WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7, 2009 - W.F. Macreery (Pioneer Boone, familiarly / Birthplace Vice President Hannibal Hamlin / Geraint's lady)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Foreign capitals on American soil - each theme answer is an American city that takes its name from a famous world capital

Word of the Day: DOGIE - In the language of the American West, a motherless calf is known as a dogie. [the probable etymology is too sad to relate. Read about it here]

Really liked this one. Found it very charming. A bit easy for a Wednesday, but not by much. Never heard of PARIS, MAINE, but the others are well known enough to be at least vaguely familiar to many solvers. I'm wondering why the puzzle didn't go with PARIS, TEXAS, the far better known PARIS. The "X" might have made construction a little harder, but it would have been positioned perfectly for a simple word like "EXIT" to cross it. There are likely hundreds of cities in the U.S.A. with the same names as various world capitals, so I guess that you could do many variations on this puzzle, assuming you could find a hook that was crossworthy enough. Not every foreign-named city can claim a bigwig like Hannibal Hamlin as a favorite son, though. Why don't parents name their kids "Hannibal" any more? So it rhymes with "cannibal" and makes everyone think of "Silence of the Lambs." So what? I hope it makes a comeback. Benedict and Hannibal - those will be the names of the next two kids / animals / cars I acquire.

Here are George and Tammy singing about some cities that aren't in our puzzle, but could have been (thanks to reader Twangster for the link):

Theme answers:

  • 18A: Host city of golf's Memorial Tournament (Dublin, Ohio) - had the DUBLIN and just guessed on the OHIO, as it rang a bell. It was that or IOWA, and IOWA doesn't sound very ... golfy.
  • 30A: Hometown to college football's Vandals (Moscow, Idaho) - part of my family lived very near this MOSCOW, so despite not knowing the team name, I got it quickly
  • 36A: Where rock's R.E.M. was formed (Athens, Georgia) - very much a gimme
  • 44A: Paul Revere founded a brass and copper works here (Rome, New York) - that seems a very sad claim to fame
  • 59A: Birthplace of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin (Paris, Maine) - close call, but this claim to fame is in fact sadder

I had some great missteps today, my favorite being at 21D: Fancy wrap (stole), where I had the "S" and quickly wrote in SARAN. HA ha. "Fancy." Maybe in PARIS, MAINE it is. I also had ROUT for ROMP (58D: 49-0 game, e.g.) and RPMS for REVS (44D: Tach figure, informally). But the biggest screw-up for me, in terms of creating a time-sucking puzzle snag, was writing in ISIAH for 15A: Husband of Bathsheba (Uriah). I would not have thought to do this had I a. known my Bible better and b. had OSU at 6D: Tulsa school (ORU). ORU = Oral Roberts University, and this likely threw a few people today (my wife included). I would not have changed a thing had I not noticed that DID made absolutely no sense for 5D: Turkey (dud). Let me just say that DUD is a deeply unpleasant messenger answer (i.e. the answer that tells you that you completely @#$#@'d up). Why couldn't FALANA have been the bearer of the bad news (8D: Lola of "Golden Boy")? I bet she smells a lot nicer than DUD.

(Fancy) Wrap-up:

  • 1A: Garden bloom, informally (glad) - lots of informality today. I mean, look at how Daniel Boone spells his name when he gets SLOSHED (13D: Pie-eyed). Poor guy (16A: Pioneer Boone, familiarly => DAN'L).
  • 10A: "Down with," at the Bastille (à bas!) - as in "A bas les aristocrates!"
  • 20A: Stumped solver's desire (hints) - not this stumped solver. No HINTS! Patience...
  • 69A: Host who said "I kid you not" (Paar) - he makes a good pair with CAHN (31D: "High Hopes" lyricist), as both of them appear in crosswords regularly and I hesitate every time I spell their names (wanting PARR and CAAN, who are real people, just not these people). Here's a PARR:

  • 1D: Made of whole-wheat flour (graham) - really? The only GRAHAM I know comes in cracker form, and I had no idea what those crackers were made of (except tastiness). Oh, I also knew this South African kid named Graham. I beat him to win my 6th grade chess championship. That may have been the last time I played chess.
  • 9D: 1862 battle site (Shiloh) - had the final "H" and felt all the weight of my historical ignorance ... until SHILOH shot to the front of my mind. I'm working my way through American history this year, but I'm currently back in the Revolutionary period. I should get to SHILOH around April or May.
  • 32D: Herd orphan (dogie) - got it off the "D," though at first I was thinking of a wild herd, i.e. antelope. Those come in herds, right?
  • 38D: Fish-eating raptor (erne) - the greatest bird of all, xword-wise. EMU, Schme-mu.
  • 39D: Assayers' samples (ores) - feels like I've been digging through lots of ORE lately...
  • 48D: Muralist Diego (Rivera) - enjoy
[main stairway of the Palacio Nacional in Mexico City]

  • 60D: Magazine output: Abbr. (iss.) - ouch. I wanted AMMO, then I wanted MSS.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS The 10th Annual Westport (CT) Library Crossword Puzzle Contest, with puzzles provided by Will Shortz, will take place Saturday, February 7, 2009. More info here.


Greene 8:19 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle immensely. The theme was clever and kept me guessing since I often did not know which state went with which capital city (well, maybe ATHENS, GEORGIA and ROME, NEW YORK). I really wanted PARIS to be in Texas, but everything was pretty smooth and very gettable with crosses. I can't say I'm a fan of DAN'L, but construction is as construction does. Any puzzle with the great Sammy CAHN is a happier place as far as I'm concerned.

Jeffrey 8:20 AM  

My first thought on completing this puzzle: Five obscure towns, 18 3-letter words and ANIMALIA. If Rex Parker didn’t exist, this puzzle would have invented him. And then we get a charming review. Who are you, and what have you done with Rex?
I was a grade 6 chess champion as well. Go figure.

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

This puzzle killed me. Didn't get the theme, had OSU at first, but worked that out. But Caan at 31.D gave me _ _ a _ ns, Georgia, which was obviously Plains. The whole Southwest became a shambles until I googled R.E.M for Athens. Very disappointing day.

ArtLvr 9:15 AM  

Easy, yes, but I'd never heard of your "far better known" Paris TX, while I have cousins in West Paris, Maine, whom I've visited frequently...

Working up from bottom to top, my main pause was at DUD, thinking Tom Turkey initially, but then DOFFS and DUBLINOHIO appeared. Enjoyed the theme, and all the libidinous fill...

Is there such a thing as a ONEMAN army? Lone survivor on a PARAPET, perhaps?


Anonymous 9:15 AM  

Next time I see my friend Daniel, I'll simply call him "Dan-ell," I guess. Strange entry.

imsdave 9:18 AM  

I Loved this puzzle. Super theme, great fill. I didn't see ORES until I was proofing it, and was hoping the clue was kronor parts (alas, Öre is both singular and plural). The CAHN/PAAR spellings were gimmes for me as they both fall in my pantheon of incredibly talented people.

TEXAS can easily replace MAINE (I've worked out lots of clean fill for this, which I won't bore you with), but then I would not have been able to read up on Hannibal Hamlin. Check him out on Wikipedia - interesting stuff. He died will playing cards (I have had many near death experiences playing poker).

I knew OHIO, and the golf course name - Muirfield Village, but not DUBLIN. It's a "big deal" golf tournament as it is hosted by Jack Nicklaus, the greatest golfer of all time (you'll get there Tiger, but not quite yet - win the Masters when you're 46 and we'll talk).

Super puzzle Mr. Macreery.

PuzzleGirl 9:21 AM  

Great theme! I had trouble in northern Minnesota where I had lies for FIBS and guessed Berlin OHIO off the -LIN.

