WEDNESDAY, Mar. 5, 2008 - Steven Ginzburg (GERMAN AUTO DEBUT OF 1974)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Initial initials - all theme answers begin with two initials that are also sequential letters of the alphabet (at least I think that's the theme)

Bad morning. Basement flooded, floor drain clogged, sump pump anemic. Ugh ugh ugh. Why do I live in a stupid old house, again? If any of you have recommendations for how to fix a clogged floor drain, I'm all ears. You can write me privately (see sidebar for address). Once again, ugh. I just bailed a bunch of horrible, near-brackish water for about a half hour. I can't even tell how the water is getting into the basement. It's coming in from only one side (like a mini mini waterfall cascading down the side of the basement) but when I go outside, yes, our back yard is a lake, but there is no water pooled against the house that I can see. Can you tell I'm a super duper handy-man. For the last time, allow me to say, ugh. I'm going to have to storm-proof my basement, or else I'm looking forward to a March filled with ankle-deep water and gnashing of teeth, a nice complement to a March that will already inevitably be filled with the Democratic party tearing itself limb from limb. Actually, the self-destruction of the Dems may be good, in the long run, or at least entertaining. It's certainly deserved. The same cannot be said for the flooding of my basement. [Update - all is well, basement-wise, relatively speaking; thanks for the (many) helpful suggestions]

This puzzle felt more like a Tuesday, or Monday-Tuesday ... Monsday/Muesday. I'm saying it was supereasy, but maybe not so much if you've never heard of the VW SCIROCCO. I have heard of it, though it took a few beats to conjure up. I had OVATE for OVOID (26D: Egg-shaped), and I have NO idea what a LEONID is (except what the puzzle tells me - 15A: Meteor in a meteor shower - is it cat-like?), but otherwise I sailed through this. Oh, I had IGIVEIN instead of the correct IGIVEUP, but as the resulting MISE and SNED were not recognizable words to me, I fixed that up, eventually.

Oh, and you remember about a year back when I launched "Operation: Stop Referencing 'Ally McBeal'"? Well, that Operation, like the Surge in Iraq, has been largely successful. But, it seems we have a new enemy. Yes, if "Ally McBeal" is Iraqi insurgents in this scenario, then "Desperate Housewives" is the looming threat of Iran. That, or Al-Qaeda. Take your pick. Something must be done. Please, help me solve the twin problems of EVA Longoria (29A: Longoria of "Desperate Housewives") proliferation and TERI Hatcheritis (21A: Hatcher of "Desperate Housewives") before it's too late - and I lose my mind and start shouting at constructors.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Common computer feature (CD-ROM drive)
  • 23A: German auto debut of 1974 (VW Scirocco)
  • 37A: First person to win a Smarties Prize, for children's books, three years in a row (J.K. Rowling) - author of the Harry Potter books. I hope she got tangy colored candy with her Prizes.
  • 53A: Universal recipient type (AB Positive)
  • 61A: Cause of some burns (UV exposure)

I did not grasp the sequential part of the initial letters until well after I was done; I just kept telling myself "initials!" That seemed to work.

Hurrying thru puzzle so I can get back to tending my basement lake:

  • 11A: Plane with a machmeter: Abbr. (SST) - A very good disguise, Mr. SST. I like it when you vary your outfits. Your date, Ms. ONO, is also exceedingly well dressed (48A: 1969 "bed-in" participant).
  • 16A: Spray-paint, maybe (mar) - one of many clues I never saw. Does this clue refer to graffiti? Ok, that was a dumb question.
  • 28A: Big name in stationery (Eaton) - learned from X-words. Wrote in EAMES, then remembered that that was the chair guy.
  • 32A: City near Saint-Exupery (Lyon) - reminds me of the guy who wrote "The Little Prince," perhaps for the obvious reason that that guy's name was Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Yes, that must be it.
  • 33A: Frankie with the 1959 #1 hit "Why" (Avalon) - Hmm, seems like, with the clue at 63D: Round Table honorific (Sir), you sort of missed your chance for a nice sub-theme here - [Arthur's final resting place] or something. Not that Frankie AVALON isn't perfectly lovely. Better than the Toyota AVALON, that's for sure.
  • 43A: Ohio city named for a mathematician (Euclid) - not quite as silly a name as AKRON, but it's up there.
  • 67A: Melpomene, e.g. (muse) - I really should make a point of learning my muses. Those nine are some kind of spelling bee nightmare. OK, ERATO is easy, but Tripsichore? [According to Pete M., and every other authority in the world, it's actually TERPsichore ... which proves my point nicely]
  • 1D: Turn from a grape into a raisin, e.g. (shrivel) - got it easily, but I grew up in raisin country, so that's to be expected.
  • 6D: Los Angeles's San _____ Bay (Pedro) - seems familiar, but I needed a bunch of crosses to get it. Good thing I know that PEDRO is a name - otherwise LEONID would still be staring at me, with a big hole in it.
  • 10D: Drainage indicator (eddy) - I WOULDN'T KNOW! MY BASEMENT WON'T DRAIN! Stupid, smart-ass puzzle.
  • 25D: They're part of the string section (celli) - don't care how correct this plural is, it always seems silly and affected when I see / hear it.
  • 33D: Dutch-speaking part of the West Indies (Aruba) - much in the news, for all kinds of bad reasons.
  • 39D: Manner of going (gait) - thank god. I had no idea where that clue was headed.
  • 50D: Like many a home improvement (DIY) - one of my favorite abbreviations (initialisms). It's just such an improbable combination of letters.
  • 55D: Fairy tale baddies (ogres) - "baddies" is not a word I care for. Who says that? Not even children say that. You would say "bad guys." I would. My 7-year-old would. BADDIES sounds like some awful British food: baddies and mash, or baddies and kidney pie or etc.

Finally, Christina ("from the Sunday puzzle"), can I have an autograph? In fact, if you are even mildly famous, read this blog on a regular basis, and have a head shot or other item you can sign, you should take it for granted that I want it. I would be exceedingly, painfully, humbly grateful. I promise to keep your readership of this blog a complete secret. I know I blew it when I outed Anne Meara, but that totally wasn't my fault, and it won't ever happen again. Of course, if you are not famous and want to send me something, that would be OK too.

[Address retracted because my friends (plural!) are afraid I'll be stalked. And here I thought I was the stalkER. Anyway, if you want to send me something, please, just email me, and I'll give you the address.]

Back to the basement. Oh, and my actual job, which demands immediate attention (exams tomorrow).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


treedweller 9:24 AM  

I'm with you, Rex. Should I be making "Down with the Housewives" signs or something?

I will say Teri wouldn't bother me if she were clued "Lois Lane portrayer" or something else less . . . trendi?

Gnarbles 9:45 AM  

I wanted to us O positive but couldn't figure out how to get an extra letter into the answer.

Orange 10:00 AM  

Aw, geeze! Basement nightmare! At least it's not a sewage backup—I've seen that on Dirty Jobs.

I think everyone should send plumbers, contractors, and disaster clean-up crews to Rex's address for now.

The Smarties Prize is from the foreign bastard M&Ms called Smarties. They don't taste the same as M&Ms, and the colors are weird. I'm still waiting for the real Smarties people to remold their tasty, powdery substance into a more durable shape and start selling it in boxes at the movies. Sometimes I don't want Sno-Caps, you know? And opening multiple teeny crinkly plastic tube wraps is dumb. Boo to Smarties' reliance on old-skool packaging. They could really break out, I'm tellin' ya.

Good luck with the household crisis!

kepoole 10:00 AM  

The Leonids are an annual meteor shower--usually in October or November, I think. Seems odd to me to refer to an individual meteor as a "Leonid", but I guess there's nothing technically wrong with it.

Down with Desperate Housewives! (hmmm....DWDH isn't quite as fun an acronym as DIY, but I think it might have some merit...)

