SATURDAY,Nov. 8,2008-B. Walden (Ostrava tongue / Meshed person / Jaculates / Base off the coast of Brest for France's nuclear submarines)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

This puzzle might actually be "Challenging," but as Byron Walden puzzles go, it's slightly easier than normal. Since it ended up being easier than I expected, I dialed back the difficulty rating a notch. Byron's puzzles are almost always dazzling while also being almost always brutal. They have the kind of difficulty level that can make you cry (inside, if not outside), but the kind of intricacy and beauty and cleverness that make you (or me, anyway) enjoy the pain. I always feel like, "OK, that hurt, but it was worth it." Kind of like childbirth, I'm guessing. (I'm kidding - no angry emails!). I remember trying to do a Byron Walden tree rebus once (where entire tree names, e.g. ELM, ASH, etc., were crammed into individual squares, but in no particular pattern) and practically whimpering in frustration by the end - but I had to find all the trees! They were so pretty. What I'm saying is, I don't mind suffering for a work of art.

The darkest torture chamber of the day was the SW corner, where I just flailed around like a dying fish. I got the lovely Claire MCCASKILL (31D: Missouri senator Claire) right off the bat, but her next door neighbor? Total mystery. Is ILE LONGUE really a place? Sounds like Shangri-La or the Chateau d'If (which I just found out is real ... I thought Dumas made it up!). Crap, that ILE must be really secure. I can barely find any pictures, and Wikipedia doesn't even seem to know if it's a true island or a peninsula (first paragraph says one thing, second another). Anyway, never heard of it, making the SW a bear. Every Across answer south of KNARS (49A: Bumps on a trunk) was befuddling. Don't know what a "chuckwalla" is (54A: Relative of a chuckwalla => IGUANA), don't understand what the "?" is doing on 58A: Fastener that's actually easy to pick up? (lug nut), and LEHIGH is not high on my list of "College sports teams I recognize" (60A: The Mountain Hawks of the Patriot League). I think I broke this corner by guessing that "Meshed" was a place and not an adjective in 44D: Meshed person (Irani). Sadly, "chuckwalla" makes me think of this:

And to my great shame, [Bumps on trunks] makes me think of this:

Yesterday we had the intersecting 15s INSTANT MESSAGES and KARAOKE MACHINES. Today, more technology with CLOSEDCIRCUITTV (36A: Feeding tube?), but then bam, the puzzle goes old school and hits you with the (singular!?) FEDERALIST PAPER (8D: Writing of Publius). I especially like CLOSEDCIRCUITTV. Nice, odd letter string there at the end, with the "V" crossing a double-V in the equally technological TECH SAVVY (14D: Like computer programmers), another fantastic answer.

This puzzle is odd in that it offered me an unusual number of gimmes ... but then turned around and took that advantage completely away by having at least a dozen answers / clue terms that I didn't know at all. I wrote in TRES immediately, as I own that album and listen to it not infrequently (26A: "_____ Hombres," first Top 40 album by ZZ Top). The next gimme was also musical: YIPPY (45A: "_____ Ky Yay" (1998 country song)). Everyone but Everyone should have been able to fill that one in. Unless you have had no exposure to old westerns AND have never seen "Die Hard." What are the odds? Other gimmes for me were perhaps not gimmes for everyone. I wrote in FATHA (52A: Nickname in early jazz piano) with no crosses. FATHA Earl Hines shows up in the puzzle an awful lot, such that his name pretty much lives near the forefront of my mind with the 200-300 other crosswordy answers that are likely to come up in late-week puzzles. EDWARD II (59A: Christopher Marlowe play) I got easily. I teach that play from time to time, so I had an unfair advantage on that one. OWE was clued in a very standard way (57D: Come up short), so I got that with no crosses as well. Good start, right? Well, yes. But then:

  • 38A: Used a thurible on? (censed) - uh ... thurible?
  • 46D: Many a Carl Czerny composition (etude) - uh ... Carl?
  • 34A: Predecessor of Gregory XI (Urban V) - popes, great...
  • 39A: 1942 Eleanor Powell musical set at sea ("Ship Ahoy") - the 40s, musicals, the sea ... all non-specialties
  • 27A: Side dish popular at New Year's (pea salad) - this is the first I've heard of this
  • 61A: Beverages similar to kvass (rye beers) - never heard of either
  • 22A: Ostrava tongue (Czech) - no idea where Ostrava is
  • 10D: Snow-_____ (winter vehicle brand) (Trac) - But can you hunt moose from it?
  • 18A: Tree that yields a chewable resin (mastic) - wow, no way. Very cool word, though. I like that MASTIC is part of MASTICATE, the fancy word for "chew."
  • 29D: Plum, for one (drupe) - wow, that's one homely word. Never heard of it, and wish that were still the case.
  • 4D: "Politics _____ beanbag" (Mr. Dooley maxim) ("ain't") - have you ever done the really tough cryptic puzzles from another country - say, Britain? I had that same "!?!?!?!?" feeling reading this clue as I do occasionally when doing NZ cryptics with my wife. "Honey, does *any* of that make sense to you?"

