MONDAY, Dec. 17, 2007 - Richard Chisholm

Monday, December 17, 2007

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Seasons, plural - every theme answer ends with a plural form of a season: SPRINGS, FALLS, SUMMERS, and WINTERS

First, I wish the seasons appeared in order. I'm just sayin'.

Second, holy mackerel this puzzle was difficult ... FOR A MONDAY. It took me just over 4 minutes, which by any standard is a respectable time, but I had many long pauses and furious re-typing sessions as I struggled over words that just would not come easily. I am not complaining about the struggle, just noting it. I do love a challenge, and anything that spices up a Monday puzzle is more than welcome.

Let's start with the theme, which I will complain about, for a couple reasons. First, two of the answers don't have very wide currency, and one of them I've seen very recently, though I cannot confirm where at the moment. And second, as I've said ... the seasons are out of order.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Upstate New York city and spa (Saratoga Springs) - I feel like I've seen this answer three times this year, at least twice in the NYT, and yet cursory searches turn up nothing. What the hell puzzle(s) am I thinking of? Little help? I think there's a race track here, but still, I contend that many folks, especially non-New Yorkers, don't know this place exists.
  • 24A: Honeymooners' destination (Niagara Falls) - Another NY answer.
  • 42A: Former president of Harvard (Larry Summers) - I know you think I'm just another Northeast liberal with an expensive education, but I swear to you that I've Never heard of this guy. Harvard Schmarvard. Not really on my radar. Trying to solve this answer, without any idea of the theme (I rarely notice the theme on Mondays), was awkward. I had BARRY at one point, and filled in ABBERANT for 35D: Broad-minded (tolerant) without ever looking at the clue. Two problems: ABBERANT is not a word, and even if it were, it would be a poor answer for the clue in question.
  • 54A: Comic who played Robin Williams's son in "Mork & Mindy" (Jonathan Winters) - this clue is technically inaccurate. WINTERS played Mork's son, not Robin Williams's.
The hard stuff:

  • 9A: Lesser-played half of a 45 (side B) - I can't be the only one who instinctively, instantly wrote in BSIDE.
  • 14A: Elementary particle (muon) - seen it in late-week puzzles, I think, but it looks nuts here on a Monday. Thankfully, I never saw this clue.
  • 29A: Fix, as brakes (reline) - a reasonable answer, but one that would not come. I had REPADS (getting the verb form wrong) and then RESHOE (!?).
  • 6D: Home of the Cowboys, familiarly (Big D) - I've been burned by this answer before, so not today, and yet this feels very un-Monday. The time I got burned was a Sunday, I think. BIG D got their asses handed to them by the hot-and-cold Eagles yesterday. Boo hoo (sarcasm=high).
  • 10D: Isle of Man's locale (Irish Sea) - had the IRI- and I swear to you IRISH never occurred to me. This wasn't terribly hard. My brain just froze.
  • 13D: Swiss city on the Rhine, old-style (Basle) - this is a Saturday answer. WTF!?!?!
  • 19D: Working stiff (prole) - a fine word, but Not one I was expecting today. Kept trying to make PEON fit.
  • 23D: French city where Jules Verne was born (Nantes) - Uncle! Turns out NANTES is more common than I thought, but still ... if I had to name 10 French cities, this one would not make the list.
  • 43D: Mountain ridges (aretes) - Yikes. A totally uncommon word in the real world, but one that does have a certain presence in xworld. Surprised to see it on a Monday, especially with all the other reasonably tough words.


  • 56A: Auto route from Me. to Fla. (U.S. One) - an inventive, playful five-letter answer.
  • 5D: Shipment to a steel mill (iron ore) - better than just ORE. IRON ORE is actually quite common, as 7-letter answers go.
  • 44D: Powerful rays (mantas) - Oh, those rays.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


DONALD 8:58 AM  

Sarasota Springs -- April 27

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Bside got my (wrong) vote also. I didn't believe in prole nor muon until I checked later.

I've taken to timing my Mon-Weds., and am pleased with a 2XRex finish, even without ever having heard of Larry Summers (nor prole or muon).

haha on me, I never saw the theme until coming here. I guess I was too intent on speeding as fast as my fingers could carry me to see the trees in the forest.

An enjoyable puzzle for me (see speed demon) as well as plenty of noncrosswordese fills.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

As someone who has never lived in New York, and spent most of my life west of the Mississippi, I can safely say that at least some non-New Yorkers have heard of Saratoga Springs. Can't really tell you much about it, or distinguish it from Sarasota Springs...but I got it with only a few crosses (after wondering why Sarasota Springs wouldn't fit).

