Nigerian native — MONDAY, Aug. 3 2009 — English dramatist George / Larva successor / One of two for the Ten Commandments

Monday, August 3, 2009



Constructor: Janet R. Bender

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MAYS / MAIZE / MAZE — those three homophones are clues and their definitions are answers

Word of the Day: Zuider ZEE (30D: Zuider _____ (former inlet in the Netherlands)) Zuider Zee ('dər zē, zā, Du. zoi'dər zā) , former shallow inlet of the North Sea, c.80 mi (130 km) long, indenting NE Netherlands. In ancient times Lake Flevo, it was joined to the North Sea by a great flood in the 13th cent. A vast drainage project, begun in 1920, split the old Zuider Zee into the IJsselmeer, S of the IJsselmeer dam, and the Waddenzee, between the dam and the West Frisian Islands. Much of the IJsselmeer has since been reclaimed for farm lands and urban expansion. (Columbia Encyclopedia)

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Not much to say about this one. A pretty ordinary Monday, and after yesterday's provocative / infuriating creation, doing this puzzle felt like a massive letdown. The old homophones-as-clues gag, eh? Where the clues are really answers and the answers definitions ... only those "definitions" are always slightly arbitrary and off-feeling. Not definitions one would naturally or easily offer for the homophones in question. They're accurate enough, but often you can feel the constructor's desperation to get the answers to come out to lengths that allow for symmetrical placement. LAB RAT'S MILIEU is so ridiculous it's almost good. As my wife said, "that's one pretentious rat."

Theme answers:

  • 20A: MAYS (slugger Willie)
  • 36A: MAIZE (pale yellow color) — "you call it corn ..."
  • 57A: MAZE (lab rat's milieu)

One of the big reasons this puzzle didn't sit well with me was the whole GLUEY / PEELE section, which feels like a real blot on the puzzle (especially a Monday puzzle, where ultra smooth fill is easiest to pull off and thus expected). GLUEY (21D: Viscous) ... well GLUEY is GLUEY is GLUEY. An awful adjective no one really uses. GOOEY, yes. STICKEY, yes. But GLUEY? GLUEY sounds like the fourth nephew of Uncle Scrooge. The one Nobody wants to talk about. The one who was shipped upstate in the 40s for a "nervous disorder." And PEELE? (33A: English dramatist George) Name a work by PEELE. I thought not.

Did anyone else try SNARE at 60A: Tangle and then wonder what the hell a TABEET was at 45D: One of two for the Ten Commandments? Even now, reading it over, I have trouble making sense of the phrase "One of two for." Taken altogether, the clue sounds like "1, 0, 2, 4, the 10 Commandments." Nutso.

Bullets:

  • 28A: 1st to 220th, in Manhattan: Abbr. (sts.) — cool clue for a boring answer.
  • 44A: Soda can feature (pull tab) — one of the more interesting answers in the grid, along with LA LA LAND. I also like the symmetry of OPOSSUMS (39D: Arboreal animals with pouches) and OVERKILL (6D: Excess). Move over Urge Overkill. OPOSSUM OVERKILL is the next great band name.



  • 64A: With 34-Down, golf's U.S. Open champion of 1994 and 1997 (Ernie / Els) — his last name is practically crosswordese at this point. I like the full, split name here.
  • 8D: Part of a whodunit that reveals who done it (ending) — spent much time last night trying to work out the theme answers for a puzzle theme that's very closely related to this clue.
  • 36D: Larva successor (pupa) — "successor" is weird here. Literally true, but makes PUPA sound like he beat Larva in an election or inherited the throne from him or something.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

80 comments:

joho 8:14 AM  

Great write-up, Rex.

I discovered upon doing this puzzle that I really don't care for the "reverse" theme i.e. the clues are the theme. The answers just don't offer the satisying payoff that occurs when it's the other way around. At least in my mind.

