SUNDAY, Jan. 4, 2009 - Daniel A. Finan (Event first won by Marmon Wasp / Asian capital whose trains offer oxygen masks / Afternoon serial informally)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Theme: "When in Rome" — familiar phrases with Roman numerals in place of number words.


Hey, everybody. PuzzleGirl here, filling in for the just-about-done-vacationing Rex Parker. I've been home with the kids for 11 days now and PuzzleHusband has decided to detox from nicotine today. So, basically, I'm hiding out, trying to be as quiet as possible, and hoping I can make it through one more day until Monday when everyone Gets The Hell Out Of The House. In the meantime, let's talk about the puzzle, shall we?

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Many a fish story — THE I (one) THAT GOT AWAY
  • 30A: Stubble — V (five) O' CLOCK SHADOW
  • 47A: Last film directed by Cecil B. DeMille — THE X (ten) COMMANDMENTS
  • 63A: 1976 #1 hit whose title follws the words "There must be ..." — L (fifty) WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER
  • 84A: Gabriel Garcia Márquez best seller — C (one hundred) YEARS OF SOLITUDE
  • 98A: Event first won by a Marmon Wasp — INDIANAPOLIS D (five hundred) (I admit I had no idea what this clue meant. Turns out it's a car.)
  • 111A: Salad bar option — M (thousand) ISLAND DRESSING
I really like this simple, solid theme. Nothing too flashy or out there. Nicely executed with numbers gradually getting bigger from top to bottom and mostly unobjectionable fill. I did some slogging through it, but theme answers were fun to figure out. Overall, an enjoyable solving experience. (I just know I'm going to get an email from Rex: "WTF? Are you kidding me? Solid? Unobjectionable? Did we solve the same puzzle??" Or maybe it will be more like "OMG. I couldn't have said it better myself. I can't believe I have such a brilliant substitute ready to step in at any mo—..." Okay, I'll stop now.)

I'm just going to do a quick run-down because I'm tired and I just want Rex to be back and for all to be right with the world. Know what I mean? Oh, but first I just want to say that I'm Totally Excited about all the new people participating in the comments. You guys rock!

Bullets:
  • 20A: Experiment runner? (lab rat). Don't remember seeing this in the puzzle before. I like it!
  • 44A: Nickelodeon's "Kenan & _____" (Kel). Never heard of them. We've got more of an iCarly, Drake & Josh kinda thing going on at our house.
  • 55A: Film speed no. (ISO). Hey look! "International Standard ISO 5800:1987 from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines both an arithmetic scale and a logarithmic scale for measuring color-negative film speed. Related standards ISO 6:1993 and ISO 2240:2003 define scales for speeds of black-and-white negative film and color reversal— ..." ZZZZzzzzzzzzz.
  • 71A: Auto whose name is derived from a Zoroastrian deity (Mazda). Who knew?
  • 73A: _____ Blake, player of Miss Kitty on "Gunsmoke" (Amanda). I couldn't find a clip of Travis Tritt's "When in Rome," so here's Toby Keith before he got so ... angry. (There just isn't enough country music on this blog!)


  • 83A: Puppeteer Tony (Sarg). He's the guy who developed the character balloons used in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades.
  • 89A: Vintage film channel (TCM). I can Never remember this. I always think it's TMC (The Movie Channel) or AMC (All Movie Channel). But no. It's Turner Classic Movies. I'll never remember that.
  • 90A: Wisconsin city on Lake Michigan (Kenosha). If it's not Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, or La Crosse, I got nothin'.
  • 105A: Charlottetown's home: Abbr. (PEI). That's Prince Edward Island for us non-Canadians.
  • 106A: Clear brandy (eau de vie). That's French for water of life, right SethG?
  • 119A: 1997 horror film with the tagline "If you can't breathe, you can't scream" ("Anaconda"). Okay, that sounds scary.
  • 4D: One of Ty Cobb's record 295 in the A.L. (triple). He holds a few other records too.
  • 35D: "Call Me Irresponsible" lyricist ([Sammy] Cahn). Here's Michael Bublé. (Pretty sure he made up that name.)


  • 36D: Mother of Helios (Thea). Anyone else need to brush up on their mythology before Brooklyn?
  • 41D: Untagged, say (not it). Of course, you can't just say "not it." It's gotta be "NOT IT!" Right?
  • 42D: Word said before someone snaps (smile). Funny story. A few years ago we had a bunch of PuzzleHusband's family to our house for Thanksgiving. We all crowded together to have a family photo taken by my brother-in-law. Of course, he did the usual "Say cheese!" Then he previewed the photo and said he needed to take another one. Everyone got back in place and he goes, "Everyone say 'Gina's pregnant!'" With everyone's reactions to that news, the picture is priceless!
  • 46D: Deadbeat (loser). I think a deadbeat is actually a specific type of loser, but I guess it works.
  • 51D: Manhattan neighborhood (NoHo). Raise your hand if you entered SoHo at first.
  • 57D: Hoi _____ (polloi). Many years ago, my sister and I unknowingly found ourselves on a private beach in Key West. A waiter came around and we struck up a conversation with him. He explained that the fence was there to "keep the riffraff out." I'm all, "Dude. I really hate to tell you this, but we are the riffraff!"
  • 63D: Asian capital whose trains offer oxygen masks (Lhasa). At 12,000 feet, Lhasa is the capital of Tibet.
  • 68D: "It was _____ and stormy night ..." (a dark). I'm sure you all know about the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which celebrates what Wikipedia calls "a certain broad style of writing, characterized by a self-serious attempt at dramatic flair, the imitation of formulaic styles, an extravagantly florid style, redundancies, and run-on sentences." Good stuff!
  • 86D: "The X-Files" grp. (SETI). Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Okay, this looks like it's a real thing. Bizarre.
  • 96D: Afternoon serial, informally (sudser). I found it! The clunker! The big honkin' ugly word in the grid! Here it is! Right here!

