George who was first president of A.F.L.-C.I.O. / MON 5-10-10 / 2006 boorish film character from Kzakhstan /

Monday, May 10, 2010

Constructor: Randy Sowell

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SIT (53D: Use the start of 17- or 50-Across or 11- or 25-Down?) — fronts of theme answers are objects on which one might SIT

Word of the Day: SMAZE (34D: Some air pollution) —

noun

    A thick, heavy atmospheric condition offering reduced visibility because of the presence of suspended particles: brume, fog, haze, mist, murk. Seeclear/unclear. (answers.com)
• • •
Lousy Smarch weather! It snowed here yesterday. Snow. On Mother's Day. In Binghamton, NY. Freaky. No SMAZE, though. What The Hell?! I lived in southern California for years and I've never, ever heard of SMAZE. That is the looniest Monday word of the year, possibly of my entire blogging career. I kept googling SMAZE to see if I could find a real website where someone used it, in a sentence, unironically (band names and typos don't count). No luck. Isn't HAZE a good enough, vague enough word. Who thought, "here's a word we need... SMAZE!" In other answers I'd never heard of: George MEANY! No idea (6D: George who was the first president of the A.F.L. - C.I.O.). Got him from crosses OK, and unlike SMAZE, he appears to be real.



This theme is a sleeper, and not the good kid (like the Woody Allen movie of the same name, or the little movie that could, like "Breaking Away" or "Saw V"). I mean the 'zzzzz' kind. You can, indeed, SIT on those items. But two of the SITting places are literal — a BENCH WARMER actually sits on the bench, a COUCH POTATO actually sits (or lies) on the couch. But the STOOL PIGEON does not sit on the stool, and while a CHAIRPERSON may sit to chair a meeting, the CHAIR is metaphorical. This makes the latter two theme answers much, much better than the first two. Places to SIT used in non-SITting contexts. Mainly, though, the theme is just boring. The rest of the fill is pretty solid, though. No real complaints other than the big one you heard up front.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Second- or third-string player (BENCH WARMER)
  • 11D: Boob tube lover (COUCH POTATO)
  • 25D: Police informant (STOOL PIGEON)
  • 50A: Presider at a meeting (CHAIRPERSON)
Here are the parts that made me hesitate at least a little (after SMAZE and MEANY). TIE .... what? CLIP? TAC(K)? I'm out of ideas. Got CLASP from crosses (9D: Man's jewelry item). Wrote in AEONS for MOONS (24D: Time periods lasting about 29 1/2 days). Clearly didn't read the clue too well on that one. Then there was NET, with a clue so awkwardly cross-referenced that I didn't even bother trying to piece it together — again, all from crosses (55D: What 51-Down connects to, with "the").

Bullets:

  • 15A: Suffer ignominious defeat, in slang (EAT IT) — also a great parody song by Weird Al Yankovic


  • 41A: One-horse town (PODUNK) — never get tired of this word. Seen it several times lately, always makes me happy.
  • 54D: Suffix with schozz (-OLA) — this sounds like something somebody on "Happy Days" would have said, probably when talking about Al.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

81 comments:

syndy 12:23 AM  

You never heard of George Meany? Really?? I found the puzzle easy but i never read all the downs so never saw smaze (smaze,smog,schmozzle)You never even heard of George Meany???

lit.doc 1:04 AM  

Wow, nice tough Monday! Took me 18:05, most of which was consumed by that block in center-west where 23D IRATE and 24D MONTH (yeah, I know, not plural, but hey) ate my brain.

Bleed-over confusion from yesterday at 35A where AMOS vs. ENOS almost worked again, except for the MONTH error. Saved from one error by another? Weird.

Ok, Rex has posted. Wow, lucky me. I didn’t even see SMAZE. What bullshit fill. There is no excuse for this one. Saturday wouldn’t even excuse such a not-in-the-language non-word.

If you enjoyed “Eat It”, you really must own The Complete Al Yankovic. Astonishingly weird. But please don’t call me Al.

Falconer 3:33 AM  

Strange to hear the discontent over "smaze." I lived in Los Angeles for many years, and heard and used it many times. Smog is "smoke+fog" while smaze is "smoke+haze." ... Why would you need both? Well, living in L.A. you need as many different descriptions for "air with color and texture" as an Eskimo needs words for snow.

