MONDAY, Dec. 15, 2008 - Susan Gelfand (Essayist Charles's favorite entree? / Hollywood's Dennis or Randy / QB's cry after a string of numbers)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: food names - last names of famous people used as first word in familiar food names

Kwik Monday write-up. I'm full of French Onion soup and chocolate coconut cookies and coffee, so I'm feeling very satisfied and mildly sleepy. Thankfully, the puzzle was a complete breeze, as Mondays generally are. This puzzle has a few little lumps - like plural as well as singular theme answers. I guess the fact that the plurals are symmetrical helps a bit. Also, I thought the puzzle was going to be famous people desserts ... but then no. Kind of a let down not to have more consistency. The theme seems very shallow, very loose. The fill in the N and NW is kind of painful. APER + TERI + LAIC = ugh; not too fond of plural UVEAS; and ELUL!? I would have gone for EDUC or ... just rewritten it. ELUL is bygone crosswordese. Not really Monday appropriate. But most of the rest of the fill is quite solid, actually, and I sort of like QUENCH/QUAID (41A: Hollywood's Dennis or Randy), DOODAD, and SEANCE (46A: Activity in a darkened room - one letter away from being an anagram of one of its crosses, CEASES).

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Poet Ezra's favorite desserts? (Pound cakes)
  • 4D: Writer Anne's favorite dessert? (Rice pudding)
  • 27D: Writer Jack's favorite entree? (London broil)
  • 62A: Essayist Charles's favorite entree? (Lamb shanks)

I have some issues about two sports calls referenced in this puzzle. The first is "yer out" (44A: Officials who cry "Yer out!"). It was my understanding that umps are taught to cry "He's out." I went searching for where I might have gotten that info from, and ended up at an SI article that confirms what I thought. This is not to say that some umpires don't, or haven't, cried "yer out," but this article makes it sound substandard. Further, do real QBs cry "hike?" Isn't that too obvious a tip to the defense? (11D: QB's cry after a string of numbers)

The Rundown:

  • 23A: It transcends sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch (ESP) - it also DOESN'T EXIST. Need an "in theory" here. Although ... last night at dinner I was playing Hangman with my daughter and I wrote out 9 blank spaces and had not yet finished drawing the gallows when she said, "I'm going to guess CHOCOLATE" ... and she was right. It was spooooky. We had purchased chocolate earlier in the evening, but still, we had done Lots of stuff that day. Then on the very next word she stared at KNI-E in utter bewilderment as to what it might be. Not even a guess. My wife and I were encouraging her to think, to look at the word, etc., all the while gesturing with our knives.
  • 42A: Magician Henning (Doug) - ouch. So many other, more likable DOUGs. I prefer E. FRESH, but there are many less obscure than that.

  • 52A: Attempt at getting a tan (sunbath) - SUNBATHE is a verb I know. SUNBATH seems a little odder.
  • 2D: War's opposite (peace) - Pinko hippie peacenik puzzle also contains DOVE (21D: Antiwar advocate). This is what it sounds like when DOVEs cry:

  • 33D: Exercise with crossed legs (yoga) - I take yoga from a fabulous instructor and our legs are "crossed" for only a small portion of the practice. This is kind of an ignorant / cliche clue. You don't spend the whole time in lotus position saying "Om." Why not name styles or something? Hatha and Bikram are certainly popular enough. Or you could talk about country of origin? The fact that it's done on mats? Etc.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Orange 10:54 PM  

YOGA's in another puzzle clued as [Eastern discipline]. Yoi are on the East Coast, so that works.

Orange 10:54 PM  

(You, not yoi. Sigh.)

Doug 1:19 AM  

Ah, I so like it when Canadians named Doug are in the puzzle. He was a great magician and did a lot to revive public interest in magic by making it cool.

"My daddy's putting me in rehab, I said 'NO,NO, no.'" At least not just before the holidays. Speaking of holidays, I think LAMB SHANKS will make it to the table before Jan. 1. They're great to eat and are really cheap compared to other cuts. I've tried to interest the kids in RICE PUDDING, but they just won't go for it. And they were born in China for crying out loud.