100 comments:

chefwen 11:34 PM  

Wow I''m first I think. Thought the puzzle was a fun little exercise. Figured out the theme before even starting and thought to self, UGH don't like Roman Numerals but it was quick and easy. Can download the puzzle around 2 PM on Sundays on this little rock in the Pacific so I knew someday I would be first. Originally from the "frozen tundra" Kenosha was a gimme.
Hope everyone had a great New Years.

Anonymous 11:35 PM  

Good job, PuzzleGirl!

I had two quibbles with this puzzle, even though I enjoyed it. I didn't like the fact that the Roman numerals were not consistently placed in the answers, and I really didn't like the fact that in the crosses they were no longer numbers, but just letters. But, still fun and not difficult.

santafefran 12:03 AM  

Thanks for a great write-up PG.

Wanted chile con CARNE, not QUESO and POSER for LOSER (who knows from KEL OR KEP--both look strange to me). Also wanted COOLIT instead of NOWNOW.

I'm with you PG on those movie channels--wanted it to be TMC.

Enjoyed this puzzle and was able to finish without coming here first which is not always the case--e.g. yesterday!

Noam D. Elkies 12:04 AM  

Thanks for a fun puzzle to start off MMIX! And thanks to to PG for filling in again for Rex (whose airline woes are a lousy way to end/start the year -- sorry to see that). The title led me to expect contrived definitions of pig-Latinized phrases; the actual theme is much better. Working downwards I figured it out from 47A: THE X COMMANDMENTS, verified with 30A: V O'CLOCK SHADOW and 23A: THE I THAT GOT AWAY -- fortunately I didn't notice earlier the possible reading with the digit 1 rather than the Roman numeral, which would have led me astray for a while -- and then was able to guess the 100 and 500 theme entries at 84A and 98A even without reading the clues :-)

Extra credit for including 93D: Rome's APPIAN Way in the puzzle. No extra credit for using the theme X to start the crossing Down entry, because the ungainly gerunding of 48D:XRAYING cancels out the startling start XR. But still much else to like in the puzzle; even 22A:RELET is clued to make it seem like an everyday concept. Quite a few clues in my copy of the grid have smiley faces next to them, namely the clues for 39A:WEASEL, 110A:OWLET, 12D:NOWNOW, 18:NEURO, 64D:WOMAN (though these X's aren't Roman numerals), 77D:IFOLD, and yes 96D:SUDSER though I can't recall seeing or hearing that expression before.

90A & 69D: a tough crossing of two geographic names, including tiny ROLLA, Missouri. I didn't remember the right spelling of 90A and guessed KENOSHE :-(

51D: I already had the initial N from the theme entry, so wasn't tempted into "SOHO", but anyway NOHO is preferred by "restricted choice" since SOHO also has a London clue.

41D:NOTIT looks like something else (cf. 99D:NOWIN, and also 64D and perhaps 45D).

1D/67D/85D vs. 62A: seems that the Jewish clues/entries are ahead this time (-:

Other notes: 1A:whatever; 7A:not XI (or XITH); 15A/15D: silent W before R both ways; 44A:KEL -- no idea either, and I think the NYTimes puzzle did (somewhat shockingly) use "brown-_____" to clue NOSER some years ago, so this could have been changed to KEN [cf. 45D:EATME]; 52A:CIAO -- one of these days this will be clued "originally, ‘slave’", confusing most solvers; 60A: Oh, that kind of A; 71A: Didn't know that either (MAZDA); 83A: SARG -- fortunately I just saw this on a BEQ puzzle (thanks for the pointer, Rex!); 91A: Oh, that kind of "Tour"; 105A:PEI -- Canada, and a change from the usual "I.M. (over) PEI(d)" clue; 106A:EAUDEVIE -- 75% vowels!; 116A:BAHAMIAN -- I thought this should be a "var." of "Bahaman", but I see that only "Bahamian" is correct; 3D:ÜBER -- really? I thought this was "over", not "upper", so I await Ulrich's report; 10D:VET -- not PUG; 13D:TRANCE -- the clue didn't have me thinking in that direction; 103D:QUESO -- raise your hand if you too filled in CARNE without a second thought.

A5e atque 5a50e,
NDE

Crosscan 12:27 AM  

Hey, PG. If one of the regulars can't make the ACPT blogger panel, will you fill in there too?

Michael Buble (real name) is from Burnaby , British Columbia, for you non-Canadians.

Got the theme on the first entry, then it was shooting fish in a barrel. Bring on INDIANAPOLIS 500, I shouted/said/thought.

RENTAL/RELET is an interesting crossing. I'll try to keep this PG, PG, but what about 62A/45D??

I know UBER, not OBER. Don't know KIROV or KEL. Result - 2 boo-boos.

Anonymous 12:33 AM  

Ho hum - ok, I get the concept of moving from I to M, but really that's all to it? Sorry to see us go down this path - I thought Will Shortz had a plethora of quality puzzles coming his way!

I am sure the central theme entry can move some to like the puzzle, especially if you liked S&G.

pgitk

Noam D. Elkies 12:36 AM  

Ah, now I see -- 3D/1A is OBER/BOOTHE, not ÜBER/BOUTHE. So a second boo-boo for me too. I don't know from BOOTHE either, but at least it looks more plausible than BOUTHE.

Thanks,
--NDE

pednsg 1:04 AM  

As a relative newbie to NYT puzzles, my New Year's resolution was to post to this wonderfully helpful, educational, and entertaining blog whenever I had a moment (it's a helluva lot easier than losing the XXX pounds that's also on my list!). Saddened that the Elie Wiesel (97D) Foundation for Humanity lost much of its money to a true weasel (39A), Mr. Madoff. Also sad (and embarrassing) - the fact that 18D was the last to fall today (had "micro" instead), and I practice neurosurgery. Better keep practicing...

