WEDNESDAY, Apr. 30, 2008 - Henry Hook (BELLINI TWO-ACTER)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "... ON MY MIND" - three theme answers are songs whose titles end with the phrase "ON MY MIND"

I breathed a great sigh of relief when I saw Henry Hook's name on this puzzle last night, not because I thought it would be easy - his puzzles usually skew toward the harder side - but because I knew it would be Good. After yesterday's misfire - which needed harder clues throughout and a Thursday placement, or else a complete reconstruction of that SE corner - I needed something smooth, and I got it. Hot knife meets butter. This was far easier than I expected - I don't think I hesitated more than once or twice while completing the puzzle and finished in about 4:30. The thorniest part of the puzzle, to me, was the middle - when white squares run low and flat through the middle like that, it's always dicey for me. I knew two of those little Downs, but the German one (TOD - 31D: Mann's "Der _____ in Venedig") eluded me, though I've seen it before. It intersected the answer I had most trouble with: ARCADIA (40A: Peace-and-quiet venue). This is ironic because a member of my writing group is working on a book that has a working title of AMERICAN ARCADIA. The clue makes it sound like it's a nook in a library as opposed to a remote, mountainous part of Greece; the subject of a Nicolas Poussin painting ("Et in Arcadia Ego"); or a Tom Stoppard play (all of which would have screamed "ARCADIA" more than "peace-and-quiet venue"). Not that the clue is wrong - it's just ... deceptively ordinary-sounding. Another place of "peace-and-quiet" => AVALON (42D: Burial place of King Arthur). PS he's not dead, he's just resting up.

Theme answers:

Worthy songs all. Of the above youtube clips, the Glen Campbell performance is, IMOO, the best.

I have several favorite parts of this puzzle. First, there's INITIATE (37D: Begin) next to NOMINATE (38D: Put up) in the SE, giving us three stacked four-letter answers that have double-letters in their middles: BAAL (57A: False deity), ETTE (60A: Novel ending?), and REED (63A: Accordion part). Nice. Then there's RAILWAYS (35D: Things people are trained in?) crossing ALWAYS (in ALWAYS ON MY MIND), which is daring, since RAILWAYS is just ALWAYS hiding in some really sparse shrubbery. Then there's IGNATZ Mouse (25A: Mouse who's always throwing bricks at Krazy Kat), one of my very very favorite comics characters of all time. I have a reprint volume of "Krazy Kat" sitting not three feet from me. If I ever got a tattoo, there is a very short list of images I would allow on my body - IGNATZ beaning KRAZY KAT with a brick is one of them. But perhaps my favorite part of the puzzle is a nice shout-out to all the solvers who crash and burn and eventually find their way here: GOOGLING (1D: Solver's online recourse). No GOOGLING today.

The part wherein I describe my reaction to assorted other clues and answers:

  • 5A: Slalomer's moves (zags) - when ESSES wouldn't fit, I knew it was ZIGS or ZAGS. Is there a way to know which is which?
  • 9A: "And _____ ask is a tall ship ...": John Masefield ("all I") - literally none of this clue is familiar to me, but the answer was easy to infer. And now I've got Eliza Doolittle in my ear: "ALL I want is a room somewhere..."
  • 13A: Sans deferment (One-A) - "Sans" is jarring here. I'm trying (and failing) to imagine an enlisted man using it to describe how he ended up in the Army. Still, it was easy to get, as the NW came together very quickly.
  • 17A: Acapulco acclamations (oles) - alliteration!
  • 18A: Bellini two-acter ("Norma") - thank god I never saw this clue. Yeeps.
  • 19A: Fail miserably, in slang (tank) - not surprisingly, I got this instantly.
  • 42A: Title lover in a 1920s Broadway hit (Abie) - he's back. Clearly, some day, I'm going to have to see a performance of this damned play. Which reminds me - I am going to see a grey wolf this weekend, partly to help support wolf preservation efforts, but mostly because the wolf's name is ... ATKA. He's a living, breathing, canine crossword puzzle answer of the highest order. How can I pass that up? I'll try to take pictures.
  • 44A: Little fingers or toes (minimi) - Oh I love this answer. Love It. It's so ridiculous, it's beautiful. It means "the smallest ones" in Latin, so ... it's apt!
  • 47A: He wrote "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him" (Voltaire) - my first instinct was, oddly, Nietzsche, but then I remembered he was famous for a different God quote. Got a cross or two and then got Voltaire easily.
  • 61A: 1961 "spacechimp" (Enos) - had ENOS for EZRA yesterday, and was wrong. Glad you trot ENOS out again today, especially in his "spacechimp" form.
  • 63A: Accordion part (reed) - had the -EED, wrote in REED and thought "really?" NUMBER (46D: Repertoire component) confirmed it.
  • 4D: Title locale in a Cheech Marin flick (East L.A.) - seen it before, love it still.
  • 5D: Actor Billy of "Titanic" (Zane) - why isn't he in more stuff. And moreover, why do I know his name so well if he is mostly famous for being a supporting actor in this bloated monstrosity of a film?
  • 7D: Adorned, in the kitchen (garni) - wanted APRONED, but then GARNI came to me out of the blue. Seen most often (in my life) in the phrase "bouquet GARNI."
  • 8D: Super Bowl XXI M.V.P., first to say "I'm going to Disney World!" (Simms) - Phil Simms, NY Giants. His son, Chris, is a QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Along with LANDRY (11D: Longtime Cowboys coach Tom), SIMMS makes the NNE football country (I doubt Tom would have liked being put in the NE...). Sidenote: Bobby Hill (on "King of the Hill") attends Tom LANDRY Middle School.
  • 9D: What demonstrators demonstrate (activism) - this feels clunky. "Come on, let's go demonstrate some ACTIVISM!" And yet ... it's literally true, on some level.
  • 10D: Auto shop's offering (loaner) - aargh. Thinking of LUBE JOB or some other form of maintenance or repair, and the answer is just ... another car for you to drive for the day.
  • 15D: Senate tally (nays) / 48D: Senate tally (ayes) - symmetry! Beautiful.
  • 26D: Suffix with Meso- or Paleo- (-zoic) - didn't trust that "Z" until I saw the fabulous IGNATZ. That moment - ZOIC into IGNATZ - was perhaps the happiest moment of the puzzle for me. Kind of like the moment where the roller coaster just crosses the highest point of its ascent and you start to fall. . .

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:01 AM  

That Masefield poem always warms my heart - being a coastal person/sailor now living inland. Here's a link:

And I smiled too at the AYES/NAYS symmetry.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

I'm not familiar with a Nietzche quote, but it was Karl Marx that said "religion is the opiate of the masses."


ArtLvr 9:12 AM  

Your time is very impressive, Rex! I'm just glad I could do this one without help, getting sports-people with crosses...

I first put in IN LEAGUE in the NW, then took it out when I thought 17-A called for "si si". It was only at the end I got back to that area and saw the fit.

I also put in "Montaign- at first for 47-A VOLTAIRE, but before taking it out I noticed the fit if several of the letters they have in common, si that was helpful after all.

It was also great to see that the three theme answers ended in "on my mind", so then I was working backwards from east to west. Knew TOD in the 31-D Mann clue, which cleared the middle.

BOLERO and NORMA were gimmes, and reinforced the musical theme! Added to the enjoyment today.

Favorite word -- DISSEVER, after the misspellings required in the earlier puzzle this week.


jls 9:20 AM  

had a good time solving this "your hit parade" of a puzzle, and then reading your write-up with its good-natured theatre/music shout-outs ;-)

eliza doolittle is also the "all i" reference i go to first; "norma" is another (brace yourself) opera [which you may have realized -- but thank you for not puttin' it down!]; and "abie's irish rose" (for tv fans, think "bridget loves bernie") is a play some colleagues of mine have re-written as a musical with an inter-racial love story: "abie's island rose."

also enjoyed your "minimi" comment. and, yeah -- that's the beauty part about those words with latin/greek roots. they do seem to be unerringly "apt."



Ulrich 9:20 AM  

Two of my favorites here:

1D, where I hesitated to write in my first (and correct) guess b/c it seemed too good to be true

Tod (German for "death") occupies the dead center of the grid.

A medium for me overall b/c I had to rely on crosses for too many of the pop references

Sandy 9:22 AM  

I kept looking for a French word as the answer to "sans deferment." I thought that was rather clever of me, but apparently it wasn't.

PhillySolver 9:23 AM  

Missing answer (on the bottom of the grid): MATTER Then we could have had mind over matter, but as it is I guess we could say great minds think alike.

