THURSDAY, Oct. 18, 2007 - Lucy Gardner Anderson

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: SIDE SPLITTING (38A: Hilarious ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme) - four different two-word "side" orders are "split," with the first word appearing in one part of the grid and the second appearing in another.

I did this puzzle in just over 6 minutes, which is insanely fast for me on a Thursday. Had a slow start, but once I got some traction, the whole thing went down fast. I think I was slow to get going because I over-thought the theme. Thought there might be some trickery afoot. No, just very familiar side dishes. Hmmm. Can't say I liked the puzzle much, though I do like being fast.

Theme answers:

  • 5A: With 50-Down, steak go-with (baked / potato)
  • 10A: With 68-Across, fish filet go-with (cole / slaw) - I am slowly realizing, now that I've typed it twice, that I hate the word "go-with"
  • 1D: With 69-Across, burger go-with (french / fries)
  • 33A: With 44-Across, hot sandwich go-with (onion rings) - "hot sandwich?" I ... guess.

Only a couple answers made me say 'yikes.' Yesterday, it was one space answer: GUION Bluford. Today, another space answer: 26D: One of a series of joint Soviet/U.S. space satellites (Bion). The other answer from outer space (figurative outer space now) was GET LOW (45D: 2003 #2 hit for Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz). Guess what I think is the funniest element of this clue / answer*:

a. "GET LOW"
b. "Boyz"
c. "#2 hit"
d. "Lil Jon"

No idea what "The Beeb" is, but TELLY was easy enough with a cross or two (40D: The Beeb is seen on it). Is that short for the BBC? Robert Zimmerman wrote a recent NYT puzzle, and today he returns as a clue: 64A: Bob Dylan's first wife and the title of a song about her (Sara). I know woefully little about Mr. Dylan's work, so this was lost on me. Had the final "A," or otherwise I would have guessed JOAN or BAEZ. Weren't they married? No, apparently not. Just involved, before Dylan married SARA.

I made frowny faces at several clues / answers today. First frowny face goes to 15A: Water, for one (oxide). Water is lots of things. And you know I suck at science. So this is totally fair, but unpleasant to me, personally. Next frowny face goes to 18A: Fix, as a hitch (retie). I dislike most RE-prefixed verbs. And "a hitch?" What is this, the Old West? Blah. Next frowny face: 34A: Like waves on a shoreline (erosive). True enough, I guess. Are all shoreline waves, by definition (or by the inherent properties of water) EROSIVE? No matter the composition of the shore? Just curious. I would have put yet another frowny face next to AVOWER (3D: One saying "I do") - icky Odd Job - but it crosses 14A: Wedding parties?: Abbr. (revs), creating a little wedding mini-theme, so I withhold the frown.

I botched and or tripped over a few answers. Very thrown by KITE (7D: Toy sometimes seen on a beach), perhaps because I don't see it "on a beach." I see it "in the sky" when *I* am "on a beach," maybe. I wanted PAIL or something like that. I was semi-miraculously able to guess CAFTAN (10D: Unisex dress) off of just the "AF" despite not being able to define the word or even picture it to save my life. I spelled it initially with a "K," but whatever. That's pretty good. I reforgot SILAS (32D: Albino in "The Da Vinci Code") today - can we ban "The Da Vinci Code" from the puzzle like we banned "Ally McBeal?" Please? Thanks. I wrote in the highly cool ATTAR instead of the far more pedantic and sciencey-sounding ESTER for 53D: Perfume ingredient.

Not sure why, as I've never seen him act in any way, shape, or form, but TATI was a gimme (56D: 1955 Oscar nominee for "Mr. Hulot's Holiday"). Another, more fun gimme was MEAL (60A: Airline rarity, nowadays). Got this instantly. I miss my airline meals, crappy as they were. Sometimes the stuff you can buy on planes is actually far superior to what you would have received for free in the olden days, but some part of me still resents having to pay for food on a plane. I'm nearly 6'4" and you've got me crammed into a seat intended for somebody 5'10", max; the least you could do is give me some gummy lasagna and super-pale green beans.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*Answer: c


Jeff Liu 11:28 PM  

No matter the composition of the shore

'Water is called the "universal solvent" because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid.'

MBG 11:35 PM  

Rex rates this as easy. Hmmm, so that must be why I found this one reasonably easy to do which is unusual for me on Thursday. But I didn't do it in anywhere near six minutes.

I got briefly stuck on the albino from The DaVinci Code. Small wonder, I hated the book, hated the movie. But got it soon enough from the crosses.

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

Yes, it was easy, but I did get momentarily stuck in the southwest after I put in FOOD instead of MEAL.

Rex, I would note that in discussing how much you miss "it," you use the word "Food." Of course, MEAL is more accurte since most of the airlines are still at lesat providing snacks (aren't they?)

Orange 12:43 AM  

DS, not really. On my last flight, there was free beverage service, but no free snacks during a 2½-hour flight, not even a half-ounce bag of pretzels. However, the flight attendant noted that we had the worst seats on the plane (right beside the engine, so no view + mind-numbingly loud, plus in the last row so we were the last to be beveraged) and comped us beer, non-Pringles brand Pringles, and a king-size Three Musketeers bar.

Anonymous 1:47 AM  

I did rather well for me on a Thurs. Figures Rex calls this easy. However, I blew the NW corner: instead of revs, I had rels, short for relatives and although originally had Frau for 1 across, I changed the spelling to freu so that 3 down could be "eloper" for one saying I do. Of course nap instead of naw was a very poor choice but thought it was close enouph to nop. Besides I would say neh or nay or nope but not naw.

Anonymous 2:10 AM  

This definitely did not feel particularly Thursdayish. The only things I didn't know were bion and get low, but those fell on crosses. Rex, what was the funniest part of the clue/answer? Lil? Boyz? I might have had an all time fastest Thursday time, but I opened the puzzle, then didn't do it, then watched part of a horrible movie. Someone mentioned that you can reset the timer, but I didn't see how. Help?

Re: plane meals... does food service depend on the length of the flight? The ones I've taken recently have all served meals, but they've either been to London or over 4 hours long. I confess that as a child, I was completely taken in by airline commercials showing those beautiful women with the long legs and great little outfits serving perfect little meals on tiny trays and wanted to be a stewardess. With the price of tickets what they are, one should at least get pretzels.

Back to the puzzle, I'm balking at wedding parties 14A. Is that "revs" short for reverends as in "those who wed people" and, if so, wouldn't "marry" be a more appropriate verb for what reverends do. People wed each other, but the reverend marries them. Or is "revs" something totally different?

Anonymous 2:20 AM  

Way too easy for a Thursday. The only things I didn't know were BION and TATI. I sort of expect more than this offered for a later week puzzle. BTW, anyone interested in Dylan should see the PBS special "No Direction Home" that Martin Scorsese produced.

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

rikki -- I also read REVS as reverends (parties to weddings) and I also didn't know GETLOW.

Anonymous 4:11 AM  

A hitch is an entire class of knots ( former Boy Scouts know this clue. For some reason I had DAZE instead of FAZE in the NE corner so CAFTAN and TENABLE were the final to fall for me. Finished it on paper at the breakfast while rushing the kids to get ready for the bus - so was pretty easy for Thursday.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

Well dang.

I had "RELS" (relatives) as parties to weddings, which made the down clue "ALOWER" and somehow that seemed OK to me.

I was more worried about BION and even Googled it after I finished the puzzle, but got nothing about space ventures. I figured I'd just hope for the best.

Finally, like Rex, I had trouble getting going on this, but got better once I understood the theme answers.


Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Ah, I see someone already provided the info that a hitch is a type of knot. Beeb is, indeed, the familiar reference to the BBC, which is broadcast on the telly.
Surprisingly easy one for a Thursday, but 6 minutes has you retaining your crown in my estimation. Love that you're there for me in my times of need (no pun intended).

ScottK 8:53 AM  

Sara, oh Sara
Scorpio sphinx in a calico dress
Sara, oh Sara
You must forgive me my unworthiness.

-- Bob "You May Call Me Zimmy" Dylan

Orange 9:13 AM  

Six minutes gives Rex the crown? Ah, but the estimable Howard B. clocked in at 3:35 on this one, a solid minute ahead of me. (Howard took 11th place at this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament.)

GaryB 9:16 AM  

Had "Nah"instead of "Naw" which I can't recall ever seeing. Breezed through the whole puzzle but stared at this corner for way too long.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

I didn't time mine today, but I'm going to apply my usual rule of thumb and multiply Orange's time by three. That puts me in around 14 minutes or so. Sounds about right.

My usual goal is to have a time faster than the median.


Rick 9:28 AM  

The NW corner had me stymied, too. I had RELS instead of REVS and NAH instead of NAW, which gave me ALOHER for the one saying "I do." I still came in at six minutes, which is a good Thursday time for me.

Alex S. 9:35 AM  

Not much trouble except in the NW corner where REVS was invisible to me. Had RE-S and ran through the alphabet twice before finally understanding it on the third try.

Didn't get it from AVOWER because NAW was messing that up. I've only ever seen it spelled NAH so I had A-OHER pretty solidly. Both of my dictionaries list NAH but neither has NAW. is the same as is I'm sure NAW is in some dictionary as meaning "no" but not many.

Googling finds 5 million hits for naw and 40 million for nah (though both result sets are dominated by other meanings (mostly their use as acronyms).

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

I nominate AVOWER for one of the top ten cr**piest words of the year. Other than that, the puzzle was okay, but I'm pretty sure you LIE TO not LAY TO when you bring a boat into the wind to stop.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Is ONT meant to be an abbreviation for Ontario? If so, that seems to be a poor clue. Not sure how a province can be "on" a river. (Certainly a city can.)

Unknown 10:59 AM  

The clue and answer about the airplane food evoked a wave of nostalgia for me, too.

When Eastern Airlines went out of business they held a sort of estate sale where you could buy stuff that had been used on the planes.

I bought--and still use--these items:

a dozen little ceramic dishes, great for olives but originally for meals, I guess

a serrated knife and cutting board

tiny individual salt and pepper shakers

half a dozen shallow baskets. I use them to serve rolls or chips but I think your "snack" came in them years ago.

Can you even imagine that degree of civility today? Seems like another world.

JC66 11:10 AM  

Originally had RELS/ELOPER which I think makes a lot more sense than the actual REVS/AVOWER, but FRAU & NAW put an end to that line of thought.

Rex, I sure hope Josh Beckett continues his dominant way tonight. If the Bosox lose. the 2007 World Series will probably go down as the lowest Neilsen rated since the Civil War, in spite of the Rockies' uniforms.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Revs seems to me to be an abbreviation for revels (as in "Our revels now are ended")
Truly way too easy for a Thursday.
Water could be called Hydrogen Hydroxide instead of H2O, but nobody does, except for Shortz!
Favorite answer here - x, y, and z as the axes of a graph.

Unknown 12:35 PM  

isn't water technically a hydroxide and not an oxide? Or is this clue just all wet?

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Enjoyable puzzle, I thought - then again, not being a native speaker, every Thursday I can complete without googling is enjoyable. :-) KAFTAN for CAFTAN and ATTAR for ESTER did throw me off for a while though.

Love that the Beeb made an appearance, although I would have liked it even more if they had clued TELLY with 'Auntie is seen on it'. You've got to love the BBC's nicknames.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Hmm. Once again I find myself going against the tide. I found today's very difficult indeed, though in the end I got everything. Lots of obscurity (BION), curveballs (UPS; I went to Brown, so the clue seriously misled me), popcult junk. Got the theme easily, but the rest was a lengthy and unrewarding slog.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

I think the NW should be rels and alower, since in the clue it's plural (parties). Only one reverend is needed at a wedding.

Rex Parker 1:22 PM  

[Wedding performers: Abbr.] could be REVS. No idea why this clue should be any different. The clue for REVS has a "?" appended, so of course the answer is unexpected. Further, ALOWER is not a word. AVOWER, however, ungainly, seemed quite easy with just s few crosses in place.

And it's certainly REVerends, not REVels.


Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Puzzle today a bit fetid.
Airline meals were fun owing to all the compartments in the dishes. No matter that food was insipid.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  


Saw your curtsey about 4:30 AM today.

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Ah... re: wedding parties... I read the word wedding as a verb form not a noun and was bugged by the idea of reverends wedding people. Of course, with wedding as a noun, it makes sense that revs are parties at a wedding. The answer was obvious and fit right in with avower, but I just needed to shift my interpretation a bit for it to make sense. Thanks Rex.

fergus 4:26 PM  

Even if it is REVerendS it's still a shoddy piece of work.

I'm griping about TENABLE masquerading as Well-founded. Holds water (or some other Oxide)maybe, but not all that substantial. No mention in Webster's of any degree close to being well-founded.

KITEs aren't toys, but that's because I take a KITE too seriously. (I had POTATO SALAD on the plate with my Steak for a while, but that was a bad combination.)

White-knuckle seems odd as an adjective ... and sort of peculiar for INTENSE?

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

What a chat filed day!

Thought side splitting was side split dish. And, given that I had no idea what The Beeb is, being on a delly made... me realize dragged out was long and then the others feel into place.

I am not sure why x,y and z are axes, but I did get Sara.

This was a fast Thurs. for me, but I chalked it up to the insights gained from this group.

Sitting in Newark Airport waiting for a delayed (meal free) flight.

Michael Chibnik 7:43 PM  

A Monday or Tuesday puzzle on a Thursday...

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

Sara would probably be happy in a caftan (usually spelled kaftan in my book), given the era, but the two of them are in the wrong corner.

Bion/tenable were the last links to fall for me.

Definitely not Thursdayish.

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

dk -- think of axes as the plural of axis and not the plural of ax...



Orange 9:29 PM  

Am I the only one who is more accustomed to seeing caftan with a C than kaftan with a K? Must be because I see it only in crosswords—have never, ever shopped for a caftan! (Google hits for kaftan vs. caftan run about 374,000 vs. 276,000—not a huge difference.)

Rick, that must be why I dreamt that my ears were burning in the wee hours today...

Unknown 9:47 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 9:50 PM  

I liked this alright, but it was indeed a very easy Thursday (around 10-15 minutes for me -- I'm a slowpoke compared to all of you).

BLUESTATER - you aren't, by any chance, somehow associated with the recently-opened Blue State Cafe at the top of Thayer, are you??
I was also thrown by the Brown thing, but only for a minute. In other Lil' Rhody-related news, URI showed up in the grid, right there crossing the Brown UPS.

I was very happy (or even possibly as Rex might write, Very Happy,) to see GET LOW, and got it instantly. It's been a party staple ever since it came out, at least in some circles...

Anonymous 11:18 PM  

I was thinking REVelries.

Anonymous 11:27 PM  

I, too, thought this was an easy Thursday. In fact, I did it in about 17 minutes, a couple of minutes under my previous record, even though I spent a minute or two at the end staring at APS/ARI, before I noticed that the school was East Coast, so couldn't be some weird shortening of Arizona (and then UPS hit me).

Nobody else guessed which element Rex thought was funniest, so I'm going with c--instead of some obscure _#1_ hit, we'll go with something that didn't quite make it. Which reminds me of one of my favorite music trivia questions. Which artist/act had the most American #2 singles without ever getting a #1?

Anonymous 11:49 PM  

I think I heard somewhere that there was a program called "The Beatles on the Beeb." Yes, "Beeb" is an affectionate (?) nickname for the BBC.

Was never that crazy about the song "Sara" (found on Dylan's album DESIRE). Knowing that, despite the vows of eternal love in the song, Bob and Sara divorced later didn't help. I'm pretty sure Sara is the mother of Jakob Dylan, lead singer of the Wallflowers.

Congratulations ot all the Sox fans. Boston is wrapping up handing the Indians their heads tonight.

Anonymous 11:49 PM  

I think I heard somewhere that there was a program called "The Beatles on the Beeb." Yes, "Beeb" is an affectionate (?) nickname for the BBC.

Was never that crazy about the song "Sara" (found on Dylan's album DESIRE). Knowing that, despite the vows of eternal love in the song, Bob and Sara divorced later didn't help. I'm pretty sure Sara is the mother of Jakob Dylan, lead singer of the Wallflowers.

Congratulations ot all the Sox fans. Boston is wrapping up handing the Indians their heads tonight.

Anonymous 11:49 PM  

I thought REVS was short for revelers as in wedding partiers so didn't seem that odd to me.

Orange 1:24 AM  

A question: Have you ever heard "revelers" or "revelries" abbreviated as REVS? The crossword editor generally won't allow an abbreviation that isn't already listed in a dictionary. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Rev. is short for the book of Revelations or for Reverend. Lowercase rev. is short for revenue, reverse, revolution, revision, and review. Just something to keep in mind while solving.

Anonymous 1:28 AM  

Axes is the plural of axis. X, Y, and Z are the axes of three-dimensional space.

To Richard:

Water is not a hydroxide. A hydroxide is OH- which are found in bases or alkalis like sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Water (H2O) is of course neutral(neither acidic or basic)

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

You wrote 26A One of a series of joint Soviet/ U.S. space satellites.

Didn't you mean 26 D?

64 A Bob Dylan's first wife and the title of the song about her .

Made me think of "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac. Which if the clue makes a return in the future I will know it right away.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Kim, Oh, a chemist gotta jump in here, 6 weeks late. Water is a hydroxide, hydrogen hydroxide; also an oxide, dihydrogen oxide. Water is neutral because it is both and acid and a base and exists in equilibrium with egual amounts of protons and hydroxide ions from its ionization.

Anonymous 5:53 PM  

This one was super fast for me too; I finished in just over 7 minutes, my second fastest Thursday ever. I liked the Tex/OKIE clue.

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