Comments: 142

  1. Quick easy Monday. Started with SOUNDOFMUSIC for BYEBYEBIRDIE wondering how it could be without the THE. But it fit so I left it for a while. Good puzzle.

  2. I had a mental block while doing the puzzle and couldn't think of Mary Poppins - which is the Julie Andrews movie you actually meant instead of Sound of Music, right?

  3. No, I meant what I said. I didn’t know whether it had that actor in it or not, or whether it was from the right time frame. It just came to mind, rightly or wrongly.

  4. @Mr. Mark Mostly wrongly.

  5. By the way, the theme is not only that the repeated first words start with a B, but also that the third (different word) also starts with a B. In the world of bonds, this puzzle is rated investment grade, just barely (BBB).

  6. While we're at it, the three repeated first words beginning with B are all three letter words.

  7. And they are all followed by animals.

  8. [The last point having been noted earlier in two other threads.]

  9. Quick but fun. The theme is simple. The fill is especially nice, even though I could never feel comfortable eating something called NECKBONES. 52 Down (EDITED): Ironically, just before starting the crossword, I was playing Scrabble. I beautifully put EDITTED (all seven letters) going from a triple word tile and also making ER and DAH. It would have been about 89 points, but it was challenged and apparently EDITED is only spelled with one T! If only I had played tonight after the crossword instead of this afternoon...

  10. @John S. It's sad indeed when your perfect Scrabble word exists only in your mind, especially when it's a 7-letter word on a triple word spot. I play a weekly Scrabble game with friends and we've all had that happen at one time or another. We're not cut-throat about it but we do require correct spelling.

  11. I needed that after the recent spate of hard knocks. Thanks!

  12. Jeff Chen notes a third part of each theme is an "animal" - sheep, bear and birdie. This makes it even more interesting.

  13. @Bobbie I noticed the animal aspect the theme even before the triple B aspect.

  14. I liked the puzzle. And I loved the E.S.B.T. chronicles! Dogs are so smart and funny! It made me laugh twice, once when I read it to myself and once when I read it out loud to my friend. The third time will come when I think of it later.

  15. Just the E.S.B.T. acronym had me in stitches. We used to refer to our pup as T.A.C.C.C., which stood for The Amazingly Camel-like Canine Creature. She was a cattle dog mix that never met a challenge she didn’t like except for getting up in the morning to go to the bathroom. She’d sleep till noon if you let her and then had to be coaxed out of the house to go to the bathroom. If I stayed at the bottom of the porch stairs in my slippers, she’d go hide behind my car, stand there for a minute (I could see her legs under the carriage), and then come prancing back, “I went! I went!” NOT. I miss her so.

  16. @Sam Lyons The love of a dog . . . . Nothing like it. TO love a dog . . . . Nothing like it. Your last four words have made me shed a few tears for each of our six previous ladies. Number seven is only in “mid-life” - - but to even THINK about her absence from our lives is crushing!!

  17. @ Guess Who! Agreed. I’m still grieving for our last girl, very acutely so. I once read somewhere that when you lose your dog, he/she will “come back” to find you after 9 months. Oddly enough, a dog always happens to us within 6-12 months of losing one. So maybe by this winter we’ll have furry love with us again. The house is very empty without it.

  18. A good start to the week! The theme answers were fun--and I like the added layers of third-word-starting-with-B and the end of each being an animal--neither of which I really noticed while solving. And I liked the long non-theme words like BLEARY-EYED and BOOTLICKER. Also LILO!

  19. Hi Deb, I'm glad you convinced (or snuck by) the copy desk that since it is part of Jade's full name, Terrier should have a cap!

  20. @Barry Ancona Funny story: I'm so used to Times style that I didn't cap it. We have some new copy editors, and the person who looked at it capped it. I had a nice "cap T is funnier anyway" moment.

  21. @Barry Ancona But he's meaner than a junkyard dog.

