THURSDAY, Jan. 15, 2009 - P. Blindauer (Longtime breath freshener / Paul Anka hit that made it to #19 / Irish interjection / Paradoxical fellow)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: BREAK IN (38A: Burglary ... or a hint to 17/18-, 26/29-, 47/51- and 62/63-Across) - theme answers are all 14 letters long and broken in half (by a black square) between the "I" and the "N"

Word of the day: SEN-SEN - Sen-Sen is a type of breath freshener originally marketed as a "breath perfume" in the late nineteenth century by the T. B. Dunn Company, currently produced by F&F Foods. Sen Sen bears a strong resemblance to Nigroids, a liquorice sweet made by Ernest Jackson & Company Ltd. [wikipedia]

Writing this one up quickly tonight, as I don't have much to say about it. Love the idea and execution of the theme, not so wild about the rest of the fill. The grid (perhaps by necessity) is this odd snaky shape that creates a lot of 3- and 4-letter words - not the optimal conditions for interesting, let alone exciting fill. To PB2's credit, there's not much real junk - only one weak partial, for instance, at ASET (12D: Play _____ (do some tennis)). SENSEN feels like something a puzzle forces you into - like there's a pay-to-play transaction going on, where the word donates huge amounts of very useful letters to your puzzle-writing campaign, and in exchange you let him hang around and smoke your cigars and generally be an incompetent nuisance. Then again, I didn't know SENSEN (8D: Longtime breath freshener), so maybe in time I will see that he is very worthy, and, in fact, a very nice guy. Still, as I was saying, SENSEN's about as ughy as full-word fill gets here, so that's good. But what is with the abbreviations? I count six, and that's not including R.I.P. and AKA (which are used so often that they have full-word status in my mind): SSGT, ETAS, MKTS, NSA, SPR, and YEO. I'm not sure what the average is, or what the ideal is, but six seems high. Maybe the theme was more restrictive than I can tell. That's possible.

Then there's the names. I like names. I'm a name-liker. They can make puzzles fun. AIELLO is kind of entertaining (49D: Danny of "Ruby"), what with all those vowels (AIELLO played Sal in "Do The Right Thing" and SAL'S shows up in puzzles from time to time, FYI). But here there's a torrent of names, and not enough of them good. A good chunk of them come from the world of TV and movies - AIELLO, GRETA, MAYER (26D: Early film executive), INGA. Then there's the know- it- only- from- crosswords AKELA, the disappointingly immortal EDEL (25A: Pulitzer-winning biographer Leon), and the ultra-common OTT, SAKI, and NAOMI (28D: She renamed herself Mara, in Scripture). TAZ (35D: Looney Tunes nickname) and ZENO (45A: Paradoxical fellow) get passes, as they have fancy Zs and are cutely holding hands. What does all this mean? Not a lot. I guess I'm saying I wish the fill were as inspired as the theme concept. If it were, perhaps I wouldn't be spending the write-up counting abbreviations and names. Or counting all the "IN"s that aren't broken - RUIN, INSIST, INGA, SINE, and the first RAIN.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: With 18-Across, "J'ai Deux Amours" singer (Josephi / ne Baker)
  • 26A: With 29-Across, tangerine (Mandari / n orange)
  • 47A: With 51-Across, wet-day wish ("Rain, rai / n, go away!") - have to say, wasn't real sure what a "wet-day" was at first ... Also, my first thought at 51A, before I'd looked at the clue, was "Who is this Vietnamese guy I've never heard of?"
  • 62A: With 63-Across, temporary setback (stumbli / ng block)


The clues in this puzzle are, for the most part, remarkably straightforward - not as tricksy as I expect from a late-week puzzle. I did get burned, temporarily, by 20A: Extended vacationers may take them, because I couldn't figure out how "take" was being used, and could not see what word letter could possibly go in the empty space in -UBLETS. NUBLETS? TUBLETS? I think I had to run through the alphabet, or start doing so, anyway, before SUBLETS came to me. Further, I couldn't figure out, even after I got the answer, if the vacationers sublet a home at their vacation destination, or sublet their own home to other people while they were away. I'm guessing the former. Beyond that clue, nothing really caused confusion. Oh, I think I might have had EAT at first for 11A: One way to get something down (pat). 36A: Rice pad for DORM is cute, but I saw right through it - probably because of the [Duke's quarters?] clue last week.

Bullets:

  • 15A: Paul Anka hit that made it to #19 ("Eso Beso") - a crossword standard, usually seen in partial form (i.e. either "ESO" or "BESO")


  • 1A: Irish interjection (Begorra!) - it's quite multicultural up there in the NW, with the Irish and the Mexicans (1D: Mexican peninsula -> BAJA) and the ARABIAN horse (14A: The Black Stallion, e.g.)
  • 42A: Viral inflammation, informally (hep) - it's a close call, but I'd rather be reminded of a HEP cat than be reminded of hepatitis. As far as I can tell, this is the first time HEP has received a disease-related clue.
  • 66A: Baby shower attendees, often (gal pals) - I have a love / hate relationship with this phrase. I admire its sassiness, as a phrase (that is, as a linguistic entity), but something about the phrase reminds me of a TV show that I'm sure many of you love, but ... every time I catch even a glimpse of it, it makes me want to gouge out every sensory organ I've got. Every single one.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

88 comments:

abergman 2:10 AM  

As I said over at Orange's place, INGA/SAKI and SENSEN/EDEL got me. Guess I need to be more literary.

chefwen 3:36 AM  

Guess I'm older than I feel I am,
Sensen came quite naturally to me; my brother popped them like candy because he smoked like a chimney
Thought the puzzle was pretty easy and fun for a Thursday but not the mind bender that I love on this particular day. Got the theme right away and breezed right through it. I like a little more challenge in a Thursday as Fri and Sat just send me sideways.

jae 4:50 AM  

I liked this one. Agreed it was a bit easy for a Thurs. but enjoyed the theme. I've been through the URIS vs. EDEL before so, after the initial URIS, the change to EDEL came more easily. ICEE gave me some pause but a post solve google confirmed it is a real thing. I also thought there were a lot of names, e.g. if you didn't know INGA and SAKI you might have some problems with this.

