"Most mawkish": FRIDAY, Feb. 15, 2008 - Patrick Berry

Friday, February 15, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

Patrick Berry, the ACCA Constructor of the Year for 2007, favors us with a twisty little themeless puzzle on this frigid February Friday (actually, it's not so bad out right now - just took Sahra to school, didn't even need gloves). As is typical with my Friday puzzles, I solved it in the morning over breakfast. I am a sad aging man who goes to bed around 10pm, and while my brain can handle pre-bedtime puzzles on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Fridays are another story. Tiredness might ruin my enjoyment, so I generally put them off til the morning. Saturdays I can do at night because I don't have to be concerned with getting up at a reasonable hour the next morning. More about my solving routine than you need to know, I realize.

ARTURO TOSCANINI is officially played out as a 15-letter answer for the remainder of 2008 (15A: He conducted the premiere performances of "Pagliacci" and "La Boheme"). I'm making that declaration right now. He has been a giant, grid-spanning answer At Least once, if not more, in the past year. You know something is wrong when you read only part of the clue ("He conducted...") and your guess the answer instantly. I didn't write it in at first, because I thought, "No Way." And then, when I had WHITE KEY instead of the correct PIANO KEY at 12D: One that gets depressed during recitals, it seemed something would replace TOSCANINI as the correct answer ... but no. Side note: I am teaching Watchmen right now in my Comics course, and there is at least one "Pagliacci" reference in there. But then there are references to Everything in there. Nothing captures the feel of the end of the 20th century like Watchmen. I'm reading it for the fifth time now, and every time, there are new things to notice and love. I keep calling it "the Paradise Lost of the 20th century," despite the ridicule that such bold statements are likely to earn me. It is a comic book about costumed crime-fighters, after all.

I started this daunting puzzle (look at all the white squares!) in the far east, where the highly inferrable CUTEST (27A: _____ Couple (yearbook voting category)) got me the "U" in NUDES (25D: Some Degas paintings), which then got me NIKON (25A: Maker of Coolpix cameras), DOMED (33A: Like St. Basil's) and CAMUS (27D: First African-born Literature Nobelist), 1-2-3. Very, very frustrating not to be able to unearth "SAD EYES" from -ADEY-- for a little while, given that I can sing every word of that song. Mmm, falsetto. No, wait, this clip is better. Just be patient ... takes about 15 seconds for the song in question to begin.


  • 17A: Bands of holy men (clerical collars) - grrr ... had COLLARS and could not fathom the first word. VATICAN? PUBLICAN!?
  • 2D: Photographer/children's author Alda (Arlene) - some part of the back of my brain screamed "ARLENE" as soon as I saw this, but I couldn't really hear it, and I certainly didn't trust it. Then I entered UNITE instead of the correct MERGE at 18A: Become one, which kept me from ARLENE a little longer. Ms. Alda was a crossword answer from way back in 2007.
  • 3D: Jelly seen on buffet tables (sterno) - STERNO is ... a jelly? Wow. You learn something new every day.
  • 19A: Newspaper column separators (hairlines) - mine is slowly receding.
  • 20A: _____ Elliot, heroine of Jane Austen's "Persuasion" (Anne) - just watched a (fairly crappy) BBC version of this, and still couldn't get it without crosses.
  • 22A: Put on an unhappy face (mope) - I had WEPT at one point.
  • 23A: Revival movement's leader? (neo-) - thankfully, I never saw this clue.
  • 26A: Stray animals don't have them (names) - I had HOMES, of course. Strays might have NAMES, especially if they have strayed from an owner's HOME.
  • 39A: Young cowboy in "Lonesome Dove" (Newt) - had no idea, just as I had no idea what 30D: 1600 to 1800, on a boat was getting at. Luckily for me, I had enough sense to change DOGPATCH to the correct DOGWATCH.
  • 40A: Ships on the seafloor (hulks) - this was the guessiest-feeling answer I wrote in, mainly because the "H" cross, HANNO (40D: Carthaginian statesman who opposed war with Rome) was unknown to me. But BULKS and BANNO just sounded wrong on both counts, so I stuck with the oddly super-hero-sounding answer of HULKS. Good idea.
  • 49A: Most mawkish (soupiest) - I eventually had SOU-IEST and still couldn't piece it together. Needed my good friend PULP (44D: Great literature's opposite) to get the job done, finally. By the way, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler would like to have a word with you about your clue for PULP.
  • 5D: Pennsylvania's Flagship City (Erie) - always looking for new and better ways to clue ERIE. I like this one. I was in ERIE about a decade ago. There wasn't much that felt ... Flagshippy about it.
  • 26D: 1939 film taglined "Garbo laughs" (Ninotchka) - this kicked loose eventually from some dark recess of my brain. Never seen it, only heard of it. I wanted something Russian ... but all I could come up with was ANASTASIA.
  • 28D: "Is There Life Out There" singer (McEntire) - looking for a New Agey type and got a country superstar. Weird.


