SUNDAY, Apr. 27, 2008 - Oliver Hill (ROOT USED IN PERFUMERY)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Oops!" - 10 theme answers are words that are IMPROPERLY SPELLED (65A: Like the answers to the 10 asterisked clues, more often than any other English words, according to a 1999 study)

I liked this puzzle. It was slightly tougher for me than recent Sundays have been, likely because of all the misspelled words, which were somehow very hard for my brain to deal with. Brain No Want Bad Word. Brain Refuse To See. But here is the big (and for me, it's big) problem with this puzzle. It's certainly not the conception or the execution of the fill, both of which are just fine. The problem is, simply, that according to the wording of the theme-describing clue - 65A: Like the answers to the 10 asterisked clues, more often than any other English words, according to a 1999 study (improperly spelled) - all of the theme answers should be properly spelled. Let me explain. If you had stopped the clue at the word "clues," then the "misspelled" would refer to the state of the words themselves and thus the clue would be perfect: all the theme answers are indeed "misspelled." The problem is that the clue continues, turning "misspelled" from a state of being into an act. The theme answers are not misspelled more often than any other English words, according to a 1999 study because they are already misspelled. You can't misspell a misspelled word. Imagine that I'm trying to tell you about a word I spell incorrectly all the time. The conversation might go something like this. Wait, it has to be an e-mail conversation, or the example makes no sense:

Me: "Hey, you know what word I misspell all the time? FARSE."
You: "Uh ... do you mean you misspell FARCE all the time?"
Me: "No, I know how to spell FARCE, I'm not an idiot. I misspell FARSE - you know, like they speak in Iran."
You: "Are you sure you're not an idiot?"

End scene.

Oliver Hill knows what I like - crossing D'OH (56A: "What a moron I am!") with IHOP (52D: Restaurant chain since 1958). It's like he's winking at me! I hope that today's discussion is about the merits of the puzzle and not the astonishing fact that Oliver Hill is 12 years old (slightly older - I'm exageratting for effect ...). So let's get the oohing and aahing and fawning about his youth out of our systems now, OK? Oooh. Aaaah. This kid and Messrs. Der and Last give me great hope that when I am quite old, the puzzles I solve in between gardening and napping will not suck. That's right, honey, in the distant future, I garden too. Oh, it's a magical place ...

Theme answers:

  • 26: *Long, long time (millenium)
  • 32A: *Stick with a needle, maybe (innoculate)
  • 34A: *Absence at a nudist colony? (embarassment)
  • 44A: *Bugs (harrasses)
  • 51A: *Wee (miniscule) - minuscule ... whoa, count me among those who probably would have misspelled that word. Of course it's misspelled - it sounds like it has MINI- in it!
  • 82A: *Conspicuous (noticable)
  • 87A: *Supplant (supercede)
  • 94A: *Doggedness (perseverence) - I put the emphasis on the second syllable of this word, all because of a medieval morality play called "The Castle of Perseverance" ... OK that story went nowhere, but it is nonetheless true.
  • 97A: *Oblige (accomodate)
  • 107A: *Event (occurence)

The roughest part of the puzzle for me was the NW, which I just could not get in to despite having PULI (2D: Long-haired sheepdog) and SHEL (4D: Writer/illustrator Silverstein). Yes, PULI was a gimme, and yes, I occasionally watch dog shows on Animal Planet even though I will probably never own a pure breed. All the mutty dogs in the pound need me more. Still, love to watch dog shows when I'm tired and bored. If you want to see what Ron Reagan looks like when he's really in his element, the dog show is the place. It's like he found his true calling: dog show commentary. But back to the NW - LUTHERAN, really (19A: Like the carol "Away in a Manger," originally)? Different denominations have their own carols!?!?!? That is news to me. The one killer mistake I had up here was APPS for CPUS (1A: Program executors, for short). It was weirdly right in the "P" - which is why I kept it for so long. I then changed it to CPAS, but then ATIL didn't seem right for 3D: Regulated bus. (util.), so then I wrote in CPUS, and completely blanked on what it meant (central processing unit). Had to look it up after I was done. Lastly in the NW - RATIOS (6D: Photoshop options) is terrible. Don't all things have RATIOS? The ratio of my middle finger (!) to my palm is roughly 1:1. See?

At one reader's request, I am printing some MERLOT-related dialogue from the recent movie, Sideways (21A: Wine sometimes blended with Cabernet Sauvignon). Enjoy:

Jack: If they want to drink Merlot, we're drinking Merlot.
Miles Raymond: No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any @#$#ing Merlot!

