Fin de siècle writer Pierre * / SUN 8-15-10 / Mystery of Vep 1990s Off Broadway play / Blue pixie / Purveyor of nonstick cookware

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Constructor: Daniel C. Bryant

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "Is There An Echo In Here?" — familiar phrases where last sound is repeated (usu. w/ respelling), creating wacky answers, clued "?"-style


Word of the Day: LOTI (5D: Fin de siècle writer Pierre ___) —

Pierre Loti (pseudonym of Julien Viaud), born 14 January 1850 in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime and died 10 June 1923 in Hendaye, was a French novelist and naval officer. //

Contemporary critic Edmund Gosse gave the following assessment of his work:

At his best Pierre Loti was unquestionably the finest descriptive writer of the day. In the delicate exactitude with which he reproduced the impression given to his own alert nerves by unfamiliar forms, colors, sounds and perfumes, he was without a rival. But he was not satisfied with this exterior charm; he desired to blend with it a moral sensibility of the extremest refinement, at once sensual and ethereal. Many of his best books are long sobs of remorseful memory, so personal, so intimate, that an English reader is amazed to find such depth of feeling compatible with the power of minutely and publicly recording what is felt. In spite of the beauty and melody and fragrance of Loti's books his mannerisms are apt to pall upon the reader, and his later books of pure description were rather empty. His greatest successes were gained in the species of confession, half-way between fact and fiction, which he essayed in his earlier books. When all his limitations, however, have been rehearsed, Pierre Loti remains, in the mechanism of style and cadence, one of the most original and most perfect French writers of the second half of the 19th century. (wikipedia)

• • •

This will be the shortest Sunday write-up I've ever done because it's late and I've been at a tournament all day and I'm in a smallish hotel room now with PuzzleGirl and the great Doug Peterson and I don't have the time or energy to give this a thorough going-over. To be honest, this skimpiness of attention is probably for the best, as when I did this puzzle last night, I Really didn't like. I should say WE really didn't like it, because I kept groaning and then asking PG and Doug "this is bad, right?" And mostly, they had to admit, yeah, not great. Problem started with the theme. SO-SO=repeated word but then SI SI=repeated sound (involving respelling of punned word). So theme felt clunky right off the bat. But then came the fill. I don't really want to enumerate it all, but there was so much that felt awkward, from NAMABLE to UNLEARNT to all the Horrible plurals, particularly of abbrevs. ROTCS? NOLOS??! I'd accept NAZIS and ROLOS, but ROTCS and NOLOS? Ugh. I mean, look at at the NE — SSSSS is super cheap as it is, but to put it at the far end of a block so that it makes Every Answer in that section a plural. That's as good as putting in 5 black squares, as far as I'm concerned. Plus the next block down has ASSETS against the wall and three more Across plurals.

One of my roommates was heard to remark: "... and the grid's not that ambitious. Just has 7 theme answers."

Further, SPINDLIER? Two ILENES? A NW corner that's a literary nightmare crossed with superxwordesey ODA and superweak partial ON IN? It was really hard to get into this one, because infelicities were abounding. There are more, but I don't really want to go on.

Lastly, we don't know what "The Man With the Hoe" is. We think it's a painting, maybe by Brueghel (well, we were half right—it's by Millet). We also don't know what MIMI and Rodolfo are from in that last theme answer. Turns out it's "La Bohème." OK. DICTS. STETS. OTE. ENTOM. TRY AS followed by OR ON. It just goes on and on. I feel bad, but beyond GAY PRIDE, I just couldn't find much to love about this one. I need to stop now. I have to get up earlyish and ENTRAIN so that I can get to Port Authority and get home.

As for Lollapuzzoola 3, the occasion of my being here in a hotel room in Queens, I'll try to give you a full write-up on Wednesday. This was easily the best tournament experience I've had to date. Almost 50% more attendees than last year. Mostly good puzzles. Just a fantastic time. Got to meet a lot of new people as well as hang out with old friends. Perhaps other people who were there will chime in with their experiences. At any rate, more on that later in the week.





