SUNDAY, Mar. 29, 2009 - E Gorski ("Bertha" composer / Gunwale pin / Pester for payment / Hook-shaped parts of brains)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Architectural Drawing" - Let's see ... a rebus puzzle where the letters "ET" are crammed into nine different squares throughout the grid; those letters are the initials of EIFFEL TOWER, which the rebus squares are arranged to look like (if you connect them together with a pen/pencil after you're done); "ET" also stands for the French word "AND," which is technically a "conjunction" but is referred to here as a FRENCH CONNECTION, which is a movie that has very little to do with France, but whatever; another movie, "AN AMERICAN IN PARIS," provides the subject for the rest of the theme answers - we are supposed to imagine this hypothetical American (not the "American" of the movie proper) wandering around Paris consuming distinctly French things from the various wine, coffee, and pastry shops. There's a big MINT PATTY in the middle of all this, but I don't think that has anything to do with the theme. The end.


Word of the Day: HEGIRA -

  1. A flight to escape danger.
  2. also Hegira The flight of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina in 622 A.D., marking the beginning of the Muslim era. (answers.com)
This is the craziest, most ambitious, scattered, manic, loopy, Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink puzzle I've ever solved. It was a little maddening, but for the most part, I loved it. Go big or go home. Even if you consider it a failure (I don't), at least it's a great big glorious failure and not a meek add-a-letter / bad pun failure. I found the whole thing really slippery, in that I never really knew what was supposed to be anchoring the puzzle, theme-wise. Just when I thought I had a handle on it, it morphed into something else. The doubleness of "ET" is amazing, as is the architecture of the tower - the additional movies-exploding-into-random-Frenchness was less comprehensible, but sort of beautiful in its decadence - long lovely words describing rich drinks and comestibles. Ms. Gorski constructed last year's Best Sunday puzzle of the year (James Bond/martini), and this puzzle more than lives up the high standards she set with that puzzle. The worst thing about this puzzle was the title - "Architectural Drawing"!? Zzzzzzzzzzz.

Theme answers:

  • 26A: 1951 Oscar-winning film whose title suggests a visitor to the 118-Across ("An American in Paris")
  • 45A: Wine enjoyed by 26-Across, maybe (Chateau Lafite)
  • 67A: 1971 Oscar-winning film whose title is hinted at nine times in this grid ("The French Connection")
  • 118A: Landmark inaugurated 3/31/1889 whose shape is suggested by nine squares in this puzzle's completed grid (Eiffel Tower)
  • 52D: Morning refreshment for 26-Across? (cafe au lait)
  • 55D: Napoleon's place, frequented by 26-Across? (patisserie) - a "Napoleon" is a French pastry, but you knew that

In other news, HEGIRAS / GOA / AAA would have destroyed me not much earlier in my solving career. HEGIRAS sounds only vaguely like a word I've heard before (46D: Long flights), and if I hadn't learned GOA from puzzles (57A: India's smallest state), that "G" could easily have been a "J" or even some other random letter. I don't really understand the clue at 73A: Fine rating (AAA). Is "fine" an adjective? If something is "fine," it is triple-A? With two A's in place already, I figured the last letter had to be an A as well. And so I escaped (HEGIRA'd?) unharmed.

Of all the rebus squares, I love E-TickET the most (74A: Modern traveler's purchase)

  • 21A: 1986 self-titled album whose cover was Andy Warhol's last work ("ArETha") - I thought this was the one with "Freeway of Love" on it, but that was "Who's Zoomin' Who?" "ARETHA" had the duet with George Michael, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)"
  • 10D: Insurance giant (AETna)
  • 59A: Police dept. employees (dETs.)
  • 37D: "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" director, 2007 (LumET)
  • 64D: "Rhyme Pays" rapper (IcE-T)
  • 65D: Work without _____ (a nET)
  • 93A: Chopin's "Butterfly" or "Winter Wind" (ETude)
  • 93D: Light (EThereal)
  • 94A: Adjust, as a clock (resET)
  • 95D: Snow globe holders (ETageres)
  • 99A: Bubble over (seEThe)
  • 101D: Jazzy Waters (EThel)
  • 116A: Beginning (onsET)
  • 117D: To be abroad (ETre)
  • 121A: Some collars and jackets (ETons)
  • 121D: Pins and needles' place (ETui)

Bullets:

  • 29A: "Cinderella Man" co-star (Crowe) - I have trouble remembering this guy's name. Wanted ZELLWEGER (!?). Then I wanted GIAMATTI (!!?). I know the cast, and yet never saw the movie.
  • 61A: Deuce follower (ad in) - common answer, but that didn't keep me from wanting TREY.
  • 82A: How photography books are usually printed (glossily) - that is one ballsy adverb. I am trying to find an instance of its use, but Google keeps insisting that I must mean [glossy photography]. Listen, you stupid machine, I typed what I typed, give me my hits list!?
  • 60D: Pester for payment (dun) - to me, "DUN" is a color. Learned this verbal meaning from xwords.
  • 87A: Gunwale pin (thole) - I barely know what "gunwale" is. To me, THOLE is Thomething a Thinner might want to Thave. And yet the word was in my brain somewhere. Perhaps in the UNCI, which I didn't know I had until today (125A: Hook-shaped parts of brains).
  • 107A: Geographically named S.U.V. (Tahoe) - Is "Lakeily" a word? If so, I would have preferred that to the more general "geographically"
  • 113A: Philosopher Zeno of _____ (Elea) - always, always botch this. I know it's EL... something. And then ELOI and ELAL and ELON get in there and clog up the works.
  • 127A: Cousins of zithers (lyres) - I have a student who is a professional zither player. Her name is Cindy. I saw her at the mall last night. And thus concludes today's "Window on My World"
  • 5D: Soviet comrade (tovarich) - ?!?!?! Never seen or heard it. Thought it was someone named Tova Rich.
  • 15D: "Bertha" composer (Ned Rorem) - normally a puzzle double-threat (you might see either his last or first name in your grid on any day of the week), here we get both barrels.
  • 16D: Knitter's stash (skeins) - "stash" - unless you're getting high off the SKEINS, this word seems slightly inapt. [actually, knitters are telling me this is a technical term - perfectly apt]
  • 31D: Small drum of India (tabla) - pretty uncommon, though I've seen it before.
  • 38D: Andy Capp's wife, and others (Flos) - the only thing I love more than one FLO is multiple FLOS.
  • 69D: Comment from over the shoulder, maybe (hint) - I was imagining someone saying something over his own shoulder, at someone he was leaving. If anyone tried to over-the-shoulder HINT me, I would go totally Christina Applegate on them.
  • 82D: Verizon forerunner (GTE) - knew this. Don't know why.
  • 102D: Fictional elephant (Horton) - nice change of pace from the more common BABAR (though, as a French elephant, BABAR is probably feeling pretty snubbed right now).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Orange has today's LA Times (LAT) Sunday write-up over at "L.A. Crossword Confidential" - did you know the LAT Sunday puzzle (ed. Rich Norris) doesn't appear in the LAT? They have a completely different Sunday Calendar puzzle. Confusing ... but twice as much puzzle action, which can't be bad.

91 comments:

Parshutr 7:57 AM  

I agree with Rex's assessment. The ET rebus bit came to me first (and tellingly) with ETude...what else could a Chopin piece have been? And that gave me EMU and so off to the races.

ArtLvr 8:10 AM  

PATISSERIE and COMPOTE and popular Vices of TOBACCO and POTION, the River LYS and all the rest -- I was happy to be (= être) AN AMERICAN IN PARIS again.

Ms. Gorski made my day...

∑;)

chefbea 8:34 AM  

What a great puzzle. Got the rebus part right away cuz Iof ice t and a net. E-ticket was great

Loved the square meal component. Passover is coming soon.

Very easy today guess that's why I'm so early.

JannieB 8:58 AM  

Easy breezy Sunday - just a lot of fun. I think "Tovarich" was a play/musical on Broadway (Greene??) but somehow I knew it. I thought of muni bond ratings for AAA.

No other hangups save for Hegira - that "G" was my last letter.

Crosscan 9:03 AM  

Superbe!

Lots of fun, lots to do - that's what Sunday is for in Puzzleland.

Got HEGIRAS/GOA wrong but that didn't ruin this. Elizabeth Gorski owns Sundays.

nancy (the one who was knitting at ACPT) 9:21 AM  

A knitter's yarn supply is called her/his stash...no drug implication, except insofar as knitting is an addiction. There are books about knitting from your stash, etc. I loved this puzzle, got the theme very early, but found it all went by too quickly.

HudsonHawk 9:29 AM  

Great puzzle, but an unusual solving experience. I had most of the middle completed from South to North before I really had much on either coast. And I had uncovered all 9 of the ET's before I had the theme answer.

With a potential E.T. the ExtraTerrestrial theme, I started thinking of DEVIL'S TOWER. But wait, that was Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And besides, that kind of landmark wouldn't be "inaugurated". Then EIFFEL fell into place and the rest was history.

Glad to see that HEGIRAS was the word of the day, because it was new to me. Fortunately, I am familiar with GOA, so that cross saved my butt.

Rex, I believe the AAA refers to a bond rating, but I don't want to get anything started about the credit ratings agencies.

twangster 9:36 AM  

I'm surprised the writeup doesn't mention the Joni Mitchell album Hejira, a great record. I had hejira instead of hegira so I guess technically I didn't complete the puzzle correctly.

hereinfranklin 9:38 AM  

I loved this puzzle...but then I love anything to do with France. Hegira was my last word...caught the theme early. A cafe au lait and an Napoleon would hit the spot right about now.

Megan P 9:42 AM  

This is one of those puzzles that would have been most fun to do on paper - no constant opening of the EDIT menu to fill in the extra letters. It was a very pretty puzzle. I kept thinking that if I were working in pencil, I could really enhance the design by bearing down on the ETs. This probably sounds ridiculous.

Rex's extra-fine analysis brought out some subtleties I had missed, like ET = et.