  22. I think the NICEST start to the week is an Erik Agard puzzle. I loved reading about Jade in Deb’s column. Our female dachshund (Boudica) will put her paw on the edge of their aluminum bowl, push down, and let fall. It will bang against the floor tile causing all humans within RANGE to cringe. Food is quickly served. Our male dachshund (Digby) leaves the work to her, and he does DROOL. :-)

  23. Very smooth Monday puzzle.

  24. The emus seem to be holding my first post. They may not have liked one of my creatures. Maybe this will fix it. That was a tasty snack of a puzzle, but barely any time for any chocolate or OREOs, if those are your pleasure. In addition to the animals in the themers, there are other living creatures in the puzzle. I see COBRA, SPARROW, A**(ERT), BOA, TICK, OX(O), (D)RAT, and DEER. And nice to see BOO BOO's pal YOGI'S down in the SW.

  25. @vaer Vaery nice! Someone else may have mentioned this, but BABE (the sheep-pig) crossing BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP and just above OINK is either a happy accident or another stroke of animalistic genius on the part of Mr. A.

  26. @Puzzlemucker I was debating on whether to include BABE and OINK.

  27. @Puzzlemucker I was debating on whether to include BABE and OINK.

  28. Hope I’m not being a BOOTLICKER by ASSERTing that ERIC with a K (See 61A) has RANGE that would make the DEER and antelope feel right at home. It’s that wide. Zippy, interesting Monday? No problem. Dense, tricky Thursday? Sure. Head-smackingly tough Saturday? Why not. Sunday that even old school NYT XWPuzzlers can nod and grin at? With ease. Hope it’s a “sunny-side-up” week for Wordplayers everywhere. That’s no YOLK. As unofficial summer nears its end, we all could use the NICEST, least INANE week possible.

  29. Wh th is it so hard to get to Sunday's column and comments??

  30. @Renegator I'm usually on the app so I click on the ARCHIVE tab so I can see the puzzles for the month, then open puzzle I'm interested in, once at that puzzle, if you click on the "i" for info it will take you to that day's Wordplay column and comments.

  31. Hi, Erik (not ERIC) and thanks for this fun Monday puzzle. Liked seeing TESSA Thompson and NICKI Minaj among the clues. I’m sure most people know MMA is a lot more than boxing and kicking. Many fighters have one or more top belts in various martial arts from all over the world. LILO is a great ohana member for Stitch, who is really a blue troublemaker.

  32. @Ms Korunova "Most people"? I kinda doubt that.

  33. A nice easy (but not too easy) Monday after a Sunday that was too long and hard to be fun for me. And no political references! Others obviously disagree, but I really like to have a few minutes each day when I’m not reminded of the Diety-awful state of politics today. No one else had BROWNNOSER before BOOTLICKER?

  34. @Doug I too considered BROWNNOSER but waited to enter it until I had more crosses, and it soon became obvious that this particular sycophant was of the BOOT variety. I had more trouble with its parallel long down entry because I had convinced myself that the name that went with Stitch must be MILO, but how could it be? Eventually I concluded that it had to be LILO, and BLEARYEYED finally came into clear focus.

  35. @ Doug Amen to keeping this a politics-free zone. A safe space, if you will...

  36. @Millie Who (other than the constructor) would have guessed there were two 10-letter words beginning with B that mean the same thing?

  37. i'm wondering if this is a debut for "lesbian" in the Xword. Now on to B, T, and Q!

  38. @Suzan This is the second appearance. The debut was this past June 15.

  39. Thanks!

  40. @Suzan Problem: “BI” is a two-letter answer and doesn’t fit the “rules”. But do we NEED to make this an objective??

  41. I love my OXO peeler, too. Great Monday puzzle. I am sure it's not an easy thing to construct a straightforward yet interesting and lively fill. Masterful, Erik A!

  42. Nice puzzle. I got stuck on 30D where I put BLURRYEYED. I knew it was wrong because of 43A and 47A, but, for some reason, I couldn't make sense of those two easy clues. Facepalm!

  43. @Ben me too

  44. That was sort of fun. Managed to fill everything in on my first across run until I got to 29A _OO_OOBEAR, by glancing at the crosses. After that there were a few hard ones because of 37A LILO, 38A NICKI, 61A ERIC, 67A TATUM, 71A TESSA. Coming down the only one of the sort was 50D SELENA. I think proper nouns were what made me give up crossword puzzles at a young age, not really trying again until 20 years or so ago. Finished today in way under an hour.

  45. 29% cream, 100% delicious.

