Central Sicilian city / WED 3-31-10 / Upscale shoe brand / Izmir native / Fleming supervillain / Bolshevik's foe / Anticlimactic putt

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Constructor: Chuck Deodene

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challening

THEME: SPREAD THE WEALTH (38A: Redistributionist's catchphrase ... or a hint to the words formed by the circled letters) — circles spell out words for "money."

Word of the Day: ARNE Duncan (12D: Obama education secretary ___ Duncan) —

Arne Duncan (born November 6, 1964) is an American education administrator and currently United States Secretary of Education. Duncan had previously served as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. [...] From 1987 to 1991, Duncan played professional basketball in Melbourne, Australia with the Eastside Spectres of the National Basketball League, and while there, worked with children who were wards of the state. In the U.S., he also played with the Rhode Island Gulls and tried out for the New Jersey Jammers. While in Tasmania he met his future wife, Karen. A Time magazine article also mentions that he has played pickup games with Michael Jordan [...] In 1992, Duncan became director of the Ariel Education Initiative, a program to enhance educational opportunities for children on Chicago's South Side that was started by John W. Rogers, Jr.. In 1996, along with Rogers, he was part of a network that funded and supported Ariel Community Academy. In 1999, he became Deputy Chief of Staff for former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas. Mayor Richard M. Daley appointed Duncan to serve as CEO of Chicago Public Schools on June 26, 2001. (wikipedia)

• • •
As you know, this is my least favorite type of theme. Non-consecutive circled squares that spell out things. Here, at least, the fact that the circles are stupidly SPREAD out is actually integral to the theme, so that's something. Knowing the theme didn't help at all. It might have helped with MANOLO BLAHNIK, except the parts of that answer I didn't know how to spell were not the parts in circles — couldn't remember exact composition of the second name: BLAHGA? BLAHNKA? BLAHGO? Blah. It's a cool theme answer. Not much else about the grid is particularly cool. The difficulty rating is a bit deceptive. I actually found it quite Medium, but it's hard for me to determine difficulty on Wednesdays. This is because, remarkably, all of my Wednesday times this year, with the exception of one hard outlier (6:17), are grouped between 3:40 and 4:39. Today was the 4:39. I'm going to stick with the admittedly idiosyncratic data and say this one will skew slightly tougher-than-usual. Why, I don't know...

Maybe people will stumble over the shoes. I have a feeling that shoe hounds and puzzle solvers would create a not very substantial overlap in a Venn diagram. Then again, it is the *New York* times, so maybe people in the city can spell MANOLO BLAHNIK as easily as they can NIKE. Maybe the trouble came, as it did for me, in the NE, where there was a ton of crosswordese, but it was clued in ways I couldn't understand at first. Didn't know the guy whose *first* name was ARNE. The usual go-to clue there involves a British composer, *last* name ARNE. Haven't seen the "CZ-" CZAR in a while, so I don't know what I was looking for at 10A: Bolshevik's foe, but it wasn't that. Maybe CAPITALIST? JOE MCCARTHY? I wanted something like an I-BEAM or REBAR to be my 13D: Concrete reinforcers today. No. Just RODS. Anyway, that's the only section that actually caused me significant slowage. That and the SE (south of the -NIK in BLAHNIK).

Theme answers:
  • 17A: How a former product may be brought back (BY POPULAR DEMAND) — B-R-E-A-D
  • 23A: Tale of a hellish trip (DANTE'S INFERNO) — D-I-N-E-R-O
  • 49A: Upscale shoe brand (MANOLO BLAHNIK) — M-O-O-L-A-H
  • 59A: Escapes via luxury liner (PLEASURE CRUISES) — L-U-C-R-E

  • 14: Lake of the Ozarks feeder (OSAGE) — Pieced together without looking at clue. A very common crossword river / tribe.
  • 65A: Izmir native (TURK) — Guessed off the -RK. No idea where Izmir Iz. I know a Scott Kazmir, a great southpaw who now plays for the Angels. His name always makes me think of this:

