Thursday, August 7, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "GONE / WITH / THE / WIND" - see 13A: Co-star of the film whose title is hidden sequentially in 20-, 34-, 41- and 52-Across (Leigh) and 64A: Another co-star of the film hidden in this puzzle (Gable)

Hey, what's up? (Answer: me at 3:30am).

Don't know if it's the jetlag or trying to solve and write in the wee hours of morning or what, but I did Not like this puzzle much at all. A lot of my displeasure stems from frustration over the god-awful far north, which is one of the worst little sections I've seen in the puzzle in a while. There is no answer there, save possibly MOOG (6D: Eponymous instrument maker Robert), that I would ever want to see again (though I suppose AMAT is unavoidable at times - 5A: Latin lover's word?). Once I finished, I looked over the puzzle from head to toe (recommended if you're going to say something about it), and there is a bunch of stuff here to admire. At first I thought the idea of burying words like "THE" in theme answers was incredibly stupid and pointless, but GONE and WITH actually span three words each in their respective answers, and WIND is hidden beautifully in CHOCTAW INDIANS, so the end result of all this short-word hiding was pretty impressive and pleasing (not GOLDEN MEAN pleasing, but pleasing nonetheless - 60A: Aesthetically pleasing ratio of antiquity).

What wasn't pleasing - well, how about AINU (3D: Japanese aborigine) and NEBO (57D: Mountain where Moses died, in the Bible), two words whose eyes have not yet adjusted to the light after being yanked from the dank Pit of Desperation after many years in hiding / seclusion / retirement / confinement. I love the "in the Bible" part of the NEBO clue - are there other Moseses out there dying on mountains? "Oh, in the Bible! Now I understand." Really, what other frame of reference could there be? - [Mountain where Moses died, in "Grease"]?

Back to hating: From the aforementioned hideous far north section, there's the wince-inducing abbrevs. ADDN (5D: Wing: Abbr.) and CTN (22A: DHL delivery, Abbr.), the Frenchly spelled British weight TONNE (8D: British weight), and the never-before-spelled-out A-TWO (7D: Retired Audi supermini). I nearly like the droid-sounding combo of A-TWO and DO TO (15A: Inflict upon), and yet I don't. If you have never had to endure the JONAS Brothers (28D: _____ Brothers (pop trio)), please, endure them now:

They make me miss Hansen. Desperately.

Big yuck also goes out to everyone's least favorite non free-standing drink name ADE (51D: It's made in a squeeze) and "bill of LADING" (43D: Bill of _____ (shipping document)) - I had "bill of LAYING" for a while ... did you know prostitution is legal in NZ? My wife can tell you of how, in Dunedin, I made a joke about a store's name sounding like a brothel, and then she pointed out to me that the establishment was, in fact, a brothel, and then it took me about an hour to lose the astonished look on my face.

Theme answers:

  • 20A: About to collapse, say (runninG ON Empty)
  • 34A: Plea from the plate ("throW IT Home!") - I had "THROW IT HERE" for far too long, ugh.
  • 41A: Canine coat (tooTH Enamel)
  • 52A: Some W.W. I code talkers (ChoctaW INDians) - Family legend says that I have CHOCTAW ancestors on my mother's side. Or family legend did say that, until my mother got crazy into genealogical research and found out that the CHOCTAW stuff was baloney, but somehow we're all related to Pocahontas. If that's true, then why do I hate "Colors of the Wind" so much?

Assorted flavors:

  • 1A: Quatrain form (ABAA) - more yuck. Something this arbitrary (AABB? ABAB? ABBA?) shouldn't lead off your puzzle, if it can be avoided. Especially when you go from there right into the uninspiring AMAT and MSGS (9A: BlackBerry output: Abbr.)
  • 24A: Amu _____, Asian river (Darya) - with Syr Darya, a primary feeder of the crosstastic (and always shrinking) ARAL Sea.
  • 27A: Singles players (DJs) - cleverish, as was LIV (44A: Apt name for a fiftyish Roman woman?)
  • 51A: Bull Halsey in W.W. II, e.g.: Abbr. (Adm.) - the phrase "Admiral Halsey" sounds familiar, yet that "D" in ADM was the last letter to fall in this section.
  • 62A: German-built auto (Opel) - another thing about NZ - so many damned makes and models of cars that just Never make it here, e.g. the Nissan HOMY.
  • 65A: Beatles song that begins "Is there anybody going to listen to my story" ("Girl") - Least imaginative chorus in a Beatles song.

