Old explosive used to breach castle walls / TUE 1-10-23 / Rent character who sings Light My Candle / Lewis Carroll character with a disembodied smile / Old Apple picture-editing app / Shaggy Beatles hairdos / Ambient music trailblazer Brian / 1840s White House family / Fictional feline from Japan

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Constructor: Emily Rourke

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "HELLO KITTY!" (39A: Fictional feline from Japan ... or how one might greet 17-, 24-, 54- or 65-Across) — fictional felines!

Theme answers:
  • PINK PANTHER (17A: Titular animated character whose theme music is by Henry Mancini)
  • TONY THE TIGER (24A: Cereal mascot who says "They're gr-r-reat!")
  • COWARDLY LION (54A: Oz resident lacking in courage)
  • CHESHIRE CAT (65A: Lewis Carroll character with a disembodied smile)
Word of the Day: HELLO KITTY (39A) —

Hello Kitty (Japaneseハロー・キティHepburnHarō Kiti), also known by her full name Kitty White (キティ・ホワイトKiti Howaito), is a fictional character created by Yuko Shimizu, currently designed by Yuko Yamaguchi, and owned by the Japanese company Sanrio. Sanrio depicts Hello Kitty as an anthropomorphized white cat with a red bow and no visible mouth. According to her backstory, she lives in a London suburb with her family, and is close to her twin sister Mimmy, who is depicted with a yellow bow.

Hello Kitty was created in 1974 and the first item, a vinyl coin purse, was introduced in 1975. Originally Hello Kitty was only marketed towards  pre-teenage girls, but beginning in the 1990s, the brand found commercial success among teenage and adult consumers as well. Hello Kitty's popularity also grew with the emergence of kawaii (cute) culture. The brand went into decline in Japan after the 1990s, but continued to grow in the international market. By 2010 the character was worth $5 billion a year and The New York Times called her a "global marketing phenomenon". By 2014, when Hello Kitty was 40 years old, she was worth about $8 billion a year. (wikipedia)

• • •
***HELLO, READERS AND FELLOW SOLVERS*** How is the new year treating you? Well, I hope. Me, uh, not great so far (COVID, you know), but I'm 95% better, and was never terribly sick to begin with, so I have every reason to believe things will turn around for me shortly, thank God (and vaccines). Anyway, it's early January, which means it's time once again for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. I'm not sure what to say about this past year. This will sound weird, or melodramatic—or maybe it won't—but every time I try to write about 2022, all I can think is "well, my cat died." She (Olive) died this past October, very young, of a stupid congenital heart problem that we just couldn't fix (thank you all for your kind words of condolence, by the way). I'm looking at the photo I used for last year's fundraising pitch, and it's a picture of me sitting at my desk (this desk, the one I'm typing at right now, the one I write at every day) with Olive sitting on my shoulder, staring at me, and making me laugh. It's a joyous picture. Here, I'm just gonna post it again:

I love the photo both because you can tell how goofy she is, and how goofy she made me. Her loss hurt for the obvious reasons, but also because she was so much a part of my daily routine, my daily rhythms and rituals. She was everyday. Quotidian. Just ... on me, near me, being a weirdo, especially in the (very) early mornings when I was writing this blog. She took me out of myself. She also made me aware of how much the quotidian matters, how daily rituals break up and organize the day, mark time, ground you. They're easy to trivialize, these rituals, precisely because they *aren't* special. Feed the cats again, make the coffee again, solve the crossword again, etc. But losing Olive made me reevaluate the daily, the quotidian, the apparently trivial. In a fundamental way, those small daily things *are* life. No one day is so important, or so different from the others, but cumulatively, they add up, and through the days upon days you develop a practice—a practice of love, care, and attention given to the things that matter. If you're reading this, then crossword puzzles are undoubtedly an important ritual for you, just as writing about crosswords for you all is an important ritual for me. It gives me so much. I hope that even at my most critical, my genuine love for crosswords—for the way my brain lights up on crosswords—comes through. I also hope that the blog brings you entertainment, insight, laughter ... even (especially) if you disagree with me much (most? all?) of the time. 

[man, I really wear the hell 
out of this red fleece...]
The blog began years ago as an experiment in treating the ephemeral—the here-today, gone-tomorrow—like it really mattered. I wanted to stop and look at this 15x15 (or 21x21 thing) and take it seriously, listen to it, see what it was trying to do, think about what I liked or didn't like about it. In short, I gave the puzzle my time and attention. And I continue to do that, every day (Every! Day!). And it is work. A lot of work. Asking for money once a year (and only once a year) is an acknowledgment of that fact. There is nothing to subscribe to here ... no Substack or Kickstarter or Patreon ... and there are no ads, ever. I prefer to keep financial matters simple and direct. I have no "hustle" in me beyond putting my ass in this chair every morning and writing.

