THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2008 - Michael Vuolo (Djinn's home in a popular tale / Numismatist's classification / "Numb3rs" airer / Famous septet)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: what an UNDERCOVER AGENT who has been SWORN TO SECRECY might say (answer: "IF I TOLD YOU THEN / I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU")

Write-ups between now and Sunday (when grades have to be in) are going to be minimalist. In, out, done. This is the one time of the year where I really feel like I work for a living. So if I don't cover your favorite answers, just cover 'em yourself.

I don't think an actual UNDERCOVER AGENT would say the line in this puzzle. It's more a parody of what an AGENT might say. Further, the "THEN" is rubbing me the wrong way. I like the terser "IF I TOLD YOU, I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU." That, or the more playful "I COULD TELL YOU, BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU." This one is stuck in some kind of no man's land. And yet when I read it aloud, it sounds alright, so I can't legitimately complain.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Keeper of confidential information (undercover agent)
  • 26A: Like a keeper of confidential information (sworn to secrecy) - the "swearing" part feels off. The phrase feels more appropriate for girls sharing secrets at a slumber party than for honest-to-god UNDERCOVER AGENTs
  • 46A and 60A: What a keeper of confidential information might say ("If I told you then / I'd have to kill you")
SABBATH is a very, very weird word to have in the middle of this particular puzzle. I doubt the bible verse in question at 36A: Subject of Exodus 20:10 says anything about killing people. What does it say? Let's see:

[B]ut the seventh day is the SABBATH of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

Man, not only can't you kill people who know your secrets on the SABBATH (assuming you're in that line of "work"), you can't even farm it out to a family member or employee. That's rough.

Highlight of puzzle - the rotational symmetry of ARCSIN (5D: Inverse trig function) and URSINE (49D: Bearish). Bravo, sir. Actually, ARCSIN / COOL IT (6D: "Enough!") and OFF KEY (48D: Out of tune) / URSINE are great symmetrical pairs. URSINE is dangerously close to URINE for my ... tastes, but that shouldn't count against it. I also enjoyed the dual "septet" clues - 25D: Part of a famous septet (Asia) and 7D: Part of a famous septet (Envy). I was sure one of them was going to be a Dwarf.

BOO (43A: Cause of a scare) goes out to ABLATE (37D: Wear away, as a metallic surface), which was the only answer that gave me any trouble. Screwed me up big time in the SW, as I wrote in ABRADE, and then, off the (wrong) "D," played the lovely (yet once again wrong) FAKE ID instead of DECEIT (52A: Scammer's skill). BOO also to RAYED (67A: Like the sun) and EDUCE (63A: Bring out) for just being ugly.

Wrap-up:

  • 1A: "Numb3rs" airer (CBS) - I love this for two reasons. One, the word "airer," which is heard almost nowhere but in crossword clues. And two, the fact that my good friend loves trashing the math content of "Numb3rs"; he has an entire website dedicated to doing just that.
  • 34A: Fruit used in English jelly (sloe) - crosswordese hiding in a curious answer. See also ASTER (Daisylike flower). Usually ASTER is clued via the fact that it blooms in the fall.
  • 56A: Djinn's home in a popular tale (lamp) - oh man my daughter loves the "Children of the Lamp" series. I bought her the brand new, hardcover book in the series and she read it in two days. Highly recommended if you've got a 8-12 year-old reader in the house.
  • 64A: Buck for a song? (Owens) - Buck OWENS is a singer. Here he is, singing:



  • 1D: Listing in a high-school yearbook (club) - CLUB / BONE / SODA came right away off of CBS
  • 9D: With French, one of two official languages of Chad (Arabic) - I did not know this. I'm not sure I knew Chad was a former French colony, let alone that people spoke ARABIC there. I know that Chad is next to Sudan. That is what I know about Chad.
  • 10D: Porsche alternatives (Jaguars) - insofar as any car is an "alternative" to a Porsche, then sure.
  • 12D: Numismatist's classification (fine) - here's something weird. Had the "E" and hesitated for a split second, trying to decide between FINE and RARE. Went with FINE and then ran right into RAREST (19D: Most prized, often) not five seconds later.
  • 30D: Singer/songwriter Leonard (Cohen) - loooooooooooove him. Here's something:



"Everybody wants a box of chocolates and a long-stemmed rose" ... this song reminds me of an ex-girlfriend who died very young. She loved this song, maybe a little too much.

