WEDNESDAY, Dec. 3, 2008 - Michael Blake (Edgar-winning writer Larson / "Love Story" composer Francis / Cookbook writer Rombauer)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Relative difficulty: EASY (71A: "Careful now")

THEME: STOP - "S" is changed to "P" on four different theme answers, creating a FOUR WAY S TO P situation (63A: Feature of some intersections ... or a five-word hit to 17-, 23-, 40- and 50-Across)

I have written at the top of this puzzle "Easiest of MTW. At least as easy as Monday, way easier than Tuesday." I think this is maybe a little too complex for a Monday, but it would make a perfect Tuesday puzzle, I think. I expect Wednesdays to have a little more bark. Or bite. One of those. I enjoyed solving this puzzle, as I thought "Well, this is a lame theme. S goes to P ... those letters aren't even neighbors in the alphabet." Then I got to the theme-revealer. Well played, sir. Well played. I particularly like POUNDED THE ALARM (done that) and PUB COMMITTEE (a committee I might actually enjoy serving on).

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Elegance in road construction? (paving grace)
  • 23A: Desirable guy to rent from? (plum landlord)
  • 40A: Hit "snooze" with force? (pounded the alarm)
  • 50A: Council of Guinness drinkers? (pub committee)

There were a host of oddly named people in the puzzle, ranging from the very familiar (OBAMA - 8D: Winner of 2008; RICKI - 37A: Lake of TV; KRIS - 38D: _____ Kringle) to the vaguely familiar (IRMA - 68A: Cookbook writer Rombauer) to the not at all familiar (ERIK - 14A: Edgar-winning writer Larson; LAI - 66A: "Love Story" composer Francis). LAI is really obscure - I know that word only as a medieval French poem. But one thing I like about this LAI - it's an anagram of its rotationally symmetrical partner, ALI (16A: Title role about a titleholder). I love little coincidences like that. Best name of the day is DARYL (7D: Hall of fame), not because the name is so great in and of itself, but because the clue is. So badly did it mystify me that I wrote in my original commentary on this puzzle "I think you left out part of the clue in 7D - Hall of fame ... what?" I was thinking it was something about Darryl Strawberry, forgetting that a. he doesn't spell his name that way, and b. he's not in the Hall of Fame. Oh, and c. that "Fame" would be capitalized if it were being used as part of the baseball Hall of Fame. Here is the Hall in question:


  • 20A: Turban wearer, maybe (swami) - my only experience with SWAMIs comes in the form of WB cartoons, I think. I am flashing on Bugs Bunny wearing a turban ... but then he's also charming a snake ... I don't think WB cartoons were very particular about getting cultural details exactly right. Ah, no wonder this image of Bugs is so strong in my mind - it's from a classic:

  • 31A: Nosebag tidbit (oat) - adding to my list of ugliest words in the English language - "nosebag"; Sounds like an insult.
  • 51D: Heep of fiction (Uriah) - wasn't there a rock band from the 80s with this name? Yes. Yes there was. They started in the 60s and are Still Touring.
  • 44A: Blackener of Santa's suit (soot) - no tie-in to KRIS?
  • 69A: Donna Summer's "_____ Works Hard for the Money" ("She") - woo hoo! Very imaginative clue for "SHE." High School, here I come!

  • 18D: View from Abu Simbel (Nile) - most I've ever been thrown by a NILE clue
  • 27D: Org. in TV's "Nash Bridges" (SFPD) - OK, here's something odd. This answer was clued [Real-life org. in "Bullitt"]. Why does the "org." in "Bullitt" require the "real-life" modifier, when "Nash Bridges" doesn't? Please don't say it's because "Nash Bridges" is teeming with gritty realism.
  • 29D: "Jumpin' at the Woodside" composer/bandleader (Count Basie) - great clue, great answer.