Alex 10:01 AM  

San Pedro is where the Port of Los Angeles is. The key to not getting made fun of if you go there is to know that locally it is pronounced "pee-dro" not "pay-dro".

The Leonids are an annual meteor shower of some spectacularness (though this year's no to so much). I don't know that I would refer to a specific rock as "a Leonid" though.

For me anyway, this was my easiest Wednesday ever (or at least in long time) and I knocked more than a minute off my best Wednesday time.

Maybe I'll send you a $10 bill I've signed, just so you're torn between indifference and want.

Pete M 10:15 AM  

Leonids are so-called because the meteors appear to originate from the constellation Leo. Similarly, the Perseids stream from the constellation Perseus.

We used to have water problems coming in through various cracks in our basement until we hired someone to come in and fix it. There's a system where they drill holes and inject a polyurethane foam that expands into the concrete; it's amazing! I suggest hiring a reputable local firm to give you an estimate on waterproofing... it's not cheap, but it's worth it.

Sandy 10:18 AM  

A humble home is a shed? OK, can I rant about that for a bit? Humble indeed. Mind you, Rex and I might be living in the shed if things in the basement don't get better.

Pete M 10:25 AM  

Btw, it's "Terpsichore", not "Tripsichore", which I personally remember from the following exchange in Monty Python's "Cheese Shop" sketch:

[merchant] "Oh, I thought you were complaining about the bouzouki player."
[customer] "Oh, Heaven forbid! I'm one who delights in all manifestations of the Terpsichorean muse."

FWIW. :)

Bill D 10:28 AM  

Rather clever Wednesday, some tough, some easy, some old favorites with new disquises, a couple "desperate" hacks. Clever theme that I did not fully appreciate until Rex pointed it out. Not crazy about "VOCAB." I've seen it before, but really - does anyone ever say that? "Man, that Bill Buckley sure had some VOCAB, huh?"

Had a little trouble sorting out the NW, which should have been easy. IN FAVOR held me up briefly, too. Misdirected myself all over the place - originally had MAKE WAY for HEADWAY, TAR for TIN, LEFT for WENT, SSN for SEX, and DEN for DIY. I think this was the result of using a stopwatch for the first time - I was trying to put something in every square as I went. Don't like the timing thing...

Rex - Does your house have a sump pump? Make sure it's upright and operating if you do. If not, and the flooding is a recurring problem, get a portable submersible pump which you can connect to a garden hose to bail out the basement. In the spring get some topsoil and grade it up against the side of your foundation, sloping it away from the house so the water runs away from the underground exterior walls. Make sure your downspouts have extensions on them so they don't empty next to the house. If groundwater does pool in your yard it still might be working its way back to the basement walls (water is insidious like this.) Then you may have to put in a drain pipe or a gravel-filled underground "cistern."

Spencer 10:29 AM  

In my experience as an older home owner, the key to not flooding the basement is to not let the back yard turn into a lake. You can inject, coat, and otherwise try to "waterproof" all you want, but in the situation that you've got ("mini waterfall"), the water will find a way in. The pressure exerted by a few feet depth of water is huge, and unless you turn your basement into a boat hull (and maybe even then), it will find an opening and come through.

I was lucky -- regrading around the house to direct water away from the foundation was sufficient. I don't get huge standing puddles in the yard. The puddle is just the surface indication of an underground mass of water. Hopefully, you can find a way to open a channel for the water to flow out of the yard. If that's not possible, you may need to install underground drain "tiles" (really pipes into which the water can drain and then flow away) that take the water away from your house (to a storm sewer, if that's permitted, but at least to a place where the water can run away).

That's my 2c, anyway.

Hydromann 10:31 AM  

Rex, I'm not called "hydromann" for nothing! Water, specifically underground water, used to be my professional specialty. Sounds to me as though you have flooding in your area, and this has temporarily raised the water table level to above that of your basement floor.

I have the same sort or potential situation here where I live in the sad but grateful Green Bay area (S'long Brett!!! Thanks for 17 wonderful years!!!)