  • 53D: Icelandic volume (edda) - Is it EDDA? Or SAGA? "You just have to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?"
  • 55D: Home of Private Ryan in "Saving Private Ryan" (Iowa) - just like Radar. Cute.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

79 comments:

MrRavini 3:00 AM  

Odd when you get two of the long phrases first. Had the bottom two after just getting "If". Sworn to Secrecy snuck in easily, too. SW corner was bear for me. Deceit was, well, deceiving just looking at the eit and thinking it was going to be two words. Fast, slow, fast, slow (or make that sloe). Gave me more problems than I care to admit.

Catherine K 3:39 AM  

I also say BOO to FACED (4a - "Bearded"). It's just - eww.

And what is MOLE? A spicy chocolate sauce? All I can think of is this.

ArtLvr 8:30 AM  

I had "Stop it!" at 6D before COOL IT, which led me to "Spy" at 12A early on, thus seeing UNDERCOVER AGENT and the rest of the puzzle before ending back at the top with FACED, IRONY, SLY and ENVY --the non-dwarf.

Also thought of "Nose" instead of BODY for the attribute of a wine... Great theme with added ideas like DECEIT and ABUSES, CLUB and BONE and the BODY, the MOLE and slippery stuff (ELM, EEL)! Even the SABBATH FITS, not OFFKEY, if extended to a Witches' Orgy.... And if PUMA is a shoe, you could throw it at someone.

I really enjoyed all the fictional mayhem! Bah humbug...

∑;)

joho 8:32 AM  

I had stop it for COOL IT too long. I don't think Sneaking translates into SLY very well. And I'm with @Catherine K: FACING is just plain wrong. I did not like this section of the puzzle.

I got the theme very quickly but with the same complaint Rex had about THEN.

@Rex: thanks for the Leonard Cohen clip. I think Rufus Wainwright also sings his "Hallelujah."

I say BOO to this puzzle probably because I loved yesterday's so much.

joho 8:34 AM  

@Artlvr: we were writing the same thing at the same time! I wonder what we should call that?

Cheryl 8:36 AM  

I had fun with this puzzle, although, as with MrRavini, got the phrase first with very little (thank you tapenade) and the bottom half went very quickly.

@Catherine K
Mole is a Mexican sauce that can have many variations but does include chocolate, ground peppers and spices, among other things. Kind of like curry variations in Indian cuisine.
I look forward to hearing what the foodies have to say on the subject.

I liked the double f, double i combo in the extreme NE, and also the 50/51A combo of 'play free'.

One small problem (for me): I don't get how 52D legislature becomes 'DIET'. Help?

Rex Parker 8:39 AM  

Both FACE and BEARD mean "confront" - dictionaries are fun.

rp

Glitch 9:14 AM  

@Cheryl

In some countries the DIET is the lawmaking body.

Take Japan, for example ...

In the Constitution, the Diet is the "highest organ of state power," and the " sole law-making organ of the State." As such, national politics are centered ...

Cheryl 9:22 AM  

@Glitch
Thank you, something new for me. Like Rex says, dictionarys are fun, especially if one looks at all the entries.

JoefromMtVernon 9:23 AM  

Slow moving today. The "SEMI", "MALA" "SHEAF" area did me in. Googled (ON a Thursday?!?!) Exodus (because I wanted Goliath to be there and couldn't get it out of my head. This allowed ablate (word of the day) and body.

Liked the mathematical duo (arcsin and radii).

Would have prefered what I thought the theme was going to be...one member of different septets...

To all who breezed through...congrats...I didn't...

Crosscan 9:24 AM  

We've got IFS and IF... in this one. Against the "rules"?

Speaking of rules, why are crosswords the only puzzle without instructions? Jumble, Sudoku, KenKen, Wonderword...all have instructions on how to complete. Crosswords just appear. How does someone learn how to do them if they've never seen one before? Is it always passed down from a relative?

Clues refer in some way to a word(or sometimes words).
All words are english (except for those that are french, spanish, ...)
Enter one letter per box (except rebuses).
Words start in the numbered square and end at the black square or the grids border (except rarely on Thursday).

