THURSDAY, Mar. 13, 2008 - Alan Arbesfeld (BLACKMORE HEROINE)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Double letters - 16 squares contain double letters - no one letter is doubled more than once

I have no idea how I finished this. I barely remember doing it. My wife saw the completed puzzle this morning and was shocked that I had done it. If you had seen me yesterday, you'd have understood her shock. Sickest day I've had in a long, long time. Head in a vise, no appetite, temperature fluctuating wildly, slightly nauseous, etc. The kind of sick where you can't do anything but lie there in a daze. I'm canceling all my classes, appointments, and other obligations from now until Monday so I can just concentrate on getting better. I think I tried to get back to work/life too quickly, and my body made me pay for it. I'm about 2% better this morning, which feels like a blessing from God.

So you'll have to tell me if the theme here is more complex than I think it is. Lots of double letters ... the end. I'm not ragging on it - I really liked it. My biggest problem was not with the theme, but with the NE in general, where it took me some time to throw both SPIKEMEN (8D: Railroad track workers) and ARRIVES AT (10D: Reaches) up there, thereby gaining enough traction to get it finished. Wanted SPIKEMEN to be STAKEMEN for a bit.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: "Scram!" ("BuZZ oFF") - had BUG OFF at first... but that gave me RAGLE for:
  • 3D: Half of a showy display? (raZZle)
  • 14D: Like some oil rigs (oFFshore)
  • 18A: Practice area, or a sort (puTTinG GrEEn)
  • 7D: Kennel club rejects (muTTs)
  • 9D: Overwhelm (boGGle) - used to be addicted to online BOGGLE.
  • 11D: Lee Van _____ (spaghetti western actor) (ClEEf)
  • 28A: "Black rat" as opposed to "Rattus rattus" (coMMoN Name) - one of the most insane and perplexing clues I have ever seen.
  • 21D: Eponym of a classic Minnesota-brewed beer (HaMM)
  • 26D: _____ time (iN No)
  • 36A: Biblical patriarch whose name means "he will laugh" (IsAAc)
  • 31D: TV's Jack and kin (PAArs) - wanted BAUERS
  • 41A: Radical Hoffman (ABBie)
  • 33D: Robot in "Forbidden Planet" (RoBBy)
  • 46A: Northeast, on a map (uPPeR Right)
  • 38D: Spice holder (pePPer box) - weird answer; not sure I've seen this phrase before.
  • 43D: Misses the mark (eRRs)
  • 59A: Directories (aDDreSS bOOks)
  • 55D: Less conventional (oDDer)
  • 46D: Amherst campus, briefly (U MaSS)
  • 56D: Blackmore heroine (DOOne) - why do I feel like Lorna DOONEs were / are a kind of cookie? Ah, because they are! Well, that's a blast from the past. Not sure when the last time I saw Lorna DOONE cookies was.
  • 62A: Bygone women's magazine (MCCaLL's)
  • 58D: Stops on a sales rep's rte. (aCCts)
  • 52D: Last place (ceLLar)

My only ... disappointment? No, that's not it ... complaint? gripe? Maybe just a question: shouldn't all double letters in the puzzle have been given the 2-in-1 treatment, for consistency's sake? I'm looking at DEE (23A: _____ Snider, frontman for rock's Twisted Sister) and KEEN (63A: Sharp) in particular. Let's see ... what's left? ... Well, there's a host of high-end crossword language, like ORLE (16A: Shield border), HAJI (24A: Once-in-a-lifetime traveler), SONE (35A: Loudness unit), ERDE (66A: Himmel und _____ (traditional German potato dish)), and STOA (4D: Covered walkway) - most or all of which I learned from crosswords. I was not too thrilled with what seemed like a high number of abbreviations today, especially the boring look-alikes ELEM (42A: Low-grade?: Abbr.) and ELEV (27A: Figure usu. in hundreds or thousands of feet), and SYN (45A: Abridged, for short: Abbr.), which I do not understand. "For short" and "Abbr." - that's all a bit too much for me to get my (pounding) head around this morning.

The rest:

  • 15A: Starting fare, often (soup) - I was looking for "two dollars" or whatever a cab's meter starts at.
  • 37A: "What a _____!" ("concept") - I wrote in "concert" and thought, "well, that's pretty lame."
  • 37D: Job for Hercule Poirot (cas) - French for "case" - this little corner was mildly thorny for me.
  • 51A: Here, in Toledo (aca) - this is a basic Spanish word, but it looks completely alien to me this morning.
  • 54A: Silk fabric in scarves (foulard) - whoa. Never seen this before. Fabrics appear to be my new Kryptonite (though I pieced this one together OK).
  • 57A: Onetime Missouri natives (Osages) - While I continue to flounder where fabrics are concerned, my Native American tribe-retrieving skills appear to be developing nicely.
  • 65A: Parade honoree, familiarly (St. Pat) - his day is coming soon, which is the only reason I mention him. Oh, and ST PAT's day is the day that Spitzer turns over the reins to Paterson. I can't get this whole Client 9 / prostitution story in my rearview mirror fast enough. It's been only 48 hours and I'm already completely bored by it.
  • 67A: Lawless role (Xena) - I like this clue for its simplicity, combined with its potential for misdirection (Lawless = not adjective, but proper noun, i.e. Lucy Lawless)
  • 1D: About to bloom (in bud) - not a phrase I know, though it makes sense
  • 2D: Catch up with old classmates (reune) - one of my least favorite words
  • 12D: Cigarette brand that sponsored "The Dick Van Dyke Show" (Kent) - really really wanted KOOL, what with the double-letter theme and all, but KOOLS just seemed (and was) wrong.
  • 28D: Grammy winner Winans (Cece) - it's that or BEBE. Wrote in the "E"s and waited for the crosses...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Ulrich 9:21 AM  

