THURSDAY, May 28 2009 - G Cee (Bandmaster from 1880 to 1931 / Dweller on the Bay of Biscay / Vintner Martini's associate / French tire)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: GET OVER IT (36A: Advice for the brokenhearted ... or one of four arrangements found literally in this puzzle) - letter string "GET" sits right on top of letter string "IT" at four different places in the grid

Word of the Day: QAT (61D: African plant whose leaves are chewed as a stimulant) -

Khat (Catha edulis, family Celastraceae; Arabic: قات; Somali: qaat; pronounced [ˈkæt]; Ge'ez ጫት č̣āt), also known as qat, qaat, quat, gat, jaad, chat, chad, chaad and miraa, is a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Khat contains the alkaloid called cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant which is said to cause excitement, loss of appetite and euphoria. In 1980 the World Health Organization classified khat as a drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence. The plant has been targeted by anti-drug organizations like the DEA.[1] It is a controlled/illegal substance in many countries. (wikipedia)

What a weird solving experience. I worked the NW corner pretty easily, and made my way to the center, where I got the theme-revealing answer - GET OVER IT - with no trouble at all. Though OUTSOLE is not that familiar to me as a term (12D: Shoe part that touches the floor), and WRITTEN refused to go down easily (11D: Set down), the NE was reasonably tame, and before I knew it, half the puzzle was done. Then ... there was the bottom half. Going down there was like entering some weird, exotic world, where answers seemed familiar but off, or else not familiar at all. Odd abbrevs. and a super-strange partial and words I'd simply never seen before, words I weren't sure were words at all. Luckily, MAGILLA Gorilla was there to guide me through it all (my own personal Virgil), and I finished in better-than-average time (41D: _____ Gorilla, 1960s cartoon title character). But looking back over the grid, I have to believe this is actually a tougher-than-average Thursday puzzle. Times at the NY Times puzzle site seem to suggest that as well.

Evidence of difficulty: when I was done, I had with three answers that felt more like risky bets than sure things. Last letter in the grid was the "O" in OCA (47A: Mozart's "L'_____ del Cairo"). "The South American Tuber of Cairo?" I thought. Well, the crosses were pretty much indisputable, so why not? But before OCA, there was the even more befuddling Incident at Pneu Qat. Holy moly. My French education apparently left me without the word for "tire," and the only reason I felt at all confident about it was that PNEU (56D: French tire) has analogues in English (as a prefix meaining air, breath, wind ... a PNEUmatic tire is filled with compressed air). Then there's QAT (61D: African plant whose leaves are chewed as stimulant), whose definition I ultimately found under "KHAT," which tells you something about its commonness in the English language. It's a real plant, QAT is a real spelling, so I can't complain too much. If nothing else, I learned a new word. But OCA, PNEU, and QAT had this puzzle feeling very old school, very pre-Shortz. I was reading about NYT puzzle editors last night in Coral Amende's "The Crossword Obsession" (Berkley, 2001), and the issue of arcane, exotic, or obscure fill came up a lot. The book is worth reading if only for the long testimonials from people who have been in the puzzle-making business a long time, including Shortz, Stan Newman, Manny Nosowsky, Liz Gorski, etc.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Something that's hard to close? (pa GET urner)
  • 20A: Mirror (im IT ate)
  • 21A: Editor's resource (Ro GET 's)
  • 26A: George Knightley, to Emma Woodhouse (su IT or) - speaking of Austen, Marvel Comics is in the middle of a 5-issue, abridged but faithful adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" - the cover of each issue parodies a certain style of contemporary women's magazines. Awesome.
  • 50A: Fathers (be GET s)
  • 55A: Certain computer image format (b IT map)
  • 57A: Herbal beverage (sa GET ea)
  • 60A: One in search of heretics (inquis IT or) - Edwyn Powys Mathers, the pioneer of cryptic-style crosswords in Britain, took his nom de puzzle from a famous INQUISITOR: Torquemada.

I'm impressed by the concept and general architecture of this puzzle, with its neat central theme-revealing answer and something remarkably close to symmetrical placement of the GET/IT stacks. No real stand-out answers here, but overall, a pretty solid feat of construction, especially given the architectural pressures of the theme. I had many false starts throughout the grid:

  • ARK for URN (7D: Ossuary, maybe)
  • PELT for PARE (52A: Skin)
  • WILT for MELT (62A: Go weak at the knees)

I was not too happy about the twin "A" partials, A RUT (16A: Stuck, after "in") and the way worse A SURE (53D: "It's _____ bet"), but something about the line ALEE AGREE ARUT is kind of funny, in a good way.

I have a recluing suggestion for 2D:

[One without conviction?] -> A LAME D.A.

Come on, that was good.


