Accented part of poetic foot / THU 2-10-11 / Glazier's frame / Line of cliffs / Star of TV's 8 Simple Rules / Part of New Haven landscape

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Constructor: Derek Bowman

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Name word ladder — from KARAN to SEGAL in four moves

Word of the Day: ARSIS (28A: Accented part of a poetic foot) —

n., pl., -ses (-sēz').
    1. The short or unaccented part of a metrical foot, especially in quantitative verse.
    2. The accented or long part of a metrical foot, especially in accentual verse.
  1. Music. The upbeat or unaccented part of a measure.

[Middle English, raising of the voice, from Late Latin, raising of the voice, accented part of a metrical foot, from Greek, raising of the foot (marking the upbeat), the unaccented part of a metrical foot, from aeirein, to lift.] [oh, no, Definition 1 isn't confusing and contradictory-sounding at All...]

• • •

Kept waiting for the trick to come into view. It never did. I was done and wondered what had happened. Then I saw the name ladder. Ho hum. Grid is OK, except the NW, what with the odd-looking REEDIT and MENTEES and the from-outer-space ARSIS (never heard of it, and I teach poetry on a regular basis—if it's obscure to a poetry-teaching English Ph.D., it's ObScure). I cannot imagine having any occasion to talk about something called the ARSIS—maybe the musical meaning is more common to musicians than the poetic one is to literary scholars. Little heavy on the odd names (TESSA, ROS, a pretty marginal O'CONNER) (38A: 2010 Olympic ice dancing gold medalist ___ Virtue + 59A: Children's author Asquith + 2D: Patricia who wrote "Woe Is I"), the RE-words (REEDIT, RENAMING, the vomity REASSESS), odd plurals (MENTEES, SETTERS), prefixes (ENTO-, SACRO-), and ITs (IT'S WAR, TAKE IT, KEEP AT IT). I do love MAIGRET. And KATEY SAGAL. And SERRANO peppers. Other than that, the best thing I can say about the puzzle is that it was wicked easy—about a minute faster than yesterday's. Only part that really held me up was the part where Ben Franklin apparently writes about CHESS (43D: Benjamin Franklin's "The Morals of ___"). I had no idea, just as I have no idea why anyone would want to go from KARAN to SEGAL. What's the point?


Theme answers:
  • 16A: Big name in women's fashion (DONNA KARAN)
  • 20A: Supreme Court justice who was formerly a U.S. solicitor general (ELENA KAGAN)
  • 31A: Host of an Emmy-winning PBS series (CARL SAGAN)
  • 47A: Star of TV's "8 Simple Rules" (KATEY SAGAL) — more iconic parts for her include Peg Bundy on "Married... With Children" and the voice of Leela on "Futurama."
  • 52A: Author who co-wrote the screenplay for the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine" (ERICH SEGAL)
  • 15A: Glazier's frame (SASH) — forgot what "glazier" meant—someone who cuts and sets glass.
  • 54A: Part of the New Haven landscape (ELMS) — ugh. Why should anyone know or care what kind of trees are common at Yale? Eli-tist clue. I had ELIS!
  • 57A: New York city where Ogden Nash was born (RYE) — yet more northeastern provincialism.
  • 4D: "___ Man Answers" (1962 Bobby Darin / Sandra Dee film) ("IF A") — never heard of it, but the answer here was pretty easily inferrable.

  • 11D: He said "I just put my feet in the air and move them around" (ASTAIRE) — another name for this very name-heavy puzzle. I barely saw the clue. Had the whole middle section, saw that the clue was asking for a person, looked at what I had ... and wrote in ASTAIRE.
  • 15D: Line of cliffs (SCARP) — this eluded me for a bit, as all I could think of was ARETE.
  • 39D: Oscar-winning actor who played Napoleon, Mussolini and W.C. Fields (STEIGER) — as in Rod, whom I used to get confused with ROD Serling (before moving to Rod Serling's birthplace). Guys just aren't named ROD anymore. I think ROD Carew was officially the last one.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


foodie 12:08 AM  

I agree with Rex that it was ho hum. Not easy for me, as there are too many proper nouns beyond the theme itself --not my forte.

Where's my Thursday surprise?

Orange 12:28 AM  

I went to high school with a Rod, and I voted for the one who got impeached. So I say the name's heyday ended 44 to 54 years ago.

Didn't KATEY SAGAL just win a Golden Globe for her role on Sons of Anarchy?

