Newly weaned piglets / MON 11-6-23 / Amazon Handmade competitor / Travel papers for those just passing through / Home for Tolkien's Bilbo and Frodo / Home workout selection / Longtime show host known as the "Queen of All Media"

Monday, November 6, 2023

Constructor: Desirée Penner and Jeff Sinnock

Relative difficulty: Challenging (from a Downs-only perspective) 

THEME: GLUED TO THE TV (56A: Where your eyes might stay during a suspenseful scene ... or the only place you'll find the "eyes" in this puzzle) — "ITVI" appears in three themers:

Theme answers:
  • TRANSIT VISAS (20A: Travel papers for those just passing through)
  • HOBBIT VILLAGE (28A: Home for Tolkien's Bilbo and Frodo)
  • CROSSFIT VIDEO (49A: Home workout selection)
Word of the Day: Tori AMOS (10A: Singer/songwriter Tori) —

Tori Amos (born Myra Ellen Amos; August 22, 1963) is an American singer-songwriter and pianist. She is a classically trained musician with a mezzo-soprano vocal range. Having already begun composing instrumental pieces on piano, Amos won a full scholarship to the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University at the age of five, the youngest person ever to have been admitted. She had to leave at the age of eleven when her scholarship was discontinued for what Rolling Stone described as "musical insubordination".[9] Amos was the lead singer of the short-lived 1980s pop group Y Kant Tori Read before achieving her breakthrough as a solo artist in the early 1990s. Her songs focus on a broad range of topics, including sexuality, feminism, politics, and religion.

Her charting singles include "Crucify", "Silent All These Years", "God", "Cornflake Girl", "Caught a Lite Sneeze", "Professional Widow", "Spark", "1000 Oceans", "Flavor" and "A Sorta Fairytale", her most commercially successful single in the U.S. to date. Amos has received five MTV VMA nominations and eight Grammy Award nominations, and won an Echo Klassik award for her Night of Hunters classical crossover album. She is listed on VH1's 1999 "100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll" at number 71. (wikipedia)

• • •

Well this was unpleasant. The theme is so awfully, terribly forced, starting with the shoehorning of "eyes" ("I"s) into the clue, and ending with super-contrived answers all around. CROSSFIT VIDEO? WTF? And HOBBIT ... VILLAGE? When I search ["Hobbit Village"] I just get movie sets in New Zealand. Do you mean The Shire? I only know The Shire. After that ... no idea what this is all about. When I solve Downs-only, I *kinda* need the Acrosses to be real things, and today, oof. I honestly finished the puzzle going, "NOEM .... NOEM ... NOEM ... that's ... well, that's wrong. That's not a thing. I must have an error." But then I got the "Congratulations!" message upon finishing the puzzle correctly, and I just sat there for a bit, wondering what the hell a NOEM was. NOAM Chomsky is spelled with an "A" ... what is this mystery word? Only then did I look at the clue and remember with sudden sharp and awful clarity that this was the name of that loathsome, anti-choice, forced-birth-for-pregnant-ten-year-olds, election-denying creep in charge of my best friend's home state. Why would ... why would you put her in your puzzle? There's no need. There's never a need, on a Monday, for the country's 27th best known governor. ALB, awful, NOEM, awful, SLO, awful, what is even happening here today? That is one of the ugliest rows I've Ever seen. ALB NOEM SLO. On a Monday. Just head-shakingly weak. And EROS ETAL EENY ETSY ESPY all bunched up in the S and SW. SSE? HER and SHE? I'm struggling to find where the fun was supposed to be here. I guess the "I"s "glued" to the "TV" were the fun. Well, we're gonna have to AGREE to disAGREE about what "fun" means today. Haven't seen a Monday miss this bad in a long time.

So many struggles on the Downs-only front. POISE before ... SENSE? Just SENSE!? (13D: Levelheadedness). POP TOP before POP TAB, ugh (4D: Built-in can opener). "I'M OFF," somehow really hard to come up with (29D: "Ta-ta!"). YEW TREE before ASH TREE (44D: Its wood is used in making archery bows). It's maple, myrtle, oak and (classically) YEW! What is this ash nonsense? Took a while to get AVATARS (47D: Bitmoji likenesses, e.g.) and INVEST (51D: Be an angel?). And then GLARE, yikes. I was looking for weather, like SLEET (53D: Blinding driving hazard). Not all of this struggle is the puzzle's fault, but some of it is. POP TOP! YEW TREE! POISE! These were better answers. Sigh.

