Like non-oyster months / WED 1-13-10 / Unit of cultural information / James Bond antagonist * Largo / Noted mother of nine

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Constructor: Kevan Choset

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: FLOWER GIRLS (62A: Certain wedding participants ... or a hint to 17-, 28- and 46-Across?) — three women whose first names are flowers. That's it.

Word of the Day: EMILIO Largo (47D: James Bond antagonist ___ Largo)

Emilio Largo is a fictional character and the main antagonist from the James Bond novel Thunderball. In the novel he is depicted, according to the British stereotypes about Italians, as a large, heavyset, olive-skinned, powerful man exuding animal charm, with the profile of a Roman emperor, and hairy hands which are likened to crawling tarantulas. He also appears in the 1965 film adaptation,again as the main antagonist, with Italian actor Adolfo Celi filling the role. Although Celi strongly resembles his literary counterpart, his white hair contrasts with the pomaded black hair that Fleming specified in the novel, and he wears a black eye patch. Celi's voice was dubbed by Robert Rietty (who previously dubbed the voice of John Strangways in Dr. No and later a man resembling Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in For Your Eyes Only). // Moreover, Largo is also the main antagonist in the 1983 unofficial James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, a remake of Thunderball. In Never Say Never Again, the character's name, however, was changed to Maximillian Largo and he was portrayed by the Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer.

-----

Hmmm. This seems pretty weak, conceptually. There's the cute change-of-meaning in the theme-revealer, but ... women with names that are flowers? Not too ambitious. Maybe if you could have crammed another, obvious woman's flower-name — LILY — into the grid, I might have thought more of it. Grid seems fine, otherwise. DLI in the middle is unfortunate, as is OTOS over OTS. All in all, fine, if underwhelming.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Author of "The Sea, the Sea" (IRIS Murdoch)
  • 28A Henry James heroine (DAISY Miller)
  • 46A: Noted mother of nine (ROSE Kennedy) — wonder if there was any way you could have gone for the literary trifecta. ROSE of Sharon is a letter too long, ROSE Red is short, ROSE Nylund is a letter short and a Golden Girl (thus not technically "literary") ...
Felt much more like a Tuesday than a Wednesday. Between the super-straightforward theme and the remarkable easiness of the clues, this one feels a bit misplaced. I made stupid missteps and typoed all over the place and still ended up with a time just seconds slower than yesterday's Tuesday, and a good 2 minutes faster than last week's (admittedly Challenging) Wednesday. I wonder if MEME will make many people fall on their rears today? I know the term only as an internet phenomenon — completely unrecognizable to me in its bland incarnation today. Crossed one answer that it took me some time to see (DO RE MI) and another I didn't know at all (EMILIO). Both "M"s inferrable, thankfully.

Best / trickiest clue of the day was 15A: Cigarette additive? (sin tax) — me: "What the hell has SYNTAX got to do with cigarettes?" Odd gimmes for me today: OILERS (65A: Gretzky's team from 1979 to 1988) and (for reasons unknown) LYSINE (24D: Certain amino acid). Picked my new book club book yesterday — went with E.M. Forster's "Howard's End" based on the completely arbitrary fact that it's the first book I found in the bookstore that was published in 1910 (i.e. 100 years ago). I mention this because wife and I had long conversation before that about Louisa May Alcott and the Brontës and she asked if I'd read ELIOT and I thought she meant T.S. ... hilarity ensued, I'm sure. Anyhoo, weirdly, I blanked utterly at 32D: "Silas Marner" author (Eliot) just now, all the while thinking "Well, this is obvious, it's ... the woman ... you Just had a Conversation about her, you idiot ... your sister took an entire class on her ... come on!" Had to rely on stupid OTOS and OTS to help me out, because ARNIE was a complete mystery (41A: Morton who founded Morton's steakhouses).

Bullets:

  • 21A: Harvard and Yale, e.g. (rivals) — had the RI- and wrote in ... RIVERS. Why?
  • 26D: Gibson's "Ransom" co-star, 1996 (Russo) — had the R--SO and without even looking at the clue (note: bad idea) wrote in RATSO.
  • 63D: Suffix with Victr- (-ola) — well that's terrible.
  • 24A: Friction fighter (lube) — call me prudish, but ... no.
  • 53A: Francis' home (Assisi) — despite my being a medievalist, my first thought was "Francis who?"
  • 33D: Like non-oyster months (R-less) — hey, you know who else's name is R-less? LaDainian Tomlinson! (from, and for, BEQ):



Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

91 comments:

George NYC 12:29 AM  

What andrea will say. Denny Crane.

treedweller 12:49 AM  

ugh. I guessed Ernie for ARNIE, Murdock for MURDOCH, and stared mystified at "exkebite" until I finally googled the author. Hope it's not going to be one of those weeks. Maybe it's just another example of my bitterness over failure, but I found little JOY in this one.

chefwen 12:58 AM  

@treedweller - Had Murdock in first also, my only write over was the H over the k. Crazy easy for a Wednesday (almost typed in Monday)

For some reason (might have been the cocktails at lunch, what can I say I'm entertaining visitors) I could not remember the Silas Marner author to save my life and was on the verge of Googling when the light bulb shot on and it came to me. Phew!

