THURSDAY, Sep. 18, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel (Family pet in "Hi and Lois" / Language that treats "dz" as a single consonant )

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: IT GOES UP AND DOWN - four theme answers, clued "[see circles]," are things that go up and down; circles cross the middle of the grid in a wave pattern and spell out "IT GOES UP AND DOWN"

I tore through this puzzle, gleefully. Its easiness is more than made up for by its great cleverness - and timeliness. It will be a long time before I can bring myself to look at my investment portfolio after the worst Wall Street week of my adult life (a week which, frankly, isn't over...) so the STOCK MARKET answer was both both unwelcome ("ugh") and heartening ("you mean it goes up too?"). And OK, so three of the four theme answers go up and down in irregular patterns, where a SINE WAVE is dead regular. Further, of the four theme answers, only SINE WAVE resembles the circle pattern, but even there, the pattern's inconsistent range indicates that it is definitely NOT a SINE WAVE. . . that's all the pickiness I have in me today. Maybe NOAM (not 48D: Linguist Chomsky - Mathematician Elkies) will have some insightful observation about SINE WAVE - I just like that his name intersects the rhyming ROAM (53A: Use a cell phone outside one's calling area). I think the design here is ingenious, and, as always in a themed Nothnagel puzzle, the non-theme fill is not compromised. There's a little viciousness down in the SW, but otherwise, smooth and enjoyable.

Theme answers:

  • 55A: SINE WAVE
Looking over the puzzle, I'm a bit surprised at how quickly I sailed thourhg it, because there is potential thorniness all over. I think the circles across the middle of the grid, which I filled in with only a handful of crosses in place, made the whole puzzle much easier to unlock than it would have been otherwise. I blanked on "Hi & Lois" yet again - what is it with the puzzle and its adoration for this tiresome strip!? The best thing about "Hi & Lois" is the time that Comic Book Guy used it in a derisive response to Bart, who wants to buy an early "Itchy & Scratchy" drawing. After Bart's initial offer, Comic Book Guy replies -

  • CBG: Are you the creator of 'Hi and Lois?' Because you are making me laugh. That drawing is worth exactly $750 American.
  • Bart: It's valuable, huh?
  • CBG: Ooh, your powers of deduction are exceptional. I simply can't allow you to waste them here when there are so many crimes going unsolved at this very moment. Go, go for the good of the city!

This is all to say that though I've seen DAWG before (1D: Family pet in "Hi and Lois"), and though "Hi and Lois" seems to be in the puzzle every other week, I needed half the crosses before I got the answer.

I stared at GQ---- and wanted only GQ MALE ... but "male" is in the clue: 20A: Well-dressed, photogenic male. I love this answer, though it feels ... like it's pushing the limits of colloquialism. The ugliest part of the puzzle, to my eye, is the far west, which required a partial, three abbreviations, and an ALTE to make it work. The puzzle descends elegantly from there, however, with the lovely VOTIVE (32D: Like some candles) descending to meet the angry SLOVAK (I don't know what the SLOVAK is angry ... that word just looks angry to me) (50A: Language that treats "dz" as a single consonant). Perhaps my favorite part of the puzzle is the NW, where DR. J (16A: Nickname for #6 on the Sixers) travels through Keats (ODE TO), "Star Wars" (ARTOO), and Norway (FJORD - 13D: Finger of the ocean). DR. J, it should be noted, also went UP AND DOWN a lot in his day. And he had one of the baddest 'fros in the business.


  • 1A: Eric's "Will & Grace" co-star (Debra) - Messing. Gimme, though I watched only for a little while. You know, until the whole shtick became tired, and then, shortly thereafter, unbearable.
  • 6A: Language from which "divan" is derived (Farsi) - I did not know that. Then again, I don't own a divan. I don't think.
  • 31A: "How Do _____" (1997 LeAnn Rimes hit) - I seem to be benefiting a lot today from pop culture I really wish I didn't know so well.
  • 35A: Oenophile's interest (nose) - you went with WINE, didn't you? If you say 'no,' then a. you had a cross, b. you didn't know what "oeno" meant, or c. You're a LIAR (26D: Either of two guests on "To Tell the Truth")
  • 39A: 80, for Hg (at. no.) - atomic number. Hg = Mercury. Why in the World do I remember that when I haven't had Chemistry since 1986?
  • 44A: "Dream Lover" singer, 1959 (Darin) - love him!

  • 68A: Seedy sort? (rye) - part of my two-square conundrum in the SW. I could not figure out the second word of the phrase LIE BY (51D: Remain inactive), and so I had to work (a bit) for ABU (65A: Egypt's _____ Simbel historical site) and this one. And I currently have two different kinds of RYE bread in my house. My favorite sandwich bread.
  • 69A: Majority of a crowd at a Jonas Brothers concert (teens) - [rage ... rising] Words can't describe how repulsive I find these lab-concocted marketing tools (emph. on last word). "We've pledged to practice abstinence!" Gross. I hope one of them is caught having sex with a hooker, and that said indiscretion results in Disney's exercising its right to "decommission" him (let your imagination make that last act as brutal as you like).
  • 41A: Start time for many a military mission (dawn) - start time of many a duel, as well: "Pistols at dawn!"
  • 2D: Former "ER" co-star La Salle (Eriq) - love his name. How long will he have to be out of work before his name falls out of xword use? (with that name, at least 50 years, I'd say)
  • 5D: Oliver Twist, for one (adoptee) - my mind went "ORPHAN? ORPHAN? ..."
  • 9D: Court huddles (sidebars) - should be clued in reference to blog or other website some day.
  • 50D: Relatively cool red giant (S-star) - the [insert letter here]-STAR variety of answer. Yet again.
  • 59D: Tex's neighbor (Okie) - uh ... if you are from Texas, are you a TEX? I can imagine some dude calling himself "Tex," but cannot imagine some dude calling himself "OKIE." "The Adventures of Tex and OKIE" would be an amusing cartoon / comic idea.
  • 54D: Jazz's Carmen (McRae) - she's back. I wonder if she'll continue to prove baffling to many readers.
  • 61A: It's about 2 1/2 times as high as Vesuvius (Etna) - disguise the common fill in pointless trivia. Always a good strategy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld



joho 9:10 AM  

This is just a delightful puzzle. It looked daunting at first but once I solved the circled letters I was able to complete pretty easily. In fact, the only way I could get WINDOWSHADE was by knowing that the answer had to go up and down.

Did anybody else have ROSE for NOSE before figuring it out?

This was fun and timely Thursday puzzle. Can't wait for the market to go up!

Anonymous 9:30 AM  


How 'bout Merl Haggard's [I am an] "Okie from Muskogee"?

btw, he admits it's semi-satirical, Muskogee OK being a town where "even a square guy can have fun."


Orange 10:01 AM  

I've made a point to pay no mind to the Jonas Brothers if the Disney Channel is on—and my kid has zero interest in them or Hannah Montana. But rock critics apparently like the new Jonas Brothers album, and the boys have some chops. I refuse to try them out, though. Actually, isn't the clue wrong? Aren't most teens too hip for Disney music? I think of all the Disney pop groups as being for tweens. It's always a sad day for tween girls when the boy bands/singers they love decide to become Manly Men. Jesse McCartney put hot babes in his video and raunched it up, and my niece wrote him a very disappointed letter.

SethG 10:03 AM  

And thus we continue the well known trend of me having inordinate trouble with Mike Nothnagel puzzles.

Potential thorniness was actually thorny for me in the NW, where I had thin as A RAIL. Which, unfortunately, worked with BANK and RIPEN, so I wasn't able to work through that until I got the theme and realized it must be WINDOW. Also, Jill has a dog named DAgG.

More thorns where I didn't know the LeAnn Rimes hit. And I couldn't come up with LAX, so there was not much in that whole area until I remembered my Bubbi talking about some ALTE kocker or another.

Final bit was DNA LABS--DNA is the new black. I stared for a Long time at INx with a register, and I've never heard BAIRN.

I'll take your (N/R)OAM and raise you an A(M/R)TOO. I've finally given up thinking I can convince crossworld to reject the use of retorts--guess I'll have to concentrate my efforts on eliminating the use of the A- prefix, overly generic fill-in-the-blanks, and the "word" TEC.

Bobby Darin and rye bread rule. SEE YA, folks!

Ulrich 10:09 AM  

I join in the applause--the best Thursday in a while (but then, my memory, when it comes to puzzles, doesn't go very far back). All unknowns were gettable through crosses, and now I know at least one word in Farsi.

For all of you who are dying to learn what a Not[h]nagel looks like, I've found a picture.

Crosscan 10:19 AM  


In baseball, a stopper is an ace pitcher who can stop a losing streak. After a blah week, ON CUE, Mike Nothnagel is once again Shortz' stopper, brought in a day early to another fine result.

LOOK AT ME, this puzzle shouts. I've got a cool wavy clue in the middle.

Some nice matching pairs of fill - LIAR/LIE BY, SLOVAK/FARSI for the linguists.

DARIN/Jonas Brothers for those studying the decline of American music.

Js, Qs and Xs where you least expect them.

Old game show reference jazzing up a LIAR appearance.

VOTIVE, a new word for me.

FJORD, my favorite geographical word.

Hidden Canadian content (Eric McCormack).

"How Do I LIVE" without a Nothnagel?

(Yes, I had WINE before NOSE).

PhillySolver 10:20 AM  

Okie (and Arkie) were coined as derogatory terms during the Depression and while there is an occasional reconstruction attempt, Sooners are not happy to be known as Okies today. Tex is common, but never Texie.

I also had Rose' for NOSE and spg for SPR, D-Day for dawn and arail for AREED. And yet, I did enjoy this and solved one of Mike's puzzles in a decent time. I bet he tried to get the DOWN to be on the decline and UP on the rise, but this was a clever puzzle as it is.

fergus 10:29 AM  

I had a square marked wrong on this one in Alameda, but I actually cannot find it. I think Andrea knows exactly where her blemish lay, and we shall hear about it.

This was hard for me due that NW corner of interlaced stuff I've heard of but just don't know, so it took many antsy minutes piecing it all together. To have taken that long, then making sure that it was right and then ..... the endocrine system's response to competitive puzzling.

gypsy 10:37 AM  

That should have been much easier for me than it actually was.

Had A RAIL instead of A REED, and that ruined the NW for me. Like the rest of the world, I tried to use WINE.

I could have sworn "divan" came from Arabic.

Also, I had POLISH rather than SLOVAK. Couldn't get my mind around that one. "Why can't I get any of these crosses? THESE AREN'T WORDS! I need more coffee."

I liked seeing NOAM Chomsky.

