Bespectacled cartoon aardvark / MON 1-30-23 / Activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter / Nonnegotiable salary limit / French word that sounds like an English pronoun / Smallest poodle variety / Duh in modern slang

Monday, January 30, 2023

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Uh ... some? Some difficulty? Harder than usual, but still easy? I solved Downs-only and nearly didn't make it ... until I did!

THEME: RIGHT BETWEEN THE / EYES (56A: With 67-Across, in a sudden and completely apparent way ... or a punny description of this puzzle's circled letters) — the letters N, O, S, and E appear between two "I"s in their respective answers; so they spell the word "NOSE" (which is RIGHT BETWEEN THE / EYES, face-wise), and the letters in "NOSE" all appear "right between the 'I's" ... and if you connect the letters in "NOSE," it depicts a funny cartoon nose (if this is not an intended feature of this theme, I Don't Want To Hear About It ... let me live in my delightful world of imagination):

Theme answers:
  • SKATED ON THIN ICE (17A: Engaged in some risky behavior)
  • AUDIO INPUT (22A: Microphone jack, for one)
  • "THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!" (36A: "I'm appalled!")
  • LIE IN STATE (48A: Be honored before burial)
Word of the Day: ALICIA GARZA (11D: Activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter) —
Alicia Garza (born January 4, 1981) is an American civil rights activist and writer known for co-founding the international Black Lives Matter movement. She has organized around the issues of healthstudent services and rights, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutalityanti-racism, and violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people of color. Her editorial writing has been published by The GuardianThe NationRolling Stone, and Truthout. She currently directs Special Projects at the National Domestic Workers Alliance and is the Principal at the Black Futures Lab. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well this is one of the best Monday puzzles I've ever done, and I only did the Downs, LOL. The theme just ... kept coming. I was struggling a little solving Downs-only, but I could see, via some pretty easy Downs, that the circled letters were going to spell out "NOSE." And I could see that if you connected those letters, you'd get (vaguely) a nose shape. All that was left was the revealer, which was fine, if a little funnily laid out (with just the EYES part dropping down to the bottom line). Yes, the nose is RIGHT BETWEEN THE / EYES, I thought. That makes sense. Interesting. But at that point, I was still struggling with various patches of the grid, trying to make them come together using only the Downs. The point is that I sort of forgot about the theme once I had it sorted, and it was only later, when it all finally ended (triumphantly, with a literal hands-in-the-air moment) that I noticed that the "N" and the "O" and the "S" and the "E" were all situated ... between two "I"s. A nose profile, a snappy revealer, and a visual pun to boot. It's not my birthday, but I will take it! 

It's possible, quite possible, that I am predisposed to love this puzzle because I am still basking in my hard-won Downs-only success. I was dying there for a while. The long Downs were not coming, nor were a few key short Downs, and I couldn't parse several of the themers (only SKATED ON THIN ICE was in solid for a long while), so I was staring down the barrel of failure for sure (eventually I will fail a Downs-only Monday. It's inevitable. I'll just get ... stuck, and with no help from the Acrosses, I'll be doomed. But Not Today!). First, the stupidity. I had HOT written in at 19D: Word before trick or tip. "HOT tip" makes sense. "HOT trick" ... well, less so, probably. I can imagine a context in which one might say "HOT trick," but it's not really a likely context for a Monday puzzle. So I had to (eventually) change that to HAT. Had OBVS before OBVI for a bit, that was rough (38D: "Duh!," in modern slang). I also had a hard time initially with DEVILED EGGS (24D: Appetizers sprinkled with paprika). I wanted something Hungarian, because of the paprika, so ... I don't know, some kind of PIEROGIS!? Sigh. Also, "USE with caution" is not a phrase that rang bells. "Proceed with caution," sure. But USE was not coming quickly. But the worst sticking points were, not surprisingly, proper nouns. Specifically, the proper nouns at 25D: "Awkwafina Is ___ From Queens" (Comedy Central series) and 11D: Activist who co-founded Black Lives Matter. Just ... blanks. The one thing I had to hold on to was that I was fairly sure I had *seen* both names before, so I was hoping (praying) that maybe if I could scrape together some of the crosses in their names from inference, that would help me remember. And that worked great for "Awkwafina Is NORA From Queens. Eventually got the "N" and "A" from the themers and bam, yes, NORA, cool. That left the Black Lives Matter co-founder, and holy cow, where to start? Getting her was especially tough at first because I couldn't figure out her neighbor either: 12D: Disavow (RECANT). I just could not think of a synonym. I wanted RECUSE, but knew it was wrong. Stuck stuck stuck. No idea how RECANT finally popped into my head, but thank god. And still, the Black Lives Matter activist was just a smattering of letters (almost all from themers) and little more.