@ArtLvr - You will find them with the other dried fruits, apricots, prunes, etc.

Robin 1:03 AM  

@Rex - Why such an early post? Busy Wednesday?

I am a LaDainian Tomlinson fan, btw.

Agree with "easy" but thought it was a cute puzzle. Then again, I have a child named Flora.

retired_chemist 1:16 AM  

An OK but unmemorable puzzle. As usual for me, the theme was of no practical help. Just something to admire (or not) at the end. (Agree with Rex: not.)

Ooxteplernon must be displeased at DLI in the place of honor smack in the center.

Robin 1:27 AM  

Ok, so what is the correct spelling for LaDainian/LaDanian? I doubt that anyone else cares, but I do.

andrea carnation michaels 1:49 AM  

What @GeorgeNYC said.

Except who/what is Denny Crane?

Agree it's a Monday. Wish I had written it! But should they not all actually be girls not women? Shouldn't all be writers as Rex said, or either all literary characters or all real?

I would never have SCUM as the first word. Asamatteroffact, I wrote in ALGA, even after seeing
1D ___ - fry and trying to think if it could possible be anything besides stir-fry, I so did not want SCUM.

Bleedover: ALA

(insert @Vann55-like rant about IOTA/IONA OTOS/OTS/ATO)


But I did love the idea!

And I loved that the corners smuggled in the ZJX...imagine this puzzle without them!

Or, actually, imagine the little SW corner with ASS over JOY over SEX (albeit backwards).
Throw in LUBE VAS SINTAX and A-TEASE and I'll let Joho construct a little tale about de-FLOWERGIRLS!

Robin 1:58 AM  

not touching that, ACME. Cute puzzle.

andrea brr michaels 2:00 AM  

ps @GeorgeNYC
OK, I've googled Denny Crane!??! William Shatner on "Boston Legal" Will spend the next hour trying to get the joke...

In the meantime, for a Harvard-Yale rival story, my three fans can go back to Friday's blog, and pore thru my rambling story that was the 130th comment that day @12:53am...
(My SHINER is healing, tho I look like Lady Gaga and after 35 years I have tracked down Stu Leck Yale '55 who literally gave me the shirt off his back, sort of...
Well, I've left a message on his answering machine...and he has left me a message back, singing the Bulldog fight song)

Steve J 3:41 AM  

Some English major I was. I drew total blanks on DAISYMILLER and ELIOT as the author of "Silas Marner," both things I should know even if college was 20 years ago. I choose to blame the fact I did the puzzle after (and during) a 10 p.m. conference call. (Yes, p.m. Working with teams in India makes for great scheduling when you're on the west coast, since they're almost exactly 12 hours ahead.)

Add in that I have no idea who IRISMURDOCH is, and what started as an easy to average puzzle quickly became tough as I stared at those yawning chasms in the north central and mid-Atlantic (where, in both cases, nothing else was coming to me, either, not just the authors).

Bleh.

Also bleh: IOTA and IONA in the same puzzle.

Elaine 4:24 AM  

Good grief. I can't imagine our scraping up a good argument, discussion, or even distantly-related-story-telling digression over this one.

Seems to me we just saw "pelvis part" (albeit more elegantly phrased) with a DIFFERENT form of the answer (SACRA?).... and I have to go look up MEME, but am having trouble working up the interest.

@SteveJ
I had to read _Silas Marner_ in 9th grade, which would mean 1961. In other words, we'll have none of this "college was 20 years ago" type of excuse. (I got it from helpful crosses, cough cough.)

Thursday, come soon!

Greene 7:12 AM  

@ACME: Who is Denny Crane? Really? Who is John Galt?

Well this was an unexpected Wednesday and quite the opposite of @Corgi's "wise"nheimer puzzle that had me in fits last week. Perfectly enjoyable treat, but I like to struggle a little bit more on Wednesday. No real sticking points to report and no writeovers either. Maybe we'll get another rebus tomorrow (hoping, hoping).

