WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14, 2009 - O. Hill (Bygone Apple laptop / Buckwheat's affirmative / Low-lying wetland / Zagat's readers, informally)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "AIR" homophones - theme clues are homophones of "AIR," with each answer being a descripti0n of that particular clue

Word of the day: EXEGETE - a person skilled in exegesis (i.e. the explanation of a text, esp. of the Bible)

This was harder than your average Wednesday - either that, or I was so burnt out on crosswords when I solved it that my judgment cannot be trusted. Have you ever spent a ton of time constructing a puzzle, trying to get one particularly brutal corner to come together, then had the elation of making it work, then (hours later) had the soul-crushing realization that there is a fatal problem in your new construction that necessitates tearing All Your Beautiful New Work Out? OK, I'm talking to a select audience here, but Oh My God. OK, I'm better now.

This puzzle is impressive in many ways. In concept, it's basically an inverted version of the Andrea Carla Michaels puzzle we had a while back, where each theme answer started with a homophone of "AIR." This trick is much tougher (that's not a value judgment, Andrea, just an observation), in that you have to get plausible definitions for all of your "AIR"s to line up and behave - oh, and simply to be plausible definitions that don't sound tortured when you say them. Tougher for solvers too, as knowing the theme doesn't help you one bit - the theme is out in the open for all to see, right there in the clues, and you've got to figure out the phrases used to (reverse) clue them.

Theme answers:

  • 19A: E'er ('always' in poetry)
  • 32A: Heir (monarch-to-be)
  • 40A: Eyre (Bronte's Jane)
  • 53A: Air (snobbish manner)

But the theme is not what's impressive to me about this puzzle. Those four short stacks of sevens appended to the 14-letter theme answers - those are impressive. It's tough to get theme answers to behave long enough for you to stick long words on top of them. Scrabbly letters in particular can kill you. Notice how the "J" in BRONTE'S JANE is carefully contained so that it can do no damage (J's can get very unhappy and disruptive when you try to stick them anywhere but the first letter of a word ... or perhaps the second letter in AJAR). But here, not only are there stacks of seven everywhere, but they're elegant. I mean ... on top of the ALWAYS IN POETRY, there's a very poetic moment from a Vaughan Williams piece (THE LARK -> 17A: It's "ascending" in a Vaughan Williams piece), as well as a word that might refer to someone who interprets poetry (EXEGETE -> 15A: Expert at interpreting a text). As a sometime literature teacher, this puzzle should have felt welcoming, I supposed, with its Shakespearean larks and its profound EXEGETE and its copy of "JANE Eyre" and ... hey, MONOTONOUS (25D: Like a stereotypically bad professor)? SNOBBISH MANNER? IBOOK (29D: Bygone Apple laptop)!? I'll have you know I work on a five-year-old IMAC, thank you very much. UNKINDNESS, indeed (6D: Bad behavior).

I'm trying to embed AOL video on blogger, and failing. There was some professor mockery on Monday-night's "Daily Show" - it's here. In the meantime, have some Vaughan Williams:


  • 10A: A minimus is the smallest one (toe) - the monotonous professor in me thought this was something to do with paleography
  • 28A: Inspiration for Hunter S. Thompson (acid) - Wow. That's ... true. Wasn't expecting that kind of drug-related candor.
  • 50A: Low-lying wetland (swale) - sounds like a fake word. In my head, when I hear the word, I hear only the voice of Jerry Lewis's Nutty Professor.
  • 58A: Zagat's readers, informally (foodies) - shout-out to one of my favoritest readers.
  • 2D: Actress Arlene (Dahl) - Down with Roald, Up with Arlene!
  • 10D: Flowerpot material (terra cotta) - this answer is beautiful; feels poetic, perhaps (in part) because it is intersecting the word "POETRY"
  • 11D: Buckwheat's affirmative ("Otay!") - Kept reading this (and keep reading this) as [Buckwheat alternative]
  • 42D: Boxer Willard defeated by Jack Dempsey for the world heavyweight title (Fred) ... I mean (Jess)

  • 46D: Isaac Bashevis Singer story "_____ the Yeshiva Boy" ("Yentl") - is this the basis of the Streisand flick? In part, it seems, yes.
  • 58D: Alphabet trio (FGH) - sometimes, if you want poetry, you have to make a few concessions to the crossword gods. This is one of them. I don't mind.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Parshutr 9:12 AM  

Once I realized that ADAGE was really AXIOM, this puzzle was so over.
Liked most of it, found it less than challenging. Don't want to be guilty of UNKINDNESS, so I'll sign off and get back to work.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

I thought this one was interesting; it pulled me in and kept me in. There wasn't a lot of puzzlese, but there were a lot of good clues and answers. I maneuvered in and out, replacing acceptable but wrong answers, i.e. swamp to swale, and finding unexpected phrases, i.e. monarch to be, Bronte's Jane. I immediately thought 1A was ado (not a don't) as ado seems to show up constantly. And re yesterday, according to my resident expert, deke is a very common sports term. It amazes me how many words I run into that "everybody" knows, but I don't. And Crosscan made a good point about the buzz factor, some days we move on, some days we don't. Where is everybody today? Snowbound?

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

I guess I should spend more time looking for a theme--never realized all those airs. Had fun with it, though, except for exegete, which is not a Wednesday word, and snobbish manner, which seems awfully forced.

joho 9:38 AM  

I really liked this puzzle.