I don't usually like Sunday puzzles, but this one pleased me.

janie 9:45 AM  

>...at least it's a great big glorious failure and not a meek add-a-letter / bad pun failure.

i think you may find some sympathy here. ;-)

re: TOVARICH -- that's a word i learned, yes, from musical theatre... not that i ever saw the show (or even listened to the album...), just that it wasn't everyday that vivien leigh sang on broadway. in this fabulously francophilic puzzle, nice to see that the CCCP gets some "airtime," too --

;-)

Crosscan 9:50 AM  

@Megan - press the Insert key for a quick way to add multiple letters.

Matty 9:54 AM  

Also we have Sidney Lumet in the puzzle which I never know how to pronounce. Is it as written or with a french embellishment on the last syllable?

PhillySolver 9:54 AM  

Liz is fabulous, of course. She was a stalwart in the Scoring Room at the ACPT. Her knowledge of SKEINS is first hand. Here is her website which displays another fascinating talent.

http://primroseneedleworks.com/default.aspx

Loved the puzzle and the found memories of my life in Paris. In Paris, it would be TE (Tour Eiffel), but et's ok.

Parshutr 10:16 AM  

Tovarich (or tovarish, the sh sound is made by one letter in the Cyrillic alphabet literally means comrade) -- it's what one would say to avoid being shot by a Russian soldier.
More Soyuz in the puzzle, again with the CCCP (actually SSSR, of which the first S would be Soyuz, meaning union...but we went through ALL OF THIS just the other day.

Parshutr 10:20 AM  

Lumet, Sidney (loo-MET)

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Anyone else fall for SOUPY instead of SEEPY in the NE? I didn't know Rorem's 1st name, nor Orr's last, nor did I get the PTA answer (grr!), so that corner was a wash for me. Otherwise, I enjoyed every minute, and many, many minutes they were...
-Michigal

Orange 10:35 AM  

Et pour un peu more elegance, Liz Gorski didn't include any non-rebus ETs within the fill.

I like GOA. If you've ever met someone who looks Indian but has a Portuguese name, they may have Goan roots. Portuguese traders conquered Goa 500 years ago, and it was only in 1961 that the Indian army took it back.

Karen 10:46 AM  

What about OKEMO at 6D? I live one state away, and I've never heard of the place. (Granted, I don't ski much these days.) And it crosses ADAPTOR, and the dictionary makes no difference between adapter and adaptor. Ekemo looks just as reasonable. More so than Moapo, IMO.

Knitters definitely STASH their yarn; quilters have a fabric STASH too. And I think George Michael must have a stash of rhinestones and a Bedazzler somewhere.

I know that I've seen HEGIRA somewhere, it didn't give me that much trouble.

TOVARICH was a term heard frequently in cold war sticoms/dramas, although I thought it was spelled tovarisch (again, multiple equivalent spellings apparently. I love English.) Think Man from UNCLE or the Avengers.

Philly, thanks for the link. I never thought to put crosswords in stitches.

DHB 10:47 AM  

Having rowed in college, gunwale and thole came quickly. I was really hung up on Napoleon's place. I searched for some way of spelling tomb with that many letters. Finally got it from the crosses. The theme came quickly after etudes and e-ticket.

John Reid 10:56 AM  

Did anyone else notice that THEEXTRATERRESTRIAL fits right across the middle of this puzzle?

Megan P 11:01 AM  

@Crosscan: thanks for the tip. I'm very embarrassed about this, but I can't find the insert key on my little iBook. . .

@Orange: and Catholic Indians, too.

Hungry Mother 11:01 AM  

Somehow got all of it right today. The "ET" rebus was very satisfying to me when it ended my frustration.

pednsg 11:18 AM  

"Help me, I think I'm falling, in love..." with Elizabeth Gorski... oh, wait, wrong Joni Mitchell album! "Hejira" is an amazing album, whose spelling inspired one of my few errors in this flawless puzzle. I've got to admit that I've never heard of dun (Pester for payment), but I should have known the cross from my dad's brylcreem days (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRcRIbExrfg). Oh, well - c'est la vie!

Belvoir 11:29 AM  

I knew TOVARICH from reading X-Men comics as a kid; Colossus the Russian was always saying it.

HES for "Cock and bull". Um, ok. Was thinking it meant malarkey, a "cock & bull" story. But it work.

Overall, a fun puzzle- as Rex said, the way it revealed its tricks over time was clever indeed.

retired_chemist 11:30 AM  

Enjoyable. Elegant. Medium difficulty is OK, maybe easy/medium.

Mostly nice cluing although I wish to whine about one. For 97A (ASPISH), "Venomous" seems at best evocative, not a definition. The words do not interchange properly. Would you say a scorpion is aspish? Some animals are venomous, only one is aspish. Some people are professorial, only one is Rexish. There. I feel better now.

GOA was the only 3 letter part of India I know so 57A had to be that, which HEGIRAS (46D) confirmed.

