WEDNESDAY, Sep. 3, 2008 - David J. Kahn (Frozen dessert chain since 1981 / Legree's creator / Cathedral city near Cambridge)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: MICHAEL PHELPS (36A: Subject of this puzzle)

This puzzle is both amazingly constructed and super easy - well, it was certainly easy if you even halfway paid attention to ... no, you didn't even have to pay attention to the Olympics, because every news outlet, soft and hard, was discussing this guy non-stop for a month. But enough about PHELPS. Check out the novel arrangement of the theme answers. MICHAEL PHELPS is the only Across element. His most significant achievement, the EIGHT GOLD MEDALS, neatly intersects his name at the center (the realization of which must have been the initial impetus for this puzzle), but what impressed me the most was the addition of two more theme elements that intersect PHELPS' name, and, especially, the two bonus six-letter theme answers, each of which runs immediately parallel to EIGHTGOLDMEDALS. Really beautiful, and especially impressive given the very short time between Phelps' eighth gold and the publication of this puzzle. I was in Baltimore a few weeks ago and I saw this couple walking around with Michael Phelps shirts on, and noticed vendors selling them (along with Orioles, and (predominantly) Red Sox gear), and I thought "what kind of idiot wears a MICHAEL PHELPS T-shirt? Really?" Had no idea I was in his home town. Never heard him called "The Baltimore BULLET." That's a good name.

The rest of the fill in this puzzle was OK. Nothing special. Didn't have to be.

Theme answers:

  • 36A: Subject of this puzzle (Michael Phelps)
  • 4D: What each of seven 36-Across events at the 2008 Olympics ended in (World Record time)
  • 7D: Singular achievement by 36-Across at the 2008 Olympics (eight gold medals)
  • 10D: One technique used by 36-Across (butterfly stroke)
  • 6D: Brand name associated with 36-Across (Speedo)
  • 46D: The Baltimore _____ (nickname of 36-Across)

My big "WTF?" moment - my only one for this puzzle - was EGER (18A: Hungarian city known for its thermal baths). All the crosses were simple, so I knew it had to be right, but yikes. Also didn't know ELY (42A: Cathedral city near Cambridge), so I pretty much sucked today on the Geography front. The puzzle gets a little crosswordezish in its corners, and especially in the ELOI / ELAL sequence (57A: Beautiful race in an H.G. Wells novel + 59A: Israeli flag carrier), but it's hardly a distraction at all, especially considering how spectacularly the theme was executed.

Anything else? Yes, a bit:

  • 1A: Legree's creator (Stowe) - I blank on this every time, no matter how many times I learn and relearn it. It's like dropping a routine pop fly again and again and again. My mind wants only Dickens, and then I get stuck in some 19c. vortex that for some reason is void of STOWE.
  • 19A: Frozen dessert chain since 1981 (TCBY) - The Country's Best Yogurt. I'm (much) more an ice cream man myself.
  • 28A: Carnival food on sticks (corndogs) - there was a time when I was also a CORNDOG man. Well, boy.
  • 35A: It may be found in a box in the basement (fuse) - love that clue. MOLD would also have been a good answer.
  • 43A: More men do this than women, studies show (snore) - what an odd clue? I don't snore, but I do this loud breathing thing sometimes that apparently can be very distracting. Right, honey?
  • 64A: Word often prefixed with kilo- (byte) - other prefixes are now seen more often, but yes, this is true enough.
  • 65A: Snipers' place (nest) - took a while for this to come to me. Not sure why, but the word NEST is creeping me out this morning. It's making me think of vermin, not birds.
  • 27D: Go for, in price (are) - wow, talk about your slow curves. I couldn't make sense of the clue, let alone solve it. "Go for ... that's OPT, but ... in price ... what?" But the clue (just barely) works. "These GO FOR $5 a pair" / "These ARE $5 a pair"
  • 39D: Chicago carriers (els) - elevated trains, very common stuff. I prefer the golfer clue (Golfer Ernie) to the train clue. Seems less forced, somehow, and less regional. And gets rid of the plural. I can't believe I have an opinion about this. What has my life become?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS 5-weeks-ago folks - please see the VP debate-themed puzzle I've co-constructed. It's timely now, and won't be (so much) 5 weeks from now.

