MONDAY, Sep. 15, 2008 - Sharon E. Petersen (Bygone Dodge S.U.V. / Pago Pago's home / TV opera "_____ and the Night Visitors")

Monday, September 15, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: STAG PARTY (66A: All-male gathering) - four theme answers all two-word phrases, the first words of which are male animals

Adequate. I was surprised to see a theme this flimsy fly, but the theme answers are interesting enough, and there's enough assorted interesting non-theme fill to make the puzzle reasonably enjoyable. Don't really like that two of the male animals are deer and the other two ... aren't. I wanted to say that all the male animals were used in non-animal contexts, but that's not exactly right. The RAM CHARGER has a RAM as its logo, and all the other phrases seem to have derived from the kinds of animals involved, the one possible exception being BUCK NAKED. The following is from Ask Yahoo - it misspells wordsmith Michael Quinion's name, but other than that, it's quite interesting:

Dear Yahoo!:

What is the origin of the term "buck naked"?

Barenaked Lady
San Francisco, CA

Dear Barenaked Lady:

You'll have to take our word for it when we say there a few plausible explanations for the term. One theory backed by the American Heritage Dictionary proposes the original phrase was actually "butt naked." The phrase was then cleaned up to "buck naked" so it could be used in polite company. A post on a message board forwards the idea that "buck" in this sense is an adverb meaning "stark" or "completely."

Brit wordsmith Michael Quinon has another theory. He's of the notion that "buck" and "buff," another term to describe nudity, are both derived from buckskin and buffalo hides. He argues that buff leather is tan in color, much like the color of the Europeans' skin after being in the sun. This led to the expression "to be in the buff," or naked. Thomas Dekker was the first to go on record with the term when he said in 1602, "I go in stag, in buff." The assumption is that "buck naked" has a similar derivation from buckskin.
Theme answers:
  • BUCK NAKED (17A: Completely nude)
  • RAM CHARGER (11D: Bygone Dodge S.U.V.)
  • BULL MARKET (30D: "Buy buy buy" time on Wall Street)
  • STAG PARTY (66A: All-male gathering)
I thought the NE corner of this puzzle was a little difficult, as Mondays go. AMAHL (16A: TV opera "_____ and the Night Visitors") is more typically seen in late-week puzzles. I remember getting brutalized by it on, I think, a Friday or Saturday a year or so back. The composer is Gian Carlo Menotti, which is probably good to remember, since AMAHL will surely be back. I can't be the only one who threw down MEOWS where PURRS (9A: Cat sounds) was supposed to go. I often confuse my South Pacific nations, though SAMOA came forth fairly readily today (19A: Pago Pago's home). I'll probably go to my grave getting RHINE and RHONE confused (12D: Alps-to-Arles river). That corner is all quite gettable (well, unless you've never heard of AMAHL, in which case you must have been wondering about it right up until you checked your answers), but thorny for a Monday. Not a bad thing.

Survey says:
  • 28A: Fearsome snakes (cobras) - I got Will to back off [Chopper gunships] here. It's true that the result is a more predictable clue, but the original just seemed more appropriate to a late-week puzzle.
  • 33A: "The Simpsons" shopkeeper (Apu) - This was originally clued as [Homer's doughnut supplier], which led to a way-too-detailed response from me about the relative precision and soundness of the clue. Here is my original note on that clue:
"When I think 'Simpsons' and donuts, I think LARD LAD. I am sure that Homer has purchased a donut from APU, but I do not know him as H's 'donut supplier.' I know him as an immigrant from India who runs the Kwik-E-Mart who graduated from Cal Tech (Calcutta Technical Inst) and then came to the US to study computer science with the great professor John Frink. He is married to Manjula. He has octuplets. He has a statue of Ganesha in his store. His catchphrase is 'Thank you, come again!' O man, I could go on and on. Sorry ..."
  • 39A: "Les Miserables" fugitive (Valjean) - easy, perhaps, but a fantastic-looking answer nonetheless
  • 47A: Cauliflower _____ (ear) - my wife loved this clue. PuzzleGirl had the following pic in my Inbox before I'd even seen the final version of today's puzzle:
  • 60A: Sell via the Internet (e-tail) - I really should start a list of these words that nauseate me. 1. DECOCTS, 2. E-TAIL ...
  • 4D: More dawdling (pokier) - great words in both the clue and answer
  • 38D: Guy with his nose always stuck in a book (nerd) - the original clue had "Person," not "Guy" - that change is absolutely mysterious to me. Are male NERDs so NERDy that they are actually unaware that their female counterparts exist? Here's my original note on this clue:
"NERDs (38D) are far more closely, or at least as closely, associated with calculators and computers as they are with 'books.' I know many constant readers who really wouldn't qualify as NERDS, and many NERDS (many!) who are not what you'd call readers."
  • 40D: Humvee forerunner (Jeep) - goes nicely with all the manliness in this puzzle, especially RAM CHARGER
  • 43D: Marching synchronously (in step) - I am somehow mesmerized by the word "synchronously" this morning.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


parshutr 9:06 AM  

What's the reason certain words seem to come up several times in a given week...right now, I'm thinking GLARE (third time, at least, this week)?
Is everyone using similar xword construction software?
Welcomed TOR back from the pantheon.

