WEDNESDAY, Jan. 28, 2009 - M. Langwald (Rescuer of Odysseus / Leader deposed in 1955 / Puzzlemaker Rubik)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "MADE IN TAIWAN" - first words of theme answers, spoken in order, become a giant homophone of this phrase, allegedly found on CHILD'S TOYS (60A: Bearers of a phrase suggested by saying the starts of 17-, 24-, 38- and 49-Across)

Word of the Day: UMIAK - The umiak, umiaq, umiac, oomiac or oomiak is a type of boat used by Eskimo people, both Yupik and Inuit, and was originally found in all coastal areas from Siberia to Greenland. Its name means "woman's boat," as opposed to the kayak, which means "man's boat" (wikipedia)

I haven't seen a "Made in Taiwan" label in a long, long time. CHILD'S TOYS are now, predominantly, notoriously, "MADE IN CHINA" - that is the phrase on almost every piece of inventory in the "Christmas Tree Store" here where I live - we went inside once just to see if we could find Anything without a "MADE IN CHINA" label on it. No success - literally none - until we got to the back of the store, where the art prints were, and found something made in Canada, and then something made in the U.S.A. How many "MADE IN TAIWAN" labels did we see? None. I've been in a lot of toy stores in recent years - having a child will do that to you. Can't recall seeing a "MADE IN TAIWAN" sticker. I feel like the "MADE IN TAIWAN" label was a common thing in this country 20+ years ago, before the big industrial boom in China. Today's theme, especially with its reference to TOYS, feels oddly dated and off. It's CHINA, CHINA, CHINA now. Everywhere. All the time. Has been for years.

I was secretly hoping LEAD would be somewhere in the puzzle.

Theme answers:

  • 17A: Robin Hood's love (Maid Marian) - whose name I can Never spell correctly, perhaps because of my undying (I just typed "undrying!?") love for Mrs. C, i.e. MARION Ross from "Happy Days"
  • 24A: One at the front desk, perhaps (innkeeper)
  • 38A: Nail-biter, perhaps (tie game)

  • 49A: Leader deposed in 1955 (Juan Peron)

Lots of doers of one kind of another, from dwellers (44A: Pueblo dweller -> TAOS) to puzzlemakers (13A: Puzzlemaker Rubik -> ERNO) to chipmakers (24D: Major chipmaker -> INTEL). The roughest "ER" of all, though was 54A: Rescuer of Odysseus (Ino). I've read it several times, even taught it once or twice, and I absolutely blanked on this answer. Talk about your walk-on parts. Yeesh. It's a good thing that the only plausible vowel in the first position was "I," or else I'd have been in real trouble (all praise to crosswordy NILS for the assist - 48D: Rock's Lofgren). Got thrown by 7D: Men in blue - wanted POLICE, which I'm sure was the point of the clue. Had UNI- and wrote in UNITS. Got UNION and grumbled until I realized the UNION in question was one side in the Civil War; then I thought, "good one." As for TAOS, here is yet another place named for a tribe. I didn't know the TAOS were a tribe. Now I do. Soon I will forget. So sad. As for the Rubik's cube - here is an article from the front page (seriously, front page) of my local paper earlier this week. Apparently one of my colleagues is some big deal Rubik's cube solver. She has a solving method named for her.


  • 16A: Played for a cat's-paw (used) - not an expression I've ever heard. Must come from a time when toys were Made In Taiwan.
  • 19A: Like some telegrams (sung) - cute. Needed crosses.
  • 41A: Come to mind (occur) - this doesn't feel ... equivalent. I'm trying to think of phrases where you can swap these out, and I'm failing. You need extra words to make this one work neatly. I guess you could say, "When certain thoughts OCCUR, I just push them out of my head..." In that situation, the swap-out would work. But usually OCCUR is used in the phrase "OCCUR to me [or whomever]"
  • 55A: 1960s role for Diana Rigg (Emma Peel) - mmmm, Peel.

  • 53D: Place for pimiento (olive) - I wrote in LOAVE and thought "No way, that's not a word!" Indeed.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS Happy Birthday to reader SethG


dsf 7:54 AM  

Never heard of emma peel -- thanks for the videos and visuals, Rex!

dk 8:03 AM  

@dsf, get the to a video store and rent the first view seasons of the Avengers. A Surfeit of Water is great.

The theme was lost on me but the fill was fun. I like the tighty whitey reference with Hanes.


Ulrich 8:49 AM  

Does anyone remember the commenter from a few months ago who reported that a Taiwanese colleague once asked him, "why do Americans call a certain personality type Taipei?"

Putting the datedness of the theme hint aside, I liked the puzzle--it seemd just about right for a Wednesday.

