Japanese eel rice dish / TUE 4-20-10 / Jug handle in archaeology / Sapporo competitor / Unctuos flattery / Emirate dweller / Fancy equine coif

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: What, no Kenny Mayne? — all theme answers have some homophone of "MAYNE" as their last word/syllable

Word of the Day: UNADON (47D: Japanese eel and rice dish) —

An Unadon (鰻丼 lit. "eel bowl", less commonly spelled "unagidon") is a popular donburi (rice bowl) dish made with unagi kabayaki, grilled eel coated with a sweet sauce. // Variations include unajū (鰻重, a very similar dish served in a black box rather than a donburi bowl), nagayaki (長焼き, the eel and rice are served separately), and hitsumabushi (櫃まぶし). // There are two styles of grilled eel. One is the Kantō region Style (関東式), in which the eel is roasted first, smothered, and finally grilled with sauce. The other is the Kansai Region Style (関西式), which is grilled with sauce only. It is traditional to add sanshō (山椒, Sichuan pepper) as a condiment. // Unadon takes its name from the Japanese words Unagi no Kabayaki (鰻の蒲焼, literally "grilled eel") and donburi (for rice bowl dish).

• • •

I was very sluggish on this one, first because I couldn't figure out which CHARLES was the king in question — it wasn't any CHARLES, but CHARLEMAGNE — and second because I've never heard of UNADON ... or so I thought — here's what I wrote about UNADON last time it showed up, over two years ago:

69D: Japanese eel and rice dish (unadon) - great-looking word. Surprised I couldn't get this. I thought my sushi vocabulary was pretty strong. [UNADON is not sushi - it's a rice bowl with grilled eel. Rice bowl = donburi. Hey, I used to live in Danbury.]

Constructor of that puzzle from two years ago: Paula Gamache. Apparently she has special dispensation to use this word. And this clue. One of the perks of working for The Man, I guess :) There was also some obviously intentional trick cluing, like 21A: River that ends in Cairo for OHIO and 45D: Excessively fast for STARVE. Don't normally see blatant, cheap trickery on a Tuesday. Everything came together OK, it just took a bit longer than normal. That SE corner will likely cause at least a little trouble for someone. BRAIDED MANE doesn't exactly trip off the tongue (for non-equestrians), and shoving UNADON and ANSA (57D: Jug handle, in archaeology) in the same small corner of the grid seems designed to kick a few newbies in the groin. Nearly got my groin, frankly, as I ran all the Downs down there and came up with nonsense — this because I had RIND for PARE (56D: Peel), another trick(y) clue.

The theme was ... a theme. No strong feelings about it. Grid was unremarkable to me except for PRIVATE EYE (11D: Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade), which I like.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: King who was son of Pepin the Short (CHARLEMAGNE)
  • 23A: Post-copyright status (PUBLIC DOMAIN)
  • 37A: La Choy product (CHICKEN CHOW MEIN)
  • 49A: Easternmost U.S. capital (AUGUSTA, MAINE)
  • 60A: Fancy equine coif (BRAIDED MANE)
The SW corner — AGR over TEL over ESS — is especially weak, even for a short-fill corner, and nearby AGAR (54A: Food thickener) just looks like AGR's fat cousin. OWOW feels made-up (25D: "Geez! That stings!"). Other than that, nothing shocking.

  • 41A: Russian country house (DACHA) — Probably learned this from "Anna Karenina." Or from crosswords. Equally plausible.
  • 65A: Pothook shape (ESS) — Knew the answer instantly, but realize I have no idea what a "pothook" is: not surprisingly, "Pothooks are S-shaped metal hooks for suspending a pot over a fire" (wikipedia)
  • 1D: Classic record label for Bee Gees and Cream (ATCO) — this is actually a gimme now. Started out, only a few months back, as a mystery, but I've seen it at least twice since. As with the UNADON clue, this one is recycled verbatim from its last appearance (January).

  • 3D: Emirate dweller (ARAB) — had the "A" and instinctively started writing AMIR ...
  • 7D: Sapporo competitor (ASAHI) — weird. SAPPORO was in the grid yesterday. Also, yesterday, I had no trouble coming up with ASAHI as the other Japanese beer I know. But today, I blanked. "A ... A... A-something!" Ooh, I know KIRIN too. That might have been my first guess here. Look out for that one.
  • 8D: ___ Johnson (MAGIC) — took me an Embarrassingly long time to get this, esp. considering that I'm slowly working my way through "When the Game Was Ours," his and Larry Bird's book about their rivalry.
  • 22D: Unctuous flattery (SMARM) — I know this word only with the appended, adjectival "Y." Nearly put a "W" in that first "M"'s place without even looking at the clue.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Elaine 7:10 AM  

Except for the initial OUCH (quickly changed to OWOW) and the auto-pilot CHARLES__hmm__, this seemed to fill in very quickly. Even after the crosses cleared things up, I was sitting there, thinking, "Charle Magne?" and unable to see the forest for the trees. D'oh.
Didn't see the theme until I finished and sat back, wondering at the mishmash.
I guess there is no rushing Wednesday. Oh, and @Glitch, I did revisit Monday's blog. See you guys tomorrow, late--I'm Gone Fishing.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

This one took me longer than usual, which I attributed to doing it last night, rather than in the dead-wood edition in the morning, when my mind is fresher. And so, I was glad to see the rating.