The Ignatz Awards are given to the outstanding illustrator in a series of categories. I won't talk about some of the Katty remarks heard there because puns are not welcome here.

Off to Brooklyn...

Wendy Laubach 9:33 AM  

I liked "DISSEVER" too.

This took about the same time as yesterday for me, i.e. few problems. "ISLES" was my last fill, after running up the alphabet for the "L" in "ELUDE." There's actually a team called the Isles? Thank heavens I never even saw the "SIMMS" clue. At least I could get LANDRY!

"ARCADIA" was a gimme after "Death in Venice" and singer "ANI." I'm ignorant of all Bellini after "NORMA" and "I puritani," so that didn't leave much choice. So all the hard words had help from crosses.

Bill D 9:42 AM  

So, here was Tuesday's puzzle, hiding in the Wednesday Times. Once I had GENTLE ON MY MIND I filled in the other two theme answers and that made for smooooth solvin'.

Loved the BAAL/ETTE/REED stack, the beautiful symmetry of NAYS/AYES, and the extremely clever cluing for ISLES which had even this hockey fan going a bit. IN LEAGUE is a nice phrase we don't see enough of; that and DWINDLED, IGNATZ, AVALON, VOLTAIRE, CUT IN, MINIMI, etc, exemplify the quality answers that went into this grid.

ZAG[S] appeared and was commented on yesterday, so one only had to check the down for the second letter. ONE-A is another of those word/single letter combinations we need a neologism for - ampersnack anyone?

A very enjoyable puzzle with little crosswordese and next to no lame fill. Even my despised three-letter answers were generally way above the norm. With tougher cluing this could have easily made it to a Thursday, even with the long theme gimmes.

wade 9:45 AM  

A lot to love about this Wednesday puzzle. I suppose I'd also rate it easy--I got a lot of answers on the first pass-through, but there was still quite a bit of . . . texture after that; I had to tease some of the squares out. My time wasn't great, about twice Rex's, but I'm fine with that--in fact, I prefer it that way in this kind of puzzle. Since I'm not a natural speed demon, if I do them very fast it usually means I was bored. If I do them much slower, it means the puzzle errs (for me) too much on the math side of the yin/yang of crosswords. This was the perfect mix of poetry and algebra.

That's my objective view. Subjectively, this puzzle has been reading my mail. You got your Tom Landry and your Willie Nelson--if you add Sam Houston you've got the holy trinity of Texas icons. As for "Gentle on my Mind," well, I recently started screwing around with an open D tuning on my guitar, and I've been driving my kids nuts with that song for the past three weeks. It's the most gorgeous song ever written, I do believe I have to say. A guy named John Hartford wrote it; you can find several clips, I think, of him playing it, and while I love GC's version, there's plenty of room in my heart for Hartford's rough-edged and understated performance--his voice isn't great, and he plays the song on banjo of all damn things, but it'll still choke you up when he gets to the line "Through cupped hands round the tin can I pretend to hold you to my breast and find . . . ." Hartford died a few years ago at a pretty young age. He'd carved out a niche as a riverboat troubador. Not many of those left.

Bill D 9:49 AM  

@Wendy - "ISLES" is sports page headline shorthand for the New York ISLANDERS, who play their home games on Long Island, hence the moniker.

PuzzleGirl 10:08 AM  

I was really hoping that "Georgia On My Mind" would be stuck in my head today, but so far it's all been "Born in East L.A."

Ray Charles and Travis Tritt sang "Georgia On My Mind" together on that Crossroads series. It was awesome. I couldn't find it on YouTube anywhere. (I haven't had much luck finding any of the videos from that series unfortunately, although I did run across the ZZ Top/Brooks & Dunn performance of LaGrange yesterday.)

parshutr 10:19 AM  

I disagree about Landry not wanting to be located in the NE...his glory days as a DB in the NFL were with the NY Giants.

Pinky 10:22 AM  

Well just to show you how much I love this website, I had BLOGGING instead of GOOGLING for solver's online recourse.

(of course it messed up the whole NW corner)

Zach M. 10:26 AM  

Strange, I found this puzzle somewhat difficult. Then again, I tried it at 3 am after doing 6 hours of physics homework, so unless there was a clue about specific heat capacity (JOULESPERMOLETIMESDEGREECELSIUS would be a hard answer to fit in the grid), I was probably going to have a rough time.