  • 5A: Bandmaster from 1880 to 1931 (Sousa) - clue is oddly daunting, but the answer very familiar.
  • 43A: Vintner Martini's associate (Rossi) - "Martini and ROSSI Asti Spumante" is a phrase that is permanently etched in my head from TV commercials of my childhood. I feel like one of the ads involved people repeating that phrase incessantly, like some kind of cultish chant. Here's an ad I don't remember, but I wish I did:

  • 49A: Dweller on the Bay of Biscay (Breton) - "Bay of Biscay" always sounds Asian to me. I think I'm getting it confused with Bay of Bengal.
  • 59A: Hungarian Communist leader _____ Kun (Bela) - whoa. Total guess, based on fact that BELA is a name I recognize, and BMI sounded right (59D: Songwriters' grp.).
  • 65A: Personal reserve funds, for short (IRAs) - "reserve"? ... I guess that's right, though I'm "reserving" that money for way down the road. "Reserve" suggests to me that you can tap it whenever you need. You probably wouldn't use your IRA that way. Or maybe you would.
  • 2D: Tree-lined avenue (alameda) - I've probably said this before, but ALAMEDA is an avenue name to me (or a city in CA), not a general term for an avenue.
  • 18D: "The Kingdom and the Power" author, 1969 (Talese) - alright, that's it. This guy's going right on my summer reading list. I keep saying I'm going to read him and it keeps not happening. No more.
  • 44D: Sound before "That's all, folks!" (stutter) - I'm not going to be able to explain this well, but STUTTER is not a "sound" to me - it's a sound pattern. Any number of sounds might be part of a STUTTER. I considered SNICKER (?), and then realized I was conflating Looney Tunes with Woody Woodpecker.
  • 58D: The Chieftains' home (Eire) - helped me change ICED TEA to SAGE TEA. I knew they were Irish and probably didn't live in some heretofore unknown county called DIRE.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

SYNDICATED READERS (you folks reading this on July 2, 2009): PS lots of entries rolled in yesterday for the contest I'm holding at my other website, "Pop Sensation." Still a full day left to enter. Check it out.


dk 8:35 AM  

A LAME DA sounds like a pulp fiction title to me.

Had to guess at BELA and BMI as I thought BMI was a label not a group like ASCAP.

I had meal for MENU and and a where it should not have been in INQUISaTOR. The a was repaired when I got to 58d. Loved the group but got real sick of the DJ drivel about the CHIEFTANS. Long black veil is well worth a listen: Lame video but...

nanpilla 8:41 AM  

OCA, QAT and REGO were new to me, and ONEG kept looking like O NEG, and took the longest time to parse as ONE G. I liked CALM right above ALEE. MAGILLA was my first entry!

Anne 8:50 AM  

I feel as if I am bizarro land. Yesterday was impossible and took forever, but today was pretty easy and I chugged right along. I didn't even think about the theme until I read it here, but I like it.

@dk/Ulrich - My husband is glad you appreciated his joke. I've heard it many times and I still laugh when I hear it.

retired_chemist 8:52 AM  

Aha! Yet another OCA (47A) – means goose in Italian, I’m told (by Wikipedia). Wonder if foodie can speculate on whether OCA the fowl and OCA the tuber will be good together…. With ICE BEER for many of us and SAGE TEA as a nonalcoholic alternative.

As usual, didn’t see the theme (which was cute) until after I had solved the puzzle. Slowed down in the Pacific NW by having REFLECT @ 20A, TID @23A, and AWARDS @ 28A (wrong, wrong, wrong!). Fill in other regions came pretty quickly, and I worked my way around to the NW again. Figured out 2D was ALAMEDA, which busted the logjam I had created for myself and let me close the book on this one @ 18 plus – several minutes over my Thursday usual.

Nice. Medium.

PhillySolver 8:56 AM  

I am professionally familiar with Gary Cee's work in New York radio. He is the program manager at WPDH and WLIR before that. I also read his book,"Classic Rock". I checked with Jim H's data base and this seems to be his NYT debut, so congratulations go out to him.

Leslie 8:58 AM  

Adored the theme for this puzzle.

Since I know I'm not the only one this happens to, I can admit it weirds me right out how often Rex's stumbling blocks are mine, his first attempts are my first attempts, etc.

"Alameda" has one of those definitions I always promise myself I'll remember next time. And never do.

newvareview 9:05 AM  

I think Porky has more of a sputter in the Loony Tune ending, which hung me up, though he usually has a stutter when speaking. But I guess the's all, counts if you literally mean what comes before "That's."

PlantieBea 9:06 AM  

I am in bizarro land with Anne; I found this puzzle much easier to solve than yesterday's. I got the themed center answer after only one of the longer answers (PAGE TURNER over IMITATE. Seeing Get over It there helped me solve the other three pretty quickly.

I did not like INWARDS/UMW--was my last answer, but got it, along with a few other guesses like BMI/BELA.

I liked this puzzle very much. Favorite spots were Martini and ROSSI, BITMAP, INQUISITOR, PAGE TURNER, SERVE UP ICE BEER. It wasn't Friday or Saturday level in terms of elegance for answers, but good cluing for solid Thursday level stuff, IMO. Thanks Gary Cee.
Will have to looke up TALESE now.

nancy 9:21 AM  

I knew QAT was a word from the Quiddler section of the Setgame site. Now I know what it means. I'm always learning something from this blog.

I liked seeing ELI clued differently than Old Blue or Wallach.