But RECANT gave me HARD CAP, which really made the activist's name look like it started ALICE. I wrote in ALICE and tried to make a last name out of the rest, to no avail. I actually wanted something Hispanic, a name of Spanish origin (correct!), like ORTEGA (incorrect!), but I didn't know why. I didn't trust my instincts. Then I was looking at BE-T and thought "what if that's BEAT? ... oh, what if her name is actually ALICIA!?" So I tried it. "And BER- ... well that's probably a "T" or "G" ... ALICIA ... TANZA ... GANZA ... omg GARZA, that sounds right! OK, gonna try it... here we go: ALICIA GARZA!" And bam, the "Congratulations!" message popped up and I soft-shouted "Yes!" Honestly, I feel immortal. Like I could solve anything. From absolutely nothing to complete name—inch by inch, scratching and clawing ... and then winning. The fact that the puzzle was conceptually brilliant just made the whole experience even sweeter. Good night, everybody!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I just learned that GARZA is the Spanish word for "heron" 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:10 AM  

Tough! More like a medium Wednesday (I just read David’s comments at Xwordinfo and he agrees and so does Jeff). A couple of typos didn’t help, plus ALICIA and TOBIAS were WOEs, UHUH and OBVI didn’t come easily, pga before DMV, ewes before tough! Liked it, but it seems a tad too complex for a Monday.

@Croce solvers - Croce’s Freestyle #781 was on the easy side for me but a tad tougher than last week’s...except for the SW corner where I couldn’t finish. I slept on it and the next day I realized I had a plausible but wrong answer. Fixed it and finished. Good luck!

egsforbreakfast 1:06 AM  

So, I have, like, no clue whether it’s Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or Muhammad Ali who is the “source of milk for some cheeses.” But I say let’s settle this right here and now.

Too bad that @Rex did Downs Only and probably missed his surname in the NE corner. I’m telling you that Mr. Monster would not let a ROO slide by like that.

I was solving this Across Only, but became frustrated and cheated like mad. Enjoyed it a lot. Thanks for one tough Monday, David Steinberg.

Robin 1:19 AM  

"Awkwafina Is NORA From Queens" was all over NYC bus stop posters a few years ago.

That said, I still have no idea who she is.

Joe Dipinto 1:38 AM  

Oh darn, I wanted to play the Yoko Ono song. Now I'm stuck with ABBA or Reba or Rod or Patti or Nora(h) or The Edge. Here: ALICIA plays IBERIA.

Btw, I really don't think the circles are supposed to represent a nose.

CWT 2:20 AM  

Every time I open up a puzzle and see those circles in boxes I am overcome with such antipathy that my whole solving experience is ruined. Why? I don’t know; I just hate those things. No doubt I am depriving myself of great delight finding revealers etc. I wonder if anyone else has this problem. Maybe there’s a 12-step program for it.

Loren Muse Smith 3:23 AM  

This is, hands down, one of the most delightful puzzles I’ve done in a long time. The aha moment came in two waves: 1) noticing that the circled letters fell between two I’s. 2) Seeing that they spelled NOSE. I whooped.

I loved that GOOP is between RIGHT BETWEEN THE and EYES. Growing up, we called that GOOP “sleepers,” which I infinitely prefer over others’ “eye boogers.”

I’m unfamiliar with that Awkwafina show, so I had a dnf with a defensible “nera/eer” cross. But this puzzle is so super-duper that the error didn’t put my nose all out of joint or anything. (And @Joe Dipinto - I absolutely see those circles as the shape of a nose.)

The clue for SUV – are there any station wagons still being made? The Ford Flex, I guess. I just checked for like two seconds and inferred that SUVs are just built to be tougher – maybe they allow the drivers to think they can attempt stupider stuff. I dunno. Whatever the case, I’m reminded of the Kingswood Estate that we’d take to Myrtle Beach. Dad could always load it so that there was a little sleeping area in the back for me and my sisters to take turns using. It had a sleeping bag and pillow and everything.

Rex? That paprika? It’s so important for DEVILED EGGS. I made some recently to take to a potluck at school and almost changed my plans when I couldn’t find any paprika among Mom’s spices. Happily, I found a bottle that had expired relatively recently – 2017 – compared to the myriad offerings from the Clinton administration.

My “cook for too long” was “ruin” before BURN. You people who order steaks well done? Well, never mind.

“Steaming cupful” feels scatological.

Look, I haven’t followed the BEN and Jerry’s/ West Bank STIR. So maybe I’m not supposed to be buying it now, but I am. A couple weeks ago, Harris Teeter had it on sale 3 for $10, and I bought 15 of them. Around here, they’re usually almost $6 a pop, roughly the price of a dozen eggs.

@jae -I did know TOBIAS – I read This Boy’s Life because David Sedaris said on some interview what a great read it was. It was ok, but, well put it this way, @egsforbreakfast, the source of milk for my cheese will always be David Sedaris.

The fact that LAB was clued as a place to wear goggles reminded me of some cute story I saw about how service dogs have to wear them, too. Oh, and working dogs wear goggles in other places, too. Piper is a Good Boy.

When I did Outward Bound Winter Camping and Dogsledding, the second lesson of our training was how to save someone’s life who’s just fallen through the THIN ICE. It’s fascinating. (The first lesson was how to “sleep warm” at -40˚F.)

David, despite my dnf, I’m sure I won’t eer forget this.

Bob Mills 5:52 AM  

I had EER instead of OER for the poetic contraction, because I didn't know NORA. So I get a DNF. A nice puzzle, fairly hard for a Monday.