In addition to being a song from The Sound of Music, "Do Re Mi" was also the title of a witty 1960 Broadway musical by Jule Styne, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green with direction by Garson Kanin (all of whom have been in the puzzle recently). The plot centered on a con-man (Phil Silvers) who kind-of goes straight, but not really, by getting involved in the juke box and music promotion biz. The show received uniform raves from the critics (I have rarely seen such fine notices across the board) but was ultimately not successful. The financial failure was blamed on the rising influence of television. Why pay top dollar to see Phil Silvers in a play when you can see him for free at home on TV? That was the thinking at the time anyway. Could also be that maybe the show just wasn't all that good. It did produce the song standard "Make Someone Happy" though, which is probably the only reason it is remembered today.

All righty then. Theatre trivia session is over. Please resume puzzle chat.

David 7:27 AM  

Easy Wednesday puzzle!

I think DAISYMILLER was unfortunately more familiar to me from the movie than the novel - movies have replaced Classic Comics in giving us access to the classics, haven't they?

And - weren't the NE and SW corners particularly easy?

dk 8:00 AM  

8D ATO, then a Z top right and an A lower right creates the ATOZ theme.

Had the same ELIOT blank-out as reported by others. My honors paper as a high school SR was on 18th century american lit so I, like the other literati here, have no excuse.

In a rare showing of maturity I will not react to posts referencing sex backwards, LUBE or yesterdays booty.

Spent Monday patching up broken lower limbs and a possible pelvic fracture (in skier vs. tree bet on the tree) so SACRUM was top of mind.

Best of all was PEZ. Once worked in a creative agency where we had a contest to design the PEZ dispensers of our dreams. The rule was you had to reassemble a PEZ dispenser with a head and body of your choosing. Mine (3rd prize) was a snake in a tree dispensing a PEZ to... you guessed it Barbie. Hmm just realized I have been playing with Barbies for the past 15 years -- must seek help.

** (2 Stars) 2 easy

slashdotcom 8:30 AM  

Ahh! NYT Crossword subscription lapse! Ahh!

I'm leaving for India in a week anyway, where I won't have a computer for three months, and where Internet cafes probably won't be equipped with AcrossLite. But can you say "Ahhh!"?

I can. "Ahh!"

joho 8:40 AM  

@Andrea ... I'm not touching that with a 10 foot sunflower.

@dk ... wish you'd been there when I hit a tree. The guys who came to "get the body" decided I was good to go, I guess because I was vertical when they arrived. Perhaps they had never heard of shock. Glad you could patch up your victim.

I was sure MEME would be the word of the day.

Simply put, this was too easy, definitely a Monday posing as a Wednesday.

Joncquil Joho

Parshutr 8:43 AM  

@Rex...you're prudish. LUBE is what you do to your car's suspension every now and then.
"Denny Crane" was (the show is gone, tant pis) what Shatner said by way of stating "That's me".

Rex Parker 8:46 AM  

There's LUBE on your SACRUM. I'm just sayin'

rp

nanpilla 8:51 AM  

"Curtis Allina, a candy company executive who presided over a powerful innovation in marketing that was less about the candy itself than it was about the container it came in — and who in unintended consequence created a universe of enraptured collectors — died Dec. 15 at his home in Olympia, Wash. Mr. Allina, who helped bring the world the modern Pez dispenser, was 87." From NYT, Jan. 5, 2010.

Way too easy for a Wednesday, but would have made a nice, easy, breezy Monday or Tuesday. Loved SIN TAX, and the clue for RLESS. This is a Q short of a pangram. About all there is to say about this one.

lit.doc 9:08 AM  

Wow, nice Wednesday puzz. All filled at 24:43 and staring at 41A SRNE. Felt soooo good (till then) about EXHIBITS. Stared at it. And stared at it. After [insert metaphor for subjective eternity] I thought to consider EXHIBIT_, and it smacked me in the face. Googled ARNIE MORTON to be sure, and done.

FWIT it was Richard Dawkins who coined MEME in his 1976 “The Selfish Gene”, to the describe the virtual genome of acquired culture.

Had a Wednesday-level (for me) number of false starts. 56A COLDCASE before OPENCASE, 49A TDS before HRS before OTS, and TERI (SWAG from _ERI) before PERI (who?). Glad I learned SONE from crosswords, as DECIBEL would have made for a hell of a rebus.

It was interesting to “see” LARGO and LENTO in the same puzz. Intentional, I wonder?

I still prefer themes that a clever, elaborate, and utile (yes, I really hate that word, but this is a crossword blog so I can use it) for getting the puzz figured out. Though I don’t understand @Rex caring about the relative lengths. Some crossword convention of which I’m unaware?

treedweller 9:27 AM  

Re: literary common bond

IRIS is an author, DAISY is a character, ROSE is the subject of a biography. Seems close enough to me . . .

