SUNDAY, Mar. 16, 2008 - Elizabeth C. Gorski (REDCOAT'S ALLY)

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Getting a Little R and R" - 2 "R"s are added to familiar phrases, resulting in wacky new phrases, which are clued

I'm normally a big Liz Gorski fan, but this puzzle left me kind of cold. The title makes the trick too obvious, and then the trick itself ... isn't much of one. Maybe if the theme answers were funnier or more clever, I'd feel differently, but most of them seem awkward, or are clued awkwardly. Even my favorite one - HOMER AWAY FROM HOMER - is marred by having an unadded "R" (the "R" in FROM). Only one other theme answer has one (PORKER FARCES). That's not a violation of the theme, by any means, but it somehow makes it less elegant, in my eyes. There also seemed to be a lot of subpar and forced fill throughout the grid. A very doable puzzle, with a few entertaining moments, but overall, a bit below my Gorski expectations.

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Broad comedies involving hogs? (porker farces)
  • 34A: Beautifully illustrated report of a computer failure? (pretty crash account)
  • 51A: Cake maker's boast? (torte brag)
  • 61A: French director's comment about his submission to a film festival? ("I gave it my Brest short") - that's kind of cute, except I think you would probably, colloquially, refer to the festival as "them" and not "it" (grammar notwithstanding)
  • 74A: Bird call on a farm? (crow chirp) - this has no zing or interest in either the clue or the answer (birds might in fact be on farms, and while crows don't chirp, they caw, and that's close). Conversely, its origin phrase (the one to which R's have been added) is gross and does not pass my breakfast test (thank goodness it's not anywhere near breakfast time right now).
  • 89A: A Simpson without access to his volume of the "Odyssey"? (Homer away from Homer) - as I've said, wonderful.
  • 106A: Former Tennessee senator's Halloween costumes? (Frist frights) - hmmm, a costume is a FRIGHT? OK, I guess...
  • 15D: Opening remarks at a coffee makers' convention? (drip intro) - like many of these, this one doesn't quite make sense to me. The DRIP isn't being INTROduced ... the convention is. DRIP = convention? I'm confused.
  • 71D: Where a dope unloads a ship? (moron pier) - [Where a dork docks?] would make the PIER more ... his. If you're just an unloader, is it really your pier? If you follow...

The placement of the two Down theme answers was really weird, right next to an answer just as long but non-themed. Not bad. Just odd.

Here's some of the stuff that I thought was icky:

  • 26A: N.H.L.s Tikkanen (Esa) - lots of uncommon, exotic names / words used to fill little holes in the puzzle. One is no big deal - ESA is a perfectly good name - but then there's ...
  • 73A: "Peer Gynt" mother (Ase) - anagram!
  • 13D: South American tuber (oca)
  • 2D: Narrative writing (epos) - intersecting ESA!

Then there's words that just rub me the wrong way:

  • 114A: Body-sculpting undergarment (shaper) - which garment is that?
  • 53A: Short-legged, thick-set horse (cob) - corn yes, horse no
  • 93D: Fabrics that shimmer (moires) - I've already copped to being bad at fabrics, but this one sounds more made-up than all your PONGEES and FOULARDS combined

Then there's words that seem completely alien to me:

  • 11D: Redcoat's ally (Hessian) - resident of the German state of Hesse; I had no idea, and no idea that these guys were allies of the Brits during the Revolutionary War. Wow.
  • 88A: Lobster claw (chela) - That's a hard "ch" sound (as in "chemistry"). The more I look at this weird word, the stranger it seems. This same word can also refer to a "Hindu disciple of a swami," according to answers.com.

Other answers of note:

  • 27A: Entertainment center at many a sports bar (LCD TV) - you hear the term "flat screen" a lot, but not LCD. Not as much, anyway. Seems an appropriate answer, just not as in-the-language. Things you might say about a sports bar: "They've got HDTV!"? yes "They've got huge flat-screens!"? Yes. "They've got LCD TV!"? I don't know.
  • 30A: Movement that inspired '60s fashion (op art) - this I did not know. Dress patterns designed to make you dizzy and pass out?
  • 28A: Where bluejackets go (asea) - what is a bluejacket? Someone enlisted in the British or US Navy. Good to know, I guess. But look at these answers - LCD, OPART, ASEA ... you can see why I think this is sub-Gorski. There's Lots of this kind of tired fill.
  • 31A: Good viewing spot for a canyon (aerie) - the canyon can't "view" anything. Do you mean "good spot from which to view a canyon?" I guess so ... if you are a bird.
  • 49A: All-time top-selling Atari video game (Asteroids) - really? Wow. I'm surprised. It's so dated. My step-brother was a master of Asteroids back in about 1980. The big, stand-up video game, not the home console version. I have no idea which version this clue refers to.
  • 69A: Ang Thong resident (Thai) - ah, who can forget the Ang Thong Song?
  • 79A: They're developed on a muscleman (pectorals) - technically true, but that muscleman would surely call them PECS.
  • 83A: Nebraska county with an Indian name (Otoe) - my favorite Native American tribe name, but after Friday's puzzle, all it makes me think is: OTOE, Spaghettios!
  • 94A: Rocker Morissette (Alanis) - I've never been the biggest fan, though I like this song a lot, and this is kind of genius (though if you are unfamiliar with the original, this parody will seem completely insane).
  • 104A: Most heterogeneous (motliest) - now this word I like. A lot.
  • 4D: Cartoonist Browne (Dik) - Ugh. A name only a crossword constructor could love. I can never remember the consonant that starts the word.
  • 24D: Banking initialism (FDIC) - "initialism!" Nice to see this word start to get some play.
  • 58D: _____ Boy, classic figure in Japanese anime (Astro) - Osamu Tezuka is a comics god. I am teaching his Ode to Kirihito next month. His Buddha (8 volumes) is one of the greatest works of comics art of all time. I may have said this before, but it bears repeating.
  • 72D: Words on a deathbed, maybe ("Promise me ...") - this creeps me out no end.
  • 78D: Tree in bloom in a Van Gogh painting (pear) - never heard of this, so must find it ... now. Here we go:
  • 81D: Photocopier option: Abbr. (ltr.) - took me forEver; had L-R and thought "LAR." (as in LARge)???
  • 82D: Fraternity members (guys) - arbitrary! Any group of men are GUYS. And by the way, we call them frat BOYS. (And sorority GIRLS, so, you know, the infantilization thing evens out)

I'm nearly back to completely healthy, so my only companion for the next week will be the Mountain of Work I've amassed since I got sick. Ugh. I guess it's better than being sick. Somewhat.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[drawing by Emily Cureton]

58 comments:

PhillySolver 9:44 PM  

Slow but sure for me ending with the Lobster claw/Persian fabric clues...because I couldn't get ONAIR to come to me. Still a quick and easy Sunday puzzle. I will await you further comments, but the theme answers all came after almost all of the rest of the fill. Far quicker than Saturday's puzzle by half.

Not bragging, but a beautiful day here with the Redbud trees in bloom and most of the spring flowers staring to bloom.

tabstop 10:27 PM  

I've seen moire (with a ' over the e that I'm not going to try to do) used to describe a pattern (shimmering op art) but not a fabric.

And I had thought that "Hessian" had become pretty synonymous for "soldiers bought from another country". The soldiers were allies, I guess, even though the countries weren't, really.

jae 11:10 PM  

This felt about average for a Sun. so medium works for me. I also thought the theme was a bit clunky and forced in places (e.g. CROWCHIRP as Rex pointed out). I only had a couple missteps, ROUT for ROMP and SNAP for TNUT.

I seem to remember the Hessians being involved in Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware.

Nice clues for AERIE and OBOE.

JimHorne 11:34 PM  

CROW CHIRP was my favorite clue. I know, you're thinking I'm sick and twisted but it made me laugh.

Chacon à son goût.

Ulrich 11:38 PM  

The last Gorsky puzzles I remember all had a geometric/visual aspect that I loved and somehow expected again. The theme, as executed, did ot really compensate for this IMHO.

This was a case where I made two wrong guesses that reinforced each other and brought me to a standstill in the NE corner: After putting in "yam" for the "tuber", "dynamite" seemed perfect for "blast", and I just could not bring myself to abandon them. Finally decided to erase everything, started with "latinate" (after all, I used to be a Catholic) and then the corner fell quickly.

As far as I know, the Hessians were poor shleps sold into service to do the dirty work for the Brits (some were actually subjects of mad King George). So, I agree: "Ally" is highly misleading, which didn't prevent me from guessing the answer right away anyway.