Water is amazing stuff. It will find a way in, pretty much no matter what. In your case, the floor drain certainly, and maybe even your sump pump pit. The best answer might be to get a non-anemic sump pump that can keep up with the deluge.

DONALD 10:43 AM  

bill d, hydroman and spencer are right on the money -- however, until you're ready for some real changes and work, get that sump pump and hose today, make sure the hose is long enough to not be recycling the water back to your basement!

Sandy 10:59 AM  

Can I tell you how awesome all your water advice is? Rex and I have been muttering for years that we need to get the back yard regraded and have some sort of drainage system put in, but we were always too scared of how much it would cost (hello home equity line...), so we never really asked. I noticed the neighbors also had a hose running out to the street this morning. Rex is down in the basement with the plumber right now - the portable pump we bought during the last flood was doing nothing, and the plumber cracked open the sewer connection to get the standing water out so he could then try to unclog the floor drain. The river is really high (we're only a few blocks away) and there are flood watches out because of all the rain, ice, and melting snow.
OK everyone, back to the puzzle...

PhillySolver 11:02 AM  

Rex, your fans are legend! I like the idea of buying some fish and turning your basement into a giant conversation piece aquarium. Please populate it with xword flora and fauna like ALGAE, EELS, TETRA etc.

The puzzle was fun, but it was late when I got to it last night and I simply didn't recognize the alphabetical order of the answers. I had a few initial words that might have been used, but I will have to rethink that to see if there are others that match the theme. Thanks for the insight.

I have flown into Lyon and once transferred to a most modern train station on the TGV line. Saint-Exupery was a well-known pilot in the French Airforce.

jae 11:04 AM  

Kind of an odd theme. I also found this easy but had a few missteps. Had TAR for TIN and asked my wife if she ever heard of EATOR stationary. She said "try EATON" which fixed it. This does not bode well for the tournament puzzles coming this weekend as I'm pretty sure asking my wife is not part of the process. Other initial errors included LEFT for WENT and AGE for SEX. I completely agree with Sandy on SHED. I hesitated putting it in because it just didn't seem right. A shack (21d) is more of an abode than a SHED.

Sorry to hear about the water problem. My daughter had same issue with her living room (basements in CA are rare) and pretty much had to do the sealing and drain installation that hydroman and spencer discussed. Not cheap unfortunately.

Bill from NJ 11:05 AM  

I agree this was an easy puzzle but I had all kinds of trouble with it. SHED? Humble home? Please.

Every place I could make a mistake, I made a mistake. Totally blocked on AGCY, had TAR for TIN, spelled JKROWLING wrong, blocked on MEREST, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera

Very bad time.

Ulrich 11:06 AM  

Yes, it was an easy romp, but since this is the first Wednesday I ever did, I have no comparison.

@hydroman: Please correct me if I'm wrong with the following.

Old houses that back up against dirt tend to have no waterproofing at the outside of the foundation wall--I have no explanation why this is so (my own house has the same problem). I do not know about the polyurethane system suggested above, but my impression is that the only way to fix the problem permanently w.o. additional hardware and when grading fails, is to dig up the foundation wall from the outside and waterproof it the way it's done today, which includes protectionn against physical damage when gravel it used as fill, drain pipe at bottom etc.

This is messy, but depending on how accessible and long the wall in question is, it may be doable and worth the effort.

Rex Parker 11:15 AM  

OK, I love you guys. Officially, I love you all. I had dozens of private messages within the first couple hours of posting about my basement problem. You are all too kind. The urgent problem - ankle-deep water (and rising) in the basement - has been fixed. New drainage system and regrading of backyard appear to be in order, which we've known forever but have done nothing about. The morning has not been a total loss - I got to shove my hand down through mucky water and sludge and feel the little ball in my floor drain that is SUPPOSED to float up and let water down into the sewer when the basement gets wet. It was stuck in the down position. Wah WAH. John from Mr. Rooter was very, very nice.

I'm still waiting on the celebrity memorabilia, but I'll just assume that's on its way...

And we're back to the puzzle now. Again, thanks everyone.