PuzzleGirl 9:07 AM  

A fine Monday puzzle. Put me in the MEOWS for PURRS camp. I think I would have caught it early on paper, where it's easier (for me anyway) to scan the crossing clues while solving. I entered RH-NE and waited for the cross. Have I mentioned that rivers are not my strong suit? The "guy" in the NERD clue caught my attention. And I agree with you that the clue is off. I think of people with their noses stuck in books as ... readers.

Thanks so much for including the picture of the legendary Dan Gable (and his cauliflower ear).

ArtLvr 9:25 AM  

Mnemonic for Rhine/RHONE placement -- Rhine comes on top alphabetcally and north on the map, Rhone is below and south....

Enjoyed see the animals quickly. VALJEAN and AMAHL were fine too, but I was slowed a tad at the ELI___ til ELISHA appeared, since I was thinking Elijah. Nice fast Monday!


Orange 9:46 AM  

@Artlvr, your mnemonic is of no use in crosswords unless we can persuade constructors not to put RHONE in the top of the grid.

Rex, a BUCK is also a male rabbit, hare, ferret, rat, or kangaroo, so the theme's not really as lopsided as it seemed. (Also, in 2006 there was a CrosSynergy theme by Randall Hartman: STAGPARTY, TOMCRUISE, STEERCLEAROF, and DRAKEPASSAGE. I found today's NYT version to be livelier—BUCKNAKED beats a verb phrase and the "Southern connector between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans" in my book.)

You'd think Will would be more aware of the unisex nature of nerddom. He's known Ellen Ripstein for almost 30 years, and she described herself as a "nerd girl" in Wordplay. Raise your hand if you're a nerd, too, ladies! *raising hand*

Joon 9:49 AM  

i am so glad i never saw that EAR clue. gross. of course, now i come here and it's staring me in the face. eew.

this puzzle was my fastest ever, but there was actually quite a bit in it that might trip up a beginning solver. i don't think we've seen this ANA clue in quite some time. and on a monday? really? can't we get a little ANA ivanovic love? as of last week she's no longer the world's #1, but she's still great (and cute).

i was a little surprised that SACHET, which is not an easy word for a monday, also had a tricky clue. usually only easy words have non-straightforward clues until friday or saturday. same with ASKEW.

Ulrich 10:03 AM  

A very satisfying Monday puzzle also in my book.

Here's another suggestion to help the Rhine/Rhone-challenged: "Rhone" is the name of the river not only in English, but also in the country where it flows, France--"Rhine" is not: It's called "Rhein" in German, and you may find it in this form in a puzzle some day, clued, for example, as "Düsseldorf's river". So, try to remember this.

Pago Pago reminds me of another South Pacific capital with a doubled name, Bora Bora, which I'm going to visit next spring on a cruise that fulfills a childhood dream of mine, to sail these islands on a real sailing ship (a four-mast barkentine in this case--Phillysolver will know what this is)--yeah!

PhillySolver 10:14 AM  

Is this a NYT debut puzzle for Ms. Peteresen? If you read and believe that the devil put dinosaur bones in the earth to make people doubt that the Bible is a literal account of the history of the world, does that make you a 'girl nerd' or a Republican candidate for office?

I have heard men referred to all of the words on the list and don't think they are always meant in an admiring way. With that in mind, I looked for the symmetrical answer to POP in the popstar fill, but see it was not part of the theme.

Rex, I think you must be a perfect test solver with the dedication and time you put into recording your reactions and offered advice.

PhillySolver 10:20 AM  


Indeed I do. Also known as a barquentine, one of the most famous is the Gazela Primeiro, of Philadelphia. If you decide to have a mutiny, head for the accessible Pitcairn Island.

becky from hatch 10:23 AM  

I'm a card carrying female nerd, and a huge reader. Always have been!

I wrote in MEOWS as my first answer. Not a great start but PASTAS set me straight almost immediately. I never know a RHINE from a RHONE.

AMAHL is one of the easier opera answers for me. I never know the name of the clown or any other opera-related answer.