Rex Parker 9:34 AM  

Come on. Virtually any word in the grid has probably had a book written about it. Subject of a biography? Weak.

ArtLvr 9:36 AM  

Going too fast last night, I wrote in Evidence at 10D for EXHIBIT A, but it came out just as quickly when T-CELL and SIN TAX appeared. The rest was fluff but fun, a welcome whiff of floral notes to offset seasonal BRR.

IRIS Murdoch isn't my cup of tea, but she's a noted master of nasty little gems of horror, like the seemingly innocuous but fruity butterfly Collector who slips over the edge and collects a girl to pin as a specimen!

∑;(

@Chefwen, many thanks again for the recipe and pointer to the dried fruit section of the grocery store... My closest Price Chopper is barely a boutique, but up the road is another one about twenty times the size, and it should have an OPEN CASE of anything one could want.

PlantieBea 9:37 AM  

My last entry on this one was ASSISI where I couldn't, for the life of me, think of where Francis lived. Yes, this was rather light on theme density. Where have all the flower names gone, anyway? I too started with MURDOCk, but saw the error of my way. Howard's End...have that on my book pile since I saw the wonderful movie version. I'm in a small book group and DAISY MILLER was one of our selections; it's pretty easy reading, early James for which a later self edited version was published; DAISY herself provoked some interesting conversation.

bookmark 9:38 AM  

Fastest Wednesday that I can remember. Only had one write-over: RLESS. And I live in an oyster-producing state.

Being an English major helped, as did having been to the Musee D'orsay and Assisi. Like @Elaine, I read Silas Marner in ninth grade, but a few years before she did. I also taught it to ninth graders in my first year of teaching. What was I thinking?!

Our state legislature is still debating raising the SIN TAX on cigarettes, one of the lowest in the nation.

@George NYC: I love Boston Legal, especially Bill Shatner's character Denny Crane. I've watched some reruns three times.

treedweller 9:44 AM  

@Rex
fair enough. But if one is an author and one a character, the third should be something different, no? Editor? Publisher? How else to fill out the triad?

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

Who knows how far the symphis pubis is from the SACRUM? Way wrong pelvic part to be seamy. Just sayin', this puzzle is only stone cold "Easy" if you're really up on crosswordese, otherwise SONE, AJAX, "dict. offerings", Jot for IOTA, all bumps in the road. Agree ~85% really pretty easy, but also agree puzzle not too memorable today. "Uneven" I'll say. Pretty so-so puzzle and several borderline awful answers/clues.

PIX 9:53 AM  

AJAX has to be clued as a "Role in 'Troy'"???...Referencing the Iliad is too obscure?...seems wrong for a Times puzzle.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:09 AM  

Another MurdocK here, initially.

Guessed right at EXHIBITA/ARNIE. Of course "Exhibit A" is a common usage metaphorically, but since the clue specified "Early trial presentation", I was wondering if there is a trial lawyer lurking who could tell us how many exhibits are used in a typical court case. If they are quite numerous, "Exhibit E" would have been plausible, leading to a possible Natick.

fikink 10:24 AM  

Learned MEME from this blog a couple years back when we were discussing the Don't-tase-me-Bro happening.
Didn't care for Cybil Shepherd in DAISY MILLER, but that fact is what readily gave me the fill.
@Greene - Denny Crane, John Galt - LOL!
In the FIL's puzzles, DOREMI is more often clued with reference to money, e.g., bread.
@dk, your Pez-dispensing snake is killer! I am pleased to say I only thought of the car when I came across LUBE - such is the life of Dylan's "forever young" roadies :)

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

@Anon 9:51 - Never been to Sodom, huh?

Charles Bogle 10:27 AM  

Some nice touches (SINTAX) but agree theme was lame and there is too much cruddy fill esp for a Wed, eg ELAL, SYNS, ARLO, ZAPS, ATO etc. As I remember my James, DAISYMILLER was not so much a "heroine" as an enabler, or lynchpin for the novella. And MEME-W-T-F? Worst by far was OLA as suffix for "Victr-"....oh my

Van55 10:28 AM  

I thought that this was a deeply flawed entry in several respects including, as mentioned by Rex, the OTOS over OTS and the random Roman numeral dead center. I also disliked OLA (Suffix with Victr) XES (Marks out) IOTA (jot) and ALA (Like). Plus, the theme is less than clever or ambitious.

icculus 10:32 AM  

This was a nice palate-cleanser after last week's Wed puzzle; definitely gave me my self-confidence back. I agree that the theme was a bit ho-hum, but I didn't hate it. The only other literary flower girl that pops into my head is Jasmine Haynes. Should I admit that in a public forum?