Loved FOODIES over GRUYERE with SNOBBISHMANNER over both words as some food critics can be snobbish ... but never ours!

I thought "That's ODD was odd in that I don't believe I've ever seen that before.

This was a fresh theme, the execution of which I appreciate more after Rex's write up.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

@anne--More like frozen solid, at least here in NYC.

Parshutr 9:39 AM  

Rex, thanks for the Dempsey/Willard movie. Several rules changes after 91 years: on knockdowns, the fighter standing has to go to a neutral corner; no hitting from behind; and the gloves (for a championship fight) are put on in the ring (it was rumored that Doc Kearns, Dempsey's manager, used plaster of paris on Dempsey's fists before putting on the gloves.

PurpleGuy 9:45 AM  

I agree with Parshutrthat this was a fairly easy puzzle. H ad the exact same error with Adage instead of Axiom.

Horsy for Equine seemed odd at first. Made me think of a "Peanuts" strip from way back:
Lucy,Linus and Charlie Brown are lying in the grasslooking at the clouds. Lucy andLinus see incredible things. When they ask Charlie Brown what he sees,his reply "I was going to say a horsy and a duckie, but I changed my mind."
That became my dad's catch phrase for a long time,and a family joke.

Thanks Mr. Hill for a good Wednesday puzzle.

jubjub 9:49 AM  

Apparently, to me, YPNTL is a more plausible word than SWALE (had SWAMP). I found the EXEGETE/OTAY cross hard, as I've heard of exegesis, but wasn't sure what the word for exegesis-er was. I ended up with EXEGESE/OSAY. Otherwise, great puzzle! I appreciate the long down answers.

Unrelated to today's puzzle:
I was thinking of making a crossword where "crosswordese" words are the clues and the standard clues are the answers, and came across this picture of the most common crossword answers:
Even more unrelated: has this theme been done in the past?

imsdave 9:51 AM  

Challenging for a Wednesday - EXEGETE? That is definitely my new word for the week - maybe Noam will use it in a sentence for us. 15 minutes is a long solve time for me until at least Thursday, but that said, a very enjoyable puzzle.

Re: Rex's comment on puzzle creation - thanks! I've done that too many times to mention. I fixed the corner - Yes - oops, I dropped the theme - sigh.

Re: "The Lark Ascending" - check out the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields recording of this. For the more musically inclined here, the piece has one of my top three chord changes in the history of music.

Re: MONOTONOUS - I am sure this does not apply to Rex.

Nice to see that the constructers are finally recognizing FOODIE's contributions to cruciverbalism

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

I agree it was tough for a Wed. Would have pronounced Eyre to rhyme with fire - I learn something every time. Also exegete - way cool!

Less in agreement about J's. Jxxx....., ajar, bejesus (Irish mild oath), hajj, hajji, kilojoule, microjoule, clean and jerk, .... gets a J in positions 1 through 6 and a 9 bonus. Gotta exercise dogs now, and 7 and 8 are not coming readily. I never have constructed a puzzle so this is probably woefully naive, but still.....

mac 9:53 AM  

Agree with everything above, it was a tougher than usual Wednesday, but it is a classy piece of work. I had to look twice in many places, couldn't simply fill in gimme's, and I came to a full stop at the exegete/otay/gets at location. I'm not sure "gets at" is perfectly clued, I had a problem with it. The eel saved part of the day there, but the T never saw the light of day....

Beautiful word, swales. We have a few in our yard, it's wear the deer like to dine.

mac 9:58 AM  

That is, "where the deer like to dine", although it's tough out there for them today with the snow and ice.

Ulrich 10:05 AM  

I was ready b/c the last time I looked up "homophone", air/heir was used as example. Still, as Rex has pointed out, discovering this type of theme helps you zilch in solving the puzzle. Perhaps that's why it felt hard for a Wednesday. Oh and yes, I considered it a great puzzle--respect, Master Hill!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

I agree, it was a clever twist to have the homophones in the clues, but turned out to be only a moderately difficult puzzle....

1A ODD might have been [That's] ALL or ?, so I did the rest of the NW first. The CARLTON was a gimme as it was one of the hotels trashed by rioters during the infamous 1968 convention, and I was in Chicago at the time hearing about it firsthand.

EXEGETE came more readily than it might have, since someone just emailed me yesterday using the word "exegesis" -- definitely a first for me! My slight pause was at 61A where TankTop came to mind before TANLINE. The other answer that might have caused trouble, NSYNC, had just been another xword this week, thank goodness.

MONARCHTOBE might have started with "Son or __" but didn't stop me much, since I still use an IBOOK and my hair is often MAT-like in the a.m... SWALE replaced "marsh" due to the GREATWHITE, and getting SNOBBISH as the start to MANNER was easy because of the OBIES next to EBERT...

Loved the GRUYERE, and MINERAL as the result where ORE would usually be found... Ditto the unexpected switch of IMITATE as answer for the clue "Ape"!


Anonymous 10:07 AM  

Put me down for ADAGE/AXIOM. EXEGETE and the plethora of other 7's were all fresh (except IMITATE).

Did not grok the theme until hitting RP. Kept looking for something to tie the answers instead of the clues.

HORSY bothers me. Seems like a kid's toy term, which I normally would spell -EY or -IE, and clued in such a formal way, just doesn't fit, IMHO.

Overall agree with Rex on level, and that knowing the theme would not have made it any easier.


Hungry Mother 10:07 AM  

Probably due to my advanced age, this seemed easier than the usual Wednesday to me. Definitely fun to do.