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

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

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

The third, increasingly popular option is Venmo; if that's your preferred way of moving money around, my handle is @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which I guess it does sometimes, when it's not trying to push crypto on you, what the hell?!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. My daughter (Ella Egan) has designed a cat-related thank-you postcard for 2023, just as she has for the past two years, but this year, there's a bonus. Because this year ... the postcard is also a crossword puzzle! Yes, I made a little 9x9 blog-themed crossword puzzle for you all. It's light and goofy and I hope you enjoy it. It looks like this (clues blurred for your protection):

I had fun making this puzzle (thanks to Rachel Fabi and Neville Fogarty for proofing it for me!). For non-snail-mailers who want to solve the puzzle, don't worry: I'll make the puzzle available for everyone some time next month. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

• • •

Hard laugh at today's revealer, as it reminded me of the time Shortz rejected a puzzle because it had HELLO KITTY in it and, I mean, who had ever heard of that? Certainly not *his* audience. HELLO KITTY was thus deemed "not well known enough" and that was that. This was... I wanna say in the late '00s, well after HELLO KITTY had become a global phenomenon, an icon that could be seen all over the place, most notably (from my perspective as a parent) on little girls' backpacks and lunch boxes and watches and what not all over North America and beyond. The best part of the story (if I'm remembering it correctly) is that Will was flying on a plane not long thereafter and ran into HELLO KITTY in the in-flight magazine, and then later told the constructor about it: "Isn't that a funny coincidence"? I forget what the constructor's reaction was, but mine would've been "yeah, haha, TAKE MY PUZZLE NOW!" Anyway, the constructor in this story is Andrea Carla Michaels (yesterday's co-constructor!), so if I botched it substantially, she can correct me. It's just so great to see HELLO KITTY dead-center, not only *in* the puzzle but *anchoring* it, all these years later. [I'm just remembering now that this story was actually the inspiration for the first puzzle I ever submitted for publication—a hidden Norse gods theme (e.g., HELLOKITTY) that was rejected by crossword legend Patrick Berry because the Chronicle of Higher Ed., whose puzzle he was editing, had published a similar type of theme recently; I put the puzzle aside, and then later I discovered that a puzzle with the identical theme had been published, somewhere (the New York Sun!), by the great Joon Pahk. And I remember all this because of Andrea's HELLO KITTY story, which lives in my head as the quintessential example of editorial blindness and hubris—thanks, Andrea!] [UPDATE: Oh, wow, looks like this "hidden Norse gods" theme has been done a lot—here's one from the NYT in 2015 that I forgot about (by Kevin Christian and my friend Brad Wilber!), and it looks like the Patrick Berry eventually *did* run the theme in the Chronicle when a version of it was submitted years later by the talented and wildly prolific Zhouqin Burnikel; anyway, this is a good example of how a bunch of people can independently come up with a very specific theme idea] [UPDATE to the UPDATE: I almost forgot—every incarnation of this theme would of course have featured ODIN among the hidden gods—I think most of us hid him in "MOOD INDIGO"]

As for *this* theme ... it's fictional cats! I like cats, and these certainly are some. Kind of an arbitrary set—fictionality is the only thing holding the set together, as far as I can tell, and there must be lots of fictional cats, but this is definitely an iconic set, and they all fit symmetrically in the grid, so maybe that's good enough. Not like I can think of any glaring "how dare you!?" omissions. As a concept, there's not much to this, but the theme does have one truly original thing about it—a revealer (HELLO KITTY) that is also a theme answer in its own right. That is, it's a self-referential revealer—it points to all the other theme answer, but also to itself, so much so that I'm surprised "39-Across" was not included among the examples of fictional felines one might greet this way. Wait ... oh no, is HELLO KITTY not the kitty's name? LOL I just took it for granted that the cat was actually called HELLO KITTY, but maybe that is completely wrong, and she's like a Julie or Inga or Kimiko or something!? Anyway, in my mind, that cat is actually *named* HELLO KITTY, and she's at least as iconic as all the other cats, so ... don't take this away from me. It's the one thing that's making this puzzle feel special to me.

The puzzle played Very easy and somewhat old-fashioned. The grid is crammed with fill that has been (over-) familiar for years, esp. where names are concerned: ENOLA, OTT, LAHTI, ENO, REN, IPHOTO, ITT, LAO-TSE (the last of which gives me that "howsitspelled?!" feeling every time!) (it can be LAO-TZU as well). The cats themselves were all very last century, with HELLO KITTY being the most current thing about the themer set, so you wouldn't exactly call the grid TOPICAL, but I didn't find it stale, either. DOWN PAT, MONSTER, and GLASGOW all give the grid some much-needed life, and the theme itself is so vibrant (animated, even!) that all the fill really has to do is stay on its feet, which I'd say it does. I winced at the A TREE / A TASTE juxtaposition, but that's a minor thing. The only slowness / hesitation I had today came at NOBLE (I wanted INERT, which, to my enormous, self-extended credit, is not completely wrong), TOPICAL, and LAO-TSE (for the aforementioned spelling reasons). Otherwise, this was a write-em-as-fast-as-you-can-read-em situation. Oh, I did hesitate right out of the box, at 1A: "Rent" character who sings "Light My Candle" (MIMI). I went from "pfff, I *saw* "Rent" and I don't know that" to "wait, why do I want to say MIMI!?" to "it's based on 'La Bohéme,' right? Maybe there's a MIMI in that!?!" (there is!) to just writing it in, where the crosses immediately confirmed it. So it turns out you can actually know a lot about something you don't know at all. More of the magic of crosswords. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:31 AM  

Good puzzle, but Tuesday-in-Monday-clothing easy. No non-typo overwrites.

