Saturn's wife / THU 8-7-14 / Singer with the 1971 hit "Mercy Mercy Me" / Dorothy of old "Road" films / Jackson with 13 #1 country albums / Sch. of 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston / Wordsmith who wrote "Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague"

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium




THEME: Quips About Puns About Jokes About Anagrams About Me Which Is Funny Hahahahaha — Quip puzzle where the joke is broken into give symmetric pieces and spells out IS IT / JUST ME OR / ARE THERE OTHER / ANAGRAMS OF 'EM? (i.e. there are no anagrams of "'em" except for "me")

Word of the Day: JOACHIM (21D: ___ Löw, coach of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning team)


Joachim "Jogi" Löw, born 3 February 1960, is the current manager of the German national football team and a former football midfielder. In 2014, he led the German team to victory at the World Cup in Brazil.
Germany started their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign with a 4–0 victory over Portugal. In the second game against Ghana, Germany came from behind to draw the match 2–2. In the third game, Germany beat the USA, led by former German coach Jürgen Klinsmann, 1–0, with the lone goal scored by Thomas Müller. In the second round match against Algeria, Löw's tactics were called into question after playing a high defensive line allowing Algeria to break through on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, Germany won 2–1 after extra time, thereby setting up a quarter-final clash with France. Germany edged France 1–0.
In a remarkable World Cup semi-final match Germany defeated Brazil 7–1 to reach the tournament's final. The result was Brazil's worst defeat in FIFA World Cup history. Löw led Germany to their fourth World Cup title win with a 1–0 victory in extra time against Argentina in the final. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Howdy, folks. Evan again, back for Round II of my double-header. A reminder that Lollapuzzoola 7 -- only the most fun crossword tournament on a Saturday in August -- is right around the corner. If you're still on the fence about going, get off said fence and go. And say hi to me while you're there. Oh, and I know I plugged some indie meta puzzles yesterday, but there's another one just out: Francis Heaney's contest puzzle for the American Values Club Crossword (the deadline is this Sunday). I haven't gotten to it yet, but Francis has made some stunningly brilliant metas for them before, so I very much look forward to solving it.

So, we've got ourselves a quip puzzle, which is a rare species of crossword at the Gray Lady nowadays. For my own taste, I don't so much care for quote themes since it requires cross-referencing multiple answers and doesn't usually involve enough wordplay. Its value hinges primarily on how funny you think the resulting punchline is, and you only get the one punchline when you've pieced it all together, rather than multiple bits of cleverness in four or five theme answers. So if it's a really funny or unexpected joke, the theme looks pretty good. If it's a lame joke, then the theme is pretty bland. I found this quip only sorta amusing, and I think it really only works in print. I can't really imagine it getting a great laugh if you said it aloud since I think most people would assume you were saying "them" rather than "'em," and you'd have to spend time explaining it all.


So the theme wasn't really for me. Having said that, there are only 37 letters occupying theme squares, which means the grid can breathe a little bit with some good fill answers like NO COMMENT, DUST MITE, MAN UP, USERNAME, RUNS A TAB, and KATE SPADE (with a clever though fairly recently used clue, 56A: Bag lady?). There isn't much in the way of crap fill, which is good, though MUNIS (24A: City bonds, informally) isn't my favorite answer and I keep looking askance at DITSY (17A: Like a dingbat) as though it should be spelled DITZY. Overall, the fill is solid.


I will, however, take issue with some non-thematic stuff. First, HE’S GOT IT (38D: Approving remark after "By Jove") seems like a long, arbitrary partial answer. It wasn't hard to get since I know it from the complete phrase "By Jove/George I (think) he's got it," and if BY JOVE or BY GEORGE were singular answers, I'd have no problem with it since they're exclamations that stand on their own. But HE'S GOT IT by itself is missing the crucial piece to the phrase. It would be like if BY ITS COVER were an answer, clued as [How you should not judge a book]. It's part of a common phrase we all know, but the answer itself is incomplete.

Second....the JOACHIM/OPS/CROSS stepladder. JOACHIM isn't exactly the most common name and may be completely unrecognizable for those who didn't follow the World Cup. I'll even say that I like JOACHIM as an answer -- he makes a very timely appearance in the grid and he's an unusual though lively entry (and how long until his nickname JOGI becomes a regular answer?). I was fortunate enough to dredge his name up from memory of the World Cup broadcasts, but if you didn't watch it, you're not going to get much help from the crossing clue on OPS (23A: Saturn's wife), so you may be tempted to write in JEACHIM OR JUACHIM (by the way, OPS is the Roman equivalent of the Greek RHEA). Even OPS as clued crossing CROSS as clued (7D: Pen name) is just cruel (it's a brand of pen, in case it's not clear). I wouldn't mind those tough clues in a late-week puzzle by themselves, but if you're not up on your World Cup coaches, or your Roman deities without planetary names, or your brand of writing instruments -- and I'll go out on a limb and say that these particular proper nouns are not going to be familiar to many, many solvers -- then that combo is going to be an absolute killer. Easy fix: just clue OPS like [Black ___] or [Photo ___] or something like that. Problem solved. And it's not like an easy clue would be unusual for a Thursday puzzle -- see 25D: Composer Stravinsky (IGOR) and 28D: Kit ___ bar (KAT).

Last, I’m giving IT IS I a few demerits for the fact that it’s a little too close to the first piece of the theme IS IT (and that there’s another stray “it” in HE’S GOT IT). I don’t mind the occasional repeat of small, common words like “is” or “it” when they’re part of the general fill (for instance, "up" repeats with MAN UP and EYES UP (46D: Looks at covetously)), but the repeats stand out a little more here because a) in one instance they're part of the theme and in another instance they're not; and b) two non-thematic repeats of the same word in one puzzle is a lot.