  • 41D: Mailing to a record exec (demo) - "Mailing" makes my fingers instinctively want to type SASE ...
  • 59D: Trac II alternative (Atra) - I think my razor is a Gillette Mach 3 - why do razors in tv ads always look like they could fight wars in outer space?
  • 64D: 2006 Nintendo debut (Wii) - the current neighborhood obsession. We know two families with this system. Daughter has begun inquiring into the possibilities of procuring one - very subtly. She knows whining, pleading, and begging have No effect on us. She learned that when she was, I don't know, 2, and like any intelligent creature, adapted to the circumstances. "Parents ... unyielding ... must try new methods." And when she does ask for stuff and we say 'no,' she's complete unfazed. Man, I really like that kid. I'm gonna get her a Wii (... Damn, her methods are working ...)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Yes, a bit easy for a Wednesday but very enjoyable. I'm still reeling from yesterday's SE corner - I think I muttered 'ETAPE?' over and over to get to sleep last night.

Gnarbles 9:02 AM  

Does having Zadora and Dora in the same puzzle stretch the puzzle constructors' rule book a bit?

JannieB 9:16 AM  

@Gnarbles - the bigger stretch was referring to Pia as an "actress" - IMOO!

Nice puzzle Michaels - took me a minute to parse the reveal into five words but - well done!

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Well, if it wasn't for this site, I'd never have gotten the theme. Thank the crossword heavens for Rex!

(btw, I have to say you are a much better parent than I am. I had to sleep outside a Best Buy to get my kids a Wii....! We enjoy very much playing guitar hero together, though)

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

I stared at DARYL several seconds without comprehending. Finally gave up and didn't get it until Rex explained.

I also stared at FOURWAYSTOP for some time. It only took a few seconds to parse S TO P, but I never quite figured out why it was a FOUR-WAY. Since the letter change only worked in one direction. I didn't look close enough to realize there were four examples--assumed three plus the explanatory. I still think this point is a little weak, but now accept that it technically works.

My fave answer was ZADORA. How nice that we get to enjoy this little joke of the 80-'s all over again.

I didn't find this very difficult, but I didn't feel it was easier than the earlier puzzles. But, hard or easy, it took me longer than Mon or Tu. By a little.

janie 9:45 AM  

another famous turban wearer here.

loved this smile-maker of a puzzle!


PuzzleGirl 9:53 AM  

Great puzzle. Loved the clue for DARYL. I used to date a guy whose last name was Hall and we thought if we ever had kids we'd name them Carnegie, Avery Fisher, and Radio City Music.

I first parsed the theme as FOUR WAYS TO P(ee) and thought, "Well that doesn't make any sense!"

You must get a Wii. When we first got ours, PuzzleHusband and I couldn't wait for the kids to go to bed so we could have it all to ourselves.

I've had a Count Basie album on my wish list for three years. I think I'll buy myself the damn thing for Christmas this year.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

I thought this to be a lot of fun but definitely easier than Monday or Tuesday. But still, we've had three entertaining puzzles in a row ... I can't complain.

And four counting @lmsdave's: I didn't get a chance to comment yesterday, so sorry about the carryover -- I just have to say great job! Very clever theme, gee I wonder why we all LOVE it, cleverly executed!

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

Parsed 'Hall of fame' correctly but was hoping for MONTE of 'Let's Make a Deal'. Nice clip, though - very 80's-nostalgic.

Despite getting all the theme answers, I didn't quite get the theme until RP's explanation - was looking for 'intersections' in the puzzle itself.

Have similar Wii-envy in our house, but expect to mollify girls with Nintendo-DS instead, which they can take anywhere.

Classic Bugs is better than just about any modern toon, except The Simpsons, of course.


Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Glad to see that Rex was not too hard on this puzzle--I thought it was great fun, clever word play--I love a puzzle that makes me smile, and this one did.

Orange 10:26 AM  

We got Wii last year. This year, we're moving on to the PlayStation 3. It can play Blu-Ray DVDs, you know...and that's exactly how my husband persuaded me to buy it.