I also found it disappointing that there are double letters that do not occupy the same square. In fact, I refused for a while to put in "arrives at" in the NE because I couldn't bring myself to put the r's into adjacent squares. Further "research" revealed that "orle" was indeed a shield boundary (I'm not at this long enough to know this from crosswords), and I yielded. My biggest problem was in the SE bc. the only Spanish for "here" I knew was "aqui", and how is a cellar a "last place"? Had also problems in the NW bc. I stuck to "bug off" for too long, then tried "butt off", and finally got to "buzz off". All in all, a hard puzzle that I solved through perseverance without getting much fun out of it.

@Rex: I'm impressed that you managed to do this under the circumstances. Again, best wishes.

Ulrich 9:29 AM  

Re. "Himmel und Erde". I couldn't believe when I saw this bc. I think even many Germans will not know this dish. But now I'm happy to know that it's upper-end crosswordese.

The name means "sky and earth" and the dish consists of a mixture of apples (the "sky" part) and potatoes (the "earth" part). It tends to be on the bland side, but becomes heavenly when accompanied by blood sausage. It's a poor man's dish that, unlike polenta in Italy, has not made it into fancy restaurants yet, as far as I know.

Jon 9:33 AM  

I agree that the inclusion of some double-lettered answers was annoying. I, too, left the first R in arrives at blank until seeing that the doubled letters were roughly symmetrical and there were other answers with consecutive identical letters not part of the rebus. Still didn't like it though.

The answer that stumped me was cas, not realizing that was French for case. I assume abridged and short are indeed synonyms, although I feel it really should have been "abridged, for shorter".

treedweller 9:35 AM  

Like ulrich, I was particularly annoyed by the fact that not all double letters were squeezed into one square (ARRIVESAT, KEEN). I stared at the former particularly for a long time, convinced it couldn't be right because of the theme.

And how is SYN an abbreviation for a word meaning "abridged"? I can see it abbreviates "synonym" but that is not anything like "abridged", not even for short. Likewise "synergy" (which I've never seen abbreviated, anyway).

I finally had to google for the sw--my knowledge of German cuisine is weak, I'm afraid. Also, I never heard of FOULARD, and the double-e KEEN couldn't be right, because of the theme. Alas. (or should I say WOE)

But, ulrich, I do get CELLAR. When a sports team is in last place in division rankings, pundits talk about how they are "in the cellar". i.e., they have to climb out of a hole to reach the other teams and compete for the title.

Alex 9:36 AM  

Yeah, the theme made things harder because I was unwilling to put in ARRIVES AT, DEE, and KEEN for quite a while.

Thought there might be some alphabetical doubles to the theme since EE and FF were on the same line, MM followed by NN in COMMON NAME, and PP followed by RR in UPPER RIGHT were the first theme answers I had in the puzzle.

Answers I don't get: SYN and ONER

I too had What a CONCERT. Babelfish tells me that "here" in Spanish is "aqui" and that "aca" it not a Spanish word it recognizes. Maybe ACA is something they say in Ohio.

treedweller 9:37 AM  

Ah, jon answered my SYN question while I was posting.

Get well soon, Rex! I need you to explain these things for me.

James F 9:38 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, but agree that it isn't quite perfection to have un-condensed double letters in the fill, especially when there were some letters (H, I, J, Q, U, V, W, X, Y, & Z) remaining undoubled. Having said that, this is a nifty and impressive bit of constructorship.

Jon 9:45 AM  

@treedweller - I checked the Million Word Crossword Dictionary and short is listed as a synonym for abridged. I still really don't like this answer though.

Isn't abridged a relative term that doesn't necessarily imply short, merely shorter? The abridged version of Stephen King's "The Stand" was still over 800 pages I think, which isn't a short book in my opinion.

ArtLvr 9:50 AM  

I think SYN (abridged, abbr,) may be short for synopsis.

" What a ____!" ? I wanted something like "mess"!


Jim in NYC 9:52 AM  

Good morning. Alex, "oner" is barely-English crosswordese for a unique person or thing, i.e., "one" of a kind.

Agree with those above about KEEN, DEE and ARRIVESAT. Constructors, if the spelling of the answers isn't going to be standard English, then please let us follow the new rule once we figure it out. Thank you in advance.

Jim in Chicago 10:07 AM  

I have to admit that the issue with some but not all double letters occupying a single square bothered me so much that I just threw the whole mess in the waste basket and went on with my day. Maybe I'm just grumpy today.

Jim in Chicago 10:07 AM  

I have to admit that the issue with some but not all double letters occupying a single square bothered me so much that I just threw the whole mess in the waste basket and went on with my day. Maybe I'm just grumpy today.

livebug 10:16 AM  

Ah! Thank you, artlvr! "Synopsis" makes sense. Now I can go to work and not stew all day.

ArtLvr 10:31 AM  

Thanks, livebug... Synopsis is not a usual meaning for SYN but possible, at least.

Jon is right -- the answers containing doubled letters are in symmetrical lines only, but that's not much help until afterward! The other letter pairs left plain make it very confusing. A CONCEPT to ENSNARE! What will Emily make of this?


PhillySolver 10:33 AM  

I do appreciate this forum for explaining things. Even as I read through the posts I wasn't getting SYN. Now I see.

