THURSDAY, Sep. 4, 2008 - Matt Ginsberg (Jazz's Earl Hines, familiarly / Diable battler / 1986 showbiz autobiography)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Split ..." - theme answers are all "SPLIT _____," but "SPLIT" is not represented in the grid as a word; rather, the second word in the phrase is SPLIT across two consecutive Across clues

Great theme. I feel I've seen something like it before, but no matter. Still charming. One drawback was that once you get the theme (for me, very early), the rest of the theme answers are startlingly easy to get. I think I filled most of them if not all of them in as soon as I was sure that the phrases were all "SPLIT _____" and not variations like "BROKEN _____," "CLEFT _____," etc. Speaking of "variations," or "variants," rather: INSTIL! (36D: Impart gradually: Var.) INSTIL is today's sacrifice to the crossword god VAR, who must be fed on a regular basis if we want to continue to enjoy high-quality crosswords. All hail the Great VAR!

Theme answers:

[these are clued slightly differently in the paper versus in AcrossLite, the software program I use to print out and solve puzzles - paper version has the simple, elegant "15 & 16," e.g., but AcrossLite apparently can't handle that formatting, so has the clunkier "15. With 16-Across ..."]

  • 15A: With 16-Across, boxing result, often (decis / ion)
  • 23A: With 24-Across, curious case in psychology (person / ality)
  • 38A: With 39-Across, instant (sec / ond)
  • 48A: With 50-Across, grammatical infelicities (infin / itives) - nice, delicate clue that neatly sidesteps the controversy (and there is one) over whether such infinitives constitute out-and-out "grammatical errors."
  • 62A: With 63-Across, go Dutch (the / check) - the real ugly duckling of the bunch, as nothing is "split"; there's merely the expected [space] between complete words. Still, it's cute, and certainly not a deal-breaker.
Let's hope INSTIL was easy for you to infer, because if you're like me (and ... surely a handful of you are, occasionally), you gaped in an odd mixture of awe and horror and amusement at (the onomatopoeic?) TUK-TUK (46A: Three-wheeled Indian taxi). Is this term a holdover from Colonial (i.e. British Colonial, i.e. RAJ!) times? It's amazing. I especially like it for its its inkongruous K crosses, SKISUIT (44D: Attire that often includes a hood) and ORK (39D: TV planet). I would love for Emily to draw a picture inspired by that set of words, but now that I've suggested it, I'm sure she won't. She's independent that way.

My biggest hold-up while doing this puzzle was the NW corner. In order to understand how that's possible, you first have to understand that I didn't get THORN right off the bat (1A: Feature of an acacia tree), then you have to imagine what it feels like to see the clue 5D: Hawk, maybe for a word where you already have ---CON. What do you put in? Answer: FALCON. I didn't hesitate for a second, and then wondered why None of the NW Acrosses would work.


  • 6A: 1986 showbiz autobiography ("I, Tina") - her "comeback" was a big deal when I was in high school. "Her" being "Tina Turner's."
  • 14A: Historical biography that won a 1935 pulitzer ("R.E. Lee") - wow, it's remainder bin day in puzzle world.
  • 20A: Delphic quality (prescience) - feel like this word has been in the puzzle recently. Just finished reading Aeneid VI, where Aeneas consults the Sibyl (priestess / prophetess of Apollo) at her cave in Cumae. She takes Aeneas on a tour of the underworld to see his father (Dante will use this guided tour as a model for "The Divine Comedy").
  • 32A: Where Nixon went to law school (Duke) - news to me
  • 35A: Much of central Eur., once (HRE) - that's Holy Roman Empire
  • 44A: Locale for four World Series (Shea) - I believe that "locale" can be found in crossword clues more often than just about anywhere else in the world.
  • 19D: Trample, for example (rhyme) - this one trampled me a bit, but it was worth it.
  • 45A: The last 10% of 110% (extra) - I did not like this clue at all. If the quantity in question is defined as "110%," then how is any of it "EXTRA?" I mean ... I understand what the clue is going for, and yet ... I make sense to myself in my own head, just so you know.
  • 65A: Seed alternative (bud, I mean sod)
  • 4D: Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," again and again (reissue) - the original clue was more straightforward, and, to my ear, more precise - [Second release].
  • 11D: Diable battler (Dieu) - wondered what language "diable" was until I realized that it's the only other foreign language you know well, you dumbass.
  • 13D: Irish singer with eight platinum U.S. albums (Enya) - if I've taught you anything, I have taught you that "Irish singer" in four letters = ENYA. Except when it = BONO, which is much, much more rarely.
  • 33D: Operating system developed at Bell Labs (Unix) - I know squat about computers, but I had the "X" and UNIX came to mind (from some patch of nerd conversation I once overheard / engaged in), and there we are.
  • 51D: Wrestling promoter McMahon (Vince) - "Let's get ready to RUMBLLLLLLE!"
  • 38D: Grammy-winning reggae artist _____ Paul (Sean) - love this clue for SEAN, though I don't listen to his music. If you like songs imploring girls to shake their booties, SEAN Paul is definitely your man. Sample:

  • 49D: Jazz's Earl Hines, familiarly (Fatha) - learned it from xwords, and it has since come back multiple times. Worth tucking away for future use.
  • 58D: Poses posers (asks) - this reminds me of the clue for ARE yesterday. Loopy clue for basic answer.
  • 8D: Makeshift dagger (icicle) - this one made me laugh.
  • 60D: Plasma alternative, briefly (LCD) - someday I believe this answer will be clued [Dance-punk band _____ Soundsystem]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

For those who haven't done it yet, please check out the first ever Rex Parker Free Crossword: "Don't Blink" - a VP debate-themed puzzle.


korova 8:07 AM  

Let me add to the many joys of being in Japan (for an extended stay) "being able to write the first comment while relaxing after dinner." Was anyone else bothered by 19D: Trample, for example(RHYME)? Seems to me that it needed another "for example," as "trample" itself is not a rhyme. Sometimes the clues go too far in pursuit of cuteness (as opposed to happiness). Minor point, though--I loved the puzzle.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

yes, to korova's question -- even after I finished the puzzle (filling that in via crosses) I didn't, for a moment, see why that was the answer! Good puzzle anyway.

Cheryl 8:27 AM  

@korova: agree with the trample/example issue. As you say though, minor quibble. Enjoyable puzzle despite that and INSTIL.

I had 'knock' and 'out' for 15/16 until I figured out the theme and it all came together.

And a question: is 'von' not considered part of the surname von Trapp? In the movie they are introduced as the "von Trapp family singers". I wanted 'Maria' or 'Liesl' until the crosses told me otherwise.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

@trample bloggers

isn't it mean to be read so that trample is a rhyme of example?


I think there is a phrase called 'split (or splitting) the check'.

Very nice puzzle, but had the same ease getting all the theme answers once the 'split' gimmick became clear.

Anyone else want to call 'Natick' for the crossing of RELEE and NEOCON. I ran through the alphabet and did not come up with anything that made sense to me. Who would ever call a neo-conservative a NEOCON?


Crosscan 8:36 AM  

Unusual experience for me as I solved the NY Times crossword in the NY Times for the first time! And it comes with a complete newspaper attached.

Strangely satisfying experience although there is no indication that I solved correctly.
Took me a while to get the theme but as Rex says once you get it the rest falls like dominos.

Favorite answer is tuktuk which I knew from The Amazing Race.

korova 8:41 AM  

Thanks for the "trample, for example" comments. I think anonymous 8:35 made it clear for me: "trample" is a rhyme for "example."

I will add to anonymous 8:35 that I believe Rex's objection was the lack of an intraword split in that phrase.

Rex Parker 8:53 AM  

gold star for korova

jannieb 9:02 AM  

I was totally hating this puzzle until I realized that all the "see __" clues had to be there for a reason. Then I had my AHA moment and I warmed to the task. Very nice.

NEOCON?? Totally new word to me. I'm sure someone will fill us in on its meaning/derivation or whatever.

On to the weekend.

ArtLvr 9:10 AM  

My solving went about like that of Rex, with flitting thoughts of "falcon" giving me pause at at the end. The acacia feature won't be a THORN in my side next time!

It's true that "going dutch" isn't quite the same as splitting the bill evenly, but the idea was clear -- one person is not paying the whole cost. Maybe that's a "var." in some circles?... Neat puzzle!


Ulrich 9:15 AM  

I also really liked the puzzle b/c of its unusual theme--that makes two for this week, the other being the descent/ascent of man puzzle ("ascent" if you write from right to left, I suppose).

I could not resolve SE last square, though, as I've never heard of either a SNORT (in the bar belt sense) or a STENT.

For anyone who has followed the debate about the start of the Iraq War, NEOCON was a gimmie--if you started form the top, that is; i.e. had the NE..; if you had the bottom ...CON, I also would have guessed FALCON, I think.

joho 9:18 AM  

I took me a while to figure out what words were split, but like everybody else, once I did it was smooth sailing. I, too, have never heard of NEOCON but got it with the acrosses, no problemo.