Gnarbles, ZADORA and DORA would only be considered a dupe if, say, DORA were an abbreviated form of ZADORA. But it's not. They're completely separate words. You wouldn't object to ERE and ADHERE in the same puzzle, would you?

LAI is also an anagram of ALI as in Ali MacGraw, star of Love Story.

jae 10:32 AM  

Yes, easy and fun. The theme clue did it for me also. Grandkids have a Wii, amazing machine.

Jeffrey 10:38 AM  

I like how this puzzle also had a mini sub-theme of changing the C in ERIK/SKIMP to a K. Or was that just me?

ZADORA/OBAMA: a pairing we have never seen before and will never see together again.

A bad speller may be OLDER but no WISED.

What exactly did OATES do? More than Andrew Ridgely did in Wham!, no doubt.

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

Nice wordplay today.
Almost have a barnyard theme going with Elsie the Cow who Mooed.
Funny that you mentioned Bugs in a turban because that was exactly my first thought from that clue.
I've never played a Wii but if it gets those kids off of the couch I say give it to them!

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Wasn't WII one of the components of yesterday's DIN?

Glitch 10:53 AM  

I too liked this puzzle, just right for me on a Wednesday.

@Anon 9:57 (RT)

A few years back, my niece (a good kid) wanted an iPod *like everyone else*. Her frugal parents gave her another brand, *just as good* --- but alas, niece felt she was STILL the only one without an iPod.

Nintendos may be a better choice from your standpoint, but if your girls' peers have WIIs they might not be in agreement.

Besides, if they can swap games with their friends, it might even save you money in the long run!

archaeoprof 10:53 AM  

Best clue not mentioned yet: 67A "old war story" for AENEID. Never saw that coming.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

A simple puzzle made (needlessly) simpler by, once having guessed the theme, being able to fill in the lead off "P" in remaining theme answers. I, for one, couldn't distingish between Miami Vice and Nash Bridges, so I was tempted to put in VICE for 27D, until I saw that the "P" was required for 40A. Seems like too much of a giveaway for such a simple program.

Orange, thanks for the ETAT explaination.

Doug 11:10 AM  

@crosscan: Oates provided the all-important background vocals ("because your kiss") to Hall and of course because Hall was stuck behind a piano ("woooh hoo") Oates was able to jump around on stage with his guitar ("ooh baby.")

Having Rex figure these themes out is so damn handy. I feel like George Bush, who can just wait for his staff to figure out the thorny issues and get them into 1 paragraph. "Regarding the Middle East conflict, sir, to get you up to speed I've consolidated its cultural and political history from ancient Mesopotamia through 1999. Here's a one-pager."

YMA wasn't clued as "recently deceased" this time, which I liked.

I noticed I had sCumlandlord/niCe, not sLumlandlord/niLe. It worked at the time! I guess I thought you could see NICE, France from some tricky little Egyptian island that was close to France, kind of like Gibraltar.

foodie 11:10 AM  

For a minute, I parsed the theme hint clue as : "FOUR WAYS TO P" and thought: Wow, the breakfast test is really dead...

Rex, like Sahra my granddaughter has figured out how to get things done without throwing a fit and she's only 1.5 years old. Her technique: Map out all the intermediate steps and make them happen. If you want to go out, painstakingly bring socks, shoes, coat, scarf, parents'shoes and coats, and then camp in front of the front door. People are so impressed by the calm and thorough execution, she gets her way! These kinds of kids have already devised their recipe for success in life.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot, though I agree it was a bit easy for a wed. My only comment is that IN A BIT doesn't seem to mean the same thing as 15A: Presently. Does it? I think of presently as meaning that, "I am doing this right now", whereas if I were going to do something "in a bit", I would be doing it later. Yes? Anyone?

travis 11:27 AM  

I didn't think this was nearly as easy. Didn't get where Hall of fame was going(but that's irrelevant since DARYL Hall is unknown to me). Didn't know Zadora, or Yma. Knew ANG only as crosswordese but managed to misspell it as Eng. And the SW looked wrong even after I looked up Count Basie. The s in Fleur-de-LIS is silent for me so I wanted Fleur-de-lie[IRAE and LAI were complete mysteries]. The S and SE also seemed tricky though I did get them in the end.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

This was fine for me except for the COUNTBASIE/LAI cross which needed google. Seems a bit obscure for a Wednesday.

imsdave 11:58 AM  

I loved Foodies parsing of the theme clue.