It's probably best that I stop here. Usually Monday gives me a little palate-cleansing burst of freshness after the gunkiness of Sunday, but this week, Sunday was actually kind of entertaining, and whereas this ... still not over NOEM. Just an actively horrible human. Say NOPE to NOEM for all future puzzles, please. Yes, this is cancel culture, please cancel her, much appreciated. I need a drink. See you next time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


egsforbreakfast 1:00 AM  

Dear Carolyn Hax: If I'm TRANSAM I foolish to move to Florida? Especially if I wear lifts hidden in my boots? I should mention that I did not take part in the COUPON January 6.

My Granny from Arkansas always demanded that we put our butts in the ASHTREE.

The TV gimmick was decent for a Monday. Gluing each and every "I" in the puzzle to the TV took it to darn good. Thanks, Desiree Penner and Jeff Sinnock.

Nice coincidence that SD Governor Kristi NOEM is in today's puzzle and today's national news. She is endorsing Ron DeSantis for the republican nomination. Of course she is, as @Rex says, a garbage dump of a human being. Nonetheless:

Kristi NOEM wrote a poem
To the GOP.
SHE thought that Ron, with high heels on
Should be the nominee.

When Kristi NOEM tried to show 'em
Live on NBC.
To her surprise, she found their eyes

okanaganer 1:11 AM  

Also doing down clues only, I found it challenging. And wow, Rex you had all the same typeovers that I did: POISE, SLEET, POP TOP. And of course all of those worked perfectly with the themers. When I finally fixed SLEET it became GLACE (plausible?) crossing ECOS so I finished with errors.

A downside of not looking at the across clues is totally missing the clue part of the revealer. I saw the "TV" thing but missed the "I"s thing. Oh well, it's still more challenging and interesting than solving the normal way, which why I do it.

AEON is so familiar from Spelling Bee. Speaking of which:
[Sun 0, last word this very pesky 5er took me a while to remember; those first 2 letters!!? Anyway, QB streak 12 days!]

GILL I. 1:56 AM  

ANTI POP TAB was here on a TEMPO VISA that allowed HER to sell SOAPS in the VILLAGE. SHE had a SENSE of the AAHS...HER SOAPS could CLEANSE that EENY NOEM AREA WHENEVER you had a RASH FIT...and all you needed was a COUPON.

ANTI almost became a CHAR woman, but HER friend, LOLA, wouldn't have it. LOLA liked POP TAB's SOAPS; they smelled like MOUSSE HAHA and the VILLAGE people were OVA the moon for HER.

ANTI had one EENY little problem, though. When OPRAH come on the NPR TV, SHE'd be so RAPT up in the EROS of the AMOS, that SHE would forget to TURN OFF the VEAL ETRE in HER oven that SHE made for LOLA and HER neighbor, LEE. This made LEE really CROSS. They called him HOBBIT because his EARS would BOOM out when he got mad! To make matters worse, the CHAR on the VEAL was the color of PASTEL and he wanted it RARE. He was FIT to be tied.

You see, LOLA, and LEE the HOBBIT, had sent in their RSVPS AEONS ago for ANTI POP TAB's VEAL SHOATS dinner. ANTI always wanted them to POP in WHENEVER and eat HER VEAL and smell the MOUSSE HAHA SOAPS she made for a living. GOD, she felt like a low life FLEA in a WASP nest when SHE would forget!

The good news was that ANTI POP TAB finally got HER permanent VISA. SHE was SWORN IN at the TRANSIT AREA in the VILLAGE. It was a BOOM.... Everyone came.... SHE was RAPT with joy. SHE told anyone with a COUPON for HER MOUSSE SOAP that if they would INVEST in HER, SHE'd cook up HER famous VEAL SHOATS for dinner. Everyone had a COUPON....Everyone ate. HOBBIT LEE and LOLA ET AL smelled BLITHELY sweet....It was an ORO moment.

And that's the truth!

Adam12 2:30 AM  

NOEM is not just horrific fill, she’s a horrific human being. I’d rather have a dose of NRA in a puzzle than to be reminded of her.

jae 2:41 AM  

Medium-tough with the bottom half quite a bit more challenging than the top. I had no idea what was happening until I read the reveal and then went back over the theme answers. Very clever, liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did, except of course for she who will remain unnamed. Nice debut.