I briefly had YALE for DUKE (who knew?) which gave me YAWN for DOZE. Once I got going in that section however, those mistakes were quickly fixed.

I really liked this puzzle: thanks Mr. Ginsberg!

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

I get the distinction that the other 'split' theme answers are actually breaking a single word into two pieces, but IMO a little slack should be granted for the degree of difficulty in matching the symmetry of the theme answers.

Anyone care to suggest an alternative single word that could be paired with 'split', and be been broken into 3- and 5-letter parts?

Having donated blood on occasion, i could not for the life of me figure out a three letter blood-related abbreviation for 'Plasma alternative'. Came here to see it was the other plasma - Aha!


Orange 9:41 AM  

Neocon is in the American Heritage dictionary, where its usage in the New York Times is cited. The shortened word appears almost 30 times in the Wikipedia article on neoconservatism. One of the recent additions to the NYT's op-ed page, Bill Kristol, is a noted neocon.

Wade 9:43 AM  

Yeah, nice puzzle, though it was definitely on the challenging end of the scale for a late theme-getter like me. I had the two I's in the first part of the "grammatical infelicities" answer and all the consonants in the second part and was still trying to make "IDIOM" something work.

I give up. The dudes in suits and with the hair? Split Enz? (I have no idea who Split Enz are/were, but I remember the name from many years ago, along with Johnny Hates Jazz.)

I thought Nixon going to Duke was one of those things everybody knew. I'm not saying there's any shame in not knowing that, only that I thought it would come in as maybe the fifth or sixth most common thing people know about Nixon's pre-presidency bio (Checkers speech, sweaty JFK debate, Whittier college, financed senate run with poker winnings, Duke Law School.) Leave it to crosswords to flush that stuff out. By the way, if Obama wins the presidency, you know how many presidents Harvard Law will have produced? Would you think it would be a lot? I would have. I thought they, like, all went to Harvard Law (except Nixon, who went to Duke). But only one did: the estimable Rutherford B. Hayes, who was officially president only from 1877-1881, though it's a little known fact that all the presidents between Grant and McKinley were really just one guy with slightly different beards.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

There are a number of books out recently discussing the rise of the NEOCONs who controlled Bush II foreign policy (Think the other 'non-Duke' Dick (Cheney)). To help clarify, McCain isn't one as he has been around too long and the term is PALEOCON.

UNCAGE me! Loved the puzzle, but there were some stinkers to make it work. Could you make a theme entry out of Lickety?


SethG 10:09 AM  

[split THE CHECK paragraph deleted, already covered]

[RHYME paragraph deleted, already covered]

Totally agreed on FALCON, and for those of us who, say, don't know that foreign language at all, try to piece it together without your presumed 2D gimme (HEURE). This section took almost half my solving time.

Though I certainly can't agree with RT about Natick--it was certainly hidden well, but R(obert) E LEE is surely not unknown. Of course, that's what I would have said about NEOCON, too--in my experience, it's Very Common. [rest of NEOCON paragraph deleted, already covered but I assume more later]

And then there's common only in the puzzles: HRE is even uglier than INSTIL.

fikink 10:24 AM  

Really enjoyed this one. I agree, early detection of the theme made this one go quickly.
Haven't seen Fatha Hines for a long time.

Joon 10:36 AM  

if it's parenthetical, it demands a response, no?

(Dante will use this guided tour as a model for "The Divine Comedy")

a bold prediction indeed.

(Checkers speech, sweaty JFK debate, Whittier college, financed senate run with poker winnings, Duke Law School.)

wade, that's four more things than i knew about nixon's pre-presidential bio.

this time, and this time only, i was all over [Trample, for example]. usually that sort of clue drives me nuts. and yeah, i sort of feel like it needs another "for example." normally you can't clue a category just by giving an example. [Fir] would not be a very good clue for TREE, but [Fir, e.g.] is fine. so is [Fir or beech]. [Trample, for example, e.g.] would have been a clunkier and perhaps even more bewildering clue, but at least one more in line with the usual standard crossword cluing methods.

i had the same squeamishness about THE/CHECK being split at a word break. plus one more squeamishness: the implicit "split" in all the other theme answers is an adjective. this one's a verb. that sort of thing bugs me, although it only slightly lessened my enjoyment of this puzzle's otherwise-excellent theme.