I liked this puzzle a lot, but had no idea what Unadon was- all I could think of was unagi, or some kind of sushi dish.
OWOW was a strange one- don't know if I've ever seen that word/phrase (?) before.

Favorite answer was UNDEAD, which is not how I felt when I finished it.

Bob Kerfuffle 7:43 AM  

I thought this was an above average puzzle, slightly above average difficulty for a Tuesday, and a nice version of a familiar theme.

I wondered if 54 A, Food thickener, might better be GUAR than AGAR, but I'll leave that to the industrial food dept.

Foolishly started filling 64 A, Not polished, with CRUDE, but came up a letter short, had to go to COARSE.

PanamaRed 7:44 AM  

Finished this with one error. Didn't see the letter "I" in the clue for 7A, so entered IMSO. Shoulda proof-read, woulda caught that, coulda been perfect.

jesser 7:57 AM  

I also had one error. At 54A, I had AlAR, despite knowing it's freaking banned, so why would it be a food thickener? ARGH! Failing to proof left me with AlAIN instead of AGAIN. Poot.

It's OK, because I know Andrea kicked the Plutocreep last night, so my day cannot be spoiled.

I really liked TART UP. That seemed risque for the Old Grey Lady. She went back to form at SMARM.

And there was something about the YAO/CIAO cross that poked me in the grinner.

Nothing much about this puzzle to GET MAD at, but I agree with Rex that it was thornier than your average Tuesday.

Cusisso! (what you do when you're really steamed at Isso) -- jesser

Brendan Emmett Quigley 7:57 AM  

Inexplicably, my wife had never heard that Hall & Oates song until just a few weeks ago. Just sayin'.

fikink 8:07 AM  

I wouldn't call the clues for OHIO and STARVE "cheap trickery."

I learned who Kenny Mayne is - thanks, Rex, though I'm not sure I needed to know this guy.

Yes, Anna Karenina gave me DACHA also.

Wanted FART UP for 14 across, but I knew Paula to be of daintier conscience ;)

Enjoyed it, Paula Gamache, as I do most of your puzzles.

joho 8:29 AM  

It couldn't have easy thinking up and fitting in the 5 different MAGNE, MAIN, MEIN, MAINE, MANE. I liked it, as I do most of Ms. Gamache's puzzles.

Interesting words to me were CHARLEMAGNE, KULTUR, PEUGEOT and UNADON. Loved TART UP. (@fikink!)

Solid Tuesday.

ArtLvr 8:29 AM  

Especially good one today, with some words to work at like ASAHI and UNADON, but also some favorites like SMARM. Makes me think of amusing related terms like toady, sycophant and lickspittle.

I picked up on the MAIN theme early (pun), and with TOMEI up in NE corner I somehow imagined we'd see PTOMAINE food poisoning farther along, but no. That term turns out to be an erroneous usage anyway -- it was believed to be the result of ptomaine ingestion. (Ptomaine: a basic nitrogenous organic compound produced by bacterial putrefaction of protein. Etymology: Italian ptomaina, from Greek ptoma: fall, fallen body, corpse)... Ah well, it would have fit in nicely with EATS, COARSE, STARVE, and UNDEAD.

Seriously, I did like the puzzle -- even the Roman numeral was a snap for a change!


dk 8:38 AM  

The perfect puzzle for a former Mainer, psychologist, intellectual property, Japanese food eating, Cream fan, pulp fiction reading guy.

Sailed through this one. I wanted Citroen for the french car. One of my friends had one in the late 60's and when the car ran it was the smoothest ride ever with a huge back seat. Perfect for listening to Cream on the 8 track.

My cruel sisters nicknamed a former girlfriend Sporty Spice, so I even got the once and former pop star clue.

A happy day for d (UNDEAD) k

**** (4 Stars) CHAUD puzzle

Jesse 8:40 AM  

This is a good example of how a NYT puzzle should be constructed. There are a lot of "weird" words, but they are gettable from the crosses.

After looking at Rex's comments, I raced back to my puzzle, convinced I had effed up, but there it was, unadon - never even noticed it. But every letter is crossed, so fair is fair.

