THURSDAY, Oct. 2, 2008 - Samuel A. Donaldson (1980s craze starter / One-named New Age musician / Hogwarts stick / High-school disrupters)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: NIX ON (62A: Two-time Time Man of the Year (and a hint to 17-, 27-, 41- and 54-Across)) - on is removed from familiar phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued

Excellent theme concept, with two truly great theme answers: PICK YOUR POIS and YUK TERRITORY. The s-plural on POIS hurts my ears a little, but dictionary says it's legit. Did not like the clue on either BAT TWIRLER or BRAIN SURGE. TWIRLing does not signify anxiety to me. Plenty of batters TWIRL their bats in one way or another, and I doubt they're all anxious. I'm going to watch footage of last night's AWAY GAMES (29D: Road trip events - Red Sox were AWAY) later this morning, and I'll see what I can see. And [Flood of ideas] is accurate, but maybe too accurate. Feels like a literal clue, not a "?" clue. I think the problem here is that BAT TWIRLER and BRAIN SURGE aren't wacky enough, as phrases, to make the cut of a wacky puzzle like this, especially when their competition is as good as PICK YOUR POIS and YUK TERRITORY. So there's an unnevenness.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Anxious baseball player at the plate? (bat twirler)
  • 27A: Sign above a luau buffet? (pick your pois)
  • 41A: Land of laughs? (yuk territory)
  • 54A: Flood of ideas? (brain surge)
So the theme is just fine, overall. The non-theme fill is ... OK. But that SW corner. Yipes. It's a disaster. First of all, there's the ever unwelcome SSSS (60A: Flat sound), which may as well be clued [I can't do a @#$#ing thing over here]. On top of that, EYER (57A: Observer). Kindly use it in a sentence. "Spenser, For EYER?" "Your love keeps lifting me / EYER and EYER?" "A liberal president means EYER taxes?" Horrible -ER word that would be totally ignorable if it were not part of this SW abomination. My biggest complaint, however, is with the heretofore unseen ADENI (50A: Certain resident of Yemen). That's more the beginnings of a limerick than it is a legitimate clue/answer pairing.
There once was a lovely Yemeni
Who, by virtue of her residence in Aden, could also be referred to as an ADENI, though no one referred to her that way because ADENI is kind of made-up and people kept getting confused: "What? She's in a Denny's?"

  • 1A: In a poem, it "perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door" (raven) - wow, a super huge gimme right out of the box. Don't usually see that on a Thursday.
  • 19A: Talk like Daffy (lisp) - the greatest Looney Tunes character by far.
  • 23A: "Big Sur" writer, 1962 (Kerouac) - never had the slightest desire to read him
  • 32A: Actress Popplewell of "The Chronicles of Narnia" (Anna) - didn't know this answer, but I know her face well. She's the less cute Pevensey girl.
  • 34A: Hogwarts stick (wand) - From Pevensey to Potter. Daughter is in the middle of HPVI, though I just bought her a deluxe Calvin & Hobbes collection, and she's really into this series called Animorphs, so it may be the beginning of the end for HP ...
  • 35A: High-school disrupters (gangs) - uh ... hmmm. Seems like many, many other things "disrupt" high school much more frequently than non-specific "gangs." I understand GANGS are a problem, systemically, in some places, but do they roam the halls in packs and burst into classrooms and throw chalk and thus "disrupt" things?
  • 45A: Horace who founded the New York Tribune (Greeley) - I know this better as a town in Colorado that has rendering plants that give the air a nice ... distinctive aroma.
  • 52A: Home of Sault Ste. Marie: Abbr. (Ont.) - I wanted WIS. Why? Had AMNIO instead of ANGIO at 48D: Hospital procedure, for short, which gave me OMT here at first.
  • 1D: 1980s craze starter (Rubik) - He's a puzzle favorite, though usually for his less interesting first name, ERNO
  • 5D: Preinterview purchase, maybe (new suit) - for me, it was a pre-wedding purchase, though not my wedding, although I did wear it to interviews, and to my own wedding ... nearly ten years later. It remains the only suit I've ever owned.
  • 13D: Takes the starch out of (depresses) - At first I thought this was a laundering clue ... but I think it's figurative. Not a phrase I'd use.
  • 18D: Product promoted as having both "beauty" and "brains" (iMac) - again? OK, so it's official: the NYT is in the tank for OBAMA and Apple. It's insidious. Consider: I'm voting for OBAMA, I'm working on an IMAC, and I'm writing about the NYT puzzle right now. I feel like such a ... demographic. I'm gonna go eat a MAYO (53A: It may be held at a 39-Down) sandwich and watch professional wrestling now, just to shake things up.
  • 22A: Nickelodeon's explorer (Dora) - Sahra used to love her, or at least the idea of her. I don't remember her watching the show much, but she sure had the merchandise (backpack, comforter).
  • 25D: Chinese secret society (tong) - yay. I love this word and concept. More TONG!
  • 28D: One-named New Age musician (Yanni) - you don't really wanna listen to this, but I feel compelled to provide it anyway. If you can stand to look at him for more than two seconds at a time when he is "grooving" to the "music," you are a stronger man than I am:
  • 47D: Powdered cleaning agent (Borax) - do they still make this? Feels like something ... from the past. Whoops, I thought BORAX was a commercial name, but apparently not.
  • 56D: Sea urchin, at a sushi bar (uni) - word I want to see in puzzle: ONI - demonic creatures from Japanese folklore. Also the publisher of some comics I enjoy.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