Maybe that's why they aren't included; every instruction has exceptions.

Crosscan, SWORN TO SECRECY

easylob 9:41 AM  

@Rex Loved the Leonard Cohen clip. Spent the last half-hour listening to all the versions of "Hallelujah" that are linked to Rufus's. Great, great song.

Glitch 9:50 AM  

@Crosscan

Interesting question about missing instructions.

I was at first mystified by my shampoo, but there,right on the bottle, was: *Apply to wet hair, lather, and rinse well. Repeat if desired*.

Some things your parents never tell you!

While on the subject, I'm also surprised there's not a legal disclaimer on puzzles such as:

WARNING: Sharp, pointed objects may be required, use care. Adult supervison recommended.

;-)

Ulrich 9:57 AM  

I, too, was looking for more parts of famous septets--how about a puzzle that has seven of such clues? And I, too, was held up at the Great Lakes by "stop it" and my ignorance of that meaning of "bearded". One of the online dictionaries helped me straighten this out.

None of this is a complaint--I liked the puzzle, even if the "then" strikes me as awkward (as it did Rex). IF/THEN clauses are inextricably linked in my head with the specification of algorithms--the people I know don't talk like computers.

PhillySolver 10:20 AM  

ArtLvr & joho...I had the same solving experience and posted the story elsewhere last night. Perhaps we have been conditioned to think a certain way and get this result. I like the puzzle and don't recall others by Mr. Vuolo. Here is an interesting interview by him though...the subject was crosswords. Interview

When studying European History you have to confront the DIET of Worms. Lovely stuff.

imsdave 10:21 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Did the ABRADE thing, and the STOP thing, and added my unshared (as yet announced) mistake BIMMERS for JAGUARS. Bummer. Decent time, and wasn't really put off by the THEN. I have a friend who used to be in army intelligence who tells me that everytime I get curious about what he did back in the late seventies.

Favorite Rex comment:

53D: Icelandic volume (edda) - Is it EDDA? Or SAGA? "You just have to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?"

There are at least 40 answers like this.

Have a good day and weekend all. Off to Rexville for the weekend (Christmas #1). Not a lot of free time, but would be happy to supply Rex and Sandy with a cocktail if they have any time Friday or Saturday afternoon.

treedweller 10:33 AM  

For awhile, I had S_nBATH (like artlvr, I tried "nose" for BODY) and I was sure WS was messing with me again, sticking sunbath in there. But no amount of paranoid delusions could convince me anyone was laying out to get a tan in the bible.

I was one of many looking for a dwarf as one of seven.

MOLE seemed wrong at first. I was thinking about the chocolate-based enchiladas, but somehow "sauce" didn't fit. But when I got ready to complain, I was thinking "enchilada . . ." and, sure enough, sauce works.

I also tried In a huff instead of AJIFF, so I had to take out "hummers" before I could finish the NE. I almost took out the two effs, since I was iffy on the double-I of RADII, but luckily I held off and soon realization dawned.

And ENVOI only made me think "diplomat". Never heard of this crazy poetry stanza. So, I got it from crosses without much trouble, but looked at it cockeyed for a few before shrugging and moving on.

My one quibble was "Sophomores, e.g." I know sophomores can be a class, and I know about the sophomore year, but the combination of plural/singular here seems off to me. Again, easily gettable.

I thought I was going to have some complaints, but, in the end, most of them stemmed from my own mistakes. Now it all looks very neat and tidy, and I am all AYES.

des 10:34 AM  

Rex et al - two questions:
1) What about the breakfast table test for 14 Across? I guess if it's English it's alright; especally because of the accent - anything is classier coming from a Brit, even a loo.

2) sir English professor, what does the answer to 18 Down mean?

thanks in advance

Doug 10:37 AM  

Had FURRY for "Bearded" which caused me no end of problems.

Liked this puzzle, as the phrases weren't puns and not obscure. Also the fact that they themselves are enigmas, tucked into a puzzle. Lots of new and unusual words (recall earlier week fill with APERS etc.) as well as some twists on old chestnuts (SLOE.)

