Monday, May 26, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: DENTISTS (29A: Experts with the ends of 17- and 55-Across and 10- and 24-Down)

I'm having a lot of trouble with the way the puzzle is using "with" lately. Three times in the past few days I have misunderstood a clue that had "with" in it. In normal cluing parlance, "with" signifies an addition, e.g. [Vegas landmark, with "The"] => SANDS. In today's theme-identifying clue, "with" does not mean that the "Experts" have the things in their possession, but that they are "expert" at installing or otherwise putting them on. This may sound like a small matter ... and it is. It's just that the "with" creates a lot of ambiguity here. Am I looking for suffixes? Words that can be added to the end of some word? This is not a complaint about the puzzle, just an explanation (perhaps) of why this puzzle took me somewhat longer than normal to finish.

Another odd feature of this puzzle is that DENTISTS does not have a symmetrical theme entry to balance it out ... unless DENTISTS are also experts at FIREARMS (42A: Rifle and revolver). Again, not a complaint. I like that the puzzle will allow for some lack of symmetry now and again, especially when the element lacking symmetry is different in kind from the other theme answers (i.e. is a theme-revealing answer, or a complementary answer, as JAMES was yesterday).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Strap-on leg supports (knee BRACES)
  • 10D: It sets things off (blasting CAP)
  • 24D: Feat for Secretariat (Triple CROWN)
  • 55A: Mincemeat, e.g. (pie FILLING)

I had trouble right out of the box with 1A: Irons or Woods (actor) - Clearly Irons was Jeremy, but Woods meant only TIGER to me, and since the clue was clearly punning on golf terminology, my confusion deepened. Took me forever (after I had ACTOR in place) to figure out what actor was named WOODS (James - he's very good, just not, you know, the first WOODS you think of). As I told Orange last night after finishing the puzzle in a somewhat above-average time, there were a good handful of answers that just didn't come to me instantly (the way good Monday answers are supposed to). I tripped over:

  • 57D: Debt-incurring Wall St. deal (LBO) - I know what those letters stand for, but clearly I had no idea what they meant. If my brain wanted anything here, it was IPO.
  • 44D: Tax-exempt investment, for short (Muni) - mmm, more financial fill. Nothing livens up a puzzle like finances. If only there were a TBILL or IRA in this puzzle.
  • 23D: Bank statement abbr. (int.) - ah yeah, that's the stuff... (this one I got instantly, actually)
  • 47D: 2007 Masters champion Johnson (Zach) - he has given legitimacy to this name, so look out. The guy is still "Generic White Man #847" to me, but maybe eventually he'll turn into something more memorable.
  • 27D: Title heroine played by Shirley Temple in 1937 (Heidi) - I wasn't quite alive then. In that my parents weren't quite alive then.
  • 63A: Things to salve (sores) - Gross. I went with the salve itself here, and wrote in BALMS ... :(
  • 46A: Waste reservoir (sump) - about as attractive an answer as SORES. Needed a cross or two to jar this word loose.
  • 25D: Three wishes granter (genie) - I feel as if this answer can be spelled about a billion ways. Today, I went with GENII, which is probably a plural.
  • 41A: Cancel, at Cape Canaveral (scrub) - this started out as ABORT, then went to SCRAP ... then finally to SCRUB. Apparently getting your song onto the show "Scrubs" can have a tremendous impact on your career as a musical group. This was the ultra-depressing fact I learned yesterday while listening to NPR. The most generic-sounding group in the world was ecstatic that their song had gotten onto "Scrubs," and then heavy rotation at VH1 (that's still a station?). One of the band members contended that "there are literally thousands of bands out there trying to get that slot on 'Grey's Anatomy' or 'Scrubs'..." I wanted to stop him right there, Right There, and say "Stop. That, THAT is why the music on my radio Sucks So Bad." Everyone wants to sound like background music to a trumped-up emotional moment on a TV show geared toward consumers aged 18-39. Hence, everyone sounds like Matchbox 20 and I want to gouge my ears out.
  • 14A: Old Big Apple restaurateur (Sardi) - wanted only TOOTS.