BTW The "made in" label follows labor costs--it goes where it is cheapest. Thus it went from Japan to Taiwan to China, the move always being triggered by the fact that the increased demand for labor had increased wages. It may move again, but China is so big, with such a large domestic market, that the label may never completely disappear--I frankly try to avoid b/c the stuff is often so crappy.

Ulrich 8:49 AM  

Oh, happy birthday, SethG, also from me!

Chorister 8:57 AM  

Layla has a piano solo? It has a really looonnnggg guitar solo. I thought I knew my Clapton. We know what I'll be listening to on my way to work because inquiring minds want to know for sure.

I liked the puzzle, but also thought the theme was 20 years behind the times.

joho 8:58 AM  

My favorite thing about this puzzle is EMMAPEEL. She was just too cool. I imagine that Diana Rigg still is.

When reading the first words in the clued answers I had MAID INN ... and shrieked CHINA! in my head. So, needless to say, I was disappointed in TIE JUAN. But even so, the theme was completed, the fill was fun and the puzzle pretty good though dated.

Happy Birthday SethG!

Kurt 9:00 AM  

I thought that this was a solid Wednesday puzzle. My only issue involved the cross of EMMAPEEL and UMIAK. Never heard of either. But EMMA seemed like a much better choice than ERMA or EZMA or whatever.

Didn't Diana Rigg star in Peter Pan on Broadway. I wanted it to be so, but TRAPR pretty quickly killed that idea.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

Is it just me or did anyone get "CHILD" first and debate entering "CHILDLABOR"?!?!?!?

Kurt 9:04 AM  

Oops. It was Mary Martin... not Diana Rigg

Kurisu 9:05 AM  

Never heard of TAOS -- I'll have to add that to my list of crosswordese Indian tribes along OTOE and CREE.

I had a couple of wrong answers that slowed me down a lot (DOZE for LAZE and DEMO for BETA).

I smiled at "Copy cat?" MEW.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

I read the FAQ again yesterday and noted that Rex gets these messages as mail, which means he got 104 messages yesterday. Thank you, Rex, for doing this.

I thought today's puzzle had a little pull to it, just about right for Wednesday.

I was happy to see Emma Peel; I loved her and I often wonder why we don't see the Avengers on late night TV. Andy Griffith, as one example, seems to be on all night every night.

I noted a line of abbreviations at 29A - ALTS/PTAS/STPAT - with nearly the same letters - too bad the L wasn't a T. That's the kind of thing you notice when you start to study the puzzle. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

And it's still freezing in Michigan and we are getting even more snow today.

Parshutr 9:11 AM  

A few years after the end of WWII the words "Made in Occupied Japan" signified low quality, cheap POS merchandise. Then the Japanese changed the name of one of their manufacturing centers to USA.
Soon almost everything was MADE IN USA. Or so I was told at the time. Haven't checked this out on Snopes.
And Diana Rigg hosted the "Mystery" series on PBS for a while in the last decade. Still what the Brits call "crumpet".

Unknown 9:22 AM  

For those of us who are fans of the original Star Trek show, there was an episode entitled "Catspaw." Sylvia (Antoinette Bower) used Kirk and the others, and then Kirk used Sylvia later in the episode. Kirk naturally was the ultimate user.

A somewhat lame way to know the response to 16 across, but I guess anyway to get the response is a good way!!

edith b 9:32 AM  

I liked this theme because it had a little flair to it. I learned UMIAK from puzzles and I remember watching Mrs Peel when I was young.

This may not make sense but this one was a real crossword puzzle's crossword puzzle and I took a certain pleasure in solving it.

ArtLvr 9:32 AM  

I did this one in the wee hours, came to find out I had a funny error at !A -- Tied, for "Level", giving me Dodgers at 4D. Never looked at the clue for the latter, thinking "sports team, again". Tsk tsk. I suppose I should have seen conflict with TIEGAME at 38A and revisited TIER.

The theme was clever, if dated, and I did like the other musical fill like SOUL, SUNG, and PIANOSOLO next to TINYTIM... Oops, that last was clued as a "Dickens lad". Ah well... Mind elsewhere, made of JELLO today!

Have to crow a bit about my daughter's news: two offers from book publishers, at looong last! One promises that she'll be their next J K Rowlings... Whee! See her at

@ Seth G -- Many happy returns!


edith b 9:33 AM  

Oh, and Happy Birthday to Seth G

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Great lines from the Emma Peel video...

"Tight girth!"

"You need to cut down on the oats!"

Those British can be so subtle!

HudsonHawk 9:34 AM  

HB, SG! I liked the puzzle, but have to agree it is dated. Loved the 9-letter downs, actually. ENIGMATIC is a great word, and who doesn't love a good PIANO SOLO.