Anonymous 2:07 AM  

I liked this puzzle.
I liked that they were ALL writers, not just famous me it seemed tight.
(Susan could have made them all singular but she didn't seem to need to. As Rex pointed out, the plurals were parallel).

Also nice QZX and SNUG/SMUG

There is a timely English Christmas-y feel to it that I liked:

NOEL, RICEPUDDING, LAMBSHANKS, Charles LAMB, POUND (okay, Ezra is American, but the pound is English!), GENT, PSHAW and tangentially WASP and LIME(y)

JoefromMtVernon 5:27 AM  

I thought, as Rex, that if the gimmick was all desserts or all entres, it would have been better.

I had to go back to see if I put in ESP and Doug; did drowsy, then wool, snug and yoga, so never saw Doug or nono. Did the same in the NE corner.

Tripped over elul, but again, got it on the crosses.

Shouldn't there be an 'e' after sunbath? An attempt to get a tan is sunbathe, no?


JoefromMtVernon 5:29 AM  

Just went back; Rex addressed the sunbath issue...sorry...

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

@rex: I think it's interesting you wrote your review of rice pudding, pound cakes, lamb shanks and London broil while full on French onion soup and chocolate coconut cookies.

I thought the theme fun and fresh for a Monday. Lots of interesting letters in the grid. 2 each W's, V's, K's, Y's, 8 U's plus an X, Q and a Z.

Loved SNUG and WOOL cozily side-by-side.

Also liked SEANCE and ESP in the same puzzle. And @rex, I disagree with you that ESP doesn't exist. I have experienced it firsthand as I'm sure as have many others.

We had WADE yesterday and DOUG today. I wonder who will show up tomorrow?

Nice job, Susan!

Jeffrey 8:24 AM  

Very quick solve today. Looking back, I can't recall when I've had so many clues I never needed to look at.

I have no problem with YER OUT or HIKE; I think you are stretching to find nits today.

I'll now step aside so the foodies can have their day.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

Re: SUNBATH. Think nouns, not verbs.

JannieB 8:47 AM  

If you consider "attempt" is being used as a noun here, then sunbath is perfectly fine. If used as a verb, then you'd want sunbathe.

I agree with the positive comments - this theme was fun, although I had very low expectations when 1A was "aper". It picked up quickly after that.

Hydromann 8:58 AM  

Actually, most quarterbacks say "hut" rather than "hike," but in either case, saying something like that dows not "give it away." The reason? After saying all the coded numbers/colors, they say a series of "huts" (or "hikes"). The question then, for a pass rusher, is, on which "hut" (or "hike") the ball will be "hiked" (or "hutted").

Unknown 9:12 AM  

HIKE is an interesting word. My mom was always telling my brother to HIKE up his pants, which made me laugh since I was then a little league QB. Learning to sail, I came to know HIKE as one of the most fun things you can do on a fast moving sailboat. Know what I mean? In Iraq you can apparently HIKE your shoes.

treedweller 9:45 AM  

I saw that "an attempt" called for a noun, but still held off on SUNBATH till I had it almost completely filled in, because SUNBATH is not a word. No need for someone to go find a citation somewhere--I still won't believe it is a word.

But this was a nice, breezy puzzle and I had no problem getting all the crosses, so I'm not complaining.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

@treedweller--Just because you don't use it, it's not a word? If the dictionary has it, it's not a word? I Googled it (in spite of your advice not to) and not only got a dictionary definition, but some really (and I mean really) lovely images! (Yes, I had Safe Search on.)

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

Hey hey hey...Doug Henning may be outdated, ridiculous, and perhaps he cashed in on the 70s thing about 10 years too late, but he is certainly likeable. In fact, that may be the only thing he has going for him.

treedweller 10:40 AM  

@steve l
In my world, yes, it's not a word. I grant you I'm wrong, but I'm sticking to my guns.

