Crushed-ice dessert with a reduplicative name / TUE 1-31-23 / Luke Cage's title in his first comics appearance / Tree whose pods contain a sweet-tasting pulp / Pre-cable TV appurtenance / Establishment that serves "purr"-over coffee / Chanteuse with chart-topping hits

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Tuesday)

THEME: MARIAH CAREY (24D: Chanteuse with chart-topping hits found at the tops of 4-, 14-, 16- and 19-Down) — Her #1 songs "Someday," "Hero," "Honey" and "Fantasy" all "top" the answers in which they appear (i.e. they're the first words in answers that run Down):

Theme answers:
  • SOMEDAY SOON (4D: Not too long from now) (1990)
  • HERO FOR HIRE (19D: Luke Cage's title in his first comics appearance) (1993)
  • HONEY LOCUST (16D: Tree whose pods contain a sweet-tasting pulp) (1997)
  • FANTASY SAGA (14D: Giant narrative that may be about giants (and elves as well)) (1995)
Word of the Day: HALO HALO (16A: Crushed-ice dessert with a reduplicative name) —
, correctly spelled haluhaloTagalog for "mixed" (the more common spelling instead literally equating to "mix-mix") is a popular cold dessert in the Philippines made up of crushed iceevaporated milk or coconut milk, and various ingredients including ube jam (ube halaya), sweetened kidney or garbanzo beanscoconut stripssagogulaman (agar), pinipig, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, flan, slices or portions of fruit preserves and other root crop preserves. The dessert is topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. It is usually prepared in a tall clear glass and served with a long spoon. Halo-halo is considered to be the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines. The term "halo-halo" is supposed to mean "mixed" in English because the dessert is meant to be mixed before being consumed. Although strictly grammatically incorrect, this spelling has come to describe any object or situation composed of a similar, colorful combination of ingredients. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, two exemplary early-week puzzles, back to back. The theme concept and execution on both yesterday's NOSE puzzle and today's MARIAH CAREY puzzle are really impressive. Probably not a coincidence that both puzzles were made by young-but-veteran constructors who are also editors of mainstream daily crossword puzzles (David Steinberg of Universal, Erik Agard of USA Today). Both puzzles were harder than usual, by about a day or maybe even more on the weekly difficulty scale. That is, yesterday's felt (to many) like a Tuesday or Wednesday, and today ... well, this definitely felt at least Wednesday to me, primarily because of proper nouns (Alyssa THOMAS (15A: W.N.B.A. All-Star Alyssa), YVETTE Lee Bowser (61A: "Living Single" creator ___ Lee Bowser)) and terms I'd never heard of (HONEY LOCUST (16D: Tree whose pods contain a sweet-tasting pulp), HALO-HALO ... though HALO-HALO feels like something that I've laid my eyes on but failed to store in my memory banks). The elegance of today's theme is in making all these one-word #1 songs fit into symmetrically arranged answers *and* making them run Down, so that those song titles "top" their respective answers the way the songs themselves "topped" the charts. It helps that the theme answers themselves are original and lively, and the cherry on top of the whole thing is that center stack—those are all themers. I don't know that I've ever seen anyone triple-stack long themers, especially on a damn Tuesday. I don't know why we're commemorating MARIAH CAREY today (as opposed to any other day of the year), but I also don't particularly care. I wish that *actual* tribute puzzles (the ones that sometimes get pushed out quickly after a celebrity's death, or that commemorate anniversaries of one kind or another) were typically this thoughtful and carefully made. The execution here is what really makes this theme artful.

But then you get the overall fill, and there again, it's a stunner. What stands out most to me is ... well, let's just say I had to check the calendar to make sure it wasn't Feb. 1 because this really felt like a puzzle that was ushering in Black History Month. From the theme subject to Alyssa THOMAS to YVETTE Lee Bowser to SHUG from The Color Purple to Luke Cage: HERO FOR HIRE to "Deliver Us from EVA" to Jocelyn Nicole Johnson's My Monticello (in the clue for UVA) to ETHIOPIA to the Delta Sigma Theta SORORITY to ... well, sorry if I missed one, but honestly this is one of the Blackest puzzles I've ever solved that didn't have Blackness itself as a theme. Black women in particular take center stage. The puzzle may be a little name-heavy, but probably not any more than average, and ... well, solving this puzzle really makes me aware how much puzzles have historically skewed white. Erik's out here showing how breadth of perspective and general inclusion can be done easily, elegantly, if you really wanna do it. 