  • 3D: Anticlimactic putt (TAP-IN) — Odd-looking but accurate clue.
  • 24D: Dendrologist's subject (TREE) — also known as XYLOLOGY, a much cooler word. Actually, it seems XYLOLOGY is a branch (ha ha) of dendrology. How many branches does dendrology have? That sounds like the opening to a serious tree nerd joke.
  • 25D: Central Sicilian city (ENNA) — some words reek of crosswordese. This word, for instance. I know it because of crosswords. I've never seen it outside of crosswords. It's a word of convenience.
  • 31D: Cries from the momentarily stupid (DUHS) — I went with DOHS. Luckily, I know what a SOU is (37A: Trifling amount).
  • 34D: Superstar assembly (DREAM TEAM) — Currently reading "When the Game Was Ours," about Magic and Bird (part of the core of the U.S. Olympic basketabll "DREAM TEAM" of 1992).
  • 39D: Fleming supervillain (DR. NO) — Fleming's four-letter gift to crossword constructors. What else are you going to do with -RN- in the middle of your four-letter word. Go with ARNE!? That's absurd.
  • Cross-dressing "Dame" of humor (EDNA) — "of humor" made me laugh. What would people's answer have been without that phrase? JUDI Dench? Never actually seen Dame EDNA? Have a gander:

  • 50D: Teatro La Fenice offering (OPERA) — really, what else could it be? PORNO?
  • 54D: Merry Prankster Ken (KESEY) — I don't know about the "Merry Pranksters" (promoters of psychedelic drug use and takers of famously chronicled bus trips). If I'd read Tom Wolfe's "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," as I'm pretty sure my mom once suggested, I'd have known. Nothing is more boring to me than other people's drug use. Had to piece Kesey's name together from crosses. I know him only as the author of "Cuckoo's Nest."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


jesser 7:57 AM  

AISMTB, no circles, so thanks, Rex, for clearing up the theme. I'm with you that this one went slower than usual, and I can't really pinpoint why. It is helpful that one of my best friends has a wife who is spending him to death, and she likes those shoes, so at least I'd heard of them. I just had to work with crosses to suss the spelling. Beth would be proud. Mike will still be broke.

At 25D, I initially put EtNA, which really had me cornfoozled at 28A, but I eventually figured it out.

Dendrologist was a new word for me. I like your branch joke.

I have never seen the abbreviation N.B., and to have NOTA appear was not a revelation. Bueller? Anyone?

There is something that is both very cool and very insidious about the word ZEALOUSLY. I keep looking at it, and it keeps looking back at me. I may have to turn the sheet of paper over.

Any puzzle that has BRAWN in it is likely to trigger my grinner. Let me check: Sure enough!

And with all those ITEMS out of the way, I'll sign off and earn money for cat food.

Polikera! (Kera has multiple personalities, doncha know?) -- jesser

fikink 8:08 AM  

Rex, tend to agree that the overlap of shoe fetishistas and puzzlers would be quite slim - the gratification is not the same.
Had the same thought, too, about the rarer CZ CZAR.
And "rebar" wanted in my grid for ROD also.

A shout-out to you, @Treedweller, you dendrologist you!

Shout out to you, @dk - Weren't you on KESEY's bus?

Found the puzzle enjoyable, vexing in spots and fine Wednesday fare. Seems I liked Chuck Deodene's puzzles in the past.

Elaine 8:24 AM  

I appreciate the 'circles' read-out; they were on my print-out, but quite dim since the black squares are just pale gray. Not enough light for old eyes in the 1:30 club.

I knew how to spell MANOLO BLAHNIK, though I had 'Jimmy Choo' in the back of my mind. If you read _The Devil Wears Prada_ you'll know more fashion brands than thee are branches of dendrology. The WordPlay blog provides a link in case anyone in the over-lapping area of the Venn diagram thinks $945 for a pair of shoes makes sense.

Knew ARNE Duncan from a 'New Yorker' article when he was heading Chicago's schools. Interesting man, but the solutions that have just been signed into law....

UTE? for the SUV-type vehicles?

NOTA bene-- like a P.S., @Jesser.

Van55 8:38 AM  

Solid Wednesday puzzle. I started with TSARS before CZARS, Didn't know the shoe brand, but was able to guess KESEY.

The long theme answers are all pretty cool.

Is ANAG for puzzling jumble supposed to abbreviate "anagram"?

joho 8:48 AM  

I finished this puzzle feeling very poor.

I wore a wonderful pair of MANOLOBLAHNIK shoes at my wedding 8 years ago ... they were the "borrowed" part of my ensemble.
@Rex, funny about stumbling around in the show area of the puzzle.

Don't know why by I chuckled at HUSSY. You, HUSSY, you.

jesser 8:50 AM  

@ Elaine: Thanks for the explanation. I've never seen that one before.

@ Rex: I forgot to thank you for The Clash video. I bet it's played every night in the Casbah nighclub in Trump's Taj! Maybe that's what makes him comb his hair that way? Or maybe he got that style from Dame EDNA!