one last thing--thank you to rex for attempting to INSTIL (var.) some order in the comment box yesterday. i "like" most of the commenters here (despite only personally knowing one of them), but i find the discussion least enjoyable when it has nothing to do with the puzzle. and also when it is filled with the sort of thing i used the internet for back before anybody knew what the internet was supposed to be for--lists of bad jokes, favorite bumper stickers, etc.

km.edgerton 10:48 AM  

Fun puzzle. I didn't get the theme until I figured out (split) THE CHECK and then had to decide (like Rex) whether other "break" words might be included. Finally, I had to realize that all the others were single words and not phrases. Once I tumbled to that, everthing was pretty much smooth sailing. I also flirted briefly with FALCON, but NEOCON is a familiar word to those of us who read the paper that comes attached to the crossword, so fixed that fairly quickly. I did want WED for 37A and that slowed me down. After the RAINHAT discussion a couple of days ago, wanted SLICKER for 44D, but vaguely recalled TUKTUK and that section fell quickly after that. I'm just about to start my annual grammar review with my high school students and we always have lively discussions about split INFINITIVES, so I really like the clue here.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

I knew that watching America's Next Top Model would come in handy one day. I remember the would-be Tyras racing around in tuktuks...but I think in that particular locale, they were called tiktiks. Either way, it helped with the clue.

Michael 11:07 AM  

I say split the infinitives. Ours is to boldly go where no man has gone before.

william e emba 11:10 AM  

RHYME should have been clued as "Trample, for example, for example". More accurate, and let the solver wonder if there's a misprint or not.

I have been a UNIX programmer for 25 years now. Why, my coworkers at a job long ago and far away once taped up near my workstation the Dilbert cartoon where the boss tells Dilbert he is going to be the company's "Eunuch" programmer. Dilbert explains that he must mean "Unix", and that he already is a Unix programmer. The boss then tells him his appointment with the company nurse is cancelled.

See, Rex, if you'd been reading Dilbert all along you'd have known both ASOK and UNIX.

A friend started called me "Vince" out of nowhere a few years ago. At some point that became "Vince McMann", so far as I could tell. In the back of my mind I have always been thinking of Johnny Carson's announcer, but never actually thought about it. Until today. So now I learn there's a family of "Vince McMahon"s who promote wrestling. And that "Ed McMahon" is the other guy. Ah well, I only have time for one of Dilbert and Rex versus sports and TV.

Did anyone else start off with KNOCK/OUT instead of DECIS/ION? I immediately suspected it must be a mistake, but it wasn't until I got the theme that I could come back to the NE.

jae 11:31 AM  

NW made this more of a medium for me. Nice AHA moment getting the theme. Like JOHO I tried YALE/YAWN. I still have my Vermont UNIX license plate on my garage wall (nerds will know what I'm talking about). I wonder if its worth anything? Oh, and very nice Thurs. effort!

qv 11:50 AM  

Well, this one was great fun, made me laugh out loud when I figured out the theme.

Only, aren't those crazily dangerous three wheeler auto-rickshaws mainly called TUKTUKs in Thailand rather than in India?

Anyway, gotta split.

dk 11:51 AM  

@jae, lived in Burlington for a few years, moved to Minnesota for the skiing.

No split decision for me, this one was a TKO beginning with Casio as the watch, tweener for TEENAGE, pappa for FATHA and a host of other errors.

sigh, must of slept to long and misplaced my long term memory..

Please note, I have also asked Ms. Palin to leave bad jokes to me as well and... as a pit bull I object to the comparison made last night.

miriam b 12:00 PM  

As many have said, this was rather cinchy once the theme was sussed. It was a lovely Thursday diversion.

I agree that Trample, for example means "Trample is a rhyme for example." Maybe the comma was a cause for confusion.

I once took a pedicab in NYC. What a hairy and expensive, but somehow fun, experience. The thing actually had no safety belts. You had to hang on for dear life. Could a TUKTUK be any scarier, I wonder?

Daryl 12:03 PM  

@qv - agree with you, tuk-tuk is a much more common Thai name than Indian, I think. My major quibble with today's crossword, which was otherwise rather a breeze.

Karen 12:11 PM  

Cheryl, speaking as a 'von', here's how it was explained to me by my grandmother. In Germany they ignore the von in alphabetization and monograms, and have in general been phasing it out as elitist. In America we do whatever we want, and pretty much always alphabetize under 'v'. I use it in my initials; some people run it together as one word. Are there any actual Germans who would like to comment on this?

I liked the trample example clue, once I got it. The TUKTUKS were crazy good. I didn't like the REISSUE clue, I kept thinking of movie reruns of White Christmas and it didn't make sense. I'm still not sure what language HEURE is.