  • 24A: Foot, slangily (tootsy) - speaking of MISSPELLED - I'd have spelled this TOOTSIE (like the Dustin Hoffman movie, I guess)
  • 31A: Half-baked (dopy) - wanted only DICY, which, now that I look at it, is MISSPELLED. "Half-baked" is both one of the greatest ice cream flavors and one of the worst movies ever conceived.
  • 41A: What a Tennessee cheerleader asks for a lot? (an E) - I have So many great answers to this hypothetical question, but they are the kinds of answers that might be given by Vanderbilt or UConn fans, and are thus unprintable.
  • 60A: Monterrey mister (señor) - ah, alliteration. Brightens up even the lamest clues.
  • 14A: Casual attire (Levi's) - I had MUFTI.
  • 62A: Suffix not seen much in London (-ize) - they have ZEDphobia over there.
  • 71A: _____ choy (Chinese vegetable) - if our local Chinese restaurant is out of snow pea leaves, we get the BOK choy.
  • 113A: Root used in perfumery (orris) - no idea how I knew this. Like ATTAR, it's a perfume-related word I picked up ... somewhere. It crosses the very horrible CURES (99D: Parish priests).
  • 5D: Mustang competitor (Grand Am) - I had TRANS AM, which I like a hell of a lot better.
  • 14D: 1950s Braves All-Star pitcher Burdette (Lew) - well that's a third-rate LEW if I've ever seen one.
  • 17D: Archipelago part (islet) - what's the difference between an ISLE and an ISLET? Size? Yes, size.
  • 29D: Cliff (scar) - uh ... I apparently don't scale cliffs enough, because this word, while vaguely familiar, is not ringing a bell very strongly.
  • 37D: Product with TV's first advertising jingle, 1948 (Ajax) - here's a 1950s ad. It's going to be in my head the rest of the day. "You'll stop paying the elbow tax ..." (!?)
  • 40D: "Illmatic" rapper (Nas) - almost as important as DRE, as far as crossword rappers go.
  • 48D: They're seen in many John Constable paintings (elms) - this may sound odd, but ... John who?
  • 66D: Target of many a Bart Simpson prank call (Moe) - sadly, never saw this clue. It's a gimme, and an old one, but I still don't not love it.
  • 70D: Dynasty of Confucius and Lao-tzu (Chou) - never saw this clue either, thank god.
  • 110D: International chain of fusion cuisine restaurants (NOBU) - wanted IHOP again. It's "international," that's for sure. And I'm sure there's something Tex-Mex on their menu, which makes them fusion. Q.E.D.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Wendy Laubach 9:01 AM  

Exactly. I can't hear the word "merlot" without flashing to that Sideways scene. "I'm not drinking @#*&ing merlot."

It was news to me, but I find that "Away in a Manger" was ascribed by some scholars to Martin Luther himself, apparently because of a notation in an early Lutheran songbook that may have been a little romancing by the publisher.

CPU/PULI was my last fill, right after RATIOS and ONEUPS, once I guessed LUTHERAN.

I just this minute figured out "X-Ray SPEX," which fit, but confused me.

Paul H. 9:15 AM  

And, ironically enough, you misspelled "harasses"... ;)

Paul in DC

Paul H. 9:17 AM  

Oh good God. It's "harrasses"...

(back to lurking for me)

Ulrich 9:27 AM  

After seeing the title and encountering my first theme answer in connection with a nudist colony, I tried ti fill in em-bare-ass-ment. When this didn't work, I told myself, it's the NYT anyway, duh! Then I saw the explanation at 65A and had fun with the theme answers--the words themselves were easy to guess, the fun was in figuring out how they were misspelled. In retrospect, Rex it really right on the wording of the 65A clue, but took it as it was apparently meant and enjoyed myself.

The only difficulties I had were also in the NW, which has all sorts of problems. To begin with, I hate an abbreviation at 1A b/c it's usually ambiguously clued, which means you cannot start there with any confidence. I got the computer connection, but tried to fit an abbreviation for operation sytems in somehow. Then some clues: When I see a heap of clams at the seafood counter, I don't think of a heap of happinesses, I think of clam chowder--as opposed to the peace sign, say, which I associate with peace when/whereever I see it--I don't have to wait for it to appear in some goofy phrase. "Lutheran": had ___heran for the longest time w/o being able to complete the word--the "originally" in the clue threw me off. "Silent night" was originally a German Christmas carol, but it no longer is in English translation. A Lutheran hymn remains a Lutheran hymn even if it sung by non-Lutherans, and it does not mean, at least not to me, that it was written by M. Luther (am I wrong here?).

