Nigerian-born singing star - SUNDAY, May 17 2009 - O Hill (Woodworker's double boiler / Italian town where Napoleon won a historic 1800 battle)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "PERFECT JOBS" - puns on names that sound like kinds of work ending in "-ing" (e.g. "Dustin" -> "dusting")

Word of the Day: TORII (57A: Japanese gateway) - n., pl. torii.

The gateway of a Shinto temple, consisting of two uprights supporting a concave crosspiece with projecting ends and a straight crosspiece beneath it.

[Japanese : tori, bird + i- (from iru, to dwell).]

A mostly unpleasant 15 minutes, this one was. Top 5 reasons I would not willingly relive the part of my life wherein I solved this puzzle:

5. Again with the puns (and tedious ones at that)

4. Forced theme answers - OLYMPIC CANOER is not a "job" ... and why "OLYMPIC?" Why "MASTER" THIEF - is that on your business card? Did you have to go to school for that? Arbitrary.

3. The Pennsylvania section of the grid = horror show. Partial "IF I" (41A: Dr. Seuss' "_____ Ran the Zoo") crossing worse partial "IT'S OF" (43D: "_____ no importance") crossing crosswordese king ST LO (60A: Manche department capital) crossing equally crosswordesey IS IT I? (41D: Judas's question) For the crossing partials alone, this section should have been gutted.

2. Cutesy, grating use of "98" in two successive Across clues, where, in both cases, it means The Same Thing, i.e. a car. Using [98, e.g.] to clue OLDS is almost tolerable, but to clue SEDAN? They stopped making 98s thirteen years ago. Plus, not all 98s were "SEDANS." No one who hears "98" thinks "SEDAN!" In short, the road from "98" to SEDAN is long, bumpy, and violates the time-space continuum. Sloppy, and for no good reason.

1. DETERGE (97A: Clean)

Here's what I think of when I think of "98" (there's probably profanity in here somewhere, so be warned):

Theme answers:

  • 23A: Perfect job for Dustin? (house keeper) - At first, I thought the names were supposed to signify famous people, so I was looking for a HOFFMAN pun
  • 25A: Perfect job for Warren? (mercenary)
  • 44A: Perfect job for Rowan? (Olympic canoer)
  • 65A: Perfect job for Robin? (master thief)
  • 71A: Perfect job for Darren? (stunt double)
  • 93A: Perfect job for Landon? (airplane pilot) - whose first name is LANDON??? American soccer player LANDON Donovan is the best I can do here
  • 118A: Perfect job for Brandon? (cow herder)
  • 121A: Perfect job for Holden? (poker player) - if you're "HOLDEN" all the time, you aren't going to be very good.


  • 1A: Bob Jones Award org. (USGA) - Is Bob Jones Bobby Jones? Because the only Bob Jones I know is the eponym of some college where interracial dating isn't allowed. Further, I know PGA, but USGA is far less familiar.
  • 123A: Half of a longtime comedy duo (Anne Meara) - wow, the full-name treatment. Blessed with incredible talent *and* a vowel-laden name. That's some good luck.
  • 20A: Girl's name meaning "night" in Arabic (Leila) - had no idea. Misspelled it LAILA because that's how LAILA Ali spells it.
  • 30A: Carter and Grant (Amys) - that's a tough clue for AMYS.
  • 33A: Kick-around pants (denims) - right next to the KHAKI (24D: Dull yellowish brown) pants you wear to work. Nice.
  • 39A: Woodworker's double boiler (glue pot) - that "G" was about the last letter I put in, as I've never heard of GLUE POT and I've Really never heard of MARENGO (9D: Italian town where Napoleon won a historic 1800 battle)
  • 85A: Pre-Civil War abolitionist (free-soiler) - went looking for an actual person here at first
  • 104A: Nickname of N.B.A.'s David Robinson, with "the" (Admiral) - he graduated from the USNA
  • 115A: Emperor son of Vespasian (Titus) - good movie adaptation of Shakespeare's play
  • 125A: Beast with twisted horns (eland) - helped me work out that SE corner where having RIALS instead of RIYAL was really screwing me up badly (107D: Saudi Arabian currency)
  • 127A: Early English playwright Thomas (Kyd) - great crossword names. High Scrabble value in little package. KYD wrote the smash hit "The Spanish Tragedy."
  • 3D: Common dried decoration (gourd) - in autumn, maybe.
  • 42D: "La _____ du Regiment" (Donizetti opera) (fille) - I'm scared to ask what the plot of this opera is. OK, it turns out the FILLE was adopted by the regiment as an orphaned child. I feel better now. I think.