PuzzleGirl 10:45 AM  

Yesterday my daughter got all snippy and I handled it wrong by getting snippy back at her. The rest of the day was awful. So I'm not going to do that today. Instead, I'll just say to treedweller, I found your comment amusing, which is, I'm sure, what you intended.

treedweller 10:52 AM  

yes. I hope I never get so caught up in these things that I genuinely get snippy about them. Glad you enjoyed it. 3 and out.

Shamik 11:02 AM  

Food and words. I'm in heaven. But I do not like magic shows.

Lovely puzzle.


My AMPEREs from the motor home's solar panels are low...even here in Arizona. Have the LAIC, the UMPS and anyone named HAYES pray for enough battery to solve puzzles again tomorrow.

jeff in chicago 11:10 AM  

I agree with Andrea that the fact that all four are writers makes up for the singular/plura thing. But then I have an even smaller nit to pick. We have 2 "writers," a "poet" and an "essayist." Make one of the "writers" and "author" and we don't have any duplication in the clues. (Jeez...I'm really trying hard to be a jerk, aren't I?)

Thanks, Rex, for saying loudly, clearly and in all caps that ESP DOESN'T EXIST. I appplaud anyone who takes a firm anti-woo stance. Trivial issue? Ask DOUG Henning, who became so dedicated to Transcendental Meditation (he claimed he could levitate!) that he abandoned modern medical treatments for his liver cancer and died, probably too early, of the disease.

[/rant off]

Orange 11:21 AM  

ESP doesn't exist.

Doug Henning is no Gallagher.

3 and out.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

@Orange @Jeff in Chicago: just because you say it doesn't mean it's true.

And I'm definitely not saying this in a snippy way, promise.

Rex Parker 11:37 AM  

I guess I should be clear about ESP - it's not that I think the only things that are real are things you can measure in a lab. The senses are very limited, so clearly there are things that exist that the senses can't get at. There is mystery and wonder in the world and that is not a bad thing. And yet, ESP ... meh. Seems like a con. A cheap parlor trick. A scifi concoction.


Anonymous 11:40 AM  

@Rex - I knew you were going to say that

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Rex: I found the combination of singular and plural on the theme answers quite jarring, and I would argue that only Pound CakeS was truly plural. The entree is lamb shanks by definition, I believe. I don't think a single shank would make a meal, and I've always seen it on menus in the plural form.

jeff in chicago 11:46 AM  

@joho: Indeed, it is not true just because we say so. It is true because over large spans of time there has been tons of real science dedicated to the subject and not a shred of evidence has ever been found. Additionally, over all the time that ESP has been expounded, if it did exist, it would be clearly evident with a true practitioner clearly visible and not relegated to some cheap walk-up storefront decorated with candles and crystals.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

I'm still confusing ELUL and ELAL. Any mnemonics out there?

And I had GEEGAW for DOODAD. Gee, I like both of those words.

SethG 12:13 PM  

Chill for a minute, Doug E. Fresh said silence. And Myron said Yoi! Go Steelers!

Especially in light of today's theme, "Have a gander" should have been related to cooking. And, speaking of light, I prefer sun showers because they help me bend spoons.

Greene 12:27 PM  

OK, OK, let's all take it easy on my old pal DOUG Henning. Say what you like about his spiritual beliefs, but he was a pretty amazing illusionist. He appeared in at least 2 Broadway shows that were built around his gifts.

I missed "The Magic Show" even though it ran for 4 and a half years in the mid 1970s. I have no recollection of why I didn't attend. I did catch his second musical show "Merlin" back in 1983. This thing was a shambles as a story show, but was chock full of interesting visuals and what I thought were pretty awesome illusions. I fondly remember DOUG riding a horse into a large box at center stage. The whole apparatus was hoisted into midair and then burst open to reveal -- nothing! He appeared seconds later at stage right riding what I assume was the same horse. It was highly entertaining in those pre-David Copperfield days.

I have no recollection of the rest of the cast although my program indicates the show featured Chita Rivera, Nathan Lane, and (get this) Christian Slater! What, was he like 12 years old?