I liked the theme, but I think STOCK MARKET would have been better clued as "it just falls."

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Another Nothnagel gem. Figuring out the circled answers early really helped. The NW was toughest for me because my weakness is TV names. If it's not a Simpson's reference or old classic TV I'm usually stumped.
I also tried rose before nose. Also had Apr(il) before Spr(ing).
A playful puzzle with some very fun clues.
Whether sine wave matches the theme didn't matter to me. I parsed it out as some sort of wave I have heard of but could not give a definition for so it worked for me.
Thanks for a great Thursday Mike.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

cute idea but solving blind like that isn't much fun. Actual theme clues would've been nice. And, boy am I tired of *STAR. At least SILENT* and LONG* can have clever clues. *STAR should be sucked into a black hole, imo.

-A. Nonn

john in NC 11:15 AM  

had RAIL for REED
had NORSK (don't ask why) for FARSI
had OTS for KOS (with the erroneous retort AMNOT)
yes, I had WINE for NOSE

all of these things were sussed eventually, but there was a while there where I thought there must be a rebus thing happening as stuff just Wouldn't Fit.

Brilliant puzzle.

evil doug 11:15 AM  

I concur on the pathetic, artificially inseminated "musicians" that are nothing more than the product of marketing alchemists.

But every generation has them, so we who have tolerated these shams over the various eras must share the blame for their locust-like periodic emergence today. The Monkees? The Cowsills? Milli Vanilli? New Kids on the Block? 'N Sync?

As Pogo said: We have met the enemy, and he is us. We should have snuffed out this crap long ago rather than let it bubble up out of the dung heap from time to time. That we let fake music live is our eternal burden, and our children but its latest victims.


Z.J. Mugildny 11:21 AM  

Terrific puzzle. I don't agree with Rex's "easy" assessment, however. I got complete stuck on the west coast for a very long time. Like phillysolver I put ARAIL instead of AREED which threw me off, and I had never heard of ALTE, ILIVE, VOTIVE, TEC, and ABU, plus the first letters of SSTAR and IPOS could have been almost anything to me.

Rex's mini-jag about the Jonas Brothers illustrates why I will have trouble if/when I'm a parent. I find most kid stuff (products marketed to those between 2 and 16) complete uninteresting. And what do you do if your kid is really into stupid shit like the Jonas Brothers? Don't you have to go along with it to some extent?

mexicangirl 11:30 AM  

I agree with Orange. I wanted GIRLS in the Jonas Brothers clue. My boys are 11 and 13 and cannot stand these guys or their music (thank god!).

I found all the three letter words very hard to get and that got me stuck for a long while.... and I admit to have put WINE, since I've never heard of an oenophile being interested in noses... have you?

And just to be absurdly obnoxious, I have to say that you never see OTRA as a check box option, since the general, generic form for OTHER is always used in the masculine form, at least in surveys.... unless their asking what's your favorite CERVEZA and you can't find your Coors Light, then you choose OTRA.

fikink 11:35 AM  

@evil doug - Ugh! The Cowsills! I haven't thought of them in years! Thanks so much...
@Ulrich, immediately thought of our favorite fireman's aid when I saw today's constructor. (Congrats on the embed!)
Overall, enjoyed this puzzle, tho I made the same missteps...RAIL, WINE, for a time.

fikink 11:35 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
becky from hatch 11:44 AM  

I struggled in the SW corner - SLOVAK and ABU were all I could get. Pathetic.

Last night at music trivia at The Independent, one of the questions was to name the three Jonas Brothers. I knew Nick, only because of Chelsea Handler making fun of him on Chelsea Lately. I thought the people who knew all three names should have been ashamed of themselves. We came in second or third to last, by the way. We stunk up the place.

DRJ has been making regular appearances lately.

I found ARTOO to be a solvable but really stupid answer. Does the Cheese stand alone on this one? I am new to this blog so I may need some schooling. What am I missing?

Margaret 11:48 AM  

Whew. Not at all easy for me. You know how your crossword IQ GOES UP AND DOWN? Today, mine looked like yesterday's STOCK MARKET. Even after I got the circles, I had trouble. I had WINDOW but couldn't find SHADE. Took me an embarrassingly long time to get ELEVATOR. Had HINDI rather than FARSI which I wouldn't let go of because it gave me HI-HOS as a cross. That upper mid-west area was the hardest to wrestle to the ground.

Clever puzzle and, yes, I had WINE.

dk 11:49 AM  

The people on the bus go up and down, up and down. The people on the bus go up and down all day long.

Thank you Mike N. for getting that little ditty stuck in my head.

Why can't it be Norm isn't a NOAM that thing on suburban lawns (great early 70's band).

I had arail as well and windowframe... gheez louise.

My lovely wife got LOOKATME as she refers to my girlfriend before her as lookatmekate which has something to do with the number of photos she appears in and just perhaps a twinge of (insert j word here).

Fun and timely puzzle.

here is an ODETO (I love youtube)

Crosscan 11:50 AM  

I think ARTOO is fine. He/it is called that frequently in the movies and spelled that way in books.

william e emba 11:51 AM  

I do not like plural fill-ins, like 6D Hi-FIS. Even as I got the crosses, letter by letter I balked at filling in FIS. Is that just me?

Since I already had the circled phrase filled in, I was spared writing in WINE for NOSE. I wanted to fill in A RAIL for A REED, but I was very suspicious. That would have been a Monday clue and answer, right?

