Japanese sword sport / WED 8-19-15 / Oregon city named for furrier / Egg-laying animals / Indira Gandhi's ill-fated son / Vaulter's hurdle / Instrument similar to cor anglais

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium but with two hard bits (for me)

THEME: WATER / FALLS (5A: With 68-Across, what the groups of circled letters are famous examples of) — circled squares (or however they appear in your paper) form the names of five waterfalls. Circles also mimic waterfalls, in a way, by running level then falling (i.e. going down)

Word of the Day: KENDO (26D: Japanese sword sport) —
noun: kendo
  1. a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed bamboo swords, originally developed as a safe form of sword training for samurai. (google)
• • •

Somewhat strange solve. Blew through the middle of this thing, running from NW to SE (with a little hiccup there as I tried to figure out how to spell the end of RIBBIT (31D: Croaking sound)). I waved as I went right past YOSEMITE—a familiar national park that I grew up not too far away from. I didn't stop to think about what it was doing in those circles, and even if I had, I wouldn't have gotten it. I know there are waterfalls in YOSEMITE National Park, but when I think of the park I think of Half Dome ... I don't think I could've told you there was such a thing as YOSEMITE Falls. See also (eventually) RHINE and ... no, just those two. I knew there was an ANGEL Falls, but I couldn't have told you where (until just now, when I looked it up—Venezuela. It's the highest waterfall in the world at 3000+ feet, which make its relative tininess and very short "fall" in this grid adorably ironic).

So no trouble, until trouble. A little, at first: I am sure I've seen this ENGEL guy before, but I never ever remember him. I completely blanked on KENDO. As you can see, KENDO and ENGEL are next to each other, so that was problematic, but the KRAKEN was friendly today and got me out of trouble (25A: Sea monster of Norse myth). But then the NE: no. Just stopped cold because OVIPARA = not in my vocabulary (10D: Egg-laying animals), so no way into that little section, and then both BAR and OIL had (to me) unobvious clues. Also I forgot what a cor anglais was and tried LUTE as the answer there. VAIN was clued "?"-ishly. So that tiny section cost me probably 1/4 of my total solving time. I think of vaulters vaulting vaults. That's a gymnastics event, right? The vault. A *pole* vaulter vaults a BAR. Anyway, I remembered eventually that there was not a Suez or a hostage crisis in 1973, but an OIL crisis (12D: Subject of a 1973 crisis), and then that area resolved itself. OVIPARA is probably something I should know, but from a constructor's point of view, that is not great fill, or even good. That is "lord help me get out of this section" fill. Things get understandably iffy in and around the waterfalls. From TIAMO to ENGEL. But as iffiness goes, that section wasn't bad. OTOH OMRI TABU, also around a waterfall, also not great. You can just look around the grid and see this happening with all the falls.

When you build your grid in a way where you are forced into a terminal-V situation, well, you really Really limit what you can do, which may be why the last section I finished, over there in RAJIV land (33D: Indira Gandhi's ill-fated son), played so rough for me. I forgot Indira Gandhi's son's name I wanted RAJ...AH? But I also wanted the "30 Rock" actor to be JONAH Friedlander. [Sad trombone sound!] Wanted I LOSE to be the much-more-likely-to-be-said I GIVE. And then there's the manifestly not-great OCULI (34D: Eye-shaped openings) and then ... MEDOC. "And then there's MEDOC!" (35D: French red wine)

Fill remains bland, and these falls are at least partially arbitrary, and WATER/FALLS is *not* two words, but still, this beats Monday and Tuesday, I'll give it that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Steve J 12:06 AM  

Blew through this like it was a Monday, so I didn't even process the circles until after I was done. Still, it was pretty enjoyable. I like the visual aspect of the theme, and the fill seemed pretty solid. Ture that there wasn't much of anything that was particularly exciting, but after yesterday's junkfest, this was a big step forward.

Matt C 12:21 AM  

At 8:18, this was by far my fastest Wednesday. I got the theme from California Girls / Niagara and so was easily able to have crossing letters all over the place. Had no trouble with "Oboe", because, what other instrument does the puzzle ever use? Ok, recently saw a tuba, but still, if it's an instrument, oboe's a safe bet. The only word I had trouble with was "Rajiv" and when the cross was _UDAH, it's pretty easy to guess the letter. Don't know why I knew "Ovipara," but it came right out easily. All in all it was fun to have one that I could just zoom through.

austin 12:23 AM  

came for TLC, was not disappointed

Questinia 12:43 AM  

Commenting these days in an isolated vacuum makes me feel oddly leery of getting mugged by an irregular verb from out of nowhere.

Love kicking the puzzle off with ACME while the WATER FALLS down through the cross of MARM and TEACHER.

chefwen 12:54 AM  

CALIFORNIA GIRLS was a total gimme for me, as I'm sure it was for many others, so that was a huge foot hold. Not tripped up but had to wait for crosses for KENDO, ENGEL, and JUDAH.

There was a really cool bar in the San Diego area called The KRAKEN that we used to go to after the Del Mar races. Fun place.

Grandma (NANA) used a THIMBLE, she called it a finger hut. Can't remember what it was in German, where's Ulrich when you need him?

Thanks Timothy Polin, had a good time.

jae 12:59 AM  

Easy-medium for me but there were some iffy crosses if you didn't know OMRI (which I didn't) or ORMAN (did) or was shaky on spelling RIBBIT (I was).  Not to mention OVIPARA crossing KRAKEN, or UTZ (an east coast chip) crossing REZA (a long gone despot). 