I also thought that 23A: Apt. ad abbr. could be, ya know, pretty much anything. BRM, FPL, EIK, OSP ... okay I can't think of any more.

I guess I think of DAN'L like "Sam'l" and "Wm." -- an old-timey abbreviation from back when you could spell a word any old way.

I want to know if any other non-Simpsons-watching folks entered Apu for NED.

Rex Parker 9:22 AM  

"PARIS, Texas" was the title of a 1984 Wim Wenders film. Ironically, none of the film was shot there.

The town was named best small town in Texas in 1998 by Kevin Heubusch in his book The New Rating Guide to Life in America's Small Cities (whatever that is).


dk 9:34 AM  

There is a famous road sign outside of Sweden Maine that points to Paris and several other towns named for far away places. I will look for it and post it. I have several photos of both the old (very cool) and new (not so much) sign.

Great puzzle. Had rout instead of ROMP for some whiles but other than that ....

dk 9:35 AM  

Note: Avatar pix is from Eastport Maine where the sun first hits the cont. US.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Today I think I'll write my comment before reading anything else. I thought this was really easy until I hit the northeast section as I worked counter clockwise. I then had to ask my husband (my resident French expert) for Abas and the rest came easily. Neither Bahrain or animalia would come for me without that nudge. Oh, well. But being southern helped with Danl, Shiloh, Athens Georgia and acres.

joho 9:36 AM  

I got ROMENEWYORK first which led me to DUBLINOHIO and the delightful Foreign/American city theme. ATHENSGEORGIA and MOSCOWIDAHO followed quickly with PARISMAINE coming in last.

This was a lot of fun just like a Wednesday should be.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

For some reason, it took me a long time to complete this puzzle. Longer than most of my Wednesdays, so I rate this one as hard. Mainly those answers in the top-center area. I'm always taken down a peg or two - and put into my place - when I complete what I think is a hard puzzle and then see that Rex rates it as "easy".

The theme was really fun though. Figuring that out early certainly helped with the crosses.

evil doug 9:46 AM  

ORU's in the puzzle pretty often, no? I'd say it's time to add it to the bart/asta/etc fill list. I think the OSU Cowboys are in Stillwater. The OSU Perennial Big Bowl Losers are in Columbus, OH---near Dublin.

"A slut nixes sex in Tulsa." One of my fave palindromes.

Yves L.
Paris, OH

santafefran 9:47 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle.

Since my French failed to help me with ABAS, I didn't have the leading B for BAHRAINI for a while and was trying to figure out which native from one of the Gulf of Mexico states would work here.

Also had ROUT until I saw the PAAR clue. He was just the best.

JC66 9:50 AM  

Ed Ames, of Johnny Carson tomahawk fame, played DANL Boone. Ergo, the bit:

Doug 9:51 AM  

Up early for a conference call with Moncton, New Brunswick, the Natick, MA of Canada.

The puzzle was both super challenging in parts and super easy. RIME? A word totally unknown to me, and I live in Canada. "RIMEY the Snowman, was a happy, jolly soul..." Nah, I'll stick with FROST.

I had TURFS for 5a. DOFFS, and BERLIN, Ohio for 18a. DUBLIN (and believe me that town EXISTS.) Add to that my scant biblical knowledge, i.e. 15a. xxxxAH was not gettable and that whole Wisconsin area was a mess.

Guess GRAHAM and ORU were too Jesusey (if one can say CLAYEY or EGGY then surely this is okay) so the former became a flour. I thought Lola FALANA was just famous for being somewhat famous, like just about every panelist on Match Game.

I think many will have had a DOH moment for thinking the "Gulf" was "of Mexico," so BAHRAINI was a TEXARKANI, FLORIDINI or N'ORLEANI or something. Obviously I did for a while!