Smaze is a lighter form of smog. With real smog, you can't see the Santa Susanna Mountains from the floor of the San Fernando Valley. With smaze, you can see the mountains' outline at least.

Smog is more of a mid- to late-summer phenomenon because it needs the heat to make the air-soup thicker, while smaze is more of a spring condition when it's a bit cooler.

Fun, light Monday puzzle. Amused by the mix of "talk to flirtatiously," "spread, as the legs" and "eat it." Bit racier than usual for the NYT.

andrea cheek michaels 4:31 AM  

S'Wonderful, S'Marvelous, S'Mazing...

I loved the fill of this one!
A Plethora of Ps! (10 of 'em and look how they form a little looP at 36A/48A with such colorful words as PAPOOSE and PERP and MOPPETS, they really POP!)

and 6 K's matched with 11 Cs!
I think it was the order I filled, but I did one after another with CATCHY, CLICHES, CHEEK, CLERK, CLARK, CDRACKS so I found this peppy peppy peppy and I'm doing it after 1 am!

The fill was KOOKy and fun! BENCHWARMER and COUCHPOTATO may have been a touch- too-literal-for-some's taste, but they are solid metaphors, nonetheless, and I liked the mini-tiny SIT reveal. (STOOLPIGEON would be the one that least belonged, but it's such a cool phrase.)

3D (and I mean three down, not 3-dimensional) Director Howard gave me pause...not Hawks? I guess little Opie has finally grown up, but I'll forever think of him as a little boy who now makes sincere films. IMSORRY.

And what about the shout out to Ann MEARA (sometime reader of Rex's blog, I hear) ?

Walter P. Reuther 5:34 AM  

Meany! Why can't I ever get some love from the NYT crossword!
Walter P. Reuther (UAW pres. 1946-70)

foodie 6:28 AM  

They must have evolved the smog terminology in LA since I left it. Like snow for eskimos, one needs to continually refine the nuances. Johnny Carson once quipped: In LA, we don't trust the air we can't see.
He used to talk about LA drive-in movies that have no need for a screen.That was when Opie was still around.

I know a scientist called Meanie. He once published a paper with a student called Eany. For true.

I enjoyed this puzzle-- many CATCHY words as highlighted by Rex and Andrea. The theme was heterogeneous, again as pointed out in different ways by Rex and Andrea, but the reveal was so little and plain, I saw it as almost tongue in cheek.

dk 7:31 AM  

I know from SMAZE as living in Altadena I could see the fires in the mountains and the ash would fall like snow in Binghamton on Mother's Day.

Made an initial, and seemingly popular, tacks v. CLASP error and had month for MOONS. Those errors snapped me back to solving the whole instead of hoping the sum of the parts would add up.

A fine Monday for me as the clues seen by some as obscure were in my fill repertoire.

*** (3 Stars)

jesser 8:11 AM  

I liked it. Like Andrea, I noticed all the Ks and Ps and they make me want to dance or something.

One of the many benefits of living in sunny southern New Mexico is that we don't worry about smog or SMAZE, so I wasn't offended by the word. I just let the crosses reveal it and thought, "Poor city folk." I have not changed my position. Oh sure, on some cold days the wood smoke from Juarez drifts over the valley, but it's a reminder of our blessings and a good opportunity to reflect on the different world that exists just south of here.

I liked that this one was Monday easy but had some crazy non-Monday fill; MAITRE'D, EGG SAC, KIOSK, PODUNK, CATCHY, MOPPETS, STRAITS, TOILE, SPLAY, etc. Not one BLEEPing thing for me to CARP about!

Sorry I didn't chime in over the weekend. Out-of-town guests arrived Friday evening with no advance warning, so the weekend was Madness. I did both puzzles in the early morning hours, but since my office is right next to the guest bedroom, I decided not to clack on the keyboard. I will say that the NW was a bear on Saturday until MIATA appeared in my brain, and I echo the complaints about New PALTZ crossing some Japanese word on Sunday.

Happy Monday, Rex and Rexites!

Putsteda! (what you cry to your golf ball when it is on line and headed for the hole? Help me, Parshutr!) -- jesser

ArtLvr 8:13 AM  

Like @andrea, I enjoyed the peppy puzzle fill, except for amazing SMAZE!