CDilly52 6:09 AM  

Can’t believe that I have heard “sleepers” from another human being besides my immediate family (hi @LMS)! That’s just an extra bonus fir today’s delightful Monday puzzle. Count me among the “whoopers” because when I got the N-O-S-E literally between the two I’s and as I was looking back over the puzzle, I noticed that if I connected the letters it looked like a bulbous NOSE!

First if all, the theme slowed me down. I kept trying to tie the long across answers together to connect them in a theme-ish manner. I resisted mightily the urge to skip down and look at the reveal. So glad I resisted. Because Mo day is usually so easy, and the theme is often the best part of a Monday puzzle, I try not to look ahead. I do live a good “aha” moment. Today delivered.

My one tiny “huh?” came with RECANT for “disavow.”. I had to think about it for a minute. I have typically used “disavow” to mean deny or fail to recognize. Comes from my early prosecutor days working with officers or agents in deep cover who are occasionally reminded (yes, just like on tv) that a negligently blown cover will get their actions disavowed. Now however, 40 blissful years removed from drug prosecution and on the civil rather than criminal side of things, the biggest worry is that a critical trial witness will decide to RECANT parts of a prior deposition. Typically, these people are not intentionally disavowing, they are almost always remembering differently because of the passage of time and the stress of having to testify.

Anyway, having thought way too much about it, RECANT is a fine answer and my perseveration over this small issue gives those of you fortunate enough not to have to spend too much time with lawyers in trial mode an idea if why we often irritate folks even though we really do try not to.

Thank you David Steinberg. Keep ‘em coming. Please!

Richard 6:20 AM  

Nice that the only “i”s in the four themers are the ones on either side of the circled letters.

SouthsideJohnny 6:52 AM  

It’s pretty (no, let’s make that very) impressive that OFL could parse together enough of ALICIA GARZA without looking at any of the across clues. I struggled with that one and I had the whole grid available. Not at all a surprise that Rex can blow through a Saturday at a pace that is unattainable by us mere mortals.

In addition to Ms. GARZA, we also had the cartoon aardvark, TOBIAS and even the quasi-slang OBVI which pushed the needle to the difficult side for a Monday on this one. Another gimmick theme that doesn’t really register during the solve, so I just waited for Rex to explain it. At least the theme stayed out of the way and the revealer was a common enough stand-alone phrase that it didn’t gum up the works any.

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

It's a great puzzle, but how in the world did it end up on Monday? As David Steinberg said, it's not even a Tuesday puzzle.

bocamp 7:00 AM  

Thx, David, perfect early week puz; you hit it RIGHT on the NOSE! :)


Felt like a Tues.

My granddaughters live a couple of blocks from a small lake. I've often wondered how they know when the ICE is thick enuf to SKATE ON.

Canadian Red Cross ICE safety tips.


Remembered botching IRL the other day, so no prob there.

Enjoyable Mon. solve; liked the crunch! :)

Thx, @jae; on it! :)
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Karl Grouch 7:05 AM  

Best early-week puzzle in ages.

Would have really loved "HITS" instead of WISP in 1a.

Also, the clue in 45d could have been "Certain restaurants...or their customers... or the way in which their bill can be paid"

Thank you Mr. Steinberg, your puzzle hit me point blank, and I mean it in the best possible way.

Wanderlust 7:06 AM  

I have to bow down to the king for being able to solve it downs-only. I couldn’t do it for the reasons Rex almost couldn’t. ALICIA GARZA is no doubt an awesome person worthy of note, but that note should not come on a Monday. For normal solvers, the crosses made it fair but I couldn’t read this clues.

I agree that the theme was great, and I am embarrassed to say I didn’t even notice that the circled letters were all between i’s.

Liked the DEVIL and SIN side by side.

Judy & Barry 7:06 AM  

Mr. Steinberg, Beautiful creative constuction!
Michael, Thank you for your insightful view of all the clues……we missed the pair of letter i’s, which was the actual pun.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

Much too hard for a Monday. Would have been too hard for a Wednesday. ALICIA GARZA, TOBIAS are the huge outliers.

I also assumed I must be missing something in what seemed like an awfully weak theme, but nope, I had it right. I think I’d be OK with other ‘I’s in the grid, but definitely not with a non-themer with two ‘I’s (IBERIAN, RADII, and especially especially especially ALICIA GARZA, which has the ‘I’s one square apart).

Normally adore DS’s work, but not today.

OffTheGrid 7:34 AM  

@Richard 6:20. True and nice, but there is an outlying "C" BETWEEN THE EYES(I"s) in ALICIAGARZA. Doesn't twist my knickers, though.

Son Volt 7:44 AM  

I’ve mentioned before - and let the NYTXW tech team know that grid circles are invisible when solving in dark mode in the app. Whatever - this ended up being a themeless and not a good one at that. Overall fill slanted TV Guideish - too many names and trivia glom this up.

Note to the big guy - nice try with the grid art but not even close. Maybe you were being nice off of the gratuitous SHARP shoutout?

I did like DEVILED EGGS and THIS IS AN OUTRAGE. More GOOP today.

How the mighty have fallen. Hopefully it’s a one off.