I only realized what that there WAS a theme when I came here. It seems that I have been mispronouncing Charlemagne for the last 50 years. *cough*

Zeke 8:49 AM  

I had more love for this than Rex - probably the best set of homophones I can recall in a puzzle, enough fresh fill to make it enjoyable. This, even though I hate any and all Sushi or Sushiesque clues. Had Sushi once, got sick as a dog, and can't even look at the non Hibachi Steak portion of a Japanese Menu without getting the dry heaves.
@DK - Cream on the 8 Track - I thought I was immune to nostalgia, but guess not. Thanks.

foodie 8:50 AM  

There is something about Paula... I did not even look at the constructor's name, and after a couple of clues and answers, I thought it must be her. The lady has style!

I too found it on the challenging side for Tuesday. But it made me happy as it brought to mind some long forgotten tidbits.. ROSE RED, oh man, it's been decades. And DACHA... when I was a kid, my dad had a collection of classic literature from all over the world, and I read George Bernard Shaw and Fyodor Dostoevsky and many others translated into Arabic. I went through a Russian phase and learned about DACHAs then.

Had RENAULT in lieu of PEUGEOT for a while, ANSE instead of ANSA (I guess Anse is the French version) and that southeast corner was indeed hard. But the whole experience was a pleasure.

@Andrea, Artlvr, Stan thank you for your warm welcome home! Andrea I hope you had a great time with your friend. @ Archaeoprof, I answered your query by e-mail: )

@Jesse, if you've been saying it CHARLE MAN-YE then you were pronouncing it the French way. I always have trouble remembering that in English it rhymes with MAINE.

joho 9:13 AM  

Hey, @foodie ... I'm happy you're back, too!

Ulrich 9:17 AM  

Here's how German children remember the relation between Pepin and Charles:

Karl der Große
macht in die Hose.
Pippin der Kleine
macht sie wieder reine.

(Charles the Great
poops in his pants.
Pepin the Short
cleans them again.)

Hard to forget, even if you outgrow potty humor (some of us never do, as we observed a while ago). Spent my first two years of arch. school in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), where Charlemagne is buried--in that very "Chapelle". Both he and Pepin were Franks, the Germanic tribe of my ancestors on my mother's side.

Texas Momma 9:24 AM  

32D - Why is "Year McKinley was elected to second term" a Roman numeral answer?

Elaine 9:41 AM  

Why Roman numberals? Because the constructor needed MCM filling the 32D space.

When you mentioned Gray Lady, I bristled a bit; for a second i thought you meant me. (Just watch it.)

I don't think your comment passes the breakfast test! I imagine many of us used to refer to the college cafeteria as 'Ptomaine Ptavern,' though...

'blessn'--nice captcha!

OldCarFudd 9:42 AM  

@foodie and Ulrich (and probably others) - I'm always impressed by people who learn another language well enough to do crosswords in it. I've tried simple ones in German and Spanish, without much luck.

Nice puzzle, Paula, with a bit of bite to it.

I finally gave up on Saturday's disaster and came here, to discover that most of you were as p.o.'d by it as I was. But I'll give you a Borstal story. My mother was a refugee from Belgium to England as a child. She got a good English public (= private) school education, but there was no money for college. When she came here in the '30s, she got tired of listening to Americans brag about where they'd gone to college, so she finally told them all she'd been to Borstal. No one had heard of Borstal, so that shut 'em up.

Fast forward about 20 years. Mom and Dad are entertaining Sir George Maddex, the British government actuary, in their home. Mom's in the kitchen finishing dinner. Dad's in the living room with Sir George and his wife, enjoying a drink, and tells them: "You know, Van went to Borstal." He knew Borstal was a cover story, and that Mom hadn't really been there, but that was all he knew. Even Dad could tell from his guests' expressions that something wasn't quite right, so when Mom appeared in the living room, Dad said: "I was just telling George and Emmy that you'd gone to Borstal." The cat came out of the bag; that was the first Dad had known that Borstal was a reform school for boys.

JenCT 9:43 AM  

Kept trying to fit UNAGI in for UNADON. SMARM took me way too long to get.

@Texas Momma: I guess, why not?

PurpleGuy 9:47 AM  

I rather enjoyed this puzzle, although I agree it was a bit thornier than the usual Tuesday.
I knew CHARLEMAGNE from my two years of seminary, and also from the Broadway show "Pippin."
Thanks, Rex, for the Cream clip. Remember hearing them while in 'NAM. Talk about nostalgia !
My favorite Japanese restaurant is Sapporo,and I'm treated like family, but I've never encountered UNADON. I like my unagi served sashimi style.

Thanks,Paula, for a fun puzzle.

Have a great day, all.

fikink 9:50 AM  

@Ulrich, @joho - Actually, it is an expression around these parts. I think the gentle folk farmers, needing to avoid the more "in the language" expression, "F*ck something up," substitute the milder "fart" in lots of ways.
And in terms of aesthetics, to decorate something flamboyantly would be to ruin it, e.g.,

"They did a wonderful job refurbishing the old town square, but then they farted it up with all these cutesy 'ye olde...' tourist-trap signs."