Farrah drove a Mustang COBRA on "Charlie's Angels." I'd love to see the answers start to involve that - Aaron Spelling-related references are much more up my alley than reptilian ones!

I needed an easy Monday after yesterday's month answers kicked my BUCK, I mean BUTT yesterday!

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Re: 46D

Elton John and Britney Spears in the same clue!

Both should be offended, although I'll bet only one of them is capable of that reaction.


Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Re: 46D

Elton John and Britney Spears in the same clue!

Both should be offended, although I'll bet only one of them is capable of that reaction.


william e emba 10:28 AM  

In my opinion, geeks overdo the computer calculator thing, whereas NERDs are all purpose. In other words, "geek" rhymes with "freak".

I was not slowed down, not even ATAD, by the AMAHL answer, despite it causing endless grief a few months back. No, not because I had memorized it like a good crossword geek(!), but simply because I never saw the clue until I came here. In fact, my last letter was the M in UMA crossing AMAHL, and I didn't even bother to look at the cross.

Orange 10:38 AM  

Omigod, Becky, you have a nerd card?!? Where can I get mine? There's a space in my wallet just waiting for it.

slug 10:55 AM  

@Orange 9:46
I don't think 'guy' is a sexist term, Amy. It's used for guys, gals or a mix of them.

@Philly 10:14
All the test-solvers put in plenty of time and dedication just like Rex. If they hadn't, the puzzles wouldn't have been as good as they've been before Rex started testing them. And let's give Will a little credit here too. :-)

PuzzleGirl 11:03 AM  

@slug: A lot of people don't think sexist terms are sexist. And I certainly didn't take PhillySolver's comments to denigrate any other test solvers or to deny Will his due. This is the first time most of us have even thought about the test-solving process so kudos to Rex for giving us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the, yes, time and dedication required. Other than Rex, I would say Will gets the Most credit around here. Sheesh.

Crosscan 11:17 AM  

Catawampus. Catawampus. Catawampus.

I love saying that word. Can't believe no card-carrying nerd has mentionned it yet.

Overall Monday puzzle ranking - two yawns.

Rex Parker 11:21 AM  

The idea that "guy" is, in this case, gender neutral is patently absurd. It's only ever gender inclusive in the plural ("Hey you guys!"). I can buy the use of "his" as a gender neutral pronoun ("to each his own"), but not "guy." No way. "Sexism" is not the issue, and I don't see where anyone said it was. "One" could have been used instead of "Guy" very easily.


mac 11:21 AM  

Very nice Monday puzzle, just blinked (yes I blink!) when the clue for sachet had the plural scents, and at "catawampus", never saw that word, and considering I'm a nerd and read, that doesn't happen too often.

Thanks for pointing out the theme, Rex..... I too love bits of background information on the construction of puzzles, thanks a lot.

Amahl was pretty easy, but why call it a TV opera? Like "all wet", atingle and in step. I never saw "tor" because I did most of the puzzle downs only.
About the rivers, the Rhine ends up in Holland, goes way North, the Rhone stays in France, and we got the "Arles" clue.

@Ulrich: that sounds like a very exciting trip, and what a beautiful word, barkentine or barquentine (xword anyone?).

dk 11:23 AM  

@orange, I raise my nerd paw and from the confines of my book give you Ram charged, bull market, stag rearing and buck rabbit roaring MEOW.

This puzzle was so studly that I found my self clacking my cloven hoofs with joy.

@slug, (I love that name) @phillysolver is just a little troublemaker. You need to pay attention to sensible, well thought out posts like mine. I mean I just cannot believe he would question the FACT that the devil put out those bones, and those astroids and all that other junk to confuse the haters. JUST ASK SARAH, she will (oops another snarkey political comment, I am going to my room now).

Oh yeah, Ms. Petersen great puzzle.

Rex Parker 11:26 AM  

PS that Phillysolver is *such* an asshole. How dare he denigrate the other test-solvers and Will. I, for one, am deeply offended. For shame. Etc.


william e emba 11:37 AM  

Every couple of months, I get junk mail from an outfit called BJs, in a distinctive red envelope. I have otherwise never heard of them, and I normally just toss them instantly.

But this time, I actually peered at the return address for a SEC/OND. Oh dear, it was sent from NATICK MA. Well. That changes everything.

PhillySolver 11:38 AM  

Wow, I join Noam 'the cusser' and wade, 'the drinker' in the trouble making group. I have joined the dark side that always intrigued me. Thanks slug.

Teresa 11:42 AM  

I put Alda in for Alba and wound up with ducknaked. It made for an interesting visual while I corrected the entry. : )

dk 11:44 AM  

@william e emba, BJs is a Costco like store located in the NE.