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

If you were of a certain age (actual number deleted) you would have recognized Dan'l Boone very quickly. Most of you must just be too young. It was a fun puzzle.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

I had a rough time with this one. For the "Dublin Ohio" answer I confidently filled in "Canton Ohio" (Canton being the English nanme of Guangdong, China, so it seemed to fit with the theme and everything). That held me back, as did my mistake of putting in "Paris Texas" where it should have been Maine. (Bolstered by an auto-related cross at 56D where I used that X to make "Axle.") There were other, smaller mistakes ("ROUT" instead of "ROMP" at 58D, "ION" instead of "ILE" at 33A, etc.) So it took a long time for everything to come into view. My puzzle has an above-average number of eraser marks today.

chefbea 10:19 AM  

Harder than most wednesdays for me. Had Berlin ohio for a while

@dk was in eastport me a few summers ago - beautiful state.

Our mayor of Stamford, ct is Danel Malloy.

Two Ponies 10:48 AM  

Very enjoyable puzzle with a great theme.
I was relieved when animalia appeared and saved me from what I feared was some reference to Narnia trivia.
Now "irreg" is the correct abbr. vs some silly variation we had recently.
Danl was a gimme from childhood TV. Wasn't Ed Ames' character Squanto or something? Fess Parker was Danl, right? Davy Crockett was popular then as well and I get them confused.
@ArtLvr -A man capable of the work of many would be a One Man Army.
Whenever I see Dogie I think of some cowpoke in the old westerns singing "Git along little dogie.."

Ulrich 10:50 AM  

Actually, all the capitals happen to be in Europe, which, being a European myself, makes the theme even tighter and more compelling for me. (yes, yes, it's a dangling participle--so shoot me)

I really enjoyed doing the puzzle, particularly b/c I didn't know most of the towns in question and had to rely on crosses for my guesses, but it all worked out splendidly, even if I had never heard of GLAD in that sense--a typical Wednesday for me, possibly even a bit on the easy side.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Concerning 12D "Lion's kingdom"= Anamalia. Biologists used to divide all of life into 5 kingdoms: Monera, Protista, Plantae, Fungi and Animalia. More recently they have decided it is better to divide all of life into three "domains" (a whole new super-category): Bacteria, Archaea and Eukarya. Animalia (animals, including lions) remains a kingdom within the domain of Eukarya. I suspect most people don't use these words every day.

Ulrich 11:00 AM  

Following up on GLAD in the less obvious sense, here are some other possibilities I found, not all of them of Wednesday caliber:

Glad (Bulgarian and Serbian Cyrillic: Глад) was a voivod from Bundyn (another European capital?)...

In Norse mythology, Glad is a horse among the steeds ridden by the gods each day when they go to make judgments at Yggdrasil (now that would be great answer on a Saturday!)

Glad is an American company specializing in trash bags...

With over 1.5 million albums sold, GLAD is one of the pioneers of contemporary Christian pop/rock...

Ah, the things one learns doing xwords...

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

The URIAH/FALANA cross killed me and I had to google, even tho I had SHILOH. Otherwise, pretty easy, knew all of the towns, tho not what they were clued for. Come on, right off the top of your head, whose VP was Hannibal Hamlin?

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Seems like a pretty good claim to fame.

fiddleneck 11:21 AM  

Excellent write-up, Rex. I read your blob every day and though I rarely say anything, a thank you seems appropriate from time to time.

fiddleneck 11:22 AM  

sorry, blog. I also enjoy reading others, such as Ulrich, and on and on

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I liked this puzzle, but I would have loved it if the state names were geographically true. Each summer we go north to Bar Harbor, Maine. Lobster salad sandwiches, summer corn and fresh blueberries, yes!

ArtLvr 11:38 AM  

Thanks, Two Ponies -- ONEMAN army was new to me!

@ Ulrich -- I enjoyed your GLAD list, especially the Gods' Norse horse. Who knew?

@ dk -- Norway is another town near PARIS, ME, besides Sweden. Hope you find the photo... I always found the juxtaposition of those town names in that part of Maine hysterically funny, like a jigsaw map of Europe all mixed up.