76 comments:

jannieb 8:27 AM  

Unlike yesterday, figuring out the clue gave me lots of traction on this puzzle. It was wonderfully timely and an excellent tribute. I sped through all but the SE corner.

Started to doubt "stroke" because I kept trying to fill 60A with "metoo" (hey, a MIG is also a bygone aircraft, no???). Wanted the Macbeths to be Scot's. Totally blanked on the sleepwear and knew that Dodge didn't make a Saturn. So I spent nearly 3 minutes struggling there. It all came together but I'm sure I was much more than one one-hundreth of a second off the winning time.

Ulrich 8:32 AM  

As an early commenter (we're still on EDT here in CT), I wish I had more to say than agree with Rex on every point he makes about the construction of this puzzle. Yes, the layout of the theme answers is great, and the fill has this solidly professional feel (if we consider xword construction a profession).

Been to the tundra in fall in Greenland--boy, it's beautiful: The same colors we know from fall here in New England, but everything is just a foot high--some of the greatest hikes I've ever done.

imsdave1 8:32 AM  

Super topical puzzle (though it could have been constructed over the last four years, given his performance in Athens). Quibbles with BUTTERFLYSTOKE and STATEDLY (???).

Breaststroke and backstroke, yes. Would one say freestylestroke? Fair as clued, however. It just looks odd to me.

I had seam for SEAT for a minute, which gave me the very interesting word MERMS before getting to TERMS with it. MERMS should be a word - I love the sound of it.

joho 8:48 AM  

I stared at 36A for a bit before beginning ... for some reason I was thinking this was going to be about the Special Olympics. (ACME: the puzzle was psychically sending out the Olympics vibe.) The first long answer I got was 4D which quickly made it clear the subject of the puzzle is MICHAELPHELPS. I second what Rex says about all the other references to him -- fantastic! I think the clue for 17A is new for ACERS: "Providers of excellent service" and 59A "Israeli flag carrier for ELAL ... what with the Olympic theme I was visualizing an Israeli athlete carrying the flag!

Until I came here I never did get 27D ... and even with Rex's explanation find it hard to understand.

Even so, this is a great Wednesday puzzle -- congratulations to David J. Kahn!

sasesqretd 9:04 AM  

Rex is right about the puzzle, but also about not having had to watch the Olympics to get the theme immediately. I may be one of the few people who didn't watch them this year, but there's no way not to know who Phelps is. I knew he is from Baltimore and also that he trains in Ann Arbor, but never heard the Bullet reference till today.

Merms IS a great word! How about Ethel's friends on Broadway using it as a pet name?

Bill from NJ 9:16 AM  

I liked the way the theme information was laid out in this puzzle with everything crossing MICHAELPHELPS which is as it should be and elegant at the same time.

The tradeoffs - particlarly across the Deep South - seemed a little strained. I think we have all seen enough of ELOI especially since it can only be clued one way.

It is just the opposite for 27D. A million ways to clue it and they picked Go for, in price!?.

I do wonder, though, if David Kahn anticipated what was going to happen and started this puzzle before it all transpired.

Just a thought.

HudsonHawk 9:25 AM  

Agree on the construction. Very impressive. I saw the Baltimore clue for 46D first and immediately looked at 36A to see if EDGAR ALLAN POE would fit. It didn't take long to realize he wasn't the theme.

It's funny to me that PHELPS is nicknamed the Baltimore BULLET. The Washington Wizards NBA franchise was originally called the Baltimore Bullets, then the Washington Bullets, but the nickname was deemed politically incorrect. But somehow, the Redskins nickname prevails in the same city. (I'm not terribly concerned with being PC, it's just a tad ironic.) Are you ready for some football???

dk 9:50 AM  

EMBOSSES are not needed, so its a few random comments then over and out.

CORNDOG season here is over as the State Fair ended Monday. Bacon on a stick was the new treat (sic).

I whine in unison with the puzzle ELOI over 27d. I found merms to be a wonderful provision and BUTTERFLYSTROKE was a minor stretch, but it fits.

The rest was like shooting SKEET in a barrel.

PhillySolver 10:10 AM  

Dave,
I had the same misstep and thinking through merms was the only thing that slowed me down. I stayed in a B&B in Ely when working nearby and learned about the Cathedral. It was built on an early church site by a relative of William the Conqueror in his life time. Oliver Cromwell used it as a stable as he hated the Norman architectural influence.
ELOI is better known to me from Mark's Gospel as the Aramaic last words of Jesus on the cross..."My God, my God..."