Daryl 4:59 AM  

Unlike other commenters, I hated this one, too much blah - SENSEN/EDEL was a bad cross, I thought, and in general too many names. I would have preferred clueing INGA with reference to "Young Frankenstein" rather than "Benson"...

I did like SAKI stories when I was back in high school, though, and ZENO was well-clued.

andrea carla michaels 5:10 AM  

Ya gotta love the parallel ESOBESO and GALPALS.

(Love that Anka album cover, Rex. Where did you find it? Do you think they sort of made him look Asian for that version? Can they do that?)

PSEUDO is PSo PSohisticated, I couldn't get it...that whole part was a bitch for me bec I didn't know SPR (still don't...Someone? Anyone? Bueller?)

nor had I heard of SENSEN (It's amazing how close it is to various misspellings of Dentyne...

nor EDEL, which is appropriate bec I think it means "ass" in German (Someone? Anyone? Ulrich?)

In desperation I tried to figure out how TAblets would work for extended vacationers... (did they call in sick?)

@62A & 63A Off the UM I pencilled in ABUMPINTHEROAD as it fit...but the IN wasn't split, so I knew something was wrong.

Is it a coincidence Bazooka is both a GUM and a type of GUN? Or is that how it got its name?
(insert Woody Allen clip here from "Take the Money and Run" and his "GUB" bank ROBBERy note!)

SO despite these STUMBLINGBLOCKs I loved it.
Patrick Blindauer continues to be the most fun, innovative, pushing-the-envelope constructor out there for my money
(make that a dollar bill!)

joho 7:22 AM  

@acme: I think SPR is for Springs as in Palm Springs. Not really sure.

Ass in German is esel, not EDEL.

Once I figured out the theme this was pretty easy but still entertaining. I loved RAINRAINGOAWAY.

Today I'm thinking cold, cold go away!

jubjub 7:28 AM  

I second (third? fourth?) the objection to the SENSEN/EDEL cross. That letter could have been any vowel, same with the AKELA/YEO cross for me. Oh, yeomen. I see that now, I was thinking YEO was an acronym.

My biggest objection is with the PEKE = Chow alternative pairing, combined with EAT being a more reasonable answer than PAT for 11A. That is just ... not good.

I had the same problem as Rex with SUBLETS, "take sublets" does not quite parse right for me. I was thinking TENANTS at first.

I didn't notice HEP when solving. I'm glad I'm not one of those people who talks about hepatitis enough to need an abbreviation.

To end on a positive note, I love RAINRAINGOAWAY.

JoefromMtVernon 7:33 AM  

Upper Right Quad was a mess; 8/9/10 D area was the worst.

Never heard of sensen (wanted tictac)
Though Robber was too straight-forward for a clue that seemed to be misdirection.

Don't go to resorts, wanted SPA, what's SPR?

Spelt mandarin with an ending E.

Don't know edel, but have seen him before.

Wanted outlets for sublets (thinking adapters for European Trips).

Sorry to follow Andrea; she's so up-beat and I just complain....

Joe

steve l 7:49 AM  

SENSEN: Doesn't anyone remember Billy Joel's "Keeping the Faith"?

I took a fresh pack of luckys
And a mint called sen-sen
My old mans trojans
And his old spice after shave
Oh
Combed my hair in a pompadour
Like the rest of the romeos wore
A permanent wave
Yeah
We were keeping the faith

ESO BESO: In Spanish, grammatically uncorrect. Should be ESE BESO (Echoed forty years later by Faith Hill: This Kiss--really, it's "that kiss"). ESO is used in Spanish as a pronoun; no noun should follow. (Quiero eso. I want that.)

BEGORRA: it is a corruption of By God.

NAOMI: Would have loved to see her clued as Wynonna's mother. Even better, Ashley's mother.

About the concept: Meh. Maybe I've just done so many puzzles that nothing seems too new to me.

My 15-year-old daughter and I were on a plane coming home from Cancun right after New Year's, and to pass the time, I was doing a puzzle I had saved. She was looking over my shoulder and guessing answers, so I said, ok, let me find a Monday puzzle, and let's see what you can do. So with a little bit of guidance from me (for example, explanation of what a question mark indicates) she finished the puzzle. (Once in a while I hinted that she had an error, so that helped, too.) She and I have done a few more Mondays together since then, and she seems to like them. Great, since no one else I know is interested in doing crosswords, or is even impressed with my solving ability. Maybe she and I will have something in common we can do together in the future. Jim's blog on the Times website has a similar story today, told by the daughter, now all grown up and solving faster than her father, now an old man. Worth checking out.

steve l 7:53 AM  

One more thing I forgot to mention: AKELA is from The Jungle Book, and is incorporated into the traditions of the Cub Scouts, for whom he is a symbol of wisdom, authority and leadership. The Cubmaster is often referred to by that name.