OK, I'm really going to work now. I promise.

joho 8:51 AM  

That's not by, it's "but."

SethG 8:59 AM  

My times spread on Wednesday puzzles...is a bit wider. (Even my Mondays go from less than 3:40 to more than 6:17...) Today was relatively quick, and was within about 10 seconds of this week's Monday and Tuesday times until I spent 20 more on a typo. Which was not in MANOLO BLAHNIK.

I enjoyed the solve, but mostly because I ignored the circles 'til afterwards. I continue to agree with you about those. The reveal here could just as well have been EXAMPLESOFTREES, cause the phrases also have POPLAR/DATE/OAK/PEAR embedded.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

I'll go out on a limb and say I liked @RP's dendrology joke.

I was also slower today, probably because 38A was one of the last answers to completely fall. I had the wealth, which allowed me to get lucre, but the middle, and particularly the east gave me problems.

PanamaRed 9:02 AM  

Also didn't know Kesey except for "Cucko's Nest," which coincidentally, wife and I watched last night. I know it's a great movie, but I find it depressing and left the room about halfway through it.

Can anyone explain 64a - ANAG?

Had one mistake - DOHS at 31d - should have seen the mistake with SOO instead of the correct SOU.

Otherwise, interesting.

joho 9:07 AM  

Jeez, Louise, that's "shoe area of the puzzle."

fikink 9:22 AM  

@PanamaRed, I find the "One Flew..." movie depressing also, mainly because of the twisted Nurse Ratched, played to perfection by Louise Fletcher. Evil personified!

edith b 9:23 AM  

Ken Kesey represents, I think, a footnote, to American culture not unlike the Beat poets or, in a different context, the Shaker Movement or Op Art. A little more than recitations of other people's drug use IMOO.

I had I think what ACME calls a Malapop at 45A where I had INFERNO which prevented me from seeing 23A:DANTESINFERNO for the longest time.

Being a New Yawkah, however, allowed me to see the fancy shoe brand at 49A (much to my husband's chagrin, I might add) so I managed to sidestep one
problem area while creating a problem area of my own.

I did ignore the circles, which is my wont, and missed a valuable clue to this puzzle's solution.

treedweller 9:24 AM  

How many branches of dendrology are there? Nobody knows--as soon as one grows out, another gets pruned off.

Well, I tried. Now you know why I'm an arborist and not a comedian.

I didn't used to share Rex's opinion of the random circles, but I find myself more indifferent to them all the time. I found this to be a solid enough effort. But I have to say--though I hate to be ANAG--that was one crappy abbr.

Ulrich 9:38 AM  

I have to agree that this is an occasion where randomly-spread circles make sense, theme-wise.

Izmir used to be called by its Greek name, Smyrna, immortalized in the haunting Hemingway story "On the Quai at Smyrna". And speaking of Greek--the Nike of Samothrace is my favorite sculpture from Antiquity (nike means "victory" BTW).

signed by "tackboy"

chefbea 9:41 AM  

Challenging puzzle today. And challenging to try to get google to accept me.

I have a gazillion pairs of shoes and have never heard of manolo blahsik.

Have been to Enna

Use to love and eat steak tartar - not any more

Cathyat40 9:49 AM  

Wanted INON instead of UPON and SHARED instead of SPREAD the wealth; didn't know AUDEN wrote City Without Walls; so that was the hardest section for me

Bob Kerfuffle 9:58 AM  

Those of us who did the puzzle in this morning's NYTimes will have noticed that 40 D, Cross-dressing "Dame" of humor - EDNA, may be in a rather ill humor today, since her Broadway show with Michael Feinstein, "All About Me", will close on Sunday after 27 previews and 20 regular performances. The Patrick Healy item notes that "more than half the seats [were] empty at some performances."

@Panama Red - ANAG = anagram.

mitchs 10:02 AM  

@Elaine/Jesser I may be wrong but I've always thought "nota bene" meant something like "point of interest" rather than post script.

raidodaze 10:08 AM  

Didn't know either the shoe brand or the Merry Prankster so I had a Fill-In-The-BLAHNIK moment and a personal Natick! Also did not know ENNA or AUDEN, but guessed the N. Overall, an enjoyable puzzle!

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Nota Bene.....Note well, or "pay attention"

archaeoprof 10:18 AM  

Maybe the whole week IS going to be "Medium-Challenging"!

Never heard of MANOLOBLAHNIK or Dame EDNA. I need to get out more.

