THURSDAY, Nov. 20, 2008 - Pete Muller (One who believes humans descended from extraterrestrials / Tribe speaking Chiwere / Volga feeder)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Quotation by economist Allan Meltzer (20A, 23A, 47A, 54A): "CAPITALISM / WITHOUT FAILURE / IS LIKE RELIGION / WITHOUT SIN"

Interesting quote, though I don't buy it. The analogy seems very faulty. But it's catchy. Succinct. Bumper-stickeresque. I'm not a quote-puzzle fan, in general. This one was fine, I suppose. Timely ... ish. Can you feel the lukewarmness suffusing this write-up? I can. There's just not a lot to say about quote puzzles. There's the quote. It's a quote, alright. The End. This one did have the ultra-current BEAR / STEARNS as an added thematic bonus (BEAR STEARNS being a good example of FAILURE) (59A: With 27-Across, it collapsed in 2008). What's the shelf life on BEAR STEARNS as an answer? Will it fade away, or will it enter the permanent record because its collapse comes to be seen as the official start of the Great Depression II?

And so, on to the rest of the grid. Many proper noun gimmes helped me get traction all over the puzzle, from WOLFF in the NW (1A: Tobias _____, author of "This Boy's Life") to ALTHEA in the South (44D: 1950s tennis champion Gibson) to LOMBARDI in the North (9D: Winning coach of the first two Super Bowls) to ITT in the SE (57D: Cousin _____ of "The Addams Family"). Both RITA (26D: Singer Coolidge) and IRABU (47D: Pitcher Hideki) were also no-hesitation entries.

There were only two places where I got significantly held up - the NE and SW. In the NE, I had INTO instead of ONTO at 19A: Come _____. This meant that SHOALS (10D: Bars of a sort). never really came into view, which meant that nothing north of INTO (ONTO) really came into view. Well, of course, it did, eventually, but it took effort. Who the hell knows enough about SHAD to answer 10A: Fish that can detect ultrasound confidently? DIODE also remained hidden for a while, as I contemplated the myriad possibilities for an answer to 13D: Device originally called a rectifier. My original thoughts were ... not about electronics.

In the SW, one word: RAELIAN (51A: One who believes humans descended from extraterrestrials). What ... The ... BEEEEEEEEEEEEP?! Here is an explanation of who/what they are. Did they have their big moment in the sun once? Some event? Some reason people might know who they are? If so, how did I miss it. The group seems to have come into being after 1973. I was alive then. I remember Jonestown, for god's sake, why don't I know about these nutjobs (no offense to any RAELIAN readers I may have)? Yowza. RAELIAN. OK.

The Rest:

  • 16A: Spinner for the Spinners (hi-fi) - I love this clue, as it dates the equipment to the right period (60s/70s).

  • 20A: First mate's superior, informally (Cap'n) - Very informally. [First mate's superior, cereally]
  • 34A: Like most Olympic gymnasts (teenage) - sadly, this clue was changed from [Like a typical CW viewer], which has all kinds of misdirection possibilities built in and could have caused a pop culture wipe-out that I would have enjoyed watching. I think there's a huge segment of the population that does not realize that "The CW" is a TV network. I'm guessing there's Very little overlap in the Venn diagram of "NYT solvers" and "CW watchers."
  • 37A: Dressy accessories (tie pins) - had TIETACS, a word which, however ridiculous, has more grid cred than today's answer.
  • 39A: "Either plagiarism or revolution," according to Gauguin (art) - one of the most memorable and interesting quotations I've ever seen in the puzzle.
  • 53A: Image in the Notre Dame de Paris (ange) - didn't note the Frenchiness of the clue and so struggled a bit. The RAELIANs are clearly anti-Catholic, as that damn answer kept me from getting at ANGE via crosses for a while.
  • 60A: Tribe speaking Chiwere (Otoe) - clue looks so daunting, but it's just OTOE, one of the puzzle's most prevalent tribes.
  • 63A: Constellation between Cygnus and Hercules (Lyra) - has been in puzzle lately. Otherwise, might have slowed me down more.
  • 2D: Volga feeder (Oka) - say "Oprah's Oka Okra" ten times fast. It's hard. I can't stop trying.
  • 5D: Palestinian group (Fatah) - I learned this name only in the past couple years and (unfortunately) still have it a bit mixed up with FATWA.
  • 7D: Noted ring leader (Ali) - ALI has an amazing closetful of clues. [Clay, after a while] yesterday, this one today. He's so common that they have to keep inventing disguises for him.
  • 32D: 2005 documentary subtitled "The Smartest Guys in the Room" (Enron) - hey, another FAILURE. Cool.
  • 38D: Commonwealth member beginning in 1947 (Pakistan) - hey another FAI...
  • 45D: Chinese dynasty a thousand years ago (Liao) - those damned dynasties are hard to keep straight. I typically wait for crosses and pray that the consonant and vowel combo I have assembled is actually a thing.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Thought the quote was very timely re the failed U.S. Auto Industry.
Ain't no bailout going to help; decades of 50% arrogance and 50% greed -- make that generations -- have sown the seeds that the Detroit Three are now reaping.