So the ARSIS is unaccented in quantitative verse but accented in accentual verse? Make up your mind, word! Quit arsing around.

Clark 12:42 AM  

Got DONNA KARAN with no crosses. Not cause I know anything about fashion; it's just genetic I think. Thought about Justices Jackson and Marshall. Waited for some crosses before I remembered that ELENA KAGAN was SG. (Looked it up afterwards and found that there were two other Justices of the Supreme Court who had previously been SG: Taft and Reed.)

My favorite thing about this puzzle was REASSESS with only one of its 4 S's being used as the last letter of a word.

The Bard 1:09 AM  

King Henry IV, part I > Act III, scene III

PRINCE HENRY: Sirrah, do I owe you a thousand pound?

FALSTAFF: A thousand pound, Ha! a million: thy love is worth a million: thou owest me thy love.

The Corgi of Mystery 1:51 AM  

Have to agree that this was a somewhat disappointing Thursday, though I did spend some time admiring the handsomely white grid before I began (big fan of themed puzzles with impressively low word counts). Otherwise, the puzzle felt like a lot of 1-point Scrabble letters.

Dell XPS M1330 battery 2:50 AM  

very good,it's very important for somebody as me,I can not express my feeling with words now,just can see one hundred time of thanks.

jae 3:10 AM  

I liked this one and found it more on the med-challenging side (I had yesterday's as easy-med). I mean a last name word ladder that is doable seems pretty impressive. I caught the theme about half way in and used it to help spell names I've been iffy about for decades, e.g. KATYS?G?L, CARLSAG?N, DONNAKAR?N. Missteps were ANKH, SILL for SASH, and MAKEIT for TAKEIT. Clever Thurs. for me.

andrea carlSaGAN Michaels 3:18 AM  

I actually wished I had come up with this theme!!!!
I love that there is someone named KARAN and you change a letter and get KAGAN and then change another to get SAGAN...all the way to the end!!!

I just had trouble spelling everyone
(esp KATEY, was blanking and thinking ELENAduGAN, wanted CARL with a K, etc.)

Plus old friend and classmate who NOW hosts the same Emmy-winning PBS series shares same amount of letters, a couple the same, with CARLSAGAN: neiLtysoN.

I started to write in his name and thought he is going to be F(*&ing thrilled out of his mind to be the central answer in a NYT puzzle...
Sorry, Neil, you'll have to wait!

Agree with Rex, tho, about a lot of obscure names: ROS (which I never even saw) TESSA, OCONNER
(the R was my last letter, maybe it was OCONNEL/ALSIS for all I knew), MAIGRET.

Didn't help that I didn't know SIRRAH and started out with the very wrong MILORD.

Actually, LOTS of writeovers (ANKH is as far from IBIS as you can get)
simpLE/FACILE, pAl/MAC, so for me not that easy.

But you gotta love JERKIER, EMACIATE and a word I took as a personal shoutout: RENAMING.

Have to say again, I do love the theme!!!
It seems like it would be a super fun game...
SO much better than that fake "travel Scrabble" chain letter/spam-ish change-a-letter thing I get from everyone who's ever met me!

This is cool! Take a famous person's name, change one letter to get another famous person's name!
And they ALL had ten letters, save CARLSAGAN at 9 in the middle! I think brilliant!

acme 3:21 AM  

ps what about A-ROD?

r.alphbunker 5:21 AM  

gimmes (no crosses needed):

freebies (all crosses):


Quarter 1. 11 words completed correctly (definitely a slow start)
Quarter 2. 16 words completed correctly
Quarter 3. 20 words completed correctly
Quarter 4. 21 words completed correctly

When I checked the answers I got the stern Rex Parker icon instead of the smiling Will Shortz one (these are configurable).
The culprit was OCONNEl/AlSIS.

Impressive theme. However, the puzzle was too googlely for my taste. 20/68 = ~30% of the clues could be googled.

telemann 6:38 AM  

Isnt anyone else bugged by the fact that all the theme names have 5 + 5 letter and CARLSAGAN is 4 + 5??

That is the kind of thing people are usually carping about here.

other than that, I would say, good it was easy; I didn't have time for a hard puzzle this morning!

PS I love Inspector MAIGRET! Nice to see him here.

nanpilla 7:55 AM  

Finished with one error - OCONNEL instead of OCONNER. Just seemed more logical, and alsis is as good as ARSIS.

Otherwise, really liked the name word ladder. Many of these are names that I can never remember how to spell, so that added an extra layer of crunchiness.