Glitch 10:10 AM  


Blogger left the end of the url off, it's:

Interesting site --- thanks


treedweller 10:12 AM  

I had "letson" for GETSAT, so that gave me exelate, which was just as plausible in my mind.

Mideast came last for me, as I had to get from marsh to SWALE, I didn't immediately see Uncle TOM, and missed the tense on YAKS so had rant/rave at various points along the way. I also don't know my Apples and DEMOS came slowly. Finally, letson was hindering ACID, which I agree was surprisingly frank and accurate. When I finally worked all that out, I managed to see the problem with letson, but was only middling confident about the G, since as I said, EXEGETE was a mystery.

My other misstarts were the aforementioned adage, horse for HORSY and unruliness for UNKINDNESS. Needed NSYNC to get those last two--how embarrassing is that?

I thought it was a nice, smooth puzzle overall. My big complaint again relates to the interface. This time, it may have been on my end, but when I tried to submit, the applet said it couldn't connect. I had to come here to find out EXEGETE was correct. I suppose I should start practicing on paper for next month anyway.

Jeffrey 10:14 AM  

I can see the ADAGE erasure marks. Also tried Uncle SAM. Not much buzz from me on this one. Felt clunky. EXEGETE arrived because 7 crossings produced those letters.

The FOODIES will take over quickly, so I'm out of the way.

santafefran 10:17 AM  

Great that we had an orange clue and a FOODIES answer!

I really liked this puzzle, not that hard (except for the NE corner), but engaging.

In that corner minimus was a stumper--had no idea about this being the little toe, and when I googled at the end was delighted to discover that one of the related searches is NOGOODNIK!

Also, OTAY was new to me. It's been to long since I was on familiar terms with Buckwheat--except for in pancakes or noodles.
Ditto EXEGETE--wanted EXEGIST which just didn't work.

ISEE for "gotcha" didn't seem emphatic enough.

Thanks for the Ralph Vaughn Williams, Rex.

Every day or two when I try to post on this blog, my username is not automatically filled in, but when I do so with my password I get the message that the password is invalid and I have to go through the process of resetting the password and then return to the blog where my username is then in place. Anyone else have this problem or ideas of how to do a permanent fix?

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Didn't even notice the theme.

Most weeks, Wednesdays are my limit, so I'm happy enough to only get one letter wrong: I had a TAP LINE hidden under the shirt. I was thinking of a hidden mic, but "tap line" was a huge stretch, of course. I should have kept looking for something more plausible.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Loved this puzzle....perfect Wednesday, IMO

Being in the restaurant biz, I loved FOODIES over GRUYERE!

But, I guessed wrong on SW_LE/_MMAN, picking an "I"...d'oh! Imman looked good to me....isn't she married to David Bowie?

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

The saga of the frigid cold in the inhumanely inhospitable state of MN continues . . . (sorry, but Anne asked :)). I thought the puzzle was difficult- maybe in part because I solved it at 2:30 am while half-asleep waiting for the furnace repair guy to come. Furnace went out at midnight and unfortunately it is still below zero here. Anyway, exegete was hard at 2:30 as were the theme answers. Also had adage and thought HORSY had an e so I took it out. Also tried to put an e in CARLTON (habit from Carleton).

@dk- forgot you were in MN too- hope you are staying warm and out of the ditches.

I need lots of coffee- for warmth and caffeine as the guy isn't here yet.


Two Ponies 10:39 AM  

Very satisfying experience today with a wonderfully executed theme. Learned a couple of new words, exegete and minimus, always a plus.
Mat started out as mop giving me "owe" crossing itself until I read the clue for awe.
Loved remembering Buckwheat. Sometimes I say otay like he does when I'm kidding around but I suspect few people get the joke. Oh well.

elitza 10:54 AM  

Love love LOVED it. Like he got into my brain and said, "Hmm, what would Elitza like to see in a puzzle? Hunter S Thompson? Food clues? R.V. Williams? Oh, and how about a shout out to Michigan and its beaches?"

I have been on a huge Hunter S Thompson kick over the last few weeks/months, so I saw his clue, four letter answer, filled in ACID and continued (and yesterday we had XXX!) with a big grin on my face. Didn't think it could actually be the answer until I got a couple of the crosses to confirm and it was a rout from there. Only hangup was EAU/CAN (but only because I got in the habit of immediately placing AXE for "Fire").

Sault STE Marie can be either a Canadian place or a Michigan one. I choose Michigan, always. And TANLINE, aka, what I will have many of after spending most of my days this summer at Lake Michigan.

I don't know, I just absolutely loved this puzzle. And finished it in under five minutes WITHOUT Googling, pretty sure. Just sailed through smiling at all the food, favorite authors, favorite states, etc.

(My avatar is actually a tribute to Dr Gonzo himself.)

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

EXEGETE was new for me, although I do know EXEGESIS - which is essentially a critical interpretation. But since the NE was otherwise a mess for me, I guessed EXEGESE (which could just maybe be a noun, I guess). "What do you do for a living?" "I'm an Exegese." LOL

For the minimus clue I had TIC - since I'm pretty sure that minimus is one of the note values in music (and a small one, at that) and a TIC could just possibly be a word for beat (as it Tic Toc), this left me with Electric CEL, which made sense at the time, and ISAY for the Buckwheat answer, which in retrospect just makes me laugh - Buckwheat with an English accent, hmmm.