  • 63D: Writer of aphorisms (gnomist) - yikes ... I had GNOSTIC, briefly.
  • 96A: Letter after teth (yod) - wanted TOD, but then remembered that that's German for "Death," not a Hebrew letter.
  • 86D: Nigerian-born singing star (Sade) - it's always SADE. Except when it's ENYA. They're ... pretty easy to tell apart.
  • 82D: One could go up to 11 in "This Is Spinal Tap" (amp) - the most famous moment in this classic movie.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


retired_chemist 7:59 AM  

Cute. Appropriate. Nowhere NEAR as exciting as Fri. and Sat., though. It was just a slog-through with a nice theme. I don’t mind puns so I don’t have Rex’s complaints. Have to agree with him on the less than stellar fill and on the hokiness of some of the theme answers. I too started looking for famous characters and that didn’t help. COW HERDER gets a raised eyebrow from this Texan (who is in Tennessee at a dog show this weekend).

OLEIN instead of LIPID @ 7D slowed me down a bit, as did…. well, not much else. Very few writeovers. Had EBAN for MEIR @ 47D but knowing TORII @ 57A set me right quickly. Ditto SNOW day (wife taught third grade) @ 90D, which The ADMIRAL (104A) set me straight on. He would do that – he is one of the really good guys. As was Wayman Tisdale, another former NBAer. He lost his fight with cancer yesterday.

Does the crossword world’s Spanish calendar consist of twelve months of enero (124A), or does it just seem that way? The opportunity to clue 88A as “a month in León besides enero” was wasted…..

DETERGE (97A)? Ok, fine. Who among us uses the word when we use detergent? I thought so……

Ruth 8:12 AM  

Canoes are not "rowed" ROWAN, they are paddled. Sheesh.

Betsy the midwife 8:28 AM  

Had 6/8 theme clues and never caught the theme. Hurray!! Anne Meara.

sasesqretd 9:11 AM  

I thought famous people, too. I actually wrote in Hoffman and Beatty and then realized that wasn't going to work. Hated deterge. I didn't think it was a really difficult puzzle to solve, but it wasn't fun. Deterge?!

JannieB 9:25 AM  

Can't remember when I agreed with Rex on every single point - but today we are in total synch. Just a really blah Sunday puzzle with little redeeming social value.

Denise 9:34 AM  

I thought Matthew said, "Is it I?" -- I only think that because I sort of remember it from other crosswords -- but maybe it's in Matthew's gospel. Biblical scholars?

Anyway, OK puzzle -- theme answers were awfully easy once I caught on.

Crosscan 9:42 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex here. Took a long time for the "a-ha" moment and then it was only a "oh. Whatever" moment.

joho 9:51 AM  

@As others have said before me: "What Rex said."

DETERGE is way too close to REGERGE.

I thought GNOMIST might be the word of the day. I've never heard of it. Sounds like a person who specializes in garden gnomes.

John From CT 9:58 AM  

To be succinct, I will leave the following comment...


Leon 10:10 AM  
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MTS 10:11 AM  
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Leon 10:11 AM  

Thanks Mr. Hill.

Thanks RP for Spinal Tap.

I do not like deterge. I would not like it here, I would not like it anywhere - Sam I Am.

Yet, it is a word. It does have Latin roots. It is not recarve. It has been clued in NYT before, 07/26/1998.

@ Denise :All the Apostles say it, Judas is the last to say
“IS IT I?”.

And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
<< Matthew 26 >>

10:10 AM

dk 10:12 AM  

As per my smarter, trimer and better looking puzzlemates have said... read Rex

@joho, gnomener or the feminine gnomenette is a specialist in garden gnomes. Gnomromancy is the bringing to life of gnomes and agnomists will have none of this.