SteveB 12:56 AM  

Didn't know that octopuses have three hearts. Amazing what you can learn from doing crosswords!

Anonymous 2:02 AM  

Clunky puzzle and not really fun as the themes didn't really amuse --except for Homer away from Homer. Had a lot of problems with the NW but finally nailed it without Googling. Moron Pier was moronic and moon pies as well. Although I had heard of moon pies, I don't know what they are. I guess I'll look them up. Do they have poppy seeds (moon) in them?

Hessians were familiar to me from American History although I recall them as mercenaries for the British and not the Americans. Therefore, ally is not terrible. Moires were also familiar and not arcane, at least to me, and I'm not a decorator. I can even picture the fabric. It's a watered shiny silk. (Foulard, which was in the puzzle the other day was tougher as far as fabrics go--at least for me). Although I was thinking lames (la-mays, I don't know how to place an accent on it) for the longest time.

Rex, Glad your back to your old (well) self.

Profphil

Anonymous 2:13 AM  

Film editor's job (CUT)
Since when is CUT a job?

jae 2:28 AM  

When I entered Navy bootcamp in the mid 60's I was issued "The Bluejackets Manual" which told me pretty much all I ever wanted to know about being a sailor. Had I not had this experience 28a would have been a mystery as I've not encountered the term bluejackets since.

I also struggled with LTR, I kept wanting an "E" in the Gen. Lee answer.

Orange 9:27 AM  

Anonymous, if a director has final cut, "cut" is a noun roughly meaning editing, isn't it? Do we have any Hollywood types here who can confirm or deny?

Rex, over at the Times forum, someone (Steve Manion, I think) found more evidence that Pac-Man was the top game; Asteroids was #7 on one list, but its Wikipedia article claims it's #1 without a supporting link.

Both "motliest" and "motleyest" fare poorly in the Google meter. You liked that one? You're a nut.

One of today's other puzzles, the LA Times I think, had SHAPER clued with relation to a girdle. I think bodyshaper is the euphemistic word for the undergarment that serves the exact same purpose as a girdle, but "girdle" sounds so grandmotherly these days. My mom (now a grandmother!) wore a girdle in her high school days when she weighed about 90 pounds—"shaping" used to be de rigueur.

Orange 9:30 AM  

Here is a picture of moiré fabric. It's groovy.

PhillySolver 9:36 AM  

You think Emily knows she may be disparaging a GAYICON? She should avoid ATIT like that. (Now, did I use that word for bickering correctly?) I assume that is no SHAPER she is wearing.

Are there Two L and Three L designations? It was a new term to me and led to the question, what the L?

Enjoy the day everyone and Rex, good luck with your work and may every paper you grade be perfect.

PhillySolver 9:46 AM  

@ tabstop and et al who care

You see that Orange was able to produce an é. How? On Microsoft OS you can use the ASCII set of characters...Holding the ALT key down, enter 130 on the numeric keypad, release and you have your sophisticated looking letter. Use Google to find all of the optional ascii letters.

On the older Apple PC I used, the OS allowed you to use the upper left Icon (KeyCaps) to enter combined characters. Someone else may know if that is still true.

Ulrich 9:57 AM  

@anonymous: Nobody has denied that the Hessians fought for the British. What we have questioned is if soldiers forced into service can be called allies.

jls 9:59 AM  

"dripintro" -- love this one (and the whole puzzle, btw). the reference, as i see it, has to do with "drip" coffee as opposed to "perc" (percolator...). but those whose beverage of choice is tea may not be quite as aware of this distinction... ;-)

and *fabulous* emily!

cheers, all --

janie

Rex Parker 10:07 AM  

janie!

I'm drinking coffee right now (literally). Not tea. Tea doesn't go as well w/ chocolate chip pancakes.

I understood very well that "drip" had to do with the method of coffee production. Still don't think DRIP INTRO makes sense: it puts DRIP in the position of the whole "convention." Or is the INTRO s'posed to be about DRIP coffee-making? I can't tell.

rp

Rockonchris 10:20 AM  

I always miss the gambling clues so I thought I was so smart with LOSE for Be Down.

The puzzle did feel forced. It gave me no joy to finally figure out TEA TREES, EPOS or SLATER.

Otherwise a decent challenge.

treedweller 10:32 AM  

Maybe the constructor thinks anyone who would speak at a coffee convention must be a real drip . . .