Theme answers:
  • 23A: Underachiever's motto? ("MAY IT EVER BE SO-SO")
  • 43A: Majorcan affirmation? (MEDITERRANEAN SI SI)
  • 67A: Registering a poodle? (LICENSING FIFI)
  • 92A: Guy holding a Hostess snack cake? (THE MAN WITH THE HO-HO)
  • 113A: Words of caution from Rodolfo? ("DON'T TREAD ON MIMI")
  • 16D: Reservation at a Johannesburg restaurant? (TABLE FOR TUTU)
  • 60D: Landlord's ultimatum? (RENT OR BYE-BYE
Bullets:
  • 1A: Writer of the short story "The Overcoat" (GOGOL) — familiar name, but not gettable from the clue, for me. This section, this tiny section, kind of brutalized me. LOTI!
  • 6A: Sitcom with three stars ("M*A*S*H") — a great clue.
  • 41A: "The Mystery of ___ Vep," 1990s Off Broadway play ("IRMA") — you're kidding, right? Right. Shouldn't "Off Broadway" be hyphenated?
  • 56A: "The lowest form of humor," per Samuel Johnson (PUN) — I knew I liked that guy.
  • 80A: Hulk Hogan or Andre the Giant, slangily (RASSLER) — has anyone ever called those guys that name?
  • 95A: Canadian curling championship, with "the" (BRIER) — made as much sense to me as IRMA. Out of left field.
  • 101A: Dom ___, "Inception" hero (COBB) — timely! Also, "hero?"
  • 46D: Blue pixie (SMURF) — easy enough, but had No idea they were "pixies."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]

63 comments:

Steve J 12:40 AM  

Yeah, this was a rough one. I liked TABLEFORTUTU and LICENSINGFIFI, but it was a slog from there for me.

I'm going to make a guess that many - perhaps even most - put in PODS long before GAMS at 1D. I've never even heard of GAMS in reference to whales (what with their being legless and all). The obscure GOGOL clue didn't help, and I felt like 2D and 19A were a conspiracy to make the corner ungettable (as indeed it was for me until I resorted to Google to get GOGOL).

Also, SSSS *and* a letter run in the same puzzle? Wow. I'm no contstructor, but it seems remarkable that someone would get themselves into that predicament.

Oh well. Mondays lately have really been strong, so I have that to look forward to tomorrow.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Most came quickly but the NW was agony. Had GOGOL right off but couldn't square that with the POD I wanted for 1-down. Had PGA for VJ (thinking Singh) and CLEM for Red Skelton persona. Nothing but nothing fit there. The rest had just enough ouches and groans to make it enjoyable, but I also appreciate Rex's disdain.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

CAPRIOTE

Leslie 9:09 AM  

Yeah, not much fun AND I had a mistake. PNIN rings no bells, so I'm not too embarrassed to admit that I guess "Pnen" and Pierre "Lote." Whatever. It's already been said.

capesunset105 9:15 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
capesunset105 9:17 AM  

Lollapuzzoola was pretty much the place to be Saturday! Rex, I was glad to help you retrieve "Teletubbies" from the tip of your tongue for the La-La clue! That was the first formal crossword puzzle gathering my boyfriend and I have attended and, even for Class A farm team players like us, it was enjoyable. The best part was watching you raise your hand while we, working as pairs, still only had maybe 1/3 of it done! Props to Ryan and Brian for organizing a great event.

Zeke 9:23 AM  

I almost quit at 1D/1A, once I realized that POD was wrong. When someone tries to screw you from the very start you should just get up from the table, say thank you, and leave. I finally left at NOTABLE. You see, NOTABLE means worthy of mention. NAMABLE means precisely nothing. I just named the chair next to the one I'm sitting on PAULA. She clearly is NAMABLE. I'll buy her flowers every Monday for a month, but there's nothing worthy of mention about her.

They let a 'Nuck win the tourney? So sad.

retired_chemist 10:00 AM  

The NW was OK here - ADANO started it, which made 1D GAM (I've seen that trick before), ODA is standard crosswordese, so GO___ is GOGOL, knew PNIN, and the rest fell straightforwardly.