So life was tough today. And yet - and this is the fabulous thing about crosswords - even with all that ignorance on my part, I got through the puzzle, no errors. Oh, it just dawned on me - is the LUG NUT clue funny because you don't actually have to "LUG" said NUT? "Easy to pick up"? Wow, that's bad. Not as bad as the word "Jaculates," but bad nonetheless (24A: Jaculates => HURLS).

The Rest:

  • 1A: Saw in the dark? (dreamt of) - I was sure - SURE - that this was going to have something to do with snoring.
  • 16A: Gimcrack (trifle) - "Gimcrack" and "Jaculates" are pretty much the Alpha and Omega of vocabulary words (with Alpha being best and Omega being nearly unutterable)
  • 19A: Laser paper option (matte) - I just stared at the phrase "laser paper" for a while. "So ... it's paper ... made out of ... lasers? How is that ... paper?"
  • 20A: Pliny possessive (mea) - see also his close cousin MIA at 30A: Nowhere to be found, for short
  • 23A: Innovation of the Paleolithic period (axe) - cool clue for basic word
  • 9D: Presenter of bills (ATM) - yucky clue. "Presenter"? "May I present ... Andrew Jackson."
  • 21D: With 50-Down, like the children in "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (all / snug) - mixed feelings here. That poem has such a strong childhood resonance for me that I can't help but love it. And yet, I'm painfully aware that they were ALL SNUG IN THEIR BEDS. Feels weird to cut the phrase off at SNUG. And yet, it's perfectly accurate, as clued.
  • 24D: Stretch in the salt mines (hard day) - great clue / answer. I was thinking literally at first, but then the metaphorical meaning leapt forth.
  • 53D: Israeli city whose citadel was built by the Ottomans (Acre) - important in the history of the Crusades, which is how I know it.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Jeffrey 8:59 AM  

A Tubthumping puzzle. I got knocked down, but I got up again. A long time with lots of white space staring at me.

In the end, two aquares eluded me -"Missouri senator Claire" crossing "used a thurible on" - my odds of getting that letter are about 1 in 26. I tried an L - LENSED maybe a thurible is a camera? nope.

MASTIC/TRAC was the other problem - 1 in 6 and I went with a Y. a MYSTIC tree sounds cool.

All those intersecting V's took a while as my brain kept saying that can't be right.

Tough slog but a good workout. I was right yesterday - today would be Saturday.

Alex S. 9:07 AM  

I love CLOSED CIRCUIT TV in the puzzle, but for the life of me can't figure out the meaning of "Feeding tube?" as the clue. I immediately guessed that tube referred to TV, but then spend the rest of the time trying to fit in some version of Food Network, at least until I had enough crosses to get it without comprehension.

I assume you're right about the LUGNUG humor. That's another one I got from crosses without completely understanding the clue.

I've been to dozens of New Year's Eve parties and have never seen pea salad served. In fact, I don't think I've ever been to one where a sufficiently organized meal was served that you could say there were side dishes (as opposed to snack items conveniently located).

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

I'm anxiously awaiting more LUGNUT explanations. If you're right rex, wouldn't simply "easy to carry" do? Lug=carry....I don't understand where the "pick up" part of the equation fits.

I had KNOTS for "bumps on trunks" for a long time, after I figured out the tree analogy.

A fun challenging puzzle

Can someone tell me what ATH school department is?

Also - isn't it Yippy YI KY YAY?

JannieB 9:25 AM  

In the south, black eyed peas (with hog jowls??) are standard New Year's DAY fare - but I've never seen or heard of them being served as a salad.

I quickly got the NW corner and then the NE, and thought I was in for a quick and easy Saturday. NOOOOO. I stared at the rest of it forever - putting stuff in and taking it back out again, only to realize I was correct all along. (Yet another puzzling phenomenon that needs a name - ACME?????)

I finally googled the lady from Missouri and was able to finish - that SW corner gave me fits. Meshed person? Chuckwalla?? Thurible??? What a nightmare.

Loved the cluing for pool cues, liked tech savvy and closed circuit tv. Don't think "sad tales" is a phrase in the language. And I think you can buy paper for your laser printer in either glossy or matte finishes.

Whew - back to the salt mines.

JannieB 9:26 AM  

@Pinky - ATHletics Dept.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Didn't care for this puzzle. Too many arcane clues and too many poor 'clever' clues. I know this is Saturday and I'm used to tough puzzles but I just didn't care for this one.

The popular New Year's dish should be Hoppin' John (made with black eyed peas). I think pea salad was a big stretch.

evil doug 9:42 AM  

I agree. With Rex. Fully. Nothing to add.

Sycophantasy, OH

wendy 9:52 AM  

Unless there's some variation on Hoppin' John that I'm not aware of, I would never call it a PEA SALAD. It's served hot, for one thing, at least that's the way I've always prepared it. There are cold salads made of black-eyed peas, but are they New Year's Eve-worthy?

I'm only making such a big deal of this because my performance was so paltry otherwise - only answers I got correctly were BIAS, MIA and ALT, I misspelled McCASKILL with a G and YIPPY as Yipee and had DON'T but not the LAUGH.

The rest - not so much. I wasn't even going to try, but I thought it would be character building to give it a shot.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

@ jannieb - Thx

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

OK, I'll give it a try,

Car wheels are held on with nuts that screw onto the threaded things called LUGs--- thus LUG NUTS.