  • 4D: Spook's employer, with "The" (Agency) - very nice
  • 9D: Giant tusk holders (mammoths) - "holders?" Really? Is Prince Charles a [Giant ear holder]?
  • 10D: Items unlikely to be stored on the top shelf (step stools) - for no good reason, this was horribly elusive for me ... and I had the STEP part! I could think only of the phrase STEP LADDER and ... that was that, really.
  • 18D: Anniversary gift for the year after pottery (tin) - does anyone follow these rules? My wood anniversary is coming up next month (!). Perhaps you all would like to get me a "personalized photo cube" or (much better yet) a "celtic love spoon."
  • 26D: Object of a hunt in a 1984 best seller (Red October) - never read it / saw it. Sean Connery and submarines, if I recall.
  • 31D: What a server may serve (e-mail) - I had USERS; man, I really botched the far east quite badly.
  • 48D: 1965 Yardbirds hit ("I'm a Man") - yes I am, and I can't help but love you so. No no no. Whoops. Wrong song. Check out this video of the right song - it features what I believe are cheerleaders and referees freaking out on PCP while girls dance in cages and some homely white dudes muddle their way through a monotonous, droning blues riff. Music!

  • 61D: Alumna identifier (née) - some alumnae, yes, OK, although my college magazine tends just to put the unmarried name of a graduate in parentheses next to her current name. NÉE just reeks of society pages and those godawful wedding announcements you see in newspapers where bride- and groom-to-be pose in horrid, awkward photos and we learn what their dads do for a living ...
  • 53D: Literally, "peaceful" person (Hopi) - had no idea. Normally, when we see HOPI in the puzzle, they are dwelling in cliffs or making kachina dolls. Nice variation today. Today sees CHOCTAW and HOPI and a Sitting Bull clue all in one puzzle - 56D: Locale of Sitting Bull Coll (N Dak). Heavily Native American - and not an OTO or UTE in sight. Hurray (no offense to any actual OTOs or UTEs who might happen to be reading this)

Hope this write-up was satisfactory. It may take me time to get my sea legs back. See you all tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Coop 7:50 AM  

I hated this puzzle, especially the clue "It makes pets pests". With this kind of twisted logic you can make "tonnes" of not very clever clues that have nothing to do with the meanings of words.

male chicken 8:01 AM  

Welcome back Rex. I didn't hate this: I'm in a better mood today than in recent days. But it did make a twat of me. Mashed in GABOR instead of GABLE, and as I don't know any GABOR stuff, I was lost. RUNNING ON EMPTY became RUN TO DISREPAIR (which I believe means nothing at all), the plate clue meant nothing to me, as did the WHATSIT INDIANS. Eliot Ness I forgot could be a TMAN and I ended up trying to ram in TRAG (in my mind it was short for treasury agent, but I am sure not in anyone else's). I would like to blame it all on the ABAA start, which also made me glum, but I know that I was the one in the wrong most of the time. I wanted to have ABBA, really, in homage to the warbling Scandiwegians. Hope Barry turns up soon, I always feel better when he says good morning!

male chicken 8:14 AM  

Incidentally, I call my husband Mr MOOG. It's a very rude way of calling someone an idiot in Khmer. I'd like to see that as a clue one day, although I know that cluing in German was seen as against the law in a blog a few days ago, so probably not.

Crosscan 8:25 AM  

Mmmmbop, Rex! Guest bloggers are ok, but there's only one Rex. (Isn't guest blogger an oxymoron on some level?)

Did Moses die before or after Olivia sang Hopelessly Devoted to Jew?

This one was so so for me.It was ruined by the random early alphabet letter crossing random foreign word. I tried ABBA/BINU.

Had CITE for "Point out" for a while. Wondered if I'M A MAC was a song.


GOLDEN MEAN is a nice answer. STEP STOOLS had a cute clue - wanted STEP LADDER.

Amu Darya is added to my obscure place world tour.

Barry 8:33 AM  

Morning folks! And welcome back, Rex!

Todays puzzle was pretty enjoyable for me and not overly challenging, except for the north central section that bedeviled Rex. I initially had AMAT for 5A across and STONE for 8D. 6D, 7D and 15A were complete mysteries. I really wanted TONE IT DOWN for 17A, but knew it couldn't be right since 8D just had to be STONE. I mean, what else could it possibly be?

With 6 blank squares staring at me mockingly, I finally put the puzzle aside and went had my breakfast. When I returned to the puzzle, I finally remembered Robert MOOG because of an old 8-Track cassette my father owned years ago called "Everything You Always Wanted to Hear on a Moog (But Were Afraid to Ask)" by Walter Carlos (before he became Wendy Carlos). After that, I finally realized that 8D was TONNE instead of STONE, which gave me DO TO for for 15A and confirmed that TONE IT DOWN was, in fact, correct for 17A. The only remaining mystery was why a car would be named the Atwo, but I figured car companies can name their car whatever they want.

And I just realized that it's probably A2 and not Atwo. Duh.

Cheryl 8:35 AM  

I did okay on this one. I really enjoyed the theme answers, and the other longish answers came without a lot of trouble.
I do admit to having to google the Yardbirds song and Moses' mountain of demise. (You know, the one in Mamma Mia.) Otherwise the southeast would have been a problem.
Canine coat had me thinking fur, as I'm sure it was meant to, but once I got the double O, the other sense of it clicked.
Overall I enjoyed it despite things like NEBO and ABAA.

tintn 8:42 AM  

Welcome back Rex.