Perhaps I will DETERGE my GLUEPOT, oar my kayak.... I know, I'll get some sparkling water so I can get BRAINDEAD on Lillet later this afternoon. Fine spring day in MPLS... perhaps an eleven.

MTS 10:12 AM  

Aside from my agreement with Mr. Parker and the comments above, why was it Pre-Civil War Abolitionist? Was there really a market for Post-Civil War Abolitionists?

dk 10:14 AM  

as per with have said is redundant and so are any more posts from me (well for today). Out to play!

dynamic duo 10:38 AM  

We have never seen a canoe in the olympics and it took us a little more than 15 minutes dammit..

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

While I agree re: Deterge, I did like Darren the Stuntdouble. I right away thought of the character Darren from Bewitched, played by the ever-interchangeable stuntdoubles: Dick Sargeant and Dick York....

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

This puzzle was so stupid, that after half a solve I just put it away. I've got a lot better things to do than waste my time on a puzzle as lame as this one. On to the LAT. Golfballman

Greene 10:55 AM  

I could summon no love for this puzzle. I had to return to it several times in order to finish and I found it hardish. I suspect the difficulty factor was inversely proportional to my interest level in the theme. Definitely a solid Meh from me today.

At least we have Anne Meara.

Hobbyist 11:12 AM  

Julia Child had an excellent recipe for Chicken Marengo created in honor of Napolean's victory.
Dumb, dull puzzle following two great ones.

hereinfranklin 11:13 AM  

I chucked it halfway through. Not worth my time today.

poc 11:17 AM  

According to Wikipedia, ISLAM means "submission" (i.e. to God).

I think GISMO is usually spelt GIZMO.

Apart from these, I agree with everything said so far, especially the Bob/Bobby thing and the Famous People (not) thing.

Noam D. Elkies 11:24 AM  

Rather spotty -- some nice long entries (21A:BRAINDEAD, 40D:CBSNEWS, 81A:MALLRAT, 85A:FREESOILER, 61A:MERENGUE -- just noticed the echo of 9D:MARENGO, previously known to me only as a pizza option); even the dreaded "Pennsylvania" region features 51A:BLOWSIT and 55A:MASSEMAILS. And the theme is nothing special but I'd rather have puns on generic names than on "famous people" I've never heard of. But yes, too many kludges and not enough payoff. 70A:OWIE.

20A:LEILA -- I knew the name (cognate of the Hebrew word for night) but took a while to figure out which spelling was wanted this time. Nice to abut with 5A:ISLAM. Naturally 71A:YOD was familiar too but I thought the usual way to complete corner would be COD or GOD with a misdirective clue for "soft C/G" in 71D.

Is the clue "excessively" for 76A:INSPADES the right 91A:USAGE? I wanted "to a fault" (also 8 letters); I thought (and seems to confirm) that "in spades" was something like "and how", extreme but not usually excessive.

48D:PRIEST -- not the one-l lama this time. 50D:NOR -- easy enough but "here nor there" doesn't stand on its own without the initial "neither".

If you upend 97D:ENDUP, you end up with 73D:UPEND.

Gratuitously obscure sports clue for 104A:ADMIRAL.

@retired_chemist: there's also 88A:MAYO, though here not clued via el calendario (even though we're in mid-mayo now). The crossword edition of the Jewish calendar looks almost as repetitive. In the other direction, a Spanish clue was not really necessary for 117A:ÚLTIMO, which is also used in English (albeit a rather self-consciously formal English) for "last month".

What's this "98" mean in the Public Enemy lyrics? I would have 86'd that link together with the two 98 clues.

Grazie for the Donizetti,

jae 11:26 AM  

A tad harder than USUAL for me. And, my sentiments echo Rex and the above.

MALLRATs is a pretty good movie if you like Kevin Smith's stuff.

Chorister 11:26 AM  

@retired_chemist - thank you for your contribution to my quest to have the rest of the months receive their due. I had a name for this cause one day last week but I forgot it already. It wasn't very imaginative.

I'm a middle of the roader (since in Xwords we can add -er to any dang thing we please) In general I'm okay with puns. Some of these did strain my good nature, I'll admit.