@phillysolver, your dark side credentials are in the mail along with a cool hat.

@Rex, @phillysolver is your father, the dark side is your destiny.

Noam D. Elkies 11:55 AM  

Hey, I like 60A:ETAIL -- not necessarily the concept, but the formation of the word from ``retail'', which is more creative than just the usual e- prefix as in ``e-commerce'' (ho hum).

I hadn't realized this, but the clue for 16A:AMAHL and the Night Visitors is correct, at least according to Wikipedia's description as ``the first opera specifically composed for television in America''!

Never heard of ``catawampus''. At least 64A:ASKEW seemed like a plausible meaning of such a word.

Joon pleads for "a little [5d:]ANA ivanovic love" -- but Monday is too early in the week for that gratuitous sports-name clue for such common fill. If it must be sports, there's always "Gimme ___! (ASU cheerleader's yell)"...


jeff in chicago 12:05 PM  

NEWAGE, Brittany, the devil and dinosaur people are creeping me out today! But then, we nerds frighten easily.

Easy puzzle. Fun blog. I'm outta here.

becky from hatch 12:20 PM  

Orange, I nominate Emily Cureton to design the crossword nerd card! Her drawings are always so clever.

BULLMARKET was a bit untimely today, unless Bush had it inserted as a subliminal economy stimulator.

CATAWAMPUS was the name of a band that used to play college parties and bars in the Cincinnati and Lexington KY area in '90s. Luckily for me, my school was in Charlottesville VA and had The Dave Matthews Band then instead. Anyway, that's the only way I had ever heard that word, though I think I've heard southerners say "CattYwampus."

ArtLvr 12:21 PM  

re GEESE -- not too studly a puzzle, otherwise Ganders (the guys) might have been singled out!

Whoever keeps knocking me out of the gaggle, I mean Google- blogger status, just quit it! E-gads...


KarmaSartre 12:28 PM  

Last night I printed out the puzzle and was immediately struck by how oddly familiar it seemed. D'oh indeed, I had done it Saturday at the Bay Area tournament. Here are my impressions of the tourney (Rex, if you feel this is too much for the comment section and need to delete it, I'll understand)...

I arrived early, located the cafeteria, and paced nervously, not really knowing what to expect…of myself. Would I be slow? And stupid? I remembered the great line from BBC’s “Life on Mars”: “you have trouble with words of more than NO syllables” and suddenly felt it directed my way. Would they count “D’oh” moments in my favor? So many questions.

One was answered almost immediately, as I met Byron Walden and he indicated he was there to compete in the tourney. What? I had seen the fast times he had posted. This was not going to be some laid-back west-coast, friendly, nerdy competition for a bunch of us Wannabes. My hopes for eight gold medals were immediately dashed.

I met Andrea Carla Michaels, Fergus, and Green Mantis before the start of the tourney. Andrea is pretty much as expected: vivacious, the center of attention, inclusive, helpful, and mentally quick.

Like Green Mantis, I identified Fergus immediately. The fact that we had donned name badges by that time helped immensely. I thought he would be closer to my age (114), paunchier, bleary-eyed, and sporting a grey pony-tail. In fact, he is a healthy-looking, vibrant man with clear eyes, a mellifluous voice, and a mind that is on warp drive, gathering, processing, and spouting data about nearly every topic that arises.

Green Mantis, whose sly humor I had noticed more and more of late, is also funny in person, and bright, and extremely observant. I can say that her smile lights up a room, but I promised not to reveal anything about the status of her vehicle, you’ll have to ask her.

Andrew Laurence, the very capable tournament organizer, did the introductions. Tyler Hinman was the very gracious guest judge, and representatives of the California Dictionary Project (the charity benefiting from the tournament) were there to help as well. Seeing Tyler in person, I remembered his recent TLH puzzle, and what a mess it would have been if his initials contained lots of curves, like SOC. I reminded him of the song I had written in his honor (Crossword Wizard (to the tune of Pinball Wizard)), and he said he had gotten it from Orange and enjoyed it. That felt good, even though I felt like a shameless, self-serving donkey for bringing it up.

We were asked to turn off electronic devices. My new wrist watch, which has the Google direct-access feature, is a wind-up, so I was able to keep it ticking. As we started the first puzzle, I immediately got into a rhythm, overcoming my sweaty palms and the fact that I was using pencil (I settled on .7) for the first time in years. Then, as I was about ¼ of the way through, something very odd happened. A man in the row in front of me got up and left. Medical emergency? Puzzle too difficult and he realized this wasn’t for him? Then another did the same, and a third and a fourth. Of course, these were the two-minute club members. I had seen the movie, I knew of the fast solvers. But, being there to feel it around me, it struck me as inhuman. Like my first view of the Grand Canyon…this can’t be real!