HudsonHawk 11:42 AM  

Liked the theme, and as a golf/sports/music fan, the first three were gimmes. ROME, NY was easy, but I also wanted PARIS to be in TX. Evil Doug is correct, OSU is in Stillwater, which is not far from PONCA! City.

I would love to hear from ACME on the construction. The island black spaces in the NW and SE seem to be contrary to Will's comments of her original submission of Monday's puzzle, creating more three and four letter words.

How about a shout-out to Guster's ONE MAN Wrecking Machine?

jae 11:44 AM  

Really enjoyed this one. About a medium for me. No real problems but it required some thinking. I also had LIES and RPMS and tried ALLOTTED before checking the crosses. Oddly PARIS MAINE does not appear in either of the atlases I own. Maybe you have to be bigger than 5000 to get in the big books.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

About your Uriah/Isiah goof: Am I right in thinking that Isaiah = Bible guy and Isiah = terrible Knicks GM/coach/president/all-around human being?

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

A fun puzzle. I too had to fix Paris Texas (OK, it's local) as I had never heard of Paris Maine either. ORU brought back a memory - I visited there once to give a research talk. They were taken a bit aback by my beard. Seems facial hair is forbidden there (or was then - probably still is).

I agree with RP re 20A - patience, yes; hints, no.

dk 12:23 PM  

@ArtLvr and others, picture of Maine sign is posted to my blog. Actually it is a picture of a postcard of the old sign.

For RP and Retired_Chemist:

"Hints, hints we don't need no stinkin hints" A famous line from the movie Leisure of Some Miscreants

Parshutr 12:30 PM  

Nice puzzle, got the theme right away, but not being a Simpsonite, guessed TED instead of NED, so PARISHAITI had me stumped for a while, until I thought of the ONEMAN army/band...

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

I thought the puzzle was nice and easy. I made all the same mistakes Rex did (except RPM).

What is hard is trying to figure out PG's apt abbrevs. So far I have:

BRM is bathroom
FPL is front porch light
EIK is ex-Ikea kitchen
OSP is osprey

How did I do?

GlennCY 12:48 PM  

I didn't dislike the puzzle although I thought it was too easy for this time of week. The one complaint I have is with the theme. I don't solve for speed but just relaxed for enjoyment, so it was dissapointing to solve the theme long before getting any of the theme answers.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

There's a whole slew of towns in Maine named after countries and cities.... Denmark, Poland (poland springs water anyone?), China, Paris, Sweden, Mexico, et cetera. There's also a famous sign with all mileages pointing every which way. In case you wanted to know.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

Easy enough for me. DUBLIN OHIO was a gimmee - here in Columbus there is a fierce appetite for Memorial Tournament tickets each year. One NIT to pick, though... Is anyone else bothered by the "ESS" clues that show up from time to time??? Seems like a cop out clue/answer to me. I'll take ESS as a curve, but as a letter??? No.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:26 PM  

@ obertb - I knew as I was solving that Hamlin was Lincoln's VP. (OK, so I have double-checked now before posting.) But there is a crossword connection. Something about Hamlin and his library (?) came up in a crossword in the last few months. Darned if I can remember now what it was about!

Otherwise, same experience as many: Didn't know any of the clued cities from the clues, was tempted by Paris, Texas but didn't put it in, DID put in BERLINOHIO and had a tough time getting around to DUBLINOHIO (after all, Berlin was so obviously the correct and only answer. But, not!)

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle theme a lot. Never got Bahraini or animalia.

And two ponies, you are partially right. Fess Parker played Dan'l in the Disney series, but Ed Ames played Mingo (not to be confused with Ming the Merciless or the aol game).

Finally, who knew that Ed was one of the Ames Bros.? That's rhetorical by the way, and should be read with a yiddish accent!

imsdave 1:28 PM  

To all the anonymi - come out and join the party - blogger is easy to join.