Gnarbles 1:27 AM  

I learned where "Pop goes the weasel" comes from this week while listening to a history course on Victorian England (produced by The Teaching Company). Pop is cockney for the pawn shop. The weasel is your Sunday coat. If you ran out of money during the week, you would pop your weasel, and then redeem it back at the end of the week on pay day, in time to wear it to church on Sunday. You then can pop it again on Monday if you spent your money on post church ale.

Cyndee 1:33 AM  

Loved this one. Got through it while watching "Parting Words" on PBS tonight - nice juxtapostion, right? I thought I aced this until I read PG's entries and the comments, particularly for Ober not Uber, since I didn't know the Bouthe/Boothe fellow anyway. Fun!

Rex Parker 1:34 AM  

News to me = SUDSER, ROLLA, EAU DE VIE, YMHA, KIROV DELLE.

And yet this was the easiest Sunday I've done in a long, long time.

I am back home now and ready for hot Monday action.

RP

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

Gnarbles...Thanks, If you only know the version that goes with a Jack in the Box, the lyrics may not make as much sense, but here is the final verse noting that the Eagle is Pub.

Up and down the City Road,
in and out of The Eagle,
that's the way the money goes,
pop goes the weasel

/miguel

santafefran 2:05 AM  

I grew up in a smaller Missouri town called Union about 50 miles NE of Rolla so it was not a new name to me. Nice to have a familiar place name for a change--too many Naticks out there.

Rphan 2:56 AM  

Puzzle girl, YOU rock! You did an amazing
job and I love you and your Puzzle Family!
Happy NY. You too, Rex.

easylob 3:20 AM  

Really fun and easy puzzle. Liked that each numeral was also used as a letter. Knew Powers Boothe from Deadwood, then got the first few downs from that and couldn't wait to see who was clued as 20A. L.A. Brat!

Fun write-up, PG.

jae 4:02 AM  

What PG said! Pretty easy and fun. My missteps were MIATA (before reading the crosses), CRINGED for 15d, and yes CARNE. Interesting to see WEASEL and WIESEL in the same puzzle. Powers BOOTHE was a major player on 24 last season.

My TT and Me 8:26 AM  

Köln (Rheinland city), is spelled with the umlaut o (ö). Without the umlaut, it is spelled Koeln.

evil doug 8:49 AM  

About Ty Cobb:

Don't forget your place: "At Spring Training in 1907, he fought a black groundskeeper over the condition of the Tigers' field in Augusta, Georgia. Ty also ended up choking the man's wife when she intervened."

He knew how to take care of hecklers: "Cobb climbed into the stands and attacked the handicapped Lueker, who due to an industrial accident had lost all of one hand and three fingers on his other hand. When onlookers shouted at Cobb to stop because the man had no hands, Cobb reportedly replied, "I don't care if he has no feet!""

Don't forget your place, part II: "Cobb once slapped a black elevator operator for being "uppity." When a black night watchman intervened, Cobb pulled out a knife and stabbed him. The matter was later settled out of court."

Secret gambling cover-up: "Leonard accused former pitcher and outfielder Smoky Joe Wood and Cobb of betting on a Tiger-Cleveland game played in Detroit on September 25, 1919, in which they allegedly orchestrated a Detroit victory to win the bet. Leonard claimed proof existed in letters written to him by Cobb and Wood. Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis held a secret hearing with Cobb, Speaker, and Wood. A second secret meeting amongst the AL directors led to Cobb and Speaker resigning with no publicity; however, rumors of the scandal led Judge Landis to hold additional hearings. Leonard subsequently refused to appear at the hearings. Cobb and Wood admitted to writing the letters, but they claimed it was a horse racing bet."

Good parenting skills, though: "Cobb subsequently traveled to the Princeton campus and beat his son with a whip to ensure against future academic failure."

Still, he found his way into the Hall of Fame with near unanimity as his colleagues overlooked all these pesky little problems: "His 98.2 percentage stood as the record until Tom Seaver received 98.8% of the vote in 1992 (Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripken have also surpassed Cobb, with 98.79% and 98.53% of the votes, respectively). Those incredible results show that although many people disliked him personally, they respected the way he played and what he accomplished."

And Pete Rose doesn't belong in the Hall?

Hah. Rose in, or Cobb out.

Evil

kevin der 8:50 AM  

i really liked this theme and would have finished in personal record time (23:37) had natick crossings not doomed me. KOLN / ROLLA! and KENOSHA / ROLLA both stung me. i also had UNLESS for OR LESS and had never heard of the two downs there.

aside from those crossings, i really liked this grid. the theme entries are sequentially ordered, which probably made theme entries much harder to select, and yet all the entries are really great. i'd only say that the "50" song was way less common than all the others for me, ie i'd never heard of it.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

You mean to say "dieresis." "Umlaut" refers to the change in sound the vowel takes on when a dieresis (diacritical mark) is placed over it.

JoefromMtVernon 9:03 AM  

Great job, PG!

Real Natick moment was the Rolla/Koln cross (last letter entered for me...I...wrong!) and a weaker moment was the u for uber.

@rex...delle is Italian for "of the"...a lot of Italian spots with a religious name usually have this... much like yesterday's "ste" clue for French places.

Thank goodness the clues were sequential; made the puzzle even easier. Missed my personal best by 15 seconds..

Welcome home, Rex.

Joe

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Alternate Title: Romulus and Rebus

I got the theme while still half asleep (23a and 30a simultaneously)

Finished the puzzle before my coffee.

Still half asleep and trying to hide the fact that I finished the puzzle before the "honey-do" list comes out.


On to the acrostic.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 9:15 AM  

Totally solid, legit Sunday. Theme was nothing we haven't already seen before, but I gotta hand it to Dan: 138 words in a 21x is no mean feat. 140 is hard enough!

Orange 9:53 AM  

PONCA!