  • 9A: Muscleheaded (stupid) - clue is so much cooler than answer. I hope to see these words reverse roles some day.
  • 21A: Star of "Gigi" and "Lili" (Caron) - this clue made me laugh out loud, as I only recently made clear that I get GIGI, LILI, and (for some reason) LULU confused all the time. Once I had the -ON, the name in question jumped forth in all her dancing glory.
  • 24A: Strand at the airport, maybe (fog in) - who is the subject of these verbs? In my overcleverness, I was imagining "strand" as a noun.
  • 28A: "Field of Dreams" actress Amy (Madigan) - married to Ed Harris, I believe.
  • 32A: More of the same (clones) - grrrreat clue.
  • 47A: One with a guitar and shades, stereotypically (rock and roll star) - way to make good use of a hackneyed image.
  • 1D: Game featuring Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde (Pac Man) - another genius clue. These are the official names of the ghosts that hunt down our hero, I believe.
  • 7D: Stage actress who wrote "Respect for Acting" (Uta Hagen) - heard her once on "Fresh Air," and she was horrible and condescending. Lighten up, Uta baby.
  • 16D: Boxy Toyota product (Scion) - should win some kind of award for ugliest or most ill-conceived car design. A blight on the automotive landscape.
  • 21D: Some emergency cases may be found in them (comas) - this made me laugh. Takes some real daring to incorporate the gravely ill into your little word games.
  • 29D: Titular mouse in a classic Daniel Keyes novel (Algernon) - Never read it; everything I know about it (almost) I learned from crosswords.
  • 33D: Number to the left of a decimal point, maybe (dollars) - goes nicely (rhymingly) with CLERICAL COLLARS.

Woo hoo. Done.

All best wishes, especially to the folks at Northern Illinois University.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

Today's other puzzles:

  • LAT 8:59 (C) - Jack McInturff: author puns. These are pretty good, esp 20A and 59A.
  • NYS untimed (C) - Byron Walden, Weekend Warrior (themeless) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: if only all puzzles could be this good. My jealousy at his astonishing competence grows and grows...
  • CHE 6:09 (C) - Daniel C. Bryant, "Four of Hearts" - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: best of the VD (!?) puzzles, by far


PhillySolver 9:22 AM  

Happy Love Hangover Day

Skipping right over the pop culture opportunities, I am sharing a Toscanini clip from Pagilaicci to remind you of the emotion when Valentine's Day doesn't quite work out. Video


I found this one gave me plenty of errors to guess wrong and having fixed most of them I fell for the LOCUS/focus switcheroo and forced fused for LUBED. I had several aha moments including the long look at MUD, where I was stuck (in). As to Flowers for Algernon, they made a respectable movie and I recall it was named Charley.

Bill from NJ 9:51 AM  

I solved this puzzle in 10:29 which is record time for me on a Friday puzzle.

All the Pop Culture references were right in my wheelhouse which allowed me to get the two stacked pairs and the puzzle quickly fell from there.

I agree with you, Rex, about Maestro Toscanini. I've seen quite enough of him for awhile.

Janet 9:55 AM  

Wasn't it amazing how Teri Gross never lost her cool with nasty Uta?

Orange 10:00 AM  

My friend Amy loves her Scion xB. (Note: the xA and xC aren't at all boxy.) It gives her extra height—handy in a world full of SUVs—without sacrificing fuel efficiency. And she has, like, 10 color schemes to choose from for the dashboard lights. You in the mood for indigo? Then indigo you shall have. Is today a green day? Go for it.

wade 10:09 AM  

27 minutes for me on this one, which is about average for a Friday for me. The last part to fall for me (and I wasn't sure of my answers, though they did turn out to be right) was about four squares in the South Dakota region. I don't know who CARON is (wanted it to be CAROL), don't know who UTAHAGEN is, never heard HAIRLINES used that way, and still don't quite get why "Treat badly" is SCORN. (I guess scorn can also be a verb? I'm too lazy to look it up. "She scorned him"? I guess so.)

