MONDAY, Sep. 29, 2008 - Sharon Delorme (Main bank vis-a-vis currency / Drunk's sound / Geisha's waistband)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Double "-WER" words - four theme answers are each made up of two words (both ending in "-WER") that are spelled the same but pronounced differently

The easiness factor provided by the theme - once you get one answer, the others are a cinch to pick up - was offset at least a little by some odd or tortuous cluing that made at least one part of the puzzle slightly thorny. Otherwise, a fine, average Monday puzzle. Not a lot to say. I do like that that theme, simple though it is, has certain consistencies throughout, like the "-WER" ending, and a vowel sound change in each instance. Normally I can't stand seeing so many "-ER" words (Odd Jobs, verbs made into nouns by the addition of the "-ER" suffix), but none of the "-ER" words here is forced or strained - just very common words. The same cannot be said, sadly, for ISSUER, which is the blottiest blot on this puzzle's face, both because the word itself is terrible, and because the clue is from outer space: 5D: Main bank vis-à-vis currency. I couldn't make sense of it at first. Or at second. Just wouldn't process it. Add to that my uncertainty about what was meant by "Main bank" (which is probably just a reference to any country's central bank). Then, as the word came into view ... well, it's hardly a word, so ... I never really "got" the clue. I just got all the crosses, then noticed what I had filled in.

Theme answers:

  • 18A: One who embroiders a waste conduit? (sewer sewer)
  • 26A: Sketcher of a bureau compartment? (drawer drawer)
  • 47A: Presenter of a bathroom stall? (shower shower)
  • 60A: One pulling a tall structure? (tower tower)
  • 1A: It may get a licking after lunch (Oreo) - wife and I both balked at this, but for different reasons. I didn't like the "licking" part, even though I see people do that in OREO commercials. It's a very unsatisfying and impractical way to come at an OREO. That creme filling just doesn't come up with a lick. Who has that kid of patience. You use your teeth to scrape, or just bite in. Wife, on the other hand, did not like arbitrariness of "after lunch."
Her: "Why 'after lunch'?"
Me: "I think they're mostly thought of as an afternoon snack for kids, so ... 'after lunch.'"
Her: "But it doesn't say 'afternoon,' it says 'after lunch.'"
Me: "'Afternoon' is 'after lunch.'"
Her: "So is nighttime..." - Etc.

Actual answer: Will likes to alliterate - licking ... lunch ... the end.
  • 5A: Charged, as particles (ionic) - wanted IONIZED. I like IONIC SPELT up there in the north, though I would have liked IRONIC SPELT even more (here I'm thinking of SPELT the grain, which I wish this SPELT was - 15A: Said letter by letter, British-style)
  • 22A: Drug that's smoked in a pipe (opium) - Do people still smoke opium, like they are 19c. travelers to the Far East or something? These days, I think most opium is processed into heroin. Just say 'no,' kids.
  • 31A: Drunk's sound ("hic") - that's right, stick to the booze.
  • 67A: Meeting: Abbr. (sess.) - wife would like to add that this is a terrible abbr. And in the same quadrant as the ugly "Var." AMEER and plural MATTS?
  • 4D: Pacific island in major W.W. II fighting (Okinawa) - OKINAWA crossing STUN GUNS (20A: Police weapons that immobilize suspects) really livens up the place.
  • 46D: Bothers (molests) - wife and I would both like to say that if these words are synonymous, they are barely so. You don't arrest people for "bothering" children. Believe me. I bother my child all the time. Just ask her. Me, to daughter, while daughter is reading: "Hey, what are Betty and Veronica doing now? What's Veronica's dad's name? What's their principal's name? What's happening in your Harry Potter book? Did he die yet?" Etc.
  • 61A: Scottish cap (tam)
  • 62A: Geisha's waistband (obi) - the TAM and the OBI: essentials of the crossword wardrobe. I dare you to wear both of these at once. Why not today? Be sure to send me a picture (or any crossword-related pictures) and I will post them for the world to see / admire / mock.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Larry 9:14 AM  

Working in the financial world, the ISSUER clue made sense to me.

mac 9:24 AM  

I'll have you know I did this one in ink! Very quick and fun Monday. Completely agree with Rex on the clueing of molests. Liked the crossing of opts and pick, and the spelling of "spelt". Having started out learning English from teachers trained at Oxford and after spending 3 years in England before coming to the US, I catch myself sometimes using the Brittish spelling.