All in all, I liked it, even if ending in the NW leaves somewhat of a sour aftertaste.

eli barrieau 9:32 AM  

Congratulations Rex, I saw the IHOP and DOH cross and immediately thought of you. You have SUPPLANTed the Simpsons and pancakes in my head.

Can anyone explain how Cliff is SCAR?

PhillySolver 9:34 AM  

A fun write up and a fun puzzle for me. Very odd circumstance though...about two weeks ago I wrote a post about the words I misspell and listed the top five and somehow erased the thing (I think). I was referring to the same spelling study. I have a copy of the first part of it on my desk. I am a terrible speller (as many of you know from reading my error-pronged posts). So, was it cheating that I had the words out and did this puzzle in record time?

The NW was my last fill. Coms started the problem. Com was an early file extension in DOS for command programs (since replaced by exe files, I think) I didn't know the dog and was trying for the plural of millennium because of the way I read the clue. I finally parsed LUTHERAN, which refers to the lyricist rather than the denomination, I think.

MERLOT sales have not recovered from the movie and is called the Sideways Effect in the wine world.

And thanks for explaining the Zed fill (IZE). I always had an excuse in London for my spelling as they assumed that Americans bastardized the language anyway.

PhillySolver 9:37 AM  

@ eli

I know SCAR from traveling around England with a former Geography professor. He said it referred to the erosion of limestone where it forms cliffs. The prime example being the White Cliffs of Dover, but I know he showed me others. As far as I know, it is an English term and probably is known more by geologist.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

I liked the puzzle, too, although I could never tell when I had the incorrect vs correct spelling:)

WRT CPU - as an ex-computer geek, I don't care for the definition. CPU is a unit for computer processing speed of written code ... or such (I'll never make it as a lexicographer, either ... but that's the essence.) Example: that algorithm takes too many CPUs to run ... or the IBM runs this program in x CPUs, the clone runs it 10x slower.


Gary 10:06 AM  

Teresa, CPU is short for Central Processing Unit, which is what executes the apps.

jannieb 10:09 AM  

For me, this was more easy than medium. Not really crazy about it, but it was okay. Thought "spex" should have an asterisk - assuming it means spectacles which is usually abbreviated "specs". "Dopy" looks really weird, too.

I guessed "scar" assuming it related to escarpment, which seemed reasonable.

@Teresa - in my day the CPU was the box that housed all the circuitry, memory boards and terminal ports. It was never a unit of measure, nor have I ever heard it used in that way. I agree the cluing is a bit off, but CPU was the first thing I filled in (although I think more of larks than clams as happy creatures).

@phillysolver - glad to return the favor - your posts always inform and entertain. Glad pictures of my Bonnie bring a smile to you!

billnutt 10:13 AM  

Hmmm - PULI today, PULE yesterday...

Quite a religious puzzle, with LUTHERAN, CURES and VICARS. Where was SEE?

"Trans Am" is a fun song by the Skeletons, arguably America's best bar band.

I got more of a kick out of last Sundya's Solar System puzzle, but this one was fine and fun.

Enjoy your Sunday, everybody! After a week off, school starts up again tomorrow - and the day after, the 8th graders in our district have to take the statewide tests. 8-(

Leon 10:14 AM  

Real nice puzzle Mr. Hill.

Noticable embarassment on my part for not realizing the answers were misspelld.

Thanks RP for the AJAX ad. The voices of the elves sounded familiar so I did some googling : Small elf - June Foray of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" and Large Elf with booming voice Thurl Ravenscroft of "Tony the Tiger" fame.

Now to drown my sorrows with some Pinot Noir.

Bill from NJ 10:22 AM  

I didn't care much for this puzzle but it might have been sour grapes. I was most of the way through this thing before I realized I was misspelling the words.

I always thought of myself as a half-decent speller - having won a spelling bee in the fourth grade, don't you know - but I failed this test miserably.

I had the same problem as everyone else: the NW. It took me as long to complete the 10 or 15 squares there as it took me to do the rest of the puzzle. All I had in that corner was SHEL. Didn't know the mutt. Couldn't parse the hymn. Couldn't see MILLENIUM with just the L in place.

And who the hell thought GRANDAM was a competitor for a Mustang? Probably a 12-year-old.

See, I told you it was probably sour grapes.

miriam b 10:25 AM  

I filled in INNOCULATE first, for whatever reason, then wondered if I've been misspelling it all my life. A look at 65A reassured me and led to the other theme words. I had fun with this.

@Gary: Thanks for explaiining CPU, which I had to take on faith.

From Tennyson's "THe Splendor Falls":
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowing!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

I also found this an easy one, although I was expecting "definately" to show up somewhere.