I know three of the four MARIAH CAREY songs. Tellingly, everything before 1995 is right up my alley, but "Honey" (1997) ... I just missed. My connection to pop culture fades out a bit in the five-year period when I'm transitioning from grad student to professor. It's a real blur and in that time, MARIAH CAREY goes off radar. Whereas I actually owned a CD Single of "Someday" and "Fantasy," and "Hero" feels like "All I Want for Christmas Is You" in that it seems like it has always been there and I couldn't place it in time if my life depended on it (it's 1993, btw). I had a leg up with the Luke Cage clue, since I own the first Luke Cage comic. HERO FOR HIRE is probably gonna be tough if '70s comic books aren't your thing. OK, now I have to look up "All HAT no cattle" because I feel like I saw that expression for the first time *yesterday* and I've already forgotten the context. Ah, right, it's when your look is out of step with your reality, i.e. you wear a cowboy hat but are definitely not a cowboy. It's used metaphorically for being a phony—all talk and no action. Hate to blog and run but the bus is not going to wait for me. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:39 AM  

Okay, I admit I'm a pop culture ignoramus. I don't know any of the MARIAH CAREY songs in the puzzle. And I didn't know a lot of the PPP. But it helped that the themers were all common phrases and the names were crossed fairly. Medium, maybe just a tad more for a Tuesday.

OffTheGrid 5:50 AM  

I was nearly done before I saw the theme clue. I had wondered if a theme-less was possible on Tuesday. But I looked out the window and didn't see any flying pigs so I rejected the notion. This was a really nice puzzle. I expected as much when I saw the constructor was Erik Agard. A great start to the day, along with a bowl of oatmeal, coffee, and a min. poodle curled up beside me.

Anonymous 6:08 AM  

The pepsup firstup dupe is annoying

Joe Dipinto 6:38 AM  

Having never been a fan of Meh-riah Carey, it was hard to muster up any excitement about this, especially when her #1 hits have such boring one-word titles.

And especially when there exists a classic song entitled SOMEDAY SOON. It wasn't quite a #1 hit but I'll take it over Meh-riah any day of the week.

SouthsideJohnny 6:52 AM  

Very well constructed, but at the end of the day it’s a PPP theme in a trivia-laden grid, which of course is quite welcomed and feels right at home at the NYT.

I hung in there on the long downs and made a fair number of lucky guesses on things like OREOOS, ENTO and SHUG. Should feel a sense of achievement, but it felt more like work - just not into parsing every cross and hoping that something like HEROFORHIRE means something to someone.

Todd 6:53 AM  

I literally don't know a single person who has ever watched much less been to a WNBA game. Using players name as clues is just absurd. This was a common enough name that is wasn't an issue but why?

Weezie 7:08 AM  

The absolute *glee* when I finally got to the revealer - what a pleasure, even though I’d already filled in the clues. I saw Mimi in concert at Carnegie Hall a year or so before the pandemic began. I also definitely watched her reality show - she is absurd and amazing and my goodness that voice.

In general, this was firmly within my wheelhouse, so I got close to my personal best Tuesday time (and would have beat it if not for a typo that I had to hunt for, grrrr). I also deeply appreciated all the trivia that I learned through fair crossing and inference. I’ll be curious to see if other solvers agree with Rex’s medium assessment.

Yes to more puzzles that don’t center whiteness as a default. As I come to be more familiar with various constructors, I think Erik Agard might be one of my faves.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

I look forward to Stanley Newman and Mike Shenk's puzzles later on this week!

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Solved downs only. Easier than yesterday, but still more like a Wednesday. Submitted almost correct; only error was TRUNkATED/ARk rather than TRUNCATED/ARC.

Never heard of any of the four songs, so a puzzle with insufficiently famous themers.

Also never heard of HALOHALO. This is not an unusual experience for me with an Agard puzzle.

Weezie 7:21 AM  

I do my crosswords with a bowl of oatmeal, tea, and a giant mutt curled up next to me. It’s such a cozy way to wake up!

TaylorSlow 7:39 AM  

Welcome to Tough-ish Week at NYTXWorld! Can't wait to see what Saturday brings...

Big fan of Erik Agard; I usually end up with at least one enjoyable TIL, and his grids are always "artful," "exemplary," and/or "impressive," as Rex described this one.

The problem is that I don't know a single MARIAH CAREY song other than the Christmas one, which I don't especially like, and I don't consider this a major gap in my life. Also don't know anything about the comic character and don't care about him either.

So, in the end, not much fun.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Loved this puzzle. Rex, you missed OPRAH! Too many favorites to point out. Yes it played harder than a typical Tuesday but if every Tuesday was this good I would adjust my expectations. There’s something cool about the center word being FLY.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Agreed on Agard’s constructions. Always learn something, always interesting slang/usage, and so amazingly little crosswordese.

Lewis 7:48 AM  

Something about Erik Agard’s puzzles, to me – they just feel complete, right, couldn’t be made better, perfect for what they’re doing, quality-rich, and laced with intelligence and skill. Every time. Easy or hard. He just has the knack, the talent.

Here he has stagger-stacked three theme answers – audacious any day of the week, but on Tuesday! – without a whiff of struggle or desperation.

Meanwhile, I liked seeing SHUG near SHRUG, two UPs in the top two rows, and the contradictory pair of PEPS UP and the three-TOED sloth. Regarding the LIBYA/ETHIOPIA cross, anyone here would probably be a good candidate for Jeopardy if they knew the country that comes between those two.

Erik, you are a Crosslandia treasure. Due to your masterful puzzles, not to mention your other contributions to our sweet pastime, you certainly should be in the first group inducted into the Crossword Hall of Fame. Thank you for another sparkling gem.