Bullets:
  • 1A: Extends credit (LENDS) I got off on the wrong foot with LOANS. Same problem with putting in LSAT where I wanted MCAT (6A: Exam for a future G.P.), though that mistake was more about carelessness in reading the clue; I think I saw G.P. only out of the corner of my eye and assumed it was D.A., or something. Who knows.
  • 22A: Temple of ___ (DOOM) — This is odd. It feels like there should be a more explicit reference to Indiana Jones in the clue, yet they made it look like it’s a standalone phrase. Is “Temple of Doom” a common phrase outside of the movie? If so, I haven’t heard of it.
  • 41A: Italian Riviera resort (SAN REMO) — I got this one confused with SALERNO before RUNS A TAB jumped out at me.
  • 48A: Still liquidy (UNSET) The puzzle: U_SET. Me: "How can that be any word except UPSET?" Brain: "It's not UPSET. Stop trying to force an answer where it doesn't work." Me: "Shut up, Brain, or I'll stab you with a Q-tip!"
  • 49A: Lead-in to a 2000s “-gate” (CIA) — The Valerie Plame affair, yes? Yes. I first considered SPY(gate), a.k.a. the scandal surrounding the 2007 New England Patriots when the NFL discovered they were videotaping other teams’ defensive signals during games … which, coincidentally, seems fitting with the correct answer.
  • 54D: Oversize sunglasses, these days (RAGE) — If you say so. The only oversize glasses I ever got a real kick out of was Will Ferrell as Harry Caray.
  • 56D: Company with a bucket list? (KFC) — Nice clue.
  • 58A: Formal response at the door (IT IS I) — Sorry, one more thing about this....yes, it’s grammatically formal, but the thing is, nobody would really say this at the door unless they were being faux-pretentious. 
Alright, best of luck to all at Lollapuzzoola. The floor is yours.

Signed, IT IS I, Evan Birnholz, Judge/Jury/Executioner of Devil Cross
(Tweet to me if you're one of them tweeters.)

85 comments:

Rex Parker 2:22 AM  

I don't think USERNAME and RUNSATAB are good fill. Otherwise, I mostly agree w/ this. Thanks, Evan.

RP

jae 2:23 AM  

Mostly easy except for SE.  Had ecoli before VIRUS and for before OF even though it looked very wrong.  My only other problem was the soccer coach as I ignored the World Cup (@Evan) this year (yeah, I know, sacrilege) and had no idea that Saturn was even married.  Fortunately, I guessed right.  ANNIKA in that area might also be tough.

I also tried to fit TAwdrier where TACKIER ended up.  And speaking of UP what's UP with UP UP? (not to mention IT IT IT).

This was OK but not as much fun as some recent Thursdays.   @Evan sorta amusing is well put.

@chefwen - be safe, although it looks like the brunt of it might miss Kauai.

John Child 2:40 AM  

What @Evan said. This would have been more fun if the quip hadn't been a squib.

JTHUrst 2:44 AM  

I love any Thursday puzzle that is not a rebus. I am still mad at myself for not immediately getting Marvin Gaye for Mercy, Mercy Me.

Tried to force Moscow, Kremlin, etc. in the site for Onion Domes. After the Saint Basil's there are a thousand onion dome sites: Blue Mosque, Temple Mount, Mecca, etc. I think the plural onion domes threw me off. Agra's is majestic.

Moly Shu 3:25 AM  

Agree with @Evan, although I did chuckle when I finished the quote. No problem with the JOACHIM/OPS/CROSS area, my dad basically collects CROSS pens, so that was a gimmie, and JOACHIM just looked right. My problem is with EYESUP, I think I would say ITISI (which I would never say), before I would say I EYEd something UP. I caught you staring at that girl on the corner, you were really eyeing her up. Uh no

Thx @Evan, enjoyed your commentary and perspective.

chefwen 3:57 AM  

Easier than yesterday's BEQ puzzle, just can't get on the same page with him.

Loved this one. Jon filled out the majority, I was impressed. It's only a matter of days that he will surpass me. Dang!

@jae - We will batten down the hatches tomorrow and hope for the best. Thanks for your concern, I'll keep you posted, If I can. I'm hopeful that they will both bypass us.

Danp 5:32 AM  

I've never heard anyone refer to Plame-gate as CIA-gate. Google seems to be telling me that the latter is only used by the Italian press.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

Enjoyed, but personal WOE on _FC/_ATESPADE. Just couldn't think of KFC and I had no idea what a KATESPADE is.

George Barany 7:50 AM  

One of the clues/answer words in this puzzle reminded me of a story a close friend of mine told me many years ago. One of his college roommates was Buddy Hackett's daughter, and the father would call at odd hours with an assortment of one-lines. On a certain occasion, he called to ask, "Did you hear that Colonel Sanders just kicked the bucket?"

evil doug 8:05 AM  

Where do I go to get my Thursday back?

Evil

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Eyes up? CIA-gate? Joachim who? And a flat payoff? This puzzle was hard without being fun.

crossvine 8:14 AM  

Always groan when I see that the puzzle theme is a quote. Slogged through this and then only got a small smile at the end.

Would rather have had a rebus!

My biggest problem was that I had Salerno for SAN REMO for far too long. Like @Evan

Started out with Maytag before EDISON. Ugh! Isn't Westinghouse an appliance brand too?

And like @Evan, thought the idea that oversized sunglasses are the rage a bit random.

I got Joachim since I did watch the World Cup closely. After I finished I googled him to find out a bit more, since I thought he always looked striking on the sidelines in his dark shirt and pants. I found a whole article about why he was the hottest world cup coach. I can't imagine he had much competition, but I also can't imagine someone writing a whole story about that!!

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Also, the quote from My Fair Lady is "She's got it" and not "He's got it."

Susan McConnell 8:18 AM  

This was a yawner, and the quip was a dud.

Leapfinger 8:21 AM  

VIR US, mulier 'EM.