OffTheGrid 6:37 AM  


The relevant part is at about 35 seconds in.

Loren Muse Smith 6:38 AM  

How timely. We have Rex’s beautiful tribute to Olive, *and* I just took my sister this past Saturday to the Charlotte Humane Society, where she adopted a cat. She named her Oanie – Mom and my other sister aren’t happy with the name, but since when do they get a vote? Anyhoo… I think they’ll be very happy together; Shum (cat sister) is disabled, doesn’t drive, lives alone. While she’s by no means floundering, I think Oanie will provide a lot of joy and companionship, a bit of a lifeline, if you will.

At first I kept thinking that CHESHIRE CAT was an outlier because TIGER, LION, PANTHER. . . they’re all CATs. But the reveal totally pulls it all together; HELLO KITTY is how I guess we could greet these guys.

I’m loving Emily’s decision to go with DAH instead of “rah” because the PIED piper was a ratcatcher. Sly little sneaky sneak wink at the theme.

I also liked the consecutive Oz clues 53A and 54A.

Oh, and DECAF LAHTI next to each other. Hah.

That MONSTER under the bed? Boy howdy I was ready for little Gardiner. When he expressed concern about this, I retrieved the spray bottle I had filled with water specifically for this purpose. Told him it was MONSTER repellent. We sprayed under his bed and in his closet. Never heard about MONSTERs again. Poor guy; it was too easy. Fingers crossed that no one tries to sell him any beachfront property…

I kept looking back at DOWN PAT and thinking that what with all the vapes getting snuck (sic) through, our search team doesn’t have the pat down down pat.

Play pickleball once, and you’ll see why it’s so popular. I mean, it’s quite like playing ping pong except you’re standing up on top of the table. The terms and scoring are mystifying – you want to end up in the “kitchen” where you’re “dinking” (were these inventors high?) and figuring out how to announce the score when you serve is on a par with completing the square for the quadratic formula. No, really.

FIST bump, Emily. I’ll leave everyone with this audio clip of George Clooney recounting his famous cat prank he played on a roommate.

Burghman 6:47 AM  

Fun trivia - did you know that Hello Kitty is not a cat? www.npr.org/sections/theprotojournalist/2014/08/28/343962145/is-hello-kitty-a-cat-or-a-girl. From that page:

While writing the script for the exhibit, she referred to Hello Kitty as a "cat," and — as reported in the Los Angeles Times — was firmly corrected by Sanrio, the character's manufacturer:

"Hello Kitty is not a cat. She's a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature."

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

I really think it's time to retire the clue ENOLA (GAY), the plane which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima!!!

SouthsideJohnny 6:55 AM  

Wow, MANO x MOPPET x A TREE Grows in Brooklyn left me scratching my head, even with good luck on the crosses. Those seem a little tough for a Tuesday.

John H 7:03 AM  

Pet Peeve: The word that Tony the Tiger stretches out is "theeeeeir" then the emphatic GREAT! Not the other way around.

Lewis 7:19 AM  

This puzzle woke up marvelous memories of things I heard way in the past. I heard Tony the Tiger with his sweeping voice saying “It’s grrrreat!” in those commercials of my youth. DOMINO brought my memory to Fats, and I actually heard his voice singing, “Come on baby, let’s do the twist”. I also actually heard the starts to A TRAIN and the theme to The PINK PANTHER. But best of all, was when I heard in my head Bert Lahr in the Wizard of Oz, singing, “If I were king of the fore-e-e-e-e-e-e-est”.

And thus I was fully charmed and engaged. Plus, it was sweet to see a rare-in-crosswords five-letter semordnilap (DECAF), that MOPTOP echo with MOPPET and TOPICAL, not to mention DOWN PAT in the right direction.

But mostly, what a lovely and heart-warming surprise to have a puzzle rekindle such bright memories. Many many thanks for this, Emily!

Bob Mills 7:31 AM  

Nice puzzle with a well conceived theme. The clue for 31-Across is misleading. It suggests that the winning tic-tac-toe player didn't really get three O's in a row, but won anyway because the opponent didn't realize it.