Now, Lug also means to carry, usually something heavy.

LUG NUTS are too light to be LUGged ... despite their name, so the *?* denoting the play on the word.

Also agree Laser Paper choice as Matte lame cluing, it's pretty much the default and I not sure where I'd find anything else (but I'm sure it exists).

Ink Jet would have been better.


Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Glitch again:

Before it comes up, re: the Laser paper, paper is the operative word here --- I know I can get labels, cards, and transparancies, but the only paper I've run across is matte.

HudsonHawk 10:20 AM  

It was my lucky day, as I actually polished off the SW first and worked my way East, then North and finished in the NW. Looking back, I can see how the SW was pretty diabolical, but MCCASKILL was a gimme, and the last L made LEHIGH a gimme also. The rest of the region fell into place after that, though ILE LONGUE was purely on crosses.

I loved the double V stack in TECH SAVVY and seeing MIA clued without the usual reference to Ms. Farrow.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

Tough, tough puzzle. I guessed right at TRAC/MASTIC but TREC seems plausible while MESTIC not so much. I had to Google MCCASKILL and LEHIGH to solve this horrendous section of the puzzle. I had NODES at first but the "K" fixed that mistake. I loved CLOSEDCIRCUITTV, TECHSAVVY and CZECH. I hated the words thurible, chuckwalla and jaculates as well as questioning phrases like "Base off the coast of Brest for France's nuclear submarines." You gotta be kidding!

So in the end, did I like this slog by Mr. Walden? Usually I cotton to such a challenge, but today, feeling no glee, not really.

poc 10:37 AM  

Those of us who were once altar boys will recognize a thurible as the covered metal container on a chain that the priest swings to distribute incense smoke.

First time I've ever seen FEDERALIST PAPER in the singular form, though I suppose there's no reason it shouldn't exist.

However the SW was impossible without Googling. LEHIGH? KNAR? MCCASKILL?

A pretty good puzzle all the same.

Greene 10:43 AM  

OK, so this was the Byron Walden atomic bomb I was dreading, only it arrived about a week late. I've got to hand it to Mr. Waldon though, while the puzzle is insanely difficult, it is also heaps of fun and I learned a bunch in the process. Good thing I was well rested from yesterday's puzzle.

@Rex: Even I (who has little exposure to old westerns and has only seen Die Hard once) could fill in YIPPY Ky Yay at a glance. It does not mean, however, that I could spell it correctly and it remained YIPEE for a long time. Grrr. This made RHAPSODY ungettable and that section (Georgia?) was the last to fall.

My gimmies are rarely the same as Rex's (which is, I suppose, mostly a good thing), but I'm not especially proud that I could put SHIP AHOY into the grid with absolutely no thought. No one should have that much knowledge of musicals. I'm starting to sound like the Man-in-Chair character from "The Drowsy Chaperone." Good Lord, I AM that character!

On a somewhat less revelatory note, I actually know what a thurible is...didn't help me much at first because I thought I had always been incensed and not censed. I looked it up and was shocked to learn that I had censed for all those years. How could I not know this? What else did the priest do that I couldn't spell? How humiliating...I want my "i" back.

And lastly, did anyone put GEWGAW for 16A? I thought I was demonstrating my newly acquired crossword smarts, only to learn that I'm a Byron Walden TRIFLE. Sigh, I'm going to go break some POOLCUES and share some SAD TALES with FATHA and EDWARD II over a few RYE BEERS. Maybe I'll run into old RELIABLE ALLAN LADD and practice a Czerny ETUDE or two over PEA SALAD. The possibilities are endless.

Greene 10:48 AM  

Of course I meant to say I want my "in" back, but I can neither type nor spell.

ArtLvr 10:49 AM  

This was okay until the very end, when I got hung up in the SW on every Across below ALT even though I had Sen. MCCASKILL. I wanted "knots". Should have googled the chuckwalla or the clue for Lehigh people, I guess. Pfui.

Yippie Ki-O, Yippie Ki-A -- I can hear it, yes, but wouldn't have spelled it YIPPY. Old cowboy RHAPSODY.... And regular photo prints can be in MATTE or glossy finish: "laser" in the clue was misleading?

As to putting something in, erasing it and then putting it back in -- a reiteration, or rescription? A rescript, or RESCRIP for short? That has a hint of crypt- or "hidden", as well as "written again"...


chefbea 10:58 AM  

much easier that yesterday.

@Poc thnks for explaining thurible

Blackeyed peas are suppose to briing good luck for the new year - thats why you have Poppin' John. Not a salad. I won't give you the recipe for it - one recipe a week is enough.

foodie 10:58 AM  

@evil doug, you made my day! Truly.

The puzzle slaughtered me, and I was seriously bummed that there was "medium" anywhere in Rex's rating. So, I started to read the comments and there you are, agreeing with Rex. And what did I feel: Hope! If people can look at the content of what the other person is saying on its own merit, and forget the conflicts of the past for a moment, then there would be peace in the Middle East, unity in the US and RHAPSODY on this blog. Yes, we can!