Me too for tawdrier, @jae, but I'll bet even money nobody else tried ENTAMEBA histolytica.

AGRAvating.

Glimmerglass 8:22 AM  

The quip is lame. Otherwise, an okay Thursday puzzle. Some clever clues.

Doctor Factorial 8:30 AM  

It's pretty clear that the author of this quote wasn't a mathematician, or he wouldn't have considered posing the question.

joho 8:44 AM  

I've never heard the quote before so got a kick out of filling in the final EM.

I liked the clue for KISSER.

EYESUP is new to me.

TAXI yesterday and CABS today.

@Evan, another thoughtful write up, thanks and especially thanks for the bonus BEQ yesterday, what a puzzle!

Thanks to you, too, Joe!

jberg 8:46 AM  

I spent so much time trying to decide whether that onion dome was in Kiev or Kyiv that when both were finally ruled out by I MEAN, I didn't notice that those sunglasses must be the RAGE, rather than RArE. (I don't have much fashion sense, although I do credit myself for being the first to declare that cargo pants with zip-off legs were the jeans of the 21st Century). Aside from that, moderately challenging.

Have to rush off, more time tomorrow...

Nancy 8:51 AM  

Glad to know there are others who hate quote puzzles, too. Hate, hate, hate. Please, more Thursday rebuses. That said, I chuckled over the quip (loved the twisted use of the modern psychobabble phrase: "Is it just me...") once I had slogged through the solving of the thing.

NCA President 8:59 AM  

EYESUP. Maybe "sizes up?" Leers at, lusts after, I don't know...anything but eyes up.

I did get messed up with the JOACHIM/CROSS/OPS melange. Had to google Joachim...did not know Ops, but remembered Cross from days when I used to care about buying pens (a very short month of my life).

Had GorE instead of GAYE for a while. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

I'm not a big fan of the "quip" puzzle either...at the very least the quip should include a reference to someone who said it to at least give it some kind of context. This quip just looks made up.

All in all, a little on the tougher-than-usual side for a Thursday for me.

I wonder what it would be like if WS abandoned the organizational structure of the NYT "difficulty levels" and just tried to balance out the difficulty levels over the course of a week. While I appreciate the organization, I think it also detracts from the experience. For instance, when I come to a Thursday puzzle, I expect a certain kind of puzzle...when I don't get that puzzle, I'm disappointed. wonder how this puzzle would have played out without the added pressure of it being a "Thursday" puzzle.

mathguy 9:18 AM  

I loved the quip! Taking a common phrase literally and turning it into a bit of nonsense. Does anyone know whose line it is?

From My Fair Lady I remember "I think SHE'S got it!" But the substitution didn't throw me off.

Fresh fill, sufficient crunch, terrific puzzle.

Arlene 9:18 AM  

I took a new approach to solving this puzzle this morning. I saw the Sorenstam clue and really wasn't in the mood to slog it out - so I Googled the name, which I never usually do until I'm totally stuck solving.

And with that one name inserted, everything flowed with just the right amount of challenge.

Moral of this tale - it's sometimes okay to break the rules - or even make your own.

Loren Muse Smith 9:22 AM  

My internet is in and out this morning, but I have to jump in here while it's working and tell everyone to look at today's LAT –

Our own @joho is the constructor! Solve it and then read what @Gareth says about it on Crossword Fiend! Congrats, @joho!!!! Great job!

AliasZ 9:25 AM  


What is wrong with the quip is that it is grammatically incorrect. The correct phrase is: IS IT JUST I? -- just like the formal response at the door. It is not that it is formal, it is correct. IT IS ME is incorrect. IT IS I ringing the door bell. IT IS ME whom Brutus stabbed. IT IS I who was stabbed by Brutus. Get it right, folks.

William SAFIRE is turning in his grave.

I know, I know, language is an evolving thing, common usage and all that shift, and there may come a time when "elephant" will be the correct word for the tiny rodent, and "mouse" for the largest land mammal. But until then...

That out of the way, this is an excellent puzzle with just the right amount of crunch and snap surrounded by the right amount of mushy gunk. FSU CROSSing FLU, KAT o' nine tails, GPAS, ETAS and DITSY[sic] surround DUST MITE, JOACHIM, TROIKA, beautiful Dorothy LAMOUR, beautiful SAN REMO and STORAGE wars with IGOR Stravinsky thrown into the mix. [If you shy away from 20th-century classical music, MAN UP and give it a try. The IGOR link is worth the 10 minutes to make you warm to it.] I don't know which is TACKIER, MUNIS, shoemaker THOM MCAT or KATE SPADE. Do I like EYES UP? NO COMMENT.

DUST MITE reminded me of the TV program "Urban Jungle" on NatGeo Wild that scared the bejesus out of me. It said that about a 10th of the weight of the average pillow is bug. DUST MITEs thrive on flakes of dead skin and consume copious amounts of the nasty stuff. I tell you, it definitely warned me never to take a powerful magnifying glass and investigate what is hiding in the piles of my carpets, or God forbid, in my pillow and mattress.

On that happy note, here is my hero, JOACHIM Löw doing what he does best. His name should be JOACHIM Ewww!

Z 9:30 AM  

I would say "what Evan said" except I think he was too charitable.

I don't know why KATE'S PADE works, so if someone could please enlighten me (without reference to the OED, since we know that they lie (or is it lay?)) I would appreciate it.

I watched a considerable amount of the World Cup, but all I remembered about the German coach was thinking he needs a new barber. Fortunately, I got enough letters and know JOACHIM Noah (who's father played through an AD OUT situation or two) to over come the WTF OPS.

Complaints - IS IT and IT IS I. The aforementioned OPS. TROIKAS (looks like something out of the The Joy of Sex to me). The Double initial stack in the SW - FSU over KFC. The clue for SEEP. EYES UP (who? when? where? - I can imagine an ophthalmologist saying this but as clued...?). GPA'S on a resumé?