Me too for SLEET before GLARE.

Anonymous 2:51 AM  

The single highlight, if you could even call it that, was the fact that the letter I only occurred in the theme answers, and no other answers.

Anonymous 3:26 AM  

HOBBIT VILLAGE made me actually angry. That’s not a thing. That’s an answer that the jock in your high school would give on a test when asked where Frodo lives, after they’ve not read the books. It’s called The Shire. That’s like trying to have an answer be New York City but instead entering BIG BUILDING EMPIRE PLACE. Stupid.

jae 4:40 AM  

…oh and @Croce solvers - Croce’s Freestyle #856 was a medium Croce for me with a tough SW corner, good luck!

Andrew Z. 4:55 AM  

A Monday puzzle should be fun and easy. This puzzle was neither.

B. Took 5:50 AM  

Hobbiton? Yes. The Shire? Yes. Bag End? Yes. Bagshot Row? Yes.

Hobbit Village? Nope. Not a thing. Ever. Anywhere.

Wanderlust 6:15 AM  

@egsforbreakfast, your entire post was brilliant, especially your NOEM poem. I also solved downs-only and first thought the clue for that one would be something about a word missing an EM - we had a whole theme like that not long ago. I do know of the SD governor and agree with the assessments of her. Didn’t know she has endorsed DeSantis (why, when he is obviously tanking?). I thought she was angling to be Trump’s running mate.

Impossible for me to finish downs-only without looking at some of the across clues. I thought I’d nail it when all the 1 through 13 answers went in pretty easily (but hand up for POP Tab first). But the bottom half killed me with too many vague clues and wrong answers.

When I got the revealer without looking at the clue, I thought the theme was just that the ending T of one word was “glued” to the starting V of the second word. Meh. When I read the clue and got the “eyes” part, the theme went way up in my estimation, especially with no other “i”s in the puzzle.

Rex and @anonymous, there are HOBBIT VILLAGEs. The Shire is their land, but it includes lots of villages, like Hobbiton, where Bilbo and Frodo lived. Yes, I was a LOTR freak as a kid.

If you think CROSSFIT VIDEO is a boring answer, people who use them are among the most boring people I have ever encountered. They talk endlessly about their workouts and how incredibly sore they are. Oh shut up and eat a cookie for god’s sake.

Bob Mills 6:15 AM  

A bit harder than most Mondays, but an interesting puzzle with a clever theme I didn't understand until I read Rex' column. CROSSFITVIDEO was a new one on me.

I had trouble with the east side because I thought "acreage" was either "scourge" or "scrooge." I also had "poptop" before hitting on POPTAB. Is POPTAB a real word?

Son Volt 6:26 AM  

Bilbo and Frodo live at Bag End - in the town of Hobbiton in the Westfarthing.

Trying far too hard today.

Hot Water Music

Georgia 6:43 AM  

I started with "pop top," too. Without solving by downs only, this was an easy, lovely Monday for me. Not fair to judge a puzzle solved in a manner unintended by the constructor.

Conrad 6:44 AM  

Liked it a lot more than @Rex did, although I didn't solve downs-only. The I placement is a neat trick.

POPTop before POPcAp before POPTAB at 4D
SWORe IN before SWORN at 5D
CLEAN up before CLEANSE at 23A
Didn't know (or remember) SHOATS at 50D

Andy Freude 6:45 AM  

Cute, clever theme!
I just put in POPT and wait for the crosses to solve that kealoa.
A little nose wrinkle at HOBBIT VILLAGE, but then I figure what the heck, there must be more than one in the Shire. No biggie.

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

Thank you

SouthsideJohnny 7:04 AM  

I would add LOLA crossing ALB to the aforementioned NOEM which all look terribly out of place on a Monday. AEONS is a second-tier head-scratcher (maybe add in the angel clue for INVEST as well). So a bit of a swing and a miss - which is going to happen from time to time. The problem is that we have had so many strikeouts lately that the place is starting to seem like this era’s version of Major League Baseball.

Donna Chang 7:15 AM  

re: NOEM, Any US state governor is appropriate fill. This is not a safe space for hysterical teens. Grow up.

Barliman Butterbur 7:20 AM  

The cluing in 28 across is inartful but not incorrect. Frodo and Bilbo lived in a village of hobbits. The answer, horned-in, fits the theme.