What Rex said about the fill and theme. Adequate, but clunky in a lot of spots. NO vision of treading on MIMI passes the breakfast test here. Re HOHO - see Orange's blog for a link (Thanks, Sam) to Ken Jennings' famous related miscue on Jeopardy.

On to Monday indeed....

daisy 10:00 AM  

agree with Zeke. Gam??? how would you know any of this stuff without looking it up. i'm coming here to fill in my mistakes and learn but some of the answers, i don't want to know thank you very much.

i actually got the man with the hostess cake -- Santa Claus. but even then it was clunky, he says ho ho ho.

I hated milk containers - UDDERS. Made me shudder. boooo hisssssssssss.

retired_chemist 10:09 AM  

No, Daisy, you didn't exactly get it. Santa is not the referent. The Hostess cake called HoHo is.

joho 10:21 AM  

So wanted 4D to be "Go AWAY!"

I, too, thought "The Man With The Hoe" would have to be a painting but how is that a familiar phrase?

Was not crazy about the theme. RENTORBYEBYE?

@anon 8:57 ... I too, thought VJ Singh at first because I have golf on the brain right now. Am so looking forward to the play today.

@Zeke ... I couldn't agree with you more about NAMABLE.

@Rex ... can't wait to hear about the tournament.

I finished with no errors but in the end this puzzle was a big no no.

Norm 10:23 AM  

And "The Man with the Hoe" is a painting by Millet. I liked this puzzle more than most, I guess, but then I'm a fan of puns -- and I thought the inclusion of 56A was very appropriate. I'd pick a nit with 23A since it was the only theme answer (unless I've missed something, which is always possible) where the repeated word did not change spelling from the original phrase, but it's a very small nit.

redhed 10:25 AM  

Nothing to add except this was NOT a fun puzzle, no sense of real reward in the end. I had many of the same mistakes mentioned by others (POD for GAM), etc. Rex's write-up pretty much says it for me. As others, I am ready for Monday's offering.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

AS Iv'e said before the fri, sat and somtimes sun. NYT puzzles suck!!! I'm sure I'll enjoy the sun. LAT, Henry Hook, Cox Rathvon puzzles much more than the NYT. Why won't Shortz ask for more cleverness? Unlearnt and namable are not clever or cute, just plain stoooopid.

foodie 10:54 AM  

I'm hearing the nuns of my childhood, not saying LATIN MASS, but telling me to either be kind or keep my mouth shut. So, no comments from me on this puzzle.

One broader question-- NAMABLE or NAMeABLE? Both are listed but the latter seems to be preferred.

I am reading, and really enjoying, a new (more complete) edition of Hemingway's the Moveable Feast. Even though he did not name the book, his heirs deliberately included the E in Moveable because Hemingway believed that this is the better way to handle these types of derivations. I does look better to my eye as well.

The WTD description translation from French is, once again, hilarious.

Rex, your enthusiasm about the tournament is contagious. Looking forward to the report!

Ulrich 11:28 AM  

I got off to a pleasant start when I guessed the TABLE FOR TUTU just from the initial T, but things went downhill from there for all the reasons already mentioned.

I remember the Latin mass fondly from my perspective as an altar boy, where you had memorize long answers in Latin and then trade them with the priest. I'm not saying it makes up for the real disadvantages of growing up in a strict Catholic milieu, but still...

John in Albany 11:46 AM  

Forty-five years ago I lived in Silicone Valley before it had any silicone, actually worked at the place where the computer mouse was later invented.

Well, some nouveau riche guy with no taste (not Getty) created his own art museum in San Jose. The art critic from the San Francisco Chronicle went down the peninsula to visit it and I still recall the withering review.

The only work of significance was "The Man With the Hoe", displayed behind a threadbare red velvet rope. The museum's other works "ran the gamut from the pistache to the macabre." Sort of like this puzzle.

I had ORAN for OMAN (careless) and can't think of any examples of -OTE.

chefbea 11:53 AM  

I agree - not much fun. Got Fifi right away

Too many novels, writers etc that I did not know

Hand up for clem and pod.