@John in NC - presently is a symonym for soon, i.e. "We'll get to that next agenda item presently."

GlennCY 12:19 PM  

Is anyone else tired of single letter replacement themes? They used to occur once every few weeks at most, and then it seemed clever. Lately, they seem to come up at least once a week - so they just seem lame, no matter how 'clever' the revealing clue at the end. Yeah that bit is clever, but the rest of puzzle and its theme are still LAME.

evil doug 12:20 PM  

Hall and Oates are actually in the Songwriters Hall of Fame, which tells me all I need to know about that.

Francis Scott Key, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Al Green---and of course Hall and Oates. Good grief....


Barry Mann's in there, too. How could he not with the magical songwriting skill demonstrated in:

Who put the bomp
In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
Who put the ram
In the rama lama ding dong?
Who put the bop
In the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip
In the dip da dip da dip?
Who was that man?
I'd like to shake his hand
He made my baby
Fall in love with me (yeah!!)

Shamik 12:22 PM  

Rex...thanks for the Count Basie clip!

@Puzzle Girl: LOL...the world is grateful you didn't marry Mr. Hall.

@Foodie: ROFL with FOUR WAYS TO P. Love things that don't pass the breakfast test.

A sales seminar once recommended that if you want to know the persistence of a good salesperson...just observe your kids. They are relentless. Tried a Wii at a friend's house and immediately wanted one. Won't get one in our current mode of downsizing our possessions, though.

Liked this puzzle. Needed a success. Liked seeing Zadora in a puzzle again...always was a gimme. No mis-starts today. Easy/medium time.

JoefromMtVernon 12:38 PM  

Ended with two mistakes: had elder for older (and wanted to know what cew was; oh well) and Eric/scimp. Poor planning there....

A little faster than average today (8:12)

Nice to see Mauna as an answer, and not a clue (when you stop and ask "Loa or Kea?).

To those Wii or other "Guitar Hero" types, who can listen to the opening bars of Surrender and not think (red-yellow-green, red-yellow-green)?


mac 12:40 PM  

I thought this a very nice, easy Wednesday with some really fun clueing, as for "cow" and 44A, giving it away phonetically. Whatever happened to little Pia?

@PuzzleGirl: P = LOL!

@John in NC: it is strange, but imsdave is right. It makes me think of the word "restive".

mac 12:46 PM  

@evil doug: obladi oblada.

I enjoyed watching the Bugs cartoon. Brought back memories....

jeff in chicago 12:54 PM  

Basie and Bugs. What a treat!

So-so theme for me. POUND... amused me. My alarm clock MUST be far enough from my bed that I have to stand and walk to turn it off. Otherwise I'll lay in bed all day.

Another famous turban-wearer can be seen here:

jeff in chicago 1:00 PM  

(Anyone willing to teach me how to do web links properly? Especially like Janie did, when you make other words the link. Private e-mails would be cool.)

chefbea 1:57 PM  

A very easy wednesday puzzle. Did it in record time even tho I didnt get the s-to-p theme.

Haven't made a carrot cake in a while. I'm sure there is a good recipe for it in Irma Rombauer's cook book.

Time to make turkey soup.

Orange 2:02 PM  

Sent Jeff a brief primer on hyperlinking.

@Crosscan, Oates wasn't there for backing vocals or guitar or songwriting. He was there to bring The Mustache of Awesome.

Ulrich 2:10 PM  

I thought the theme was saved by the hint at 63A, which took me also a few seconds to parse correctly. That aha! made the substitution thing worth it IMHO.

