TUESDAY, Oct. 9, 2007 - Timothy Powell

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "BORE" homonyms

This felt about right for a Tuesday. Had a little trouble with a couple of phrases (seemed to be a lot of 2+-word answers), and there there were a couple of answers I hadn't heard of - including one of the theme answers! - but otherwise, fairly smooth sailing. Don't have much to say this morning beyond a few scattered observations. First, the theme answers:

  • 17A: BORE (tiresome windbag) - I wrote in TIRESOME HANDBAG before ever looking at the clue. "What else is --NDBAG gonna be?," he wondered.
  • 23A: BOAR (tusked warthog) - man, that's a good answer. That would make a good PET NAME (40A: Honeybunch or cutie pie)
  • 48A: BOER (Cape Afrikaner) - not a phrase I know. Is "Cape" adjectival? Referring to Dutch settlers who lived specifically in or around the various "Capes" in South Africa?
  • 57A: BOHR (Danish Physicist) - strangely, the easiest one of the lot to get
And now, a few observations:

Observation 1: ELENA (56A: "Maria _____," Jimmy Dorsey #1 hit) is wearing out her welcome.

I think this is her third trip to the grid (in some form) in the past week. Her name is very convenient, letter-wise, but enough is enough. Take a vacation, ELENA. And look out SEZ (1A: Speaks, informally) - you're on thin ice too.

Observation 2: As I said, lots of multi-word phrases today, many of them quite lively:

  • 63A: "Er ... um ..." ("I mean...")
  • 9A: Smokey Robinson's music genre, for short (R and B)
  • 1D: Have a chair by, as a table (sit at) - the syntax on this one confused the hell out of me
  • 9D: Didn't have enough supplies (ran short) - I had RAN OUT OF
  • 11D: "Don't worry about it" ("No big deal") - I had NO PROBLEM
  • 30D: "This _____ ... Then" (Jennifer Lopez album) ("is me") - gotta go way downmarket to get the bad grammar required for this one
  • 34D: Sights at after-Christmas sales (mob scenes)
  • 45D: Sticker through a lady's headgear (hat pin) - really hate that clue; potential misdirection of "sticker" negated by "through" - why not just [Lady's headgear sticker]?
  • 20A: Have _____ in one's head (a hole) - by far my favorite answer in the puzzle. I have to keep looking at the clue to remind myself how in the world this profane expression managed to get into the puzzle.

Observation 3: There is Good French, and there is Bad French

If there is going to be French in my puzzle, it should be a. from a title of a poem, book, work of art, major historical event, etc., or b. a word that has currency in English (e.g. "nom de plume"). 43A: Meyerbeer's "_____ Huguenots" ("Les") would seem to fulfill the first criterion, but there's something so massively anticlimactic about LES that the clue makes me a bit angry. And as for ARME (33D: French weapon) - that fails on all counts.

Observation 4: Certain words give me pleasure for no good reason

Maybe it's the way they sound - like ELIHU, for example (2D: _____ Yale, for whom Yale University is named) - or the way they look - like SKEINS (46D: Coils of yarn). One of the pleasures of doing the puzzle is just running into words that rub me the right way. I get to appreciate words on a purely superficial, aesthetic level, as well as on the level of meaning.

Observation 5: I am far less elated than I thought I would be at the news that the Yankees' season is over

I decided sometime yesterday afternoon that I would embrace the idea of a Yankee comeback against the Indians, so that Boston and NY could have their ALCS showdown, just as God intended. You have to risk losing to them if you want to beat them, I told myself. And then they went out and just folded last night in a game everyone thought they'd win. Paul Byrd? Really? You couldn't hit him? Anyway, I am in the oddly disconcerting position of feeling semi-bad for the Yankees. And I'm having trouble getting up for facing the Indians (good as they are). And then, if we make it to the World Series, what? The Rockies? The D-Backs? Damn you, Mets! Stupid New York teams and their stupid collapses are making the post-season far less interesting than it could have been.