At the break, Andrea and Lee Glickstein were discussing the answers. Nothing sounded at all familiar. I had just finished the puzzle, but my degree of agitation was such that I had almost no retention! Calm down, willya? I enjoyed meeting the very engaging Lee, and we had some good albeit brief talks about public speaking, suicide intervention, and why I shouldn’t use the starting square clue when I do the Diagramless.

I had been believing, since the ‘90s, the theory about the brain of a teenager not having a fully-formed frontal cortex, with the resultant impetuousness and impulse-control issues. I changed my mind Saturday in the Alameda High School Men’s Room. These poor kids are breathing pure toxic hell. Somebody help them!

Green Mantis and Fergus described the falafel-on-the-lawn lunch circle perfectly. Other interesting aspects were Andrea, Lee and Byron helping a neophyte constructor get some parallelism to her theme, and a good discussion as to whether “plasma" was an equal partner to “gas”, “liquid” and “solid”. Byron also explained to me why he thought the Diagramless grid was usually 17x17 rather than the standard size.

I discovered the woman I sat next to, whose name I have lost, does the same peculiar thing I do: we have our HSOs (Haile Significant Others) read us the (Jumble) anagram letters, as we are both instant solvers and use the added difficulty to heighten the fun.

So, to make a long, boring story longer and more boring, we did the afternoon Wednesday and Thursday puzzles. They were both good ones, in my unabbreviated opinion. The winners were announced, photos were taken, and we left. It was a very satisfying experience that has left me with many impressions. The results are (will be?) posted at bayareacrossword(period)org. I may have that a bit off, you might have to google a bit to find it. I finished at #18 (with a bullet), and am very glad I participated.

fikink 12:48 PM  

Catawampus is a word still used out here, most often when you get your canoe ASKEW and are about to go over the "spill" at the dam. Kinda specific in its own way, like CANTED, which we had awhile back.
@joho - TOR is right up there with ETUI and DORP in my consciousness.

Karen 12:50 PM  

I keep wanting A BIT where A TAD should go. It looks like tad is twice as frequent as bit, likely due to its letter distribution. Is the difference between these two just a regionalism?

Cheryl 1:00 PM  

@orange: Raising hand to claim nerd status, and a card would be excellent. Especially since the perceptions of nerd/geek definitions are quite different for a lot of people, and one could specify one's area of nerdy/geeky interest.
IMOO, geek is a lot less about freak than it used to be, and more about having an indepth or excessive (to others) knowledge of a particular area. Usually in the realm of gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, PUZZLES, etc. If your area of interest is more mainstream, you get to be called a specialist or hobbyist instead.

greene 1:03 PM  

Yes, as hard as it is to believe (by contemporary standards), AMAHL was commisioned by NBC television as an operatic Christmas special and broadcast annually on (or around) Christmas Eve from 1951-1966. It involves the story of a lame boy whose family plays host to the Magi (the "night visitors") while they are en route to Bethlehem. Naturally there is an unselfish gift from the boy (his crutch) to the Christ child and he is miraculously healed.

I bring this up only to point out that this work is an opera in every sense of the word (albeit a one act work) and commisioned and broadcast by a major network (not on PBS or a cable channel which is probably the only place you could see it on TV today). I think it says a lot about our culture in the 1950s that such a composition became one of the first regular annual Christmas broadcasts and was actually beloved. Can you imagine something like this happening today?

Menotti too, regularly wrote opera for Broadway; two of these pieces (The Consul and The Saint of Bleeker Street) won Pulitzer prizes and were true Broadway hits of their day. Unimaginable by today's standards.

dk 1:10 PM  

10 minutes and 33 seconds of laughter and nerd identification:

fikink 1:12 PM  

@greene - Magda Sorel's "Papers!" is commonly heard in this house about tax time! Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

All this talk of nerds, yet it seems there is not a true nerd among you. If there were, he/she would have pointed out that 3D (The "A" of I.R.A: Abbr. (ACCT)) is at best questionable, or to the committed nerd, just wrong. I.R.A. stands for "Individual Retirement Arrangement". See IRS Publication 590. Of course, I'm not a nerd either. Just sort of a perfectionist . . .

Bob Kerfuffle

Z.J. Mugildny 1:57 PM  


I agree with your objections to the original clue for APU. The clue would have felt off to "The Simpsons" aficionados. Although I do remember a hilarious time that Homer buys a donut from Apu. He puts all sorts of other candy on it and tries to pass them off as sprinkles. Apu calls him out on it though saying that perhaps in Shangri-la a Mounds bar and a piece of licorice are sprinkles, but not in Springfield.

mexicangirl 2:31 PM  


Thank you, thank you for the hilarious clip!