The inconsistency of the doubles created a meSS for me tOO. I even thought oTTowas for Osages and like Rex, gueSSed kOOls for the cigareTTes. I also guessed pePPerpot. It took about thirty minutes for me, did my check and went to bed. I lOOked at it this morning and it sEEmed gOOd. I just came here and sEE I overlOOked one of the doubles. I did not have two Ns in coMMoNName. That oMMiSSIon prevented me from gleaning the syMMetry of the puZZle. I like it beTTer now even though it remains iRRegular.

SethG 10:36 AM  

I think it has to be SYNonym, not synopsis...
Full clue is Abridged, for short: Abbr. :, and I think hallucinating Rex nailed it with the "for short and Abbr." Maybe not a great clue for synonym, but I think a worse one for synopsis.

Anyway, with everyone else I _really_ hated the inconsistency. In addition to DEE/KEEN/ARRIVES AT, there were also ASSTS and IRRS in the corners. 1A! I spent a long time in the upper left, wondering if it was kosher (insert wicked smiley face) to break the rule before it'd even started. Um, ugh.

Also didn't like FOULARD or ORLE--at least I know ERDE's gonna be German, the others don't give any language of origin indication.

And I _really_ didn't like ONER. Worked in the applet, lost track of the OO, so I had xOxE for an unfamiliar literary character. Had noticed J,K,X,Z, thought maybe it was a pangram so I guessed DOVE, then just cheated when it wouldn't accept my answer rather than try to figure out how many of my complete guesses at foreign words were wrong. Turns out, just that last one.

Also turns out I ramble. Feel better RP,

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Thanks, thanks, couldn't understand "SYN" either. Synopsis must be it. I thought of "CAS" as French for case but couldn't make sense of "SYN" and so assumed it was an obscure double-letter I couldn't fathom.

Rex, funny that you out-intuit me a thousand to one most of the time, but RATTUS/RAT . . . COMMON NAME was as obvious to me as a clue can be. Your flu, no doubt.

Never heard of Himmel und Erde, but what else could it be? Clearly "Heaven and Earth."

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle. It's especially tricky when there's no stated theme to clue you into the doubled letters. Then your brain's automatic function of checking the length of the answer space against your initial guesses doesn't work at all!

Southamptoner 10:37 AM  

Me too, Chicago Jim. Frustrated that nothing seemed to fit, even after I had figured out the doubles. This felt like a Saturday puzzle..

Feel especially dim today, four years of Spanish and
"aca" for Here, in Toledo is completely uh, foreign to me. Or forgotten, sigh.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

"Aca" is as common a Spanish word for "here" as is "aqui." In both cases, the accent is on the final syllable.

jls 10:46 AM  

for me it was "syn" as in "synthesis"... but "synopsis" does seem more accurate.



p.s. rex -- glad yer takin' care of yerself!!

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Re all the SYN stuff - I was befuddled by that too, but I think Jon at 9:33 am nailed it: abridged is a syn. for short.
Rex: your faithfulness to this blog is awe-inspiring. Take care.

humourlessTwit 11:31 AM  

I made all the same mistakes, and then some, had the same complaints, and am in perfect agreement with Jim in Chicago.

I, however, know I'm in a bad mood.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

I'm relatively new to crosswords and this one bugged the living $#%@ out of me. Double letter puzzles are new to me, so you can imagine my frustration, but the filler answers were, IMO, equally awful. SONE, HAJI, ORLE, ERDE, CAS, STOA, ACA.

Definitely a veteran solvers puzzle.

william e emba 11:48 AM  

I thought SYN was an abbreviation for SYNCOPATED.

Noam D. Elkies 11:53 AM  

"Medium-challenging" here too, and I have no extenuating circumstance to plead such as Rex's flu... nor the double-letter theme, which I surmised quickly enough by reaching ?????BOX in 38D and then figuring that 59A:?????B?KS had to be some kind of B[OO]KS. I didn't notice that all the doubled letters were different. I too was disappointed (and a bit slowed down) by the unthematic doubles; also by the absence of a double-J in 24A:HAJI, though 25D could hardly start with JJ. My last letter was also the 37D:CAS / 45A:SYN crossing, though in retrospect I should have figured that "for short: Abbr." would be redundant if "for short" had its usual idiomatic meaning.

I never learned the alternative 51A:ACA for aqui' in school Spanish, but heard it later in Mexico. I know 56-Doone as a cookie (and yes I've seen and perhaps even eaten one during the past year), but was only vaguely aware of the literary reference of the cookie's name.

Yes, 28A:CO[MM]O[NN]AME was almost immediate given the theme; the mystery for me was 28D:CECE, which to my eye looks way uglier than 2D:REUNE (bad though that back-formation of "reunion" is), especially crossing the odd-job 33A:RUER...


Anonymous 11:55 AM  

As soon as I saw the secret, at HAMM and COMMONNAME, I went back to pencil and paper for this one. A fun puzzle today.

jae 12:00 PM  

I did this after getting my butt kicked by the ACPT #2 puzzle. Lets just say 25 min. is not enough time for me to parse a word ladder (this doesn't give anything away). Anyway, a low level of confidence was not a good way to approach this one. As a golfer PUTTINGGREEN tipped me to the theme but even then this was a bit of a struggle. Unlike most of you I wasn't bothered by the doubles that didn't fit the theme as I figured the rule was "only once."

Had the same problem with SYN as everyone and initially thought it meant SYNOPSIS but SYNONYM is probably a better answer. I did like this one and figured the author was just riffing off his initials.

ACA is used phrases like "Come here!"