That maze on the Flowers for Algernon cover reminds me of the crazy-looking grid in the Sunday-sized Wall Street Journal crossword our Andrea constructed with Patrick Blindauer. (Across Lite file here.) If you're an Andrea fan and missed this one, check it out.

As for today's topic, I really enjoyed this puzzle. The whole thing was smooth sailing.

PuzzleGirl, good luck to your husband!

Orange 9:57 AM  

P.S. Kenan and Kel were on when my sister's kids were of Nickelodeon-addict age—they're in 7th and 9th grade now. One of the two kids (Kenan and Kel, not my niece and nephew) went on to be on SNL. iCarly rocks, of course. Miranda Cosgrove is going to have a much more enduring acting career than Miley Cyrus and the other Disney stars, I'm telling you. The girl has talent and charisma.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

UMR Miners, baby!! As a 1984 graduate of that fine institution, ROLLA was a gimme...

-Paul-

SethG 10:22 AM  

You mock what I don't understand. Speaking of French, my last letter was the LILLE/DELLE croix.

Pop goes the weasel 'cuz the weasel goes pop.

Took me a minute or two to get a foothold, and I was slow to recognize the value progression. Still my fastest Sunday ever.

I mentioned Powers Boothe here a bit ago when I again confused him with Rutger Hauer. For some reason we watched The Emerald Forest a lot growing up.

PG, don't forget Menomonie (do-dooo, da doodoo), WI. Or Menomonee Falls (do-doo doo doo) or Menominee (doo * XVI), also WI. Pop!

Greene 10:26 AM  

This was an engaging, fun puzzle for me. One of the few times I've been able to complete a Sunday without a single error in the grid the first time through. I had just boned up on Roman numerals a few days ago as one of "ten areas of knowledge I need to improve if I'm ever going to become a decent solver." I figured Roman numerals would be an easier place to start than "common french phrases" or "rivers of the world."

Did not know BOOTHE, NATTERS, KOLN, SARG, EAU DE VIE, OBER, THEA, ROLLA, or SUDSER, but everything was easily gettable from crosses. OBER could have gone either way (UBER or OBER), but BOUTHE just looked wrong.

Kenan and Kel was one of those dreadful "teen sitcoms" produced by Nickelodeon back in the late 1990s. My daughter used to watch all of these shows while growing up, so naturally, I've seen many of them too. Of course now she's graduated to the much worse "teen movie," so she'd rather see something along the lines of Superbad or Pineapple Express. Never thought I would be nostalgic for Kenan and Kel or All That (which was a sort of Nickelodeon version of Saturday Night Live). She and her friends totally threw me for a loop last night when they announced they were going to see Frost Nixon. Ah, the evolution of teen taste.

I see Orange has slipped in a Kenan and Kel explanation while I was editing this post, so just ignore the above. Another New Year resolution: get better at HTML.

joho 10:32 AM  

@PuzzleGirl: great writeup! And please wish PuzzleHusband good luck with the nicotine quitting. It's tough, but he'll never feel better about something if he can make it.

@Gnarbles: loved your explanation of "pop goes the weasel." Who knew?

@Orange: thank you for the ACME/Blindauer puzzle ... I did miss it and can't wait to do it!

@Daniel Finan: Thanks to you for a most enjoyable first Sunday puzzle for MMIX!

Ulrich 10:36 AM  

Let me first get this off my chest. As much as I like the appearance of my home town, Köln, in the puzzle, as much do I lament the butchered form in which this happens, (My TT mentioned this already), KOLN--the two dots have a function b/c they indicate a different sound (phoneme). So, the time has come to talk about the convention of omitting diacritical marks in foreign words.

We know already that anos is not Spanish for "years" with the tilde left off--it's a totally different word referring to a body part that some of Rex's readers seem to be particularly fond of. In German, Täler is the plural of Tal (valley). SO, when a constructor needs the letters TALER, she may be tempted to clue it "valleys in the Alps", but that would be really bad b/c Taler denotes in German a coin/currency unit no longer in use ("Dollar" has the same root BTW). So, beware when you want to omit diacritical marks.

In the case of Köln, no ambiguities arise b/c KOLN doesn't mean anything in German, but still, it's UGLY! I want to suggest that German words with umlauts in them be strictly banned from xword puzzles. Similar concerns may exist for other languages, like Spanish, but I let the experts decide that.

Ah, the puzzle: I got the theme right away, which made solving easy; e.g. I filled in "X island dressing" from a few crosses w/o even looking at the clue. A good Sunday and a fine write-up, were it not for KOLN--ach!

dcolumbus 10:47 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle; just the right level of difficulty (some, but not too) for a Sunday. My only glitch was having KANOSHA (which sounded right) crossing SATI (which I had no clue about) instead of KENOSHA/SETI. Does that crossing meet the NATICK principle, or am I just looking for an excuse for a bone headed mistake?

bill from fl 10:51 AM  

@Ulrich--would your rule exclude Motley Crue?

poc 11:04 AM  

@ulrich: I agree that ano for año is ludicrous. (Historically the Spanish ñ is short for nn, as still used in Italian, viz. doña vs. donna.) Anyway, as it could be hard for some online cruciverbalists to type ñ (or ö, or é etc.) perhaps it should be avoided.

One quibble in an otherwise enjoyable puzzle: usually theme keywords apply on both directions. e.g. X means 10 in both the across and down answers, but not here.

Ulrich 11:07 AM  

@bill: Good question, which leads me to modify my rule: if the umlaut is the same also in the crossing answer, it's acceptable b/c you use the real letter in both cases--may as well put in the dots. For example, if Crüe were crossed by für (German "for"), it would be fine by me, even inspired

adam 11:20 AM  

Quick question- are the Sunday puzzles progressively more difficult as you move through the month?