  46. @Mike Hence OREOMANIA

  47. @Ann Or OREOPSOMANIA

  48. Nice puzzle, thanks! 14D EXPAT when American living in another country, IMMIGRANT when someone from another country living in the US Why is COMO ESTAS clued as "How goes it?" That would be COMO VA. Also what is the proper way to punctuate my last question? I was tempted to write a question mark both inside the quotation marks, because it was the part of what I was quoting, and outside, because it was the question I asked, but that just looked odd. Why is COMO ESTAS clued as "How goes it?" Why is COMO ESTAS clued as "How goes it"? Why is COMO ESTAS clued as "How goes it?"?

  49. @ Bojan My Spanish is mediocre, but I live in 2 states where I hear a lot of basic everyday expressions. “¿Como estas?” is equivalent to “How goes it?” in terms of very ubiquitous informal usage. “¿Como va?” may be an literal translation of the latter, but it’s not a greeting. I imagine it was clued as “How goes it?” because of the level of informality it represents Had the clue been “How are you?” I’d expect the answer to be “¿Como esta usted?”

  50. @Sam Lyons To me “How are you?” is equivalent to “¿Como estas?”, not “¿Como esta usted?”. The latter sounds extremely formal, and the former is something I commonly use with my friends. If I were to pick more informal greeting than “¿Como estas?”, it would be “¿Que tal?”. But, then again, the usage in the US might be different than in Spain.

  51. @ Bojan Definitely the latter: I have never heard anyone say, “¿Que tal?” Also, in Texas, “How are you?” is quite formal. My friends save that for, say, meeting the mayor; to me they say, “Howdy?”

  52. This puzzle sort of has a theme answer in common with the Jan 1, 2015 puzzle suggested in the app. :)

  53. Deb - thank you for the explanation. I had DEE-As for persons who would become judges and didn't like it at all. Changed the A to an M randomly, not knowing the abbreviation for martial arts, and was relieved the snappy "you did it" music played! But I didn't know why DEEMS was right until I read your helpful post. Just didn't occur to me to look at it that way :|

  54. You're very welcome, @Susan!

  55. SPELLING BEE N A D H R T Y Words: 24, Points: 99, Pangrams: 1, Perfect: 1, Bingo: yes A x 1 D x 2 H x 3 N x 7 R x 4 T x 6 Y x 1 4L x 10 5L x 5 6L x 6 7L x 3 4 5 6 7 Tot A - - 1 - 1 D 1 1 - - 2 H 1 1 - 1 3 N 4 2 1 - 7 R 2 1 1 - 4 T 1 - 3 2 6 Y 1 - - - 1 Tot 10 5 6 3 24

  56. @Mari A limited Bee today, with only one vowel and a 'Y'. The panagram word brings to mind hot August weather in NYC and keeping cool. No ARAN (but another Celtic garment-describing word), no TARN (small lake), no TRANNY (transvestite or transistor radio, circa 1970). 2 words concerned with the exercise of overweening power.

  57. @Mari, thanks! We were missing the T7s. We have them now.

  58. @Nicky, I'm just missing one T7. The one that isn't dictatorial. Hint? And, thank you, Mari!

  59. My five favorite clues from last week (In order of appearance): 1. Mail man? (6) 2. Carol king (9) 3. E-sharp (4)(5) 4. Opposite of a state of disbelief (9) 5. Unbelievable discovery in one's field (4)(6) KNIGHT WENCESLAS TECH SAVVY THEOCRACY CROP CIRCLE

  60. @Lewis. Excellent choices!

  61. @Lewis In honor of Steve L., and the Puns & Anagrams puzzle constructor Andrew Ries, I’ll add the entry for the clue “ENTURY” in the comment below. It’s a SPOILER, SO ANYONE WHO MIGHT STILL DO THE PUNS & ANAGRAMS PUZZLE SHOULD READ NO FURTHER!!!

  62. Entry for “ENTURY” below: (See next comment)

  63. LETTER BOXED I-E(10), E-N(8)

  64. @Mari I've been having a hard time finding solutions the last few days. This may be due to my determination to find a perfect two-word 13 each time, but even longer solutions have eluded me. Same today...

  65. @Mari This didn't get posted earlier because I forgot the emus won't let B and S appear together.. The starting B and ending S is (8). Then S-N(6). Yesterday QUADRICEPS - SHAW

  66. @ColoradoZ Good one! I did think of the S-N(6) word earlier and meant to try it, but forgot 😔. I suspect this will be the NYT solution. Yesterday I had QUADRICEPS-SHEW (NYT has SCHWA!! - which I never heard of, but then I don't have an English accent (and don't want to, being Irish), so it is irrelevant to me). Liane noted that NYT did not allow SHREW, which is much more common that SHEW, SHAW or SCHWA in today's English.