Akela, the great gray Lone Wolf, who led all the Pack by strength and cunning, lay out at full length on his rock, and below him sat forty or more wolves of every size and color

—Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book

Newbie 8:25 AM  

Loved SenSen, as it reminded me of my dad, who was a ballroom dancer and so felt the need to pop them all the time for the benefit of his dance partners.

Had trouble with the NE corner, between the abbr. (spr) and not remembering Edel. Rice pad caused me to smack my forehead, as I also missed it the first time around with Duke, and had Peki for Peke, so that was painful.

But overall, I liked the puzzle and the theme.

ArtLvr 9:10 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, also Rex's description of running through "__ublets' " possibilites like nublets and tublets, while I had SENSEN easily and was about to do the same with "SU__LETS"? Fortunately, the B came immediately in alphabetic sequence ... Also had Bazooka right away as GUM, but wondered if Rex was going to say something about a comics character -- oops, he's Palooka !

Philly, lover of trivia, are there more 4-letter pen names in literature besides SAKI and ELIA, and perhaps OMAR the Tentmaker?

Thanks to Steve I for the memories re AKELA, the gray wolf, both in Kipling's The Jungle Book and in the Cub Scouts' usage. I was a part-time den mother, way back when.

I did think RHUMBAS was misspelled, but the M-W dictionary seems to think my H version is the variant... Wonder why RUMBAS looks wrong?

Chorister 9:13 AM  

@acme & joho - I'm sure the Springs explanation is right. That's how it fell together in my head when I saw Rex's solve anyway. It was a giant HUH? for me til then.

I love it when a constructor gets me to put the wrong but logical word in, and Bazooka sucked me in grandly this time. Aha, you little dickens, I thought as I changed gun to gum. And wondered why I had been in such an almighty hurry to go violent.

Have a friend dealing with hepititis. Don't think she'll ever be fond enough of it to give it a nickname. All that Jameson's never to be drunk now, and all.

A few sparklers in an overall not so sparkling puzzle. But this has been a baaad week for me, what with the bronchitis and now the (eww) pink eye. I am officially in a BAD MOOD. So, I am harder than usual to please. Whine, whine, whine.

Lurene 9:27 AM  

I'm probably the only one who had to look up Greta. Everything else was easy.

PurpleGuy 9:56 AM  

Like Andrea,and some of the others above,I thought this was a fun puzzle.
Did it last night, and finished under 5minutes.
A record for a Thursday.
Other than a little trip at "sublets," no real problem.
Surprised myself that I knew so many names.

My sister in CT emailed this morning that it was 9degrees and snowing.
For all you in cold climes, wish I could send some Phoenix,AZ warmth.
Let's go Cardinals !!!!

Crosscan 10:24 AM  

SEN-SEN - A completely unknown word the first time you see it in a puzzle that immediately becomes a gimme in future appearances.

You know it's true: Rex's word of the day, much discussion, only need to know half of it to know all of it, and steve l's reference from Keeping the Faith [I always thought that line was a "mint car sensa"]

Example of a SEN-SEN: ESO BESO.

Not an example: AKELA.

korova 10:34 AM  

I will post this only so that those of you out there who found this puzzle quite hard for a Thursday will realize you're not the only ones. New England was a disaster, as was the middle with TAZ / ZENO / SAKI / INGA (don't know who any of them are). Don't know who Josephine Baker is either and was expecting a French name. Sacre bleu!

spyguy 10:41 AM  

This puzzle, while not necessarily that difficult, still has me with a few head-scratching answers. I would also like to know what "SPR" has to do with resorts. As well, I'm sure I am missing something obvious, but how does the answer "ani" cause Fred to be fired?

Ulrich 10:42 AM  

@acme: You're teasing us--for the rest, yes, Esel means "ass" (in the donkey sense), and edel means "noble", as in Edelgas ("noble gas") or Edelmann ("nobleman"):

As Adam mined and Eva spun,
Where then was the nobleman?

Als Adam grub und Eva spann,
wo war dann der Edelmann?


As to the puzzle, I liked it in spite of the fact that I couldn't resolve the NE corner b/c I wouldn't give up EAT--duh!

Jim in Chicago 10:43 AM  

I actually got SENSEN from a single letter (the first N, I believe) and remember them quite well. They're very small flat squares of very intense licorice flavour and quite bitter - they get the job done in a sort of old-fashioned way. I haven't seen them recently, but they used to come packaged in a little paper envelope with a flap. Man, does this bring back memories.

For "Summer Cooler" I had ICE_ and wrote in "T", thinking "now I'm going to have to grumbel AGAIN that the beverage is iceD tea, only to discover the answer was actually ICEE. Sigh.

I would like to declare a NATICK on the entier SENSEN ESOBESO BALLAD EDEL complex - many places to stumble there.

joho 10:49 AM  

@spyguy: add an "i" to Fred and you end up with a new word, fired.

Again, I think SPR is for Springs.

PuzzleGirl 10:49 AM  

@spyguy: If you add AN I to the word fred, the resulting word is fired. [Insert groan and head slap here.]

I liked this puzzle. I always go into a PB2 puzzle knowing I'm going to get kicked around a little, so this was pretty much what I expected.

I loved being introduced to the concept of AKELA when PuzzleSon started Cub Scouts. Akela symbolizes a guide, so when a kid's at school, the teacher is Akela. At home, I'm Akela. When I drop my kids off at friends' homes I ask them "Who's Akela?" to make sure they know who's in charge!

Just one question and it's not related to the puzzle, just the write-up. Nigroids? Really?