Had LYSINE pegged as Word of the Day, personally. That one came completely from crosses for me.

darkman 10:37 AM  

Nothing's been said! "

"There has to be a puzzle to start the ball rolling."

You mean there was no puzzle today?

"You could say that."

OldCarFudd 10:46 AM  

No excitement to this one. Never heard of Pez (really!), Arnie Morton, or meme. Is it pronounced mimi? may-may? memmay? meem? memmy? Does anyone care? I don't foresee any reason ever to have to pronounce it for the rest of my life.

Elaine 10:48 AM  

@Anon 9:51
Now, now. I admit to a limited fund of "crosswordese," but none of those examples you cited were obscure IMHO. Anyone replacing a noisy vent fan learns about SONES; "jot and tittle" is a common Biblical-knowledge phrase; and some exposure to The Iliad and dictionaries is fairly common in most solvers' educational backgrounds. Part of the fun of crossword solving is coming up with multiple possible answers and learning the "hints" buried in the cluing style. The more you do, the better you'll do! Hang in there.

hazel 10:49 AM  

@ArtLover - I think you're thinking of John Fowles' The Collector?, which I read in 11th grade?. I've read 10+ novels by Iris Murdoch, (The Sea The Sea got a Booker), but have yet to encounter any nasty little gems of horror? She had a philosophy background, which was evident in her novels.

Also, Elegy for Iris is an incredibly touching memoir, written by her husband John Bayley - which serves as the basis for the movie Iris, which I also really liked.

@treedweller - I like your logic on the connection, but I'm biased - as I liked both the puzzle and the theme, regardless.

Two Ponies 10:51 AM  

What a waste of time.
I hope this is not a debut puzzle. I don't recognize the constructor.
It seemed like a computer-generated puzzle full of lame answers/clues and I felt like a robot as I mechanically filled it in.
I thought of Elaine at 63D as she mentions hers from time to time.

If you have lube on your sacrum you are getting too wild with your K-Y jelly and might slide off of the bed.

Tinbeni 10:53 AM  

If it is easy for me, it is easy for everyone.

@Rex - John Strangeways, in Dr NO was played by a personal friend of mine, Tim Moxon, former owner of TimAir in Jamaica. I can assure you, in the movie, that was Tim's voice.

David 10:58 AM  

My first thought for 4d was QUAI d'Orsay, so I imagined that IRAQ was some book by Pond. Oh, well. I laughed at SIN TAX.

ELIOT and ASSISI were easier for me than IRIS.... or DAISY....

Shamik 10:58 AM  

meh on the puzzle...medium time today...the theme is just...meh. Is this a debut puzzle? If so, congratulations!

English lit minor here so if you studied 18th century American lit., Eliot wouldn't have shown up. Took a senior seminar course in Eliot with the most incredible workaholic professor in the world...but she was/is brilliant. Don't even know if she's still alive since college was (gulp) 32 years ago.

And LT...don't quit your day job. Going to sleep now since I work a night job and have stayed up "late" to do this morning's puzzle.

CoolPapaD 11:10 AM  

Nice and entertaining puzzle.

I learned this meaning of "Jot" from this blog, so thanks!

I had EVIDENCE for 10D, which slowed me for the longest time.

I remembered something about oysters and Rs from a joke I heard a kid, involving a Rabbi seeing a congregation member eating oysters on Yom Kippur. Can't remember the joke, but do remember the adults laughing....

SethG 11:12 AM  

Never heard of Iris Murdoch (wanted Rainer Dart) or Daisy Miller (wanted Duke), but George ELIOT was a gimme. Maybe some of you Englishes should have been Math.

icculus 11:17 AM  

@CoolPapaD: Oooh, I know this one. A man is fasting on Yom Kippur, as is the tradition. He spots his rabbi eating at the oyster bar and confronts him. "Rabbi, how can you be eating oysters on Yom Kippur?"

Rabbi: "What? September has an R in it!"

(Note: Replace September with October if needed - I don't know how the Hebrew calendar works exactly, but I'm fairly sure Yom Kippur can be in October and maybe other months as well.)

JMorgie 11:22 AM  

had to read Silas Marner in 9th grade. absolute torture. liked TCells and RLess -- didnt know anything started RL

edog 11:27 AM  

The more I review the more I see that adult theme. lysine, t-cells, sin tax. sacrum, Vas, Peri. releases, lube.

Perhaps it's trying to be too clever and ultimately failing to gel.