So, you see, not potty humor at all, but a genuine Midwest expression.

Tinbeni 9:54 AM  

Had the same reaction, never even realized I had UNADON until the write-up. Thanks Rex for the info. Had I seen the clue, I would have missed it.

Liked that EATS lead to the STARVE down. Ending in UNDEAD.

@Texas Momma
Numbers in puzzles are probably Roman Numerals because they are letters.

Rating for the day: AT PAR for a Tuesday.

foodie 10:14 AM  

@Ulrich, LOL... I parsed the "poem" with my very elementary German and thought "macht" really, as in "does it"? and then saw your translation and it made me really laugh. I shall not forget it...

@ Joho, thank you, thank you, my dear.

@OldCarFudd, I think Mac is the real pro among those of us who do
this in our non-native language. I'll never be a pro, for lots of reasons I'm sure, but I enjoy it immensely, and Rex and the Rexites add a third and a fourth dimension to the pleasure.

And I love your mother's story!
People sometimes ask me where I'm from because of my accent. Sometimes it can lead to a big conversation, whether or not I feel like it. My daughter suggested that
I say that I am Uzbek. So, I tried it. People have absolutely nothing to say about that! But I know that some day, I might get found out...

nanpilla 10:16 AM  

Instead of a reveal in the southeast corner I get BRAIDED MANE. What a treat! Years of being a horse show mom and a groom for my friends finally pays off. Our horse is an Arab, so his mane is left very long. The only way to braid it for shows is to do a long french braid down the crest, rather than all of the little button braids. It takes almost no time, compared to hours to do the button braids. It won't last through the night, though, so it has to be done day of show.

Oh, there was more puzzle? I liked this one - some less than stellar fill, but five very nice theme answers, and some nice bite for a Tuesday.

CrazyCatLady 10:26 AM  

Started this puzzle last night at 11 PDT. I found it be pretty challenging, but when I finished it this morning, I was happy with it. Picked up the theme at Public Domain. The rest of the theme answers fell into place nicely, especially BRAIDED MANE. My elderly neighbor uses the term TART UP whenever anyone in the neighborhood paints their house any color other than beige. The picture of UNADON on my take out Japanese/Sushi restaurant menu looks appetizing until you read that it's eel. I'll eat just about anything, but I have never been able to bring myself to try eel. Sea urchin yes, eel no.
Seems like there's been lots of eel and Japanese beers in the puzzles lately.

Had OUCH first too. OW OW looked like O WOW.

PhillySolver 10:43 AM  

I recall UNADON from two years ago as well. I was recently retired and commented almost every day and I was able to report that it was not sushi. I am now more of a lurker having gone back to work and the mornings are busy, but I am here late almost everyday. I found this puzzle in the Medium-Challenging range as well, but a good solid puzzle.

hazel 10:46 AM  

The Cream guy (Jack Bruce I think?) looks like he could be on his way to a DACHA after he finishes singing. Headwear notwithstanding, that was definitely an awesome clip.

I thought the ALASKA startoff was a bit obscure? but I still really liked this puzzle. It was on the Wednesday side of Tuesday for me.

The puzz was a bit cheeky really - TARTUP, UNDEAD, SPICEGIRLS. I like cheeky Tuesdays.

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

This certainly was not a typical Tuesday-level puzzle.
It seems like half of the puzzle wasn't even in English. Perhaps I'm getting a taste of what our ESL friends experience on a daily basis. Really, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Italian, and Chinese, and even multiples of some. No wonder this took a bit longer than usual.

Eel actually just tastes like fish. It is a fish. A strange ugly fish.

No comments on the Alaska joke?

Excuse me now, I must go braid my mane.

Secret word - sorpack. What you get from too many sit-ups?

syndy 11:09 AM  

hand up for ouch and renault also trying to get unagi to fit. just loved the alaska joke,rp,surely cheap and blatant is way harsh?new who pepin,s boy was but probably never lose THAT image thanks ulrich

Howard B 11:12 AM  

This would have been much smoother if I hadn't insisted that the first long answer start with CHARLES (something)... DE GAULLE? No, then what name starts with M?("It's a ruler, it has to be a Charles...")
One of those head-on-the-desk moments once I realized the error.

Gotta love it. Not an intentional trap, but a good one nonetheless.

Martin 11:21 AM  


There aren't many tastier fishes. You should give it a try.

We have home-made unadon about once a month. Good with Asahi but better with a fine sake.

Rex's citation on the differences between Kanto (Tokyo) and Kansai (Osaka) styles leave out an interesting distinction. The eel is always split and fileted before it is boiled and grilled but how it is split is worthy of Swift. In Kanto the eel is always split from the ventral surface (like you normally clean a fish) but in Kansai the eel is split from the back. The special knives used are different. The Tokyo style and Kyoto style are representative of Kanto and Kansai unagibocho, and have evolved to filet in the regional manner. If even try to buy the "wrong" knife in a local knife shop you will find you have caused great offense.