Costello covering Aznavour

Eater of Sole 7:57 AM  

I tried to make a RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES puzzle, where the theme answer would start as an Across and then bend Down (i.e. to the right) at whatever letter was between the two I characters but never found a grid I liked. I was trying not to have any other I's in the grid, which was pretty constraining. I do think that having ALICIA (which fits the theme pattern but NCOSE, no!) is unfortunate and am surprised that Rex didn't call this out.

mmorgan 7:57 AM  

Drat, I wanted to start doing Monday downs only, but I forgot.

Didn’t realize the circled. N O S E letters were literally each between two I’s, and that’s really cute — I would have liked this way more than I did if I’d seen that. Same for the funny cartoon nose — it’s so obvious from Rex’s drawing, how did I miss it??

I didn’t know the Awkwafina thing and thought the v-less contraction was e’ER and NeRA seemed reasonable, so oops.

From where I sit, a nose (at least most of it) is not just between the eyes but down a bit.

Next week downs only if I can remember.

Lewis 8:00 AM  

Oh, the consummate pro that David is. Look at this junk-free grid, see how each “INI” spans two words rather than less-interestingly being sequestered within one, notice the inclusion of such lovely NYT answer debuts as ALICIA GARZA, AUDIO INPUT, DEVILED EGGS, and THIS IS AN OUTRAGE. And view the lovely WISP right at the start.

David loves highlighting word quirks; they’re regularly highlighted in his clues, such as in today’s [French word that sounds like an English pronoun] for OUI, and [Certain restaurants .. or their customers] for DINER.

Me, I’m bursting at the seams with joy, I who am so weak at figuring out themes before uncovering the reveal. Today, I dutifully filled in the grid north of the reveal, looked at the theme answers, and actually saw that the circled letters were sandwiched by i’s, and, of course, having seen NOSE in circles – I saw the reveal. I figured out the reveal Please excuse my bragging, but I am truly leaping-somersaults-pumped by this. I had to tell someone.

David, this being your 108th NYT appearance, did you know that official MLB baseballs have that number stitches, that there are that many cards in an UNO deck, that it is a sacred number in Buddhism and Hinduism? So, let today’s puzzle be a special occasion for you -- as it was for me. Thank you!

Laura 8:10 AM  

Just this morning I was wishing they would put out an extra puzzle on Mondays for those of us who want to put some effort into solving. Instead, they gave me a more interesting than usual Monday. Thank you.

I suppose I could try downs only like Rex, but getting words from crosses is fun.

Rex didn't say it so I will. No Crosswordese. Worst it got was acer, and tiler will be there soon...

jberg 8:14 AM  

Hey, my name's in there, too!

I was going to point out to everyone how there was more than one 3 letter contraction omitting the V, but I see that many others made the same mistake. In retrospect, NORA is slightly more plausible -- I know some Neeras, but they all use that double e. But it was a tough cross, all the same. I'd've gone with some clue like "over poetic."

Wasn't it Jacques Derrida who said that there was only the text, and the author's intentions were irrelevant? I.e., if you see a nose there, it's a nose!

Wonderful puzzle, despite my DNF. My only disappointment was that after getting the godmother of soul and the queen of country in the top line, the puzzle didn't go on in that vein.

Lewis 8:27 AM  

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

1. Sugarcoated, in a way (4)
2. You might make waves when you lie about this (8)
3. Disruptive board move (6)
4. Something that isn't assumed (4)(4)
5. What beehives are made of (6)(4)


This 'n' That 8:34 AM  

@Wanderlust. In crossworld "normal solvers" are called....solvers.

I liked Rex's drawn on face.

SHE crosses DEVIL. "SHE DEVIL" (Roseanne, Meryl Streep, Ed Begley Jr,) is one of my favorite comedy movies.

The puzzle had a nice floe to it until it became a BERG.

Did BEN and/or Jerry do something offensive? Don't tell me. I prefer Hudsonville ice cream anyway. I don't know how widely it's marketed but it's from Holland, MI.

Weezie 8:37 AM  

This was so, so fun. And not just because it was in my wheelhouse (Garza was immediate), but that sure helped. By the time I got to the revealer I had solved most everything above, so it was basically a themeless for me.

The only write-over was STIR, when I originally had STIm, and was originally very excited to see an autism term in the mix. Alas, not to be, unless a HAMDCAP is a thing. πŸ™ƒ

GAC 8:37 AM  

I think that the Revealer should have demanded that the themers all be on the right side of the grid. So, the revealer is misleading since only one of the four is there. Better revealer would be GET IT BETWEEN THE EYES. Of course that one is feeble as well. Alas.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Amy: marvelous start to Monday. Additional good news: if remembering correctly, the puzzle creator is young, so we can expect more delightful offerings in the future. Think Sherlock observed to Watson that prominent men in history have had prominent proboscis (what IS the plural needed here?).

TTrimble 8:38 AM  

Oof. There I was with my racing goggles on, ready to rip through a Monday as fast as I could (because that's what Mondays have become for me), and boy was I disabused of any such notion. UH-UH. Not so fast, BUB. My time wound up being more like a standard Wednesday time.

Tip of the HAT to David Steinberg for coming up with those themers, particularly the deft way he got the O and the E to sit BETWEEN the I's. Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy.

I also like the tie-in of OBVI with the theme.