(actually, I don't think this answer was any more of a stretch than a host of others we've seen, but i couldn't resist.)

jls 10:37 AM  

aha. i go for the latter "drip" interpretation -- but i take your point about the ambiguity in the cluing. and yes -- definitely coffee with that breakfast treat!!

here is an example of some '60s chic...

;-)

j.

becky 11:11 AM  

All right, here's some decidedly non-intellectual commentary:

Rex Parker (and commenters), you're so cool.

I love this blog.

Rex Parker 11:20 AM  

@becky,

I will take adoration over intellectualism any day. Thank you.

RP

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I got stuck on crowchirp, because whoever has heard a crow chirp?

I'm new here (as of yesterday) but already an addict. Seemed to me there were an awful lot of pantheonic (or would-be pantheonic) words in this puzzle...

ATAT
ATILT
ALOE
ONAIR
ONEL
SAS
ATRA
TSAR
OTOE
UTNE


... or is that typical of a Sunday puzzle?

Barb

bill from fl 11:48 AM  

I agree it was not as much fun as some recent puzzles, but I liked seeing moon pies make an appearance in a NYT puzzle. They're a Southern staple.

Yesterday's dustup over politics got me thinking: is there a correlation between crosswords and political sympathies? The puzzles themselves are politically neutral to the point of blandness (although the NYT acrostic puzzle a few weeks ago used "swiftboat" in a pejorative sense). For what it's worth, I was introduced to puzzling by my mother, a lifelong Republican. I'm about as far as you can get from her on most political and social issues, so I'm glad we have crosswords to talk about.

dcolumbus3 11:48 AM  

Hessian? Those who get their history from classic Looney Tunes as I do might recall Yosemite Sam as the Hessian Sam Von Schmamm going up against Bugs Bunny in "Bunker Hill Bunny". After Bugs' inevitable victory, the defeated Sam utters the classic line "I'm a Hessian without no aggression."

Joaneee 12:32 PM  

So, can someone enlighten me about 7D - Mason of a sort oh never mind. I just got it. This puzzle trashed me in about 1 minute with the cross of EPOS and ESA, which I got wrong by guessing. I kinda like CROWCHIRP (raised on a farm).

ArtLvr 12:53 PM  

Link to a fascinating summary on the Hessians: www.americanrevolution.org/hessians/hess1.html

In 1770 or so there were nearly 300 small "sovereignties" in what is now Germany, between the territory of Prussia across the north and the Austrian lands to the southeast. The ruler of Hesse-Cassel, a Landgrave named Frederick II (not the same as Frederick II of Prussia), kept a a well-drilled army of conscripts on call like the others -- and his first wife was a sister of King George II of England.

However, he followed the practice of his forebears in hiring out his officers and troops to other rulers -- strictly business, no matter the ties of kinship. (The English Georges were Germanic, of course, from Hanover). There were six such rulers, including his son, who sent troops to America to fight for King George III....

On their defeat and surrender at the Battle of Saratoga, and later to Gen. Washington himself, many of the Hessians escaped, were conscripted into the Revolutionary forces or were allowed to buy their way out of prison camps by indenturing themselves to work their way to citizenship.

∑;)

Olfogy 12:58 PM  

A couple of NYT puzzle editors ago ASE (Pee Gynt Mother) was an answer every other week at least. Thus it was imprinted.

EPOS/ESA cross and COB were my downfall.

I agree with Rex about the puzzle not being as saisfying as I had hoped.

Olfogy 12:58 PM  

A couple of NYT puzzle editors ago ASE (Pee Gynt Mother) was an answer every other week at least. Thus it was imprinted.

EPOS/ESA cross and COB were my downfall.

I agree with Rex about the puzzle not being as saisfying as I had hoped.

PuzzleGirl 1:18 PM  

Hi, everybody, I'm back. I got an entire WEEK behind here and it's taken me HOURS to catch up. Literally. Because I can't just skip a day, or scan the comments -- no, I have to read each post and then ALL the comments that go with it before I can go on to the next one. I'm a little bummed today because I missed so many good puzzles and interesting discussions this week. And now I'm going to comment on this clunker. So much not to like about this puzzle.

In addition to everything Rex said, I had trouble with several clues:

How is BAA BAA a "nursery rhyme call sung to an old French melody"? I assume it's the "baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?" but the title of that certainly isn't "Baa Baa," is it? And the "baa baa" part is only two notes -- actually one note repeated -- so that's not really a French melody, right? Who's with me?