I started with the Family pet in "Hi and Lois", and started thinking, yeah, Barfy, come on, this time it will be Barfy! No, that's 5 letters, not 4. Then I tried Sam and Kitty, and boy, was I seriously confused. It took me forever to unconfuse myself. I guess I just lump in all unfunny comics for 30 years now that nobody reads anymore together. Let's see, the pet from "Dondi" was ...?

S STAR ought to be Friday and Saturday only--the standard ones are OBAFGKM, and the rest are rather technical latecomers. But since it's only one hard-to-know letter, well, I guess it can sneak in. As for the mnemonic, I go with "Oh Be A Fine Girl Kiss Me". "Fine Guy" is not gender neutral.

Have we seen ABU Simbel before? I got it instantly, and yes, it's famous, but the name really is a blank to me, and it will probably remain a blank to me.

Rex--you have "NW" written when you meant "NE", in re ODETO, DRJ, etc.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  


I live in Kansas about 20 miles north of the Oklahoma border. I've seen many "Okie owned" signs on motels and restuarants which are meant to attract patrons. Evidently, not everyone in the state finds the term derogatory.


Joon 12:05 PM  

my solving experience closely matches margaret's (except i never had WINE, since i had the O first). got the theme very early, filled in almost all of the bottom very quickly, and then just stalled. the N/NW area took a long while (i was paralyzed by indecision on ARAIL/AREED), and even after i hacked it all together, i spent a good four minutes staring at my last crossing: IN_/D_ALABS.

loved the puzzle, though. that nothnagel's always got some tricks up his sleeve. this would have been an awesome final puzzle at a tournament. had i been competing this week, i would have felt extremely confident going into it and then a little disappointed at having my ass handed to me.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Never heard of "thin as a reed" - always "thin as a rail." Reminds me of how New Yorkers say "stand on line" rather than "stand in line."

Anyway, I always think the Hi/Lois cartoon dog is Barfy, but that is the dog in Family Circus. I can't keep straight the wholesome, not-so-funny cartoons...

jannieb 12:08 PM  

Any week that includes a Nothnagel is a good puzzle week indeed. Sort of a reward after last week, I'm thinking.

Even Mike's easy puzzles are clever, fun and fresh. Once I figured out the circles, the theme clues fell pretty quickly. Only real slow down was the SW -- several lucky guesses there.

Tried "a rail" and "wine" but the crosses quickly led to the corrections.

Thanks for a great morning, Mike!

Scott 12:16 PM  

Is TEC slang for Detective? and is this slang people actually use and/or Xworders actually know? Also what is REGT?

There are always seem to be a couple things like this in Nothnagel puzzles that are off putting despite clever themes.

Cheryl 12:32 PM  

Same thorny experience in the west and southwest but was saved early from ARail/AREED by having BENT come to mind right away.

Given cluing convention indicates an abbrev answer should have an abbrev in the clue or some other indication, I felt that Deer____ for XING was a little unfair. Minor nit.

I am not a liar so I admit to wine for nose. Oenophile popped at me from the clue list before I had any crosses and I thought "gimme" but should have known better on a Thursday.

On the whole a very satisfying solve for me, what with theme and circles.

Cheryl 12:33 PM  

I believe REGT is for regiment.

Steve 12:34 PM  

Embarasing admission. I know that as a parent I am supposed to hate my kid's music, but I actually don't find the Jo-Bros that bad. My kid loves Miley Cyrus too, and you know what...I find myself tapping my toe!

I love SPG up and down in the middle of the puzzle!

Steve 12:35 PM  

SPR, that is! (The original typo I had on the puzzle!)

Paul in MN 12:43 PM  

Such a lively puzzle! I loved all the fill with unusual starting consonant clusters: GQTYPE, DRJ, FJORD, SSTAR, DNALABS.

And four Q-words with only one U among them and two terminals Q's. Gotta love it!

Karen 12:48 PM  

I had a time with the preposition in LIE BY...I don't think I've seen that phrase before. It finally cracked when I picked up the RYE.

My introduction to the Jonas Brothers was when they played on American Idol. The host Ryan introduced them with 'these guys need no introduction' and for once never introduced them. I spent the whole song trying to figure out who they were.

imsdave 12:49 PM  

Very nice puzzle. Thought it was going to be a challenging when I started accross the top, but with the circled answers in the middle all being pretty simple, it quickly became an easy. LIEBY doesn't feel right to me, but that corner (last to fall for me) actually does work.

@Ulrich - I thought this was a good Thurday, but last Thursday's star puzzle is definitely the best in my recent memory (which may be as short as yours).

Loved seeing SLOVAK. My aunt was Slovak and taught me this wonderful song 'Aj lúcka lúcka' at an early age:

The Whiffenpoof clip of this on youtube would have been a better choice, but it was a live performance version with too much audience noise. They march into their performance space singing this song at the beginning of each show. My dad may have been one of the few Whiffenpoofs who actually new this song prior to arriving at Yale due to his sister-in-law.

Here is part of the lyric and the translation:

Sorry for the long post, but a quick story. I was on a plane back in the seventies and ended up being seated next to a woman from Finland who had limited english skills (I have zero finnish skills). In the back of my mind I remembered that finnish and slovak were related languages, and I recited the song to her. She translated it as:

Where are the beautiful fields of my country, and the rivers, and the hills, and the trees? Where is the snow by the tree?