Omnie 2:36 PM  

Pretty easy Monday puzzle. However I disagree with you Rex about nerds. I've always considered nerds to be more of the D&D, LARPing, and book-worm type. Geeks are more computer and science type.

That's my view at least.

markus 2:49 PM  

We got hit by the after effects of the hurricane and so no power until now... All the food in the fridge is gone. Nuts. The only saving grace is that the paper(insert gender) made it through the rounds and so I headed to Starbucks, got me some coffee, and happily enjoyed the puzzle. Just what I needed as I am starving and the city won't be back on track for (estimated) two weeks...
I hope the paper makes into my hands again tomorrow.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

Patrick says: Samoa, and its capital Apia, is an independent state. American Samoa, and its capital Pago Pago, is a territory of the US. Prior to independence, Samoa was known first (in western eyes) as German Samoa and after WWI, Western Samoa (under NZ trusteeship until 1962). In 1997 the official name changed to Independent State of Samoa*.
*please don't ask what my point is, round-eyes.

Rex Parker 3:24 PM  

Don't Samoans have round eyes? WTF?


MarkTrevorSmith 3:26 PM  

It would be weird, would it not, for a father to say to his daughter, "How ya doin', guy?" And it sounded weird to me when Obama said, "I love you guys," to his daughters on Wednesday night of the convention.

Rex Parker 3:34 PM  

Again, it's the plural that makes all the difference. "I know this guy ... my daughter, actually." No way, but I say "Hey guys" or "What's up guys" to my wife and daughter all the time. "Guys" is totally acceptable and common as a gender neutral plural. Never (that I know of) as a gender singular plural.


will nediger 4:22 PM  

I've heard "guy" as a gender neutral singular on a few occasions. It's used in some dialects, but definitely far from standard.

Reminds me of Douglas Hofstadter's book Le Ton Beau de Marot, in which he goes on a rather vicious rant about the use of "guys" as a gender neutral plural.

miriam b 4:29 PM  

I would love to see Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy clued on, let's say, a Saturday. The clue could be something like "Satyajit Ray's World of --". Great movie. The other two films in that trilogy are Song of the Road and The Unvanquished.

I must qualify as a nerd just on the basis of this post.

miriam b 4:29 PM  

I would love to see Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy clued on, let's say, a Saturday. The clue could be something like "Satyajit Ray's World of --". Great movie. The other two films in that trilogy are Song of the Road and The Unvanquished.

I must qualify as a nerd just on the basis of this post.

chefbea1 4:35 PM  

I too thought bull market was not too appropriate for today, but who knew.

@Karmasartre - thanks for your take on the tournament

I will raise my wooden spoon - not my hand - cuz I am not a nerd

PuzzleGirl 4:36 PM  

Ten years ago (okay, who am I kidding? 20 years ago) I would have argued with you all day long that "guys" (even in the plural) was absolutely not gender neutral no matter how badly you wanted it to be. Of course that was when I was young, childless, idealistic and full of all sorts of feminist energy. Today I'm old and tired and I just can't fight every battle. But I'll back Rex up on the no-way-in-the-singular argument. As long as I can have a nap first.

Crosscan 4:46 PM  

So far in 2008, 8 Canadian provinces and 2 territories have been mentionned in the clues or answers.

Beat that for nerdiness, guys.

Crosscan, King of NerdWorld

mac 4:49 PM  
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mac 4:49 PM  

I, too, think no-way-in-the-singular neutral. In fact, where I'm concerned, both "guys" and "folks" can be taken out of the language altogether. Obama would be an even better speaker if he would stop using the terms. I suspect it was George W. who made "folks" a popular term, I hadn't heard it often before his reign.

mac 4:49 PM  
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mac 4:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
greene 5:08 PM I wish I could be a nerd. I don't think there is really a term for us theatre nerds, although I think "dork" is probably pretty close.

mac 5:21 PM  

@will nediger: just read an article on Hofstadter's opinion on
"guys" and I now realize that this sort of thing has indeed been going on for years and years in Dutch! The word "jongens", which literally means boys, is used to get the attention of mixed gender groups, or even a group of female friends. Just like the American "guys", it is only acceptable in a very casual situation. My pilates instructor calls us "people" when she wants our attention.....

joho 5:51 PM  

Just as I was going to post on yesterday's puzzle the power went out. I think I was going to ask what color is dk's peruke. Seems ages ago. We've been caught up in the hurricane here in Ohio. Lots of trees down. Saw a smashed car (by tree) and broken house (again by tree). Just got the internet back an hour ago. I sure did miss the puzzle and everybody's comments until now. I thought it was a good Monday, perhaps a bit more difficult than usual which I like.