Clever concept nicely executed, liked it.  Plus any puzzle with CALIFORNIA GIRLS has my vote!

Kevin Mcgue 2:13 AM  

Sorry for the completely newbie question, but can someone please tell me what the gray and red squares on the solved puzzles here mean? I assume they stand for the first letter and word solved, or the last, but I am not sure.

Thanks in advance to anyone able to give an answer.

DebinSac 3:09 AM  

I thought this puzzle was a lot of fun...that the waterfalls theme was creative. The area around Angel Falls did give me trouble, though. Somehow I pulled kraken out of thin air, or maybe a past puzzle, and managed to finish. I await the day when someone will clue Omri for Omri Caspi, the first Israeli player in the NBA. Which is not obscure only if you are a Sacramento Kings fan (a thankless attachment these days, but we can hope....)

George Barany 4:02 AM  

Fun puzzle by @Timothy Polin, with a few tough crossings, as already noted by @Rex in his review. CALIFORNIA_GIRLS (Beach Boys song that inspired the wicked Beatles parody "Back in the USSR") crossing GARAGE both came very quickly, showing NIAGARA, which made the theme obvious almost from the get-go, and that in turn (sic) really helped with everything else.

Any ambiguities about Richard ENGEL resolve by the principle of limited choice, since ANGEL would never cross ANGEL (even if latter, a theme entry, has a bend), would it? Google the correspondent, he was in the news quite recently when his employer, NBC, revised their account of his kidnapping in Syria from 3 year earlier. I know only of ASTORIA in Queens, not in Oregon, but thinking of VICTORIA falls and John Jacob ASTOR of ill-fated Titanic passenger fame ... very inferable. SEMITE in the grid screamed YOSEMITE even having (like @Rex) only heard of (and in my case seen, more than 40 years ago) Half Dome, and not being quite sure of ARROYOS.

The final illness of Shah REZA (in New York Hospital, visible from my lab window at The Rockefeller University) triggered the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter administration ... now they're making movies about that time ("Argo f*#k yourself). More ill-fated leaders invoked in both the clue and answer word to 33-Down, crossing a WOE actor. OMRI appeared less than a week ago, clued then in an equally WOE manner (pick your poison, actor on a primetime TV soap from the '80s vs. a B.C. Israeli king).

OTOH, with all that, only two words make their @Shortz era debuts, FOUR_STAR_ADMIRAL and RIBBIT (ask your RABBI to teach you how to spell the latter). "Chinatown" with FAYE Dunaway, another classic movie from my graduate school days. Nice misdirect on the clue for THIMBLE, and what's not to love about NA_CL?

Loren Muse Smith 4:13 AM  

I hit the same wall Rex did at the OVIPARA/KRAKEN/KENDO/ENGEL area, but I did not know KRAKEN or the ANGEL Falls, so I had a dnf with a wrong "Kroken/ovipora" cross. Luckily I did know KENDO, so there's that.

First thought on that distiller was "Johnny," but luckily didn't fit.

Best wrong answer that fit and I filled in because of an excellent clue – "manhole" for THIMBLE. Bet I'm not alone on that one.

I was thinking "strop" before STRAP – notice that it crosses TANS?

I didn't hesitate at RIBBIT, but it made me remember a time when I went to a movie with Jan S, her dad, and some friends. When we were waiting for the movie to start, her dad told us to intone in a really low voice "bacon and tomatoes" over and over again with the plan that everyone would follow suit and soon the whole theater would sound like a bunch of frogs. Well, No One followed suit, but undaunted, we stuck to our creepy low chant. To this day I wonder if he was just messin' with us.

Here's an ENIGMA – do birds really (really?) have a sense of rhythm and dance, or are we anthropomorphizing? Deb Amlen posted this on fb yesterday, and I can't stop watching it. The little guy really cuts loose at 1:40.

OVIPARA Boogie Down

And just because, here is the little guy a bit later. He stays busy.

OVIPARA discovers the physics of sound

Maybe the singular is oviparum? No idea.

The thrilling little punch in the gut when I got YOSIMITE and NIAGARA was worth the price of admission. And the clue for THIMBLE. Cool.

Jeremy Mercer 4:46 AM  

The Times gets a lot of (deserved) flack here for its handling of the crossword, so it should be also praised for its fantastic new ink-saving feature when printing the crossword from home. As far as I can tell it debuted today (wasn't there yesterday in any case) and it is both a nifty gimmick and a wonderful way to economize. Seriously Rex, print out today's puzzle on your home printer just to try it out.

Conrad 5:52 AM  

Thinking of the war I fight on my lawn every year, wanted GrubS instead of GANGS as my Turf war adversaries. OVIPARr looked reasonable, as did KEuDO for a random Japanese word. Couldn't grok ENbEL, but it didn't seem a lot worse than any of the alternatives. Heck, people can be named anything, right?

Susierah 5:58 AM  

Much faster than yesterday (I still can't believe yawp is a word). But a dnf at the Roark/Kraken/kendo crossing. Just couldn't get those K's!

Leapfinger 7:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
r.alphbunker 7:52 AM  

Puzzle report

First appearance for RIBBIT ever. Even M&A hasn't used it yet.