We left Cal State L.A. right after the semester one couldn't see down any corridor of the chemistry building from one end to the other end... It also happened to be the year Gov. Ronald Reagan's State Supreme Court upheld his middle-of-year cut in faculty salaries, saying there was no validity to teaching contracts if the Governor said so! It was pure pique at not being able to punish the UC system for Berkeley riots, etc.

MEANY was a controversial figure where we landed in Silver Spring MD, building his new HQ in our neighborhood, but at least he played by the rules!

∑;)

joho 8:31 AM  

If we can have the portmanteau smog for smoke and fog, why not SMAZE? It was my word of the day, however, and I lived in California for many years and never heard it. Now I'm singing, "Those smazy, hazy days of summer."

To add to @Andrea's fun letters in the puzzle there are also 5Bs, 3 Ys and a Z!

Fun Monday with some really fresh fill.

Thanks, Randy Sowell!

chefbea 8:40 AM  

Had the eastern half of the puzzle done and thought "an awful lot of P's" so at the end I counted them. @Andrea I count 11

Knew smaze would be the wotd. Fun easy Monday

redie = Im redie to start my day

PIX 8:50 AM  

Merriam-Webster On Line Dictionary has this entry for Moppet:

"Main Entry: mop·pet...
Etymology: obsolete English mop fool, child
Date: 1601"

Interesting that same word (mop) meant fool or child; very politically incorrect.

Seemed like perfectly fine puzzle, for a Tuesday.

Scott Atkinson 8:55 AM  

I was prepared to object to the theme as uninspiring until I realized that all of the phrases refer to people. So, nice job, say I!

SMAZE has been in the puzzle before. This is a nice grid to look at. As Andrea pointed out, the cavalcade of 5-letter C words in the center is very cool.

Rex Parker 9:04 AM  

Nearly 6 years since SMAZE has been in the NYT. It's a B.S. word. Trying various googles, I've found a few sites / stories that use the word. A smattering. It's not easy.

Right now, if you google [city smaze], this website is the 4th hit. Just after an article on the history of Denver's air pollution, which begins thusly:

"It was blamed on hundreds of belching chimneys in the city in 1910.

By 1935, officials pointed to scores of smoldering rubbish dumps.

It was called "smaze" in the late 1950s..."

Which makes me wonder if perhaps I was simply born to late ever to have heard this word.

At any rate, in 2010, it's a sore thumb answer, esp. on a Monday.

SethG 9:10 AM  

Is there also smist? What about smouds? The LAT reports 9208 usages of "smog" since 1985. The LAT reports 4 usages of of "smaze" over that same period. Eskimo languages, it turns out, have about the same number of words for snow as English does.

That's quite a run of Bs and Cs up the diagonal, which puts a lot of Ls nearby. I'm sure I have heard of Meany, but I certainly don't remember it.

Tinbeni 9:17 AM  

Easy & breezy Monday.
Practically could not fill in the grid fast enough. Almost all by crosses again.

Nothing really to CARP about.
OK, had a WTF moment when I saw the SMAZE. But I was sure of the PERPs and figured those wacky LA folks had probably invented a new way to refer to their smog/haze.

@Chefbea, the LAT is calling YOU! LOL

@Rex Being a refuge from Big-4 Accounting, that TIE CLASP was a gimmie. After I left, that Weird Al song, EAT IT summed up my feelings on ties. Great clips.

dk 9:29 AM  

@artlvr, back in the old days, taught History and Systems of Psychology at Cal State LA for a semester then moved on to Cal State San Berdo as I needed more refinery fumes in my smaze.

PIX 9:30 AM  

I am not a labor historian but I believe the story is something like this: The American Federaion of Labor (AFL) after years of fighting with eventually joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)in 1955 to form the all powerful AFL-CIO. This made it the official union for almost all unionized workers in the USA and as such a tremendously important (for better or worse) organization. George Meany was its first president. As such, an important piece of American history. ( And an easy clue for those beyond a certain age.)

Mariska Hargitay 9:38 AM  

Sorry guys, but a PERP is the actual PERPetrator, refered to as such when we don't know who he/she is. When we get a suspect, we call them the suspect. They're frequently not the PERP.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:59 AM  

I was so surprised to see Rex's rating of Medium-Challenging! I had thought many of the clues were super easy, and wondered if this was a school holiday and the puzzle pitched at kids!

Of course, MEANY was an almost gimme (I will confess to hesitating a few seconds over whether it was M-E-A-N-Y or M-E-A-N-E-Y.) The oddities like SMAZE and MAITRED filled themselves in from crosses before I saw the clues!