Like others, I crashed and BURNed by putting in e'ER rather than O'ER. I did not know NORA, nor ALICIA. (But then, whoever heard of a Nera? Duh.)

Wow, I had forgotten that ARTHUR was an aardvark. How come the illustrator draws a lot of those animals indistinguishably? The Brain is supposedly a bear but looks almost exactly like Arthur. If there's some message about diversity in there, then it kind of gets lost.

Today's ew award goes to @LMS for her free association with "steaming cupful". Verges on TMI, there. (And you think "EYE boogers" is bad?) I've never seen -- and on principle will never see -- that video with the two girls. If you don't know the reference, believe me, you're better off that way.

By the way, since you're here @LMS: shouldn't it have been UCIE?

@Joe D, from last night: I appreciate the reassurance.

SB: yd I found them all, but only after at last allowing myself a cheat by looking at a grid, so it's not going to count. By all rights, the longest word beginning with A should have been my last, because it's none too familiar, but it wasn't. That one goes to the lexicographically last N.

kitshef 8:51 AM  

Freestylers - Croce 781 was medium - the isolated corners were tough to get into. But I finished with oll korrect, breaking a string of one-letter DNFs.

TaylorSlow 8:54 AM  

I had to give up on downs-only on this one, after I'd entered IRe for 2D, which left me with SeATED ON...something for the first spanner. My solve time was two minutes over my average, so, yeah--tougher than your usual Monday. Also, dare I say it, more enjoyable. Even the short fill was often clued in a fresh way. Steinberg pretty much never disappoints, and despite not being fond of the circled-letter gimmick, I have nothing but praise for this puzzle.

@LMS: "This Boy's Life" is one of my favorite novels. I've taught it to first-year students, and it's always been a favorite. @kitshef: TOBIAS and ALICIA GARZA were gimmes for me. The outliers were ARTHUR and NORA, the latter crossing OER, for which I had EER, so that was a big problem. Different strokes, etc. Loved THIS IS AN OUTRAGE and DEVILED EGGS.

MetroGnome 8:54 AM  

@TTrimble (If you're reading this on Monday -- I just saw your comment from yesterday)

In his definitive biography of Robert Lowell, "Lost Puritan," Paul Mariani discusses the incident where Lowell raped his wife, and Lowell's subsequent use of it in his poem, in depth. To be fair, Lowell suffered from bipolar disorder, and he was in a manic state when the incident occurred.

Hambone 9:06 AM  

I filled in IRE for IRK -- which 100% works -- which gave me SEATED ON THIN ICE instead of SKATED ON THIN ICE. Which is also a plausible (but less idiomatic) answer. Rats.

RooMonster 9:15 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with most of y'all that this was slightly thornier than a zip-through MonPuz. Can't pinpoint why or what area, but came in at 10 minutes, rather than my average-ish 7 minutes.

Neat theme. The N and S are BETWEEN three I's. Having no other I's in the puz would've been sweet, albeit quite tougher to fill cleanly. OUI.

108th NYT Puz, according to @Lewis. Jeez Louise, I just want 1! 😁 My puz building has slowed down to a drip. I still send one in occasionally, but that goal has fallen towards the bottom of the list. Just being EMO. Har.

Some nice clues today. Adds some sparkle to a Monday.

Felt bad for the 49ers unfortunate situation. Not a fan of either team, but to get to the Championship game, and not even have a chance is a bummer.

NO ELS I'm guessing?

No F's (Worse than NOELS. David, BUB, OBVI need an F!)

Whatsername 9:19 AM  

Well this was a cute idea that I’m surprised no one ever thought of before. And a big smile at the end when the circled letters spell NOSE, that thing RIGHT BETWEEN THE two I’s. Also an enjoyable bit of bite to it which made me work in a couple of spots to finish. And I love Rex’s art work too. Vaguely reminds me of some cartoon character but I can’t quite place it.

Thanks David and thanks for the tip on Dan Schoenholz’s 2016 puzzle. Pretty sure I did it at the time but it’ll be a fun rerun.

@Joaquin: Well our team came through again. I think it helped that they had something to prove to the trash talkers from the east. Gonna be a tough one against the Eagles.

Marcia B. 9:22 AM  

Oh, Rex, you wrecker of dreams, you toyer of self worth, I beg you to be kinder to us mere mortals and lean on the side of a puzzle being as difficult as it truly is. Today was medium-hard in my opinion. I am crushed each day as a puzzle is deemed much easier than it is. My psyche cannot handle this. Nay, I am devastated. I may have to rush to the supermarket and load up on ice cream to make it through the day. Have pity, King Rex on your lowly subjects!

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

ALICIA GARZA has the I_I pattern in it, yes, it's a down, but I came expecting to see a rant about how all Is should come in I_I pairs and this one especially was an issue... left a poor taste in my mouth anyways (which could have easily been fixed by circling the C or something, but then that makes it CNOSE or w/e... maybe not so easily fixed. I dunno)

Whatsername 9:43 AM  

Laura (8:10) If you want something more challenging, try The New Yorker. I recall reading somewhere that their difficulty level progresses the opposite of the NYT, so today would be the hardest one of the week.

pmdm 9:44 AM  

Interesting that I usually feel David's puzzles are harder than the norm for the day of the week, and today he though the puzzle would run on a Wednesday of Thursday. That in itself doesn't influence my reaction to the puzzle.It's more that we seem to be on different wavelengths, and the editors choose the day of the week anyway. So let's see how the week progresses. Are we in for a tough week? Who knows.