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

@alex: I think the "feeding" part of "feedint tube?" is the that the camera sends a "feed" to the screen. I actually wanted "alimentary canal" for that answer, and it fit just enough of the crosses to throw me off for the longest time. Hard puzzle, but fair for the most part. Could have clued "matte" as "photo finish" but that might have been too easy.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Byron Walden is the best.

Greene 11:20 AM  

@foodie: I fear that Evil Doug's post is probably just a little sarcastic dig. He doesn't agree with Rex, he's making fun of those who do. At least that's how I read the post. He does always keep us guessing.

Incidentally, I have long wanted to commend you for your posts which are unfailingly insightful, intelligent, elegant, and just plain gracious. We can always count on you for a soothing, calming comment when the seas get choppy around here. I always look forward to "the daily strawberry."

PuzzleGirl 11:22 AM  

One Google, two wrong squares. Fun, tough puzzle. I really really really wanted 23A (Innovation of the Paleolithic period) to be PIE.

Ulrich 11:23 AM  

The SW killed me, too. I thought HAMMER was such a good answer for a fastener (!) that could be carried that I didn't want to give it up. The Ile Longue is so small that it's not even shown on my very detailed atlas. With KNAR an unknown, I also had to google once (to get the senator), and then could slowly complete the rest. Agree with Rex that DRUPE is one hell of an ugly word that I want to forget as soon as I learned it.

A word on "sycophant" that keeps on rearing its head in comments. It means "A servile self-seeker who attempts to win favor by flattering influential people"--I have no clue why it is used in connection with Rex: As far as I know, he has no favors to hand out (except, possibly, to his students, who do not seem to be the "sycophants" in question) and therefore, he seems an unlikely target for sycophancy. He does have some friends who are fond of paying him compliments--from equal to equal, and that's OK with me.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

I got killed on this puzzle. Is Claire McCaskill well known? I was sure that 16A would be either DOODAD or GEEGAW. Kvass? Nyet, tovarisch.

foodie 11:29 AM  

@Greene, thank you for your kind words. I too greatly enjoy your comments.

I did, for a moment, think that evil doug's comment was meant to be sarcastic. But he has asked us in the past to take him at his word. I chose to believe him. I'm thinking may be he actually did agree with Rex's assessment at one level, and decided to say it in a way that could be read either way? If I'm wrong, I will probably feel foolish, but I'm willing to risk it. I guess we will find out :).

Orange 11:30 AM  

I Googled laser paper matte and found that photo and brochure paper for laser printers comes in matte and glossy options.

I thought we all learned about drupes and pomes (apples, pears, quinces) in grade school. My husband begs to differ.

Emeril's got a recipe for black-eyed pea salad. This similar recipe was "originally designed for New Year's Eve." Now, I wouldn't curtail "black-eyed pea salad" to just "pea salad," but then I'm not a Southerner and Byron is. Maybe Byron's kin call it PEA SALAD.

Two Ponies 11:48 AM  

Wow, I haven't had such a whippin' in a long time.
The SW killed me. It didn't help that I read trucks for trunks - where are my glasses? A senator I've never heard of next to an obscure French island? I didn't stand a chance.
I knew a chuckwalla was a creature but was it a bird? No, that's a cassowary. A mammal like a woodchuck? Phooey, it was a lizard!
Loved closed circuit tv which finally appeared after thinking of some sort of pasta with the double T's at the end.
I was proud to remember thurible but I must file away gimcrack.
An error I have to confess seems so obvious now but I had Trak and Slide Into which made the language from Ostrava ( a place that could have been anywhere to me) Kzedh. Well, if I've never heard of the place I guess I'll make up my own language! Ha!
Well Mr. Walden, another humbling puzzle. Better luck to me next time.

wendy 11:48 AM  

Karen, I suspect that Claire MCCASKILL would be well known outside of her home state primarily for the fact that she was at one point on the short list for consideration as Pres-Elect Obama's running mate. At least that's how I knew her.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

How about when you write in the correct answer only to erase it and then write it in again -- you give yourself a pat on the back with deja you?

Larry 12:29 PM  

I am frankly surpised that Alan Ladd doesn't come up more frequently in the crossworld. Often but not as much as you would think. Eisenhower on the other hand is all over the place: ETO (today) IKE, and variations on his dem opponent: AES, Adlai.

I am not Saturday capable but I knew McCaskill, and I always check out the longer border clues to see if I can get a head start before attempting them. I did guess Lehigh but otherwise went nowhere.

fiddleneck 12:40 PM  

sad tales about the lives of kings--Richard II

foodie 12:51 PM  

My southern hubby immediately said that black-eyed pea salad was supposed to be good luck on New Year. Here's the best place I found that gives a background on the history:

pea salad history

In my struggle to complete this puzzle I took so many wild stabs. In response to "Like Computer Programmers", I had T---SAV-- , so I put down TREESAVER in lieu of TECHSAVVY. On a Saturday, nothing is too crazy.

But I liked "SAD TALES" for "Tear Jerkers". Reminds of the mouse in Alice in Wonderland's saying: "Mine is a long and sad tale" and she cries a sea of tears...

edith b 1:06 PM  

I am able to solve roughly half the puzzles I encounter
on Saturday but not if it is a Byron Waldren.