This puzzle did prompt me to write this however: "I used the PULLTAB to pour out a GLUEY liquid of a PALE YELLOW COLOR, so thick I couldn't stir it with a SPOON."

treedweller 8:24 AM  

Shouldn't the PULLTAB clue get a "bygone" or something? I haven't seen a new can with a PULLTAB in a long time. Maybe that's just in the U.S.? Not that it slowed me down or anything--I'm just saying.

And I'm not sure there are any GEODEs with only one crystal inside.

Pretentious rat. That was a good one!

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

Peele/Zee Natick.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Treedweller, where do you live? All of our soda cans have a pulltab. Flowerlady9

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

Flowerlady that should read all of our pop cans. Golfballman

PhillySolver 9:16 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
PhillySolver 9:17 AM  

I first learned of Zider Zee from a regional restaurant chain in the 60s. Hush puppies(fried bread), fried seafood, fried potatoes and fried salad (not really) with each meal easily topping 3,500 calories. When the food was off, we'd exclaim 'dam Zuider Zee.' I wonder if our other favs, Kip's Big Boy, Ned's Pizza and Nedick's exit?

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I thought Zee was great, and I saw no problem with tablet. Oh yeah, pulltabs are not passe or bygone.

dk 9:40 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle.

AMEBA without the O, hurrrumpfff!

We (poseur WASPs) call them soft drinks not pop, or soda.

Nice write-up. GLUEY as one of the nephews is a riot.

I seem to recall AVON was in yesterdays joyful (all Greek to me) outing.

PhillySolver, The MN State Fair is coming up where everything is fried and on a stick. I will look for salad. Fried Twinkies debuted a few years ago.

Retired_Chemist 9:42 AM  

One of my easiest, even for a Monday. Went through the acrosses, filling in 4’s and 5’s I was certain of, then did some downs where I had help from several crosses, and then the first two theme answers became obvious. The MILIEU part of 57A was the hardest part, and all of its crosses were easy but one: POINTE @ 49D.

Liked all the answers, didn’t love any of them other than the theme. George PEELE was a WTF, but its 5 crosses were all obvious. Even if one’s golf knowledge is limited to crosswords, ERNIE ELS is almost certainly a gimme for anyone who has done 6 months of them.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Am I the only one that wanted "Slugger Willie" to be "Plugger Billie"? I guess it's Billy, but it would have been a good theme answer since he recently passed away.

Rex Parker 9:48 AM  

I think you all are confusing PULL TABS with POP TOPS. PULL TABS pull all the way off and are then discarded. I haven't seen a PULL TAB on soda/pop in ... forever. Maybe it's regional.

rp

PurpleGuy 9:51 AM  

After the thrashing I took from yesterday's puzzle,this was a blessed relief.
No real problems, or pauses. It all fell nicely.
Can't think of anything by George PEELE offdhand, but his name was familiar, somehow.
I guess all my English studies have finally paid off !

There are pull tabs here in Phoenix. I've heard them called "pop tops."

Another good writeup, Rex.
I thought the theme answers were right on.
They came to me instantly. Guess I was in the same mind-set as Ms. Bender.

Mike 9:52 AM  

@dk Had a fried Snickers bar at the IA Stare Fair a couple years ago. You could almost hear my arteies slamming shut.

Other than the PEELE/ZEE cross (which was a bit NATICK-esque for my tastes) an OK puzzle. I don't care for the theme-as-clues idea; it feels like it's more for the constructor than for the solver.

PlantieBea 10:03 AM  

We used to make chains out of pull tabs. Often, though, the tabs were pulled off and inserted back into the can before drinking the beverage. Of course, that action led to the demise of the pull tab after too many choking incidents.

Like Philly, I learned of Zuider Zee from the restaurant. I didn't know they were a chain, though.

I liked seeing Opossum in the puzzle. We frequently see them here, often in the roadkilled form. They are cute from a distance, but up close...hmmm...they make lab rats look beautiful. And they SNARL. Also liked seeing zirconium again as well as GEODE, and HAMLET. Did not like AMEBA.