The opposite of RP, I had CLERICAL but put in PILLARS instead of COLLARS for some reason, which threw me off the longest.

I thought everybody read "Flowers for Algernon" in ninth grade. I thought it was a rule.

I guess STERNO is a jelly. It's a paraffin [sp?]. The smell of sterno takes me back to one of my early-twenties jobs manning the buffet line at Al Baker's restaurant in Clayton, Missouri.

Nice clue and bit of trivia regarding CAMUS. I couldn't get Mafouz out of my head (I think that's his name--the Egyptian guy). He was born in Algeria, I think, but I always think of him as French. (I don't mean to imply a spend a lot of time thinking about Camus, but when I do, you know. . . .)

Jim in Chicago 10:25 AM  

Uneven Friday for me. Exactly like Rex, I got Cutest/Nudes/Domed/Camus immediately and most of the east fell from there. But, then things began to go sour.

For 1A I had PASSEDON instead of ...UP, and since I didn't know Uta and Polaris could have been anything, I got stumped, even though I already had Arturo and the Clerical Collars. BTW, in slang, those are called DOG collars, fitting nicely with those stray animals.

I agree that stray animals very likely DO have a name, but then they often also have a home - they're just lost.

Do you really PUNT when you give up responsibility? I guess so, but I think that as still being in charge, but you've just decided to to stop thinking about something and go with your gut.

My main problem was initially with the entire bottom row.

ENHALO is just plain ugly and contrived. But my big problem was with SOUPIEST for "most mawkish". The OED gives several definitions for Mawkish:

1. Inclined to sickness, feeling sick, queasy; without appetite; faint

2. Having no taste or inclination for a specified action

3. Nauseating; having a nauseating or disgusting taste or smell. Also in later use: tasting sickly or insipid

3. Imbued with sickly, false, or feeble sentiment; overly sentimental

4. Slatternly

Of these four, only "tasting sickly or insipid" could possibly be construed to mean soupy - in the sense of the food you eat.

Or, Duh, is my problem with the definiation of soupy, which can indeed mean:

2. Sentimental; mawkish


jae 11:02 AM  

I don't time myself Thur. to Sun. but this one seemed fairly easy in that I had no long pauses. Odd how seemingly random bits of pop culture get lodged in memory. I've never played PACMAN or seen the Garbo movie yet both were instant gimmies (although I needed my bride's help spelling the latter). My only small hang up was MOUE for MOPE which obscured RESPOSE briefly. Also, I did try SOAPIEST for mawkish but FLA made no sense. I agree the ENHALO is not pretty but over all a fine themeless Friday.

I’ll be crusing the Sea of Cortez for the next ten days. The good news is that the ship puts out a NYT digest that includes the crossword. The bad news is that for what they charge for the internet I could take the grandkids to IHOP every day for a week and have money left over for Coldstone. So, I’ll miss this for a short while.

Unfortunately, this trip precludes me from going to the ACPT (maybe next year) but I did order the “kids, its OK to try this at home” kit and am looking forward to doing the puzzles in early March.

joaneee 11:30 AM  

Like Jim in Chicago, I had trouble with ENHALO. But darn if it isn't in my Webster's. Was looking for a guy singer for MCENTIRE, for some reason so that caused some delay too.

Karen 11:57 AM  

The Watchmen is one of those series that burns into your brain. Definitely a classic, I'm surprised there aren't more references to it in modern stories. Please read the story before seeing the upcoming movie.

I had the worst time in the Utah region, with all those strange names (FAGEN, HAGEN, CARON, NINOTCHKA) crossing; and then for the emergency cases, I went to the medical magazine shelf and put in JAMAS. I thought POLARIS had a great clue too.

I remembered the interview with the angry acting coach, but couldn't recall her name. Teri Gross is great.

JRFT 12:18 PM  

I think I most enjoyed "yielding ground" and "bands of holy men" for clues today. Although, I hadn't checked for themes when I saw 17A, so I kept trying to figure some word play around "clerical caravan" and "priest posses." Thankfully Berry wasn't that corny.