I've seen ONER several times with similar cluing.

More challenging than medium for me.

Get well Rex!

miriam b 12:06 PM  

I'm by no means a Bible scholar, but I did know that ISAAC was given his name (I believe his original name was Israel) because he was destined to laugh in disbelief when told that he and Sarah, both well into geezerdom, had conceived a child (Jacob). The cross, PAARS, reinforced my impression that there would be double letters elsewhere. And so I was off and running.

Rex, I hope you feel much better soon. I think you did the wise thing in deciding to cocoon for a while. They're saying now that even if you've had a flu shot, you're not protected against all current strains.

About your having solved the puzzle while hors de combat: I seem to have had an analogous experience waaay back in college. I suddenly developed a high fever, a weird rash, nausea and vomiting. The school doc had no idea what it was - never did find out, in fact - and the PTB put me in isolation. I happened to have a copy of Ulysses with me. I read all of it and understood it completely, or so it seemed. I recovered after a few days and again found Joyce maddenly perplexing. Should have written down my thoughts while in outer space.

BTW, the school insisted that I go to a dermatologist for followup, despite the fact that the rash was completely gone. I described what it had looked like, and the doctor told me, "Well, whatever you had, you don't have it now." There was a fee exacted for this diagnosis.

DJ Dickmutt 12:16 PM  

The double letters really pissed me off! There were no clues that this was what I was supposed to do, and as already acknowledged, there are adjacent double letters in a whole bunch of other squares! AAAGH!

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

"isaac" helped me, too. Miriam's got the story right, if not exactly the genealogy. Isaac was Abram's (Abraham's) son. Abraham did the laughing, when told that he and his old wife Sarah, would have a child. Isaac's son was Jacob, renamed Israel after he wrestled with the angel, "israel" meaning "he struggles with God"

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

"isaac" helped me, too. Miriam's got the story right, if not exactly the genealogy. Isaac was Abram's (Abraham's) son. Abraham did the laughing, when told that he and his old wife Sarah, would have a child. Isaac's son was Jacob, renamed Israel after he wrestled with the angel, "israel" meaning "he struggles with God"

Dan 12:36 PM  

I spent too long on the CAS/SYN intersection, until the Alphabet Game saved me. Then I slapped my forehead, because SYN has been clued this way twice in the last year: "Single, for one: Abbr." (Anyone with Cruciverb access, are there more examples from the Sun or elsewhere? I used XWordInfo.) In case anyone's still confused, it definitely means "synonym".

Thought the puzzle was pretty cool but inelegant for reasons already discussed... I guess it wasn't possible for the fill to avoid double letters completely except for rebus squares.

karmasartre 1:05 PM  

@jae -- I'm right with you on ACPT#2 (wouldn't have finished in time), but I really liked the puzzle....

Damon G. 1:18 PM  

From a puzzle standpoint it feels as if we've sprung ahead a full day this week. Every puzzle seemed one day harder than when it appeared. This one probably would have been much less challenging if my printer was not broken. Doing it on-line was really hard for me, since I couldn't enter in the double letters. It really hindered my puzzle vision.

tabstop 1:35 PM  

I suppose someone has to mention it: to get the double letters in the applet (or in Across Lite too, IIRC): hit a + and then type two letters (they'll both go in the box). If you hit ++ you can get three letters, and +++ gives you four.

Orange 1:54 PM  

ONER is one of those clunky old crossword answers that nobody uses in contemporary speech or writing. Its appearance in this puzzle has been decried elsewhere.

Let me add my support to those who say SYN is abbreviating synonym here. Abridged is an adjective, so all those other possibilities that are nonstandard abbreviations for nouns are out. The only one that makes sense is that abridged and short are roughly synonymous. (And I absolutely didn't understand that it was SYN for synonym until a commenter here explained it.)

This puzzle made me grumpy for two reasons: My own mistake, and the unsatisfying nature of the theme, the clunky fill, and the inclusion of other double letters, particularly in the long-enough-to-be-a-theme-entry ARRIVES AT. Okay, so that's really four reasons.

Greg 1:57 PM  

I figured out the double letters right away with Buzz Off, and was hung up three times:
CAS/SYN (guessed on this one)
HAJI (I had HOBO for this)
MCCALLS (For some stupid reason, I had APPTS instead of ACCTS, and it wasn't until I realized I already had a PP that I was forced to review it and quickly got the ACCTS which led to MCCALLS instead of MPP___)
I agree on the issue over which the other puzzlers here have vented their displeasure. This puzzle felt forced, and even after I discovered the general linear symmetry, I felt annoyed with the fact that there was no real pattern, and I disliked that some clues doubled letters from separate words - coMMoN Name? puTTinG GrEEn? annoyed me.
Anyway, I am done, and will relish the time before I tackle Friday as this one HURT! :-)

haPPy puZZling!

P.S. I don't know why, but SKILIFT took me forever to figure out! :-)

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Is it possible that "abridged" and "for short" are synonyms?

Anonymous 2:15 PM  


I enjoyed the puzzle but like most aca was confused by the double in 1 across:irrs. I managed to get all but 1 double as I never got razzle as I stuck with bug off rather than buzz off. I therfore wasn't sure whether 20 across was unlash or unsash either way I was clueless and ended up with ragle or rasle instead of razzle. Still happy withe the results.