Rex Parker 11:17 AM  

PS your reactions to the [Humble home] = SHED equation are making me laff. The more I think on it, the funnier it is. I think that's stretching the definition of "humble" to its breaking point.


ArtLvr 11:22 AM  

Lovely puzzle, easy enough but not too easy! The spellings I wasn't sure of came with crosses or guesses, ditto Pedro/"peedro" and pop culture stuff.

Things went smoothly once I realized the 53A clue said universal "recipient", not donor, and 61A was not going to be a rebus with "over"-exposure crammed into a line two spaces smaller than needed. The "V" did give me IN FAVOR, though.

I've had many types of basement floods, including those resulting from leaf-debris jams in gutters and misaligned downspouts to the most mysterious and humiliating -- an unused outside tap found open off-season and thus pouring water directly down by the basement! No one knows how that happened... My latest drainage problem had to be solved with a Huge Motorized Snake = HMS.

@pete m -- Can you specify what that system of concrete block injection is called? Any further info appreciated. Thank you!


miriam b 11:22 AM  

The line from the sump pump in my ~120-year-old basement empties way back near my vegetable garden, so that the likelihood of water reentering the basement through the doubtless porous concrete is remote. BTW, I don't have a floor drain, but must depend on preventing water from getting in or pumping it out if need be.

One day last summer the basement was starting to fill up, and the apparent reason was that some kind of debris had gotten into the sump pump and caused the float to get stuck. I put on some boots, and, armed with a long stick, I goosed the float and all was well.

It rained buckets last night. I think I'd better check on my basement; never occurred to me to do so until just now, after reading the various comments.

LEONID could also have been Brezhnev, or Hambro*, or Andreyev.

*Piano accompanist to Victor Borge.

Good luck, Rex. You're in rare form today despite your watery woes.

Addie Loggins 11:24 AM  

I had lots of trouble in the Northwest -- I've never heard of a VW Scirocco and had a heck of a time coming up with Shrivel (though, in retrospect, it shouldn't have been that tough).

When I had water coming into my old house (in two places), a company offered to do a very complex procedure that was going to cost thousands of dollars. Nixed that plan, and then tried various water-proofing strategies. Finally, someone explained that, as hydromann noted, water WILL find its way in. So rather than struggling to keep it out, the key is to manage the intake in a way that lets you manage getting rid of it. We installed two sump pumps, and never had another problem.

ArtLvr 11:42 AM  

p.s. My weather aficiando friend says one inch of rain is about the equivalent of a foot of snow -- take your choice as to the inconvenience of major rainfall in 24 hours! At least he driving isn't quite as hazardous...

Note that we spell the Italian SCHIROCCO without the "H", sirocco -- why would anyone name a car after this unpleasant phenomenon?
1 a : a hot dust-laden wind from the Libyan deserts that blows on the northern Mediterranean coast chiefly in Italy, Malta, and Sicily b : a warm moist oppressive southeast wind in the same regions
2 : a hot or warm wind of cyclonic origin from an arid or heated region


ArtLvr 11:43 AM  

Sirocco -- without the "CH"!


ArtLvr 11:48 AM  

p.p.s. re SHED as a humble home -- I had a friend who converted a pigsty into a fabulous small home, with a few additions and renovations... True!

Jim in Chicago 11:52 AM  

Oh, water in the basement. Everyone's nightmare and one reason I'm glad I now live on the 11th floor.

This has been a strange winter/early spring. Lot's of snow, which has now melted but the ground is still frozen leaving lakes on top of frozen ice. That water then has nowhere to go, so finds its way into other places, like basements. Throw in ice dams on rivers, etc., and you have a real mess in the offing.

But, basements leak for all kinds of reasons, many of them already mentioned. We had a spot on our front wall that we called the "weeping virgin Mary" for obvious reasons. When we pulled out the old bushes and relandscaped the problem went away. Our sewer pipe used to back up all the time - a problem caused by clay pipe that had been broken by tree roots. The tree died, we had one last cleanout, and the problem disappeared. We had an old house where the downspouts led into drains that in turn went into the storm sewer. One by one the drains broke and water backed up into the basement. The solution was to simple cut the old drains out of the loop and reaim the downspouts into the yard away from the house. When leaves clogged our back gutter the water would pour over the edge onto the driveway and then right into the basement. I could go on, but I'm getting depressed now. Oh, the joys of an old house.