GAC 7:51 AM  

I was astounded to learn that Rex found this Challenging. I didn't know any of the songs, or any of the long themers, or a lot of other stuff, but the crosses or downs made the answers easy to see. I do know who Mariah is. I don't keep track of my times, but I sort of flew through this one. Enjoyable puzzle for me.

mmorgan 7:56 AM  

I know Mariah Carey’s name but none of her music (not sure if I’ve ever heard her sing), so this was a themeless for me. Filled with proper nouns and pop culture references that mean nothing to me, but somehow, I’m not sure why, it felt pretty easy to solve. Weird, huh? Must be due to fair crosses.

Weezie 8:03 AM  

Oops, just remembered that Rex declared it “Challenging (for a Tuesday),” not medium!

The Grinch 8:11 AM  

Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse is her fourteenth studio album.

Son Volt 8:11 AM  

As Clemenza said - “leave the theme - keep the puzzle”. I love the grid design here and the overall fill - the tribute is TV Guidish. The long vertical stacks - especially the three in the center are special.

I don’t know about blackest as Rex opines - but this puzzle was Pretty FLY

I’ll take my themers as stand alones - SOMEDAY SOON, HONEY LOCUST top notch. OYSTER x ELMS, TRUNCATE x SAY YES and plenty of others are all fantastic.

Amazing Rhythm ACES

This layout is so constrictive there has to be some glue - OREO OHS, CONN, ON AUTO, ENTO are unfortunate but the ugly stuff is limited. Unlike the big guy and I surmise many here I am not a CAT guy so CAT CAFE fell flat.

the great Irma THOMAS

I’m blown away with the chops needed to build this one.


Tom T 8:13 AM  

Traveling in the car yesterday and didn't have the opportunity to comment on the fine, tough Monday puzzle. Like @lms and others, I guessed wrong initially on "Awkwafina Is ___ From Queens" (Comedy Central series)" crossing E'RE/o'RE. This made me ponder if anyone has suggested the term "Nati-loa" for the cross of a Natick and a Kealoa? Not quite as nasty as a true double cross Natick, but still a pesky creature!

Another great puzzle today from E. Agard! It felt challenging while I was doing it (I couldn't name any of the M. Carey songs), but my finish time was closer to my personal best than to my average--"not sure what to make of that", he said with a SHRUG.

Learned a lot: HALOHALO (looks pretty, but not convinced I'd go for it), HEROFORHIRE,HONEYLOCUST, OREOOS (filled in the last O off of the cross, so didn't see the correct answer until after the Happy Music), CATCAFE, and several of the names. Yeah, so still not sure what to make of my relatively fast (for me) finishing time, made more surprising because I solved it on my phone (which usually slows me down).

I SAYYES to our Monday-Tuesday "one-two punch," and I'm looking forward to the rest of the week's offerings.

Mark Watson 8:17 AM  

Look at that, you learned something new. There are all kinds of topics I know little to nothing about, but are frequently used as clues/answers in crosswords. I enjoy learning that way.

Ciclista21 8:19 AM  

Sorry, Rex, can't share your enthusiasm for this one.

Virtuoso puzzle construction for sure, but that alone doesn't thrill me. "All hat no cattle" serves as a perfect theme for this one.

pabloinnh 8:20 AM  

I certainly would have appreciated this much more if I had known any of the songs and it would have made the "toppers" part of the clue even more elegant. I like that Mr. Agard always throws in some esoterica like what HALOHALO might be or how to say something in MAORI.

SIGNON before SAYYES and met SHUG, YVETTE and Ms. THOMAS for the first time today, although I do know what a HONEYLOCUST is. Agree with @Joe D. that SOMEDAYSOON is an Ian Tyson song, my favorite version is by Judy Collins.

Surprised that OFL was unfamiliar with the "All HAT and no cattle" quote, but I'm sure he would be surprised by my ignorance of anything involving Ms. Carey.

And thanks to our constructor for including EOS, a nice visit from the ghosts of crosswords past.

Topnotch stuff as usual, EA. The Exotic Architecture was cool and always nice to learn something. Thanks for all the fun.

Croceverbalistis-I'm spinning my wheels in the SW. Will revisit today.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

If crosswords reflected how often we go to or watch certain sports or events, the world’s most popular pastime would be epee.

Pete 8:34 AM  

HONEYLOCUST trees are fearsome things - their trunks are covered with clusters of 6-8" long thorn-like protuberances. Settlers used to plant these to form fences to contain / restrain cattle because of the thorns.

Iris 8:41 AM  

Great, fun puzzle. I didn’t know many of the names, and I have no interest in Mariah’s oeuvre. But I didn’t need to. Adroit clueing.

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

Many HONEY LOCUSTs in our neighborhood, including the one in our front yard. Fortunately, thornless cultivars exist and that's what got planted here. I wasn't aware of the sweet tasting pulp; I thought the name came from the sweet smelling flowers. Ours is a male so we don't have to clean up thousands of giant seed pods.