John V 10:39 AM  

Thought this was overall average Wednesday, save for NE. Had Tsar initially; that was the last bit to fall into place with 11D.

I have no idea why I knew about Blahniks but just did.

PIX 10:41 AM  

Solid, somewhat difficult, Wed. puzzle, only spoiled by my never having heard of MANOLO BLAHNIK. (The only thing I know about women's shoes is they cost lots of money and my wife owns an awful lot of them.)

Ken Kesey was one of the icons of the 60's...I'll still use the phrase:"Hey, either you’re on the bus with me or not" (meaning you are with me all the way on this or not; referring to his famous bus tour with the Merry Pranksters) only most people do not understand the reference. A less well known novel of his - "Sometimes A Great Notion"-is also worth reading.

The Times (of London) Literary Supplement (TLS) has a weekly column called NB.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

I also seemed to go a bit slower than my usual Wed. but I think I know why.
If you spell the shoe guy as Blahrik you get Rests for 52D which sort of makes sense. That guy's name always makes me think of Mookie Blaylock the basketball player.
I tried Betsy instead of Becky for a bit.
Sept. not Sep. please!
Impudent makes one a hussy? I thought a hussy was a slut.
For some reason I thought dendrology might have something to do with nerves, as in dendrites. Of course as soon as I saw the answer I thought of our own treedweller.
Today's humorous write-ups by Rex and jesser were much better than the puzzle. Thanks guys!
@ SethG, Very observant.
If reading about other people's drug use bores you Rex then when you read my autobiography skip the 70's chapter.

Tinbeni 10:48 AM  

MANOLO BLAHNIK, 13 letter answer ALL by crosses. Thx, Rex or I still wouldn't know him.

ESSO & ETHYL cross, check!
NOTA Bene & NESTS in two puzzles today, check!
OPERA I've never heard of, check!
Fave movie writer, KESEY, check!
LAME EBAY HUSSY across the botton, check!

Damn, this puzzle, with the clip,
Rocks the Casbah!

poc 10:48 AM  

Boring theme, but by the puzzle doesn't qualify as Medium-Challenging in my book, more like Easy-Medium. I guess it depends on how much it overlaps with stuff you happen to know. I even knew Manolo Blahnik despite never seeing Sex and the City and having abolutely no interest in shoes or fashion :-) It's one of those names that, once you've seen it somewhere, just sticks.

Two Ponies 11:03 AM  

@ PIX, Thank you for reminding me of Sometimes a Great Notion. A good read that made a memorable movie with Paul Newman and Henry Fonda. I recommend it.
I think the title comes from the lyrics to "Goodnight Irene." A rather depressing little ditty about drowning one's self if I recall correctly.

Steve J 11:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve J 11:12 AM  

Hate circles. Same reasons Rex mentioned. Not going any further into that.

Easy-ish for me today, other than SOU/DUH and going through about four different spellings of KESEY, correcting with each new cross.

I don't know SOU, and I went with DOH originally. That extended my time a bit, as I couldn't figure out why the puzzle wouldn't solve. When I was a kid, DUH was typically (but not always) uttered by someone mocking the temporarily stupid: "You don't know that Luke Skywalker lived on Tatoonie? Duh!"

Anon. 10:14 noted the correct meaning of NB. For whatever reason, it's not in common use in American English; it's much more common in other dialects. It's typically used to introduce a parenthetical statement that clarifies or further defines a preceding statement. It's somewhat like "i.e.", although it's not used to restate something like "i.e." is. For example: "Americans often don't recognize or know "NB" (NB: this is not because Americans are stupid - momentarily or otherwise - but simply because it's not in common use)."

tivia 11:28 AM  

I broke a personal rule early on and actually looked at the contents of the circles, kind of. I got BREAD, scanned DINERO, only seeing DINER, and thought we had a food theme. That was of surprisingly little use guessing the reveal phrase.

syndy 11:38 AM  

@tinbeni La fenice is the famous opera house not an opera. surfed the wave length on this one.

lit.doc 11:46 AM  

MANOLO BLAHNIK? MANOLO BLAHNIK?! Someone please talk me down. Sounds like a term from the DSM for someone who’s really into shoes when they’re not on a lady’s foot.

OK, so everything’s going fine. I’m enjoying a nice, challenging ramp-up to Thursday. And suddenly I’ve got nothing left but the 25D EN_A crossing 32A _UDE_ crossing 32D _S_I chain.