Never heard of HELLOKITTY, but it makes for a nice revealer.

mathgent 7:34 AM  

I come to this blog every day. I skim Rex but mostly I come to read the twenty or so regulars who have something funny or clever or smart to say. So I send Rex money every year to keep the blog going. How much to send? I compare getting the blog to getting The Athletic, the online source of sports information. I also read that every day. The subscription price of The Athletic is about a hundred a year and that's what I send Rex. Anyone have any information about what most of us donate?

Son Volt 7:41 AM  

Cute - oddly filled for early week. Not a fan of the center revealer - @Burghman’s link doesn’t add much support. Typically if a constructor resorts to the xxx or OOO tic-tac-toe triad I dismiss the puzzle immediately - I’ll let it go here. I like that entire SE corner - the MOP TOPS/MOPPET combo no so much. ENOLA Gay.

Nice to see GLASGOW and Betty Smith. Didn’t know LAHTI or MIMI. Van the man.

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

TYLER Childers

OffTheGrid 7:42 AM  

@John H. Maybe THIS will clear things up

Taylor Slow 7:48 AM  

Yesterday's puzzle was all fill and meh theme. Today's is just the opposite: What a great theme! I don't understand Rex's "arbitrary thread" comment about it: They're "cats" everyone knows. But all is forgiven because of the link to the great Kate and Anna McGarrigle, brilliant and legendary Canadian singer/songwriters, and (one of them) mother of Rufus Wainright.

I've always found the Hello Kitty character--or whatever it is; sometimes it just seems like a marketing theme--slightly disturbing. Its squee/cute level is off the charts. But that's just me, and I guess that a billion HK fans can't be wrong, as the old saying, updated, goes. I dislike MOPTOPS for the same reason. Over-cute makes my teeth hurt. Add MOPPET and I'm running to the dentist.

Some good stuff too: PETARD, MONSTER, DOMINO as clued here. Tied my Tuesday PB too, which is also good stuff.

Great clues:

Weezie 7:51 AM  

Easy-peasy for me but enjoyable enough! A Tree Grows In Brooklyn was a personal fave growing up, as a little kid who literally read and re-read the book on a Brooklyn stoop looking at a Tree of Heaven.

And yes seconding @Lewis’s delight at the sound memories this puzzle conjured up! As I’m sure may be the case with other parents and caregivers (I’m the latter), thanks to 3D, I now have Grover “There is a MONSTER at the end of this book” stuck in my head.

Getting a phrase stuck in my head happens as frequently as I get a song playing on repeat in my brain - maybe for some of you, too? Ah, the joys of hyperlexia.

Mike Herlihy 7:53 AM  

Um... Loren. So bad, but so funny!! I don't remember hearing about this before. :-)

Dr.A 7:57 AM  

MOPPET took me the longest (and that’s to say not very long) because what even is that?

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

I can hear the “they’re” drawn out in the tv jingle version of the catchphrase, but Tony is definitely intended to be saying “grrrreat,” like a tiger growling - “grrrrr.” That’s the primary conceit of the catchphrase.

Gary Jugert 8:35 AM  

Another delightful puzzle. We're getting our 12¢'s worth these days. Cute theme. Similar solving experience as 🦖

Pretty sure if I called any of my MOPTOPPED darling ones a MOPPET I'd be retrieving my teeth from their FISTS.

YOYO and Yoko and YAH. Yowza.


1 Tsunamis.
2 Record executive passing on Fats.
3 Result of Wonderland going condo.


Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Amy: thought it skewed old, but then, so do I so that's not a complaint. Agree it could have been a Monday. Feline theme is delightful. Hope your day is as well. We're going to have temps in the 60s and the Dawgs won, so Georgia is smiling.

burtonkd 9:13 AM  

Amen Rex - "So it turns out you can actually know a lot about something you don't know at all. More of the magic of crosswords."

Sure, Hello Kitty is a girl - with whiskers, paws, and pointy ears on top of the head. They could have stopped at cartoon character. By this logic, Bugs Bunny isn't a rabbit, nor is Tony the Tiger a tiger.

Half of this puzzle was typing as fast as I could read the clues.

Has anyone ever won a game of tic tac toe when their opponent WAS paying attention?

Kind of a funny dig at TENNIS to clue it via pickleball, as if that is the more established "sport". The communities of players are often at odds with each other over usage of public court space. @Nancy, has this reared its head on the hallowed tennis grounds of CP yet?

RooMonster 9:16 AM  

Hey All !
No one has mentioned the extra wide grid. It's 16 wide. HELLO KITTY is 10 letters, hence can only be in the center with a 14 or 16 wide grid. Noticing extra wide, or not as wide grids, is my measurement for brain functionality. Still working!

No ROOs today, but there is a MONSTER! I'll sneak in one way or another! 😁 I'm the MONSTER on top of the bed. Har.

Nice TuesPuz. Got pretty much the same time today as on YesterPuz. Nice little theme. Different cats. Cool. (Har, see what I did there?)

Garfield and Heathcliff are watching from afar, feeling left out. (Heathcliff, IMO, is a bland cartoon. YMMV.)