Do garden gnomes send anyone else into Fawlty Towers flasbacks?

retired_chemist 11:33 AM  

@ NDE - I did cite 88A MAYO in my post. Resisted the temptation to refer to Ulrich's discussion of tildes and año vs. ano.

Noam D. Elkies 11:35 AM  

corrections: ENDUP is 95D, not 97D; YOD is 96A, not 71A; and there's a missing "the" in "complete the corner" (around that YOD).


Noam D. Elkies 11:37 AM  

Make that oops⁴ -- yes, I didn't notice that retired_chemist observed 88A:MAYO already. NDE

HudsonHawk 11:38 AM  

DETERGE? Horrend.

And does anyone, anywhere, refer to their blue jeans as DENIMS? Or kick-around pants, for that matter?

ArtLvr 11:54 AM  
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Norm 11:54 AM  

Meh ...

ArtLvr 11:55 AM  

Well, I started this one in the wee hours and didn't get far, but a fresh eye just now succeeded... and the word-play was okay, IMHO.

I didn't mind "98, e.g." twice plus "Shred" ditto, found the TORII and TORIO amusing, but less so the TINCANS and ASHCAN, WASH and DETERGE..

INSPADES was inspired, as was the clue for ISLAM, and I like the GNOMIST, GREMLIN, GLUEPOT, GISMO and GOURD. Thought the Deli spread was Paté until MAYO appeared, Encores for ONEMORE as well.

I expect we'll soon see Teth as letter before YOD? Yikes!


Chuck 12:01 PM  


A tinted window - so super bad
Lookin' like the car the Green Hornet had
It's the reason I'm ahead of the pack
It's the reason I left them back
It's the reason all the people say
My 98-O blows 'em all away

My 98 Oldsmobile is...
My 98 Oldsmobile's so...
My 98 Oldsmobile is...
My 98 Oldsmobile's like...

chefbea 12:05 PM  

I too agree with everyone. Not a great puzzle. Wanted Hoffman and Beatty also.

Have never made steamed pudding but if I did I would thicken it with something other than sego - and I wouldn't keep it a secret. I share all my recipes

For a fun puzzle - try the Takeaway crossword in the Magazine section by Matt Ginsberg.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

This was a bizarro puzzle for me...many clues/answers just didn't make sense...kind of like computer-generated?

ArtLvr 12:26 PM  
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ArtLvr 12:27 PM  

re "Pre-Civil War abolitionist", please excuse me for putting in a plug for my brother's new book -- Tom Campbell, "Fighting Slavery in Chicago: Abolitionists, The Law of Slavery and Lincoln" (2009). Many new details, photos and discussion of the turmoil in Illinois and key allies who secured Lincoln's 1860 Presidential nomination. Check it out at


jeff in chicago 12:28 PM  

Puzzle? Meh

Jano 12:31 PM  

I don't think I have to have heard a word sometime in my life to make it a legitimate puzzle entry. Moreso, I don't think I need to have heard it in its 3rd or 4th definition for it to be fair.

I've traveled an average amount that's all. So I trust a dictionary to have canvassed the world for usage, or at least the USA, and so when they say a word is used a certain way with an unfamiliar definition to me, I believe them. I don't say pooh, I never heard of that. Ergo, it's unfair or it doesn't mean that.

And I'm pretty sure the editor/constructor has consulted one or more dictionaries and come up with his clue based on a solid reference.

XMAN 12:42 PM  

Had to google Theo's national park, but I have to agree this was a pussle.

retired_chemist 12:44 PM  

@ chorister -

FWIW I just did a puzzle in which the answer to "Mayo, e.g." was mes. I think we are nearly up to two meses now. If you recall the name of your cause please post. I'll sign up.

edith b 12:57 PM  

Alf Landon or Landon Donovan? Earl Warren or Warren Beatty? Holden Caulfield or Wiliam Holden?
I got bogged down in trying to determine if these were first names or last names. But to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, not that it matters . . .
I also got lost in MERENGUE/MARENGO and UPEND/ENDUP, looking for a correlation. Anyway I finished the puzzle without any real problems and like dk, I think I will now DETERGE my GLUEPOT.