Perhaps it is intimidation. When I see his byline, I feel a coldness in the pit of my stomach and, perhaps, that is the reason he is my bete noire. I don't know.

I guess the principal irony here is I knew Clare McCaskill but the rest of the SW as a mystery to me
Brest? Chuckwalla? Sorry.

I had lots of gimmes - I call them neons as I explained yesterday - and I was able to do the entire East Coast.
Listz gave me Czech gave me Tech. I knew the Eleanor Powell musical and that gave me the other end of Tech to be Savvy and from that I was able to put together Closedcircuittv.

It took a couple of hours, but I was able to chip away at enough of the NW (except for Oldmusic) and that part of the SW that I successfully finished as indicated above.

This is the best I have ever done on a Byron Walden and am depressed that I had to come here before I finished.

Campesite 1:50 PM  

I seem to recall Alan Ladd being a much more frequent crossworld denizen years ago, not so much anymore.

47D Not your or my, say (Their) was a very clunky clue in an otherwise elegant puzzle.

imsdave1 1:51 PM  

@greene - I GEWGAW'ed right along with you.

No googles, but needed the dictionary for jaculate, thurible, and chuckwalla. Great week, with a strong finish.

dk 1:55 PM  

Nothing to add. A rollicking good time.

Our New Years tradition was to have lentil soup while holding a silver dollar.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

I just discovered this blog and am so pleased I did! I was actually looking online for hints to last Sunday's diagramless, which was stumping me in the SE despite being 95% done. I suppose I could have googled "strangers and brothers", but I'm glad I didn't and stumbled in here instead.

I hadn't finished today's NYT puzzle yet, and was a bit dismayed to find the answer for 1 across, but after I finished the puzzle I rushed back to read Rex's post and the great comments above.

I was stumped in the SW corner too, despite getting "closed circuit tv" early on, just after solving the NE section. Ended up googling McCaskill (oh the shame! I always feel so dirty afterwards...), as well as censed and mid April, which were easy.

Pea Salad is an odd term for Hoppin' John, for sure, and I'd never heard of a "knar", despite having done a bit of logging and otherwise knowing a lot (I thought) about trees.

Anyway, it's great to read about others' thought processes, and fun to find out that some I found easy were hard for others, and vice-versa. Crossword solving has always been a solitary pastime for me, and no doubt will continue to be, but I'll be sure to check back again if I get too stumped to continue, or just to savor a challenging puzzle after solving it. I just subscribed to the premium puzzles after becoming tired of shelling out $5 every week for the Sunday New York Editori--, um, Times. Now I've got puzzles every day, and great brain-benders like this one on Saturdays. Whee!

I'll shut up now. Thanks for a great blog! Wish you did the diagramless and cryptic puzzles, too.

evil doug 2:07 PM  


100% honest assessment. I mean, if I'm going to be vocal about my disagreements, then it's only fair to be equally transparent when I concur. For the first time, maybe ever, he hit on every point I would have made---and without much quibbling, which I found especially refreshing.

It's one thing to be a thoughtful critic; quite another to be a harsh and overly judgmental whiner. Now, it's his site, and he can do what he chooses; but when he censors my own opinion---and he has---or flails angrily with personal attacks, then he needs to be called on it. So I do.

There are some here---sycophants to me---who reflect the definitions I found: "ass-kisser, toady, boot-licker, flatterer, apple-polisher, brown-noser". The reward they seek is to not be treated like---well, like me. They seemingly cower in fear of His Majesty's penchant to personally attack some of us who dare to contradict him. When Rex goes against his own edict to remain civil and to stay on point about the crossword, they look the other way. When Rex attacks, they tend to pile on. They are often identified by excessive, effusive and predictable praise of Rex more than any cogent commentary on the puzzle itself.

I particularly respect those who variously agree or disagree with him without fear of reprisal. To be honest, that's the majority. Thank goodness.

And one other thing in the interest of full disclosure: I fully realize that I can be a pain in the ass, too. Comes with the creative juices, an appreciation of satire and a desire to generate some legitimate energy here, I guess. I would think Rex---a man with considerable command of the language---would enjoy that opportunity for some pleasant jousting rather than being so easily baited into mindless flailing. Doesn't become him....


miriam b 2:27 PM  

I've never heard of RYEBEERS, though I've recently enjoyed some wheat beer. Kvass led me to the correct fill, as I'm familiar with that. It's a very slightly alcoholic beverage produced,by fermenting stale bread. It seems to be an acquired taste. I'd always wanted to try it, and finally got the chance in (then) Leningrad. I liked it. Excessive consumption of kvass, however, may result in FLAB.

MASTIC, ETUDE, SOLI and LISZT were gimmes. Armed with that Z, and apparently still reminiscing about my trip to the USSR and thinking of Azerbaijan, I confidently filled in Azeri where CZECH eventually landed.

I was familiar with Hoppin John, and I want to thank those who enlightened me on the subject of pea salad. I guess I'll look into Emeril's recipe. I can't stand to watch him, though, because of the way he butchers the English language. Other Food Network pet peeves: Rachael Ray (too perky; nutritionally poor resipes); Sandra Lee (ditto, in spades, what with all this prepared swill she uses); Paula Deen (nutritional disasters which I hope will not kill her and her new husband); Ace of Cakes (everyone gives the impression of being in the midst of rehab from some unspeakable addiction).

