Anonymous 10:58 AM  

yep. ESO-TER-IC(AL), at our house. We both know VUVU-ZERO about soccer and the WORLDCUP. Got nuthin against it, just don't follow it at all. Have heard tell of "OLE", tho.

Thought GOO…OAL seemed kinda neat.
Is there a special significance to a cry involvin prezactly *five* OLE…OLE's? Just askin for a not very close friend. Not knowin any better, will award the Staff Weeject Pick to: ODE. They shoulda gone with OLE, there -- woulda then been kinda a funny stray cry from the cheap seats.

Ultra-primo clue that made this puz a thUmbsUp for M&A: the FLAW clue. Very original cluein-up thinkin. Nuthin takes yer mind off soccer better than Death Star architecture. And yo, HANSOLO, btw.

Like Clare darlin said, EPICWIN coulda benefited from a similarly sparkly clue. Somethin about the Vikes' superb win over the Bills probably works best. [Don't wanna talk about that weird-ass Dallas game, tho.]

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Author Harper ___} = LEE. SAN's clue was also mighty neighborly, fwiw.

Thanx for the free kicks, Mr. Koppy dude. Go Vikes [on Thanksgivin Day].

Masked & Anonymo6Us


GILL I. 11:08 AM  

The ENTIRE small town of IMUP would congregate at the OLE VUVUZELA Inn when WORLD CUP DAY arrived. The folks would RUN WILD like the ZOOS of some ARCANE EDEN ON the EDGE of destruction.

An ESOTERIC group of CEOS would take the EURAIL into IMUP on this special DAY. They had heard that the VUVUZELA had some EPIC DIPS. The PENNE is a GOOD ONE as well but YOU'LL most likely EMIT some FOAM from your LLANO because the sauce is a TAD hot. It RIDS the OOP.

STYE was the owner of the Inn. He was in TUNE with the EXEC in charge of the CEOS. This EXEC was a CHEAPO with a bodacious OATER SWAG. He'd always make EYE CONTACT with STYE and wonder out loud if THE DEETS were covered. In his typical XFL voice he'd yell "THIS WONT DO" if the DIPS, ET AL, were a TAD too hot. It would fall on DEAF ears though; everyone was in HUSH UP mood as the game between GHANA and CRETE began.

The game was an out of this WORLD EPIC fail. Even DIVA, HOE, sitting SOLO with a CUP of GOO was LAX in her usual NOSY self. The ENTIRE joint was SPACED out mad. When you see the STUCCO on the wall begin to FOAM, you STYX to your guts and leave the town of IMUP. YEA...in a SPAN of a wink, everyone left VUVUZELA. The loooong GOAL was over. The five OLE's sounded like a ZELLE SMAZE TUNE gone bad. HAN sang his SOLO ODE to the disappearing CEOS, the EL CHEAPO EXEC and the rest of the folks in IMUP. It was time to go OHM. And that they did.......

JC66 11:14 AM  


I always thought SMAZE = smoke + haze.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Getting angry over a puzzle? Yikes.
I don't get all the hate; I thought this was a lovely (and timely) Monday.
As or the W.C. itself. Die Mannschaft is the only correct answer.

Beezer 11:40 AM  

@JC66, my understanding also…smoke plus fog = smog and smoke plus haze = SMAZE.

johnk 11:46 AM  

@Wanderlust appropriately thought the GOOO...L answer would be the Spanish version. I've never heard an English commentator extend the word "goal". However, I always hear Spanish comentaristas extend their word "gol" in that manner.
This could have been fixed by changing STYX to STYE, DEF to DOE, YEA to YOO, and XFL to EEL.

kitshef 11:48 AM  

True fact: The OLE OLE OLE OLE chant was originally in French, and was 'allez allez allez allez'.

Harry 12:16 PM  

Clare is my new hero!

I was feared Rex might find something admirable in this clunker; Clare couldn't have opted for a better lead in.

sixtyni yogini 12:25 PM  

Tight, timely, fun!

sixtyni yogini 12:49 PM  

Never thought I’d say
But it fits in this case.
OR maybe change to

kitshef 1:28 PM  

Additional fun fact: Alley OOP (51D) was originally 'allez opp' - the same 'allez' from French as in the 'allez allez allez allez' chant.

Carola 2:03 PM  

@GILL I. - LOL! WORLD class!

OISK 2:07 PM  

Two DNF in the past 4 weeks. Both on Mondays. ( My wife says I shouldn't count it as a DNF, since I put Zelle first, but she didn't like it...) You can't cross vuvuzela with Zelle. Ever. But on a Monday? Kevin Nealon? Oline? (yes, I know what it is...) I'd have hated it even without the awful horn....

Saturday was easier!

Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. ( heard at bad soccer matches?)

Oliver 2:18 PM  

Liked this puzzle, quite clever. Seeing all those O’s in the grid, was looking for the clue “Common British Premiere League game result”. Answer (of course): O TO O.
The World Cup is interesting because it pretty much does involve the whole world. The sport itself, however, is in my opinion quite boring. Soccer is one of several team sports that involve having two opposing squads attempt to propel an object into a net at the end of the playing surface. Other games of this nature include basketball, ice hockey, field hockey, water polo, horse polo, lacrosse, and maybe others of the type. That’s it: get that thing into the net. Football too, although missing the net.
By contrast, baseball is a more interesting sport, involving more complexity, variety and nuance. And no game clock.
Anyway, hope the Yanks can at least advance into the knockout round.