PhillySolver 10:49 AM  

How I learned about Sen-Sen...
Would ya like to know what kinda conversation goes
On while they're loafin' around that Hall?
They're tryin' out Bevo, tryin' out cubebs,
Tryin' out Tailor Mades like Cigarette Feends!
And braggin' all about
How they're gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen.

'Ya Got Trouble,' from "The Music Man."

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, but did not find it easy, so part of the fun was the challenge. I echo ACM, in syaing Patrick is one of the most innovative constructors we have.


Some Four Letter assumed names:
TITO is actually Josip Broz, but it was somehow more than just a pen name.
Anne RICE is Howard Allen O'Brien
Ayn RAND is Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum
George SAND is Amandine Dupin
ISAK Dinesen is Karen Blixen
KENO is Eric Killinger
NISA is lyricist Nicola Salerno
TONI Morrison is Chloe Anthony Wofford
and although not four letters, this is for ACME (aka Andrea Carla Michaels),
Woody Allen is Allen Stewart Konigsberg

Bob Kerfuffle 10:51 AM  

@spyguy - Add "An 'i' " to fred to get fired.

Liked the puzzle.

Knew Sen-sen as a kid, but didn't like to eat them!

One write-over: 56D had ESTS before ETAS.

Orange 10:55 AM  

AKELA, shmakela. I recommend Akeelah and the Bee, a terrific movie about a girl, a teacher, and a spelling bee.

PIX 10:57 AM  

SENSEN is easy, if you are old enough. When we were children, they were a special treat but cost more than regular candy (ie they were more than 5 cents.Bazooka was a penny. Like I said:old)

HEP for "viral inflammation, informally"-42A- is not well done. "Hep" is short for hepatitis which simply means inflammation of the liver (hepat + itis). However it can be due to one of many many other causes which are not viruses (eg alcohol causing alcoholic hepatitis.) "Hep"(hepatitis) only implies a viral inflammation when paired with the name of a virus such as "hep A" or "hep B" .

Two Ponies 11:01 AM  

Getting the theme early helped.
Didn't know if I would bat something down or pat it so the NE was indeed a slow trudge.
Had a malapop when I wanted to flavor my chicken with oranges.
Sunny and 60 here in Vegas. Hope you chilly folks find a way to stay warm and keep the bird feeders full.

miriam b 11:06 AM  

@andrea: Edel = noble. Example: Edelweiss.

Never heard of ICEE. I'll bet it's not distributed in my area. I'm trying to substantiate my theory by searching Locations on the ICEE website, but it's balking. In any case, I don't even want to think of a summer cooler, or any kind of cooler, today. It's snowing, cold and windy. Snow has blown onto the porch, affording me the opportunity to check for raccoon footprints.

Drinking hot tea and perusing seed catalogs. Should start kohlrabi seedlings soon.

Two Ponies 11:12 AM  

Almost forgot...to add to the woes of the NE corner I remembered that Certs have retsyn. That slowed me down as well.

Anne 11:28 AM  

So close, but yet so far. I did not get S in sensen. Otherwise, I thought this was quite doable. I browsed through and saw aisles which led me to saki to nook to breakin and I was off and running. I don't know why I knew Inga and I was glad I didn't get fooled by Rice pad (remember Duke). I never remember the right sport for Orr/Ott so always have to wait to see how it plays out. So now I'll read the comments and maybe find out what SPR stands for.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

I could't figure out who Joseph Inebaker was. I bet you can hear me smack myself in the forehead...

Bridget

CinEdina 11:34 AM  

Someone in a past comment (steve l it may have been you) linked AKELA in the Jungle Book with AKELA the Cub Scout wolf so when I saw the clue Jungle Book wolf, AKELA popped to mind. In fact, lots of today's fill would have eluded me but for this blog (and Orange's). ESO BESO, SOT, SSGT, DORM, LOBS, EBBS, etc. So thanks!

I was comfortably challenged by the puzzle and really liked the theme. I had eat until I came here thinking that eeke was some odd dog breed. I really wanted sure thing and thought the puzzle was a rebus until I got LOBS. Had polkas for a bit because I also thought RUMBAS had an h. Also wanted no way not NO HOW. The BRA clue was fun tricky. Also, briefly had Binaca for SENSEN.

Finally- what the heck is ANI??? I must have some horrible brain block on that one.

CinEdina

Elaine 11:36 AM  

Greetings from SyndicationLand. Where I want to mention that Korean money is HUAN, not "won" (though that is how it sounds when you pronounce it. I just want to know--how did this get past Will Shortz?

chefbea 11:40 AM  

found this puzzle harder than most thursdays. I did know sen sen and if anyone wants to order a packet, here is the link to the Vermont Country Store

http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/Shop;jsessionid=42738B5690B485C29BE58F99F322B0C3?dsp=30000&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=primary&Nty=0&keywordsearch=true&keyword=sen+sen&x=7&y=6

Rex Parker 11:44 AM  

Seriously, GOOGLE before writing the indignant comment:

WON

rp

CinEdina 11:45 AM  

Thanks, Joho- just saw your explanation.

I think ICEE's are in 7-Eleven stores. They are too cold for me.

SethG 11:46 AM  

Nigroids? Dairy Queen did something like that.

Elaine, even The Bank of Korea calls it the won. CinEdina, AN I causes SethG to be SethIG.

Hey, Canadians: know how cold -40 is? It's -40 your way, too. Luckily, it's up to -30 here now. Still, at that temperature ICEEs are too viscous to visc, and I'm gonna forget what BEGORRA means.