Lots of -ese (at least it seemed whilst solving), ONO, ENO, IPAS, OLES, ITT, SIS, ELI. Ese happens.

Animaniacs had a HELLOOOOOOOO NURSE!
Motorola had a HELLO Moto.
Any others y'all can think of?

Two F's

Richard 9:28 AM  

Not knowing Spanish, I had pOPPET/pANO instead of mOPPET/mANO. That was surprisingly hard to track down.

Smith 9:44 AM  

Downs only again today. Saw the PINKPANTHER early on and TONY right after, so "felines" as a theme was pretty obvious. Only write over was a typo (on the bottom line!) that took many seconds to find ... d for S in HIS.

I haven't seen Rent, so wouldn't have known 1A, but the name made sense with the (pretty obvious) downs.

This probably deserved a "very easy" from @Rex since it took me less time than yesterday.

Hoping for more of a challenge tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Oh, and @mathgent, I'd say you are right on the money 😉

Nancy 9:50 AM  

Yes, @burtonkd (9:13) -- I had the same reaction you did. To clue pickleball via a backhanded reference to the much more established and venerable sport of TENNIS is a real slap in the face. Legendary tennis players past and present are spinning in their graves or will be eventually. The clue infuriated me, in fact.

Now in answer to your other question: Pickleball has happily left the Central Park tennis courts untouched and has instead taken root in the handball courts nearby, located in the North Meadow. Quite a number of handball courts were converted to pickleball courts -- but without being enlarged -- meaning that these courts are not regulation pickleball court size. The players who play here -- many of them long-time tennis "regulars" -- have adapted themselves to the ridiculous lack of space between the back line and the wall. As Cindy said last week: "I only play here, so for me, this court IS the standard size."

It's my understanding that there are pickleball courts sprouting everywhere in Manhattan: Carl Schurz Park; the East Sixties -- probably regulation size, but less convenient to the tennis players.

Oh, yes, today's puzzle. I'm definitely in a huge minority today, so all I'll say about the puzzle is GOODBYE, KITTY!

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

"Von" is not the middle of many German names. In fact, "von" was never common and is increasingly seen as affected. A minor point, to be sure, but still...

Whatsername 10:16 AM  

If someone asked my opinion, I would’ve said let’s run this one on a Monday since I ran through it practically downs only and needing very few crosses to finish. But as one who normally solves with at least one CAT in the immediate vicinity, I thoroughly enjoyed this flattering fete of the fair felines. (Hi @Roo.)

Lots of “old” memories evoked. The great Peter Sellers’ PINK PANTHER, Saturday morning TIGER commercials, the wonderful wizardly LION and that iconic Wonderland grin. Besides Puss In Boots, the only other fictional felines I could think of would be cartoon characters such as Garfield, Sylvester, Felix, et al. Come to think of it, that could be a whole other other puzzle.

TTrimble 10:16 AM  

Definitely easy, and therein lies a trap for me. I'm skimming along, barely looking at the clues, enter in my last answer, and... no happy music. I see that my flubbery fingers had entered ATRiaN (wait, did somebody yell out? that you, Sylvester Stallone?), not ATRAIN. That type of thing happens to me a lot, and it IRKS me a little.

Ah, the PINK PANTHER. A cat of few words. Talk about ACTS COOL. But then, sharing the half-hour cartoon was a blue ANTEATER who did speak. Now what was his name? [Looking it up], oh, just Aardvark. The Ant and the Aardvark. Kind of an unusual twist on Tom and Jerry, or Foghorn Leghorn and the dog he was always getting in a SCRAPE with. But watching a sample just now, I don't know why I remember getting a kick out of it. Maybe it was just part of the childhood joy of watching cartoons with my little brother on a Saturday morning, when the TV was all ours.

I'm glad Rex enjoyed today's puzzle, and that he's in a good mood, but I have to wonder about the shoutouts to both of yesterday's constructors: after savaging yesterday's puzzle, does he think they (and particularly Andrea Carla Michaels) will be pleased to get back to him?

Re MIMI and Rent: the opening words of the opening song (Seasons of Love), "525,600 minutes", which to me is such a memorable lyric, and I mentally substitute a second line, "That means a million minutes is about two ye-e-ears." That's a nice illustration of orders of magnitude.

There is mercifully little in the way of ASS today; could it be those boys have gotten it out of their system? Well, better not count my chickens. I do see PETARD which I think is also slang for a fart (and indeed the Middle French pet means exactly that). Some learned commentary here, where I learned that "the modern French word for breaking wind is pétarade".

(While we're on that general subject: I get that George Clooney is good-looking and all that, but he seems like a shitty roommate. "Litter-ally." His friend Richard was Kind to take him in, after all.)

SB: 0 yd. Last word was this.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

beat my tuesday best time with this one

Georgia 10:38 AM  

Is anyone old enough to remember grownups putting "A TIGER IN YOUR TANK!" for Esso .... a furry tiger tail designed to hang out of the car's gas tank?

egsforbreakfast 10:41 AM  

I don’t have much to say today. I guess the cat’s got my tongue.