But for a Monday, OK.

Peter 10:02 AM  

Rex et al, you may know George Meany from the Simpsons episode where Bart finds himself stuck watching "Classic Krusty," an early black and white (and unfunny) version of the show.

Krusty's interview guest is George Meany. The Droopy-sounding Meany's line: "It's a pweasure to be here Kwusty."

Van55 10:18 AM  

I really liked this easy puzzle.

Sometimes when I suspect a puzzle will not pose much of a challenge on its own merit, I attempt to solve it by filling in all the outside squares and then the next squares and and so on, concentrically, ending with the very middle square as my last entry. I successfully did that today, with a serious pause at SMAZE. Personally, I don't think that entry disqualifies the puzzle from Monday-easiness, however.

Agree with the view that PERP is mis-clued.

Remarkably fresh for a Monday!

Lenny 10:18 AM  

Mariska:
When I arrest them I make them do "the PERP walk."

Thomas Gibson 10:31 AM  

All this talk about "Perps" and "Suspects" ... on my show we call the unknown bastard "UnSub."

Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

This one felt like it sponsored by the letter K. Kook and Kiosk most notably. I didn't notice all of the P's.
Smaze made me laugh. I've never heard it either but it sounds like a word made up by bored CA meteorologists. Remember Steve Martin in "L.A. Story"?
Easy but entertaining enough for a Monday.

westcoastsox 10:53 AM  

Sorry, I lived in LA for 11 years and have been solving crosswords for many years more than that. SMAZE is a massive crossword failure. And it has prompted me to send in my first comment on this blog after many years of lurking.

CaseAceFos 11:07 AM  

I would be shocked, SHOCKED, if Claude Rains, had uttered "Round up the usual Perps" in "Casablanca" that the line would be remembered for 10 minutes, let alone, almost seventy years later?

Jim 11:14 AM  

Theme clue refers to "Start" of 17, 50, 11, 25, not the entire answer, so it makes sense: you sit on a bench, chair, couch, stool.

archaeoprof 11:22 AM  

More interesting than most non-ACME Mondays.

Thanks, Rex, for the photo of Johnny Bench, the best catcher of all time.

1972 was "redemption for the Reds" because, after going to the World Series in 70, they had fallen below .500 in 71. They made it back to the Series in 72, losing to the A's in seven games.

Karen 11:23 AM  

You must be too young to remember Jimmy Durante,
and the old Snozzola!

Parshutr 12:04 PM  

So many false starts...SOSORRY, PEORIA, but not real difficulties. And like the other codgers, I remember Meany. And Stiller & Meara. And Uta Hagen(who once told Terry Gross of NPR that acting techniques were none of her business and beyond her understanding).

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Ah, the "Land of Schnozz" where only Nosy Parker's are allowed to dwell!

Glitch 12:34 PM  

(Rare, obscure, yes --- bogus, synonym for smog, no)

SMAZE—A combination of smoke and haze; or, a very light smoke condition that resembles haze.

SMOG—As originally coined in 1905 by Des Voeux: a natural fog contaminated by industrial pollutants, a mixture of smoke and fog.
Today, it is the common term applied to problematical, largely urban, air pollution, with or without the natural fog; however, some visible manifestation is almost always implied. Smogs are constituted in great variety, but a major dichotomy exists between the photochemical smogs of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons emitted mainly by automobile engines and, on the other hand, the sulfur-laden, sometimes deadly, smogs produced by the large-scale combustion of fuel oil and coal. Both types contain carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and a variety of particulates. See Los Angeles (photochemical) smog, London (sulfurous) smog. [American Meteorological Society : Glossary of Meteorology]

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

Randy, I dare say, you did So-well, in fact, my dear fellow, you did Swello, with this colorfully entertaining,albeit,relatively easy Monday offering.

Shamik 12:58 PM  

More interesting than the usual bland Monday and like others have said, appears to be brought to you by the letter K which is oK by me. But i'm just one of the KOOKS around here. Mondays are usually BLAND at best and this one was quite CATCHY.

I remember having a conversation eons ago with my father about SMAZE...so it's probably a generational thing. Also, George MEANY is from once upon a time.

Not IRKED at all even if UTA made another appearance.