ArtLvr 10:14 AM  

Very timely and cleverly done! It went easily, but I was glad gods weren't cars this time around... I wanted Scots too.

@ philly -- neat sidelights on ELY!

∑;)

Doug 10:27 AM  

Easiest Wed. in a long time so perhaps the constructor had to sacrifice a bit in order to get the clues to fit. I think I had more trouble with yesterday. And it's nice to have a theme that materializes during the puzzle instead of after! MAN oh MAN oh MAN.

These were the first Olympics I could watch with my older kids and have them be interested. Of course, they all want to BMX now instead of run marathons, but ...

Agree with RP that ELAL has been all over the place recently.

Joon 10:36 AM  

ELOI, ELOI, lema sabachthani! we saw ELOI clued using this reference on a saturday puzzle by karen tracey this summer. this phrase (meaning "my god, my god, why have you abandoned me?") is one of very few aramaic expressions in the new testament. (the N.T. was written in greek, but jesus and his disciples spoke aramaic as their native tongue.) the others that i know of are "abba" ("father") and "talitha koum" ("little girl, get up"--spoken by jesus when he raises a girl from the dead).

switching gears slightly, i wanted to add my voice to the chorus of praise for this puzzle and its brilliant theme. i do think one of the theme clues could have been better--the BUTTERFLYSTROKE is not just one technique used by phelps, but actually his specialty (if the world's greatest all-around swimmer can be considered to have a specialty). two of his three individual single-stroke events were the 100m and 200m fly, and he also swam the fly leg in the relay medley.

Crosscan 10:37 AM  

Why did I think he was the Baltimore Ballet?

Neat puzzle.

Crosscan wandering around in some airport. Where is B18?

Two Ponies 10:43 AM  

On the Menu today - Tacos, Hero, Eel, Corndogs, and TCBY for dessert.
I think TCBY stands for This Can't Be Yogurt.
Statedly??
I always seem to want Alger when I see Simon Legree. Rex, are you thinking of Uriah Heep when you think Dickens?
I was thinking machine gunners are usually in a nest, not snipers.
However, great construction feat.

JC66 10:51 AM  

I thought the construction was great but agree on ARE and STATEDLY.

I also have a small problem with the cluing for 50D. When someone does takeout, don't they take the food home and EAT IN?

archaeoprof 10:57 AM  

Count me in with the MERMs, and with those who appreciate this delightful puzzle. This summer I didn't have much access to tv, but did manage to see one of Michael Phelps' races (with Israeli commentators). Inspiring, the way he pulled away from the field.

jae 11:09 AM  

Nicely done. My only hang up was SEAM/MEANS which was the last thing I corrected. I've seen ARE clued that way before and had the same initial reaction as many of you.

Re: foodie's discussion of memory yesterday: I read the 1a clue as the puzzle came out of the printer and knew that I knew the answer but couldn't remember it. While doing a few other things prior to solving I was all of a sudden thinking Harriet Beecher STOWE.

greene 11:14 AM  

Like others, I fell into the SEAT/SEAM trap and ended up with MERMS for 9D. Stared at it blankly wondering what Provisions has to do with Ethel Merman, and why should there be two of her?

@sasesqretd - to this day, along Broadway, Ethel is referred to as "The Merm" or "La Merm" by fans and detractors alike. Really wanted 9D to be merms.

Great puzzle and so well timed. Does Will ever solicit puzzles on certain themes or is subject soley the province of the freelance, on spec, puzzle constructors out there?

foodie 11:19 AM  

Cool puzzle. Ultra easy for me. Favorite crossing: behemoth and bedlam.

In Arabic behemoth is a regular term meaning an ignorant beast, and funnily enough, is used to indicate a big dumb person.

@Joon, "abba" and "koum" have the same meaning in Arabic as in Aramaic. Makes me want to look into Aramaic and see how it gives rise to both Hebrew and Arabic...

jeff in chicago 11:28 AM  

Count me in as another fan of this puzzle. Though I was worried in the beginning. My first fill was 5D. I've said it before and I will say it again: I hate the spelled out letter answers. I did not get a CEE on my report card, I got a C. Moving on...

