Thursday, August 14, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none

EARTHQUAKE ALARM!? (13A: Detector of potentially dangerous waves) This sounds impossible and / or useless. An alarm to tell you that the ground just shook? I've been in earthquakes, and I don't need an alarm. I am alarmed. Unless you're telling me that there's something that can sense quakes coming, in which case Why Have I Never Heard Of Such A Thing? If I've just been in an earthquake, you might ask me "ARE YOU DOING OKAY?" (17A: Question of concern after someone has a bad experience) To which I'd respond "No. Send airfare. The earth does not quake here in Central NY. In NZ, it quakes all the time, apparently, though I never felt a thing.

This puzzle was difficult for me to get ahold of, but once I muddle through the top third, the rest fell fairly quickly. Wanted BALLS for 1A: Chutzpah (brass), but went with NERVE instead. Wrong. Had SKI RUNS instead of SKI AREA (8D: With 3-Down, slopes). Had SYRIA and then YEMEN instead of SUDAN (6D: Arab League member), which is apparently "Arab" by virtue of its ... oil? I know there are Muslims there. Are they Arabs? ANSARA sounds like it could be Arab, but it's just some actor guy's name I've never heard of (42A: Michael who played Cochise on TV). Toughest letter of the puzzle for me was the "K" in KITT (32A: Arizona's _____ Peak National Observatory) and (esp.) KNARS (32D: Lumber features). Really wanted a "G" there, but figured that even Americans would understand that naming something GITT was just asking for mockery, from British tourists if not a whole lot of other people.


  • 21A: "Children of Men" star Clive (Owen) - he's terribly sexy. If I could be a movie star, I would be him. This was the answer (a gimme) that really helped me get started.
  • 22A: Bosox nickname (Yaz) - When I started collecting baseball cards, he was still playing, along with Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk. I still remember the stats on some of their cards by heart. And yet my keys are where?
  • 37A: Younger brother of George W. and Jeb (Neil) - needed the -EIL to get it, largely because I had ARE AS instead of ARE NO at 23D: "Thy servants _____ spies": Genesis 42:11
  • 44A: 1923 A.L. M.V.P. (Ruth) - HA ha, the most famous player in baseball history and I totally blanked: "Ends in 'H' ... hmmm ... 'R--H' ... hmmm ..." YAZ yes, RUTH no.
  • 45A: Japanese pilgrimage destination (Mt. Fuji) - thrilled to nail this one - off the -JI, I confidently wrote in MT FIJI and then stood AGAZE (16D: Like curious onlookers) at IHOH for 48D: "This doesn't look good" (uh oh), wondering what the hell went wrong.
  • 50A: Far Eastern affirmative (Hai!) - goes nicely with MT FUJI
  • 53A: Where moles might be found (CIA Headquarters) - got the CIA part early, but the rest came later, as I had ETONITE instead of ETONIAN at 35D: Ian Fleming or James Bond, which screwed up the crossing.
  • 7D: Town near the D. H. Lawrence Ranch (Taos) - I have no idea what the hell D.H. is doing with a ranch in New Mexico.
  • 11D: "Sicut _____ in principio" (doxology phrase) (erat) - better than [Q.E.D. part] ... I think. "Doxology" makes me laugh because it reminds me of "doxy," which is complete incongruous with the entire framework of this clue.

doxy, n.

1. A female lover; a mistress.
2. A sexually promiscuous woman.

  • 12D: Sondheim's "Multitudes of _____" (Amys) - I know several Amys. One is in my writing group. One is my sister. One is a crossword blogger. Etc. Still, this answer is insane.
  • 15D: Wikipedia alternative (Encarta) - I got this instantly, though I'm not sure how, as I don't think I've ever used it.
  • 21D: Enthusiastic cry of support ("ole ole!") - reminds me (sadly?) of the opening of this song / video

which in turn reminds me of a clip from "The Office," which I cannot find. It involves Michael playing the chorus from "Hot Hot Hot" on the steel drum over and over and over. And over. In his office.
  • 24D: Soap staple (vixen) - had to get my mind away from the other kind of soap, which took a while.
  • 26D: You don't say it when you stand ("Hit me") - a great clue
  • 46D: He broke with Stalin in 1948 (Tito) - I had TOJO, HA ha. Man, I'm tired.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Twangster 12:07 AM  

Argh, I found this one very tough and had to google to complete it, mostly in the top. Too many obscurities for me, epitomized by the sicut clue, to which "doxology phrase" served to rub it in instead of help.

Anonymous 12:30 AM  

"Sicut ..." is a gimme to choral singers and Latin Rite Catholics. For others, "Latin 101 verb" might be an interesting Fri/Sat clue for ERAT. Or "Q.E.F. part" -- and yes, I mean F.


Unknown 1:19 AM  

I think the waves part of 13A refers to tsunamis. Some coastal areas have a warning system that goes off when a quake is recorded. It gives some warning since the shock waves travel faster than the water waves. Japan has them and Thailand is now installing them.
I thought the puzzle was cleverly clued throughout and the 15 letter fill was fresh and stacked neatly. Certainly, there were some obscure things here.
The Kitt Observatory has programs open to the public which allow you to see some amazing things through one of three telescopes. Here is a picture taken from Kitt Observatory. Galaxy

Orange 1:28 AM  

Wikipedia told me ANSARA was born in Syria. It also tells me that Arabic is an official language in Sudan, which is the largest country in the Arab world. I think the targets of the Darfur genocide are the non-Arab, non-Muslim people in Sudan.

SethG 2:25 AM  

I had CIxHxxx QUARTERS, and couldn't think of a state that could fit other than Colorado, but I was pretty confident in the I and H and thought CO would have mountains instead of moles on their quarters. And yes, I know.

I don't like the A- prefix, or at least I never seem to aget the right answers. Like the clue for TAM, but doesn't loch mean LAKE?

Multitudes of Jills and Lisas and Andreas and Sarahs for me, and some of them are OLEs.

Anonymous 3:55 AM  

Do the two videos have any relationship whatsoever to the crossword?

Daryl 6:08 AM  

Great puzzle, although I was snarled by KITT/KNARS as well. Earthquake alarms help watch for tsunamis, as phillysolver said.

Had MOXIE for BRASS, but then figured it would be really hard to get a word starting with X. Had LOA for KEA as well, and NIKE for MCAN.

imsdave1 7:34 AM  

I thought I had a pretty good Friday until I came here. The only problem I had was sticking to cadres instead of cadets (I thought). One letter failure - you can all call me a GITT. Oh well - have a good day all.

dk 7:40 AM  

KNARS was knot so over was oncemote and it sounded kinda sorta ok. Bosox nickname I read as botox nickname and filled as yap for about 9 minutes making AGAZE agape. And, I had the same early errors as Rex. Thus my PLEA is covered under McNaughton rule.

Not happy with EARTHQUAKEALARM as it sounds forced, but I am not going to break out in ACNE over it.

Fine Friday puzzle for me. Although I am going to get it for waking up at 5:30 AM to do it

Rex, your elapsed time of .59 seconds (as posted with the puz image) is worthy of an ODE.

fikink 7:40 AM  

This one was particularly difficult for me, but I was "my own worst enemy." I started off with NERVE and LOA and then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to spell "newel" with four letters, never letting birds fly across my mind.
Speaking of cliches, I had OVERUSED for the longest time and ended up "shooting myself in the foot."
Happy puzzling, Everyone - gotta go get something accomplished.

Bill from NJ 8:15 AM  

The "Qs in this puzzle or, perhaps, the "Us" were the keys to this one.

My first entry was TAOS crossing STS followed by SKI which gave me AKE in the middle of 13A. I knew the actor Clive Owen which gave me S***N and I quessed SUDAN and EARTHQUAKE followed.

I skipped into the South where the RUTH/ROUGE crossing gave me the second U and SQYD produced ***HEADQUARTERS as I sussed out the correct meaning of the word MOLE.

With footholds in both the North and South. I worked steadily to the end of this puzzle. This was my quickest solve for a Friday ever, just over 10 minutes.

I generally don't concentrate on time but I was truly on Mr. Silk's wavelength today.

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

I thought this was a pretty good Friday solve with everything falling into place but YAP and GITT. Changed P to Z because it sounded more like a baseball nickname, but still had G where a K belongs. So, not perfect which leaves me SORE.

JannieB 8:45 AM  

Finished it - but then found 3 mistakes when I came here. The Kitt/knars crossing was a complete guess to me - went with the "G" thinking gnarly. Wrote in BEAM at 1D and never looked back to fix it. Mauna Mea (no - that's too much like that ABBA mess), and I still can't always tell from the cluing whether to use Aral or Ural so I filled in Ural and then never fixed that either.

Enjoyed the long fill - nicely done.

janie 9:13 AM  

i'm another who really enjoyed this one. a relatively smooth solve with lotso challenges/rewards.

re: clive owen. *love* this guy, who i first became aware of in the mid-90s thru pbs when they broadcast a uk import called chancer about a young opportunist and would-be financial wizard who is always in the throes of reinventing himself. terrific stuff!!



Joe 9:24 AM  

I love how Encarta is a Wikipedia alternative instead of the other way around.

Barry G. 9:29 AM  

Morning, all!

Sorry I'm late, but it took me a little extra time to finish the puzzle today. It would have taken even longer, except that I finally gave up and Googled for one answer.

Overall, a terrific puzzle! Lot's of really great cluing, and not too many horribly obscure words (well, not obscure to me -- your mileage may vary). I stared at the blank grid for awhile before hitting my first gimme at 11D (what can I say -- I'm a choir geek and have sung this lyric many times). I also knew ANSARA right off the bat because I recently saw him in some old episodes of The Outer Limits (I bought the boxed set) and I looked him up in the IMDB. For whatever reason, his name just stuck with me.

The rest of the puzzle was slow, but steady. I absolutely loved the cluing for CIA HEADQUARTERS, although I stared at the CIAHE part for quite awhile before realizing it was two words. ETONINANS was also nicely clued (although I had ETONITES for awhile). It took me awhile to get ARE YOU DOING OKAY (I wanted IS EVERYTHING OKAY, but it didn't fit). It also took me awhile to figure out what type of ALARM 13A was looking for, but I got the general idea right away since I first tried to fit TSUNAMI ALARM.

I've never heard of Sondheim's "Multitudes of AMYS", but I got it easily enough via the crosses. In fact, that was one of only two words in the entire puzzle that I just absolutely did not know. Even KNARS was a word that I'd hear before, even though it was very hard to drag out of the deep crevices (or is that crevasses?) of my brain.

The one area that finally caused me grief was the Central California region. At the time, I didn't have 31A sussed out, didn't know who the younger Bush brother was and couldn't figure out what 31A, 40A, 24D and 25D were looking for. I finally Googled the Biblical quote in 23D (I thought it might be ARE MY), and once I had that I quickly got ONCE MORE, VIXEN, ASPIC, OLE OLE (I had OH YEAH for awhile) and AVALON in short order. I figured 24D was referring to soap operas, but until I had 13A and 40A all I could think of was AMNESIA, and that obviously didn't fit.

So, in the end, Mr. Silk gets a perfect 10 from me. A minimum of hideously obscure words for a change (and the few that were there were all gettable via the crosses) and lots of clever cluing. My type of puzzle!

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

AMYS is insane but ETONIANS gets a casual mention as if it's standard usage? That is, in itself, insane, IMOO. But, then, I've never spent any time in England.

I went with the improbable gITT because KNARS seemed even less probable (had to fix it with google's help); didn't see YAZ, so was happy with AGApE until after I was told I had an incorrect solution. So, not a perfect solve, but I enjoyed the fact that I started with tons of white spaces after one pass but managed to chip away at it until I had it all done.

PuzzleGirl 10:04 AM  

I had the same initial mistakes as Rex: SKI RUNS, SYRIA, and ETONITE (then ETON MAN). And the K at the KITT/KNARS crossing was the last letter I filled in. A total guess.

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I think I had 7 or 8 gimmes after my first pass through the acrosses, which is a lot for me on a Friday.

@SethG -- Yes, "loch" is Scottish for "lake." People who live around lochs (Scots) wear TAMS (on their heads, so they're like lids). Or maybe you've figured that out by now.

@anon 3:55 -- The first video is Gnarls Barkley. Gnarls being similar to Gnars, an (erroneous) alternative to the correct KNARS at 32D. The Buster Poindexter song starts with an "Ole! Ole!" riff, which you can hear again (only longer) at around 2:40. I Always think of this song when I see OLE in the puzzle.

Loved the clue for QUEEN (powerful piece).

Jeffrey 10:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey 10:24 AM  

Ole! Ole!

Haven't heard the term EARTHQUAKE ALARM although Vancouver Island is susceptible to earthquakes and tsunamis. A 9.2(!) level earthquake in Alaska in 1964 led to a tsunami hitting Port Alberni so we have tsunami warnings whenever an earthquake is measured in the Pacific.

Tried NERVE, ETONITE as well.

KNARS is new to me and I don't like it. Please remove from the English language. Who is in charge of that? Orange?

I had CIAHUAN QUARTERS and thought it was somewhere in Mexico.

Good puzzle overall.

Twangster 10:34 AM  

I actually had CIPHERS QUARTERS for a while, which kind of made sense.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

what is the purpose of SPEED SOLVING ?


PS i have posited this on other sites and got some interesting responses, so i thought i'd ask here as well

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

A true earthquake alarm is a dog or cat. I was living in San Diego when the Northridge quake hit. I was also taking care of a friend's cat who started banging on a glass sliding door BEFORE I felt anything. Now that's an earthquake alarm.

ArtLvr 10:46 AM  

I got everything with only one google -- KITT. I'd had "knots" for KNARS in the lumber, but erased that when it didn't work, so it was a bit of a letdown to get the K back! Oh well..

Sorry to see another Bush son, NEIL, mentioned -- the one of Silverado financial scandal notoriety. Enough already. (I like Noam's idea -- Q.E.F.?) Aren't there better clues for the name?

Otherwise a very clever puzzle, and congrats to Barry Silk for achieving a pangram again. I thought he might be aiming at using all letters, so that reminded me of YAZ.


Rex Parker 10:49 AM  

RE: Speed-solving,

We are not having this conversation again for the umpteenth time. I don't have the references for those discussions, but they are Legion. We all solve in our own special ways. End of discussion.


Anonymous 10:59 AM  

of course, i guess you dont have the time

anyway, be well


Anonymous 10:59 AM  

They couldn't have clued 13A as a Warner, or Announcer or something which actually fits the answer? A Seisomograph detects the wave, it then feeds the info the the alarm.
Hated this clue.

Two Ponies 11:11 AM  

Another great puzzle from Mr. Silk. Thanks to this blog I am now much more aware of constructors and their styles. It makes the solving more personal.
Beak as part of a rail was clever. (Oh, a BIRD beak.)
Peas seem to be the veg of the week.
Yeti may be in the news today since a guy says he found a dead one in Georgia (the state, not the country), has it in a freezer, and is going to have a press release today.
Nice write-up today Rex. Great to have you back.
Next time I'm in Home Depot I'll throw around the term knars and see what happens.

Shamik 12:31 PM  

@imsdave: also had CADRES for CADETS

@dk: ditto on AGAPE for AGAZE which corrected when i got to YAZ

@barry: agreed that the servents ARE MY spies

@puzzlegirl: Tx for explaining Gnarls Barkley...knew the song..not the singer

@frankd: the speed dicussion's been around awhile and is as interesting as red root vegetables. It's a matter of choice. I'm into comfort, not speed as a rule. However, of late, I've tracked my own speed (not rushing) against my other speeds for that day. Just 'cause I choose to.

I liked this puzzle, not the least of which because I finished it correctly in a time that was good for me...despite some other false starts:


My favorite goof was ACCELERATEDRATE which crossed with nothing sensible until the last 4 letters. It had a nice ring to it and thought it might be cluing a theme i never found.

Michael Ansara was married to Barbara Eden for 16 years. I vaguely remember him in an episode of "I Dream of Jeannie." He's 86 now.

Didn't like SEEYA.

"Multitude of Amys" is from "Company"

DJG 12:40 PM  

My solving experience was akin to Bill from NJ's. I finished it much faster than I usually do on Friday. (Although I too made the GITT/GNARS error. By the way, what's the deal with GITT? Does it mean something in England?) I suspected the trend of criticizing the puzzle for being too easy would be continued.

PS -- Carlton Fisk: 37 HRs in 1985, second in the AL that season, look it up. My keys are in my pocket... hopefully.

Unknown 12:45 PM  

Several online slang dictionaries define git. Gitt does not appear. Here is an example.

git: an unlikeable person

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Noam's post made me look up his reference. I am sharing it...
"Q.E.F.," sometimes written "QEF," is an abbreviation for the Latin phrase "quod erat faciendum" ("that which was to be done"). It is a translation of the Greek words used by Euclid to indicate the end of the justification of a construction, while "Q.E.D." was the corresponding end of proof of a theorem.


jeff in chicago 1:06 PM  

Kicked. My. Butt. I'll try to not let it ruin a beautiful Friday in Chicago.

Joon 1:14 PM  

interesting--i didn't realize QEF was legit. in my even nerdier high school days, my friends from math team (hey, don't say i didn't warn you!) and i "invented" the faux latin QEF, "quod erat found," and used it at the end of a problem where we were supposed to determine some unique answer as opposed to prove something. faciendum seems much more legit.

as a public service, i've created a site where you can go and discuss beets and speed-solving to your heart's content. here it is. if enough people like it, i'll add built-in support for the rex parker comment box drinking game.

jae 1:14 PM  

I also had CADRE, AGAPE, and NERVE (briefly). Once I got the North sorted out the rest went pretty quickly and I was left to guess K or G. My reasoning was pretty much the same as Rex's when I penciled in the K. So, I escaped error free on a semi-educated guess.

I'm getting to the point where my go to word for filling in an unknown (to me) latin phrase is ERAT. It worked this time.

A very fine Friday by the way, thanks for the challenge Mr. Silk!

Anonymous 1:32 PM  


thanks for your response, maybe that's it - i love beets !

sorry i missed the speed discussion (in the spirit of the olympics, i suggested a formula on the NYT forum) but have found people here to become quite defensive.

unaware of any prior discussion history, i found it odd rex parker seemed to indicate yesterday that he totally ignored the theme and notepad of that puzzle in the interest of saving solving time.

but like he says, to each his own.

i thought the E M P T Y theme was the highlight, a classic, but i was in no rush to complete that puzzle, so i took special notice of the notepad.

i guess some would rather spend more time blogging about solving than actually solving and not take time to smell the roses along the way. to my way of thinking that's like running through a museum just to say you saw the art faster than anyone else, but how can that help you appreciate it ?

anyway, be well


dk 1:35 PM  

@joon, you wag or maybe even git.

Fellow bloggers, great comments today all focused on the puzzle, who'd a thunk it.

@puzlegirl, Gnarls B. will be at the MN State Fair

Anonymous 1:36 PM  


okay, i confess, you got me - LOL


miriam b 1:50 PM  

This was the kind of puzzle which looked impenetrable at first glance, but which soon collapsed like one of those convoluted domino setups, thanks to a few gimmes. I was quite proud of myself until I came here and found that a GITT had ruined my otherwise sound solution.

Rex, I liked your writeup. AREYOUDOINGOKAY? It seems so.

@joho 10:45: I don't live in earthquake country, but I have read that animals are very sensitive to geological and meteorological (that looks wrong) changes. I think we'e going to have a thunderstorm soon, because the cats seem restless, Dinah in particular. She's afraid of thunder, and during a storm she'll hide under a bed and sometimes even scream. We once had a dog who would head to a bathtub to wait out a storm.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

My very strange and Americanized last name is hidden in one of the full across clues - really freaky! Is Mr Silk trying to contact me sub rosa? If you are what should I do now?

George NYC 2:01 PM  

Liked this puzzle except for earthquake alarm. It's true that earthquake detectors are used to send tsunami alerts, but that's different. I find it odd that a constructor of Silk's ilk would use such a twisted answer for a 15 word fill at the top of the grid. Anyway. Rick Sutcliffe told a very funny story about Yaz on ESPN Wed night baseball the other day.

fergus 2:15 PM  

"St. Mawr" was set in New Mexico -- one of D.H. Lawrence's best works ("The Plumed Serpent" set in old Mexico, is another of the supposedly second tier, which I find just as good as his more celebrated stuff.) St. Mawr is just a novella, but it's filled with powerful creatures in a haunting landscape, even more so if you've been around there.

And since I'm being pedantic, how about having a exponent of say, 1.02? That wouldn't lead to much of a rapid increase. Yes, I know, this is a silly quibble.

DJG 2:51 PM  


Assuming the base is larger than 1 an exponential function will always have a rate of rapid increase if you wait long enough, so your quibble is not valid. If you wanted to quibble you could say that an exponential rate is not necessarily increasing. It could be decreasing (like half-life deterioration). This occurs when the base is between 0 and 1.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

@z.j.mugidny: Being mathematically challenged this is gibberish to me!

@miriamb: When my dog was a puppy he wasn't afraid of anything, but now at almost a year and half he's frightened of thunder and lightning and can definitely sense a storm way before we humans do.

@rex: Doxy is also a long dog with short legs. Well, maybe Dachsy.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

Wow, I found this my second fastest Friday (16 minutes) ever, my fastest being the USA-USA-USA Fourth of July (14 minutes), with 20-30 minutes being what I consider medium.

That stated, let me mention there's no grounds for hating EARTHQUAKE ALARM--that is the legitimate name for the thing. See

And yes, as a science geek, I found KITT Peak National Observatory a total gimme. There was a Friday a few weeks ago that I breezed through until I got stuck on a shoe, even after I had M-AN from the crosses. After putting the puzzle away and coming back several times, trying to figure out which of my crosses was wrong, I went through the alphabet three times before I hit upon MCAN. With that unpleasant memory of mental failure still fresh, I felt a little selbstschadenfreude that I got it this time off the ---N in less than 5 seconds. After realizing it wasn't NIKE, I didn't even try to mentally walk through the other sports brands, always a slow-motion exercise for me.

My last fill in the south was the O in R-UGE. It took forever for me to figure out that it indeed was "Compact material".

What I particularly liked about this puzzle was the amount of inspired off-the-cuff on-the-fly guessing that made it all work. Rex talks about it on his best days, and I rarely have it. Even with the mistakes like NERVE instead of BRASS and SYRIA instead of SUDAN, I liked figuring out GARISH off of two letters and OCALA off of one and AVALON off of two. Normally those kind of guesses would eventually come to me, but ever so slowly.

23D "Thy servants ARE NO spies" is actually a gimme if you know your Bible. (I like those fill-ins from Shakespeare and the Bible where knowing the plot forces a virtually unique fill-in.) The only time spies are mentioned in Genesis is when Joseph fakes the spy accusation against his brothers. Logic says "Thy servants" is spoken by someone subservient, so it isn't Joseph but it must be Judah, speaking in denial. And since KJV did not use contractions like AREN'T, it must be ARE NO.

fergus 5:18 PM  

z.j. -- I wasn't thinking about an exponential function, but a function that had a fixed exponent, like compound interest. Curious, by the way, whether it is possible to have an exponential function with a negative base? Seems unlikely if the function is continuous.

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

More on: Multitudes of Amys. This is a fairly obscure song originally written to close the first act of Company, but ultimately cut and replaced with Marry Me A Little. The song describes how the hero Bobby sees the character of Amy in every woman he sees. Quite a lovely song, but known, probably, only to Sondheim lovers (and only some of them at that). I loved finding it in the grid. A gimmie for me, but not for Rex. Of course, I never get any of the sports clues...

foodie 5:38 PM  

Being originally from Syria, I put it down first, and thought: could it be? and resisted changing it but eventually had to morph it to SUDAN... Rex, it is as Orange notes, an Arab country in that the majority speaks Arabic but you're right to be surprised, since ethnically it is rather distinct from the Arabian peninsula or from the mishmash of ethnic backgrounds in areas like Lebanon and Syria. An even more confusing country is Mauritania, which is considered Arabic but I'd say most Arabs hardly ever think of it as part of their world...

Anyhow, having been wrong about Syria, when I got to --SARA, I thought: ANSARA would fit, but this is a Syrian name, and I'm not falling for that again!

KITT observatory was a gimme, which left me with KNOTS as well, and caused a bunch of headaches. Also fell for ETONMAN. Still, I thought it was a terrific puzzle, was impressed by the construction and the fact that I was able to finish it even though for the first 20 minutes I barely had made any headway. I guess when the answers are long and you get a couple, you really sail after that. But I think this quality harks back to the discussion we had earlier this week about what makes the modern puzzles superior.

@z.j.mugildny, I have a question: when the base is between 0 and 1, is the rate of change decreasing or is it the final value that's decreasing?

fikink 5:51 PM  

@greene I have the original Broadway cast recording of Company of vinyl (yes, I am dating myself) (Columbia Records) and the first act ends with "Getting Married Today" (the panicked bride). Is that a separate song from "Marry Me a Little"?

fikink 5:53 PM  

excuse me, "on" vinyl

DJG 6:05 PM  


The function for the amount in a bank account accruing compounding interest is A = Pe^(rt) where A is the amount, P the principal, e the number, r the rate and t the time. Here t is the independent (input) variable which is in the exponent, so compound interest is in fact an exponential function.

Also, even functions with a fixed exponent larger than 1 such as y = x^1.02 will eventually be rapidly increasing.

In answer to your question, in basic math courses negative bases are not considered. They are considered in higher level courses that deal with complex numbers.

DJG 6:11 PM  

Wait... foodie, I answered you to quickly. The rate of change is not decreasing when the base is less than 1. Only the value. I would like to submit an official correction to the annals of Rex's blog comment section.

Pretty sure about the other stuff though.

imsdave1 6:27 PM  

@fikink - I have Company on vinyl too and saw the original and two revivals of it, and have never seen that title before - I'm thinking it must be a subtitle.

@Philly - thanks for looking git(t) up - I thought I was just calling myself a twit - I'm really not that unlikable.

Michael Chibnik 6:29 PM  

I really zoomed through this one, but did have a mistake -- knors/toms instead of knars/tams. Even though I got them easily, I thought that "earthquake alarm" and "amys" were odd answers.

enjoyable puzzle

foodie 6:29 PM  

@z.j. mugildny: Thanks! So, in the end, this clue survived close scrutiny. Good show!

fergus 6:39 PM  

Thanks, Mr. Mugildny. You've perked more curiosity, but I don't want to get too far off track. I have plenty of textbooks lying around, so I'll crack one open.

fikink 6:42 PM  

Thanks, the funny thing is that I think I have heard The Multitudes of Amys and I can't think where. I have only seen university productions of Company. Perhaps it is on Side by Side by Sondheim...I'll have to check, but that means another trip to the basement to look through the vinyl. ;-(
p.s. you wouldn't know where I could get a copy of the original Oh! Coward! would you?
About the same time.

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

Loved this puzzle, esp that it's a pangram!
(Will doesn't care but it helps me solve, guessing Qs and Zs and Xs where I might not ordinarily... and makes me feel all happily Scrabble-y)

TITO again? I suspect Will has a multitude of TITOS! DO I have to haul out my Venn Diagram joke again?! ;)

I hope I'm one of your multitudes of andreas that make you go "ole ole".
I have but a Gaggle of Seths (or is it a Pride of Seths? A Murder of Seths?), but I have a multitude of AMYS as well, and NINAS and MICHAELS.

I too fell in the GITT trap till I got here.
Altho I filled in B as the last letter (Second time this week that the first letter of the puzzle, cf DINTS, is the last letter I fill in) I didn't "git" the BEAK answer, is a rail a bird?

Loved how freaky SQYD looked and CIAHEA...speaking of which,
@Rafael, that's not your real name is it?

@ georgenyc
Was your "Silk's ilk" intentional?
seems like the germ of a great puzzle...not only does it rhyme, but it parses to "silk silk"!

Like Rex, I wanted BALLS for 1A, then NERVE, but I like your MOXIE!

I will be laughing about your
" to me and I don't like it. Please remove from the English language..." for months to come!

thanks for the DH Lawrence/New Mex connection...that's what I love about this blog!

I always mix up Michael ANSARA with Michael Sarrazin (who has incredible eyes that I thought were Arabic but it says on imdb he's from Quebec.)

Trekkies and Batman fans might enjoy some of the ANSARA trivia on imdb as well.

Shocked that I knew both RUTH and YAZ.
OK, you may resume your math discussion now.


Doc John 7:26 PM  

@ joon- GREAT website!

A fun puzzle today. After staring at it for awhile with only YAZ (which, thank heavens, wasn't clued as "female birth control"), AVALON and ARAL filled in, all of a sudden it started to click and I was done in (I guess) a little over half an hour. I even guessed right on KNARS (somewhere in the back of my head, KITT asserted itself). A lot of times on Friday and Saturday I have to fight for every clue but today, traction was easier to get. That's not to say that there wasn't good cluing. Although some, like the AMYS clue, needed crosses, some, like the confederacy clue, could be figured out with some brain power. The only fill that I thought was a little forced was OLE OLE.

Clive OWEN- what a hunk! He was also in the series of very short movies that Ang Lee (I think) did for BMW.

evil doug 8:18 PM  

"Doxy"---what a great, underused word. Makes me think of a doll with nice gams. "Gams"---what a great, underused word....

"Death of a Doxy": One of the truly fine Rex Stout "Nero Wolfe" series. I don't read much, but I've read every one of those.

Archie Goodwin
Pfui, OH

jae 8:18 PM  

For a somewhat tongue-in-cheek but definitely over the top Clive OWEN movie I recommend renting "Shoot 'em Up."

Doc John 8:42 PM  

Ah, "Shoot 'em Up". Even the people that made it have no idea how many killings there were in it! That didn't stop it from being fun!

Anonymous 8:44 PM  

Clive Owen was superb in "Second Sight", a BBC series in which he played a lead detective who was going blind, and too proud to admit it to the police force.

Anonymous 8:52 PM  

To clarify the "Company" confusion:

In early drafts of the show, the hero Bobby proposed to his neighbor Amy at the end of act one. The first song written was "Multitudes of Amy," later replaced by "Marry Me a Little." As Sondheim and co. revised the show, out went the proposal, and out went both songs. In later revivals of the show (including both B'way mountings), "Marry Me a Little" was inserted at the end of act one as a general update on Bobby's wish to get married to anyone.

Nutso clue, but a pleasure to see it.

fergus 9:42 PM  

Postulate: The x-y plane is pierced from imaginary space when integers match the variable in a negatively based exponential function.

Is this so? Someone I know works with something called differential geometry, a concept I can envision, yet don't know how to view?

foodie 9:57 PM  

@andrea, I think your mixing Ansara and Sarrazin is an erudite sort of error. Sarrazin sounds like Sarrasin or Saracen (related to Sharq, Sirocco meaning the East) which was the way the French referred to Arabs and Turks-- just the very area where Ansara was born... I wound up googling Ansara and thought he looked really familiar, but now can't decide if it's because I've seen him in movies or I know people who look like him. It's weird that he was married to Barbara Eden, since she was genie who supposedly hailed from that part of the world...

green mantis 10:41 PM  

@frankd: The story is: people that have reached a certain level with regard to solving skills sometimes test themselves in other ways, i.e., by time. That is all.

I suspect you're just trying to stir something up with your comments about not stopping to smell the roses. Surely you can think of other things that some do for the casual enjoyment, and others do as a different kind of challenge. Say like baseball, trivia, pie-eating contests, jogging, scrabble, chess, tennis, passive aggressive commenting, etc.

It doesn't matter, and nobody here cares what your method or goal is. We like puzzles. Be well!

green mantis 10:48 PM  

Fergus, how do you know these things? Will I one day know such stuff? Because right now, I'm feeling like my exhaustive knowledge of Chinese herbs and names for the color green is not pulling its weight in the useful ephemera department. Please to advise.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

Just got back from Taos. D.H. Lawrence lived there towards the end of his life. The La Fonda hotel on the plaza has some of his paintings.

fergus 11:13 PM  

DH painted around there, too.

I know many things superficially because I read a lot. An economist by profession, I chose leisure often in favor of work. (Career CV not unimpressive) A science and math kid who got a broader education when he went to University. Once in a while I get good jobs on account of my knowledge, but mostly I'm free to luxuriate in many fields of knowledge.

My grandparents on my father's side both held degrees from Edinburgh, so it's in the air, if not the blood.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

For those solvers who thought that EARTHQUAKE ALARM was "forced" or contrived, I just wanted to say that I had done a little bit of research beforehand to make sure such a device existed. I would never consider using a contrived phrase in a puzzle, and besides, Will Shortz would not permit it. I won't quibble with people who don't see much utility in having one, however :-)

For those of you who had problems with the KITT/KNARS crossing, consider this: I have a friend who rarely solves crosswords, has never completed one without assistance, and will only attempt to solve a crossword when I have one in the NY Times. He told me his first answer in the puzzle was KITT! He could only get 4 answers in the puzzle total, though, before needing help. I constructed this puzzle back in October 2007, so I don't remember all the details, but I can tell you that I wasn't that happy with the KITT/KNARS crossing and considered changing it, but that would have required reworking a major portion of the puzzle. After weighing the alternatives, I decided to keep it. I didn't think it would be an "unfair" crossing, however.

Orange 11:57 AM  

Actually, we have an earthquake alarm installed on our bed. After you hit the snooze button a second time, the bedframe shakes like hell until you fall out of bed.

Rex Parker 12:01 PM  


I wish you'd stopped that comment after the first sentence and then just let readers' brains run wild...


Orange 9:05 PM  

"Oh, honey, the earth moved. Alert the neighbors!"

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

dear green mantis,

thanks for your response.

as i got a pleasant response from the host of the NYT forum, i thought i would ask the same question here, as well as some other places.

i didn't realize the question would have a positive or negative connotation, but i summize you speak for the whole group here and take acception to the topic.

hey, it's your sandbox and i'm not offended at your negative response.


Chas 12:35 PM  

When you get the puzzle five weeks later your comments are always at the bottom. However there is an advantage in being a few hundred miles from Mt. Kitt Observatory, and watching Cochise TV with Michael Ansara. They were my first answers. Ski-Runs doesn't work with Mauna Loa, and I had to get cleansers out of my mind to get Vixen. Enjoy your blog.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Unusual Friday for me. I finished with a couple of goofs. I went with Neal for Neil since aspic is not a word I am really familiar with. I have heard it and if I hadn't already struggled for quite a while, I might have pondered long enough to get it. I, too, went with Gitt rather than Kitt. On the plus side, I believe tams and Ansara were my first two entries.

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

Love the Cee-Lo, Danger Mouse video.
They don't need the all that gimmickry when performing, as demonstrated at the MN State Fair this year. Cloud Cult opened for them.
Had knot, but knew the Scots did not wear toms.
An enjoyable puzzle.
Enjoyable puzzle today.

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