At any rate, I liked this puzzle a lot more than is usual for David's constructions. In fact, I liked it a lot for a Monday puzzle, with just a bit more PPP than I would prefer. At least of the variety unfamiliar to me. At least for a Monday puzzle.

Too much of a coincidence for NOSE to be unintentional. Totally missed that until reading the blogs. Very nice touch.

I guess I have to rate the puzzle higher than I originally thought I did.

Now to face the week.

Diego 10:01 AM  

Agree with Rex, a GREAT Monday puzzle (though the bar is low). Steinberg is a wizard—and a consistent pleasure.

LMS: Sedaris is right about TOBIAS’s This Boys Life, an exceptional memoir/novel that was also a terrific film with a very young Leonardo Di Caprio and Ellen Burstin and Robert De Niro. What a cast! But I’m among a tiny minority who doesn’t worship at Sedaris’s altar. I do get why he is widely adored however.

Gary Jugert 10:06 AM  

I, uh, I, well, I thought Jiminy Cricket would've loved this. Quite a bit tougher than typical, but fun. Nice to see πŸ¦– made it into the puzzle again. Remember the first time you solved a Sunday without help? Sounds like πŸ¦– felt something similar today. There is joy in Mudville.

Love all the long phrases. Probably too many abbreviations.

Had EER for OER as my last square making NERA instead of NORA for the name of a show I didn't know. Alas. I also needed every cross on the BLM founder. I knew multiple women started it, but not their names.

In high school, I worked in an assay office. It wasn't great for my health or the environment. I killed a scorpion there once. I got to weigh gold flakes on a $10,000 scale and put samples into 2000 degree ovens.

Interesting to see two authors of mixed repute in the same clue after yesterday's occasionally un-nuanced discussion of the children's author. What's the Venn diagram look like between hero worship (or vilification) and their art? And in these end times, arm chair deifying and demonizing is a yawner at best.


1 What's going on in your freezer, probably.
2 Captures the slime monster.
3 Church basements throughout the land.


Karl Grouch 10:16 AM  

Proboscises and also proboscides

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

I also don’t like those circles

Gary Jugert 10:21 AM  

egsforbreakfast 1:06 AM
Based on worldwide distribution, the GOAT is clearly the harmonica. I don't know who those posers are you speak of, nor why you aren't playing your mouth accordion right now.

Karl Grouch 10:32 AM  


johnk 10:40 AM  

My name is John and I am a circle antipathist.

pabloinnh 10:42 AM  

With the exception of the praiseworthy ALICIAGARZA and the mysterious NORA. I pretty much new all of this stuff and was flying along to the bottom. Having sussed out NOSE, I started writing in RIGHTONTHENOSE for the revealer, which didn't fit and had me rereading some clues. After finally seeing what I was supposed to have seen, I went back to see if the N-O-S-E circles were in fact between the i's, and of course they were, oh frabjous day, calloo. callay. Way cool.

Nice of LMS to bring up the GOOP matter, and add "sleepers" and "eye boogers" to my list of what to call this stuff. In my family they were always "sleepy seeds" and I've often wondered what other folks call them and if they have a real name.

If SKATINGONTHISICE is "risky behavior", then DRIVINGONTHINICE is exponentially worse, as a couple of yahoos discovered years ago when we lived across the road from a small lake. My wife had just come home from shopping and said "There's a couple of idiots out on the pond in a pickup", except that when I went out to see them, there was no pickup, only some tracks leading to a large hole. They got out OK and made it up to our house to get warm, where their first question was "Got any beer?". Getting the truck out was quite an endeavor and drew a crowd, as it was pretty exciting for a small town in NH.

Terrific Monday, DS. Definitely Superior to other Monday wannabes. Thanks more than a lot for all the fun.

It's Monday, so Croce and the hard New Yorker await. And today was the day when my knee has finally calmed down enough to make exercise an option. Oh well. I guess it's still an option.

Congrats to Phully and KC, although one game was over early and the other was decided on a penalty, which had to be called, but I hate to see games end like that.

Beezer 10:49 AM  

I did the SAME thing @mmorgan did…I forgot to try the “downs only” solve and remembered when I’d already gotten a third of the way down. I decided THAT would be cheating myself so proceeded in my usual fashion. Like @Roo, even so, the puzzle came in at around 10 minutes which indicates to me it was more challenging than the usual Monday.

I KNOW Awkwafina due to her great performance in Crazy Rich Asians. I did NOT know her real name is NORA Lum until today. Still, I had enough in there to change my initial eER to OER…yay me. My 25 year old book club read This Boy’s Life a number of years ago so I actually knew TOBIAS…yay me again. Of course, since I was NOT doing “downs only” I was able to suss out ALICIAGARZA and at the same time be somewhat appalled at my ignorance.