The top row kind of sums it up for me with ABAA-AMAT-MSGS. While I liked the theme a lot and found the longer fill excellent, I felt that the short fill really paid the price. Just dreadful--very awkward and forced. Way too many abbreviations above the equator (MSGS, ALT, ADDN, CTN). A healthy dose of trite stuff as well (ADE, ESS, NEE, ERE). Some of the cluing was entertaining but the short answers themselves left me wanting.

I agree--foul on the Audi A TWO. It’s A2; you just can’t take those kind of liberties with a brand name. What’s next, the Nissan Three Hundred and Fifty Zee? SUB0 refrigerators? At least they bothered to spell BlackBerry correctly.

It looks like the difference between Wednesday and Thursday Asian rivers is about 1,100 miles, with Lana coming in at about 2,700 miles in length (#10) and Amu DARYA at roughly 1,600 (#34). At that rate, and assuming they will mix it up a bit continent-wise, I fully expect to see Guyana’s Essequibo (628 mi. #160) tomorrow. Rest assured, I will be ready.

Does anyone else find EROS AMAT ATIT funny in a Latinglish kind of way? I’m sure the old boy (Greek, I know) never saw one he didn’t love.

Semper ubi sub ubi!


Barry 8:43 AM  

Oh, and a hearty Good Morning to Male Chicken! ^_^

dk 8:49 AM  

TONNE not tael: yuk
GOLDENMEAN is just mean
ABAA, blah, blah, blah

Thinking spook was Spock and trying to remember Star Trek stuff I never knew in the first place: MAMMOTH.

Its tough to SOAR within the ARIA when your drowning in the AMU DAR'YA, if ya git my GIST

Back to bed, up ATTEN.

agreed that @barry does have the nicest posts followed by @joho.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Amu Darya after yesterday's Irkutsk is rough, but at least has been seen before, IIRC.

I know I may be in for a blogging flogging but Irkutsk, (i meant to comment y'day on this), is one of the Far East Asian territories in the board game RISK, right next to Yakutsk. You don't see the names on modern maps, but the RISK 'world' is from the Napoleonic Era.


Dave 9:15 AM  

Hello Rex, and welcome home-

It's been fun to read Seth & PuzzleGirl's recent entries, but it's wonderful to have you back.

I'm writing with a request. Would it be possible for you to post the image of the solved grid using the same method as that employed by your guest-bloggers? It's been wonderful these last few days to see the finished puzzle from my desk; in your posts it's invisible to me since Flickr is blocked by my company's firewall. I'd imagine there must be other loyal readers who are similarly frustrated by corporate internet restrictions...

Oh, and would it give my request any more punch if I let it slip that I'm a contributor to your site?? Shameful, this influence peddling...


SethG 9:42 AM  

Hey, who you calling an oxymoron?

Welcome back, Rex! I, perhaps more than anyone, am glad you're back! I slept like a baby last night, right up until the baby (who's still with me, longer than planned due to some bilirubin issues) took care of business.

I kinda liked the puzzle at first. Felt like I was making good progress, but then had trouble...everywhere. AGENCY, HOPI (HARI), the MEAN part of GOLDEN MEAN, ANS instead of ESS and then coming up with DJS (hmm, not LPS...maybe CRONA/DONAN Brothers?...), EGOS....

I'm generally not a big fan of the "Apt name for..." riddles. Also, I was thinking the movie was Run With The Wind or something until 10 minutes after I finished. (Because I'm that good.) Combine MEAN problems with that movie and not getting how NEE relates to the implied collegiatitude of "Alumna" and you see why GABLE didn't come immediately.

As for the MEAN, enough sources (and the backgrounds of the constructors) say yes for that to be definitely acceptable, but Golden Ratio, Section, or Number, or just phi, are much more common. In fact, (maybe not _The_ authoritative source but...) Mario Livio's book The Golden Ratio uses these terms kinda interchangeably but never mentions the GOLDEN MEAN, at least in the index or list of alternative names. Er, sorry, I could go on, it's an awesome ratio!

Okay, maybe I'm having trouble forgetting I'm not your sub anymore. Welcome back!

joho 9:45 AM  

@dk: thanks! Somebody mentioned here that you are a troublemaker, but I choose to think you just have wicked sense of humor.

Since I've been visiting this site I've started to look at the puzzlemaker's name before embarking on solving. When I saw Joe Krozel's name today I began with enthusiastic anticipation. But I'm sorry to say the puzzle fizzled for me. Even with the hidden film title and actors names. I can't really put my finger on it. I loved STEPSTOOLS and CHOCTAW INDIANS but that's about it. I wish I could post more excitement.

foodie 9:51 AM  

I've been away from Rexville for a few days, drowning in work. So it's wonderful to return and find Rex back in charge. Rex, among your many impressive talents, you have the best taste in people. Your guest bloggers have been amazing, and the whole experience has underscored what a terrific community this has become.

A very belated congratulations to Joon. That was a truly fun puzzle, that brought a chuckle and a sense of fun and accomplishment.

And Chef Bea, I agree with your suggestion from a few days ago: the foodie Rexites should collaborate on a puzzle. We can throw in beet, feta, fava, dill and sage and even come up with some long fill, like Zatarain Beans in honor of Wade...