In summary - LA DI DA.

One good thing about the puzzle, calling to mind this reimagining of THOM Yorke and Radiohead's hit Creep. Post Modern Jukebox indeed.

dk 9:36 AM  

OO (2 mOOns)

One would think that a puzzle all about ME would be stellar. What does it say about ME when it is not?

Rather than ponder this I say LADIDA and call for my TROIKA… I need to get to the print shop to ensure the EM size for the typeface is correct for my broadsheet. Todays topic: ME

Oh the puzzle - Fun but just a little off for all the reasons noted above. My solve was smooth in the corners and bumpy in the middle as I had tawdrier instead of the correct fill.

dk 9:37 AM  

tawdier

Mohair Sam 9:44 AM  

I guess I'm the only hand up for KATESPADE being as tough to fill as JOACHIM. World Cup fanatic here who has forgotten the name of every coach - and my fashion names end at Dior and YSL.

Very much in agreement with @Evan except I thought the quote was kinda cute. Actually had a mini-gimme off the first A in RUNSATAB when I boldly filled ANAGRAMS/OFEM - probably why I liked the quote.

Big sunglasses are back, who knew? I guess they're on a 40 year cycle. The G in RAGE/AGRA the last letter filled as we battled through the apparently ubiquitous Ms. SPADE.

TROIKAS had to fill for us; and loved the SAFIRE quote - it's up there with "eschew obfuscation" in my book.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:47 AM  

For me, North half easy, South half more difficult. Mild amusement at joke diminished by that difficulty.

No Thursday lacking a rebus can get top marks from me.

BTW, Evan consistently refers to the anagram of ME as 'EM, short for THEM. I saw it as EM, the name of the letter M, or as a partial occurring in EM-DASH, or possibly as Dorothy's Auntie EM. Now if I could only figure out what difference it makes . . .

RooMonster 10:02 AM  

Hey All!
Commenting on my computer today instead of my phone, don't want to lost it! (The comment, that is, not the phone) (Although I don't want to lose my phone...) Anyway, thought this puz was okay, I actually worked through it swiftly (for me) for a Thu. Not really any dreck, not like yesterdays. NONU, UTNE??? Ugh, don't get me going...(42 Black squares come to mind...)

Some writeovers, Atom for ACCT (___no.) unI for TRI (Pre. for lateral) hello for ITIS (thinking response for the insider!) RArE for RAGE (Ithought that RAGE was over, hence)

I SEEN no FLAW with the NOTION of this puz, IMEAN is was good. I INSPIRE to MANUP and take STEPS to smack ANNIKA in the KISSER. LADIDA.

USERNAME
RooMonster
Darrinv

Z 10:07 AM  

@Alias Z - "I am ringing..." "I was stabbed by..." "I am at the door" solves the whole subject/object/'what case is what' confusion. I'm of the opinion that IT IS I is never correct usage and should be avoided at all costs. If, however, you want to see nit-picking that makes the Commentariat here look like mere poseurs, this discussion on the issue will do the trick. I agree with the "imposing Latin grammar rules is artifice" line of argument, but who am I to say?

Hey - a poor penmanship word and a picture of a word for a captcha. I bet photosphere won't work this time.

Steve J 10:20 AM  

I'm still waiting for the first quote/quip puzzle I enjoy. This definitely wasn't it. As usual, no payoff (especially since I read EM as the shortened 'em/them).

NO COMMENT and RUNS A TAB were nice bits of fill, KATE SPADE got a nice clue, but otherwise: meh.

@Mohair Sam and Anon 8:15 a.m.: The puzzle makes no mention of My Fair Lady. Since the phrase is used elsewhere as well, nothing requires that the answer be she instead of he.

Loren Muse Smith 10:21 AM  

This one was pretty hard for me, but the whole time I was trying to piece it together, I was glad the quip wasn't jumping out at me. At all. I savored the slow, letter-by-letter unveiling of the theme in the same way I love solving an acrostic – saying out loud over and over again the parts that I have and trying to figure out what's missing.

The part that slowed me down the most was putting in "you" for HE'S. I always thought it was, "By Jove, I think you've got it!"

Agreed – some really tough clues – "spark" is a not a noun but a verb, "sloth" is not an animal but an abstract noun, (really? Not "slothery?" "slothness?" "slothationism?"), "trap" is a not a ghastly thing with an opening sporting spike-like teeth but rather part of a face ( although actually I had this uncle…)

And I was certain that figure on a Utah plate was a "hive."

I wanted "lays away" for RUNS A TAB, "ante" for FLAW, "eats up" for EYES UP, and a mysterious "croix" for CROSS. Sheesh. Oh, and Evan – I wanted a Z there, too, in DITSY, so my 4D was going to be "fuzz ball.

@AliasZ - I think I thank my lucky stars that no one would really ever say IT IS I anymore. I'm with @Z, and I'll go one further. . .I'll call anyone out here if you insist you really would say IT IS I after knocking at a door. You'd have to dig yourself out of a hole with me if you lead with that beaut; my taedium vitaedar would be on full alert.

We're witnessing the blurring of the grammatical subjective/objective lines with expressions like this. "It's me" is oh-so-natural whereas "just between you and I" is showing up more and more, sounding more and more natural.

But here's the whopper question for me – would the "correct" first part of the quip be IS IT JUST I? How weird does *that* sound?

Perfect Thursday level difficulty for me. And I'm with @mathguy - I really liked the quip. It's a beautiful example of a phrase whose first part has the listener thinking in one direction but whose second part delivers a surprise change-up.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."

"Time flies like the wind. Fruit flies like bananas."

Hmmm. I think there's some weird name for such a phrase. Hey, Joe – can we be friends?

Carola 10:24 AM  

Thank goodness JOACHIM was there, or otherwise I wouldn't have known anyone at the party (THOM, ALAN, ANNIKA...) - actually, I "know" KATE SPADE, but she wouldn't have talked to me, given my TACKIER LeSportsac bag.