Alphabet run number two gives me 32A AUDEN and a sense of having wasted my student loans. But wait—doesn’t that make 25D Bambi’s aunt? Finally, ASTI Spumante and “This little piggy…” click, and I’m done in half an hour.

But questions remain. Is ANAG the lamest abbr. you’ve ever seen, or what? Doesn’t SEALOUSLY sound like marine mammals frolicking? Why did I have to google “asyla” to figure out what it meant? I mean, seriously.

Late to the conversation this a.m. Students! Back after I catch up on Rex and y’all.

dk 11:54 AM  

@fikink...I was the bus
@twoponies... you and I both know Rex will have to skip all the chapters.

I could bore you all with Kesey represented far more than drug use stories but nobody listens to old boomers anymore.

Sailed through this one, paying no attention to the circles. Died at the shoes as I wanted OJ's shoe guy Bruno somebody.. got it with the crosses.

This one passes my Wednesday bar.

** (2 Stars) One toke over the line

Ken 11:56 AM  

@Rex - The Teatro La Penice is the PORNO palace, located right next to Teatro La Fenice.

Tinbeni 11:57 AM  

Thanks, I meant to type Opera House.
The one in Venice, right?
Probably everything I have ever learned about this area of knowledge is from crosswords.

Oops, forgot to mention:

Today is April Fools Eve.

The celebration has already started.
@dk, many tokes over the line.
(where is that line?)

Clark 12:44 PM  

Thanks @Ulrich for the link between Izmir and Smyrna. I’m reading a Poirot story (Dumb Witness) in which the snooty old English ladies are quite unaccepting of Miss Arundell’s niece Bella having married a Dr. Tanios, who is nice enough, but (egad! signalled by slight movement of one eyebrow) he is Greek or, worse, a Turk !! They live in Smyrna with their two unattractive children.

There’s a whole nother part of that Venn Diagram. It’s the one showing the intersection of puzzle people and anyone familiar with Sex and the City (the tv show or the movie). After the four ladies and Mr. Big there is MANOLO BLAHNIK.

Elaine 1:27 PM  

I wasn't very clear-- I meant that I have most often seen it at the end of letters (as in an epistolary novel.) It's not the same as a P.S., more of a clarification. I figured that would be enough to clue Jesser in, but I didn't even include the translation, so I probably wasn't all that helpful.

I don't know any other poets whose names begin AU__, so AUDEN saved me from an error with 25D. I thought of ETNA and failed to notice that what I had entered was actually ENTA, because I had _NA for 28A.
DUH, indeed.

Hey, nobody's explained UTE at 60D yet!

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

For the record, Manolo Blahnik was the easiest long clue for me and broke open the puzzle after a disappointing 5 minute first-run at the clues. Not that I own (or will ever own) a pair, but I know them when I see them. So maybe we're not so rare as you, Rex, and some of the other posters think -- smarty-pants puzzle geeks who also know our shoes.

bluebell 1:29 PM  

It took me a lot of noodling to finish this one, which I did except for the blahnik/nests crossing (snuggling as nesting?). I loved Devil Wears Prada, but didn't remember the brand of shoes. After all the mentions this morning I think the name should be of a character on SNL.

Anyway, looking back over the puzzle I'm not sure why it seemed so hard--the theme lines were fairly easy. Got hung up on the fill.

I've always spelled Czar this way, but had trained myself to do the Tsar, and had to undo the training today.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

For the record, Manolo Blahnik was the easiest long clue for me and broke open the puzzle after a disappointing 5 minute first-run at the clues. Not that I own (or will ever own) a pair, but I know them when I see them. So maybe we're not so rare as you, Rex, and some of the other posters think -- smarty-pants puzzle geeks who also know our shoes.

Stutterer 1:46 PM  

Anon 1:28 & 1:29
New Balance or Flip Flop wouldn't fit.

New Balance or Flip Flop wouldn't fit.

ArtLvr 2:03 PM  

El CAMINO Real saved me after a slow start -- BY POPULAR what? Acclaim, request, aha -- DEMAND. There must be a fancy shoe store somewhere along a Royal Road?

Loved the puzzle as a whole, despite the thin theme.

@Ulrich -- me too, thanks for Izmir/Smyrna!


M. Blahnik 2:16 PM  

@ Elaine: The vehicles listed at 60 D are considered utility vehicles, or UTEs for short.

JenCT 2:18 PM  

@Elaine - UTE is another shorthand word for Sport Utility Vehicle (I know, took me a long time to fill that one in - wanted SUV).