Today's captcha is TERAT...most be 1A's sibling.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

My fellow poster's, here on R.P's blog: I need help! I did notice my last several comments have been posted as "ANON's" since I'm new in these parts, can someone 'splain to me how I can avoid this Fate, and post under my preferred I.D. "CaseAceFos?

syndy 1:03 PM  

@westcoastsox-which color would those be?

Martin 1:19 PM  

The first citation for "smog" in the OED is from 1905; the first for "smaze" is 1952.

"Smaze" is an attempt to describe what was called "smog" in 1905. Before automobiles, the primary particulate pollutant was smoke from fires and that's when smog was born. Today, LA's air is the result of particulate emission and, more so, photochemical reactions resulting from auto exhaust. The cause of smog changed. "Smaze" is used for the darker, dryer condition caused by a forest fire or domestic wood burning during an atmospheric inversion. It's not really about "foggy" versus "hazy." It's historical.

edith b 1:20 PM  

A lot of comments today that take the form: I never heard of this, therefore it does not exist.

I think true learning takes the opposite approach

PIX 1:27 PM  

@ANON 1:03PM...simply check the box near the very bottom of the screen that says "name/URL"(directly above the orange box that says "publish your comment")...there will then magically appear a box that says "name". Type in your name, publish...and you're done.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

@anon. 1:03
you have four choices when posting comments: Google Account (which you can get by going here. It will give you the little orange B by your name and allow you to delete posts later if you want.

OpenId, which I know nothing about but I assume is much like blogger, and searchable on google.

name/URL which allows you to choose any name but does not give you the delete option.

anon-which you clearly know about.

Click the circle by the option of your choice and either log in or type in the name of your choice (and URL if you want, in the case of #3). That's below the "word verification" box and above the "publish your comment" button.

Helper, I hope, 1:32 PM  

Anon "CaseAceFos"
Looks to my like you (or your computer during 'disk clean-up' or 'deframentation') signed you out.
Just go to the "sign in" and enter your Account Name and password.

deerfencer 1:47 PM  

Liked this one a lot and flew through it, even if SMAZE made me pause, shake my head and chuckle for just a second before confidently putting it down. Great Scrabble word! So what if it shows up on a Monday? The crosses were easy enough. All in all I found this puzzle a breezy delight.

CrazyCatLady 1:57 PM  

The quirky, often curvaceous, LA weather folks use words like SMAZE, May Gray and June Gloom. During the late summer months there is a combination of sun and smog that creates a sunny/ smoggy haze. Also involves the marine layer (the fog part) and the inversion caused by the mountains which trap the pollutants causing them to heat up. Not a very scientific explanation, but the word sounds perfectly normal to me. I prefer to pronounce it SCHMAZE giving it a slightly Yiddish lilt.
@Andrea I did you meet you at Crosswords LA, but I introuced myself by my real name.

CaseAceFos 2:02 PM  

Thanks to the accommodating commentators who came to the aid of the (stricken) party and showed the way to any future posts on my part.

Clark 2:08 PM  

I made the grid today! Along with BORAT, UTA, ENOS, MEARA, CORTEZ, Norma RAE, DYLAN or DOLE (the former please), RON Howard, MEANY. That is a party I would definitely go to.

Ulrich 2:15 PM  

An unusually stylish grid for a Monday, which in itself makes it noteworthy. Take on top of that all the c-words--smazing! (Since K is my least favorite letter and P is just run-of-the-mill, letterwise, I ignored those)

@caseAceFos:...and if you fill-in a URL, your name will appear in that pretty blue (which URL doesn't matter)

fikink 2:52 PM  

I second @crazycatlady's pronunciation of SMAZE, as in, "Haze, schmaze!"- and give my Quip Of The Day award to @Andrea for declaring this puzzle "S'Marvelous."
George and Ira concur.

Nice puzzle, Randy! The FIL and I thoroughly enjoyed the crunch.

"emati" a male violin

Sfingi 2:57 PM  

1 George MEANY;
2 the original schnozOLA, Jimmy Durante, and
3 Kate Smith singing God BLESS America, are oldster material.

Had BLANk before BLAND which would have formed a diagonal KKK, (across from the CBBCC array) so I rethought.

@Falconer - Thanx for the def. of SMAZE. I do see the difference. In the moister side of the US, fog is something you are right in and haze is off in the distance. Haze creates an artsy layered look, wherein the farthest hills are bluriest. In the '60s, NYC was like LA. I had constant nose bleeds and my pantyhose split at the knees. Smog can be cured. (Hint: subways)

Speaking of Yiddish, I thought TSHIRT was going in the direction of TSchoTskes after the first 2 letters.