@foodie: Your granddaughter has nothing on our dog: When she wants to go out, she takes the leash in her mouth and waits patiently at the door. And I'm sure if we had given her a hat, she would bring that to the door, too--as they say, smart parents tend to have smart kids:-)

Proud owner of a Wii and creator of a Mii.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  


Appreciate the advice. Thankfully some of their friends have Nintendo-DS, so they have already been exposed to it.


Hungry Bird 2:46 PM  

Duck season!

Rabbit season!

janie 3:04 PM  

jeff in chicago -- so glad orange in chicago was able to help. it's a breeze and trust me, my computer literacy exists in a *very* limited way!


helihiker 3:53 PM  

Lowing. Are they kidding?

RodeoToad 4:00 PM  

Weird that songwriting and shaving are the themes of the day, as I wrote a song about shaving cream this very morning.

Hall and Oates are (is?) a guilty pleasure. I don't begrudge Daryl Hall a spot in the hall of fame (if for no other reason that I can't imagine it's a terribly prestigious hall of fame.) You gotta crank up "Rich Girl" when it comes on the radio. "Sara Smile" is very pretty. "She's Gone" is a cool song. Oates really belts it out on the chorus on that one.

Having said all that, though, I admit that until I came to Rex today I was thinking Darryl Hannah when I completed the puzzle.

Orange 4:54 PM  

@helihiker: See the second "low". Interestingly, the moo/verb kind of "low" is from the Old English, whereas the adjective/adverb/noun "low" comes from Old Norse. Two totally different words that happen to be spelled the same.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

I agree...Totally neat to have ZADORA instead of Pia and MAUNA instead of LOA/KEA confusion.
Lots of nice touches today...

MICHAEL BLAKE should get super-kudos as a constructor this week:

His (and my) October SP-IN puzzle was in the syndicated papers on Monday, he wrote yesterday's super clever SUN puzzle (check it out) AND is in the NYT today!!!!!!

That's like in bowling getting a turkey... the week after Thanksgiving no less!

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

PS (pronounced Pia'z)
as a follow-up to yesterday's BEEP-MEEP-MIEP-GIES, for the two of you who don't know the Pia Zadora anecdote about the time she was "starring" in "The Diary of Anne Frank"...
the audience was so disgruntled, when the nazi's came on stage, someone shouted out "She's in the attic!"

mac 5:22 PM  

That is too funny!

Chip Hilton 5:23 PM  

Speaking of Halls of Fame, three of today's answers could be in the Hall for Frequent Puzzle Usage: YMA and URIAH only needed Mel OTT (who seems to appear on average of once a week) to do a nifty trio version of the Dies IRAE.

Enjoyed this rather easy puzzle, but had to stare hard at the S TO P theme answer before I got it.

miguel 5:34 PM  

I recall an exchange here some months ago that proposed the word for over use of the Wii should be wiiitis. It certainly make for an interesting, if inaccurate word. THere is a similarity among Wii and the lyrics of the song GTO...

Little GTO, you're really lookin' fine
Three deuces and a four-speed and a 389
Listen to her tachin' up now, listen to her wh-i-i-ine
C'mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out GTO

RodeoToad 5:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Hilton 5:39 PM  

I laughed at Acme's anecdote. I didn't at Wade's entry. Just me?

foodie 5:46 PM  

@ Ulrich, you're right, it's exactly the same behavior in your dog and in my granddaughter. The magic point is the first time- when we make the initial observation of a connection between a signal (a leash, a shoe) and desired event (going out) and then we take matters in our own hands (or paws) and make things happen! Power!

@ Andrea Carla (I was happy to see that you were doubly recognized in the Rexy puzzle), what you said about Michael Blake's great week made me wonder: do you find that constructors go through periods of high productivity and creativity, like artists? Do they change styles at various phases of their career?

fikink 5:55 PM  

@acme, Mr. F and I are baking bread today and checking in here occasionally. When we read your P.S., we laughed so hard that there are tears in the rye bread!