I'm surprised by the lack of meme knowledge. but then people would probably be surprised that I didn't get Iris, Daisy, or Rose at all. The best I could've hoped for was a guess.

Jim in Chicago 11:40 AM  

I actually struggled a bit with this puzzle.

The far north fell last, due to a bad choice of FILTER for the Cigarette additive, combined with spelling IRIS with a K at the end. It took me forever the straighen it all out.

Ditto in the SE, where I chose NOTE for "Jot", which worked will with the misspelled ESSE.

Never heard of MEME, and I always though the founder of Morton's was ELI.

hazel 11:48 AM  

@SethG - Why should the Englishes have been Math? Inquiring minds want to know.

Melissa 11:53 AM  

oyster months? wth are those? first thought was that it was an easier pneumonic for what months had 31 days (i can never remember that little song). had to google it, since i dont eat oysters in months that have A's, E's, or Y's in them.

also, when is a LAV a LAV and not a LOO? seems like whenever i put LOO, its LAV. when i put LAV, its inevitably LOO. is there no rule for this?!

Ulrich 12:01 PM  

I think you guys are not getting the joke: The Rose, Iris and Daisy in question were everything BUT flower girls--just picturing them as such made me laugh out loud. And SINTAX is a subtle hint at the reason why Henry James remains hard for persons like me.

Is cluing LOOS vie the great modernist architect Adolf LOOS too difficult for a Wednesday? Or via the playwright Anita?

Zeke 12:05 PM  

@Melissa - A LAV is a LOO when it is clued as English/British. The saying goes you should only eat oysters in months with Rs in them.

bookmark 12:29 PM  

@Ulrich: Adolf Loos shows up in Simon Mawer's The Glass Room, a finalist for the 2009 Man Booker Prize.
It's based on the Villa Tugendhat, Mies's glass house in Brno. You'd like this book.

tptsteve 12:46 PM  

Didn't like SCUM to start the day, and confused my Daisys-I kept thinking of Dasiy Buchanan.
Biggest gripe was with the last clue- OLA is not a suffix because Victr isn't a stem. Had it been clues with pay, for example, no prob. My $0.02.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Am I wrong in remembering that in the Southern Hempisphere you eat oysters only in the months with an "R"?

Did the LA Times puzzle first and read the blogs so was not surprised to find NYT easy today.

chefbea 1:05 PM  

Easy puzzle today. Never heard of Meme. My Natick was the L in solon/DLI.

Would have been a real bouquet of a puzzle if there had been more flowers.

fikink 1:07 PM  

@bookmark, reading about The Glass Room caused me to retrieve Buddenbrooks from its forgotten place on a high shelf in the study. I do not remember if I ever finished it.
Oh, goodie! Something to settle in with as cold, gray February approaches!

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Meme? Really? A word coined to justify someone writing about what happens naturally but now it's "important" because he gave it a name. Of course it was coined in the 70's. People need to be spending more time being USEFUL members of society, instead of commenting on it....
3dogmom

Steve J 1:12 PM  

Re "oyster months": the idea behind it is that, since they are often eaten raw, you don't want to eat them when it's more likely that there could be contamination. Since the water is generally warmer (in the northern hemisphere) May-August (non-R months), and warmer water is more conducive to bacterial growth, the idea is that it's not a good idea to eat oysters in those months. Not that September is a particularly cool month in places like the Gulf Coast.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:16 PM  

@Zeke -

I knew a camp ranger who said that if you needed to relieve yourself in the woods, you should look for a lava-tree.

But that aside, I would agree with @Melissa in thinking that "lav" is just as British as "loo". Just have to check the crosses to see which to use in a particular puzzle.

SueRohr 1:23 PM  

I think it's interesting that so many people, including Rex, and myself, blanked on George Eliot. I too read Silas Marner in high school and actually liked it.I also knew it was a woman with a man's name, which at that age intrigued me. I also had it on the tip of my tongue through the whole puzzle and only got it when all the crosses filled in. Even then, I thought, wait - that's T.S. Then I thought of George and all was well.

Clark 1:25 PM  

Excerpt from an amusing (also informative, but a bit foul mouthed) definition of 'meme' in the Urban Dictionary:

Used to give a bit of pseudo-academic gravitas to stupid viral s@%* [trying to keep this a family blog].

A 'meme' doesn't have to be funny, provocative or even make sense. Most memes fall into one of three categories:

- 'Quirky' stuff that isn't funny.
- Pathetic stuff that fills you with vicarious despair.
- Revolting pictures that could be presented to some alien jury as evidence that humanity is cancer.