@Chorister, yep, the piano solo in Layla is actually the longest part of the song, after the guitar riff and the lyrics. It is featured prominently in Goodfellas, as Ms. HH can attest (her favorite movie and Clapton song).

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

@RP re 41A - So the answer did not OCCUR to you, nor did it come to mind? Maybe it should have had (to) in the clue.

Emma Peel and the Avengers brought back terrific memories. Thanks for the clip.

Anyone else have tied for Level at 1A? That worked until I ended up with dODGERS for 'Blue Moon' composer.

Lots of fine cluing today. Enjoyable puzzle once you get past the fact that it hardly applies anymore.


imsdave 9:51 AM  

I really need to learn how to spell. I put MARION right in, then saw the Rimes clue and 'made' MARIAN but LEANE looked fine (until INN of course). How is it I know how to spell RODGERS but can't figure out the little vowel sounds? By the time I got to PEEL, I was shaking over the second vowel - E? A? E?

Nice having RODGERS and TRAPP in the same puzzle. I'll sit back and wait for Greene to elaborate on this Mr. RODGERS.

I loved this theme even though it is passe. I thought the overall puzzle was a perfect Wednesday.

Anyone else plop in PACS for PTAS?

@Shin - get used to TAOS, usually clued as a NM art community.

Happy birthday Seth

Margaret 9:58 AM  

Saw Diana Rigg just recently on a best of Masterpiece theatre retrospective -- she still looks great.

@dsf - when you go to the video store, be sure you don't get the movie version of The Avengers. Even though it starred the crosswordly famous UMA Thurman and Ralph Fiennes, it was terrible.

Favorite word: USURP

Seth G: Bonne anniversaire à toi.

Jeffrey 9:58 AM  

Perhaps Andrea will comment/rant on the two 9-letter non-theme down answers when there are two 9-letter and one 7-letter theme answers.

Odd puzzle, but Wednesday-worthy.

Happy birthday Seth.

jubjub 10:04 AM  

Layla's PIANOSOLO crossing Billy Joel's IGO to extremes is apt. Layla is a good song except for the piano solo at the end, which really lames it up, in my opinion. Here's a Slate article on Billy Joel: The Awfulness of Billy Joel, Explained.

I liked the theme, even if it is a bit 80's-ish in fact. I would have preferred "Children's Toys" as a phrase to CHILDSTOYS. Anyone have suggestions of how the constructor could have gotten China in instead?
"Starbucks order"=CHAILATTE
"Indignant child's retort"=NUHUH
These answers are a little short for theme answers.

OCCUR is a messed up answer. "Come to mind" can be equivalent to "OCCUR to me", but not just occur, I would say.

I will never remember UMIAK or ERNO :).

Margaret 10:08 AM  

@ Anonymous 9:33 and other fans of British humor: Over the weekend, I went to a showing of the British Television Advertising Awards. If you get a chance to see it, GO! Many of the ads left me AGOG, they were so incredibly clever.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Fun Wednesday puzzle. I agree about the theme being dated. Seemed a little weird.

Something about Layla: for the past 30(?) years, every time that song comes on the radio, I turn it off when it gets to the second half with the incredibly long and repetitive instrumental. It must last 10 minutes!

But the song IS very dated, so it fits in with the Taiwan theme!

Rex Parker 10:10 AM  

Ugh, Ron Rosenbaum. He's the @#$# who wrote the highly unfunny, uninformed, self-serving Slate piece on crosswords last year:

jubjub 10:18 AM  

Ron Rosenbaum -- True! I didn't notice the by line. Yeah, the crossword article made me angry. I guess I'm only offended by him if he's ripping on something I like :). For things I'm fairly indifferent about, it is funny for me to hear someone rant.

santafefran 10:23 AM  

Also had TIED, guessed ARNE instead of ARNO and that left me with DEDGERS--a very obscure composer.

Yep, I immediately typed in PACS as well.

Living in Santa Fe made TAOS a gimme for me. Taos Pueblo is an apartment style dwelling which has been continuously inhabited for 1,000 years. The setting is stunning. See the link below for a photo.

chefbea 10:29 AM  

Happy birthday Sethg and also to Jackson Pollack.

I knew Rex would have umiak the word of the day.

I too had tied at first.

A good wednesday puzzle

Rex Parker 10:31 AM  

Ranting is not the problem. A good anti-puzzler rant would be funny. It was his going on and on about how reading is superior to puzzle-solving and how puzzle-solvers are idiots for solving puzzles and not reading. What pompous, smug, off-the-charts ignorant rot. He had no idea what he was talking about. He should have publicly apologized for that dumbass #@$#. Actually, Slate should have apologized - not to puzzle-solvers, but to all people who expect allegations and insinuations to have some basis in fact, and to all people who expect humor writing to be, you know, funny.


