South American tuber - SUNDAY, May 24 2009 - E.C. Gorski (Descartes portraitist / Gonitis locale / Clubber Lang portrayer in Rocky III)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "Perpetual Motion" - puzzle has a "note," which reads: "When this puzzle is done, start at the end of 57-Across; then, beginning counterclockwise, connect the circles in one continuous line to identify a figure invented by 29-Down. The answers to the five asterisked clues will provide a hint to the figure." The "figure" is the symbol for "INFINITY," and its inventor, apparently is JOHN WALLIS

Word of the Day: HALVAS (14D: Turkish sweets) - n.

A confection consisting of crushed sesame seeds in a binder of honey.

[Turkish helva, from Arabic halwā, from haluwa, to be sweet.]

Saw that the puzzle had a note after I'd printed it out. I never bothered to read it, and it turns out, you really don't have to. The circled squares clearly form an INFINITY symbol, and the entire puzzle is so easy in its non-theme fill that the note is almost superfluous. When I was done with the puzzle, the only thing I'd never seen before was JOHN WALLIS, who was essentially unclued (29D: See note). I simply figured "he must be the guy who invented the INFINITY symbol." And I was right. I filled this puzzle in with almost zero hesitation. Took a while to see what the circled squares spelled out, but I got it eventually. Never thought about what the asterisked clues were doing until I hit 104A: *1974 Carl Carlton hit. I had no idea who "Carl Carlton" was. I had the "EVE" in place, so I went looking to the other asterisked answers for hints. That's when I saw "without end" and "forever" and the song "EVERLASTING LOVE" leapt immediately to mind. That was the one moment in this puzzle that felt truly exhilarating - getting that answer. The puzzle is another wonderfully multi-layered and inventive Liz Gorski Sunday, though easier and with more so-so fill than I've come to expect from her (admittedly, my expectations are high - she might be my favorite Sunday constructor of the moment).

Theme answers:

  • 21A: *2007 Ken Follett novel ("World WITHOUT END")
  • 25A: *Bond film that's a real gem ("Diamonds are FOREVER") - just too too easy.
  • 47D: *Song by Tejano singer Selena ("ALWAYS Mine") - OK, I didn't know that.
  • 100A: *Alexander Pope phrase appropriate to the start of a sports season ("Hope springs ETERNAL") - "Man never is, but ALWAYS to be, blest" - could have gotten this with No crosses. The first good paper I ever wrote in college was about Pope.
  • 104A: *1974 Carl Carlton hit ("EVERLASTING Love") - here's another, lesser Carl Carlton hit ... oh, man, this right here ... this makes my day:

I did this puzzle during a break in watching 2008's Batman movie, "The Dark Knight" (for the first time). This made the insane word INSANEST (81D: Most ready for commitment?) easier to take than it might have been otherwise. Heath Ledger was, indeed, fantastic as The Joker - deserved his posthumous Oscar. There's also a brief appearance by The Scarecrow in this movie - CAW! (1D: Cornfield sound) - and we also get to see how Two-Face acquires his grotesquely split VISAGE (30A: Kisser, so to speak). Can't believe I put of seeing the movie for so long. Highly enjoyable. Also saw the new "Night at the Museum" movie in the theater YEST. (69A: 24 hrs. ago). That movie was not the laugh riot I'd hoped it might be, but it had its moments (as well as half the cast of "The Office" -- ??), and daughter thought it was incredible. To be fair, she thinks all movies are incredible. But any movie with Amy Adams on screen for an extended length of time cannot, I'm convinced, be too bad.