I had Hyde Park instead of REGO even though I grew up about 8 miles from the latter.

joho 9:26 AM  

Congratulations Mr. Cee on your marvelous NYT debut! I give you an "A."

I, too, guessed at BELA/BMI, but it had to be a "B" as nothing else made sense. Immediately upon completing I saw the stacked GETIT's and smiled.

nanpilla 9:28 AM  

I was thinking that I had heard of an Alameda Avenue, and that was pretty silly. Then I thought of five roads right around the corner from me. They are named: Avenue A, Avenue B, Avenue C, and Avenue D, all of which intersect with Avenue Road! Not intersecting, but within a half mile is the best: No Name Road. I've never been able to understand the total lack of imagination on the part of those responsible for these road names. Of course, this is in the middle of the Pine Barrens of south Jersey.

edith b 9:35 AM  

The theme doesn't usually help me but today it LITERALLY did.

I stalled at various crosses but was able to continue on to a solve in a peculiar kind of start/stop way. BMI/BELA BREA/BOON EIRE/ERES OCA/ICEBEER TER/ALEMEDA - all of these put a "hitch in my giddyup" as the old saying goes.

It took me a while but all in all an enjoyable experience.

Jon 9:58 AM  

I had a personal Natick moment at the OCA/MAGILLA cross--unsure how to spell that gorilla's name, I was sure that "oca" would have been clued tuber-style, so I figured it must be OCE/MEGILLA. Alas. Loved the puzzle though.

Talese is a favorite of mine, along with McPhee, who came up Sunday, if memory serves. Rex, I've found that my penchant for pulp/noir overlaps with my penchant for New Journalism: both genres share an emphasis on terse, juicy, (wonderfully) jargon-y/metier-specific language, and both take the reader into dark/strange worlds that lie just beyond/below the familiar. All of which is to say: I think you'd love McPhee/Talese.

If anyone's looking for a Talese starting point, this classic piece of his is a free download, and should, IMHO, be required reading for any aspiring non-fiction writer:

Crosscan 10:03 AM  

To anyone planning to complain/whine/snivel/nit about this puzzle or the blog writeup - GET OVER IT.

twangster 10:13 AM  

Liked this puzzle. I was mildly surprised the theme clue didn't have some kind of modifier in it, like "tough-minded advice..." since simply saying "get over it" is a bit harsh (and probably not very helpful).

chefbea 10:18 AM  

Harder than yesterday. Had to google and didn't realize the theme til I put in inquisitor and saw the sagetea above it.

Can't wait to produce and present a meal for everyone. Andrea can be my sous-chef.

@Andrea your story of Al Franken late yesterday was fantastic!!!

Ulrich 10:20 AM  

I also found this not so hard--with my background, BELA, BRETON, ROSSI were gimmies (the damned jingle has been in my head all morning) and like Edith, I discovered the theme early enough to help me in the bottom half.

I really like the theme, very tight and consistent. Note that the GET/IT pairs on the left are left-aligned, and on the right, they are right-aligned--what more could an architect wish for?

Had to guess the C in ICE BEER and OCA though--who in the world needs ice beer?

dk 10:23 AM  

@anne, my lovely English prof wife does not like you for providing with yet another lame joke :):). I consider it a BOON.

Can one use QAT in Scrabble, inquiring minds want to know?

This was a fine puzzle.

This is the second time SAGETEA was the fill... is it any good?

Texas Momma 10:29 AM  

QAT - a must for anyone who plays Scrabble. Gets rid of your Q without needing a U.

And crossword puzzles are why I always try to learn the meaning of my Scrabble words.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

I was beginning to think that I and Rex had come to the end of our days together (except for when something about the puzzle escapes me). Nothing has been educating me, informing me, amusing me for a while.

But "a lame da" is really good.

I'm still a reader.

XMAN 10:39 AM  

Managed this one without a google. REGO Park is a stop on the E and F lines in Queens and is not an independent entity.

I didn't get the theme till I came to the blog, so I guess it was beside the point as far as solving, though a triumph of construction.

Susan 10:44 AM  

I have the same Biscay / Bengal problem you have, Rex. Geography's hard! More Magilla Gorilla clues!

Also can't get the Martini and Rossi Asti Spumante jingle out of my head...

fikink 10:47 AM  

What a nicely woven fabric of words! Nothing to object to, except, maybe, TER instead of the preferred TID. But some really nice pairing, especially hawk-KITE, and infrequencies like PAGETURNER, BITMAP, and QAT for Andrea, the Scrabblist.
Getting the theme actually helped in the solve. Nice.

Rex, Magilla as Virgil - wonderful! The FIL's reaction to that was similar to his objection to cock ring. (I love when that happens.)

Question: I have heard "stutter" in the context of a hesitation cut in suicides. Is this due to my warped circle of wordplay friends or is it based in the practice of psychology? @DK, any thoughts?

Nice debut, Mr. Cee!

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

Great debut with quite a feat of construction. Well done.
I love a theme that helps me solve.
I think Bela is a fairly common name in Hungary. Bela Fleck is more familiar to me. I also believe it is pronounced Bayla.
@twangster I totally agree that the "advice" is rather harsh. Saying that to me after a heartbreak might earn you a punch in the nose.
Also agree with Urich that ice beer sounds awful. Put my beer on ice, please.
Sage tea sounds terrible as well. Sage belongs with poultry.
My word of the day was Ossuary.
Considering the difficulty of the construction I have no problem with some of the awkward fill.