Rob 9:07 AM  

Man, Raelians. That's incredible. I actually did know who these guys were - I used to work at a TV production company that had considered making a documentary on them. (Their leader, Rael, is quite a character, and apparently there was some speculation that he started his movement - of which free love is a component, of sorts - just to enjoy the pleasures of many ladies.) Anyway, Rael's book was on the shelf in the office, and I took it home and read it. So when I saw the clue, my first thought was RAELIANS (especially since it fit). But I could not believe that there was enough popular awareness, and decided that it could not be the right answer. Thus, even though it should have been a gimme, I more or less got it from crosses.

Interesting parallel between yesterday's Candy, who descended to Earth from outer space, and today's Raelians, who believe we all came from space originally.

Otherwise, a moderately difficult puzzle that I felt good about completing.

PuzzleGirl 9:10 AM  

I had no chance at the RAELIAN/IRABU crossing (mildly embarrassing because I like to think I know baseball) or the OKA/AKIRA crossing (completely freaking frustrating because I know I need to get serious about my rivers if I ever want to be good at this crossword thing).

Love seeing ALTHEA Gibson in the puzzle. Love the Pursuing/AFTER clue/answer combo. Don't love the odd-job FILER, especially because I think it could be clued in a way that people might actually use the word (something to do with taxes -- I'm too lazy to figure it out specifically).

Can't see the term WAC without thinking of Cheap Trick's "Surrender." And that, ladies and gentlemen, will be the song stuck in my head today.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

I declare a Natick at the "R" at IRABU/RAELIAN. This pitcher cannot be a given and, well, Rex has pretty much covered the problem with Raelians. Raelians???!!!!

I liked the cluing at 34A because I immediately started thinking about words meaning flexible.

I also liked the quote as it is timely.

This was a solid Thursday, thanks Mr. Muller!

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Note to Will: The rest of the newspaper is depressing. Can we keep the crossword a little uplifting please?!?!?!?

foodie 9:26 AM  

I second Joho's Natick nomination for IRABU/RAELIAN. I finished the puzzle in excellent time (for me) but left that crossing blank. I guess I should learn "Hideki Irabu" since both his names are CC (crosswords compatible).

I too LOVE the Gauguin quote, and it can just as easily apply to science.

Speaking of which, better get back to work...

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Was afraid 'Device also called a rectifier' was going fail the breakfast test, but it turned out to be quite an innocuous answer after all.

Proper names were the foundation throughout the puzzle, with ALTHEA, LOMBARDI, KROC, RITA, IRABI and AKIRA pretty much all gimmes. Had HAMAS for FATAH for a bit, until FRICTION became clear.

Agree with RP that ONTO was not intuitive fill-in for 'Come ____', certainly not the first thing that comes to mind.

Also had DOUSES for 22D, after it's partner WATER was revealed, working off the S's, but ABD... for 22A soon changed that.

How about adding ', except in China' for 34A? Seems like they had at least a couple of pre-teens.

Overall a decent puzzle with the quote providing most of the degree-of-difficulty.


HudsonHawk 9:29 AM  

My first thought at seeing the clue for 51A was WACKO, but it didn't fit. LUNATIC does, though. Rex, I'm guessing the Venn diagram for RAELIANS and NYT solvers has even less overlap than the CW watchers (The CW in NYC carries Two and a Half Men in syndication twice a night, so it's seen with some frequency in the Hawk household).

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Didn't the RAELIANS make the news a few years ago when they killed themselves in order to be free of their bodies so they could catch a spaceship that was supposed to be dropping by just then? That's how I remember it, anyway, after getting the answer from most of the crosses.

I was really pleased with myself last night as I worked this. I just seemed to be cooking along, never hitting a wall, then I finished and confirmed it was probably my best Friday time ever. Too bad it was Thursday. Still not a bad time, but no record here.

After I finished, I remembered to go back and look for the theme. Oh, yeah, the quote. whoopee.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Should have been IRABU. Maybe i will try that preview thingy one of these days. Oh well...


Alex S. 9:43 AM  

The spaceship/suicide group was Heaven's Gate.

The Raelians were prominent in the news for about a month several years ago when they claimed to have successfully cloned a human being. It got a lot of play even though nobody really believed them and then faded.

So I remembered that the group existed but couldn't remember their exact name. I also don't like the absoluteness of the clue. Raelians believe that we descended from extra terrestrials but believing that does not necessarily make you a Raelian. So I was trying to think up some form of "exogenist" or "panspermist" to fit the spot.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Why should I know the first name of a ballplayer who has no awards, no major accomplishments and is under .500 with less than 40 career wins? RAELIAN??? I certainly don't mind exposure to RAELIANS. I mean some of my best friends are Raelians, but I would never allow my daughter to marry one.


Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Thank you Rex for the fantastic Spinner's performance of Rubber Band Man.

Ulrich 10:09 AM  

Count me among those for whom the Raelian/Irabu crossing was unsolvable--I hit the right letter on my second try. But this was the only hangup in an otherwise easy (for a Thursday) puzzle.