  • 10A: Scot's exclamation ("Och!") - went with the German "Ach!" at first
  • 13A: The fish in John McPhee's "The Founding Fish" (shad) - heard of, but never read, McPhee.
  • 34A: Newsman Peter and other (Arnetts) - wondered briefly how you pluralize ARNESS (ARNESSESESES?) ... but that's the 60s TV actor. ARNETT is the newsman.
  • 63A: Descartes portraitist (Hals) - he was in the puzzle recently, which is the only reason his name sprang to mind (I had the "LS" - that helped).
  • 72A: Jazzy Laine (Cleo) - gimme. I find "jazzy" as an adjective for jazz singers/musicians slightly odd. Too much like a word you'd use to describe, say, a colorful sweater - though I may be thinking of "snazzy."
  • 82A: Clubber Lang portrayer in "Rocky III" (Mr. T) - he just turned 57 a few days ago.
  • 91A: Gonitis locale (knee) - "locale" strikes me as geographical, i.e. an odd way to describe the KNEE.
  • 94A: Classic Cremona family (Amatis) - they made violins.
  • 109A: An original Star Alliance airline (SAS) - may as well have just said [Airline]. No idea what "Star Alliance" is ... here's info. Best fact - it's headquartered in FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany. FRANKFURT AM MAIN = 15 letters ... nice, grid-spanning potential.
  • 114A: Arthur _____, inventor of the crossword puzzle (Wynne) - I had the "WY" and wrote in ... WYATT.
  • 3D: Country whose national anthem's title means "The Hope": Abbr. (Isr.) - needed many crosses for this one. Well, two. I needed the "S" and "R," which is what I had when I first saw this clue.
  • 22D: Handyman's letters (DIY) - Do-It-Yourself
  • 93D: "Chicago" song ("Roxie") - I read this clue to mean "a song off of the album 'Chicago' by 70s/80s supergroup Chicago" - songs off that album include "25 or 6 to 4," "Make Me Smile," and "Colour My World."

  • 105D: South American tuber (oca) - a tempting little 3-letter word that I'm convinced constructors would use a Lot more if it were a Lot more common to North American readers.

Before I go, I have a message from puzzle constructor and author Eric Berlin, who has embarked on a new crossword publishing project. You should support it if you can. He's good.

At the 2008 ACPT, in honor of Brooklyn taking over as host of the tournament, I presented a "suite" of Brooklyn-themed crossword puzzles. There were seven puzzles, some straightforward and some rather offbeat. Each puzzle led to an answer word, and the final puzzle, once solved, explained how to combine these answers into a final, satisfying solution. I received many nice compliments for this suite, and I've long thought about doing another one, but the fact is that the market for such a thing is small. In fact, non-existent. In fact, if I didn't sell it to Will Shortz for use at the tournament, there would be no way to turn a dime on the puzzles at all. This despite the fact that there are probably a great many people who would enjoy these puzzles.

Now comes Kickstarter (, a new web site for artists of all kinds. Kickstarter allows people to seek out funding a variety of esoteric projects. The site [only just launched], and already there are writers, filmmakers, and all other sorts of creative types, looking to raise a little money to support their passion. I'm there, too.

I am trying to find 300 people willing to pay five bucks each to fund a new themed suite of crosswords, to be delivered to my "backers" in the fall. The money I raise will go to my time for creating the puzzles, as well as a fee for my testsolver, as well as a couple of prizes, since I intend to run this as a contest.

Here's the Web site for my project:

Oh -- and at that site is a link to my seven Brooklyn crosswords, which I am now giving away for free. [Read "About This Project" - link to Brooklyn puzzles is in the third paragraph]

Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend Sunday,

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS A certain avid crossword-solving celebrity is a theme answer in today's Philadelphia Inquirer (Merl Reagle) puzzle... (see 53A)


retired_chemist 9:09 AM  

Easy. Meh. A bit of a letdown after Friday’s coruscating gem and Saturday’s satisfying solve. It was….. just…..there. With no real challenge, no fun facts to glean, no devilish cluing. Ms. Gorski has done better.

Can’t think what a SELECTOR (13D) on a computer is or does. Didn’t know who JOHN WALLIS is. Wikipedia does. Now I do.

I sssume there is a connection between OCA and ocarina (AKA Sweet Potato). Anyone know?