But for historical happenstance Begorra could have been the word for what we call a "Natick". Last time it ran one of the Rs crossed the first letter of xOES, clued as "Some deer", and lots assumed DOES/BEGORDA. And since I knew Natick, I'm gonna start calling them that, at least in private.

The current number 19 hit is If I Were A Boy, by Beyonce. Almost 50 years from now I'll be the old guy on some whippersnapper's blog, reminiscing about Destiny's Child and how we used to send letters on paper and drink Orbitz and Jolt and how I still don't speak any French.

steve l 11:52 AM  

@Bridget--Shouldn't you have been wondering who JOSEPHI NEBAKER was?

@CinEdina--Yes, RUMBA was once sometimes spelled with an H, and so was RUM. Puerto Rico, for that matter, was once spelled Porto Rico. But those were all incorrect renderings of words borrowed from Spanish, and nowadays these words are usually spelled the other way. And yes, I did link AKELA. My son was in Cubs and then Boy Scouts, and was an Eagle eventually. The founder of the Scouts was apparently a big Kipling fan.

Doug 11:53 AM  

SOLLOZZO: "Bene. Don Corleone. I need a man who has powerful friends. I need a million dollars in cash. I need, Don Corleone, those politicians that you carry in your pocket, like so many nickels and dimes."

VITO CORLEONE: "So I receive thirty percent for finance -- political influence, and legal protection, that's what you're telling me?"

SOLLOZZO: "If you consider a million dollars in cash just finance, te salute, Don Corleone."

DOUG: "Easy-Medium? Te salute, Don Parker."

TICTAC, no. CLORET, no. Never heard of SENSEN. Paul Anka, another fine Canadian, was an idol before my time so ESOBESO was looked like a random Scrabble letter draw. He made $5,000 EVERY TIME the Tonight Show theme played. BEGORRA! J.BAKER was one of Wayne and Garths's All Time Top 10 Babes, along with Irene Ryan of the Hillbillies (to cleanse the palette.)

Had TAT (as in Puddy Tat) not TAZ, and obviously don't know ZENO. I really disliked SPR, which is up there with APER!

Solid A mark for this one, it was at 90% of my ability and fought me like Apollo Creed. (As in Rocky I, I lost at the end with that darned Z.)

jeff in chicago 12:00 PM  

Liked this one. Seemed an easy Thursday after a hard Wednesday. Took me just one minute longer than yesterday.

At least partly because I'm Irish, BEGORRA fell instantly. BAJA was a SUREBET. (I love when I start a puzzle getting 1-A and 1-D right away.) Knowing Ms. Baker helped a lot, though I paused when her first name didn't quite fit. But I had been suspect as soon as I saw the grid. That line down the center told me something was up. I glanced at 38-A, assuming it would be germane, and indeed it was.

With that I put in all the I/Ns, and that helped a lot! All the theme fills jumped right in. Sweet.

Loved GALPALS, NOHOW and the clue for ONRAMP. Plural SESAMES? Not so much.

Had just the __BLETS of 20A and couldn't get TABLETS out of my head. Kept wondering if Moses considered his trek and extended vacation!

Ulrich 12:01 PM  

@sethG: Those of us who grew up decimal cannot, for the life of us, make sense of degrees Fahrenheit. In our world, water boils at 100° C(elsius) and freezes at 0° C--but what happens at 0° or 100° F? Nothing, as far as I can tell. So, us centigraders have to memorize the formula that turns F into C to make sense of temperatures:
C = 5(F-32)/9.

In a spare minute, I added

C = F

and tried to solve the resulting system, and bingo, I got

C = F = -40

I.e. at -40, both scales read the same. Now, isn't that consolation enough for you?

Doug 12:02 PM  

@sethg: -40 means:

- you plug your car in at night so the engine block doesn't freeze
- you don't breathe through the nose because your nostrils clamp together
- you long for last week when it was only -30
- even hardass skiers think twice about all that sweet pow'
- Inuit laugh at us wimps and get on with the conversation over the fence
- recall Toronto 10 years ago when the mayor called in the army with equipment that could act as ambulances in 10' of snow
- realize that no matter what, Buffalo weather is WAY WORSE

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Fun puzzle, but the upper right corner was a mess and I lost interest.

Crosscan 12:07 PM  

Ok, Ulrich and Doug took most of my post, so I'll delete the formula and -40 is the same in both part and leave the rest:

The technical term for -40F/-40C is freakin' cold. I am glad I am in Victoria, currently 3C/37F and really glad my planned meeting in Ottawa got cancelled. I can try to avoid winter until Brooklyn.

I think the buzz factor time has arrived.

Greene 12:19 PM  

@Phillysolver: I learned about Sen-Sen the same way you did. To this day I cannot hear that phrase without thinking of Robert Preston. The song "Ya Got Trouble" is so laced with other homespun terminology which has vanished from the American landscape(such as the cited Bevo, cubebs, and tailor mades) that one almost needs an appendix in the Playbill for contemporary audiences to keep up. Of course, "libertine men and scarlet women" everywhere still fondly remember these sinful accoutrements of youth.

I enjoyed this puzzle immensely and solved it in near record time. Fine job PB. Thanks.

Cheryl 12:19 PM  

I enjoyed doing the puzzle but was technically a failure since I left a couple of blank squares: didn't know the z of taz/zeno or the e of the now infamous (for some) crossing of sensen/edel.