@LMS and @CDilly52…hand up for eye goop being “sleepers” in my family. Man, the term “booger” was about as likely to come out of my mother’s mouth as “fart.” I have to say my most disgusting “sleepers” were probably in college after wearing full eye make up to go to a campus party and come home too tipsy to do anything hygienic before falling into bed. Yeah. I said it.

Joe Dipinto 10:58 AM  

@CDilly – RECANT always hearkens back to my Catholic school upbringing and learning that during the Spanish Inquisition heretics were burned at the stake if they didn't RECANT their views. Ah, fond memories... (I mean of school, not the Inquisition.) So "disavow" works for me.

Nancy 11:12 AM  

I was happy to have this much tougher than usual Monday, though the theme related grid art went right over my nose. If I hadn't seen Rex's sketch I would have missed the whole thing. But it was grown-up fill and I wish more Monday's were like this.

Biggest writeover: I had IRE instead of IRK and so was SeATED ON THIN ICE for a while. Very cold. Very uncomfortable. Possibly quite dangerous.

Joaquin 11:13 AM  

@Whatsername (9:19) - As I am fond of saying, "It's only a game, but it's sooooo much more fun when our team wins!"

Whatsername 11:14 AM  

Have you ever noticed that when EGGS are scrambled, you can eat two of them but when they’re DEVILED you can eat two dozen?

@pabloinnh: Yeah I think everyone hated to see that penalty there at the end, most of all number 58 for the Bengals. You wonder what players are thinking when they do something like that, knowing they know better. But it was so flagrant that the officials couldn’t not throw the flag. Intentionally knocking down a player who is already out of bounds is the epitome of unnecessary roughness.

Masked and Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Feisty MonPuz, with a near GOAT [Greatest Of All Themes]. thUmbsUp.
Clues were kinda friendly, I'd grant. Don't recall any ?-marker hi-jinxes.

The weeject that got M&A's attention, like for a passel of other folks, was OER. Had no idea on its crossin NORA, and happily went with EER and immediately moved on. Sooo … staff weeject pick = OER/EER ERR.

Had some trouble also with AUDIOINPUT, cuz I had PATTY instead of PATTI for a crosser, at first.
Also wasn't real familiar with ALICIAGARZA, but all her crossers were fair, and eventually I recalled her name.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Half-diameters} = RADII. Mathy fine OBVI stuff.
other fave stuff included: GOOP [mainly cuz of @Muse darlin's analysis]. DEVILEDEGGS [yum]. HARDCAP/HAT. UHUH.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. SteinBERG dude. All the puz needed was a STEIN entry, to make it totally immortal.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Smith 12:00 PM  

@Joaquin 11:13
Different sport, but it sounds like you're channeling Fredrik Backman.

Downs only, took awhile. Loved Awkwafina in Crazy Rich Asians and remembered her real name! Like @Rex I struggled with ALICIAGARZA and felt embarrassed about it. Maybe I'll remember now.

For a long while I had (I thought) SKATE DONT ... and was thinking hate? Too short. be late? No, I had PREPS and RECANT. Some skateboarding term I'm not aware of? Eventually, through space travel, it became clear.

I don't see how you could have IRe for 3D. It's looking for a verb. IRe is a noun.

Uniclue: what a gas guzzler does to the poles?


TTrimble 12:13 PM  

Yeah, it was hard not to feel for #58, bawling his eyes out over his error which likely cost Cincinnati the game.

When it comes to football, I've been living under a rock for years, but decided to watch both conference championships yesterday. Very impressed by Mahomes, both for his brilliance and for his grit.

Thanks for getting back to me with the Mariani reference. Snooping around a little more, I did find reference to an episode where he begins to strangle her in bed; maybe that's the same one (?).

Carola 12:26 PM  

Kvetcher's Korner - My reaction was, "I think David Steinberg should stick to Saturdays." Usually, I'd like a Monday puzzle on the challenging side, but for me this one was way too difficult for the payoff - a reveal phrase I wasn't familiar with and grid art with a measly four elements. Still, grudging admiration for the i-o-i sequences.

tea73 12:42 PM  

My Mom used cayenne on her DEVILED EGGS. They aren't supposed to be boring eggs! In the quantities you sprinkle on, you can't actually tell the difference, especially if you used a good Dijon mustard.

Nice puzzle. I kept seeing ALI ? instead of ALICIA ?.

I loved Awkwafina in Crazy Rich Asians, but have never watched her TV show. Easy enough to figure out eventually. Nice puzzle.

Diego 1:05 PM  

Karl Grouch 10:32 Right you are! It’s Ellen BARKIN, not Burstin. The latter isn’t a matter of misspelling, it's just a senior brain fart. I loved Ellen BARKIN, she peaked and left the stage too early.

Kath320 1:06 PM  

Doh! Had IRE for 2D, which gave me "SEATED ON THIN ICE" which, to be fair, is also very risky behavior...

Weezie 1:47 PM  

For whatever it's worth -- probably not much -- I have a great aunt Nira (Israeli), and know of a few Desi Neeras. It's not totally unheard of to have Nera as the name's spelling in transliterated Hebrew, but Nira is much more common.

SharonAK 1:56 PM  

Re Ben and Jerrys Question

They did sometime wise and good and I went out and bought their ice cream to support them.