Anyway - Liked the puzzle, as I like quotes, quips, and anagrams. Found it on the tough side - much erasing (LoanS, Atom, Envies, LAMaaR, fads for RAGE) and skipping around. Lots of work, but I found the payoff worth it.

FLU VIRUS - only August but we already have to think about it?

LAMOUR x MUNIS made me wonder if Dorothy and Paul were ever in a movie together.

@Leapfinger - "VIR US..." Lol!

@Evan - Thanks for the great write-up - and for showing Jogi in his trademark fashionable Euro-scarf.

Steve J 10:26 AM  

@Z: Thanks for the link. I was looking for something to cite that this was a bit of a relic of the imposition of Latin grammar into English (although, you can find similar uses in eras predating that 18th century movement).

The larger point is that grammar is not prescriptive: It describes the usage that is necessary to accurately convey meaning within a language, and what sounds natural to native speakers. On top of that, each language has multiple grammars - primarily written and spoken - and styles.

The simple fact is, IT IS I does not sound natural to native English speakers of this era in anything but the most formal of settings - in which case you'd probably reconstruct your sentence to avoid the whole thing.

Carola 10:52 AM  

@Steve J and @Z - On "IT IS I" - you guys are probably not old enough to remember singing along with Skip and Flip on "It was I" (1959): "....Who was home alone to sit and cry? It was I, it was I - I - I."

@loren - Thanks for the tip on joho's puzzle!

Z 10:59 AM  

@LMS - thanks for pointing out @joho's puzzle.

@joho - nicely done, although I'm hungry now.

@Steve J - Modern English is the perfect American language - a little from the Angles and Saxons, a little from the Gauls, a little from Rome, with just a soupçon of a middle finger to all of them. A real oner among languages.

Z 11:03 AM  

@LMS - come on. say it. PARAPROSDOKIAN!

Zeke 11:04 AM  

The other day I was listening to a conversation focussed mainly on everyone's right to have their opinion, to do as they wish. At some point I just screamed.

If by right you mean we won't shoot you or lock you up for having these opinions, fine, that's true. If by that you mean that there is no judgement about opinions, it's just bullshit. You don't have a "right" to have an ill-formed or ignorant position. You don't have a "right" to have an opinion contrary to all known facts. I won't shoot you if you insist that the world is 6328 years old, but please don't ask me to respect your "opinion" on that matter.

So, please stop telling me that word meanings are not prescriptive, that grammar is descriptive not prescriptive. They're the rules by which we have effective and clear communication. Violate them significantly and you don't have effective and clear communication. If someone responded to "Who's there" with "me is" rather than "I am" you'd think him an idiot. Why then piss all over IT IS I? They follow exactly the same grammatical rules.

According to the Bigle, the third time godgot really mad at humanity and totally screwed with their existance en masse was wrapped around the Tower of Babel. Their sole sin at the time was speaking clearly and effectively with one another. It enabled them to accomplish great feats, and thus they had to be set in their place. So, I guess you descriptivist apologists are right, clear and effective communication is a sin against god. My apologies.

Zeke 11:07 AM  

My point would have seeemed better without the citation of the alternate Good Book, the Bigle. I still don't know if godgot was god got or godot. It probably doesn't matter, hell, words mean what we want them to mean, no?

Fred Romagnolo 11:23 AM  

@Carola: your's was the only comment that clued me as to who (whom?)KATE SPADE is (was?); makes expensive purses, right? I really object to EYES UP, sounds vaguely dirty. Formality at the doorway seems only to occur in crosswords, never at any real doorway. Stonewaller's response held me up because I was trying to tie it in to the gay riot in New York. Hand's up for Auntie EM, forgot about the printer's measure (another crossword stalwart). Didn't know ALAN Jackson, but had heard of Marvin GAYE, didn't his father accidentally kill him? @Leapfinger, I know you read late (West Coast) entries, so I'm fairly confident I might get a reply.

Tupac Chopin 11:26 AM  

@Zeke - Consider this.

Steve J 11:27 AM  

@Zeke: When people say things like grammar is descriptive, not prescriptive, they do not mean it's a free-for-all. What they mean is that dictionaries, grammar books, etc. are written to describe the language as it is used in the time that things are being documented. It's why Samuel Johnson's dictionary contains lots of definitions that are no longer applicable today, and doesn't contain definitions that are accurate today, for the exact same words.

You can say there's a grammatical rule all day long, and if it doesn't reflect how the language gets used, no amount of prescription is going to change that. English speakers have been ending sentences in prepositions for centuries, they kept doing so when some people tried to prescribe differently, and they continue to do so today. Because it's perfectly natural within the actual usage framework (which is a better way to state it than rules) of the language.

As I said earlier, grammar describes the framework necessary to accurately convey meaning within the language, and the commonly accepted conventions (i.e., what sounds correct to proficient speakers).

That's why there's the discussion over IT IS I. It may be "right" by the standards of someone deciding that the nominative case should be used with forms of "to be", rather than the accusative case that is used with nearly all other verbs. But the reality is that people have done it the "incorrect" way for centuries before, and they'll keep doing it for centuries after someone decided to make the prescription.

That's why grammar is descriptive: It's never going to trump the actual framework people use within a given language.

Fred Romagnolo 11:28 AM  

Basically @Zeke is right, if a bit over-vehement.

mac 11:48 AM  

Crunchy Thursday, with a couple of sticking points for me.

Man up again! I got stuck in that area because of Dr. Seuss at 7D.

I know Joachim, Annika and Kate Spade, but I needed crosses for Thom and Alan.

On to Joho's puzzle!

mathguy 11:50 AM  

@Mohair Sam: Eschew obfuscation. Nice. I'll try to remember it.