Seems like this weekend might win the prize for biggest differential between Saturday (ridiculously hard -- couldn't get anywhere with it) to Sunday (no help needed to finish).

ArtLvr 10:41 AM  

I did like it, so-so, though I was working on it in the wee hours and half nodding off -- wondering if my spelling instiincts were going to be permanently numbed by the need to misspell on purpose. It took a heavy, dreamless sleep to dispel the doubts, dissipate the megrims. I had brain clots twisted. Arg!

Having had a Hungarian penpal long ago in grammar school who'd sent me a photo of herself with a PULI, I started there and just left 1-A alone until I could work my way around the rest. What I did enter early and cling to for far too long was "rotate" at 5-D, since that's something I often use in Photoshop, while leaving RATIOS fixed and therefore hardly noticed. I agree with Rex that the latter has a relatively poor clue...

I also think TOOTSY is misspelt and should be "tootsie" -- It's a personal thing, not just because I love the movie but because that was my earliest nickname within my family! Thank heavens they outgrew it even before I did, but it was in the photo albums' labels enough that I remember it that way.

One other odd note: I have an actual Dr. Orris I see only once every few years for an 'orrible check-up test relating to the lower gastrointestinal tract, so I looked that up years ago and found an "orrisroot" used in perfumes as well as medicines. The mnemonic helps me come up with his name when needed -- though it does not change my distaste for the fluid one drinks down the night before the procedure.(Definitely not akin to the fragrant lily given as the root of the word.) I hasten to add that the test itself is a simple one, no problem!

Anyway, I finally came back to the beginning, found UTIL and ended happy as a CLAM, if there is such a thing as a happy clam. Maybe that means you are better off keeping quiet than misspeaking, -- or least said, soonest mended? I prefer happiness as a bluebird.


Ulrich 10:43 AM  

A good word for merlot: It's almost always boring as a varietal, but it is used in blends for some the best wines of the world--like those from Bordeaux--and that's how it was clued.

Rex Parker 10:47 AM  

I've received two messages in the past day claiming that my site is freezing people's computers - claims are that this started when I mentioned "upgrading" my site, only I haven't done anything substantive to the site since then, so I'm at a loss. Any ideas as to what might be going on? Tech-savvy people can email me @


Orange 11:12 AM  

@Bill from NJ: Don't dis 12-year-olds! My 8-year-old car buff would accept TRANS AM as a rival for the Mustang, but says of the GRAND AM, "That doesn't look like a fast car." If someone promised you a Mustang and gave you a Grand Am, I daresay you'd be grievously disappointed.

@Rex: Is it bad that my husband and I laughed our heads of at Half-Baked? (And no, we weren't stoned.)

Jim in NYC 11:12 AM  

The age thing reared its head: I had "Spike" gumming things up at 50A for a long time; finally just erased it, filled in everything else and got NORAH from the crosses.

Someone asked about X-ray SPEX. That's a specific ripoff product for kids that was advertised in comic books and the like at one time. Haven't heard of it in years, nor should any of us.

At first I thought RATIOS was too technical for the Sunday. I've heard of that software, and could have guessed "contrast" or "hue" for example, but not the too-generic "ratios". Then I compared it with other things in the puzzle I know nothing about but their names, like NORAH and ORRIS and MERLOT and NOBU, and realized that if we want to solve these puzzles, we just gotta learn a lot of random junk. SELAH!

SethG 11:15 AM  

Same NW problems as many others. After 15 minutes I'd finished more than 90% of the puzzle, easily on pace for a personal best. My total time: 39 minutes.

I took a minute or two to work out the yucky CURES/ORRIS area, not helped by my trouble coming up with ABOVE or then BOUT.

Then, the last 20+ minutes were north of EMBAR(r)ASSMENT. Didn't know NORAH or AJAX and I'd put RUN for word of encouragement (with its implied !). And, when I untangled that I was left with IN A JAG. All I had to start with up there was SHEL and GRO, and the G from JAG hid the car from me and I couldn't for the life of me think of MILLEN(n)IUM. I didn't know some of the stuff (PULI, LUTHERAN) and I didn't like at least half the clues up there.

Especially RATIOS. Really? Wow. There are a lot of features in Photoshop, and a bunch of them may involve ratios. It's like answering "Options for dinner" with MEATS.

As you might imagine, I was kinda frustrated by the end.

My cell phone reminds me how SMRT I am (or it is) when I turn it on. Moe calls here.