A letter to Frodo delivered to him in the Prancing Pony had this address: Mr. Frodo Baggins, Bag End, Hobbiton in The Shire.

kitshef 7:30 AM  

Couple of distinctly non-Monday entries in NOEM and POP TAB (it’s pull tab or pop top, darnit!).

And I honestly have never heard of bows from ASH TREE. Yew, yes. Maple, Osage orange, oak, too. I’m sure there are ash bows out there; it’s just not a wood that comes to mind for bows.

And ditto all the complaints about HOBBIT VILLAGE.

Lewis 7:35 AM  

Does the theme feel fresh? That might be because not only has it never been done before, but also the three theme answers and the reveal are all NYT debut answers.

I love that, and that the only letter i’s in the puzzle are bookending “TV”. I also adore column nine, with its two lovely answers BLITHELY and SHRILL.

How did I do in my guess-the-revealer quest, where I uncover the entire grid except the revealer, and try to guess what it is without reading its clue? (This brings an extra layer to the solve, which I find fun, and it’s something I’m weak at and trying to improve.)

Well, I did lousy. I never saw “TV” in all the theme answers, nor did I see the i’s around it. Thus, without the revealer’s clue, I didn’t stand a chance. The only dim light in this sad story is that after reading the revealer’s clue and uncovering its first letter, I slapped it right down. Small steps.

Desirée and Jeff, congratulations on your debut, and thank you for an engaging outing today. Also, thank you both for teaching middle school. Those are tough years for individuals that age, and I imagine teaching them would be a challenge, and that those who choose to do it, do it out of deeply wanting to help.

kitshef 7:35 AM  

Croce 856 was pretty easy (for a Croce). Only two overwrites, at 4D and 5A. The latter was an excellent clue.

pabloinnh 7:48 AM  

I'm in the "felt forced" crowd this morning. Also in the "sounds egregiously wrong" for HOBBITVILLAGE crowd. Sheesh.

I know the connection between a major donor and being called an angel, but INVESTor is about the last synonym I'd think of for "angel".

I know SHOATS from a Bert and I story but it seems a little obscure for a Monday.

Well, it was a Monday, DP and JS. Didn't Pulsate, Just Sat, mostly. Thanks for some fun at least.

On to the Croce and the Monday NYer, the tough one.

CyC 7:48 AM  

Agree with the complaints about "hobbit village" and "pop tab." Tough Monday for me, nearly double my usual time. I liked the ITVI thing.

JD 7:53 AM  

I understand the feelings here about Hobbit Village, my daughter visited the village of Hobbiton in Zealand this spring and the love is there. However, Google Hobbit Village and you'll see it offers 21,100,000 hits, including the first "People also ask" question, "Where in New Zealand is The Hobbit Village?" Google will also show you, "Images for New Zealand Hobbit Village."

So while Tolkien, whose grave I visited many years ago because I was dragged there by a friend, may be spinning in that grave over this puzzle, there it is.

Found this to be challenging for a Monday, but fun.

mmorgan 7:53 AM  

@egsvorbreakfast — nice poem!

As usual, I could only get so far doing downs-only. But somehow, I got the theme answers and the revealer downs-only (and the revealer actually helped me get the others). Still, there was a fair amount of white space left. But this time, instead of just going all in with the across clues, I just looked at a few here and there, et voila, finis! I guess (per Rex) there was a lot to dislike here (NOEM, ugh), but I don’t notice that when doing downs-only and just love every answer (and especially every across answer) I get.

Alex W 7:54 AM  

Yeah, I find her policy positions despicable, but to think that my political preferences are any more valid than someone who doesn’t want to see AOC in the crossword is such a wild stance.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Yep. What she said at 7:15 AM…

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

The theme, "or the only place you'll find the "eyes" in this puzzle" also clues you in that the vowel "i" only appears in the theme answers. Nowhere else in the Crossword.

Joe R. 8:26 AM  

50D had me thinking I must have had a mistake. Never heard of SHOATS before, and it doesn’t seem like a Monday answer.

But really, I came here to the comments to vent my anger at 55A. The only acceptable answer for “Knight Rider car” is KITT, thank you very much.

Susan 8:38 AM  

One of your most amusing write-ups ever, Rex. I could actually hear your screed as I read your words. And I agree, not an enjoyable Monday solve.

NJT 8:41 AM  

My thoughts exactly, eloquently expressed. HOBBITVILLAGE needs to be immediately culled from all word lists, strapped to a rocket, and launched directly into the sun. What nonsense.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

From what I understand, CrossFit is really into the culture and community of their gyms. A video to do at home would be antithetical to that vibe (and probably require equipment most people don’t have).