JannieB 9:11 AM  

I think this puzzle sacrificed good fill for the feat of construction - too many partials and contrived plurals to suit me. I could see the symbol just staring at the blank grid - no "aha" moment for me at all.

Don't even want to tell you what I thought "gonitis" might be, given how the earlier days puzzles were trending.

Too easy for my Sunday tastes.

Ulrich 9:25 AM  

My biggest beef is the note: The puzzle would have been more interesting if the theme had to be discovered w/o hint, which, as Rex has said already, is eminently doable. And that would have made it a really enjoyable Gorski puzzle for me--she is also one of my favorite constructors when she takes advantage of the graphical aspects of a grid--being an architect, I appreciate it and don't see enough of it.

BTW "och" is also German, as is "loch".

Greene 9:41 AM  

OK, so this puzzle was a little on the easy side and may have lacked some of the pizzazz of Ms. Gorski's other Sunday efforts, but it was still an intelligent and creative effort and I enjoyed solving it immensely at 1 AM this morning.

I have been an internist for almost 25 years and I have never heard the word "gonitis." Is this perhaps a veterinary term? @JannieB: I would tell you to get your mind out of the gutter, but mine is already there thinking the same thing!

I do enjoy the film version of Chicago, even with all that MTV-style film editing. And who knew Renee Zellweger could sing and dance? Here she is doing Roxie. She's no Gwen Verdon, but she's got the moves and the look down.

Leon 9:55 AM  

Thanks for a great puzzle Ms. Gorski.

David Foster Wallace , author of Infinite Jest, wrote a history of : Everything and More.

RIP Mr Wallace.

Denise 10:05 AM  

Star Alliance is a group of airlines that share things like lounges at airports and frequent flyer miles. If you have American Airline miles, for example, they can be used on Air Canada, etc. My husband travels for work, and I use the miles.

Shamik 10:21 AM  

My knees have given me trouble for years and had various diagnoses...none of which was GONITIS. And I'm with JannieB and Greene with it probably not passing our dirtly little minds' breakfast test.

Very easy puzzle and feel meh about it. It's so funny to be human. I include myself in the category of people willing to tell people how to raise their children, but never gave birth. And in the category of deciding what is a good book, movie or crossword puzzle who never wrote, directed or constructed.

Still haven't looked at Friday's. Off to hike and put more damage into my knees.

edith b 10:24 AM  

I wish I liked this puzzle better than I did because I like Ms Gorski's efforts alot but his one was a non-stop slog as Jannie B pointed out so ably above.

I did this one in two sittings, getting half way finished last night almost non-stop, then going to bed. Upon rising this morning, I performed my ablutions and finished up.

I hope Ms Gorski's next puzzle has a little more tooth to it.

Crosscan 10:30 AM  

@Rex: Did you see the film at a nabe?!!!!

@world: I solved a Sunday NYT in less than 10 minutes!!!!! unthinkable a few years ago!!!!!

@Denise: It is better to use American Airline miles on Air Canada than to do the reverse. Trust me!!!!!

Great, fun puzzle!!!!!

Peter ARNETT - that reminds me of the time...oops, no more name-dropping!!!!

WYNNE - i was at the Wynne in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, then went to Casesar's Palace where I almost got run over by Hulk Hogan on a scooter. These things only happen to me!!!!!


alanrichard 10:34 AM  

Infinity. That brings back memories of the old doctor show BEN CASEY. At the onset the narrator would introduce: this is the sign for man, this is the sign for woman, this is the sign for life, and the final sign would be the sign for INFINITY.
Vince Edwards was Ben Casey and Sam Jaffe was Dr. Zorba. Funny how things come full circle. Sam Jaffe portrayed Gunga Din in the movie Gunga Din, who was a SEPOY for the British. Sepoy was the word of the day and here we are with infinity.
Talk about making no sense and going in circles!!! Aha - the theme of INFINITY.
And on the old movie channel, Sean Connery and the James Bond series have been a recurrent theme this last month.