Found this challenging.

MANOLO BLAHNIK is a gimme for anyone who's ever seen Sex and the City or read The Devil Wears Prada, as previously mentioned. Though I don't know anyone who actually OWNS a pair - $1000 bucks for shoes? No thank you.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

Have never seen Sex and the City nor read The DEvil Wears Prada but I do know and love shoes and would give my eye's teeth for Manolos, Louboutins or Jimmy Choos and I do crosswords regularly so the two do go together as @Anonymous said.

Enjoyed the puzzle immensely only hiccup Tsar for Czar.

andrea hussy michaels 2:19 PM  

I really liked this puzzle!!!
The four theme answers were super solid and to use MANOLOBLAHNIK to get MOOLAH I think is fabulous!!!!!!

Big "Sex and the City" watcher, which taught me way more than I'd ever want to know about shoes...
but I had gotten a Chanukah card drawn by my friend Michael Capozzola and it was a stiletto with candles on it and it said MENORAH BLAHNIK, so that stuck.

I loved ZEALOUSLY and HUSSY...
had tons of problems with ASLYA
(as I had Atria!!???) but ASYLA ties in nicely with Ken Kesey.

I'm with @Rex that others drug stories bore me to death, tho I'd be willing to sit maybe on the back of the bus, with @dk and @Two Ponies and hear theirs...

That is brilliant to see another theme within the theme, esp given the discussion about dendrology!!!

I kept thinking dendrology was about teeth or dandruff.

you've been to ENNA????!!!!
I traveled all thru Sicily and feel like I've never even heard of it... Went to Mt. ETNA (you can still see homes buried in lava with only the chimneys showing!) and I've ushered for Dame EDNA...she's a scream!

Malapop!!! Aren't they bizarre?!

Personally, I think this is one of those puzzles that the more you look at it the more you will find to like about it.
n.b. ZEALOUSLY crossing with DRYAS (dust) and the HY buildup of ETHYL/RHYS/SHY, e.g.

JenCT 2:28 PM  

Can someone explain 8 Down (Unceasingly, to Burns)?

HudsonHawk 2:42 PM  

Anon 2:19 raises another high-end footwear brand to file away for future puzzles. Unfortunately, Christian Louboutin at 18 letters could only appear in a Sunday grid, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a partial in a late week grid...

jesser 3:00 PM  

@jenCT: It's an abbreviation for 'ever.' Poets do some wacky shit: o'er for over; ope for open; e'en for evening; etc. Cruciverbalists study these things, diabolically lose the apostrophes, and ZEALOUSLY beat us with the Mace of Poetry on a regular basis.

lit.doc 3:01 PM  

@JenCT, 8D is a poetic contraction for "ever", thus "e'er".

Robert Burns 3:02 PM  


The bonniest lad that eer I saw...

Complete Songs ... by me.

miriam b 3:02 PM  

@JenCT: EER = e'er = ever, as in the works of Robbie Burns. Example: ".. The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor, Is king o' men for a' that."

@Ulrich: "Ein und zwei" somehow makes me uneasy. Is this correct German? If we're expressing the idea of a sum, should it be "ein plus drei?" Just curious.

mulcill - a paste to apply to the eyelashes?

miriam b 3:04 PM  

@JenCT: EER = e'er = ever, as in the works of Robbie Burns. Example: ".. The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor, Is king o' men for a' that."

@Ulrich: "Ein und zwei" somehow makes me uneasy. Is this correct German? If we're expressing the idea of a sum, should it be "ein plus drei?" Just curious.

mulcill - a cream for the eyelashes

JenCT 3:15 PM  

Thanks everyone - somehow, I was thinking of George Burns!

Ulrich 3:44 PM  

@MiriamB: My printout says "eins und zwei", and that is correct: You can use "und" (and) informally for "plus"--in English, too, I think--so, "eins und zwei ist drei."

miriam b 4:01 PM  

@Ulrich: Viel Danke. Just realized that I typed "ein" instad of "eins", and moreover posted twice and was unable to remedy this without the old familiar trash can. My brain must be as waterlogged as my basement. How did you fare with that awful storm? I'm making a list of stuff to be repaired. My captcha describes me to a T today: bleater.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Does anyone else see the humor in NOTA (bene) being next to DUHS?

I vote "present" on the question of the circles. Don't love 'em, but don't hate 'em either.

fikink 4:22 PM  

@JenCT, "Say 'goodnight,' Gracie."