Anonymous 10:49 AM  

ok, I'll bite: why the "Strictly Ballroom" clip after the mention of "Nail-biter, perhaps (tie game)"? What did I miss?

treedweller 10:52 AM  

I breezed through this one and had one of my best Wed. times ever, until I submitted and had an error. A minute or two later, I finally realized my auto-fill of D-N when I had E__APEEL was wrong. Gotta check those crosses!

I vaguely noted to myself that Taiwan isn't a big exporter to the US anymore, but didn't realize how dramatic a difference it was till coming here, so I had no real complaints about the puzzle.

@RP: good catch! That RR piece is just as bad as the other one, IMO. I say that as someone who listened to a LOT of BJ as a teenager and loved it, and who now sees validity in the arguments against it. What stands out most to me is, in both essays, RR attempts to make himself look superior by sneering at popular culture, and manages merely to look petty and small in the process. His description of purchasing a BJ "Greatest Hits" set (?!) reveals just how insecure he really is, despite his efforts to hide that fact through bluster and bravado. What an ass!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

oh, and your colleague was also featured on the front page of the Science section of none other than the NY Times back in Dec.'s%20cube&st=cse

treedweller 10:56 AM  

I suppose I should disclose that my opinions of RR come entirely from reading the two essays linked above. Maybe he's brilliant but had a couple of bad days. I won't be delving into his archives to find out.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Ok puzzle...clunky theme but nice fill.

Technically, the piano part in the outro of "Layla" is not a is a rhythm part over which Duane Allman plays a nice slide guitar solo. When I think of piano solos, I think of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "I Know A Little" or "Call Me The Breeze"...or maybe Led Zep's "Boogie With Stu"

retired_chemist 11:09 AM  

Not much to add re this puzzle - just Happy Birthday to SethG.

deerfencer 11:11 AM  

Fun puzzle, and, yes, Emma Peel was a major (very classy) hottie and The Avengers probably the smartest series of its day. Gotta love them Brits!

Re the dating problem of the "Made in Taiwan" theme, it could/should have been resolved by somehow modifying the clue to imply antiquated or 1950's labeling.

jubjub 11:20 AM  

Not to promote RR, but he did have an interesting (to me, anyways) article on Nabokov a while back ( Of course, worshiping Nabokov is also rather hipster-doofus as well (take me as example A -- it's okay to be a hipster-doofus as long as I show I am extremely self-aware, right? :)).

I would say the Billy Joel article had a bit of validity to me. I don't know Billy Joel music well, but I can appreciate being annoyed by certain songs -- songs that are good in the sense that they are catchy and get stuck in your head, but bad in the sense that you hate them for being there.

The crossword article was about his presumption of others' experiences with crosswords, and the assumption that reading is the most enlightening thing anyone can do. I'll agree, tho, that there was a fair amount of bashing other people for liking Billy Joel in the article I posted.

Does seem ironic that he would be criticizing Billy Joel for being condescending.

Anyways, I should follow RRs advice, and stop obsessing over xwords and go solve cancer or whatever, and let you all get back to discussing the puzzle :).

PuzzleGirl 11:22 AM  

@jimmy d: I'm with you. I entered PIANO VAMP at first.

Happy birthday, son!

miguel 11:30 AM  

The Cat's Paw reference is to a fable from La Fontaine from a story titled, "The Monkey and The Cat." The cat is convinced by the monkey to swat chestnuts from a fire with its paw. The monkey eats the chestnuts and the cat gets a singed paw. Parallels abound.

allan 11:30 AM  


I liked this one, even though I agree that the theme was weak. As a matter of fact, until I got to 60a I thought it was a themeless puzzle. I originally had "even" at 1a, and this slowed me down since enigmatic still fit. I was glad to see umiak back (I'm a poet & I know it). I haven't seen it in a long time. It has always been one of my favorite "crosswordeses" because for some reason, I never forget it. I wonder if it was one of Mr. Maleska's favorites too?

I loved The Avengers way back when, and still think that Ms. Riggs is one of the hottest women ever.

Lastly, I am shocked that no one has given a shout out to the late Mel Blanc, the voice of EVERY great WB cartoon character. But he had a life outside of the cartoon world, and was very, very funny. He was just terrific at deadpan. Give a look.

Orange 11:47 AM  

Was the world somehow in need of having someone write a piece slamming Billy Joel? I kinda thought there were plenty of hipsters who'd already made a point of mocking Billy Joel. So what's the point? Rosenbaum's next assignments: (1) Explain why the last sequel in the American Pie movie series is not as good a film as other sequels like The Dark Knight and The Godfather: Part II. (2) Turn a critical eye on that reality show in which people reveal hideous, hurtful truths that scar their loved ones.