Anoa Bob 2:21 PM  

I did this last night and upon waking this morning I thought NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! would be an appropriate comment to make. But Clare beat me to it. OLÉ Clare! GOOD ONE!

@Nancy, did OFL get in touch with you to see if he could borrow your wall for this one?

Mississippi State football fans bring cowbells to home games. They are incredibly loud and obnoxious and guaranteed to cause permanent hearing loss, especially in the very young. If they played a soccer team with VUVUZELA carrying fans, everyone would be totally DEAF by the end of the game. What fun!

After reading @GILL I.'s travel log report of how everyone would RUN WILD at the OLE VUVUZELA Inn, I'm going to get a EURAIL Pass for the next WORLD CUP DAY to that happening town of IMUP.

And to follow up kitshef's @7:12 observation, shouldn't that be THE FIFA WORLD CUP? The devil is in THE DEETS, right?

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Anyone else think that OA_ERS/A_T is a bit natick-y? This is a tough one any young person who doesn't know about football.

Beezer 4:40 PM  

@kishef, looks like allez is more akin to the Spanish vamos. Saying this as a person who often shouts VAMOS Rafa! when watching a certain Mallorcan play tennis. On the other hand (and I didn’t do Translator…just “definition”) OLÉ seems to be more akin to “yay”? I’m sure it’s probably too late now to get a more educated take on that…

B-money 5:10 PM  

It felt a tad tougher than the typical Monday, although I finished a tad quicker than usual.
I'm going to give the constructor props for the Soccer theme. Very timely.
As to Clare's comment that the puzzle should have included the names of soccer players, I will respectfully disagree. That would be far too ESOTERIC for this crowd. Maybe if PELE were there.
The GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL actually made me laugh, so I'm going to give points for that.
Not a fan of OATERS, but I get why constructors use it.

As a political digression, I don't think the Cup should *ever* have been awarded to Qatar, for a number of reasons. But, I don't let that detract from my enjoyment of the puzzle. And at least with Clare in the driver's seat today, we didn't have to endure a two-paragraph screed about how awful this was.

dgd 6:05 PM  

It is interesting that oater which to me is a gimme is to some people a difficult answer. At one point it was way overused, maybe less so now? It is certainly a little bit annoying.

Peter P 6:21 PM  

I’m with the decided minority here, finding GO…AL and OLEx3 fun. I like fill that’s a little cutesy and different at times. It breaks the monotony.

OATER I hate, but didn’t even notice at first as I got all the crosses to fill it in. When I did, I admit, I sighed a little.

VUVUZELA I was also initially stymied on, as I wanted a ZuELA there at the end, but I should have known better as I remember it from the 2010 World Cup and knew it to be derived from an African language, and perhaps unlikely to have the Spanish-sounding ending.

Played easy, but my time suggests a medium level of difficulty for a Monday. All in all, I had fun. Solid B puzzle for me.

dgd 6:27 PM  

I find that fascinating. Never knew it.
I think it first arrived in English via bullfighting. Soccer is a much better reference point.

Anonymous 7:02 PM  

Couldn’t disagree with Clare more. Great puzzle! And perfect choice for a theme. I almost never even pay attention to a Monday (let alone comment, or even come to this site), it’s just my end-of-day, relaxing speed run. But this one kept making me chuckle, enough to send me over the 5:00 mark, even though the cheeky GOOO…OAL and OLE OLE, ET AL were clear from the start. Perfectly fine puzzle for a Monday (new solvers gotta learn some of that crosswordese). And the fact the additional World Cup adjacent answers weren’t clued as such, actually made them more fun. Little gems. And I love the bone they threw us American Football fans with XFL—I actually can’t stand soccer, and saw this is a hilarious little dig at people like me. A lot more fun than I usually have on a Monday, and a well-constructed puzzle. Thanks, Brandon!

pmdm 7:45 PM  

To be a little more explicit. I agree with what I presume Z's call would be, but no, I am not angry. Aft4er all, it's only a puzzle.

beverly c 8:54 PM  

I liked the theme answers - I got a grin out of them. And the puzzle, until I found them - played slightly more challenging than most Mondays, so that was good too.

Bosco 10:21 PM  

Ole has been used forever as a lame soccer clue but I don’t believe I’ve actually heard it at a game in at least a quarter century.

spacecraft 10:55 AM  


The three themers are not a violation because that's how they sound IRL. However, they are exactly the three reasons why I will never attend a WORLDCUP match in person, or even watch one on TV unless the mute button is on.

What IS a violation, IMHO, is DEAF and DEF. Same word, same meaning, just shortened in the PPP.

Aesthetic violatiions are more numerous; I shall not list them. This is Monday-easy, but does not even make DB. The score is "other." I can scarcely believe this made it to publication. Makes me think even I could get published. Nah, let's not RUNWILD here.

Wordle birdie after BBYBG BGGGG. Several choices; I got lucky for a change.

Burma Shave 1:55 PM  


RUNWILD, YOU'LL have fun


Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Thinking of Saturday’s puzzle. My wife’s Greek teacher said “Only ignorami say hippopotami” it’s Greek not Latin. I never had forgotten it since.

Diana, LIW 6:44 PM  

It must be Monday. And I suppose the GOAL of the long middle is both an homage to WORLDCUP games and an easy Monday answer, but I just don't think it belongs on this day. More of a Thursday motif, IMHO.

Hey @Spacey - you and I and a few others (looking at you Teed and Ron) could put a puz together - let's at least dream of doing so!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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