Loren Muse Smith 12:00 PM  

@Zeke, (@Fred) –

I'm with @Steve J on this one. I could not disagree more with your charge that speakers who adjust their speech to match the ever-evolving language do not communicate clearly and effectively. For me, the epitome of "effective and clear communication" is speech that doesn't call attention to itself.

"It's me" as a response to "Who's there?" is a beautiful example of "effective and clear communication."

"It is I" is an example of affected communication. If I heard someone say this, I would be distracted from the matter at hand. Period.

Like it or not, language is changing all the time. We can't just wake up one day and declare that as of this moment, all meanings and grammar are going to be preserved, etched, as it were, in some prescriptive stone tablet of rules. Just whose list of rules and definitions would we agree to? I bet you couldn't find even two pedants who would agree on everything. If language were not constantly changing, Latin never would have evolved into French, Spanish, Italian, etc, people would still be saying "I shall" instead of "I will," we'd still be throwing around "thou" and "thine," we wouldn't be allowed to use "google" or "twerk," chefs wen and bea would be wearing naprons instead of aprons… I could go on and on.

And I'll really go out on a limb and maintain that the guy whose language is an extreme Cockney dialect is just as communicative with his peers as Queen Elizabeth is with her peers; his speech is "clear and effective communication," unless, of course, he RUNS A TAB too long.

My email is on my profile if you want to preserve this site for the puzzle itself and not periphery topics.

wreck 12:11 PM  

Latin is a "dead" language -- that is why it is used in Medicine; meanings are absolute. All other active languages are evolving and change.

malsdemare 12:12 PM  

It's late to be jumping into this discussion, but here I go with both feet. I'd argue, along with a lot of language philosophers, that we need to make a distinction between spoken and written language. In spoken communication, there is a great deal of other information that contributes to the successful "joint creation of reality." There are non-verbal messages, context, world knowledge, and what we know of the other, to name just some of the additional forms of information that help us understand one another. But the written word travels solo. We often have no idea just what the reader knows about our language and so to be clear, we use agreed upon usage rules. Thus someone who just recently learned English won't be totally flummoxed by some of our totally wierd usages. Oral communication is constructed on the fly, and so we are more tolerant of errors (or should be). While I would never write "It is me," unless I were quoting someone, there are times I would say "it is me" to avoid sounding too pretentious (the professor part of my name conveys enough of that).

Interesting discussion. And I liked the puzzle; I'm childishly thrilled when I get stuff others miss. Today it was the Joachim/Cross cross; I know nothing from soccor but once a couple boxes were filled, "JOACHIM" was a no-brainer.

And I've never heard "Time flies like the wind; fruit flies like bananas." made my morning.

Thanks, all.

Mr. Benson 12:29 PM  

OPS would be easiest for me if clued as "modern baseball stat (abbr.)." Maybe there was a preference for cluing it as a stand-alone word, no matter how obscure the meaning.

Z 12:36 PM  

@malsdemare - Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Faulkner, and Dr. Seuss all wrote in "English." Or maybe you want to have one standard for fiction/art and another for "academic" language? If you do a little digging you can find some great writing on Prince Hal's ability to speak with the troops and the Court. Knowing the distinction between "may" and "can" is important (one of my pet peeves). Knowing when your audience doesn't know the distinction is equally important. Is it better to be "right" or to be understood? Nevertheless, you will find lots of support for your position in my 10:07 link.

Okay, between this fun debate and an extra post for @lms, I am firmly in the rulebreaker column. 3 plus 2 plus 1 and out!

Mohair Sam 12:47 PM  

@steve J 10:20 - ITwasn'tI who complained about HESGOTIT, I was fine with the clue. I complained about KATESPADE. Anyhow, I do believe it was "By George" rather than "By Jove" that was exclaimed when Eliza finally got it right.

All is forgiven, however, no need to post a retraction (this time).

Andrew Heinegg 1:08 PM  

I am with those who are less than fond of quote puzzles. The solution needs to be very clever and/or amusing. Otherwise, you feel like it was not much fun and not worth the Thursday effort. While I admire most of Mr. Dipietro's efforts, this one fell short. But, it was still not an awful effort, just not up to his usual standards. I cannot understand it. I have always done everything perfectly.

Casco Kid 1:11 PM  

Well, that was hellacious. I went against the grain essentially everywhere and ended with a massive DNF. Gave up after 90 minutes and 3 googles. Still needed about 8 cheats to finish.

Rabbit holes were abundant and deep:
[Loew]Juergen for JOACHIM
[Bucket list] ACE hardware for KFC chicken
Fleet BANK for CABS
hasterms for RUNSATAB
bierce for SAFIRE
TACKIER had to make way for TArtIER in order for Juergen to work.

On top of that, I plumb just didn't know FSU, KATESPADE, SANREMO, ANNIKA, of which only ANNIKA was gettable from the crosses.

And I hated the clue for AGRA. Onion tower? OK, from now on I'm calling all Christian crosses "drum sticks" and all Stars of David "triangles." Onion tower? We are plumbing the depths of disrespect.

Also hated the clues for "Umm" IMEAN and "_ _ _ shot" FLU, either of which could be anything really. CIA-gate? There was no CIA-Gate. The Iran-Contra affair was the "CIA-gate" ten years earlier, and even that wasn't called "CIA-gate." So: Not In The Language on that one. EYESUP is also Not In The Language. Both should have been stricken. The "clever expression" was unclued and so unhelpful and ungettable. After googling I got as far as IS IT JUST ME before calling it a day.To which I reiterate, IS IT?

I see from the Medium rating that it probably is. My solving buddy called it an Easy Thursday.

I couldn't see RENEWS and FLAW. Those are on me.

Well, constructor. You win to fight, but you don't win my respect.

@Fred Smith, Regarding yesterday: I live in Maine and grew up in inside-the-Beltway, which is arguably not Maryland, but that's how our mail was addressed.


joho 1:26 PM  

@loren muse smith, "Just between you and I" is starting to sound more natural??? OMG I hope not!