Two Ponies 4:31 PM  

I just got an alert from Amazon about the release of a puzzle book next week called Patricks' Puzzle Pandemonium featuring work from four Patricks - Berry, Blindauer, Jordan, and Merrill.
Sounds like fun!

Rex Parker 4:36 PM  


That book is already in bookstores. Saw it in B&N puzzle section a week or so ago, while picking up an extra copy of "The Wrath of Klahn."

Joe 4:59 PM  

This puzzle sucked.
A case of the creator trying to be too clever for his own good.

Case in point: TSAR should NEVER be spelled CZAR--not even in a crossword puzzle. Ask any professor of Russian history.

sanfranman59 5:00 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 11:37, 11:50, 0.98, 50%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 5:55, 5:48, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging

Elaine 5:15 PM  

What about the common usage in government appointments? Drug Czar, Energy Czar. They never spell it Tsar. I grant you that it was clued for the Russian usage, but depending on which books one has read, and how old they are, variant spellings are pretty common. If you read an early edition of _Eight Cousins_, 'Owhyhee' spells the name of some Pacific islands.

See you guys tomorrow.

Tinbeni 6:18 PM  


Feeling pretentious today?

From Old Russian tsĭsarĭ, emperor, king, from Old Church Slavonic tsěsarĭ, from Gothic kaisar, from Greek, from Latin Caesar, emperor.

Czar is the most common form in American usage.

To dismiss an entire puzzle over the usage of "Tsar" or "Czar" both common in usage is a bit heavy-handed.

I surmise they both show up often in crossword puzzles simply because it can be spelled either way.

Last time I checked, the New York Times IS an American Newspaper.

Steve J 6:29 PM  

@Joe: Indeed. The only acceptable spelling of the word for the former Russian emperor is Царь.

This is the problem with being overly didactic with how to spell something written in a language not using the Roman alphabet. It all depends on what transliteration system one uses.

While I agree that phonetically "tsar" is more accurate than "czar" (the word in Russian is pronounced with a non-voiced consonant, similar to tse-tse fly, rather than the voiced Z the "czar" spelling indicates), both are quite correct in American English. Since the answer wasn't in Cyrillic, I'd say either one is fair game in an American crossword.

Stan 6:30 PM  

Ah, no respect for the Beats or their Hippie followers around here, eh? No problem, but I'm definitely not in agreement. Just been listening to "One Fast Move or I'm Gone," an album based on Kerouac's Big Sur writings.

Seeing the shoe guy was great -- another one of those names (like Schwarzenegger) that you know without knowing how to spell.

@SethG's parody reveals the problem with this type of theme -- there is no real relation between the long answers and the words formed by the circled letters. Despite that, this one was very well done, with a theme reveal that tied everything together.

Noam D. Elkies 7:32 PM  

First entry in the grid was the good guess 38A:SPREADTHEWEALTH. Even so, not particularly easy for a Wednesday (25D:ENNA, 54D:KESEY, and the only vaguely familiar 43A:RHYS and 49A:MANOLOBLAHNIK). Yes, a nice use of the circled-letters device, but I'd have been more impressed if all the theme answers said MON€Y as loudly as the kilobuck shoes of 49A and the cruises of 59D — the connection with 17A and 23A is much more tenuous.


your average blank 8:19 PM  

being the novice that i am...i got the theme, the money stuff, and I was so proud...then the shoe guy did me in and i could not do all the fill. oh well maybe if i follow the comments i will get better.
how would you like your steak?
just hang it out the window and let the moon shine on it...so rare

mac 8:20 PM  

Liked this puzzle a lot!

I don't own any Manolo Blahniks, but I have friends who do. The in-crowd calls them "Manolos".

I did the puzzle on the train to NY, opposite a woman who had to put it down after filling in about a third! She sounded like a Brit, though. No excuse, still EFL.

A little tougher than the average Wednesday, but everything was gettable through crosses for me. Had to move away from the NW because I thought there might be a special, scientific word for that sprout mold....

Andrea is right, the more you look at the grid, the more good stuff you find!

uninge! Don't say that!

mac 8:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sfingi 8:34 PM  

Finally finished, avoiding Google despite unusual clues. I must salute Deodene for such. I used the circles only to check at the end, having forgotten they were there.

Did not know: ASYLA as the plural of asylum; TREE as a dendrologist's subject - knew its root was branch; ARNE Duncan; Jonathan RHYS Meyers (but, another nice Welsh name, following yesterday's BRYN).