@Parshutr - UTE Hagen, who would be unknown if it weren't for CWs, sounds like a b---h. Terry Gross is so sweet and knowledgeable. Did anyone hear her interview with Gene Simmons of KISS? The guy is a pig.

@Jesser - the Ks and Ps should make you want to peel POTATOes. Along with Dan Quayle, maybe.

@Van - Great idea. Usually, I go straight down on Mon. When/if I get to Thurs. I do the fill-ins and shorts first as a scaffolding.

jesser 3:11 PM  

First of all, Sfingi, I apologize from the bottom of my little ticker for anything I ever wrote that would irk you enough to wish Dan Quayle on me.

That said, if I'm doomed to be unceremoniously chucked into a room with the bird brained ex-veep, I wish not to peel potatoes, but to do crossword puzzles. I believe, even with my limited skills, I could humble him in short order. This assumes he possesses humility.

I will almost certainly have nightmares about this. I've never had a nightmare with potatoes and a vice president, so maybe it will be vaguely entertaining once the screaming abates.

chefwen 3:28 PM  

We have VOG so SMAZE didn't bother me at all, thought it was kinda cute. Super easy, fun, Monday puzzle. Only write over was I'M SORRY over so SORRY.

tampo - I'll let jesser figure that one out.

foodie 3:29 PM  

@SethG, really? More words for crud in the air than lovely snow even in Eskimo languages? Here I imagined a word for the fluffy kind, another for the sticky kind, the flakes in the air, the layers on the ground, the sheets of igloos, the clumps in the trees, the dust on the lashes... No?

David Mendosa 3:54 PM  

@foodie - Here is a list of Inuit words for snow that should keep you busy for awhile. (Be sure to scroll down to the list!)

chefbea 3:59 PM  

@David Mendosa I read those words for snow. So that's where we get all the captchas !!!!!

mexgirl 4:29 PM  

I could never understand why they have to change the spelling in Spanish names; like it will be easier to say HERNANDO instead of HERNAN? (the actual spelling), or ISABELLA instead of the actual ISABEL, or FERDINAND instead of FERNANDO? I don't get it. There was a time in Mexico when people would hispanicize English names and would say things like JORGE WASHINGTON instead of GEORGE, or LUIS XIV, instead of LOUIS,but that doesn't seem to happen anymore. It seems only decent to try to say the name the way it was intended to sound.

anyway, I'm just saying.

Steve J 4:29 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 4:32 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)

Mon 7:30, 6:55, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:11, 3:41, 1.14, 82%, Challenging

So far, the online solve times slot this one as a tough Monday or relatively easy Tuesday puzzle.

I come down on the anti-SMAZE side of today's discussion. I've lived in California for coming up on 14 years now (albeit in the Bay Area where our air tends to be better than that down south) and don't recall ever hearing the word. Even aside from that, I thought the puzzle felt more like a Tuesday than a Monday. My own solve time was skewed by not knowing for sure what letter to enter for the SMAZE/CORTEZ crossing. My knowledge of Spanish history on our continent is obviously not up to snuff since I didn't pick up on Cortez' given name, although I don't know what I was thinking could go in that square if it wasn't an S or a Z.

CrazyCatLady 4:35 PM  

@sfingi how does smog cause one's pantyhose to split? Also there are subways in LA now. It just seems they don't go to the places that most people want to go, so everyone still drives.
@Tinbeni - who you callin' wacky?
@DavidMedosa Love the Inuit snow words. They do, as Chef said, sound like captchas. Funny!

Steve J 4:36 PM  

@foodie: The idea that Eskimo/Aleut languages have a bunch of words for snow is a bit mythical. There are numerous scholarly citations at the end of Wikipedia's article if anyone's really interested. In short, they have roughly the same amount of base words we have for snow. The difference comes in numerous variations. Which starts coming down to the idea of what is a word (e.g., are snow, snowing, snowed, snows all different words, or different forms of the same word).

Re SMAZE: I lived in LA 2002-2009, and I don't recall ever hearing the term (heard a lot of "June Gloom," however). But, I have run across the word somewhere along the line before today. I think it's kind of a carppy word, but it's legit for a puzzle.