Do you suppose that those TYLERS referenced in 52D were also tessellators? I certainly hope they weren’t the forebears of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler given what’s going down with him these days.

I think that TONYTHETIGER graduated from THE Ohio State University, where he did work in THE Fine Arts and on THE Theory of Relativity.

Having ISP in the puzzle (12D) pretty much ruined it for me after the way those Idaho State Police bastards botched the U of I killings.

I liked the puzzle. Just being a little catty here, Emily Rourke.

P.S. I happen to be flying to Zihuatanejo today to, among other activities, play in a pickleball tournament. Having been a long time decent tennis player (4.5 rating), I can attest that pickleball is a superior game in most ways, although it is not cardio intensive.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Did I miss that no one griped about calling a domino a toy? It’s a game piece.

pabloinnh 10:52 AM  

Had me at MOPTOPS/PINKPANTHER. The rest was remarkably easy and my only nit is having the "revealer" smack in the middle, which was not much of a revealer. I tried to avoid that answer and circle around but it was just too obvious(I say this a someone with granddaughters) and didn't reveal anything, so I filled it in and was done soon after.

@LMS-I think I remember someone marketing a spray can of nothing but air, which was sold as "Monster Spray". Maybe you were ahead of your time.

@Roo- If you think Heathcliff is bland, my son had a whole book of Sunday Garfield panels with all the dialogue removed, and it was about as interesting and probably funnier than the originals.

Nice Tuesdecito, ER. Enjoyed Racing through this one and both our eighteen year old cats approve. Thanks for all the fun.

Joseph Michael 10:56 AM  

Cute theme. I liked the choice of themers. But now I have to try to herd Garfield, Felix, and Sylvester out of here before they find out they aren’t in the puzzle.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

The A__ obsessed commenters need professional help.

jae 11:21 AM  

Easy. I haven’t seen “Rent” but I’ve done enough crosswords to know MIMI. The rest was cake. Cute and timely for this blog, liked it.

Beezer 11:22 AM  

Light and enjoyable puzzle today. For some reason I’m always fascinated with the word PETARD but I can’t quite figure out why. The look of it, the sound of it? Who knows. It doesn’t rise up to “moist” (for some folks) but there is something that seems unsavory about it.

@LMS…good take on pickleball! I took a few lessons and I find the rules for serving, scoring (basically everything) a bit mystifying. @Nancy, I dunno. I didn’t get miffed at the clue…I mean Dad is a relative of SON. However, until there are separate “dedicated” pickleball courts, I think there will be a tension between the tennis players and the pickleball players. A few weeks ago I played tennis indoors next to two sets of pickleball players (with the portable nets on either side of tennis net). There’s nothing like having constant errant rubbery pickleballs rolling into your tennis court. I’m not against it, but I’m holding off on being “all in” for pickleball until my mobility wanes a bit more because…I just don’t like it as much.

I’ve known a few “middle-aged” people (I’m not middle aged) who have been/are INTO HELLOKITTY. One had a Hello Kitty panini maker and the other had an HK toaster. Cute as a button but I didn’t run out to get a Hello Kitty small appliance even so.

bocamp 11:25 AM  

Thx, Emily, for your 'feline' feature; purr-fect! 😻


Avg time, but felt a tad tougher.

Had MOPPETs for 1D, so a bona fide malapop (thx to yd's co-constructor, ACME for the coinage; from @Rex's blog, Mon., Aug. 18, 2008).

Never quite sure which form of LAOTSE will show up, altho, this is the one most familiar to me.

Fun coincidence: just finished watching Prime's new docu, 'Wildcat', last nite. Very moving story!

Got 'The Wizard of Oz' queued for viewing later today. 🎥

Nice Tues. challenge; enjoyed it muchly. :)

On to Natan Last's Mon. New Yorker. 🤞
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Masked and Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Cool MonPuz to TuesPuz transition: from "Highway to Hell" to "Highway to HelloKitty".

M&A no way claims to be a HELLOKITTY expert. Wiki-Petia notes that it was initially known within the company that had it created only as "the white kitten with no name". The designer said she got the name Kitty from Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass", which has a cat named Kitty in it.
But, yeah … it's a cartoon character. As are most of the other cats in this puz.

Anyhoo … nice cat puztheme.
fave themer: CHESHIRECAT, since it is evidently a Carroll-cousin of HELLOKITTY.
Didn't notice the grid was 16x15, til @Roo mentioned it. More puz for yer moneybucks.

staff weeject pick: YAH. Which is HAY backwards, which sounds like HEY, which is a relative of HELLO.


Thanx for the furballs, Ms. Rourke darlin.

Masked & Anonymo Us


MJB 11:47 AM  

Lewis, it was Chubby Checker who sang "Let's Do The Twist." Fats Domino sang "Aint That A Shame," and "Blueberry Hill" among his many hits. And Chubby is a cover of the name Fats Domino!!