I had no clue on the "Boxer Willard...." answer and guessed it was NESS, which left me with BRONTESNAME for the EYRE clue, which again I decided was just barely OK - of course, ...JANE makes ever so much more sense.

In my aside for the day, I highly recommend the Tuesday Next novels by Jasper FForde, the first of which is The Eyre Affair. Great fun.

Pythia 11:02 AM  

The theme became clear just as the caffeine kicked in.

Sorry to say, I found the theme answers kind of clunky. Not uncommon for this type of theme, which requires definitional answers. It's nice when such answers are in-the-language or at least lively contrivances, which these weren't, for me.

Some appealing nontheme action. Nice, earthy upper-right area and cool to see EXEGETE tucked in. Loved FOODIES (great concept) above GRUYERE (also a fondue ingredient, along with Emmenthal). Interesting grid with four 10-letter nontheme answers, although a bit heavy on 3-letter words (30% of the total), and ODD to see four of them marching across the top and bottom.

48D OBIES = Off-Broadway awards -- the OB of OBIES is an abbr. of Off-Broadway.


Anonymous 11:14 AM  

@10A: minimus:
Dorland's Medical Dictionary (30th edition) does not list "minimus". It does list "digitus minimus pedis" as meaning the smallest toe. It's more a trivial pursuit/puzzle word than a stand alone medical term.
I found the puzzle hard but fair.

hazel 11:15 AM  

I loved this puzzle too - its the first reverse clue puzzle i think i've ever done. I think elegant is the perfect word to describe....

Really like OTAY - I can vaguely remember seeing Little Rascal reruns, but clearly remember Eddie Murphy's version.

@santafefran - same thing happens to me. haven't figured out a fix....

jae 11:30 AM  

Seemed about right for a Wed. Add me to the LETSON, ADAGE, and HORSE contingent (I also tried SAVES for 4d). All were fixable, but it took a while for OTAY to surface in memory. Liked the puzzle, interesting execution. It helped that I'd just finished preparing (and eating) an Ina Garten potato dish in which one of the ingredients was GRUYERE.

PlantieBea 12:11 PM  

Liked this puzzle much, although I can add a new homophone to fit this puzzle, at least if you're in the South: ERROR. I had several after trying to force SWAMP in for SWALE. This left me with YPNTL which was obviously meant to be YENTL, and MAINE for Frankie LAINE. EXEGETE was a new word, although I was familiar with EXEGESIS...

I appreciate the write-up on this one Rex, and second the recommendation for "The Eyre Affair".

I may go make some French Onion Soup to fight off our cold spell. Our high will be only in the low 60's. BRRR...

Ducking out now to avoid eggs thrown by y'all in the truly cold part of the world.

chefbea 12:17 PM  

Hard for a wednesday. Had adage - also electric eye. Loved gruyere and foodie.

@santafefran I have to sign in everyday. My user name is never there

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Another way to know how "Eyre" is pronounced is to read Jasper Fforde, a mind bending feast for all readers. His first novel was The Eyre Affair. The sequels starred a major character from the other classic in the puzzle today, Dickens Great Expectations. (JASPERFFORDE was in a Saturday a few months ago.)

edith b 12:25 PM  

The old switcheroo cught me in its trap today. I couldn't figure out the theme answers for the life of me. When I finally puzzled out ALWAYSINPOETRY it didn't offer any help for the others which did not seem to be phrases in the conventional sense but were clunky words stuck together for the sake of this puzzle, in my opinion.

Each one fell grudgingly because I couldn't get a fix on what was going on, first HEIR, then EYRE and finally AIR.

I struggled long and hard with this one - couldn't spell GRUYERE and had OVA and that kept me from seeing the boring professor. Coupled with my problems with the theme, the South turned into my bête noire.

Unknown 12:26 PM  

It was a struggle, definitely a hard Wednesday for me, but I got it all done.

Missteps, (besides adage), were octo for octa, mop for mat, and when I saw the clue 'air' and had just the 's' I figured it was a phrase starting with 'show' like 'show a program'. Anyhoo...

I too relied on 'nsync' and a few other easies to keep me on track. I was in fact grateful for them, I have to admit.

I liked the theme definitions and was impressed with the inclusion of the 10's and 7's. A challenging and enjoyable solve.

SethG 12:26 PM  

I always have trouble with puzzles where lots of the answers are not normally puzzle-worthy phrases. Add a poetry theme and, well, ugh. Where are Euler and Galois and 80s tennis players when I really need them? Lots of staring at stuff where all but 1 or 2 letters were filled in...

Jane Air used to be a women's ultimate frisbee team in Minneapolis, several of whose players were from Carleton. Maybe CinEdina even knew some.

Unknown 12:36 PM  

Had to add love for Jasper Fforde, and that in Southwestern Ontario we are expecting daily 'high' temps of -15 with wind chill factor of -27 celsius. Don't know what that is in Fahrenheit, but exposed skin will freeze in 30 minutes.

Unknown 12:39 PM  

I hope this finds things well with Foodie.
I, too, thought the puzzle was challenging, but a nice unexpected test for the day. I like the variety. I made many initial errors and my Spanish is a bit like Sethg's French. I tried 'nomo' first thinking that question has something to do with 'name.'
Chefb, I have a subscription to a French cooking magazine, "Guide Cusine," and prepare about ten of the recipes a month. So many of them call for Emental, I first entered that for the fromage choice today.

Isn't the word count high for today?