One minor nit is that sesames sounds awkward to me. There are sesame seeds, which have the flavour of sesame, but sesames seems weird. The dictionary at hand doesn't provide plurals of its nouns so I don't know if this is truly a problem or just me not knowing. It didn't seem to bother anyone else so probably the latter.

Still f-ing cold here, but the first clear sunny day in a long time so I'll enjoy the blue sky and flex my brain in preparation for Friday.

dk 12:24 PM  

Great puzzle for all the above mentioned reasons. My only real complaint is with this one is it is all B&K - what about DK. Oh yeah and GALPALS seems a little strange

SENSEN is great fill. I remember those little boxes. I would suggest ordering the crackers from the VT Country Store over SENSEN... much better.

@steveI, I started doing puzzles with my dad when I was 12. We would get up early on Saturday work the easy clues together. It was a great way to get to know my dad as we had conversations about the puzzles that are not unlike what happens here.

buzz buzz

jimmy d 12:25 PM  

I had trouble in the NE corner, too. Kept wanting BPR / BENSEN...maybe because of Inga?

I agree with RP...theme was good, fill not so much

jubjub 12:25 PM  

@PuzzleGirl & @SethG, Nigroids & Moolattes: so funny. Funny enough to make me post to let you know that :). I had the same reaction when I saw Moolattes advertised. Nigroids sounds worse, though, as even ignoring the racially insensitive connotations of the name, who wants to eat something with the suffix -roid?

fikink 1:00 PM  

@phillysolver and greene, Excellent, now could either of you tell me why it was thought to be so wrong to "rebuckle [your] knickerbockers below the knees"?

My godfather used to pass the SENSEN down the pew in church, just before the fire-and-brimstone delivery of Rev. Bartz' sermon.

steveI and dk, the Sunday crossword puzzle is how the FIL and I really got to know each other through all those puzzle-inspired conversations. Things have come full circle.

@ulrich, I, too, could not give up EAT for "get something down," until I then entered EATS for "chow" and have learned that PB would not do that, thanks to this blog.

Karen 1:08 PM  

I still don't get PAT as a way to get things down. Can you use it in a sentence?

I had a hard time with a bunch of areas, including SENSEN and PSUEDO, and I had salsas and sambas in place of RUMBAS (which always looks like it should have an H in it) and NOWAY wanted to be nuhuh. I think I would have enjoyed the puzzle more if I weren't thinking about solving times. I was happy to finish it error-free.

Lovely fluffy snow falling here. The poor birds are happy to have my bird feeder.

dk 1:18 PM  

@karen, I have everything I need to know down PAT and I am ready to go.

edith b 1:22 PM  

Leon EDEL shows up in puzzles all the time and is well known to those of us who care about Henry James and Mr. Edel's landmark award winning five volume biography of ole' Henry. To the 99% of the population who

a Never read Henry Jamees
b Never heard of Henry James

Not so much.

And I guess you have to be of a certain age to know about SENSEN which is sort of a precursor to TicTac, kind of licroc-y. When you're a teen, it feels so adult.

All this is my way of saying that that particular cross was a neon for me but required specific information to get. Which is why I do crosswoard puzzles.

On the other hand, I had a real problem with the ROBBER/SUBLETS cross at the second B. I had the same problem as Rex with SUBLETS and couldn't parse ROBBER so the NE fell hard (and last.)

I got the theme at 51A and realized I wasn't dealing with a rebus. I flirted with INE to fill
the last square in JOSEPH* but it wouldn't work.

Once I saw how the puzzle worked, it was smooth sailing. I didn't have a problem with the jumble of names or the three-letter words or the abbreviations.

All in all, except for the problem in the NE, I din't have any trouble. Wordplay rather than specific information tripped me up again.

Michael Leddy 1:35 PM  

I thought BEGORRA was BEGORAH. But this seemed like an easy Thursday.

I loved seeing SENSEN, and RAINRAI, et cetera, both of which I remember from childhood. Sen-Sen, Choward's lavender gum, and cigarette aromas always seemed to accompany grown-ups then.

When I teach an American novel that mentions Sen-Sen, I always bring some in. It horrifies my students.

NAOMI: Got her name from a wonderful Ted Berrigan poem, "People Who Change Their Names."

allan 1:48 PM  

You know, it takes longer to read this blog that to solve most puzzles. Keep up the good work, Rex.

I thought begorra should have been the word of the day. It just flows off the tongue.

I originally had mambos for rumbas, for I too thought it should have a "h".

Hated sesames; it seemed really forced.

@PurpleGuy: I was in Phoenix late December for 10 days. It rained for at least 5, and only had one day when the temp got into the mid 60's (c. 33 C?). Just hope I don't come back real soon.

mac 1:57 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, just forgot about the zentral Z for some reason (might be because I have no idea who Tax is, and never read the 45A clue). My last letter filled in was the P for pat, I also had eat first.

Unusual for me, I figured the theme or trick almost immediately with Josephi answer. Had some problems accepting answers I got, though: Icee? Hep? I also thought Eeke would make a fine name for a dog food.

I know the work Akela from the girl scouts in Holland; the mother running the show would be called that. I also remember the C to F formula from elementary school, odd how that sticks with you. Am happy with my outdoor thermometer that will give me both, though. Talking about that, I love this weather! It's cold and we had some extra snow, but the sun just came out and I feel better with this sort of weather than with heat and humidity. Foodie is at Yale, hope they won't cancel her flight this afternoon/evening.

allan 2:04 PM  

Went back and read the end of yesterday's posts (although it was today when you all finished).

Just wanted to say thanks to Chip Hilton & edith B for their responses to my question about Foodie.