Nancy 8:53 AM  

A nice, intelligent Monday that required some thinking in places. With TRA in place, I held back, waiting to see if the car would be a TRActor or a TRAiler, but it turned out to be a...TRANSAM! (Whatever that is.)

The TV theme was so smoothly embedded that I never noticed it -- which I consider a feature, not a bug. The puzzle worked just fine as a themeless.

ETRE saved me from writing in FROG for the creature that can leap 40 times its body length. Boy, I'd love to see that! Oh, shucks, it's a FLEA, you say? Yawn. I probably have seen a flea leap, but didn't notice it, just like today's theme.

LOLA helped me in the HOBBIT section. I'm old enough to remember LOLA as well as her song. I can still sing every bit of "Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets".

Enjoyable puzzle with a minimum of names and trivia. I liked it.

Sam 8:55 AM  

Tried to solve downs only but couldn’t

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

I am very familiar with the Tolkien tale, and there is never any mention of a hobbit village. It was called Hobbiton, or the shire, or Rivendell where the resided temporarily. I eventually got invest but I don’t know what that means , be an angel

andrew 8:56 AM  

Triggered so easily by the governor of a small state? Whoa, wait - SD happens to be the home state of Rex’s friend? Well, that changes EVERYTHING! As the wise non-Chinese Woman from Seinfeld says above (relax, Donna Chang was a TV character), grow up!

If you want a governor to hate, how about Hawaii’s Mark Green for the Maui Massacre? Heckuva job, Greenie!
(What do you call a Lahaina palm? An ASHTREE!)

Agreed the puzzle theme was contrived. As is the CHALLENGING rating (just because you do it with one eye closed and one hand tied behind your back doesn’t make this typical Monday any harder for those of us who don’t).

(So Rex doesn’t have meltdown next time, Will Shortz may want to clue it: Worst part of Oz for Dorothy. NO EM!)

Liveprof 8:59 AM  

Less emetic clues for 32A:

1. Chomsky typo

2. How a triskaidekaphobe would alter the English alphabet

RooMonster 9:02 AM  

Hey All !

Neat puz. Surprised at the vitriol from Rex. Simple idea, all the Themers (only 3!) split in the same spot (IT VI), normal answers things. Well, I thought normal things, apparently HOBBIT VILLAGE doesn't exist? Never watched any LOTRs movies (gasp! I know, right?)

I counted 16 Doubles (including AAAS as one), kinda high?

Good MonPuz over here. Solved regularly, as I didn't feel like doing acrobatics today. Har.

Monday! Again! Can we just skip today? HAHA

Two F's

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

40D has an interesting alternate answer: SAVE (for "scavenge").

TriggeredByProperNounsIdisklike 9:22 AM  

I really hope I never get to the point where I get hysterical every time I see a name or word in a crossword puzzle that I don't like. Good grief.

Tom Bombadil 9:32 AM  

Ton: This word ending, that remains very familiar today, was used to describe a settlement. A name ending in ton refers to a farmstead or village.

Ergo, Hobbiton = Hobbit Village.

James Stevens 9:33 AM  

Baseball bat wood comes from ASHTREEs, not bows.

DuckReconMajor 9:38 AM  

Very frustrating puzzle, I second most everything said so far.

I don't do crossfit, but like @8:47Anonymous says, I'm pretty sure you go to a Crossfit box and you do the workouts with other people. People probably do some home exercises to stay fresh but I've never heard of a "CROSSFITVIDEO".

@egsforbreakfast comment got me losing it though hahaha

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Yes, Mr. Shortz - Shame on you. . . You should know by now that in addition to having fun, intelligent, or challenging puzzles, they MUST all be POLITICALLY CORRECT. . . God help us.

bocamp 9:52 AM  

Thx, Desirée & Jeff, for this challenging Mon. puz! 😊

Very tough (downs only; 5x avg).

A most gratifying solve. Last fill was the 'M' for NOEM. I couldn't think of anything that would justify it, but all the crosses seemed solid, so… :)

I'm lovin' these Mon. downs only! :)

Thx @jae; on it!
Balton & Stewart's NYT acrostic was tough, but very doable.
On to Croce's 856 🤞, with E.C. Gorski's Mon. New Yorker on deck for tm.
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

Gary Jugert 9:54 AM  

Based on all the orcs everywhere else, it does seem any random HOBBIT VILLAGE would be the better place to live in Middle Earth.