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

My missteps included adage/AXIOM, mop/MAT, Valle/LAINE, Amman/ASSAN (so close), and exegist/EXEGETE. My last square was the E in the Jess/set cross.

I'll fourth the recommendation for The Eyre Affair. Fun metafiction. And I want to put in a good word for Roald Dahl. I loved his short The Story of Henry Sugar.

This puzzle seems to have a high buzz factor...

elitza 12:45 PM  

Oh, I think a Chicago Cubs reference would've been the only thing that made this puzzle better for me. Seriously. I just giggled the entire way through.

jeff in chicago 12:53 PM  

I just could not get a grip on this one. Once finished (22 minutes!), I saw nothing outrageous. My brain just wasn't kicking in. I like this kind of theme, where the theme fill reads more like clues. Well done!

On a different food-related note, my bonus for the day was when I checked out the Daily Show link, and by the video was an ad for Wendy's. Many of you have problem seen the TV versions. Two (or now 3) guy talking about 99-cent double stacks. Well, the Italian guy in the dark janitor-type uniform is my good friend Paul here in Chicago. He is raking in the $$$ on these ads. He's done 14 national spots. Good for Paul. I acted with him in my first Chicago show (The Man Who Came to Dinner) and we then did Merry Wives of Windsor and, later, Long Days Journey into Night (I played Jamie; he was my brother Edmund). He's a great friend (we were out too late just Monday drinking scotch) and a great actor. Now he has some money in the bank and can really focus on his work. I envy him. OK...enough of my rambling. I'm just happy for Paul.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

This one felt about average in interest (the downside of a high standard) and difficulty (for a Wednesday). Not much to add to the comments I already see. Nice that the clue and answer for 57D:REED give an extra hint for 47A:OBOE, not that one is really needed. Not sure about cluing 41D:NOBODY with another "no" word "nonentity". Any complaints from Español experts on the missing disambiguatory accent in 23A:CÓMO?

@imsdave: I knew the word "exegete" but don't have much use for it in conversation; ask the humanities types here for a usage example, or ask Google.

@ Retired_Chemist: word lists and "grep" make this too easy; e.g.:

7 circumjacent(!?), katzenjammer(!), lumberjack, maharaja, nonconjugated [chemistry?], straitjacket

8 crackerjack, hallelujah, steeplejack

9 straightjacket, thingamajig

Nothing common for 10 and beyond, but if we go to phrases like your "clean and jerk" -- and remove 16+ letter phrases like "Josephson junction" -- there's also

10 Ciudad Trujillo, petroleum jelly, practical joke(r), universal joint, Wandering Jew

11 hop, skip [or step], and jump; housing project; indirect object; pancreatic juice (yum), sergeant major; whiplash injury

12 sergeants major

13 Madariaga y Rojo

plus lots of other choices in earlier positions.


allan 1:03 PM  

I thought this puzzle made up for Monday and Tuesday.

The hardest part for me was the cross at 4a and 6d. Every Chinese restaurant I have ever been to has Moo Shoo ... on the menu. So I had an "o" at the end of shu. Once I realized it should be a "u", unkindness came quickly (still feels forced to me).

When I got exegete, I knew that would be Rex' word of the day. A first for me.

I had the same problem as Jim in Chi., and never bothered to proofread winding up wit cam for 34d. Duh???

Go Eagles & Steelers on Sunday. That will give me a shot at my ladder pool.

allan 1:07 PM  

As an aside, I wish that someone would explain imsdave's comment:

"Nice to see that the constructers are finally recognizing FOODIE's contributions to cruciverbalism"

dk 1:10 PM  

@elitza, I think the text associated with your avatar may be: "We were just about to Barstow when the ACID kicked in."

@purpleguy, we had a similar joke about HORSEY and ducky except we used it when staring at clouds while under the influence of the aforementioned muse to the delight (not) of our more verbose companions.

@CinEdina, get thee to your local theater (assuming you live in Edina) and see the Reader. You will be warmly entertained. Last night we got to practice outdoor rescues at Highland Park... I think I am going to get a warmer hobby.

The puzzle. I felt like an air head in the NW. I did not know THELARK, could not get Arlene Francis out of my head, wanted all not ODD and I thought eer was before in poetry (as in ere I saw Elba). Once I got DAHL the mist cleared.

I share Rex's admiration of the construction and use of Scrabble letters. As a novice constructor to see the use of G,W,J & H in the center was well... cool.

My one gripe is the constant depiction of Hunter Thompson as a substance abuser and ignoring his contribution to journalism (warning an Andrea is ahead). I had the pleasure of meeting Hunter T. at a photo-documentary something or other in the early 70's. He seemed to me to be fanatically committed to getting to the truth and his "gonzo" style of journalism inspired many. I would like to see him remembered for his contribution to journalism and literature.... whoa, whoops fell off my soap box.

Stay warm. A great way to treat hypothermia is to share a sleeping bag.

JoefromMtVernon 1:31 PM  

A little bit more challenging than "easy"; took a smidge more than 10 minutes.

Exegete? Well, better than Tiegs (and she was in yesterday and I missed the blog...I hate work!!!)

I wanted gourmands rather than foodies...which could have been neat next to Snobbish manner.

Misstep of the day: had AUSTENS Jane rather than Bronte's...
I knew I should have read more and watched less Scooby-Doo...