The deeply held beliefs about eel-fileting date back to the samurai. The capital of feudal Japan was Kyoto (in Kansai) and cutting an eel's belly was seen as a metaphor for ritual suicide. Thus, serving a samurai an eel split this way was seen as wishing for his harakiri. A career-limiting move for any chef, it became strictly taboo.

When the samurai were disbanded in 1868 and the capital moved to Tokyo, one of the many societal changes to encourage rapid modernization was the use of the easier belly-split in the new capital. It was a final indignity to the samurai.

Today, these two methods live on. Think of Kansai's insistence on back-splitting as the analog of the Stars and Bars flying in Dixie today.

Perry Como 11:27 AM  

Alaska wasn't a state when I made this recording of "What Did Delaware?".

Stan 11:29 AM  

A great, spicy mix of foreign and domestic terms in this puzzle (with only a few OW OW moments). Kudos, Paula.

Enjoyed shout-outs to both the 207 and the 603 ("Derry's Alan SHEPARD, first guy in a spaceship")

Sandy 11:31 AM  

that's it. next person who asks, I'm telling them I'm Uzbek. Genius.

CrazyCatLady 11:32 AM  

@Martin Okay - I'll try it this weekend when I'm in San Francisco.

Does anyone remember that very annoying camp song What did Delaware? She wore a brand New Jersey and on and on through all the states? I think Perry Como sang it as well. Vague childhood memory.

Van55 11:45 AM  

MCM -- pah!

Hated some of the fill, especially in the SW. Loved TARTUP and UNDEAD.

About an average Tuesday puzzle for my tastes.

Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Mainly thumbs up. Theme seemed slightly...UNDEAD? (See Oct 13, 2008 NYT) Give 'em street creds for trying to teach ANSA, UNADON, ECU to the newer solvers, down in that SE corner classroom.

Got uneasy when CHARLEMAGNE showed up in his CHAUD PEUGEOT. Thought "aw, beans...it's French time again!" But then they said CAIO to that lingo, and it was happy days again. So overall, had fun with Paula and Will's tarted-up Tuesday. You go, spice girl!

CrazyCatLady 11:48 AM  

@Perry - Yep that's it. Still annoying.

chefbea 11:56 AM  

I agree a bit difficult for a tuesday. Did it while waiting to get my car inspected for NC license. When I finished, the car still wasn't ready so turned to the syndicated puzzle in the paper here and it was one by Paula that I had done a while ago.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

first a tuesday (yesterday) dressed up as a monday. then a wednesday (today) as tuesday. bracing myself for tomorrow. usually like the challenge of misdirections, but 45D was just mean. no need for the qualifier "excessively." i think anyone who fasts pretty much is gonna starve from Day 1. nunyo.

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Did say "CAIO"? Meant CHOW.

Marie 12:42 PM  

Is no one going to mention the cross between "public domain" and "private eye"? I thought that was kinda cute .... :)

However, I feel like the cowardly lion actor has been showing up a lot lately--maybe that was in other paper I'm not really sure.

And I'm tired of "eats" answers. They seem to be everywhere!

I loved the "trickery" in the puzzle--although I got a bit frustrated with myself for not being able to figure out "starve" sooner.

For "stalk in a marsh" I was trying to put "feed" or something to that effect---couldn't get my mind off some Animal Planet (or maybe its National Geographic?) series on monsters of the marsh haha

And I was completely unaware that Snow White ever had a sister. Maybe this is a joke I'm just ignorant to or something---figured it out anyway but mostly just a lucky guess.

Overall, good stuff. Can't wait til tomorrow!

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Cool history lesson from Martin!

I thought this puzzle was hard also. Kinda like yesterday.

I also had ouch, and renault.
21a i first had nile, but realized my error with 7d=asahi. i usually am good with beer names ;-)

45d tricked me. i had it as "starvi" and 66a as "tins" stupid. should have checked my work

yesterday's tyro

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Yep, this (relative) tyro took a hit to the groin in the SE. Finally had to 'Google' for the last 2 letters (a and o) in UNADON. That gave me COARSE (off the o, a and e) and the rest fell into place.



P.S. Is it this goofy MacBook that always makes me enter the secret word ("woid") twice every time? Went from pante to bioni. Merde!

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

@TwoPonies- ok, I'll bite-- I liked it, but I remember the second phrase as being "Idaho," not 'I don't know'

@Marie-- there's a joke about that too. Who was Snow White's sister? Egg White. Get the yolk?