Feel better Rex.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  


Oh, also felt that haji was clued poorly because although many hajis are once in a life time travelers others make the haj/pilgramage to Mecca many more times. Muslims, at least men, are required to make said pilgrimage at least once in a life-time but are encouraged to do it as many times as they can. Thus, I would of preferred : once in a life time traveler, perhaps/maybe/frequently/? Moreover, there are those that travel a great deal outside of the haj, even some one- time hajis.

patdugg 2:35 PM  

It's definitely SYN as in SYNONYM in my opinion. The NYS used a similar trick in 2005:

[Dough for bread, e.g.: Abbr.], the answer being SYN.

miriam b 2:50 PM  

@Anonymous 12:33: Wow, I should have checked my facts! Thanks for straightening me out and jogging my memory. Isaac's wife was Rebecca, I now recall. I seem to have ascribed a sort of Oedipal situation to those folks - sorry about that!

Kate 2:54 PM  

I had the same complaint about some double letters not being 2-in-1. Seems cheaty and unelegant.

Wade 2:57 PM  

I can't really make out the completed grid on RP's site, but if I'm reading it and the blog correctly, I had two letters wrong: I had SYNE instead of SONE (as in "syne wave"), which gave me ANY instead of IN[N]O, and HAJI instead of HAJA. I haven't looked up HAJA to see if it's a word that works (or a word at all), but I'm tempted to give myself full credit anyway. (And if the answer is IN[N]O, shouldn't the crossing N also be a double? Sorry if that's covered in the comments--I'm late to the game today and can't catch up.)

Wade 3:00 PM  

Re: my earlier comment, my bad--the N is in fact doubled in INO and COMONAME crossing. And HAJA apparently isn't a word. No credit for Wade today.

PhillySolver 3:03 PM  

patdugg has a point and I will give you some history, but it is the context of this clue that created the issue. Nevertheless;

in January, we had "Single, for one" = SYN (from the young Mr. Last) and in 2004, "word for word" (misdirection, huh?) = SYN

In the more recent example, the comma placement is the same. I just know, that I for one, came up short for abridged.

Alan 3:05 PM  

Will someone please explain 21d-hamm for me.

Alan 3:05 PM  

Will someone please explain 21d-hamm for me.

Wade 3:12 PM  

Alan, could you repeat that?

Hamm's is a famous Milwaukee beer.

andreacarlamichaels 3:13 PM  

As a fellow constructor, I was surprised that Will didn't make Alan redo the whole NorthWest corner, bec you could get rid of the IRRS problem (unless that was a weird , imperfect tip-off about the puzzle) as well as the awkward INBUD, REUNE, as well as the bland STOA, not to mention DEE!!!!
(And I'm not just saying this bec I had BUGOFF AND BUTTOFF forever)
Really, why not rework that one corner and get rid of five problems at once?

Impressed tho that not only did he not repeat double letters, he had three sets in puTTinGGrEEn and aDDreSSbOOks which I think redeems the whole thing BIG time! Esp bec THREE others had double sets! I mean, c'mon,that is really amazing!

foodie 3:20 PM  

I agree with Anon. 2:24 re Haji. It is badly clued. Haji simply means anyone who has gone to pilgrimage, and it can be once or numerous times, and many many people try to do it multiple times.

Foulard threw me off. I know the word well in French and it usually means a scarf, so I was confused by the clue, but it does seem to be defined as also referring to the material.

Thanks Ulrich for the Himmel und Erde description! It's worth trying. I bet there are ways to make it tasty, and what a cool name!

Rex, in many scientific writings, they cite the latin name for the animal species, and then might add: common name xxxx.

Hope you feel better! My prescription, based on having suffered through the same evil and tenacious bug: plenty of steam. You get a steamer, stick your face in it, and it performs miracles.

andreacarlamichaels 3:20 PM  

Not quite, Wade! I know people confuse MiNNesota and Wisconsin all the time, but don't confuse HaMMs with Old MilwaukEE bEEr.
HaMMs is from St. Paul, "From the Land of Sky Blue Waters"!

Anonymous 3:23 PM  

Hamms may be a famous Milwaukee beer, but not the beer that made Milwaukee famous

andreacarlamichaels 3:28 PM  

I loved the Syy and Earth explanation as's so interesting esp since potatoes are called "apples of the earth" (at least in French, non?).
It's also interesting bec I think I once read that in Japan, there must always be something green, brown and white on a plate, to symbolize earth, sky and plants. That's why there is always some sort of beautiful garnish if the main dishes are of only one color.
I'm sure someone Japanese can better explain this.
Perhaps Rex can have a little Himmel und Erde und will then feel besser!

Wade 3:32 PM  

andreacarlamichaels, ten thousand pardons requested from the land of ten thousand lakes. As Jerry Lee Lewis sang, what made Milwaukee (I mean Minnesota) famous has made a loser out of me.

Jim in NYC (erstwhile Chicagoan) 3:38 PM  

"From the Land of Sky Blue Waters,
Form the land of pines, lofty balsams,
Comes the Beer Refreshing,
Hamm's the Beer Refreshing,

PhillySolver 3:38 PM  

I just know that blogs are meant to share recipes, right?


2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peel and cube (1/2 inch)
1 lb Granny Smith (who else?) apples, cubed (1/2 inch
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
White pepper to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed
Favorite Sausage (I like Bratwurst)

Bring water to a boil and add potatoes and softly boil for 20 minutes, add the apples after ten minutes. Drain and mash then add the sugar, salt, pepper, and butter until smooth. Slice cooked sausage and serve on top of the mix. Serve with Hamm and rye, (Sorry, couldn't resist)

Ulrich 3:42 PM  

@foodie, andrea and phillysolver: here's a German
version that shows a very tempting picture. The kicker is to add browned onions!

karmasartre 3:45 PM  

@ricket -- That's at least the second time the jingle has made it into these comments. Sort of unforgettable. I share your penchant for mistyping form for from, and I only catch it once in a while...