Quibble of the day: CLICHE's clue. "As old as the hills" is a simile. Similes, of course, can be cliches, but this is simply an expression that's been in the language a long time. I don't think that it really fits the idea of a cliche being something that's stereotypical or excessively overdone. It's just an expression. Clue's not wrong, since whether it's a cliche is going to be a matter of opinion, but there would have been many better ways to clue it using things that are widely considered cliches.

Hangup of the day: Got stuck with MOPPETS for an unacceptably long time. My brain just wouldn't pull it out of storage, so I was left with MOPPE-S, and I don't know TOILE, so all I could think of was MOPPERS. Which clearly isn't right.

fikink 6:09 PM  

@Steve J, I think CLICHEs, rather than merely being phrases that are overused/stereotypical primarily demonstrate a lack of originality. Thus, you can have a CLICHE performance on stage, a CLICHE treatment of grieving, a CLICHE solution to a problem.
The first man/woman who uttered "old as the hills," was probably an original thinker whose turn-of-phrase became a CLICHE through others' repetition.

Much of our culture speaks in CLICHEs, writes in CLICHEs and thinks in CLICHEs. The latter is called MacThink, itself derived from the ubiquity of MacDonald's restaurants.

But, perhaps, as my father would have opined, I am "picking the fly-shit out of the pepper."

andrea smize michaels 6:14 PM  

@chefbea
you right...ELEVEN Ps! I missed the one in IPO, no wonder I'm still so poor!

@Fikink
Thanks...but I'd like to share that quip award with @sethg's "SMist/smouds"...hilarious!

And also, for fellow "America's Next Top Model" watchers (or those who will admit to it) there is Tyra's "Smize" which is "smiling with your eyes"!!!!!!!! Great modeling tip!!!!

Oh, oh! Speaking of guilty pleasures...Will is on "How I met Your Mother" tonight!!! CBS 8pm

Dovid 6:39 PM  

Oh no, LENA Horne has died! I'm calling an APB on "2 Down: Late Horne." Don't let me down, Will...

...neither cnn.com or nyt.com mentions the word "crossword" in the obit.

I would say more, but with all honesty and humility, I know her only from the little boxes.

sanfranman59 7:10 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
sanfranman59 7:16 PM  

@Dovid ... Thanks for letting us know of the passing of Lena Horne. What a remarkable life she led. Rest well, Ms. Horne. Lynn Redgrave ... Lena Horne ... should we be expecting news of the demise of a third A-list entertainer soon?

Tinbeni 7:16 PM  

@CrazyCatLady
Any city (LA) that would put up with my brother ... has to be wacky.
Of course, with me living in Dunedin, Florida the term would apply here, too.
At least we both live where the Sun sets into the water. Those people on the East Coast of Florida are really wacky!
They say "Oh, the Sun rise is Soooo beautiful!"
Yeah, right! Like I'm up everyday at sunrise. NOT!
But I do toast my sunset ... it's an Avatar thing.

Glitch 7:24 PM  

To all the Angelinos who never heard of SMAZE:

Why should you?

1) The clue never mentioned location, much less LA.

2) The earlier post I made, and Martin's additions, plus others, would seem to indicate the LA basin is one of the least likely places to experience SMAZE.

It's unlikely you would have seen it it through the smog :)

.../Glitch

michael 7:31 PM  

It might be interesting to see which particular clue-answer combinations are particularly hard and particularly easy for different age groups. Some (such as George Meany) might be obvious [no problem here!], but my guess that others would be less easy to guess.

Seems that smaze is not an answer for which age makes much difference. But apparently geographical location isn't a much better predictor. It had to be right (and I should have figured out its origins), but I just looked at it and was befuddled/confused/astonished. On a Monday!?

CrazyCatLady 7:49 PM  

@Tinbeni - It's true that LA does have more than it's fair share of KOOKS. I had WACKS before KOOKS.
@Glitch Whatever.... : )

mac 8:25 PM  

Will Shortz has a pretty large part on "How I met your Mother" this evening. He is even singing!
Now I will go back to reading the comments.....

joho 8:44 PM  

Oh, wow, thank you @Andrea Smize Michaels for the heads up on Will Shortz being on "How I Met Your Mother." I came here right when the show was coming on and left to watch. How much fun to see our editor "acting." I think he was great, obviously just being himself. He was referred to more than once as being the Editor of the New York Times. Very cool.