I never knew what the lyrics actually meant until I looked it up today, but I'd say that finnish/slovak thing is probably true.

Wade 12:52 PM  

I learned about the Jonas Brothers from this blog a few weeks ago (where Rex pitted them against the Hansons, I think. I gotta say I thought Jonas rocked harder than Hanson.)

My wife and I go around and around about what the kids should watch, read, eat, inhale, inject, etc. I take the position that every generation is in charge of its own pop culture, and that to deny my son access to the Power Rangers or Sponge Bob or Grape Ape or whoever is to cut him off from his peers in a way that will be more damaging and hurtful, years from now, than exposing his brain to dreck so early. I'm remembering my own deprived, cable-less childhood, of course. How I envied those kids who didn't have to stand on the side of a dirt road at 6:30 a.m. waiting for the schoolbus, who got to watch cartoons every day twice a day, cartoons I'd never see except in glimpses on a laundromat television when my mother took us to town to wash my dad's work clothes. It looks like crap to us, but that's their childhood, people! I plead on behalf of the children!

Having said that, I was in Borders yesterday (because, some of you may have forgotten, I work at the freakin' mall) and found the same Grosset & Dunlap edition of Tom Sawyer I checked out of the public library a hundred times as a kid, the one with all those cool illustrations and the big old-fashioned fonts. I wanted to read it to my son, but he insisted on Garfield comic strips.

I liked the puzzle--struggled a bit with it. I had CHAMBERS instead of SIDEBARS, which I thought was pretty clever, what with the B and R lining up and all.

Pete M 12:56 PM  

Am I the only one who thought actors should be UNCUT? And yes, I was thinking in terms of editing and not surgical procedures.

Also, would have loved to see LOOK AT ME clued in reference to "Misty".

ArtLvr 12:56 PM  

Not exactly "easy" in my book, but I did get there in the end... completing the bottom half first and feeling the pain with STOCKMARKET. How timely!

Of those names I knew SWIT, which eliminated the wine idea but suggested Rose with an accent before NOSE. Also learned DRJ here recently... ERIQ was one of my last guesses.

Like mexicangirl, I balk at the clue for OTRA, and I agree with wm e emba that the plural FIS was obnixious too. Pass on the Tex/OKIE -- wade, do you call yourself a Tex?

I thought Letts before LAPPS, and had seen that FARSI factoid before, but learned a new one about SLOVAK, which will LIEBY in my memory (maybe). Liked the Scottish BAIRN, also VOTIVE with two V's. which may be located in an ALCOVE.

Can't VOTE much by paper any more, absentees excepted, but here's one for Nothnagel. p.s.-- is Ulrich's Notnagel a skeleton key? Fearsome!


Doug 12:57 PM  

Speaking of waves, I predict EKE will EBB, making room for the return of ERIQ, which hasn't made an appearance in (I think) months.

Alan 1:00 PM  

Very easy puzzle but got caught on alternate spelling of eriq(birth name erik according to wikipedia). Should have known gqtype.

Rex Parker 1:03 PM  


Your attitude toward kids and pop culture is a sound one. I say this, however, because our daughter does not watch commercial TV and so does not have the same yearnings for crap (yet) that other kids do. That said, "Garfield" can make her cry laughing.

She digs ponies. And goes through Archie comics (there are So Many of them) like fire through a straw house. Oh, one kid phenomenon she is scarily into: Webkinz. The whole weird, social networking system for stuffed animals may be slowly reprogramming my kid's brain for future government use. I'm not sure.

Lastly, Hanson kicks TJB ass. And they never marketed their virginity to soccer/hockey moms. We all just assumed they would be virgins for a while, if we assumed anything. As for the Jonas Bros - I am willing to take bets that one of those kids knocks somebody up / gets caught in a Minneapolis airport bathroom some time in the next five years.


Noam D. Elkies 1:06 PM  

Yes, a really fun puzzle, and (for me) not too easy for a Thursday.

No, the path outlined by the 15 circles doesn't look much like a 55A:SINEWAVE. Nor does it look like a 63A:STOCKMARKET graph, or the plot of the height of a 17A:WINDOWSHADE or 21A:ELEVATOR as a function of time. So what? All five of them "go up and down" as advertised (and the circle path nicely shares the grid's 180-degree symmetry).

Perhaps Rex is pretending to be picky about this just to link my name with that of Chomsky, known in linguistics for generative grammar and elsewhere for unregenerate far-left politics. Actually my name don't really rhyme with 53A:ROAM -- you're thinking of Nome, Alaska, or maybe a garden gnome. 48A:NOAM is pronounced like "Noah" with an m-sound at the end, which is to say roughly the same as "know 'im". At least that's how I say my name, and I expect Chomsky says it the same way.

Thanks to Ulrich for the Not[h]nagel picture. The h is from the older German spelling "Noth" of the cognate of "need [noun]", as in "Notausgang" = emergency exit. The h appears in the original title of the 20's hit "Aus tiefer Noth schrei' ich zu dir". 1520's, that is; by Martin Luther and/or Johann Walter, later covered by Scheidt, Bach, Mendelssohn, and others.


Dick Swart 1:18 PM  

Yeah, wine ...

Dick Swart 1:18 PM  

Yeah, wine ...

Rex Parker 1:18 PM  


Point taken about your name. And yet, as far as any future limericks go, your name definitely rhymes with ROAM. Also COMB, THROW 'EM, and PALINDROME.