Always apprecitate the Canadian content as well (COHEN) and my favorite cover of Hallelujah is still k.d. lang's from a few years back. She did an album of covers from Canadian artists like Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. I don't think she did "Working for the Weekend" by Loverboy, or any Bryan Adams. When Neil Young was supposed to perform at the Canadian version of the Grammys that year, he suffered an aneurism and lang filled in with her cover of "Helpless." It...was...amazing.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Glad we got to see Buck Owens' red-white-and-blue guitar - Wasn't ever a big fan, but can't forget that guitar.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

MOLE sauce? Doesn't MOLE mean, well, sauce? The chocolate flavored sauce is either mole poblano or mole oaxaca.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:43 AM  

I was doing the puzzle pretty much bottom up, so I had 65A Slippery one? (ELM), and when I came to 35A Slippery one (EEL), I did a double-take, thinking I had lost my place.

The reason I was going bottom up was that the last two theme lines are, IMHO, a terribly tired joke. (Cf HudsonHawk re WWW in yesterday's comments.) I'm not opposed to quote answers in general (of which this is a variant), but they should either be very fresh or very funny.

treedweller 10:53 AM  

@Doug
Any Rush on that K.D.Lang album? I'd love to hear a folksy version of "2112".

Vega 11:09 AM  

Here in Seattle, it's my second snow day home from work! Again tomorrow (fingers crossed), and it's a five-day weekend!

Today, my partner MALA appears in the puzzle (though in most Indian languages, it means "garland," so much nicer than "bad"). The other day, my brother SRI, today my partner MALA...just a matter of time before my whole family's in there somewhere.

Had several Rex (and others) moments today: "then" sounded so wrong to me in the phrase. Was also waiting for the seventh dwarf. Was also taken aback by the SABBATH going straight across the middle there.

ENVOI and ARCSIN killed me. And I also had "stop it" for COOL IT for way too long, even though MALA kept insisting it was wrong. And oh I'm so relieved that I'm not the only one that couldn't complete this without help.

kd covering Leonard Cohen and Neil Young sounds fabulous. Gonna have to look that up.

SethG 11:09 AM  

Oh, you poor, poor song--what did that man do to you‽

Leonard Cohen is incredible; Rufus, I'm not convinced.

Yes dwarf, yes FINE/RARE/ST, yes ABLATE, which I knew in terms of tissue, not metallic erosion, yes FAKE ID, yes BOO to RAYED, yes to some other stuff. But A JIFF? And The SHEYK was before my time.

I like OLIVES.

Orange 11:14 AM  

Loverboy was Canadian? That explains a lot. I'm glad they're not America's fault.

Anyone who wants to know the rules for doing crosswords will have to venture beyond the puzzle page. That's right—they're gonna have to buy my book, How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle: Tips, Tricks and Techniques to Master America's Favorite Puzzle. Crosswords are definitely more complicated to explain than sudoku. (Insert smiley emoticon here.) It makes a great holiday gift...check your local bookstore...don't hit me for flogging my own book here.

Orange 11:15 AM  

@SethG: SHEIK, crossing the mysterious ENVOI.

Crosscan 11:20 AM  

@Orange - I provide you with a perfect opportunity to flog your wonderful, inciteful, informative book and you dis Canada in the same post???

Turn around, bright eyes!

Hobbyist 11:42 AM  

In what way is an elm slippery?

jeff in chicago 11:42 AM  

I usually approach Thursdays with trepidation, only filling in what I think I really know in my first pass through the puzzle. Apparently, I "knew" that "Numb3ers" was on ABC. I also "knew" STOPIT." Not much else until I got to Buck OWENS. The IOWA, OFFKEY, URSINE crosses revealed the theme and I was off and running. Really like this puzzle in the end.

Agree with everything already said about septets, Cohen, bearding and moles.

Rex - 20:10 doesn't have anything to say about killing, but you be glad to know that you can get your gun on the following Monday, as Exodus 35:2 tells us "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.

I love a puzzle that gets all Old Testament on us.

Margaret 11:56 AM  

@Doug Thanks for the lead on the k.d. lang album. I just downloaded it from iTunes. Her cover of Hallelujah is fantastic. I've loved that song since I heard it in an episode of West Wing (Mrs. Landingham's funeral, maybe?).