I got an email from Bill from NJ yesterday, and was very glad to see that he had several posts, and really stirred the pot.

mac 2:05 PM  

Talking about conversion, I'm just about to bake a cake from a Dutch cookbook, and I have to use scales that will give me both grams and ounces.

Chip Hilton 2:07 PM  

After reading all the submissions to day, I have the taste of SENSEN in my mouth....truly. And, that's not a good thing.

Didn't know ZENO so waffled between TAS and TAZ before, happily, settling on the latter.

Loved PSEUDO and the fact that it crossed J...BAKER. French, she wasn't, by birth.

Fun, reasonable Thursday.

PlantieBea 3:12 PM  

This puzzle was not easy for me to finish. I had the above stated problems in the NE corner. I'm not familiar with SENSEN, but doubt I'll forget it now. I also didn't know ESO BESO, although now that I see it, I know it has been in other puzzles. Didn't know Josephine's last name. The theme and other parts of the puzzle came easily, but that upper right corner I could not resolve until I came here. Wow, PEKE for Pekingese dog, SPR for the resort abbr? I was committed to EAT, as well. This corner just didn't happen for me. Would have been fun, otherwise.

@ Edith b: I'm a recent James convert, so I'm glad to learn about EDEL.

As per yesterday's puzzle, I picked up the DVD of Gonzo this AM at the library. I'm also looking forward to "Where the Buffalo Roam" which is new for our library, but checked out...I'm also reading Guterson's "The Other" and ran across a phrase about the HORSY set. It still looks like it should be HORSEY.

It's great to feed the brain with the puzzle and this blog.

elitza 3:19 PM  

Ick. Kicked my butt up one side and down the other--coming off a Wednesday that was cake-like and delicious for me, this was a rude wake-up call.

SUBLET, sure.... SENSEN? ick. HEP should've been a cat, not an itis.

bah--too many false starts and too much ickiness to list off. All's I know, when I hit RENT I sighed with relief that I'd at least get a single across before switching to downs. Got the theme pretty quicky, had to google Josephine Baker. Blah. I'm done.

jeff white 3:38 PM  

I was impossibly stuck on the NE corner because I was so sure that 20A must be JUNKETS. My wife finally made me erase it, wrote in the too-easy 10D ROBBER, and then the spell was broken and I managed to finish the puzzle.

PuzzleGirl 3:44 PM  

Ooh, almost forgot. Took the kids to the International Spy Museum over Christmas break and learned that Josephine Baker was a spy! And hey, so was Julia Child! Check it out here. Who knew?

chefbea 4:09 PM  

@puzzlegirl Re: Julia child - guess that's where she got her start "cooking up shark repellant"!!
Actually Shark is very good. I'll have to see if there is a recipe in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Rex Parker 4:37 PM  

Not to be preachy/off-topic, but No shark-eating! Come on, you have to know a. not to eat the top of a food chain (for a host of health and ecological reasons), and b. shark populations are being decimated by the fishing industry, both by accident, and by idiots who want just the fin for their stupid soup ("finning" is astonishingly brutal - how anyone eats shark fin soup, I'll never know). I have no problem with fish/flesh-eating per se, but I'm generally against supporting ecological devastation just because something is tasty.

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/SeafoodWatch/web/sfw_factsheet.aspx?gid=54

rp

CinEdina 4:41 PM  

@steve l: Thank you for the information. I wasn't aware of the connection between Baden-Powell and Kipling even though I have an Eagle Scout and 2nd class Scout! Wikipedia confirms that the Jungle Book was a major influence for the Cub Scouts. Another site states that Baden-Powell and Kipling were good friends and that Baden-Powell wrote an obituary for Kipling.

All I know about Spanish I learned from Sesame Street and crosswords.
CinEdina:Spanish :: SethIG:French

jeff in chicago 4:44 PM  

Woo hoo! Sold a puzzle today AND was the winner at Matt Gaffney's puzzle contest site! Add that to a near-record NYT Thursday time and it's a good puzzle day for me!

Parshutr 5:24 PM  

I'll confess to a lust for all things GRETA, but after that I was absolutely buffaloed by this puzzle.
Tomorrow is another day!

mac 5:31 PM  

@jeff in chicago: congratulations! I'm checking out Matt Gaffney's site.

What a good news story about the plane crash in the Hudson River. That pilot is a star. We can all use a bit of positive news.

foodie 5:56 PM  

All along I thought Akela meant a wise female, based on Arabic... Ak'l means mind/judgment. My own name is not far from that, and it also refers to wisdom --something my teachers used against me whenever I misbehaved: "for someone who's supposed to be wise, how can you..." But I just looked up the meaning of Akela in Jungle book, and apparently it means "alone" in Punjabi and Hindi. May be the connection is being wise keeping one's own counsel? Or thinking one's own thoughts?

I bet you though that in "Akeelah and the Bee" that Orange mentioned, the name was supposed to mean "smart" or "wise". I never had a chance to see the movie and wonder if anything was ever said about it.

Totally messed up the Northeast, but loved the rest of the puzzle. I'm glad to be back home and sad to hear about the plane that crashed in the Hudson River. It was probably not too far from the flight path my flight took...

Steve in Boston 6:11 PM  

Because I learned everything I know from musicals, SENSEN was also a "Music Man" gimme for me.

I'm waiting for INGA Swenson to be clued via her Tony Award-winning performance in the original "110 in the Shade." Too obscure?

jeff in chicago 6:24 PM  

Just discovered that SENSEN is made on the south side of Chicago near Midway. The same plant also makes Smith Brothers cough drops and Daily C.