Thanks-

treedweller 11:21 AM  

My last letter was also the "L" at DELLE/LILLE. I almost tried an "S". The DELLE could have been anything afaik. Somewhere, sometime, I must have read something that made LILLE look more right. If both my first two guesses had been wrong, I had no plan 100--I mean C.

Otherwise, this was a cinch. My first theme answer was LWAYSTOLEAVEYOURLOVER and the rest were done in seconds.

JannieB 11:28 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle. Got the theme right away but found it difficult at times - had the "SD" at 98A so it took awhile to figure that out, especially since Marmon Wasp was unknown. Likewise had the "V" at 30A before looking at the across and pondered that for too long.

Glad you made it home safely Rex.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Puzzle Girl: The Indianapolis 500 is not a car, it's a race -- the clue hints at this by using the word "event."

Also, why is there no "the" before it, as with the other answers to the theme clues? It should be there for consistency.

And I agree with the others who noted that the roman numerals should follow the rule in both directions.

Enjoyable puzzle, but quibbles nonetheless.

archaeoprof 11:53 AM  

Powers BOOTHE played Curly Bill in "Tombstone." Very good as the bad guy.

@PuzzleGirl: here's to country music, aka "three chords and the truth."

PuzzleGirl 11:57 AM  

Anon 11:38: It wasn't the answer I had trouble with, it was the clue. Marmon Wasp? Never heard of it. Turns out it's ... a car.

jeff in chicago 12:15 PM  

Rolled through this. I might like my Sundays a tad harder, but I won't complain. Thought I had everything correct but I didn't check my crosses. Had ASA for ISO. Both are "film numbers." A quick look and I would have seen that SMALE and NAHO were wrong. Alas.

This theme had much the same elegance as Thursday's "add-a-Z." Simple, but resulting in satisfying theme fill. Congrats to Mr. Finan. (This appears to be his NYT debut!)

@PuzzleGirl: You weren't aware of SETI? It's been around since the early '60s. Carl Sagan was a big fan, and his book "Contact" is based on it.

@easylob: L.A. Brat! Funny!! (And so many choices...)

Loving all the new people commenting. Keep it up!

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

What is "natick"? I think I get the idea (impossible to solve because both crosses are so obscure) but where does it come from?

chefbea 12:22 PM  

Loved the puzzle and found it very easy. Being from St. louis I knew Rolla and also knew Kenosha. My Natic moment was Kel and Kirov.

I made chili con queso for our get-to-gether on new years day. Was yummy.

Love M- dressing. On a wedge of iceberg lettuce sprinkled with bacon bits.

chefbea 12:24 PM  

@anonymous 12:16 read the natick principle in Rex's side bar

Crosscan 12:24 PM  

@anon 12:16 - check out "The NATICK Principle" link under important posts on the righthand side of the blog.

Noam D. Elkies 12:27 PM  

Ulrich -- would you also accept the forms KOELN, FUER etc., or do these also look ugly to modern German eyes?

Another alternative word boundary: 20A:LABRAT = misbehaving child actor. (Yes, "Algernon, e.g." would have been a good clue too.)

NDE

Betsy 1:05 PM  

I finished this one in record time. Would have been faster, but the K in AUK/KOLN eluded me.

I figured out the theme immediately, and my first thought was, "I bet the commenters on Rex's blog are going to complain about the Roman numerals being letters in the down words". ;)

PlantieBea 1:13 PM  

This puzzle was a breeze; I worked it last night while watching "The Duchess". I got THEITHATGOTAWAY--thought about BOYZIIMEN of last week, and was set for the rest of the puzzle. I didn't know what the Marmon Wasp was, but since the Roman numerals fell in order, the INDIANAPOLISD wasn't hard to get. I stumbled at first with SOHO instead of NOHO, and plugged LISLE for LILLE, and tried TMC instead of TCM, but those were about the only bugs.

fikink 1:17 PM  

Ha! NDE, I was in the middle of emailing Ulrich with that specific question.

Ulrich, come back and tell us all what you think!

Addie Loggins 1:44 PM  

This was my fastest Sunday in a long time, but not flawless: I fell into the trap that Treedweller narrowly missed, and used and S for LISLE/DELSE, which I knew wasn't right, but could help myself.

Like Jae, I started with CRINGED, but managed to correct with the crosses.

I agree that SUDSER was the big clunker. I didn't care much for XRAYING either.

I liked "Too rich for me" as a clue for IFOLD, probably because I have poker on the brain. If the rest of 2009 goes as well as the last two nights at the poker table, I could retire. Alas, it never seems to work out that way.

Addie Loggins (aka puzzlesister)

foodie 1:46 PM  

Nice, easy puzzle, and excellent write up from PG.

One quibble: The title is ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. But the way it appears in the puzzle, the ONE is nowhere to be found. As it stands, it could be read A HUNDRED....

@NDE, I liked your analysis, highlighting certain other features of the puzzle (e.g.inclusion of APPIAN WAY). I feel dense but what does "A5e atque 5a50e" mean?

@Ulrich, I had the same thought as NDE re the addition of the E as a replacement for the umlaut? Is that out?

wld 1:57 PM  

PG - When you began your comment re: 57D with a reference to snooty waiters on a private beach, I was certain you were heading into a tip of the hat to the Lovin' Spoonful's "Jug Band Music" which is where many of us first learned the term "hoi polloi."

Ulrich 1:57 PM  

@NDE et al: I would accept Koeln--in fact, that's how I spelled it on this blog until I discovered, as you did, that the blogger software accepts HTML's numerical code for characters (it won't accepts tables, though--I tried). The problem for puzzles would be, as I see it, that solvers are not used to this sort of thing--I can foresee a loud outcry if it were tried!

BTW the name Köln (Kölle in the local dialect) derives from Latin "Colonia": like many great European cities, Köln started as a Roman colony.