As to today's puzzle, I clawed my way through it, from drawing a total blank on most of it, to completing it with no cheating, but veeeery slowly and with an error. Had THROW IT HERE, then when that did not work, THROW IT TO ME, which left me with an interesting spelling for MAMMOTHS > MAMMOTTS... Never noticed till I read the blog.

I agree that there is much to like, especially the cluing for CHOCTAW INDIANS and they way the theme words were embedded. But there was also much not to love, as pointed out already. I don't mind being slow because there is a great deal I don't know, but this feels like the constructors focused on making a beautiful central theme, and were less creative about the trimmings. Our proposed food puzzle will have both a tasty central entree and great appetizers and dessert.

Steve 10:10 AM  

Those of us with 11 year-old kids probably got the JONAS Brothers instantly!

I liked the crossing of Al DENTE and TOOTHENAMEL.

Ladel 10:11 AM  


welcome back from your NZ crusade. Take a short nap or your short term memory will not work.

Rex Parker 10:23 AM  


You are right about the short term memory. Yesterday, before I had one of several 5-10 minute naps, I was lying on the couch having a conversation with my wife, who was standing in front of me ... and then she was behind me, still talking, and I felt like the guy in "Memento" who repeatedly had to try to piece together, on the fly, what had just happened to him. "OK, she's talking about 'the two of them' ... two of what? two of whom? maybe Diane and Dave...?".

It was as if 5-10 seconds of data had simply been removed from my brain's memory. Disconcerting.


PhillySolver 10:27 AM  

I join the community in saying welcome back to you and your family Rex. Cultural tourism changes lives and alters perceptions.

I still aspire to get a Mitsubishi Canter Guts or a Mazda Bongo. The inside scoop on the song GIRL is the background vocal starting at the 1:00 minute mark. It is a form of the phrase found in 16A. Until last night I didn't know the JONAS Brothers and will use it as proof of the concept, Ignorance is bliss.

I found the puzzle challenging and learned a river, a mountain and a new Japanese word giving me my cultural tour today. I bet this puzzle provides that unfortunate combination of completed, but wrong puzzle for many people.

Ulrich 10:30 AM  

I also started with high expectations when I saw the contructor names, and ended up liking the theme and the way it was laid out. But there was also a lot I didn't like in the fill. For one, there is no way to decide if ABBA/BAINU is correct or ABAA/AINU--I, too, guessed wrong.

Other groaners have been mentioned. So, let me give my favorite: The cluing of the crossing STEP STOOL and AT TEN. Yes, i wouldn't put a step stool on the top shelf; but I also wouldn't put it on the middle or bottom shelf b/c it has no place on ANY shelf, a characteristic it shares with my bicycle, for example (as opposed to a bag of cement, which I may put on a shelf, but not on the top shelf--too heavy!). I.e. there is nothing specific in the clue to suggest step stool and one has to guess--and then the second problem arises: Where I live, you cannot have brunch at ten--nothing is open at that time; even at your house, people would show up for breakfast, not brunch. That left me with only two possibilities: "at one" or "at two"--both established brunch hours here. But those don't agree with step stool, and I couldn't think of anything else that I wouldn't put on a top shelf that started with STEPS--an extremely annyoing situation and resolved only by looking at the fill around and trying the highly implausible answers that fit best into the grid, NOT the clues! This almost cancelled the good vibes I had about the theme.

jae 10:54 AM  

Rats!!! After almost a month of error free puzzles I'm brought down by a Thurs. The AINU/ABAA crossing did me in (although for Orange AINU is old crosswordese -- apparently I haven't been doing puzzles long enough). For me this was more of an ASOK's BEAK than a NATICK. I did know I was looking for some combination of As and Bs but did not know the Japanese aborigine so ABBA seemed reasonable. Turns out ABAA is a more obscure quatrain form so NATICK could be argued.

I liked the theme but like many of you found the fill a tad wanting. Too many abbrs. I tried HARD and HERE before finally getting HOME and it took a while to parse ATWO once I filled it in. Mixed feelings about this one.

Barry 10:54 AM  


I personally didn't think that AINU was that bad. I only know the word from crossword puzzles, true, but I've seen it a LOT in crossword puzzles over the years. I don't have access to whatever fancy database people keep using to look up the frequency of particular words, but I bet it has a pretty high frequency.

As for brunch being at 10:00 A.M., I guess it's a cultural thing. The whole concept of brunch is that is comes between breakfast and lunch (hence the name), so around here it couldn't possibly be any time after noon (which is when most people usually have lunch).

Finally, with regard to STEP STOOL, I think the clue did have a skosh of logic to it. Sure, there are plenty of things that would never be put on a top shelf, but since a step stool is usually used in order to reach the top shelf in the first place, the particular clue and answer pair have a wonderful dichotomy. Did I just write "dichotomy"? Hmmmm... Guess I did. ^_^

Opus2 10:54 AM  

Okay, I had the same gripes about NEBO and AINU, and thought that Freud would be more interested in EGOS than EROS, but got saved by knowing a couple like ATWO (I drove one a few years ago in Germany).