Mike 1:00 PM  

Yeah, this was definitely an unmemorable puzzle. I just solved it, and have already forgotten most of the theme entries. Unlike last week, which at least had clever and mildly original puns, these were just incredibly lame puns. And the surrounding fill wasn't particularly good either; there was certainly nothing resembling a clever clue or entry.

I enjoyed seeing TORII, but that's only because of my Japanese culture background, and because I haven't seen it before. Other than that, meh.

Hobbyist 1:06 PM  

Another gripe. I don't pronounce Darren to rhyme with DARING. Daring has a hard A and Darren's A is softer like an Ah. So it's a poor pun. Are there any funny puns? I dare not go there.

alice in SF 1:21 PM  

Hi Rex--thanks so much for letting me hear Juan Diego Florez sing Mes Amis in Fille Du Regiment. He is famous for being the first to sing an encore at La Scala because of his seven high C's. I heard him sing this very aria in a Met Opera simulcast.

It took me awhile to get the theme and after it dawned on me, I didn't care!

Lili 1:27 PM  

Bad puzzle I, too, saw Dustin and Warren and immediately started thinking Hoffman and Beatty. When I looked at Holden, I started thinking "The Catcher in the Rye." Confused, I worked out "poker player" (I suppose that can be a job), and the light went on, but I was displeased.

Somehow, "end up" didn't quite seem a proper answer for "result," and I was thinking "meme" for "the same to vous". "Blears," in my view, means "makes unclear," which I suppose could be used in place of "dims," though I wouldn't do it.

I did like "torii," because I'm familiar with these gates (the word frequently shows up in crosswords), and I rather enjoyed "gnomist," though "moral posers" as a clue for "dilemmas" left a bad taste in my mouth. And "eatery" for "bistro"? Who uses the word "eatery"?

Nice to see Thomas Kyd in a puzzle, along with Vespasian's Titus. Both easy for me.

All in all, though, irritating and frustrating.

James A 1:48 PM  

102d- In concord (with)= ATONE.

I wanted AS ONE, but then TISUS wouldn't make sense.

But I'm still trying to figure how "Atone" means "in concord with". At One? Stumped. How would that be used?

"We're atone with our allies" ??

JannieB 1:59 PM  

At one with the universe - sort of a Zen thing, I guess

Noam D. Elkies 2:18 PM  

[post number] 4got to mention: yes, the word "atone" is originally at+one, ludicrous though that may feel now.

"Yo" Chuck -- thx 4 the 411. Naturally I didn't have the patience to listen through enough of that clip to get to those lines (especially with the Regiment's Daughter) beckoning.


Ben 2:32 PM  

I knew a guy a few years ago whose first name was Landon. He was the frontman of this really bad poppunk band in the area that got a ton of built-in fans because they were based out of the huge cult-ish church in the area. Lamecity. His ex was gorgeous, though.

Glitch 2:41 PM  


Didn't like denims either. Denim is a material, and not only for pants, but in any case I wear my jeans for KNOCK around.

For "kick around pants", I would look in a football or soccer locker room (in fact, I fist did).

As for the puzzle, as I discovered that the theme "names" were just random names, then the "jobs" were not necessarily real jobs (e.g. olympic canoer), I developed an admiration for whoever managed to get this puzzle published.

Much like Alice in SF, I ran out of enthusiasm before I ran out of puzzle (or coffee).


rpl 2:46 PM  

Did not care for the puzzle. Got the theme right away but was bored by it. The biggest error was to mix up paddling a canoe with rowan one. But comments here about the unfairness of Gismo are defused bacause of the "Var." notation in the clue.

Karen 2:46 PM  

Checking out the popular baby names site, the most common of those names is BRANDON. And the second most common? Is Landon. None of the others made top fifty for this year. Nice picture of Donovan, by the way. And I second Orange's complaint about boys getting all the fun.

The African country of Togo won their first ever Olympic medal last year in a canoeing race.

And Spinal Tap is always good.

Clark 3:01 PM  

Hard puzzle. But I really liked DETERGE even though I had to Google SADE before I figured it out. How could I have said 'detergent' so many times in my life without it ever occurring to me that what a detergent does is deterge?