Unaccountably, I had York as a paper mfr., which a quick Google failed to confirm, so the PA in 88A got me to FINE PAPER until the crosses scotched that. Lack of sleep from the new puppies (2B, 4G, whelped Friday, photos on my web site soon) makes the mind fuzzish.

Got to get back to the puppies.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

ETUI (pins & needles places) crossing UNCI (hook-shaped parts of brains- um, ew?) were complete mysteries to me.

JannieB 11:33 AM  

@MeganP - If you are using a MAC product, try the ESC key. It works for me!

SethG 11:43 AM  

Natick was a gimme for me, but I've never heard of OKEMO. Surprised to find that most of you apparently have...

Also, continuing the SethG=idiot theme, I went with MATSOH. Which is a fine spelling, and how am I supposed to know JG's kid's names--why not LISA? Oh. green mantis once said that "if Dolly [Parton]'s within ten feet of something, said thing is made of awesome" I imagine that if Dolly and Liza Minnelli were to meet they'd both be annihilated and only gamma rays or something would be left. In summary, David Gest.

I actually sorta liked this puzzle, at least as much as I could given the content. I loved that all the French stuff was symmetric, even ETUI/ETRE, not just the tower...

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

Ditto Anon. I spent a half hour trying to find a letter that would make words out of ET_I and _NCI. Finally enlisted google and still couldn't get it. I gave up then and googled the clue -- and wound up here. Nice puzzle but ETUI crossing UNCI does seem a bit much.

Nan 11:45 AM  

@anonymous at 11:33, old time crossword puzzles know etui because it used to be in puzzles all the time. I thought it was fun to see it surface here!

Tyrone 11:57 AM  

I bow down to the master. I almost got the ET combo because of "ethereal". (I figured "Ice" was a good enough answer for Rhyme Pays.) Didn't get "Horton", tried "OneTon" and "TwoTon".

I would have been a basket case all week without you, Rex.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

yeah, etui is so standard, surpised it tripped anyone

PlantieBea 12:02 PM  

Great write-up RP. I could not believe how dense this puzzle was with theme material. I blush to say that the ET squares came into view only when I got to Ethel Waters after I tried to reason that maybe THEL was her four letter nickname. Once it became obvious why so many (9) squares weren't working, the puzzle fell quickly.

My big word of the day was HEGIRA. Once again, I guessed wrong with a HEMIRAS/MOA crossing.

Really liked it though from the the start when I saw the stand-out reflectional symmetry. I knew it would be something special!

Noam D. Elkies 12:06 PM  

Really neat puzzle. Like Parshutr (today's first commenter), I cracked it at 93A:[ET]UDE -- I know both pieces (though I can't honestly say I've played the Winter Wind &ude). Yes, 74A:[ET]ICK[ET] is a nice find. Needed the full theme, including the count of [ET]s, to get the final square at the intersection of 59A:D[ET]S and 37D:LUM[ET] -- I initially thought 59A would be DA's, and "Luma" seems as plausible as "Lumet". Surprised that none of the long theme answers include a rebus square. Nice that the two [ET]s at the base of the tower start French Down words, 117D:[ÊT]RE and 121D:[ÉT]UI. (Etui, brute?)

Never knew this meaning of 66A:TOOT, so of course I guessed ROOT to make the theme entry 55D begin PARIS. Took a while to realize what the clue's "Napoleon" was... Likewise for 45A, because I did know 5D but spelled it phonetically TOVARISH. Щit happens (as they never said in the 70D:CCCP).

Mysteries of the grid:

@ I see now that I guessed 1A/6D incorrectly as ADAPTeR/eKEMO, which looks no worse than the O but happens to be wrong.

@ Pleasantly surprised to see 15D:NEDROREM's full name in the puzzle. (It anagrams to "moderner", somewhat incongruously since Rorem's no avant-gardist.) All the better that his name is clued by the name of a 20th-century opera (no, I didn't recognize it) and crosses 22A:ELEKTRA, the name of another (barely) 20th century opera.

@ Did know 46D:HEGIRAS (and 57A:GOA), though I don't think I've seen this generic use of "Hegira" before. The G is indeed pronounced J, though it's a G sound in the Hebrew cognate "hagira", as in Hagar, Abraham's exiled second wife and mother of Ishmael. [The soft G probably explains the typo in 'that "J" could easily have been a "J" or even some other random letter' -- that first "J" should be a "G".]

@ Didn't recognize 88A:MINTPATTY, 125A:UNCI, and the random p*p culture names 56A:LIZA (as clued), 91A:HENIE, and 109:HOLM. The last is at an unfortunate crossing with the ugly 126A:MDSE, but one must make allowance for such an open section of the grid with 77D:CHASTENED abutting 78D:COMPASSES abutting the end of the theme entry 52D:CAFÉAULAIT and the theme square 117.

@ 97A:ASPISH -- certainly inferable though I don't think I've seen it before. Waspish (and WASPish), now that I've seen.

@ 112A:SER -- oh, that kind of address; cute. Also completes the Abrahamic religious trifecta with 33D:MATZOH (another clever clue, though not all matzos are square) and 46D:HEGIRAS.