I agree with Rex on the content of the quote: However you parse it, it doesn't really make sense--can someone talk us up on this?

Anyway, Allan Meltzer should be my Andrea of the day: He taught at the same school as I did, and I did meet him once at a dinner party, but I have nothing memorable to say about the encounter--my fault, I'm sure.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

According to legend, when president Calvin Coolidge was asked what a preacher had said in a sermon called "About Sin," Silent Cal replied "He was ag'in it." Sounds as though Allan Meltzer is in favor of Sin.

ArtLvr 10:15 AM  

Really! Raelian? Were they the ones committing mass suicide in their look-alike outfits? No....

Amazingly timely "Failure" puzzle, from the WAIL of the GRUNT hung up and ABRADED on the SHOALS of life or GONE AWOL, to the actual FUNERAL crossed with ETERNITY. Wow! One HINDU martyr, one little ITS OK, one lurking ANGE with his ethereal LYRA and hint of heaven in the SACRE -- not much solace.

Overall, too great a downer for me, even with the great Gauguin quotation! I especially don't care for fill depending on a second part located elsewhere in a puzzle, even if truly linked like BEAR STEARNS, and here the addition pairing of WATER/RINSES was quite superfluous.


ArtLvr 10:18 AM  

p.s. Don't miss today's Sun puzzle -- it's an all-time stunner!

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I also mis-remembered the Raelians as the ones in San Diego who committed mass suicide to catch a space ship. The name was familiar enough though, even though I had No Idea on IRABU. Now that my memory has been jogged, I do remember all the front page headlines several years ago about the Raelians successfully cloning a human -- it was a big deal for several weeks. So I think it's a potential Natick spot, but barely passes in my book.

I had HAMAS instead of FATAH and DRONE instead of GRUNT. Once I corrected those two, the rest fell into place.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

I watch CW. pj

edith b 10:33 AM  

I remember Hideki Irabu from several years ago when the Yankees signed him as an antidote to the Boston signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I may be mis-remembering the sequence but not the fact that Irabu was an expensive bust for the Yankees.

I did vaguely remember the Raelians but not until I had 4 crosses in place. The quote and the fill complemented one another and this was a quick solve as quotation clues tend to be neons for me.

Aside from the general weirdness of Raelians , there was alot of good fill in this one.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

I was living in San Diego when the Heaven's Gate cult killed themselves in a rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. They created a sensation at the time with all sorts of stories circulating about them and their connection with the Hale-Bopp comet. They, too, believed in UFO's and would probably have really clicked with the Raelians ... too bad they never got together.

Alex S. 10:44 AM  

As more of a philosophical question about puzzle creation, how much is the NYTimes crossword puzzle allowed to cater to the NY audience at the expense of the global audience?

Hideki Irabu is a bit iffy, but if there is any group that would know it without being a big baseball fan it would be New Yorkers (his years as a Yankee produced a fair amount of press -- such as when Steinbrenner called him a "fat pussy toad").

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

I would have preferred "Baseball's fat toad" as the clue for Irabu. That was the only memorable thing even closely related to him.

Nice Thursday

Two Ponies 10:52 AM  

As a fascinated fan of the lunatic fringe I remembered the Raelians however... with Irabu, Raelian, Kabuki, Fatah, Liao, Akira, and Althea I was wondering is this puzzle even in English???
We spoke of Genesis yesterday and wasn't the main character in Lamb Lies Down on Broadway named Rael?
I too was disappointed that after browsing the headlines before turning to my daily solace I found the bad news has bled into my puzzle as well. I'm hoping for a more fun diversion tomorrow.

JoefromMtVernon 11:08 AM  

Found this one easy for a Thursday. The Raelian part of the x-word universe gave me fits.

Finished with anron/man and not enron. Hey, I missed it.

@Edith B...Irabu was a yankee 10 years before Dice-K was signed (1997 vs 2007)...

Steinbrenner did call him a big fat toad...and that will forever be what we remember him for in the NY Metro area.

Since I teach electronics, I had diode, so I did not have the problem Rex had with shad; but again, I did leave into rather than the odd-sounding onto...

Enjoy the day..


Anonymous 11:14 AM  

@edith b

Your memory is pretty close - Hideki Irabu was a flash in the pan who won a few games when the Yankees first got him in 1997. He had 2 full years with them after that, but she gained a lot of weight during the same period, and was never much more than a .500 pitcher.

He was the Yankees answer to that other crossword denizen Hideo Nomo - Matsuzaka being in the Majors only since '07.


Pythia 11:19 AM  

Bummer, dude.

For me, religion owes its success to fear.

@Alex wrote:

As more of a philosophical question about puzzle creation, how much is the NYTimes crossword puzzle allowed to cater to the NY audience at the expense of the global audience?

Given syndication, there must be demerits given to narrowly NY-centric theme proposals. I thought yesterday's college football theme was distinctly non-NYish. The level of intelligence, education, and general knowledge needed to be familiar with NYT puzzle content seems to me (as a gross generalization) to reflect the assumed profile of the average NY Times reader. Pure speculation, of course.


dk 11:23 AM  

I strongly suggest that RAELIANS wear togas and further avow that the little green men who live in my cookie jar will not take semi-nudes in b-floss.