Jim in NYC 4:12 PM  

Karmasartre, our friend Google tells me that the Hamm's jingle has appeared at least TWICE before my post today. Nothing new under the Minnesota sun.

Greg 4:21 PM  

There's a bar in Brooklyn called Moonshine, near Redhook, and they have a 4 (5?) can special - the bucket o' beer (in cans!) - your choice of beer; Tecate, Bud, or even PBR! The staff and owner are really cool, and I would bet if you wanted him to find Hamms, he would!
I remember freshman year at USC and going to the supermarket for a case of Hamms or Olympia for $3.99!

haPPy puZZling!

miriam b 4:31 PM  

@ulrich: Danke schön! I've printed the recipe and plan to prepare it soon. My German is pretty rusty but it will suffice for culinary purposes. I would definitely add a little nutmeg as suggested and, being very nearly a vegetarian, I'd omit the meat and indulge in the "mountain" of roast onions.

I always start potatoes cooking in cold water; seems to help them cook uniformly. This recipe doesn't specify, but that's a minor point. I haven't had time to read all the comments, but I liked the idea of using pears. I've bookmarked this website for future reference.

doc John 4:56 PM  

I actually thought this puzzle was kind of fun and clever. My biggest niggle, though, is that Mr. Arbesfeld didn't use all 26 letters as doubles (I didn't mind the regular use of double letters as they'd already been used once before). That I wanted every letter to be doubled actually caused me to outsmart myself when I wrote in a double L for FOULARD (even though I'd already used L in MCCALLS) and double J for HAJI (even though if I'd looked JJOSTLE wouldn't have been right). I did the NW last and had 8 letters left over and wondered how he was possibly going to fit them all into that 4x4 space- he didn't. A few clues and fills did seem forced but I guess for a puzzle like this, it's hard not to.

I also had U Conn for a while instead of UMASS but ADDRESS BOOK finally rid me of that mistake. For some reason, I always associate Amherst with Connecticut. I don't think I'll make that mistake again!

@ Rex: this flu going around is a bad one so please do take care of yourself. Lots of liquids (yes, and chicken soup), rest and 2 aspirin/advil/ibuprofen tid (or ter to use wacky crosswordese).

@ Miriam: your experience sounds par for the course for dermatologists. They have sayings like "If it's wet, dry it and if it's dry, wet it" and "If the patient is on steroids, take her off and if she's not on steroids, put her on." For that they can charge a huge fee and have a wonderful lifestyle.

miriam b 5:09 PM  

@doc john: I hear ya. This insightful dermatological opinion was offered many many years ago. Remember, I was in college at the time, and I'm older than dirt. So my conclusion has to be that it was ever thus. No doubt the fee was relatively small by today's standards.

chefbea 5:09 PM  

Thanks for the recipe Phillysolver. We should exchange more recipes. I have many since I love to cook when I'm not doing crossword puzzles.
Feel better Rex

Anonymous 5:12 PM  


If you click on the grid on this (Rex's ) site it will enlarge and you will be able to see it.



I believe potato is erd-apfel (Earth-apple) in German. I don't know what apple is in German although I assume apfel as well. But that may not be correct as apple and their equivalent in other languages: pommes, etc. also connote fruit as oppossed to the apple-fruit.


Ulrich 5:27 PM  

@miriam b: You seem to have understood everything--respect!

@profphil: In high German, a potato is a "Kartoffel". But in many dialects, e.g. that of the Rhineland where I come from, it's indeed called "Erdapfel", and as in French (pommes), potatoes may be simply referred to as Äpfel--the context decides what's meant.

pistachio disguise 5:28 PM  

this was my least favorite NYT puzzle i can remember in a few years. the inconsistency, assymetry, and obscurity (pepper box? really?) of the theme answers made the puzzle harder to parse without adding any degree of fun or interest. boo, alan arbeseld!

on a specific note: as previously mentioned, "aqui" tends to be taught in most American textbooks of the Spanish language, but in my experience ACA is more widely used to mean "here." Similarly, "alli" ("there") is more commonly taught as the counter to "aqui," but i hear "alla" more often.
aqui, aca
alli, alla
let's call the whole thing off.

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

proud to do this Thursday in 15 minutes - very tough Thursday with an easy gimmick (got it from in no time, even though common name was the last thing I filled in). was stuck on appt.s in the south west forever. Good puzzle and good commentary - please get wel soon Rex

Imsdave - the inept blogger

archaeoprof 5:44 PM  

Get well soon, Rex!

Greg 5:49 PM  

The other thing to remember about "Spanish" words in the crossword puzzles (and in everyday life) is that there are many differences between Castillian Spanish, which tends to be the standard for textbooks in the US (at least it was when I learned). I minored in Spanish in college, and there are many differences between the Spanish spoken by my friends from Spain and my friends from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, etc.
My impression from the mixture of people with whom I have spoken is that "aca" is "here" but with more intensity. As in "here and now."

On a side note, it reminds me of that wonderful story (urban legend?) of Chevrolet starting to market their new car, the Nova, in South America, and having it bomb! Apparently, their research department failed to discover that "No va" means "doesn't go!" Not the best of names for a car!
haPPy puZZling!

miriam b 5:52 PM  

@ulrich: Thanks. It's been a long time since college, and I've rarely used my German. My vocabulary has suffered. Use it or lose it. I actually own one German-language cookbook which I bought years ago at Stockmann's department store in Helsinki. It's called "Schlemmen auf Finnisch" and some of the recipes are great - particularly those for baked goods. It's beautifully illustrated and has a lot of info on Finnish customs.