Good stuff today includes:

  • MIASMA (44A: Poisonous atmosphere) - a fantastic word that reminds me of a word I've never seen in the puzzle, but would like to: FUG.
  • ROUE (18D: Rakish sort) - in my mind, this guy is always skinny and leering and sporting a magnificent long mustache that he twirls in devilish fashion. He's also living in 1883.
  • DARK SPOT (37D: Appearing and disappearing feature on Jupiter) - we landed another rover on Mars last night. Are we really hoping to extend human presence throughout the universe? We suck at taking care of ourselves on this planet, and it's Custom-Made for us...
All best wishes today to the families of those who have died while serving their country.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Holiday Greetings... it isn't a day to think "dentist"! Lovely weather, - easy and so-so puzzle.

The start at 1D ASKS and so on looked so familiar I had to check the date -- but it got fresher. 1A was probably trying to misdirect us to golf clubs, but that was a no go. So was "abort" but I did think of "scrap" at 41A like Rex before writing in SCRUB.

"Football refs" cluing for ZEBRAS was new to me, but not a problem. I enjoyed seeing TRIPLE CROWN, and one of my favorite words, MIASMA.

If anything, there were too many give-aways, like CALIF and peek A BOO. And LBO, the leveraged buy-out!


Wendy Laubach 8:40 AM  

Easy even for a Monday, but nothing objectionable.

All honor to those serving or having served in the armed forces. And, while I'm at it, and in a lesser way, to the spectacular success of the Mars lander team, which we watched here last night with real excitement.

mac 8:53 AM  

So great to see the scientists jumping up and down when their work is successful!

Pretty easy Monday puzzle, but I slowed down considerably in the SE, "pief...." startled me and made me rethink some of the fill(ing). Of course it didn't help was trying to explain to me why the Mets and Willie Randolph were having such a hard time, starting with some hiring policies last year or something like that. Needless to say he lost me, but I politely feigned interest.
I also had abort before scrub, IPO instead of LBO and love miasma. Some of the clues were so easy that I mistrusted them: Wed.follower, "- the season", "Peek-..... More People Magazine like.
Does the New York Sun also publish the puzzles with increasing difficulty as the week goes on?
I'm joining the ladies before in wishing the best to our military people and their families.

Teresa 9:26 AM  

It took me as long to get simile as it took the mars lander to get to mars .. so to speak:) Don't know why it did. I love the word simile. I am not familiar with muni and so miasma didn't come easy either. I don't usually struggle on Mondays, but I did in that corner today. I always enjoy filling in the names of jazz artists. Art Tatum, Etta James, T. Monk...

janie 9:59 AM  

hmmm. with this theme, guess we should be glad that "isitsafe" was friday fill(ing...).

where's the tooth fairy when ya need her?



Leon 10:08 AM  

The first piece of music I played today was Taps.

Then after the puzzle, I listened to Art Tatum and Bach. Had to see Joni Mitchell after 15 across.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Big Yellow Taxi.

Unknown 10:37 AM  

Marathon Man II today. Mark Sherwood put together a very nice Monday puzzle.

If you liked the Paul Potts story, a few weeks ago on Britain's Got Talent, this young man had a similar impact singing Pie Jesu.
Listen here

Shamik 10:46 AM  

Red faced. Embarrassed. Appalled. Ashamed.

Two wrong letters on a Monday!!!

46A DUMP crossed with 46D DOFOR (as in do for now) and 59A OSSO. It all made sense at the time.

Red faced. Embarrassed. Appalled. Ashamed am I.

mac 10:49 AM  

@phillysolver: just like some years ago, when I watched a British tv series called "The Choir" which used this as their theme song, it brought tears to my eyes.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

What, no "ROOT CANAL"?

The financial clues were the highlight for me. Can you tell I'm an accountant?

No love or hate for this one. It's a Monday. Puzzle will be forgotten quickly.

miriam b 11:08 AM  

My gratitude as well to those who have sacrified their lives for our freedom, and my comforting thoughts to their families. May the day soon come when we will study war no more.