Ulrich 10:37 AM  

The theme finally motivated me to pursue a question I've had in my mind FOREVER: What's the origin of the infinity symbol? Well. it turns out nobody knows. Here's Wiki:

The precise origin of the infinity symbol, ∞, is unclear. One possibility is suggested by the name it is sometimes called—the lemniscate, from the Latin lemniscus, meaning "ribbon".

John Wallis is usually credited with introducing ∞ as a symbol for infinity in 1655 in his De sectionibus conicis (On the conic sections--UF). One conjecture about why he chose this symbol is that he derived it from a Roman numeral for 1000 that was in turn derived from the Etruscan numeral for 1000, which looked somewhat like CIƆ and was sometimes used to mean "many." Another conjecture is that he derived it from the Greek letter ω (omega), the last letter in the Greek alphabet.

Stan 10:41 AM  

Liked the way the theme reverberated through the short answers, with Ariel, In heaven, Zen, Halo, Blessing, Exegeses, and Ecce homo. But I care not for puzzles of this Earth...

alanrichard 10:42 AM  

OMG: The origin of infinity. I guess we all have way too much free time!!!
What was the name of the English Nobleman who invented the wheel: Sir Cumference. And the inventor of both modern gynecology and the chest rub: Sir Vicks!!!

Vince 10:49 AM  

The first twenty seconds show the symbols - Ben Casey .

Noam D. Elkies 10:53 AM  

I liked this one, note and all. I knew of John Wallis from his (appropriately) infinite product for π; didn't remember he introduced the ∞ symbol too.

Yes, rather a lot of partials, but I can't kvetch about 36A:INHEAVEN (cf.86A:BLESSING), the paired 36A:NUFF and 57A:FESS, and 67A:ACLEF (nothing like the recently seen CCLEF -- cf. 63D:HALFSTEP). Didn't care so much for 20A:WEARE and 62D:ASET (the latter could be changed to ASST, crossing PSI instead of PEI). 50A:ASWARM looks like a two-word partial but happily is a single word.

Various other nice 2-word phrases: 4D:COLDONE, 20D:WORSTOFF (without the expected -EST ending), 72D:CLINGSTO, maybe 98A:IGUESS.

Not so nice is 17A:AMSO, but I'm not complaining because it made possible the pleasant surprise in the clue for 3D:ISR. Even in English the anthem is usually called by its Hebrew name Ha-Tikva. It is also one of the few national anthems in a minor mode; the tune is related to the famous opening of Moldau, and to Mozart's minor-mode variation on the alphabet song.

15D:ARIEL, 110A:ORIELS :-)


treedweller 10:56 AM  

Wow. As a fan of early Chicago (the band), I have to say, that video is pretty crappy. I'm going to have to drag out the CD and hear it with all the vocals reaching the proper pitches.

And that's pretty much all I have to say about this puzzle.

chefbea 10:57 AM  

Fun easy Sunday puzzle.

Loved cookie store = tin

PIX 11:09 AM  

30 years of medicine and have never seen the word Gonitis (although it is indeed listed in my copy of Dorland's Medical Dictionary.)

Thought 81D: "most ready for commitment" = insanest as brilliant clue; works so well on two levels.

Jamie 11:18 AM  

I loved the partials in this one. Roman ___ was devilish. Maybe I'm partial to partials . . The circles in the grid looked like a pair of eyeglasses, at first. but then it hit me; it's my favorite symbol, and now the finished puzzle is stuck on the fridge door with an Infinity magnet.

when I showed up in math lab one day (years ago), with my new Infinity tattoo . . well now! Creative puzzle with a perpetual motion center, I love it!

mccoll 11:23 AM  

Easy for a Sunday, but a satisfying puzzle, nonetheless. I think it's pretty difficult to construct something which has this many layers and inter-relations. Thanks E.G.
Maybe it's just me but all last week was dead easy until Saturday! Struggle as I might I couldn't get the SE corner and, for the first time, I had to "Rex" it to come up with SAMOATIME. See Rex, anything can be used as a verb.
As I recall,(Warning, shaky memory at work.) the infinity symbol is a Moebus (Sp) strip. This is a twisted figure which has a single edge and a single surface. They are easy to make but hard to describe.
The math types probably know this.