After 5D, and having seen that 4D told me the Olympics were involved, I got to 7D, cross-referenced 36A, and immediately filled in MICHAELPHELPS and EIGHTGOLDMEDALS. How clever, I thought, to notice that these would cross in the center.Looked back at 4D and 10D, sussed them right away, and had many, many letters to work off right away.

To get 6D and 46D snugged right up against 7D was impressive, too.

The TACOS and CORNDOGS (and EEL?) have made me hungry, but I think it's a bit early for any of those foods. Maybe for lunch.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

@foodie,

Aramaic is related to both Hebrew and Arabic. Many Arabic-speaking countries were once predominantly Aramaic-speaking: Iraq and Syria for example. Although related, Aramaic did not give rise to either Arabic or Hebrew. Linguists use the term proto-semetic for the theorized ur-language which gave birth to them all.

Profphil

sasesqretd 11:47 AM  

@ greene -- We are on the same page! I spend almost every free minute of my life in the theatre. I grew up thinking The Merm was The Top.

gilly 11:56 AM  

Where's the Sheena Easton video clip?

fikink 12:03 PM  

pretty much of a looper for me today (@joho, andrea - the planets must be aligned)
thanks for the Aramaic insight, Profphil, joon, phillysolver. Recalls my college roommate, now Anglican priest, studying it when we lived in Evanston. I think, too, that is how I knew ELY, but actually ELY always brings to mind the Canadian boundary waters where Mr. Fikink was a camp counselor in his youth.
Whew! I've been all over the world this morning and it isn't even noon here!
(foodie, also loved BEHEMOTH/BEDLAM cross.)

PuzzleGirl 12:23 PM  

I, too, started with SEAM for SEAT. And I had DITTO at first for SO DO I. Beautiful puzzle. An elegant tribute to an outstanding athlete.

Karen 12:47 PM  

I think freestylestroke=crawl.

Kahn would have had to have started this after the swimming events...who would have predicted seven world records?

Any one else feel weird with (tight end)NESS?

Overall a fun puzzle, thank you David.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

@gilly

thanks for the sheena easton clip. BIG fan of hers in my youth - loved the lilt in her voice.

totally off-subject but i am too embarrassed to ask other techies where i work this question, although i am not a PC expert, i work in IT:

clips i play from the blog work fine, but clips from RP site have no sound, can't figure out why.

Puzzle was super easy once the theme was revealed early on - like jeff in chi, filled a lot in early without any crosses.

Minor nit @RP, 4D Theme Answer is 'WORLDRECORDTIME' - obviously just an oversight.

RT

miriam b 12:53 PM  

I associate EGER not with the baths, but with a wonderful lusty red wine, Egri Bikavér (Bull's Blood of Eger). I've enjoyed this wine in the past, but I can't remember the circumstances. I've never been to Hungary, so I must have been served this wine by Hungarian friends.

For the record: Good thing I'm not running for office, as my travel history outside the States is limited to the former USSR, Finland and assorted Caribbean islands. Rex, this is not a political statement.

foodie 12:59 PM  

@Profphil, Thank you! I guess I only need to come to this site to gather all manner of information from language origins to mathematics (not to mention variations on a beet).

Re yesterday's discussion about the name of the phenomenon whereby you work something out in your sleep-- I cannot think of a term either. It must not be too common, but I will ask around and let you know--or it might emerge if I quit trying and sleep on it...

Wade 1:14 PM  

I want to see Michael Phelps fight that really fast Jamaican guy. That would make the Olympics so much more interesting: the winners of the events have to fight each other. Just throw them all out in the middle of the field and the last one standing gets the Kellogg's Frosted Flakes endorsement deal. Let Dick Enberg poeticize himself into a coma.

I was in a foreign country (one of five I've been to) during most of the Olympics--no regular access to TV or internet or news. Yet Michael Phelps permeated my consciousness too. It seems like every time I go away and don't keep up with the news, something big happens, usually a Very Important Death, and I don't find out about it for months. Not sure if that happened this time. But Jerry Reed died yesterday. He was a great guitarist and a very cool dude. During the intro to "Amos Moses" he utters the word "Son!" in the coolest possible way to say that word. "Smokey and the Bandit" is a touchstone of my childhood.

dk 1:20 PM  

Woo Woo! something I know about.

When you’re asleep and dreaming, you may actually be moving information from your short term to your long term memory, thereby delivering the problem solving information that you need to the parts of your brain that will know what to do with it.