@Rex: checked Sandy's blog and saw the pictures of your wedding. It looked like a lot of fun, and the bride's dress and flowers were beautiful and unusual.

Hi Bill and Barbara!

Maybe we should all wear tams to the tournament to be able to recognize each other.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

A bit surprised Rex did not bring this up - the TOWERTOWER theme answer was shadowed in the puzzle by TOWIN. Seems to me there have been quite a few of these lately - i guess there are streaks for everything.


treedweller 9:54 AM  

FWIW, to say BOTHER in Spanish, you use the verb MOLESTar (a quick check translates it as "disturb," still pretty close). So there must be some connection there somewhere. And, be fair, you would have failed it on the breakfast test if it had been clued in the sense of pedophilia.

Anyway, I was surprised how long it took me to start cranking on this one. Had to skip most of the NW and Ncentral and come back to them later. Still got a par time, more or less, but I'm used to filling in Mondays almost as fast as I can write/type.

I see the point about licking an OREO, but after seeing it in so many puzzles, it's refreshing to find it through crosses instead of after a groan (not again . . .).

joho 10:01 AM  

@rex & @rex's wife: To me "after lunch" tranlates to "dessert," an aftermeal treat. Has nothing to do with what time of day it is.

I used to work on the Oreo account at Nabisco and got all the free cookies I could eat (not such a good thing.)

I wanted crack for OPIUM.

I agree that MOLESTING someone goes way beyond bothering them.

All in all a good start to the week.

ArtLvr 10:03 AM  

Very amusing write-up, Rex -- but I'm wondering if other people agree that there is not as much vowel change in pronouncing DRAWERDRAWER as in the other three theme answers, if any at all? Seems quite slight to zero for me... And I'd rather go with an issuer of currency than an utterer!

I don't usually notice my solving time, but this had to be about the fastest. Not much to savor, except two possible ways of saying other answers, depending on the clue -- TOWIN (to win, tow in), STUNGUNS (stun guns,or stung'uns, like young'uns who were stung?) A stretch, yes, but...


archaeoprof 10:06 AM  

Here's something strange: following 30A ROMAN are 31A HIC and 32A DATA, both Latin words...

hereinfranklin 10:10 AM  

Lost a good 30 seconds on IONIC--just couldn't figure that one out. Otherwise, easy-peasy.

Greene 10:15 AM  

Well I thought this was a fine, jolly puzzle. Got the theme right away and it had me smiling through to the end. Agreed, some of the fill cluing was a trifle odd, but nothing that didn't come pretty easily. What a nice start to my week.

By the way, what is Veronica's dad's name? It might come in handy later this week.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I agree with artlvr about DRAWER/DRAWER -- I pronounce them alike -- whereas all the other answers had clearly different vowels.

Still fun.

Travis 10:21 AM  

@artivr maybe its regional, but I pronounce the bureau compartment dror, and pronounce the sketcher drau-er.

Orange 10:32 AM  

I'm with Travis and have a solidly Midwestern accent. I was going to spell the pronunciations "drore" and "draw-er." Travis, where are you from?

jeff in chicago 10:41 AM  

Did this one without stopping. A fine puzzle, but this type of theme requires too little effort after you've gotten the first one.

Words like RIOT interest me. It's a "hilariously funny thing" or a "horribly tragic thing." My favorite is "off," which can mean "off" (turn off the TV) or "on" (the alarm went off). These are called contronyms.

Crosscan 10:43 AM  

Veronica's father is Hiram Lodge.