OldCarFudd 11:56 AM  

I did this yesterday, since the Sunday magazine comes on Saturday for dead tree subscribers. All the while, I kept saying: "Rex is gonna hate this puz." And yep, sho' 'nuf, Rex did. And, while I enjoyed the theme, I didn't enjoy the puzzle, for all the reasons stated.

@Foodie - I'm not Catholic, and my mother sure wasn't a nun, but she said the same thing. Obviously, I didn't listen!

bko 12:17 PM  

This was not a satisfying puzzle. As soon as I got the theme, I wanted to see the clue: "Netanyahu's angst."

David L 12:22 PM  

A DNF for me -- the upper NW was a multiple Natick -- didn't know ADANO, and GAM, ODA, and LOTI were all unknown too. Nothing to do but give up and curse quietly.

As others have said, just a lot of weak stuff here. SSSSS, PST, QRS, then GCLEF and BMAJ in the same puzz -- yucko.

Joshua 12:34 PM  

MOBILE for "Where the driver is driving Miss Daisy?" Driving Miss Daisy takes place mostly in Atlanta. Yes, Hoke drives Daisy to Mobile once, but that's not enough to justify the use of the present participle "is driving." And crossing that with OTE for "Inhabitant: Suffix" looks like an error to me until someone can identify one English-language example.

Newbie 12:35 PM  

Pretty much what everyone has already said.

@ John in Albany: Capriote (native of Capri) is the only example I can think of.

Joshua 12:43 PM  

Sorry, make that:

MOBILE for "Where the driver is driving Miss Daisy"?

(There's no question mark in the clue -- the question mark represents my own skepticism.)

bko 12:44 PM  

"To be or not to Bibi". Wouldn't that have made it a teeny bit better?

Juicepit 12:52 PM  

Cypriot?

Nope.

Juicepit 1:25 PM  

Also, hasn't MADEIRA or MADEIRAS been in 3 out of the last 5 puzzles?

DBGeezer 1:31 PM  

No objections to 60D being a three letter repeat while the others were all two? That made SW the last corner to fall, and then only with your help.

JenCT 1:47 PM  

Boo, hiss for this puzzle. Just could not let go of POD for 1d.

Way too many obscure names for answers.

Wish I could've made the Tournament! But, I'm saving up for the ACPT in February.

Ruth 1:48 PM  

I can't stand it. Can anyone tell me why there's a pic of Robert Downey Jr? (I don't object to RDJr, just--I don't get it!!)

D_Blackwell 1:56 PM  

Finding a real-life example of OTE that fit the clue was tough. Neither of my dictionaries had the suffix with the meaning given in the clue.

I later found 'cairote: from Cairo'.

Xword Info shows that it pops up about once a year, usually clued to Capri.

I'm usually not too judgmental on crosswordese and obscurities. They have their place, and I find some obscurities to be quite interesting. That said, although I didn't mind the theme, it seemed to me that it was considered more important than the broader experience of the puzzle as a whole. A bit of dreck is one thing, but there seemed to be quite a lot in this one.

Steve J 1:57 PM  

@Zeke: I nearly spit tea all over my monitor at the naming of your chair. I remember encountering NAMABLE during the puzzle, uttering an audible, disdainful "whatever" and moving on. I think I would have had a much more enjoyable time had I started naming things around me. I've decided to call the beer I was drinking as I did the puzzle "Homer."

Off the LAT Sunday now for me (plus maybe a couple others), while Arsenal/Liverpool (recorded) play in teh background for me, and then some baseball. Even a bad puzzle has no power to spoil the charm of a lazy Sunday.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

The clue for GCLEF confuses the treble staff, the bottom line of which is E, with the clef. The (lovely) G clef marks the position of the note G above middle C.

Lafcadio

Comes with experience 2:21 PM  

@SteveJ, @Zeke @Daisy et al

Out of the last 10 times a "group of whales" was clued, the answer has been POD 3 times, GAM 7.

I did put in Pod at first, but had no problem with GAM showing up.