John 10:34 AM  

Wednesdays are always a toss-up for me -- I guess I'm the only one who found this one pretty difficult. Why would anyone "like" DISSEVER (24A)? That is a horrible word. Ditto for MINIMI (44A), at least the way it is clued. I would like it better if it were clued [Nadirs], or something like that.

I so wanted REXPARKER for 1D. It's only a matter of time before that name shows up in a puzzle (prob on a Sat).

JC66 10:38 AM  

Average Wednesday for me. TOD, MINIMI and RORY gave me the most trouble.

I'm not sure Tom Landry would mind being positioned in the NE. For many years he, along with Vince Lombardi, were assistant coaches for the New York Giants; Lombardy on offense and Landry on defense, before moving on to Green Bay and Dallas. It was while he was with the Giants, that he invented the 4/3 defense (which used Sam Huff at middle linebacker to try to stop the "unstoppable" Jim Brown).

Hey, some people are into math, some music . What can I tell you. :-)

JC66 10:40 AM  


I was keying in my comment while you were posting yours.


SethG 10:47 AM  

John, you're not the only one. This took me twice as long as yesterday's did.

Way too much of it seemed like facts that (maybe because I had too much ON MY MIND?) weren't coming quickly. EAST LA, ZANE, NORMA, IGNATZ, RORY, VOLTAIRE, ENOS, AVALON, BOLERO, ABIE, TOD, GENTLE ON MY MIND, GEORGIA ON MY MIND, all potential gimmes that I had to fight for. And I didn't know of DISSEVER or MINIMI, and that didn't help.

Zach M, try Kelvin. That should fit.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Like yesterday, there were many answers I didn't know but was able to get through crosses (eventually - I finished the SE corner after a good night's sleep). And like yesterday I had one error - didn't know minimi (though in retrospect it's the logical guess) and I couldn't remember if 33D is imam or iman. Maybe now I'll remember.

Mary in NE

wade 10:53 AM  

parshutr and jc66, that doesn't mean he liked it there.

All passive-aggressive denials that I was serious aside, as a lifetime fairweather Cowboys fan, I'm supposed to hate every other team except the Cowboys, especially other NFC East teams. And I do, I guess. But I cannot hate the Giants with the vehemence they probably deserve (being a team that isn't the Cowboys and all) simply because of the decency of 8D, Phil Simms. I love that guy. His retirement speech (or maybe it was his induction into the Giants ring of honor or whatever they call it) was up there with Lou Gherig's as far as poignancy. I don't remember all of it--it must have come during half-time of a game against the Cowboys game or I wouldn't have been watching it--but I remember how much the crowd loved him and I remember him saying something like "and the doctors told me I shouldn't play no more." My heart will be sorely bruised if anybody tells me that isn't in fact what he said, because I remember how endearing and touching that phrase was, including the grammatical slip. Good old Phil. I forgive him for starting the odious Disneyworld tradition.

humorlesstwit 11:09 AM  

Is there a term for the dumb-ass redundancy of terms like dissever vs sever, inflammable vs flammable other than item #473 of things that piss me off?

John Reid 11:28 AM  

After yesterday's ultra-mega-mega-hard SE corner, I thought that today's puzzle would be a nice relaxing step down on the difficulty scale. Not so! This one took me over 10 minutes to fight through. I was surprised to see it rated as an Easy Wednesday on the blog. Overall it felt very Thursday-ish to me.

I found the NW the slowest going. If I'd known IGNATZ right off the bat it would have been a big help, but I didn't.

The theme was great. Also great to see GOOGLING at 1 down; it reminded me of the comments here at Crossworld!

Now back to lurking...

Joon 11:29 AM  

oof. i don't think i've ever been smacked around like this on a wednesday. it eventually all came together, but it took me three times longer than yesterday's puzzle. i simply could not work out the NW or SE for what seemed like forever. it all added up to my slowest wednesday ever by far.

ironically, i found some of the clue that rex said were tough to be outright gimmes. you say [Bellini], i say NORMA. and the god quote is one of the best-known VOLTAIRE witticisms.

major hangups:

IDOL for BAAL killed any chances i had of piecing together the SE until i finally took it out when NOMINATE forced itself on me. but boy was that hard to see. i definitely wanted multi-word phrases at both 37D and 38D, and i couldn't figure out what the hell was going on at 46D either with _UMIE_.

IGNATZ. wtf? needed all the crosses, some of which were simply not forthcoming. speaking of which...