I picked up the theme from the split INFINITIVES, which many discussions of Star Trek have burned into my brain.

jeff in chicago 12:16 PM  

I thought I was in for my usual Thursday trouncing (the puzzle trouncing me, not the other way around). I had maybe 5 or 6 guesses in, including WED and YALE, which led to an awkward YW__ that I kept despite it looking impossible, and POD and SEIKO. So I Googled Earl Hines, got FATHA, and suddenly the puzzle opened up. My final letter was the second T in TUKTUK, because INSTIL just couldn't be right, right?

The theme answer I got was SEC/OND, but it was SEC/ONE for a moment as I thought the answers were going to read backward. The easy EPA chief revealed what was really going on. I think I'll go have a HOHO to celebrate.

So...two crossword constructors walk into a bar...

Sorry Rex! Just yankin' your chain!

jeff in chicago 12:18 PM  

hmmm...just re-read my own comment and now see that YWCA is a completely possible answer. way to go, brain!

Margaret 12:25 PM  

Fun, clever puzzle. Took me too long but that's part of the fun. (Could also have been because I was simultaneously watching the end of the Nadal-Fish match that I recorded last night.) PREDICTIVE for PRESCIENCE and LETHARGIC for LEISURELY also slowed me down. Like many, I had issues with THE/CHECK as not symmetrical with the other clues.

Having attended DUKE in the 70's, that was a gimme. While I was there, Nixon's portrait which hung in the Law School mysteriously disappeared. It was only found several years later when workmen stumbled across it hidden in the acoustic tile ceiling! Clever indeed.

foodie 12:26 PM  

For me, this puzzle embodied what a themed puzzle should do to the solving experience, especially that I did not tumble to it right away. It made the puzzle harder for a while, but not in a frustrating way, because I knew there was a clue somewhere around the corner which would help me unlock it. And then when I got it (from SEC/OND), it was a perfect Aha! experience, and I went through and filled the theme answers-- suspense, followed by a satisfying resolution. Like a perfect little mystery story.

I did not love the NW corner, especially the REISSUE NEOCON combo. I had GRADUALLY instead of LEISURELY, which slowed things down in the north. In response to the clue for STENT, I wanted to think of some sort of diuretic... But I love PRESCIENCE, and ANDALUSIAN and never knew about the probably onomatopoeic TUKTUK...

fikink 12:27 PM  

@bad! Jeff! Sit!
Funny (odd) I, also, thought that the answers were to be read backward. I started out with COUNT TEN for the boxing decision, which threw me (ha!) for a while.

william e emba 12:30 PM  

Trample [is a RHYME] for example. Ahh, now I get it. Thanks, miriam b. The comma is misleading and confusing, but appropriate.

Regarding the use or nonuse of "von", there's the famous mathematician John von Neumann from (Austria-)Hungary. Born Neumann, his father was ennobled while he was growing up, so the "von" was added. The mathematician, when he came to America, anglicized his first name but otherwise kept the Germanic "von". What's interesting is that one of his brothers used "Neumann", and another brother used "Vonneumann".

So yes, it can be flexible.

imsdave1 12:41 PM  

I jumped all over the grid trying to get traction. I was thinking this was going to have a medium/challenging rating. Then I got split INFINITVE and great was the fall thereon. Fun theme with just a few clunkers.

RE: TUK TUK - I took one ride in one of those things in the suburbs of Mumbai about a year ago at the behest of our hosts (they thought it would be fun). It was the most terrifying 20 minutes of my life. Traffic in India is scary in any kind of vehicle, as there are apparantly no rules or stoplights.
The road is shared with buses, bicycles, pedestrians. scooters, motorcyles, cabs, trunks, and yes, cows (once we saw an elephant crossing the road).

Our hosts did not refer to them as a tuk tuk. The common name is cockroach. Tippy little things and horrific polluters, spewing so much black diesel smoke that they are now banned from the Mumbai city limits. In the Mumbai suberbs, I seem to recall they said there are over 100,000 of them.

(I'll learn to post things as links someday).

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

I just thought it was cool that 37A (married=one) actually coupled up nicely with 38 and 39A sec/ond.

Cheryl 12:58 PM  

@Karen and @William: Thanks for the "von" clarifications. Always good to know for future reference.

And William, I also went for knock out for the boxing clue.

Another Spain clue from not long ago (town and county) had me scouring the atlas, so ANDALUSIAN was fairly fresh in my mind and a convenient gimme.