Now, a tip for the day. If you live in a house with a dry basement and have floor drains that never get any water in them, be sure to dump a pail of water down them once in awhile. If you don't all the water in the pipe will evaporate and allow ugly smells to back up into your basement. Pail of water and the problem is solved for awhile.

Ulrich 12:00 PM  

@artlvr: But with the "c".

"Sirocco" would be pronounced See-rocco
Scirocco: Shee-rocco (the correct one)
Schirocco: Skee-rocco

happpy 12:17 PM  

Charles Eames was way more than just a "chair guy," Rex.

jae 12:30 PM  

A SHED is the place out behind your shack (humble abode) where you keep the spare tin incase your roof leaks into your basement.

ArtLvr 12:34 PM  

Thanks, Ulrich -- I know the Italian pronunciations but found only "sirocco" in the Merriam Webster & didn't check other English dictionaries.

Am now in a worse position than Rex, having just checked my own basement after the above wake-up calls: over an inch of standing water nearly throughout the basement. No drain, no pump, just a vacuum device that's not much help. Oh, the irony of it all. At least the basement is unfinished.

Words fail me! ∑;(

Ulrich 12:45 PM  

@artlvr: Sorry--I did not want to sound patronizing. I'm sensitive to this bc. in most so-called Italian restaurants here, the wait staff does not know how to pronounce the dishes on the menu, and when I use the correct one, correct me with the false one (bruschetta, pino grigio ...), which sets my teeth on edge.

mac 12:52 PM  

The Eames chair was designed and produced by Charles and Ray (his wife) Eames. They produced some beautiful, timeless pieces and buildings.
Ulrich, you are right to advise to attack the problem from the outside. We used to live in a very old house with a river running under the living room when it rained. We bought a piece of land and built a new house on top of the hill, figuring our water problems would be over forever....NOT! We just had the procedure on the outside done, which took a lot of time and cost about 4 times as much as we expected, but it's wonderful to go to the basement after a deluge and find everything clean and dry. We can even go on vacation without worrying!
I found today's puzzle easy, probably just lucked out where some of you had problems. BTW, where can I find the answers to the tournament's puzzles? Of course I really only need it for nr. 5, what a beast!

Catherine K 1:03 PM  

Orange: Re Smarties

I did not know until a couple of years ago, that Smarties are not available in the US. This is a tragedy for two reasons:

First, you Americans miss out on a truly delightful candy;

Second, I must go without while I'm visiting south of the border.

Smarties are deliciously addictive, and taste nothing like M&Ms (which I also like, but not as much as Smarties!). Apparently some import stores sell some lame confection called Smarties, but they are not the real thing. Smarties are absolutely not available in the US.

So, before calling this national treasure a "bastard M&M", try them for yourself the next time you come to Canada, or email me at catherine dot kaye at gmail dot com, and I will send you some! They have orange ones!

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Ugh. I refuse to eat anything that comes in the color "mauve".


Greg 2:03 PM  

OK, I got this puzzle in a decent time, but had a number of brain-farts and moments of confusion along the way, including two clues I simply didn't know - the VW car (got all the down clues, though) and DIY.
Ok, I don't know if this has to do with my only owning my own apartment for 3 years, or that I don't live in a "house," but I have never heard of DIY and am clueless as to what it means!

@Catherine: I have had Smarties in the UK, and I agree that they are delicious! :-)

Happy Puzzling!

doc John 2:11 PM  

Rex, I'm sorry about your basement problems and am glad that they're somewhat under control now. Being first from Miami and now San Diego, I've never had a basement (and now know I will never have a house that has one!). But, if I ever do, I'll certainly consult this day's blog comments for advice!