And ETE is a "time on la cote d'azur"? Does ETE translate to "summertime" or just "summer"? I understand what this clue is getting at, but I guess I've just seen similar yet better executed clues for this answer.

"Not badgering, say" for SOFT ON? I think EASY ON is a better answer for that clue. SOFT ON should be clued more like, oh I don't know, "not sufficiently addressing" (e.g., "soft on crime").

CABLE for "monthly charge"? Random.

So those are the things I hated. The things I had trouble with but didn't hate were 104D "Touched." Kept trying to think of a three-letter word for crazy. 17D "Do _____?" I thought I CARE first. Heh. Reminded me of a clue earlier this week "What a _____!" and I wanted the answer to be CROCK OF S**T. Unlikely, I know.

SHAPER didn't bother me. Women of a certain age and certain body type are familiar with this newfangled term for girdle.

I had the US_S for OCTOPUSES and put in TITMOUSES at first. What do I know?

The OPART answer made me think of the clothes they wore on Laugh-In. Check it out here.

My favorite Alanis Morrissette song is "One Hand in My Pocket." I remember driving through Austin one time and after playing the song, the DJ on the radio said she was "confused." I yelled at the radio, "She's not confused! She's conflicted!" Bonehead.

Okay, I've rambled enough for today. I'm just happy to be back with you all.

Oh, almost forgot. Phillysolver: Yes, indeed, second- and third-year law students are referred to as Two-L and Three-L. AddieLoggins might have more to say about that.

jls 1:51 PM  

to puzzlegirl et al.:

name that tune...

and i'd always thought it was mozart, but nooooo.

livin' 'n' learnin'!

;-)

janie

joe 1:51 PM  

@phillysolver and puzzlegirl:

"A one l lama, he's a priest
a two l llama, he's a beast
and I will bet a silk pajama
you've never seen a three l lllama"
Ogden Nash

doc John 2:00 PM  

I had to comment on Emily's pic- my fave so far. I just love your sense of humor, Emily!

Leon 2:17 PM  

Nice relaxing Sunday puzzle Ms. Gorski.

Sprinkled throughout the puzzle were many restful and relaxing items: ROMPS, AT CAMP, RAN FREE,GOOD TIME,NAPS,GALA, watching CABLE on one’s LCDTV, getting a BYE, playing ASTEROIDS and eating HO HO’S.

The only relaxing theme answer was HOME AWAY FROM HOME, unless you want to include Cow chip tossing or eating MOON PIES while watching films.

foodie 2:25 PM  

Yeah, today's puzzle felt like chewing on cardboard...
"Homer away from Homer" was the first theme answer I got and it set my expectations high, not only in terms of cleverness but in terms of construction. I wanted the first and last words to be similar. It was a let down from there on. And it reminded me of Orange's comments a couple of days ago about differing criteria in theme answers, and how having one answer that's at real variance with the rest is the worst scenario.

Moiré is a lovely word because it has a swooshy watery sound which is evocative, as moiré fabrics have a water-like look and are typically made of taffeta, so they make a little sound as they move. Every time I hear the name Moira, I think of moiré and think she should be a shimmery, colorful person.

Chela is also a cool word. I didn't know it but it immediately made me think of the chemistry term "chelator" (a substance that grabs another) and sure enough
chelator is a derivative of chela. The joys of crosswords!

karmasartre 2:29 PM  

@joe -- I've seen a three l llama fire.

Joon 2:41 PM  

this puzzle also left me cold. particularly the NW, which was filled with ugliness. the theme was... okay.

michigan dreamer 3:03 PM  

I snoozed and solved the morning away -- I was happy for a not-so-hard puzzle today. But I put "lot of" instead of "lotta" for the Led Zepplin song and it took me forever to get the SW corner.
Esa/epos?? got me, too. Hard crossing.
Teresa

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

Re: SHAPERs and girdles: I grew up at the tail end of the era where nice girls, no matter how slender, were required to wear girdles to prevent body parts from jiggling. Luckily, the 60s and the hippy era made the wearing of such restrictive garments obsolete, so my skinny teenage frame was spared that discomfort. Now, they've made a comeback. Although I'm not so skinny anymore, I still refuse to wear SHAPERs!