PlantieBea 11:42 AM  

The infinity symbol looks like a mobius strip. I thought the puzzle was fun, though easy. I solved it while watching an Iron Chef marathon in which a tangine was used. I really liked all the layers of the puzzle, from the long answers to the circled letters that spelled out symbol of infinity. Thanks Ms. Gorski.

Glitch 11:42 AM  

For those of you like me, who never heard of, never ran into, couldn't parse, let's learn for next time:

-A roman à clef or roman à clé (French for "novel with a key") is a novel describing real life, behind a façade of fiction.

-a novel in which actual persons and events are disguised as fictional characters

re: "South American tuber (oca) - a tempting little 3-letter word that I'm convinced constructors would use a Lot more if it were a Lot more common to North American readers."

Doesn't need to be "common", see "obi" (or the note above), if they use it, we will, kicking and screaming, learn.


Joe, Montreal 12:04 PM  

re ROMAN A CLEF - is the the NYT policy not to put foreign phrases in italics?
my only very small quibble is that the prayer implies that "thy will" is currently be done in heaven, not that it will be done ("as it is in heaven").

XMAN 12:28 PM  

Okay, it was an easy Sunday--which is why I didn't have to google. What counts? I had a good time! (In a good time.)

I thought the puzzle was most ingenious.

pednsg 12:33 PM  

I'm pretty easy to please, and I did love this one. Just when I finally learned "Ari, " the Exodus hero clued in a puzzle seemingly every month or so, I got tripped up on 108A. Had I thought about it for a minute, I would have remembered Sal Mineo (though he was before my time). Alas, I was too anxious to finish and get here, and I had "Minto" instead - I've never heard of exegeses!

Never heard of John Wallis, nor the gentleman responsible for my lack of sleep - Arthur Wynne!

Tim 12:35 PM  

I HAD FUN with this easy one, but the INSANEST thing is that the infinity symbol looks like it's moving round and round . . and I haven't had a COLD ONE yet

Back to mise-en-place and BBQ prep . . Happy Memorial Day weekend to all and a PERPETUAL thanks to Rex for being here

joho 12:52 PM  

Easy and enjoyable, thanks Ms. Gorski! Unlike Rex I always have fun drawing on the puzzle.

46A "Craven" made me think of director Wes ... isn't it odd that the celebrated maker of horror films name means AFRAID? I guess, not that he is, but that we are as watchers.

@Rex ... I totally agree that Heath Ledger deserved his academy award. He was mesmerizing in the film.

foodie 1:15 PM  

I agree. Easy, and the note unnecessarily complicated. But I really enjoyed it. Because Sundays are so large, and I'm not so fast, I'd rather have them on the easier side. It doesn't wind up taking up too much time. Other things to do on a lovely day in the early summer. And how can you not love a puzzle with HALVA and DARK chocolate in it? The whole puzzle had such a positive vibe, with HOPE (both in a clue and in an answer), LOVE, BLESSING, ENJOYS, ASSET, WISHES...

My absolute favorite clue "they can swing"! Yes, they can, and we have no clue why! I'm working on it though :)

Speaking of which, there was a further discussion last night about the blog and associated feelings. Rather than put in a long post or impose it on those who prefer to just think about the puzzle, I posted some thoughts about Rexville on my so called blog. Just click on the strawberry.

Happy Memorial Day!

Lili 1:25 PM  

Much too easy. The infinity symbol was, indeed, immediately recognizable, and since I was familiar with the Follett novel, I knew immediately how to approach the other theme clues.

I object to answers like "Yecch." They're not really words, not everyone would use "yecch" in response to something disgusting. Puzzle-makers always seem a little desperate when they resort to this sort of thing.