ArtLvr 8:53 AM  

Good-oh, Rex -- spot on! I was really happy with today's really neat theme, first opening up with PICKYOURPOIS... and my favorite was YUKTERRITORY, silly but fun. BRAINSURGE is only wry if referred back to Pres. NIXON.

I enjoyed RAVEN/RUBIK/KEROUAC and GREELEY/AWRY, but would not have guessed ADENI or YANNI/ANNA/DORA which came through crosses. Thanks, Mr. Donaldson!


p.s. I must share a neat quote, but missed who said it: "Bubbles have three I's -- first innovators, then imitators, then idiots".

dk 9:12 AM  

Easy Thursday for me as well. I just bought some BORAX at our local been here forever hardware store. They sell alot of stuff but no MAYO.

BRAINSURGE and ONT caused delays. I was sure ONT was the Upper Mich. Pen. and I had ole instead of RAH.. blah, blah.

KEROUAC, RAVEN and NIXON (he failed my breakfast test) were gimmes.

City Lights is a must stop for me when ever go to SF. At age 19 or so a few of us spent time in Big Sur. I remember great food, great people and cold damp days.

@miriamb, I confess I initially misspelled KEROUAC and RUBIK as i wanted the latter to end with a C.

I do not think of Mel Torme (the velvet fog) as a SCAT singer but that is a minor gripe.

Now I have I thought I saw a puddy tat in my head... June Foray the woman who is the voice of Tweaty's grandmother and Rocky is often on KFAI our community radio station.

Ok enough rambling: Go west young man!

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

I watched way more of the Yanni clip than I want to admit to... but I just did. Sorta hoping admitting to it will cleanse its existence from my brain...

Loved the puzzle. Only problem was was in the Utah area, where DOWN crossed with AWRY. I had D__N and __RY and could just not get it. GANGS was definitely not what I was thinking (I was thinking RINGS or DINGS or maybe even BONGS -- as in the bells that would signal the end of a period...)

alanrichard 9:30 AM  

I loved this puzzle - talk about being "ON" a roll. This was clever and fun.
Getting off on a tangeant A Night In Casablanca and A Night At The Opera are on this morning at 10 AM.
Groucho wrote a letter to Jack Warner regarding A Night In Casablanca and Casablanca - which can be accessed by typing in "Grougho Marx Letter" on the web.

RodeoToad 9:36 AM  

I also got sucked into a big chunk of the Yanni clip. It's pretty mesmerizing. That woman's voice! Those big wooden pipes! Those black turtlenecks! It's the first porno movie I've seen where there's no sex or nudity.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

@ Thought this was a great Thursday puzzle. Agree with Rex on PICKYOURPOIS(ON) and YUK(ON)TERRITORY ... really fresh and fun.