Jeez there's a lotta junk in this one. It's a bad puzzle. I had no idea who NOEM was thank god, but the minute I read 🦖 I knew @andrew would flounce on by with his bumper-sticker RWNJ "triggered" trope.


1 Gramma reaches the end of her stack of clippings as we all stand in line watching.
2 Little 3D cows with a sign above them saying, "Please don't kill us, we're just children."


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: One of those huge Amazon boxes they use to send one thing and sixty feet of bubble wrap set on its side and pushed up next to your La-Z-Boy with a beer on top. THE ROYAL ENNUI END TABLE.


Whatsername 9:57 AM  

Solved from start to finish as a themeless and didn't notice the TV's or the II's until reading about it here. Yes, I gagged at NOEM but it's a fair entry, as would be any other state governor - but perhaps not on a Monday. Overall it seemed a little more difficult than the average. I got stuck on CROSSFIT VIDEO due to having 50D spelled CHOATS, BRASHLY for BLITHELY and BOND for BOOM. In retrospect I can see that would've been easier if I'd noticed the theme.

Karl Grouch 9:58 AM  

Jessica Alb, Noem Merlant, Slo Avery
A feast for the eyes!

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

"Where your eyes might stay during a suspenseful scene" was hard for me at first because I tend to hide my eyes behind my hands in case something gory happens.

I did get it eventually and agree that there were some very un_monday like clues in this puzzle.

Lewis 10:01 AM  

@roo -- Kinda high, but not unusually high (more than 20 in my scale).

Lewis 10:02 AM  

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

1. Tip line? (4)(3)(6)
2. Early home décor (4)(3)
3. Line after "On a cold winter's night that was so deep"? (5)
4. Acute ... or the opposite of acute (5)
5. Pulled one's pants up? (6)


Nancy 10:03 AM  

@Liveprof (8:59)-- I did have to count on my fingers, but your NOEM Clue Suggestion #2 is quite wonderful.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  


Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Mr. Sharp hates so many things he sometimes fails to credit the cleverness and originality of the construction. Only 6 I s in the entire puzzle, and they all surround TV. Wonderful.
I'm no fan of the SD governor, but it's a name. Get over it guys!

Carola 10:13 AM  

I'm in the minority, I guess - I thought this was really good, with its nicely disguised theme, the on-the-nose reveal, and the constructing feat of limiting the "eyes" to the theme answers. As I solved, I'd assumed it would be some sort of "V"-related theme, never noticing the adjacent T's and I's. Even when I sadly rejected GLUED TO THE screen as too long, I still didn't see the TVs. So, getting those two letters of the reveal was the kind of "got me good" moment I enjoy.

Beezer 10:20 AM  

Well, the puzzle was okay but I have to say hand raised at annoyance with HOBBITVILLAGE. I’m a proponent of Joaquin’s Dictum and all that but seems like it should be AHOBBITVILLAGE of which, as I remember, would have numbered quite a few within The Shire. No biggie…crosses were fair.

@Egs…great post. I’m beginning to think you are “undercover” and are really Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine…

andrew 10:31 AM  

Word of the day: FLOUNCE!

)go or move in an exaggeratedly impatient or angry manner.
"he stood up in a fury and flounced out.”)

Never heard this term before. Nor realized I was epitomizing the term in my apparent Right Wing Nut Job response to Rex Word Nasty Jabs at a governor who didn’t overreact to Covidmania but whose political future is doomed by her apparent, inexplicable affair with the truly unlikable Trumper Corey Lewandowski.

So thanks Gary Jugert for the vocabulary lesson.

I FLOUNCED while you FLOUTED (to treat with contemptuous disregard). Now if only I could play a crystal flute like Lizzo, I could be a FLAUNTING FLAUTIST RWNJ!

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Easy mistake, but it was Iowa’s governor (Kim Reynolds) endorsing DeSantis. Noem is trump 4ever. (Minnesotan here surrounded by lunacy; ugh.)

Hobbit village is a travesty and I would be shocked if it was ever used once in any of Tolkien’s absurdly voluminous writings.

Bob Mills 10:37 AM  

I wouldn't vote for Kristi Noem either if I lived in South Dakota, but is this a crossword puzzle blog or a political debate society? Based on some of the comments here, a constructor cannot use proper nouns that offend someone else's worldly perspective.