Anonymous 1:36 PM  

Medium - challenging for me today. Add me to the ADAGE/AXIOM and MOP/MAT crowd. I also had DRAW for DREW at 3D, due to simple mis-reading.

Speaking of switching clues for answers, it was good to see 59A clued as "Ape", with the answer IMITATE, since they are usually the other way around.

And my Google/Blogger ID has gone blank also!

Bob Kerfuffle

jeff in chicago 1:41 PM  

[rant: on] Thompson? Getting to the truth? I guess that would explain his joy in making stuff up! Great fiction writer? Sure. Journalist? Not so much. When the "style" you're credited with inventing is defined as a mix of fact and fiction, we have a problem. It's hard enough to make that distinction with real journalism. Thompson's passion for one candidate (McGovern) led him to be a major cause of the destruction of another (Muskie). He was a talented, out-there writer who had the luck of meshing with a hit of the time (Rolling Stone) and thus achieved star status. But I believe his reputation as a journalist is way overstated. [rant: off]

Bob Kerfuffle 1:43 PM  

@santafefran: I just had my Google/Blogger account come up empty when I made my 1:36 post. After posting as Anonymous, I opened my G Mail inbox (which I don't use very often). Having done that, I came back to this site and my identity was restored. I have no idea if this was significant or a coincidence!

Doug 1:48 PM  

@dk. Would HST (hey, same initials as Truman) be described as a writer-substance abuser or a substance abuser-writer? I think both would be fine!

We have a 2-year who is learning to speak and he says OTAY instead of OKAY. If you have kids, you are torn between correcting them and letting them stay perpetually cute.

I read all the James Herriott books when I was a kid, and eventually made it to Yorkshire, part of which is SWALEdale. A beautiful part of the world, but the locals appeared happy to give it all up for a place in Spain, without hesitation.

All you well-read English Litters out there: What's the book in the same genre as Wuthering Heights, which opens with a single English guy renting a small house on the property of an imposing, older fellow, whose wife has died, and who lives with his sister-in-law and I think daughter? The single guy stays over one night and sees a ghost of the wife, I believe. I started this somewhere and then had to put it down, and I can't recall the name. Of course it's a classic and I show my colors as poorly educated in this area!

Doug 1:50 PM  

Christ, I meant to say Jane Eyre, and wrote in Wuthering Heights. I just googled it, and of course that's the book I'm looking for. DOH moment if there ever was one.

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Had two of those "that can't be right" moments in this puzzle. First, I got the whole puzzle done and looked at 32A and said "Monarch Tobe"? What the heck is a Monarch Tobe? Could that T be an R? Second, I started with "yaps" for 46A, which left me I-OOP for the bygone Apple laptop, for which my first instinct was to put a "P" in there....

chefwen 2:21 PM  

I had the a and n in the hidden shirt clue and promptly filled in HAND GUN and thought, whoa, that just ain't right and lo and behold it wasn't.

Having been raised in the midwest you all have my sympathy. I'm off to call my mummy now who is freezing her poor little 88 year old derriere in Milwaukee. It's her Birthday today. I told her she should have moved with me.

I hope I never see the word exegete again, it really messed ue up.

dk 2:46 PM  

@doug, LOL

@Jeff in chi, Many become a caricature of who they imagine themselves to be. The HST I met was one person and the HST you reference (rant on) may be another version.

@spyguy, my lovely wife had the same "fun" with SNOBBISHMANNER

Doc John 3:01 PM  

Very hard for a Wednesday. Somehow managed to emerge unscathed. I also did the "Buckwheat alternative" thing for way too long before coming up with OTAY. BTW, there's an OTAY Mesa in the San Diego area. I remember being amused by that when I first moved here only to find out it was pronounced "o-tie".
I also held onto octogon for way too long. Should have just written it out to see that it was wrong!
My only nit is [Bad behavior]=UNKINDNESS. That's one of those "yes it's technically true but..." clues.
Finally, here's another definition of "air".

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

My brain gears really bogged down on this puzzle but for what reason specifically I can not say. No real tester (save exegete a new word for me) and yet I struggled from 1A to 58D. Thought HORSY a bit playful for the stoic Equine but didn’t mind FGH since it wasn’t ABC or RST or some other obvious letter grab.
I haven’t tried to categorize H Thompson before now but I guess I would consider him a trippy Gonzo documentarian (made up word) more than a journalist. I think he did write for some periodicals but usually ended up fighting with editors or inanimate objects which led to his demise. I don’t think he made things up; more like he chronicled objects and activities that he (and probably few if any others) actually perceived. I envy both his writing and life styles.

Chip Hilton 3:20 PM  

@Joe from MtVernon
Don't feel bad about your Austen/Bronte error. I completely blanked on Bronte when it was the only thing blocking completion of the puzzle. Had to ask my wife, head hung in shame. Maybe had to do with the fact that I was timing myself and closing in on my max time allowance. Still......

Foodie is the moniker of a regular contributor to this blogsite. She regularly makes wonderful comments on crossword puzzles, hence the tip of the cap to her.

EXEGETE will stay with me, hopefully.

Unknown 3:26 PM  

Got my clock cleaned with this one. First time I had to google a Wednesday puzzle in years.Ruined my day. Defenite Natick factor on otay-exegese.

Unknown 3:32 PM  

Correction:definite for defenate.

Doug 4:17 PM  

Nice puzzle. Got stuck in the northeast like many others and had to come back to it to finish. Surprised that the Jess clue wasn't simply "Boxer Willard." You either know that or you don't.