I got TONNE even though the definition is just plain wrong. A TONNE is not a British measure it's a metric measure, equal to 1000 kilograms. It's close to a British ton (a.k.a. long ton) but not the same.

The saving grace of this puzzle was the great nostalgic music references (except for the JONAS boys).

Phillysolver seems to know his Beatles trivia, so he'd know that Admiral Halsey is probably familiar to Rex because it was the second part of McCartney's Uncle Albert recording that was #1 in 1971.

Rex's video of the Yardbirds features Jeff Beck (the guitar player on the right doing the solo at the end), and the song was an old Bo Diddly tune. The other "I'm a Man" Rex referred to was by the Spencer Davis Group, featuring Steve Winwood, and then was redone by Chicago a few years later.

Lots of stuff here for Puzzle girl to hum for the rest of the day....

Barry 11:02 AM  

Okay, I had the same gripes about NEBO and AINU, and thought that Freud would be more interested in EGOS than EROS...

Waitaminnut, what? EROS, not EGOS?

Egads! Ye gods, even! I screwed up!

Apparently, there is no such Latin word as EGAT, after all.

Oh, the shame, the shame...

Two Ponies 11:15 AM  

Ditto on all the kudos and complaints.
Ah, jet lag. My recent trip to Denmark had me very confused when I asked about the breakfast buffet only to find it was 9 PM not AM! Around the solstice it's nearly as bright at 9 pm as it is in the morning. The staff was amused.
Almost afraid to ask but how is PuzzleDog?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Welcome back to CrossWorld, Rex!! Very good write-up especially considering your jet-lagged state! Wholeheartedly agree with your opinion of the far north. Struggled with AINU, MOOG, ATWO (awful!), TONNE and STEPSTOOLS. My brain just couldn't understand why STEPSTOOLS would be correct. I have never considered putting multiple stepstools on any shelf, much less the top shelf. I understand that that is sort of the point of the clue, but why would I guess STEPSTOOLS??

Also had a meal instead of EMAIL, which worked nicely with shed (for SOAR) and one am (for AT TEN). Finally realized that brunch at one am isn't really likely unless maybe you have just returned from say, New Zealand.

I did like the theme. I figured it out early on after seeing WIND. I've read Gone with the Wind, watched the movie several times and laughed at the Carol Burnett sketch. Loved that show- thanks for the picture! Liked how the movie title pieces consistently stretched over more than one word. Helped in filling in the other long answers, which I thought were clever.

@Steve- I have an 11 yr old- but initially I had Naked in for JONAS (it fit with Doric). Don't care for either so that is why I probably didn't realize Naked Bros. isn't a trio.


Ulrich 11:21 AM  

@barry: What I meant to say was that there was no way for ME to resolve the square.

As to brunch: Since restaurants serve brunch here usually between 11:30 and 2:30/3:00 (i.e. during lunch hrs), I never thought it meant "between" breakfast and lunch--I always thought it meant "combining" breakfast and lunch (on the menu).

Tonne BTW is also German, and I stuck to AMAS/STONE far too long b/c it never occurred to me that the Brits could use the same term. Loved the clue for LIV, tho--one way to get around arbitrary Roman numbers.

Anonymous 11:23 AM  


Thank you!! Just saw your stepstool comment. You wrote exactly what I was thinking and what I was attempting to convey, but much better.


miriam b 11:40 AM  

I had trouble parsing ATWO (thought AT WO) and STEPSTOOL (thought STEPS TOOL, as I had the TOOL part in place early on). Otherwise, an OK Thursday.

Welcome home, Rex. Take it slowly for a while.

Barry 11:42 AM  


Merriam-Webster defines brunch as, "A meal usually taken late in the morning that combines a late breakfast and an early lunch." So you're right that the meal often combines elements of both breakfast and lunch with regard to menu. But it really is usually served in the late morning. Again, though, it may very well depend on the part of the world where you live.

It dawns on me, btw, that I haven't actually seen AINU in a puzzle for quite awhile. Months? Years? Decades? Maybe it really is an outdated crossword puzzle word that has gone the way of ANOA after all. I'm starting to feel old here...

Eric 11:42 AM  

Welcome back Rex, your subs did an excellent job for you while you were away as I'm sure you know. Agree with the comments about the fill which was pretty awful and only the theme answers made it a bearable Thursday. Being British, it was easy to get "tonne" but I have to admit I hadn't a clue what "atwo" was - agree taking liberties with brand names should be a no-no. Loved "Choctaw Indians" and "Hopi" in the same puzzle.