@ 103A:ANISES -- I don't remember seeing the plural before, even in a crossword puzzle.

@ Is 120D:OHO really used for "You can't fool me!"?

Nice clues for 13A:SUNSPOT and the "bewitching" pair 41D:VOODO/42D:POTION.

Back to work,
--NDE

mac 12:39 PM  

That was a great Sunday puzzle and a great write-up! I got the theme quickly with Aretha and Aetna, and happened to spot 118A right after that, which sent me on an "et" hunt across the grid. Lots of good clueing and good words, with hegira the one real unknown.

Before I even looked at the puzzle, paper still on the front stoop, I opened an email from my sister, who included a photograph of herself and her kids standing on a bridge in Paris with the Eiffel Tower right behind them....

I agree with NDE, never saw anises before. I have skied in Vermont in different locations, but I've never heard of Okemo Mountain.

@janie: I read that column yesterday, found it a lot of fun.

@Karen: George Michael? Stash?

@SethG: sometimes you write a comment that makes me seriously doubt my command of the English language....;-), or maybe it's Green Mantis this time.

Badir 1:12 PM  

I too had ADAPTeR/eKEMO, as well as LIsA/MATsOH. Usually having errors disinclines me toward liking a puzzle, but I had so much fun with this one that I didn't care so much.

retired_chemist 1:18 PM  

Agree with Noam D. Elkies and mac: ANISES is kinda funny. HEGIRAS too. Never saw them be plurals, though I suppose it is grammatically allowable. THE Hegira (Muhammad's in AD 622) of course can't be plural. There was only one. Even as a metaphor the plural use seems strained. Oh well. I am quibblish today.

foodie 1:29 PM  

I too loved this even though I'm ready to join Seth's idiot club. I have only 2 or 3 areas that can give me an advantage in puzzle solving-- neuroscience, Middle East and France. I did great on the France part, and totally screwed up on the answers that had to do with the first two... I stared at HE--RAS for ever and a day and had no clue. But the real embarrassing one is UNCI, plural of UNCUS... Of course, I know Uncus, I study Uncus and its neighborhood (the hippocampus). But, being in a French frame of mind I wrote DANSE with and "S", and UNSI ensued? What the heck is UNSI?

@Seth, in my idiot mode, I've lost my ability to insert a link, but the way I remembered how to spell LIZA is because of a song she had called "LIZA with a Z" about her exasperation with people misspelling her name.

@retired chemist: HEGIRAS can be plural but it's not all that common. Clearly, AL-HEGIRA (or HEJIRA OR HAJIRA) is THE one associated with Mohammed. But the word derives from a commonly used verb: HAJARA, which means to leave or emigrate. My family, for example, thinks of me as having HAJARAT to the US.

Still, I managed to blow it in the puzzle : <

Did I say that it was a fantastic puzzle?

Stan 1:42 PM  

I [heart] rebus puzzles in general and this was a great example.

Difficult at my solving-level but never a slog -- new revelations right up to the end!

Congrats to Elizabeth Gorski

Ashish 1:43 PM  

Solving in acrosslite, I used shift+8 to get a circle around the letter (instead of inserting letters), and in this case it was worth the effort as the ET appeared!

Great puzzle.

miriam b 1:46 PM  

Feel compelled to comment on TOVARICH. I guess that's one accepted spelling, but it's not a direct transliteration. Parshutr is on the right track, but the correct pronunciation is tovarishch, with the "shch" represented by the one character Щ. The sound "sh" is this: Ш. Note the little tail on the former. In practice, the final "ch" sound would be sorta deemphasized. Another example that comes to mind: borshch, commonly anglicized as borsht.

Hmm. I happen to have some of those unmentionable root vegetables in the fridge even as we type....

I simply loved this puzzle, and not just because it was constructed by a fellow alumna. It was clever and full of charming surprises.

miriam b 1:46 PM  
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retired_chemist 1:48 PM  

@ foodie: re Hegira - got it. Nice explanation.

re UNSI - means "not silicon?" :-)

miriam b 1:55 PM  

Special to NDE: Please note the resemblance of Ш and Щ to the Hebrew "shin".

Megan P 1:55 PM  

@jannieB: I will try "esc" next time. Thanks.

archaeoprof 2:14 PM  

Transliterating words from Semitic languages is tricky, so there were multiple possibilities for MATZOH and HEGIRAS. The crosses didn't make them any easier.

But like Rex and many others, I found this puzzle strangely enjoyable and repeatedly interesting.

THOLE: is that one word, or T-Hole?

obert 2:39 PM  

Anyone ever drunk Chateau LaFite? I came close once, in restaurant in Kansas City where a young, drunk, football-obsessed couple were loudly debating the fine points of the day's game while sloshing down bottles of Chateau LaFite. They left about a half-bottle on the table when they departed and I brazenly tried to bribe the waiter $20 to deliver the bottle to my table, but he was having none of it. I love wine but refuse to spring for the inflated price of wines like CLF. So I saw my chance here, 20 bucks for a half bottle, but no go.