BEENINTO. pardon me, but... yuck. WASINTO would be ... okay, but kind of ugly. BEENINTO is ridiculous. i've BEENINTO the empire state building. i would never say i've BEENINTO bridge or foosball or crosswords.

ONEA. i don't think i really know what this means. i guess it has to be 1-A, but to me, that's an ground-floor apartment or the beginning of a crossword, not any kind of draft status.

GENTLEONMYMIND. whaaa? had GE__LE and could not figure out what was going on there. what part of speech is GENTLE? does not compute.

overall, i liked the puzzle, despite struggling with it. but my enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that a) i don't know or care about any of the theme songs, and b) BEENINTO.

was i the only one who tried to slot in EVILWAYS at 35D? i guess i was thinking of emperor palpatine and young anakin. but this was a good kind of mistake--six of the eight letters were right.

"et in ARCADIA ego" is both one of my favorite paintings and a chapter title from one of my favorite books (waugh's brideshead revisited). so that was a nice shout-out. and the stoppard play is pretty sweet, too.

phil SIMMS was a pretty good quarterback, but he's a pretty bad color commentator.

Rex Parker 11:36 AM  

ONE-A (clued as a draft status) is crosswordese of the first order, so you must be kidding about that apartment stuff.


miriam b 11:40 AM  

It's so serendipitous that all the ONMYMIND titles happen to have the same number of letters. Made for a great puzzle.

Bill from NJ 11:40 AM  

I was about 10 when I started doing "big-kids" puzzles in the daily paper (Washington Post) and found myself stumped by the clue "____ Irish Rose." It turned out to be the first crossword-specific word I ever committed to memory. It may be time to retire the old bastard, what do you think?

This was a Monday puzzle only redeemed by the fact that it was a Henry Hook. I really liked the symmetry of AYES and NAYS,

@jc66 -
It's about time a little respect was shown to sports information. New School (sports, pop culture) vs Old School (opera, the-a-tuh), I guess.

JC66 11:42 AM  


Well, we'd like to think he did because we always liked him. The definition of class.

JC66 11:47 AM  

@bill from nj

Thanks, but I think little is probably the operative word. :-)

Alec 11:48 AM  

An excellent puzzle, even if entering IDOL instead of BAAL resulted in a traffic jam in the SE that added two extra minutes to my time. I do wish that ALWAYS ON MY MIND had been clued as a Pet Shop Boys cover of an Elvis song...

Doc John 11:53 AM  

I struggled through this one today, just couldn't wrap my mind around any of the clues. The EAST LA one is a perfect example of that. Kept trying to remember a Cheech film that took place in --STLA; it wasn't computing. Even with the three ... ON MY MINDs it still wasn't happening for me.

So happy to see IGNATZ in a puzzle!

I also fell into the "idol" trap.

As for ALL I, mark my words that someday you'll see it clued as "Weight loss product" (ALLI).

Ulrich 11:54 AM  

@wade: I'm happy to report that in my neck of the woods, the Cowboys are the most hated NFL team--their pretense to be "America's team" strikes people around here as utterly preposterous.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I wanted Rex Parker to fit in 1 down. I look forward to the day. Nollie

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

I wanted Rex Parker to fit in 1 down. I look forward to the day. Nollie

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

@Ulrich - Is your neck of the woods everywhere except Texas? East of Moscow & outside of Texas?

jae 12:32 PM  

Delightful puzzle, but then I really am a Hook fan. Much faster than yesterday for me because I didn't spend ages staring at PFC wondering why something looked wrong. No major missteps but I find it takes a while for things I know I know to rise to the surface (e.g. ZANE, AVALON, RORY). I did this one just after I finished Hook's Sunday BG puzzle which was much more diabolical (this is not the one from Ephraim's, I have a friend who emails me a xerox of the paper).

Liked Rex's assessment of Titanic!

Ulrich 12:38 PM  

@anonymous at 12:27: I don't want to be presumptious--so, I was speaking only from a former neck (Pittsburgh, PA) and my current one (south-central CT). To re-establish a connection to today's puzzle: I'm sitting right on the fault line between New England and Giants fans, which goes right through my family (by marriage) here.

Barb in Chicago 12:46 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and did it relatively quickly. I haven't started timing myself yet like some of you, and think I never will. But this site HAS changed the way I do puzzles. I now do them every day (used to just do Thur-Sun), do them earlier in the day (so I can follow the blog-a-log & waste time at work), and am better at them! I also used to just DO them. You all have gotten me to thinking about their quality.