  67. Cute Monday theme, a few no knows, but all gettable with the crosses, so my Monday streak is intact. Good advice, Deb, about parts of speech. I was quite chuffed when I worked out why DEEMS worked. I was in the puzzle again, right next to DEEMS. (15D)

  68. @suejean (cough) 14d (cough).

  69. @Rich in Atlanta, Pretty close.

  70. Way to go, @suejean!

  71. Yes but what is the cream made of, opined Tom onerously. Speedy solve this morning. Thanks Eric

  72. Enjoyed that - a nice easy one for a lazy public holiday here in the UK.

  73. Visitors to London may have noticed the OXO tower on Southbank. Fantastic photo at: https://www.oxotower.co.uk/grab-great-rates-winter-venue-hire-at-oxo-tower-wharf/file_003/ The building, part of which is now an upmarket restaurant, was originally constructed as a power station to supply electricity to the Royal Mail post office, built towards the end of the 19th century. It was subsequently acquired by the Liebig Extract of Meat Company in the 1920s, manufacturers of OXO beef stock cubes, for conversion into a cold store. The building was largely rebuilt to an Art Deco design by company architect Albert Moore between 1928 and 1929. Much of the original power station was demolished, but the river facing facade was retained and extended. Liebig wanted to include a tower featuring illuminated signs advertising the name of their product. When permission for the advertisements was refused, the tower was built with four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which "coincidentally" happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle. The OXO brand itself was first used in 1899 for beef stock cubes, still available in the UK. Canada and South Africa.

  74. @Alan Hunter Interesting story! I only know of OXO as a beef bouillon sold in cubes. I've never heard of the vegetable peeler. Fortunately the clue worked for both contexts.

  75. @Andrew - quite the converse in the states - we only know Oxo for vegetable peelers, garlic presses and the like, the bouillon cubes are other brands here. Nonetheless, any English-speaking kitchen-oriented person will likely recognize the Oxo name.

  76. @Alan Hunter The linked photo doesn’t look like “vertically-aligned windows” to me - - but I assume they are behind the pink lights. LOVE it that the architect found a suitable “gesture” for whatever “authority” denied signage in the first place. I ass-u-me all is forgiven at this point.

  77. I had no trouble getting the answer from the crosses, but please let me in on the "29% cream" OREO clue joke. The current cookie is vegan, and it never contained cream.

  78. It should have been written “creme,” I thought...

  79. Kate, We'll be told this is the XWP, not the FDA, so creme can be called cream. But it's in a clue, not an answer, so it has to follow NYT style. Does NYT style approve of cream for creme? Or is there a joke? (Your verbiage may vary)

  80. Wait. Oreos are vegan?

  81. Very nice Monday! Smooth, fresh, fun. And while we are talking about pets, I'll tell (again) of my dog Posey, whom I trained to roll over and play dead whenever I said "dead dog." If a UNC fan came over, I'd say"Posey, what would you rather be, a Tar Heel or a dead dog?" And over she'd go. It worked with politics, and religion too.

  82. Our dog, through no training or intention of our own, one day started howling at the word ‘lobo.’ We happened to live then close to UNM and thus... the Lobos, whose rallying cry — unsurprisingly — is ‘The Lobo Howl.” As our alma mater’s football team played in the same conference then, my husband took unholy advantage of the dog’s talents and would say ‘lobo’ over and over again whenever *our* team scored. And howl she did, faithfully, like the husky she in no way was.

  83. @Sam Lyons It's so funny what they react to! Our Basset Hound howls whenever the phone rings.. and we thought it was the ringtone, so we turned it off. He still howled. Turns out he was freaking about the talking caller ID (which you can keep on even if you turn off the ring). Once we stopped the announcing of the Caller ID, he stopped. Go figure.

  84. @archaeoprof One of our German Shepherds - without any prior announcement of this particular talent - began a very high “singing” (not what you would call a howl) whenever she heard an emergency vehicle siren - however distant. Took us a while to figure out what set her off.