And as for GNOMIST. I guess Menander was a Gnomist, about whom it was said by Plutarch: " 'tis easier to have a regular Feast without beets - I mean wine - than without Menander."

My favorite of his Gnomist utterances (gnomai [maxims, opinions, judgments] monostichoi [one-line]): kalon de kai geronti manthanein sopha. (Noble it is even for old people to learn wise things.) I plan to say this to anyone who ever asks me if I'm not too old to be learning, studying, undertaking this or that.

He also said (in his Gnomist capacity): "I call a fig a fig, a spade a spade.

Matt 3:02 PM  

Like many before me mentioned, I took forever to get the theme because Dustin had me searching for tales of Hoffman and I expected the "Brandon" theme answer to be a reference to Killers frontman Brandon Flowers. This was a clumsy puzzle - my least faves were deterge and gismo.

pednsg 3:06 PM  

Am I really the only one who totally enjoyed this puzzle? It took at least three theme answers to "get" the pattern, and from then on, they made me chuckle as they fell. I really loved 98/98 (more than shred/shred). Maybe it's because I'm still relatively new to this, but I have tremendous respect for the constructors (I can't imaging trying my hand at this at this point), and while there have been some puzzles over the last two years that I've liked less than others, this one had me grinning for the better part of 90 minutes. Thanks, Oliver!

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

First Sunday puzzle in over a year that I couldn't finish and really didn't want to. Couldn't figure out the theme even though I got most of the answers from crosses. And when I did it didn't make me smile like usual. I just thought, "that's dumb." ... And "deterge." Really. C'mon now.

XMAN 3:43 PM  

@MTS; Wikipedia says Free Soilers were a minor political party of anti-slavery advocates from c.1848 to c.1854, when they were largely absorbed by the Republican Party.

Anne 3:43 PM  

I liked it. I finished it. I did not google. I thought it was a tough but fair exercise, and we have forgiven others for more egregious acts than those described here. And my computer dictionary says deterge is a verb and means to clean thoroughly. Well, okay. Also I made one dumb error. I had lards instead of lords because I was using pencil on this slick paper and did not read my own answers correctly! And I read Lille girl as little girl for way too long. I think I may feel grouchy today.

mac 3:46 PM  

Just another Sunday slog. I think these puzzles are too big, we might not complain about the theme clues/answers if there weren't so many. I also thought Dustin Hoffman was involved, especially since 23A started HO..

Why not Carter, Grant and Reynaldo?

Never heard of a free soiler, hope it means something other than what it sounds like...

The Takeaway Crossword by Matt Ginsberg looks interesting, and so does Merle's in the LAT magazine.

George NYC 3:47 PM  

Having DUSTIN and WARREN as early theme clues, followed by other names that are also actors or could be, but having that fact turn out to be irrelevant, is misleading and really irritating. What's the point? PS: The puns were lame.

fikink 4:14 PM  

okay, okay...she goes, she goes...
I was merrily (well, not merrily) filling in the puzzle when I came to my last fill which was ADMIRAL, since I know nothing about the NBA beyond Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Shaq.
Filling in ADMIRAL, and having mistakenly entered ultimA for ULTIMO, I sat here staring at LARDS for 109D.
"Mr. Fikink!" called I, "what royalty had really large butts?"
"What?" said he.
"Ya know," I continued, "Some royal bloodline which were a bunch of lard-asses. A physical attribute, ya know, like the drooling Hohenzollern
After being thoroughly briefed on my DILEMMA, he suggested perhaps the answer to 109D was LORDS, not lards.
Such was our puzzle delight today.
(Thanks for letting me share.)

Ulrich 4:42 PM  

@Clark: I had the same eye-opening experience when I finally put in DETERGE: "After all these years..."

And as far as I can see, nobody has yet come up with a post-civil war abolitionist--or is the idea here that there were also abolitionists during the Civil War?