Just back from a week in the Keys -freezing back here in south Jersey. My poor horse got laminitis while I was gone, and will need months of recovery - it's so hard to watch him walk with such difficulty.

My sister and I are signed up for our third ACPT - hope to see many of you there!

JaxInL.A. 8:10 AM  

That NW killed me. I just could not see RE-EDIT and kept discarding REED IT as unintelligible. I finally figured that you make a story shorter when you REaDIT, and put up with the goofy spelling for MENTEaS. Duh.

HTG for OCONNER, MAIGRET, and (humiliatingly), ASTAIRE. In my youth I was fascinated with him. I've seen every movie he ever made, read his autobiography and even got to meet him once in the 80s when I was a tour guide at Universal Studios and he was on the lot doing pick-up shots for Ghost Story. Thrill of a lifetime, and worth nearly getting fired. I still have the autographed call sheet.  I don't remember that quotation at all, though.

I guess this is my payback for saying that the M-W puzzles flew by me. Seriously arexic this week. I thought of @acme when RENAMING appeared, too.

DJG 8:11 AM  

Easy?! Don't talk about easy. Are you kidding me? Easy?

I guess it was if you knew the proper nouns. I didn't (PELHAM, SALOME, MAIGRET, ERICHSEGAL, ALAN Cumming, what is all this nonsense?), so it was brutal for me.

Not much of a payoff for such a struggle either.

Dough 8:22 AM  

I agree with DJG, but an entirely different list. Easy?

I guess it was if you knew Donna Karan, Katey Sagal, and Tessa Virtue.

Otherwise, I thought it was fine. I liked the interesting word ladder of 5-letter proper names. Beats those random 4-letter word ladders that occasionally show up (you know, that connect RICH to POOR, or BUSH to IRAQ by way of random unrelated links).

For accuracy's sake 8:25 AM  

It's "The Taking of Pelham 123", not ".. One Two Three". If you're going to change the title (why?), then at least change it to the correct transliteration, which would be the The Taking of Pelham one twenty three. The 123 refers to 1:23, the time it leaves the station Pelham Bay station.

Deb Amlen 8:26 AM  

@Andrea: Boy, Neil really gets around, doesn't he? I went to Bronx Science with him.

Smitty 8:33 AM  

West coast - easy, East coast - challengey.

I guess if you knew the obscure names, guessing the fill was easy. If you didn't - Death by Google

Never heard of Volleyball SETTER> maybe that's why our team always lost

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Sometimes my lack of spelling prowess gives me a pain in the arsis..

I had EMATIATE for the longest time, and could not figure out how Ben Franklin knew about THE SS

mmorgan 9:04 AM  

I enjoyed this one and found it easy for a Friday. Even though I didn't know a number of the names, they easily fell into place from crosses.

And yes, @Andrea, I *did* have OCONNEL/ALSIS, incorrectly guessing L instead of R, like @nanpilla. Oh well.

Lots of ITs in there -- TAKE IT, KEPTATIT, ITSWAR, plus cITi, pITted, itsapITy...

Nancy in PA 9:13 AM  

Tried to put John Ritter in for "star of 8 Simple Rules," blanked on his last name, then was glad. Spelled Katey Sagal wrong three different ways. Had Yale and then elis instead of ELMS...New Haven is known as The Elm City, and had the first public tree planting program in the country. Of course most of those elms are now dead, but "'Neath the Oaks of Dear Old Yale" doesn't have the same ring to it for a Glee Club song..

David L 9:14 AM  

Definitely more medium than easy for me, on account of the excessive naminess. Knew most of them, inferred others, but for the OCONNER/ARSIS cross I had to rely on the time-honored tactic of ignorant guessing. 'L' is certainly an equally plausible possibility.

Too many ITs, too many REs, although contrary to RP, I don't mind REASSESS but would never use REEDIT. Most stories get edited more than once -- and it's all just editing. You don't edit, then reedit, then rereedit...

Mark 9:19 AM  

Hey, there's more to New Haven than Yale! The elms were planted on the city's historic Green. And as a citizen of the 7th poorest city in the nation, I hardly think a New Haven reference (as opposed to a Yale reference) is elitist.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

So just how do you spell O'Connor, google says about3 to 1 or vs er? If there is a ? about spelling Will should pick a different clue.
capcha hantally=counting votes in Fl.