Observation 6: Yesterday was a very weird day for this site, traffic-wise

First of all, there were several searches that made it onto the top page of search terms at sitemeter yesterday, which almost Never happens on a Monday. CABER, SILVERBACK, and (oddly) Glenn CLOSE were the top three searched-for answers. Second, a single link from (of all places) powerlineblog.com yesterday brought this site about 1000 extra visitors yesterday (and close to 3000 extra to my heretofore poorly trafficked Pop Sensation blog) (powerlineblog.com is a conservative political blog, so if you don't like that sort of stuff, don't click on the link, and dear god, whatever your political persuasion, please don't bring any kind of political rancor onto this blog). So first I want to thank the folks over there for the link. And secondly, I want to ask - why doesn't @#$# like that happen more often!? I want free press and I want it now. Go out now and do your part. It's the least you could do for me. Thank you, and good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I nearly forgot. AZO dye? (26D: _____ dye) - one of those answers that I had no clue about, though I also feel that I've had no clue about it before...


Shaz 8:35 AM  

Was confused at first when I filled in 20 across, because I know from the film Wordplay that obscenities are not allowed!

mruedas 8:53 AM  

Cape here refers to the Cape of Good Hope. Dutch settlers there spoke 'Cape Dutch' which later became known as Afrikaans, and they are referred to as Boers.

Hobbyist 9:44 AM  

What about unseen for out of sight? Isn't that a no no owing to strong similarity?
Don't want to be a tiresome windbag. Just asking.

rick 9:46 AM  


I had to look a 20A a few times to get your drift. It looks worse in the puzzle grid than on your blog.

Jerome 9:47 AM  

"Stupid New York teams and their stupid collapses are making the post-season far less interesting than it could have been."

Now you see why I couldn't understand why you were rooting for the Yankees to lose to Cleveland.

Good luck the rest of the way. We'll see you next year.

Greg 10:04 AM  

Was I the only one expecting something more from the theme after the first two answers (17A and 23A) were the same T__ W__ form? I was waiting for another layer to the theme that just didn't appear.

Beth 10:57 AM  

Just got the 20 across reference. I just thought it was a weak phrase and didn't pick up on the obscenity until reading the comments.

Too much baseball in this puzzle. SEZ-reminds me of Freddy SEZ, fixture at Yankee Stadium. Mel OTT and of course NONOS, when the other team puts up ZEROS. TIRESOME WINDBAG (John Sterling.) Too much for this Yankee fan and her WOES.

mike 11:09 AM  

I have taken alot of french and I liked ARME because it was different from the expected EPEE. I didn't like this clue for LES.

MikeyP 11:18 AM  

azo comes from organic chemistry and I think it refers to a certain
linkage between nitrogen atoms in a
certain ring structure(s).

Kumar 11:40 AM  

Am I the only one surprised at some posted times to complete the puzzle, including those of Rex Parker? I am likely not in the same league as them, but still, four minutes?

As a test, I went back to today's crossword that I had fully solved last night. Started typing in the answers as fast as I could. Had to go back to fill in a few words that I did not readily remember. Filled it in four minutes and fourteen seconds.

Hard to believe that there are people who can solve the crossword faster than I could retype in the answers to a crossword I had solved a mere 12 hours ago. Maybe my computer clock runs faster than theirs?

Rex Parker 11:49 AM  

I assure you the times that I post are legitimate. It would be pointless to lie about such a thing. What's at stake? Nothing. Rent _Wordplay_ and you can watch someone solve a Monday NYT puzzle, in real time, in just over 2 minutes.


Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Rexy. When do you get a chance to teach given all the time you spend on your most entertaining blog? Maybe your course load is minimal?
Just curious...

campesite 12:31 PM  

The answer in 20A reminds me of an appearance Eugene Maleska made on the old Late Night with David Letterman show. He was referring to an answer that generated a particularly strongly worded letter from an elderly woman. The clue: "The ______ mighter than the sword."

Orange 12:33 PM  

Actually, Rex, the puzzle Al Sanders zips through in Wordplay is a Newsday puzzle, super-easy. But when Tyler Hinman was haunting the applet, I think he posted some sub-2:00 NYT times. (And I think he once finished a Monday Newsday in 70 seconds.) Kumar, the people who are speed demons tend to do upwards of 1,000 crosswords a year, year after year—practice promotes speed.