But that Yanni clip: yikes! I was hoping somebody would come in and strap him to a long wood pole and carry him off to the boiling pot ... but, of course, he would be grooving to the beat the whole time.

janie 9:48 AM  

one man's meat is another man's pois...

"pickyourpois" is my least fave of the theme fill because it feels so forced (to my ear...) compared to the smile-making "yukterritory" or "brainsurge."

and, to mix my metaphors, that's what makes horse races!



Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I had BRAIN STORM forever before I got the theme. Still, around 15 minutes so a great Thursday time for me. I always have to guess between AMOEBAS or AMOEBAE--I'm afraid Mrs. Newpart from 8th grade Latin classes at Brentwood Academy will swoop down on me and make me translate Caesar by sight. (shudder.)

Orange 10:11 AM  

Seems to me BRAIN SURGE needs a question mark in the clue because "brain surge" isn't remotely in the language as a phrase.

If your towels smell faintly mildewy, use some 20 Mule Team Borax in the wash. It's old-school but effective.

MAYO fits right in with the NYT in the category "things white people like."

Jeffrey 10:11 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffrey 10:13 AM  

Rex Parker can just make you faint
When he offers his daily complaint
As a critic he's fine
His blog is devine
But a limerick writer he ain't.

Ulrich 10:16 AM  

A pretty good Thursday AFAIC. For me, too, 1A was the first total gimmie at that position for a Thursday that I can remember. Scanning down, I got Nixon w/o crosses from the first theme answer, and solved the rest at a steady pace, with several false starts that got corrected in due course. Really liked yuk territory.

Pythia 10:17 AM  

I also liked the theme, and thought all the theme clues were fine, reflecting the change in meaning caused by the gimmick. One odd thing -- the pronunciation of YUK is different from YUKon, while BAT, SURGE, and POIS are the same, I think.

ADENI is ugh-ly, but AWAY GAMES and SNAKE EYES are nice. Of course, EYER crossing SNAKE EYES is horrible.

I wonder if the average NYT xword solver is plagued by GANGS in the local high school? Great clues for CHEF and TROUNCE.

NIXON As bad as he was at the time, it turns out that we can actually do worse ... and worse .... Begala called 43 a high-functioning moron.

Fun puzzle!


Unknown 10:54 AM  

your mention of mayonnaise sandwiches brought to mind one thing: chris rock stand-up from about ten years ago when he is going on a diatribe about white america - - someone else has these two linked in their head, as
uses Rock's reference in its definition:

mayonnaise sandwiches: A stereotypical favored delicacy of rednecks, mentioned to flag someone as being of poor breeding. Its usage was amplified by Chris Rock, who described America as being full of white trash who are broke-ass, livin' in trailer homes, ..., eatin' mayonnaise sandwiches, listenin' to John Cougar Mellencamp records

DJG 11:00 AM  

Is anybody bothered by the crossings of IN with IN (DROPSIN / INAIR) and EYER with EYES (EYERS / SNAKEEYES)? I'm not in the slightest. I just felt like bringing it up.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

This might be the easiest Thursday I've ever done. Maybe it's just becasue I made a number of lucky guesses, but I never got tripped up anywhere. Didn't even have to concern myself with that "SSSS" in the bottom because I had all the crosses (only two of which are clued as plurals).

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Another way to clue SSSS is to refer to the code printed on your boarding pass. If you get SSSS on the boarding pass it means you have been "randomly" selected for the full security search, including the new glass box.

miriam b 11:17 AM  

Is this constructor perchance ABC's Sam Donaldson? Stranger things have happened.

Sexism alert: A CHEF isn't always a man. Even the Iron Chef America program includes Cat Cora in what Alton Brown (no relation) calls "a veritable pantheon of culinary giants". And of course no one can beet our Chef Bea.

Digression: I've noticed that ESL folks often refer to people who cook as "cookers". This is logical, even though it's incorrect.

JoefromMtVernon 11:18 AM  

Sorry, found this one a little torturous today, slow plodding. Got Nixon early, but took the clue too literally. NW fell fast; SW was like walking through mayo.