'ess' before ARC, 'boar' before REAP.

Found this on the easy side of medium for a Tuesday despite not knowing many of the featured people.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Widen your circle of acquaintances!

RooMonster 9:10 AM  

Hey All !
Once I got FANTASY and HONEY, I knew it would be MARIAH CAREY as the Revealer. That proves how media (TV, radio, before "social") ingrains in the ole brain. When she first came out, her music was everywhere, and she wasn't too harsh on the eyes, either. Known for her vast vocal range. And her ubiquitous Christmas song at that time of year.

Pretty cool to have stacked 11 Themers. Tough on the crosses. Only iffies were ENTO and OREOOS, although that is a cereal I've seen. (Haven't had, though. But Honey Maid S'mores cereal, oh yeah, now that's good stuff.)

SHRUG and SHUG. Chances of that happening in a puz have got to be astronomical.

Lots of open space, real tough to get clean fill. Erik pulls it off quite nicely.

Rightmost bottom square is an S that doesn't make POCs. How odd is that? (Well, technically the LES is a French POC, but I'm not counting it as one!)

Three F's

Foldyfish 9:13 AM  

I found this to be easy. I had a faster time than yesterday. I didn't even see the theme until the end.

Gary Jugert 9:19 AM  

The constricted grid made this like five mini crosswords and they were all lovely. It's a really good puzzle.

I struggle to like Mariah because of that damn inescapable Christmas tune of hers. Apparently she's sung other songs. Who knew?


1 Adds salacious tidbits.
2 Disappointed speech given to VHF delivery device after watching re-runs of Friends.
3 What mom would never do.
4 Much ado about nothing... well unless you think being total B's is fetch like the Plastics ... you know, Gretchen, Karen, Regina, Chastity, Hope, Mandi, and Quinn. Ugh.


TTrimble 9:23 AM  

"All hat no cattle" -- I am going to have to remember that one, because it's fantastic. Guys wearing cowboy hats who aren't cowboys -- I'm sorry, but to me this has always smacked of Halloween dress-up, and it generally looks ridiculous to me.

I didn't even know it was Erik Agard today! It wasn't challenging to me at all -- my time was that of an ordinary Monday, pretty much -- but maybe that's because I fully utilized the crosses. If you were doing Downs only; then I can fully imagine it was "Challenging".

Generally I really enjoy Agard's puzzles, but I can't SAY, YES, I was blown away by this one. It's competently done and the solve was smooth as silk, but many of the entries seem ordinary. (Maybe I'd be more excited if I were more on top of Black culture?) Some of the cluing was good: "Salutes with flutes?" for example is excellent.

I really, really can't get excited by OPRAH; I kind of wish she would go away SOME DAY SOON, and take Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil with her.

That said, I don't know what a CAT CAFE is.

SB: 0 yd. My last word was this. Have my fellow SB-ers gone a little quiet as of late?

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Amy: ran long for me (for Tuesday) but no objection! Today I learned Oreoos are an edible item. That you eat in the morning?

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle but can't help but wonder why Rex didn't call out the peps up/first up dupe which he so often dings other constructors for.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Fair enough, but let's not call her a "star"

Blue Stater 9:51 AM  

Brutal. And no fun.

pmdm 9:52 AM  

As he stated when he was a contestant on Jeopardy! (and perhaps he should be allowed back for a second chance at the Tournament of Champions), many disdain his creations. For whatever reason, I tend to. Two days in a row for harder-than usual puzzles (for the day of the week) that perhaps rely on too much PPP (that is outside my wheelhouse).

Well, Lent begins this month, so I can't complain about suffering. I guess.

Airymom 9:58 AM  

@Joe DiPinto--6:38. Thanks for posting the link to the video. I believe I played "Someday Soon" so often that the needle went through to the B-side. I had the pleasure to see Judy Collins in concert about eight years ago with my son. He kept asking, 'are you okay, Mom?", when she sang this song. Yup, the tears were flowing--just an incredible song and performance.

Excellent puzzle, and not being a Mimi fan or knowledgeable about her songs didn't matter. Another Agard triumph.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

As a WNBA fan it’s great to see Alyssa Thomas’ name in a puzzle as she’s incredible to watch. Plays with two torn labrums so shoots a lot of one handed shots that resemble a shot-put motion (and her free throw shooting is chaotic!). She’s also uniquely talented as an incredible point-forward (she’s big and strong but has great ball control and handling skills so will often run the offense with another point guard on the court with her at the same time - makes it difficult to defend because you never know who will bring the ball up). An absolute beast in the paint because she’s so strong but often will rebound and the basketball iq to call and orchestrate plays from the point position. One of a kind spin move.

Which is to say, there are millions of WNBA fans out there. We exist and love the game and think people are missing out on one of the most fun and thankfully still affordable professional sports in the US.

bocamp 10:06 AM  

Thx, Erik, for a wonderfully crunchy Tues. puz! :)

Hard (Thurs. time).

Floundered everywhere on this one.

Liked the SHUG / SHRUG combo.