BTW: Thanks for your blog Rex. I've been reading it weekly for the past few months.

hollyhmc 12:38 PM  

Wanted 1D (PACMAN) to be some distant cousin of Winkin', Blinkin' and Nod. Don't remember the ghosts having names at all.

Thought ENHALO was right up there w/TOPE earlier this week, or maybe I'm just TOPED-over from last night. As long is I was on made-up words, TOCUS (instead of LOCUS) and TRACTANLA (TRACTABLA) seemed to suit me fine (with TUNED instead of LUBED as the down).

And SADEYES - geeezzz... late
late 70's right? Robert John should have left his close-up off the album cover... SADEYES, indeed.

parshutr 12:48 PM  

I have to dissent on Uta Hagen and Terry Gross. Gross got exactly what she deserved from the late Ms. Hagen. She (Gross) was her usual condescending self (read "All I did was Ask" sometime).

adfero lux 1:08 PM  

i'm surprised at your consternation in the tacoma area, i would've thought 1d(pacman) would've been one of the first answers you penciled in. late-in-the-week puzzles are slow going for me but the nw corner of this one fell in seconds, giving me false hope of a record time.

karmasartre 1:41 PM  

A real challenging Friday, just what the head doctor ordered. I remember PACMAN, but long ago lost the Blinky etc. associations. I do remember likening the shape of Pacman to the CornNut.

I had SW trouble beyond ENHALO and DOGPATCH: I didn't know ALGERNON, never heard of NINOTCHKA, couldn't come up with MCENTIRE, no NEWT was good newt, etc. Still, a pleasure to try to tackle.

@ jae -- you'll be missed.
@ fergus -- good poem.
@ whoever was ranting about Foot-TV (maybe marcie?): I agree entirely. You omitted the silly "chairman" making the aborted Karate chop at the secret food ingredient. In the words of his "uncle", WTF?

Frances 1:51 PM  

The Northern California-Nevada area held me up, notably the intersections of the "Field of Dreams" actress, the Steely Dan singer, and the poor soul stranded at the airport. I was left trying to cope with whatever those "emergency cases" were in. I had C_M_S, and figured a lot of testosterone-amped bikers wear camouflage fatigues and end up in emergency rooms, so CAMOs seemed promising!

Rex Parker 2:07 PM  

So that you might make your own decision: here is Terry Gross's interview with Uta Hagen. You can listen to it as an audio file. Uta Hagen loses her mind some time just after the 3:30 mark. Only Bill O'Reilly (or other folks who believe NPR is a vast left-wing conspiracy) could find anything "condescending" about Ms. Gross's behavior in this interview. Hagen, on the other hand, is the very definition of "condescending." Or so I hear it... And yet Ms. Gross handles it all perfectly. At 6:14, Uta Hagen even concedes about Gross's comeback: "well that's a very valid point." I'd have told Ms. Hagen where to shove it. Which is why I don't interview people for a living.


Fergus 2:12 PM  

"Flowers for Algernon" is more correctly the book that you probably didn't read in ninth grade, but wrote a book report on anyway. That, and the rest of the syllabus delayed appreciation of literature for another couple of years.

My entry of SAPPIEST for the most mawkish, I will insist, is much better. So what if your company gets investigated by the FLP (Federal Labor Police) and you're hit with a SOCKEROA?

Plenty of little errors today, as befits a Friday. In addition to many already mentioned I had ABUSE for SCORN, FOCUS for LOCUS, and JUNKS instead of HULKS. I thought that the Chinese boats may have had more than the usual tendency to sink. I PASSED ON rather than UP so had a real problem with the Pilot light, NOLARIS? Spent too much time trying to pick that apart and make it seem plausible.

In REPOSE must be a funeral parlor euphemism -- never got into Six Feet Under.

And just for the hell of it I'll register another request for better art-related clues. Sure, there are quite a few incidental NUDES in Degas paintings, but I don't think he'd be thought of as anywhere near a chief exemplar of the form. Reubens and Modigliani pop into mind immediately. I would say that Renoir, Manet and some other contemporaries are better known 'nudists' as well. Far too frequently do the art clues seem rather arbitrary, if not close to incorrect. I can't say, though, whether this is appears intentional on the part of the editors.