PhillySolver 10:52 AM  

The fashion industry is way ahead of us.
Look here

And here is an article on more examples of today's word play,


chefbea1 10:58 AM  

very easy and Monday puzzle

@travis and Orange I agree drorer and draw-er. I'm from the midwest. I notice some people here in the east keep there socks in a bureau draw.

PuzzleGirl 10:59 AM  

Faster than usual Monday for me. I'm with Travis and Orange on the "drore"/"draw-er" pronunciation. Didn't have a problem with ISSUER -- probably from all those years working around corporate lawyers. Like Treedweller, the Spanish translation made the Bothers/MOLESTS clue/answer pair okay for me. It put me in mind of the Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go":

This indecision's bugging me
Esta indecision me molesta....

mexicangirl 11:15 AM  

Piece of cake! I love Mondays like this; no school for the kids, beautiful sunny day, nice and easy puzzle.

Oh! and thanks to anonymous and Greene for yesterday's Shakespeare class.

Two Ponies 11:22 AM  

On Mondays I play catch-up by doing the Sat & Sun puzzles before I open the Monday paper.
By Sat's puzzle I see how wrong I was at balking the other day at stout for heroic.
Also Sat. had skew as the clue for distort and today those clues were reversed.
I'm another drore and draw-er person. (NE Indiana-raised)
I enjoyed the theme today and saying those words to myself. Another example of our strange and funny language.
Re: molest, I also thought right away of the Spanish verb so it was OK with me.
@ wade, I kept thinking about you over the weekend. Is your power back?

AuntHattie 11:24 AM  

Loved this one, but then I love word tricks. Rex, you are absolutely right about how to eat an Oreo--how about a Mallomar??

ArtLvr 11:33 AM  

@ philly -- great fun to see the list of Heteronyms! but note that DRAWER isn't there. As something you pull or draw out of a chest of drawers, the compartment has the same root "draw" as the artistic DRAWER of pictures. Thus I still feel that this pair is not as distinct as in the other theme pairs.

How about the underpants that you may take out of your dresser and don/draw on? Did you have a drawerful in two syllables or three? I grew up in Chicago, but I think I'd have three. However, for the panties I might say "drores"! Funny thing, language.


Jane Doh 11:41 AM  

Very easy, maybe too easy, once the gimmick is discovered. To me, the SEWER SEWER clue was nonsensical, but I felt the AMORE for the other theme clues. Fun to discover STUN GUNS.

I kind of liked the l'alliteration of the OREO clue. ISSUER is a totally legit word, but the clue is terrible -- are we assumed to be too uninformed to know what a central bank is ... or is it the others ....

MOLESTS is a word I'd rather not see. I know what the dictionary says at def. 1, but in our times the word conjures only one image. Ugh-ly. As is AMEER and MATTS. As is TOW IN with TOWER in the theme.

Lately I've heard CNN referred to as the Communist NEWS Network. What does that make MSNBC?

The clue for RHONE feels somehow incomplete. There are the Rhone Valley and the Cotes du Rhone as wine regions. RHONE is a river.

Back to MSNBC. Will need political junkie REHAB in November.


Tom 12:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom 12:20 PM  

Hmmm. Issuer not a word? I must respectfully disagree. Pertains to not only currency, but also checks, and I have heard it enough to think it a common word.

I also disagree with "molest" not being a synonym for "bother". The first definition listed in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is "to disturb, interfere, or annoy". Also, the Latin root given is "molestus" - "troublesome". I think only during the last 20 or so years has this word taken on the more troubling & serious connotations of sexual abuse. Granted, an argument could be made for contemporary usage; nonetheless, I think the clue as given works.

Eli Barrieau 12:30 PM  

I overlooked the end quotes and thought Rex was trying to tell us that Sandy was a Cockney rather than a Kiwi with the 'after lunch' and 'afternoon'

It's been along day. Oh well, guv'na.