  85. By far the easiest solve in my short time (month or so) of doing the crossword daily. 8:41, which included almost 2 minutes trying to find the one letter I had wrong. So easy in fact that I finished it simply by running through the the acrosses then downs and had it filled in without reading half the clues. Not complaining mind you, really enjoyed it. Just sad it's over so soon.

  86. @Rob H If you filled it in without reading half of the clues, I am surprised you had only one letter wrong!

  87. @Andrew et al I think we may have been presented with an interesting riddle. Given Rob H's description of his clue usage, how many clues did he actually use?

  88. OooooKay! NECK BONES? Srsly? Perhaps a handful of Northern-born-and-bred crossword guys should not hold forth on topics such as 'Southern cuisine.' Fried chicken, grits, spoon bread, corn bread, okra, succotash, pecan pie, pralines-- (even, shudder, turnip greens).. if pressed to characterize 'Southern cuisine,' those would be on my list. When I make bean soup, I do like to have a smoked pork bone in the pot for flavor, but a whole pile of NECK BONES would provide scanty eating even if there was such a dish. Per yesterday's puzzle: SHEESH! RiA, expecting you to chime in! Enjoyed the puzzle, Eric. I don't hold you responsible for the cluing.

  89. @Barry Ancona "Soul food cuisine" would work well as a clue--but is certainly not confined to the South, wouldn't you say? I do pick the meat off the smoked pork bones because the DHubby likes it in with his beans, while I find it kind of fatty--though the flavor is desirable--and there is never very much of it, so it does not get top billing.. The dish is 'bean soup.' I always make a corn pone to go with it and have green tomato pickles on the side unless we've eaten up the last of them. (This year there have been no pickles at all. Sob.)

  90. Nice Monday puzzle and a mostly smooth solve. Needed just a couple crosses for each of the theme answers. Might have been a record time for me (not that I keep track) but got hung for a bit in the SW corner. Not that hard - just a bit slow. Drifting... as usual I went and looked up various clue histories, with a particular focus on BABE. Specifically I was wondering how often and how recently it had been clued to Didrikson/Zaharias. I was more than a bit disappointed. She's been a clue or part of a clue more than 20 times - the last time in 1991 - but never in the Shortz era, though the answer has appeared 50 times in his puzzles. Mr. Ruth and Paul Bunyan's ox still show up, though Will seems to have drifted more towards "Sweets" / "Toots" / "Honey" / "Term of endearment" types of clues. One of the greatest female athletes of all time but apparently not considered crossword-worthy any more. I am left shaking my head. Oh, I would also note that the first 8 times she was referenced in a clue it was "Mrs. Zaharias." But the editors got over that after 1956. Oh, and I would note that she also has a connection to 10d, though not openly. And lastly, I went and looked at her Wikipedia page and found this quote from a contemporary sportswriter: "It would be much better if she and her ilk stayed at home, got themselves prettied up and waited for the phone to ring." It would be nice to think that we are well beyond that. Sometimes I just wonder how far.

  91. @Rich in Atlanta Ms. Didrikson has been mentioned several times on TV today. I'm not quite sure why. Maybe it's an anniversary of one of her many accomplishments.

  92. A puzzle that made me ask myself a question I've never asked myself before: Are children especially attracted to the "B" sound? I don't have an answer. The easiest Agard puzzle I've ever done. The reason is probably that he woke up one morning with this nifty idea for a theme. All "B"s leading to all animals. He has these three and a fourth he didn't get to: BYE BYE BLACKBIRD ("Pack up all my cares and woe..."). Anyway, the problem is that the theme's so easy it can't be anything but a Monday or Tuesday puzzle and Erik's known for HARD puzzles. Oh, well -- early week, then. Other than Sunday, they all pay the same:) It was fine for a Monday.

  93. @Nancy, may I suggest you do what I do for the Monday through Wednesday puzzles? I only read the across clues. I have a very high solve rate for Monday, decent enough that I still do it for Tuesday, but I do have to say that by Wednesday it becomes pretty clear that I'm going to have to bail and after about 15 to 20 minutes, I start using the down clues as well.

  94. @Nancy. Interesting question. I do remember the "b" sound being one of the first consonant sounds my daughter would babble (notice the "b"s in the word babble!) when she was learning to talk.