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

@Jeff in Chicago @rex ... I agree with you totally about seances and gypsy readings --I actually learned a lot about Tarot and the cons than go on in that arena when developing a talking Tarot reading game -- so perhaps your definition of ESP is different from mine in that I don't include any of that bunk. I am talking about, for instance, when a person calls another on the phone from NYC to Chicago and the person on the other end knows who it is before picking up. I mean absolutely knows. Anyway, I don't want to belabor this. We all have our own beliefs, that's what makes the world so interesting.

3 and out.

Doc John 12:31 PM  

Nice, easy Monday. My first sub 6 minute time! I was using Across Lite and did almost the whole thing with the acrosses so maybe that's a reason for my fast time. I have a feeling it would have taken me longer on paper, if only due to looking back and forth at the clues.

Gee, most everyone sure is SMUG about the non-existence of ESP. True, most of what you hear is utter crap but there's a lot about the brain that we don't know so don't be so quick to write things like this off.

BTW, we have way more than five senses. Touch alone is many different modalities- pain, hot, cold, pinprick, pressure. Not to mention joint position sense, aka proprioception. For example, if you close your eyes, you can still tell if your knee is bent or straight and even how bent it is.
OK, biology lesson over. ;)

Finally, insert random phobia here. I do like ACROphobia, though!

DJG 12:34 PM  

Sunbath seems cromulent to me.

I used to play Scrabble against a friend of mine who would always gripe anytime an semi-obscure word was played against him. It would lead to a five minute debate about whether the word was valid or not. I tried to explain to him that a word is valid if and only if it is on the official Scrabble word list (I thought the use of "if and only if" would convince him, being a math guy), but he never seemed to accept it. In effect, he invented a variant game: Scrabble Using Only Words Tim Has Heard Of. It wasn't that much fun to play, truth be told.

ArtLvr 12:51 PM  

@ KAREN -- ELAL has the A and is an Airline...

re ESP -- I've had rare occasions of seeing things that haven't happened yet, but do happen in a day or two. There's nothing to be done even so, like Cassandra, except be prepared oneself.

mac 12:57 PM  

Ok, I'll bite.
Onion soup, haven't had it in years! I'm making it the first really cold day in January, when I'm back from having lots of lentils in India.

Last night on the menu of Bistro Bonne Nuit in New Canaan I saw the singular Lamb Shank (with white beans, of course). In a cookbook it would always be called lamb shanks, too much work to do only one. I had other shanks Saturday, Osso Bucco. Those I save up in the freezer when I find them in the store, until I have eight. Only then do I cook them (Marcella Hazan!) I'm not fond of rice pudding, it too is served to sick children, but London broil is great, marinated 24 hours and then barbecued. Easy to overcook.

I think Ezra Pound used to live in my neighborhood. So did Leonard Bernstein.

All in all a good start of the week!

Pucker is back! I like tussle and doodad, not aper.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

To add to what Hydromann said, you may have heard the term "snap count" - it refers to the Hut or Hike to snap the ball on.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

I truly believe we all can tap into the unseen world if we allow ourselves to be open to it. Some are more "tuned in" than others but surely all of us have experienced coincidences or had feelings we cannot explain that later played out and amazed us. The brain is a wonderful thing. That "gut feeling" actually comes from about 18 inches higher.

fikink 1:49 PM  

ESP? "Aw, quit your joshin!"
IDLE? "Lady's man"
PUCKER? "Activity in a darkened room"
POUNDCAKES? Perfect tennis serves

I just think the clues and fill didn't track.

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Ok language mavens, I have a question. Would you say deja vu is the obverse of ESP? Or inverse? Or converse?

-------> Joe in NYC

Orange 2:11 PM  

Sneaking back in with post #4 to say:

@Karen, adding to ArtLvr's mnemonic...and ELUL is a mUnth. (Of course, this is no help when the answer is ADAR.)