Mohair Sam 7:56 AM  

A huge bow and hat tip to the marketing folks at KRAKEN rum. The booze was created only 5 years ago, and most of us had never heard the word KRAKEN until 2 years ago. Now it has appeared more than once in the NYT puzzle, there are KRAKEN video games, and a KRAKEN now appears in a GEICO ad. You can't avoid the creatures, they're everywhere. Marketing genius. The rum? It is breaking sales records.

The puzzle. Our experience was much like @Rex. Flew through this seemingly easy Wednesday and stopped cold in the far west wanting IgivE and not knowing RAJIV nor JUDAH. Fought through it all with a final good guess on the "J". OVIPARA and ENGEL were new to us, but filled easily enough thanks to our new gimme KRAKEN.

Loved CALIFORNIAGIRLS, wondering if Beach Boys songs shouldn't included (arch.) in their clue.

joho 7:58 AM  

I liked how this puzzle started off with ACME attached to EPITOME.

I also got a kick out of all the falls visually falling in the grid and appreciate Timothy's finesse in pulling that off.

OVIPARA was only possible by crosses which thankfully were fair. Not so much at RAJIV/JUDAH where I dnf with RAmIV/MeDAH. I misremembered OCeLI and RAJIV and JUDAH were both a total wtf. I was taken VICTIM there!

It would be so cool if the lesser famous METEORIBBIT falls actually existed.

Other than the spot where I fell down, I really enjoyed this one ... thank you, Timothy Polin!

DrLee77 8:05 AM  

Thus was a rare solving event for me. The two long crosses were nearly gimmes. I saw the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour concert with Brian Wilson from the third row in Pittsburgh and sang a version of CALIFORNIA_GIRLS in a fund raiser years ago. Al Jardeen mixed up 2 lines from Help Me Rhonda and he saw me laugh from stage. He pointed at me smiling as he caught himself making the correction quickly as if to say"Ya Got Me!" Also Mike Love hit on my 24-year old daughter from stage. I told her, "It's a good thing we don't have a back- stage pass or I'd have to beat him up!" She got a charge out of the hitting and my response. It was a great father-daughter day. The only problem with Nimitz and Halesy was were they five or FOUR_STAR_ADMIRALS.

With that as a start; I filled in all of the other circle clues next with one write-over ENGle for ENGLE. Therefore WATER FALLS fell quickly. A WOE was RAJIV but fortunately all of the crosses except _UDAH were easy.

@Rex: I thought this was a fine write-up.

@ACNME: Belated congratulations on your 50th NYT puzzle. I enjoyed the pan-gram. I'm late since I didn't do Monday or Tuesday untli last night.

Mary Watts 8:26 AM  

This is my first posting. Found the puzzle fun. Enjoy reading all your comments; it's how I start my day.
"Hiram" was my first fill; I love scotch!

Leapfinger 8:35 AM  

@Rex, steam rises. WATER FALLS.

Me, I'm still looking for a THIMBLE of Authority.

Wm. C. 8:37 AM  

Yes, but Yosemite stops falling by mid-summer. It's completely dry -- it isn't a waterfall now. Hm-m-mph!

Rebel Good 9:00 AM  

Halsey and Nimitz were FIVE STAR ADMIRALs

pmdm 9:00 AM  

Seemed to me that there were a surprising number of proper name crosses that, if you didn't know the names, would result in wild guesses. Demerits from me, then.

67A and 61D

42A and 33 D

36A and 30D

25A and 9D and 26D and 27D

NCA President 9:06 AM  

@LMS: Hand up for manhoLE.

I also had trouble with the OMRI/ORMAN crossing...I only chose Omri over "omni" because of a character in the Bible named Omri. I at least knew that was a name.

Took me a while to get KRAKEN (Release the Kraken!) and it was my only hope in the KENDO/ENGEL crossing. ANGEL Falls helped me there too. I did a report on Venezuela in 6th grade and that's the only thing I remember of Venezuela.

There were definitely some snaggy spots that seemed to work out OK...RAJIV/OCULI (just one C?) were potentially messy, but VICTIM fixed them both.

FOURSTARADMIRAL seemed green paintish at first since I figured admirals were like generals and could get to five stars. But I see that admirals can only get as high as four stars. So...hey...learned something new about naval ranks. Why it seems like just yesterday that I learned about ENS...

Ludyjynn 9:07 AM  

'FDA' before DEA held me up for a moment in the MIDDLEEAST. Only other writeover was TeAMO before 'I' saw the light.

Otherwise, this had a nice MOTIF, an al dente mid week solve, just the way I like it.

In high school, my favorite perfumes were TABU and Windsong (in the really cool crown-shaped bottle). Remember, ladies? Then I graduated to the real deal French (read expensive) scents, esp. Bal a Versailles, which I still wear. Whether clothed in jeans or silk, I'm never really dressed until I spritz on that fine mist of deliciousness.

For several years, I placed tadpoles in the pond in Spring, which developed into frogs before my eyes. Inevitably, w/in weeks, they would hop away, never to be heard from again. No more RIBBIT. This year, I just skipped 'em altogether and bought a few extra snails to help keep the pond clean.

Thanks, TP and WS. Me likey.

Rebel Good 9:09 AM  

Halsey and Nimitz were Fleet Admirals, which means the correct answer should be FIVESTARADMIRAL.
True, both at one time were FOURSTARADMIRALs, but they also were ENSIGNs and COMMANDERs and CAPTAINs.