First thing this morning, I went out to collect my NYT from the lawn and was greeted with a friendly wave by the dentist who lives across the street!

Easy puzzle with a few disgusting images: MIASMA, CRAW, SORES, even HEIDI, as I never could stomach Shirley Temple. SUMP reminded me of the occasionally damp basement in my 1890-ISH house. I have a sump pump down there in case rain water finds its way through the rather porous foundation. I can't afford French drains, which I know would help the situation. Contributions are always welcome.

Speaking of French (neat segue back to the puzzle, Rex?): The word FIREARMS put me in mind of the French phrase, "armes de feu." Their phrase for other weaponry is "armes blanches". Is there an equivalent pithy expression in English? I don't think so.

BTW, I was so sure that the Gene film critic was Shalit that I confidently filled him in, but I soon saw the error of my ways and realized that SISKEL (RIP) was the correct answer. This made me sad, but then lots of things do.

Big Yellow Taxi always makes me feel terrible, especially the part about the tree museum. I live in a smallish Suffolk County (LI, not MA) hamlet which, despite valiant efforts to preserve its essential quaintness, is experiencing an incursion of McMansions, some on ludicrously small (1/4 acre or even less) plots. The wrong people have the money. Long ago, Bennett Cerf expressed this opinion more elegantly in some magazine or column. I wish I could remember his exact words.

(signed) Gentlewoman in Reduced Circumstances

Scott 11:12 AM  
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Scott 11:15 AM  

I went to SCRAP after ABORT failed but, unfortunately could not get away from it. Art TATAM and "Come Back, Little SHEPA" sounded plausible enough to me.

Well wishes to any soldiers, veterans or military families who read this blog.

SethG 11:17 AM  

There are two things I picture when I think of hell, and a couple of years ago I got to experience one of them: the DENTIST started to drill just as Barry Manilow came on the headphones.
[insert shudder]

Did the puzzle late last night, and I forget it already.

miriam b 11:23 AM  

@rex: I agree with you 100% that we should be focussing on cleaning up our act on earth before even thinking of venturing elsewhere.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

Mr. Cerf was erudite and urbane. I am not sure what he may have said about the nouveau riche, but I love this one...
" Last night the Detroit Symphony played Brahms. Brahms lost."

/Sgt. Allen

George NYC 11:33 AM  

Who wants to think of dentists on a holiday? Or anuy day for that matter? Especially when it forces ugly words like kneebraces, piefilling and blastingcap? Do we need sump and sore in the same puzzle? I don't think the feature on jupiter is called a "dark spot." It is actually a huge, permanent storm. Ugh

miriam b 11:36 AM  

@Anonymous: Good quote from Mr. Cerf! BTW, his recently deceased wife, Phyllis, later married to Mayor Robert Wagner, was a relative of my late husband's. She was a stepsister or stepcousin (or some such) of Ginger Rogers. We never met her - actually heard of this relationship via an aunt of my husband's.

miriam b 11:36 AM  

@Anonymous: Good quote from Mr. Cerf! BTW, his recently deceased wife, Phyllis, later married to Mayor Robert Wagner, was a relative of my late husband's. She was a stepsister or stepcousin (or some such) of Ginger Rogers. We never met her - actually heard of this relationship via an aunt of my husband's.

Orange 11:56 AM  

What's all this trash talk about dentists in the comments? I hope all of you with dental anxiety who have young kids in your life will do your best not to pass that anxiety down to them. (I think that's where a lot of it comes from. Did your parents grumble about the dentist? They shouldn't have done it in front of their children.) My son had a lousy dentist when he was a toddler, and we got the hell out of that practice. The group he sees now knows exactly how to put a kid at ease, and my son truly enjoys going to the dentist.