Anonymous 11:19 AM  

There's a used-goods store in my town called Roberta's Collectables - drives me nuts. For 13D I recited to myself "ou est la plume de ma tante?", which turned out to be wrong wrong wrong.

jannieb 11:31 AM  

My favorite misspelling is in a grocery store in Williamsport, PA. The sign used to help you find the Depends is labeled "Incontinents". It's been there for several years.

Ulrich 11:31 AM  

@jim in nyc: A meditation on "random junk"

The phrase that came most often to my mind when I looked at the things I learned after doing a puzzle comes from an old Bob Dylan song: "useless and pointless knowledge", which is probably the same as your random junk. But then I read, e.g., phillysolver's explanation of "deep-six", and the phrase suddenly makes much more sense than it used to (in addition, I know now better when or when not to use it). Even what I learned yesterday about the AMA is something I rather know than not know.

I believe that one of our most basic needs is to make sense of the world, and in each of the instances I listed (and countless others) I learned something that gives more sense to an--admittedly minuscule (!)--aspect of my world. It's not the puzzle alone, it's the addition of stories, background, jokes that posters add that creates this effect.

That's why I read this blog and why I feel motivated to contribute from my own idiosyncratic view of the world.

Jim in NYC 11:44 AM  

X-Ray Specs are an American novelty item, purported to allow the user to see through or into solid objects. Instead, though, the glasses merely create an optical illusion; no X-rays are involved. The current version is sold under the name X-Ray Spex; an essentially identical product is sold under the name X-Ray Gogs.

And it's also a band.

Anonymous in Texas 11:58 AM  

Would Millennium have made the list if the study had not been done in 1999 when Y2K was on our radar?

Liked the puzzle but caused me to question my spelling of these words all along the way and will probably have to check them every time I use them from now on.

In fact, have double - no triple checked millennium already and will probably check once more before I publish.

chefbea1 12:26 PM  

Just last week I made a meal from the past. Shake'n bake porkchops, served with nother than rice-a-roni. Of course we had merlot.

chefbea1 12:27 PM  

meant none other, gosh I mispelled it

archaeoprof 12:28 PM  

NW was toughest for me too. Then I spent most of the puzzle wondering if the theme answers were spelled correctly or not. "Millenium" just looks right, doesn't it? But other mistakes are more "noticable."

imsdave1 12:34 PM  

SPEX brought me back to my early years reading DC and Marvel comics - Mom talked me out of spending my paper route money on them. Grand Am is just wrong (Bill in NJ is very right here, not a cool car). I had LARK for way too long instead of CLAM. Caused most of the NW problems for me. HUGEST is not a word I would use, but fair. As the HUGEST UConn fan, I loved the Tennessee cluse, even as there was a 'cheating' reference in the paper today by Pat Summit (get over it b*tch, smart, talented people come to UConn because they like the environment and the coach). Sad moment in the puzzle for me was that I know NAS (crosswords have their downsides). As a COBOL programmer, one of my first words to learn not to misspell was occurrence. Loved Rex's FARSI joke. Best to all, really enjoyable puzzle!

mike 12:42 PM  

NW was my last section with the CPU PULI and RATIOS being my hang ups. Finally got the longer acrosses

I realized EMBARASSMENT was misspelled and got the theme immediately. I have a hard time with spelling so I just went my gut for the rest of the misspelled words and was generally right. I had OCCURANCE instead of OCCURENCE but EGAD gave me the proper error. Some of the theme answers still look like they are spelled correctly to me.

IHOP joins the list of formerly abbreviated proper names.

Does NOBU stand for anything? I have never seen or heard of them.

foodie 1:01 PM  

Doh... Or is it Duh?

I was going along thinking-- there's no trick here, just a listing of words that people misspell (in part thrown off by the phrasing of the clue at 65A and in part by my own bad spelling). Then I finally hit persevere(a)nce, and thought: Odd, that's the wrong spelling! and had to rethink the whole premise. The saddest thing about it all: I discovered I had been spelling many of these words incorrectly in two languages! At first, I tried to salve my pride by thinking that it was a cross-language confusion. But embar(r)assingly, these words are consistent across languages.

Well, I need to go find me an ego massage...

Joon 1:11 PM  

a fun puzzle for me, and i blitzed through it a much faster time than i'd ever had on a sunday. the only hangup was the C_US/_ULI crossing, which i eventually figured out by playing the alphabet game.

i learned the correct spelling of MINUSCULE only last year, i think. at first i was incredulous (mini!) but once i learned that the etymology was from minus-, it made more sense to me. all these other words look horribly wrong to me in the grid (especially ORRIS... bah-dum-ching!). best-looking fill? HASAGOAT. why don't i have a goat?

stuff i really liked: MYMAN, BASSO, general scrabbliness (AJAX, SPEX, EXOTICA, GIZMO). MERLOT, if only because it also reminds me of sideways and i, too, can't stand to drink any ****ing MERLOT.

i wonder if proximity in age to the constructor really makes a big difference in solving time.