Greene 7:24 PM  

@Steve in Boston: I would like to see Ms. Swenson somehow clued for her 1965 turn as Irene Adler in Baker Street since that character's name appears from time to time in the puzzle, usually referenced to the Conan Doyle short story "A Scandal in Bohemia." Sadly, Ms. Swenson did not win the Tony Award in 1964 for her fine work in 110 In The Shade; she was smoked by Carol Channing in Hello Dolly! (who also triumphed over the likes of Barbra Streisand and Bea Lillie). Talk about competition.

edith b 8:35 PM  

GALPALS and BOYTOYS bother me because they seem to be insulting in a slightly deliberate way and that is the part that bothers me -the deliberateness of it.

As a young girl I tended to address intent as the benchmark of what was insulting to me. I've always believed that you can't judge a book by its cover, to coin a phrase.

Oh, and congratulations to Jeff in Chicago.

Shin Kokin Wakashu 8:46 PM  

I'm only 28 and I used to get Sensen from this little convenience store in our town; they would only get it every so often but my friend and I would buy all their packets any time we saw them. I've seen SENSEN a few times in crosswords and it's always a gimmee; I should order some of that.

mac 10:28 PM  

Why couldn't I do today's Sun puzzle? Was yesterday the last one and nobody told me? I subscribed about a month ago, and today I could not get on.

fergus 12:25 AM  

The only Stumbling blocks at such a late hour, were up in the Northwest where the progression led to the marvelous Josephine Baker.

I did enter a few rebus multiple letters before my Mandarine Orange wasn't either a Satsuma or a Clementine. (op.cit.GM)

Catherine K 2:21 AM  

Mmm, Sen-Sen. It was always a treat for me when we went to my grandparents' house. Now, whenever I go to Banff, I visit a little candy store on the main street, just so I can stock up on Sen-Sen. They still come in little red paper packets that you have to rip open and then fold over a couple of times so they don't all fall out.

Sen-Sen has become a special treat for my little four-year-old granddaughter. She always has to have five of them. And we get them all to ourselves, because everyone else in the family thinks they taste like soap.

They don't; they taste like Sambucca. And licorice. And childhood.

physsciteacher 2:37 AM  

I didn't know this. (SENSEN)
I didn't know that. (EDEL)
I didn't have much crosswordese down PAT.(EDEL)

The only thing that consoles this Californian is that all you smarty-pants who thought this was an easy Thursday are freezing in the Northeast while I simply had a lot of trouble solving it.

Southern Ma'am 3:11 AM  

Miriam B. Got my first brain-freeze from an icee from
the 7-11 store in Macon, Ga. 7-11 gone, icee
wannabes still around. Loved this pzzle. My
uncle was a Ladies Man and always had Sen-
Sen. Must be vigilant!!! Read "empathetic" instead
of "emphatic." Pathetic, I'm out of here.

liquid el lay 3:21 AM  

I did not finish this puzzle.

There were problems on the eastern seaboard and the great lakes.

Why? Nohow is how. Not hep to rice pads, especially when hep isn't cool.

Also, is peke a dog? A pekenese an alternative to a chow? I could see puke. You either eat, or you throw up.

Not wanting to end on a revolting note,
I thought
josephenebaker
mandarinorange
rainraingoaway
stumblingblock
to be vivid, and delicious, and pretty, and sensual, entries.

miriam b 8:05 AM  

@Southern Ma'am:

I finally got the ICEE site to behave and found that they're available all around me, mostly in local Burger Kings and movies. As I'm a bit of a food snob, I never go to fast food places, and I don't patronize movie snack concessions. Just another example of my pop culture deficiency!

Anonymous 3:59 PM  

No irish person actually says "begorra"

Michael 2:20 PM  

I gotta ask, because I skimmed the FAQ's and didn't catch anything like this question: Do you claim to know EVERY answer of EVERY puzzle EVERY day without googling the info? Like I said I don't know if you answered this..I'm sure you are great at puzzles, but you are also a human being, right? Anyway, thanks for the blog, I do enjoy it!

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Grasps. Kens. I've been doing crosswords for 35 yrs, and unless my mind is slipping, I don't ever recall that word before. I looked it up and was mildly shocked to see it's true. Oh well.

boardbtr 12:28 PM  

Five weeks later. It always gets to me a bit when I see sine associated with trig. It would seem that sine should go with trigonometry and sin should go with trig. IOW, if we are going to abbreviate trigonometry the answer should be the abbreviation for sin and vice versa.

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

@Michael. I love your question "Do you claim to know EVERY answer of EVERY puzzle EVERY day without googling the info?" I wonder this every time I read this wonderfully informative blog. Many post that they finished in 5 minutes or 10 mintues. I always have to look up at least ONE answer! How do they do it?
Mary in Oregon

Anonymous 1:36 AM  

I have to agree with Anonymous. No Irish person I know (and I know lots of them) actually says "Begorah." They also do not say "Top O' the Morning."
Things Irish people actually do say include:
"Right, so" sort of like "okay"

"Don't get your knickers in a twist" I think "knickers" is a crossword-worthy word.

"I'm just after" doing whatever they've just done.

Sort of resented Begorah, even tho I recognized/suspected it immediatlely. Otherwise loved the puzzle, especially Mandarin Orange.

Now that Rex has informed me that Syndication Solvers are the majority of his readers, I am just going to blog away in Syndication Land.

One of these days I will figure out how to have a blog identity. Til then,

Robin

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