Please Rex, watch what you wish for. I pray that Tong won't be seen tomorrow, or worse, in the same spot tomorrow.

Enjoyed the Daffy/Porky cartoon. Reminds me of an old Kenny Mars routine (on LP) where Kenny played Henry Kissinger. He was brought in to mediate a dispute between striking Disney characters (Mickey, Donald, et al) and the hired replacements, the Warner Brothers crew (Buggs, Daffy, Porky, et al). Mel Blanc provided the WB voices. Having Donald Duck explain things to Henry is the highlight of the piece.


dk 11:39 AM  

@joho, we have YANNI on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair.

I second @oranges recommendation for 20 Mule team Borax and suggest the same when you have mildew smelling camping or other outdoor wear.

@jane doh, the APA no longer endorses the classification moron. A more professional representation may be found in the South Park appendix of the DSM IV: Dumbass.

@gnarbles, the bar in Cave Creek AZ (at one time there was only 1) had a glass box with some number of rattle snakes therein. You could get a free beer if you were able to press your hand against the glass and keep it there when one or more of the SNAKEEYES looked your way, whispered SSSS and.... bam! Struck the glass. I never saw anyone win the beer.

jeff in chicago 12:00 PM  

1. Worst. Limerick. Ever.

2. Had everything filled correctly and stared and stared and stared and could not figure out the theme. Looked for hidden words, abbreviations, etc. Had to come here for the solution. Sigh.

3. Agree. Daffy is best Looney Tunes character, especially in his earlier, more manic shorts. Still good in the later, toned-down version, but still. The Daffy/Bugs combos were hilarious. "Duck season! Rabbit season! Duck Season! Rabbit season! Fiddler crab season!" Priceless.

4. Played a little of the Yanni clip. The good thing about Yanni clips is you don't have to worry about getting the song stuck in your head since there is no "song" there. We had John Tesh the other day: the poor man's Yanni.

5. I'm (sadly) quite sure that no suit - no CLOTHES! - I had 10 years ago would still fit me.

6. SCAT - If anything doesn't pass the breakfast test, it HAS to be this word. 'Nuf said.

7. @alanrichard - That letter is one of his best. I'm a HUGE Marx Brothers fan. From where I'm sitting in my living room I can see 14 framed MB movie poster originals/prints. I highly recommend the book "The Groucho Letters."

8. @orange - The clue for BRAINSURGE does have a question mark in the puzzle I'm looking at. I get to the puzzle through, if that makes a difference.

Wow...I went on a bit today. With the cool weather I'm back in my hot tea in the morning ritual. Had two mugs today. Must be a little wired. Maybe I can clean up this sty of an apartment. Be good everyone!

fikink 12:05 PM  

Enjoyed this one.
Agree with you, jane doh, clue for TROUNCE was DYNO-mite. And thanks for the Begala reference, I had no idea he actually gave voice to that sentiment.
dk, I think Mel Torme is considered Ella's equivalent in the SCAT department.

Joon 12:16 PM  

jeff, i'm sure orange noticed the ?. she was merely refuting rex's suggestion that perhaps it wasn't necessary.

i wanted NOTEPAD for [Preinterview purchase]. filled this in off the N (i always start with 1A and then if i get it, whatever down clue goes with the last letter of it). then the rest of the N/NW was a big mess (compounded by trying SECT for CULT at 7D) until i found KEROUAC and started to erase my mistakes. the actual answer, NEWSUIT, was the very last thing i filled in. i don't think of NEWSUIT as being an in-the-language expression except in the context of a bridge auction. i would have appreciated a clue like [It's usually forcing] but i know that puts me in a distinct minority.

for whatever reason, BATTWIRLER reminds me of dante bichette. there must be better hitters who were/are famous for doing this.

zjm, EYER crossing SNAKEEYES bugged me, but then again, EYER by itself would have bugged me. yecch.