Hobbyist, I just looked up the etymology of sight and see. They've got different roots! Now, you wouldn't see "saw" cluing "seen," since those are both forms of "see."

profphil 12:45 PM  


I too had the feeling that AZO dye was something I forgot once. I call that Deja-Knew (or Deja Nu? for a Yiddish twist)

Fergus 12:56 PM  

Not so many ambiguous, multiple possibility answers today. And some were a bit too obvious, even for a Tuesday: 41A for example, Glowing remnants of a fire.

OK theme, but was surprised at the single A in the latter part of CAPE AFRIKANER. Lena OLIN, even though she's a pretty captivating actress, is about due for a sabbatical; Mel OTT has got to have the longest hitting streak of any of the usual suspects.

Wouldn't a Pet name be more rare and unusual than the generic Honeybunch or cutie pie?

Anonymous 1:00 PM  


It's the crack! Speed-freaks, you know? They have AHOLE in their heads!

Doug 1:32 PM  

After staring at an empty NW had to Google ELIHU and the whole thing dropped in seconds. Sad, as I've been to the ILE de France many times, but I guess there could be thousands of things that are "of France" and ILE is not as common as say TOUR or VIN or PRODUIT or FROMAGE or EAU or ... hey, I just found 2 potential answers.

Watched the Yanks game aaall afternoon yesterday here in Vancouver BC during Canadian Thanksgiving, and was it just me or did the thing go forever?

Went to the CAPE this year in January and it was gorgeous. Capetown, Stellenbosch, Paarl etc. and the surrounding coastal areas are just tres fab. Yes, SA has a flinty edge to it, but with reasonable caution it's just a great holiday spot and extremely cheap.

Robert 1:51 PM  


This has nothing to do with the puzzle, but I must remind you that there is more to baseball than New England! Just because a team doesn't spend $100,000,000 to buy greatness doesn't mean they're not interesting! In fact, it automatically makes them more interesting. Only a New Englander could not be even the slightest bit excited by the lowly Rockies winning 17 of 18 to get where they are. I'm thrilled, and I am in no way a fan of that team.

I know it's just your opinion, but I had to chime in.

Rex Parker 1:58 PM  

For the record, I'm not a New Englander.


voiceofsocietyman 2:12 PM  

AZO is good in Scrabble but rarely seen anywhere else, so I was surprised to see it (I play in Scrabble tournaments but only dabble in Xwords).

I didn't notice the humor of AHOLE till I read the blog just now.

LES was a LESm clue, but as a person who attended a French/English grade school in Manhattan, I was thrilled with all the French in the puzzle. I managed to solve it all in under 16 minutes.

That time is lame, too, but you'd be surprised how little crossover there is between Scrabble and crossword solving.

Annielee 2:54 PM  

I don't worry about the time it takes to do the puzzle. Now I'm retired I don't hurry anything or anwhere. I am faster with pencil and paper though.
I got stuck on Cape Afrikaner. Had never seen Boers referred to that way. I was surprised by only one a in Afikaner also.

The Yanks game did take forever. A shame, a Sox/Yanks ALCS would have been ideal. I will be sorry to see Joe Torre go, if this is it for him.
Robert, this is one New Englander who appreciates what the Rockies did.


GK 3:15 PM  

Rex, regarding "one of those [things] that I had no clue about, though I also feel that I've had no clue about it before," welcome to middle age! This feeling will come to occupy more and more of your waking hours.

And regarding the "no obscenities" rule, I think lately that's just been thrown away. Surely we crossed some sort of line last Saturday with SCREWIT.

Kumar 3:31 PM  

Orange: Sure, practice promotes speed. Still in awe of people who solve clues and write/type them in faster than I can touch-type!

Rex: Meant no disrespect or suggest you are untruthful about your speed. Enjoy your blog.


Orange 5:06 PM  

Afrikaners (single A) speak Afrikaans (double A). Blame the Dutch for the confusing spelling--and for wooden shoes. There is a reason most cultures do not have a wooden-shoe tradition.

dk 5:13 PM  

Perhaps we could use a zax to put ahole.... don't mind me I wear wooden shoes.