And "Insanest"? Some words don't take an "est" in the superlative, you have to qualify them with "most." I don't think I've heard anyone say "insanest."


imsdave 1:29 PM  

Never got the theme until I drew the symbol - that was a nice aha for me after just filling in answers wondering what the punchline was.

A tad easy, but very solid, and a perfectly fine way to prepare for golf this a.m.

@Tim - time for me to start the ribs - 24 hours in sugar and salt - how bad can that be?

Bob Kerfuffle 1:41 PM  

I don't often do Sunday puzzles any time near their publication dates, since I save them for the beach, ski weekends, etc. But I was home today, trying to pretend I was somewhere else, and I did the puzzle.

What a fog I must have been in! Filled in the grid easily as everyone else did, but by the time I connected the dots, I had completely forgotten the theme! The drawing could have been the infinity symbol or a Moebius strip, or (as noted above) a pair of eyeglasses, or butterfly wings or waterwings!

In fact, only after reading Rex's write-up, and all the comments, and a few of the connecting links, did I finally go back to the puzzle to see (for the first time for me!) that the circled letters actually spell "Symbol of Infinity'!

jeff in chicago 2:06 PM  

Celebrated a friend's opening of "Measure for Measure" last night. Celebrated. Yeah, we'll call it that. So I'm OK with an easy puzzle this morning. (Morning. It's after 1 p.m. Yikes.) Anyhoo...

Growing up in NE Ohio a popular Saturday late-night movie show was "Hoolihan and Big Chuck." They did goofy skits, often inserting dialogue into whatever B-movie they were showing. (The show replaced the "Ghoulardi" show after Ernie Anderson went to LA seeking fame and fortune. Which he sorta did. Most of you have heard him say: "The Lo-o-o-ove Boat.") Anyhoo...

H&BC had a recurring sketch called "Ben Crazy," which started with a slightly modified use of the "Ben Casey" symbols. A 52-second example here. At age 12 I thought this kind of stuff was hilarious.

mac 2:12 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. I'm not usually fond of Sundays, but this one was smooth and pleasant with elegant clues. No klunkers (sp?) in by book.

When a puzzle is this easy, partials are not a problem. I only just realized that I read "Roman -"
immediately as the book, maybe because in Dutch roman means novel, fiction.

Back to the kitchen.

Orange 2:46 PM  

@Joe, Montreal: You'll note that most newspaper crosswords don't use italics at all. Not for titles—those end up in quotes—and not for foreign words. I'm not sure why this is the convention, because certainly the technology exists to render italics. But then, there are many thousands of NYT crossword subscribers who do the puzzle in Across Lite, and I don't think italics work there. Maybe it's just easier to use quotes and not worry about font styles getting applied correctly?

But even if the puzzle did italicize foreign words, it wouldn't do it to roman à clef—that's in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Will Shortz's dictionary of record, as an English term (with a French accent).

fikink 2:51 PM  

@Retired Chemist, "coruscating - nice!
(Also, someone will send you the video of the sweet potato flute that was going around the Web a while back, I am sure. I cannot find it.)
@Edith, "ablutions" - also, nice.
And Rex, haven't heard "snazzy" in a long time...thanks for bringing it to the fore.
@alan richard, as huge Ben Casey fans in our Ben Casey shirts (before the Nehru jackets), we used to skip rope to "Man woman, birth, death, infinity." Thanks for the memories.
I always thought the infinity symbol was a Mobius Strip also.
@treedweller, wasn't Chicago first called The Chicago Transit Authority and CTA made them change the name?

pednsg 3:33 PM  

@jeff in Chicago - Thanks for making me homesick and nostalgic for Cleveland. Ghoulardi was a little before my time, and I had no idea Mr. Anderson was the Love Boat voice nor the father of Paul Thomas Anderson. I used to LOVE Big Chuck and Houlihan as well as Little John. Do you remember The Gene Carroll Show? Captain Penny? Mr. Jingeling?? Have a great Sunday!