Ulrich 1:05 PM  

Re. "von" in German: If you refer to some X von Y only by last name, you always omit the "von". So, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is "Goethe", not "von Goethe" (he also got his "von" as an honorary title). It even works for "van", which is not a sign of nobility--Ludwig van Beethoven is "Beethoven" by himself, not "van Beethoven".

fikink 1:14 PM  

that is why in some art schools, Leonardo da Vinci is always referred to as Leonardo, never DaVinci, (as in the The Da Vinci Code)...
(all referring to the first clue, down, on today's puzzle, of course.)

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Rex are you confusing Vince McMahon with Michael Buffer?

-Leroy Gerald Bivens

greene 1:27 PM  

OK, since the only thing I know about is theatre, let me say that any puzzle which starts out 1D with a musical theatre clue is ok by me. Of course, I put in Maria at first. Man, talk about nothing working in the NW corner with that mistake. Figured out it was Trapp eventually and then cried foul because shouldn't it be von Trapp?

I pulled out a copy of Ms. von Trapp's book (yes I've actually read it) and guess what? It's called "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" Not a "von" in sight. Their lodge in Stowe, Vermont was also called the Trapp Family Lodge, so I guess they considered the "von" pretty optional. In both the theatrical and film versions of "The Sound of Music," however, it is just von Trapp this and von Trapp that -- pretty much just freakin' von Trappin' to beat the band.

Useless trivia: I love the story of Frau Trapp's response to the ending of "The Sound of Music." You know, when the family escapes from Austria and climbs over Maria's mountain to freedom in Switzerland while a zillion nuns intone "Climb Ev'ry Mountain. Sayeth Frau Trapp, "Of course, we really crossed into Italy and not Switzerland. Didn't any of the writers look at a map?"

All told, a nice puzzle with a fun theme. Could have been a perfect puzzle if 25D (Todd) had been clued with a reference to Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. Now there's a show (not a bad movie either).

mac 1:45 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, no googles, just some minor bumps: wed for one, UC.. for Dick's law school, riksha for tuktuk, and I stared really hard when I had "-hyme" for 19D; see, I once had a garden path planted with "step-on-thyme". Thought this might be a different name for it.....

I got the theme with sec-ond and it cleared up some of the other mysteries.

About going Dutch: this is really not a typical way to pay in Holland. I wonder if it was a German thing, as in Pennsylvania Dutch?

About alphabetizing last names with von, van, van de en de: the main part of the name dictates where it is filed. I had a discussion about this with an Irish friend whose last name is O'Sullivan: he claimed that in Ireland his last inititial would be O.

puzzlemensch 2:00 PM  

61A: What does RUNTO have to do with Total??

foodie 2:06 PM  

The "von" use in German is reminiscent of the French "De" which is also an indicator of nobility, as in Marquis De Lafayette.

@anonymous 1:24/Leroy Gerald Bivens, I don't know anything about either McMahon or Buffer, but I'm betting, based on past experience, against Rex confusing things...

@mac, I've always wondered about the origin of this "going dutch" expression. Today I looked it up and the Wiki article insists that it has a Dutch origin, but the article is also labeled as having "weasel words" and "unverifiable" information. So, I decided to shelf the question until you commented. The first time I got exposed to it, it was a good thing, a symbol of women's equality.

@Puzzlemensch: the bill or tab can run to a certain amount...I think that's the connection?

Doc John 2:15 PM  

This one took me forever! Maybe it's because I'm still recovering from jet lag and sleep deprivation for my trip to visit family in NC. Or maybe it's because I had to do it using Across Lite instead of being able to print it out because their stupid network is on Vista and the printer doesn't want to show itself to my wonderful UNIX-based PowerBook. Or maybe I'm just in a DOZE. Plus, I missed the E in the RELEE/HEURS cross. I had an O and thought that maybe there was a ROLEE somewhere. That was about the last letter I filled in and by then I was ready to be finished. Add to that DIEU and at this rate, I guess I'd better learn French!

NEOCON- I hear the term mentioned this way much, much more than its longer version.

NISEI- I knew this because I've heard of a Nisei Foods company somewhere down the line.

@ puzzlemensh- RUN TO means total. i.e. "At this rate, the cost of the war will run to trillions of dollars."

My question: how are ARTS wiles?

chefbea1 2:26 PM  

another fun puzzle. Got the/check first then the rest was easy. However I agree Dutch treat means everyone pays for their own meal.

The world wrestling offices are around the corner from where I live. I actually met Vince McMahon once.