RodeoToad 6:18 PM  

Yes, bad judgment on my part. (That's the second time today I've done something like that.) Comment is deleted.

Anonymous 7:06 PM  

Yes! Michael and I were discussing that at his celebratory lunch today! We go thru mad rushes of creativity, he submitted all of those around the same time last May. I know I definitely go thru ebbs and flows and it's been totally different as well now that I've been collaborating like mad with Patick and Myles and Michael and JannieB...
ANd of course, when I get one accepted, that seems to rev me up for a while...
but you know, artists and non-artists, (how flattering to be put in that category!) it seems clichee but of course everyone has their ebbs and flows of creativity depending on what else is going on family-wise, workwise, love life...

"Tears in my Rye Bread"...
AHHHH, reminds me of that old SHa Na Na song:
(Wade, back me up here...)

You don't remember me,
but I remember you 't was not so long ago,
you broke my heart in two
Tears in my rye bread, pain in my heart, caused by you, you
If we could start anew, I wouldn't hesitate
I'd gladly take you back, and tempt the hands of fate
Tears in my rye bread, pain in my heart,
caused by you, you, you, you, you
Love is not a gadget, love is not a toy
When you find the one you love, he'll fill your heart with joy
If we could start anew, I wouldn't hesitate
I'd gladly take you back, and tempt the hands of fate
Tears in my rye bread, pain in my heart, caused by you, you
No, no no no now, no, no no (You...)

RodeoToad 7:13 PM  

"Reminds me of that old Sha Na Na song" is one of those phrases that may never have been written before.

But you compelled me to look up Sha Na Na's Wikipedia entry. I knew the group from the lame syndicated TV show that was on in the late seventies, usually at about 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon. I learned later that they performed at Woodstock. I didn't know until today that they were mostly eggheads. Most wound up being doctors, lawyers and professors. Bowser is still Bowser, however.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

@Acme--Whenever I hear that song, I've always wondered, how do you start a gnu?

Jeffrey 7:27 PM  

I always thought it was Tears On My Challah

Ulrich 7:34 PM  

@wade: A while ago, you commented (favorably, as I recall) on my story about courting a hostess at the Parker House in Boston--the saga continues with Sha Na Na: I got serious with her on a date at a joint that was called the Boston Tea Party, and guess who was performing that night? Yes, Sha Na Na--in what I remember as very unbecoming undershirts.

fergus 7:48 PM  

My mailing to a record exec was a TAPE -- how expired am I?

Since we all can misread things, at times I thought I might share an amusing occurence from this morning when we were reading a play aloud. One student got SANTA confused with SATAN, which worked astoundingly well for a play centered on piety and hypocrisy.

Greene 8:01 PM  

@acme: I always enjoy hearing that Pia Zadora story. Bea Arthur used to tell it in her one-woman show and I'm fairly certain I've heard David Sedaris tell it as well in one of his many readings. The tale is, unfortunately, theatrical apocrypha as Pia Zadora has never played Anne Frank; but she was a replacement daughter in the original Broadway production of "Fiddler On The Roof" (which sounds almost as dreadful). Perhaps her performance there was in some way responsible for the awful pogram which brings down the first act curtain? I always imagine armed cossacks storming Anatevka while someone in the audience shouts "For God's sake kill her! She's playing Tevye's, the blonde one!"

I'm now going to contradict myself by proclaiming my admiration and enjoyment of today's puzzle -- even with the tired "switch a letter" theme. There was just something playful and impish about the execution that appealed to me, and the S-TO-P payoff at the end just clinched it. I guess it goes to show that in the hands of an expert constructor, even a sow's ear can be transormed into a silken, yummy puzzle. Bravo, Mr. Blake!

jeff in chicago 8:06 PM  

@Orange: Thanks (again) [you, too, PuzzleGirl!]

@Janie: up until today you had at least one skill I didn't have. I'm sure there are others.

And let's give props to the first recording of "Tears on my Pillow" to Little Anthony and the Imperials.