Joe, Montreal 3:51 PM  

thanks Orange. I hadn't checked the dictionary. So it is now English. Like "agorae" recently.

jeff in chicago 4:01 PM  

@pednsg: I remember all of those. How about Polka Varieties? Upbeat (w/uber-hip host Don Webster)? Woodrow the Woodsman? Superhost?

Mr. Jingeling/how you ringaling/keeper of the keys
From Halle's seventh floor/we'll be looking for/you to turn the keys.
(always loved that they could only rhyme "keys" with "keys")

green mantis 4:11 PM  


Meh puzzle, but I'm really here to say I've missed you and I'm leaving. I finished grad school, sold most of my belongings, am putting the rest in storage today, and moving to a remote seaside village in Mexico on Wednesday.

However! I totally plan to check in more often from my new locale and keep you up to date on the progress of my tan, my return to sanity, and my team of hermit crabs as they advance from square to square on an elaborate sand-based board game I'll be inventing.

I may do a little journal with photos and stuff, so check my account if you are into that sort of thing.

And thanks everyone for being such great people, and for being in my life. Adelante!

Mantide Verde

pednsg 4:35 PM  

@jeff in chicago - Never realized that about the lyrics - indeed lame rhyming! I have absolutely NO memory of Woodrow the Woodsman - none whatsoever. I remember (but tried to avoid) Polka Varieties. I don't remember Upbeat either, but I did meet Don Webster when I was on Academic Challenge in 1981 or so! Loved Superhost - red nose and all. I can't believe it - Wikipedia says that the show ran until 1990! Dorothy Fuldheim and Barnaby are two of my heroes!! Great stuff indeed

fikink 4:35 PM  

Good luck, Mantis! You are the only one I knew of before coming to this blog, having seen your pieces on boing!boing! some years ago. It has been fun to read your humor and creative skew...please stay in touch.

mac 5:00 PM  

@Mantide Verde: congratulations and good luck! Just yesterday I wondered what had become of you. It all sounds good. Please stay in touch!

ArtLvr 5:13 PM  

Thanks to Ulrich and Noam for the arcana! Like some others, I also thought of the Möbius strip, but knew it was way later than the date for the attributed invention of the infinity symbol... To add another wiki nugget, that single-sided closed surface was discovered independently by the German mathematicians August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing in 1858. (Poor Listing gets no co-credit). Wiki also points out that the strip is "chiral", having "handedness" depending on the direction of the half-twist: clockwise or counterclockwise.

I really enjoyed the construction, themes and fill which carried on the idea, even Wynne the inventor whose xword invention will surely endure as long as humankind...

My family adores bits of trivia to share -- today's goody was the origin of "posh", said to be derived from moneyed Brits in the know booking cruises to India. (?) It meant that you wanted stateroom accommodations with the best views: Portside Outward-bound, Starboard Homeward-bound. P.O.S.H.

Congrats to Green Mantis on completing the advanced degree, and how long are you planning for your recovery on the deserted Mexican beach? It sounds lovely, never mind posh -- lots of luck!


joho 5:25 PM  

@Green Mantis ... I wish you much luck and happiness in Mexico. When I was just new to this blog, having never blogged before, after a bit of an upset of sorts, you told me that the people here were exceptionally nice and well behaved ... and you were right. I know I've missed your posts ... and hope to hear more from you in the future.

JannieB 5:41 PM  

@Green Mantis - congratulations and best of luck in your new endeavor. Please keep posting - we've missed you!

Jim in Chicago 5:58 PM  


Good luck using American Airlines miles on Air Canada. AAmerican is in the One World Alliance (with British and a bunch of others) and Air Canada is in Star Alliance. The big boy in *Alliance is Lufthansa, along with United and USAir in the US (and soon Continental after they leave SkyTeam (KLM Northwest and Air France among others) this fall.

Their main features are linked schedules, joint booking, and many bennies that flow from one to another.