Doug 2:04 PM  

@ulrich: Guess I'll have to start ordering KOELSCH (bier) now? KOELSCH glasses are just great and I didn't know it, but the short, thin glass is called either a Stange, Reagenzglas or Fingerhut in addition to the smaller Stößche. And I thought German verbs were hard?

Our Bavarian friends came over years ago with a crate of Weissebier and then produced their own Weissebier glasses. "You MUST NOT drink this bier in any other type of glass" I was instructed. I still cringe whenever I have to pour an Augustiner into a pint glass.

Great puzzle, and I really liked the theme, and appreciate that he even got the numerals and clues in sequence: I,V,X,L,C,D,M.

Noam D. Elkies 2:07 PM  

@easylob: Sorry I didn't see that you had already remarked on "LA brat".

@foodie: Thanks. To read "A5e atque 5a50e", replace 5 and 50 by the corresponding Roman numerals to get the Latin farewell "Ave atque vale". (Though I should have also written the u in "atque" as 5 because U=V in Latin.)

@Ulrich: remember that umlauted letters also have mnemonic HTML code, e.g. you I got the first letter of ÜBER by typing an ampersand (&) followed by "Uuml;".

NDE

Doug 2:07 PM  

Oh, and hello to fellow Wisconsinites. I live in Vancouver, Canada now, but grew up in Racine, WI which borders KENOSHA to the north. Going to KENOSHA was like going way out of town, like to Chicago or Florida. I am happily drinking coffee out of my Univ. of Wisconsin Badger mug.

Leon 2:11 PM  

GrVIIIt puzzle Mr. Finan.

Thanks PG for explaining PEI.

Bonus Latin in the puzzle: VITAE, AMO, ESSE and APPIAN.

PlantieBea 2:14 PM  

@Doug--Yes, for me, Kenosha was a gimme too. Having grown up on the Door Pennisula, the Brussels Hill was our gateway to the big world and Kenosha, jeepers, was like Mexico...

mac 2:26 PM  

A good, solid Sunday puzzle, fast but for me not perfect: I found my Natick at Kenosha/Rolla, just didn't know either. Also have to admit that the E in SETI was a lucky guess. Fun write-up, PG, maybe you could put up a link for the Simon and Garfunkel song, I think some of the younguns don't know it.

@Gnarbles: loved your explanation about this children's song. I think there are quite a few with hidden meanings, in all different languages.

@Crosscan, that was funny.

@SethG: do you have a private language with PG? @Andrea Carla, you may be right (re yesterday's comment). Also, I thought your "Ueber" popped up! The WSJ puzzle ACM and PB constructed made me think of a Keith Haring painting.

Favorite word: writhed, for no particular reason.

obertb 2:38 PM  

I'm surprised at how relatively difficult I found this puzzle and I'm blaming it directly on the antibiotics I've been taking for the last few weeks for an abscessed tooth. Some advice: don't get an abscess during the holidays; all the endodontists are in Florida playing golf and you'll have to scarf down drugs which will decimate your friendly bacteria right along with the bad bugs. Please, no sympathy; I'm just sayin'.

Puzzle particulars:

Saw the "theme," such as it was, fairly early on, but didn't think it was much of an accomplishment or terribly interesting.

Didn't we just see Tony Sarg (83A) a few days ago--or was that in some other (non-NYT puzzle?)?

Had no idea that MAZDA (71A) was an old Persian diety, but wrote it right in after getting the initial M.

Loved learning what Pop Goes the Weasel (39A) originally meant, but
that makes the clue technically wrong, in that the weasel (coat) didn't make the pop (pawn), the weasel's owner (the pawnee!) did. Oh, well; it was a clever clue anyway. (And I think that the whole diacritical mark controversy is just too much ado about too little. What's next? Complaining that there are no spaces between words in long answers?)

SUDSER (96D)? Do people call soaps sudsers? I guess they do. It's stuff like this that makes the English language so interesting. Take that, French language police!

Tomorrow, 9 a.m., endodontist.

Mike the Wino 2:50 PM  

I really enjoyed this one. I'm not in the habit of timing myself as I'm definitely not a speed solver, but this one went down faster than usual, for sure.

I usually (as in almost always) start in the Pacific NW region, so one of the first answers I got was LABRAT.

(Unfortunately, there's a reason behind that.....we've got one or more in our basement. Are there any Pest Control Professionals out there that would care to email me offline to discuss? If so, please write to me at magnum4c [at] gmail [dot] com.)

Back to the puzzle: did anyone else have IMOUT at 77D for a while like I did? Once most of INDIANAPOLIS came into view, that was rectified, but it had me screwed up for a bit....

Happy New Year everyone!

Mike the Wino 2:53 PM  

Oh, and YMHA at 85D went quickly b/c we recently had YWHA in a puzzle, I think...

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

Today's Washington Post crossword has a clue (5-D) "Research rodent" with the answer LABRAT (lab rat). NYT's 20-A ("Experiment runner?") also is LABRAT. I'm not sure I've ever run into a lab rat in a CWP. What are the chances of running into two on the same day, do you suppose?
Mr.Finan's NYT's clue was far better, but the WaPo's clue (I solved that puzzle first) had softened me up for the more clever "experiment runner?"
A MAZEing coincidence, don't you think?
Polly

Fitzy 3:09 PM  

Cobb was actually "out-tripled" by his fellow Detroit Tiger "Wahoo" Sam Crawford(309... he also had a lifetime avg of .309!)... but he played in the NL for Cinci for some years so the somewhat meaningless AL triple record goes to Cobb (meaningless in that players who stayed in only one league have a much better chance of achieiving the record)... the old Tiger Stadium / Briggs Stadium / Nevin Field had a very deep outfield allowing for many triples at "The Corner"... when I visited Comerica Park a few years back it too had the traditional deep outfield & I got to see a Tiger hit a triple... but I hear they moved the fences in for more home runs... I guess I'm old fashioned in thinking that a triple is as exciting as a HR...maybe even more so... Also, I'm w/ Evil "Rose in & Cobb out"... Cobb was an amazing player, a true great... but as a human being he was a real SOB and out & out racist...