PuzzleGirl 11:55 AM  

If Wade shows up today and hears people dissing Billy Joel, we're all gonna be in trouble.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

@ John in NC


Anonymous 12:03 PM  

Don't usually comment but must inform you all that I read what you have to say every day. My excitement and bewilderment has clearly gotten the better of me today because I definitely had CHILDLABOR for a hot second as the final theme answer before I checked the crosses. I laughed and felt ashamed all at once...

mac 12:04 PM  

Enjoy your day, Seth! Hope you have a reason to wear your pink dancing shoes.

I liked this puzzle, though dated, but with good clues and answers, my favorites being usurp and enigmatic. I slowed down a bit in the SW, probably because I filled in kayak, but it all fell into place. Diana Rigg still plays on the stage in England, and she still looks wonderful.

@Rex: loved the Strictly Ballroom reminder. Can't remember if it was a tie game.

@santafefran: we visited the Taos Pueblo, and you're right, it was a wonderful site. I would have loved to take a peak inside.

@Margaret: Every time I'm in Holland or England, I make a point of watching the ads on TV. They are a riot! Some of them would not make it here, a little too risque. A lot of them are dubbed, so you see them in different countries. Print ads are also fun, or shocking sometimes.

mac 12:05 PM  

@santafefran: we wouldn't do that. Just a peek would suffice.

treedweller 12:14 PM  

@jimmy d
thanks for articulating my issue with that "Layla" clue. I thought at first it was just played under the guitar, but then I remembered it starts out with only the piano. Ergo, it's a solo. Which I suppose is still technically true, but you've pointed out why it just doesn't feel right to call it that.

Doug 12:33 PM  

@RP: Nice photo of Tyler Hinman with his Lead Buddy (taken at last year's ACPT?)

I never watched the Avengers, and after seeing the pic of EMMAPEEL I see this was the inspiration for Mimi Rogers' Mrs. Kensington character in Austin Powers. I see that Mimi Rogers is responsible for introducing then-husand Tom Cruise to Scientology. Thank you Mimi.

I thought the theme was amusing, although I had WAN in place on JUAN until the PERON clue became apparent. I love Layla and play the Unplugged version, but PIANOSOLO would be better clued as "Any Supertramp song". More local trivia: Eric Clapton is another famous Canadian.

Jeffrey 12:41 PM  

Re Matty's "Don't usually comment but must inform you all that I read what you have to say every day"

Real people read what we say? I thought this site was a virtual reality game where computer-generated responses appear in response to whatever we type. I better be more careful from now on.

Crosscan, who is virtually virtual

santafefran 12:42 PM  

Plenty of peaks to see in the background :)

Rosenbaum and all those hipsters notwithstanding, I am a big fan of BJ's Piano Man album which was the reason I went to see him in concert in Denver an eon ago. Unfortunately, he was into his screaming rock persona and my ears are still hurting just from the memory of the amped up cacophany.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

I really, really liked the "Maid Inn Tie Juan", but the last theme entry just feel flat, not only for the timeliness (as others have mentioned), but just the whole "bearers of a phrase suggested by ..." nonsense.

Given the recent increase in crossword submissions to NYT, I am not surprised that some puzzles are out-of-date in their theme even before they are published. Anyone know when this puzzle was submitted?

(Also, can any of the constructors comment on puzzles that were accepted and subsequently rejected because their themes were made obsolete due to delays?)

JohnG in CA

Doc John 1:03 PM  

The whole puzzle was worth it for me just for TIE JUAN. If only the clue for CHILDS TOYS had included "formerly".

Juan Peron reminds me of Evita, a show I went to see preparing to hate. Wow, was I wrong- definitely one of my all-time faves (and I'm not usually a Sir Andrew fan).

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Crosscan, I think I may have virtual reality envy. I read and read but never jump on the comments bandwagon. I'm too self-conscious. But now that I know it's just an automated response system I might be more inclined to post in future.

Greene 1:07 PM  

In addition to portraying the fetching Emma Peel in The Avengers, Diana Rigg had a successful theatrical career, in musicals no less! She headlined the 1982 musical Colette which unfortunately expired during the pre-Broadway tryout, but she made quite a splash as the acid-tongued Phyllis in the London production of Follies back in 1986. She made many films as well. Who could forget her performance as Tracy Bond, James Bond's only wife in On Her Majesty's Secret Service?

@Fikink: You would be pleased to know that Diana Rigg also played your beloved Charlotte in the much maligned film version of A Little Night Music.