I knew the quote, have determined that ALI is our best puzzle friend for this month, found an old HIFI in the attic as we remodel and no amount of disguise will help as I know OTOE - thus smooth sailing for me.

BEAR STEARNS will evolve into one of the dated clues when our kids talk about the relevance of x-words to whatever era they are.

I have heard of and worn stick pins (save your wise cracks and save your teeth) and tie tacks but never TIEPINS.

I never heard of the ALTHEA guy but got it in the crosses. RINSES and WATER have me thinking of South Pacific but we covered all that a few months ago.

@two ponies are there plays about aliens laying down with animals, inquiring minds want to know.

Odd little puzzle but the sum of the parts seem to be greater than the whole.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Sin and failure both imply that there are consequences for screwing up.


Chip Hilton 11:50 AM  

Thirty minute Thursday! As I don't rank in the top 55,000, that pleases me.

Got lucky with RAELIAN. As a Yankee fan, I had tried hard to strike the name IRABU from my memory, but, the toad resurfaced.

My problem was spelling his last name WOLFE for one-across. This led to the establishment of a very obscure group of Palestinians.

Think I'll go convert some of what's left to TNOTEs.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

ray kroc was not the founder of mcdonald's, even though he's usually referred to as such. he was a serial entrepreneur who, for a time, sold machines that made milkshakes. he got an order for several from the mcdonald brothers in southern california and thought, 'whoa, these guys must be selling a ton of milkshakes.' so he went out to investigate and was so impressed that he bought the business in the early 1960s.

while we're at it, howard schultz is not the founder of starbucks--he led an investor group that bought the business from the founders when it was very small. nor was tom watson the founder of ibm--he was brought in as ceo after an investor bought and merged three companies to form what was originally called the computing-tabulating-recording company.

don't get me started.

Shamik 11:54 AM  

Blyecch. Blyecch. Blyecch. Thorough and total disaster for me today.

1. Had to ask husband about Hideki. But, we got the SW correct.

2. NW corner completely went to h*ll!!! Blanked on Kurosawa's first name, which I should have known. Thought the movie in 1-D took place in Korea. Natick with the river and the author. Blyecch!

Mis-starts and mis-finishes:

RATFF for WOLFF (don't ask)

Blyecch. But happy in San Diego despite the fog.

jae 11:55 AM  

I'm also not fond of quote puzzles but this one was fairly easy to figure out. Two Japanese names crossing somewhat obscure stuff (OKA, RAELIANS, ANGE) made it tough given my shaky spelling skills. I frequently find my self knowing the answer (e.g. IRABU) but am not quite sure of the spelling (IRUBU? IROBU?...).

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Althea wasn't a guy, but a gal.

Anyone else want the variation Come on in?

Funny, I was just complaining about quote puzzles in our local paper this weekend, and we weren't sure if/when/how often the NYT resorts to them (not sure I care that much, so don't kill yourselves with the research) Or was it a riddle? Riddle puzzles are way worse and one of the puzzle books by my bed has far far too many of them.

evil doug 12:07 PM  

@jane doh: For me, religion owes its success to love.

I think the demise of Bear Stearns is far too recent to be employed by the thoughtless constructor. All those poor moguls, losing their multi-million dollar bonuses and annual Hamptons mansion purchases....


Anonymous 12:27 PM  

I didn't know WOLFF, hesitated on WAIL (do saxes have another sound?), gave up on SHAD, blanked on AKIRA, and so on. Certainly starting off with a quotation theme was going to be an impossible first entry.

Then I found the NE downs with gimmes HINDU,AFTER,DIODE, got SHAD and HIFI, but then blocked with INTO instead of ONTO.

So I solved this bottom up. I was surprised to find the last 5 acrosses were gimmes or one cross short of a gimme. I soon had the partial quote ISLIKERELIGION and WITH-UTSIN, where the blank crossed the Chinese dynasty LIA-. Oh man, all I could think of was N for that missing letter. I had to get the first WITHOUT.

As for whether BEAR STEARNS will be remembered or not (at least for Thursdays-Saturdays), I suspect yes. Bush, Obama, and the Great Depression II is going to have Important History written all over it. Contrast the Bear Stearns epic FAILURE with Kidder Peabody's own blowup in the early 90s. Don't remember them? That was merely news, the last of the Reagan greed-is-goodfellas getting whacked. (Although I should warn that Wikipedia leaves out any mention of the significant role CDOs played in KP's demise, making it seem like it was just Enron style criminality. CDOs, by the way, are the same financial instruments behind the current subprime mortgage meltdown and BS's death.)

I in fact knew RAELIAN, but had to work to dredge the name from memory. Rex shares his musical distractions that pop up as he solves the puzzle. I never have them, knowing essentially no music. (I did get distracted last Saturday as numerous A E Housman poems involuntarily tried to take over my brain, especially one virulent paeonic tetrameter.)