Twangster 1:25 PM  

FWIW Susan Cowsill is active and popular on the New Orleans scene as a singer and songwriter. I've seen her play and she's pretty good although a bit of a goofball. Check out

Doc John 1:32 PM  

A pretty fun puzzle for a Thursday. When I got the theme (with only IT GO-----, I might add) I was sure that one of the fills would be "rollercoaster"- a nice birthday present for moi. Sadly, no. I'll just have to content myself that DR J was in it today and leave it at that. If I really want to make a stretch I could add (Johnny) BE GOOD. BTW, it's 47 in case anyone was wondering.

I also had "a rail" but I did get NOSE.

It's almost a pangram today. Only Z is missing and if you really want to be generous, the pattern of circles is sort of a Z pattern.

Just saw DEBRA Messing in "The Women". Seems the only character she can play is Grace. Meg Ryan (nice to see her again) and Annette Bening were good, though. The movie had its moments but not nearly as good as the original.

Crosscan 1:37 PM  

Happy birthday, Doc John!

archaeoprof 1:44 PM  

Another ROSE and RAIL here. Great puzzle -- perfect for Thursday. But now I've got old songs by Hanson and the Cowsills in my head...

PuzzleGirl 1:54 PM  

Another great Nothnagel puzzle. I couldn't parse LIE BY to save my life. I had ROE for RYE. It made sense to me at the time (fish ... eggs ... seeds ... ), but SethG assures me it makes no sense at all.

"How Do I Live" is one of the worst pieces of codependent pop music crap out there. (And that's saying a lot.) It's not even a lamentation from someone who's been jilted. It's someone Imagining What It Would Be Like if she were jilted.

Without you,
There'd be no sun in my sky,
There would be no love in my life,
There'd be no world left for me.
And I,
Baby I don't know what I would do,
I'd be lost if I lost you,
If you ever leave,
Baby you would take away everything real in my life...

Excuse me while I retch.

I, too, saw the Jonas Brothers for the first time on the American Idol finale. I didn't really pay much attention to them and my kids don't either. They do, however, love iCarly, a kids' show I highly recommend. It's a complete mystery to me that Miley Cyrus is more famous than Miranda Cosgrove. iCarly rocks.

mac 2:13 PM  

I had been looking forward to doing the puzzle all morning since I spotted the "Nothnagel" name, and I wasn't disappointed.

The hardest spot was the deep SW: I think I erased Abu three times. Only after I thought of Rye all fell into place. And YES, I had wine, and bank, Danes instead of Lapps, and "adopted" and a rail first...... This time at least I was smart enough to get the clues around the circles, and it was a great help.

@phillysolver: please don't use the D word again...

@evil doug: that's a nice little piece of writing on your part! Talking about language, I'm going to hear Steven Pinker speak at Fairfield University tomorrow.

@rex: the Jonas rant in your write-up brought one word to mind: "decoct".

mac 2:14 PM  

P.S. Happy birthday, Doc John

Ulrich 2:24 PM  

@NDE: "Notnagel" is actually the word of the month on my blog, where I make the same point about the "h".

andrea carla michaels 2:26 PM  

@puzzle girl
I had HOW DO I LOVE, but caught that in time and never had time to read the circles...

@Mexican Girl
I totally concur on the OTRA thing...yet again the sort of mistake made if one knows just a tiny bit about a language but not enough about the context!
Senor Ulrich shuld have mentioned this!

I almost fainted when I saw it was Mike N for our final him, but he takes me forever...

And yet, at the competition my fastest time ever for a Mike N puzzle (I think it was ten minutes)BUT I made a mistake that cost me top 10:
I had S instead of E at the ALTS/RSGT!

I've promised to rail (reed?)about my mistake but it's funny what five days later does to any rancor.

My mistake was not understanding REGT. I had in ALTE, but when I saw R_GT I thought it must be some sort of SGT, like SSGT for Staff Sergeant, MSGT for Master Sergeant, (both of which I only knew/learned from crosswords.

So I thought it was my German that was faulty and perhaps there was such a thing as Der AltS, as in the highest of the highs, even tho I KNOW they don't pluralize German words with S's!!!!!!!!!!

But I swear REGT looked worse to me than RSGT which I thought might stand for, ironically, a Regimental Sergeant.

I mean, German crossed with something military, not this paranoid Jewess's strength!

So, boom, no bonus, no top ten.

Let's hope it doesn't happen in a Minneapolis airport bathroom, my poor beloved city being tarnished by ne'er do well visiting pols!!!

This may just be a Mickey Mouse rumor, but I believe one of the Jonas brothers is actually the father of Sarah Palin's grandtrig-to-be...

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Nothing about the puzzle, but this strip reminded me of that conversation the other day about nerds.


Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Nothing about the puzzle, but this strip reminded me of that conversation the other day about nerds.


dk 3:03 PM  

@wade and @rex: Homestar Runner for those kids:

I got all the soldier stuff as I read Sgt. Rock as a kid (limited childhood TV for me as well @wade, we only got one channel).

@andrea et al: Are you a hater? I think you might be? Then, more wine for you!

And, said mens room stall has been remodeled, although it is still a tourist destination...And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,

becky from hatch 3:08 PM  

@Crosscan, thanks for the schooling. Now that I think about it, I think I always assumed it was R2D2 but maybe I've never actually seen it in print.

rafaelthatmf 3:14 PM  

Wade your childhood and mine sound identical - the bus ride and intermittent trips ‘to town’. We actually had to drive our garbage to ‘the dump’.