Doris 1:13 PM  

This Hilton hotel in lower Manhattan spent lots of $$$ on its brightly illuminated sign. It was criticized for the blatant misspelling when the sign went up, but apparently decided to leave the spelling as is:

It's probably contributing to the misspelling of this particular word!

Not the same thing, but my favorite misspelling was on a signboard at a local lunch place near my former office:

George NYC 1:15 PM  

Nobu is a fancy Japanese restaurant with (as far as I know) 2 locations in Manhattan, 1 in LA and one in Aspen. Assume the iriginal was in Japan. To call it an international chain would no doubt insult the eponymous proprietor but what the hell.

kate 1:19 PM  

Well, I got right away that we were looking for commonly misspelled words, but as Rex discusses, I assumed that in the grid they were spelled correctly. Which had me going slowly for awhile - but when I came to MILLENNIUM I knew something was up, because in that case the number of letters was affected. I *knew* it had to be MILLENNIUM - just had to be. And I know how to spell MILLENNIUM - proofreading corpoate memos and press releases was part of the job I had during Y2K and I corrected that word 50 times a day.

So then I realized the gimmick and filled everything pretty quickly, except for one square, at the cross of cross of CURES/ORRIS. Didn't know either of them.

Bella M 1:31 PM  

Whenever we visited England's Lake District, we always climbed Scout Scar, which was a small limestone crag with a panoramic view of the valley below and the fells in the distance.

bill from fl 2:20 PM  

Two ironies about the "Sideways" line's impact on demand for Merlot: (1) it's spoken by a loser and an alcoholic; (2) his most treasured wine (Cheval Blanc) is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Count me in woth everyone elso who left the Northwest for last.


(1)CLAM is a "symbol" for happiness? Yes I know the well-worn phrase "Happy as a CLAM" - but seriously how many people see a clam and think of happiness?

(2) TransAm vs. GrandAm. Count me on the TransAm side. The Mustang has a huge devoted following - can we how say the same for a GrandAm?

(3) I was counting on the words being spelled correctly and was at first thinking I had misspelled these words my whole life and was feeling pretty bad until I realized the puzzle purposely misspelled them.

(4) The was a general lack of science related clues and the only one that was included was one that I did not know (SCAR?)


(1) Loved the clue "International chain of fusion cuisine." It is not often you see the a restaurant chain paired with the phrase "fusion cuisine." Could be our palates are becoming more sophisticated or just pretentious?You decide.

(2) Enjoyed the entire South. It flowed effortlessly for me with the exception of ORRIS.

Ladel 2:37 PM  

Hah! I can't spell too well anyway, a fact that causes great concern during solving, but today it worked out just fine as wrong was right today.

Ladel 2:42 PM  


your site is working just fine on my Inspiron E1505. Look to the machine rather than the site, some of your flock may be running some tired, old or over worked equipment.

jae 3:29 PM  

This one hit me where I live. I'm also a terrible speller. I realized this in the third grade when I was mentally chanting "i before e except after c" going into a spelling test and still misspelled receive. So, because of the ambiguity of 65a I wasn't sure if the words were misspelled or not and finally decided on not, which of course was wrong. It did make the puzzle easy for me as I wasn't focused on spelling.

I started with LARK for 1d as I'd seen the same clue with that answer recently. My only other missteps were spelling COZY with an S and briefly trying GEGAW for GIZMO.

TOOTSY and DOPY look wrong to me but then my spelling = not so good!

imsdave1 3:55 PM  

I forgot to comment on tootsy before, as I recall, (from many years ago), tootsies refered to toes, not feet.

Michael 4:08 PM  

I am really struck by how many of the comments (including those of Rex) are about problems I too had:

(1) the words be improperly spelled when logically they should have been properly spelled;

(2) the nw corner -- I rushed through the rest of puzzle but thought I was going to have to throw in the towel in this part, but finally had my aha (and amazed) moment with "Lutheran>"

I would guess that good crossword puzzler solvers also tend to be good spellers? At least one commentator said that he spelled badly. Are there other counterexamples out there?

imsdave1 4:12 PM  

Moi, Micheal - I continually have difficulty with word endings (mostly A's and E's) though I consider myself a decent solver.

Barb in Chicago 4:20 PM  

I'm with Dave. Tootsies have always been toes to me.