This time, I was distracted in an entirely different manner. I sometimes get copies of UFO Magazine for the deep gaga entertainment value, and the RAELIANS get coverage there. I also follow the evolution/creationism school wars, so a few years back when the Kansas school board went for an "equal time" approach to "alternatives" to evolution, out came the RAELIANS wanting to join the party. UFO Magazine had an editorial thanking Kansas for this big opportunity. I certainly enjoyed that bit of woohoohoo. But nothing prepared me for the reader's letter that showed up in criticism. Mister Anonymous was outraged that the magazine was beshmirching the UFO community by standing with pseudoscientific claptrap. He then shared his UFO credentials, how he was a former Man In Black, seeing inexplicable things that We Are Not Ready For, complete with Air Force control Captain James Kirk and ending with a refreshing mind-cleansing stay at a mental institute. But he's better now. (Although he still doesn't know if Captain James Kirk was a pseudonym or the real McCoy [sorry].)

Anyway, this, and many other jawdropping stories from that magazine were all rushing for attention, as I sweated out trying to recall RAELIAN. I certainly had fun, if not a great time.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

re Akira/Oka:
K is my go-to letter on any Japanese-sounding clue. Only it doesn't strike me as a very Russian letter, so I hesitated on Oka being a Volga feeder.

imsdave1 12:41 PM  

I thought the puzzle was extremely well done and was impressed by the timeliness of it. The quote is stunning in it's understanding of the current situation and it's accuracy.

Capitalism relies on understanding what makes worth for people and religion relies on what makes worth for the souls of people.

@evil doug - I have no love lost for the greedy bastards at Bear Stearns either, but realize that most of the people losing their jobs in that fiasco are average Joes who were in no way complicit in that incredible stupidity.

Challenging level for me, but probably because I am still printerless and not proficient with Across Lite as a solving medium. Knew the baseballer, so I was not Naticked.

To the foodies on the blog, my shad recipe:

Nail shad to cedar plank.
Bake for 1 hour.
Discard shad and nails.
Eat plank.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

@imsdave - Is that white cedar or red cedar?

mac 12:57 PM  

A real Medium for me today. The Raelian/Irabu cross was a complete guess, even though I'm a New Yorker I only know and like Matsui.
I don't think Come onto is a natural, wanted the much friendlier Come to me....

I sometimes like quotes, when they are wise, or especially when they are funny, but this one was neither to me, and the subject is depressing and all around us all the time as it is. The fill was pretty good, otherwise, with a few hickups like shoals, Wolf(e)f, and some fun stuff like 40A both, 7D Ali.

Did someone mention Outliers yesterday, and if so, what about them? Saw an interview this morning with Malcolm Gladwell.

George NYC 1:01 PM  

The CW is sometimes used as shorthand for Conventional Wisdom, a popular phrase among political pundits and other windbags, and the source of the Newsweek feature Conventional Wisdom Watch which awards up and down arrows to people and things in the news and happens to be edited by a certain fan of this blog. Agree with Rex that the original clue was much better...

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

I had problems with only a few areas of the puzzle...specifically the NE, the SW, the NW, the north, the west, and the center.

I remembered the nutso religious group had tried to clone themselves, but couldn't remember the name.

I liked having the WAIL on top of the ALTO. And didn't they demolish one of the baseball stadiums in NYC this year? That clue threw me off for a while.

mac 1:05 PM  

@imsdave: next time, take the roe out first, it's a delicacy. I have it twice a year (it's in season only a couple of weeks) but I've never even tasted the rest of the fish.

Rex Parker 1:10 PM  

Woohoo! NATICK is now a verb. It's in print, it must be true: "I've been NATICKED!" I like it. Thanks, imsdave.


Anonymous 1:13 PM  

relieved to see even YOU didn't know that baseball clue bec I had to leave the R blank in IRABU/RAELIANS, couldn't decide between N and R.
Before I came here this morning, was making a silent bet that half the folks would be calling Natick and the other half would be explaining why everyone knows him!

Actually watched TWO shows on the CW last night: The finale of "America's Next Top Model" (but I had missed the 10 shows that led up to it, so could only wonder who they must have eliminated to end up with 3 very unmodelesque gals at the end...
AND some Fashionista show which again made me feel like an old(er) woman who has no clue, and they weren't even discussing sports OR cartoons!

Belated bday wishes!

Off to LA. Pal Amy Aquino on CSI tonight.
No blinking!

Doc John 1:29 PM  

A solid puzzle except for the SW. I'm also in the Natick camp and totally agree with what Anonymous Miguel pointed out earlier about IRABU being pretty much of an unknown. Does this make any baseball player fair game now? My SW was not helped by the fact that I had "surer" instead of SANER. ANGE was new to me, too. At least I knew all the movie clues!

@ Rex: "tie bar" was another alternative and not as iffy as "tie tac".