I think I need professional help. For the 3rd or 4th time in the last month the puzzle seems oddly focused on me personally. My unusual last name spelled out in an answer a while back; today my college major, the University colloquially (LAX) my profession (Oenophile) I was a teen I’ve read GQ and have a fashion sense I ride elevators all the time I have window shades and a position (albeit shrinking) in the stock market I was bairn for the love of God what do they want of me? I have yet to fine tune the proper dosage on this self medication thing.

I can’t remember who upstream expressed reservation about nose as it applies to Oenophile but wine geeks (I plead guilty) do indeed use the term to describe the aromatic character of a wine. I personally favor the dusty floral nose that I associate with the Paso Robles AVA.

Finally, (sorry for the long post – just one today tho) I really try to hate Rex but then he throws in the ‘knocked up’ and Minneapolis bathroom stall thing and I just can’t. I am trying tho.

Crosscan 3:25 PM  

Becky, it is R2-D2 but my point which I made poorly is that "Artoo" is frequently used in written versions, unlike other numbers that are written out this way in puzzle-land only (such as I-FIVE for the interstate)

May the force be with you.

chefbea1 3:49 PM  

I too had trouble in the southwest. Knew abu but nothing else. Had apr. before spr. Also had wine before nose.

@rex I'm sure you have a divan - just another name for a sofa or setee.

Happy birthday doc john. Just made a pumpkin bread. I'll put a candle on it and sing!!! never mind you don't want me to sing

Nothnagel 4:17 PM  

Hello everyone.

Thanks for the glowing words about my rollercoaster of a puzzle. (@Doc John: I had ROLLERCOASTER in my list of potential theme entries, actually.)

@Rex: I totally agree with you about the middle left section. I must have tried umpteen combinations of circle locations and entries over there before I chose the one that seemed to be the Least Bad.

To all of you who attended the BACT last weekend: sorry I couldn't be there in person, but at least I was there on paper. :)

Until next time...

mac 4:30 PM  

Wow, it's always great to hear from the upper echelons!

I think the term for a divan in the U.S. is day bed, something you would find in a boudoir. In our house our cat owned the boudoir.

I'll have wine over nose any day. What time is it?

Bill from NJ 4:35 PM  

I made a mess in the NW and had to march North to solve this one.

I had ARAIL at 14A, like a lot of people, and RES at 6D and it took forever to suss out the trouble. It finally occurred to me to try AREED at 14A and pushed through to a solve.

It was my errors rather than the puzzle's intrinsic difficulty that caused the trouble so I have no complaints.

All in all, a bad day at Black Rock

Ulrich 5:08 PM  

@imsdave: Ah, yes: the star puzzle--was that last Thursday? Goes to show how short my memory is.

@acme: You may be dying to know that sometimes German plurals are done by adding an s, and there are 12 other ways of forming a plural, one sexier than the other, like adding an "e" and changing an inner vowel to an umlaut (der Baum, die Bäume)--can it get better than this?

ArtLvr 5:25 PM  
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ArtLvr 5:31 PM  

@ rafaelthatmf and others with blues or blahs, never mind the divan -- try a tanning bed instead?

@ doc john -- many happy returns! (not speaking of the Vote now).

Must write a Poem for Noam, now he's told us how to pronounce his name!


Bill from NJ 5:57 PM  

I was 12 years old in 1959 when we got our first TV set, not because of beliefs about its dangers but because we were stationed overseas a large part of the time and television was not universal then the way it is now.

The battles in our house were over reading materials. My mother believed that "wholesomeness" was the only criterion and my father did not believe in censorship of any kind. He felt that being exposed to multiple points of view were good for children.

In 1960, "Peyton Place" was a best seller and prompted a battle royal in our house over whether it was suitable for a 12 year old. My father rejected the whole idea of suitability.

I did not grow up in a liberal household by which I mean my parents beliefs on the subject of race can only be described as "old South", to quote Jimmy Carter.

However, I learned about race from Richard Wright with no interference from my father and a lack of context from my mother.

So, as a result, I do not interfere with my childrens choices about what they watch on TV. I cringe alot but keep my nose out. I maintain an open door policy and hope my children utilize it

Wade 6:06 PM  

Rafaelthatmf, word up on the dump. That was like the mall to me and the other hick kids in the area. When they burned the trash? And then they brought the dozer and grader out to bury the old dump and dig a new one? Man, that was the social event of the season. I could rhapsodize for hours about the dump.

And I forgot to mention that my wife wins all the arguments referenced in my earlier email. My kids are also growing up cable-less (so far). I bring them out to my office sometimes, though, and cue up Grape Ape cartoons on Youtube. If they can't have their own dreck, they can at least enjoy some of their dad's. I also showed them some old 40's Superman cartoons the other day, and my son loves the Woody Woodpecker cartoons. There's a lot of that stuff on Youtube.

joho 6:07 PM  

@rex: I love Hanson. I've followed their career somewhat. Saw their acoustic performance on DVD and it was amazing ... MMMMBop sounded great with their grownup voices. Their harmony can only be described as Hanson and I think they rock!

dk 6:15 PM  

@bill from nj, Mad Magazine was our Peyton Place.