Not much to add to other comments today. The Dakotas gave me the most problem.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

@Orange - is you book insightful or inciteful? If it's the latter, I may actually buy it.

PuzzleGirl 11:59 AM  

Thought about QUIT IT for a while before I got the O and decided it must be STOP IT. The THEN bothered me a little. YEAR at 31D bothered me more, because yearbook was in the clue for 1D. I thought CAMAROS might be alternatives to Porsches, although it didn't seem exactly right.

Fun puzzle, but I demand more from a Thursday!!

Jim in Chicago 12:05 PM  

Bearded/Faced gave me no problem, I know the phrase "bearded the lion in his den" from somewhere in my hazy part.

I started out very badly when I wrote in HASTE for In__ and AJIFF was the last thing I finally got.

I also fell into the STOPIT trap, and had HEAD instead of BEAN for "noodle", even thinking that it should really be a slang term - which, of course, it was!

My only quibble is that I don't think of an undercover agent as someone who knows or keeps confidential information s/he is just undercover.

Otherwise I found this to be a good solid Thursday puzzle.

steve l 12:22 PM  

Various observations--
SABBATH--Could have been clued as one of a septet as well.
@Doug--I'm amazed how Canadians are always so attuned to who's Canadian (vis-a-vis who's American.) Maybe it's because your government requires radio to provide a certain percent of Canadian content (that's why I have these French pop channels on my Sirius radio, even in NY). As far as I'm concerned, I know Shania's Canadian, and so is Celine, and I guess I remember Neil Young and someone or other that once was on Saturday Night Live. But beyond that, if they speak English, what does it matter? There's no special accent to speak of, unless you're saying "a-boot" or something similar.
@Rex--Buck Owens WAS a singer, not IS. He passed away in 2006, but his "Daddy Looked a Lot Like Santa" is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and now Brad Paisley has a good new version of it out.
I guess a "djinn" is what the rest of us call a "genie."
I didn't know that "beard" as a verb can mean "to face." But it's OK, you can learn stuff from crosswords, and that's why I like them. I often hear people say that they didn't know that a word could mean this or that, and today, it's my turn. But I've lived 52 years without ever hearing "beard" as a verb meaning "to face." Maybe it's regional.
I agree that "THEN" in 46A doesn't belong there. That's not the expression.
Sophomores = YEAR seems off to me, too. Sophomore is a year, sophomores are a class.

mac 1:12 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, it had lots of aha-moments, and just a few frowns. To beard is a new term to me, as well, (I started out with the crosswordese awned), as is ablate in this (metal) connection.
Add me to the dwarf, abrade, fake ID, stop it and nose list.
There were plenty of great clues and answers, though. The "then" is superfluous, I think. Like the two sets of ff, and the II and III.

I always loved Leonard Cohen, and my father had the lyrics of ALL his music printed out!

@PG: Camaros as Porsche alternatives? LOL! Jaguars and Porsches have something more in common: they are both made by German automakers.

Mole: I've made mole poblano, and there is real chocolate in it. My problem with it was that there are ground almonds in the sauce to thicken it, and I never could get it smooth enough.... Yes, I used to prepare EVERYTHING from scratch. Then I started doing crossword puzzles.....

joho 1:15 PM  

The last time I bearded my demons I didn't recognize them.

treedweller 1:22 PM  

@hobbyist
"slipery elm" is the common name for a few trees, most commonly U. rubra, also called red elm.

chefbea 1:27 PM  

@Rex thanks for the Buck owens clip!!

@Crosscan as for learning crosswords.. I learned from my mother and then in turn taught my children. Its like handing down recipes from generation to generation

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/livingandhealth/ci_11250770

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

"If I told you, then I'd have to kill you" is a perfect example of an "if...then" sentence, with the proper verb tenses (i.e., past tense and conditional). Nothing to criticize there!

SCOTUS Addict 1:28 PM  

Add me to the list of Leonard Cohen fans. My favorite song is "Seems so Long Ago, Nancy." The music and the lyrics are haunting.

imsdave 1:36 PM  

@Mac - you know I hate to disagree with you, but...

Jaguar was a British company for many years, before being bought by Ford. They have since been acquired by Tata Motors, an Indian company.