A few weeks ago, we rented the great old movie "Anatomy of A Murder" with Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazzarra and a very young, slender, and sexy Lee Remick. A clue to her character's dubious morality is the fact that she doesn't wear a girdle-something the Jimmy Stewart character makes a big deal about.

David Quarfoot 3:54 PM  

Sorry that I couldn't get back to people's comments on my puzzle yesterday. I just returned home from a 6-day cruise with no internet connection.

Glad to see people liked the puzzle - sometimes a smooth Saturday is a good thing indeed. I looked back at my original clues this morning and many were changed to make life easier for the solvers. Here are some of the (often ridiculous) originals:

1A: Garland, e.g.
8A and 64A: Outer layer at some bars
55A: Mess that's hard to straighten out?
7D: Oracle's milieu
38D: Move to Montana?
52D: Church offerings?

Naturally, the puzzle began with GAYICON and, as MN has said about me, had to include a SILENT* entry, I'm a sucker for such things.

DQ

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Mr. Quarfoot: some of those original clues are fiendish. I like "Move to Montana" very much. Even a sports ignoramus like myself can appreciate it.

I've said before how much I dislike obscure sports figures' names like "Esa." And enough with the ACL, NHL, NCAA, whatever! Half the time I don't even know what sports these belong to!

"One L" is familiar not only to former law students but to readers of John Grisham -- the title of his first book. "Cob" is not obscure to readers of 19th century British novels: the Ford Maverick of the mounted class. "Meadow" took an unaccountably long time to occur to me, as did "accredit," since I fell into the "I care" trap.

I actually persuaded myself that a dinosaur had 3 hearts, no doubt thinking of the two brains. "Motliest" was a gimme from the "M" in "met." Nice word. People think "motley" means "scruffy," but it just means "unmatched" as in "not in uniform."

Hessians were mercenaries, which is a kind of paid ally, . . . I guess.

Ulrich 4:38 PM  

@anonymous: I you had read what has been said about the Hessians, you would have found out that they were not mercenaries--they were not paid, but the sovereigns who sold their services. The soldiers sometimes did not get more than their daily food--no wonder they did not fight with particular enthusiasm.

And Tikkanen is not obscure to people who follow the NHL.

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

Hey there -- One L was the title of Scott Turow's first book, not John Grisham's. Scott Turow, like me, hails from Chicago. -- Barb

Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Orange, the film editor's job is cutting. Cutting is the job. That's like saying Spielberg's job (MOVIE). His job is directing. Tailor's job (SUIT). See what I mean? A better clue: It's rough, on the lot?

Michael 5:31 PM  

Sundays are always a relief after Friday and Saturday. This one had a lot of crosswordese, but was worthwhile if only for the information that octopuses (octopi?) have three hearts.

John Reid 6:52 PM  

Good puzzle, but there were several crossings that I wasn't particularly fond of. I managed to scrape through the EPOS/ESA one somehow (not being a hockey fan didn't help.) The one that ended up getting me today, though, was the ROBT/LTR cross. I went with an E here, thinking that maybe the clue was trying to hint at 'Rob E.' Lee? Looking back of course that makes NO sense... and I had no idea what 'ler' was short for on a photocopier (not surprising considering it was wrong) but I just went with it. Of course the T makes total sense. Similar to Chas. for Charles or Thos. for Thomas, right? I've seen clues like that before, I just didn't put it together this time. [On another note - the word 'robe' would surely *never* be clued in such a bizarre way! But hindsight is always 20/20]

Otherwise, no real stumbles today. I pondered over the CHELA area for a while too - I was going to try 'rive' for 77D, but it didn't feel right. Once I thought of ROLE I felt better. I liked foodie's previous comment that noted the similarity of the word chela to a term from chemistry - the english language is fascinating!

I liked WARCRY! OCTOPUSES was also a neat clue - but isn't the plural 'octopi'?

Ulrich 7:06 PM  

Hockey fans seem to be underrepresented among crossword puzzlers--I myself have lost touch after moving away from Pittsburgh. But I tell you, the first line of Edmonton on which Tikkanen played with Gretzky and Kurri, winning four Stanley Cups for the Oilers, was one for the ages.

green mantis 7:59 PM  

Yawn. I used to look forward to the Sunday Times all week, and now I almost don't want to do the puzzle. It usually just seems like this over-big, unwieldy, inelegant oaf of a puzzle with no pay off.

It's not harder than Friday or Saturday; it's just cumbersome. Where's the joy? I demand joy.