Ulrich 12:57 PM  

@Marie: Different story--Snow Wwhite and Rose Red are two sisters in the Grimm tale of that name--not to be confused with the one who had the wicked stepmother from a different tale. [Since we're deep into German folklore anyway, we may as well go broke: Snow White--she with the wicked stepmother--is Schneewittchen in German; the other one, with the sister (and a very loving mother BTW) is Schneeweißchen.]

@fikink: Not growing up has its advantages!

I Think I'll Remain Anonymous 12:59 PM  

On the subject of what an ass I can be from time to time, Martin frequently annoys me, so I just spent 10 minutes verifying the accuracy of what he said about eels, and trying to find the site from which he pilfered it. It is with great dissatisfaction that I have to report that it is accurate, seemingly original and interesting.

archaeoprof 1:02 PM  

Paula has panache!

Several years ago my godson Benedict's sister invited me to watch a video with her. But I didn't understand the title, "Schneewittchen." It all became clear when a woman looked into a mirror and said,
"Spiegelein, Spiegelein,
an der Wand,
wer ist die schoenste
im ganzen Land?"

fikink 1:09 PM  

@Think I'll Remain Anonymous: You shouldn't have. That is a very gracious post!
And, yes, thanks, @Martin, for the information.

@Ulrich, yes - don't forget "cherry-picking the reticulum." Rabelais would be proud.

mac 1:33 PM  

Wonderful puzzle! Such a broad number of subjects and languages. I also was a little surprised with the easiness of the SW, but lots of things to love. Undead is great, I also started with Renault (my first car, a 4), and ow ow sounds a lot better than the owie that I feared, and a lot more like what I say when I hurt myself. Might even make it ow ow ow!

@Jesse: I think you are not alone in the different pronounciation of Charlemagne. Maybe even Paula? She certainly surprised me by putting a basketball clue into the puzzle.

Great puzzle, write-up and comments!

Ohio River 1:57 PM  

The Nile River doesn't end at Cairo.
It then has the Delta before it ends at the Mediteranean Sea.

CoolPapaD 2:39 PM  

Loved this, but did have an error. I left the square blank at 14, and was in such a hurry to come here, I forgot about it - entertained putting a "T" there, but I've never heard "tart up" before - I wish I had me an elderly neighbor!

Lots of good Asian food in here, which made my recently vegan (4 months) stomach growl vigorously! I miss eel and chicken a lot! Vegans do use AGAR products as egg substitutes and thickeners, so that one came easy to me.

deerfencer 2:57 PM  

Started out strong and loving this one but ended up stuck on some fill and a little peeved at the number of obscure answers for a Tuesday, namely BEDE, UNADON, ATCO, ANSA, none of which I've seen or heard of till today. Got the long answers way before some of the peripheral fill. TARTUP is cute but again, never heard it before today. And I really disliked the cluing for MOLDING. Still, a 2-star Gamache is better than most puzzles out there, so I'll shut up now and appreciate the challenge. Agree it's a Wednesday puzzle though.

andrea undead michaels 3:16 PM  

I have total Paula-envy with five MAIN answers...none of them a stretch AND that whole PUBLIC/PRIVATE crossing that @Marie pointed out!!!

Had OWwW so the vacuum brand was wRECK, which I thought was a terrible naming job, till I realized my mistake!

The fact that Monday was sort of a Tuesday and Tuesday seems to be a Wednesday that that means Will needs more Mondays!
(So perhaps I should spend more time writing puzzles than reading Rex and everyone else and writing blog responses...but I love it here!)

so that said, two more stories:


Good for you for coming clean...but for the record, I certainly don't think @Martin was just being pedantic. He is married to a Japanese woman, spends a lot of time over there and really knows his stuff...
A couple of years ago, Martin and his very gracious wife invited a bunch of constructors for some of the best sushi I've had in my life, a meal I'll never forget! Esp memorable bec while we were touring his home/mansion (you should see his Dr. Who collection!) I witnessed his teenaged son's very scary snake devour a live creature. Very UNDEAD :(

Speaking of devouring live creatures, my dinner with Neil DeG Tyson isn't till tomorrow night. But if you read "The Pluto Files" you will see that he gives your man Tombaugh more than his due and is actually very very funny and thorough about the whole matter. So the kick will probably just be one of those behind the back tap on the butt ones!
(We went to college together, so I've known him 30+ years and he's one of those scary smart people who manages to be a phenomenal teacher. I've seen him in action lots of times and you'd actually become a fan if you were in the same room with him)
(Pluto was barely a planet to begin with and people's attachment seems to have more to do with the name/Disney connection than the reality...but at the time it was named, there was also Pluto water that was a popular laxative brand!)
I had OWWW so the vacuum brand was WRECK, which I thought was a terrible naming job, till I realized my mistake!

(How can I not respond to someone named giovanni?) The double verification is not a Macbook thing bec I'm on an old PC desktop and I always have to do two verifications but I thought it was bec I took so long to write! My second one just now is "manglut"...if only!