The type of brain wave activity during sleep and dreams as evidence that sleep is when we solidify the memories of what we’ve seen and done during the waking day. When these memories are consolidated and organized, we may be able to better access the information they contain that is pertinent to the problem solving task at hand.

Some research suggests that memory consolidation is a primary function of sleep, and dreams may be the vehicle that the brain uses to transfer information from short term to long term memory.

As cited above -- some research.

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040124/fob5.asp

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

@Foodie,

I would call that the "Eureka Phenomenon" ala Archimedes, although he made his discovery while relaxing and soaking in the tub (not while sleeping) and his discovery was linked to water displacement. Nevertheless,the experience of letting go, is often the catalyst to discovering the answer one has been searching for.

Eureka!

profphil

rafaelthatmf 1:27 PM  

When they refer to Lambeau Field as the frozen tundra is that not redundant?

And just to complete the semi footballish rant… I too hate the nickname of NFL team from Washington. All those first nation references bother me but that one particularly because of it’s inference to actually killing native inhabitants while the others annoyingly belittle their sacred icons. Imagine the hysteria if I started a team nicknamed the Popes and had our mascot arrive in full Papal regalia in a pimped out golf cart? Jesus! Oops.

ArtLvr 1:29 PM  

@ dk -- What about bad dreams? Unfinished business too?

p.s. Neat coincidence -- today's Klahn puzzle at CrosSynergy has a theme answer like one of ours by Kahn!

∑;)

Z.J. Mugildny 1:38 PM  

I'm with miriamb on the Eger association. I visited there once with some friends and we went from winery to winery getting whatever we had (empty soda bottles, Nalgene bottles, etc.) filled with wine. It was a great time.

When I filled in WORLDRECORDTIME without really reading the clue I thought the puzzle was going to be about people who set world records at the past Olympics and I was excited about a USAINBOLT entry. Watching him annihilate the competition in the 100 and 200 sprints was the highlight of the Olympics for me. Michael Phelps is pretty cool too though.

mexicangirl 1:41 PM  

It must be a sign that I'm starting to really get the grasp on this puzzle solving, when I trip on the same places must of you, veteran solvers, do: SCOT for ROLE, DITTO for SODOI, etal. Even though I got stuck in a few places, I was happy to have uncovered Michael Phelps right from the start. The swimmer phenomenon doesn't stop with him. Yesterday at the US Open, Jason Lezak was in the audience and when identified, throngs of people were rushing to get his autograph. You have to feel like a giant when you're a WORLD RECORD holder...

dk 1:43 PM  

@artlvr, short term memory is not unlike a puzzle piece looking for a home. Sometimes the pieces fit together resulting in a bad dream (bad experiences and fears coming together) and other times you have unique associations resulting in bad dreams from good situations (memories).

Read up on associative learning and if you need help sleeping chaos theory for more info.

Sorry for the short reply.. off to a budget meeting and a nice nap.

SethG 2:03 PM  

So Saturday afternoon I went over to the Chandler-Pepelnjak place to meet their neighbors. We spent hours (and hours...) learning all the neighborhood gossip and drinking a truly putrid Hungarian liqueur--Unicum's taste is mostly reminiscent of pine sap mixed with roofing tar, with an extended rancid grapefruit finish.

So I'm maybe part Hungarian, but I'm having a hard time believing y'all that I should drink anything at all that's pleasing to the Hungarian palate.

A brief delay at STATEDLY kept me from my fastest Wednesday ever,
sg

PhillySolver 2:32 PM  

Seth,
I did a little business in Budapest and was warned that if the bottle has a cross on it, don't drink it. I tried all three of the then available variations, Unicum, Unicum Next and Millenicum. The name means unique and that seems appropriate. Why the nations likes it is a mystery akin to the existence Marmite and Vegimite. Tokaj is another matter all together. Try it with your next baked desert.

STATEDLY was new to me, but I never had to use the clue.

Ladel 2:40 PM  

@Rex

First you were defending yourself regarding my implication that you didn't know what STP was, and now you are concerned about the cluing for Els. To regain clarity of mind I advise that you avoid, wine, women, and song, mostly song, and for god's sake read some Hemingway.