Finally, I went to Heaven's Gate's estate sale! No, really, I did. My partner at the time was into antiques and estate sales and one Sunday we went to one at this nice house in a mountain community just north of SD. There was a lot of really nice stuff that was up for sale, too. The house occupants had a lot of computer equipment and all wore beatific smiles and long, gauzy shirts. We knew they just had to be some sort of cult or something. When I asked them why they were selling their stuff the answer was that they didn't need it any more. A friend actually bought a chest of drawers from them (but of course in hindsight has no proof it was theirs). They must have moved out of the house we were at and into the one that they ended their lives at. When we heard about what had happened on the news and they showed photos of the people, we recognized several, including the wild-eyed Marshall What's-his-name. What a shame, they really seemed like nice, intelligent people.

fiddleneck 1:41 PM  

Just a question, Rex. Why do you spell all right alright? Or is it all right now? A part of your popular culture knowledge? A cause?

Anonymous 1:47 PM  


Both NYC stadiums hosted their final games this past year - sadly regular season games. Venerable (1923) Yankee Stadium, and considerably less historic (1964) Shea Stadium.

As of now, there are no plans to have a corporate name on the new Yankee Stadium, and Citi Field is currently the name of the Mets new home (although who knows if that company makes it to Opening Day).

Both new parks will be ready for next year, but there has been no demolition as of yet, outside of moving the monuments of Yankee greats across the way.


Orange 1:49 PM  

@Doc John: That's a great story! I mean, except for the mass suicide part. The ante-mortem estate sale is a fresh touch.

IRABU, RAELIAN, and AKIRA were all gimmes for me. What's wrong with you people? :-)

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Quote puzzles? I thought I liked ‘em but don’t quote me on that [groan]. I wanted to cry Natick on a 50’s athlete (well a tennis player at least (ZING!)) crossing an obscure quote twice but the rest of the crosses sort of diminished that a bit. Still - Althea F’n Gibson? Wha??
Capitalism and religion – phew! Both seem like diseases to me. A small group enriches at the expense of the many. Frequently, if not always, preaching one tenet and living by another. Whited Sepulcher! Thanks but no thanks. [Wow is that saying ruined]

Anonymous 2:07 PM  

For the record, I am a part of the small demographic which reads this column, does the NYTimes crossword, and watches cw. We do exist, though likely small in numbers.

Orange 2:27 PM  

@Rafa: ALTHEA Gibson paved the way for the Williams sisters—she was the first African-American woman to win a tennis Grand Slam title, in '56. She won five Grand Slam singles titles and six doubles titles. When she began playing tennis, mind you, the sport was segregated. It was Gibson who first broke the color barrier, so they call her "the Jackie Robinson of tennis." She overcame a lot of barriers to earn her place as crossword fill.

chefbea 2:28 PM  

I was Naticked at irabu/raelian also.

@anonymous 11:53. Tom Watson was a great man. I helped his wife Olive for a while after he passed away. The new part of the Hospital in Greewich is The Watson Pavillion - They left the money to build it.

@IMSDave lol at your recipe. I agree with Mac - shad roe is the best, and the fish itself is pretty good also.

imsdave1 2:33 PM  

@mac - I told that old chestnut too quickly, and definitely should've mentioned the delicious roe versus the bony fish - actually delicious too, if you don't have to do the boning).

@andrea - thanks for noticing my birthday - got two great cards, one about congratulating me on something they couldn't remember (took me a minute to calculate my age, so I appreciated it), and the other from my wife with Frank on the cover and a great 30 seconds of 'The Best is Yet to Come' when I opened it.

@Rex - I guess this makes me one of your least favorite noun types - a coiner.

MarkTrevorSmith 3:13 PM  

“Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.” –Blake.
Whether you view religion disdainfully or respectfully, religion depends on sin, which might be condemned or might be forgiven. Without sin, religion’s self-righteousness (or, alternatively, its humility) is meaningless. By analogy, if capitalism is not allowed to have failures, then it is no longer capitalism. The spirit of the entrepreneur is the spirit of the gambler, who sometimes (usually) loses. If failure is not allowed, capitalism is meaningless. The current bail-outs deny the worth of capitalism and perhaps destroy its very existence. Here endeth today’s lesson.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

@Evil Doug: You're right! What was I thinking? I need to get right to it and speak out against cluing Bear Stearns in the puzzle! Its exactly the same as naming a pregnant woman brutally murdered by her husband! Hey, wasn't funeral in the puzzle too?

Seriously, your comment was funny- I did get a laugh out of it. But I'm not touching any of the comments about religion with a ten foot pole.


Anonymous 3:46 PM  

I wanted to cry Natick on a 50’s athlete (well a tennis player at least (ZING!)) crossing an obscure quote twice but the rest of the crosses sort of diminished that a bit.

Others have pointed out that ALTHEA Gibson is not obscure. Heck, we had Sebastian COE (track) this Tuesday.

All the quotations in a quotation crossword are obscure. That's the point! But in this case, we were told the source was an economist, so you had a leg up. And second, the quotations are supposed to sort of fill themselves out. In contrast, when the holotypical -ATICK crossed random initial -CWYETH, or today's I-ABU crossed -AELIAN, there's just no way you can guess, or even limit the reasonable choices. But come on, filling in ISLIKERE-IGION WIT-OUTSIN? A no-brainer.