Fave clue/answer: 'Salutes with flutes?' / TOASTS.


Always seem to have trouble remembering where ADDIS ABABA is, tho, I recall from a previous xword that it means, 'new flower', which was also mentioned in the movie, 'Long Way Down' with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman.

Very much enjoyed today's challenge! :)


Med. solve (4 x NYT Sat.); NE by far the toughest area. As always, enjoyed the battle! Good luck in the SW, @pablo! 🀞 See y'all next week! :)

On to Elizabeth Gorski's Mon. New Yorker. 🀞
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

Nancy 10:10 AM  

The theme went right over my head since I don't know the lady or her songs. But as others have pointed out, it's a very well-made grid.

Two top-flight constructers doing the Monday (David Steinberg) and Tuesday puzzles this week has led to tougher and more sophisticated early-week puzzles. It's a trend I like and that I'd love to see continue.

But while David Steinberg has outgrown his youthful fascination with pop culture and arcane trivia, Erik Agard hasn't. Which is why, when Shortz's job finally becomes available, I hope DS gets it. He's also a joy to deal with as the puzzle editor at Universal -- kind, helpful, considerate, smart, and fast!

tea73 10:11 AM  

I don't watch basketball with or without the W, but the name looked familiar. I despise Mariah Carrey's oeuvre, but I liked all the downs anyway. Enjoyed the puzzle, now just do one with music I like Eric!

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Rex pointed out the Blackness of the puzzle (missing Oprah as pointed out earlier) but didn’t mention the mixed race of the subject herself.

R Duke 10:33 AM  

I’m well aware of Ms. Carey, not really up on her song titles but they were fairly crossed. David Steinberg on Monday and Erik Agard on Tuesday? I love it, and wonder what’s in store for the rest of the week!

Flying Pediatrician 10:33 AM  

I received my 2023 Rex Parker postcard in the mail yesterday! My 18 month-old daughter toddled it over to me from the mail tray; boy was I excited. The mini-puzzle on it is pretty charming. I finally got COVID (after three years of going to work in hospitals nearly every single day). The postcard was the perfect pick-me-up!

Liveprof 10:34 AM  

All hat and no cattle reminded me of Abbie Hoffman's description of Sen. Gary Hart: A $25 haircut on a $10 head. (Needs to be inflation-adjusted.)

mathgent 10:38 AM  

Someone said that they had never heard Mariah sing. The #1 song for the past several holiday seasons has been her "All I Want For Christmas is You." I heard it a dozen times last month. Loved it every time.

I didn't notice how Black the puzzle is until I read Rex. I guess that I expect that from watching the commercials on network tv.

EdFromHackensack 10:44 AM  

hard for a Tuesday, but finished no errors despite not really knowing alot about Mariah. I thank God when christmas is over if only because we don’t have to hear her Christmas song again for 10 months . :). Great construction!

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

I had the same Nati-loa yesterday as you and LMS, and your coinage is perfect!

jae 10:50 AM  

Toughish. The only MARIAH CAREY song I know is the Christmas one. THOMAS, SHUG, and YVETTE were also WOEs (among others). Plus I had boar before REAP for the Sow clue. So tougher than the typical Tuesday for me. Liked it, but it was no where near my wheelhouse.

egsforbreakfast 10:53 AM  

I thought that OREOOS was a weird name for a cereal. I mean, it sounds like OR EEE OOZE. I figured that modern marketing theory must have passed me by. Eventually I looked it up and found that it is actually OREO O’S. I gave the old SHUG SHRUG and moved on.

As for my favorite part of speech, I’m PROVERBS. They’re where the action is.

Pa: Son, we’re getting a divorce and you need to choose. MΔ€ORI.
Son: First off, Pa, it’s “Ma or me.” But given the choice, I’d have to say MA, TATA.

Impressive creation here with the triple stack themers. Really enjoyed it. Thanks, Erik Agard.

Beezer 10:57 AM  

I pretty much flew through this puzzle working it like a themeless and enjoyed the clever clueing, ex. “Salutes with flutes.” I am familiar with MARIAHCAREY but the reference to her being a “chanteuse” kind of threw me. I think of her as a “pop diva” BUT I did look up the definition of “chanteuse” being extended from “singing in nightclubs” to include “concerts.” No problem though because the crosses gave me enough to figure out it was NOT Edith Piaf!

As some others said above I can always look to a TIL with Erik Agard and today I learned HALOHALO and LASSI. I think I’ll pass on LASSI as a drink, though.

Anonymous 10:58 AM  

Too many names and pop culture references I’m not familiar with. Didn’t like this one.

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

“All HAT and no cattle” was the highlight of this puzzle for me. The rest was a namefest that I want to just SAY NO to.

Jim in Canada 11:02 AM  

No idea what HALO-HALO was, but "reduplicative" in the clue was a life-saver, as I had the second HALO already.
"All hat and no cattle" - gimme for me, as I lived in Texas most of my life. It's how many of us described George W Bush compared to his dad.
The proper names were almost all unknown to me, save for Mariah, but the crosses were fair.