JC66 2:47 PM  

@RT

Some of Rex's clip's have the volume turned all the way down. Just move the volume control up to your preferred level.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

I think FUST would have worked better than FUSE. Had FUST in there until the end and didn't want to take it out.

chefbea1 3:43 PM  

When I printed the puzzle this morning, after looking to see who the constructor was, the first word i saw was olympics. Then I saw subject of this puzzle. I said to myself "Lets see if Michael Phelps fits". The rest is history except for merms which I had for the longest time. Finally switched from seam to seat.

@two ponies you forgot oat flakes on the menu... all washed down with Hungarian wine Yummm

joho 4:14 PM  

@chefbea1: earlier this morning I posted that I was getting an Olympic vibe from the puzzle: Duh! The word is all over the place. I hadn't read the clues but obviously my eyeballs did that independently from my brain. From now I'll wait to comment until the coffee has kicked in.

Two Ponies 4:19 PM  

@ chefbea1 I knew I forgot something! Maybe dk can help me with my short term memory :)

andrea carla michaels 4:50 PM  

Great puzzle, amazing construction, so timely...
tho as a non-Olympics watcher, I had the Philadelphia BUBLET
(maybe some little water fountain spray?)

My only nitpick is NINE three letter E words, practically could have been made into a word ladder: ESS, EBB, EEE, EEL, ELS, ELY, ERA, EUR, EDT
(Who is he, me?!!!)

(And of course I would have given ELY the Minnesota reference. They used to have a commercial for anti-freeze (STP?) shot in "the coldest city in the US" and I'm pretty sure it was ELY which was right next to my camp Tikvah up near the BWCA)

55D Anything ___ ELSE? reminds me of my favorite joke:

Q: What did the waiter say to the group of Jewish ladies at lunch?

A: Is ANYthing ok?

joho 5:05 PM  

@andrea carla michaels: I'm pretty sure the coldest city in the U.S. is International Falls, Minnesota.

Crosscan 5:12 PM  

Hey Andrea. Just reading a new book on the plane called "Four Letter Words" by Michelle Arnot all about crosswordese and it has a chapter with words starting with e in the form of a word ladder.

Must read for anyone trying to learn
Elia elee and so on. Also interview with puzzle greats.

acme 5:29 PM  

@crosscan
Yeah, I was going to mention that in addition to those 9 three-letter e-words, he had ELAL, ELSE, ELOI, EGER but then I'd have to duck and cover when my next puzzle was published! EGAD!

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

@Raphaelthatmf
"When they refer to Lambeau Field as the frozen tundra is that not redundant?"

It's not redundant, as most of the tundras thaw in the summer. It is, however, inaccurate, as the field is now heated so that it never actually freezes solid.

Doug 5:52 PM  

ELAL is in the NYS today, and is due for grounding any time soon.

mac 6:01 PM  

What a beautifully constructed puzzle! When I saw the name Kahn I expected a beast, but it ended up being very easy because the long, long answers came so quickly. Liked bedlam and behemoth, not so much the very easy 3-letter fill. I think 27D Are is fine, although I started out with ask. I didn't read 43A too carefully, turned it around and thought it should be "bathe".... At 35A I started out with "junk", but I really like fuse.

@jc66: when you order food at a take-out place that has a couple of tables they will ask you: "take out or eat in?".

@ulrich: puzzle construction isn't just a profession, it is an art. That's why the NY Times prints it in that part of the paper!

fergus 6:38 PM  

Ending up in ELY (two long e sounds) became sort of a running joke for a friend I used to work with in London. It was at the end of the line for his commuter train to Bishops Stortford, and after a few jars, he would often fall asleep, only to be awoken by the conductor clearing out the train in ELY. Not so good late in the evening. Anyone know the correct pronunciation for Ely, Nevada? I think the Y takes a long i sound.

dk 7:18 PM  

@andrea, I will leave the name dropping to you, leave the bad jokes to me :)

Three men walked into a bar,

You'd think one of them would have seen it.

@two ponies, I have a sale on short term memory coming up... drat I forgot

Michael 7:38 PM  

I thought this was a remarkably easy puzzle which I did really quickly. However, there was this "merms" answer...

chefbea1 7:39 PM  
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chefbea1 7:39 PM  
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chefbea1 7:42 PM  

@dk good joke!!! but what did they eat or drink???

mac 8:25 PM  

@fergus: When we lived in London the first time, for about three years, we went to Ely several times on weekend trips. It's quite amazing, this huge cathedral in the middle of absolutely nowhere. I happen to like that part of England very much, maybe because it reminds me of Holland, with the bird sanctuaries and the bulb fields East of Norwich and Ipswich.

fergus 9:10 PM  

Mac, that flat part of England is reminiscent of Holland, but I was surprised at how the delta region east of San Francisco (or technically San Pablo or Suisun) Bay gives you even more the feeling of being in the Netherlands. Socially and architecturally, not so much. Maybe it was the lines of trees that seem more like Holland than the English hedgerows?