All that is required for a meme to succeed is for a critical mass of basement dwellers to get in on it. This being done, it will be spread over bulletin boards everywhere like the pox. Much drama and the locking of thousands of discussions across the web will follow, for what is known to the trolling elite as 'lulz'.

bluebell 1:44 PM  

Being on the West Coast and not a morning person, I always get here after most puzzlers have their say. I can't decide if it is comforting that other people get hung up the same places I get hung up. I misspelled Murdock at first, but had a question in my mind about it as I worked along. Didn't remember meme and didn't know Emilio, though the latter was the most logical.

@Hazel, thanks for the reminder about "Elegy for Iris." I going to put that in our Netflix cue.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Growing up, my uncle used to use this line whenever someone asked a question with an obvious "Yes" answer, instead of saying somthing like "Is the Pope Catholic?" he would say "Does Rose Kennedy own a black dress?"

Tasteless, but you know those old Irish uncles...

edith b 2:18 PM  

I thought @hazel and I were the only two people who read Iris Murdoch but I see that others have weighed in.

@bluebell-

Iris is the movie and Elegy for Iris was a memoir written by her husband when she was suffering with Alzheimers. Both are very touching accounts of a complicated personality.

andrea forget-me-not michaels 2:18 PM  

@Van55
aha! Proof that you skip over my comments! ;)

@hazel
I have so much confidence in the collective knowledge of the blog participants, that when I read ArtLvr's comment I thought, "wow, Iris Murdoch stole a plot from John FOwles!" ("The Collector" remains one of my favorite books of all times...)
Are there other works that retell the story halfway thru by the other character? I mean, I guess that's why I like Virginia Woolf as well.

@dk
If I didn't know you were a ski patrol guy, I would have thought you were the one with a crushed pelvis which alarmed me on many levels
(Least of all to have had it happen during Elvis's 75th birthday week)

@Icculus
How fabulous you knew the @CoolPapaD joke being referenced!
Ha! I'm going to steal that next fall!
(@ Melissa,
that April/ May poem/mnemonic is too hard to remember...
easier: hold your fists out, and count the months out on your knuckles (Left to right ignoring your thumbs)
The bumps/knuckles are months with 31 days, the indents/crevices are months with 30...
(Note that July and August are both bumps...thus, both have 31.
As for remembering that Feb only has 28/29 days, you are on your own!)

@nanpilla
Brilliant to find that obit! Did the pez exec die from a slit throat?!

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

@ andrea, that is awesome.

sanfranman59 3:08 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation of my method):

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

Wed 9:51, 12:03, 0.82, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:15, 5:56, 0.89, 18%, Easy

Based on the online solve times, this one will definitely wind up in the Easy category for a Wednesday. But it's probably slotted correctly as a Wednesday since these solve times would put it solidly in the Tuesday Challenging category for both groups of solvers.

the redanman 3:31 PM  

Late to the NYT party.

MEME sounds like cream (had to Wiki), not "même" loosely "the same" in French although it shows in a lot of idiomatic expressions.

prefer the French word

Theme pretty so-so, it's all been said.

George NYC 3:46 PM  

@ACME et al.
This is weird: The Collector just arrived at my door from Amazon.

Van55 3:47 PM  

@andrea [insert flower of your choice] michaels...

I did not skip over you post at all. I appreciated your shout-out to my rants. :-)

Ulrich 4:23 PM  

@Gorge NYC: What happened? Did you not pay them on time?

@bookmark: Thx for the suggestion--I was vaguely aware of the book, if only b/c seeing the Tugendhat House is on my bucket list.

CoolPapaD 5:24 PM  

@icculus That's IT! Thanks!

Charles Bogle 5:32 PM  

@edithb, @hazel, all: just after posting this am, I turned to the intro to my new Everyman collection of early Raymond Chandler. Intro by John Bayley (didn't register) opening sentence: "When my wife Iris Murdoch..." Segues into joy of reading inquisitively. So- cue the "Twilight Zone" music pls. Also, I highly recommend today's LAT by late Dan Naddor--a real treat and IMO heads and shoulders above this mess

edith b 6:12 PM  

@Greene-

I remember that thinking about TV.

The observation that TV would become an all-consuming medium turned out to be ultimately correct and spectacularly wrong at the same time as it became just another way to advertise Broadway shows while expanding the employment opportunities of everybody involved.

I also remember when VCRs were marketed as a way to warehouse sporting events. Imagine owning your very own copy of last years Super Bowl! That also turned out to be spectacularly wrong as suspense is an integral part of watching sports on TV.

mac 6:33 PM  

I liked this puzzle a little better than most of you. Had a rough start because I also wanted the alga and the Quai(e?). Guess I wanted a pangram.