DBGeezer 9:27 AM  

I thought ARSIS was the way Cockneys pronounced sitzplatzes.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

For accuracy's sake - I think the original movie (the one with Walter Matthau) was The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

mitchs 9:32 AM  

This is the biggest differential between Rex's rating and my solving that I can remember. DNF the NW. Never heard of of the designer, reedit just wouldn't come, had ITS a pity, didn't know Patricia, ACE is a stretch for "Pal"...

Challenging for me.

PuzzleNut 9:51 AM  

Finished with acouple of correct guesses (ARSIS, ROS), but it could have gone another way. Odd feeling about the whole puzzle. Had a tough time getting started and then seemed to move along with fits and starts. Ashamed that my first gimme was MERRIE Melodies. Remembered the SETTERS/SErvERS discussion from recent past, so waited for the crosses to confirm. Looking over everyone's comments, I'd say that ACME's were closest to my feelings today.

Rex Parker 9:52 AM  

O'CONNER is the woman's name. There is no question about this. Just look at the cover of any of her books—it's right there.


Google hits don't count 9:56 AM  

@Anon 9:26

You pretty much have to spell it as the person does, in this case:

Patricia T. O'Conner.

BTW the full title is:

Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English

And Ms O'Conner is (was?) an editor at the NYT Book Review.


nanpilla 10:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mac 10:02 AM  

I usually like word ladders, but the total of this puzzle just wasn't so enjoyable to me. Re-edit and mentees crossing was sad. I also came to elms after Yale and Elis. Surprised to see Rye, NY called a city, seems like a suburb to me. How many kinds of peat are there?

I do love Maigret, Pelham, emaciate and feint. Sirrah was a new word, always good.

Now let's see if Blogger will accept me or send me back to the German inquisition.

chefbea 10:08 AM  

Challenging for me. DNF. Gave up and came here. Thursday puzzles are usually more fun.

I too thought of Acme with renaming

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

On, the 7th definition for "ace" is Slang . a close friend. I have never heard the word used this way. Does it belong to some generation (not mine, clearly)?

David L 10:13 AM  

@RP: No one's disputing that O'Conner is really her name. But if, like many of us, you'd never heard of her, and also didn't know arsis, you have to choose randomly between O'Conner with an e and O'Connel with one l, both of which seem unorthodox.

So that counts as a bit of shoddy construction, in my book.

Lindsay 10:15 AM  

Liked the concept at first, but the Theme of Names colliding with the Fill of Names didn't wear well. Not to mention the Fill that Might as Well Have Been Names e.g. SERRANO and SIRRAH.

Fell into the O'CONNEl/AlSIS trap.

Have a good Thurdsay everyone.

PanamaRed 10:16 AM  

@For accuracy's sake 8:25 - there are two versions of the film, 1974 is "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three;" 2009 version is "The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3."

I like them both, but 1974 with Mathau is better, IMO.

Stan 10:16 AM  

I like @jae's suggestion that the real theme of the puzzle is "names you were never sure how to spell." In this context the word ladder is helpful because only one letter changes.

Wow, Andrea and Deb are so linked in! Last night's Animal Intelligence episode of Nova was great. We think what the world needs is a crossword-solving border collie.

Parshutr 10:24 AM  

I just effing HATE MENTEES. Mentor was a person's name, not a verb. You can be a mentor, but not mentor someone whom you subsequently call a mentee.

imsdave 10:24 AM  

MARSALA fits. So does AFFABLY. I thought they were good choices at the time. Not so much. Slowed me down a ton. One of those puzzles that a had a little trouble with every section, so challenging for me.

I hope I get to see many of you at the ACPT.

captcha - tref (well, actually, it uncosha, but tref is easier to spell)

Jim 10:26 AM  

SERRANO crossing TESSA and ROS. And SACRO crossing SALOME. No good.

Random names, obscure peppers, and -a versus -o anatomical suffixes. Yuck.

And that is on the heels of a laborious, name-plagued grid EVERYWHERE else. Word ladder with names: "Oh...ERICHSEGAL? Sure!". I'm sure he's a talented...what? Author? Lyricist? No problem with the man, but what is he doing in my Thursday puzzle?

JC66 10:35 AM  

I rate this one difficult.

TES_A/_ERRAN_/R_S was a double Natick for me. Guessed at the O in ROS and had to run through most of the alphabet until I arrived at S and Mister Happy Pencil appeared.

Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

Proper name word ladder. Got it.
Once I saw the theme and all of the clues I circled because they were proper names I tossed the whole puzzle aside.
An entire grid that depends on proper names just isn't my cuppa.
I managed to amuse myself by noticing the bleedovers from yesterday. Pitted today, Wed. it was acned. We even have a flat tire today that needs that missing jack. We also recently discussed the use of ace for pal.
@ nanpilla, hope your pony feels better soon.

quilter1 10:55 AM  

Not too much trouble for me. My first entry was MERRIE Melodies and I am not ashamed. My kids gave me a 4 DVD set of Looney Toons/Merrie Melodies cartoons because we all enjoyed them. Now the grands enjoy them.
Last entry was the second E in REEDIT as I also misspelled O'CONNER.
I solved from bottom to top and saw the move from SEGAL to SAGAL and that helped get the names. Thought the ASTAIRE quote was hilarious. He was a class act all the way. Didn't mind MENTEES. What else do you call them? In fact didn't mind any of the stuff folks are quibbling about. SIRRAH was a gimme and STEIGER came into view from crosses. My rating is Easy to Medium.

Matthew G. 10:55 AM  

My fastest Thursday ever, I think. I didn't know the final two people in the word ladder, but by that point it didn't matter much. DONNA KARAN, ELENA KAGAN and CARL SAGAN were all gimmes, so I was off to the races on this one right away.

I'm not a huge fan of word ladders, but this one worked better for me than most because the constructor had to find full names that both had ladder-able surnames and first names of symmetrical lengths. Fine work, I thought.

OldCarFudd 11:02 AM  

I fell into the O'Connel/alsis trap, knowing neither. Managed to guess/suss everything else correctly. Put me in the despise mentee camp. (Spell check also objects.) I also suffer from continual confusion on ecto/endo/ento/whatever.

Joan adds her sympathy to mine on Nanpilla's horse, and looks forward to seeing her (Nanpilla, not the horse) in Colorado.

OISK 11:05 AM  

Did not see the word ladder at all, until I got to this site. What should I rate as easier, yesterday's which took me forever, but I completed correctly, or today's which I did in 10 minutes, and got two squares wrong? The serrano-ros cross was a guess for me, and I guessed serrane - res. I missed mentees, but I should have gotten that one - I had put endo instead of ento, and never changed it. I think "mentees" is a bit contrived though.

dogbreath 11:08 AM  

Bah. Intensely disliked this one and found it very hard for a Thursday, usually my favorite day of the week. Even with Googling I found this solve a real joyless pain in the ARSIS--WAY too many proper names and not nearly enough word play.

chefbea 11:13 AM  

I will miss seeing my Rexite friends again at the ACPT. Guess I missed the Westport gala as well. Take fotos and send them to me

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

There are over 20 clues of obscure names and that does not usually spell fun for me. I was prepared to go to Google early on but fortunately I was nowhere near a PC and with a lot of time to spare.
Progress was slow but methodical. I did not get the theme until I had the top three theme answers. That helped me complete the bottom part. I was stymied in the NE corner by filling PAL in 10A and PANE in 15A. Also had ENDO for ENTO in 19A. Without these mistakes I would have probably finished the puzzle.
Based on my experience I would rate this puzzle on the easy side. Like Rex I did not think the theme was very imaginative.

jackj 11:21 AM  

The bow to Shakespeare is more than SIRRAH, it's also a reminder of "Much Ado About Nothing".

Faye 11:37 AM  

I have to say that I hate when a puzzle is difficult because it is filled with proper nouns that I don't know. A wasted puzzle day for me.

TimJim 11:51 AM  

Much harder for me than yesterday, even though I happen to have a copy of "Woe Is I" on my office shelf ... Figured out it was a ladder, which helped me get SAGAL, whom I'd never heard of.

syndy 11:57 AM  

Didn't have too much trouble except in NW. agree ankh was much better answer.I had MOSELLE and ITSAPITY and blanked on DONNA KARAN so I threw KAGAN in to the space (only one letter was wrong!)Didn't help much!Realized I had to give up my Moselle and worked it out-Loved INERTIA as much as I hated MENTEES .Liked the puzz: maybe because most of the names were familiar-even TESSA somehow ROD STEIGER was much underappreciated Imo But lots of fresh fill.

mmorgan 12:04 PM  

Oops, I meant Thursday.

@Parshutr: I don't really care for it either, but believe me, "mentee" is being used more and more in academia

mitchs 12:11 PM  

Off topic: Fireball to the rescue! Great themed offering over there.