Liked the puzzle, like most things French (including the wine, if it's reasonably priced). Got the rebus right off the bat. Never heard of 125A UNCI, but got it easily from crosses.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

can somebody explain HES for "cock and bull" for me? thanks.

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

re HES: duh. n/m.

Leon 2:52 PM  

Thanks Ms. Gorski, it was fun.

Shaking A Tail Feather.

Ashish 2:54 PM  

@obert: Good move on the bribe, and sorry it didn't work out for you!

The 1996 Lafite(the only one I have had the pleasure of tasting in 2007) is to die for! Only problem (apart from the $$) is the wait associated with aging - the 1996 had to be decanted several hours before we drank it and an expert commented that we should wait another decade before opening the next bottle!

jae 3:01 PM  
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Stan 3:04 PM  

GLOSSILY sounded Nabokovian to me, so I did a little searching, et voila:

Lolita, Ch. 22

"The two-room cabin we had ordered at Silver Spur Court, Elphinstone,
turned out to belong to the glossily browned pine-log kind that Lolita used to be so fond of in the days of our carefree first journey."

jae 3:05 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. So much going on. This is the sort of puzzle I show to my non-puzzling friends to give them a taste of how much fun it can be.

I did need some help from my New England born bride to get OKEMO. I usually check stuff I'm not sure of or don't know with her (or my sister) after I've finished.

Me-"Have you ever heard of EKEMO Mt. ski resort?"
She-"You mean OKEMO Mt." (Full disclosure, she also helped with spelling ETAGERE.)

@joho -- In this same vein I made exactly the error you did last week with REEVE/VIENA for the same reason you did. My sister pointed out that VIENNA has two Ns and it was more likely SIENA.

3:01 PM

George NYC 3:10 PM  

A lot of awesomeness here. Loved CHATEAULAFITE.

alanrichard 3:19 PM  

This was a fun puzzle. The ET ude for Chopin gave away the theme and then it was off to the races. The best part was that I did this while my daughter, Lisa, was driving at the biannual Range Rover off road driving clinic in Setauket. My goal was to finish the puzzle before it was my turn to drive - which gave me about 1/2 hour.

Glitch 3:41 PM  

@sethg @nde

IMHO As Judy Garland's girl, Liza [with a Z] Minnelli (b 1946), Tony & Oscar winner, concerts w/ Sinatra & Sammy, is neither obscure nor p*p, but kinda peaked in the 70's. After all, it could have been her 1/2 sister [Lorna Luft] ;-)

--- to whom it may concern (or matter)

Thole is one word.

Okemo Mt was a regular (along with Stowe, Hunter, and the ever popular Mad River Glen) on the radio ski reports we had to endure waiting for the school closings, in mid-state NY. This pre the I'net. OTOH, any western ski place beyond Aspen might as well be called WTF as far as I'm concerned.

Good Puzzle tho.

.../Glitch

Joe in Montreal 3:47 PM  

I guess if you've recently discussed whether CCCP is really English letters, I won't bring it up again. I would like to know, though, if TOVARICH was used by all peoples of the Soviet Union, or only the Russian-speaking ones.
Can hubs for airlines be airports? After figuring OHARE I checked the UA website; it mentions Chicago, not the airport. Of course the Russian letter for shch looks like Hebrew Shin - Greek didn't have the sound, so the polyglot Cyril had to get it somewhere! But possibly the Coptic Shai (I don't know how to put it here) which looks like Shin, but is from the demotic Egyptian (possibly ultimately sharing a root with Shin)

PhillySolver 4:03 PM  

Some xword reference below: (maybe)
One of the proofs I lead a charmed life is a private tour of Chateua LaFite Rothchild the day after Robert Parker's tour (I had the tasting immediately after him at Mouton Rothchild) tasting the 1995 vintage. Trivia fans might know the most expensive bottle of wine sold is a 1787 LaFite which sold for 105,000 British Pounds so between a $160,000 and $200,000. Missing from my wine tasting notes is Cahteau Petrus(yes, I have done Romani Contee). Send me an invitation to try it and I am there.

Noam D. Elkies 4:26 PM  

Indeed Ш was derived from Hebrew ש (shin). [It is also one of the few letters outside the Latin and Green alphabet that are commonly used in mathematics, for the "Dirac comb" or "Tate-Shafarevich group"; the more famous example is א which is literally a Hebrew letter (Aleph), for infinite cardinals.] Wikipedia says that Щ is originally a ligature of Ш with T and was pronounced SHT, which might explain the pronunciation "borsht" of борщ. The Cyrillic letter Ц (for the TS sound, as in the familiar crosswordese царь=tsar) is also said to originate with the corresponding Hebrew letter, here צ (tsadi).

NDE

Anne 4:36 PM  

If anyone has any input on this, I would appreciate it. When I went to post this morning, the line with Rex's name and comments which I usually press was not there. I asked Rex about this and he e-mailed back that I was the third person that said this but that he didn't think it was at his end. I finally started pressing different things starting with Bertha Composer and I'm not sure how I finally got here.