I keep wanting to draw a link between Richard RODGERS and EDNA Ferber, but come up empty other than their mutual association with Oscar Hammerstein. Hammerstein, recall, did the book and lyrics for Ferber's Showboat ("Ol' Man River was just in the puzzle) with music by Jerome Kern, as well as the lyrics for that other show about the TRAPP family with music by RODGERS.

imsdave 1:13 PM  

Well done Greene - I knew you'd come up with something.

@Doc John - totally agree with you on "Evita" - not a big Webber fan, but that's a great show. "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" is a fantastic example of how simple can be sublime.

On a sad note, the beautiful snowfall in north central CT has degraded into freezing rain - gotta love the north east...

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

For some recent Diana Rigg, rent the 2nd season of EXTRAS and watch the episode with Daniel Radcliffe. She has a small bit where she has to look dignified with a condom sitting on her head (flung there by Daniel/Harry Potter). Won't try to explain. Funny

Unknown 1:30 PM  

I had a bit of trouble in middle, since I was thinking of potato chip maker for 24d, and that the wrap in 32d was a verb. Slapped forehead when the correct answers occurred to me.

Nice to see Maid Marian ON A SPREE.

I liked the puzzle overall, including the theme, (even though, as noted, the clueing for 60A was awkward).

I once sent a singing telegram to a departing co-worker I didn't like, just because I knew she would hate it, and I had the singer incorporate one of her really irritating phrases into the custom song so that she would have to hear her own words sung to her. All in good fun, of course.

liquid el lay 1:43 PM  

I had some problems.

SEIZE for SENSE yields ZTPAT.. but by the time I got the NW, I had forgotten about the weirdness there and didn't go back to it.

had FAIRMAIDEN which would have to spell as MAIDAN which is OK as I'm a bad speller..

but then got ___-INN-TIE-JUAN and so moved MAID to the fore.

INIGMATIC was tough in coming, I thought the cuber was ENZO or something..

TIED showed me it was ENIGMATIC and maybe ENNO but the DODGERS weren't right.... finally RODGERS gave me an R for H_A_TEN which I could not see for anything that worked.


jae 1:48 PM  

I liked this one. Clever (if dated) theme. Only misstep was AWED for AGOG. Knew UMIAK from previous puzzles and was a big avengers fan as a kid. HBD Seth!

dk 1:55 PM  

Regarding Rosen-whats-his face: If one reads and does crosswords do they cancel each other out, ya know like an ION without a charge.

I would bore all of you with the Layla back story (love amongst the rock stars) but I am sure you can find it on line. And, I know Andrea knows everyone involved.

And, I am surprised you you all don't know that @wade is in fact Billy Joel. And, for those BJ dissers I think you can see him coming through your front door right about now.

foodie 2:04 PM  

Ron Rosenbaum cannot love reading as much as he claims. At least not the kind that is imposed from without. His Wiki entry says that he won a scholarship to Yale Grad School in English Literature and dropped out after taking one class. I'm sure he had compelling reasons and he clearly went on with his life and produced some interesting things (e.g. his book on Hitler). But his own life exemplify the view that there is more than one path to enlightenment, to fun, or to what he calls "edgy enthusiasm".

Chip Hilton 2:10 PM  

I had the same reaction to the Billy Joel piece. Mightily pretentious. Happy to have missed the crossword essay.

Struggled a bit in the western half of the puzzle but ENIGMATIC fell and I was home.

Bottoms up, SethG!

RodeoToad 2:14 PM  

Okay, joke's on you. Or maybe it's on me. I actually commented on that Slate article the day it came out (and outside of this board I have commented maybe a dozen times on internet items.) My post is below (I'm "Soybomb" in my other life.)

Re: Subjectively Disliking = Objectively Discrediting?!
by Soybomb
01/23/2009, 11:00 PM #
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Amen, waitingforgo. On a webzine full of fresh, smart writing, Rosenbaum consistently stands out for his trademark sub-excellence (see his utterly awful piece on people who like crossword puzzles, the gist of which is "I hate people who like crossword puzzles because they're so pretentious!") Rosenbaum is one of those writers who is read, if at all, not for the information or insight that may be learned or gleaned about their purported subject matter but for the temporary voyeurism of a really messed-up person's head. Why on earth anyone would feel compelled to pick on Billy Joel at this particular time (or crossword puzzle solvers ever) is the main thing that keeps the reader reading. (It can't be the beaten-into-the-ground, sophomoric, sarcastic rhetorical question, a device beloved by Rosenbaum and ranters on blog comment-boards all over the internet.) Slate needs to dump this guy. He's just awful. Your link to the Jody Rosen article provides a brilliant contrast.