OISK 1:27 PM  

I had trouble with Joachim-Annika, because for some reason I thought it might be Joechim Annike. I dislike product references - never heard of Kate Spade, although I got it. There were other unfamiliar pop references, Never heard of "Mercy Mercy me", but the only four letter name beginning with G I could think of in the world of pop was Gaye, never heard of Alan Jackson, or Thom Yorke; no fun for me. However, unlike many here, I LIKED the quote. Knew Troika, because (IIRC) it is one of the movements in "Lt. Kije"

Lewis 1:28 PM  

How I miss Acme's comments. She would have found 15 things that were incredible about this puzzle and convinced most of us. I did like the clues for KISSER, ASIA, KFC, and CROSS. I liked the life in the answers DUSTMITE, MANUP, and TROIKAS. The quip was cute, the solving experience was good in that there was some crunch, and overcoming it was satisfying.


POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP): Speaking of anagrams, one of the six-letter answers can be anagrammed to mean a type of kick, one usually done from behind. Which answer is it?

If you wish to post, so as not to give it away, just give the second letter of the type of kick, or use rot13.com. I'll post the answer later.

Melodious Funk 1:31 PM  

@LMS. Here's what I remember:

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_flies_like_an_arrow;_fruit_flies_like_a_banana

Zeke 1:37 PM  

@LMS - Yes, language and usage change all the time. However, it's foolish to assume that all change is good, even more foolish to assert so, to not decry it.

Everyone over 40: Look at yourself critically in the mirror and evaluate the changes that have occurred since you turned 40. Are changes good or bad? Try the same thing when you're between 15 and 20. Exlclusive of acne, changes are likely for the better. Are changes good or bad.

Take the great ENORMITY controversy of earlier in the week. I would like to say that I am appalled at the ENORMITY of the Republican Party (or, in a blatant attempt to get Evil Doug on my side, the ENORMITY of the Democratic Party) and be understood that I mean great evil, not just great size.

There's inventive change for the better which occursall the time. There's also change brought about by widespread ignorance and SLOTH, change likely for the worse, and not to decry this a false acceptance.

Masked and Anonym007Us 1:56 PM  

it is m&e. Always love a good anagrams puz.

@zeke and @evil: har. And har. Cherish U two.

ISITJUSTMEORISITI? Always love a good hidden quip puz.

weejects anonymous: OPS. She'd make a great wife for Iggy Pop. Or for Opie. KFC and FSU are also noteworthy, because of their great clue saves.

DITSY. ISIT. DUSTMITE. HESGOTIT. ITISI. NOTION. UIT (near #11). IT (near #37). Always love a good word search puz.

@KAT: Please call Robert Burns -- he wants his TAK back.

What's wrong with USERNAME? I'd put it right Up there with KISSER, NOCOMMENT, and the EYESUP/MANUP twins.

Off now, to get innoculated for the FLAWAGRA VIRUS, havin had direct contact with line 14.

Agent 007-U will return, etc., etc. Man. I just loved this puz, on so many different levels...

Thanx, @Evan.
M&A

p.s.
My prove I-ISN'T-ROBOT is just a picture of a silver punch bowl with a big gouge in it. What to enter?
Think I'll go with porno sphere.

chefbea 1:56 PM  

Busy day..Just got home from our NARFE meeting where I did today's puzzle. Luckily the meeting was pretty boring nd I was able to do the puzzle

@Chefwen - be safe!!

Steve J 2:52 PM  

@Mohair Sam: Sorry about that. I meant @mathguy.

@Zeke: There's more than a little of what's now considered standard, correct usage today that was considered sloppy and substandard in past generations. Just like our parents complained about our music and we turn around and complain about the music of the generations after us, so we do with language. (Not that I disagree that some of the changes are better than others. I just know that no matter how much I dislike something - like the loss of the silent T in "often" ("off-ten" would have been considered incorrect just 1-2 generations ago, but now it's pretty much the norm instead of the formerly preferred "off-en") - it's going to change and it's going to stick.

I'm over my quota for the day. 'Til tomorrow.

LaneB 3:42 PM  

With a bit of Google help (OPS, GAYE, THOM, AGRA) and despite the quip being meaningless, I managed to finish sans errors. Easier than yesterday's fo r which I' happy.

sanfranman59 4:07 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Thu 14:27, 17:28, 0.83, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:20, 10:49, 0.96, 36%, Easy-Medium

Numinous 4:32 PM  

Had to google THOM, KATE SPADE, SAFIRE and ARCH and still DNF because I thought big sunglasses were passe, ergo RArE. And since that was the last letter to go in, I just didn't look at the cross. Oh well. Thought EM was thEM until I came here. IT IS and IS IT stuck out at I but ME didn't worry about it.

I've already shared this with muse but while we're on that subject, here goes.
graffiti seen in an Australian men's room stall: "My mother made me a homosexual." And beneath it: "If I gave her the yarn, would she make me one too?"

I thought this was a fair effort for a Thursday. Folks have said and will say IT IS I after knocking on crossword doors for years. Always a gimme for me. I just shrug and move along.

I was, at the least, entertained for the better part of an hour and then another hour or so here. Thank you, Joe DiPietro and thank you commentariat.

Zeke 5:01 PM  

@Steve J - Of course there is, do you think there's anything in any of what you said that I don't know? I just can't stand the laissez-faire attitude towards anything goes coupled the implied, nay, overt criticism ("pundants who insist that..") of those who care and say something.

I don't know if you have had a tween girl in the last decade or so, but if you did she was under intense peer pressure to wear shorts so small that they don't completely cover her underwear. Shorts that had lovely messages embroidered on the rear saying such things as "Juicy" or "Luscious", or hands appliqued on each cheek. Judging by the tweens I've seen, accompanied by their parents, in convenience stores in my area it was quite the rage. Before you ask, I live (quite inaptly given my net worth) in the fourth wealthiest county in the country.