Sandy 12:43 PM  

@ Tom: Rex didn't say that "issuer" wasn't a word, just one he couldn't get from the clue and didn't like. He didn't even say it wasn't common.

And sure, molest is acceptable, just gross, given current usage.

I'm off to find an after lunch snack.

mac 12:44 PM  

@artlover: with my mid-Atlantic accent the two drawers sound awfully alike.

Hi Eli, it's been a long time.

william e emba 12:45 PM  

To Rex and anyone else unhappy about a "main bank" being called an ISSUER. That is what they are, at times. It's not some nonce -ER word that the constructor plugged in out of desperation.

Look at some US paper money. It says on the top "Federal Reserve Note". If your bill is a $1 note or an older larger denomination bill (with the small presidential portrait), look at the seal on the left with the majuscule (one of A through L) in the middle. It says "Federal Reserve Bank of [city] [state]". There are also four copies of a number between 1 and 12 (corresponding to the majuscule) arranged in a rectangle around the front. The letter/number is the code for which of the twelve banks was the actual ISSUER of the note in question. A=Boston, B=New York, C=Philadelphia, etc.

The newer large portrait bills, festooned with anti-counterfeiting tricks, have, however, simplified the seal to a generic one referring to the "United States Federal Reserve System". Feh. The letter/number identifying the ISSUER is still there though. I'll let you look for it.

In the US, at least, you might want to quibble about 12 main banks as opposed to one main bank. Does "main" imply "unique"? I'm not sure. If so, it can't impact the clue's accuracy, however. That would merely mean the clue was never about the US in the first place.

Shamik 12:46 PM  

DROHR/DRAW-ER...who actually calls anyone sketching a "DRAWER." Usually call them a sketcher or more often, just artist....right, Emily? BTW, grew up in Connecticut....hence DROHR.

Easy one....and no bad starts.

fikink 12:50 PM  

"Let's call the whole thing off."

Greene 12:57 PM  

@fikink: Ira Gershwin seconds the nomination.

Rex Parker 12:57 PM  

Blah blah I work in finance blah blah banks blah blah look at your money. ISSUER is a sucky word. Hallmark of sucky words: first Google hit = definition of the word. In this case, three of the first four hits are defs. And that fourth non-def is a Wikipedia stub. Not even a full-fledged entry. I repeat, sucky word.

Thanks to my wife for actually reading the words that I wrote.

And it's DROHR vs. DRAW-er for me, though as someone said above, "drawer" (in the sense of "one who draws") is not something I'd ever be likely to say.


miriam b 1:06 PM  

Born and bred in Connecticut (Bridgeport and Stratford) educated in NYC, and a resident of Suffolk County, Long Island for longer than I care to admit, I belong to the "drore"/"draw-er" contingent. I give thanks daily that my kids didn't pick up that horrid Lon Guyland accent.

BTW, how do you-all pronounce "finger", "hanger", "hunger", etc.? A friend noted that the "g" nearly disappears when I utter such words. It's there, but it's way back near the uvula. This friend has spent some time in Bridgeport, and he AVOWs that this is a regional pronunciation. How large was the sample on which he based his informal study, I wonder? I picture him interviewing people to amass data.

I note that two of the theme actions could conceivably be performed: one could draw a drawer or show a shower. I wouldn't try to do crewelwork on a culvert, though, or shlep the Sears Tower.

I was a bit bothered (not MOLESTed) by TOWIN, but all in all the puzzle was fine Monday fare.

SethG 1:10 PM  

My senior class play took place in Okinawa, and it was a horrible choice for a school play--the only female role to speak of was an obi-wearer, and not a single female had a line in English. But I still remember how to sing She'll Be Coming Around The Mountain When She Comes in Luchuan.

People in Minnesota laugh at me when I say the word "tournament". I grew up in what the NYT called "the Galapagos Islands of American dialect". This was my fastest puzzle ever.

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

As an ESL person, I enjoy wasting time here

cajón anyone?