Greene 12:27 PM  

Well I think there can be absolutely no doubt about the liberal, democratic bias of the NYT Crossword puzzle at this point. I mean, just look at 35D -- GORE. Oh sure, they clued it blood (as in blood stained Bush administration), but there is no tricking our friends in the media...a GORE by any other clue is, well clearly a plug for Obama.

Oh and what about 48D -- ANGIO? Didn't Bill Clinton have one of those before his bypass surgery? I think yes. Clearly another Democratic plug.

And kindly consider 19A -- LISP! Doesn't Congressman Barney Frank have a lisp?...and isn't he a DEMOCRAT...from Massachusetts??!!

Rex, we might as well just give up now and admit that crossword enthusiasts are all -- dare I say it? -- members of a (7D) CULT! Will Shortz is our god and we will not rest until our anti-American politcal agenda is realized through the subversive use of the puzzle. It was a good run, but I think we should scatter, regroup, and try a new approach -- possibly through Sudoku. Yeah...coded numbers, that's the ticket.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Orange, in my copy of the DEAD TREE edition, BRAIN SURGE is indeed clued with a question mark.

Horace GREELEY is supposed to be famous from your American History classes in high school, although really he's best remembered today for his editorial beginning "Go west, young man". He's also remembered among word freaks for believing "news" is a plural. He would ask "Are there any news?". He once got the reply, "No, not a new".

An unusual bit of trivia IN RE GREELEY concerns the Nazi central bank president (you know, an ISSUER) during the 1930s. Hjalmar Horace GREELEY Schacht was tried for war crimes at Nuremberg along with the other main surviving Nazis and found not guilty.

Thinking of GREELEY reminds me. In the USA, at least, anyone, person, company, community, or bank, not just the "main" bank, is allowed to issue currency. In the 19th century, the federal government only issued "specie", that is, metal coins. Bank notes were very common, and they were the only USA paper money for most of the 19th century. Salmon Chase, as Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury during most of the war, issued paper notes, many with his picture. Later, as the Supreme Court Chief Justice, he ruled those very notes were unconstitutional. Eventually, the Federal Reserve System was set up as an end run around this. Chase himself appeared on the $10,000 notes.

Back to GREELEY. Rex mentioned he knows it better as a certain town in Colorado. Their main bank way back when was the GREELEY National Bank. As you can see, the GNB was an ISSUER. See a picture of a GREELEY $10 bank note, down near the bottom. According to the web page, GREELEY greenbacks are very rare.

War and Peace is officially an EPIC NOVEL. The first 200-300 pages do leave that impression. Ponderous and dignified, just perfect reading if TV hasn't been invented yet. What's not so well known is that the rest of the novel is actually something of a page-turner and even a bit of a thriller. Go for it. As a side bonus for mathematicians, the stochastic integral approach to history is spelled out in plausible detail, much more intensely than Asimov's famed psychohistory. To be sure, Asimov made it essential and intriguing to his Foundation plots, and Tolstoy was simply expounding on his philosophy, but I didn't tell my calculus students that.

Was anybody else annoyed that DOWN was across? I'm thinking this is a crossword version of the Stroop Effect, but maybe that's just me.

jeff in chicago 12:42 PM  

oops! Sorry, Orange. Didn't make the connection back to Rex's commentary.

Shamik 12:58 PM  

@joon: Ditto on the notepad. If one bought a new suit for every new interview the way people change jobs these days, they'd constantly need higher and higher paying jobs to afford those suits.

@greene: Too funny how you noticed the subversive puzzle. Very subversive. more limerick attempts. Please!

Bad Starts for the day:

I always thought that gore was expelled brain matter and other internal body in "blood and gore." Now I know that "blood and gore" is merely redundant.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

Extreme liberal biases, stuff white people like, Yanni clips everyone hates, Daffy Duck and bad Limericks?
This comments section gets better and better everyday!

And Rex, spot on as usual!

thebubbreport 1:44 PM  

@Hereinfranklin, I had the same trouble w/ BRAINSTORM and AMOEBAS/E!

I got going w/ Poe but then it all went downhill from there. I didn't know the Velvet Fog sang SCAT - usually that's an Ella clue. Actually, I only know of him from the show "Night Court."