Besides, ALTHEA shows up every so often anyway. I don't think NATICK will reappear for a very very long time. Not that there's a reader left here who thinks it's obscure.

emrad 3:53 PM  

Rex, I am a NYTimes crossword junkie and Gossip Girl addict, and yes, am also a teenager.

Anonymous 3:56 PM  

Shad is one of the tastiest fish on the planet. Its bad rep is due to the fact that it has many tiny barbed bones. There are a very few people in the country who are able to remove two filets from a shad without those bones, but it's a very specialized (and disappearing) craft. I just do as the Europeans and Chinese do: eat it slowly and carefully.

The other caveat is that it must be very fresh or a shad's unique sweetness disappears. But for the short time they run in the spring (shad is called "May fish" in German) they're worth searching out, even without the roe.

dk 4:05 PM  

@doc John, I was a forensic psychologist at the time of Heaven's Gate working for the Courts in San Berdo County. We were called to investigate (insert heavy sigh about here).

SethG 5:28 PM  

And we've seen Naticky before. I'm sure we'll see it used adverbally soon, the real challenge will be to use it as a conjunction.

Sorta remembered Raelian, though the word I was trying to remember for the longest time was "Scientologist". But baseball's not my sport (Althea and Lombardi were gimmes), and I still had trouble with the ANGE cross. I'm not sure how to make it any more clear to you constructors: I do not speak French.

Surprised not to see more talk about LYRA/TOR... I'm pretty sure I've never seen "prominence" used that way, and my memory for random constellations maxes out at less than a week.


mac 6:24 PM  

@SethG (you got capitals, too?), maybe you were thinking of promontory?

@william e emba: You are right, I filled out large parts of the quote with very few crosses, a great help for a change.

Anonymous 7:11 PM  

Yes, the Raƫlians had been in the news at least twice -- once for cloning, once for a symbol that shockingly blended the Star of David and the swastika (granted that the latter was benign pre-1900). 7D:ALI could also be clued via boxer Laila (or the first Imam of Shiism). The Gauguin quote doesn't strike me as any more compelling than the featured Meltzer one -- Rex's description "catchy, succinct, bumper-stickeresque, but faulty" seems at least as apt here. As for the shelf life of B.S., given that any number of random sports and pop-music names continue to haunt the grid long past their expiration date I don't see why Bear Stearns can't be similarly long-lived...

Re "alright", I was going to write that it's one of those errors like "an apron" (originally "a napron") that becomes OK through long (mis)use -- or a long dalliance with Norma Loquendi (Scribendi?), as Safire might put it -- but the entry and usage note in indicates that "alright" is even more respectable than that, at least as far as lineage goes (120+ years since first recorded use).


fikink 7:47 PM  

@speaking of "OK through long (mis)use," I was disturbed when I heard Obama, twice in as many days, use "enormity" as a synonym for hugeness - and Hobbyist even commented that it was clued correctly as "monstrousness" on Sunday's puzzle (I hope you are out there, hobbyist) - but that, too, has become acceptable through usage, much like "oversight."
NDE, if Gauguin's own words don't give you pause, perhaps you would appreciate the way the post-impressionists were explained to me: "They regard nature as an armature on which to hang color."
Hopelessly romantic,

edith b 7:52 PM  

To all the people who corrected me and the sweet anonymouse who didn't-

I guess the only two things I got right were that both the pitchers were Japanese and one was a bust.

I was a part-time Yankee fan until I moved to South Jersey (post World Series) and I was off by ten years. I'll be more careful in future Comments.

Orange 8:29 PM  

Noam, I suspect that Rex is doing what I've been doing ever since a commenter here got all riled up about "alright" and railed against it with great vehemence—using the word when it feels right for a particular blog post and daring a strict prescriptivist to pounce on it. If I were alive in 1895, I'd probably complain about "alright" too, but it's 2008 and I'm alright with it as a single word with one L.

fergus 8:46 PM  

As someone steeped in lots of economic theory, I don't like the analogy.
Another thing that bugs me was the orthodoxy (that's been crumbling for a while) that capitalism automatically produces the best and most efficient possible allocation of resources. One major application of Nash Equilibrium that didn't get much mention "A Beautiful Mind" was that this was not necessarily so. All sorts of outcomes other than the best could obtain in a competitive balance. I explained this to a twelve year-old yesterday, so it's not that tough to realize that capitalism's defenses have been overplayed.

foodie 9:13 PM  

@william e emba, your first post of the day really cracked me up. I loved the dude with the "refreshing mind-cleansing stay at a mental institute." Here's the thing... people can be incredibly nuts but will not stand someone else's nuttiness. Craziness is very specific, and most of the time, it's not a team sport.

Of course, the Heaven's Gate story might suggest the opposite. But I really don't think it's psychosis in their case...not the same thing. And Doc John, I love the story of divesting oneself of worldly goods if you're planning your trip to heaven. Very rational!