Catherine K 3:10 PM  

Great write-up, PG! PH, good luck with quitting. For me, quitting smoking still stands out as one of the greatest and most hard-won victories of my life.

This was a really fun puzzle. I went "Doh!" at not being able to get LHASA. I had everything but the S (I've never heard of the puppeteer, so that didn't help). Is that where Lhasa Apso dogs come from? Do they wear little tiny oxygen masks?

I had a bit of a complaint on two of the clues: I don't think that NATTERS (41A) is the same as "gabs". I can gab quite good-naturedly for hours, but nattering to me has a negative connotation, like nagging, or complaining under one's breath.

The other one was 13D "A dangerous thing to fall into". I don't think of a TRANCE as being dangerous. One falls into it, sure, but dangerous?

I'd never heard of Kenan and Kel (sounds like I dodged a bullet on that one! My kids are too old, so I was spared), but I do watch SNL, and I enjoy watching Kenan Thompson: "Zut alors!"

Anne 3:31 PM  

I couldn't stick with the puzzle today but kept returning to it. I probably took a couple of hours to finish it and made three one-letter mistakes, Bouthe, Mirov, and Keln. I could have googled them but I am trying to do it alone. At this point I'm not sure which I prefer, being wrong or googling. I did see the Roman numeral theme early on so that helped. And it's always fun to do the puzzle.

alanrichard 3:38 PM  

After a 2 week vacation in the Caribbean its good t have access to the puzzle again.
The theme was
I got Indianapolis D and the rest was just fill ins on the long ones.
The was a movie Cobb, possibly one of the worst movies ever but Robert Wuhl later went on to create & star in Arli$$, which was a great show.

Last year when I want for a 2 week cruise, there were NY Times puzzles supplied on the boat - this year no such luck. However, I brought along Will Shortz' black book of Sudoku. Its not the Times - but it was the only show in town!

kalaala 3:43 PM  

Anyone else get Koeln/Koln based on the Keith Jarrett live album "The Ko[e]ln Concert" (which I love)? Interesting discussion about the implications of omission of diacritical marks. @ulrich, would you please explain how to type the o with two dots if it is not too complicated?
@PG, thanks for the write-up and my best wishes to your husband. For me it has been about 27 years 185 days and I still remember how exceedingly challenging it was to stop.

Anne 3:55 PM  

I read the comments and want to add to what I said before. One of my resolutions was to make comments on this blog; I read a lot of blogs but do not comment. I think that is called lurking. Now that is a word I don't like. And I quit smoking 20 years ago; it was the hardest thing I ever did. So if you are trying to quit, don't stop trying and don't go back if you manage to quit. I went back and forth for three years.

santafefran 4:04 PM  

@Mike the Wino

Yes, I had IMOUT at first as well.

My friends call me the international wino so perhaps it is our wine loving affinity which led to this error?

edith b 4:08 PM  

I find that, very generally speaking, my ability to solve by way of crosses is inferior to my fund of general knowledge. Music trivia, rivers, cities, Broadway - this sort of emperical knowledge I'm good at.

I had little trouble with today's city-driven puzzle but it goes a long way toward explaining why I have so much trouble with the late week puzzles that depend so much on wordplay vs empiricism.

Why I remember obscure cities in
Missouri like Rolla and Kenosha in Wiconsin is beyond me. But I do.

I'm just a trivia buff at heart, I guess. It does explain why my husband gets so upset with me when I shout out the answers when we watch Jeopardy together.

jae 4:10 PM  

@obertb --SARG was in the BEQ puzzle.

@Catherine K -- You're right Agnew's "Nattering nabobs of negativism" doesn't invoke images of gabbing.

Parshutr 4:42 PM  

Great puzzle, if a bit easy for a Sunday...with the MARMON WASP and MAZDA in the same grid. Almost gave up on ACCTNO, though.
@Evil...Cobb is in and Rose is out for at least two good reasons: Cobb's play was far better than Rose, and Cobb owned up to being an SOB, while Rose lied about it, then admitted it. And Rose's transgression -- betting on MLB games -- was a conscious defiance of a very well known rule, done in cold blood, while Cobb's acts were undertaken in anger.
If they had gone to prison together, Rose would have been Cobb's girlfriend.

Parshutr 4:43 PM  

@jae...Agnew's line was scripted for him by Safire.

CerebralPauly 4:48 PM  

@Poc: The character ñ is not equivalent to nn in Italian - the Italians use gn for the same sound, as in signora, equivalent to the Spanish señora. Donna and doña are not equivalent words - donna in Italian literally means woman, whereas doña is a title of respect, the female equivalent of don.

chefwen 5:26 PM  

Yeah, IM OUT also. Other early mistakes were RINSING instead of X-RAYING, ARE TOO instead of DOES SO, and CARNE instead of QUESO. All were easily fixed once I got a little farther into it.

Ulrich 5:55 PM  

@kalaala: I've used up my alloted 3 comments--please send me an e-mail so that I can answer that way (my address is on my profile).

@Canadian Doug: If you put an e-mail address on your profile, I could also answer you that way when I'm 3 and out.

Shamik 6:10 PM  

Back from visiting the snow in Flagstaff for the weekend. This was the fastest (13:23), easiest Sunday puzzle I can ever remember. Was looking for a 45 minute puzzle so I would know when to check the dryer to see if the clothes were done. Thank goodness I was late in solving and could take the time to read the 77 comments! Off to the dryer!

Anonymous 6:11 PM  

I'm a New Yorker, so "NoHo" was a gimme, but the crossing of Koln, Rolla and Kenosha left me with holes in my puzzle.
Loved the weasel -- it made me smile when he popped up, but hated spelling out "Eleventh" (7A; Like Polk, among U. S. presidents)in a puzzle based on Roman numerals!