To the best of my knowledge (limited as it is), never a German firm.

Bentley is now owned by Volkswagen, and Rolls-Royce by BMW though.

Will 1:36 PM  

I liked my (wrong) answer for 64A. As I couldn't decide between whether 49D URSI_E had an N or D (The D coming to mind from Ursidae), my answer for "Buck for a song?" became OWEDS and I kind of liked it.

SCOTUS Addict 1:42 PM  

With any luck, the lyrics to my Cohen song will appear here

dk 1:54 PM  

Well I had dance instead of OWENS as buck and wing is a verrry old term for song and dance men.

Envy was my last fill. I think I will watch Seven over the xmas holidays to brush up on the deadly ones.

Slipery elm is also something you can suck on for a sore throat.

Great puzzle, thank you Mr. V.

rafaelthatmf 2:44 PM  

I liked it. I didn't love it. Undercover agents seem like they gather confidential information (from confidential informants no less) and then don't keep it confidential but pass it along to an arresting agent. I know I know I know!!! Just saying...
Over all a fun solve maybe a little too much prefill once you figure out the theme.
Buck Owens put the Bakersfield Sound on the map. Saddly we would come to learn as drove through Bakersfield last year it has nothing of real interest in the way of music history. Looks like a ghost town from the rust belt. We just cut the trip short and headed right off to Paso Robles a day early and sampled their squeezins'. Talk about body!

meotch 3:10 PM  

For a second I thought it would be "IF I TOLD YOU THAT / I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU".

Anybody else? I like it better than THEN.

meotch 3:21 PM  

Speaking of beards and Leonard Cohen, there is a 30-member, all-male chorus here in San Francisco which performs only Leonard Cohen songs. They're called Conspiracy of Beards. (Leonard is aware of them and he approves.)

Check them out at http://www.conspiracyofbeards.com/.

Doug 4:31 PM  

@steve l: "Canadians" a favorite old chestnut.

I don't think it's unusual for anyone to align themselves with something they're proud of. It's no different from others anywhere in the world who align themselves with a high school, a state, a company, a religion, a family, a favorite beer, a band, a sports team, etc. etc. In our case, it's a country and I'm proud to be associated with some great people and things.

Americans generally don't have to highlight their American identity because most Americans don't come into contact with large groups of non-Americans. If you're reading this blog and you're American you wouldn't need to say "CBS, what a great American TV station" or "Buck OWENS, a great American entertainer."

But if you were living in China, contributing to a Chinese crossword blog in which IOWA appeared, you would probably write something like "IOWA is a great place in America." You assume few know what or where IOWA is and if you are an Iowan you would want to align yourself with that great place.

So, what you're picking up on is a normal way for individuals to carve out some distinct space for themselves in a foreign place. And I think it's also true that most Canadians celebs are assumed to be American so we like to highlight that for your benefit... :)

If you're interested: Pamela Anderson, Raymond Burr, Paul Anka, Kim Conrad (Hefner), Kim Cattrall, Hayden Christensen (Darth), Tommy Chong, Yvonne DeCarlo (Munsters), James "Scotty" Doohan, Linda Evangelista, Brendan (Mummy) Fraser, Samuel Goldwyn (MGM), Jack Warner (Bros.), Phil Hartmann, Bret "Hitman" Hart, Peter Jennings, Jack Kerouac, Eric MacCormack, Howie Mandel, Lorne Michaels, Leslie Nielsen, Carrie-Anne Moss (Matrix), James Naismith (invented basketball), Mary Pickford, Christopher Plummer, Matthew Perry, Ivan Reitman, Keanu Reeves, Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogan (Superbad), William Shatner, Donald/Kiefer Sutherland, Paul Shaffer, Alex Trebek, Shannon Tweed, Jennifer and Meg Tilly, and ... Fay Wray!

Doc John 4:37 PM  

Thanks to an earlier poster for clearing up DIET. That's a new one for me. Let's use it in a sentence, shall we?: "Mrs. Jones, you should try adding a little more fiber to your legislature."

And speaking of OFF KEY (hopefully we won't be), for all you San Diegans, just a reminder that my band's concert is Saturday night 7PM at the Recital Hall in Balboa Park. (Hey, if Orange can plug her book...) Look for the bald trombone player.