Matthew G. 12:16 PM  

The word MENTEE is used everywhere, in and out of academia. Plenty of workplaces have mentors and mentees. The latter may have started as a contrivance, but it's absolutely part of the language now.

I don't think it's fair to object to MENTEE in a crossword puzzle unless you would also object to, say, PREQUEL. Neologisms and portmanteau words happen. When they cross a certain threshold, they're words. MENTEE is easily there.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

I hate "mentee" too. Reminds me of an aquatic mammal. What's wrong with "protege"?

Rube 12:28 PM  

Reading all those complaints about the multiple unknown proper names in this puzzle gives me a feeling of schadenfreud, particularly so because I'm one of them. Thus, HTG and DNF. Discouraging for a Thursday.

Did enjoy seeing Carl Sagan, Maigret, Ragtime, and serrano. Have a friend who spells her first name Merrie, but put in merrey anyway, at first.

There is a mini theme with La Scala, Salome, and aria.

I remember Bogie calling Bacal "Ace" in a movie... not quite meaning "Buddy". This makes me think of a saying from my Boy Scout days, "Friends are friends and pals are pals, but buddies sleep together".

Mediocre puzzle, not much fun.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

i too missed the previous discussion about "ace" being a synonym for "buddy/pal" and fall in the camp of it's a crappy way to clue "ace" which loans itself to many creative, but not as obscure cluing options....think flying ace, cards, acing a test, and so forth.

- deion

SethG 12:51 PM  

Peter Sagal missed his chance!
I finished yesterday's in 6:11, today's in 13:58. I thought today's was harder.

Chris Kaman plays in the NBA. The puzzle loves reminding us that Elzie Segar wrote Popeye. The ladder can go on, in either direction. That does not astound me.

mattyp 12:59 PM  

Disliked this one a lot. I can't believe I finished, considering the number of proper nouns I had to guess on. Maybe its because I'm young(ish), or just not cultured enough, but I've never heard of O'Conner, Erich Segal, Steiger, Katey Sagal, I've never heard of or seen scarp, arsis, geste, etc. So a lot of obscure fill with little to no payoff for me. Agree with Rex though; the most groan-inducing thing in the whole puzzle was the cluing of "elms."

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave one of the most ethereal ice dance performances of all time (in the history of ice dancing) at the last Olympics. They won a gold medal for it. Here's a link:

Clark 1:12 PM  

@Parshutr -- Would you eliminate all verbs from the English language that derive from names in this way? Or only those that have been around for less than some number of years? What would that number be? 350? 35? 3? Just wondering. ;)

Jet City Gambler 1:21 PM  

The name of the novel by John Godey is "... Pelham One Two Three".

There was also a crappy HBO version in the mid 90's, with Edward James Olmos and Vincent D'Onofrio.

I generally enjoy Tony Scott films, but that most recent version was awful. John Travolta playing the same goateed psychopath he's been playing since "Broken Arrow." Grimacing does not equal acting.

Moonchild 1:29 PM  

Well, I guess that if you actually knew all of these people it would be a fun puzzle. Since I didn't, it wasn't.
Near malapop when I thought Tongs were some sort of Chinese gang and there was Chinese at 12D.

archaeoprof 1:31 PM  

@Parshutr: I'm with you all the way. Use of the word MENTEE requires ignorance of the Greek name from which "Mentor" comes. As Mrs Wentzel used to tell me, "Ignorance of the Greek is no excuse."

But this puzzle got me through the faculty meeting this morning. So it's ok by me.

Sparky 2:14 PM  

OCONNEl/AlSIS for me too. Holes in SW. Missed the ladder though I see it now. Doh! Found it hard with all the names. Ah well, there's always tomorrow.

Matthew G. 2:17 PM  

@archaeoprof & parshutr: I do not agree. On the contrary, resistance to the word MENTEE on the grounds you cite requires obstinant resistance to words formed out of other words, a phenonmenon without which language would grow stale. So what if Mentor originated as a name? Really, so what? If you can turn a proper noun into a non-proper noun, there is no reason why you cannot let that non-proper noun evolve into other non-proper nouns.

The evolution of language is nifty, not nasty. Now, if you think "mentee" just plain makes an ugly word, that's a defensible position and that's the right turf on which to fight battles over which words should be admitted to the language. But saying that it cannot be a word because the word from which it was formed was a different part of speech is nonsense. Sure, the "-or" in "mentor" didn't start out as a suffix, but it works nicely in English when used that way, so three cheers for convenience. We write in English, not Greek. The rule you are advocating here makes as much sense as the "don't split infinitives" rule advocated by those who insist on importing Latin grammar into English. I blame The Elements of Style, the book that ate America's brain.