GILL I. 2:02 PM  

There was this WISP of a SHARP COD odor in the BERG town of OBVI. It smelled of DEVILED EGGS and it made your EYES BURN.

Oh...the CIRCA was in town as well....

TOBIAS, wearing his HARD HAT, was the TILER in charge of the PREPS AREA. He was in a RAGE because the GOAT CAGES let out GOOP that made your EYES BUB out. He would TEND to LIE about the STATE of the GOOP by holding his NOSE and pray the THIN ICE holding the CAGES was HARD. He would then SKATE down to the SEA EDGE and toss it.

There was still an ITSY TINGE of odor wafting in OBVI...but if you held your NOSE, it wouldn't STIR up your EPS. And so...the CIRCA must go on!

UH UH...., THIS IS AN OUTRAGE, REBA, BEN, PATTI, AUTHOR, ALICIA, NORA, ABBA, RHEA and EMO would RECANT....I'LL BETA my HAT of COD this will STIR up that SHE DEVIL of a GOAT, said EMO...SHE will use her ROD to IRK us, they all yelled.

TOBIAS WASn't about to BEAT a dead GOAT BETWEEN THE EYES.... he would USE his IBERIAN HIND sense and play some NOELS on the AUDIO INPUT... This should PREPS the OBVI crowd into a LINE up at the CIRCA.

EMO felt this INPUT was an OUTRAGE. The rest would ECO this LIE. They would SUE TOBIAS and his CIRCA OER THIS SHARP HARD LINE tactic. It was a SIN....The REAL RAGE was that no one wanted to sing NOELS until the SHARP WISP of GOAT GOOP left the BERG PEN.

They hopped into the SUV parked at the DMV and BEAT a HARD ASST RIGHT towards the CIRCA. They would zig and ZAG through OBVI with EYES closed. The DINERS at the cafe would stop eating COD and EGGS and tongues would WAG.... All where in a STATE of RAGE. The RADII was ON playing BEAT music but then the AUDIO would change and play some OUI. This would STIR THE RIGHT HARD HAT TOBIAS into taking his GOAT CAGES and BEAT it out of town.

TOBIAS fled. He changed his NAME to BUB and took his CIRCA elsewhere. He knew it was a REAL SIN and he was treading ON THIN ICE, but he didn't mind the IRK. The GOATS, safely in their PEN, were GOOP free; their CAGES were clean and he was ready to visit another BERG by the SEA.

And that's the truth!

Anoa Bob 2:06 PM  

I wish all Monday puzzles were like this one. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays too.

I immediately saw the outline of a NOSE formed by the four circles. What else could it be? Reminded me of the iconic profile of the American actor, comedian, singer and pianist Jimmy Durante (1893-1980).

Another sign of the ongoing decline and ultimate disintegration of Western Civilization; 38D OBVI.

I did notice an inconsistency in the themers. One, SKATE ON THIN ICE, needed some letter count inflation (LCI) by shifting to the past tense to do its job. If the other themers with verbs followed suit, they would be THIS WAS AN OUTRAGE and LAY IN STATE. A louse EGG, granted, but in a theme entry it's more of a demerit, if yous ask me.

Liveprof 3:54 PM  

Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, was crossed in the puzzle by "This is an outrage."

I was surprised to learn from Wikipedia that she has a Jewish stepfather and grew up as Alicia Schwartz in a mixed-raced and mixed-religion household and identifies as Jewish.

andrew 5:14 PM

No mention of the financial improprieties of Ms. Garza and others with BLM funds?

As she so eloquently said in her defense, “Y’all don’t know shit about what it takes to live in a box here.”

Well said, you brave and selfless soul!

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

But isn't it fun that it does (look like a nose)! πŸ‘ƒ

bill komissaroff 4:07 PM  

Pretty sure Teacup Poodles are smaller then TOY Poodles.

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


(SHE WAS one with THIN skin)


spacecraft 12:28 PM  

A natick DNF. The crossing of OER/NORA did me in. I had no idea at all about the down name, so was forced to guess between E[v]ER and O[V]ER. I called heads--and it was tails, thank you for playing.

That this puzzle should appear on a Monday: THISISANOUTRAGE! It may be a Steinbergian Monday, but to us mortals it's much closer to a Friday. It's just as well I had a technical DNF, because I never picked up on the I's till reading the lead blog. Yeah, that's not surprising for the guy, but the whole thing was just not on my wavelength. I will say, what a schnozzola! Mr. Durante would be proud.

Wordle par.

rondo 4:52 PM  

Must be nice for DS to whip one of these together when feeling the need for a few hundred bucks. While still editing the Uiniversal Crossword, which was every bit as good as this one today. SWAP the PAWS for a WASP in the corners.
Wordle phew! Not too picky how they spell pinkie.

Anonymous 5:07 PM  

@tea73 12:42pm:
Thank you the cayenne on top of the eggs. I was having a devil of a time remembering what my friend used on one batch of eggs she made for a party she hosted. The other batch, of course, she used paprika.

Diana, LIW 5:32 PM  

A bit on the tough side for a Monday, but I doubt that DS determined the day of week that this would appear

Yet - managed to finish it in Monday style.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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