Even once I knew the grid wanted LUTHERAN, I resisted putting it in because it didn't seem right. I wanted a word meaning lullaby or cradle song. Several internet sites say the carol's origin is American, first published in a Lutheran Sunday School book in 1885.

Does anyone know in what denomination CURES serve? I thought the term was CURATE, not CURES.

Noam D. Elkies 4:40 PM  

Clever puzzle; mostly fun, since I started by looking for the clue that explained most of the * entries and solved around there until I got 65A and the nearby example MINISCULE. The puzzle might have been annoying otherwise, because I do know the correct spelling of those words; thus I was lucky to have done 65A first, so that when I got around to the NW I was only briefly tempted by "millennia" for 26A:MILLENIUM* -- in any other puzzle MILLENNIA would be immediate from the first few letters plus the clue "Long, long time" (so I'm surprised that the litanies of NW woes didn't include this wrong turn). Fortunately I've seen 39D:ELI Manning's name enough times that the otherwise correct MINUSCULE stayed in 51A for only a few seconds. I didn't notice the logical problem Rex notes with the clue for 65A; since Will Shortz gets to change any clue he wants to, maybe we should blame him for this one if blame is in order at all.

A few miscellaneous notes:

# amusing echo of 5A:GRO and the 27D clue `"Bro!"'

# 29D:SCAR -- naturally I had CRAG too at first, and thus wondered how one would misspell HARANGUES (for 44A "Bugs") starting HARG...
@jannieb 10:09 -- it turns out that scar/escarpment are etymologically unrelated, though it does make for a good mnemonic;

# 55A:SPEX -- I was expecting RP to comment on this. "Rex objex, rejex SPEX!"?

# Re 62A, I :-) Rex's ZEDphobia. Better yet "ZEDophobia", as in "xenophobia" (which I'd guess the Brits pronounce with the same first syllable as for "zebra").

# 99D CURÉS seems no worse to me than the pantheonic "massé". Presumably as in "sinecure"; note also the first definition of "cure" at

# 120A HASAGOAT -- already noted by Joon 1:11. Very different from HASACOW.


PhillySolver 4:55 PM  

Just for fun, here are the next ten words on the list...
all spelled correctly btw.

@ michael I do well in crosswords because my head is filled with trivia most of which I cannot spell. One of the things I recall is a song with the lyrics..."I'm happy as a clam on the land of Uncle Sam in my little ol' shanty on my claim," sung about the Homestead Act. Is that useful anywhere? P.S. I know the tune, too.

@ last doggie was Wee Bonnie Heather, known as Bonnie to her lucky acquaintances.

imsdave1 5:26 PM  

Well done Noam d. Reminded me about 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and the famed Variety headline 'Sticks Nix Hick Pix'.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

My mnemonic for minuscule (I too just learned it in the past year) is MINUS.

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

As a Brit, slowly learning American English, I had a good laugh at 73A:Luster . Wanted a word that meant "dirty old man". Ah..Lustre (SHEEN).

Dave in Vienna

Kevin Der 7:15 PM  

i liked this puzzle, but had one error. the CURES / ORRIS crossing was unfairly clued, in my opinion, CURE as a parish priest is esoteric. for anyone unfamiliar with the meanings of both crossings, almost any letter would have worked; D, L, M, N, P, T, and V could have fit there without much stretch of the imagination.

Dan 7:42 PM  

Half Baked is a great movie! "Have you ever solved a crossword puzzle... ON WEED??!?" Okay, it's a great dumb movie.

Great puzzle by Master Hill. I kind of buy into Joon's theory. ("i wonder if proximity in age to the constructor really makes a big difference in solving time.") Not that it makes a *big* difference, but Nothnagel fills his grids very differently than Nososwky. Case in point, Tyler Hinman's LA Times puzzle today was my fastest Sunday ever, helped by lots of sports and colloquial fill. (Wish I were that young - I'm the same age as Patrick Blindauer, whose wavelength I'm always on.)

NW was the hardest (of course), until my patented simile-clue technique saved me - saying out loud, "Happy as a... CLAM!"

Dan, who made it to the 4th round of the National Spelling Bee in 1991

Rex Parker 8:01 PM  

I love dumb movies, but I swear that I walked out on Half-Baked after about 45 minutes because I realized I could be home watching "Simpsons" re-runs.