As for the anonymous person who doesn't know anyone who's seen a WNBA game - I agree that those players are annoying as hell because I don't know any of them, BUT I have several friends who are avid fans, so...

jberg 11:04 AM  

Well, I know my African capitals, so that helped. I didn't know the songs, but that made no difference except in answerring 24-D, so now I've learned something.

In addition to the SHUG/SHRUG pair (Hi, @Lewis) I liked the parallel clues for OREOOS/ORCA, and OMAHAN crossing OMAN--theme potential there, words that become another word when you put a HA in them. Btw, it has to be Sudan, but I would thought you'd have to go through Chad as well. (checks .. Nope! Libya manages to poke through between Chad and Egypt.)

I once spent a week in Manila, but never encountered a HALOHALO. What I do remember is that instead of a salt shaker you get a bowl of dried, salty little fish to season your food with.

I've heard "All HAT and no cattle," but only in regard to Texans who pretend to be cowboys. I suppose it's metaphoric generalization is inevitable, though. It's such a great putdown.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Never heard of this musician. this puzzle reminded me of the old days when we got theme answers which were obscure rivers of asia that sounded like hat names. Ugh.

GILL I. 11:04 AM  

Well the HONEY LOCUST tree reminds me of MARIAH CARY. Pretty to look at but those thorns will stick you where it hurts if you climb it. She's probably on my least favorite list of singers...don't get me started on her Christmas song.
I didn't know lots of things here but I managed to breeze through. Lots of schools here and plenty of O words. My favorite O word is OYSTER...raw please...with a squish of lemon or maybe some hot sauce.
CAT CAFE was my last entry. My Swahili" no problems" was MATAnA and the SuperFrog mascot was TSU...Hah! is CANSAFE a place you'd drink purr? My AUTO pilot stalled a bit. Oh, wait! It's a CAT CAFE. Are there dog cafe's a well?
Other than an OYSTER, not much made me really smile. If the singer had been Adele, I would've joined in a clap fest.

Whatsername 11:17 AM  

Ignored the theme since I have no idea and no interest in what Mariah Carey might’ve ever recorded. Didn’t know the name either until I filled in the blanks. Overall it seemed difficult for a Tuesday, especially the proper names, but certainly doable.

I can’t stand OREOS and would never SAY YES to eating tiny little versions of them for breakfast.

@Flying Pediatrician (10:33) Sorry to hear about your encounter with Covid. I had it earlier this year and it was no fun but I was thankful it wasn’t worse. Hope you feel better soon.

@Liveprof (10:34) Love the haircut quote, gotta remember that one. Seems Congress has no shortage of $10 heads these days.

old timer 11:55 AM  

I didn't like yesterday's but loved today's. I know nothing of MARIAH CAREY's songs, but I do know her name, which made the solve pretty Easy. And I certainly know SOMEDAY SOON, as performed by Judy Collins. She probably sang it when she performed here decades ago. I wonder if the Ian Tyson version refers to Manitoba rather than Colorado.

Didn't know HERO FOR HIRE either, but the crosses made it obvious. I think today's was about right for a Tuesday, but yes, yesterday's was far more in the Wednesday range.

Masked and Anonymous 12:03 PM  

70-worder TuesPuz. Interestin-lookin puzgrid, with the central Down longballs bein extra-well-shielded from the rest of the puzstuffins.

Like quite a few, didn't know anything about MARIAHCAREY songs. Recall seein her on a late night Colbert show, not too long ago. Memorable, mostly becuz she came off as actin a bit weird. [Which is no real biggie to a weirdo like m&e.]

Anyhoo …
M&A solved the sucker, even tho it took some extra nanoseconds. Which is fine by this solver. Got slowed down mostly by transportation between puz-sections and by such no-knows as: HALOHALO. MATATA/CATCAFE. THOMAS. LASSI. YVETTE. HEROFORHIRE. EVA.

staff weeject pick: FLY. Kinda neat, that it fit smack dab in the center of them three central Down longball themers.

CONN was the neatest Ow de Speration thingy.

Thanx, Mr. Agard dude.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


mathgent 12:12 PM  

We were in Vegas a few years ago when Mariah was performing. The casino had a truck pulling a long string of cars down The Strip. Each car carried a billboard with one of her #1 songs. I seem to remember about 13. I just looked it up. She's had 19 chart-toppers in her career.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Someday Soon is one of my all time favorites.

Teedmn 1:00 PM  

Rex says Challenging for a Tuesday - I said, after solving, ahh, there's my Monday puzzle. And it wasn't because I know THOMAS, HERO FOR HIRE, YVETTE or any MARIAH CAREY song except the Christmas blockbuster. But I have a beautiful HONEY LOCUST in my front yard, I read FANTASY SAGAs all the time, and the fill was really smooth except...ENTO? Really? Okay, if the puzzle says so.

I loved the clue "Salutes with flutes?" for TOASTS. I don't remember seeing that one before.

Nice one, Erik Agard, thanks.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Then maybe you should be the first among your acquaintances to do so! There’s so much great talent in the league. It’s a shame you’re all missing out.

mathgent 1:19 PM  

I think Agard wanted to have all his names to be Black women but a white male singer slipped in at 41A.