And @fikink: Would you be referring to the Habsburger with their lantern chins and, yes, drooling lips? Memorably caught in David's sketch of Marie Antoinette being driven to the guillotine.

fikink 4:58 PM  

@Yes, Ulrich, and once referred to in an SNL skit with Dan Ackroyd, if memory serves, in which he had a small bucket attached to is lower lip throughout. At least that is whom we (Mr. F and I) concluded Ackroyd referred to, having taken 19th century European history together and gotten a huge charge out of both the Hohenzollern affliction and their palaces.

joho 5:25 PM  

@HudsonHawk & @Glitch: Really, I think I'll go throw on my denims ... I can't hear it, either.

@Artlvr: I love the fact that you always find something positive to say.

@Pednsg: It's great to know somebody enjoyed this puzzle as much as you did!

@Jano: I think some of us might have said some words were "pooh" as you put it, but I don't think anybody said they were unfair. Maybe I missed something, if so, sorry.

Z.J. Mugildny 5:52 PM  

I liked this one. I don't mind the puns if they are clever or consistent, and these puns were at least the latter. OLYMPICCANOER and MASTERTHIEF are a bit forced as jobs, but they are legitimate terms, so no major gripe by me.

This isn't one I'll remember down the road, but it was well-done and fun.

Luke 6:08 PM  

@Mac, even a daily puzzle seems massive when the theme flops. we've seen great puzzles come in all sizes. I would like to more puzzles by women. The steady stream of male bylines is un-diverse for 2009, it's just boring. My wife noticed that women have all but vanished from the New York Times puzzle pages. ironic regression, since the most influential puzzle editor was the NYT's first, Margaret Farrar.

foodie 6:42 PM  

Rex, LEILA, or LAILA, or LAYLA are all acceptable variant spellings. But here's the weird thing, in Arabic the name is NOT spelled the same way as you spell Night. It's a homonym of it. It may have had come from the same origin, but I grew up with many Laylas and I never associated the meanings!

And it took me embarrassingly long to get ISLAM from the clue. Following the straight path (meaning honesty, integrity) will lead you to heaven, but the word itself does not connote straight path at all. As previously mentioned, it means trusting God with yourself, giving up your doubts, etc.

DIVED sounds wrong to my ear, I always want DOVE. Or do DOVE and DIVED have slightly different meanings? And is TINCAN and ASHCAN kosher in the same puzzle? I lose track of the rules.

Having said all that, I'm not as negative as others seem to be. Maybe because I'm interested in puns as a very American type of humor. It took me the longest time to even get the concept when I first came to the US. I guess puns rely on flexible pronunciation as the blurry zone that leads to the chuckle. When I hear a pun, I go back and think to myself-- do these words really sound the same? I replay them slightly differently so they approximate... So, a learning experience!

Anonymous 6:46 PM  

Luke, I agree. In fact, I think women should be forced to construct crosswords. You and I both know that the Times is obviously sexist.

Kumar 6:47 PM  

Plain stinking awful.

Am I the only one who who know the difference between a thief and a robber? A thief steals stealthily. A robber hits you in the face with a two-by-four and says "Your money or your life". Thieves don't rob and robbers don't commit theft.

And where does Master come from?


Glitch 6:53 PM  

@Urich --- I'll give it a shot :)

Since the Emancipation Proclaimation technically only abolished slavery in seceeded states, I think it's fair to assume there were abolitionists during and post-war, working in the Union states.

And per Xman, the Free Soilers were absorbed by the Republican party "pre-war" (c. 1854), the clueing appears to be accurate and not redundant.


alanrichard 7:44 PM  

I labored through this puzzle. I was looking for names: Dustin HOFFMAN, DAN Rowan, Marlon Brando etc... at first and then I got the theme. Olympic Canoer, Free Soiler and Poker Player are NOT jobs.
Although, this is BLASPHEMY in this section, I loved the takeaway Crossword!
I would have gotten here alot earlier but I picked my daughter up from Carnegie Melloon. We left early yesterday, unloaded all her art work and assorted belongings and drove back to Long Island. We took the dogs with us for company!!
Carnegie is a great school and the artists there are EXTREMELY creative.

joho 8:00 PM  

@Foodie: your positive outlook is always appreciated by me.

As I know it, DIVED is the correct word as in "she DIVED into the pool." But so many people started saying dove ... it became accepted into the vernacular.