Eric 11:45 AM  

BTW, the last time "ainu" was used in the NYT was Saturday, October 14, 2006 by Byron Walden

Joon 11:47 AM  

let me stick up for AINU for a second. i contend that if this is crosswordese, it's crosswordese you should know (and not just for future crosswords). the AINU are like the maori, which most people have heard of. their treatment by the ethnic majority in japan has been pretty shameful throughout history and isn't great even today. i doubt anybody is going to change the way they think about race relations based on what they see in a crossword puzzle, but in general, anything that broadens your horizons is usually a good thing.

by the way, there are many, many ways to clue ABBA ("father" in many semitic tongues, the pop group, eban of israel, etc.); indeed, only 4 of the 80 ABBA appearances in jimH's database are clued with a rhyme scheme. but to my knowledge, this is the only way to clue ABAA. so according to bayes's theorem, if you just plain don't know _INU, you should guess A.

that wasn't where i went wrong in this puzzle. it was in the very middle, where i immediately threw ANS (an S) into 46A and then had absolutely no idea what to do about 27A. _RONA and _ONAN were not helping me, either. i flailed around for a few minutes and then just gave up. i don't remember the last time i was really and truly defeated by a NYT puzzle, but this one did it. four bad crossings, and i was never, ever going to get it right because i was pretty unshakable about ANS. i don't know what the rule is (or if there is a rule), but it seems like when i've seen these clues in the past, there is an indefinite article in the answer.

while we're on the subject, check out this spectacular clue for ANS from byron walden (8/21/05): [The difference between what he said and what she said]. that's so good i don't know what else to say about it.

overall, fun puzzle. i'm still a little sore that i was beaten, but i have nothing but admiration for the theme and long fill. the short fill, as others have pointed out, suffered somewhat, but overall i think it was a very nice thursday puzzle.

PhillySolver 12:00 PM  

@ Barry Today is the second appearance of AINU in the NYT in the past five years. Orange is correct in saying in an earlier age it was used more often. It comes to about once a year on average beginning in the 1993 for the following ten years. I bet it returns and refers to Hokkaido native.
@ Opus2, You are right. Despite my plan, I failed to mention the Admiral link to the then ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney. Hands across the water.
@ Rex, when you are up to it please explain the ending to Memento.

dk 12:01 PM  

To all:

I expect this to be confirmed by the other foodites who know the world of restaurants. Brunch is the dump for the rest of the week. Generally it is the worst and most profitable (breakfast is actually the most profitable) meal served.

Now a home brunch can be just fine and offers up an excellent venue for... beets, with a little vinegar, oil, onion and oranges.. it is called a Russian Beet Salad by the folks at the City Market in Burlington Vermont.

My lovely wife ruined my day by immediately responding to honey what is a pleasing ratio of antiquity with: GOLDENMEAN.

@joho, trouble? me? You must be listening to the satanists who lurk about this blog.

@rex, I am holding back my inner 14 year old from responding to your needing wood for your anniversary. Celtic love spoon... my, my, my.

@joho, I think the satanists may be on to something... free for brunch?

dk 12:10 PM  

@rex, bananas (no joke for once) will help with the short term memory. Leave on the ropy parts from the peel that stick to the fruit and eat those as well. They will help with your seritonon rebuild (inner scrapings of the peel are the best but, yuk). Other Omega 3's will work as well.

welcome back,

Dr.Dr. dk

ps. don't smoke the peel scrapings (aka, mellow yellow) as it kills the enzymes.

Smokey Joe the Eskimo 12:19 PM  

Hey, Rex, the names have all changed since you hung around, but welcome back (welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.)

jeff in chicago 12:40 PM  

Welcome back, Rex. Loved the tales of your trip.

I'm torn by this puzzle because, while I don't time myself, it felt like possibly my best Thursday time ever. I somehow knew most of the "questionable" fill, but until I read the blog I was hearing ATWO in my head as "at-woo." Sounded sorta like Daewoo, so that worked for me.

It seems I liked what most have already said they liked, and didn't like what most didn't like, so I don't have a lot to add.

We did have an instance of my pet peeve: the spelled out letter. ESS, CEE, and the most dreaded of all, AITCH....I hate them all.

I got JONAS right away (already had the NAS), and having never heard them, played the clip. 30 seconds was enough. Disney corporate pop. A little bile rose in my throat. Thank goodness the Beatles and the Yardbirds showed up to make me feel better.

joho 12:42 PM  

dk: where there be beets, I be not!

Alan 12:58 PM  


Alan 1:00 PM  

Welcome back Rex.

Blue Stater 1:10 PM  

I agree with Rex, except without the qualification. This puzzle was just dreadful. "Get shaking" for HIE? Never heard of it. NEE for "Alumna identifier"? We get six different alumni magazines in this household and I've never, never ever, seen that locution in any of them. I pass over the rest of this mess in dignified silence. C'mon.

Twangster 1:13 PM  

>>>("Girl") - Least imaginative chorus in a Beatles song.<<<

What's brilliant about this chorus isn't the lyric, it's the inhalation of air after the word "girl" ... kind of an aural oy vey. (And I'm not even a big Beatles fan, favoring the Kinks by a mile.)

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Were those Choctaw Indians really code talkers in World War One!? I mean, did they even have radios in WWI? Wasn't it World War TWO??