I like: Ina Garten, Robin Miller, Alton Brown, Ellie Krieger, Giada DeLaurentiis, Iron Chef, Dinner Impossible, to mention a few. I miss The Melting Pot.

End of food message. Don't worry, rex; if I post again today, it will be more puzzle-relevant.

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Toughest puzzle I've done in a while - loved it. Unfortunately for my ego, I had to look up "thurible" and "chuckwalla" in my paper dictionary.

Also, I first put in sAiLaWAy for what later became sHiPaHOy (39A.

But even so, completed within my usual allotted time - on a Saturday, that's the hour it takes to prepare and eat lunch and listen to "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!"

Had 8D, federalist paper, very early on, and with 1A and 2A, Dreamt of and At last!, thought possibly this would be another Saturday with a theme of sorts. Or is that too much of a political comment?

Bob Kerfuffle

Michael Chibnik 3:29 PM  

Seemed typical Saturday-level to me, tough, but quite possible with some persistence. I got pea salad near the end (all I could think of -like others -- was blackeyed peas) but then couldn't figure out the plum clue. I had written in "closed circuit" for "feeding tube" and then taken it out because I couldn't figure out what went next. Then I had the aha moment with tv at the end of closed circuit and was left to puzzle over "drupe." Off to google and confirmation...

Still -- did you all know "drupe"?

Doug 3:30 PM  

@anonymous 1&2: Welcome to the blog--take your masks off and stay a while!

Was clobbered as usual, even with Google. Looking forward to tonight's early posting of Sunday's puzzle as I now typically lounge in the sack on Sunday AM to watch the weekly 2-hour Coronation Street omnibus. Have now officially become my grandfather.

Mike the Wino 3:43 PM  

Did anyone have CLOSEDCIRCUIT(I)V instead of TV at 36A? With the question mark, I was thinking medically for some goofy reason, and it took quite some time before the crossing SLICEINTO finally fixed it.

Tough puzzle, and I won't bore anyone with my Wiki, IMDB, Google search counts......been there, done that, lotsa times. But I did finish it! Good job as usual, Mr. Walden. You always make me think!

Anonymous 3:50 PM  

@anonymous 1:56-

Your description of how you arrived here and telling us it was a solirary pursuit exactly describes how I got here myself.

My suggestion? If you plan to comment further, get yourself a user name and you will find this group of people to be warm and friendly towards you as I have found them to be.

fergus 3:59 PM  

Though I had seen Thurible before, I couldn't get the thimble and sewing association out of my mind. This sort of closed off the SW, which was tied up with my having entered KNOTS fairly assuredly. Spent two thirds of my time in that devilish corner.

The DRUPE was at first PRIME, for another variety of Plum, and then PRUNE. Not many other misteps, just a lack of knowledge, which I could ultimately piece together. I was tempted to put in THRENODY where RHAPSODY fell, but having looked it up, that would have been so wrong since it's a lamentation.

The New Year's dish did have me thinking rebus because I did have a closing P in there.

I would be curious to know whether Jaculates was meant as a verb or a plural noun, since HURLS seem to work both ways. Probably, cleverly both, since in my brief acquaintance with Byron, I got the sense that not much goes unthunk from his end.

Bill from NJ 4:12 PM  

@anonymous 1:56-

Your description of how you arrived here and telling us it was a solirary pursuit exactly describes how I got here myself.

My suggestion? If you plan to comment further, get yourself a user name and you will find this group of people to be warm and friendly towards you as I have found them to be.

chefbea 4:33 PM  

@Bill from nj glad to hear from you again. Hope you are doing better. I agree. Anon 1:56 get a name and join in the fun. I got here the same way you did and then we started with all the red tuber talk

foodie 5:12 PM  

Rex, I hope you will allow me this extra post for the sake of closure (have we ever seen the expression "Zeigarnik effect" used in the context of a puzzle?)

@Evil Doug, first thank you for responding. I really started second guessing myself about your first post, so it's good to know. Now, I hope that in turn, you will trust me enough as I offer this perspective. It might be helpful in shedding light on something that you seem to find frustrating.

There are many, many people who disagree with Rex without getting a negative response from him. Almost every day, numerous times. But in my view there are certain styles of disagreement that trigger a push back from him. Not everyone would react to these same issues or in the same way. But we each have our triggers.

I am not a particularly compliant type. But in my view, Rex is our host and I feel that we owe him a certain degree of consideration. He tells us a great deal about his thoughts, his family, his travels, and he is trusting us to treat all of this with a certain level of respect. I will hasten to add that I don't believe that you meant any disrespect towards his daughter, so I am not pointing fingers. But I think that as an observer who tends to believe in the best in people, I am sometimes confused by your intentions. For instance, in your last post, you start off positively but then you use strong terms, including about yourself. In a written medium, especially between people who don't know each other in person, this is hard to parse. It can be read as aggressive, even though you feel you are being merely straightforward. And because it's cumulative, it can complicate future interactions and make pleasant jousting rather unlikely.