@Wade, would love to hear more of your thoughts on the math/poetry yin/yang of crosswords.

@docjohn, I thought the same thing about the future clue for ALLI.

Fergus 12:46 PM  

Seeing Henry Hook's byline made me rather cautious about filling in anything if I wanted to OBTAIN a flawless grid. Alas, I wrote in ATTAIN in that space for Gets, so had to settle for one write-over blemish. (My current little game early in the week is to sacrifice time for accuracy.)

Approached zero, 39D, made me want to go for ASYMTOTE, if only because it's such a fine word, waiting for a Clue. DWINDLED works better, of course, as a part of speech.

It was nice to see VOLTAIRE, who I credit with relieving me of cynicism and disillusionment as a teenager. Reading "Candide" just got me started, and brought forth the realization that there's a lot of good to be done in a God-forsaken world.

And DISSEVER will always be stuck in, or ON MY MIND, from Poe poem "Annabel Lee":


And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.


Zach M. 12:47 PM  


Haha, Kelvin. Really the only scale that makes any sense. Once, on a test when I had absolutely no clue, I wrote down an answer of 18 degrees Z. I appended a note at the bottom that the answer was measured in Zachoniums, a new temperature scale of my own devising, and assured them that though the conversion to Kelvin was very complicated, I had done the math and my answer was, indeed, correct.

They were not amused.

Dan 12:58 PM  

Would be so cool to see REXPARKER in the grid, but he's too obscure at this point (zero appearances in the NYT proper). Maybe after the inevitable NYT profile. Though I could imagine a Saturday clue: "_____ Parker, crossword blogger's pseudonym". And REXPARKER would be perfect Weekend Warrior fill, but Peter Gordon's famed competitiveness might preclude that...

Joon: You've [Enjoyed doing] crosswords for a relatively short time. You've BEENINTO crosswords for a relatively short time. See, it works! (Those sentences apply to me too - no slight intended.)

Dan 12:58 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SethG 1:01 PM  

Zach, you were probably only logarithmically proportional--maybe if you'd gone with Cubic Zachoniums?

Rex Parker 1:02 PM  

I will be a puzzle answer later this year. NOT in the NYT or NYS. I'll let you know when it happens.

Said puzzle will be framed and hung on my wall (duh).


Rex Parker 1:04 PM  

And it's "Cubic ZachoniA"...


Joon 1:22 PM  

@dan: oh, i know BEENINTO "works." it's just horribly awkward. i meant what i said--i would never say anything that way. i usually like multi-word fill, but that one really rubs me the wrong way. perhaps because it looks like a partial to me.

@rex: i'm semi-kidding about ONEA. if the clue is [Draft status], i fill in ONEA without blinking. but [Sans deferment] was very oblique. i was looking for either ANON or a two-word adverbial phrase... which, needless to say, was not forthcoming. the problem may have been that i was never particularly clear on which draft status was coded 1-A.

i do think that if the answer to 1D can be GOOGLING, then crossword puzzles have become meta enough to have ONEA clued as [Place to begin a crossword puzzle, briefly]. i guess [ONEACROSS] would be a better answer. maybe there's a super-meta theme idea in here somewhere.

Fergus 1:28 PM  

@ humorlesstwit,

All I can think of for your "Word Fugitive" is pseudoantisynonyms. I know that's pretty weak -- I'm sure there's something much better out there.

mac 1:35 PM  

This was like a Tuesday for me, just with a lot of really good words. I realize I didn't see some of the clues, maybe just as well: "Waddya waitin' for?!". When I had just the k of 19A I wrote in "suck", I guess a little too slangy. I agree with the dislike for "been into", yuk. Cute about the googling, but I didn't need it this time.
@wade, that was a moving tale about the song.....

Norm 1:43 PM  

ATKA is one of the Aleutian islands, which I know only because years ago, when I was living in Seattle, I once considered it as a name for a little kitten. Said kitten ended up named KISKA (another island) instead (and was ultimately known as Goose Cat, because she was so silly, which is a different story), but the name search helped me immeasurably when I took up crossword puzzles.

chefbea1 2:03 PM  

I did know 13a- one a. And the number of our condo is also 1A where I use lots of bouquet garni in my cooking

Karen 2:06 PM  

I really wanted the answer to 1D (Solver's online recourse) to be REXSBLOG :)

chefbea1 2:19 PM  

Sethg and Rex - Its cubic zirconia. The stone that look like diamonds

kate 2:39 PM  

I'm also a huge fan of Krazy Kat and kudos to George Herriman, the genius who wrote and drew the strip. It was a treat to see Krazy and Ignatz in the puzzle -- I think OFFISSAPUPP would be a great crossword answer, in part or whole.