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

From the Web.
"In the closing days of World War I, eight Choctaw Indians were instrumental in helping the American Expeditionary Force to win several key battles in the Meusse Argonne Campaign, which proved to be the final big German push of that war. These Brave soldiers were the now famous Choctaw Code Talkers. One of the eight was from Bryan County, Oklahoma and one was from Choctaw County and the remaining six were from McCurtain County. They were Solomon Lewis, Ben Carterby, Mitchell Bobb,Robert Taylor, Ca'vin Nelson,Pete Maytubby,James Edwards, Jeff Wilson."


fergus 1:46 PM  

I too drove an AT-WOOO ...

Will not easily forget the AMU DARYA, since that ruined a good streak of referenceless puzzle solving when it showed up last year (late spring, if I recall correctly?)

For a very persnicketey reason the lover's word ought to have been AMAS since I don't see the third person there, but maybe that's a Latin thing? That gave me STONE for the English weight, of course.

For quite some time I was toying with STEPSTAIRS, which is what my English Mum would call such Items.

Read Squabbling as a straight noun, so settled with SPAT. Opted for AN S instead of ESS for the orthography Clue. RIBS for the Leaf feature and not LOBE, and was thinking e-tech not bio-tech for modern research. DORIC, IONIC, OPEDS?

So, well over half an hour of regional strife that I found rather pleasing -- more than enough to compensate for the minor inelegance of this puzzle.


Similar to Rex's experience, when I was first in Vancouver, out at a bar in rather a humdrum section south of downtown, I was stunned to see so many tarted up women strolling around -- and so much traffic!?!? My colleagues were amused by how long it took me to figure things out. Turned out that only overt solicitation was illegal. That was 15 years ago, so I'm not sure that's still the case.

ArtLvr 1:52 PM  

LOL -- "Is Prince Charles a [Giant ear holder]?" Your return to full Rex sublimity is as assured as that of the Queen to her drones... though your designated pinch-hitters did very well by us! In full light of day though, I liked the puzzle very much -- AINU to NEBO.


Anonymous 2:00 PM  

The reason one adds "in the Bible" is that if the clue read "Mountain where Moses died" it would appear to be making a definite claim as to the historic accuracy of the Bible.

Crosscan 2:07 PM  

@anon 2:00pm - What about all the ADAM, EVE, CAIN, ABEL, SETH etc clues about the first family?

Barry 2:42 PM  

Actually, "Mountain where Moses died" would be great misleading clue for Grandma Moses if she had, in fact, died on a mountain somewhere. I don't suppose there's any chance of that, though....

joho 3:24 PM  

@artlvr: "Is Prince Charles a [Giant ear holder]?"

Hear! Hear! Too funny.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

@Rex - I laughed for a full minute over the "endure the Jonas Brothers" comment linked to the "deperately missing the Hansen Brothers" comment. My oldest son (who is now 24) and a musician/physics major at the time was voted "Hansen Look-a-Like" in his college dorm. We have never let him live this down!(we take teasing very seriously in our family)

Back to the AINU controversy. Unbelievably I encountered this word last night because I was having trouble sleeping. I keep a copy of Will Shortz's Tuesday Crosswords by my bed and work one at bedtime if I can't get to sleep. A Ronald Hirschfeld Tuesday from sometime between 1993-1995 used AINU so I knew it right away today - what luck!

I liked the puzzle(particulary the STEP STOOLS and TOOTH ENAMEL cluing)and only had trouble with GOLDEN MEAN -- still have never heard of this term.

miriam b 3:42 PM  

On a recent trip to California, I endured a Jonas Brothers party hosted by my otherwise brilliant 13-year-old granddaughter. I don't mean by that that I participated in any way, only that I happened to be on the premises at the wrong time. This too shall pass.

dk 4:01 PM  

@barry at 2:42 shows his snarky side :):)

@fergus, LOL I was in the Chinatown of Vancouver same or more years ago) and I saw all these slow moving cars and all these women on the sidewalk. Being from Southern Cal (at the time) I thought they were hooking up to ride the diamond (commuter) lane. Later, after my friends stopped laughing I found out they were hooking up, but for another type of ride.

@joho, no sweet sleeping tubers, ever?

whoops, one TOKE (aka post) over the line for me, maybe with his short term memory issues Rex will miss it.

jlsnyc228 4:47 PM  

while i solved this one in a most disorderly way, was pleased to (finally) get the better of it. gotta say, i really loved "goldenmean" and "toneitdown" (of the non-theme fill), and while i didn't *adore* the theme itself, really did like the long theme fill -- and the grid's overall construction, which i thought was pretty impressive. fwiw... ;-)

welcome home, dr. rex!!!

cheers --


Doug 5:25 PM  

I hated this puzzle, too. Having head the Jonas Brothers on Jay Leno, I can say this: immediately find an old Yardbirds ablum and remember that Eric Clapton once played with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. I doubt the Jonas Brothers ever heard of any of those guys.

fikink 5:48 PM  

Rex, your reputation precedes you and you didn't fail. I googled zsa zsa's cutesy comment Saturday and was led to Wade. Have been enjoying all of you ever since. DYNO-mite site!
One problem, Mr. Fikink pronounces the beginning of our workday later and later and less and less is getting done.
Today we spent much of the day singing, "I'm a man, yes I am..." well, you know and remarking how we didn't know The Yardbirds sang that song! (At least we replaced "I'm Glad," (which we sang, too) with "I'm a Man."
Thanks for the memories and a most unproductive afternoon.
"Deborah in Iowa" (an old hootenanny tune)

PuzzleGirl 6:33 PM  

Welcome back, Rex! The jet lag doesn't seem to have affected your ability to do what you do so well.