  95. BIG BIG BRAVO ERIK (you construction animal, you!) Simply elegant. The perfect Monday puzzle.

  96. Thought the Thompson lady was Sadie, so had Rats before DRAT. With Rats , that gave three across answers starting with rr, aa, tt - so Rats, it wasn't Rats

  97. I will "sheepishly" admit that my first fill for 18A was OLD MACDONALD HAD A. The crosses quickly negated that idea. I had to wonder whether the clue "Judges to be" was a veiled reference to the theme entries. (2B). Or not. That is the question. Here is my musical tribute to Erik and today's puzzle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVhXkQu5_Ig

  98. @Andrew. I had the same one. The obvious answer when the clue includes the word “farm”. Since it was a Monday it could have been right.

  99. Monday seems the best time to post this question: can anyone explain the Solve Rate on the stats page? It seems to vary from 100 to something less, and I can’t figure out how, if the current puzzle is solved, it could be less than yesterday’s. I can’t find the reference now, but I seem to remember it was something like total solved vs total attempts. I would not be upset if the consensus is that it means nothing.

  100. @ Doggydoc: I say it means nothing. I just checked mine and it had gone from 100 to 99.9 even though I didn’t as much as close the app in the course of the past week’s solves. I had specifically taken care not to precisely because I wanted to see what triggered it to go down sometimes. Evidently — traffic patterns over Greenland.

  101. @Doggydoc Since adding 1 to both the numerator and denominator will always give a higher %, I can only suggest you didn't get the "happy music" on today's solution

  102. There seems to have been a glitch in the past 24 hours. I have gold stars on all current puzzles, and one completely, correctly solved archival puzzle which continues to read as "in progress" though it is solved and the timer has stopped. Thus: 99.9% solve rate. I haven't bothered to write to the team yet, and seeing these posts makes it very clear that today is the 904,126th day of "glitches with the NYT puzzle system." Yay? It's a glitch. They'll get a bunch of emails. They'll fix something, but don't fear: there will be another glitch any day now. Yay?

  103. Super easy puzzle overall - - but I barely squeeked by my average for Monday. I could NOT believe the cluing for 34A! And I had CRIS for 35D - - so I stalled out there for way too long. “You’re telling me” is more suitable for AND HOW. “I’m hip” or “Already got that” or “Someone already told me” would be more suitable, lower key clues for I KNOW. Still - a solid “Solve” column entry! And a pleasant relief from the last three days’ difficulties. Every time BYE BYE BIRDIE is mentioned in my presence, I immediately flash back to Ann Margaret and her face-on treadmill walk toward the camera during the intro of the movie. I was in my “hyper-hormone” stage of life and that footage produced the most amazing reaction! Roger Smith was one LUCKY son-of-a-gun!!! (Her husband from 1967 to 2017.) Assuming they didn’t divorce after 50 years together, he must have died a happy man.

  104. @Guess Who! I KNOW depends on one's intonation. Try saying it slowly, eyes wide apart. You might find it is not that far from "You're telling me!" (The exclamation point is very important in both cases.)

  105. @Guess Who! Ann-Margaret remained hyper-cute for way longer than anyone has he right to. @Andrew, it isn't possible to make eyes more wide apart than they are. I KNOW you KNOW that. [heh heh]

  106. Warning: Don't sleep and solve! I started this puzzle last night as I was dozing off, and I discovered this morning I had entered some truly INANE nonsense. Spent more time deleting jank than I would have spent solving from a fresh grid.

  107. @Stephanie Been there. Done that.

  108. @Stephanie yep

  109. @Ann/Stephanie I woke up once and everywhere that I hadn't already had an answer had a Q in the square.

  110. Fun to have left-right symmetry for a change. I find it visually appealing.

  111. Happy birthday to Will Shortz. And to many more!

  112. Hey. BABE- BEER ME! USE ME!

  113. Broke my record for fastest time on a Monday. Conclusion: either I'm getting better or this was the easiest of the easy.

  114. @Mary I vote for "getting better."

  115. @Deb Amlen Thanks. At least the brain is working.

  116. @Mary me too!

  117. That was a tasty snack of a puzzle, but barely any time for any chocolate or OREOs, if those are your pleasure. In addition to the animals in the themers, there are other living creatures in the puzzle. I see COBRA, SPARROW, ASS(ERT), BOA, TICK, OX(O), (D)RAT, and DEER. And nice to see that BOO BOO's pal YOGI'S down in the SW.