@dk: what color is your peruke?
@markus: I hope your power is back on.
@karmasartre: thanks for your comments on the tournament, very interesting.

joho 5:51 PM  

Just as I was going to post on yesterday's puzzle the power went out. I think I was going to ask what color is dk's peruke. Seems ages ago. We've been caught up in the hurricane here in Ohio. Lots of trees down. Saw a smashed car (by tree) and broken house (again by tree). Just got the internet back an hour ago. I sure did miss the puzzle and everybody's comments until now. I thought it was a good Monday, perhaps a bit more difficult than usual which I like.

@dk: what color is your peruke?
@markus: I hope your power is back on.
@karmasartre: thanks for your comments on the tournament, very interesting.

foodie 7:00 PM  

wow, how I missed you guys! That includes the females, the feminists and the nerds (not mutually exclusive categories). I thought about Wade and the storm... And I was so sorry to miss the west coast tournament, when I was in fact in the Bay Area late last week including Saturday. But I was in Napa at a fundraising event for brain disorders. The food was wonderful, the wine amazing and the cause very close to my heart. So, it was so sad to come back and read about a tragic suicide. Whenever it happens, I feel that I should keep on working till I'm a 100, or until we figure this out.

But it was also great fun to hear about the tournament. After enjoying Karmasartre description, I went back and read the posts from Green Mantis, Andrea and Fergus. You all made it come alive for me. I don't know what it is about Fergus that suggests lanky with salt and pepper hair to me as well. And I would have guessed that Green Mantis would have a wickedly brilliant smile (and a funky car?). I know what Andrea looks like since she's a rock star. But Karmasartre, you remain a mystery... and your name is intriguing... Do you channel Simone de Beauvoir?

Anyhow, it's great to be back. Puzzle was...okay with few excellent spots. And Rex, I loved your response about Apu. I feel so... knowledgeable now!

fergus 7:45 PM  

When the NERD answer came up on Saturday morning in that cafeteria, I wonder whether the self-recognition was unanimous? Probably most of us wouldn't truly qualify, but there were a couple of archetypical stereotypes, or stereotypical archetypes. Perhaps they were the only ones who didn't feel that flush of self-recognition when entering the answer? I'm thinking of the guy to the right of Green Mantis who was sporting brilliantly clashing colors and spotless crossword grid motif shoes. He came in second place. And the guy to my far left who, while amiable enough, saw no point in any discussion about fill or construction. He came in third. I gleaned few observations about the ultimate winner, except one could say he might be described as having a classically solid solver's athletic build.

The amusing revelations also extend to hearing about what others may have conceived about you from how you come across in print. Glad, for example, that Karmasartre didn't think me too much of an aged, dissolute hipster. He, by the way, completely lived up to the elegance, eloquence and wit of his writing style.

Though this wasn't the easiest of puzzles, I was glad to be able to fill it in with no doubts about any of the squares being correct. It would have been a real bummer if the first puzzle had any ambiguity about it.

Ulrich 8:56 PM  

@greene: I do not dispute the judgment implied in your comment about the general quality of today's TV--in fact, there are whole weeks in which I do not watch a single show meant for entertainment (a huge handicap for a solver BTW). But I want to explore the implications of what you said a little further.

The story I always heard was that TV tried, in its initial years, (a) to gain respectability, while (b) trying to figure out what the inherent possibilities of the medium were; i.e. what makes it different from the other media. So, it tried opera, but then stopped b/c it discovered sitcoms (I'm simplifying here).

Is this altogether bad? I'm not sure. Opera is not meant to be watched on TV--it's meant to be seen live with voices powerful enough to be heard above a 100+ orchestra (I'm not going into the discussion of miking operas here). This is the real thrill, and it's completely lost on TV. TV can be good when it tries to be just good TV--there have been hugely entertaining sitcoms, and I'm really addicted to well-written and well-acted drama series, like Deadwood. It's only on TV where you can get those. We did not have them in the early years, and they are a real gain (I'm not even talking here about live sports, where TV is unbeatable).

Orange 10:00 PM  

Fergus, that guy was Eric Levasseur. Imagine my surprise at the ACPT to discover that he and I were both wearing our "Merv Griffin's Crosswords" watches (I swear I was wearing only ironically, as it was sent to me with a semi-literate letter stating "enclosed is your gents watch" and it was ginormous) and our crossword-grid Vans. I think Rex has those shoes, too.