PlantieBea 8:11 PM  

I'm with Rex and many others who aren't big fans of this puzzle's theme. I also ended up with an error and didn't really care. Had A PLAN for ISLAM, AVE instead of ILE, originally had LeiLA but switched to VEILA.

Had a much better time picking blackberries this morning and seeing Star Trek this afternoon.

Lisa in Kingston 8:21 PM  

Like a lot of you, it took me forever to get the theme. That was probably a good thing, because I was doing this puzzle on a bus in the middle of the boonies on my way to Port Townsend, WA. Wait a minute, I live in the's all relative, I spose.
At least this puzzle was a diversion from the long ride, but that's about all I can say for it.

mac 8:24 PM  

@Luke: I think you are right. There are quite a few very good women constructors, but the NYT doesn't seem to give them a lot of space. I've printed out the LAT Sunday puzzles the last 2 weeks (3 of them!) and both weeks Sylvia Bursztyn had one (can't remember the second one last week) and today Kathleen Fay O'Brien is represented. Mind you, these may be pseudonyms for guys again! Doesn't Rich Norris publish under a different name, female?

@foodie: I swear, when I was learning English, it was dive - dove -diven. Granted, my teachers were Oxford educated.

Ulrich 8:26 PM  

@alanrichard: I taught at Carnegie Mellon for 21 years, in the College of Fine Arts, no less (but not in the Arts School), and here's one of my prized mementoes from that time, an ID tag from a conference I attended:

Ulrich Flemming
Carnegie Lemmon Univ.
Pittsburgh, PA

poc 8:48 PM  

"The traditional past-tense form of dive is dived. Although dove is common in speech, it's probably safer to stick with dived in writing." (From

As for "diven", I don't think so ...

Mark 9:23 PM  

About the only fun part of this one? Before solving it this afternoon, my daughter and I watched "Night at the Museum". I'd actually paused it to show her Ben Stiller's mother, ANNE MEARA, so that generated a good laugh upon finding it in the puzzle. Not too many others, though...

Blue Stater 10:13 PM  

My sentiments precisely, Rex. Nuff said.

Anonymous 10:16 PM  

Garcia..Sneak thief
Medina..Personal Shopper
Ramos ...Branch Manager
Soto...Orange grower

I could do more, but if you think they aren't clever then you know how I feel about the Sunday NYT. Minbe make more sense, btw.


Anonymous 10:20 PM  

No one calls Bobby Jones "Bob." No one.

foodie 10:33 PM  

@Glitch, I just noticed your avatar. This is yours, right? We need a constructor to put "Emmy" in a puzzle so we can ask you about it! It's too cool!

John 11:49 PM  

Got GLUEPOT off the E of ORELSE after having watched countless episodes of "The Woodwrights Shop on PBS. (The E was in the wrong place for STEAMER).

jau 5:46 PM  

Two serious quibbles to add:
(1) Two "cans" as answers in the same puzzle only nine numbers apart??? ("Just married" car decoration and Refuse container.) Inexcusable.
(2) A vitamin for a tried-and-true phrase (one a day)??? Come on.

Sharon 2:43 AM  

@jau (because his/hers was the last comment I saw)What's wrong with two "cans"? i rather like having some answers repeat with different meanings. Seems sometimes like another play of words.
I was surprised by the comment by (whoops forget who) that puns seem an American type of humor. I've heard of puns being used in many languages, besides being used in English by Shakespeare among others of some note.
I like puns. Granted they are not all created equal. Occasionally puns are groaners, but sometimes the are extremely clever and usually at least worth a smile.
It didn't seem important that the "jobs" were not all what we normally call "jobs".

I didn't love the puzzle but ceertainly likd it. And learned, or relearned, a couple of things
like Torii and Free Soilers.

got a smile out of stunt double over oops. And the Braindead mercenary.

I agre with NDE, Thanks for the aria.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

dumbest. theme. ever.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

I think too many people form their comments based on what Rex says. Rex doesn't like- contributors don't like. Also, I wish the writers would form their comments as though the constructor was reading each submission. Too negative and too picky are many of the responses.

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