Re the "Desperate Housewives" controversy: I would have been happier if at least more than two of the actresses were named. Strange to have two from the same show and not carry it forward. I actually started thinking that this could be the puzzle's theme until a search of the clues revealed no more DH references.

I did figure out the real theme in time for it to help me with UV EXPOSURE- yay! (Ran the alphabet for letter pairs that would work with the clue. Wouldn't you know it'd be one of the last pairs I got to.)

@Greg: DIY = Do It Yourself

Fave clue: [40D. Overdose] = TOO MUCH. For some reason it just struck me as interesting.

I'll leave you with a quote from the B-52s: "TIN roof- rusty." (Actually "Tiiiiiiiiiiin roof, rusty!")

Greg 2:15 PM  

@doc John:
Thanks very much for DIY! Can't believe I couldn't figure that out!
To return the favor, let me tell you that the lyric is actually "Tin roof, rusted!" not "rusty!" :-)

Happy Puzzling!

Bill D 2:48 PM  

Antoine Saint-Exupery was a poet-warrior of sorts, and is somewhat of a hero in France. He wrote about flight and was famous for long-range "raids" before WW II - that term then referred to a visit, usually after a long distance flight, to a foreign country. He was lost during the war while on a reconnaissance mission for the Free French AF. I believe he disappeared without a trace like the great French WW I hero Georges Guynemer, thus adding to his mystique. The French love their aviators. Anyone follow tennis? Stade Roland Garros (where they play the French Open) was named after another French WW I hero. Garros was the first aviator to arm his aircraft with a fixed, forward-firing machine gun, establishing fighter plane practice used to this day.

Another aviation connection runs surreptitiously through today's commentary - while a dusty wind may be an unusual name for a car, aircraft have always been named for strong breezes - Hurricane, Taifun (Ger), Mistral, Hayate (Jpn = gale), etc. In the late '30s the Italian Caproni firm produced a group of aircraft named after winds known as the Borea (North Wind) series; there was a Scirocco among them.

NYTAnonimo 2:48 PM  

Once we figured out the downspout on one side of our house was disconnected from the line going to the street and we redirected it there our basement water leakage/seepage problem ended. Make sure the water is flowing all the way out and the line is not clogged or going into the ground near the foundation. We still have the main drain cleaned once a year because the roots from all the big trees around the house grow through the tiles. When we forget to do this Roto-Rooter is with us for Thanksgiving at premium rates. Good luck Rex and congrats on your ACPT ranking!

Enjoyed today's puzzle but had to google Maserati and "bed in" to finish. Should've know that one!

doc john 2:49 PM  

Well, whatever state the roof was in, that was one funky little shack! :-D

Crosscan 3:50 PM  

No Smarties? How do you guys manage without Smarties or Tim Hortons? (Dunkin' Donuts is the bastard Tim Hortons)

old TV ad here: When you eat your Smarties do you eat the red ones first?

They come in - I just bought some to do proper research - red, pink, yellow, purple, blue, orange , green and way too many browns in this box.

Bill from NJ 3:51 PM  

Because I misspelled JKRAWLING, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what the hell VACAB was.

Since I knew everything was spelled right, I was bewildered.

Nothing like confidence. Jeez.

jls 4:25 PM  

meteor showers -- check 'em out:

up in the sky!



Catherine K 4:38 PM  

@Crosscan: Actually, it's, "When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?"
It goes on:

"Do you suck them very slowly, or crunch them very fast?
Eat that candy-coated chocolate, but tell me when I ask,
When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?"

markus 5:00 PM  

I found it funny that someone commented about Rex needing a Tim Curry as Dr Frank N Furter picture to accompany yesterday's puzzle [CURRY/CUMIN] and then low and behold... 9D today! There he is! So I ask thee, Rex,
where's the pic(ture)? <-- (my slang vocab)

Doug 5:14 PM  

Hey, how about "Vermi follower?" for celli as a clue? Just free associating here.

billnutt 5:32 PM  

Call me someone. I'm the one that Markus referred to above as asking for a picture of TIM Curry wearing a FEATHERBOA for yesterday's puzzle. Weird synchronicity! Does that mean that TRANSVESTITE will show up in tomorrow's puzzle?