EricStratton 10:39 AM  

Oh, when I filled in "Noem" I knew that Rex would have a hissy fit. He did not disappoint. He rarely does. Dependable, often wrong but never in doubt.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

This puzzle was a fun combo of easy and challenging; it played deceptively easily 'til it got to the themers. It took me a long time after I completed the puzzle to get the "wholly weak" pun.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

@egs. Thank you! Great post as always!

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

Hmm, why are you so irrationally triggered by Rex being triggered? Asking for a friend.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Anybody remember when the slimy SD governor made a mockup of Mt. Rushmore with you-know-who’s face added?

Beezer 11:29 AM  

Might I recommend a book I’m reading called Outrage Machine-How High Tech Amplifies Discontent, Disrupts Democracy, And What We can Do About It. Seems appropriate today, for some reason.

Juanita 11:47 AM  

@Liveprof I loved both of your suggestions.

Ilya 11:50 AM  

I'm baffled that neither Rex nor any of the commenters so far have pointed out the incredible ORE/ORO duplication in this grid. Same word, two different languages, one letter off. Fun write-up though!

Anonymous 11:57 AM  


Masked and Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Clever idea for a MonPuz theme. And no FITs of CROSS-ness over the themers, at our house.

Did have a POPTOP misfire, of course. Lost precious nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: TV. Or IT and VI, dependin on how U look at it.
Primo weeject stacks in the NW & SE, btw.

AVATARS instantly made m&e miss @Muse darlin's ever-changin avatars.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Ms. Penner darlin and Mr. Sinnock dude. And congratz on a great double-debut.

Masked & Anonymo2Us


Masked and Anonymous 12:02 PM  

ooops … almost forgot …

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Symbol accompanying the words "This side up"} = ARROW.

dang. Not quite totally back into the M&A blog comment groove, yet, I reckon. I blame Utah.


Liveprof 12:09 PM  

Thanks @Nancy and @Juanita.

Nancy -- how many fingers do you have? You must have run out, no?

Your kind words reminded me of the chapter in "How to Be a Jewish Mother" on accepting compliments. You give your nephew two shirts as a gift -- one blue and one white. The next time you see him, he takes care to wear one of them -- the white one. So you say: "The blue one you didn't like?"

DigitalDan 12:14 PM  

Happiness is not knowing enough about Governor Noem to recognize, let alone spell, her name.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  


As far as NOEM: Do we need to be upset whenever AOC is in a puzzle because of her (allleged) support for Hamas? NOEM is a real answer as a semifamous person. She's a valid answer. Grow up.

jb129 12:27 PM  

Solved as a themelesss - really quickly. Then I looked here & saw that there was a theme. Challenging?

I just looked at the comments - am I missing something?

jberg 12:34 PM  

You know what fits at 28-A? HOBBITON, SHIRE. That was kind of a stretch but not as bad as HOBBIT VILLAGE, as clued. Better clue: "Frogmorton or Stock, for example." If you asked me where my birthplace was and I replied "Kentucky town," you'd rightly accuse me of being evasive.

I too put in POP Top, relying on Jimmy Buffet -- but really, that means the whole top, or maybe the type of can, while the clue asks specifically for the opener, which is the TAB, so that's justifiable.

@Soutside ET AL, nothing obscure about LOLA.

@liveprof, great clue but it has practical difficulties--once you get rid of the em, you just get en in the same numerical place.

Birgit 12:51 PM  

Haven’t heard Nina Hagen in decades. I thought she was so cool when I was a teen growing up in Germany. Very apt video!

Canon Chasuble 1:03 PM  

This puzzle is one of the reasons I usually solve Mondays by solving the across clues. In spite of some junk fill here and there going across only was pretty straightforward. Including Hobbit Village which, as others have pointed out, is real, not a reply posited by jocks. You only show your own ignorance by adding that comment..

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

Yes to POP Top. "Or so" for "About" at 21D added some excitement in that area of the grid also.

And I should have left the middle letter of 54A blank because ASa TREE gave me pause along with trying to picture if I'd ever seen a Frog leap as far as the 45Aclue indicated. I've never seen a FLEA in real life, thank goodness.

But I got a kick out of the theme and missed some of Rex's nits (such as ALB). Thanks Desiree and Jeff!

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

@kitshef, et al: I posted a solution explanation for today's runtpuz, over at its Down Home app. Hope that'll help out somewhat.