Yeah, there's often not much to say about a Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Nice Monday puzzle -- easy enough to (barely) pass the Downs-only test, but still with some refreshing clues (see 16A:LIAR, 38A:GATE, 41A:SCRUB, 47A:ZEBRAS, and 59A:OSSA which is usually a "Greek peak"), bonus mini-themes in 22/60A:SISKEL/EBERT and 23/44/57D:INT/MUNI/LBO, and rare letters (incl. ZZ, X, J, a final U in 50D:JESU). No complaints from me about 20A:DENTISTS. [Strange factoid I ran across recently: about half of Americans like visiting their dentist -- go figure.] 46A:SUMP and 64A:SORES -- well I had already eaten breakfast...

Re:x's comment on 25D:GENIE -- did you really consider DJINN on a Monday?... GENII is indeed a plural, and not of GENIE.

I didn't recognize 37D:DARKSPOT either -- all I could think of is the Giant Red Spot (which is indeed an Earth-sized storm, as @george nyc 11:33 writes). The Dark Spot turns out to be a different phenomenon, first seen by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft in 2000. It took me a while to piece it together from the Down clues because I couldn't remember 34D:PALME d'Or and 42A:FIREARMAS could also have been "fire ants".

Apropos firearms (appropriate for Memorial Day, I guess): @miriam b (11:08) asks for an English equivalent of "armes blanches". In Hebrew the distinction is NESHEK CHAM vs. NESHEK KAR, hot weaponry vs. cold weaponry. The expressions "hot weapon" and "cold weapon" don't feel common in English, but Wikipedia does have an entry for "cold weapon".

Enjoy the long weekend,

Ladel 12:28 PM  


you are right on point regarding fear of the dentist passed on by parents, it's called fear transference, and all the advertisers use it in spades to sell stuff, e.g., do you know where your-fill in the blank is-, or don't leave home without it.

BTW, my loving, caring dentist lightens my wallet by about $1500 whether he calls it a crown or a cap, so why twice in this puzzle?

@Rex, the clue for the Wall St. deal mentioned debt, so that took IPO off the table in this deal, and left only LBO, IPO is much the better way to go, you use other people's money, rent the movie.

miriam b 12:29 PM  

Very interesting info on weapon classification, Noam. I'd never heard the phrase "cold weapon", and it's fascinating that the English and the Hebrew terms are equivalent.

I'm one of the people who enjoys going to the dentist. My dentist always has something interesting to say (to which I can't usually iommediately respond).

A bonus: I once apologized to him for having eaten a garlic-laden lunch shortly before my appointment, and he told me that he actually likes the smell of garlic on a patient's breath. This was good to know. I do use a lot of garlic. You don't see too many vampires or werewolves around my home.

miriam b 12:29 PM  
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Doug 12:37 PM  

Dentist visits are like anything else: If you take care of your teeth, then you probably look forward to the dentist visit, and vice versa. Alternatives: Accountant, doctor, principal's office, in-laws, boss's office, prof's office, etc.

If you're interested: I love going to the dentist :^)

jae 12:45 PM  

I thought this was a pretty good Monday with some atypical fill. I too was slow as I didn't check the downs and immeidately went with CLUBS. This coupled with ABORT and EVEN for TIER made for a lot of correcting.

@shamik -- I also had DOFOR briefly but couldn't rationalize it.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Coming back from the parade today, I wish I can seat on my dentist's comfy massaging chair for a while.... rest my poor back.
Yes, we do like going to the dentist in our family, if only because of the chair.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

I have this hazy memory of a silent film called The Destist, in which Charlie Chaplin starred?

Tomorrow I'm going to do some form of survey on the percentage of kids with BRACES. I'm guessing the percentage will reach about 60% at the 7th grade level, and may still be as high as 40% at 9th?

The Saturday puzzle was a great stumper with so many opportunities for wrong answers. Finally finished on Sunday on an airplane after half a dozen fitful sessions, numerous contributors, many distractions, and one helluva messy grid. Compliments to the constructor.

It's childish I know, but I can't resist the chance to gloat about the sweep in Oakland over the weekend. Each spring, it seems, I have to figure out who's a good participant among the scrappy new crew.

miriam b 1:13 PM  


@fergus - I have hazy memories myself about a movie called The Dentist, but I believe it was W. C. Fields who made it. It seems to me that at some point he injected novocain into his own thumb. I'll research this when I'm less busy -whenever that will be.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

I too had DUMP instead of SUMP and a few other of the problems listed here.