Bob Kerfuffle 4:38 PM  

@steve i said et al:

The way I heard it is, "There's not much difference between Americans and Canadians. The best way to find out which is which is to say, "There's not much difference between Americans and Canadians.'"

ArtLvr 4:42 PM  

p.s. Neat tie-in to the theme -- With a second power outage all day till now, I'm reading another Watergate book: "Silent Coup: The Removal of a President". Great new info there, starting with UNDERCOVER military spying on Nixon and Kissinger because they were running military actions without telling the Joint Chiefs or anybody else! Talk about MOLES, wow, never mind the nutty Plumbers...

∑;(

Doris 4:45 PM  

Re 25A: Didn't anyone notice that O TERRA, ADDIO is a duet, not an aria? It actually becomes a trio at the very end of AIDA. This is not the first opera mistake that they've made in the puzzle over the years. I knew enough to put in ARIA, even though it's wrong, wrong, wrong!

Teri 4:53 PM  

Teri

I'm math jock and I had plenty of experience with trig functions but I've never seen ARCSIN. ARCSINE yes. Perhaps with a"?" or a"var."
but not the way it was clued.

JannieB 4:59 PM  

All this talk about Americans and Canadians reminds me of a very old trivia show on HBO - one of the categories was "Dead or Canadian".

@DocJohn - would that more legislatures had fiber of the "moral" kind.

Michael Chibnik 5:57 PM  

@anonymous 10:43 I've spent a lot of time in Oaxaca and never heard the term mole Oaxaca. I see, however, that it shows up on the web. Mole negro is the usual term for what I think you are talking about.

There are numerous different types of mole, not all of which have chocolate.

Michael Chibnik 6:01 PM  

Mole amarillo, for example, does not have chocolate.

mac 6:33 PM  

@Doug: How about Ann Murray? Used to love her voice, and one or two of her songs.

@imsdave: you are right, I was thinking of Rolls-Royce. I'll be staying at, I think, 5 Tata hotels over the next 3 weeks. They are taking over a lot of businesses, including steel plants in England and Holland. A Tata representative explained that they had been warned about possible attacks on the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, and they reinforced the security at the main entrance, but not the back one.....

SCOTIS addict: haunting is the word.

I think this puzzle was another one where interesting fill and good clueing were more important, and enjoyable, than the competent theme.

Doc John 6:36 PM  

@ JannieB- certainly can't disagree with that!

@ Teri- when I was doing trig all those years ago we always used ARCSIN.

joho 6:45 PM  

Speaking of haunting, I just listened to Jeff Buckley's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." I don't think anyone else even comes close.

treedweller 7:02 PM  

@Teri
arcsin is the abbrev. for arcsine. When there is an abbrev. in the clue (like "trig" for trigonometry), expect the answer to be abbreviated also. Someone just noted here a day or two ago an example of this not happening--I think it was either a military rank being abbreviated in that case, or maybe it was Sen. for senator. Anyway, it's not set in stone, but it's good to be watching for it.

And I just realized I'm typing my fourth post today. Sorry, Rex, but I'm submitting anyway. I went to all the trouble to type it in, after all.

foodie 7:38 PM  

One of the most influential, now deceased, Canadians in my world is the great psychologist Donald Hebb, the father of neural networks. His ideas about brain mechanisms of learning and memory were hard to prove during his time but modern tools show how right he was. I vaguely remember him saying something about being a Canadian and a neighbour of the USA is like sleeping next to an elephant... I cannot find the exact quote. Having had a number of Canadian scientists as part of my lab, I can say that there are noticeable cultural differences from US Americans. Not as marked as say if you're Somalian, but clearly there. And one thing I love about recruiting them--they think the weather in Michigan is balmy : )

Oh, the puzzle: Not COOL IT or STOP IT, but DROP IT! And cone carriers: EYE (you know, rods and cones...), so the Great LAKES were a hopeless mess... Otherwise, easy and fun.

thebubbreport 7:54 PM  

Rex, you are clearly not a car guy! Bite your tongue saying any old car is an alternative to a Porsche. Although, under the Tom Cruise rule, you are correct in your assumption, as he stated in Risky Business:

"Porsche. There is no alternative."