Rex Parker 2:21 PM  

Fergus, the clue for NUDES is spot-on. [Some Degas paintings] are indeed NUDES. And not just a few - a whole raft of them.

Here's some info.


Fergus 3:28 PM  

Rex, I'm not contending that there's anything wrong with associating Degas and NUDES. It's just that if he were clued together with ballerinas or horsey events, it would seem like a more precise clue. He liked the girls in the bath, to be sure, but that specialty would have to be awarded to Pierre Bonnard. I was just noticing that the art clues don't often seem to focus on the painter's signature work, and often appear to be intentional misdirections.

Thank you for finding the nice Degas images. I'll go track down some Bonnard.

Orange 5:20 PM  

But cluing Degas and ballerinas would be more of a Monday clue, wouldn't it? By the time Friday rolls around, Will expects us to dig a little deeper into our knowledge. Me, I filled in the answer with the help of some crossings, and afterwards, Googled Degas nudes to see if I'd recognize his nudes. (One of his bathers transfixed me at the National Gallery in London last year.) I like it when a crossword nudges me to such explorations.

Catherine K 5:30 PM  

Rex, I agree with your comments about Uta. What was the poor interviewer supposed to ask her about? Apparently any questions relating to her "craft" were off limits, leaving nothing to ask about except perhaps her personal life. That would have really ired (crosswordese) her!

I ran the gamut on sad faces - went from POUT to MOUE (thought that can't be right - "moue" is a noun, isn't it?), then finally MOPE.

I loved STERNO. Just another example of not going for the obvious meaning. A non-edible gel amongst all the edibles.

I was married to a "holy man" once. He used to leave those clerical collars lying around the house like tossed-off socks.

I liked SURGE protector and I was amused by ENHALO. Only in crosswords!

SOCKEROO bugged me. Not sure why. I guess I wanted the answer to have something to do with a really great song.

mac 5:48 PM  

A wonderful puzzle; I spread it over some hours to enjoy it as long as possible, didn't need any reference works or Google, though!
I have to agree with Fergus on Degas, althoug Orange's argument is valid.
I saw Uta Hagen off Broadway some years ago and she was wonderful!

Fergus 6:24 PM  

Let's say that if there was Clue that went Painter ____ Mitchell, you would have to go with JOAN on Monday but by Friday JONI would come into play, as well. JONI is, of course, better known for her music, but she's certainly a painter, too.

If as stark a Clue as this were presented in a puzzle I would know for sure that the Constructor and Editor were intentionally messing with the solver. But just as when a few weeks ago MIRO was Clued as a Surrealist, their association seemed too vague to qualify as a good pairing. It's funny and quite inconsistent though, that I don't get even slightly irked when regular old nouns get paired in the most loose and remote fashion. It's just a case of stylistic preference after all.

rick 6:27 PM  

For some reason today there were a lot of long gimmes which made my time today about half of yesterdays (not braggin', my time yesterday was awful).

Had the good fortune to do the NYS today and the misfortune to time it. Good but tough puzzle.


Liked "Flowers for Algernon" and have read it more than once. The not having and not missing it, then having and losing it aspect is very moving.

doc John 6:35 PM  

Hey, I liked "Flowers for Algernon"! But then again, I was a MAWKISH ninth-grader.
My love for Steely Dan comes through again! Thanks Donald (although the F wouldn't give me FOG IN, had "fly on" in my head for the longest time).
Fave clue: [32A. More of the same] = CLONES
Thumbs down to: SOCKEROO

Kathy 6:48 PM  

Forgive me if I've written this before, but Patrick Berry puzzles are terrific--they seem difficult, but they are eminently do-able. I did cheat a bit, but mainly because I had lots of work to do and wanted to read this blog first!

Mr. Berry has written a book on puzzling-Crossword Puzzle Challenges for Dummies that's really quite good. There are 70 "previously unpublished" puzzles (how do these guys do it?!) and instructions on constructing puzzles, which I am looking forward to reading (see above reference to work--it interferes, dammit!).

Byron Walden kicked my ass today, BTW--thanks, Rex and Orange for forcing me to undergo the humiliation.