Adam S 12:02 PM  

It doesn't really matter whether she is called Hello Kitty, Julie, Inga, Kimiko, or whatever. None of them are her ineffable effable, effanineffable, deep and inscrutable singular name.

Nancy 12:17 PM  

@TTrimble -- I had the same George Clooney reaction you did. I followed your post back to the link posted today, listened, and was not amused. Somehow I never thought of Clooney as a puerile fratboy type, but that's what he seems to have been -- at least at one stage of his life. I would imagine he's probably grown out of it since, but, hey, you never know.

Patricia Markert 12:21 PM  

I loved this puzzle. It brought a smile to my face with every cat mentioned! Of course, I love cats, and have two of my own to spoil.

But the cluing was especially well written: "Place for a ponytail." "Toy item set up to be toppled." "Body parts that might be "bumped" "Under the bed resident, in a child's imagination"

Sorry about Olive...

Alice Pollard 12:25 PM  

Kinda had a brain fart on MOPPET. I wanted MuPPET but VuN made no sense. And neither did MaPPET . I guess MOPPET was a thing at one time, but I had forgotten that word. Easy puzzle . I enter PINKPANTHER off the P without reading the clue. TONYTHETIGER was a simple as they come.

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Fun fact- Tyler still has living grandchildren!

Carola 12:30 PM  

Easy, and endearing from the start, with MOPTOPS and MOPPET. I liked how the PANTHER, TIGER, and LION, apex predators in the wild, appeared here in tame guise - HELLO, KITTY! indeed - with the CHESHIRE CAT perhaps being the most unnerving of the bunch

@Lewis and @MJB, I was surprised to learn just now that Fats had his own "Domino Twist".

albatross shell 12:36 PM  

Wonderful theme with too easy clues.

The fill was awful or aw-ing for its number of reversible answers, answers with similar spellings or letter sequences, and collection of overused crosswordese.
Not so rare in this puzzle. There is a second 5-letter semordnilap.


Did you miss it or prefer not to mention it?

old timer 12:50 PM  

I seem to have spent over an hour on what really was an Easy puzzle. Why, I don't know.

I do, however, know about PETARDs. French word, which literally means "big fart", for a fart is, in French, a "pet". May explain the somewhat queasy reaction some had.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

✋My thought exactly!

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Yeah, yeah the clue says titular animated character. But the pink panther is of course a diamond. That so many mooks and midwits thought it was something else that the misunderstanding led to an insipid cartoon is a pity not an endorsement.

Loren Muse Smith 1:14 PM  

@TTrimble – Hah! Well-played!

@Nancy – couldn’t disagree more re Clooney. Different strokes and all that, though, right? I have the puerile soul of a 13-year-old-boy and can’t seem to grow out of it.

Nancy 1:43 PM  

I never really thought about what a petard actually is -- contenting myself with the metaphorical meaning of "hoist by your own petard." Which I would translate to mean that the bad things you intend for other people sometimes come back and bite you in the ass.

But what was a petard? The words "hoist by" always made me think it was a rope of some sort -- perhaps around your neck.

But then I'd also heard the phrase as "hoist ON your own petard." Okay, so not a rope. I imagined someone sitting on something extremely uncomfortable. On something that comes to a sharp point. That's it!! I pictured a petard as Cleopatra's Needle.

Now, today, I find out what a petard actually is. I also find out its etymological derivation.

I kinda wish I hadn't :)

Lewis 2:02 PM  

@mjb -- Hah! Thank you for correcting my memory! It's Chubby that I hear!
@Albatross -- I just missed it, and would have listed it if I didn't. Great catch!

Joe Dipinto 2:13 PM  

Public reaction to the first paragraph of @Rex's review

Another excuse to work Yo-Yo Ma into the puzzle. He does *not* need the publicity, people! Not to mention that the clue glorifies extreme carelessness with priceless musical instruments.

Anyway, any feline-centric puzzle is fine by me. So this was enjoyable. Now I'm off to buy a pet ard as a companion for my cartoon pet cat. Exit stage right!>>>>

This bit of 1960s grooviness relates to two(!) puzzle answers. It was used in the last episode of the tv show "Secret Agent" ("Danger Man" in the UK) aired in the US.

Anoa Bob 2:32 PM  

I've been hoping for a puzzle that is more accessible to the, uh, erm, more mature solvership, you know, one with stuff from back in the day when you could show off your YOYO tricks and not look completely IDIOTIC, and VOILA, here 'tis! We even get the venerable ENOLA and Fats DOMINO with A TASTE of OTT, ITT, ONO and ENO thrown in. Bowling in my lanes!

I never drink DECAF. I don't think it's completely DECAF anyway, just reduced CAF and I don't trust the chemical process used to do it. Might be some toxic, carcinogenic residues left behind that can accumulate in various glands and create serious health issues down the road. Besides, I don't drink DECAF for the same reason I don't drink non-alcoholic IPAS. I want my coffee or beer to give me a buzz!