Of course, he's a couch-leaping Scientologist whom I would love to see come down with a wicked case of postpartum depression.

Good luck with all of your grading, and Happy Holidays to everyone!


becky

green mantis 7:58 PM  

My Andrea for the day is that I was once Leonard Cohen's massage therapist. He was enjoying an extended stay at the Zen center next door to the hot springs bath house where I worked in the mountains of New Mexico.


Seems like I've already told this story.

Vega 8:01 PM  

@Doug, I really enjoyed reading your description of why Canadians point out Canadians.

fergus 8:03 PM  

Aside from a couple of groaners, I really enjoyed this puzzle. Maybe I just like to PLAY on DECEIT to EDUCE the letter that TAMES it all?

Crosscan 8:10 PM  

@foodie - the quote is from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1969:

Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.

jae 8:18 PM  

ABRADED my metal and looked for a dwarf. Also, YOKES for harnesses. Other than that smooth and relatively painless. Nice puzzle. Off to google ENVOI.

fergus 8:26 PM  

Cyrano said in his famous Ballade de Duel, "a la fin de l'ENVOI je touche." So when he's done with the swordplay and poetry, he thrusts the lethal blow.

PlantieBea 8:46 PM  

I crashed and burned in the upper quarter of this puzzle. ARCSIN was the easiest answer, but I was stuck with In a Snap, instead of AJIFF, didn't know that bearded was FACED, and on and on.

But, I did appreciate the COHEN. My favorite is "If It Be Thy Will". Also liked slippery elm--a northern elm with bark that has a salicylic acid compound which acts as an analgesic.

mac 9:08 PM  

@green mantis: no, you didn't tell us before; I would have remembered.
Talking about "andrea's", I'm watching Jeremy Brett in Sherlock Holmes on CPTV, and we met him, through Lynn Redgrave, with whom we had dinner twice and who invited us to a play with him in NY. He was charming, but unfortunately he died not long afterward :-( (never did one of those!).

Glitch 9:20 PM  

@treedweler

Agree arcsin = abbr for arcsine.

Similar to Jul for July, or Jun for June ---

Man, you gotta be in a real hurry given the amount of time the abbr saves ;-)

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Jason Bay - new Red Sox great and former Pittsburgh Pirate favorite - Canadian.
- Tom in Pittsburgh

pix 4:50 PM  

the DIET of Worms was a council held at a place called Worms in 1521 which declared Martin Luther a heretic.

boardbtr 1:50 PM  

Five weeks must be enough time to a tense shift. I had a hard time letting go of "If I tell you...". That cause a lot of pain in that area of the puzzle. Sorry to say, but I never heard of Leonard Cohen. Of course there are many other things I have never heard of either, but I enjoyed the puzzle.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Having an English background, I have never heard of sloes being put in anything but gin; on the other hand, I would always choose gin over jelly!
There have been so many great covers of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, but k.d.lang, singing it live at the Juno's a couple of years ago when Mr.Cohen was being honoured, is wonderful. (It is available on a compilation cd from that evening.) I do hope that someone else heard that. (Even more, I hope that they were as moved as I was!)
Did I miss the explanation for envoi (18d)? Just don't get it.
Penj.

penny 5:57 PM  

I'd like to add that I am thrilled to find so many of you enjoy Leonard Cohen. OK, I know I am off-topic, but his poetry is well worth reading for those who are not familiar with it. "Stranger Music" is a great bedside companion to dip into at random; hope it brings pleasure to others.
Penj.

Sharon 6:28 PM  

I didn't see the theme related answers that an earlier poster did, but thought of "Chum" as theme related since chums are often keepers of secrets (tho sometimes not).
Agree 100% sophomores should have been singular.
@PhillySolver Thanx much for posting the radio transcript. (Interview)
The famous septet wee some of the fun answers for me bacuse I did at first want them to be dwarfs, sO "Aha" with a chuckle as I got what they were.

Waxy in Montreal 11:43 PM  

@anonymous 5:34 pm

If you're still tuned in, the following is from wikipedia -
"In poetry, an envoi is a short stanza at the end of a poem used either to address an imagined or actual person or to comment on the preceding body of the poem."

Never heard of it either.

More Canucks - Jim Carrey & Mike Myers.

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