PG and Rex -- Thanks for all the links, asides and good humor!

Rex Parker 6:20 PM  

KENOSHA leveled my wife today, too, as it crossed SETI and ROLLA, neither of which she knew. Those schwa sounds really, really should be well known answers, and neither is ... the question really is "How Well Known Is KENOSHA?" I knew it (sort of ... I'd heard of it), so I had no trouble here, but I think there's a case to be made for a violation of the Natick Principle here. KOLN seems reasonably well known, but ROLLA??? Many people seem to have had squares wrong (or empty) in KENOSHA.

"KENOSHA" can be the new name of the nowheresville you end up in when you finish the puzzle incorrectly and realize (once you've seen the correct answers) that you never had any hope of arriving at your intended destination.

rp

KingRoper 7:12 PM  

That was either the easiest Sunday puzzle in years or I'm getting smarter.

PhillySolver 7:22 PM  

I Kenosha more than I realized. Thnx

fergus 7:42 PM  

Playground retorts seem to have been on sabbatical until the return today. Might have entered SOYBEAN before COCONUT. Otherwise, a rather pedestrian solve. Nice grid, though.

Could HOSER also have worked for Deadbeat? Crosscan?

Steve in CA 7:44 PM  

Awesome Rex! A new crossword word: Kenosha! I love it! It can be verbed too: "This puzzle kenoshed me on the clue, 'city NNE of Bakersfield'"

HUH? I'm supposed to know this obscure burg?

Anonymous 8:03 PM  

I live in Dallas Texas and for some reason Rolla and Kenosha were the first cities that came to mind when I read the clues.

Can't say I've been to either although my son did briefly consider Univ of Missouri at Rolla - recently renamed something like Missouri Institute of Technology. Opted for Georgia Tech instead.

pj

jae 8:07 PM  

Kenosha -- that would be the BEQ puzzle of Dec. 26 with EADIE/ETSEQ crossing. Absolutely no hope!

3 and out.

joho 8:10 PM  

@Mike the Wino, @santafefran & @chefwen ... I too, was an IMOUT for a while ... we should all get together for a glass of wine!

@ulrich ... I'm going to email you regarding the umlaut!

Crosscan 8:30 PM  

Hoser for deadbeat seems a little off to me. I see HOSER more as a silly [Canadian] beer-drinking oaf who says "eh" a lot.

Mike the Wino 8:39 PM  

@joho, IMIN! I happen to have a few bottles left in my cellar......

foodie 9:17 PM  

Rex, I figure that Kenosha, Natick and such are good for the soul. I seem to live under the weird notion that if I think hard enough, I will figure things out. The puzzle on hard days, or even in particular patches on easy days like today, shows me the real limits of that idea.

So, I really like your suggestion== as in: "I hit a Natick and ended up in Kenosha!"

Chip Hilton 9:26 PM  

Good day for Charlton Heston: ELCID, THEXCOMMANDMENTS, and the NRA. According to some movie critics, he actually ACTED now and then, too (okay, so I wasn't a fan).

mac 11:08 PM  

I'm going to call my Kenosha Waterloo, much easier to remember. That's exactly what it was for me today, between SETI, Kenosha and Rolla.

@fergus: tried the soybean, too.

ArtLvr 5:24 AM  

@ parshuter -- Thanks for noting that Agnew's alliterative put-down was from author Safire! We always knew it wasn't genuine Spiro ("dum spiro, spero", etc.)

∑;)

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

Can someone please explain 64D - one with two x's = woman?

Crosscan 3:21 PM  

A woman has 2 X chromosomes. A man has an X and a Y.

Stan 10:25 PM  

Bringing up the rear, because my mind works s-o s-l-o-w-l-y compared to all yours.

Like others I had IMOUT and CARNE at first.

My favorite progression of silly umlauts is Blue Oyster Cult (umlaut over the O) to Motley Crue (over the o and the u) to Spinal Tap (umlaut over the n).

Good puzzle this week, good PuzzleGirl write-up, and good comments!

nurturing 11:22 PM  

Yay, ballet! Kirov was a slam dunk. Ballet clues come up even more infrequently in crosswords than they do on Jeopardy.
Actually, they come up pretty regularly on Jeopardy, but almost always are the last category chosen.

If it's not the Bolshoi, it'll be the Kirov, which is again called the Maryinsky, by the way, now that the Communists are out of the way. The Kirov produced both Nureyev and Baryshnikov, as well as scads of other world famous ballerinos and ballerinas.

The next best known theater, which I doubt we'll ever see in a puzzle clued as such, is the Maly.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

Darn! I never get to offer a timely comment, as the Vancouver Sun always carries the puzzle a week after you folks have already solved and commented :(
Here's the version I was raised with:
Half a pound of tupenny rice
Half a pound of treacle
That's the way the money goes
Pop goes the weasel!

Weasel is the weekly pay packet and tupenny means 2 pence (pennies). Inflation has ruined the sense of the rhyme, but it can't eradicate the memories of being bounced on my father's knees and being semi-dropped on the word "pop" - gasp!

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

For once, being from Missouri got me something.

Harrison 12:48 PM  

First time commenter!

I live in Vancouver and the Vancouver Sun publishes the New York Times crosswords a week behind. It's like pulling teeth to read this blog in proper chronology rater than jumping into future.

Loved this puzzle. It always amazes me how the difference between a good Saturday times and a bad one is the pop culture knowledge and whether you're fortunate enough to know it. This time around, I was spot on and it made for an easy puzzle.

Major complaint: SETI is an X-Files grp. by association only. As a longtime X-Files fan, I can say with certainty that this "group" has no part in the show itself. X-Files groups are the FBI, the Majestic Consortium, the Lone Gunmen, The Department of Defense, the U.S. Military, Fox, and the Area 51 Research Facility. Anything else is not an "X-Files group."

It was a stupid clue.

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