As a former San Diego resident, I've been closely following the news of the series of storms that are pounding California. I think one of our regulars @GILL I. lives in an area that has been heavily hit. We haven't seen her byline lately so wondering if she got flooded out.

Joe Dipinto 3:03 PM  

@Anonymous 12:51 - they sell blank, colored sets of dominoes as toy items to be assembled and, presumably, knocked over later.

For example

Joe Dipinto 3:45 PM  

Sorry, that response was actually for @Anon 10:52 (but also Anon 12:51)

Made in Japan 3:53 PM  

Rex - thanks cueing me in that LOKI is in the center of HELLO KITTY. I never noticed that before, despite the fact that our cats (brothers) are Thor and Loki. Even as Loki was sitting on my lap, he was right there dead-center in the puzzle, so for me there was yet another cat in today's crossword.

Also, having grown up an hour away from Hiroshima, I agree that Enola should be retired.

A 4:08 PM  

Ok, I've been lazy and just enjoying reading y'all but I guess I have to join the fun since my nickname started off the puzzle. If I send out a note is it a MIMI MEMO?

Love cats and this was my first Christmas in 17 years without one, so I commiserate with @Rex. My little tuxedo-KITTY Eudora died last year after a long and great life - and she would stand on my arm, too! I changed my avatar to a picture of her in Olive's honor.

I have a Christmas sweatshirt with kittens on it that reads: Feline the Holiday Spirit. It plays meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. It was not a gift. I actually purchased it. Paid money. Not sorry.

@Anoa Bob, I've been missing @GILL I. - her last comment was December 19 and it was terrific! Hope she's ok and comes back soon.

Normally I'm not a fan of so many "terrible threes" (Hi @mathgent) but today I found some of them amusing:
OTT and ITT anagram to TOT and TIT.
ONO and ENO - wonder what they think of one another?
VON, WON and RON - so similar and they all reverse to real words. Well, NOV is just an abbreviation, but you do see it by itself.

If your Irish Setter jumps up just tell him DOWNPAT!

Happy 2023, everyone!

Joe Dipinto 5:02 PM  

@Anon 1:04 - The whole title sequence of the original movie is built around the hijinks of an animated pink panther.

TTrimble 6:26 PM  

I've heard that George Clooney is an inveterate prankster, to this day. But I don't keep up to date with his shenanigans.

The thing that bothered me about that podcast story is that if things had turned out differently, some actual medical damage could have been done to that poor kitty, which would have been devastating to Richard Kind. It's too easy to take practical jokes too far. A good example is this thing called swatting.

There used to be this show on MTV called Punk'd, which chronicled the practical jokes perpetrated by Ashton Kutcher (whom I came to loathe as a result). Here is Dave Chapelle (at a time when he was still funny) letting you know what he thought about Punk'd.

Paul 7:46 PM  

There’s been two Enola Holmes movies on Netflix, I recently used a reference to those in a clue the other day

Made in Japan 10:43 PM  

I saw the first Enola Holmes movie, and plan to see the second. I hope it catches on as the new go-to clue for ENOLA.

Anonymous 11:46 PM  

It's only recently that Sanrio has changed their tune and decided it's okay to say that Hello Kitty is a cat. They used to insist she was not.

CWT 4:02 AM  

I sent in a hundred yesterday

spacecraft 11:07 AM  

ENOLA is also the name of a town across the Susquehanna from my HOME town of Harrisburg, PA. It was at one time notable for being the site of the largest freight train assembly depot in the country. It is also, of course, ALONE backward.

Monday-easy, with a straightforward theme & revealer. A few too many add-ons: IPHOTO ATREE ATRAIN ATASTE. Well, I suppose we can give ATRAIN a pass; the "A" is not simply an article.

NODEAL is what scores of IDIOTIC contestants told Howie Mandel when they could have pocketed small fortunes, blinded by the large ones still available. That game is insidious, and they'll never have me on because I'd quit WAY too early for their needs.

When I saw "Barely manage" in the clue set, I thought: Oh no! Not a FOURPEAT!!!! But the answer was SCRAPEBY, which almost makes me want to upgrade this to birdie for avoiding you-know-what. Nah, it's a par.

Yet another Wordle DNF, too many _OUNDs and I guessed wrong. A bad night for the NYT games, as I couldn't find a 7 for CDEHIPU. Anyone?

Diana, LIW 2:27 PM  

Wasn't sure if MIMI followed from her La Boheme role, but the crosses quickly confirmed my guess. Like @Spacey said, Monday easy but well done.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 2:35 PM  


can’t OPT to EATER next meal,
NOR find ITT out how PAM TATE.


rondo 7:57 PM  

Yes quite easy. LION and TIGER, but no Syndi CAT.
Wordle birdie after BBBBB start.

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