Sfingi 9:06 PM  

@Jesser - KP used to mean Kitchen Police in the army. Everything is Police or Policing. Policing the perimeter could mean picking up debris. And whenever I hear potato, I think Dan Quayle since he couldn't spell it. That's all. I kind of live in a stream of consciousness. This happens to some oldsters. It's just like being on weed.

@CrazyCat - I didn't explain because I did that once before. Well, you wash 'em, hang 'em in the window, where they apparently absorb the acidic air. You put them on and are ok until you sit down in the subway - then - right across the knee. No one wears 'em anymore, which is a blessing. No one wears skirts anymore!

@Michael - all young entertainers (the ones who call themselves "artists") new movies, reality tv, all hip hop because it has no melody, no other reason. That's a start for what oldsters don't know.
As far as SMAZE, that's geography. So you learn a new one. I just have the philosophical question - if you get the word and Google it after to be sure, does that count as a Google?

@Tinbeni - heat makes people crazy and lazy. (You're an exception, of course!)

@Steve - here's a great Toile (Pr. twall). Harlem Toile

Falconer 9:36 PM  

@Steve J -- if you lived in Los Angeles in the 2000s you missed the Golden Age of smog and smaze, before the govt got serious about regulating air quality.

Back when certain people were in elementary school and junior high school in the 1960s, there were many days in which the government issued Stage 1 Smog Alerts that banned outdoor activity by children.

Here's how bad it was: Back then, a Stage 1 smog alert was issued when airborne particulate matter hit 1 part per million. Today that would be the cause of a Stage 3 alert, which would cause the government to declare a stage of emergency! ... Current Stage 1 smog alerts are announced when the air hits 0.2 ppm.

The first genuine advancement to improve the air in cities like L.A. and Denver was an EPA rule in 1975 requiring catalytic converters on cars to reduce toxic tailpipe emissions.

Tinbeni 9:54 PM  

@sfingi
Well heat does cause problems.

First off, in the summer it's HOT. Hot like I am getting my preview to Dante's Inferno HOT!
Where folks up North rarely open there windows in the winter, here "BY LAW" they are sealed from June 1st until Sept.15th.
Without A/C, Florida would probably have the population of Alaska.
It's why we like the beach way too much, skin cancer be damned!

And I consider myself to be an "exceptional" crazy and lazy person ...

lit.doc 10:20 PM  

@Sfingi, your philosophical question is a good one. Here's my current totally chickenshit stance on it. If I check an answer for comfort and I'm right, I didn't google for the answer. The first time I check one and I'm wrong, I consider myself to have googled.

deerfencer 10:26 PM  

The fact that SMAZE showed up in the OED in 1952 puts this matter to rest IMO (Thanks Martin). The crotchety crowd needs to take a stiff drink and relax.

Kudos to RS for a great Monday puzzle!

Long-time commenter, first-time lurker. 10:28 PM  

You guys are really pretty amusing.

-Stan, in Rochester

Tinbeni 10:48 PM  

Hey @Lit.doc
@deerfencer here thinks we should have a stiff drink and relax.

Well ... I will drink to that, Cheers!

ArtLvr 11:19 PM  

@sanfranman59, thank you for mentioning the death of Lynn Redgrave -- I'd missed that news, very sad. i adored her in "Georgy Girl" years ago, and was sorry she didn't get the Oscar for that role though she was nominated. Ironically, she was up against her sister Vanessa as well as Elizabeth Taylor, but Liz won...

∑;(

sanfranman59 12:01 AM  

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 7:30, 6:55, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:10, 3:41, 1.13, 82%, Challenging

edith b 1:09 AM  

@lit.doc-

I have a similar position on Googling. I do not Google to get an answer; I only Google after the fact - to "cofirm and learn", so to speak.

I don't think there is an official position on the subject of Googling. When I was a young solver in the late 50s and early 60s, I haunted dictionaries, encyclopediae, our family's rather impressive library, and any other source material available to me to solve the puzzles.

I don't think to Google is to cheat at all, If you don't know an answer and have to look it up, more power to you. Anything to increase your knowledge!

BASSTUBA 6:58 PM  

I've been enjoying this blog for weeks, and just noticed the comments section.
I see you are much younger than I am... you don't seem to know, as everyone my age probably does, that Schnozzola was the epithet of Jimmy Durante, "The Nose."

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