Fun little puzzle today with a clever theme. My intial errors were pretty much the same as everyone else's (SSN for SEX, LEFT for WENT, TAR for TIN).

Spam, spam, spam, spam...

AVALON is also the name of the last full studio album by Roxy Music. Bill Murray does a karaoke version of "More Than This" in the movie LOST IN TRANSLATION, and it's a hidden track in the movie's soundtrack CD.

I live in Hackettstown, NJ, home to the world HQ of M&M, in case anyone cares. When the wind is right, you can smell the chocolate when you step outside our house, even though the factory is on the opposite side of the town. It's kind of like being in Hershey, PA, on a smaller scale.

I feel the need for candy now, for some reason...

Laura 5:34 PM  

So I didn't like the fact that there was both UV and VW in the puzzle. Also, it might've been nice if the clues were in alphabetical order, which could've been done; AB and VW are the same length, as are CD and UV, with JK in the middle. And then after AB and CD, it would've been nice to have EFHUTTON. Which then reminds me of the '80's commercial where the teacher asks a child to say the alphabet, and the child says "A, B, C, D, E, F...E, F...E. F. Hutton."

Still, a fun, mostly easy puzzle.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  


lo and behold.

Crosscan 6:48 PM  

@catherine k:

Eat the red ones LAST.You are right. I bow to your superior expertise in old Canadian jingles.

ArtLvr 6:58 PM  

@ Doug -- your "vermi" follower with "celli" really tickled me. I used to play the singular of the latter long ago, until I figured out that voice was easier to carry around -- but that entailed learning smatterings of lots of languages for arias et al...

@ Ulrich -- It's okay, you can wax on about Italian etc. any time... Thought Pino/"peenyo" Grigio was Spanish? Salut anyway. Back to the water now...


Dan 7:09 PM  

Rex posted his home address? Wow - puzzlers are a nice bunch, sure, but c'mon man, it's the Internet. :)

Foreign Smarties are way better than American Smarties. Indeed, better than M&Ms, because the different colored candy coatings have different flavors!

Ulrich, glad you've joined us on the weekday puzzles! Sandy will have competition for the E Division next year...

Ulrich 9:59 PM  

@dan: thanks. My wife's already worried that crosswords will become too big a part of my life :-). I told her not to worry as long as I'm doing all this DIY stuff to our house.

John Reid 10:11 PM  

Today's LA Times puzzle has a very clever theme - it's worth a look if you haven't tried it yet. If you have already done it and didn't find the theme that impressive, then you probably missed it - go back and look more closely.

@Rex - I'm a mathematician who drives an Avalon... what gives with the digs against my car and my man Euclid, anyway?!?! ;) Seriously, congratulations on your performance at the tournament. I would have liked to meet you - maybe next year. I really enjoyed your wife's writeup on the tournament and I look forward to reading more of your own comments about it. What a weekend!

Orange 10:16 PM  

Ulrich, I hope you'll drop more morsels of Italian pronunciation as the crosswords dictate. Much appreciated!

The intensity of basement water management commenting cracks me up.

Catherine, I have had your bastard M&Ms before, in Canada and maybe in Europe too. Nothing I wanted to bring home, though. The mint Aero bar, though, was yummy, if a tad frightening in its greenness. And my husband enjoyed a not-found-in-American Coffee Crisp bar.

ArtLvr 12:46 AM  

@ Catherine -- We always stop for Tim Horton doughnuts, especially "French crullers", when crossing through Canada from NY state to Michigan and back. They did expand by franchise into the Buffalo area in the mid-eighties, but I don't think they got much farther, what with a Dunkin' Donuts on about every other corner...


syndakate 9:42 PM  

Other humble homes: park bench, refrigerator box, 1980 Honda Civic.

Prune 6:05 PM  

In the name of lexicographic parallelism, shouldn't SMILE AT be clued with "Show friendliness to"?

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