@Juicepit

Nope, last 5 of 8 appearances of MADEIRA(S) were:

Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Thursday, July 18, 1996

P>G>

Masked and Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Kinda one of those thumbs sideways deals for me. Lot to dislike and like in this SunPuz. Feel kinda wrung out, tryin' to solve this weird giant critter and at the same time dreadin' how 44 was about to unload on it.

Constructin'-wise, the NE and SW corners are impressive, wide-open spaces. Areas around squares 65 and 72 are also pretty ambitious. A lot of the other nooks and crannies are so small, they could almost fill themselves with words. Translates into a bizarre solving experience. And normally I like bizarre.

44 did a pretty scrappy job of summin' up one's dislikes. SSSSSnarko-pottamus. So I'll work on the "likes" side. But keep it mind, I'm on the fence, overall.

Looks like there's about 8 U's. (Hard for me to remember the count, while traipsin' thru somethin' this big.) Theme really made me think, every time I bumped up against it. Havin' to think is good,... I think. Some easy-on-the-eyes/hard-on-the-head fill: TWOBIT, LEONARDO, ASOFNOW, ATISSUE, INTENSE, GAYPRIDE, AEOLIAN, STPAUL, MOBILE, DAYONE, EJECT, ATLUNCH, CINDER, PAGEANT, PNIN, GCLEF, MITTEN, MARAUD, COBRA, LATINMASS,... well, you get the idea. Lots of quietly cool clues. If I was Shortz and Bryant, woulda been the most proud of 44-Down's clue for RIB. Pay the guy his 1000 bucks. Want him to try again.

Safe travels back home, 44, and all you other great puzzlers.

syndy 3:10 PM  

ugly puzzle still entrain reminds me of a trip we made when i was six. My mother and four children-4-11-La to boston. we had to change train stations in chicago.running late had a mad cab ride to find our train already pulling out!We ran along side the train as the Red caps flung us (and our bags )one at a time up to the conductor!Fun stuff

syndy 3:11 PM  

catha dingess-matriarch of wild dogs

The Bard 3:16 PM  

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I, Scene I

THESEUS: Take time to pause; and, by the nest new moon--
The sealing-day betwixt my love and me,
For everlasting bond of fellowship--
Upon that day either prepare to die
For disobedience to your father's will,
Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would;
Or on Diana's altar to protest
For aye austerity and single life.

CoffeeLvr 3:26 PM  

I will start with the plusses: I knew TABU with no crosses, just popped into my head; but am not so sure it is popular now. I really liked the procrastinator's crossing at SOON and ASOFNOW (the start of many excuses). I did like the theme. Had SOSO right away, just not the rest of 23A. It took TUTU at 16D to really get the nature of the PUNs.

Like many, had POD before GAM, had to Google GOGOL, (and two more in the NW), was stuck on a mis-spelled PILAGE before MARAUD, which opened up with 1504 at 55D. After I checked my results here, I found I had hurriedly had a pencil typo with MEDITERnANEAN. So after my slog of an hour and a half, I needed ATISSUE, and wanted two MADEIRAS for a CURE.

Shamik 3:53 PM  

Blyecch! ONIT and LOTE made as much sense as ONIN and LOTI and PTEN makes more sense than PNIN....if you don't really know the answers. Blyecch. Don't care if it was under 25 minutes. Still blyecch.

Ulrich 4:12 PM  

Just about the only thing I remember of Pnin is a great spoonerism uttered by the title character: "kidney of the cancer".

retired_chemist 4:35 PM  

SOURNOTE - a person from Sourn?

mac 4:43 PM  

Maybe it's because my eyes are still stinging from staring at soooo many little squares yesterday, but I agree with the complaints. Had pod, Pnin is totally new to me, think of a girl when pixie is used, and I thought there were hardly any girl smurfs, and then thought the hulk and the other big guy were hasslers, enchain and Vincence looked right to me.... I also thought of V.J. Singh and PGA, and I saw someone at the Lollapuzzoola who would have known the curling answer without any crosses! Hi Karen!

Had a great time in Queens, Brian and Ryan do a fantastic job. So nice to be with a big group of like-minded puzzle people, and with such a high concentration of constructors! The puzzles were tough, I felt slayed but I wouldn't have missed it for the anything. By the way, had a Columbian lunch and Indian dinner, Queens is a foodie's paradise!