If you want to ban "mentee," ban everything on this list:

Three and out.

Noam D. Elkies 2:29 PM  

Great open grid, ugly fill. Names, names, names, and more names. Enough already. If that's what it takes to construct a 30-block Thursday puzzle, splurge on the black ink and put some more real words in the puzzle.


P.S. 1) Perhaps 9D:RENAMING was intended as a bonus theme answer or theme revealer?

2) I remembered 28A:ARSIS as the reason that "arses" is in the G-rated Scrabble dictionary even though "arse" is not: "arses" is also the plural of "arsis".

Look Up Guy 2:29 PM  

The use of "mentor" as an eponym (a noun formed from a name) to mean an experienced person who acts as a guide and advisor to another, usually younger, dates back to the mid-18th century. Its use as a verb meaning "to watch over and instruct" ("Please mentor Larry on the proper use of the Xerox machine") is much more recent, dating only to the mid-1970s. "Mentee" as a noun meaning "one who is guided by a mentor" actually predates "mentor" as a verb, appearing around 1965.
(The Word Detective website)

[Continuing a tradition of FWIW search results, without further interpretation]

claude 2:31 PM  

You blame The Elements of Style because you think S&W say that or because you think other people erroneously think S&W say that?

Rube 3:23 PM  

@LookUpGuy, thx for the reference to the Word Detective Website. It's good, if not necessary rigorous.

sanfranman59 3:38 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)

Thu 18:37, 19:06, 0.97, 54%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 9:51, 9:12, 1.07, 71%, Medium-Challenging

archaeoprof 4:02 PM  

@MatthewG and @LookUpGuy: of course. This issue has already been argued many times here. God bless language, and long may it wave.

Doc John 5:24 PM  

Rex, I was wondering if it's time that you started giving puzzles a rating, maybe out of 5-stars or something.

As for Katey Sagal, let's not also forget that she was one of Bette Midler's original Harlettes!

mac 5:28 PM  

@Doc John: Harlettes? Did you spell that right? Not Harlottes?

Sfingi 5:29 PM  

Much Googling (10 - my all time high); many words I didn't know.

Liked the theme, though. Has anyone asked - Is this a Jewish ladder?

@Jim - ERICH SEGAL wrote a book called Love Story which was made into a movie. Hubster, I and a friend kept telling the friend's wife that it was pukey and unrealistic, but she loved it. Then she died of childbirth leaving twins.

Love MAIGRET - I've read 40 and would read more Simenon if someone would translate them. Europeans try to create the new Maigret every decade. Camilleri is the latest with Montalbano. The type is psychological with much description of food and neighborhoods.

@Cark - Hubster said there were more than one.

@Archeoprof - Was Mrs. Wentzel your teacher? I love her.

@Elkies - made me laugh, truly.

Pelham - IRT #6.


New Haven - Yale, Eli, Elmo (at least St. Elmo's Hall, Delta Phi, Omicron) Oh - ELMS,

davko 6:36 PM  

My first experience with a word ladder. Pretty cool.

Didn't mind so many names when the clues were deftly tipped off, as with the Astaire quote, or readily inferred, Wheel of Fortune style. In either case, the mildly satisfying "aha" moments made up for their overabundance.

Where I tripped up was in the NW, thanks in part to the obscure ARSIS (28A) crossing with such an odd spelt name (O'CONNER), that I convinced myself it had to be O'Connel (having never heard of the book). MENTEES was lame, but easily gettable by way of logical inversion of MENTORS.

Squeek the Anonymouse 7:31 PM  

Mentees sucks like tutees.
I don't feel bad about not knowing the ice dancing champ. What's next?
Synchronized swimming?
The clue for *It's war* led me to think the answer would be equally hillbilly. Why use *Them's* if not?
That's like writing a clue in Spanish when the answer is in English.

Doc John 7:41 PM  

It is Harlettes, or more properly, the Staggering Harlettes.

Sfingi 8:26 PM  

@Squeak - Irish names can be spelt as you will.

michael 8:29 PM  

I didn't find this particularly hard. But:

mentee, reedit arsis katey saga renaming grippers sirrah ros, the clue for Chinese [why the 'something']

and also lira, tee, ento aria ene

Any one of these is ok, but the collection isn't so great.. And I knew O'Conner and the Benjamin Franklin -- chess clue -- both of which iare understandably obscure to lots of people

hands up for elis as a first guess

the theme was clever, if a bit nebulous and I appreciate all the white space, but I'm not sure it was worth it.