HudsonHawk 4:43 PM  

@Anne: I also had that issue today. If you click on the puzzle title at the very top, you will see the comments below RP's write-up and can then post comments in a separate window.

@Joe in Montreal: I think the airport makes more sense, actually, since United doesn't utilize Midway Airport in Chicago. Similarly, American uses DFW in Dallas as its hub, but not Love Field.

PlantieBea 4:51 PM  

@Anne--I had exactly the same problem. I clicked on the link to Sunday puzzles and when that page came up, a link to the comments section appeared as normal.

Anne 4:53 PM  

Not being able to post took a lot of the fun out of it, but I loved both the puzzle and the write up. It was also quite a coincidence for me. Last night I finished reading "The Devel and The White City," a very detailed account of the Chicago World Fair that introduced the Ferris Wheel, America's attempt to eclipse the Eiffel Tower. (A serial killer and an assasin were also working the area at the same time. I was astonished that I didn't know about all that.)

Anne 4:58 PM  

@Hudsonhawk and @PlantieBea - Thank you both - we must be the three - I'll try your suggestions.

Also this is the first time I've posted three times. I think.

Anne 5:00 PM  

My fourth - It should have been "The Devil in the White City."

william e emba 5:33 PM  

You would know how to spell LIZA if you saw Liza with a Z, a 70s TV special in her honor.

Did I miss the complaint about ASPISH?

Rex Parker 5:42 PM  

I can see the "Comments" link just fine at the bottom of the regular homepage, not just the day-specific page. I.e. I see nothing wrong.

I'm on a Mac using Firefox. Sorry others are having issues, but I have No idea why that should be.

rp

Raul 6:51 PM  

AOL had no comments link all day but now it is there. The LA confidential link now takes you to Rex Parker 03/22/2009.

PlantieBea 7:34 PM  

@Raul--Just checked and I am now seeing the comments link on the home page too, also running through AOL. I did try running the page earlier through Internet Explorer via my Roadrunner ISP on this computer, but I didn't have any comments link there either. Strange. At least it seems to be fixed.

Rex Parker 7:42 PM  

Hey AOLers, is it irony if the problem was the AOL video I had embedded? I think it is. I try to branch out from youtube and look what happens... video de-embedded, problem solved.

rp

Xavier 7:46 PM  

The use of the word "decadence" in Rex's write-up today in the context of France/french things reminds me of a funny story.

I was taking the English language tour of Versailles (bad idea since I actually know French). I got stuck with a group of Americans and at the end of the tour, this old lady asked the guide regarding the three kings of France who lived in the palace, "Which one was the decadent one?" I almost lost it with laughter! Have you taken a look around? This was their home! They were all decadent!

In her defense, Louis XIV, The Sun King, was notably more ostentatious. Even so. It still remains a regular source of laughter in my life.

Xavs

Stan 7:55 PM  

FWIW: Internet Explorer has been having issues all week in my part of the world. The official answer is to tell people "Try Firefox or Chrome or Safari or Opera or whatever else you have."

In the absence of that, update everything, esp. the plug-ins.

Sorry to repeat myself, but E. Gorski, you rock!

Three and out

Greene 7:57 PM  

Count me among those who mysteriously couldn't find the comments link earlier today. Not sure why. Had no difficulty posting at LA Crossword Confidential. Then magically, the link appeared this evening.

@JannieB: Add Tovarich to the category of "Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals." This was a flop musical from 1963, based on the world famous Jacques Deval boulevard comedy of the same title, which starred Vivien Leigh and Jean Pierre Aumont as a Russian grand duchess and prince who hire out as maid and butler in Paris after the Russian revolution.

Leigh, while not a singer, scored heavily with audiences and critics because of star power and sheer charm (C'mon, wouldn't you want to see Miss Scarlett up close and in the flesh?). She won the Tony award for Best Actress in a Musical that season and stayed with the show throughout its tortured 8 month run (since she was the only reason to see the show, it would have folded immediately without her).

There is a not-so-good cast album of the show, which serves to remind one of how ordinary most of the composition is, but there is a real treat in a song called "I Know the Feeling" sung in a throaty baritone by Miss Leigh as she charms her way through a most haunting melody.

Oh...the show also featured George S. Irving (recently seen in the puzzle via an obscure reference to his Tony win for Irene) as a visiting American who employs Miss Leigh. Don't ask about his songs.

Rex Parker 8:04 PM  

Speaking of sources of laughter - in the kitchen today, my wife was still working on the puzzle and I was standing at the refrigerator when she asked, hesitantly, "The Macarena's not a ... LINE DANCE, is it?" So I didn't respond bec. I don't think she's really asking and don't want to ruin things for her. Then she wonders aloud, "... or is it a HAND DANCE?" And at this point, still facing the open fridge, I try to say "Well it's not a HAND DANCE ..." but I can't even get the sentence out of my mouth. I lose it - doubled over laughter. The kind where you eventually cry, lose your breath, and cease making noise altogether for seconds on end. Then I start making my hands dance with each other, and this only makes things worse. Much worse (mostly because when my hands dance with each other, they apparently talk in a crazy falsetto). And this makes my wife laugh so hard that despite trying, she can't even convincingly say "it's not that funny."

joho 8:20 PM  

@Greene: I just got on for the first time today. No way to click on the link to access the comments section. Glad to be on again. I was hoping to see what everybody had to say today ... having read what's been posted, I guess we pretty much agree that this was a great puzzle!