@rafaelthatmf (hope I got it right). The process of taking synchronous information/content that occurs apart from ourselves but is seemingly about ourselves and then thinking one is connected to that content is... I can see our time is up let us cover this at our next session. :):)

In short, happens all the time -- think about horoscopes. Have a nice White Margux and dream about SPR.

dk 6:15 PM  
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fergus 7:36 PM  


I've never managed to figure out the difference between Nose and Bouquet. Anyone care to make a definitive distinction?

The classic divan, in my mind anyway, is featured in Manet's "Olympia." More for posing than a place for a comfortable read.

More agreement with Wade's take on patience with a child's questionable enthusiasms. My complaints against Pokemon plastic toys, for example, weren't going to work on curbing the demand, but the questions about $5 for three little figures did have some resonance. I avoided feigning delight, but never doubted the desire. Kind of a default position, of course, since denigrating a youngster's taste will only heighten the ardor.

Michael 7:37 PM  

I had both wine and rose before getting to nose. And I had thin as a rail before going to reed. I guess it is good to know that I was not alone.

A great puzzle, marred only by my not knowing "Eriq." If I had thought another nanosecond, I would have come up with GQtype -- actually in mind GCtype was GQtype (if that makes any sense).

rafaelthatmf 8:15 PM  

No difference between nose and bouquet. Bouquet has fallen out of favor because of it bias toward flowers (specific varieties of which the geek often cites in their descriptors). Sorry for the double I said I wouldn't post.

Joon 8:46 PM  

happy birthday to doc john. can i call you DRJ?

it's my brother-in-law's birthday, too. we went out for dinner. i had grilled salmon with--get this--beets! i kid you not. no, i never eat beets. these were, shockingly, not in the least bit red. but they were pretty tasty.

jae 8:50 PM  

Delightful puzzle as usual from MN. RAIL also made this one tougher for me than it should have been (as well as sussing out LIEBY/RYE) but AGENDA gave me NOSE.

I've been riding coasters at Disneyland with my granddaughter for the last 3 days (lets call that my birthday tribute to Doc John). At one point the Beatles version of Hello-Goodbye came on the speaker system and I went into a fairly prolonged rant on the crapiness Jonas Bros. Target commercial version. My feeling is that my granddaughter needs to know there is other (IMOO) better stuff out there!

Noam D. Elkies 8:59 PM  

Rex writes, about the pronunciation of my name:

as far as any future limericks go, your name definitely rhymes with ROAM. Also COMB, THROW 'EM, and PALINDROME.

There once was a linguist named Noam
Whose nomen Rex used in a poem.
But he rhymed it with "Rhone",
And refused to atone:
To fix it, thought Rex, was below him.

Well, the only other single-word rhyme seems to be "Jeroboam"...


P.S. Re:x's comment on 61A: This from the man who gushes about obscure sports and pop clues? I'd rather learn about the relative scales of those two Italian mountains than about some eminently forgettable pap music "hit" of fifty fads ago...

chefbea1 9:19 PM  

@joon perhaps yellow beets??? sooo good

ArtLvr 9:56 PM  

Good for you, Noam --
That'll show 'em.


mac 10:43 PM  

@noam d elkies: Great. I was going to have a stab at something just like it when I had some time. You did it.

mac 10:45 PM  

@joon: one of my favorite dishes at a nice restaurant around here is pan-grilled salmon on a bed of chopped beets(any color, the taste is the same) surrounded by basil-infused olive oil. I may cook it tomorrow evening!

fergus 2:08 AM  


You may have the grim knowledge of where you blundered but I've now looked at this grid three times today, along with the countless glances while doing it on Saturday, and I still don't know where my Wrong square was. Though obviously it bothers me to some degree, and a correction might move me up a few places, but I won't ask the authorities for a recount. This experience has pointed out that with respect to the puzzle, I do prefer accuracy and precision over solving virtuosity, which is often synonymous with time.

Rather casually I tossed an aside about not caring much about 'theme' during the many discussions last Saturday, and in reflecting upon all that was said and thinking over the other artistic elements of puzzle creation, I'm more drawn now to your persuasion. Yet another spillover effect, as economists might say, of a gathering of like minds.

acme 2:52 AM  

yay! that's generous of you, theme-wise! :)
If it's any comfort, apparently Byron had a wrong square in the last puzzle too, causing him to lose FIRST place! He apparently simply miswrote a letter (I think he knew ARTOO but mispelled it unconsciously or something like that. SO maybe you just put in a wrong letter without realizing it).
I only knew my mistake bec someone else was complaining about REGT immediately after the last puzzle and I went "oh no!" That sinking feeling and you can't do a damnthing about it!
Except blog!!!!!! :)

boardbtr 1:39 PM  

Six weeks later - whatever the stock market drop on Sept. 17 was to generate the comments must seem pretty minor now. I must be the only one who went with fiord rather than fjord giving me a nickname of Dri instead of Dr J. I plead a total lack of interest in whatever sport the sixers play (actually I do know that it is basketball, but the sport holds zero interest for me). It does amaze me that I only had the one glitch on an MN puzzle. Very enjoyable.

Waxy in Montreal 6:57 PM  

From the syndicate, on cue:

A very creative Thursday effort from the master, Mr. Nothnagel. Enjoyed it immensely. Northern California was quite easy allowing the circled letters to be quickly discerned. Else I'd still be in my alcove...

By the way, according to Google -

Thin as a rail - 20,000 hits
Thin as a rake - 16,800 hits
Thin as a reed - only 830 hits.

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