Wobbith 9:26 PM  

When I type STATEDLY here, it deservedly gets underlined in red.

STATEDLY is indeed a legitimate word according to many on-and off- line dictionaries. But IMO it ought not be a word. Or at least it is not a word I want to see in the puzzle. Uck.

Unlike MERM. Go MERM!

Great puzzle overall, very impressive construction, fun, super-super-super easy because the theme is totally given away by the 4D clue.

Were the bad clues for ARE and NESS attempts to make this puzzle more Wednesdayish?

Felt like a Monday to me - completed without ever actually looking at many of the clues.

@ACM & dk - you both make us laugh out loud - keep it coming & thanks!

Rex Parker 9:46 PM  

Jokes are not welcome, as a. I hate them and b. they have Nothing to do with the puzzle.

All have been deleted, exc. dk's, which was kinda sorta part of a comment about the puzzle.

rp

mac 10:07 PM  

@fergus: you are so right; hedgerows are close to homes in Holland, the country roads are lined by trees, oftentimes poplars, bending with the (Western) wind. They actually plan this as wind breakers.

fergus 10:17 PM  

Yet the settlers there in the Delta of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, with many fine poplars too, were predominantly Portuguese, Italian and Chinese. There's no Little Amersfoort, Rotterdam or Haarlem there. The windmills aren't quite so elegant either.

Wobbith 10:34 PM  

Rex Parker said...

Jokes are not welcome, as a. I hate them and b. they have Nothing to do with the puzzle.

Wow. I guess I don't belong here. Bye.

Rex Parker 10:37 PM  

Well, that's one down.

fergus 11:08 PM  

The First Amendment was on exemplary display with Guiliani's speech ... .

I've come to recognize that Rex's control and limitation of topic, subject and tone is a damned fine way to govern things, but thankfully we're not dealing with our livlihoods in this forum.

miriam b 11:11 PM  

A heads up would have been welcome.

qv 3:01 AM  

Put CARBDOGS for CORNDOGS - knew it was wrong, of course, but it's one of those answers which is actually better than the original answer. Never had a corndog but I bet it's mega-carbs, right? This gave me Behemoth rather than Nehemiah for the Old Testament book - can't think why there isn't a book of Behemoth in the OT but there certainly should've been.

CORNDOG is an OCR - obscure cultural reference. We dedicated ex-US solvers who weren't brought up on a linguistic diet of metaphorical corndogs do occasionally need to develop strategies to deal with OCRs, and sometimes a different and better answer is the only way to go.

On the other hand, as a standard-issue Aussie I am a hardcore swimming fan during the Olympics (ignoring it for the other 207 weeks of the quadrennium, natch) so the long clues floated to the surface straight away and led to a rare total solve without Uncle G.

Anonymous 4:04 AM  

Maybe all those bleed over words from yesterday's puzzle (nanu) and words that come up a little too often (elal) could be called MERMS. What? ESE again? Its a MERM!

Nice puzzle btw.

AndyHat 3:18 PM  

I don't like "ELS" clued via Chicago. The elevated trains in Chicago comprise the 'L', capital L, no E.

Otherwise, a fun puzzle (though I'm obviously behind on doing them this week).

KMB 6:57 PM  

Just curious, who is the person in the Irish jersey in the top photo?

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

I liked this puzzle other than the fact that a theory cannot be directly tested. Theories are derived from multiple well-tested hypotheses that have not been falsified.

Signed,
A bunch of biologists in Iowa who get the puzzle 5 weeks late and love your blog.

Rex Parker 1:29 PM  

As I love biology...

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

5wl...

@KMB

That's Digger PHELPS, ex -Basketball coach at Notre Dame.

- - Robert

Waxy in Montreal 5:45 PM  

The Phelps theme answers were fun and even 5 weeks later still almost contemporary. Unfortunately much of the fill was uninspiring and far off Mr. Kahn's best efforts.

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