Jim in Chicago 4:37 PM  

Already having the "C", my first thought for "Borrow a partner" was CHEAT. Oops.

Why is BAAL, in particularly a "False" deity. That seems to be coming from a particulary Judeo-Christian point of view. Perhaps they were wrong, and BAAL is the true deity.

wade 4:43 PM  

jim in chicago, agreed. You have to tiptoe around the feelings of every-damn-body on this planet, but at the end of the day nobody will ever call you to account for offending the Baalists.

Matthew 4:58 PM  

Have any of you guys tried Henry Hook's puzzle, "The Beast?" Stan Newman gives it away on his site, calling it the toughest crossword he's ever put out. It's pretty fun, if you're one of those masochistic types...

This was a really fun puzzle. "BEENINTO" was the only one that felt a little awkward. Maybe if the clue was something like "(Have) enjoyed doing" it might have seemed more natural. But it was definitely no FERULE, at least :D

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

@Wade & Jim in Chicago ... Baal is not safe, either. I have an old friend in S. Francisco who is (honestly!) devoted to Baal. (But I won't tell him...;)

I, too, fell in the idol/Baal trap.

Nice puzzle with Ray Charles AND Ani DiFranco in it.

Doc John 5:46 PM  

If you go to Google and enter "define: baal" the first entry in the list says "...the Hebrews considered Baal a false god." So just to clear this up, maybe the words "to some" could have been added to the clue, as it is not in every ideological system. That said, it wouldn't have made the answer any easier or harder to ascertain.

Doc John 5:52 PM  

But then again, maybe it would! The clue "False god, to some" implies a name rather than the generic "idol" that many of us guessed at first.

dk on new computer 5:53 PM  

I would have liked to see the Black Keys "Girl is on my mind"

I share the joy of IGNATZ and MINIMI.

I wanted cheat for borrow a partner.

Anonymous 7:18 PM  

Perhaps for the elite this was any easy one, but as a twenty-something who's normally cool with wednesdays, I found this gosh darn hard.

This puzzle seemed to be of a people, by a people, and for a people I do not represent - i.e. kind of old, country-likin', and probably white.

...this week's turning out to be a doozy.

MarkTrevorSmith 7:19 PM  

@miriam Although "always" and "gentle" do each contain six letters, "Georgia" has seven!

@joon "Gentle" is an adjective, correctly used where many/most (including "Way with Words" Grant in a similar situation) incorrectly think that an adverb is called for. Compare Dylan Thomas's villanelle "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night" for another correct gentle adjective.

You know you're getting old when John Masefield, former poet laureate, whose famous sea poem every high schooler in America had to know even though JM was British, is no longer remembered.

jubjub 7:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MarkTrevorSmith 7:23 PM  

Thanks to the skills that this blog has fostered in me in my few months with NYT Xword (oh-oh, have I fallen into blasphemy a la Xmas?), I found this one particularly easy, and didn't dare google after seeing 1D. It was fun wondering what the three songs might have in common and surprising to find out that they shared seven identical letters, after which everything else fell pretty easily (for me; I'm not claiming a fast time).

jubjub 7:23 PM  

For the truly bored, procrastinating at work:

While trying to find the error I'd made in my puzzle, I googled "enos chimp space", which my boyfriend read as "enos chimp sauce". Perhaps we are weird, but it seemed like a reasonable thing to illustrate this "enos chimp sauce". Here's a link:
Enos' Chimp Sauce

PS my error was TOT + ARCATIA instead of TOD + ARCADIA.

Leon 7:24 PM  

Mr. Hook - It was great.

I think IGNATZ (Mr. Hook) likes throwing bricks at the heads of us solvers (Krazy Kats) who love him.

This is the constructor who prefaces his comments with: "If I can make just one person understand just how completely stupid s/he is, my work will not have been in vain."

