SUNDAY, Jan. 27, 2008 - Mike Nothnagel

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "I Need My Space" - the word "ROOM" is added to familiar phrases to create wacky phrases, which are clued

Today, I really really really have no time to write this, so (and I mean it this time) this entry will be brief. I have to be in Ithaca in just over two hours, and it takes me just over an hour to get there. Nothing I dislike more than having to write in a rush. Well, there are probably a few things I'd dislike more. Like the flu. Or maggots in my macaroni and cheese (this happened once). Breakfast test!

I did not give Mike Nothnagel's last puzzle nearly enough love, so I am going to love this one openly and audibly. Love love love. There. This puzzle is a good example of how you don't have to be especially tricky to create a very entertaining and satisfying Sunday puzzle. I mean, he adds "ROOM" to familiar phrases. It's ... not complicated. But it works. At least it did for me. I blew through the top of the puzzle, which felt almost too easy, but then the bottom was slightly more challenging. In the end, a good time was had by all (except maybe my wife, who has yet to finish the puzzle - she's also still struggling with the last carriage pun in the latest Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle - who knew there were so many words for "carriage"?).

Theme answers:

  • 24A: Like a useless photo lab employee? (afraid of the dark ROOM)
  • 39A: Offers breakfast to students before first period? (brings home ROOM the bacon)
  • 53A: Beer sources for genteel guests? (powder ROOM kegs)
  • 72A: Reminder to a forgetful judge on bowling night? (the ball's in your court ROOM)
  • 92A: What talk show guests have before the broadcast? (Green ROOM Party) - here was one of my snags: I had "GREEN ROOM PEACE" - it fits, and the "P" and "A" are in the correct place. And it's not like the clue screams "party." In the end, I was saved by crossword stalwart STRAD (88D: Expensive strings), which was undeniable, and which gave me the "T" I needed to change my PEACE to PARTY.
  • 107A: Sign outside a church lavatory? (no rest ROOM for the wicked) - This was rough for me, as I had always known the phrase as "NO REST FOR THE WEARY"; "WICKED" is much better - not sure where my version came from.
  • 125A: Where a Monkee changes after a game? (Davy Jones' locker ROOM) - had parts of LOCKER and got this one even before I looked at the clue.

What I didn't know:

  • 21A: Baseball Hall-of-Famer Edd (Roush) - I "knew" it when I saw it, but have no idea who he is or why his name is familiar.
  • 99A: Poker game with four hole cards (Omaha) - whatever you say. Never heard of it. This intersected the problematic CHEST (95D: Blanket holder), which I had as CHILD.
  • 117A: Short-hop plane (air taxi) - how short are we talking? When does a regular old airplane become an AIR TAXI?
  • 121A: Music with jazzlike riffs (ska) - I have never associated SKA with "jazzlike riffs"; maybe I just don't own enough of it.
  • 17D: Eccentric friend on "Designing Women" (Bernice) - I'll take "Obscure Early 90's TV Characters for a billion, Alex."
  • 35D: _____ 1, Yuri Gagarin's spacecraft (Vostok)
  • 41D: Steam shovel inventor William (Otis) - the elevator guy? Tricky.
  • 56D: "A maid with hair of gold," in an old song (Katy) - didn't know. Had KATE. KATY seems an odd spelling.
  • 70D: Damager of the ozone layer (freon) - I actually knew this, but still think it an unusual (good unusual, not bad unusual) answer.
  • 71D: Pouting person's action (stamp) - a STAMP would indicate to me that the action has gone beyond "pouting." I wanted MOUE (as always).
  • 96D: Golden Triangle country (Laos) - If I've heard that expression, it's been a Long time.
  • 104D: Italian province of its capital (Trieste) - got it from crosses. It's familiar, but doesn't look very Italian to me, for some reason.
  • 3D: Laredo or Nuevo Laredo (border town) - had border CITY. Ugh.
  • 118D: The first prophet of God, in Islam (Adam) - highly inferrable, but I didn't know it.

The language of crosswords:

  • 27A: Stephen of "Breakfast on Pluto" (Rea) - perhaps the goofiest of guises for this common answer. Get it? ... Goofy ... Pluto. Come on!
  • 9D: Religious retreats (ashrams) - learned it from crosswords
  • 13D: Sports legend whose #4 was retired (Orr) - rare, and a bit unfortunate, that this piece of tired hockey crosswordness is in the same puzzle as its baseball counterpart, OTT (128D: Giant born in Louisiana).
  • 37D: Seventh-brightest star in a constellation (eta) - woo hoo. I only Just learned this astronomical meaning of ETA, and bam, here it is.
  • 83D: Turnaround, slangily (uey) - Ah, "slangily." My favorite bit of cluing jargon, just ahead of "sloganeer."

Stuff I enjoyed:

  • 33A: TV oil baron (Ewing) - as in J.R., and who shot him.
  • 48A: Game stopper (tilt) - mmm, pinball, How retro. I have always wanted to own a pinball machine, which is very weird as I Never play pinball.
  • 67A: Worthless talk, in slang (bilge) - almost as ugly as "slacks" or "snood," but BILGE is something I can imagine saying. Seems ... useful. Sounds like what it means. Love that.
  • 78A: Early invader of Britain (Saxon) - this was one of a host of answers that hit close to home. Trained as a medievalist, I know all about the SAXON "invasions" (they were sort of invited at first, so "invasion" is a bit iffy). I also identified with 90A: Band with the 1989 hit "Stand" (R.E.M.) - very college - and 115A: Satirical paper, with "The" ("Onion"), which I get via e-mail every week.
  • 84A: 1977 George Burns film ("Oh, God") - lotsa movie references today, including 133A: 1964 Quinn role (Zorba) and 22D: 1969 Oscar-nominated film role (Ratso). Oh, and 10D: 1976 horror film whose score won an Oscar ("The Omen") - best part about this clue was that I had "THE" and promptly wrote in "JAWS" - "THE JAWS?!"
  • 105D: Singer with the #1 country album "80's Ladies" (K.T. Oslin) - nice name for the grid. Unexpected consonant combo. See also DR. JOHN (85D: "Right Place Wrong Time" singer, 1973 - this song was featured prominently in the Great film "Dazed and Confused").

Running out the door,
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


DONALD 8:44 AM  

Drive careful!

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Being reminded of Jabberwocky this morning made me smile.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

If more people would "Shun the frumious Bandersnatch" this world would be a better place.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Enjoyed this one, and still have lots of time to get other stuff done this morning, unlike some Sundays! I was pleased that the odd words mostly crossed regular words or were guessable.

Not knowing much about films except from hearsay, I had no trouble with THE OMEN, but first tried "Rambo" for RATSO. All you cinema aficionados may laugh now.

Rex talks about words he dislikes and those which appeal: I like MORSEL for some reason! A book I need to find, since seeing the author on BookTV: "How the Irish Invented Slang" by Daniel Cassidy. He says many words in the dictionary labeled "source unknown", like "slum", came from the Celtic! Sounds like a gold mine!

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

p.s. The Saxons were sort of invited?

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

I thought yesterday's puzzle was difficult; today not so bad. Please be wary of the Jubjub bird too.

janie 9:39 AM  

seeing the title of this song in print put the spelling of the name on my radar. this link is for a "ww i" song site; but it's also on sites for kids songs:


i became aware of ashrams not from crosswords, but in the 60s -- especially when the beatles made their journey:

those were [some of ] the days, my friend

peace, beads 'n' granola --



Anonymous 9:55 AM  

p.p.s. "Scam" is supposed to come from the Celtic too -- something twisted, devious. "Slum" was from an empty place. Maybe they invented "slacks" too ∑:)

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

"Air Taxi" actually refers to the service rather than the plane (tho generally 6 - 12 seats). Think non-scheduled (mostly), operating over a limited range and not on "fixed routes" --- kinda like, well, a taxi.

Popular where people can't, or don't want to drive -- NY City to the Hamptons or Martha's Vinyard, accross the Everglades, or even a qick trip to Ithaca. (tho service might not be available in all areas)

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

Hey Rex, I was really disappointed with how short your write-up was this morning--come on, only three full pages?! :)

I really had fun doing this one, though it was a bit hard seeing all those little square numbers in the printed-out version in the bad ambient light I had last night. "Oh crap, that's a 58, not 56!" I especially liked NO RESTROOM FOR THE WICKED--made me think of some evil people hopping from one leg to the other. The first theme answer I got, though, was DAVY JONES' LOCKER ROOM, and people sometimes through in that last word, so it didn't sound funny, and it took me a while to really grok the theme

PhillySolver 10:29 AM  

Finished this last night(no comments though) and had just one problem area (That Glass last name is proving popular and I guessed wrong on it). I loved the puzzle and thought the last theme answer was the best. Busy day here too, off to spend time with the familyroom.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. 2002.

"No rest for the weary"

You must keep persevering no matter how tired or overworked you are.

A variant is “no rest for the wicked,” which implies that the devil will not allow his followers to rest from their evil doings.

Abby 10:34 AM  

You're my hero Professor S!

I mentioned you in passing in my blog today. (

janie 10:35 AM  

d'oh time -- and it was only in reading the verse lyrics to "k-k-k-katy" (which i'd never seen/known of til this morning...) that i realized this was the same song being referenced for the clue....



Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Rex -- Return from Ithaca at once. I want my BOLD font. I demand a do-over.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

"Listen, when we get to Florida, don't call me Ratso, OK? My name is Rico. Rico Rizzo." I understand Dustin Hoffman was REALLY depressed when he lost the Oscar to John Wayne that year.

I'd like to get a ruling on the ways "uey" can be acceptably spelled. I think I've also seen it as "uie." I do admire its use in the puzzle, though,

When I read the clue "maid with hair of gold," I first thought of "Aura Lee," which has the same melody as "Love Me Tender." Perhaps another time.

Delighted to see one of my faves, Dr. John, in the puzzle. And so close to Mardi Gras, too! Dr. John (born Mac Rebbenack in New Orleans) once described Mardi Gras as "the time when you do all the things you spend the 40 days of Lent repenting."

Loved the theme this time around. I think DAVYJONESLOCKERROOM is my favorite, although NORESTROOMFORTHEWICKED is up there.

A decade or more ago, I was a regular in the comic book forum in CompuServe, and one of the regulars was an agent in Laredo, so BORDERTOWN was kind of a gimme. (It's also the title of a song by the late, great Chris Whitley. Check out LIVING WITH THE LAW for one of the great blues-influenced albums of the past 20 years!)

Orange 11:07 AM  

Artlvr, stay away from "How the Irish Invented Slang"! The guy pulled etymology out of his ass, completely ignoring established etymology. Lexicographer Grant Barrett, who I hear will be at the ACPT this year, eviscerates the book here. For example, Cassidy posits that "bunkum" comes Buncombe County, which comes from the Irish buanchumadh. Er, what about the Colonel Edward Buncombe who is the county's namesake? Cassidy's basically just saying, "These two words sound alike. I'll bet they're related!" and ignoring the body of evidence that says otherwise.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Rex's journey was pretty much mine. Thought it was going to be quick after zipping through the top third but the middle and bottom were a bit more challenging. I also initially had PEACE and tried WEARY, but did know OMAHA (a variant of Texas Hold'em, I believe) and TRIESTE. Fortunately, KTOSLIN and SCHERZO were doable from the crosses as I had not a clue. I'm still puzzled by 67d BBOY which I've also never heard.

janie 11:35 AM  

jae -- "bboy" was new to me, too, but:

rap dictionary


j. (who thanks you for making her "check it out"!)

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

An MN Sunday puzzle... what a treat. I wanted to linger over with cups of coffee and blueberry pancakes, but I took a quick peek last night and before I knew it, it was done.

Thanks Rex for your constant devotion even under time constraints. Now I'm going to slip into my snood and slacks and make pancakes.

Happy Sunday.

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

I never clock myself on the Sunday puzzle. I like to leisurly stretch it out as long as possible since I no longer actually read the newspaper (too depressing). Zipping through the top of the puzzle, I thought... "crap! a monday puzzle on Sunday! My day is ruined!" Happily bogged down to a sunday crawl after that.

Anonymous 11:46 AM  

My only quibble with this fun outing was the Judge clue - seems more related to tennis than bowling (the ball's in your lane????) Loved the shout-out to Alice Ghostley's Bernice from Designing Women - a great ensemble cast that was funny and relevant. Clue for scherzo was great bit of misdirection. Happy travels, RP.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

recently discovered the nysun puzzles, which I find generally a tad more challenging during the weekdays (most likely stemming from unfamiliarity) making them a nice addendum to the times. The weekday puzzles are free. Anyone know how to access the saturday, sunday puzzles w/out a paid subscription?

erp 12:21 PM  

Great wrap up. I'm out of breathe just reading it.

PuzzleGirl 12:36 PM  

@janieb: I thought the same thing at first. But the clue says the judge is forgetful and it's bowling night, so someone would have to remind him where he put his bowling ball. More sense?

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@jls -- thanks for the link. I'm now enlightened.

PuzzleGirl 12:41 PM  

Oh, and the very few times I managed to catch Designing Women, I thought it was hilarious. One of my favorite bits included something along the lines of "I thought when you said your cousin was visitin', you meant you were fixin' to start!" Ah, menstruation humor. (Sorry if you're at your breakfast table.)

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Puzzlegirl - yes - your read on the bowling clue is better than mine. Apologies to MN. And no, I'm on the east coast so breakfast is long past. Thanks for the memories!

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

@arnie -- I may be wrong but I believe the Sun only publishes on weekdays.

Dan 1:18 PM  

@arnie: Good news and bad news! All the NY Sun puzzles are free, no subscription necessary. However, the paper only publishes on weekdays.

A friend of mine used to sing "K-K-K-Katy" constantly for some reason, so that was a gimme for me and provided today's mental soundtrack...

My slow spots were SoCal (CHEST/FRAS/CRY/OMAHA) and Georgia (PARTY/STRAD)... Never heard of K.T. Oslin... The 'church' theme answer was definitely the best!

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

@Orange -- thanks, I already discovered that the book I mentioned above is a SCAM in itself. Good links debunking the thesis and author on: www dot wordorigins dot org -- I did wonder ∑;(

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

i'd love for anyone to provide an example of BILGE used slangily to mean "worthless talk." i got it eventually through B-BOY, but that's neither a particularly obvious or inferrable answer if you aren't aware of (80's) hip-hop culture.
other than that, thought this was a great puzzle. as a teacher who often completes the weekday puzzles during that useless 15-minute period at the start of the day, BRINGING HOMEROOM THE BACON particularly cracked me up.

Torbach 2:09 PM  

I'm always happy to see Mike Nothnagel's name - and, yes, it was a special treat to open the Sunday paper and see it today (I knew/hoped that meant it would be easier than usual with his puzzles!).

A quick note: as a crossword lover I'm lucky to also have been on occasion a jazzy-SKA-playing sax player, so I can vouch for that angle in the clue for this beautiful 3-letter favorite. Here's a clip of my trumpet-playing friend Kevin Batchelor with The Skatalites - a Jamaican band that started in the '60's and remains true to the jazzier roots of that original SKA style they helped create:

Next time maybe I can expound on CLU Gulager or ZASU Pitts...

Thanks for continued blogging even when pressed for time: how was IHOP?!

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Lovely puzzle from Mr. Nothnagel. Wasn't sure about arriver and aced out, had never heard of Adam the first profet and enjoyed learning: no rest for the wicked instead of weary. Fun theme, and enough crosses to get the answers I never heard of. Thank you, Rex and Mike!

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Fantastic puzzle. Did not notice how big it was until pointed out by others. Traps galore, at least for me - Tuscany for Trieste, and Mama bear for cub protector.

Billnut: Dr. John and Roux in the same puzzle inspired me to make Red Beans and Rice even though it is a Monday night dish.

Making a good Roux is an art.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Nice, breezy and fun. Thanks MN!

@Badir - Next time you see a 23x23 try the "print on two pages" option in Across Lite.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

What a fun break for a Sunday. The Sunday puzzles are long enough that once in awhile it's nice to get a pat on the back instead of getting tricked into looking the wrong way by someone tapping your opposite shoulder. I'm sure the apparent plethora of z's threatened to put the better puzzlers to sleep.

Good on ya, orange! Exposing the cephaloenrectumitic (anyone, feel free to solidify the Latin for head where the sun doesn't shine) scholarship. How the Irish Invented Slang was one of those dubious-looking books that NYT features from time to time. Anytime one claims one generative fount, the antennae/BS detectors perk up.

Oh God! was one of the first movies I saw in a theater. With John Denver: Far out!

Speaking of movies (and ska) Shane Meadows' This Is England is worth checking out (as long as one doesn't misread a twelve year old's dramatic gesture for epiphany.)

When we lived in Cleveland, This American Life was a Sunday morning staple. In Denver, it's a Saturday show. Just doesn't fit, and streaming online seems inorganic somehow. Dog lovers should stream the edition entitled "In Dog We Trust," which contains a truly well-developed David Sedaris story.

Mile High Muddy

wendy 3:12 PM  

hey pistachio disguisey - George Will used BILGE to mean worthless talk in a column earlier this week, as follows: "Clinton promptly resorted to the sort of BILGE that the adjective “Clintonian” was created to denote."

Orange 3:14 PM  

Pistachio: How about "I can't read [insert political party you don't like] blogs—they're nothing but bilge"?

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

Hey Wendy -- Welcome back!

JC66 3:44 PM  

Isn't BILGE old Navy (not Irish) slang)?

Anonymous 3:45 PM  

Hey everyone.

I never quite know when to post the "thanks for all the kind words" post: too early and I preempt a lot of people...too late and, well, I forget.

So, here it is: thanks to y'all for saying such nice things about today's puzzle. It seems that quite a few folks laughed out loud at NO RESTROOM FOR THE WICKED...I remember making myself chuckle over a few of the others, too. Perhaps it was late. Who knows. Ask me someday and I'll show you the list of entries that didn't make it.

Until next time...

Michael Chibnik 4:40 PM  

"apend" was new to me -- I kpet thinking that I needed the other p. Like others, I zoomed through the top, slowing down a bit at other parts.

puzzlegirl -- thanks for the explanation of the bowling clue. Nice to have a bit of warmth outside, isn't it?

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Michael... I believe that apend is actually amend, crossing whams.

Recommendations from today's puzzle:

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Anything by KT Oslin

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

michael, 46A is "amend."

where's it warm outside? well, enjoy it...

PhillySolver 5:14 PM  

If you find some extra time today and don't mind puns/word plays, the Philadelphia Inquirer puzzle by Reagle will give you a few laughs too.

I access it through

Michael Chibnik 5:21 PM  

Rikki and Jim: Thanks for pointing out "amend/whams" instead of "apend/whaps." I should have known that "whaps" wasn't right either, though it seemed plausible. "apend" did show up when I googled, but of course it was just incorrect spellings or typos.

"warm" is relative. It is above freezing here in Iowa; a few days ago it was below zero.

PuzzleGirl 5:40 PM  

@Rex: Sorry to report that William Otis the steam shovel guy is not the same as Elisha Otis the elevator guy.

@artlvr: I believe Ratso is the Anti-Rambo.

@rikki: So right about A Prayer for Owen Meany. One of my favorite books of all time. And everyone I know who's read it has put it on their favorites list too. If any of you haven't read it, do!

@michael: Family and I were at the Sycamore Mall today remarking that it's practically summer! And it's supposed to be low 50s tomorrow! In Iowa! In January! (Life can't get much better than this.)

Ulrich 5:52 PM  

My unfamiliarity with American slang posed some problems for me and finally tripped me up at square 58, the last square remaining empty. Neither the A nor D clue rang a bell, so I tried different letters and decided finally on "c", which gave me "cut-up job" and "scaz", which sounded more slangy than "spaz". Googling revealed later that it WAS slang, but didn't mean "inept person" :-)

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

No remark on the appearance of "spaz"? I was pretty surprised since I thought it was considered an offensive word. It derives from "spastic" as a term of abuse for clumsiness.

Orange 8:02 PM  

Anders, the clumsy are not a protected group under civil rights law. At least one dictionary lists it as "offensive," but I don't think people use it to refer to others who are actually spastic. Seems more like it's used to apply to someone who freaks out about things too much, who's frazzled or high-strung.

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

LEON - I was watching the show GOOD EATS on the cooking channel and the host recommended making ROUX in the oven. What do you think fo this? I've always done it the old-fashioned way but am willing to try it.

As for the rest of todays puzzle - count me in as one of those who really enjoyed the theme.

ANDERS - my husband asked about the SPAZ clue as well - thought it was an offensive term for someone who is physically or mentally disabled. I told him I believe that may have been the original meaning but over time has evolved closer to the definition mentioned by ORANGE.

Anonymous 8:38 PM  


Bilge itself isn't slang, it's the bottom of a ship where the water (and junk collect). The pumps on a ship are called bilge pumps and are used to pump the water overboard.

To talk nonsense was to "spout bilge water".

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

The Balls in your court? Since when do we bowl in courts?
My quarrel with spaz is its not so much inept as it is, well, spazzed out. You can be ept and spazzed, no?
This puzzle was too easy.
I envy you folks that always have time to get it done in the morning. I am always the last poster.

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

@anonymous 8:52 - as Puzzlegirl said earlier and Rex referred to in his write-up, the theme answers are phrases that have the word "room" added and then THAT phrase is clued. So, "The ball is in your courtroom" doesn't refer to any sport in particular. It only refers to the fact that the judge resides "in a courtroom". The ball in question could be a baseball, tennis, bowling . . . but the sport in wich one most often needs his/her own ball might very well be bowling, right?

Anonymous 9:51 PM  


I hope you read this very late post.

Happy one year (of my visiting this blog) anniversary.

You hae given me very much pleasure and improved my skills demonstrably.

I have enjoyed meeting new friends, learning new tricks, and even the occasional "rants".

Keep up the good work,


Anonymous 11:58 PM  

Oh Rex, your talk of IHOP of late inspired me to take my wife and her best friend out to our local fancy pancake place, "P.J.'s". We each got a combination, where you get one of each of three kinds of pancakes. I got a raisin, a banana-pecan, and a chocolate-peanut-butter. Yum!

Shanti11 2:12 AM  

Way to keep it brief, RP! You must be able to type as fast as you solve crosswords.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Roux is especially fitting in a Nothnagel puzzle; he teaches at a culinary school.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

GREAT puzzle...very fun to work on. I had trouble with STRAD because I had PPS crossing. That is actually correct, as it means Post Post Script, following a Post Script. PSS would stand for Post Script Script -- which is nonsense. But I'm not ranting...not when I had a ball solving this puppy!

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Chef J: You're right, I do teach at a culinary I know you?


Anonymous 6:50 PM  

It's Post Scripts (plural) so PSs. awkward.

Anonymous 8:56 PM  

I not only had RAMBO, but stuck with it to the bitter end. That gave me ROOMS for "Lineage" which I decided was some sort of odd clue for the theme word. Not knowing VOSTOK, I was left with [blank]AMOB for "Let's go, Miguel", and at that point I threw in the towel. Othe than that, a very enjoyable puzzle.

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