Anonymous 4:53 PM  

Am I the only one besides Rex who was exasperated by IBOOK clued as "bygone"??! Powerbooks and Duo Docks are bygone -- I haven't seen one in use in years! Ibook is no longer available for sale (EOL in geek-acronym) -- but are still widely in use. Including by me.

-----> Joe in NYC

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

Completely with you on "Buckwheat affirmative" (parsing it as "alternative"). With just the Y, I wanted to put in WHEY.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

@dk: I may have to head on over to the Edina Theatre soon (just saw Slumdog there) or get that sleeping bag out to stay warm because still no heat! My hat is off to you- an outdoor rescue in this weather must be brutal.

Now to cap it all off my internet is out --I am not a skilled phone-typer. Going to put my hat back on.


Ulrich 5:07 PM  

In the late 70's, I once drove Frank Mankiewicz, the director of McGovern's campaign, from his hotel to the place where he was to be giving a speech at the university where I started my academic career (my excellent insider connections got me this privilege). I asked him during the trip what he thought about HST's reporting in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, and he said this: "The details were made up, but the larger picture was true." Now, how does one classify a writer who does this?

Bill from NJ 5:22 PM  

Perhaps people who work in journalism resent Hunter Thompson for stretching the definition of a journalist to the snapping point.

He was part of what was called the New Journalism that included Gay Talese and Tom Wolfe and created quite a sensation among those who called themselves "legitimate" Journalists in the 60s and 70s.

They substituted their point of view for strict adherence to facts.
I think journalism was a bit too strong of a word to use for what those people did but their point of view was special regardless of what people thought of their appellation.

I really enjoyed Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail but perhaps a conservative Republican may have had a different appreciation of his work.

Bill from NJ 5:35 PM  


Your comment popped up while I was writing mine and I think we were essentially on the same track.

He was a powerful writer.

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

Funny how many of us read "alternative" instead of "affirmative" - I made the same mistake and lost much time trying to find a four-letter grain that one could use instead of buckwheat.

But, I don't place EXEGETE/OTAY in quite the Natick category. I think OTAY being said by Buckwheat is a pretty well-know thing.

miguel 5:48 PM  

Hunter S Thompson was the inspiration for the Doonesbury character, Uncle Duke. Knowing that made those earlier cartoons even funnier.

mac 6:25 PM  

@Bill in NJ: Hi, good to see you. Do you think Christopher Hitchens is the same sort of journalist/writer? He seems like such a smart guy, and then he turns around and is just a shock-jock.

@Jim in Chicago: Buckwheat who? Stay warm. Hope Orange is ok, we haven't heard from her today, and our friend in Edina, that's scary.

jeff in chicago 6:33 PM  

@Ulrich: Good question.

@Bill in NJ: To be clear, I am a liberal Democrat. But I also have a degree in journalism, so your first sentence is closer to how I feel, but "resent" is the wrong word. I love his writing. I'm not appalled by what he did. I'm distressed by how some other people classify it. I wouldn't go to a doctor who "stretched the definition of medicine to the snapping point." I don't want cops who "stretch the definition of law." I guess I prefer a little more restraint from my journalists.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

Sorry, just didn't like today's puzzle. The main answers were blah, IMO. But thanks, Rex for pointing us to BEQ's smokin' blog. We love his bad self! I hope Quigley is on the bloggers panel at the tournment. We'll see you all there, weather permitting.

Bill from NJ 7:11 PM  

@jeff in chicago-

As I said in my original post, journalism is too strong a word to use for what he practiced and I stand by my statement that journalists resent being judged by the same standard as Mr Thompson.

He looked at things with a journalistic eye but was in no way a journalist.

Hello mac - nice to see you too. I go back and forth with Hitchens. I think you summed him up pretty well as a shock jock. I think of him as a talented writer and an agent provocateur. I think he takes too much pleasure in his atheistic beliefs

joho 8:01 PM  

@CinEdina: I really feel bad for what you're suffering through! It's cold in Ohio but nothing like MN and we have heat. Is the old theater on 50th still there?

I think it's really interesting how Hunter Thompson has many here today talking about him. I wonder if he'd care. I Googled and learned that nearly 300 came to his funeral ... where he was shot out of cannon from a tower of his design, fireworks and all. A lot of people really loved him. That says a lot.

Anonymous 8:21 PM  

I must be crabby today because I didn't enjoy this puzzle much. It didn't help that I didn't get the theme until I looked at the blog. After reading Rex and the commentators, I appreciate the puzzle more.

Perhaps it's the subzero snow shoveling I did before the puzzle (with minus 20 expected tonight).

@Puzzle Girl -- see what you're missing by leaving town....

Chorister 9:15 PM  

My laptop, iBook G4, insists that we get on here even though it's late in the day and lodge a formal protest re 29D. We tried early this morning, but alas, Rex had not yet posted at that time She (the laptop) appreciates Rex's comment in this matter.

Otherwise, loved the puzzle but thought it was a tad easy. Went to a Bible college so there were exegetes aplenty, not that they ever called themselves that. Took me a distressingly long time to get the lark, whereupon I had to smack self in forhead.

And now I have pinkeye and am banned from school. So the pore lil children will have no music tomorrow. ptfui.

fergus 9:21 PM  

Not a great Hunter Thompson fan, but an undeniably unique style. Felt like such a lightweight while reading his prose, even if I figured it must be exaggerated.