Loved trample for example

@puzzlemensch the amount of your bill runs to a certain amount - or totals a certain amount

ArtLvr 2:46 PM  

@ puzzlemensch -- If the bill for two people runs to $40, then each is going to pay $20 when they split the tab. They should split the tip too, whatever it may RUN TO. (Sorry for the infelicity of ending the above with a prepostion.)

@ doc john -- Practicing your ARTS of persuasion or outright seduction is the equivalent of using your wiles on a person -- old-fashioned expressions!

@ mac -- Another odd one I like is "talk to someone like a Dutch uncle." Really antique...


Doug 3:37 PM  

I couldn't get into the theme for some reason and couldn't get the right crosses, so Thursday left me stumped. Ach, och, and aiiya.

Was doing the puzzle while watching Sarah Palin's speech, so this probably affected it. Speaking of pol's, the matchups could be good fodder for the right constructor:


I lived in Bangkok for 4 years, and TUKTUK's were a staple form of transport. I didn't know the term had spread out of Thailand, but the 3-wheeler itself certainly has. In the daytime heat an airconditioned taxi was definitely more comfortable, and shielded the pollution. However, after a night out on the town when the traffic was better, a tear down the street in a tuktuk was a great way to entertain an out-of-town guest. The term simply comes from the sound of the revving engine, which is basically a motorcycle.

chefbea1 4:20 PM  

I just watched Word Play. Had never seen it. Was great!!!! Cant wait to go to the ACPT. Did I see any of you rexites in the movie?? Thought I saw our leader.

mexicangirl 4:34 PM  

I just need to say that That thing Sean Paul does, is not and should not be referred to as reggae (poor Bob Marley would be turning in his grave). Maybe that's why you see and hear (on radio, TV and even music stores) it called "reggaeton",which I suppose is a way to try to "latinize" it somehow. Music evolves in mysterious ways...

Orange 5:07 PM  

Chefbea, did you see my curtsy? It repeats in the video loop on the DVD's main menu screen. Wordplay covered the '05 ACPT, while Rex's first year was '07.

Ellen 5:12 PM  

I'm pretty hard to miss in "Wordplay." :0

Ellen 5:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan 5:27 PM  

Easy puzzle,except I had to google Nixon's law school , and had L.S.U. for A.S.U.(careless error) Liked 19D-Trample for example.

chefbea1 5:38 PM  

@ellen Of course I saw you but I missed orange's curtsy. I'll watch again later

Wade 6:08 PM  

I was that really debonair guy in Swordplay.

Doc John 6:11 PM  

@ artlvr- I had a feeling it was like that. But does ARTS really equal "wiles"?

Can those words be substituted equally in any phrase or sentence? Does ART E. Coyote make any sense? ;)

Bill from NJ 6:17 PM  

You taught me right, Rex - I went with ENYA staight away at 13D.

As is common for me on late week puzzles, I hopscotched around - theme-hunting - until I uncovered it at INFIN/ITIVES. It usually only works on Sundays, but I was able to fill in all the theme information in pretty short order but it didn't make much of a dent in the puzzle.

I thought the relationship between clue and answer was particularly bad for RELEE. 1935 wasn't much help. And DDE, HRE, SRS and INSTIL were pretty weak fill to complement what was a pretty strong theme

fergus 7:06 PM  

The was once a Richard M. Nixon freeway in LA, just a little shoot into Marina del Rey, but that lost its title pretty soon too.

I have no problem with split infinitives. One of the joys of English is that it can be done -- unlike in that language where DIEU is battling the Diable.

Michael 8:02 PM  

I was going to pontificate about split infinitives being ok, but Rex's comment dealt with this controversy.

Neocon seems to me to be a completely standard word by now (barely resisting making a political crack...).

Tuktuk was new to me even though I've seen many of these three-wheeled bikes in Nepal (and other places).

Bill from NJ 10:03 PM  

I think NEOCON works better as a newspaper backformation because it looks so much better in headlines than the longer version NEOCONSERVATIVE

Daryl 10:26 PM  

I think the general consensus seems to be that people don't call it a tuk-tuk in India. "Cockroach" is definitely a term I've heard. Poor fact-checking, perhaps?

fergus 10:36 PM  

The orchestrated USA chant is a THORN in my IDEALS. Sorry, Rex, for the topical political insinuation.

Nevertheless, I loved the ANDALUSIAN inclusion today, delighting in the expanding popularity of tapas bars in parts of the USA.

ArtLvr 10:50 PM  

@ doc john -- Love your question! But there are arts and ARTS... painting a picture literally or tonally or in dance or in social contrivances, or even in politics -- we've seen the old Mencken warning about political rhetoric designed to "keep the people scared with perils and hobgoblins" as recently as tonight (Mencken, 1918).