Michael 7:24 PM  

I got the dissever/garni cross, but was unenthusiastic about it. I admire Henry Hook, but found this particular puzzle old-fashioned (onea, ignatz, oles, abie, etc.) and not-particulary-inspired. I enjoyed yesterday's a lot more...

Fergus 7:35 PM  

All the talk of BAAL made me wonder whether the story of Baalaam's Ass, by the burg of Moab, might somehow be associated. Apparently not.

miriam b 8:05 PM  

@MarkTrevorSmith: Right you are. Georgia does have seven letters. OTOH, you say that the three songs have seven letters in common. If you mean ONMYMIND, that's eight!

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Mick (first commenter):

Nietzsche's most famous quote is "God is Dead."

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

Oops, I meant second commenter.

green mantis 8:44 PM  

I liked this one. It was sort of offbeat-feeling, like a food that looks and sounds weird but ends up being oddly delicious. Gave good garni.

Oh Fergus, sorry I didn't check back in to see your question the other day: Pirate Store is on Valencia in the Mission, one of Dave Eggers' 826 places. It's actually a front for a free community writing program for low income kids. I'm trying to wrangle a position as a teacher there, but just for the peg leg discount.

wade 8:51 PM  

green mantis, not sure if you were kidding, but I have a good friend in SF who is associated with the 826 Valencia writing program. Email me at if you think I can give you any insight, etc.

Fergus 8:55 PM  

Oh yeah, I've heard about that enterprise, but forgot about the Pirate front, and what the regulations were that had to be skirted. I hope you at least get a free eye patch and a greeting from the parrot.

mac 9:22 PM  

@michael, calling this puzzle old-fashioned doesn't cut it. I didn't grow up here, and many of the clues and answers were totally alien (excuse the pun) to me, but I got them anyway! I'm talking about Abie, Ignatz, Simms, Landry, Rory, Seton, Enos and the three songs (although Always on my Mind sort of sounds familiar) and I got them anyway, and fairly quickly.

P.S. I'm not an alien, have dual citizenship

Anonymous in Texas 9:26 PM  

Can't help but love a team that so many love to hate.

Michael 9:32 PM  

@mac I don't see why you're getting the clues doesn't mean that the puzzle isn't old-fashioned in its clues. I solved the puzzle without trouble, but I don't think that says anything about my age, citizenship, etc. All I was saying is that a Hook puzzle doesn't resemble -- just to give one example -- a Quigley puzzle very much.

mac 10:08 PM  

I think that is unfair. I'm much more interested in a puzzle that is smartly clued, has good and unusual words, and has a symmetry. Many solvers complain when clues are arcane, too sports oriented or too artsy, but I think it should have a mix, and this puzzle did.

Michael 10:22 PM  

@mac "Old-fashioned" does not equal "bad." I was trying to be descriptive, not evaluative.

mac 10:33 PM  

Give me some examples of what you consider modern, contemporary clues. I just bought a NY Times crossword puzzle book that starts with puzzles from the 50's, and I found some of the clues hard because they were of a time so long ago, but I still thought the puzzles were very interesting, and it still is about getting this grid filled somehow.

pj 10:44 PM  

@Doc Jon

Thanks for the advice about "define:" to google definitions.

Doc John 10:55 PM  

@PJ-Glad to help.
Here's a list of other google features:

Google Features

wade 11:32 PM  

Mac and Michael, metric system shmetric system, my car gets 40 rods to the hogshead and that's the way I likes it.

Dang, I'm out of whisky.

MarkTrevorSmith 3:04 PM  

@miriam Right YOU are! I guess my counting is wrong half the time.

miriam b 3:23 PM  


Well, I guess that makes us even - or odd, depending on one's perspective.

Peter 11:08 AM  

Re Sat's puzzle -- Am I just getting better at this or was this the easiest Saturday puzzle EVER??
Granted, I made one egregious mistake, the same one Rex did, but I finished this puzzle in half the time I usually spend on a Sat. morning. Am I alone in this feeling?

PuzzleGirl 1:41 PM  

Hey, Peter. Each day's puzzle has its own comment thread. It would be helpful to others and probably more fun for you if you posted your comments in the thread for the puzzle you're talking about. That way, you won't give away answers to puzzles that people haven't done yet and you'll be in the right place to see the conversation on each particular puzzle.

SheilaG 12:58 AM  

My favorite graffiti, seen in San Francisco many years ago.....

"God is dead"

"Nietzsche is dead"

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