Didn't find much pleasure in the puzzle -- the NYT highlight of the day was the publication of a letter to the editor from one of my colleagues.

fergus 9:25 PM  

Also, I appreciate the restraint of my fellow Californians in not gloating about the stark differences in ambient temperature.

dk 9:26 PM  

@bill from NJ, welcome the thoughtfulness of your posts so glad you are back. Agree there was a time when journalism moved from the trusted Walter C to HST and T Wolfe. I appreciate Jeff from chi-towns point of view from an "orthodox" position. I shudder to think that Anne Coulter may be a by-product of Hunter T.

3 and out.

@CinEdina stay warm.

@Acme: OOO

miguel 9:36 PM  

The Prisoner has died. Long live Patrick McGoohan, no longer Number 2.

RIP Ricardo Montalban, discussed here this past year.

Anonymous 9:53 PM  

Heat is on Internet is back and now I just want to sit by the fire (thank goodness for our two gas fireplaces and space heater) and read the H. Thompson book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.

@joho: the old theater is still there sign and all. They always play excellent movies.

I love that this blog is so educational plus I get great recommendations for books and movies. Musicals too.

edith b 10:49 PM  


To answer your question, FOODIE is a Commenter on this blog and is a neuologist. She has a deep interest in food and along with chefbea and mac, likes to include commentary on food.

IMHO, she also functions as something of a conscience to this blog and is always conciliatory to the various members of the group and is highly respected by one and all.

elitza 11:24 PM  

@the HSThompson commentary--two things. First, if you're at all interested in him, go find and watch the documentary Gonzo. Extremely well-done biography. I learned a ton. Currently re-re-re-reading Campaign Trail '72 and the SO is reading Shark Hunt. We're in the processing of finding and devouring his entire collection of works. It's exciting stuff. He admitted, to exaggeration and flat-out rumor-mongering (the whole Muskie/Ibogaine thing was a joke he played) but what's cool about the way he wrote is that is really is exactly what happened--he just put journalistic detachment to the side and wrote from his own point of view, with his opinions and beliefs coloring everything that got down on paper.

Second, if you've not had the opportunity to sip a luscious porter of late, I highly recommend Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter. It's absolutely to die for.

Three and out--time to tackle the Thursday puzzle with a Gonzo by my side and wait for laundry.

fergus 1:00 AM  

Extreme beer was the subject of an interesting article recently that featured Flying Dog, or perhaps it was some other brewery out of Delaware that had dog in its name?

OK Crosscan, the buzz is lost, or is it regained?

foodie 1:09 AM  

OMG, I almost missed this whole day! My day to blush and be modest while secretly beaming with pleasure!

I've been zigzagging across the continent this week, from Michigan to California then to Connecticut (from 80 to what feels like 0). Had a really busy day and almost crashed without doing the puzzle, except that a bunch of Elis are making loud and crazy noises outside my hotel window, and Mac sent me an e-mail asking whether my ears were burning given what is being said on the blog! So, I decided to do the puzzle, saw something about a "stereotypically bad professor" and thought-- ooh I hope that's not me. Then the Zagat clue (which I do read) and FOODIE--this name that I have gotten attached to as if it were really mine!

Thank you Rex, imsdave, phillysolver, chip hilton, edith b. I did blush, actually! Green Mantis would have found a lovely way to talk about her feelings with insect imagery. But, I'm just a scientist, so all I can say is y'all are the best, and you made my night!

fergus 1:54 AM  

At this late hour I don't mind revealing either admiration or adoration toward the scientist, linguist or just plain blog-writer Foodie. I maybe be biased through coming of age in Alice Waters' gourmet ghetto, but embracing the message of a foodie who has distinguished herself so thoroughly that I would rather read her posts than almost anything I read in today's Dining supplement, is tops in my book.

Anonymous 1:55 AM  

This doesn't feel like Wednesday, Toto!
Love that foodie over gruyere. Still can't
keep those boy bands straight. Hmmm.

jeff in chicago 11:26 AM's too late to be writing this, but maybe the syndication readers will see it.

"Gonzo" was all right, but it was a love letter from Johnny Depp, who produced the film and is a giant HST fan. Parts of Thompson's life were illustrated with sections of the two comedy movies about him, one of which starred Depp! Still, there was a lot of great info about the early years. I did enjoy it, in the end.

fergus 12:20 AM  

The only Stumbling blocks, due to le vin blanc at such a late hour, were up in the Northwest where the progression led to the marvelous Josephine Baker.

I did enter quite a few rebus multiple entries before my Mandarine Orange wasn't either a Satsuma or a Clementine. (op.cit.GM)

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

From 5 weeks later - I find the clue to 23A to be odd (unless my high school Spanish is betraying me). I was taught that "te" is the familiar form of "you" and to ask someone whom you know well enough to use the familiar "you" what their name is seems out of place. I did get the answer despite my dislike of the clue. Unfortunately I was unable to spell "GRUYERE" which messed with the SW portion.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

Shout-out to other syndicate solvers - woo-hoo on the medium-challenging rating! I skated right through with no trouble - not even exegete - due to someone recently questioning where some regular blogger had gone off to and missing their exegesis, which caused me to look up that word, which led me easily to today's answer...don't know if anybody else reads Rex's write up and the comments on the syndicated thingy, but just in case, here is my two cents!


Rex Parker 1:04 AM  

The great majority of my readers are in syndicationland, though you would never know that from the Comments section.

So, yes, people read. I read. Thanks for commenting.


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