I think we need to start calling for Sunday puzzles that reach beyond the "add a letter and create new funky phrase" themes. Just not getting that satisfied thrill.

Okay, enough. The girdle conversation is interesting to me, specifically the idea of restraint equaling virtue, because I'm about to present a paper at a popular culture conference on Thursday about how pop fiction villainesses almost always have great, big, wild, fabulous hair, while their goody two shoes counterparts (Jane Eyre et al) are always buttoned-up and bear unremarkable tresses. Same basic idea. Sex=evil.

If you want to come see me present, just come to San Francisco and look for the person fainting on the dais, undergoing a panic attack at having to speak in public.

Orange 9:12 PM  

Philly, on the Mac, we can head to Edit/Special Characters and click to insert the chosen character, or just type option-e to make an acute accent and then the relevant vowel, which will go beneath it. ASCII is for suckers!

ArtLvr 10:13 PM  

Philly, on my iBook I hold down the alt/option key and get the ç by typing c, the grave the same except it's in plain sight on top left key and will not advance a space until you hit letter a or e, à or è, the aigu as Orange said, é, and there's an umlaut found by hitting the u and then the letter wanted. I haven't found the circonflèxe yet!

My Signicon Cat starts with the Sigma at alt-w

∑;)

ArtLvr 10:36 PM  

p.s. the circonflêxe seems to be alt-i

∑;)

Joon 10:48 PM  

green mantis:

adding a letter to create a funky new phrase does not, of course, make a great theme on its own. however, if the new phrases are interesting or funny in some way, that can justify an entire puzzle. for example, the WSJ puzzle by mike shenk a few weeks ago was called "carrying charges" and consisted of the word FEE introduced into several common phrases. some of the results were a little clunky (WIFE ENDOWS VISTA), but some were really great (POSTAGE AND HAND-FEELING) and one was absolutely brilliant (CRIMINAL IN TEN FEET); it still gives me a chuckle.

Rick Stein 12:39 AM  

I agree with you that this was an annoying puzzle--both in oddball fillers that overlapped and in clues that didn't make sense.

I must add that I have never heard a five dollar bill referred to as an ABE in slang. A "fin" yes; but an ABE had to be made up entirely by the puzzle-maker.

Boo!

Anonymous 2:39 AM  

To those of you unfamiliar with "shapers", I suggest you Google "Spanx", the breakthrough brand of these, and take a look at the many unfortunate ways to constrict the female body.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Am new to your blog -- found you b/c Linda had a link to you. I like your set-up -- I look forward to visiting again.

HATED the Sunday puzzle. Just returned from travel and looked forward to doing it. Ugh. Checked answers on this blog and saw it's not worthy enough of any effort by me.

Watched John Adams Sun. nite where Hessians fought for England so that answer was obvious to me.

Paper goes to recycle bin and on to better things. Will visit this site again, with pleasure.

Joe 5:28 PM  

John Reid, are you trying to cause trouble with your question about 'octopuses'. Anyways, the plural of octopus is any of the following depending on what language you think you are using: octopuses in English, octopodes in Greek, and octopi in Latin. Since octopus is a Greek word, many people think octopi is always wrong in English. Others say, though, that octopus came into English through Latin, and it was Latin long enough that it was adopted by Latin. I think octopodes has a future in language trivia (in which case I would push for Antipus as the singular of Antipodes).

Megan P 10:15 PM  

Got back from a trip and just did all the puzzles. The Q'foot one was hard for me (but great), and I didn't love the Sunday one, either. I think I read EVERY comment of each puzzle, but I didn't notice anyone defending "COB" from Rex. I was happy to see this word, because it seems as though some character comes riding over on one in every Trollope novel I've ever read. And now I know what one is!

xwd_fiend 10:04 AM  

Tried this on a weekend break as a change from British puzzles. I think I got everything right eventually except for the NW corner, where weak knowledge had me looking for a place name at 1A. Ignorance of the razor brand and guessing Nik rather than Dik at 4 didn't help.

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

Funny how we all have our areas of common knowledge. I had no problem with ESA since I watched the Edmonton Oilers during their Gretzky heydays but was buffaloed by "First year J D Student" - what does JD stand for and why One L? It had to be ONEL from the crosses but meant nothing to me. And then there was "touched = MET" the last word to fall for me since motliest didn't make sense until the very end.

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