As a United freguent flyer, for example, one can use the Lufthansa Senator Lounges around the world, and earn miles on United while flying LH or any othe *Alliance carrier.

treedweller 6:41 PM  

that's the story I heard (and see now on wiki). I was going on 2 when the CTA album was released, so I'm taking others' word for it.

foodie 6:46 PM  

@Mantide Verde, to quote Dr. Seuss:

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!"

Enjoy! It's been a great pleasure reading you, and I sincerely hope we will hear from you again!

poc 6:51 PM  

The so-called "theme" is completely irrelevant for solving the puzzle. What's the point? OK, I guess it's clever to fit "symbol for infinity" into the appropriate shape, but I couldn't help thinking "so what?". Plus the rest of the cluing was on the dull side. I didn't enjoy this one at all I'm afraid.

New horizons in tedium.

Noam D. Elkies 7:56 PM  

As a mathematician (I forgot to include this in my first post...) I must note that the ∞ shape and the Möbius strip aren't really related -- you can make a plain two-sided ring in an ∞ shape, or a Möbius strip in the shape of an ordinary ring with a half-twist.

@ArtLvr -- sorry, but this well-known acronym for "posh" is really a bosh backronym. Nowadays there's even a Wikipedia page for that folk etymology!


Anne 8:02 PM  

I prefer clever clues to clever construction, if given my choice, so I thought this was rather blah. I completed the first half this morning, and while getting dressed to go out, the theme popped up. I love it when that happens.

I'm surprised no one said more about Arthur Wynne. I guess I'll have to look that up myself. This blog spoils me.

foodie 8:20 PM  

@Glitch et al, beyond being a novel that has a secret (the key) since it describes real life characters, the roman-a-clef has other connotations in French. One is that it's likely to be long and convoluted and the other is that it's not high literature.

In school, the French nuns would admonish us to write succinctly and thoughtfully and avoid producing a "roman-a-clef", referring to the wordy low brow connotation-- as in: don't write a soap opera!

ExpoBill 8:27 PM  

disappointed the word INFINITY should have been in the the circles, oh well?

retired_chemist 8:36 PM  

@ foodie - one of my favorite things at our wedding in 2007 was a reading of "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" Your Dr. Seuss quote was from that poem. Thanks for the opportunity to enjoy a happy memory......

chefbea 9:10 PM  

@green mantis good luck in your endeavors.!!! If you need any recipes just let me know.

Sharon 9:14 PM  

Ooooh, this brought back a happy memory. I have a diamond infinity pendant, a gift from my ex . . .The love affair was finite, but diamonds ARE forever. I liked the synonyms for ETERNITY, and WITHOUT END was last to fall. . an enjoyable puzzle, weaving math with literacy.

Bill from NJ 9:50 PM  

@green mantis-

Hello again and goodbye again. Thanks for the chance to say Goodbye and Good luck.

ArtLvr 10:30 PM  

Thanks, Noam -- Too bad the "posh" story was a bunch of baloney, but my son is a sailing nut and he gets such a kick out of the supposed acronym that I doubt I'll be able to spoil his fun with it.. Alas. That's Mom talking, not Truth-Lover...


Ulrich 11:19 PM  

@foodie: In German, a Schlüsselroman (Schlüssel means "key" in German) has the strong connotation of dishing out dirt that could not be dished out if the people involved were named directly.

Glitch 9:37 AM  

@ExpoBill (if you're still reading)

It was, clockwise from 58.


Tally 11:32 PM  

Okay, I'm a novice puzzle solver, and I'm hoping someone can explain 96D. Do ____ burn
How on earth does ASLOW fit into that? Do as low burn? This makes no sense to me...

Anonymous 9:21 PM  

@Tally, I'm sure I'm too late with this and you won't see it, but here goes anyway. "Do a slow burn" - to have a feeling of anger that gradually grows.

Tally 2:29 PM  

@Anonymous: Thanks! It still seems like an awkward clue, but at least I understand what she was trying to go for now.

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