I thought Patriot's day (MA) was around tax day, allowing the NE an extra day. That messed me up for a while. Guess I'm just too NE.

TAP IN could have been TiP IN or ToP IN as far as I'm concerned. The golfer should hesitate if he wants to make it more exciting. If golf is exciting.

Too bad the Bolshevik's foe wasn't Mensheviks.

@The Vans - yes, ANAG is another bad abbreviation.

@Seth G - could put triangles around the tree spellings.

@Ulrich - always with the great info! Do you own a copy of Ludwig Drees' Olympia Gods Artists and Athletes, a gorgeous coffee table book originally in German? Drees is my maiden name.

@Chefbea - what did you see at Enna? Piazza Armerina is on my bucket list - but then, so is all of Europe. I know only one other person who's been to Enna - a professor at Binghamton.

@Stan - love the Beats - probably have all their poetry. Diane di Prima ("This kind of bird flies backwards") is in 2 of my categories - Poetry and Sicilian-American. Allan Ginsberg mentions Utica in "Howl." At least I've been to City Lights. Tried to get to Kerouac's house, but it was closed for the weekend. Another Sicilian-American Beat, Philip LaMantia is only mentioned in lists (he's not that bad). My son said that's a sign he was their dealer.

poc 8:59 PM  

@Sfingi: although Rhys (pronounced Rees) is indeed a fairly common Welsh name, Jonathan RHYS Meyers is actually Irish. Very confusing I know.

sanfranman59 9:13 PM  

@Sfingi ... Having spent 5 years of my life living in the Boston area, the Patriot Day clue threw me also (as did an awful lot of the rest of this puzzle). You're correct that Patriot's Day is a Massachusetts holiday in April. The Boston Marathon is run that day and I think it usually also coincides with a Red Sox day game at Fenway. According to Wikipedia, Patriot Day is a "discretionary day of remembrance". Dubya proclaimed it Patriot Day on the first anniversary of 9/11.

chefbea 9:20 PM  

@sfingi Back in the 70's when traveling in Italy and Sicily I remember driving through Enna. Don't really remember what I saw - just beautiful countryside and mountains.

fergus 9:22 PM  

re Andrea, I loved a HUSSY ZEALOUSLY. In fact, the theme answers could describe such a love affair.

Stan 10:00 PM  

@Sfingi: Have you ever been to Gloucester, MA? It's loosely associated with the Beats (or at least Black Mountain poets Charles Olson and Robert Creeley) and it's full of Sicilians because of the fishing fleet. St. Peter's Fiesta is a huge deal there every year.

sanfranman59 11:05 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 7:38, 6:54, 1.11, 77%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 9:11, 8:53, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 11:33, 11:50, 0.98, 49%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:02, 3:40, 1.10, 80%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 4:47, 4:32, 1.06, 72%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 5:37, 5:47, 0.97, 47%, Medium

edith b 2:39 AM  

Strangely enough, I remember seeing ASYLA in a Tony Orbach Sunday puzzle used a plural of Asylum and it stuck.

I brought up the Beat poets earlier in the day in comparison to Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters to
that there
was more to Ken Kesey than just drugalogs just as there was more to, say, Charles Bukowski than his alcoholism.

andrea zealously michaels 3:17 AM  

Your comment rang a bell, so I checked the Sunday puzzle you are referring to, and...just for the record, that was tony's puzzle AND mine on jan 31!
(now I'm really embarrassed to have put in ATRIA today!)

edith b 7:44 AM  


I THOUGHT it was a co-production between you and Tony! It seems, though, when I'm not sure of something and write it down, it turns out to not be the case.

I try to avoid stepping into a mess if I can avoid it. It was 2:30 in the morning and I was too tired to check. Sorry, Andrea. My capcha is glentcly, a perfect expression of the situtation at hand.

Stephen 1:11 AM  

Well, I stumbled on everything that anyone here mentioned, and more besides. I'm clearly not in the right playground. But I gotta complain about "note from a busted person". That would not be an IOU ! What you'd get from a person just busted (i.e. arrested) is perhaps a phone call asking for bail. However, a "note from a bust person" might be well an IOU because he no longer has any money. He has "gone bust" (past tense already), not "gone busted". Ick.

Stephen 1:13 AM  

Whine with me, please!

Stan 2:13 AM  

@Stephen: 'Busted' means 'broke' or 'without a cent' as well as it means 'arrested by the police'. I'm too lazy or tired right now to look it up, but the Ray Charles song "Busted" plays on these two meanings of the word.

evision 5:09 AM  


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