Made in Japan 1:24 PM  

I've heard the expression "All HAT and no cattle" as "Big HAT, no cattle", but that's probably from the Randy Newman song of the same name.

okanaganer 1:49 PM  

Like Rex, I own the first copy of HERO FOR HIRE. Bought it 50 years ago for 20 cents at Bob's PX. Worth a few hundred dollars now, I'm sure.

Speaking of 50 years ago... I couldn't figure out why ANTENNA wouldn't fit at 57 across. Then I had ---IAL and UHF DIAL wouldn't fit either! I'd forgotten all about the word AERIAL.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0, my last word was this little 4er, but Ttrimble your last was my 2nd last. Also, I think it seems quiet because Barbara S is away somewhere.]

Robin 1:53 PM  

Hard disagree that this felt like a Wednesday or "challenging (for a Tuesday)". I finished it just 6 seconds slower than my 5th best ever recorded Tuesday solve time.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

All hat and no cattle was one of the first Western expressions I learne when I left New England to live In Scottsdale, Az,The”Wests Most Western Town” 1952. Alas, plenty of those hats now!

Bonnie Buratti 2:27 PM  

Thought it was a cinch (did it in the first 10 minutes of two boring work meetings). Yes, lots of pop culture stuff (which I'm deficient in - I usually rely on my millennial kids for much of that), but the cross clues saved me. Also, the song titles make sense. (I do know who Maria Carey is). Agree with Rex that Mon&Tues puzzles are outstanding.

E.H. Hunt 3:05 PM  

I am totally confused now....

If yesterday's Monday puzzle was challenging like a Wednesday puzzle, but today's puzzle was easier than yesterday's Monday puzzle but more challenging than a Tuesday puzzle, what sort of crazy mind distortion universe are we in?

Deep state conspiracy, of you ask me.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

Two consecutive aces! Who’s on deck … Robyn Weintraub?

Joe Dipinto 3:18 PM  

@Son Volt – great selections all, especially love the Irma Thomas.

We need to drown out Meh-riah some more. Here's YVETTE Stevens by birth, better known as...

And some HAIR

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Get well soon! I too avoided CoVid until this past Saturday. The fact that I got sick while vacationing in Florida just makes it all the more complicated - and expensive!

jae 3:42 PM  

@M & A - I remember her recent Colbert appearance. I believe my wife used the word “weird” to describe it.

Nancy 4:37 PM  

Dear God, she's so terribly awful!!!!

I got my first (and, trust me, last) earfuls (and I do mean earfuls) of Mariah Carey just now -- and you were much too kind, Joe D. She's not "meh", she's dreadful.

First I jogged my memory with Judy Collins' wonderful SOMEDAY SOON -- which I did know, but hadn't listened to in a very long time -- and then compared it to the first 5-6 bars of Mariah's SOMEDAY, which is as long as I could bear the latter. Then, because perhaps I do have a masochistic streak after all, I listened to her "famous" Christmas song which I've never heard. And which was even worse. Much worse, in fact.

I have a profound philosophical question. Are we all, every single one of us, so bound up in the music of our own generation that we're unable to see how truly pathetic much of our own generation's music is when the shoe fits? Mariah doesn't sing; Mariah caterwauls. Which is what most of today's pop singers -- especially the women -- do. Screech loudly enough and the audience will know that you feel things deeply, deeply.

I sometimes want to take young people, lock them in a cabin during a long winter, and force-feed them Ella and Bing and Frank and Nat and Barbara Cook and Barbra Steisand and Mary Martin and Julie Andrews and Lena Horne. (Not so much Judy Garland though -- she was pretty "over-the-top" herself and could have easily caterwauled many of today's pop hits in today's over-the-top pop style).

Then, once we're done with the great American songbook, I'll force-feed them Judy Collins and Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte and Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Odetta and Simon and Garfunkle and Peter, Paul and Mary. And I will pray that after a long winter of this, they will actually see the difference between the subtlety of these artists and the largely one-dimensional performers and material they've grown up with.

bigsteve46 4:57 PM  

The song "Someday Soon" was written by the great Canadian songwriter Ian Tyson, who recorded its original version together with his later to be wife,Sylvia, as the classic singing duo of Ian & Sylvia.

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

Solved doing diagonals only. Played like an easy Monday.

Anonymous 5:41 PM  

I'm astonished by Rex's reviews of yesterday and today's puzzles. Yesterday played like a tough Wednesday for me and today was a very very *very* easy Monday -- today solved in less than half the time of yesterday. And I breezed through this without knowing basically any of the PPP, anything about Mariah Carey, or any idea what halo halo is -- the crosses just made it so simple.

Anoa Bob 5:41 PM  

When I SAW that this was a triviaTHON, THAT HURT. Wish I could SAY YES to pop culture stuff but about the best I can do is a resigned SHRUG to SHUG and crew.