Rex Parker 7:03 PM  

@Kathy - You are welcome. Any time you need a little humiliation, I'm always ready with recommendations. Besides Klahn, BW is the toughest constructor out there. Thankfully, both Klahn and BW are not just tough, but masterful. I never (or rarely) resent it when one of them puts me through the wringer.

Concur with everything Orange said above about Degas / NUDES. I'm with Fergus, though, on that MIRO clue he mentions. Stretched the meaning of "surrealist" a little far for my tastes. Though there's no denying that Miro has historically been considered a surrealist, his art clearly transcended that category. Here's a snippet of description of Miro I just found at artchive.com:

"... associated with the Surrealists but never finally one of them..."


Leon 7:11 PM  

Real nice puzzle. Dogwatch and hairlines gave me the most difficulty.
I would add James M. Cain to the insulted pulp writers.

Orange 7:48 PM  

Kathy's right about those great Berry puzzles in his Dummies book. They're not for dummies!

Patrick Berry's deft touch is also evident in the weekly Chronicle of Higher Education crosswords—he edits them rather than constructing, but their quality and smartness is so consistent.

Channeling Dave Letterman when he hosted the Oscars some years back: "Uta, okra. Okra, Uta."

Fergus 8:08 PM  

Just curious: if the Clue is Narrative poet and the answer is SHAKESPEARE, is this a good pairing? At the risk of seeming wishy-washy, I could make an argument either way.

A reasonable convention might be that if the ANSWER is pretty obscure, then it's probably not OK to clue the subject for a trait or style that is also obscure. For example, cluing VLAMINCK as a Bicycle enthusiast is probably beyond the pale. It's not untrue, but not exactly germane.

Rex Parker 8:14 PM  

Accuracy aside, [Narrative poet] is just a terrible clue. Soporific and bland. There are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of narrative poets. You need something pointing a bit more specifically (and interestingly) at your answer when it's a proper noun.

rick 8:18 PM  

I have the PB book also and it has more than one unfinished puzzle in it.

He always makes me feel that I'm not stupid, just that he's very tricky. I know that I will eventually finish his puzzles and be impressed by his talent and my solving ability.

It's the perfect constructor:solver relationship.

Anonymous 8:43 PM  

This whole blog is condescending.

Michael 8:44 PM  

I went through this quickly for a Friday, but made two mistakes. I wrote in "dogpatch" and wondered why someone would be named "nept." A little more thinking would have helped here. But the other mistake I don't think all the time in the world would have helped with (enhalo/hanno last letter). enhalo? I had inhale (which I thought was clever), but then noticed that the i was wrong and wrote in enhale.

rick 8:57 PM  

Anonymous 8:43 PM: Are you Uta or just an ass?

Fergus 9:23 PM  

Well, "The Rape of Lucrece" is a narrative poem, so the Clue isn't inaccurate, though it is supremely dull, as stated. I'm just trying to draw out categorical distinctions to see whether there might be a consensus on when and where an acceptable Clue / ANSWER pairing ceases to operate effectively. I would imagine that this imprecisely mapped territory is Will Shortz's favorite vacation destination.

ArtLvr 9:30 PM  

Whew - only 21 black squares! It looked a bit daunting at first, but I was able to pick away until it all came out. Very satisfying...

I remembered Albee's "Three TALL Women" first, because the author was so picky about the actresses he'd accept to play those roles that my son-in-law, a Tony Award-winning director, refused to work with him!


Kathy 9:46 PM  

Rick, I definitely agree about PB's puzzles. And they are satisfyingly clever--tough but great "aha" moments.

I know I've been doing Way too many crosswords when Arturo Toscanini is a "gimme." Oh, and Uta, too.

Not to post on other puzzles, but I loved the LA Times today.

What's with the crabby anonymous posters at night lately? If the blog is condescending, go read something else. Personally, I enjoy espn.com, and it's hardly ever condescending Nobody is forcing you to read it, right? It's the X in the top right corner or you can even use the Back button. You choose.


epk-let 11:47 PM  

for whatever it's worth to any of you east-coasters still awake, i'm with fergus in being annoyed with the Degas/NUDES pairing, but maybe for different reasoning. it's just too easy. associating [insert name of famous french painter] with NUDES is like shooting fish in a barrel. actually, come to think of it, phrase the clue simply "some paintings", and the first word that comes to mind is still NUDES. on these grounds, i'm inclined to suspect that the use of Degas in this clue is deliberately misleading, as fergus suggests... not so much because it is inaccurate, but because it is way more specific than the answer actually warrants.