To my dinner partners: the festivities on 74th street may have something today with the parade for India's independence in Manhattan today.

Anonymous 4:57 PM  

Yes, this was full of clumsy answers, from NAMABLE to SSSSS. C'mon! I'm glad I knew GOGOL because I would have gone with POD, but GAM opened the NW corner for me.
I liked the theme answers and I thought MASH was fun. But UNLEARNT was just, well, unlearned.
~ Keith

Anonymous 5:03 PM  

@Comes with experience. That's true. Equally true is the fact that the last time the phrase "GAM of whales" as been used instead of "Pod of whales" is, well, 100+ years ago. In Nantucket. By people with fewer than the standard issue two legs, wooden ones notwithstanding.

John in Albany 5:29 PM  

May I correct two of my own misspellings? Silicone should be silicon and pistache should be pastiche.

Turns out there *is* a word pistache, which urban dictionary defines as a vagina moustache. Who would have known?

Betsy 7:15 PM  

The puzzle was doable.

Lollapuzoolla was great fun. Lots of fun, interesting and friendly people. Ryan and Brian do a great job of organizing a brain stimulating and FUN event

Comes with experience 7:43 PM  

@Anon 5:03p

Knowing the history helps too, thanks for sharing why GAM was no problem for you ;)

P>G>

jae 8:44 PM  

What Rex and most of you already said. Plus, I, like a few others (Leslie), I had PHEN/LOTE. Not fun to fail a puzzle you really weren't that fond of.

Sparky 10:11 PM  

Didn't start this till home from Lollapuzzoola. So tired, practically brain dead. DNF-got help from the blog. The meet was terrific. Puzzles really hard for me. Amazing to see Joon up and out while I'm still scratching my head reading clues. The people are so friendly. I met Rex, Puzzle Girl, Mac (I think). Place full of congenial puzzle folk hsving a good time. Good munchies, with Oreos,of course. Brian and Ryan know how to put on a great event. Dave Dickerson is the kindest person I have ever met. I'm so late because went to Mostly Mozart: Bach, Carter, Bach, Boulez, Bach. Where's Wolfgang?

foodie 10:15 PM  

@mac, yeah, I could only think of one female, Smurfette (she should be in a puzzle!) But further research shows that a couple more were introduced later on. Actually, that write up about her is quite something. Apparently, she had to have a make-over early in her life:

"She tried to be feminine and considerate, but was unattractive and proved to be more annoying than seductive.

Frustrated, the Smurfs got back at her by making her think that she had put on weight and was becoming fat, thus causing her to fall into a state of depression. Papa Smurf took pity on her and took her to his laboratory, where they locked themselves in for several days before emerging. Smurfette now had long, flowing blonde hair and an appealing character. This caused every Smurf of the village to fall in love with her."

foodie 10:24 PM  

And thanks all for the great reports about the Lollapuzzoola! Sounds like a great experience.

@mac, my daughter who has lived all over NYC, has been telling me that the best and cheapest food is in Queens if you know where to go. I guess you discovered some of those treasures.

Jim 10:28 PM  

Not a golf fan, but even I know it's Vijay, not V.J. It's AMAZING that that becomes a recurring source of complaint when difficulties (and groans) abounded.

ORTS and (the incredibly misleading) IDEE (instead of prix...stupid thing, screwed up my whole southern approach for an hour), not to mention echoing the unimaginable arcana plopped down in the NW.

BTW, Can anyone comment on the approach constructors use? Presumably, beyond the theme answers, they start in the NW, right? If so, this was an early middle finger to all but those versed in literary abstruseness and crosswordese.

I actually enjoyed solving this puzzle, if you can call 17 wrong squares solving it. LEONARDO, LATINMASS, BASETEN, GAYPRIDE and some less beautiful answers gave me a nice foothold throughout. Didn't mind SSSSS and, overall, though a slog and ultimately incorrectly solved, I give it a thumbs up.