My first pass guesses w/o crosses were all wrong - PULP instead of SMUT, AFLAME instead of STRIKE, high school BELLS instead of GANGS, OMANI instead of ADENI, SEER instead of EYER (weird that SNAKEEYES crossed EYER), GALA instead of FETE, I got KEROUAC but had his name spelled wrong, and I wanted NOTEPAD instead of NEWSUIT. NO MOJO for me today! I didn't even get the theme until YUKTERRITORY, even though I had NIXON early on!

It was an awesome puzzle though. I guess I should have had my coffee first and turned off those annoying shrews on "The View!"

archaeoprof 2:01 PM  

Daffy Duck is definitely a great LISPer. And what was the name of he character who used to exclaim (with a bit of a lisp), "Sufferin' Succotash!" Then there's Ron Howard's performance in the "Music Man": "but it could be thumpthin thpethial jutht for me!" I'd continue, but I have to wipe off my computer screen now...

Anonymous 2:15 PM  


Sylvester the 'putty-tat'.


chefbea 2:18 PM  

Got brain surge and pick your pois but had no idea what the theme was til I got nixon.

Was glad to see that I made it into this puzzle and
miriamb we are having those red things for dinner tonight.

Coming back from St. louis this past june I was on the ssss list. Boy they went through me and all my luggage.

fergus 2:18 PM  

Cool insights from Mr. Emba.

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Reasonably difficult, cagey, wry, surprising. Three or four gimmies just about right for a Thursday. I'm quite obtuse when it comes to themes; they're not that important to me (sorry, Andrea) and yet when I do reflect upon the puzzle, a clever theme can be a thing of beauty, Richard Milhous NIXON notwithstanding.

Doug 2:20 PM  

I did this last night, but like many (you know who you are) I had OMANI not ADENI and Cal-ee-FOUR-nee-ah (in Ah-nold speak) would not fall. And I couldn't see the theme for the life of me and YUKT etc. was not coming out.

I did it fresh again this AM and saw the theme immediately, and filled in everything missing from last night. I guess that's suggestion #1 on how to complete the puzzle--Take a break.

Google "mel torme seinfeld" to watch a priceless Youtube clip of Mel honoring Kramer at a charity dinner, in the belief that Kramer's tortured speech is from a mental disability and not from the dentist's novacaine.

The Taiwanese will love the TONG clue, as their main party the Kuomin(tang) is now translated not as National People's "Party" but as National People's "Secret Society." But, I guess the Republicans sometimes wish they could hide in secret as well.

mac 2:26 PM  

Great puzzle, which I did at the hairdressers. Had a few bumps though: ipso / ipse, brainstorm, amoebas/e and I thought Mel Torme was on of those CROONERS. Nothing a few crossings wouldn't solve though. 59A is sort of odd, I guess I should listen to the words in the anthem better, the "bombs bursting" sort of startled me. I really like the clueing for some of the answers, like 13D depresses, ---in victory, and the mayo made me think of the unthinkable Brit sandwich of white bread with mayonaise and chips (crisps)....

@miriam b: I was wondering, too, if it was one of the same.

@greene: "angio" puts this puzzle squarely on the republican side.

mac 2:27 PM  

@miriam: one and the same, of course..... I should preview.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

@mexican girl
Totally agree, I'm still laughing an hour later!!!!!
Between the gang "riff" and the limerick, I feel Rex outdid himself.

Little concerned that HPIV was some sort of horrible disease his daughter was working thru and am relieved to realize it was some sort of wand ref... (gotta get me a kid one of these days...not!)

I'm with you, I had RUBIC (sik) for the longest time (and AMOEBAE which seems cooler for the whole OE/AE combo) so Kerouac took a loooong time to emerge and yet I had spent the previous 4 hours prior to doing the puzzle (at midnight) at Cafe Trieste!!!!!!

nevermind ONI, let's get derrigerdoodoo (or whatever it's called) into a puzzle. Joon?
young boys?