If I had the power, I'd call a time out. These conflicts feed upon themselves, and we humans are not great at pushing the reset button. I really do appreciate your willingness to say you agree with someone in spite of a history of conflict. I wish more people (and nations) would. I would have even greater admiration if the negative valence in some of your posts could be reduced, so that we can enjoy your observations and may be down the line, learn to appreciate your satirical bend.

jae 5:23 PM  

This was an overnighter for me because of SW. I finally got but it took a looooong time. The main problem was being unsure of the McCaskill spelling and not seeing DONTLAUGH until the end (not to mention not knowing ILE LONGUE and thurible). I also started off NW in trouble by putting in LEGAL for MATTE. Other missteps were OLDSONGS and WORKDAY.

Add me to the GEEGAWers and those who looked up DRUPE post-solve to see if it was really a word. In all an excellent and challenging Sat. from Mr. Walden!

mac 5:29 PM  

Hi Bill!

For a while now my greatest fear is that Mr. Byron Walden's handiwork is going to show up BEFORE the final of the tournament. Can we start a petition of some sort?

I did the NW within 2 minutes, then came to a complete halt. I had to go out to lunch and run errands to get my nerves to quiet down. Even after all that it was a slog, with some answers coming out of the clear blue sky, thank goodness, like "federalist paper", soli, Alan Ladd (only know him from puzzles, have no idea what he looks like), dreamt of and Edward II.

I thought the chewy tree would be something "chickl..";
drupe??? Tried to fit in damson (dams'n?)
39A to start with S.S.
24D: something labor?
thurible brought on visions of hot air balloons....

I found 47D surprising, sort of a Monday clue.

Loved the battle, just upset that I had to google McCaskill, in her case I only remembered her face.

@miriam b: how about the very best, Jacques Pepin? And talking about food, the "pea salad" made me think of "salade Russe", lots of peas and little carrot cubes tossed with mayonnaise, not particularly New Yearsy but often part of a festive dinner or buffet in Europe.

fikink 5:30 PM  

WHEW! This was tough, Mr. Walden. Took me forever, but no googling and one error - I had MAZE (Imagine that!) for MALE and didn't even register that there is no ALAN ZADD!
DRUPE only came to me because Ulrich and I recently conversed about the word. (Music of the spheres! Ulrich, did you remember it?)
@greene, Here I was looking forward to your filling us in on SHIP AHOY. (My first entry was SAIL AWAY - thought you would appreciate that.)
@joho, I was about to publicly apologize for being so negative about Peggy Noonan the other night, but since Miriam almost wiped out most of Food Network and I know we still appreciate her input, I trust you will all recognize that I am suffering from post-partum depression after Tuesday.
And y'all gotta know MCCASKILL was my looper today!
Hi, Bill!
Viva la!!!

Unknown 5:32 PM  

If you didn't get "ain't" and "McCaskill," you weren't paying much attention to politics over the past year. Even after I had "Irani" filled in on the crosses, I couldn't get it. "Lug nut" was funny. I hated "ATM" -- no indication of abbreviation in the clue.

Pretty easy for a Saturday -- an hour and ten minutes. No dictionary or Googling. (I think a dictionary is legit, as [speaking as a copy editor] it's a good habit to look things up, but Google is cheating -- it means you gave up.)

mac 5:33 PM  

Amen, Foodie!

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

@michael: I knew DRUPE but do not know how ... somewhere in the recesses of my brain.

@foodie: beautifully stated.

@bill from nj: great to hear from you as always ... hope this means you are feeling better.

Third and out.

evil doug 5:48 PM  


I genuinely appreciate your thoughtful post. I'll give it every consideration. Hope I'm not the only one.

Three and out. See you later.


Anonymous 5:59 PM  


The puzzle and your commentary today were both first-rate. This puzzle took me 2 beautifully torturous hours to solve, and reading your comments was, as usual, a perfect catharsis.

Your stalwart devotee,


miriam b 6:16 PM  

@fikink: You betcha, Miriam almost wiped out most of Food Network. I stand by my humble opinions. To quote Benny Hill in his rĂ´le as an overbearing Spanish waiter, "It's too late to apologize!"

@mac: Of course I was discussing Food Network only, and I agree about Jacques Pepin. He da man. I also like Lidia.

Salade Russe is a staple in my house for any celebratory occasion. I should have made some after the election! My version includes tiny cubes of potato, apple and dill pickle as well as the peas and carrots. The dressing consists of equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream. It becomes Salat Olivier with the addition of meat or fowl. This was invented by the French chef of the ill-fated Nikolai II.

I promised Rex I'd stick to puzzle-related topics if I posted again today. OK, here's one: Someone please explain to me the difference, if any, between a censer and a THURIBLE.

My spell-check didn't like that word and suggested terrible, horrible, Thurber and Thursday. It was OK with censer.

fergus 6:32 PM  

Foodie's comments regarding Evil Doug's posting style encapsulated pretty much what I had in mind, though she said it with more grace and diplomacy than the rendering I would have offered. No question, ED offers some outlying verve and reflection to the Commentary here, but too frequently the tone seems a bit irascible and impatient to condemn, even though it seems he's fully self-aware. In some spheres, I can be as bluff and as full of bluster, and even sardonically inconsiderate, as Evil comes across, but I have AT LAST learned that it is simply rude to antagonize one's host. While I've been chastised and deleted by Rex in times gone by, I have never turned it into a competition or personal animus. You have to realize that we're dealing with a new sort of forum, or even an art form of selective display, and that the blog-chief has as much responsibility for the atmosphere as anyone who hosted a salon in centuries past.