Joe 3:24 PM  

I love sushi, but I aint eetin' no creepy fish: eel, octopus, squid.
Eel always makes me think of Alien when that thing bursts out of John Hurt's stomach. Don't want any and I'm not English, either.
Would you like some sake with that, John?...

And, remember--Magic Johnson and Peter O'Toole are two guys who already have their porn star names.

fergus 3:24 PM  

Another great puzzle for the Elementary School Spelling class.

sanfranman59 3:28 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)

Tue 11:24, 8:52, 1.29, 96%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 5:49, 4:32, 1.29, 93%, Challenging

As of now, this puzzle has the highest median solve time for the Top 100 solvers group of the 44 Tuesdays I've tracked since last June and the second highest for the All Solvers group. As I was solving it last evening, I thought it was tough for a Tuesday and the online solve times suggest that I'm not alone.

herbachc36 4:02 PM  


Not "just being pedantic"?

Thanks, I guess.

Two Ponies 4:06 PM  

@ tptsteve, Yes! That's the bit that was missing from the joke.
I suppose that would have upped the ante beyond Tuesday on a puzzle that was already pushing the limits.
@ sanfranman, Thanks. Interesting results today.
There is a way to pronounce Charlemagne that doesn't rhyme with the other homophones?

Clark 4:08 PM  

@andrea coffee in the city? michaels -- Email me at the name you know me by, tacking on uchicago and the three letters you would expect for an institution of higher learning, and maybe we can get coffee?

Rube 4:39 PM  

IMO, a hard Wednesday puzzle. Usually Tuesday puzzles are (almost) completely filled by the time I've worked my way to the bottom. Not today. Had only about 1/3 filled after first pass.

My problem was in the NE where I didn't know Marissa TOMEI or SVEN Nykvist. With _V_N had a choice between iVaN and SVEN, and made a lucky guess because I couldn't parse _MA_MY and had OWwW at 25D. All gettable without Googles.

Feel embarrassed about not knowing SVEN Nykvist as he apparently is one of the pre-eminent cinematographers of the 20th century and did many of the Ingmar Bergman films.

Enjoyed the clue for 7A, AMSO, as something other than a schoolyard whatever. An enjoyable puzzle with a nice, well excecuted, theme.

Thanks @Martin for the write-up on preparing unagi. My Japanese speaking daughter will enjoy it.

chefwen 4:40 PM  

I sure do love me a good Paula Gamache puzzle and this one certainly delivered.

Really liked SMARM and UNDEAD. My only goof was not checking any downs first and just automatically slapping in ones where TENS went, you'd think I would know better by now. DOH!!

MikeM 5:01 PM  

@ Joe - I've always thought Peter O'Toole has a *double* porn name

foodie 5:12 PM  

@Martin, if ever there was an illustration of why this is an amazing blog, your post is it. I knew none of this, and I loved it. And I sent it on to my son who loves Japanese culture and who has a 2 year old who loves eel sushi and other Japanese food.

@Andrea, and the additional information you sent about Martin made it all even more compelling.

As I ate my way through Turkey last week, I kept thinking how food was as much of a cultural carrier as language. I could see the places where the Ottoman empire had influenced my life through food, and Arabic and Turkish cultures were intermingled both through words and through flavors.

@Sandy, let me know how that goes :)

retired_chemist 5:29 PM  

FWIW Jeopardy yesterday (which we recorded and watched today) has a three letter word category. Great OOXTEPLERNON!

Japanese cuisine - my favorite. I must now shamelessly cadge an invitation to Martin's for sushi. Actually in the aforementioned Jeopardy category the answer ROE was clued using uni!

Oh yes, the puzzle. Medium. Got the theme from two answers (37A and 60A), then got the others instantly. Nice misdirections with OHIO (NILE) and PEUGEOT (RENAULT), as others noted. A nice catholic (small c) puzzle, with sports, 日本料理 (Nihon ryori, Japanese food), fairy tales, cars, geography, vacuum cleaners (we have two ORECKs), and MORE!

Thanks, Ms. Gamache. Nice work.

retired_chemist 5:32 PM  

I should have joined in the kudos for Martin's informative post. Thanks, Martin!

fabst - a really good beer.

Martin 5:35 PM  

Drat blogger/google and it's consarned helpfulness. It labeled my previous comment herbachc36. Andrea would get it, but then she's a goddess. Sorry to have confused anybody else.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

once i was at the aquarium in brooklyn where a small girl was looking at a moray eel in a large tank. her mother explained that it was a fish whereupon the child said, "that's no fish, that's a nightmare!" no nightmare this puzzle. any puzzle i can solve is a monday to me, a smidge tricky but do-able.

william e emba 6:01 PM  

An electron's path, at least in an atom, is not an ORBIT. This is simply a mistake by PG/WS. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Quite simply, an electron does not even have an orbit in any known sense of the word. An electron can be found in an "orbital", but this is a probabilistic description, not a path.