I liked the puzzle well enough for a Monday.

Joe 10:04 AM  

I was wondering about TABEETS for much longer than I'd like to admit

XMAN 10:05 AM  

Weee! Fastest Monday yet. Flew through the air with the greatest of ease. As Harry Arno says of espresso in "Pronto" (Elmore Leonard): Two sips and it's over.

Ulrich 10:05 AM  

The "pretentious rat" angle almost saved this one for me--now can we have also angles for the other two theme answers?

The pull-tap vs. pop-top debate reminds me of certain scholastic disputes in the middle ages, and my reaction is the same: Thank God I have other problems!

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

I know there are pull tabs in China so I researched a little and find China is about the only place that still uses them...from Wiki

"Pull-tabs were a common form of litter. Some users dropped the aluminum tab into the can and occasionally swallowed the sharp-edged tab by accident. The New England Journal of Medicine reported one person inhaling a pull-tab, similarly dropped in the can. Stay tabs (also called colon tabs) were invented by Daniel F. Cudzik of Reynolds Metals in Richmond, Virginia, in 1975.This new tab design would prevent the injuries caused by removable tabs and reduce roadside litter.

In this can model described in U.S. Patent No. 3,967,752,[4] the lid contains a scored region and a pull-tab that can be leveraged to open the hole by pushing the scored region into the can. Stay tabs almost completely replaced pull-tabs in many parts of the world by the early 1980s, though pull-tabs are still common in places such as China and the Middle East.

/mee

PIX 10:13 AM  

Zuider Zee, with the Dutch pushing back the water and expanding their limited land mass, was big in grade school geography class ( many years ago). I knew that someday I would put that information to use.

Also, Peele is important because "Peele is said by some scholars to have written or contributed to the bloody tragedy Titus Andronicus, which is normally attributed to Shakespeare." {professor Google}

I think both are reasonable-although a bit difficult for a Monday-clues.

Gnarbles 10:18 AM  

I can confirm that pull tabs still exist in the Middle East. The Pepsi bottler in Saudi Arabia once told me that they didn't want to spend the money to retool their factory.

Stan 10:37 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle. I liked all the critters: opossums, Corgis, pupae and pretentious lab rats.

Funny comment from Ulrich.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

Okay for a Monday.
Gluey is really ugly.
I think that as a group we are getting harder to please at the beginning of the week.
Welcome back dk. How were the Apostle Islands?I'm still chuckling at your wife wanting to get packed and catching you blogging.
Browsing yesterday's write-up and a few of the comments made me glad I don't get the Sunday Times.
Zuider Zee was a gimme from grade school geography. mac might be standing where it used to be right this minute.

PurpleGuy 10:56 AM  

Knew it would come to me.
George Peele wrote "The Old Wives Tale" 1595.
He was a contemporary of Christopher Marlowe.

Thought of @mac in the Netherlands with the Zuider Zee clue.

jae still in ipswich 11:12 AM  

Yeah, I didn't like GLUEY either but I looked up viscous in my old crossword dictionary and there was GLUEY. No idea what PEELE wrote either but thought the puzzle was OK.

Glitch 11:22 AM  

Fortunately, knew Zee from passages such as:

"—the small piece of land I saw was the dam the little Dutch boy stuck his finger in — the one that keeps the Atlantic Ocean out of the Zuider Zee."

Unfortunately, the above passage is incorrect on many levels ;-)

Today is National Watermelon Day.

Pull tabs still exist on some non-carbonated (and non-food product) cans. Today they are made out of heavy foil. Soda cans do not qualify.

.../Glitch

PurpleGuy 11:27 AM  

That's not to be confused with"The Old Wives' Tale" by Arnold Bennet, Notice the aposrtophe.

One of Peele's plays was "The Battle of Alcazar."
I know, a really old file cabinet has just opened up in my brain. A lot of dust and moths flying around, too.

OK.Three and I'm outta here!

SeniorStan 11:45 AM  

Nice Monday puzzle. Love the pretentious lab rat. Knew Zuider Zee; In 1865, Hans Brinker skated in a race on the Zee to win the prize of Silver Skates. I believe I just carbon-dated myself.
p.s. not from 1865, from the Disney movie (circa 1962). I only remember the pull-tabs that broke off and didn't open the (beer) can. A bottle-opener was kept for these occasions.

Anne 11:53 AM  

Good Monday, agree with Rex it is a little harder than usual. I had a slight problem with the milieu/geode area.

We have a very little opossum just starting to make rounds near our windows and it is so ugly it is cute. My cats can't seem to figure out what the heck it is although they are used to seeing the parents.

I remember seeing Zuider Zee in the last few months, but maybe it wasn't this puzzle, but in any event I guessed Peele correctly.

Charles Bogle 11:59 AM  

Good write-up Rex and have great vacation!

I'm w @plantieBea-good enough for a Monday

Fun words for me:SNARL, SDS, HAMLET

Like @retiredchemist, I'm tired of seeing ERNIE ELS, much as I like his play

In addition to PEELE/GLUEY,my one real criticism here is w upper right NW quadrant...good words mixed w colloquialisms, slang eg "DAT". And what is RAGLAN actually?

32D ELON is a fine college. I'm not sure it's a "university"?

foodie 11:59 AM  

As I cringed at GLUEY, I wondered how Rex will highlight it. Genius!

I run LAB RATS all the time. Of late, we've been working on enriching the MILIEU of those who are natively prone to anxiety, to see if it helps make them more resilient. It turns out that toys and socializing are good for a LAB RAT'S SOUL! (and we even sort of know what goes on in the brain to make it happen). I'm going to adopt "MILIEU" when I speak about my LABRATS' posh conditions!

@Xman, they need to be drinking triple espressos, like real addicts (yours truly). It's the equivalent of one Turkish coffee.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

snarl not snare, makes tablet not tabeet. hey, it is only monday.

Denise 12:14 PM  

@SrStan -- I loved Hans Brinker, and like 2Ponies & PIX, I learned about the Zuider Zee in geog. When I saw it in the puzzle, I wondered where it had gone. Now I know it is gone.

I liked the homophone theme, but hated GLUEY. I was thinking it should be GUTSY.
But, a good thing about the word GLUEY is learning about the OTHER duck nephew.

So, I am working on time -- and I started this and said, "Oh great" but at 10:15 last night I was in the middle of the pack! Who are these FAST solvers? They AMAZE me.

Thanks, today and every day, for the blog & the community.

still_learnin 12:19 PM  

Never saw that I had TABEET... sigh! Sometimes I wonder whether I really am still learnin.

Brendan Emmett Quigley 12:27 PM  

I shit you now, Nash Kato from Urge Overkill was hanging out at the same bar as me last night. Dude was in Full Rock Star mode. Kind of amazing, especially considering that he's essentially a nobody nowadays.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

can someone please explain 45 D; the Ten Commandments clue.. thanks

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

the andrews sisters had a song with the lyrics "down by the zuider zee...."

and i thought tablet was pretty obvious...as was snarl (it's a girl thing when you brush long hair)

Joseph 12:35 PM  

What's up with not providing any indication that AMEBA (16A) (usually "ameoba") and IBO (12D) (usually "Igbo") are variants???? I thought it was asking for a Rebus of some sort. The poetic O'ER (48A) initially reinforced that misguided thought.

Speaking of forced, MILIEU was not good, but at least it made sense, kinda.

Going to go with a rating of "... eh."

edith b 12:38 PM  

Thanks, XMan, for the Harry Arno quote. I just love Elmore Leonard.

On the subject of poptops: When I was a young teacher in the '70s I could always tell the kids who had been drinking over the weekends because theie thumbs were covered with tiny slits and slashes, some of them really nasty.

I've been doing puzzles long enough to know that a five-letter English dramatist was either PEELE or READE. Not enough of an English scholar to have any idea what either of them wrote, though.

Enjoyabe few minutes over my morning coffee.

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

@Anon 12:32 The 10 Commandments were written on two tablets up ther on the mounain top. Or so the story goes, though It ain't necessarily so.

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

@Anon 12:48 Maybe.

chefbea 1:44 PM  

easy fun puzzle. I had the Lab part of maze and figured it was going to by labyrinth something...anyone else?

@Glitch I bought watermelon at the store this morning with out even knowing that this was national watermelon day.Now we can celebrate.

I have a new foto to use for my avatar but forgot how to change it. Can someone e-mail me and explain?

Jet City Gambler 2:01 PM  

Is it pop, coke, or soda? This is a
map broken down by county
of the generic names for soft drinks.

treedweller 2:02 PM  

@flowerlady9
What Rex said.

Wiki calls the "pop tops" stay tabs. Whatever they are, they are not the ring you pull to remove a section of the top, which is what I think of as a pull tab. I actually found one of the old pull tabs buried in my garden recently, which was the first one I'd seen in years. Like PlantieBea, we would sometimes make chains out of them. I also sometimes dropped them into the can, but never choked on one (or even had one come back out).

A pet peeve of mine is when someone opens a can with the "stay tab" opening, then wiggles the opener until it breaks off, thus defeating the anti-litter purpose of the innovation. Is it wrong for me to hope that these same people still drop them into the can and choke on them?

And, yes, Ulrich, there are bigger things to be concerned about. If this is the worst thing I have to deal with today, I will consider myself lucky.

archaeoprof 2:11 PM  

Pretentious lab rat, indeed. That answer was delightfully off-kilter for a Monday.

I tried "pulltop" before PULLTAB.

The discussion about poptops reminds of that old country song, "Pop a Top":

"Pop a top again,
I've just got time for one more round,
Set 'em up my friend,
Then I'll be gone and you can let some other fool sit down."

Doc John 2:13 PM  

Nice write up, Rex. I loved the "pretentious rat".
I did this puzzle in my fastest time yet, pulling ZEE out of the recesses of my mind. I initially had ELIOT in the PEELE spot (hey, it's a writer named George) so I get malapop points for that one.
And who can't forget Moses saying "I give you these fifteen (one tablet falls and breaks) er, ten commandments." (From History of the World, Part I)

XMAN 2:13 PM  

Foodie: I'm gonna sit write down and write Arno a letter. Been a long time since I've had Turkish (really Syrian or Lebanese), which we used to linger over after our dinner in the old rug district (alas! no longer) of Manhattan.

Edith B: Elmore Leonard is an absolute fave.

PlantieBea 2:16 PM  

@treedweller: yep, I detest those broken off tabs too. They create litter, AND they're sharp as all getout..."blew out my flipflop, stepped on a pop top.."--that really happens down here.

chefbea 2:27 PM  

I think I mentioned this a while back when the subject of pull tabs came up...a friend of mine made a dress out of them years ago. She wears it to Halloween parties

XMAN 2:40 PM  

@Jet City Gambler: It was 'tonic' on Cape Ann, Massachusetts until fairly recently. Now it's the de-placed, featureless, amorphous, characterless 'soda'.

Stan 2:43 PM  

@BEQ: Good story!

@Jet City Gambler: Thanks for the map link. Definitely worth bookmarking for future reference.

George NYC 2:51 PM  

@ Jet City Gambler

Thanks for that awesome map!
Wonder if there's one for sub / hoagie / grinder?

Now if we could only get rid of Pop Tarts...

Meg 3:23 PM  

Why is it that clues for Monday puzzles often have too much information? "Bard of ___________" and "what the dish ran away with" would have been enough. Sometimes the Mondays are so easy I think maybe I'll skip them, but I am addicted.....

Seriously, is there some kind of Monday rule about making the clues so over-obvious?

@Jet City Gambler: Is that map for real? Was this a government funded research project? How can soda be coke? Look in the Coke section of the supermarket?

andrea arie michaels 3:52 PM  

Loved this write up...
word for word my thoughts, including SNARE/TABEET, altho I wish I had a Sandy around to make incredibly funny dry comments in thebackground!

No coincidence that GLUEY is an anagram of UG-LEY!

(Oh! One non-parallel thought:
@Rex
I must respectfully disagree that "ultra smooth fill is the easiest to pull off on a Monday"...

I can not tell you how many puzzles I've had to abandon bec it was a sweet theme, but impossible not to have at least one semi- obscure word marring it, knowing in my heart (and always in Will's mind) that it was "too hard for a Monday" which was what made this one a little less than a-mazing
with so many...ie PEELE, IBO
not to mention, (not necessarily for this crowd, but for Monday puzzle solvers in general esp the folks who only do Monday and Tuesdays) the entire GEODE, POINTE, ADESTE, TEUTON corner and the IBO, DAT, AMEBA are all questionable.

(SO, not so much to criticize another constructor's puzzle, esp a Monday (!), but to show it IS terribly hard to pull off ultra smooth, despite expectations...
That is why we Monday-ers always pray that ARIE will be come a super popular singer in real life
(which of course did not stop me from putting in IRIE!)

@PlantieBea
Yes, I started to put in LABRyinth till I realized I could not spell it then (or now!)

And I still always want OPOSSUM to have two PPs and CORGI to have a final E...

It brings back fond memories of the first time I ever read Rex...
I had PLAYINGPOSSUM as one of my theme answers and my friend Asami forwarded me this blog saying
"Do you know someone is writing about your puzzle?" I clicked on this link...and there was a scary picture of an OPOSSUM staring out at me!
Ahhh, good times!

Did anyone mention that the pull tabs were also banned bec in the woods they wood get caught in deer hooves causing all sorts of damage :(
(Esp bec Bambi and all don't wear flipflops. which in my day were called "thongs"...it's funny that thongs have "moved up" apparel-wise)

(@ChefBea
Didn't mean to ignore you yesterday! I don't usually have a chance to do Sunday's puzzle, which now I'm super excited about, as I love the GReek alphabet and have spent many years teaching it to people to show it's not so obscure, between what they already know from math, fraternities, our own alphabet...
One can learn the Greek alphabet in less than five minutes in my version of a bar game...I mean there is an exact parallel with at least a dozen of the 22 letters, so it's like learning only 6 or 7 letters, et voila!

(I know I've mentioned that in Greece when something is obscure they say "It's all Chinese to me")

In any case, I don't know from fraternities...even Jewish ones, tho I have a vague recollection of one in Madison a friend was in called the SAMmies? So I would assume Sigma Alpha Mu?)

(I know the above belongs on yesterday's blog, but I just now had a chance to look at the hilarious tweets! Can't get enough of those!)

Ulrich 3:53 PM  

Did anybody else read Ian Frazier's account of a trip by car he took across Siberia, starting in St. Petersburg, in the recent New Yorker? One of his more astounding observations was that the famous URAL, divider between two mighty continents, is such a puny affair that you are already across before you noticed that you ever reached them.

Reminds me of my reaction when I first laid eye on the equally famous Cape of Good Hope: That's it?

nanpilla 4:03 PM  

When I lived in the South Pacific, we called flip flops "go aheads". I've never heard it anywhere else. I wonder if this was only on Kwajalein. It took a long time to stop calling them that, took a lot of teasing. I was only 8 when we moved back stateside.
The puzzle just made me hungry for good Jersey corn! MAIZE, and around here they make MAZEs out of corn fields.

Anonymous 4:05 PM  

In Michigan you drink soda with, oh say scotch, you drink pop and then get to the nitty gritty and ask what kind of pop? Most of the pop cans have pull tabs. Soda bottles are usually screw on.

Ruth 4:22 PM  

@Ulrich, didn't know that about the Urals, and it adds fuel to a recent rant I had going about how arbitrary the geographic division of Eurasia is! My Italian teacher tells us that in Europe they say there are 6 continents, not 7. Oh, we said, you mean they count Europe and Asia as one? (since that makes sense) No, in fact, they count North and South America as one! Now c'mon! N & S America are so clearly geographically distinct, just the little ol' isthmus of Panama to connect them--ridiculous! What do they say in Germany--6 or 7? (if you're at liberty to say)

Crosscan 4:32 PM  

So how does blogger etiquette work. Since I guest-blogged for Orange today, do I get to guest-comment for her also?

Susan 4:33 PM  

I finished the puzzle and then stared and stared at 57A. LABRATSMILIEU. Who's this Labrat? Could it be the landscape gardener who invented hedge mazes? Or some video game character who has to find his way out of a labyrinth?

Seriously. I ended up googling it. It was only when Google asked me:

Did you mean: lab rats milieu ?

that I understood. Sigh...

Ever have a day when you feel really, really dumb?

chefwen 4:45 PM  

Here we call flip flops, rubbah slippers, "leave your slippers by the door, but when you leave, don't take moh beddah ones."

I always thought viscous = slimey, like my dog's drool or what okra turns into after it's cooked.

Easy fast Monday for moi.

Two Ponies 4:47 PM  

@ Susan, Yes!
I didn't have to google that strange string of letters but it took me a second to parse it. Don't be so hard on yourself.

Ulrich 4:56 PM  

@Ruth: I'm simply taking the liberty to say...

Yes, we counted N. and S. America as one continent. That makes sense if one uses a basic geographical criterion: Everything that sits on the same continental shelf is one continent. But that could not have been the reason for the division we learned b/c Europe and Asia were treated as two different continents, and Madagascar was considered part of Africa although it sits on its own continental shelf... go figure.

6 or 7? I honestly don't remember. It should have been 6, given what I said before, but I remember 7--or are these the 7 seas? Memory, where have you gone?

joho 5:18 PM  

@Susan ... OFTENER than I'd like to admit.

andrea labyrinth? michaels 5:20 PM  

I'm not a fan of definitions in the puzzle either, but MAYS, MAIZE, MAZE is very cool...
I feel creepy for criticising without offering something constructive, so how about
maybe if the phrases were more fun or felt like something peppy...more in the language like "THESAYHEYKID" 12
"YOUCALLITCORN" 13 (damn, one off!)
and since it doesn't matter the order, the middle could be something like "CRETAN LABYRINTH" 15! or other less-tortured ref ...but as you implied, it's a bitch to get the letter counts to line up (sigh)

ArtLvr 5:53 PM  

Oh dear, I'm behind today, coming off a long road trip from upstate NY to Michigan. I'd have liked Deep GOLD COLOR rather than PALE for Maize?

However, I haven't much excuse for trying to throw in "RugRATS" MILIEU, corrected at the end with LALALAND and TABLETS...

As to real RATS, a funny tale about the OPOSSUM: The wildly popular plush Teddy Bear that owed its origin to Pres. Teddy Roosevelt's having spared a bear's life while on a hunt in 1902 spurred another toymaker to try selling a Billy Possum when William Howard Taft succeeded him. Marketed under the slogan, "Goodbye Teddy Bear. Hello Billy Possum", it was a disastrous flop. Unfortunately, with its weird pink eyes, frightening grin, and rat-like tail, Billy Possum was one stuffed critter children refused to hug.

That historical oddity is from Douglas Brinkley's book "Wlderness Warrior", a super account of TR's passion for wildlife conservation and his legacy in creating our huge acreage of protected National parks and bird refuges. Highly recommended!

∑;)

Retired_Chemist 5:56 PM  

@ chefwen - "viscous" basically means sticky and resistant to flow, but not solid. So, the property of glue referred to is not its stickiness but, more or less, its gooiness. GOOEY would be a good first stab @ 21D.

retired_chemist 6:15 PM  

@ chefwen - ignore my previous. And I can't delete. :-( I was using "sticky" in two different senses. Here goes:

"viscous" basically means resistant to flow, but not solid. So, the property of glue referred to is not its property of holding things together but, more or less, its gooiness. GOOEY would be a good first stab @ 21D.

bookmark 7:38 PM  

@ Ulrich: Yes, I did read Ian Frazier's article on Siberia and was also amazed at how inconsequential the Urals are in some places. Fascinating place! Almost makes me want to go there. Almost.

George NYC 7:59 PM  

#Siberia in the New Yorker: wait til you read about the mosquitos in this week's installment...

joho 8:36 PM  

@ArtLvr ... those OPOSSUMS are hardly cuddly creatures. I came around a bend once in a trail when running and came upon a coven, I'm using that term because it sounds evil, of baby possums all hissing at me. I was terrified. I ran the other way. But once I realized my journey would be doubled in length I went back to find them gone. Big sigh of relief.

chefbea 8:49 PM  

still trying to change my avatar. I need help

chefbea 8:55 PM  

I think it worked!!!

des 9:38 PM  

I don't usually comment this late anymore, but I just got around to the blog and I have to add to the MILIEU discussion. My initial answer was LIBRARY MILIEU. This worked for a while since I had no idea who singer India was/is, and the same went for the arboreal animals. However, once I needed ATRIA for households, my LIBRARY was no more. Too bad - a much better MILIEU than a LAB.

edith b 9:55 PM  

@Meg-

In some pasts of the country - particularly the midwest and parts of the south - any brown-colored soda or pop is referred to as Coke in much the same way tissue is known generically as kleenex.

This is all based on anecdotal evidence

sanfranman59 9:58 PM  

Here are this week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation.

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 7:26, 7:02, 1.06, 69%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:53, 3:44, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging

treedweller 11:07 PM  

@chefbea
it worked.

foodie 11:52 PM  

@Andrea, I get the sense that pulling off a perfect Monday is like pulling off a perfect casual party. It should look easy and effortless, but it actually takes more thinking than the fussy-looking ones. My son and his fiance wanted a casual-feeling wedding at our house. It came out great, everyone had a blast, but I never worked so hard in my life...

The definition of Maize has been bugging me all day and @Artlvr seemed to echo my sense that the color was not defined perfectly. I mean I live in the land of MAIZE & BLUE, and the MAIZE M stares me in the face everywhere I go. I would not characterize it as PALE YELLOW.

Crosscan's blog on Orange's site is also both hilarious and on point!

ArtLvr 2:26 PM  

@ foodie -- Go Michigan!

Nullifidian 3:55 AM  

Taken altogether, the clue sounds like "1, 0, 2, 4, the 10 Commandments." Nutso.

1024? Sounds like the Ten Commandments in binary.

I knew Peele not only from Edward I, The Arraignment of Paris, and The Battle of Alcazar, but also because Locrine has been attributed to him. It's one of the Shakespearean apocrypha that is almost certainly not actually by Shakespeare.

Personally, I didn't find this exceptionally difficult. "Gluey" made me cringe, even if it is a proper word, but the crosses made it the inevitable answer.

IBO annoyed me because the puzzle creator used a variant spelling without noting it. She also did that with AMEBA, but I think I'm more annoyed by IBO for the simple reason that this is not the preferred way in which the Igbo people refer to themselves. The "Ibo" variant is a legacy of British colonialism. I think a basic principle of respect would demand that we spell a tribal name the way that tribe prefers it to be spelled.

I only had one answer where I had to scribble over what I had previously written, and that was only because I stupidly put GEODE in the wrong slot. I've done this crossword daily for months, so it's a bit surprising that I've never done that before.

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