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

"Make a long story even shorter" and "reason to keep moving" were fun enough to make the boring parts worth it. But I won't hold my breath for a reencounter with Cumming, Asquith or Sagal. O'Conner I'll remember.

Rex Parker 10:20 PM  

Cumming and Sagal are prominent, well-known actors, and Asquith is definitely a xword repeater (though a rare repeater, thank god). You will not see OCONNER again for a while. Probably.

sanfranman59 10:38 PM  

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

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

Mon 6:29, 6:54, 0.94, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:59, 8:57, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Wed 11:38, 11:46, 0.99, 55%, Medium
Thu 18:51, 19:06, 0.99, 57%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 4:36, 4:35, 1.00, 58%, Medium
Wed 5:49, 5:48, 1.00, 56%, Medium
Thu 8:58, 9:12, 0.98, 59%, Medium

Medium week continues ...

fergus 10:39 PM  

So late yet I must state
that this was the crappiest
Thursday ever. Period.

mmorgan 10:44 PM  

@fergus -- 6-6-7 is okay but can you make that a haiku?

fergus 11:24 PM  

Glad you're looking on
whosoever is counting
bereft syllables


Pleased that you noticed ...

Tita 10:56 AM  

I liked the theme, disliked so many proper names...

Another bleed - ROGER Rabbit (Sunday, I think), to MERRIE melodies today...
@Quilter1 - "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was on tv recently - hubbie and I realized that only baby boomers can ROTFL at this film - those gags, both the slapstick and the subtle, are just not part of cartoon culture these days!! Woe is Us!

As to the Astaire quote - I did like that one - I had no idea who said it, but was a fun and easy inference.

And @Rex - ELMs City is far less obscure than those ubiquitous state quotes. I am much more likely to know state nicknames, birds, flowers, etc. then to know a quote. Though living in the Nutmeg State might have given me a small advantage.

Anonymous 6:32 PM  

@fergus -- are you talking about the day or the puzzle?

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

I see there are some who take issue with Rex's dislike for the JETER clue (I agree with Rex) because Gehrig is supposed to provoke only images of the Yankees. I think the real problem is "all-time hits record." That is not qualified and Pete Rose holds that one. Since Rose does not fit then the next obvious answer would the record for Gehrig's team. The clue is fundamentally flawed and as for Jeter breaking Gehrig's club record, is doesn't get any more provincial....

Dirigonzo 5:01 PM  

I'm too chagrined to comment. I just came here to ask what the heck is @anony 6:39 talking about?

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Hated this Thursday puzzle. As others have said, too many formal names. Hated "Mac" and "Ace" in particular.

I'm surprised that no one else pointed out the error in the puzzle. 22A clue "reason to keep moving" is the definition of momentum not inertia. Inertia is the exact opposite, ie - the reluctance to move. A definition from, "inactiveness: a disposition to remain inactive or inert; "he had to overcome his inertia and get back to work"

Not a good Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Inertia is actually the reluctance to change. If you're still, it's a reluctance to move, but if you're moving, it's a reluctance to stop.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Sorry Anon 10:31, inertia is not the reluctance to stop. This is a very common misconception.

From the Wikpedia entry on momentum. "The law of conservation of linear momentum is a fundamental law of nature..... One of the consequences of this is that the center of mass of any system of objects will always continue with the same velocity unless acted on by a force from outside the system." Which means "reason to keep moving".

Zardoz 10:09 PM  

Initially sided with Parshutr & archaeoprof. Hate what's happening to the language,
e.g.: turning nouns into verbs "... task him to do ..." & "... repurpose the discards."
Even the spellchecker balks at the latter.
Also, turning intransitive verbs to transitive "the mob vanished him."

However, after viewing Matthew G's Wiki list, it's obvious. It's been happening for a long time.
His argument wins, game & match.
(BTW, the word is "obstinate", not "obstinant". You see the danger?)

Still, no reason to adopt such ugly words as "mentee" or "tutee". Gee, red wavy lines again. There's still hope. We don't want another Ebonics.

@Anonymous 12:20 PM
Love your reference to an aquatic mammal. Yes, "protégé". It has class, and sounds a damn sight better.

Ironically, O'Conner's books were about usage.

captcha: sphygotr (sounds painful) ;-)

The Time Traveler.

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