Since I just this morning read the "New Yorker" article about Arianna Huffington's blog, I've had a couple of new insights with respect to the role of the moderator of content. (The article was in the October 13issue.)

poc 6:47 PM  

@miriam b: according to Wikipedia a thurible is a censer hanging on a chain. See

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

My thinking thing hurts! I always want a puzzle of this level until one arrives. I literally have worked this puzzle from 11am this morning ‘til just now. What an excellent challenge with a number of head scratchers and an oops that slipped through ‘til I got here – thought ATT dispensed bills and everyone knows the chewy TASTIC tree.
You know I loves me the Evil Doug – something about him just feels like the double edged sword yin yang not good not bad both and neither all at the same time. Then Foodie out manages our host by basically bitch slapping him with kindness. Awesome – seriously awesome.
I keep thinking to myself how goofy I feel about the time I spend at this site. It is just a stupid puzzle and these freaks take it so seriously. And yet even now I put off work to make sure the freaks know I am one of them. Freaks! All of us! Freaks…

green mantis 8:00 PM  

I had pea salad once, but I don't think it was the kind you guys have mentioned. It came in a cold lobster at brunch about 300 years ago at Au Pie d Cochon (spelling, Fergus?) in D.C.

It was disgusting.

Also, thought Claire's name was McHaskell, which it is not. And knars are knot what I wanted.

And Obama is our president.

Anonymous 8:21 PM  

@green m --

Your last comment still brings a big smile.

As for the rest, why can't we all just get along little doggie?

chefbea 9:23 PM  

@pea salad annie I agree!!! see you all tomorrow

Anonymous 9:35 PM  

It seems like crossword puzzle people must not follow politics all that closely. .. McCaskill was all over the democratic convention and pretty visible since. Not that I knew how to spell her name!

Had to google thurible, because I was desperate to know what it meant. Botanist partner gave my drupe. Got the joke on lug nut! Otherwise . . . hard, sort of satisfying, sort of annoying.

Jeffrey 10:04 PM  

Right you are anon9:35. Who won the election?

fergus 11:43 PM  

The political restraint here is symptomatic of the failure of nuanced talk radio. Yet, how did Bush not figure out how to neutralize NPR?

Rhetorical questions?

GM,in her fractured French bistro, is considering the foot of a pig, which I know through other sources, can be surprisingly delectable, whether it's from Bohemia or the Mekong delta.

Chip Hilton 5:00 PM  

I don't care if it's Sunday evening. I still feel the need to rejoice in the fact that I did it! Perfect puzzle, Google-free! Took total guesses on KNARS and CENSED...utterly shocked to see them both right. Who cares if it took me hours to complete!?

Agree that the SW was the most brutal, but struggled with NW as well.

I will remember the name Byron Walden and look forward to future torturous encounters.

Anonymous 8:09 PM  

I'm not even going to tell you how much I had to google to get this puzzle. I don't often attempt Saturdays but this one looked so intriguing and I figured I could learn something if I didn't think I was actually trying to solve the puzzle on my own.

I did get the NW corner, though. But that's not why I'm commenting, mostly it's to tell you that the first link I got when I googled "brest nuclear sub" was a Google satellite map of the naval base: So much for security.

This does seem like a warm community but I'm not likely to blog too often or my family will disown me. Thanks for helping me not feel like a total dork.

mhwitt 9:54 PM  

Chateau d'If is on an island right off the coast of Marseille, within view from many parts of the old city.>Google Images search.

Old Al 12:49 PM  

re "I can barely find any pictures, and Wikipedia doesn't even seem to know if it's a true island or a peninsula (first paragraph says one thing, second another)."

Not any more! I just edited it. For a detailed look at it, go to Google Earth and enter 48°18'07.6"N 4°30'35.57"W.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

All I can say is: Thank goodness I went to Lehigh.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

Man, this was tough, a delayed punishment for those of us doing the puzzles in the hinterland, the Domain of Delay (TM 2008, all rights reserved, patents pending)...
My one claim to fame: I got it all, and only had to check one answer - after entering it - DRUPE, just 'cause that looked _so_ odd.... I wanted it to be GRAPE, thinking a plum _could_ be some odd relative of a grape, but I suppose DRUPE will have to do...

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

PS: put me in for one more vote for "Meshed person" as a head-scratcher. I put a big "?" next to that on the clues, and didn't get the gag until the opening and closing "I"s were in place. Not a place I knew any more than ILE LONGUE...

Barrie31 8:11 PM  


If you had paid attention when reading your Patrick O'Brian you would have had a given for "Base off the coast of Brest-------", Ile Longue where Jack Aubrey and the Royal Navy spent major time during the Napoleonic Wars blockading the port of Brest !!
Anti-googler but love a good dictionary -- liked the puzzle

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