@jae: That's funny that you did the same thing I did. I should have known better having been in Siena in 2001.

Thank you Ms. Gorski! I look forward to your puzzles!

chefbea 8:20 PM  

@rex LOL LOL that was soooo funny

Chip Hilton 8:21 PM  

My wife and I greeted the new century with a 1970 Lafite (that I had purchased in 1975 for $25.00). Sadly, it disappointed my distinctly under-educated palate. Just good, not great.

edith b 8:50 PM  

I always enjoy Elizabeth Gorski's puzzles especially ones like this one with a visual dimension.

I tipped to the rebus, like others, from the Chopin clue. Luckily, I chose southward to continue and stumbled over the theme clue at 118A and began a steady march northward and solved it in short order. I found myself between a rock and a hard place with the HE*IRAS/*OA cross as, I too, referenced Joni Mitchell's album HEJIRA but I knew the Indian state to be GOA so I went with the alternate spelling of HEGIRAS for the long flights and it turned out to be correct.

It wasn't a very difficult puzzle but it was fun and I guess that's what it's all about.

michael 9:14 PM  

Terrific puzzle -- probably my favorite this year. I really appreciated the multiple ways the theme was developed.

Donald 10:06 PM  

So I usually do the LA Times puzzle on line -- but you are saying there is ANOTHER LA Times puzzle? How do I find it? I found the blog -- but I would love another daily puzzle.

Your hand dance was a "hint" over her shoulder!

Orange 11:05 PM  

Donald, the sidebar at L.A. Crossword Confidential has links for the two Sunday puzzles.

Re: OKEMO: Man, did that answer piss me off. Not today. A few years ago. It was in an airline magazine crossword, and I'd never heard of OKEMO so I maligned the puzzle. And then...it showed up in other puzzles. Oh, look, it's my old friend OKEMO! I know you! You will not stymie me again. There are a lot of examples like that—it's horribly obscure the first time but thereafter, it's part of your vocabulary.

mac 11:08 PM  

Thank you, thank you Orange.

Doug 1:43 AM  

I also had no link to Comments when I logged in this AM. It happened once earlier this week, and it just appears at some point. Hence my post at 11pm instead of 8am when I read the blog.

I actually had the puzzle 2/3 done without the ET insertions. Was glad when I finally figured it out and closed off those...hmmm, could it be 9 troublesome areas?

Not as entertaining as other Liz Gorski puzzles, probably because of the rebus trouble.

bocamp 2:24 AM  

@JannieB: Thx for the ESC tip. It worked on my old iBook for mult. letters.

Carl 6:02 AM  

I also rowed in college but never heard of THOLE. The oar fits into the oarlock and is held in place by closing the gate, the oarlock sits on a rigger, which is bolted to the gunwhale. No thole in modern rowing.

I knew GOA because I once had a boss from Goa, and he did have a Portuguese name, Eddie Diaz. Thanks for that explanation about the history of Goa, Orange.

Good thing too, or I wouldn't have gotten HEGIRAS or ARN. Who is Arn (Royal son of the comics)? Prince Valiant? Hagar's son? I guess Hagar is not nobility.

Also thanks to miriam b for the tovarishch explication so I didn't have to.

If anyone has ever driven up to VT through NY or CT to go skiing you have probably passed a big Okemo billboard.

I had an O instead of the U in ETUI/UNCI and also thought for a long time that TREY followed DEUCE so that section was the last to fall.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

ARN is Prince Valiant's son (and standard crosswordese). Arn was in the Sunday comic, by name, about two or three weeks ago, welcoming home his long-absent father and mother (Aleta, also crosswordese).

Citizen Mundane 8:21 PM  

great puzzle... did anyone else come up with "chastised" for "chastened"... that threw me off for a sec... TOVARICH - knew that one from all the Tom Clancy novels, where I also learned that "Oso" is spanish for "bear"... I read a book by Piers Anthony called "With a Tangled Skein", from "The Incarnations of Immortality" series, essentially about the Fates weaving the fabric of life ... for the most part, Anthony was a too-prolific author who quickly wore out his welcome with me, but "The Incarnations of Immortality" series is definitely worh a read if you like fantasy type of stuff...

gourmande 11:43 PM  

This was a quick one, completed while having dinner with only one "google" at the end to resolve 46D HEGIRA. I had HEJIRA but of course that didn't work for 57A GOA so I checked and found that HEGIRA was an alternate spelling!

Don't know if anyone else felt this way, but I so wanted 45A to be CHATEAULATOUR (indeed it's what I had for a short time) - it would have fit perfectly with the theme of la tour eiffel.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

not sure - but i think the word "dun" comes from Dun & Bradstreet and their bill collecting efforts. i.e to be dunned is to have them contact you to pay a bill.

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