I've spoken to some of these parents and their response is that this it's the way it is and things have changed since we were kids. While that's true, you don't have to go down without a fight. That they have is inconeviable to me.

So, yes, when people ask me how I feel I reply "I'm good" about as often as I say "I'm well". I do it contextually, but am always torn between feeling a fool when I say "I'm good" and resentful for feeling pompuous when I say "I'm well". I simply wish I could say "I'm well" without repercussions because that's the proper response, and the one that comes naturally.

retired_chemist 5:23 PM  

Easy-medium. Enjoyable. Some good fill. IS IT JUST ME, however incorrect, is in the language, so it bothers me not at all. Thought the EM in "OF EM" was not 'em, contraction for them, but an em dash. Actually doesn't matter which.

1971 singer was first Lesley GorE. Wrong...

Thanks, Mr. DiPietro.


Tita 6:33 PM  

Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute here...
Of COURSE it's "em" the word, not "'em" the contractoin! Who anagrams contractions?
You're welcome.

@numinous, @lms - our stale riposte when one of us says something like "Would you make me a sandwich", is "Poof! You're a sandwich!"
[[groan]]

I am always careful with my scarves while riding top-down to NOT emulate Isadora DUNCAN.

@M&A - no joy for the opener JUJU and how cool it looks in the grid?

@chefwen - here's hoping those storms pass you by.

@Evan - how did you manage to be the sub on a day when you're in the puzzle - I smell a rat. Great job, btw.

Off to the LAT!

Thank you Mr. Quigley, even though I *hate* quip puzzles. I got a kick out of the quip.

Why grammar matters 6:41 PM  

Actual conversation between myself & my sister re dreaded dinner at our mother's.

Sis: Good, you're still home. Could you bring some balsamic vinegar to Mom's?

Me: Sure. You're there already!?

Sis: Hell no, we're not due until 7

Me: Was I supposed to pick you up?

Sis: What!?

chefwen 6:49 PM  

@joho - Loved your LAX puzzle. It was right up my and @chefbea's alley.

@Tita and @chefbea - Thanks for your good wishes. All stocked up and fingers are crossed.

Lewis 7:32 PM  

POST PUZZLE PUZZLE (PPP) solution:


The answer EDISON anagrams to ONSIDE, a football kick that generally happens when a team is behind.

chefbea 8:17 PM  

Can someone send me the LA times puzzle? Would love to do it. Thanx

chefbea 8:19 PM  

PDF version

Charles Flaster 9:59 PM  

Cherry Pie too. Skip and Flip rule.

Charles Flaster 10:06 PM  

Medium. 21 minutes. All proper names were in my bailiwick(except OPS).
Enjoyed the quip very much.Liked IT WAS I and bag lady clue.
Thanks JDP

sanfranman59 10:10 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 6:25, 6:01, 1.07, 79%, Medium-Challenging
Tue 7:07, 8:01, 0.89, 17%, Easy
Wed 14:00, 9:31, 1.47, 99%, Challenging (4th highest ratio of 240 Wednesdays)
Thu 14:27, 17:28, 0.83, 20%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:22, 3:55, 1.11, 87%, Challenging
Tue 4:42, 5:10, 0.91, 14%, Easy
Wed 10:14, 6:08, 1.67, 100%, Challenging (highest ratio of 240 Wednesdays)
Thu 10:05, 10:49, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

+wordphan 4:18 AM  

@Chefwen: BEQ is a very nice person but I cannot get his rhythm at all. Another time, another space. Love QUIPS; loathe rebuses (rebi?).

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

I enjoyed this puzz. It's fresh, clever, has good fill and has its amusement. Had to look up Mr. Yorke's name But when I can do a Thursday in less than 20 mins. I'm a happy sappy old man.

Ron Diego 9/11 !!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

@Plaster 10:06, Apparently you are not a member of the "Whiner Generation" I've been reading about. Good show! So many of the commentators are looking for THE perfect puzzle each and every day.
Hey, I've got no complaints except when the Constructor makes it impossible for the majority. Of course, my IQ is about 49.

Ron Diego 9/11

spacecraft 1:00 PM  

One of many for whom quips are not the ideal theme, I had to work through this till I got most of the letters in the quip segments before they made sense. While not overly arduous, I'd put this one on the challenging side of medium. Pretty much a Thursday--maybe late-evening, so to speak.

Synchronicity: watching "The Price is Right" while solving, they put up a collection of KATESPADE bags as a prize! Thanks, Drew and crew.

1374=6, not the best. Like today's offering. But still good.

rain forest 2:38 PM  

Personally, I think RUNSATAB and USERNAME are good fill.

It is I who likes correct grammar, or is it just me?

I liked this puzzle.

2191 I don't like my hand.

Solving in Seattle 3:06 PM  

Careful parsing HESGOTIT. It could INSPIRE a MANUP.
New pandemic: the AGRA VIRUS.

There've better Thursdays.

4035 - RATS.

Dirigonzo 3:51 PM  

I had the future G.P. taking a MsAT and I didn't know Saturn's wife, so CROSS never appeared in my grid. Other than that, I liked it - I managed to figure out the quip and I enjoyed seeing things like LADIDA and UNSET materialize, and it's always a pleasure to see Dorothy LAMOUR in the puzzle.

735 ties me for the lead with @spacy, I think.

DMG 3:59 PM  

This one couldn't have been too hard, or I would never been able to fill in names I've never encountered before: a coach, a golfer, a country album guy, someone with a decades ago hit. The only name I vaguely recognized as it appeared was KATESPADE, but with no idea why the clue fit. Thanks @Spacecraft for that answer. And thanks to all the others who explained OFEM. Was sure I was wrong there! Duh!

On the other hand, 2655 isn't a bad way to star the day!

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