Fun commentary and I think 4 minutes or so is just fine for a Monday puzzle

jae 5:20 PM  

Enjoyed this one. Also did not know CAPEAFRICANER so this was unusual for me for a Tuesday as I learned something new. Kumar, last week I typed into the "beat the clock option" a puzzle from a paper copy that I had solved to check my answers. I took me just under 4 minutes to do it. I suspect there is a learning curve both on the puzzle sovling end and the working the keyboard/applet end. I too am faster with paper and pencil, but transposing numbers and misreading clues dooms me to never being a real speed solver. Plus, I have a tendency to want to savor the puzzle (what ever that means?).

mac 5:41 PM  

An African, in Dutch, is an Afrikaan, plural Afrikanen. In the 50's someone in South Afrika created their official grammar and vocabulary, which has very little to do with modern Dutch......
Wooden shoes are very handy in a country that has as many waterways as the Netherlands; they float!

Sue 5:46 PM  

It's not surprising that "Danish physicist" should be among the easier answers. I think Niels Bohr grew in familiarity with those of us who are not scientists following Michael Frayn's wonderful play "Copenhagen." Highly recommended.

Fergus 6:33 PM  

So now I'm picturing a Dutchman strolling along a canal, afloat in his wooden shoes. May be smoking his Meerschaum pipe, off to stick his finger in a dyke. Throw in a tulip and you're just about done with Dutch stereotypes. Pretty minimal baggage. They, along with Kiwis, seem to be the most universally likable I've discovered in my subjective global travels ... .

mac 6:36 PM  

Thank you, Fergus!

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

I coulda sworn I was gonna see a reference to this in today's blog:


(wish I coulda displayed this directly with HTML)

Michael 7:23 PM  

Azo is a new example of crosswordese for me I'm sure I'll see it again.

Robert 8:34 PM  


I guess the BoSox are now "America's Team," or whatever. I should've thought about that. Didn't intend for it to sound so adversarial. Too much coffee.

Anyway, I will now stop talking about baseball on your crossword blog (which is a lifesaver and a joy to read, by the way).

mydogischelsea 9:16 PM  

Beth, John Sterling is not a tiresome windbag! I love his commentary. Yeah, his catch phrases are annoying, but he's got good baseball insight.

Rex, I was thinking Capetown for Cape Afrikaners. That kinda makes sense. Sorta.

BT 9:34 PM  

Less Baseball? More politics?

(The only thing I want to hear about in that regard is the GeorgeBush BillClinton dual answer puzzle that's mentioned in WordPlay).

Aaron 11:20 PM  

I feel like AZO dye on a Tuesday is almost iffy. The natural answer is TIE. If it were Monday I'd be more vehement.

I also didn't notice the significance of AHOLE at first, which I think is certainly stronger/worse than SCREWIT. As someone alluded to above, I'm really surprised that "The ____ mightier than the sword" would ever show up. (Especially in the Maleska era? I don't really know how it was characterized, but Rex makes it sound stricter than the current regime. Didn't Shortz popularize the rebus?) As a solver and hopeful-constructor with a love for immaturity, I'm always looking out for such tricks. I actually thought of that one, in fact, but who would believe me...

Beth 12:09 PM  

Mydogischelsea - I don't really mind Sterling either. Just couldn't resist the jab. My brother listens to Yankee games in Chicago and loves Sterling and all the ribbies for Robbie and A-Bombs from A-Rod. I agree at times.

Waxy in Montreal 8:06 PM  

6 weeks on:

Gosh, don't want to sound like a tiresome windbag but I really thought this was far too simple compared to yesterday's challenging Monday puzzle. I especially find the Reverse of WNW type of clue (7D) ridiculously trite - even on Tuesday, a city ESE of another would much fairer. Or is Will Shortz purposely allowing the dumbing-down the NYT crossword?

mslobo 4:08 PM  

I too was stumped by AZO until I filled in the across clues. However, anyone who has ever taken AZO Standard for a UTI knows that it dyes your urine orange! So in retrospect the clue made sense, but it was still very odd.

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