I liked the ETHIOPIA-LIBYA intersection and the Swahili "Hakuna MATATA" tie in. I read that the latest consensus among scientists who study such matters is that modern humans first appeared in ETHIOPIA's Rift Valley around 220,000 years ago. Could that have been the original Garden of Eden?

@Roo, yeah, the POC (plural of convenience) committee did not count the S in the lower, rightmost square of SAY YES and LES as a two for one. One does appear where a single S boosts the letter count of both 12D SPORT and 28A ACE. Also of note, the stealth POC where 1A PEP UP was not UP to filling its slot. No stealth POC potential with 14A FIRST UP.

I stopped eating filter feeding shellfish like OYSTERs, clams or mussels, either raw or cooked, years ago because of increasing levels of heavy metals and other toxic substances and pathogens in their waters. A friend got hepatitis from eating raw OYSTERs back in the 90s.

Son Volt 6:31 PM  

@Joe D - the Chacka - YVETTE nugget is brilliant.

I hadn’t heard Third Rate Romance in years - it’s a great song and when I scanned the grid it just popped out at me. Only other option was revisiting my dad’s Four ACES records.

Smith 6:54 PM  

Did this in the am before a walk, which is now like, um, yd.

Could not finish downs only. I have heard of Mariah Carey but don't know any of her music. Got tripped up with Luke Cage wanting HaRlem something, but that was actually later, not earlier, and OREmOS showed the error.

Once I switched to some across clues got it done in no time. And although for me, themeless, a very good Tuesday puzzle!

Anonymous 7:36 PM  

I can’t believe cricket and squash were in the same puzzle, though as clues, not answers. Played both for many years. And, yes, the rest of it was tough for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

I'm one of those folks that don't know anything about Mariah Carey or most of the names in this grid. But despite that, it was a well-constructed enough puzzle that I still enjoyed it!

pabloinnh 7:51 PM  

@bocamp-Just got back to the Croce and finished it in about ten minutes. Key was changing my French city, and now I can sleep tonight.

bocamp 10:07 PM  

@pablo 😊 😴
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ™

John Face 12:11 AM  

FWIW, I have both been to and regularly watch WNBA. So, you have now “met” someone. This was in response to one of the first few comments. It’s a terrific league with wonderful basketball.

Anywho, generally fun puzzle. I happen to be a bit younger than Rex, so knew Honey because it was quite the thing for a 15ish year old boy when it came out.

For whatever reason, I killed this puzzle. Not quite record, but fast for me. Almost had it solved on the crosses.

I had no idea who created living single, but kind of fun clue. Not much more to add.

albatross shell 12:46 AM  

Could not name any Mariah songs so it was a battle here and there but found a lot of safety nets in place. Fun to do puz because it kept me thinking and amused with all sorts of stuff, like @Jberg's list of offbeat similar words. Odd-looking puzzle too. Very unsymmetric feeling about its symmetry. The puzzle felt like the constructor knew how amusing it would be.

I was sure there was some Carey song I said what a voice about. Went looking. Could not find one song I wanted to hear and nothing impressive at all. .

I have gone to 3 Judy Collins concerts and walked out because of boredom. With the urging of the person I was there with. Three different people who all urged me to go with them. Well the first one I wanted to go too. The second was with well maybe I got her on a bad night. The third was well there is a place I want to go to after the concert. I had a couple of records of hers I still like.

The Ian and Sylvia reminded me of the two-fors Vanguard records put out usually consisting of 2 records of folkies they had previously released now being sold as a double LP at a heavily discounted price. Ian and Sylvia, Eric Anderson and even the first 2 Holy Modal Rounders records. Richard and Mimi Farina?

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Always thought the expression was “BIG hat no cattle”

Adam 12:05 AM  

You have an increasingly terrible taste in puzzles, Rex. This uninspired tripe gets your plaudits? A Mariah Carey theme?

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

A one-two sockaroo to start the week: David/Erik. Tough act to follow.

Unusual grid shape, with vertical Jaws of theme-ness (!) enclosing three themers in a row--scratch that, column. Impressive. And featuring DOD MARIAHCAREY. All this with premier fill and somehow, solving ease. True, the PPP count is high, but all the crosses were fair, and I had only two slight hiccups. For A__ Wednesday I first thought of Any, and then I misspelled MATAdA. There may indeed be CAds who frequent CAFEs, but I hardly think the establishment would advertise that in their name. Hence the change to T, and done. Eagle.

Wordle par.

Burma Shave 11:16 AM  


SOMEDAY you’ll realize THAT
it’s a FANTASY CAFΓ‰, of sorts,
the SIGN reads: “FORHIRE: CATs”.


Diana, LIW 12:42 PM  

Right. With all he names/PPP this was a bear for me.

But I guessed at all the unknown placed - correctly.

I'm off to buy a lottery ticket!

Winner winner chicken dinner!

Diana, Winner, and Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

@Anonymous 5:36pm:
Thank you for that.

rondo 9:05 PM  

YES, that anon 5:36 post was short and sweet, very sweet.
Also agree on 2 good ones to start the week. Is this all-star week?
Wordle birdie!

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