/emisor miguel

Noam D. Elkies 1:26 PM  

Yes, easy enough to solve from the Downs, especially with the helpful theme that gives 6 letters of each Across clue. Didn't think of vowel change as part of the theme, for the same DRAWER reason already noted. Good point about TOW IN, especially as it could have been clued for TO WIN (as in "playing _____").

Without the Across clue, I first guessed ODIUM for 22A from all but the second letter (put that in your pipe etc.), and wondered if 5A:IONIC would be physical/chemical or columnar, and if 31A:HIC was "___ jacet" (possibly the result of failed OPIUM REHAB, but too hard for Monday). 46D:MOLESTS and (without the clue) 67A:SESS hard to believe, but no plausible alternatives...

On to Tuesday,

fikink 1:34 PM  

So, were "one" to use SESS in a sentence, does "one" say SESH or SES?

william e emba 1:44 PM  


I read what you wrote in re ISSUER. It was, to me at least, disgust and not denial on your part, and I hope I did not imply otherwise.

Without further commentary, however, it's not clear if you're merely objecting to an ugly sucky mess of letters (like DECOCT) or to a word which looks like special purpose crosswordese sucky coinage but isn't (like DECOCTER, meaning the tea infuser thingie) or to a word which really is a special purpose crosswordese sucky coinage and ought to be blasted (like DECOCTER, meaning a person who DECOCTs).

Your commentary did not distinguish between bashing a case one suckiness or bashing a case three suckiness. Case one bashing is always a matter of opinion. Case two bashing is always a mistake. Case three bashing is always proper. Without further information, it was impossible to tell whether you were engaging in 100% case one bashing, 100% case three bashing, or 50%/50% both.

Filling in with the back story reveals that in this case, regardless of whether case one applies, ISSUER here is definitely a case two suckiness, not a case three.

It's sort of like the frustration of reading past any bad review. Did the reviewer just not like the genre? Did the reviewer just not like the lead actor? Did the reviewer actually understand what he read/saw/heard? A reviewer that bashes a movie for being nothing but an overdone chase scene, well, okay, but maybe I like overdone chase scenes, but only if they're done right. And the reviewer hasn't told me a thing I can use to gauge my potential viewing pleasure.

That is, bad works deserve good reviews (which is not the same as positive reviews). Deserve, maybe, but that's not what they get, reality being real and all that, and it's usually nobody's fault. Certainly not for something as trivial as the exact taxonomy of crossword entry suckiness.

And blah blah blah, and blah blah blah.

Z.J. Mugildny 1:57 PM  


Love the Archie reference. I used to read Archie comics all the time as a kid. My whole family did. To this day I am not sure exactly why. They aren't particularly funny or interesting, and I remembering thinking that at the time also.

JoefromMtVernon 3:04 PM  

Sorry, just got to the puzzle now (very long day)...

I had to go back to find molests. I didn't remember seeing the clue or filling it in...I had it with all of the crosses.

Rex, today I'm with you...I would prefer ionized for 5A; Ionic sounds wrong here...


Orange 3:48 PM  

Seth, do you go to ternaments like I do? I do not attend toowurnaments like the Easterners/New Yorkers do.

chefbea1 4:40 PM  

@fikink We called my grandmother sesh. Her name was elsie which I couldnt say - it came out seshie - then shortened to sesh

@miriamb finger, hanger,hunger - In hanger the g is almost lost.. the other two i pronounce a hard g

Mike the Wino 4:47 PM  

Since I only comment on Rex's blog, and only occasionally, I don't know blog etiquette, so I need to ask:

Let's say I'm done with today's puzzle, and I wish to refer back to something I saw in this blog some time ago that I was reminded of by reading today's comments. (That was awkward....) So, I do a search for a term, and come across an earlier puzzle with that term. I read the comments all the way through, and one in particular (that had nothing to do with my search in the first place) made me think, "Aha, what a cool idea for an answer to a future puzzle".