Larry Summers got a lot of press a year or two ago for remarks he made saying that there are some inherent differences between men and women, and research should be done as to why there aren't more female academics in the realm of math and sciences. Apparently feminists took offense. Most of my female academic friends and I thought he made a valid point. Anyway, my point is that it wouldn't take knowing a lot about the Ivies to come up with the name Larry Summers--just recall of year or two old news. Still not typical Monday-level fare.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

First I thought the theme was different water types--springs, falls. then I thought it was places in NY but when JONATHON WINTERS fell, the light bulb went on.
MUON was not a problem. Never heard of LARRY SUMMERS either--but then again I'm from the MId-west.

Orange 9:34 AM  

I have a friend who's a feminist academic blogger and you'd better believe she was all over Larry Summers' whirlwind-of-controversy remarks. What passed for solid data to him was the idea of a little girl naming a toy truck and treating it like a baby doll. Why, if he'd seen that, then surely there were innate differences between men and women that account for women's underrepresentation in math and science departments in upper-echelon universities. The fact that women remain responsible for the bulk of childcare and housework couldn't possibly stand in the way of their professional advancement, could it? He also mentioned that "white men are very substantially underrepresented in the National Basketball Association; and that Jews are very substantially underrepresented in farming and in agriculture." Really, more is expected of a Harvard president than of, say, Rush Limbaugh.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

I too went the water route until Winters.
I agree with RP that B-side is preferred, it also has more google hits.
Muon was a new one for me even though I'm a fan of Richard Feynman.

Alex S. 9:42 AM  

Saratoga Springs is at least well known enough that Disney went ahead and themed one of their Walt Disney World hotels after the city. Saratoga Springs is their most recent resort property. Here's and article comparing the real place with the Disney place.

All four theme answers were gimmes (I remember Larry Summers from his big gender scandal) so the puzzle was pretty open. It ended up being my first sub-5 minute finish.

I did make the B-SIDE mistake but it was fixed pretty much immediately by DANCE and EDGAR.

I did notice a fair number of unexpected words for a Monday but most of the time it was only in passing as I got them completely from crosses.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Off topic for today, but there's a Lee J Cobb (Yess, that Lee J Cobb) marathon on TCM tonight.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Got SARATOGASPRINGS from the SAR because Sarasota is in Florida. I think I know it from old movies. If I remember correctly, rich people in '30s movies were always going to Saratoga to take the waters and go to the track.

About 50% above my normal Monday and I really don't know why. I knew three of the four themes right off. The only slightly tough part was the middle, not knowing
Summers and whether NANTES ended in an S or a Z.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Saratoga Springs was a world famous spa in the nineteenth century. I live in Saratoga, California, renamed (from "Banks Mill" in 1865) in the hope of drawing tourists to its springs. Calistoga, California (famous for wine and bottled water) was named with a portmanteau of "California" and "Saratoga" for the same reason.

The entry SARATOGA SPRINGS appeared in the May 16, 2007 Sun. The theme was phrases that start in ways that can precede "Lee."

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Strange how when you already know it, it looks easy... I grew up in the UK, spent holidays in Switzerland and the Isle of Man, studied physics and engineering at MIT (very familiar with muons), my wife went to Harvard and my MIT advisor took part in the study that lead to Larry Summers comments... and I loved Mork & Mindy! So I thought today was easy even by Monday's standards! :)

But ALAR I didn't know, and napkins could go on a LAP or a LIP (kind of, in a push).

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Oh, and have had great food in nantes, and spent Tet in Vietnam just three years ago...

Eric Selje 10:12 AM  

I thought, with Springs and Falls, that it was going to be places with verbs in their names. Even with Winters it took me half a step to get that they were more than just verbs.

Up here in Packer Country, we refer to the home of the Cowboys as the Toilet Bowl, due to the shape of their stadium's roof. When that didn't fit, I reverted to University of Wyoming names, before coming back around to Big D (compensating?).

I liked this puzzle fine, for a Wednesday.

flyingpig 10:41 AM  

Like many of you I also wrote Bside but changed it quickly when I saw that Edgar had to fit.

Muon is vaguely familar but I never would have come up with out the crosses.

I think Tet deserves a place in the Pantheon, don't you?

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Larry Summers simply raised the question about the underrepresentation of women in math and science, and suggested further research into the possibility of innate differences of brain structure, etc. having something to do with it. He did not assert this as a fact, but simply suggested it might be worthy of research. It seems dogmatic to me to preclude the possibility without at least be willing to do some investigation.

Great puzzle for a Monday.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

When I looked at the clock that had registered an elapsed time of eight minutes start to finish, I went back to see what had caused all the delays (maybe three+ minutes worth). MUON was one I got, but was wholly unknown to me, which I found terribly weird for a Monday and the cause of some consternation. BIGD took a bit of time, since I only had the G and couldn't see how this gets you to Dallas. That resulted in too much time spent figuring out a different Cowboy meaning and locale. I think I've seen PROLE before, but maybe only on a Friday or Saturday. Spent way too much time thinking it had to be PEON, though knew it couldn't be right. BASLE was another one I got relatively quickly because of the the fill around it, but paused more than slightly to even ask myself if this could be right for a Monday. Could it be that Will doesn't want Mondays to always be robotically automatic gimmes? That every now and then (like today), it's good to throw in a ringer?

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

The only reason Basle came quickly to me was because it was the birthplace of Leonhard Euler, who is on a lot of mathematicians' minds this year since it is the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Saratoga Springs came immediately since my daughter is now applying to colleges and Skidmore is there. Beautiful town...

PuzzleGirl 11:21 AM  

I was very happy to see Rex's rating of challenging on this puzzle. I have been zipping through Mondays right around 4 minutes but this one took me 7+.

I, too, had BSIDE at first. But when I saw it on top of PRADA, I knew there was something wrong. I had a lot of trouble in the PROLE, NANTES, RELINE area. (Prole??)

The New York Racing Association has three tracks. They race at Aqueduct November-April, at Belmont May-July and September-October, and at Saratoga in August (more or less -- this year they actually began the season on July 25 and raced through Labor Day). My parents go every year, so it was a gimme for me.

Hydromann 11:36 AM  

I was glad to see that I am not the only one to measure my puzzle-solving pace relative to Rex's time. Not as fast as Marcie, I am delighted to achieve 3XRex times, which I did today. For me, it was very easy. No stumbles. (Just a slow typist with a slow brain!)

BTW, anyone who has taken Geology 101 has been introduced to the term, ARETE. So, welcome to the "unreal" world of geology, I guess.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

The remarks by Larry Summers are at: Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Everything I know about Saratoga... btw, is Saratoga and Saratoga Springs the same place?

Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your
Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun

Well, you're where you
Should be all the time
And when you're not
You're with

Some underworld spy or
The wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend and

You're so vain
you probably think this song is about you...

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

VERY easy with all too many pantheon candidates. Viz.Ibar, Okie, sideB, Anka, Esso, Tet, Esau.
I ran at a rat to go to him sans lags. Dull, no?
Maybe I should shut up and try to set a puzzle of my own instead of being so critical.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

I'm from Big-D, my oh yes. I mean Big-D, little-A, double-L, A, S. And that spells Dallas ....
"Most Happy Fella", a great old Broadway musical. (Frank Loesser)

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

I forgot to mention Big D. My friend in Maine refers to her and her dog's big leavings as "Big D." Is this not a bit unsuitable breakfast fare? Or is "Big D" only a Maine thing?
Do not want to go into detail as subject is a bit repulsive and infantile unless one has chosen to be a proctologist. It's all in the clues to be sure.

Anonymous 12:58 PM  

I felt like this was hard for a Monday, but I had a relatively normal to good time for me of 5:20. So I was actually pleasantly surprised.

I ditto the SIDE B/B SIDE debate. I had SIDE B, thought it should be B SIDE, erased it (oops), checked the crossings, and wrote SIDE B back in with chagrin. I'm sure there was a more efficent way to do all that....

And I'm sure that Larry Summers wishes he could go back to a time when he was so little known that he couldn't be a theme answer.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

OMG - cannot say HOW MANY TIMES I've typed in "BSIDE" instead of "SIDEB". You'd think a body would learn... So glad you found this puzzle challenging - I had to resort to Google a couple of times, which I NEVER have to do on a Monday! Would have been very depressed if'd you'd designated it an "easy."

Anonymous 1:10 PM  


This puzzle was tough, but fun, for a Monday. I had Pucci instead of Prada at first but changed it once I got the downs. Gucci makes me think of Pucci. I also kept doubting my answers as they seemed more Wednsday-ish. I had muon immediately but kept on thinking it had to be wrong for a Monday.

As to Saratoga Springs, my parents, in my youth, used to buy sparkling mineral water from Saratoga Springs. It worked as a digestive (or antacid) as it contained a lot of bicarbonate of soda. As to Larry Sumers (which I first misspelled as Sommers [with an O] until I realized the theme and corrected it) he was known to me only because of the brouhaha over his sexist (not using it as a pejorative) remarks. Still,I could not remeber his first name nor how to spell his last.


I will now be haunted by your scatological comments whenever I hear Big D.

Anonymous 1:10 PM  

Doesn't anyone care that the Cowboys are really from Irvine?

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Larry Summers was also a Secretary of the Treasury after Robert Rubin.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Rex, what you said. I made all the same mistakes you did, and had problems in the exact same area.

I did this one in 7 (on a Monday, oh the shame), but there was an interruption in the middle, so it was probaby 5, but still....

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

I have an advanced degree in math, and I have seen many women drop out of math and science at different academic levels, not due to lack of talent. Thank you, Orange, for your post and your link.

And now, a totally retrograde quote from the song "Adelaide's Lament" (Guys and Dolls):

And furthermore,
Just from stalling and stalling and stalling the wedding trip,
A person can develop la grippe.

When they get on the train to Niagara, she can hear the church bells chime.
The compartment is air conditioned and the mood sublime.
Then they get off at Saratoga for the fourteenth time,
A person can develop la grippe, la grippe, la post-nasal drip,
With the wheezes, and the sneezes, and the sinuses really a pip!
From a lack of community property and a feeling she's getting too old,
A person can develop a bad, bad cold.

bilbart 1:37 PM  


Anonymous 2:20 PM  

First time to comment, but I love the chattering (nattering) here. I am old fashioned and do these in ink from a paper! By Fridays I have a right awful looking puzzle. Today was pretty bad though...Bside got me. I had some trouble with words that wouldn't come, but I did know a muon instantly and aretes because I do crosswords and not because I ever read it in a text book.

Many common words though...for Ibar Will should just clue " that four letter word." When did you say the Pantheon of xword words was coming out? Do you take suggestions?

reforming sugar addict 2:37 PM  

I just discovered your blog.

As a weekly crossword puzzler, I look forward to the easy breezy Mondays and agree that today's likeness was anything but.

I only got Alar because of the other clues but I didn't pick up on the theme, even though I am from NYC , and knew the answers..

glad I wasn't the only one taken aback by today's puzzle.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Also, first time commentor- I heard that Saratoga Springs is known for the place where the potatoe chip was invented by George Crum.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

Profphil, I heart you for your discerning wit.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Morris got it right.
Summers was pilloried for merely SUGGESTING that there might, among three other reasons, be some inherent differences in capability of reaching the highest levels of scientific performance that would result in fewer women - say 1 in 10,000 reaching a level reached by men at a rate of 2 in 10,000, BUT it was untestable and therefore MOOT.
But to even suggest that women might be genetically challenged in some academic ability -- the horror!
By the way, I found this puzzle extraordinarily easy, even for a Monday. I did think of BSIDE looking at the clue, but I already had side[]from the downs.

wendy 3:12 PM  

FYI, I believe the puzzle uses B SIDE and SIDE B equally often, depending on the constructor's need. I know it's been the "right" way in the past (i.e., not the way it was today).

I have an empty Saratoga Springs bottle sitting on my west facing kitchen window sill because the sun filtering through the cobalt blue is quite stunning. I brought it back with me from a visit to my sister in Pennsylvania; I'd never seen it before in Ohio.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

"Proles" gained a lot of currency from Orwell's "1984." Don't know if he coined it, but it certainly has entered the language, as has, naturally, "Big Brother." The Edict of Nantes was issued on April 13, 1598 by Henry IV of France to grant the Calvinist Protestants of France (also known as Huguenots) substantial rights in a nation still considered essentially Catholic. That's why I knew Nantes. "Arete," like "adit," (not in today, of course) is a word I learned only from doing Xwords.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

Alas. Seems I'm the only one who tried SIDEC.

fergus 3:29 PM  

I might finally remember what 'portmanteau' actually means after Martin's reference above. Certain words just never seem to stick, and others seem to require an extra flag to in order to stay remembered. Even though I was aware of the Calistoga derivation (mud baths, and an Olympic-sized pool with 104 degree water) I might now forever remember portmanteau through the Calistoga association. Portmanteau, btw, means 'wear a coat' in French.

And in French history wouldn't the Edict of NANTES stand out? Perhaps as a liberated Huguenot it assumes greater personal prominence?

On Economics & Finance front, both LARRY SUMMERS and BASLE play major roles. He made his name as a champion academic economomist (a la Paul Krugman), and BASLE is the location of the Bank for International Settlements, which plays Central Bank to central bankers.

Seemed like there were relatively few abbreviations or acronyms today -- usually a good feature.

I'm hoping for a drawing suggested by the crossing of RASCAL and SPRAWL.

Dan 3:30 PM  

Boy, am I glad to see Rex's difficulty rating. My Mom was over my shoulder, never having seen me "speed-solve" before. (I hadn't heard of the ACPT before "Wordplay" aired on PBS in October - now I'm totally training.) So she was impressed by my 4:30, but I was wondering if she'd given me decaf.

Filling in BSIDE slowed me down the most, but I was lucky not to have seen the clues for BASLE, ARETES, or NANTES...

Also slowing me down? Bursting into song as soon I filled in BIGD. ("The Most Happy Fella" is my second-favorite musical of all time. #1? "Sweeney Todd." Friday can't come soon enough!)

flyingpig 3:36 PM  

Actually a portemanteau is a coat rack (here porte means to carry and manteau means coat)

Anonymous 3:39 PM  

I didn't think it was too bad for a Monday until I saw my time! (And that's even with Orange's suggestion from last Monday about getting an across and not writing it in until I saw the downs associated with it).

Well, being a doc hindered me again- I had NIAGRA (thanks, Pfizer!). Of course, that got remedied very quickly.

Also did the B SIDE thing but now as I revisit the clue, it seems that SIDE B fits it better. B SIDE tends to refer to a song and not the actual physical location of it: i.e. "an album of B sides".

Was going to comment on PROLE from "1984" but Doris beat me to it.

BASLE- I'm used to BASEL, so was happy to get it from the crosses.

ARETE- Used to see this one all the time but not at all lately. Had to drag it out of the cobwebby recesses of my mind.

Just as an aside, I grew up in Miami, just blocks off of US ONE.

fergus 4:02 PM  

That coat rack is a better image for seeing bits of things thrown together. Porter, as both to carry and to wear, shows how similar these English verbs can be. Thanks, Flying Pig, for pointing this out.

Anonymous 4:21 PM  

In nineteenth-century British usage a portmanteau was a large suitcase. Lewis Carroll had Humpty Dumpty use the metaphor in explaining Jabberwocky to Alice.

Orange 5:32 PM  

Wendy, you're right—in the NYT crossword, BSIDE and SIDEB each have five hits in the Cruciverb database. (When you include the other newspapers whose crosswords are indexed there, it's 27 for BSIDE to 19 for SIDEB.)

From the difficulty standpoint, I thought today's puzzle was just as easy as the typical Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 6:27 PM  

The first definition for portmanteau from the Oxford English Dictionary is:

A case or bag for carrying clothing and other belongings when travelling; (originally) one of a form suitable for carrying on horseback; (now esp.) one in the form of a stiff leather case hinged at the back to open into two equal parts.

You have to get down to number 4 to hit the clothes rack definition.

It turns out that it can also mean a person, specifically an officer or aide responsible for bearing the robes of the king of France.

It can also be a verb. Again, from the OED:

To combine (two or more ideas, proposals, etc.); to combine elements and meanings of (two or more words) to form a single word

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

Basle - when/why did it change to Basel. It's odd as it sounds the same either way.

Puzzlegirl -- prole is short for a member of the proletariat, ie, somebody from the working class.

Larry Summers said something that in itself was defensible, but, about a topic that is clearly off limits -- too hot for comment.

These topics such as race, gender, ethnicity are so ruled by PC that to even mention them in any way different from the party line can get you fired. Can arouse firestorms of outrage, protest and a demand for ostracism. Ask Don Imus.

I think it's a fair question: why are the great mathematicians all male?

Anonymous 6:47 PM  

Must be an "in" thing on this site: what does "in the Pantheon mean"

Orange 7:17 PM  

Jim from the left coast: See the sidebar to the right—under "Important Posts," "THE PANTHEON 2007" is Rex's post outlining his pantheon of crosswordese, more or less. Words that appear in crosswords out of proportion to their use in everyday language are hot prospects for the pantheon. Who knows what an erne is other than crossword solvers and ornithologists?

Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. Those male mathematicians did not spring out of a vacuum. They arose from a society that tossed women in the kitchen and assigned them the task of raising children, while young men could get educations. C'mon, you know this. It is rather recently that women in some countries began to have equal access to education (in many countries, women still don't), and they still face plenty of bias. (Sorry to veer off-topic, Rex.)

Rex Parker 7:24 PM  

Perhaps my (male) best friend, a mathematician who has written about women and minorities in mathematics, will chime in on this issue. If he does, let's all hope he doesn't decide to tear somebody a new one.


Anonymous 7:37 PM  

Did this late in the day and also found it a bit tougher than average for Monday. Made the BSIDE error and erased PRADA because I thought thats where the mistake was. Not one of my faster Mondays. Needed some crosses to finally recognize LARRY.. but the rest of the theme answers were gimmies. Pretty enjoyable Monday effort.

Marcie, I was hoping someone would mention the Carly Simon song.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

Hi all. Yup, took me twice as long as my standard Monday, but I didn't mind slowing down for a nice little Monday puzzle. Just a small nit on 28A alternative to .com or .edu = ord, those dots bugged me as there is no dot in the answer. Minor, but a nit's a nit. Odd, too, that two of the theme answers favored the state of New York.

Marcie... I thought of that Carly Simon song, too. I just listened to a cd of her doing standards... great! Doris... prole brought me back to 1984, too. I remember when I read it, the year seemed so far off. And now it's already years ago. Karmasartre... very funny.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Dissenting voice here, and I just breezed through this one. Larry Summers was a gimme (I lived in Washington while he was Treasury Secretary and followed the Harvard gaffes), Saratoga Springs came easily, and I live a couple of hours from Niagara Falls. Only the Winters was hard, and by then I had the theme. The whole thing took just 4 stops of my 6-stop subway ride, which might be a Monday record.

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

NIAGRA FALLS! Slowly I turned...

Dan, you scooped me on "Big D" from MOST HAPPY FELLA. (And like you, I can't wait to see what Burton and Depp do with SWEENEY TODD.

Yep, I'm another BSIDEr.

Robin Williams was reportedly ecstatic about Jonathan Winters being on MORK AND MINDY. He admired Winters' improvisations on the old Jack Parr edition of THE TONIGHT SHOW.

The only president of Harvard I could think of was A. Bartlett Giamatti, later commissioner of baseball and the father of the fine character actor Paul Giamatti.

This was a tricksy (LORD OF THE RINGS was on TV yesterday) but enjoyable.

Michael Chibnik 7:59 PM  

I decided to try Orange's advice for fast Monday solving. (Look at the top acrosses, get them mentally but don't fill them, and then do the downs). Worked like a charm in the NW, but then I ran out of ink (twice!) and next I wrote in "bside" so no speed records here.

I'm a bit surprised that Rex as an academic hadn't heard of Larry Summers. He was all over the news last year for his [foolish in my view] comments about women and science. And then Summers was more in the news as the Harvard faculty debated his remarks (and other behavior) and as he eventually lost his job.

Anonymous 8:20 PM  

I believe Bart Giamatti was president of Yale, not Harvard.

And I'm glad to see someone mention Adelaide's Lament, I've been singing it all day because of the theme answers of Niagara and Saratoga.

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

Orange: it's interesting the way you responded to my *question*.

Your answer can neither be proved nor disproved.

You say: "They arose from a society that tossed women in the kitchen and assigned them the task of raising children, while young men could get educations."

How do you account then for all the great women writers? If I understand your theory there should be none. Only cooks and nursemaids.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Didn't Bart Giamatti have a connection with Saratoga Springs?

I seem to recall that he was a teacher-administrator at a woman's college there. He left there to became baseball commissioner.

Wikipedia doesn't mention this, though.

Anybody know?

Rex Parker 8:45 PM  

First, women writers have historically been a maligned minority. Austens were the exception, not the rule. If you'd lived 100 years ago, you wouldn't have been caught dead saying something like "all the great women writers" unless you were being ironic. So the differences between women in literature and women in math should perhaps not be exaggerated. There have always been great female writers, but they have not always been recognized as such.

Now, if we could leave the Woman Question alone and get back on topic, that would be awesome.

Thank you

wendy 9:01 PM  

jerry20020, this might be a stretch, but the guy who wrote the story that was adapted into the movie The Illusionist, which starred Paul Giamatti, is also a professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs.
Could that be it?

bilbart 9:22 PM  

jery20029 and Wendy:

"Isn't it clear that women have great language skills"

", this might be a stretch, but the guy who wrote the story that was adapted into the movie The Illusionist, which starred Paul Giamatti, is also a professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs."

Yes, Steven Millhauser ... and his wife is Cathy one of our favorite puzzlemakers.

Arthur Radley

Orange 9:25 PM  

I'd like to rebut Jerry, but Rex has asked (and in fact asked before Jerry's last comment) that the topic be dropped.

Unknown 9:30 PM  

Got a lot of the puzze right away...who knows why. But Ibar?! There's I-beam and rebar but as far as I know no one in the industry calls stuff I-bar.

Drove me crazy.

fergus 9:39 PM  

Without defying Rex's decree I might point out that Larry Summers' mainstream Economics field has been one of the most benightedly abstract academic disciplines for such a long time. The whole bizarre mathematical construct rested on the assumption of universal dispassionate rationality ... so I sort of have sympathy for the reliance on questionable sources for his supposed biases.

I do understand Rex's circumscription of topic validity, but some issues make the line a little bit more blurry. Screeds and ravings are out of bounds, of course, but where do the permutations on tangents of theme entries fall?