By the way, I think you're right Rex - GENII is a proper and singular way of spelling it, as there is a magazine for magicians with that name spelled that way. Of course, if it is talking about a community of GENII in the plural....damn now I've confused myself.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

I had a longer than average time for a Monday. I had the toughest time with SIMILES. This really does not pass the breakfast test but when I read the clue "FRESH AS A DAISY" I immediately thought of feminine hygiene products and "Summers Eve" was not fitting! (Apologies to your male readers Rex - but I know the women are chuckling - and PLEASE do not start a discussion on this topic as it has already been used as a metaphor for an irate contributor to this blog and we don't want to open up that can of worms!)

JC66 1:43 PM  

@miriam b

you're right, it's w.c. fields, circa 1932:

Bill from NJ 2:01 PM  

I use different types of solving styles on early week puzzles to challenge myself but today I went looking for a possible theme and found one at 29A.

It helped me on the theme answers but I fell into every trap that others have mentioned. I had exactly the same situation as shamik had and it took forever to clear up. Like miriam b I had SHALIT until I ran into EBERT later in the grid which dug me out of the LBO vs IPO hole I was in.

I was too clever by half in the way I tried to parse 1A and totally screwed up by entering PIETA at 37A.

By the time I straightened everything out I was in over half and hour.

So much for trying different solving styles to challenge myself!

sean 3:23 PM  

rex, long time reader, first time poster. you mentioned bands heard on "scrubs" or "grey's anat" (med. sub.....hehe). your an NPR guy as am I. heard this band there for the first time. think you might enjoy them. did a cover of bowie's "modern love". new band old flavor. please youtube "the last town chorus". hope you and your readers enjoy them.

PS. thanks for your page. its helps me learn things no one in there right mind should know.

Rob 3:35 PM  

I guess it was a day for weird misunderstandings all around. Texas was my trouble spot.

I kept wanting TUES for "Wed. follower" and just couldn't read it right for the longest time. I wouldn't have had so much trouble if I also hadn't read "Approximately: Suffix" as "Prefix". In an even bigger stretch, I for all the world wanted "Bones: Lat." to refer to a latitude.

All of those problems made the DUMP/SUMP issue harder to work through. No problems anywhere else, just this one weird section.

One note about the puzzle itself, though. I'm new to the rules, but is it supposed to be OK to have one theme answer in plural (BRACES) and the rest singular?

RodeoToad 4:04 PM  

Funny you mention Matchbox 20. I stopped listening to the radio, or commercial radio anyway, about 12 years ago and kind of seceded from Top 40 knowledge generally. Nowadays I'll scan across the far right of the dial from time to time, and there are a handful of songs that I've heard or overheard often enough that it occurred to me recently I ought to know who was doing those song(s). You know the songs I'm talking about. The ones that you don't know who it is but if you had to guess you'd guess, I don't know, Counting Crows, since Counting Crows is probably the last contemporary band you remember. That is, the songs had worked their way from my subconscious into my consciousness and thereby achieved what passes for a sort of tenure. I decided to google some of the lyrics to find out who the bands/singers were. I call this the "Stealer's Wheel" phenomenon, since everybody knows that song ("Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you") but few people, for a long time anyway, knew who did it, most of them assuming it was Bob Dylan. (Now everybody probably knows that trivia question, just like everybody now knows the answer to the trivia question nobody used to know: "Who was the first video played on MTV?") Anyway, EVERY GODDAMN SONG WAS BY MATCHBOX 20.

Unknown 4:11 PM  

I know my Trivia and The Buggles Killed the Radio Store. I want my MTV!

I think that Braces may be considered a singular thing (sort of) since very few people get a brace on their teeth.

I think Orange is right and I have decided to show 'Little House of Horrors' to my grandchildren to prepare them for the dentist.

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

@ rob --

a) it doesn't matter to me if a theme answer comes in plural or singular as long as it fits the clue in particular and the theme in general, though others prefer stricter symmetry..

and b) in the case of braces for the teeth, you have a usage which is short for a "set of braces", and in dentistry is plural only, not seen as one "tooth brace". (Knee brace, back brace, yes: a singular is possible)...

My opinions only! And I do like my dentists, very much. In fact, my dentist years ago in Silver Spring MD was so terrific, he replaced all the horrible filllings done in the USSR for the entire family we got out, now well settled in the US. He said it was a Mitzvah, something he felt blessed to have the chance to do for them! We felt the same, finally had a word for it...


Anonymous 4:25 PM  

@Philly -- I loved the kid's Pie Jesu performance, thank you for the link. I've been meaning to ask you: are you related to Barbara KingSolver?

Anonymous 4:27 PM  

@ miriam b 12:29 -- you're welcome, and it's not that surprising that the Hebrew phrase is similar: it had to be created sometime during the past 200 years (together with the words for various firearms that Biblical and Talmudic Hebrew had no words for), and many such phrases were formed by word-for-word translation of existing phrases in other languages.

Meanwhile I see that I should have checked "genii" before posting: the dictionary lists it as a plural of both "genius" and "genie", and the former can be equivalent to "genie/jinni"...


Rex Parker 4:47 PM  

"... radio store" made me laff out loud. Thanks, philly.

The Buggles


Anonymous 4:51 PM  

with all due respect to dentists and the good they do, and to Orange and her excellent advice, this was not an uplifting, fun puzzle. If yesterday was in technicolor, with color and fizz (well at least a martini) today was sort of monochromatic, and not in a sepia sort of way...

And Rex, I totally agree that the use of "with" in the hint clue is way off. They are experts with a drill, but experts in or at putting in crowns and braces. Come to think of it, the whole expert phrase should go from this clue... it needs to be re-framed.

Sorry to sound snarky... it's all this talk of "sores" and "sumps" sticking in my "craw".

But thanks Leon for the link. I love this song..I've always assumed she was talking about LA--in a symbolic sort of way?

Anonymous 5:37 PM  

As long as BRACES has come into question, I wonder: Do dentists ever put in braces? I thought you had to go to an orthodontist for that.

Still, it was easy enough to get the puzzle finished either way. I took a bit longer than normal for Mon, but not much. I don't like going to the dentist, but I'm no anti-dentite--I enjoyed the theme. I was wondering if there even was a theme till I saw the DENTIST clue and it all clicked.

Joon 7:08 PM  

yuck, two bad crossings for me too. i had TIED instead of TIER (and [Level] is a perfectly good clue for either), and couldn't figure out what was going on with S_DES, but only SIDES was a word. never heard of LBO, although now that i think of it, i've heard of a leveraged buy-out. anyway, random financial abbreviations are not in my wheelhouse.

i like my dentist. he's pretty cool. he's also got a kid just a few months older than my kid, so we always swap pleasantries like "how's he sleeping?" and "how big is he now?" having said that, i did not like KNEEBRACES as a theme answer. a) plural, and b) orthodontist. plus, who straps on knee braces? every knee brace i've seen slides up from the foot.

lot of non-mondayish stuff today (i thought): SARDI, ROUE, MIASMA, MUNI (this answer still means nothing to me, although it would if clued as [Transportation in SF])... and of course LBO. plus, DARKSPOT. is that different from the great dark spot, which is on neptune? i've never heard of this jupiter thingy. it's certainly not anywhere near as famous as the great red spot.

JannieB 7:41 PM  

@joon - Muni = Municipal bond

SethG 7:52 PM  

@joon - This = Knee brace

Michael Chibnik 7:58 PM  

I had exactly the same problem as Joon with tied instead of tier and then puzzling over s_des and trying to figure out how sodes could be right.

Irritating to make a mistake on a Monday.

dk 8:10 PM  

Dentist=Little Shop of Horrors and a young Jack Nicholson


sorry cannot figure out how to do the quick links

Very fast Monday for me except for ROUE and I think you make that with a little flour, water, etc.

Anonymous 8:57 PM  

re Municipal bonds -- "munis" -- issued by various municipalities or state authorities to allow for raising (loaned) funds for specified purposes over a stated period of time, paying a given rate of interest until expiration, at which time the holder gets back the face value. (They also may be sold at a discount to face value, so the interest is built in as increasing market value until reaching maturity).

The rate of interest on a muni can be set lower than a comparable bond issued by a private corporation, in order to compete with the private sector, because the holder is exempt from from paying income tax on the interest received from a muni both federally and in the state of the issuer. (Typical type of issuer: NY State Dormitory Authority, backed by the credit of the state.)

The return of the loaned money at maturity is not taxable, but there can be a capital gain or loss on expiration if the bond was not purchased at "par", (= parity with face value), or if the bond is sold before expiration. The attraction of investing in a muni depends on the tax bracket of the holder, of course... and thus makes no sense in an IRA or other plan that is already tax-exempt!


PuzzleGirl 9:42 PM  

Fun blog and comments today. Rex's description of a ROUE is exactly how I picture the protagonist of Michael Crichton's "The Great Train Robbery" (one of my all-time favorite books).

I love Matchbox Twenty. I just wanted to admit that publicly. Funny that Wade brought up the Stealer's Wheel song. When you all were describing the Marathon Man scene the other day it brought to mind the scene from Reservoir Dogs where they play "Stuck in the Middle With You." I can't hear that song without being completely grossed out. Also, on roadtrips my husband and I play what we like to call The Song Game where we scan through the radio stations and whenever it stops on a song we have to try to be the first one to name the artist. It's kind of pathetic how much music is out there that we don't know. Whenever it's an "alternative" sounding band we shout out BECK! Hard rocking? NICKELBACK! Female country? MINDY MCCREADY! Male country? TRES ATKINS! Honestly, we couldn't pick out a song by any of those artists in a million years.

I'm so late to the party, I was sure someone would have already mentioned the hilarious Tim Conway dentist video. (Actually, this is my favorite Tim Conway video, but it doesn't have anything to do with the puzzle. But if you can watch the whole thing without laughing so hard you almost pee yourself, I'll send you ten dollars.)

Orange 9:47 PM  

Rex, I'm sorry I turned this into a forum on fondness for dentists. But that's better than "Sheesh, who wants to think about dentists? It's a HOLIDAY." :-)

Treedweller, orthodontists go to the same dental schools as all the other dentists--they just follow that up with a few years of specialized orthodontics education. (Many other dentists get specialty training too—oral surgeons, prosthodontists, periodontists, pediatric dentists, endodontists, and more.)

Anonymous 10:17 PM  

dk -- the spelling of your concoction is ROUX, as any Cajun might forcefully explain.

artlvr -- nice explanation of MUNIs. My ten years in high finance brought me to the conclusion that while all the concepts are really quite elementary, there's an intentional adumbration of the meaning of financial terms in order to secure the income stream of financiers.

Rex Parker 10:28 PM  


I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that dk knew that ...

Anonymous 10:43 PM  

Who can resist jumping on the Matchbox 20 slam-fest? Anytime anyone mentions the band, I always think of the classic onion article, "Matchbox 20 finally finishes watering down new album." Ha HA!

Anonymous 10:59 PM  

... yeah, I didn't need to explain the joke.

I think it was the BAYOU discussion from a while ago that got stuck in my CRAW.

Anonymous 11:16 PM  

@puzzlegirl, I laughed so hard at those Tim Conway videos, I still have tears streaming down my face!


Joon 11:41 PM  

"municipal bond" is like "leveraged buy-out" in my mind. i've heard the full term, just not the shortened form that appeared in today's puzzle. but thanks for the explanation anyway.

sethg, that is ... wow. i guess my friends' knees aren't quite that bad. that looks like part of a robot.

jae 11:45 PM  

@Wade -- Perhaps one reason people think its Dylan (other than it sounds like him) is that Steven Wright playing the DJ in Reservoir Dogs introduced the song as being Dylanesque.