This is Shakespeare, spoken by Falstaff in Henry IV --

The wiles and guiles that women work,
Dissembled with an outward show,
The tricks and toys that in them lurk,
The cock that treads them shall not know...

There are also Sir Walter Scott's famous lines --

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive..."

So yes, "wiles" can be equated with ARTS in the larger sense of something designed to create a particular effect, whether of simple beauty or getting across a more devious course of action.


Noam D. Elkies 11:01 PM  

Fun puzzle, and near-record time for me because the theme became clear quickly and the only false turn was trying to fit "oracularity" into the 10-letter space for Delphic quality = 20A:PRESCIENCE.

If you don't want to split THECHECK at a word boundary, switch it with DECISION.

As to 48/50A: I think it's even controversial to call a split infinitive "infelicitous"; it's just the way English is naturally written and spoken by almost everybody (with the notable exception of Shakespeare). What's infelicitous is locutions like "consciously to avoid the split infinitive" that arise when the natural "to consciously avoid the split infinitive" runs against the schoolmarmish taboo...


andrea carla michaels 3:35 AM  

AFter midnight here and again I know no one will read this till 5 weeks from now, but there were some omissions that I thought I might chime in about.

I thought for sure someone from Berkeley would write in about the Thai restaurant right on Shattuck Ave near the campus called TUK TUK and has an actual Tuk Tuk inside...just sitting there where, like, four more tables could be!
And one just opened in North Beach...
We were just passing it Tuesday and my cousin said "Tuk Tuk!?" otherwise I'd never have remembered the name tonight, even tho I eat there every month after my (Scrabble) tournament!

Many many months ago, I noticed how many of the candidates had names with the same amount of letters...I tried to sell Will on a puzzle that I wanted to run back to back on a Mon/Tues during the primaries:


and the next day have:


(I can't even remember who the third one was, I don't think it was McCain...FREDTHOMPSON?)

In any case, Will said no, bec he wants things to have a shelf life of 5-6 years (so they can resell them in books...
which I didn't think was fair, bec a) it's a daily newspaper
b) we get no reprint rights, so why should I make a puzzle just for the Times to resell years later?
c) it was a cute idea!)

But I've come around and understand (sort of)...
but it wouldn't work anyway, bec you need that awkward, unused S in JOHNSMCCAIN to make it the right amount of letters, which was also true of my awkward R of HILLARYRCLINTON and even MICHAEL instead of MIKE for HUCKABEE...

I did just clue SARAH in a puzzle I submitted as "John McCain's runningmate Palin" which should still be technically correct years from now, no matter what happens.

(Deleted joke here, as a nod to no jokes bec Rex a)hates them and b)no political commentary not about the puzzle)

More importantly, loved the theme but surprised THECHECK made the final cut...but it was the fifth entry!

Hated INSTIL but often spell UNTILL and UNTIL both ways, so maybe it's related somehow. Or left over from Shakespeare?

FWIW, Max von Sydow is never Max Sydow, but he's Swedish (tho his ancestors are from German royalty).

And no one has mentioned the notorious Claus Von Bulow, the one who (sort of) got away with murdering his wife Sunny. Much was made at the time of his trial of the fact that he bought/adopted the VON to appear as royalty.

acme 3:45 AM  

re: your comment about going dutch and being equated with equality...

It's been my experience that men only evoke the whole equality thing when they are being cheap...

There are certain men that suddenly get all Gloria Steinem when they want to split the check, but not in ANY other areas!
(They tend to be the same ones that still call feminists "those women libbers").

I've been thinking about Marilyn Albright's quote about how it's about agenda not a gender :)

Anonymous 6:08 AM  

Very nice AHA moment when I got the theme. Had COUNT TEN for a while at first.

Whoever said that VAR. means WHATEVER it takes to make the puzzle work really helped me out on INSTIL.

All in all lots of fun.

@acme (my fellow insomniac) Political trivia has a very long shelf life for some. It would seem fair game but those icky middle initials sort of spoil the fun.

Waxy in Montreal 8:37 PM  

Excellent Thursday puzzle. A real toughie until the theme was discerned - then a pleasure to complete/correct (changing KNOCK OUT to DECIS ION, etc.).

On behalf of the syndicate solvers, thanks A.C.M. for all your detailed commentary - even though only enjoyed by a select audience.

Rex Parker 8:43 PM  

What do you mean "select audience?"

More people do the puzzle in syndication than do it on the day of publication. By a pretty big margin.


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