Anonymous 9:48 PM  

Billnut... step by step... ;-)

Dean... I just asked my custom-home-building buddy about i-bar and he said what you said... rebar, I-beam. He's never heard of I-bar either. There is a river in Serbia called the Ibar River for future reference to obscure Saturday geographical clues.

I'm craving Orange rolls.

Finally checked out Emily's website. Wow! Thanks for sharing her work with us, Rex. I also happened onto Jonathan Winters' website and he's selling little sketches he's done. Not nearly as exciting as Emily's.

Fergus... yes... I couldn't have said it better myself. Really, no way could I have said it better or anywhere near as well. I would have added the word archaic somewhere in there, but otherwise, right on. Sorry Rex, but Richard Chisolm started it by using Summers as a theme item.

By the way, Richard, if you're reading, it was a really juicy Monday puzzle.

Rex Parker 9:53 PM  

Rikki - if you hadn't mentioned Emily's website (which warrants mentioning) I'd have deleted your email and Fergus's before it. You wanna say any more on the matter, start your own blog. Have some respect for my more-than-polite requests and stop forcing me to treat you all like *#@$ing children.


janie 9:56 PM  

i-bar, if uncommon, looks to be legit:

i -bar



Anonymous 10:06 PM  

I grew up in Albany, NY, and remember many newspaper articles in the late-60s on the arrival of Bart Giamatti at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, some 30 miles to the north of us. He wasn't there long but while he was there he was much celebrated.

Anonymous 10:22 PM  

Rex: Emily's web site -- how do I get there?

Michael Chibnik 11:07 PM  

I can't find any evidence on the internet that Bart Giamatti ever was associated with Skidmore College. After receiving his Ph.D., he taught briefly at Princeton and then returned to Yale.

Michael 11:16 PM  

(diff. Michael than the commentor above)

As usual, I agree with Rex's comments, except that ARETE (or the plural) is a common crossword word. Whenever I see a 5-ltr. mtn. ref it's arete, and 3-ltrs. it's TOR (or ALP).

But what do I know? Wanna feel good about your xword-knowledge? Ck out my dopey appearance on Merv Griffin's show on my blog...

Anonymous 11:34 PM  

"Comic who played Robin Williams's son in "Mork & Mindy" (Jonathan Winters) - this clue is technically inaccurate. WINTERS played Mork's son, not Robin Williams's."

Rex, I've gotta disagree...the answer is the actor's name, so shouldn't the clue include an actor's name rather than a character?
Although I would have liked to see the clue "Comic who played Mearth" because it's a great name.

fergus 11:40 PM  


Why an ANSWER is clued in such a way is an integral part of your blog's raison d'etre, no?

I know that carrying on with some gender politics deviates too much, but my question was way more with why LARRY was crowned with that ceremonial post.

The easy-access clue makes his origins open to question, vetting, and venting. I'm not sure whether Rikki was seconding that Economics opinion, but it is where I thought she was heading.

emilyjo.c @ gmail dot com 11:59 PM  

thanks to everyone who has said nice things about my drawings.

i too refused to let go of BSIDE in exchange for SIDEB until the whole monday-should-be reaffirming-not-mock-me-damnit mood set in.

Anonymous 12:16 AM  

saraSoTa springs is also where the annual championships for ultimate frisbee are held. I remember being disappointed when it wasn't clued this way back in that other puzzle.

If I recall, there were only 70 answers in this one. That might be a record for a Monday. (Keep in mind 72 is the minimum for a themeless)

flightdoc40 12:32 AM  

As a Louisianian of French descent writing from the west coast later than most of you, I want to protest the cluing for 45 Down.

The word cajun is derived from Acadien or Acadian which refers to the French Canadians who migrated to Louisiana from Nova Scotia way back when. It technically doesn't apply to the European French (huge part of our heritage there, obviously).

I was glad to see Rex's classification of challenging on a puzzle I nailed in record time. Didn't feel that way about Saturday.

Anonymous 1:18 AM  


I'm certain you misunderstood me. I didn't join the women in science debate. My response to Fergus was with regard to Summers himself and the field of economics vis a vis its philosophical underpinnings. I guess I didn't make that clear.

Anonymous 5:01 AM  

The math friend is here.

First of all, I can't believe everyone, including the puzzle author, is so chummy with Dr. Lawrence Summers that they feel comfortable calling him Larry.

Secondly, "Ask Don Imus" is the most anemic retort in the history of the comments section for today's puzzle. For one thing, Imus and his buddy made hateful comments about *specific individuals* who in fact happened to be successful student athletes. Summers was guilty of mostly being a bit too radical and of not engaging in a proper healthy debate following his remarks. For a Simpsonic take on his remarks and the related episode of "The Simpsons" titled Girls Just Want To Have Sums, check out this subpage of

Thirdly, in response to "I think it's a fair question: why are the great mathematicians all male?" I will quote the quippy people on the interwebs: "No. Just ... no."

Anonymous 6:25 AM  

As the other comments suggest, Saratoga Springs was once very famous. Although they changed the name, I believe film-goers were expected to identify the race track (near a spa) in The Marx Brothers "A Day at the Races" was set there.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

So the four seasons theme I was expecting 1-2 weeks ago shows up this time, with plural words
whose singulars match the season names.

And since LARRY SUMMERS is one of the theme
entries, naturally the blog gets a record number of
comments and follow-ups.

Re "math friend" Andrew's comments:

"Lawrence Summers" would be nice puzzle-wise,
a full 15 letters, but it's like "James Carter": except
in the most formal circumstances, it's either
Larry/Jimmy or President. I was at Harvard during
Summers' entire term and can hardly remember
any use of "Lawrence".

I'm not going to get into judging the "greatness"
of Emmy Noether (as in Noetherian rings) or
Sophie Germain (as in Germain primes) vs. say
Hilbert and Riemann on this forum, nor the
distinction between the effects on extremes of
intelligence (on both the genius and moron sides)
of mean vs. standard deviation...


Rex Parker 9:54 AM  

I can't tell if that's math trash talk or, like, some secret math handshake. I'm going to hope it's the latter, and quietly walk away now.


Anonymous 12:39 PM  

In case anybody's still reading this... (I was in transit during
the past two days so couldn't write sooner)

> can't tell if that's math trash talk or, like, some secret math handshake. I'm going to hope it's the latter, and quietly walk away now.

Rex is funny too. But there's no secret here: Noether and Germain are
the two most prominent historical female mathematicians I could think of, and the rings and primes
were the eponymous mathematical objects that came to mind. If you saw the Broadway show _Proof_,
you heard the definition of a Sophie Germain prime (a prime number p such that 2p+1 is also prime;
e.g. p=5 (2p+1=11), but not p=7 (2p+1=15=3*5).

The context for "mean vs. standard deviation" is that gender differences in the extremes of
various measures of achievement (both the highest and the lowest levels) need not reflect
differences in average achievement -- small discrepancies in the variance from this average can have
large effects at the extremes. A crossword blog is really not the place to write about the
tails of Gaussian distributions; maybe the Wikipedia article on "Sex and Intelligence" is one starting place.


P.S. Thanks for removing the duplicate post.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Yeah, this Monday had a few tougher than normal clues in it, but I was on top of all of them and finished under my Monday average.

I get Jonathan Winters and Wilford Brimley confused.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

CAlady says:
In response to anon at 12:28. I, too, have a degree in math won years ago when women really were considered lame-brained. I recall once seeing a physics prof about a problem, only to be told "You're doing good for a girl!" Woe the man who says that today, but I think it is still fairly universally held that math and the like are not feminine. I will admit to carrying my sliderule(!) inside my binder, out of sight.
Thankfully times have changed-no one would be told, as I was, that you won't be promoted at work because you are a secondary wage earner-guess I should have kept my marriage secret!
Found the puzzle almost a gimme-perhaps because years of puzzling have etched some words in my brain that are new to younger folks. Alar and alate are pantheon eligible in my book.
Always enjoy everyone'e comments.

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

CAlady says:
In response to anon at 12:28. I, too, have a degree in math won years ago when women really were considered lame-brained. I recall once seeing a physics prof about a problem, only to be told "You're doing good for a girl!" Woe the man who says that today, but I think it is still fairly universally held that math and the like are not feminine. I will admit to carrying my sliderule(!) inside my binder, out of sight.
Thankfully times have changed-no one would be told, as I was, that you won't be promoted at work because you are a secondary wage earner-guess I should have kept my marriage secret!
Found the puzzle almost a gimme-perhaps because years of puzzling have etched some words in my brain that are new to younger folks. Alar and alate are pantheon eligible in my book.
Always enjoy everyone'e comments.

Anonymous 9:36 PM  

I have lived or worked within a mile of Texas stadium, home of the Cowboys, for over 20 years (it's in Irving Tx, soon to be moving to Arlington TX - largest city in America without public tranportation). I didn't get BigD - I had the B and the D and guessed they must have meant some other Cowboys. I got it from the crosses.

Oh, well, we are Eagles fans in my family - try explaining that to your pre-school kids who are having "wear your Cowboys sweatshirts" day at school.

I thought this puzzle was pretty hard for a Monday - my theory is the number of longer words. I always think the shorter words are easier and this puzzle didn't have very many.

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