On the names for potatoes: Oddly, the Russian word is kartoshka (I don't know how to do Cyrillic here.). Apple is yablochka, which sounds like a cognate for apple or Aepfel (Last time I tried an umlaut on this site, it didn't work.)

A little assorted trivia from this confessed food/language nut: Apple is "alma" in the Turkic languages including Hungarian. The capital of Kazakhstan is Alma Ata, which means "father of apples".

andreacarlamichaels 6:06 PM  

Doc John,
I also put in a double J for HAJJI (maybe JJOSTLE is to bump really really hard?!)
But I think it's bec HAJJI is one of the million acceptable spellings in Scrabble for HAJ in the plural:

that's what always trips me up being a Scrabbler/Crossword-er...
For example, I lost a game recently when REUNE was challenged off the board :(

By the way, re: discussion of once- in-a-lifetime vs many times to Mecca, maybe it was referring to the fact that you don't/can't add HADJ to your name until you have made that one trip to Mecca, regardless of subsequent trips.

And, if this isn't too tangent-y, "Once in a Lifetime" is the name of the documentary about the NY COsmos/Pele from about a year ago that was an adorable little film, realeased around the same time as Wordplay, I believe. (cf yesterday's puzzle)

Anonymous 6:21 PM  


Kartoffel is also the Yiddish word for potato from the High German. Most Yiddish words derived from High German and often are no longer used in German. I don't know if erdapfel is also acceptable in Yiddish.


Catherine K 6:28 PM  

I liked the puzzle! Thank you Mr Arbeseld, for helping me feel smart! Every time I can complete a crossword, even if I have to check a word or two, I feel really good and happy, and like I've really accomplished something. And I always learn something new. Every single day.

I still keep thinking of myself as a rookie, but I think I'm going to have to promote myself to the "pretty good" category. Although I know I will never be as fast at solving as speed demons like you, Rex!

And Rex, if your flu turns into a runny-nose mess, Puffs with Lotion are the best-kept secret ever! They really keep you from hurting your nose from all that blowing.

fergus 7:39 PM  

Though the letters for SYN almost had to be there, I was thinking Synthesis, for shortening the Dialectical Thesis and Antithesis. A stretch, however, but then figured Synopsis worked well enough. But now I am leaning in the Synonym direction after some persuasion from the posts above.

Lorna DOONE was the tip-off for me to fill in an extra letter, but the how and why was sealed by UPPER RIGHT. I was stymied for way too long because I couldn't find the SKILIFT, even after asking a older colleague about Dick Van Dyke's cigarette sponsor. And now I've found that I had an error since I had UNMASH crossing with my very careless RAZZMA, as in Razzma-tazz, along with no familiarity with this Twisted Sister frontman. Also a little careless with ANEMIA, since ANEMIC really does not match the Clue properly.

I'll bet there is many a person who decides to REUNE, but soon becomes a RUER shortly after he ARRIVES AT the blessed event. Couldn't be a HAJI, could it?

I had IN AWE instead of AGAPE down there in the SE, which pretty much sums up my impression of this highly engaging and reasonably befuddling puzzle.

Ulrich 7:59 PM  

@profphil: ...or the meaning has deviated somewhat--an interesting topic, but we are already out on a limb with this and I don't want to push the rules for this blog even farther;-)

treedweller 8:34 PM  

I suppose now is as good a time as any to post this:

I have recently subscribed to the online NYT puzzle, which led me to this blog and the NYT forum. I've jumped right in a few times to pick nits with the best of them. I stand by my posts, but I must say I appreciate those of you who are building my daily entertainment. I've taken a stab or two at making a puzzle, and I appreciate the difficulty. Thanks for your efforts, even if you aren't always perfect.

Michael 9:09 PM  

I got stuck with bug off rather than buzz off. I've spent a lot of time in Mexico and have heard aca as much as aqui. The puzzle was enjoyable, I thought, though I appreciate the inconsistencies with double letters that everyone is pointing out.

Bill from NJ 9:11 PM  

I have been fooled by rebus-type puzzles in the past and am ready for them now, yeah!!

I tipped to the theme at RO(BB)Y/A(BB)IE and the puzzle fell quickly . . .almost.

I came a cropper in the SE for two reasons: I stayed married to 51D (INAWE) and couldn't come up with the defunct women's magazine. After a frustrating hour I finally declared the puzzle finished and went to Linda G's blog for help.

BTW, Linda G is closing her blog indefinitely as of today. If you are a friend of this lovely blog you can follow the link in Rex's sidebar to Madness . . . Crossword and Otherwise to say goodbye

dk 9:18 PM  

Get well Rex

mac 9:52 PM  

I agree with a lot of the above. I'm such a night owl, you probably are in bed before I have time to check your comments. By the way, the number of comments is way up, it's taking me more time to read them by far than to do the puzzle and read Rex's comments!
Foody, Himmel und Erde is called Hete Bliksem in Holland (hot lightning), and we use half sweet and half very sour apples (goudreinetten) and we add bacon.
I will be away for 9 days, thankfully in London and the Netherlands where I can get the Herald Tribune and do the puzzle (except the Saturday one), but I cannot get to Rex's blog.....
See you later.

fergus 10:56 PM  

Linda G used to comment here, and rather articulately as I recall, so I am sad to hear she's dropping her own proprietary offerings. Is Rex becoming Yahoo or Google? Maybe that is the way of the world, but I do hope to see Linda G soon, and frequently.