Natticus 9:10 AM  

Felt good about this one, record time for a Wednesday. I quickly burned through KRAKEN/KENDO/GARAGE zone, and once I had NIAGARA, the theme was obvious. FAYE made the NW theme clue "Y_S..." and YOSEMITE fit, so I went with it. Unlike Rex, Richard ENGEL and JUDAH Friedlander were gimme's for a politics/comedy nerd, and RAJIV/OCULI/MEDOC filled themselves in through the clues that crossed them.

Norm C. 9:11 AM  

@Kevin Mcgue - Has anyone answered your question, yet? The highlighted squares in the grid are the current letter and word when Rex took a screenshot. I presume it's usually the last word and letter filled in, but doesn't have to be.

AliasZ 9:16 AM  

Neat puzzle. After the all-too-short time spent to solve this one and admire the falling WATERFALLS, I spent the next hour admiring pictures and movies if the falls pictured in the grid, plus many others. The RHINE Falls (Rheinfall in German) was the only one I have not heard of or seen before. I also learned that ANGEL Falls was named after the American aviator Jimmie Angel who was the first one to fly over and discover it in the 1930s, to make it known for the word at large. Until then the fall was seen only by natives in the area. I also learned that YOSEMITE Falls occasionally dries up, and adventurous mountaineers can scale the daunting rock walls over which the WATER FALLS.

It was odd seeing RHINO from which RHINE made a southerly turn after the RH. It could've been RHyme, RHythm, RHetoric, RHapsody, RHesus, etc. Then ANGEL falling at the G, completing the word ENGEL which in German means "angel." A bit of cheating?

I loved how Timothy Polin broke up WATERFALLS. In the examples given in the grid, you can see how WATER actually FALLS over those cliffs.

I am always grateful to learn a new word, or refresh my memory of one I forgot I knew. OVIPARA was such. OVI made sense from the clue, PARA came harder, but the crosses were all fair. Oviparous animals are called OVIPARA. I used to know that. OTOH, I do not remember ever knowing RAJIV. OCULI I thought could have been OCULa, but again the crosses were fair. Favorite word today: RIBBIT. Thank God for CALIFORNIA GIRLS. MEDOC, KENDO, TI❤AMO, KRAKEN and a few other oddities were gimmes for me. Sometimes it works this way. Most often it doesn't.

Want to hear angels sing?

Es sungen drei ENGEL einen süßen Gesang,
mit Freuden es selig in dem Himmel klang.

ArtOuopp 9:16 AM  

OVIPARA, KRAKEN, KENDO crossing a bit too much. Otherwise a pretty smooth, easy Wednesday.

GeezerJackYale48 9:26 AM  

For me, kind of an odd puzzle; 98% easy easy, then the rather obscure kendo, ovipara, engel, omri. Ended up thinking the solver got into a box and did the best he could - but not very! Still, fine for Wednesday.

Jamie C 9:28 AM  

I feel like we've run into the cursed KRAKEN a lot lately--can one of you data miners with access tell us how often he's made an appearance?

chefbea 9:29 AM  

Too many words or people I did not know...DNF Thought the theme was going to be right angle..which did fit.
Don not have a veg-o-matic but love my new toy the veggetti!!!!

quilter1 9:29 AM  

Solid and smooth. Richard ENGEL was a gimme. A very courageous journalist for NBC covering the Middle East. A couple of years ago he and his cameramen were kidnapped by ISIS type terrorists and held prisoner until rescued by a counter group he had befriended in the course of his coverage.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

@Ludyjynn from yesterday..thanks for the sugarsnap pea recipe !!!

Joseph Welling 9:37 AM  

Doesn't look like anyone answered this yet (unless an answer is in the mod queue):

Kevin McGue: there is no significance at all. When he screen caps the puzzle from his software, the red and grey just happened to be where the "cursor" was left, so to speak. (Red is the current square to type in, while grey indicates the direction currently selected.)

Z 9:37 AM  

I am VERY disappointed that Tahquamenon Falls didn't make the puzzle. Polin is clearly a slacker.

Hartley70 9:40 AM  

Very interested to see the PANGOLIN featured in the news on my NPR app this morning, poor little armor-plated fellow. I hadn't heard of this critter before last week's puzzle. His is a sad lot as he's hunted to near extinction for the Asian luxury market.

This was a more than adequate Wednesday. It zipped along as a Wednesday should, but I liked the visual and had to stretch a bit for some of the falls. ASTORIA was a big surprise. My time was just a bit more than yesterday, which makes this right in my Wednesday target zone. Good one!

John V 9:42 AM  

What @Rex said re: NE.

mathgent 9:49 AM  

The website Places to See in Your Lifetime shows their choices of the world's most beautiful waterfalls. Lovely pictures. Victoria is #1, Angel #3, Niagara #5, and Yosemite #8. No Rhine. Does it belong in this distinguished company?

Nice to see EPITOME and MOTIF. Only 12 three-letter entries. Learned "viva voce" and OVIPARA. That's probably enough out of a Wednesday.

Phil Safier 9:55 AM  

Clue: Greeting to bro with skull cap.
Answer: Yo, semite!

Laurence Katz 9:57 AM  

for Kevin Mcgue:

click the FAQ link on the top of the page and all will be revealed

Whirred Whacks 10:03 AM  

Fastest Wednesday ever for me. Everything just "fell" into place. Fun puzzle, Mr. Polin.

@ludyjynn. Thanks for you admonition on Monday. Here's my take. When a clue (written by ACME and Will Shortz) specifically mentions the name of an active presidential candidate who is under criminal investigation for violation of national security laws, then that person is fair game to some gentle "write over" humor. YALE can be clued in hundreds of ways (lock, Doonesbury, Eli, New Haven), but ACME/Shortz decided to bring Mrs. Clinton to the front of our minds. Next time, TSK is an answer I'll think of you! Enjoy your week!

Roo Monster 10:04 AM  

Hey All !
Like others, CALIFORNIA GIRLS a big gimmie, and once I saw NIAG, knew it would be ____FALLS as the theme. So that helped a bit. Agree with the center E being odd, but got it correct. My problem was center W. Ugh. Had OCULI, but couldn't suss JUDAH, so after a bit changed the U to an A and wrote in sarAH. Also agree WATERFALLS is one word. Wonky to break it up. Couple writeovers, all in thet center E, SE area: eugenIA->ASTORIA (yes, I know it's Eugene!), zero->ANTI.

All the years of playing CLUE, never knew the VICTIM had a name!


Nancy 10:05 AM  

As I post, only 14 comments are up, but I'm surprised, based on what I've seen so far, how many people liked this puzzle. I found it dull as dishWATER -- really boring cluing (except for 16A) and really boring fill. It felt much too easy for a Wednesday, and yet there were plenty of opportunities to natick. I both did and didn't: I guessed right on OVIPARA/KRAKEN, but I missed on OMRI/RIBBIT (RIBBIT??? I had RABBIT). Also never heard of a manhole being called a THIMBLE, but it came in from the crosses. But a few obscure words and names do not entertainment make. The whole time I was solving, I was thinking: what new, awful thing happening in the world right now am I missing in the Times, while I dutifully and joylessly complete this puzzle. Hope the comments will help compemsate -- once they start to appear.

@Hartley -- I thought of you when I saw 1A.

r.alphbunker 10:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Heinegg 10:38 AM  

Of course you are still looking for a thimble of authority. You are owned by a cat and cats do not give authority to any of their 'owners'.

George 10:42 AM  

OK--William Halsey and Chester Nimitz were both FIVE STAR ADMIRALS. Fleet (or 5 star) Admiral rank is only given in wartime, but they were five star Admirals. Sure at one time they were both FOURSTARADMIRALS, but at one time they were both TODDLERS also.

The clues should at least be correct.

Joseph Michael 10:52 AM  

Liked the theme and the fact that the water falls do not result in word fragments in the grid. Nice construction.

OTOH I did not like the abundance of names. More than 25% of the puzzle consists of proper nouns, including many obscure ones like OMRI, RAJIV, and REZA. Ugh.

Richard ENGEL is an established Middle East correspondent, so he was no trouble. But never heard of UTZ chips and did not know the shah's middle name, so DNF.

Favorite entry: RIBBIT, especially within the context of the water falls theme.

Arlene 10:52 AM  

I got stuck in the KRAKEN area as well - nice to see how normal I am.
And it was also nice to see THIMBLE - a subject more welcome to me than sports and rock stars. I have two thimbles - one from Tiffany and another antique that has an engraved "A," my favorite.
As for COR ANGLAIS (English horn) - I never played one, but did play the oboe, and had seen others play this double-reeded relative.
As for Niagara Falls - it's still amazing, and well worth the trip if you haven't been there recently or at all.

Ludyjynn 10:58 AM  

@chefBea, you are welcome! Yum.

@WW, and TSK it shall be! LOL.

@Nancy, no frogs in Central Park's waters? You haven't lived til you're kept up at night by some noisy frog courtship RIBBITing!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:59 AM  

Good one, IMHO.

@chefwen, 12:54 AM - FINGERHUT is the German word for thimble. Finger is a finger, and hut (which I would pronounce "hoot") is a hat. Maybe Grandma Anglicized the pronunciation.

@Nancy, 10:05 AM - Just joking? "a manhole being called a THIMBLE"
"Sewer" is one who sews, no?

Joseph Michael 11:02 AM  

The sewer in this case is not an underground waste system, but rather a person with needle and thread. Thus "thimble." :-)

evil doug 11:07 AM  

No Frostbite Falls?

"Get moose and squirrel!"

Roo Monster 11:17 AM  

@Z, LOL! Maybe next time...

@Nancy, also LOL on the manhole=THIMBLE! Not a make-fun-of-you-laugh, just a you not getting the clue laugh! :-) It's sew-er, as in one who sews. Go ahead, it's okay to chuckle at yourself!


GILL I. 11:23 AM  

I liked the concept but COR blimey there were an awful lot of names.
@Questinia...at least we see your post. Mine seem to get sucked up somewhere in the south and then spit out after dinner when everyone has gone to bed...
@Loren. What a HOOT!
@Ludy....AACH - TABU? When I came to California (I was one of those GIRLS) everyone and I mean EVERYONE wore that god-forsaken perfume. I used to say that if you wanted to make someone die, wear that perfume in the elevator. It lingers for days and days. I'm betting you're more of a Dior Ambre Nuit now!

Annie Edson Taylor 11:34 AM  


mac 11:36 AM  

Guessed wrong at Kraken, ovipara, had Kreken/Ovipera. Vipers lay eggs?

Nice Wednesday. Thimble was the biggest surprise, I was also thinking in the manhole direction.
@chefwen: Fingerhut in German, vingerhoed in Dutch.

Lewis 11:38 AM  

@rex -- Great writeup, with wit, the puzzle's pluses and minuses, without unnecessary sass.
@joho -- or the KRAKENASAL Falls. Great post, by the way!
@mary -- welcome!
@nancy -- agree with you about the cluing except for the THIMBLE clue. Think of SEWER not as "sewer pipe" but as "one who uses needle and thread".
@Rhino -- Happy to see you in the grid!

I liked the theme, because it brought nature's beauty to mind. I could almost feel those good ions surrounding me as I did the puzzle. The cluing, for me, was too straightforward for a Wednesday, except for that great THIMBLE clue. Neat answers: RIBBIT, KENDO, and KRAKEN (which is also a the name of a vicious ride at Busch Gardens in Tampa). It was fun to see a backward PARTS crossing GARAGE, and to see ACME at the peak, FAR west, FALLS down, and ROLLS down. And MARM crossing TEACHER (as Q has pointed out). No big complaints and grateful for the solve.

old timer 11:51 AM  

How strange: OFL grew up near Yosemite and never went to the Park. Because YOSEMITE FALLS is as big an attraction as Half Dome, and is awesome most years when there is normal snowfall. I guess it's like being a New Yorker and never going to the Statue of Liberty or (stranger yet) never taking the Circle Line boat tour.

Yesterday the normally easy Tuesday took me something like 20 minutes. I just faced through this one in 12. I have known CALIFORNIAGIRLS by heart since the day it came out. Didn't know UTZ (not a California brand) so it took FAR and ONE to tell me that the ADMIRALS had FOUR STARs. I'm old enough to remember RAJIV Ghandi. My only problem with OVIPARA was I thought it might possibly end in an S. My only potential WOE was OMRI, so thank you, Mr. Frog! RIBBIT!

Nancy 12:14 PM  

@Andrew H (10:38) -- I'm a dog lover, not a cat lover (although cats are nice in their own way, I suppose) but you mentioned someone here being a cat "owner." One of my favorite cat jokes is that cats don't have owners. Cats have staff.

(I would guess that you've heard it?)

AliasZ 12:16 PM  

@Leapy, we are joined at the hip -- notice how my WATER FALLS, and how I inserted the THIMBLE of love in the middle of TI♡AMO.

@GB, to further expand on your ASTORIA, NY reference (a neighborhood next door to mine), it was odd for the NYT to remind us of John Jacob Astor who either slaughtered, or was responsible for the slaughter of, uncountable millions of helpless critters for the sake of vanity, and the founder of the obscure Oregon town with population hovering below 10,000. Steinway Street in Astoria, NY, and surrounding few blocks alone has a population higher than that. Not to mention that Steinway & Sons, one of the premier piano makers of the world, established operations in Astoria in the late 19th century when they outgrew their Manhattan factory. That, plus Kaufman Astoria Studios, Museum of the Moving Image, etc. would have given numerous opportunities for cluing ASTORIA. I guess the NYT wants to prove itself less provincial by avoiding a lovely, diverse NYC neighborhood.

For those who expect yet another example of one of the ENIGMA Variations, sorry to disappoint. However, if you have the time or inclination, you may follow the development of the Gradual "OCULI omnium in te sperant, Domine" (the eyes of all wait upon thee, Lord) through the centuries:

Original chant
Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
Charles Tournemire (1870-1939)

If you'd rather not, please ignore.

Molson 12:24 PM  

Nice theme, not so nice fill. Aside from a couple of answers this really should have been a Tuesday.

Which I would have been fine with - get rid of yesterday's piece of crap and give me a new Wednesday.

OISK 12:37 PM  

Two DNF in two days, and they are Tues and Wed.! (After three + perfect weeks.) Yesterday, I blame the constructor. An answer like APGAR is problematic because if the solver is unfamiliar with it (as I am) every letter is indiscernible without knowing the down clue. That section had YAWP and WANG, and I was defeated, screaming "UNFAIR!" Today, however, just stupid and careless. I should have realized that ANGEL could not cross "ANGEL, as in falls," and should have recalled how to spell Kraken. My fault entirely.

Despite my personal failings, I liked this one. I have actually visited all of the waterfalls in the puzzle except Yosemite, and hope to correct that very soon.

jberg 12:40 PM  

Thanks to all who confirmed my suspicion that Nimitz and Halsey had 5 stars each; at least i can feel good about that while mourning my ignominious failure to see that OVIPAR_ was Latin -- I went with English, and put in anS, thus getting the dreaded turf-battling GsNGS. Go figure, is all I can say. I'm not even drinking.

Fun puzzle, all the same.

And a fun fact: according to Wikipedia, the Rhine Falls cannot be climbed by fish -- except for EELS.

Charles Flaster 12:46 PM  

Enjoyed this very EZ puzzle.
Theme was neatly presented albeit without symmetry.
Agreed with most of Rex.
KENDO and RAJIV=?? but was able to use crosses.
No CrosswordEASE.
Liked cluing for THIMBLE, MARM, METEOR and ENIGMA.
Please read George Barany's comments today--absolutely perfect!!
Thanks TP.

mathgent 1:18 PM  

@Alias Z: Another factoid re Astoria. There are more Greeks living there than in Athens. There used to be a terrific Greek restaurant there called Poppa George or Uncle George; they were open 24/7.

Nancy 1:38 PM  

@Lewis, @Bob K, @Roo, @Joseph Michael, et al. I realized shortly after I hit the send button -- and long before any of your comments appeared on the blog -- that it was sewer as in one who sews and that the clue was a great bit of misdirection. I thought: PLEASE DON'T READ ME TODAY, PEOPLE! AT LEAST NOT CAREFULLY! But no such luck. Actually, you've all been very gentle and kind and sweet, even, about the whole thing and I appreciate it.

L 3:28 PM  

I'm totally with you on the Omri Caspi reference! Nice, though, that it crossed SEMITE in Yosemite ;-)

Mike D 5:14 PM  

Oh @Nancy Re: THIMBLE. Never change.

Teedmn 6:15 PM  

@Nancy, your oops brought me close to tears, best laugh of a very dreary, rainy day. Thanks, it was much needed.

@Evil Doug, I was thinking Frostbite FALLS also, but Minnehaha would have been fun to see also.

I went rather off track on this one. Saw WATER at 5A so when I got to 37A and saw Turf in the clue, I put Grass. What WATER related clue is a five letter word starting with R? River, of course. This gave me OVIPARR and since I really wanted OVIPARous there, I shrugged and continued. MOLL should have made me rethink that section but, no. This all got fixed in my second, AcrossLite solve, but not UTs at 61D since REsA sounded correct. UTZ is not a brand I've seen except in puzzles so...DNF today.

I see that there is a broken KEN DOLL in the puzzle, probably a VICTIM of going over NIAGRA FALLS in a THIMBLE.

Thanks, Timothy Polin, nice construction.

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

This will teach you what you need to know about Chester Nimitz.


Mohair Sam 6:28 PM  

Well @Nancy, we've all had those days where we learn just how many people actually read our posts. Few of us have had the good fortune to discover so many fans. Congrats THIMBLE lady.

Welcome @Mary Watts. Wise move on the short post, avoids THIMBLE moments and the grammar nazi.

Tita 8:34 PM  

Gotta love German word mashups...no word for thimble? How about fingerhat... No word for glove? How about handshoe (handshuh)...
When I lived in Heidleberg, there was a village called handshoehome... Handshuhsheim.
I also clambered along the Rheinfells, or RHINE waterfall - it is just beyond the outlet of Lake Constance, which is really just a wide spot in the Rhine as it flows out of the Alps. (@jberg - come to think of it, I didn't see a single fish climbing along wtih me...)

@AliasZ - add the Waldorf-ASTORIA to that list of John Jacob things. He was from Waldorf in Germany.

@Nancy - so funny when that 'doh' moment is triggered by pressing the Publish button!

I do have a soft spot for visual puzzles, so I liked this. THanks Mr. Polin.

old timer 8:40 PM  

@AliasZ, I love your music, but disagree that the slaughter of fur-bearing animals was for the sake of vanity. Maybe a little, but the main reason furs were profitable despite the great expense of sending fur-buyers across the continent and shipping the furs back to New York was that people needed the furs to keep them warm on Eastern winters in the United States (and also, of course,in Britain and northern Europe). My ancestors wore fur coats and caps, and needed them -- especially my great-grandfather who grew up in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom as it is now called. I think it is always a mistake to judge people who lived 200 years ago according to modern ideas of ethics. In 1816 or for that matter 1846, almost everyone believed that God put animals on Earth for us to use as we saw fit. Otters and seals seemed to be designed to keep human animals warm.

Leapfinger 10:24 PM  

For any residual YAWP-deniers: If you don't want to accept YAWP directly from Walt Whitman, maybe it's easier to swallow via Robin Williams in "Dead Poets' Society".

The final -A had me going specific with echidnA instead of general with OVIPARA. I don't think it has the same word root as in 'to achieve parity', but in the same place that you hear about APGAR scores, you'll hear about nulliparous, primiparous and multiparous patients, usually abbrev'ed so that a 'primip' (f'rinstance) is someone experiencing her first pregnancy. So it made sense that OVIPARA reproduce by laying eggs. The catch in this case is that these moms are mammals.

Have not seen any of the WATER FALLS in today's theme, but there was one in Zion (Utah) where you could run to a ledge and stand behind the waterfall, That was way cool!

Noah's first-born son was the original SEMITE, and I believe that Noah was frequently known to shout. "Yo, Semite! RO ARK!" I blame my thinking of this on the Grisham movie "A Time to Kill": Sandra Bullock plays Ellen "One-syllable" ROARK, but McConaughey and Brigance always draw it out into 'Row-ark', and I can't get rid of it.

@AliasZ, I was eating lunch in a public venue when I got to your TI❤AMO THIMBLE of Love. Thanks for my first public face-palm. KRAKEN me up.

Your WATER FALLS reminded me of a story: Two landowners from Kocs happened to have some business to transact in Prague, exactly when the stagecoach strike was being 'staged', and only one scabby driver was willing to make the trip. Under normal circumstances, the two men would never have travelled together, since Fekete Lajos Fekete was one of the most prosperous men in the town, and rather annoyingly aware of it, while Kicsi Pitju Kicsi had not very much, and frequently lost some of what he had. However, needs must, and under the circumstances both realized there was no choice. Well, the stage struck out, and Fekete began spouting about land he'd purchased, deals he'd made, and generally how he had out-witted, out-bought and out-sold everyone he had ever dealt with, while Pitju grew smaller and smaller, quieter and quieter in his corner of the coach. Fekete didn't run out of steam even as night fell and the coach halted for a pit-stop, but continued his boasting as the two made their way through the trees, Pitjuca trailing dejectedly behind.

As the two men made their WATER FALL, Fekete Lajos trumpeted: "Just hear what a mighty sound my WATER FALL makes!! So bold! So strong!!! It thunders like the Tisza in full flood, tearing the jetties from the riverbanks, and roaring as it washes all away!! And your WATER FALL, poor Kis Pitju, so feeble, so small, I can hardly hear a trickle."

And Kis Pitju answers, "Oh, I'm not worried. I'm letting my WATER FALL on your fur coat!"

@Ellen S, enjoyed your late comment the other night, turned out to be a little prescient, eh? Always nice to depend on someone.

Score another enjoyable Wednesday. Thanks, TP!!

Leapfinger 10:39 PM  

Forgotten bits:
Something about the VICTIM TEACHER row just kind of grabs the attention, doesn't it?

(Overheard in the ER) Hey, ME DOC! You EMTS, give the EPI TO ME!!

Egy, keto, harom!
Nothing about Ferenc MOLAR?
(So much music, so little time)

Troy 11:08 PM  

Who hasn't heard f Yosemite Falls? Especially if they grew up in California?

Alan Turing 11:15 PM  


Andrew Heinegg 11:40 PM  

Uh, I was responding to a post by leapfinger, who has a picture of a Siamese cat next to her?his name.

Xtinctions R Us 11:59 PM  

Ah, @oldtimer. Then I suppose the men who shot buffalo by the thousands and left the carcasses to rot where they fell probably thought those animals would best serve humankind by functioning as slow-release fertilizer. My mistake to think it was for sport and out of a straight-forward love of killing.

Of course, there seems to exist in some persons a similar willingness to devitalize certain branches of humanity, so I'm not sure we should ever expect better (more humane?) treatment of animals than is afforded to humans.

evil doug 4:19 AM  

Good story! Well, at least I *think* it was; I found myself dozing off somewhere in the seventh or eighth stanza. Could you tell it again? I'll stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails to stay awake this time, I promise....

oldbizmark 9:49 AM  

two DNFs in a row. felt the left center was a bit unfair for a wednesday with MEDOC, OCULI, and RAJIV. Had IgivE instead of ILOSE which didn't help at all. anyway, didn't enjoy this one much. too much obscurity.

Ell Eff 11:23 AM  

Allow me, Evil. You want the whole shoot, or just a sliver?

jacobeking 9:48 PM  

The Nimitz and Halsey clue gets ONE star since they were FIVE-star admirals, unless we're going to start identifying military heroes with each non-terminal rank they held.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

@jacobeking – that’s what I thought re: the FiveSTARADMIRALS. I’m sure there were at least a dozen FOURSTARADMIRALS in WWII.
CALIFORNIAGIRLS are VAIN, they’re AWL putting on AIRs,
with TANS as the EPITOME of the ENIGMA that’s THEIRS.
Having THIMBLEs for brains, they are VICTIMs of vanity,
they’re so INAWE of themselves ILOSE AWL of my sanity.

That’s the second absolute wrong clue in a month. The other wrong answer was PATERNO. Will needs to sharpen things up around his office.

rondo 9:31 AM  

Let’s get KRAKEN Will Shortz, and tune up your editing staff. It’s been mentioned above, but THEIRS another clue that is less than what it should be. The ADMIRALS. I suspect they were one- and two- and three- and FOURSTARADMIRALS as well as captains, etc. But known best as FiveSTARADMIRALS. Uglied up my grid for a while.

Minnehaha or Gooseberry FALLS would have worked in MN. Or Taylors.

FAYE Dunaway, classic Chinatown sister or daughter yeah baby. Or is that too difficult for you?

Except for that one poor clue, and OVIPARA coming only on crosses, a pretty OK Wednesday puz.

rondo 9:35 AM  

BTW - International FALLS was the inspiration for @ed's aforementioned reference to Frostbite FALLS.

spacecraft 10:48 AM  

Charming, clever and theme-intense, so we should forgive the occasional OMRI and RAJIV. The latter is in a tough little western island, where I had to guess at JUDAH and MEDOC. But the rest of the grid was WATER over the FALLS, ease-wise. I agree it felt Mondayish.

Another Pleasant Memory evoked: I used to live very near Knoebel's Groves Amusement Park, the only one in America that still does not charge admission. In that park there was a kids' ride called Froggy, which would lift a row of seats about twenty feet and then descend in a series of jerks. The kids strapped into the seats would yell "RIB-BIT!" in time with the jerks all the way down. Made me wish I was one.

So yeah: nice theme, mostly solid fill, and a memory: I liked it. A-.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  

It's all been said, so thanks Mr. Polin for an easy and good puzzle. And, strangely enough "Fall(s) is here.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA
(Where Pope Francis turned down my invitation to play chess and have a few beers).

The Kraken in Lit 2:18 PM  

The Kraken - by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant fins the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by men and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

And then there's The Kraken Wakes, an apocalyptic science fiction novel by John Wyndham.

Blogger 1:57 PM  

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