(OK. I did that partly just to practice!)

mac 8:32 PM  

@jeff in chicago: congratulations! I enjoyed that song.

I never heard of the expression before yesterday's comments, but this evening, in a commercial, someone said: "I just beat my buddy Steve like a rented mule"! Why does this happen so often? I'll learn a new word or expression, and the next day it's in the newspaper or a book. Next words I want to see in the puzzle are "solipsistic" and "palimpsest". I'm reading P.D. James's newest.

JannieB 8:35 PM  

@mac - I've had a similar experience with "back in the day". I remember when it came out in the puzzle many commented on how rarely it was used - ever since, it seems like I hear it all the time.

JannieB 8:35 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
fergus 9:28 PM  

Acme's art

is word association
to the Nth most power
and further refinement

with diacritical marks

Anonymous 9:35 PM  

The best example I know of this transformation (albeit only phonetically, and in the reverse direction) is still Lewis Carroll's advice to a writer: "Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves" (from the Alice books; based on a British pence/pounds adage).

59D:ATRA always reminds me of "atrabilious" though I don't think I've ever seen that word outside of a dictionary and maybe an SAT vocabulary book...


foodie 9:55 PM  

@fergus, you're an economist, right? What are you doing with plays about hypocrisy and piety?

@mac, palimpsest is a very cool word that I learned from Gore Vidal's memoir with that title. I agree that it would be great in a puzzle.

I love P.D. James. On her website there is a segment called "Mystery Writing Lessons" in which she says: It is "difficult to combine a credible puzzle with a setting which comes alive, an underlying theme and distinguished writing". I think with slight modification, this could be said of crossword puzzles. I feel that the NY Times, Rex and the Rexites (and especially the perspective from Andrea) have really made me appreciate the art of puzzle construction, the way I have long appreciated a great mystery story...

janie 10:18 PM  

jeff in chi-town: what an apt pupil you are -- and thank you for givin' credit where it was due (where little anthony and those imperials are concerned)!


fergus 10:46 PM  


An economist, or otherwise a critic, I am a moral philosopher,
having lost faith at one time, yet prepared to go another round with anyone. Especially those from Scotland. Watt, and Hume and Adam Smith.

Anonymous 11:10 PM  

Uriah Heep's brief peak in the US was in the early 70's - they've been big in in the UK for years. Two of their best known LPs had art work work by Roger Dean (of Yes cover art fame) "Easy Livin'" was their biggest hit in 1972.

Anonymous 2:20 AM  

Was that a poem for me?!
That was lovely and may be the first one I've ever received (that wasn't some variation on a dirty limerick)
I had to look up what diacritical marks were! (aha!)(now I have to get Orange to teach me how to add them to my comments!)

yes, I expected the easy-PZ story was both time-worn and apocryphaful (boy, you should have seen my first attempt at spelling that!)
Plus I misread your "awful pogrom" as "program" and wondered why she would have written the program notes!
oy! time for bed, but not before I write to Michael to tell him to read his nice accolades!
We fight all the time over his fill, themes, etc. so his being called an "expert constructor" is bound to shut me up for a long long while!

(kidding! Just TRY and get me to shut up!)

@Jeff in Chicago,
how did you do that neat hyperlink thing? ;)

Laurence Hunt 2:29 PM  

I did not read all comments, but my immediate response, having had some exposure to speech therapy, is that the four-way stop refers to "labial stops" (, as in all cases the sibilant "s" is replaced by the labial stop "p." There are also glottal stops, though I'm getting beyond my depth. I'm sure any speech therapist would pick up on this reference instantly.

Anonymous 6:51 PM  

can orange or someone please explain etat to me?

indycolt 8:51 AM  

that was the video for hall & oates "say it isn't so"- but sure not the music!

indycolt 9:06 AM  

here's a nice 80's vintage version with g.e. smith of snl band on lead guitar:

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Etat = French for "state".
Floride = French for "Florida".
(Yeah, it looks like a typo for fluoride, which is what the tricky setter is going for...)

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