John Reid 1:02 AM  

I liked today's puzzle. Of course any time that it's required to put more than one letter in a square, my solving time increases dramatically. I was happy to finish it in a little over 18 minutes without any mistakes. My last square was the L in FOULARD/ALENE, which I thought was a tricky cross. I also had FITTINGROOM at 18A, which gave me some real trouble in the NE corner for a while but seemed to fit the theme well! I thought that section was the toughest overall. I would have had much more trouble if it hadn't been for the symmetry in the horizontal clues regarding the number of double letter entries needed.

Rex - I can picture you with a blanket wrapped around you and a box of tissues next to the computer, feeling crappy, with a cup of tea, still soldiering on and writing your blog for all of us to read. What a true labor of love! Thank you for the entertainment you provide us each day. I'm glad to hear that you've cancelled class 'til next week. Take it easy and drink plenty of liquids. Hope you feel better soon.

Kalaala 3:42 AM  

Today's puzzle was fun I thought. Even though, as lots of people mentioned, there were some doubled letters that weren't in the same squares like the others, I still thought it was an impressive construction. I just can't imagine making up a puzzle like that!

I hope you feel better real soon. Try to get lots of sleep, it will help. LOVE your blog!

Mary in Mpls 10:05 AM  

O.K. I'm six weeks behind, but if anybody's still reading, my Dad brought the Hamm's bear to life. He didn't actually invent him, but did write the animated commercials and the jingle.

Rex Parker 10:37 AM  


I'm still reading, and that is Hot. I hope you have lots of olde timey beer paraphernalia lying around your house.


westcoastgal 1:18 PM  

Mary in Mpls - Awesome! As soon as I saw the beer clue I started singing "Hamms the beer refresing" song and picturing those cool blue bears dancing on TV. Yea- I'm with Rex, hang on to that cool Hamms stuff.

westcoastgal 1:18 PM  

Mary in Mpls - Awesome! As soon as I saw the beer clue I started singing "Hamms the beer refresing" song and picturing those cool blue bears dancing on TV. Yea- I'm with Rex, hang on to that cool Hamms stuff.

westcoastgal 1:22 PM  

Also to Mary - there are lots of us on the 6-wk "lag" - hang in there. I bet you knew the McCalls answer, too. I saw it on the coffee table while watching the Hamms commercials. That dates us to the golden era. ;)

MN Sally 1:29 PM  


I'm also one of the 6-weeks-behind solvers and have been reading your blog for several months. Hopefully you're over whatever bug you had and back to your old self!

I actually thought this puzzle was fairly easy! I've been solving (rather, learning to solve?, struggling to solve?)the NYT for about 5 years and when I can go right through a Thursday, I'm a happy camper! The theme revealed itself to me with LEE VAN CLEEF, I mean what else could it possibly be? That took me to OFFSHORE and the rest fell into place rather neatly. I share the complaints about the double letters that were not doubled in a square, but otherwise I liked this one.

Cold and rainy here in Mpls today. Hope you are better off in the East!

boardbtr 1:45 PM  

Six weeks later! I have to go along with Jim in Chicago. The seemingly inconsistent use of the doubles in either one or two squares just killed all interest in solving the puzzle. I completed about 1/2 and just couldn't work up any drive to continue thinking about solutions. It (the puzzle)was a big disappointment to me.

BudStl 3:06 PM  

BudStl is a six weeks lagger as well. Don't drink much Hamm's down here. Couldn't get past bugoff either. Made eagle at least remotely possible as three down but never have seen irregulars shortened to ires.

Anonymous 5:07 PM  


Got the double letter pattern from lee van CLEEF, but had problems today. Oh, well. I'm still learning. I remember vivdly as a youth being taken to the neighborhood tavern by my dad on Saturday afternoons after yard work and being captivated by the Hamm's signs with the "Rolling waters."

- - Robert

Jet City Gambler 6:48 PM  

Now I'm going to have the Hugo Montenegro theme from "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" running through my head all day ... Lee Van Cleef was the Bad, as I recall.

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

aca is the form for 'aqui' when there is motion involved. ('come here' to a child would be 'ven aca')

SleeplessInSeattle 8:57 PM  

Hi there all you 6wl people! Good to see I'm not alone. Keep on posting! I liked this puzzle a lot.

Anders Weinstein 9:03 PM  

I also balked mightily at filling in "arrived at".

"abridged, for short" is a misleading clue pattern that has been used before: "abridged" is a synonym for "short". This didn't dawn on me until I read of Rex's puzzlement. But now I like it.

TimeTraveller 1:50 AM  

6 weeks behind (and proud of it)

Rex has a soulmate here in Vancouver. The Sun today has a story on a course at a nearby college--under this headline: "The Simpsons as sociology? D'oh!" with sub-head "
Course is so popular at University of Fraser Valley that there's a waiting list". (OK, so the college recently got a promotion.)

Read the story at . . .

Course is taught by one "UFV professor Darren Blakeborough, 40, ... who did his MA thesis on representations of aging on The Simpsons". Whether he does crosswords is not disclosed.

Now, see, that's why we read these late comments--vital info like this!

Tayluhh 9:51 PM  

Wow. All I have to say is thanks man, your brilliant. My teacher assigned us this crossword as extra credit (which I could really use), and said that if we could find the answers online, that was okay. Although it took forever to get to this site, thanks a ton. You helped me get like 50 extra credit points. :D

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