In general, I appreciate consistency in difficulty wherever possible. It seemed that NW was just not solvable without a highly, highly specialized store of knowledge. Cheers!

Rex Parker 10:30 PM  

@Sparky and other commenters who were in Queens this weekend, thanks for making the weekend so memorable and entertaining.

And @foodie, so we have to add another line to your (hefty) resumé? Smurfologist?

Just finished tomorrow's write-up, coming your way at 12:01am.

Best,
RP

mac 11:01 PM  

@foodie: now I like the smurfs even less.... I've spent a lot of time in Queens lately, visiting and feeding our son's roommate/cat, and there are so many interesting stores with foods and ingredients of different countries. We had dinner in their Little India, and the people were beautifully dressed and accessorized, and the music in the street was exciting!

mo pie 12:19 AM  

Ugh, agreed that this puzzle was a bit of a mess. I still don't get how the word "pixie" corresponds with SMURF.

I did know GAM, because I was a mariner Girl Scout 20 years or so ago, and our yearly competitions were called GAMs. And of course, they explained it was named after "a gathering of whales."

So much obscure and clumsy stuff. Loved the MASH clue.... that's about it.

Van55 12:34 AM  

Everyone else's criticisms plus the RRN, even though Columbus's last voyage had to have ended in MD something. PNIN ptuie.

Very Late to the Party 12:13 PM  

@Ruth - I don't see that anyone has answered your question about the picture of Robert Downey, Jr., so here is my take on it: His picture is meant to be paired with the answer THE MAN WITH THE HO-HO, because Downey was (arrested? convicted? whatever?) of hiring a prostitute (or in slang, a HO) before he cleaned up and got the starring role in the Iron Man films, etc.

william e emba 6:01 PM  

GAM and pod are both 19th century, according to the OED2. No later examples are given. oed.com, however, lists 20th and 21st century usages of pod. Melville apparently only used GAM, so it has pedigree.

Complaining about GOGOL, "The Overcoat"? That ought to be a Monday level clue, except for the fact that Gogol is Russian. Call it Tuesday. It's required Russian Lit 101 reading material.

Nabokov PNIN is Thursday level.

Anonymous 11:54 PM  

From the Syndicate (CA):

Did a Canuck win the tourney? Don't know the story, but if so,

@Zeke 9:23 AM
No, they didn't LET her win
& what's with the " 'Nuck"! Remember, you folks have places like the Ozarks.

@foodie: thanks for the Smurfette info. Would never have thought to search Wiki for that. The rest of the story is worth reading.

What I'd like to see is somebody work in another cartoon character:
Joe Btfsplk.

Wiki: The world's worst jinx, Joe Btfsplk had a perpetually dark rain cloud over his head; instantaneous bad luck befell anyone unfortunate enough to be in his vicinity. Though well-meaning and friendly, his reputation inevitably precedes him—so Joe is a very lonely little man. He has an apparently unpronounceable name, but creator Al Capp "pronounced" Btfsplk by simply blowing a "raspberry", or Bronx cheer. Joe's personal black cloud became one of the most iconic images in the strip.

Time to put a sock in/on it:
captcha: HOSED LYG

Zardoz

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

Rex:

May I make a suggestion: could you reorganize the file-name of your blog. Instead of:
fin-de-siecle-writer-pierre-sun-8-15-10.html

how about:
NYT-2010-08-15-Sun-fin-... etc.

That would make it much easier to find. Also, why the name extension with a clue? Does that really help?

Kibitzing aside, love your blog, especially the video & photo clips.

BTW, even though logged into Google (gmail account), can't post without logging in again here. That's tedious. It used to be automatic. Clicking "Anon" bypasses all that.

Who dreams up the captchas? Automatic? This one: "TR(y)ING"!

Zardoz

wcutler 3:23 PM  

I knew NOTHING in the nw and sw corners (same for the nnw), but it was all worth it to read Steve J's first paragraph in the blog. Now that was fun.

@Very Late to the Party: thanks for the picture explanation. You seem to be good at explaining things.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Why was there a picture of Rob't Downey, Jr in the post? Or is it just a ringer?

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