I've been looking for "largo" ever since someone mentioned it. Where???

@dk: I too thought for a few seconds that you had been hurt skiing into a tree....

@hazel: I've read a few of Murdoch's books. Some of it heavy going...

How about Violet Gray and Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet)?

When we arrived back in CT we found the burners not working. It's cold. The heating guy is in the basement, talking up a storm. Guess my husband is keeping him from his work.

william e emba 6:39 PM  

For the next several thousand years, Yom Kippur can only be in September or October. Eventually it will start showing up in November. The correct punchline is "It's not a problem! Tishrei has an R in it!" (The 10th of Tishrei is the official date.)

Tinbeni 6:48 PM  

@mac - If you are really looking for Largo well we have two in Florida.
One is in the Fla.Keys - Key Largo, site of Bogart movie.
The other is just South of Clearwater (which is just South of my Dunedin).

Or you could look at 47-D clue.

Anonymous 6:59 PM  

@ Charles Bogle,
If you want to cue more Twilight Zone music I believe I just saw an obit for Dan Naddor yesterday.

mac 7:07 PM  

@Tinbeni: thanks. D'oh.

michael 8:49 PM  

As a socioculural anthropologist, I have mixed feelings about "meme." Yes, I've heard the word and know what it means. But I associate with a certain type of sociobiological/evolutionary thinking (i.e.Dawkins) and it certainly isn't a generally used term in my field (which at least in theory is about "cultural information"). However, the term seems to have gone into more-or-less general English with perhaps a somewhat different meaning from what Dawkins had in mind.

fergus 9:59 PM  

Found this harder than average Wednesday -- maybe because I was doing it in a cool new cafe, and felt self-consious?

I strongly took aversion to 44D. Not that I was completely averse to the Clue, but it did adversely affect my appreciation for the refined distinction Will makes, or doesn't, when editing.

fikink 10:04 PM  

@michael, Keith Olbermann uses it all the time. Can't get more "appropriated" than that.

fergus 10:07 PM  

I remain adamant about the distinction between AVERSE and ADVERSE. If this one dissipates, so do I.


(... yes I'm averse to the consequences of adverse reactions to qualms about self-consciousness, or least their spelling, wherein I erred, earlier.)

Sfingi 10:19 PM  

@Icculus - I'm with you as seeing this as a confidence builder. LYSINE is one of the Codons of amino acids making up RNA.

@Anon201 - Or, Does the Pope shit in the woods?

Personal Nattick at the A in ARNIE and EXHIBITA. There are no Morton's Upstate.

ATEASE and LOOS reminded me that facility is from facile, meaning easy. How about "vaysay"?

That Iris Murdoch was brilliant and ended her life in deep dementia, reminds us how we do not own anything, even our intelligence.

@Greene - interesting info. Keep it coming!

Just cuz someone's poor at English, doesn't mean they'll be good at maths. (That's how they say math in English.)

In the news - Who is this Kristi Watts and why is she Pat Robertson's best girlfriend? There's nothing in this world that could get me to sit next to him.

If you had a flower name, which one would you want? Columbine? Heliotrope? Dandelion? Fern isn't a flower.

sanfranman59 10:21 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 7/30/2009 post for an explanation. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:52, 6:54, 0.99, 53%, Medium
Tue 9:10, 8:47, 1.04, 65%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 9:53, 12:03, 0.82, 12%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:52, 4:30, 1.08, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 4:59, 5:55, 0.84, 14%, Easy

Thoughts and prayers to those affected by the disaster in Haiti.

fergus 11:17 PM  

I remember reading Iris Murdoch's "The Sea, the Sea" and wondering what she what getting on about. This is close to 25 years ago and I thought she was figuring out a difficult father and son relationship. Apparently it was rather highly regarded in more austere British circles than mine.

sfingi 11:38 PM  

@Kartoffel - Hubster said he had a multiple murder, multiple murderer case with many stolen items and a trail of credit cards that had more than 200 EXHIBITs. One side uses numbers, and the other uses the letters. When you get to the end of the letters, you can either go AA or A2.
Most cases are drug cases and have about 35.

Arundel 2:24 AM  

I think these days that trustworthy seafood vendors are more important than months with or without Rs.

BTW had some great oysters this morning in Morro Bay.

--Stan (posting under his nom-de-laptop)

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

@william e emba

Tishrei - right on the tip of my tongue, jeez

ArtLvr 1:06 AM  

Apologies if I misremembered Murdoch's writing The Collector! It was very long ago, whatever it was that turned me off...

∑;(

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