Glitch 10:52 AM  


Ice Beer refers to the brewing process, not the serving process

see also "ice wine".

...but your question is still valid ;-)


jeff in chicago 10:58 AM  

I was a big fan of "The Saint," so that really helped. Also watched Magilla Gorilla as a kid ("How much is that gorilla in the window?"), so another long answer dropped in. Still, this one was difficult for me. I had all four corners pretty much filled in, but was having trouble with the center, and could not see the "four arrangements" at all. The V in SERVEUP finally revealed what was going on. Nice puzzle. Liked it a lot.

Alex 11:06 AM  

If Gary Cee and I will always be so exactly on the same wavelength then I wish him many happy returns.

I'm pretty sure this is my fastest Thursday ever by a large margin (don't think I'd ever been under 10 minutes, let alone almost down to 9).

CALM was a gimme, which gave me ALAMEDA and then I never really stopped until everything was done but the SW corner where I messed up by putting in WILT instead of MELT.

Noam D. Elkies 11:19 AM  

Neat idea, quite hard for a Thursday (and for me it was the North that took longest). Again I wish we got themed Fridays more than once in a blue moon.

"Alameda" is from the tree "álamo" (=poplar, reports); evidently it generalized from álamo-lined to tree-lined at some point. "A lame D.A." is cute but I can't imagine anybody here would actually want it clued that way! Neat too that 35A:ONEG can be split in two ways — three if you count the single Hebrew word (as in "____ Shabbat").

This 47A:OCA felt quite obscure — for good reason, I see, because the opera was never completed and is thus almost never performed.

I was wondering how I was supposed to transcribe Porky Pig's "abadi abadi abadi ..." sound to fit the seven letters of 44D; fortunately the entry is a description, not a transcription.

That's all, folks

Brendan Emmett Quigley 11:25 AM  

Not easy to do the word on top of another word entry + entry that explains everything. Though, let's be fair here: GET and IT aren't the most exciting or challenging things to find hidden in words. But, throw in four and you've got something impressive. Fill did seem to be 20 years old though. All the long entries were antiquated stuff. So, A for theme execution, C for the fill. On the whole, approved.

treedweller 11:39 AM  

This is a rare disconnect between my experience and Rex's. I finished the SW first, then struggled up into the NE, then stalled in California region. I knew QAT from a travel memoir I read a few years back. I knew PNEU from "Mille Bornes."

REGO was a mystery; IRAS seemed a stretch as clued (though it was the first idea that came to mind); ICEBEER was opaque; BELA and OCA were googles. My biggest problem, though, was when I had M_M and reflexively put in a G. "Fathers" as __GEGS killed me. I was pretty sure it was a G problem, but kept trying to think of another gorilla instead of seeing my mistake. Sadly, I did not recognize the opportunity to GET IT from the theme (despite, or perhaps because of, having the theme answer early).

Of course, I could have filled in LOB (but lacked confidence) to make LIMO come into view. I could have read the Communist clue more carefully (Hungarian-->BELA). ICEBEER would have been obvious then, but as it was I was looking for a brand. So solving skills should have trumped lack of direct knowledge. I wasn't on my game today and gave up too soon. But I did enjoy my gradual progress to fill the 80% or so I managed on my own.

mac 11:44 AM  

Very good Thursday puzzle! I first filled in "calm" and then proceeded to do the entire East coast. Had to work my way up to the North, where Sousa without a march made life difficult. Some very nice clues and answers, and definitely some new words or terms learned: Oca, bit map, leg iron, alameda. It's a wonder I got it all!

@Glitch: I'm sure Ulrich knows Eiswein, the white wine made out of the last harvested grapes, which are much sweeter than the regular ones. There are several areas in Southern Germany where they produce this wine. We were given an ice wine from Canada. Haven't tried it yet, we're not so fond of sweet wines.

I'm going to Whole Foods now to see if sage tea actually exists.

@Hazel: congratulations!!!

DanaJ 11:50 AM  

Nice puzzle. Conquered the corners pretty easily, but struggled with the middle for some reason. Probably because I was convinced that "Reno Park, NY" existed.

@retired chemist - I made the same error, with AWARDS and TID.

@Rex - the "Martini and Rossi" jingle is now relentlessly stuck in my head.

Ulrich 11:54 AM  

@Glitch: To follow up on mac re. ice wine--it's so called b/c the grapes have gone through a first frost--it's expensive and not worth the price--I agree with mac completely.

I do not think that ice beer is produced from hops that have gone through a first frost--or am I wrong here? But who cares, as you et alii seem to imply...

PuzzleGirl 11:57 AM  

I struggled at the beginning of this one. Everything seemed ... hard ... not quite right. I knew it was Thursday though, so I thought to myself "Whatever it is, it better be good!" And it was. Overall, enjoyed it. OCA / PNEU section was tough!

Mike 12:00 PM  

Totally agreed on the theme being really cool and solid, and the fill being kinda bleh. In general, I liked this puzzle a lot, but thought that some of the cluing/fill was off. I did enjoy seeing QAT though, if only because I had just used it in an online Scrabble, oops, I mean Lexulous game on Tuesday!

Somehow, my least favorite fill of all was nothing LESS. Is that really used by itself the way the puzzle clues it, without "nothing more" before it, or preceding a phrase, such as "Nothing less than perfect?" Seems like the clue should have been "...nothing ____."

I did like INQUISITOR and LEGIRON quite a bit. Also, two different ways to cook beef in the same puzzle!

capesunset105 12:04 PM  

got messed up with IPAbeer. Maybe IPAs have been around forever, dunno, not a beer maven. Actually, embarrassingly, had IPObeer for a bit. Overall,enjoyable. The trips down memory lane were fun...Porky Pig, Ford Aerostar, Magilla Gorilla, Mr. Sulu, Martini & Rossi Asti Spumanti was like being a kid again!

archaeoprof 12:05 PM  

Like Rex, I was guided by MAGILLA.

But URN for "ossuary" is a bit of a stretch. Ossuaries are for collecting bones; urns are usually for ashes.

Shamik 12:11 PM  

Good debut puzzle, Gary Cee! Even if I was Naticked at EMI/EELA. BELA makes much better sense, but who knows with eastern European names!

Interesting grid and intriguing concept.

Smiled at that's a jingle running through my head. Will go for medium-challenging at 11:07 for me.

as well as the aforementioned EMI/EELA Natick

Good Thursday puzzle! Makes me eager for Friday and Saturday challenges.

Karen 12:20 PM  

I knew the MAGILLA Gorilla, but was conflating him with Mozilla. And for the Indian tribe I had in OTOS. The resulting BRSTONs are part of my imaginary Eastern European community.
I learned QAT (and qaid and qiviut) for my scrabbling too.

Z.J. Mugildny 12:20 PM  

I really did not like this one. There were way too many iffy short answers -- BMI, UMW, OCA, TER, QAT (although a gimme to me through Scrabble and Aayan Hirsi Ali's "Infidel"), PNEU, ERES, and some forced fill -- IRREGS, ASURE -- for an unspectacular payoff. GETOVERIT is solid as is some of the non-theme fill (ICEBEER, MAGILLA), but it doesn't compensate for the distracting slew of bad fill, in my opinion.

John 12:42 PM  

Does anybody remember "Martini and Rossi Imported Vermouth on the Rocks"? Those comercials were in the 60's.

ICEBEER was an idea that nobody needed to come up with. Terrible stuff. Tastes like you put ice in beer, watery. Yeech!

Great Puzzle!! Got stuck in the center, and had one Google. Had just about all the miststarts mentioned. A truly fun solve!

ArtLvr 12:43 PM  

Happy with Gary Cee's debut today... SOUSA and Gershwin's "SOMEONE to Watch Over Me", yum, though I'd never heard of Mozart's opera buffo "L'OCA del Cairo", The Cairo Goose!

The BRETON Dweller on the Bay of Biscay was OK, but later on I had to check out Bay of Biscayne in FL... Ken Burns presents a new TV series this fall and it will include Biscayne National Park.

Flashback to yest's wedding Video, but here LIMO was the rental... I'm glad Rex answered my query What's QAT? And in Queens does REGO sound like Reego or Raygo, or is it another of the IRREGS?

Signed: eager TUTEE ∑;)

ArtLvr 12:46 PM  

p.s. I wonder if they played with a Keno Goose in the Cairo Goose? One learns such neat stuff here!

william e emba 12:48 PM  

I too hesitated on MAGILLA. For a while, I thought it might have been MCGILLA.

Is the "Houdini escape device" clue for LEG IRON incorrect? I thought it was something he escaped from, not with.

I hate all clues that refer to the animals all going in TWOS aboard Noah's ark. Some of the animals went on in twos. But several species went on in fourteens! Sheesh, this error irritates me every time.

I bought Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and wondered if I should reread (after 30 years) the original first, some summary, or nothing whatsoever. The next week, I saw Marvel was giving a comics adaptation/abridgment. OK, that's my compromise.

No Name is a town in Colorado, by the way.

Glitch 12:49 PM  

@Ulrich et al

Actually, the principle in ice wine and beer is the same, "concentrating", it's just that in wine its done by mother nature and with beer its done in the brewery (Fractional freezing / distillation).

... and ice beer is brewed mostly from rice, not hops.

But, I was really trying just to lightheartedly agree with your question, not develop a "thread of the day" ---boy, you guys area tough audience.


PS: If the thread continues, R_C,
feel free to chime in on the Factional Freezing process ;-)

Two Ponies 12:55 PM  

@ archaeoprof, Considering your name and avatar I'm sure you are right but it was that exact train of thought that gave me the answer. From my experience with cremation all that appears to be left is the bones.

XMAN 12:58 PM  

@artlvr: It's reego.

fikink 1:05 PM  

@john, Indeed I did!! In fact, when fed the Martini clue, I sang it to the FIL. (actually, that is the jingle I've not been able to get rid of.)

@glitch, "factional freezing" sounds like a political dirty trick

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Whatever happened to Michigan Pete?

jimmy d 1:12 PM  

Got tripped up by PNEU and QAT...QAT = WTF? Don't know Pygmalion, so I guessed that ol' Eliza was kind of a shrew, who became a me PNEA and QAM, which, even now, don't look any less wrong.

I love this blog..."Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante" takes me right back to my childhood...right up there with "Riunite on nice!"


I liked this puzzle. I only had 7 incorrect squares (which is great for me on a Thursday!) Can someone help me understand how TER would indicate "Three times, in prescriptions" (23a)??


Clark 1:26 PM  

I thought many a garden was an HERB garden, and I had MEAL instead of MENU. And to top it off my gorilla was the Irish McGilla. But eventually I cleared all that up. What I did not catch was BRITON/OTOI. Wikipedia says Breton is "not to be confused with Briton" and Briton is "not to be confused with Breton' -- well that's easy to say. And I guess I just gave my tribe the Greek spelling.

@John - The jingle you mentioned ("Martini and Rossi, Improted Vermouth on the Rocks") has been playing in my head non-stop all morning. It is one of my top 10 most dreaded ear worms. Right up there with "It's a Small World After All."

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

had AWARDS instead of ADORES for "prizes" 28A. ugh.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:40 PM  

@ william e emba -- Thank you for another piece of information I had somehow missed! Since you didn't provide a reference, I had to look it up for myself. Sure enough, in Genesis 7:2 the Lord says to Noah, "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female." (Did everybody else know that already?)

Blue Stater 1:54 PM  

I managed to finish this, but not without a major struggle, roughly along the same lines as Rex. Question, though. In what sense is "The Chieftains' Home" (58D) EIRE? Are they a rock band, a crime family, or what?

I wasn't pleased with the pointlessly torqued clues for LOB, IRAS, and MELT, but that's me.

archaeoprof 1:54 PM  

@two ponies: any road that leads to the right answer is fine with me!

George NYC 2:32 PM  

According to NEWSWEEK (so it must be right!) Somali pirates routinely chew khat; among other things, it helps prevent seasickness. When one of the four who had tried to capture the American freighter got injured and was taken aboard the Navy ship for treatment, he revealed that the others (who were now being towed in a lifeboat) had run out of khat. They were suffering withdrawal, irritable, and sick. Two of them were leaning out of the boat, vomiting, when the SEALS shot them.

william e emba 2:35 PM  

The standard abbreviations on prescriptions are qd, bid, tid, and qid, for once, twice, thrice, and four times daily. "tid" is short for "TER in die". You probably won't actually see TER on your prescription.

jau 2:36 PM  

Always like visual themes so that part was a win for me. Also like definitions that are a different part of speech than you expect ("prizes" is very nice) but hate forced and nonsensical definitions (you don't melt when you're weak at the knees and it's awfully forced to call Eliza D. a tutee and sage tea is pushing it since no one I know has ever heard of it). All in all, a terrific first and a nice Thursday.

fergus 3:04 PM  

Who's to say what the exact extent of the Bay of Biscay may be? I wrote in BASQUE, which would absolutely be correct, but a BRETON seems to be a real stretch -- those fishermen would be well to the south I should think.

ADORES for Prizes also seemed like a very loose match. I guess that Vermouth must be classified as a wine, or maybe M&R have a wider range than I'm aware of. And I thought the Chieftains were Scottish, so this was a big stumblefest for me.

George NYC 3:06 PM  

Why the Peter Lorre pic?

Denise 3:10 PM  

I guess I didn't complete this puzzle since I left it at bitmag/gneu. If I had thought of a "p" it might have hit me about pneumatic.

Anyway, I hate when two total unknowns cross.

foodie 3:10 PM  

After the fact, I realized that OCA is the Italian equivalent of the French "Oie" meaning goose. French Wiki says that both Oie and Oca derive from the latin Auca, which is a contraction of Avica (Avis, bird). I know y'all were dying to hear all of this. It just helps me remember...

@Retired chemist, I have no idea what the OCA tuber tastes like. If it's like chestnuts, we'd be all set serving it with the avian OCA.

Loved the puzzle, thought the Soutwest was hard, having not heard of either ICEBEER or MAGILLA-- In fact I guessed MOGILLA (closer to GORILLA) and wound up with OCO...

Interestingly, PNEU ad QAT were up my alley... (My french and drugs of abuse alley, that is).

Someday, I hope to see my favorite movie line as a theme: "SNAP OUT OF IT" (Cher, Moonstruck).

chefbea 3:13 PM  

Guess you have to make your own sage tea!!!

joho 3:19 PM  

@jau ... don't you know how women get weak in the knees and "melt" at the sight of their lover? It's just an expression, and a pretty common one at that, not an actual happening!

Kelly 3:41 PM  

@ dk : BMI is the "other" ASCAP - so you have a choice. Maybe you're thinking of EMI?

Ok - one more comment has to be made here. ICEBEER has high alcohol per volume and is super-cheap. You can get a giant can of it for $1. I think you connoisseurs are missing the point! Remember college? ;-)

P.S. QAT is one of my favorite Scrabble words ever.

Clark 4:11 PM  

@foodie -- I thought you might enjoy this clip:

"Snap Out of It!" and more.Yours is number 59.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

George in NYC - he was Joe(l?) Cairo in The Maltese Falcon

Charles Bogle 4:53 PM  

I guess I'm just going to have to get over it--only able to complete half. And half of the half I didn't get, I never could have gotten

MTM? QAT? Since when is EIRE a satisfactory answer for Ireland, when no hint of abbrev given..

On the other hand, I really liked ROGETS for Editor's resource, even though I couldn't get it on my own, MAGILLA. Got most of NE top

Challenging and interesting. If it's an omen of an even tougher one to come tomorrow, I may be in ONEG of trouble!

mac 4:54 PM  

I did a little research at Whole Foods and, after checking an entire wall of boxes and containers, I found a blackberry/sage tea. I guess for straight sage tea you have to steep the leaves in hot water, like you do with verbena (vervene, Foodie), a delicious brew.

Bob Kerfuffle 5:12 PM  

@ Charles Bogle - What abbreviation?

Definitions of Eire on the Web:

* Ireland: a republic consisting of 26 of 32 counties comprising the island of Ireland; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1921

* The Eire (Confirmation of Agreements) Act 1938 (182 Geo.VI, c.25) was an Act of the British Parliament passed on 17 May 1938. ...

* The Gælic name for Ireland.

* Irish for "Ireland" (pronounced "aira").

fergus 5:23 PM  

Yeah, why the e.g. for Samuel as a SEER? Abbrevs. usually indicate the like, so there was a point of order to note.

This latest quibble (pace Crosscan) reinforces my earlier thought that this puzzle was rough-hewn, or perhaps not quite sufficiently HOED.

ProdigalT 6:12 PM  

QAT is familiar to me because it was one of the easier non-U Q words in Scrabble until the recent dictionary update legalized QI. Also on that list are QOPH and TRANQ. I've been thinking of doing a puzzle with the theme as "useful Scrabble words" where I could also throw in vowel-tacular words like AALII. I'm sure there's a lot of overlap between xword fans and Scrabble fans.

fergus 6:36 PM  

QAT must be like the coca leaf, no? Any botanists, or chemists, who might care to diagram the active molecule?

fergus 6:59 PM  

Re: Scrabble and Crossword Puzzles

Some (ACM, for instance) see them as complementary, while others (the Green Mantis and I, for starters) find the Crossword game at cross purposes to the nature of the puzzle. The whole process is radically different, in my mind.

Whenever I'm drawn into a game of Scrabble, my motivation is seldom for the score, since I'm usually foraging for something obscure and a wry attempt at wit.

jae 7:02 PM  

I'm with the majority in really liking this one. MAGILLA bailed me out also in the tricky SW. I too tried TID and PELT. A fine debut that seemed more of a medium to me.

Bill from NJ 7:24 PM  

I found the middle to this puzzle vaguely clued especially 25D:Produce and present and 52A:Skin and that they crossed one another was particularly egregious. Coupled with the Orange County CA clue made the whole center difficult to parse in IMHO

foodie 7:25 PM  

@Clark, thank you! That was fun! I stick with my choice, although: "You talkin to me?" and "I'll be back!" are up there! I'm now seeing an even better, albeit somewhat hostile, theme...

@mac, I didn't know verveine and verbena were the same! Makes sense.

@anonymous, yes, where IS Michigan Pete?

BMI to me is Body Mass Index.

Anonymous 7:42 PM  

Well, thanks for all the bandwidth, Rex. I enjoy reading your blog every day. Yes, I was going for an old-fashioned backdrop on this puzzle and I'm so delighted it was noticed.

(A google search of Sage Tea will bring over a million results. Eire is not an abbreviation for Ireland, merely a synonym.)

And I'm happy that Magilla could guide you through. (He was originally clued as "Gorilla in Peebles Pet Shop.")

Many thanks.

Gary Cee

michael 7:55 PM  

I thought this was quite a bit easier than yesterday and getting the theme early made it go faster.

I continue to be surprised (maybe bemused is a better word here) when my difficulty ratings are different from many others.

Liked the puzzle -- nice debut!

PlantieBea 8:05 PM  

Here's a link that shows the chemicial composition of cathinone the active ingredient in QAT:

fergus 8:22 PM  

Merci bien, Beatrice of plants.

Amphetamines hold no interest for me, but apparently there's a large market. Synthesized QAT?

ArtLvr 8:38 PM  

@ Xman, mac, foodie et al -- Thanks for the help on Rego, Oca, and Sage tea!

re Rex's comment -- "Personal reserve funds, for short (IRAs) - "reserve"? ... I guess that's right, though I'm "reserving" that money for way down the road. "Reserve" suggests to me that you can tap it whenever you need." -- Yes, nearly true!

The rule is that you can borrow from your IRA without tax consequence literally once per year on two conditions: 1st, that the same amount is repaid to the IRA within 60 calendar days, and 2nd, that you wait 365 calendar days from the first date of such a withdrawal before initiating another. Otherwise the amount borrowed is taxable.


chefbea 8:43 PM  

is everyone watching the national spelling bee???
Never heard of these words much less know how to spell them. Maybe tomorrows puzzle will have some of these words!!!!!

Two Ponies 8:49 PM  

@ Gary Cee, Many thanks for stopping by. It is always a thrill when the constructor du jour drops in.
Peebles Pet Shop might have pushed this beyond Thursday level.
I'm looking forward to more of your work.

Stan 9:15 PM  

You guys are such wordies, I love it!

And a good puzzle, with a few questionable fill answers, but a cool theme. Definitely not in the 'lame' category.

I did a tasting once of some very nice American ice wines, though I assume the German ones are better. But n.b.: they're all for dessert -- which means sweet, up-alcohol, and low consumption unless you want to wake up with serious consequences.

Lisa in Kingston 10:53 PM  

@ Clark, thanks for the 100 in 200, awesome!
@foodie, Moonstruck is one of my all time favorite movies. I love how she blossoms.
@ the puzzle, you were fine, too. Perky. Stop by again sometime!

retired_chemist 11:53 PM  

In Lafayette LA after almost a 400 mi drive -

all I can add to the fractional freezing thread is that nobody mentioned applejack, historically made by that method. Was used once as currency (to pay road crews in New Jersey in the colonial period).

fergus 12:34 AM  

ret chem,

you in the heart of Acadiana ... make the most of it.

retired_chemist 12:55 AM  

@ fergus -

does gumbo, soft-shelled crab, and jambalaya for dinner count? yummmmmm....

andrea ste michaels 2:05 AM  

Your dream come true! Frank Longo has a wonderful crossword puzzle book:

AND QAT is on the cover, as the qintessential u-less q-word!
(Till QI came in and ruined all our lives!)

Played Scrabble today and missed a triple-triple...
rack: DEEILRT, with a T on the top row between two triple word scores!

Lamented it was too far to the right for LITTERED, so played RETILED elsewhere and was pretty pleased with myself, till my opponent pointed out I missed RETITLED thru the T for 131 points!!!!!!!!! 131 points!!!!!!!

AND as a namer, who does nothing but re-name and re-title... I miss RETITLED. I should have gotten irony points at least!

@Chef Bea
Thanks for the shout out, you crazy lady, are you up reading my stories at 4 am??? I figured it was safe to name drop in the wee hours when there would be no one to hear, but I could get it off my chest!
(It's tough to come here 88 comments into it!)

@Gary Cee
(Is that your rock name? Do you have some crazy real last name like CZYQIZERXHNIK?)

Puzzle: Loved it!!!!!!!
GET over IT...Fabulous!
Since I started bottom up I needed the theme to get both ROGETS and PAGETURNER since I KNEW there had to be a GET in it somewhere...
I'm not sure I've ever totally depended on the theme before!
Yay themes! Yay Gary C!

Normally I would scream if construction trumped lousy fill, but I really liked the fill...

TAKEI and MAGILLA were my first entries!

Has someone already discussed that MAGILLA was a nod to/play on the Hebrew/Yiddish MEGILLAH as in the whole Megillah, as in schmear, as in the books of Esther, as in, potentially long and boring?

SO funny that Nonjews thought maybe McGilla!

Oh, and speaking of LAME, may I claim partial malapop?
I had L-M- for the LONNNNNGEST time for 39A Wedding rental.

DO they rent a LAMP?
(It didn't help that I thought it was ALEBEER)
Do they rent a LAMA? (I only decided against THAT bec it would have TWO L's!)
(cue Ogden Nash poem)
I actually decided they rented LAME (as in La-mee, that shiny stuff!)

NEVER parsed ONEG...went with every parse-tial except the right one, including ONEG Shabbat.
And I had to change ELOI to OTOE one letter at a time (tho I left it at OTOI/BRITON till I came here! Damn.

No one else fell for SEED/FEED?

No comments on STE and THESAINT?

Loved learning about of the silver-linings of getting here so late, you learn a lot by the time it gets to your turn.
And, Wm E Emba! That whole Noah thing!!!!!!!! WOW, I'm with Kerfluffle...who nu???

I thought the whole blog would be a discussion again about Milles Bornes and PNEU (where I learned tire = pneu) and isn't there some connection that PNEU-MONIA is bec you can't inflate your lungs?

(By the way, Rex used my fave word of this year, CONFLATE. Didn't know it till a few months ago and I think I use it/need it once a day!)

And his Virgil joke made me feel smart just reading it! Then I remembered I've never actually read Virgil. Busted. Where's that mean Slate guy?

Waxy in Montreal 6:53 PM  


1) Avenue is already a generic term for a tree-lined road but alameda specifies an avenue lined with poplars (or alamos in Spanish). A less ambiguous 2D clue then would have been Poplar-lined avenue.

2) My wife, a retired RN, tells me that TID (abbreviation for the Latin "ter in die") not TER, was always used on prescriptions for three times daily.

Otherwise, really a great Thursday puzzle. Solving the theme first actually helped in resolving the PAGETURNER IMITATE region.

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