  118. @vaer This was held by the emus for over 12 hours. My fault I guess.

  119. @vaer Yup. :)

  120. @vaer - just don't be so ASSERTive.

  121. Happy birthday to Will Shortz!!

  122. So in awe of young Erik's talent. This guy can make even the easiest puzzles fun.

  123. Overconfidence strikes again! I felt like I was blazing through the puzzle, with OLDMACDONALDHADA before BAABAABLACKSHEEP, WHINE and GROWL before DROOL, ASSUME before ASSERT, and MITE before IOTA. Thanks for keeping my ego in check 😊 (Really, a fun puzzle today. Nice job.)

  124. I'm still not 100% convinced about this crossword, other than saying that I really do enjoy it. I've the "nearly there" message a few times, but it has always been through my own error; " SWIM" rather than "SWAM", as indicated in the past tense of the clue is one classic example. Sometimes, also, an errant letter finds itself in the grid as a result of focus switching to the next solution. All my fault. I'd love more clues of the really cryptic nature, though. "A book of it's time becomes a musical (5)" magically becomes "OPERA" in the grid. Ok, that is rather obvious, but you get my gist. Hey, I'm new to this puzzle and have no role in changing it.

  125. @Nialler The NYT periodically presents other puzzles with more challenging formats; one is the Puns and Anagrams (also referred as the PandA) and the other is a cryptogram. We in the US get those in the Sunday print version of our delivered paper every two or three weeks; if you also get printed edition delivery in France then you should be good for it. If there is online access to those I am not aware of how to go there. (But if anyone reading this knows how, please post such, and a big TY for that.)

  126. Nice Monday puzzle. I rarely find quibbles on a Monday but today's seems to have a trio. -- 21A is the edge, not the outer part. The fill word describes a boundary line. -- the 25A clue needs only the first word. You can do 25A with or without evidence. -- the 2D clue doesn't need the descriptor. (Just like Uma or Yma or Ava or...).

  127. @Dr W OMG -- no objections?

  128. This may be the first time the theme helped me get an entry on a Monday. I didn't know BOO-BOO BEAR, but it was clear with only BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP showing. Wasn't sure whether the singer was SELENE or SELENA and didn't know Ms. Thompson, but TESSA seemed more probably than TESSE. Only total no-know was Jayson TATUM (or is it TATUM Jayson?). Thanks to all.

  129. @Martin Yes -- wonderful, isn't it. I first saw it in a movie theatre. Mid - 40's.

  130. "...the cluing trick of making a word look like a noun when it’s really a verb, or vice versa. This trick can really mess up an otherwise easy solve,..." Right. Like "solve," which is a verb and not a noun.

  131. @ Barry Ancona I have such appreciation for your provision of the link; the read was a causation of great enjoyment on my part [runs lest she be smacked...] Seriously, though, thanks for this. I particularly loved the cartoon strip.

  132. I've been fielding irate calls all day. I told BARBRA SREISAND that she simply did not ualify, and to please gt over herself. BIBI finally accepted that it wouldn't be fair to spring NETANYAHU on a Monday. I had to convince BEBE REBOZO that he didn't really want to open the Watergate can of worms, and who was going to remember him anyway? The Walt Disney publicity team had to be convinced the puzzle could only support one cartoon character, and BOOBOO just got in before BAMBAM RUBBLE was suggested. The BOBOLINK Fan Club stated their case so sweetly, I think it's probably the least I could do to provide a BOBOLINK. So here tis, with a nod and a salute in the direction of Mac Knight: https://www.bird-sounds.net/bobolink/ Have to admit I was surprised to see the Agard byline on a Monpuzz, but he did carry it off. Only place I was confused was at 33D. Knowing you get POT LICKER cooking your collards in a POT, do you get BOOT LICKER cooking your greens in a BOOT? Well done, but careful with those Monday NECK BONES, ERIC! https://www.bird-sounds.net/bobolink/

  133. @ Leapfinger No call from DC from Bei Bei? He must be preoccupied with the trade war.

  134. @Sam Lyons Or packing to go back to China.

  135. @Sam Lyons Or packing to go back to China.

  136. Fastest time for a Monday for me (11:24), but I will admit--I had "OLD MACDONALD HAD A" in the first themed clue. Fun puzzle.