I keep thinking about writing an article about belief and the brain (why we believe, how it emerges from the brain/mind and how in turn it affects the brain/mind). And I don't only mean religious belief. My husband tells me I'm going to get myself in trouble. But discussions of Raelians, Heaven's Gate, and UFO experts rekindle my urge to do it...

foodie 9:37 PM  
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foodie 9:45 PM  

@fergus, I know next to nothing about economics. But sometimes, thinking about capitalism reminds me of evolutionary biology. If that is a reasonable association, then I wonder if it's worth looking at ideas from that field in thinking about times of transition in economies, including some of Stephen Jay Gould's ideas about punctutated equilibrium.

I particularly like the idea of "spandrels". I think this is a term Gould borrowed from architecture that denotes the sort of triangular space that sits between two arches (e.g. in a church). The term is used in evolutionary biology to mean a feature that has no adaptive value in itself but emerged during the course of evolution as a by-product of another feature. So, I wonder if there might be spandrels that emerge in the context of capitalism-- some features economists might focus on and think are critical, but they might not be the essential ones that have the adaptive value... I hope I'm explaining myself clearly. Is it crazy to think that way?

Doc John 9:49 PM  

@ foodie: there was a great article about belief in Newsweek a couple weeks ago.
Here's the link:

@ dk: that had to have been interesting, to say the least.

Unknown 9:53 PM  

I think my trash can is back!

mac 10:11 PM  

It was weird to see the clip of Rita Coolidge and Kris Kristoffersen and have a Dutch line of text running down the bottom. This was apparently taped just a few days before they got married.

Anonymous 10:13 PM  

@fikink -- not sure whether you're arguing for or against the Gauguin quote. To me it comes off as a modernistic [there's that Crimson Tide anagram again] slogan, equating artistic worth with self-conscious innovation. Iterated over much of the 20th century, this gradually prodded the avant-guard (Frenchophobes: read "advance guard") to charge so far ahead of where most of the troops wanted to go that the supply lines connecting the avant-guard with the artistic tradition became stretched unsustainably thin and then severed altogether. The former advance guard thus became a rogue army, attacking anything and everything without plan or gain, floundering and splitting into countless roving bands that spread out in as many directions, and finally spending itself out. Or at least that's what happened in art music, and I gather that other arts were not immune either :-(

What does this have have to do with the crossword? Not much, I'm afraid... or rather, I hope.


fergus 10:35 PM  


Your intuition is very much on the mark. As economic theory, of necessity, has been splintering away from the notion of rational consumers and efficient markets, alternatives based on biological mechanisms have been making inroads, even in staunch neoclassical bastions. I won't elaborate, but two well known economists, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stieglitz, can give a lot of insight without being overly doctrinaire. John Cassidy writes very well on the topic in the New Yorker, and elsewhere.

fikink 10:50 PM  

@NED, well, actually I wasn't arguing at all, I was just musing on how "revolutionary" the post-impressionists were and why Gauguin might give voice to such a sentiment. Cezanne, after all, painted in pixels long before we employed them - all this when the swastika, an ancient motif, was without stigma.
The revolution was in their optical sense of the physical world which I find quite remarkable.
And the connection to crossword puzzles has much to do with our individual, idiosyncratic response to clues, be they historical fact or contemporary fad.

hazel 10:57 PM  
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hazel 11:00 PM  

@foodie: your comments reminded me of this william faulkner quote. I can't remember which novel its from, but its stuck with me a long long time.

"Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders."

Anonymous 3:12 AM  

I do wish you a happy birthday but can't take credit for remembering as it was Rex who posted it for all to see on his blog that day (you must have been out partying!)

French lesson 101:
French ANGE + L = ANGEL
Et voila! English!

Shanti11 6:13 PM  

It's doubtful that anyone will read this because I'm a day late, but here goes anyway: I think that 19A "Come ___" is supposed to be parsed as ON TO, as in, "Did that guy just come on to you?"

Now, I'd better get started on Friday's puzzle before it's Saturday.

Anonymous 5:48 PM  

From the Syndicate -

First of all, Merry Christmas to one and all. Ho, Ho, Ho and all that.

Now for a more serious subject. The Raelians, unfortunately were a gimme for me as they are reputed in Canada to be much more dangerous than your average nutbars - in addition to their cloning claims and extraterritorial nonsense, they have reportly hung around schoolyards in Quebec apparently trying to brainwash students into accepting their belief systems. A major inducement has been their promotion of free love - needless to say, an attraction to certain teens but a great concern to parents and others. For me, their inclusion in the NYT crossword is sorta akin to the Laci Peterson faux pas yesterday.

And now the death of the fabulous Eartha Kitt has just been reported - remember her rendition of Santa Baby and her role as the original Catwoman on the megacamp original Batman TV series.

Anonymous 9:22 PM  

All I can say is I LOVE GOOGLE!!! Without it, I'd have been royally you-know-what. It enabled me to get Irabu, Akira, Althea and confirm Raelian (I was missing the first "a"). Did manage Fatah without any real trouble, unlike most posters ahead of me. What I really had trouble with (my final blank to fill) was the "n" of ange & saner. WTF is "More there?" to mean saner? And, even as a Canadian with a slight knowledge of French, ange defeated me for an ETERNITY! LOL



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