As for Billy Joel, again, it's really beside the point, but the guy writes catchy pop melodies, sings well, plays piano well, and is at worst innocuous. There are quite a few songs (including "New York State of Mind") and even albums ("52nd Street" and, yes, "Glass Houses") I'd defend if a serious debate were launched; Rosenbaum's not worth it. I don't buy for a minute that anybody can be truly offended by him [by "him" I meant Billy Joel].

jae 2:41 PM  

Thanks for the post Wade. I was actually thinking of reading the RR piece, but after your comment I believe I'll pass. I'm retired so there are always better things to do.

Bill from NJ 2:50 PM  

@seth g-

Happy Birthday, seth, and I hope you had a chance to dip into Saki this year.

That whole Rosenbaum article smacks of the "What pop icon shall I take a baseball bat to today" school of investigative journalism.
Uses a lot of high-falutin' imagery, don't you know.

fikink 3:01 PM  

Well, I misspelled ELYSEE and had "seer" for EYER and ended up with the "bearers of the phrase" being CHILD'S TOES. What to do? ...short in the brain stem! So this must mean that there is a children's nursery rhyme out there somewhere that addresses toes as something other than "piggies," thought I.
I will spare you the poem I wrote to justify my reasoning; suffice to say, JUAN PERON cried, "wee! wee! wee!" all the way home when he was deposed in 1955.
@ulrich - nice play on Taipei !
@imsdave - yes, I immediately put PACS, too
@SethG - Happy Birthday to vous
@treedweller, you won't be meeting me in RR's archives either
@miguel, thanks for the cat's paw explication
@greene - I did not know that Diana Rigg played Charlotte. What a waste of good talent. (I stopped at the marquee listing of Liz Taylor as Desiree.)

chefwen 3:01 PM  

Being as dated as the puzzle I really liked it. The only new one for me was cat's paw, thanks for the explanation Miguel, that was cute, poor kitty.

Happy Birthday Seth! Had one myself a couple of weeks ago and have to share my favorite card.
Friend - Where's your birthday party at? BD girl - Don't end a sentence with a preposition.
Inside - Where's your birthday party at, BITCH?
Really laughed at that one as I am AKA the grammar nazi.

Margaret 3:24 PM  

@ chefwen -- your card reminds me of the time I was driving through a not-so-great part of town and saw a car being towed. I did a double-take (and a spit-take!) when I saw the name on the side of the wrecker:

Where You At? Towing

allan 3:31 PM  

OK folks, I have to say something here. When you guys go negative, you GO NEGATIVE! We get it (editorial we). Rosenbaum is a jerk; all his opinions are wrong; Billy Joel is great. So enough already. Let's get back to the fun stuff, like Seth's birthday, child's toys (ugh, horrible phrasing), The Avengers (yum, Diana Rigg), Mel Blanc, anything but Rosenbaum.

I guess I have a problem with people bashing someone for their opinion. As a retired educator, I always taught my students that their opinion was never wrong. Others may not agree with it, but it is still your opinion. And yes, that held true even for those whose opinion was that I was a @*!$%& up stupid teacher.

Sorry for the rant. Where is acm when you really need her!

Ulrich 3:32 PM  

@fikink: thx.

@chefwen: great card--right up my alley!

We've gone through the no-preposition-at-the-end-of-a-sentence rule here before--so let me repeat, for the benefit of newcomers, my favorite retort, thx to Winston Churchill: "This is the type of pedantry up with which I will not put". It's as catchy as his put-down of Clement Attlee that was repeated here yesterday (I think).

3 and out. Does "Oops I forgot Seth's birthday in my comment" actually count?

janie 3:34 PM  

>Didn't Diana Rigg star in Peter Pan on Broadway.

kurt -- i know you eventually came up with mary martin (who originated the role in the broadway musical) -- but maybe were thinking of cathy rigby, who also performed it on b'way (and on tour).

and -- haven't watched a pbs "mystery" episode in some time, but for a while there, the classy and arch diana was doing the intros.


chefbea 3:39 PM  

@fikink I too had elysse, seer and childs toes. Great minds think alike.

@chefwen.. Great card!!!

SethG 3:50 PM  

Hey, thanks for the note, Rex! And thanks too to everyone else who wished me or will wish me a (h or happy or bon or az zhargaltai) (b or bd or birthday or anniversaire or törsön ödör).

What's up with all the SPREEing this month?


And I haven't even been drinking...

Orange 4:13 PM  

@Allan: Yeah, but Rosenbaum is a douchebag and a lazy writer. :-)

JannieB 4:28 PM  

Birthday greetings, SethG. Many happy returns.

Loved seeing Emma Peel in the puzzle. She was actually Steed's second side-kick. The first was played by recent puzzle entry Honor Blackman.