Fnorg 10:06 PM  

Thanks for the incisive Alameda report, KS. I tried to check out that bayareatournament thingie or whatever, but all I could get was a pointer to some Yahoo group, which I don't care to join. So . . . given that Byron Walden was among the contestants, I'm curious to know: who actually *won* that thing? And how many people participated?

Jane Doh 10:14 PM  

Nice Monday puzzle with lots of testosterone in the theme and elsewhere, even though the constructor is a woman. Was this meant to ease our transition from teen boy frenzy to demographic indifference? I'm there.


Badir 10:21 PM  

The "guys" and Hofstadter threads remind me of something from his _Scientific_American_ column. (I didn't read all the comments above, so I apologize if someone already told this.) He said he was have a discussion with some woman at a party about whether "guys" was gender-neutral. He said it wasn't, and she said it was. At one point she said, "I've even heard guys use it to refer to a bunch of women." And Douglas pointed out that she'd just won the argument for him!

greene 10:54 PM  

@ulrich True enough. Opera is generally too powerful and exagerated a medium to really work on television, but that's not really my point. Television is as television does; it reflects the tastes of the culture that watches. Nobody puts AMAHL on general television any longer simply because there is no audience for it. That's what makes me a bit sad for our culture.

In the 1950s "popular" and "classical" cultures were much more closely aligned, and the public was atuned to this. This allowed serious composers like Menotti, Bernstein, and even Aaron Copland (so help me) to cross over with serious works, written in a more accessible style, on television or on Broadway -- works written for and enjoyed by wide scale audiences.

If you've ever seen AMAHL, it's really an adaption of Menotti's grand operatic tradition made much more intimate. He really knew how to write for television and it shows. It's operatic in style if not in quantity of deployed forces (much as a string quartet can be symphonic in scope, but still be played by four musicians). A truely charming work which was not intended to start a series of operas written for television (ugh), but merely a heartwarming Christmas tale, intelligently written, and meant to be shared with intelligent, educated viewers (of which I expect there were more then).

No, I don't think TV is dumb. I think our culture is dumb. Man...I am WAY off puzzle topic. Sorry Rex. I gladly abandon my soapbox. Please feel free to delete at will.

Noam D. Elkies 11:14 PM  

P.S. Thanks, Rex, for reproducing M.Quinion's letter to "Barenaked Lady" on 17A:BUCKNAKED! --NDE

KarmaSartre 11:20 PM  

@fnorg -- I see the results are now posted at bayareacrosswords(dot)org/final(dot)htm

Bill from NJ 11:21 PM  

Thank you fergus, green mantis and karmasartre for your insight-laden posts about the Bay Area Crossword Tournament. Perhaps it will grow so all you Left Coast folks won't have such prodigous travel times

And to echo jane doe. perhaps we won't be so quick to generalize about the age or sex of the constructors in the future.

dk 12:18 AM  

@joho, just applying a dusting to my peruke as I prepare to retire.

Guys and Dolls ends happily with Nathan and Adelaide's long-awaited wedding ("Finale"), Nathan having gone (almost) straight. They are joined by Sarah and Sky, who has joined the mission and married Sarah.

Hey, just like this blog! Tonight!

fnorg 2:10 AM  

Thanks, KarmaSartre. Interesting; I see that a number of NPL (National Puzzlers League) folks showed up, including at least three of the top five placers. And ACM did well!

andrea carla michaels 2:13 AM  

Hey guys!

@bill from nj
Green mantis, Fergus and I also posted our thoughts very late Sat night if you want to go back and see how hip I thought green mantis was!

where do I send the check?

acme 2:32 AM  


Thanks! Just found out myself! But one pesky S for an E (which I will complain about bitterly and at length on Thurs) knocked me out of the top ten!

fergus 2:55 AM  

Same goes for me, Andrea. It annoyed me to have that one blemish after such struggle with the fourth puzzle, and spending seemingly superfluous minutes down to the wire to keep the record clean.

Bill from NJ 6:06 AM  

Geez, Andrea, I left you out! I ran through the comments on Monday and missed your considerable charm.

I checked the standings and saw your finish at 27th and meant to congratulation you but, since I didn't know anybody else's real name, I couldn't congratulate Fergus, our lovely insect or karmasartre.

PuzzleGirl 8:44 AM  

Hey guys (see how I did that?) -- Enough with the spoilage already!

slug 9:36 AM  

Since the commentary is much about opera and the SF tournament, you might like to know that the third-place winner, NPLer Joshua Kosman, is the classical music critic of the San Francisco Chronicle! Maybe many of you recognized his name.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

now again back to 6wl and getting dizzy from time travel...

I would like to take credit for emasculating the term "Guys" many years ago. I used to get strange looks using it in mixed company, but it is now widely accepted.

- - Robert

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