This puzzle fell flat for me, for pretty much all the reasons everyone has already mentioned. Good theme, great theme answers ... non-theme fill? Not so much. I had BINU for AINU. Apparently haven't been doing crosswords long enough. Bah! Like someone else mentioned up-thread, I had EGOS for EROS. EGAT seemed a little off to me but by the time I finished this one I was all "whatever."

My first thought when I figured out the theme was the Carol Burnett sketch. Thanks for including the picture!

One of my son's first words was "Hopi." We have a really lovely serigraph by my favorite artist, Amado Pena (don't know how to do the squiggly over the N -- I know we've been through it time and time again but it's just not going to stick), that's called "Hopi." It's big and colorful and he liked it, so we taught him how to say it. If you're interested, you can see it here.

Also want to note that as far as I'm concerned, one of the most touching, memorable movie moments in all of film history is when Moses dies on the mountain in "Grease."

Doc John 7:28 PM  

Today was my first day solving the puzzle in Across Lite, having let my NYT subscription lapse. I really blew it with this one, finding at least 4 mistakes after coming here (and still wondering where GWTW fit into the clues- I figured it out finally). Some mistakes were due to unfamiliarity with solving on a screen and some just unfamiliarity in general. Tomorrow I'll print out the puzzle and solve it that way instead. LOVED the clue for LIV!

Initially, for [eponymous musician] I had Conn but hey, I'm a brass player!

As for Mt. NEBO, that's the name of the cemetery in Miami where all my relatives are buried, so a little respect, please! ;)

BTW, Rex, in the description of the theme in bold at the top of today's write-up, "52-Across" is missing an ESS.

Howard B 7:37 PM  

Welcome back, Rex!

I remembered AINU from a college sociology course taught by a professor who devoted a fair portion of the course to Asian society and cultures... on second thought, that may have been the actual focus of the class. No wonder it wasn't my highest grade that semester.

Anyway, welcome back to the land where the toilet water flows in the other direction. Or is that just Australia?

jae 7:59 PM  

@joon -- My BINU error would probably not have been helped by applying Bayes. Its been a long time since I've studied/dealt with rhyme schemes so I don't think ABAA as an acceptable scheme would have occurred to me. In short, I was doomed. Reset the error free counter to zero and bring on Friday!

Ulrich 9:01 PM  

@howard b: I'm sure your remark about the spin of the toilet water down under was in jest. But there was a time when I actually believed this myth, which then turned into one my favorite legends to debunk (right after the Ich-bin-ein-Berliner "gaffe"). So, here goes for anyone who's interested.

fergus 9:23 PM  


I think we all have a fascination with the underworld, yet when we stumble upon it, there's an ingrained American propriety (if you grew up in this country, and even if you didn't), to admonish the practices that lend their name to Vice.

We all know that those who inveigh most strenuously against are likely the most guilty of said practices, yet that forces us all to confront the hypocrisy of morals, and where to establish the correct gray areas of legality.

I'm also alluding to the "medical marijuana" story in a recent New Yorker, religious fervor in ardent regions, and the delightfully dismissive way most Europeans separate church and state.

Andrew 1:33 AM  

I love that the ugly one is wearing a red ascot.

acme 2:16 AM  

I actually kept IMAMAC and NEBI till I came to the blog and didn't realize I had anything wrong (having caught my EGOS/EROS, STONE/TONNE mistakes earlier).

The inhalation after girl an "oy vey"?!!!!
I have always thought it was the sexiest moment in all of music history...John just taking in his breath when he thinks about her.

I guess between thinking it's the least imaginative chorus
(I feel the EXACT opposite) and missing the Admiral Halsey reference, Rex must not be a huge Beatles fan...

THo thank you for that YouTube of "Girl"...and your description of the IAMAMAN video was a nice reminder of what we missed lo these past weeks!)

Had just watched the Jonas brothers on the finale of "So you think you can Dance" WHILE doing this puzzle and still didn't get it till the last letter filled in, the J of DJS.

CTN, ADDN, ABAA, ATWO sad to have in any puzzle, much less all in the same one. Not a fan. But clever theme, esp getting LEIGH and GABLE in parallel places.

Daryl 10:22 PM  

I thought the AINU people were in the news quite a bit lately, in the wake of the G-8 Summit in Hokkaido - here's a whole article about the AINU from the NYT itself link
and they were considered quite a security risk (link). Plus every few years or so, the NYT decides to publish an AINU story (see here or here)

So score one for people who read the Times (or International Herald Tribune) in full :)

Chas 1:36 PM  

The latin lover answer should have been three-letters, "AMO" Chas.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP