THURSDAY, Nov. 1, 2007 - Larry Shearer

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Same clue up and down - everywhere an Across and Down clue share the same first letter, they also share the same clue

I've seen this conceit somewhere before. Not sure where or when. All of the Across-Down synonyms are fairly common words, and none of them skew the words toward different meanings, e.g. if you'd had the clue [Hit] and had the answers POPULAR SONG and PUNCH. What was interesting about a few of the shared-clue answers was that they were pairs that I often confuse when doing puzzles - Lord knows how many times, for instance, I've written EVADE when ELUDE was called for, and vice versa. The non-theme fill was mostly unremarkable, with a few fantastic exceptions. All in all, a fine, solid puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 1A/1D: Maintain (avow / aver) - started with KEEP ... :(
  • 5A/5D: Fiddle with (amend / alter)
  • 10A/10D: Rubberneck (gawk / gape) - came to me instantly; love when that happens
  • 25A/25D: Pair (duo / dyad) - started with TWO / TEAM ... :(
  • 26A/26D: Dodge (evade / elude)
  • 31A/31D: Gusto (vim / verve) - got VIM easily enough, but wanted VIGOR going Down ... :(
  • 53A/53D: It's all downhill from here (apogee / acme) - love the word APOGEE; glad I went for ACME and not APEX.
  • 57A/57D: Tore (ruptured / rent)
There is not much to criticize in this puzzle. AMUSER (48D: Comic, e.g.) is of course terrible, but the fact that it parallels the absurd but lovable and somehow thematically related APERY (52D: Impersonator's work) more than makes up for it. The long Downs are uniformly good, with DISGUISES (9D: Spy supply) being the just plain old good, DARK HUMOR (37D: Death jokes and such) and WILD IDEAS (4D: They're unlikely to work) being very good, and SMURFETTE (35D: Cartoon character with feminine wiles) being an All-Star. I had real trouble in the Far North, as I confidently entered HORSED for 6D: Goofed (around) and crossed it with ROI DE for 15A: _____ Soleil (Louis XIV) - actual answers are MESSED and LE ROI, respectively. Those answers seemed so good that I had trouble giving them up. Hence my merely average time (8 minutes and change) on a fairly easy puzzle. I could have sworn the phrase was "Le ROI DE Soleil," but Google tells me I am wrong, and though I hate Google half the time, I am powerless to resist its authority. I want to tell you all to use other search engines because Google can't find me half the time (esp. with the syndicated puzzle from 6 weeks ago), but if you are already reading me ... then you don't need to be told how to find me. You see my dilemma.

Tripped over ART I (41A: Part of the Constitution after the Preamble: Abbr.) - was convinced it was ACT I, for no good reason. Also tripped over KFC (50A: Fast-food franchise that started in S. Salt Lake, Ut.), in that I still think of that franchise as "Kentucky Fried Chicken." The move to KFC is creepy. It's like it's admitting that what it serves doesn't really qualify as food. I never see / hear the phrase In VIVO (2D: In _____ (form of research)), but I learned it from crosswords, so I didn't pause over it long. In other Latin news, I guessed, correctly, ERAT (7D: Quod _____ faciendum), which was the key to my getting out of the Far North alive. While we're still up there, I'll say that the clue 8D: Negative connector (nor) gave me minor fits for some reason. Kept thinking about batteries.

I love Thomas Hardy, though his novels are mostly gloomy and depressing, and though I haven't read "Tess" in 20 years, I vaguely remembered ALEC (40D: Lover of Tess in "Tess of the D'Urbervilles). Finally, award for the ugliest word in the puzzle goes to HAKE (43D: Relative of cod), which sounds like something my cat coughed up, or the act of his coughing it up.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Enjoyed it although the ALEC countdown is now back to zero.

For a semi-long answer DONSHULA was a gimme but I enjoyed it. I always like seeing full names in a puzzle.

ScottK 9:31 AM  

In vivo (in life) means experiments on live animals. It is opposed to the more common in vitro (in glass), meaning experiments in test tubes or petri dishes.

Whitey's mom 9:41 AM  

Liked the puzzle but confess to reading "notepad" before I started it so I would know what to expect. Should have done that yesterday.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Like Rex I was frozen in the far North and happy to see Smurfette.

I liked the puzzle.

barrywep 10:59 AM  

This puzzle works a lot better on paper where there are no across or down clues, just numbered clues. You need to look at the puzzle to see that a clue is both across and down. It makes solving it feel mdifferent and forces you to depart from your normal patterns to some extent.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

I liked the puzzle. Pretty easy for a Thursday. I know I've seen this theme in the last four or five months, but I cannot place it either. Someone will before the day is out.....Orange?

VIM and VERVE don't seem as closely aligned as the other paired answers. To me, VIM is energy-oriented, while VERVE is elan-oriented.

Sorry, that was a clunky way to put it. And the standards here are so high, what with Rex writing "if you're going to use the Question Mark, make the clue truly Question Marky", as he did on Tuesday. I'm still smiling over that phrase.

I fell into the ROI DE trap but it didn't last long. Took a bit to reconcile PASADENA with "sounds like 'a deal'" (instead of APLAN). I wanted DARKHUMOR and GLEE to be closer together, but you can't have everything.

Oh, and heaven forfend: KFC was not born in Kentucky! I suppose it's neither fried nor chicken, as well. I dread the day I turn onver my "Tom's of Maine" toothpaste tube and see the words "Made in China".

Final World Series comment -- could someone please show Dane Cook calendars from two different years so he'll realize there is more than one October?

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Really enjoyed this puzzle. I have seen this format in some of Will S's "Best of" puzzle books. Rex, I thought this format was clever for the exact reason that we had to figure out which of these synonyms commonly used as filler went across or down. I think using filler as the theme was nice puzzle creating. Lori

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Seeing Smurfette in a puzzle made my day! I got it just off M and F, so I'm feeling pleased with myself, and the sound of the name Smurfette just cracks me up. Belgium is also close to my heart. You all knew Schtroumpfette's Belgian, right? :-) Enjoyed the blog very much. Thanks Rex!

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Whitey's mom: thanks for mentioning the notepad. When I checked it I realized that the Across Lite version was different than the printed version. In fact it was harder, since initially there was no hint about why certain answers were clued with dashes. What could they mean? Were the answers supposed to be "hyphen", "dash", etc.? Even after finishing the puzzle, I had no idea that _every_ pair of across/down entries sharing a number had been clued just once.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Good puzzle. Didn't look at the notepad and figured out the "trick" at the EVADE/ELUDE crossing. I also had VIGOR at first, groaned at AMUSER, and smiled after I changed APING (ugh) to APERY. Not often you see RAKE and HAKE in the same puzzle.

BTW Don's Hula comment on VIM/VERVE may have been clunky but it was right.

PuzzleGirl 11:52 AM  

Couldn't figure out the theme for the life of me. Was happy to finally notice the Notepad. Woo-hoo! No Googling!

Loved WILD IDEAS and especially SMURFETTE.

Daredeviltry? Is that a word?

I'm ready to ban EZRA. Who's with me?

voiceofsocietyman 12:06 PM  

I also had ROI DE or ROI DU. Google helped fix that. I found the puzzle MEDIUM (as opposed to EASY/MEDIUM). I didn't like #24 (Nobel Lit IMRE Kertesz). That's pretty lame, imho, but was really impressed with the rest of the fill and the clever clues.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I agree, puzzlegirl, and he should take ESTHER with him.

Unknown 12:42 PM  

This puzzle gave me eye strain and a headache.Can you imagine what it did to the constructor Larry Shearer?

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

My husband and I frequently serve new types of fish for dinner to broaden our horizons and palettes, I suppose.

We still refer to our HAKE dinner as "the great hake mistake".

Still, I guess it helped me solve the puzzle today so it can't be all bad!

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

What did the notepad say?

I had a lot of trouble in Minnesota region; I got stubbornly stuck on ION as a negative connector for some reason, which made the Russian folk IVANS.

Lots of good solid clues today.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Karen -- here's the notepad quote

"The clues in the print version of this puzzle appear in a single list, combining Across and Down. Where two answers share a number, they also share a clue."

mruedas 1:01 PM  

For some reason, I had problems for a while in the SE. I wanted RIPPEDAT instead of RUPTURED, which worked for a while, but really MESSED with that corner until DARKHUMOR gave me the right answer. It's amazing how stubbornly one hangs onto one's (wrong) answers.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

A few months ago there was a puzzle with this format. Fun but my eye goes to the wrong place as I search for their clues in their usual configurations.

Unknown 1:08 PM  

Can someone explain ELSE (68A: "Something ____ (a wow)") to me?

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Well, this one was just plain fun. I'm certain we've had this type of construction with double clues sometime in the last six months or so. But it could be the one where the word started across and then ended down that I'm thinking of.

Is squoosh a word? I love it, but it doesn't mean mash to me. It's more of a wet squishy word, like the sound you make when you walk in really wet shoes or barefoot in deep mud. Really... have you ever had squooshed potatoes?

Anyone notice that there's a loop in the southwest that reads poop whichever way you go. Why does that cause me glee?

Loved the clue fiddle with. And the comic next to the impersonator. And the maids/linens.

These Foolish Things

A cigarette that bears the lipstick traces
An airline ticket to romantic places
And still my heart has wings
These foolish things
Remind me of you.

A tinkling piano in the next apartment
Those stumbling words that told you what my heart meant
A fairground's painted swings
These foolish things
Remind me of you.

Lyrics by Holt Marbell, Music by Harry Link and Jack Strachey. Five versions were made in 1936. Benny Goodman's hit #1.

Got the theme right away, so I went and filled all the theme answers in first and slipped up by filling hastened and hied for tore. Dumped it right away when I got back to the area and nothing fit around it.

Not from Kentucky, not chicken. Most definitely fried. One out of three?

42A is definitely one of the 22As

And... I loved that there were three choices for 14A veni, vidi, vici

Alex: "Something else" is just a way of saying "something special" or "a wow". Her costume was really something else.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

I originally had wild asses instead of wild ideas. I guess that was a wild idea.

Fun puzzle.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

I don't understand your dilema. Just because the people reading this have already found you is no reason to stop bad-mouthing Google. Personal animosity is always a good enough reason

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

I think may be the "Cirque de Soleil" snuck up on people and made them want to say "Roi du Soleil" , which then turned into Roi de Soleil (De is strictly speaking not grammatical, as Soleil is masculine). But he was not the King of the Sun. He was the Sun King, i.e. like the Sun, enlightened and enlightening.

The two phrases may seem interchangeable, in large part because in English one can do away with "of" and invert the order of words to indicate a possessive: this is "the car of the company" becomes the "company car". So, Sun King can be construed to mean "king of the sun" or Roi du Soleil. In French, however, there is a real distinction because the construction of the possessive is very specific.

More than you wanted to know... Used to be in psycholinguistics in a previous life...

As to Smurfette, she was something else, full of vim and verve, one of the cartoon greats : )


Anonymous 2:23 PM  


I believe FRIED has become non-PC. It may be because its current meaning is "to die" or some such. The happily rotund colonel with the high blood pressure has probably lost his charm as well.

fergus 3:22 PM  

Col. Sanders joined the LDS late in life, sensing the Apocalyse after seeing what his secret herbs and spices had wrought ... . Actually, I thought the fast food chain was considering putting at least the state and fowl back in the company name. And I am the only one confused by the soundtrack of "Sweet Home Alabama" on the KFC special value meals TV commercials? Guess we're really not in Kentucky anymore.

While I was doing this I was thinking that this was a true puzzler's puzzle, with the sort of inside jokes (of repeated confusion, or even misdirection) that Rex started in on with EVADE/ELUDE, AVOW/AVER etc. Almost makes me want to find a puzzle with nothing but the ENYAs and ALECs disguised as T-MEN.

That Biblical quartet starting with EZRA kicked in yet again this week. And yeah, this form (conceit, comme dit LE ROI Monde-Croise) was featured in the NYT just a few months ago, since I remember commenting on the eyestrain resulting from continually looking in the wrong place for Across and Down.

APOGEE/ACME was my favorite pair, since the clue is similarly accurate for both, and yet not too direct for either.

PuzzleGirl 3:38 PM  

I recall a recent puzzle where the across/down answer combinations were homonyms. I think I remember BOLDER / BOULDER.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  


I too have heard that KFC is going to unacronymize itself (lobacronymatomy?).


I think you are correct, I also remember BOLDER/BOULDER specifically.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

Puzzlegirl et al ---

I googled "Boulder bolder crossword" and scanned for something that looked applicable and ended up at Orange's site's description of the Thursday August 23, 2007 NYT crossword. That's where we have seen the combined list of across and down clues (although the answers were homophones).

I figured Orange would provide the answer.....

Chip Ahoy 4:21 PM  


PuzzleGirl 4:46 PM  

Yeah, where the heck is Orange anyway??

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

I'm sorry foodie, I can't resist: Cirque de soleil (or Roi de soleil) is grammatically fine. 'de' is not tied to masculine or feminine, it just means to distinguish between the actual sun and sun-like, as you said. I think le Roi soleil makes it even stronger: he's not sun-like, he is the sun.

Orange 5:30 PM  

Sheesh, can't a woman head off to the salon once in a while? I'm going to be on the TV soon (the crossword game show), so a cut, color, and brow threading were in order, and yes, I look lovely. I couldn't remember the specifics about the other puzzles with a similar theme, but my commenters did. Russell Brown tipped me off to my Aug. 23 post. about Joe Krozel's B homophone puzzle—eight pairs of soundalike words starting with B. And Janie remembered this 2000 puzzle by John Duschatko, in which two-word phrases with a common first letter held center stage (e.g. LEFT / LANE, HERMANN / HESSE).

fergus 5:52 PM  

Maybe it's too much concentration on women of the organic hippie persuasion but I have only the oddest idea of how you would get your brow threaded. Or brows? Yeah, I know about waxing and shaping -- could this beauty treatment be akin to a hair extension?

Anonymous 6:31 PM  

Another good day - no trip to Google!! Guess I'm old-hat, but I always do the puzzle in the newspaper with a pencil (sometimes a pen on Monday or Tuesday!!) I really don't enjoy it nearly as much if I do it on the computer. There was a note at the top which was obviously the same as the one on the computer note-pad. I too well remember a very similar puzzle back in the summer and as I only do the NY Times it had to be there.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

Okay, now I'm curious about what a brow threading is. I've waxed, tinted, trimmed, shaped, tweezed, plucked, but never threaded. Please, Orange, to explain.

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

Oh, this one was just fun! I had to admire the constructor just for setting up something like this.

As long as we're quoting song lyrics:

Look at that
Here she comes
Here comes that girl again
One of the cutest since I don't know when
But she don't notice me when I pass
She goes with all the guys from outta my class
But that can't stop me from thinking to myself,
That girl's fine looking, man
She's something else!

Eddie Cochran was a great, great rockabilly artist.

Orange 7:31 PM  

Good lord, Fergus! Hair extensions for the eyebrows? That's an odd image—eyebrows gently flowing in the breeze. Rikki, threading (description in this link) is like tweezing 50 or 100 hairs at once and thus reducing the instances of pain by a factor of 50 or 100. And no gunk is applied to the skin as in waxing, so no skin irritation. The woman I see, Saadia, is from the Middle East or North Africa (I forget which) and has ample threading experience.

Anonymous 7:45 PM  

Kinda sorta wasn't thrilled with this puzzle. The across/down commonality structure is Triple A ball, maybe even the majors. As such, the fill needs to match the high concept, and for me it didn't measure up. Of the eight common clues, half were regular crossword either/or ho hummers with the same letter length--avow/aver, amend/alter, gawk/gape, and evade/elude. Nice try, though.

Michael Chibnik 8:15 PM  

I admired this puzzle more than I enjoyed it. I trudged through the puzzle and actually thought it was hard for a Thursday. I felt like my brain was working at half-speed. Just one of those days, I guess.

Unknown 9:21 PM  

This reminded me of the homophone puzzle from this past August too -- I thought this was slightly better executed, but in both cases I think they were a little too easy. With homophones it's hard to have any curveballs, but with this one there could've been differently-sensed answers, as Rex notes (POP SONG & PUNCH).

fergus 9:24 PM  

Orange, I was more amused with the image of a brow furrow enhancement, like some sort of Star Trek adornment. To really make an impression on the Crossword TV show? Good luck, though I can hardly imagine that luck is what you'll need.

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

Scott and others,
Although Wikipedia refers to IN VIVO as research done in a living organism, in medicine by IN VIVO we often mean how something (e.g., a drug), actually works in a person taking it, and not just in the lab.

PuzzleGirl 10:51 PM  

Like others, I was intrigued by the unknown concept of brow threading. But it's possible I'm even more interested in the TV show. Orange, can you give us details?

Anonymous 10:59 PM  

Brow threading aside, am I the only one who had BETTYBOOP instead of SMURFETTE? And I was so proud of myself, too... ahh well.

Anonymous 10:59 PM  

It's 7:59 PM west Friday puzzle yet. Anyone know what's happening? Ususally comes in at 7:00.

Orange 11:26 PM  

Puzzlegirl, Andrew Laurence wrote about his recent appearance on Merv Griffin's Crosswords. I sought advice about game strategy and got a ton of tips. I'l be taping on 11/12, with the show presumably airing sometime this winter. To find out if the show's on in your area or to learn about tryouts, visit the show's site.

Anonymous 12:11 AM  


It's there. It says Thursday, Nov 2nd and it's the Friday one. Typo I guess.

Orange, I will not be threading anything, thank you very much. It looks very ouchish. I'll stick to plucking. Good luck on the show.

Anonymous 12:48 AM  

thanks rikki

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