Otherwise, an ok Wednesday.

chefwen 4:38 PM  

@Margaret, I think I would have screamed if I had seen that truck.

Doug 5:37 PM  

Jackson Pollock is not spelled Jackson Pollack. I know this because my wife founded the Pollock-Krasner studio in their former home in East Hampton. Just nitpicking here because I mixed up Mize and Foxx yesterday.

I liked this puzzle; neat theme. I actually knew Maid Marian was spelled with an A and not an O. And Emma Peel, Mrs. Peel more formally, was one of the great TV characters. Diana Rigg gave new meaning to the phrase "cat suit."

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

ino/nils was a natick for me. I had eno/nels

Otherwise I rushed through this -- seemed like a lot of crosswordese -- irae, erno, oked, epi, let, iles etc.

But I admire Juan Peron/Emma Peel as adjacent across answers.

SethG 7:57 PM  

Change of plans--sushi some other time. Instead, we're going to Lucé in Seward, then Tracy's later; feel free to stop by.

Oh, right, puzzles, sorry Rex. Er, I didn't like the phrasing on CHILDS TOYS, I don't like JELL-O as a food but do like it as an answer, what the hell is ELYSEE?

I know you already heard from me today, but I'm really just here to tell you I will be wearing the shoes!

Airchecker 8:00 PM  

It may be apocryphal, but the name of the Diana Rigg character is said to derive from her ability to draw male eyeballs to the show: the producers wanted someone with "man appeal" = "m. appeal" = Emma Peel.

retired_chemist 8:09 PM  

@SethG re Élysée Palace, see

it's near the Champs Elysées (Elysian Fields). The Elysian Fields, or the Elysian Plains, were the final resting place of the souls of the heroic and the virtuous in Greek mythology. (quote from Wikipedia)

And happy birthday again....

mac 8:13 PM  

@SethG: Nice to see the the happy feet back, have a great time this evening!

edith b 8:36 PM  

I called this one a crossword puzzle's crossword puzzle because there was a little something for everybody in it, spanning the modern INTEL BETA, the literary LIAM TINYTIM through the historic JUANPERON ELYSSE and included a smattering of crosswordese, all pitched to the Wednesday level.

It may have had a little moss on it but it was a satisfying solve.

jeff in chicago 8:38 PM  

@ArtLvr: Congrats (again) to your daughter

@SethG: Happy B-day

Some nice fill today. I liked ENIGMATIC, PIANOSOLO, TINYTIM, JELLO, USURP. Didn't know the "cat's-paw" thing. And someday I will finally learn who's EERO and who's ERNO.

fergus 11:18 PM  

Wade touches on the delicate topic of criticism. Possibly in opposition to mere opinion.

In college I stumbled, by scheduling into taking English 143, or whatever it was, and discovered that there was an art to assessing the literary or artistic merit of a novel, play or poem, far beyond whether you liked it or not, but why.

"Lyrical Ballads" from 1798 got us on a roll ... and we're now dealing with Christopher Hitchins, who I rather like, yet sometimes don't, for the reasons I've stated and some I've intrinsically maligned.

For a really enjoyable critic, the guy James Poniewozcik (sp?), who writes for Time magazine, turns the mass medium into a thoughtful place.

Anonymous 12:00 AM  

Love Diana Riggs whether in The Avengers playing Emma Peel or as host of PBS Mystery or as Mrs. Bradley in the PBS Mystery series.

She still has what it takes!

Okay puzzle. Again, the blog is more fascinating.

Kathy D.

Anonymous 2:11 AM  

Happy B'day, Seth. Oh, ever hear of the Champs Elysees?Pretty famous boulevard in Paris. Dang! I've got to start getting up earlier. Greene mentioned my favorite and only Mrs. James Bond (Diana Rigg). I did see Nils Lofgren at the U of Maryland, late 70's, playing guitar while jumping on a trampoline. Gotta have a gimmick. What ever happened to Nils, I wonder. Google fodder.

Anonymous 3:22 AM  

I'm here! Just late, but I have to agree with Orange ;)

Sorry I'm late! Hope you're still celebrating. Joyeux Noel!

Just try saying CHILDSTOYS two times fast, even one time slow. yuck. But I liked the idea...

Way too many abreviations and obscure partials in this puzzle.
That said, I plan to steal INO and IGO next chance I get!

Would love to hear the Layla story and I swear I know no one! (Apparently I'm NEVER gonna live down the name-dropping and I've been so good for weeks now!
Altho I once punched Robert Rosenbaum, does that count?)

Anonymous 3:49 AM  

Wish I worked in your office, you sound fun!

dk 8:01 AM  

The Real 'Layla' Talks About George Harrison and Eric Clapton

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