A few nights ago, I came home to my Mpls hosts, worried I was doing bad guest-behaviour coming in post 10pm...but they were all huddled in the basement watching some Twins game that had gone into extra innings.
Forced to join in
(and tell my Kevin Baglien-beat-up if-I-couldn't-name-five-twins-in- 1969 story) I have to say, things haven't improved much since then as there was a guy who kept smelling his bat.
G-r-o-s-s-s-s-s-s-s...or as they say in Minnesota, "Ish!"

ArtLvr 2:44 PM  

re BRAINSURGE -- clue might be Swelled Head? Maverick's Scourge? Will spare everybody a limerick...


Anonymous 3:02 PM  

My mom once tapped Mel Torme on the shoulder and asked him "Didn't you used to be Mel Torme?"
(He went off in a huff)

I have a naming job for a winery and was pushing the guy to think of imagery that meant something personal to him...and he wrote last night that he is totally into the Baltimore Ravens.
I thought that would make a beautiful logo, along with some other adjective (Laughing Raven, Ravenswood, whatever, it's a work-in-progress) I wrote back to him and then dowloaded the puzzle minutes later and boom! RAVEN is the first word!!!!!!!! I totally take that as a sign!
If it becomes a reality, case of wine on me when we all meet up (out here)

MarkTrevorSmith 3:21 PM  

1. I lived sixth grade in Sault Ste Marie, ONT (ferry to Sault Ste Marie, MI before the bridge was built),[wikipedia says they are the oldest cities in ONT and MI] and am pleasantly surprised how often it appears in Xword puzzles.
2. Surely the clue for 1A RAVEN could have been shorter: "it 'perched upon a bust of Pallas,'"; more than enough on a Thursday, no?

Joon 3:21 PM  


nevermind ONI, let's get derrigerdoodoo (or whatever it's called) into a puzzle. Joon?
young boys?

no idea what you're talking about here. i'm actually even afraid to ask what this means. (especially the part about young boys.) you mean a didgeridoo? that's the best i can do, but it doesn't sound at all related to what you might be talking about.

from context, i'm guessing you're referring to something shinto-y, but my shinto knowledge runs pretty thin. i got your amaterasu, your izanami and izanagi, ... uh ... emperor jimmu ... i think i'm done. oh, and KAMI. that looks like it belongs in a grid, doesn't it? it hasn't been seen yet in the NYT, but it probably should. KAMI is roughly as important a concept as AINU (on whose behalf i have impassionedly posted already).

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

@dk: YANNI on a stick sounds so much better than the way I thinking of preparing him. No fuss no muss.

@andrea carla michaels: Loved your sneaking in late only to encounter a Twins situation. I had almost forgotten the word "ish!" I think it's only spoken in Minnesota.

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

Just wanted to share the best limerick I've ever heard:

A decrepit old gas man named Peter
While hunting around for the meter
Touched a leak with his light
He arose out of sight
And, as anyone can see by reading this, he also destroyed the meter

I loathe SSSS...and its evil sibling SSS. What determines how many S's constitute a hissing sound? I am not-so-eagerly awaiting the day when SSSSSSSSSSSS appears in a puzzle.

JoefromMtVernon 3:50 PM  

@jeff in Chicago

There were 3 Buggs/Daffy/Elmer shorts that used rabbit season/duck season. I know one ended with "Elmer Season" and another with "Baseball Season".

Any Daffy/Porky short is great (Duck Dodgers in the 23 1/2 Century).


You missed one: An anagram for 46A (amoebas) could be es Obama, obviously a subliminal message for those spanish solvers to vote democratic...How about [brand of french fries] (McCain) once in a while?

Orange 4:02 PM  

Artlvr, they can't use [Swelled head?] for BRAIN SURGE. My brother-in-law had that in the midst of brain surgery, and they had to lop off an unneeded chunk and finish surgery in a few days when the swelling subsided. Crosswords don't like to evoke disease states worse than ACNE.