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

This site must have instilled some smugness in my puzzle evaluations. The mixing of desserts and entrées would never have bothered me prior to my exposure here and yet today it leaves my solve less than transcendent. Still a fun and (as said above) breezy solution. Of course I liked all the obscure letters. Mmmmm Q. [drooling]
I do possess a strange desire to have ESP proven true. The whole oneness concept and world as an illusion would seem to offer the potential for this. And yet way too polluted with science and cynicism to give it any kind of chance. Déjà vu on the other hand I think is probably more of a mishandling of information by the brain. Sorta of like filing a thought in memory before it can get realized in the conscious – order of execution not followed in the brain data storage techniques. Haven’t we had this conversation before?

chefbea 3:30 PM  

What can I say... a yummy puzzle!!! Don't care for rice pudding. Make london broil in the summer using flank steak. Love lamb shanks. BTW you can buy them at Costco in the freezer section - 2 in a package already done. All you have to do is heat them (for those of you who don't like to cook). They really are pretty good and are cooked in a yummy mint gravy.

Going to make some onion bread now which calls for a package of liptons onion soup.

Vega 3:48 PM  

One of my fastest Mondays ever, too! Agree that only rarely and briefly are one's legs crossed during yoga. During meditation, on the other hand, they're mostly crossed.

I had a massive crush on TATUM O'Neal in the '70s. Her and Kristy McNichol in "Little Darlings," mmm. Too bad her life seems to have gone downhill since.

PlantieBea 3:58 PM  

Twas a nice and easy Monday puzzle for me. All this talk of comfort food is making me hungry. I, unlike the rest of my household, like rice pudding; Dina Shore had a good recipe. I've heard that using arborio rice gives it a nice texture.

jae 4:15 PM  

Liked the puzzle. Contemplated jumping in with links to explanations of why certain things aren't true but figured I wouldn't change treedweller's mind about SUNBATH.

The Costco LAMBSHANKS are very good for a quick meal.

TATUM O'Neal is fantastic as Dennis Leary's sister on Rescue Me which IMOO is one of the best shows on TV.

foodie 4:19 PM  

Back in NYCity where it's in the 60's! I had no ESP about that, so packed only very warm clothes.

I really liked this puzzle. Easy, breezy and about food! My mom had the best rice pudding recipe, where there was a layer of pudding and a layer of real orange juice thickened somehow. The tartness of the orange was a wonderful counterpoint to the sweetness of the pudding. I gotta find that recipe.

I agree with joho that beliefs are ideas that you cannot talk people in or out of-- almost by definition. They are a fascinating aspect of our minds, and I wish we understood more about them. Right or wrong, they are essential for humans. Interestingly, even animals develop certain beliefs, some of them strongly held superstitions, that come to run their lives. And we have just completed a study that shows that the tendency to develop these types of superstitions may be genetic.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

Mr. Webster says sunbath; an exposure to sunlight or a sunlamp.
Sunbathe, to take a sunbath. It's raining here on this rock so I won't be doing either today.


green mantis 4:51 PM  

Okay so what about dogs that know their owners are on the way home from three blocks away?

Just in my general, musing, uninformed way, I don't find it totally outside the realm of possibility that whatever brainschmastic energy involved in thinking about a person before you make a phone call to him/her might somehow, since all Stuff is connected at a certain level, make a ripple in the receiver's more concentrated field of Stuff.

Is this Extra sensory? It would be outside the traditional five, but could be a plausible faculty, if comparatively less reliable/organized/tested/material. Any quantum physicists in the house?

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

"Do you believe in infant baptism?"
"Believe in it? Hell, I seen it done!"

mac 6:13 PM  

LOL, Green Mantis!

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

don't be silly...of course there is ESP!
It's just now called Caller ID!

Re: mixing desserts and entrees...
instead of inconsistency, to me it just felt like a full meal!
(or two)

Here I am, commenting 12 hours later and I'm still sated by this puzzle.

CHeers, Susan G, whoever you are!

joho 7:59 PM  

@andrea carla michaels: hilarious joke about Caller ID ... but I was talking about years ago when there was none. And the story is actually more complicated than I will ever get into here.