Is it okay to make a comment in today's blog regarding that "aha moment", or is this considered to be a no-no? If it's a no-no, what is the right forum?

Thanks for the enlightenment!

Mike the Wino

fikink 5:37 PM  

@mikethewino, my advice is to pour yourself a glass of milk and eat an OREO. Then PICK your words carefully, making certain they are SPELT correctly, and comment on today's puzzle; "ya know," the clues and the answers, ET. AL., using various words from the GENE pool of today's puzzle. Don't EMOTE too much and SKEW your comments to show your ESTEEM(s) for your colleagues. Then you can weave in your impressions of past puzzles in a personal aside on how you arrived at one of today's answers.
OBI the way, no puns!

chefbea1 5:54 PM  

@orange I too go to ternaments

Anonymous 6:07 PM  

Hi Guys,

In the spirit of SOME of this blog (e.g. me too, I agree, same problem, don't mention b***s any more, NW was hard too, I need to post something, in ink, dead horse still needs beating, etc.):

My upstate NY accent pulls out a Droar and looks to see what the Draw-er has created.

(Posted in jest, I jest)


Joon 6:22 PM  

rex, i agree that ISSUER in particular is sucky, but i disagree about your generalization to "hallmark of sucky words: first Google hit = definition." for example:


and will shortz's favorite word, ucalegon.

these are just off the top of my head, but there are obviously zillions more. i think the point is pretty clear.

this puzzle felt lightning-fast even though i had serious trouble with ISSUER, took a while to grasp OREO at 1-across, and didn't pick up on the theme until pretty late in the game. it wasn't a personal record, but if i hadn't stumbled at 1A i bet it would have been a record.

i like the word MOLEST. honestly, i do. i use it in the non-creepy sense all the time, often in the form "unmolested."

Mike the Wino 7:28 PM  


You are SO full of wit! But, I prefer wine to OREO's go with wine? I'm thinking so. Would hafta cut it with the right cheese, though. Not sure which would be best in this case.....

As far as what I searched for because it reminded me of one of today's comments, I'd rather not say a whole lot AMORE. If I ROTE it down in this comment, I'd probably get SKEWered. AMEER wrong comment and someone might zap me with STUNGUNS. I've taken AVOW not to let that happen. I'm not SORE, and I won't STEW about it.

I have to go now. My new music teacher just arrived, and she brought me ALEUT she wants me to try out. I'm not so sure I like the idea, so I might ISSUER an ultimatum. ILE let you know later.

Mike the Wino

foodie 8:19 PM  

It's been such a long day I can hardly remember the puzzle. Is that the one with licking Oreos? My first thought: Can't be. Not a proper dessert. After lunch, eat a fruit. After dinner, skip it or make it count. An Oreo, that's a snack. All this flashed through my mind and had to be overcome. My dessert elitism slowed me down. I deserve it.

The discussion re pronunciation is very interesting to me. As a non-native speaker, the hardest thing to get under control is pronouncing some of the vowels you're all discussing. Back in grad school, I had a classmate who was deaf and read lips. When he first met me he told me I "sounded British" and was easier to understand than Americans. I actually don't sound British, but I think I just enunciate more explicitly and he could tell...

I am teachable though. My son, when he was 6 or 7, went on a mission to get me to properly (mis)pronounce a bunch of things. Like saying "AM PEH THEATER" instead of "AM FEE THEATER". So now, I need to learn to say "drore" and save drawer for, I guess, never.

PS. Chef Bea, Congratulations on the terrific performance in the Chili Contest! I hope you will post that recipe on your blog.

Kathy D. 4:21 AM  

I'd think dessert is part of lunch (or dinner), just the last course.

And Oreos can and are eaten any time, with tea in the evening, for instance.

And yes ' dror and draw-er and on finger and hunger enunciate the "g" and somewhat drop it in hanger. Go figure!

Kathy D.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

molests as bothers is perfectly legitimate - and is still a current (and used) definition, even if it may be overshadowed by its more recent connotations.

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