Constructor Samuel A. Donaldson apparently teaches law (like Obama used to—the liberal plot marches on) and is not the same as Samuel Andrew ("Sam") Donaldson of eyebrow fame.

chefbea 4:39 PM  

@gypsy loved your limerick

Two Ponies 4:51 PM  

@ crosscan - loved the limerick
@chefbea - I never noticed the string of S's on my ticket but Ialways seem to be the token blonde-haired, blue-eyed white lady who gets the full monty at sercurity. Geez I'm tired of it.
@mac - I remember an awful Brit sandwich called a chip butty but it was butter, dense white bread, and chips - no mayo. Dreadful.
@acme - not sure what you were referring to but I think I saw a didgeridoo in the Yanni clip.
Re: the Yanni clip, even if he's not your cuppa at least it is real people playing instruments and not merely an LP being scratched while curse words are screamed at you. (He's also pretty cute.)

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Kerouac, Big Sur, may be one of his best, but, if you're not interested in a writer's alcoholic crack up - skip it. Nevertheless, a great crossword word.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Kerouac, Big Sur, may be one of his best, but, if you're not interested in a writer's alcoholic crack up - skip it. Nevertheless, a great crossword word.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

I am not-so-eagerly awaiting the day when SSSSSSSSSSSS appears in a puzzle. [Gypsy]

It may have appeared already. There was a Monday some years back which had three 15-letter answers, stuff like GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR for "Dog's unfriendly response". Real dumb joke, but it worked.

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

yes, I was referring to the didgeridoo in the Yanni clip; sorry for the confusion!
I figured fitting that into a grid might appeal to you or one of those boys who count white squares!
drat, third post and I might have so much more to say today!

Opsimath 7:24 PM  

Can't believe that no one noticed the constructor is possibly THE Sam Donaldson (His middle name is Andrew, making him "Samuel A. Donaldson.") I'm still waiting to see one from "S. Leroy Jackson."

chefbea 7:29 PM  

just watched jeopardy Nixon was an answer as was another xword from todays puzzle. Can't remember what is was. Anyone??

Orange 7:43 PM  

Ikijibiki, read back to my 4:02 comment. It's not the Sam Donaldson.

Opsimath 7:56 PM  

@orange: Yes, thanks.

I hadn't done the puzzle when I checked RPDTNYTCP, so I tried to skim the comments so that I wouldn't pick up any useful solving information (which turned out to an unnecessary precaution). As soon as I solved the puzzle, I logged on to the Cruciverb website and realized I had jumped to conclusions. I guess the famous Sam is too busy gluing down his toupee to construct crosswords.

Joon 8:29 PM  

oh, okay. i couldn't bring myself to watch the yanni clip, so i had no context there. i thought you were talking about rex's desire to see ONI or something equally obscure from japanese folklore in the puzzle, and i was being called out on mythology knowledge. now i look like a pompous ass for spouting off japanese mythology for absolutely no reason.

i'm still not sure what is making you associate young boys with the people who count black squares. the only recent puzzles to go way over the limit were by caleb madison (twice) and oliver hill. on the other end of the spectrum, 18-block kevin der is younger than me but i certainly wouldn't call him a boy.

by the way, DIDGERIDOO has been in the puzzle once. (it was a theme answer.)

miriam b 8:50 PM  

@chefbea1: Was it Greeley? I'm not sure.

chefbea 8:52 PM  

@miriamb I dont think so.

time to watch the debate. I'll check here tomorrow morning.

foodie 11:56 PM  


Now, that's an expression that needs to show up in the puzzle, not all this literature and Sushi stuff.

I liked BRAINSURGE, probably because I'm partial to all things brainy. But a major surge of electrical activity in the brain would not, in fact, produce many good ideas. More like a seizure.

Big Sur has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth and as I started reading Kerouac's tale, I felt that it would ruin it for me. So I skipped it, as richard wells advised.

@acme, I've wondered what process you use to come up with cool names. It was very interesting to get a glimpse of that today... I was involved in naming a biotech company once. Boy, was that hard! But it was great fun. In the process I got attached to some names that I suggested but got rejected. So, now I use them for various e-mail folders... I will take your left overs if you want to throw them my way.

I think it was Green Mantis who suggested a name for Rexville: The Bar of Spotty Erudition? I loved that! I need to use it somewhere special (Rex, I think you said you'd give this name to your next dog).

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