Norm 8:18 PM  

I think there's a thesis out there waiting to be written on the proximity in age between constructor and solver with respect to solving time. All I know is that I (55) had an all time personal best for a Sunday puzzle -- and I wasn't even trying to go fast. Just one of those days that everything fell into place.

mac 9:44 PM  

This was easy going and I thought fun until the blasted NW: I had Shel (love his books) and Millenium and couldn't get anywhere after that. My first impulse (Ulrich) for 19A was "in German". I'm still wondering if Millennium was right, isn't it a point in time rather than a long, long time?
We once went to Nobu in London and were insulted by the price they charged for Edamame (which I can get so cheaply at Trader Joe's), so we never went back.
@Rex, the one and only movie I ever walked out of was "Mahogany", again in London.
Of course I thought of you when Ihop was mentioned, I'm sure the constructor put it in for you. I also had TransAM at first, but I wouldn't know one if you saw one.
@Ulrich: when I first read the clue for 19A I thought: in German.
Isn't Cure, with the accent, a foreign word? Why wasn't that in the clue?
@chefbea1, I just found a little package of the Pork Chop Shake-and-
Bake that must have moved with us from several houses..... I can't remember when I last used it but I used to like it. Just as Rice-a-Roni, it's so loaded with salt that we try to stay away from it.
By the way, I love your nother for none other!

karmasartre 9:50 PM  

@phillysolver re. next ten on the list:

It looks like eleven entries.

It looks like more than eleven entries. Separate and Inseparable seem different enough to be different entries.

Not sure why gauges makes it but not plurals of the other words. Their plurals aren't misspelled as frequently?

Does Embarrass merit entry when Embarrassment makes the top ten?

Anonymous 4:16 AM  

Half Baked is an excellent movie.

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

It does seem strange that you could have an intertantional fusion restaurant chain, but not only are there two Nobu restaurants in London, they have a sister Ubon. Puzzlers should have no trouble figuring out the relationship of the names.

Anonymous 1:28 AM  

imsdave1 says: "tootsies refered (sic) to toes, not feet"

I'd always thought so, too!

So, I looked it up online and found:
"or toot·sy (-sē) A person's foot.",

Live and learn...

xwd_fiend 4:55 AM  

John Constable: responsible for the Hay Wain, a strong contender for 'best known painting by any British artist'.

Paul 11:13 PM  

Bill from NJ said...

...And who the hell thought GRANDAM was a competitor for a Mustang? Probably a 12-year-old.
10:22 AM

I was just going to write exactly the same thing.

Mike the Wino 3:04 PM  

@Joon 1:11- As a syndicated solver, yesterday I posted about the syndicated Friday puzzle #0322 regarding "pasystem" which was an answer to a clue I couldn't remember from a NYT puzzle published a couple years ago. I was tired when I posted and said I thought it must be some sort of acronym. What I really meant is words like these could be defined as "two or more words that, when put together, look like (another) word(s) you've never heard of". So I was in complete agreement with you regarding "has a goat". Took me forever to see "has a go at".


As far as the rest of the puzzle is concerned, I liked it. However, like others before me, I have always considered myself a pretty good speler, so I was surprised when I found out how many of the theme answers "looked" right to me at first blush. I wouldn't have spelled most of them incorrectly, but it took a while for me to see the misspellings.

And being an amateur wine maker, I think Merlot is just ducky, whether by itself or blended with other varietals. I've had some very boring store bought bottles, but mine has always been pretty darn good. Screw that drunken Jack.

Mike the Wino 3:42 PM  

To clarify the above even further, my buddy and I started calling all those types of answers "pasystems". The conversation would go something like:

"I don't get the answer to 69 down. What the heck is a '-------'?"

"You dork! That's not '-------', it's '--- ----'!!

"Oh, that's one of those 'pasystems' then isn't it?"

"Now you got it!"

BTW, the answer "pasystem" had something to do with a device for conversing to a crowd, or some such thing...

kas 5:35 PM  

I could NOT get the NW corner -- CPUS and Lutheran. The rest was fun.

Bob 1:56 AM  

Just outside Mitchell, SD, a billboard on I90 advertises fixing flats, oil changes and "24 hour toes." It's been there for years. I've always wondered where you get the non-24 hour variety, speaking of Merlot. (Although it doesn't involve a misspelling, my favorite sign in the NE corner of the state advertises "Fish welding," leading to many interesting speculations; e.g., what do you weld a fish to?)

Andy C. 1:51 PM  

I'm with Rex in thinking that 65A was poorly worded. I thought I was going crazy. I kept thinking, "I've been spelling all of these words differently! Have I been wrong all along?" (By that point I had about three.) Nope, just a poorly worded clue.

As a side note, Webster's lists miniscule an an acceptable spelling, and Word spell check won't flag it.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Clams taste pretty good..but a symbol of happiness?

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