perhaps the constuctor intended to make the solver fruitlessly hunt around for some detail more particularly germaine to the specific painter mentioned before coming back to the lowest-common-denomenator style answer. if that's the case, then i would observe that it didn't seem to be a very effective ploy, especially with the two other gimmies in the neighborhood (CUTEST and PIANOKEY, which leads to NIKON) furnishing the first two letters right off the bat... arguably, staying away altogether from art references as a clue for NUDES might be a better choice.

overall, this was nearly the easiest puzzle of the week for me. too many clues that spawned knee-jerk reactions that turned out to be right. oh well, still much fun... kinda nice to see things fall in to place occasionally.

Fergus 12:09 AM  


On pain of abusing this blog I offer a refinement of a wintery poem:


The Nothing still there
and a void that won't go away
despite February's narcissus spray,
quince blossoms and pink plum trees,
acacias spewing off their yellow allergies
and some early signs of crabapple display.

It's still winter in parts that only get a peek
of distant shagged ice and freezing winds
that claim a tomb for a man of snow
who, soulless in his sleek array,
holds no quest hereafter.

jpChris 1:43 PM  

Personally, I would have liked to see 49A clued as "Sales imitation winner", instead of "most mawkish."

Or, am I dating myself too much?

westcoastgal 1:52 PM  

Hey - does anybody still blog when the small-town solvers get the puzzles 6 weeks later? I wanted to Rex he should see "Charly" (movie based on Alglernon). I remember loving it - but I was young and impressionalbe - and I am OLDER than Rex! So... maybe not. I agree with complaints about the Degas nudes. Manet's nudes were more shocking; Degas could have been cleverly clued with horses. But is anybody still listening ...???

Rex Parker 2:03 PM  

I get every comment sent to me, no matter when it's posted. And at least as many people read the "6-weeks-ago" blog entry as read the current one (if Google searches are any indication).


westcoastgal 2:21 PM  

Thanks, Rex. How can I tell what DAY a comment was posted?

Love the blog - had to sign up to chime in after reading it for months.

I would't ever share my Friday times. Lost track of TV/movies/musicians and lyrics after my kids were born - but this is the best way to fill in those gaps now I'm an empty nester.

I agree with artlvr - Degas/nudes was disappointing. Manet's nudes were more shocking; could have been obscure enough cluing Degas with horses and/or ballet sculptures.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

CAlady said:
I'm surprised this blog included a blank square where the finished grid usually sits. Has something been lost between posting and now?
As for the puzzle, age again plays a part. Easy for me were the clues from yesteryear, Caron, Ninotchka and such. But I've never seen a Pacman except on TV, and clues like 24D (some singer) and 28A (some actress) leave me praying for good crosses. Actually eventually got it all without help, and really enjoyed the challenge the cluer(s?) presented.

Waxy in Montreal 9:13 PM  

If Arturo Toscanini has indeed become an overworked 15-letter composer/conducter clue, please get ready in the near future for Niccolo Paganini. Why, you may ask? Because I had anini from crosses up in the New Hampshire region which in my muscleheaded way yielded Niccolo instead of Arturo (hey, I usually punt when it comes to classical music).

That messed up the entire Pacific Northwest for me. Oh, well, off to mope with sad eyes...

tom from IA 9:21 PM  

To westcoastgal,

If you have a Mac computer and REALLY want to know when the comment was posted, do this:

Click on the time of the comment, the URL will appear in the address box of the browser. The date on your comment looks so:


Select the first 10 digits of the number ahead of the #. In your case = 1206728460

Open up the Terminal application and execute this command:

perl -e 'print scalar localtime 1206728460,"\n"'

Note the number is 10 digit number from the URL.

This returns the result:

Fri Mar 28 13:21:00 2008
(CDT - if PDT subtract two hours)

The 10 digit number is the number of seconds since Jan 1 1970. It is the way Unix type computers keep track of time.

Curiously, most unix computers allocate only enough size to the memory slot for this number so that a Y2K type event may occur in the year 2038 when the number of seconds exceeds the maximum.

You can google 2038 to learn more about this. Apparently some 30 year mortgage calculations are already failing.

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