M&A Help Desk

Rachel 1:20 PM  

I also got POPTOP before POPTAB, and also was confused by HOBBITVILLAGE. I tried MIDDLE EARTH but it was too short. THE SHIRE was also too short. But THE SHIRE, MIDDLE EARTH was too long. Then I saw that it was something VILLAGE, and thought there was a name for a specific village in the shire that I didn't remember. Then I realized the answer was just HOBBIT VILLAGE and was annoyed. The hobbits wouldn't refer to where they live as HOBBIT VILLAGE.

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Rex's critical remarks, regarding this puzzle are well deserved. IMHO

Liveprof 1:38 PM  

@jberg -- please stop being so reasonable!! :)

pabloinnh 1:41 PM  

@jae-Finished in the SW also. Unlikely letter string there.
@kitshef- 5A would have been easy if I had remembered where Bari is. Duh.

Nancy 1:47 PM  

@Digital Dan (12:14) -- What an absolutely wonderful comment! Couldn't agree more.

Although I've always rather liked my own, tennis player's definition
of happiness -- coined many years ago in adverse weather conditions[TM]:

Happiness is a very low net, with the wind behind you."

@Liveprof -- You're welcome.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

You are confusing Noem with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Noem has indeed endorsed Trump. It’s Governor Kim Reynolds who is endorsing DeSantis today.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

@egsforbreakfast, You are confusing Noem with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. Noem has indeed endorsed Trump. It’s Governor Kim Reynolds who is endorsing DeSantis today.

Anoa Bob 2:18 PM  

As has been mentioned, if you want a wood for your bow that's going to send your ARROW on its longest flight then The ASH TREE is not a good choice. ASH, like oak, is very strong but lacks flexibility. The wood of choice for bows is yew. Wood from the ASH TREE is great for baseball bats, axe handles, etc. It's also an excellent wood for the fireplace or the moonshine still.

One of the things that makes themed puzzles so challenging to construct is not only the need to find theme entries and reveals that closely adhere to the theme idea but also that have the appropriate letter counts to match their symmetrically placed entries. I think this elevates themed crosswords to a higher level. As has been demonstrated by commenters here over the years, if letter count constraints are disregarded, it's often easy to come up with other examples that fit the overall theme idea.

So that is what jumped out at me in today's puzzle. One of the theme entries and reveal is not like the others: TRANSIT VISA, HOBBIT VILLAGE, CROSSFIT VIDEO and GLUED TO THE TV. Don't mean to be SHRILL but I think having to use a plural of convenience (POC) to circumvent the letter count constraint lowers the level of difficulty and by doing so lowers the overall quality of the puzzle.

Does thinking so mean that I"M OFF? (Don't answer that!)

I blew out my flip flop
Stepped on a POP TOP
Cut my heel had to cruise on back home
But there's booze in the blender
And soon it will render
That frozen concoction that helps me hang on

Jimmy Buffett "Margaritaville"

The Ash 2:22 PM  

In conclusion, not a thing:

ztbb 2:40 PM  

Agree in general about the puzzle, but NOEM is 100% fair game. Not just a governor but a leading VP contender.

johnk 3:00 PM  

I went back to my old Monday habit of filling only the border squares and the two diagonals without looking at the theme clues. My only hesitation was when I needed the V in 51D. But I looked at sTare, rSvps, aEons and up at trAnsam, which was a good inVestment.
I came here and found that I had more fun than Rex did.

egsforbreakfast 7:44 PM  

Gulp. I wrote an entire NOEM poem about Kristi endorsing heel lift Ron. Turns out it was Iowa gov Kim Reynolds. Now I have EGS on my face. I'm so sorry Kristi. You might choose to support a pathological liar/fraudster with a minuscule intellect and a disdain for democracy. But it's just not fair to you to suggest that you'd support a guy who pretends he's not short.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

Not a fan of Kristi Noem. No reason Noem shouldn’t be an answer in NYTXW. Same goes for AOC, Alito, Ilhan Omar,Elena Kagan, NRA etc.

Anonymous 12:06 AM  

Hu ist eine

Kristoff 1:08 PM  

Personally have heard POP TAB more than POP TOP, wonder if that's a regional thing. Hobbit Village also infuriated me. Sure by technicality that is where they live. But not at ALL where I would go in attempting to figure it out.

Rony Vardi 7:18 AM  

Yes!!! Came here for this.

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