We had ROSE RED last summer. Seeing the first six letters, I was extremely puzzled until I remembered the previous instance.

I wanted SVEi or SVEd at first, both are known Jewish names. (In particular, I knew the late Rabbi Elya Svei, and I know many of his sons and grandsons.) I should have guessed the Scandinavian name SVEN, but instead I got the N from Lynn SWANN. No, I don't know him as a sports figure whatsoever, despite four Super Bowl rings. But he was the Republican candidate for governor here in Pennsylvania a few years back.

Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959. Perry Como's recording of Delaware was made on December 28, 1959. The song puns on a dozen or so state names, including Hawaii.

While we're on the subject 6:06 PM  

@Martin: Is this correct?

Sushi - contrary to popular misconception, this does not refer to raw fish. Sushi is cold vinegared rice, usually topped with fish, meats or vegetables.

P.G. the lurker

retired_chemist 6:15 PM  

@ P.G. - Yes. Some kinds of sushi have no fish (e.g. kappamaki, cucumber roll)

Martin 6:28 PM  

I'll chance a final post because blogger used one up gratuitously, but this is it 'til tomorrow.

But yes, "sushi" means vinegared rice (su is the word for vinegar and "meshi" is an old-style word for "cooked rice" -- normally called "gohan" in modern Japanese). Several kinds of sushi are made without raw fish. In fact, eel sushi, unagi nigiri, is an example because eel is almost always steamed and then grilled for sushi.

"Sashimi" is the term for fish served raw. Much sushi is made with sashimi toppings, but not all. I wouldn't say "meat" is a common sushi ingredient, but lots of vegetables (raw and pickled), bean curd products, cooked seafood (shrimp is another example) and eggs are used as toppings.

I can definitely see how more than three of these a day can be a blog-kill.

PIX 7:20 PM  

Agree with "william e emba"...planets have orbits...if you have to explain electrons to nonscience people, sometimes the concept of orbits is used...however, it is misleading and incorrect...orbitals or "clouds" are a bit more accurate...knowing science does not help with these puzzles

Thanx Martin 7:23 PM  


Martin confirmed my "understanding" that "sushi" refers to the rice - only.

I understand sushi is served WITH other than fish,(e.g. kappamaki, cucumber roll) and enjoy them too.

My nit picking question was to confirm that, for example, a Cucumber roll was NOT sushi per se, but has sushi as it's key ingredient.

P.G. the lurker

Moonchild 7:50 PM  

This sure was a yummy puzzle with a great international flair.
It is a big bonus to learn all of this eel and sushi info. It is a cruel thing but I was taught that to easily and properly skin an eel it must be done while the eel is still alive. Yuk! Needless to say I have never done it. I love Japanese food but I'm pretty much a choose-and-point diner. The names confuse me and there is always this moment of anxiety when my plate arrives. Did I get what I thought I ordered?

When you are not a scientist an electron has an orbit. I got the answer from the clue and that is the point of a Tuesday. Was today Tuesday? It did not feel like it.
I hope we are not in for another week like the last one. Geez Louise my bruises haven't healed yet.

Peter O'Toole double porn name. Too funny!

michael 8:29 PM  

very enjoyable puzzle, with lots of interesting, unfamiliar, but gettable fill. But no way it's a Tuesday...

sanfranman59 10:54 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 7:25, 6:56, 1.07, 70%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 11:27, 8:52, 1.29, 96%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:44, 3:40, 1.02, 62%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 5:43, 4:31, 1.26, 93%, Challenging

A straight-down-the-middle puzzle ... for a Wednesday.

Sfingi 11:10 PM  

I had trouble with this one.
Did not get the theme 'til Rex.
Since it was late, I Googled for ATCO, CHARLEMAGNE, SVEN, YAO. (I don't know why I didn't guess SVEN.)

Didn't know ECU, ASAHI.

didn't even fill in the end of UNADON til Rex. Googling produced UNAgi, which was too short.

Struggled with BRAIDEDMANE because I wanted a French BRAID for some reason. Get dreamy over horsies (but hate Japanese food. Love their art).

I know I would have liked it if I had got the theme.

Only knew CHAUD because they say it in Canada a lot.

I thought UNDEAD, TARTUP, STARVE, MAIDS were clever.

@Emba - I often can't believe Como, blessed with that wonderful voice sang such dreck.
Electrons - they're here, they're there, they're everywhere - so beware.

@Anon551 - Cute
@Ulrich - Also cute. Charlemagne was lucky he didn't get his "thumb" cut off.

Finally - Americans rarely read Fairy Tales in the original and know only Disney. Thus ROSERED,or Rosamunde, etc. Especially notable is Pinocchio. The story is a fabulous Coming-of-Age tale, and the cricket gets swatted dead.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP