Aussie with purple hair and ornate glasses - FRIDAY, Oct. 31, 2008 - Jim Page (1977 memoir set at Harvard / Nazareth native, e.g.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Easy does it!" - OK, it's not really a "theme," but two 15-letter answers that share this clue intersect in the middle of the puzzle

I got battered around in the Seattle region. Just pummeled. And that's *with* ADAM WEST as a gimme (1D: Actor voicing the mayor on "Family Guy"), and ADOPT solidly in place (1A: Take in). Those answers gave me first letters of Every Clue In The NW, and still - face plant. Two of my problems were (shocking) names, and another was MERE MORTAL (19A: Ordinary human being), which I *wanted* to be a name, like JOE SIXPACK or something (I did this shortly after the VP debate, I think). Never ever ever heard of this DAVIES person (14A: Companion of Hearst at San Simeon castle), and I have been to Hearst Castle on a tour, though I was probably 10 when that happened, and I doubt the tour lingered long on Mr. Hearst's "companions" with a bunch of 5th-graders. Marion DAVIES is her name. I know very well who DAME EDNA is, but could not see him/her for the life of me. I don't remember the hair as purple. I thought the answer was going to be some kind of symbol or icon (like the Pillsbury Doughboy only ... Aussie). Or else Yahoo Serious.

Ugh. UGH. ADAM WEST next to DAME EDNA will likely make the name-haters scream. Today, I will be sympathetic. DAVIES! The other serious knot in this puzzle was a single square, so I guess it wasn't really a "knot" - just a potential NATICK violation that surprised me a bit. I speak of the crossing of BARI (40A: Capital of the Apulia region) and SABRA (29D: Nazareth native, e.g.) at the "R". I had heard of BARI before (crosswords!) and the "R" was the only letter that sounded right there, so, technically, no problem. And yet - this crossing seems harsh. These are Not places / names that are even reasonably well known to most Americans. Calling BARI a "capital" of anything, however accurate on a technical level, is just harsh. It's the Achilles Heel of Italy. That is how I will remember it from now on. Undoubtedly one or the other of these answers was a gimme for many of you, but even though I got the answer right, I have to step back and wonder if Joe the Solver had a real shot at this one. You'll let me know, I'm sure.

Another malapop today, as I wanted EARN at 1A: Take in, but it wouldn't fit ... and then I ran into 34D: Win (earn). This phenomenon is more common than I would have imagined had someone (!) not bothered to name it.

Naughty / Nice:

  • 16A: Like friendship bracelets (hand-made) - O ... K. Seems a very odd way to clue this.
  • 17A: Dualistic deity (Amen Ra) - Wanted AMON RA. Not sure why. This clue has been used for this answer before.
  • 21A: Z preceder (A to) - well, that's rough. Wonder if anyone put WXY in the grid.
  • 23A: Big exporter of diamonds: Abbr. (Isr.) - those SABRAs love their diamonds.
  • 24A: Black Forest resort (Baden) - wrote in ARDEN. Shakespeare!
  • 26A: Maestro _____ de Waart (Edo) - see also the only slightly less weirdly named MUTI (51D: Longtime La Scala music director)
  • 42A: "Good Guys Wear Black" star, 1978 (Norris) - gimme! Many things about the year my parents got divorced are Exceedingly Vivid. I think I repressed home life and IMPRESSED pop culture onto my brain.
  • 45A: Golfer Aoki (Isao) - needs to be a Gimme for you if it isn't already. Ditto "ONE L" (8D: 1977 memoir set at Harvard). In fact, I've recently noticed that many permutations of "ONE L" are common crossword fill. All these are worth knowing:


Strangely, LEON is far less common than the rest, perhaps because with that L and N placement, you can make a lot of other words if you're a constructor, but -N-L really narrows your choices.

  • 54A: Literally, "sheltered harbor" (Honolulu) - cinch. Had the terminal "U" ... what else was it gonna be?
  • 60A: Far from macho (sissyish) - your made-up word of the day. I prefer "sissified."
  • 61A: Cultural doings in Cadiz (artes) - Cultural doings in the BARRIO (24D: Chicago's Little Village, e.g.) might also have worked, right? Why does a Chicago BARRIO have an Anglo name? And more importantly ... do they have Little Village People? (I know you're expecting "Macho Man" here, but ... I can't pass up THIS...)

  • 5D: Stretch in a seat (term) - proud of myself for nailing this off the "T"; wanted LIMO, but then I read the clue more carefully.
  • 7D: Sammy nicknamed "The Red Rocker" (Hagar) - this calls for a video. Oh, ouch, this is painfully pure 80s. Remember when MTV had VJs? I do:

  • 9D: Year Marcian became emperor (CDL) - who knows? Marcian, Marcian, Marcian!
  • 11D: Open-sided porch (Ramada) - I have never seen a RAMADA Inn that was "open-sided." False advertising!
  • 13D: Sisters of Charity founder and family (Setons) - total guess.
  • 28D: Ballpark concessionaire's offerings (sodas) - yes, try calling him a "concessionaire" next time you are at the ballpark. Someone will likely douse you with SODAS. Talk about SISSYISH. "Oh, concessionaire! Might I have one of your carbonated beverages? And perhaps some Grey Poupon for my frankfurter?"
  • 38D: Artemis or Atalanta (huntress) - Huntress is also a (non-super) hero from the DC universe. Daughter of Batman and Catwoman on Earth-2. Way WAY too long a story.
  • 44D: Capital of the Brittany region (Rennes) - two non-national capitals in one puzzle. That's rough.
  • 53D: Topping on Mediterranean pizza (feta) - tasty gimme
  • 55D: Connecting words in logic (ors) - I have news for you. ORS are "connecting words" whether you are "in logic" or out of it. OR is a conjunction, and with AND and BUT, it gets you pretty far. How do I know? Please...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


JannieB 9:20 AM  

Several real stumbling blocks for me today. I got my Greek alphabet mixed up and thought ETA preceded ZETA so I miffed 21A. Didn't know the Setons so Setans looked right, and just never saw the clue for 11D.

As for the SW, if you insist that "PAY" works for 56D, have no clue which vowel belongs in 51D or the letter you need in 44D, then you convince yourself that the safe harbor is some unknown city in Peru - hey - it's got a coastline.

So no joy for me this day.

Orange 9:25 AM  

What, didn't everyone learn BARI and SABRA when they were in high school...and doing crosswords? No?

Little Village? That's nothing. Chicago's other big Mexican neighborhood has a Czech name, Pilsen (as in pilsener beer from Pilsen or, with the Czech spelling, Plzen).

imsdave1 9:27 AM  

Strangely, I found this very easy for a Friday. Couple of little stumbles, Janie's ETA and Rex's AMON. Confidently wrote in WHATEVER for WHOCARES off the H ad second E. SABRA seems like it's fairly common late week fill. Never saw RENNES.

That said, I'm sure to get my butt kicked tomorrow.

Shamik 9:28 AM  

Good puzzle today and consider it medium-challenging. Mis-starts:

WYE for ATO (so, it's not WXY)

DAMEEDNA as a gimme. ADAMWEST as a "he's still alive?" NACHOS and OCTOPI as gimmes, but wouldn't care to eat them together.

I knew SABRA and BARI, but not wanted CANNES for RENNES.

Shamik 9:28 AM  

...but wanted CANNES for RENNES...sorry for not previewing my post.

imsdave1 9:38 AM  

Googling around a little bit, it turns out AMEN-RA is very versatile for crosswords, with AMUN apparantly being the predominent spelling (all can be stand alone, or ended by either RA or RE):


Of course, that and $3 will get you a cup of coffee.

janie 9:48 AM  

well, to judge from the eyebrows in this photo, the dame ain't a natural "purple"! ;-)

enjoyed this puzzle *lots* -- from the mini-theme and its placement in the (terrific) grid, to the clues and fill. some of the best, imoo. and look, today languishes = PINES. on seeing "private instructor: abbr.," *did* initially enter TUT...but didn't keep it there for long!

cheers, all --


Alex S. 9:49 AM  

To the extent that I remember the word SABRA, I thought it referred more specifically to JEWS born in Israel, not just anybody born in Israel. And since Nazareth is majority Arab (I think) it didn't seem to apply.

But that is moot because when I had BA-I, the obvious letter to fill the hole was L for BALI and I just brushed off SABLA as a word I didn't know.

ADAM WEST, DAME EDNA, and DAVIES as almost 1-2-3 gimmes got the top half done almost immediately.

MORAL SENSE instead of MORAL FIBER blocked the southwest for a while.

dk 9:56 AM  

I did not know the name of the golfer or the nazareth native so I was left with an open square. Filled it when I got here.

To avoid breakfast test violations I will will not provide any details: Rosebud was not the name of a sled it was a petname for part of Ms. Davies anatomy. One could argue that a sled/childhood/joy is a usful metaphor for the loss of what was once most dear to Mr. Hearst.

Puzzle whine(s)

I am longing to use draco again but today it was DENOTE.
I do not think I have every seen the word SISSYISH.
Are NACHOS the chips or a dish with tortilla chips.

ahhh, WHOCARES. I think I will have a MALT.

dk 9:57 AM  

that would be ever seen. Bring back the can!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Very satisfying puzzle today. Though, I missed one letter, I had a L in the SABRA/BARI crossing, giving me SABLA/BALI. The NW was the last to fall, couldn't decide between ADOPT and ADMIT - thought it was a great clue to have two possible answers that shared 3 of 5 letters.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Was all set for some Halloween clues so had to regear--we oldsters know Marian Davies, including the naughty Citizen Kane reference. Not too bad for a Friday--no tricks OR treats.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

I always thought OCTOPODS was the plural of octopus. Here's what Wiki says

The Oxford English Dictionary (2004 update[25]) .....notes that octopi derives from the mistaken assumption that octōpūs is a second declension Latin noun, which it is not.

The term octopod (plural octopods or octopodes) is taken from the taxonomic order Octopoda but has no classical equivalent.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

I didn't struggle so much in the NW, as "DAMEEDNA" came to me right away. The place that vexed me was the SW, where I saw the clue for 54A ("Literally, 'sheltered harbor'"), had the "HO" in place and confidently filled in "HONGKONG." That slowed me down a ton, throwing me off in that entire region and stopping me from seeing "BIGRUSH" at the end of the long 6D (though I already had the "WHATSTHE" part).

Jeffrey 10:24 AM  

So the first day this week you don't call "easy" has an "Easy does it" theme?

Rex, Rex, Rex. The XYZ entry was our little secret. Did you have to tell everybody???? I'm mad at you now. I will never read your blog again. Orange rules!

ATO briefly came to mind and then I went, nah, that's too stupid.

DAME EDNA was my opening entry, possums.

A very good Friday.

@smitty: An Octopod is a device with 4 sets of headphones.

(In The Navy and Conjunction Junction? Can't stay mad after that. Just don't reveal my wrong answers ever again, ok?)

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Rex thought the past two puzzles easy and this one medium to challenging while I had exactly the opposite experience. I was surprised at how quickly I managed to finish with no help. I had massages for OPERATES briefly as once I got OCTOPI the whole corner fell. It's funny, too, as reading 42D the first word that popped into my head was NACHOS. First I was craving TACOS from the other day, now it's NACHOS ... we have a Mexican theme connecting puzzles.

I don't care what anybody says, SISSYISH is NOT a word.

I'll think I'll go have a margarita ....

Jeffrey 10:48 AM  

I meant WXY. I said my wrong entry wrong. Oh how we miss you, little trashcan.

Ulrich 10:48 AM  

Challenging, but google-free for me. My proudest moment: TOILETTE guess with only the T in place. Had AMON RA for a while, which blocked the NW. But everything got resolved after a good night's sleep.

Now to my favorite pasttime, complaining about the cluing of German words. Baden is a historic German fiefdom/duchy, now one half of the modern state of Baden-Württemberg. There are towns called Baden in Germany, but none of them is a black-forest resort AFAIK. The resort's name is Baden-Baden; I'm sure it can be called Baden for short, if the context makes this clear, but the clue should have indicated this with a "for short" or so.

Baden-Baden is a very interesting town: It was one of the gambling meccas of Europe in the 19th century, and since it was not bombed in WWII, its historical center with the casino and mansions is well-preserved--really worth a visit, even for non-gamblers. Dostojewski got his gambling bug there (I think), which led to his story "The Gambler".

jae 10:49 AM  

Hey folks I’m back. A couple of observations and a question. First, French Polynesia is gorgeous. Second, the crossword solvers I encountered aboard ship bore little resemblance to the commenters on this blog. Most were intimidated by the NYT and those who weren’t were not really into discussing puzzle aesthetics and relative difficulty, although there was the occasional grousing about clues and answers. So, its nice to be back!

Question, I missed the definition of “malapop” while gone. I've sort of got it but would appreciate a precise rendering. I love this blog but the thought of reading back over 30+ days of comments is a bit daunting.

To the puzzle. I actually found this fairly easy for a Fri., especially after the Fri. Sat. switch a couple of weeks ago. DAMEEDNA was a gimme and I remembered DAVIES from our Dec. trip up the coast. Like imsdave I tried WHATEVER, had GAIN for EARN briefly, and misread 21 as 27 and had IROC for a while. Other than that it went pretty smoothly.

RodeoToad 10:50 AM  

I flunked this puzzle. I left the R blank in SABRA/BARI. I had trouble in the SW, where I had CACHES instead of NACHOS (thinking "Does some body work" was some sort of hair removal thing, and doesn't that start with "Epi-"?) Also wanted "Not worth A CRAP." People who eat tripe tacos don't have breakfast tests.

I also had ARDEN. I started with SETTLE instead of SETONS. Mary Lee Settle was somebody who did something uncontroversially good, right? I can't remember what it was, but she's there on my Helen Keller shelf. (I know, Helen Keller may have been a plagiarist, as was MLK, and Mr. Rogers shot a man in Reno just to watch him die, but I've become less strident in my demands of the secular saints.)

There weren't any gay people in Texas in the seventies, so the Village People were taken at face value. In some quarters there were suspicions that Saturday night professional wrestling was fake, but me and my grandpa didn't believe it.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Couldn't quite get this without googling. Along with JOESIXPACK I considered AVERAGEJOE. Was disappointed to see DAVIES passed over as chance for a Kinks clue.

RodeoToad 10:56 AM  

Update: Mary Lee Settle was just another writer, turns out. Don't know who I was thinking of. Maybe Chief Seattle. Probably settlement houses, which, come to think of it, I think Addam West had something to do with.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

First time, long time as they say on sports talk radio.

As an old-time Hollywood buff, DAVIES was a gimme as the other two names in the NW were and, as a result, MEREMORTAL revealed itself to break open the entire section.

In the NE the HANDMADE/EDITED cross provided the mortar for the entire wall and helped produce WHATS as the beginning to 6D which eventually revealed itself as WHATSTHEBIG DEAL.(the NORRIS/NACHOS disabused me of that particular notion).

I guessed, correctly, at 33A for the long across that helped cement the entire puzzle as, strangely as it seems, the B in TAKEADEEPBREATH was the key to the Mideast region and broke open the
rest of the puzzle.

Once the NORRIS/NACHOS cross was in place and RUSH revealed itself, HONOLULU was the axe that felled the SE.

The Georgia/Florida section was my bete noire today as the SE took longer than the rest of the puzzle to complete as I tried to fit some variation on athlete or racer for the Atalanta clue and HUNTRESS did not go quietly into that good night and was the last to fall.

I found this one to be easy but one word (karma) enters my mind and I'm sure I'l pay tomorrow.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

@jae - Don't we call it Freedom Polynesia any more?

ArtLvr 11:21 AM  

Note that "Keep your shirt on" would have worked fot the longest across or down -- I wanted it somewhere! Otherwise I had small bits of trouble, but it all came out in the end...

I was lucky to have lived in RENNES ages ago, and also to have departed on a ship for Greece from the port of BARI. How often could that pair arise in one puzzle?

ONEL we'd just discussed recently, but it didn't come back right away, so what with HAGAR not familiar as clued and a question as to ISR for a big diamond exporter, the NE was last to fall.

I enjoyed most of the tricky clues, like those for TERM and OVERBOOK. And yes, I thought of WXY.

@ dk -- "Rosebud", a part of Ms. Davies' anatomy? LOL


PuzzleGirl 11:32 AM  

This one was a real slog for me, but I finished it with no Googles and only one out-and-out guess (BARI/SABRA).

Not to say I didn't insert a lot of guesses that eventually came out:

- AFR for ISR
- DIME and then WHIT for CENT (like Wade, I also wanted CRAP when I got the C)
- PAPER PLATES for PASTA SALADS (someone please tell me I'm not the only one)
- PRINCESS for HUNTRESS (yes, I know)
- I tried to stretch EVERYMAN into MERE MORTAL (also flashed on AVERAGE JOE and JOHN Q PUBLIC)

Two malapops for me: I wanted BIT for SOU and SODA for MALT. (@jae: A malapop is when you enter a wrong answer into the grid and then it turns up somewhere else as a correct answer.)

Not a big Hagar fan. What's the line in that song that's all about the 80s? "And who's that guy singing with Van Halen?"

dk 11:45 AM  

@wade, re: wrestling old school, do you remember Haystack Muldoon and Bobo Brazil.

May we start a petition for the return of our little can? I follow @oranges advise and do the previews but mis-steaks still slip through. And as @jae points out we have to adhere to higher standard. I mean if @crosscan has to correct his own rants two post down as he is not quick to correct... the world is going to heck in a handbasket. Bring back the can!

@joho, Rosa Mexicano for margaritas in NYC.... IMHO

Unknown 12:02 PM  

I was ready to bow down to Mr. Page's skills for being bold enough to throw in WXY as an alphabet run. But it turns out he's just a MERE MORTAL after all :)

chefbea 12:04 PM  

My son in law is from Bari so I knew that and also Sabra.

Had wxy at first

As for Nachos - there are nacho chips and also a great dish made with chips, melted cheese, hot peppers and sometimes chili. yummm

Anonymous 12:08 PM  


It is Haystacks Calhoun and how does the trashcan help the editing process as it completly wipes out the comment but the preview function . . . edits

jae 12:09 PM  

@puzzlegirl -- thanks for the definition and, come to think of it, I also went with WHIT on my first pass.

@dk -- the blog world is not a secure place. You go away for 30+ days and someone steals your trash can!

RodeoToad 12:25 PM  

Sammy Hagar is somehow both the Lou Rawls and the Jimmy Buffet of 70s-80s cheese-rock. He's Lou Rawls because he doesn't seem to be attached to any school or any particular line of begats. He's Jimmy Buffet because he's very good at what he does but still is somehow . . . a joke. It's kind of not fair that he's a joke, but he also kind of asked for it. I don't know why I feel compelled to defend Sammy Hagar, if that's what I'm doing, except that I grew up with a guy named Jim Bob Eddleman who worshipped the Red Rocker from very early on, and I remember how overjoyed Jim Bob was when Van Halen chose Hagar as their replacement for David Lee Roth. It was like a lifetime of lonely adulation had paid off for Jim Bob. His confidence soared, his own country cover band got real popular, he started dating the pretty local dentist who I also had a fling with a few years later, and he started selling farm and ranch property through his mother's real estate agency, an occupation he continues today. Sammy Hagar had something to do with making Jim Bob the man he is. More recently, I started having a recurring dream about being Sammy Hagar's straight-laced brother and commiserating with our mother about Sammy's wild-assed antics. We'll save that for another time.

Chefbea, Sammy Hagar holds the St. Louis record for ticket sales to a single-performer event. Also, try the Fabulous Southwestern Extravagorgonzola Nachos at TGI Fridays.

Margaret 12:31 PM  

I thought this was about right for a Friday. I put in EDITED and NACHOS without any crosses, thinking both were too easy but, sure enough, they stayed. Put me in the WXY camp.

I had the R in TERM and AMENRA even though TERM made no sense until I got here. Southern California was where I had the most trouble. Spelling HONALULU correctly would've helped. I had SISSY BOY for a while but couldn't imagine such an un-PC clue would be right.

First gimme was ISN'T (it Grand, Boys.) How many of you out there know the song, much less have sung it in the last week?? Just this past Monday, hubby and I started singing some old Clancy Brothers tunes and that was one of them. The next night, we celebrated his birthday at our favorite restaurant, named BARI. (Cue theme from Twilight Zone.)

Do we have a term for such crossword coincidences? Do we need one?

Lyrics from Isn't it Grand -- a catchy little ditty about death:

Look at the mourners,
Bloody great hypocrites.
Isn't it grand, boys
to be bloody well dead?
Let's not have a sniffle.
Let's have a bloody good cry.
And always remember the longer you live
The sooner you bloody well die.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

A number of grumps with today's, most of which (the mistake in SABRA, the folk etymology of OCTOPI, e.g.) have already been pointed out. But since when is a MALT, 49A, a "drink with a straw"? When malts were still around, in my teenage years, the whole point was that you *couldn't* drink one with a straw. And EARN (34D) for "win"? Is being HANDMADE (16A) a necessary condition for a "friendship bracelet"? Etc. Not a happy Friday.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

HAGAR? NO! And that goes for both Sammy and The Horrible.

southwestern + gorgonzola? NO!
TGI Fridays? NO!

You are failing to take advantage of one of Houston's two assets. Sure, it's a flat, humid soup seasoned with petrochemicals from the ship channel, but at least it has some really good restaurants (the other asset being an art scene, which I don't know if you take advantage of or not). So why are you always eating at low-end chains and taco trucks? As much as I love Austin, I'd gladly send you all our TGI Fridayses (along with the Chilises and the Appleby'ses) and a few tripe vendors if I could get Niko Niko's and a few other good eats here. (Our museum scene is looking up, but we still have a ways to go compared to ya'll down there in ya'll's swamp.)

OB puzzle: Had to google for MUTI, SAO, and ISAO (but not SOU). Finally just gave up and came here for RENNES / HONOLULU (@Rex: What else could it be? I dunno, but that didn't make it obvious to me. Even HO_OLULU apparently didn't do it for me, which makes me wonder what I was smoking). I also missed the SABRA/BARI cross, and wasn't quite sure enough about ARE to put in the A. Overall, I had fun and did well, but my finishing skills were not worth Adamn--I mean ACENT today.

dk 1:12 PM  

All this talk of Hagar and Rawls when Jimmy Page is the author of our puzzle.

@edith b, thank you for the Calhoun correction. On the editing piece. Sometimes (ok, ok, all the time) what I write only makes sense to me and the little people who live (whoops that is a secret)... So it is better for me to cut the comment, delete the post and begin anew

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

oops, make that Applebee'ses.

Margaret 1:26 PM  

@ Ulrich

I thought that BADEN was just the common noun for a spa. Is that not the case?

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

Sat down to do today's puzzle, instantly put in 1D and 2D, ADAMWEST and DAMEEDNA, said to self, "This is going to be awfully easy." Was very wrong. Well deserving of medium-challenging rating, a proper Friday. Would have raised a question about 43D OCTOPI, but thanks to Smitty for posting definitive reference; agree with Blue Stater.

I really miss being able to go to Jim H's old site to look up his Freshness Rating before coming here. For example, wondered how often if at all 37D TOILETTE has been used in NYT puzzles.

Bob Kerfuffle

Mike the Wino 1:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike the Wino 1:34 PM  

Ha! I still got MY can! too.

No Googles, but:

4 IMDB's,
3 Wikipedias,
5 Yahoo's, and

Not bad for me on a Friday!

Anonymous 1:38 PM  


Sorry if I came off like a wiseass( I reread the post and it seems that way) but I use the preview function as a matter of course to make sure of spelling, etc before posting. Maybe I should check for tone in the future.

Ulrich 1:40 PM  

@margaret: The German name for a Spa is Bad, as in Bad Ems of xword puzzle fame.

chefbea 1:49 PM  

no t.g.i.f. - no chili's- no appleby's- no Olive garden - no outback around here. We have to eat at non-chain restaurants. And I would never put gorganzola on nachos. Guess you would call that Ital-Mex.

RodeoToad 1:58 PM  

Treedweller, I don't think I've ever been to a TGI Friday's, and the only Applebee's I've been to was in Lafayette, Louisiana, on the way back from New Orleans six years ago, because that's apparently the only place in Louisiana where you can find a vegetable. The gorgonzola nachos are my own fictional creation, but I bet they'd be awesome. I also invented Sammy Hagar.

Houston's taco trucks are its third major asset. I lived in Austin thirteen years and worked in most of its restaurants (I've had over 40 jobs since I was 18 and been fired from only two--one of them was as a waiter at Good Eats on Burnet Road, because I refused to make customers specify whether they wanted cornbread or rolls, since they both sucked.) I don't know anything about Houston's art scene or what I'd do with it if I did, but our taco trucks are a national treasure.

foodie 2:00 PM  

I did great in the East and struggled in the West, because of my deep abiding ignorance, I guess. Didn't know ADAMWEST, DAMEEDNA or NORRIS. Once I cheated and got ADAMWEST AND NORRIS, I could finish...

As to SABRA, while I got it readily, the clue was misleading as previously noted by Alex. Unless the e.g. is a double whammy: You can be born in other cities, but you can also be born in Nazareth and not be a SABRA (if you're not Jewish). SABRA comes from Arabic word SAB'R, meaning patience. In Arabic, cactus fruit is called SABBARA or "the patient one", because it's hardy and can handle arid conditions. I believe SABRA is the Hebrew version of SABBARA and has given its name to any Jew born in modern Israel.

@Ulrich, I too was proud of getting TOILETTE, and thought BADEN should be clued: When repeated,....

fikink 2:02 PM  

Hat's off to Mr. Page. This one was difficult for me and it was only by ignoring this morning's TO DOs did I manage to finish it.
First pass-thru I saw DAME EDNA in my mind's eye, but could not come up with her name (yes, I saw her purple hair). Confidently filled in AVERAGE JOE, (probably because he stood up McCain yesterday and I am still grinning) and then, hearing Ahnold talking about the California budget,I filled in GIRLYMAN for 60A.
Thus, it was a real struggle undoing all of my first thoughts.
Ulrich, had the same thought about Baden Baden, rejected it as an answer and was eventually surprised by it.
@margaret, if you find the "music-of-the-spheres" term, please let us know. Today, I found out how it works in reverse!
Mr. Page, thanks for the morning workout, a fine puzzle in my book that I did not think I could finish. (I can't imagine imposing a time constraint.)

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Didn’t make most of the common stumbles mentioned above ‘cept the Whatever misadventure. Sissyish? Meh! I’ve probably used and then got mocked for using it. Rough crowd up here.
Overinked inland Georgia where I had SCOUTOUT instead of askabout crossing with SUCK for drink with a straw. I know parse parse parse.
@wade – flings with cute doctors is where our common experiences deviate. Although the Red Rocker’s Three Lock Box did cost me two sets of new tweeters back in the day! Don’t Google it or you will be singing '1 – 2 - 3 lock box’. I couldn’t accurately guess how many times I’ve listened intently to that song and still have no idea what is in the boxes, who put what in the boxes and if it should stay in or come out if the boxes. DON’T Google it! Really. Don’t.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

I like how SABRA crosses SALADS. Sabra is a brand of Israeli-style kosher spreads and salads. But no PASTA, apparently.

Today is the day that I memorize ISAO Aoki. I mean, it's almost a palindrome, right?

I wrote in Cannes before I realized it was RENNES. More fool me, because I know Cannes is in the southeast and Brittany is in the northwest.

I was held up on the "Z preceder" clue forever. I was expecting something like the recent IROC-Z.

chefbea 2:26 PM  

Sabra is my most favorite humus (other than my own hand made)

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

This was a rough one for me. Got stuck in the middle by putting in "Ain't" for "Isn't" and "Dash" for "Nosh"! Went crazy for a while until "In a bit" took care of my mistakes. Other one that was tough for me was "pines" as the answer for "languishes." That's a bit of a stretch. Can't believe Rex didn't know who Marion Davies was....Didn't he know who Susan Alexander was supposed to be in "Citizen Kane"??? This was a challenging puzzle.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

@ puzzlegirl: definitely had paper plates rather than pasta salads; you're not the only one.

Unknown 4:21 PM  

I put WXY...grah..

Anonymous 4:42 PM  

And here I always thought nachos were strictly Nacho Cheese Doritos. It's been years and years since I touched such junk food, of course. In one recent trip into town, I did see some beet chips for sale, but anything in "bag of chips" form still seems too junky for my taste.

JoefromMtVernon 4:59 PM  

@Anonymous (Bob): Since I did this so late in the day, I read some of the blog. You and I were on the same wavelength with 1D and 2D. I thought the same thing until I tried to get the rest of the corner.

I saw a Dame Edna show on Broadway. We wanted a comedy, and chose her over Jackie Mason (who was down the block). What a great show.

My guess wasn't the R in Bari, but the A in Isao..

No googles; nothing mispelled, and for me, I'll take 26 minutes. Of the puzzles for the week, this was the most appropriate for the day of the week.


Anonymous 5:05 PM  

well, I sorta HAVE to chime in about malapop (thanks for the almost shout out, rex!) ;)

First of all, welcome back...

The thing is, yes, it comes up later, but originally the phenomenon I had in mind is NOT just when there are two similar clues (like yesterday's FOLKS, REARS parents thing) bec that would be fine, oh it doesn't fit this one, but it fits that one...

I was more referring to when you put it in and it comes up later in an entirely different context!

Like Shamik and I sorta shared one today...SHamik put in ROMA for FETA
and say the BARI answer was actually ROMA (which is what I first put in for RIGA yesterday)
so you've put in ROMA for pizza topping...and then later on they are asking for a Euro capital and it turns out to be ROMA.
See what I mean, or are you more confused?

So malapop is that you pop something in "badly" but it turns out to be good after all...and the word is supposed to evoke MALAPROP.
(bec it sounds more literary and a MALAPROP is technically a mistake, but there is a post-facto cleverness to know?)

Now for ORYX...

(I knew Davies, bec yes, I'm old, but SF'ers can remember it bec DAVIES Hall was built for her, I believe so she could sing opera there, after no one would let her sing anywhere else. She is the sad one doing the jigsaw puzzle endlessly. This whole Rosebud connection is new to me tho!)

Mike the Wino 5:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike the Wino 5:53 PM  

@acme, I missed reading Rex's blog the day you introduced malapop, so I did a search (on the blog) and finally understand how it all came about! I like it!

For a different take on "malapop" you may want to see this blogger's post from 11/06:

Unknown 6:16 PM  

Got caughtup in 56d-had pay instead of lay.Also misspelled box-ctr instead ctn.

jae 6:39 PM  

@acme -- thanks much for the elaborated explanation -- I actually think I understand but you'll know for sure when I attempt to explain it when it happens to me.

Lexus Salesman 6:51 PM  

one of those times when you start the thing, get nothing, then come back and nail it. first time i've ever come here to see your input. very impressive LABOR of love. surprised you rate today's puzzle (fri. 10/31) as "moderate to challenging" when your notes indicate that you were flummoxed quite a bit. would love to see a truly "challenging" puzzle. on the other hand...

Anonymous 8:07 PM  

Never thought about the name Ramada (at best thought it a family name like Hilton) so I am delighted it is so lovely and evocative in an open-sided porch kind of way!
False advertising, probably, but isn't "False advertising" a sort of redundancy in itself?

Loved the whole concessionaire rant. First time I went to a baseball game here, I brought my own sushi and hummous, not being aware that there were things other than hotdogs for sale...and friends wildly ridiculed me while gorging on the most disgusting looking garlic fries (I think that's what they were).

Years later, they apparently now actually sell sushi at the games here, so you see, if you live long enough, you are proven right about just about everything.

Oh, except Marion Davies. I was wrong that Davies Symphony Hall here in SF was named for Marion. It was Louise. I guess I conflated Citizen Kane, with real life with godknowswhat!

@alex, foodie

May I add something about Sabra?
I think Foodie nicely covered the derivation, but yes, it's that non-Jewish thing rearing its head again...
I think only a non-Jew would look up the definition of Sabra and think it could be applied to non-Jewish Israelis as well...

It's like saying that Anti-Semitic really would be against ANYONE of a Semitic background, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, where in fact, obviously despite the linguistic derivation, it only applies to Jews.
Anyway, I think same deal for the term Sabra.
(I'd ask my Israeli boyfriend if a) he spoke English and b) we were still speaking!)

Michael Chibnik 8:30 PM  

I'm not on Rex's wavelength the past couple of days. (Or for that matter, the wavelength of most of the commentators here.) He rated yesterday's "easy" and I couldn't finish a corner (a rare, perhaps unprecendented Thursday event); today's he called "medium-challenging" and I raced through it.The one answer that I had to get from crosses was "amenra."

chefbea 8:41 PM  

hoo-ray for beet chips. they are great!!!

Chip Hilton 8:52 PM  

Thanks, Foodie, for the SABRA info. All new to me, although BARI was a gimmee in the crossing. I agree with Ulrich on the BADEN clue.

Good old ISAO Aoki. He made one of the all-time shots on the PGA Tour, holing out a full wedge on the 72nd hole to win the Hawaiian Open years back. Poor guy in the lead (Jack Renner, not RENNES, but close) was signing his scorecard when the shot went in. His reaction at the crowd's roar was priceless.

Enjoyed working on this one between trips to the door to dole out goodies to trick-or-treaters. Excepting SABRA, ONEL, and AMENRA, it went smoothly. Only hold up was TUNA for FETA. Sounded Mediterranean, to me.

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

glad it was hard today, since i'd allotted an entire 6 hour flight for the puzzle. the top left was really hard to break through since i've barely heard of ADAM WEST and DAME EDNA (and didn't know DAVIES). but like others, i really had trouble with SABRA. i didn't know SABRA / BARI / BARRIO / BADEN / ISAO (though i really should have known the last one) and so ended up putting SABLE instead of SABRA. "bali" looked right and so did "iseo".

Doc John 10:12 PM  

I found this one a lot easier than last Friday's (which took me 2 days). I missed the SABRA/BARI crossing with an L. I confidently put in the L and forgot to check the cross. Darn, you'd think I'd have learned by now!

SISSYISH almost ruined the thing for me, though.

I had no idea DAME EDNA was an Aussie. All this time I thought he was a Brit.

Two halls in the puzzle today- DAVIES and SETON

edith b 11:12 PM  

I could not believe SISSYISH in the grid as I had never heard this word in all my 74 years.

Maybe it exists in a dictionary somewhere - and I'm sure we will hear from Orange if it does - but I don't se it as "in the language."

Orange 12:12 AM  

Edith B, I just checked a dictionary and found three derivative words listed below "sissy": the noun sissiness and the adjectives sissified and sissyish. Who knew? Not I. But when it comes to themeless puzzles, I do expect to see some oddball words most of us never use that are still valid inflections (if I can use that word) of more familiar root words.

green mantis 12:17 AM  

Um, happy halloween? My ship sank at Bari, but otherwise a good puzzle.

Nobody dresses up anymore? I guess I'll have to lead the charge in my traditional costume, a seventies bride with a nine-months pregnant belly and a black eye. Couldn't do the bloody lip because I forgot to buy fake blood, and the red nail polish started stinging my sensitive insect skin. If I could link to a picture, I would, but for now you'll just have to imagine the glory. I do I do, a million times yes!!

Orange 1:23 AM  

Mantis, did you see the fake commercial on SNL a couple weeks ago? Amy Poehler played a pregnant woman dancing in a bar and flirting promiscuously with all the cowboy-hatted fellas here. It was captivatingly hilarious. Eventually it became a fake perfume ad, but I might've liked it better as a Dadaist scene without the ad aspect tacked onto the end.

green mantis 6:04 AM  

No I didn't! Off to you tube. There was a Girls Behaving Badly skit along those lines too. If that's the name; can't remember exactly. But my costume's better.

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