RodeoToad 12:04 AM  

jae, maybe so. I assumed it was because it sounded, well, Dylanesque. I never saw "Reservoir Dogs." That's one of the many holes in my pop culture knowledge. (I feel like I've seen it, as often as it comes up.) I also have never seen Star Wars. Any of them. I don't like space movies or movies set on submarines because I never know where the hell they are. They can tell you anything and you just have to believe it. You don't know how far anything is from anything else and you never know which way's north. I remember trying to watch a submarine movie on an airplane and there was some chase scene inside the submarine and I couldn't figure out how many rooms or floors the damn thing had. I also don't like movies or books about hobbits or crap like that. I went to Lord of the Rings, the first one, and left so pissed off I could barely stand it. They had elves that were about seven feet tall! Was that supposed to be ironic? And the guy never ran out of arrows, and if anybody died it didn't really matter because he could just come back to life again! I fell for that the first five or six times and then decided I wouldn't be fooled again. And they kept telling the guy "Don't touch the ring! Don't touch the ring!" Finally he touched it and it didn't really matter all that much. Hobbit movies, space movies and submarine movies are a big crock, if you ask me. I quit drinking three weeks ago and haven't been able to sleep since. Puzzlegirl, you're so damn cute I just want to pinch you. Tim Conway, for chrissake!

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

It's odd, but we just had this EXACT same discussion about "Irons and Woods" = ACTOR a few months ago in October
(I just found it, Oct 8, 2007 by Steve Kahn)
and the same mislead and if anyone thinks about James Woods, etc. the EXACT same discussion!
Seriously, go check out the blog responses for that day...

Another day pointed out that the capital W for Woods hints that it's a name and not a golf club (but it wasn't from the puzzle in October, bec that one, also a Monday, listed Woods first, so you couldn't tell.
But that's what alerted me today so I put in ACTOR but also had to pause and think of one.
(There's also Rachel Wood, no s, I just looked it up)

Personally, I wouldn't want that sort of mislead for 1 Across in one of my puzzles (but I often don't have the choice...)
but it slightly annoys the (this) solver throughout the rest of the experience...
I like a One Across like Mike Nothangel's TOMB where it ties in with the empty theme, or that word ladder one that Elizabeth Gorski on DAWN to DUSK (tho that was a Thursday).
To me, that would be ideal...if you can't tie it with the theme, at least don't have One Across on a Monday be a mislead.
Not every solver starts with One Across, but I don't know why not!

Anonymous 3:17 AM  

make that Evan Rachel Wood...oops.

(About to be in yet another Woody ALlen old man/young girl creepfest with Larry David)

Orange 8:32 PM  

I'm not sure I even know any Matchbox 20 songs. I mean, I'd probably find a couple familiar if I heard them, but don't associate the band's name with them. They suck, though. They're totally a ripoff of the far superior Hot Wheels 20.

Anonymous 4:40 PM  

Six weeks later, am glad to finally know a reason why Wade has been so touchy of late. While I am basically a lurker on this site, I enjoy Wade's posts immensely (am still eagerly looking for a chance to use "sounds crazy, but it just might work!") and hope either he (a) finishes withdrawing from EtOH soon so he can go back to being his lovable Texas self or (b) decides he wasn't drinking that much after all and goes back to it. Cheers. Docruth (P.S. to paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in "Airplane!", Wade, this might not be the right day to give up sniffing glue)

Anonymous 10:03 PM  

@miriam b - I'm a dental hygienist, and I, too, like the smell of garlic on a patient's breath. If some people think that's gross, well it's a lot better than other things one might smell. :)

I love today's puzzle not because it had to do with my profession - sort of - because it had my name in it: Heidi.

As for braces, yes there are some dentists (general practioners) who do braces, but I recommend going to an orthodontist. Same goes for root canals . . . go to an endodontist.

This is my first post. I discovered this blog a few weeks ago, and I love it. Thanks, Rex.

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