Snuck in here with a 4th comment as I sounded so stupid with the phone example of ESP AKA Caller ID!!!

jeff in chicago 8:26 PM  

Out of respect for Rex's rule that posting should stay on-puzzle, I will simply recommend Michael Shermer's fascinating book "Why People Believe Weird Things." I know several people who did, indeed, change their beliefs about certain things after reading this book. [Yes, foodie, it can be done!! :-) ]

(Sorry...I can't help myself...Are you considering all the times when you did not predict who was calling? Are you considering the times that you thought you knew who was calling but it turned out to be someone else? Is this someone from whom you get calls regularly? Have you ever had this occur when getting a call from someone you did not know? The chances of someone predicting a call from someone close or regarding a known situation are actually pretty good. But it will still strike most as "odd" when it happens. I'm just saying.)

We now return you to your regular programming.

3 and OUT!!!!!

Anonymous 8:38 PM  

If ELAL is legitimate for Monday then so is 7D:ELUL -- happily the Jewish calendar doesn't change as often as a Top 40 chart, so there's no reason to dismiss a month with such a useful letter combination as “bygone crosswordese”. Ditto ADAR (which always contains Purim, and is repeated seven years of every 19), and IYAR.

I see that ArtLvr already suggested a mnemonic to tell ELUL apart from ELAL. FWIW "El Al" means "upwards" in Hebrew; if you already know Hebrew then you don't need a mnemonic here, but one of these days "It means “upwards” in Hebrew" might show up as an ELAL clue.


Michael Chibnik 10:40 PM  

I notice that the puzzle for 12/15 is No. 1215. (This is in the paper version -- I have no idea what is on electronic versions).

Anyhow, I'd like to know if this is a coincidence.

Orange 11:00 PM  

Noam, just the other day I saw a clue along the lines of [It means "skyward" in Hebrew] for ELAL. I can't remember which puzzle or which day, but I know I saw it. Either that, or I'm psychic and anticipated your comment.

Rex Parker 11:01 PM  


If this were an Israeli puzzle, then sure, ELUL is great for Monday. For an American puzzle, no. ELAL is well known to non-Jews. ELUL, not so much. They aren't even close to comparable.

Fittingly, after I finished this puzzle, I sat down to do some Simon and Schuster puzzles from the big book I've got by my bed, and I immediately came across ... ELUL.


foodie 11:27 PM  

El-AL can be associated with ALI as in Mohammed ALI, meaning "the exalted one"... both from the same word origin meaning high up.

Those months are also in the Moslem calendar, Shebat, Adar, Nisan, Elul...I only realized that some of the months were shared between the Hebrew and Arabic calendars after I started doing the NYTimes puzzle...But I agree, Rex, this is all pretty esoteric for a Monday.

@jeff in chicago, I need to check out this book, if it can change beliefs... People of course do change their beliefs for various reasons. However, (I believe : ) it's rarely because someone offers a counterargument based on another set of beliefs...But I'm always happy to investigate opposing evidence.

Anonymous 1:19 AM  

SUNBATH is in the dictionary but it's a word I have never heard used anywhere or anytime before.

ArtLvr 5:04 AM  

@ joho -- Happened to me too, once, "hearing" someone calling me, but I was on the road and it was in the days before I had a cell phone, so I went to the person's place of business and when I saw it was closed I went on to the person's home. Lingered on the porch for a while wondering what I was doing, finally rang the door bell, and the person greeted me with an astonished "I was just trying to phone you". I didn't say "I know", as I couldn't have explained it and it would have been very off-putting if the other way around...

As I said, the whole ESP thing is not usually something one would or could act upon. Most times it's been something life-threatening on the immediate horizon such as the nightmare of a nearly-fatal accident, even one of my own! In that case, it was so vivid I actually told three people about it at breakfast even knowing it was an unacceptable subject -- then it happened 24 hours later. Both of us in the head-on collision with a truck were severely injured, and I wasn't expected to survive -- but I'm fine. Did it help somehow that I'd "seen" it coming? I doubt it... I've happened to be able to save lives of a few people on other occasions since then, but maybe just because of being hyper-aware of danger, not foresight. Mostly, it makes me a bit reclusive.

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