@NewGrandma - build a puzzle sometime, and you will appreciate outs like ESS :)

bookmark 1:30 PM  

@obertb: Hannibal Hamlin was Lincoln's first VP. He wasn't selected for the second term because he was considered too liberal.

My daughter-in-law is a descendant of Hamlin's. She tells the story of being in a classroom in Vermont when the teacher asked if anyone knew who HH was. Katy answered correctly. The teacher, stunned, asked how did she know. "Because he's my great-great-great-great grandfather."

Anonymous 1:42 PM  


I think that the easternmost point of continental US is Sail Rock, just offshore of West Quoddy Head, Maine (66°57'W). I also find Lubec, ME (I have a friend who has a home there) listed as the easternmost city.

Doc John 1:49 PM  

I thought it was a typical Wednesday- tough in places but ultimately solvable (although I wasn't thrilled about SLOSHED- does "pie-eyed" mean drunk?). That said, I had OSU and forgot to change the S to R, even though I knew URIAH. I'm in a bit of a rush today, though, as we're leaving for Vegas in a few minutes- going to CES and another trade show that's running concurrently.

I knew ATHENS instantly (which clued me into the theme) as my best friend was concert coordinator for UGA during that time in the 80s so I was ahead of the curve on R.E.M., the B-52s, Pylon and even Love Tractor. (I've got some fun R.E.M. stories but won't bore you with them here.)

Here's another ONE MAN army. Who said I'd never learn anything by reading comics?

Lastly, one could make the SE downs a name-fest by changing 49D to "Catherine who played Harper Lee in 'Capote'."

edith b 1:57 PM  

Very strange solving experience, indeed. I got the theme right away at ATHENS and MOSCOW and quickly filled in the theme entries.

However, I was very spotty throughout the North. I had *RAHAM/*LAD in the NW and A**S crossing two long down in the NE that seemed not to make sense to me - something to do with animals and Mideastern people I didn't recognize. I had six blank squares that I simply could not see. Very frustrating.

I put the puzzle down for an hour to do chores and came back to it and saw the G right away. I ended up guessing at the two long downs and they turned out to be correct guesses.

I could not believe I was this bolloxed up on a Wednesday puzzle!

Unknown 1:59 PM  

A real slog for me today, not the puzzle's fault, just that there was so much I didn't know and I made every sinlge mistake that everyone has mentioned except saran.

I'm in Canada so none of the cities were familiar by their clues except REM's home town, and fortunately that at least tipped me off to the theme. Then I made a mental list of shortish cities and states and teased it out.

Despite my difficulty, I really liked the puzzle once I finished it and can think of no NITS to pick. I appreciated the misdirection of 'gulf state native' even though I was completely taken in by it.

Bob Kerfuffle 2:19 PM  

Confessions of a confused mind: I was mistaken about Hannibal Hamlin having been referenced in a recent puzzle. Apparently what I was half-remembering was from an 11/21/08 Patrick Berry NYT puzzle: William ______, law partner of Abraham Lincoln (HERNDON). BTW, HAMLIN has been an answer three times in Jim Horne's database, always as Lincoln's VP, never a reference to the Pied Piper!

What's the connection? Did I mention being confused?

jeff in chicago 2:26 PM  

This was tough for me. But ultimately satisfying. I was GLAD to do it! I'm not a speed solver, so any puzzle that makes me think but that I eventually finish is OK. Enjoyed the theme a lot.

I'm from Canton, Ohio, and went to that other OSU, so I should have known DUBLIN, but it just wouldn't come to me. ATHENS was my first theme solve, and I had a (correct) hunch what the theme would be.

In the NE, I had the INI of 11D and the LIA of 12D, and was completely stumped. But I call that clever cluing. ABAS was completely unknown to me, so it took getting a few more of the crosses to finally figure that corner out.

@Karen: EIK=funny!

That Johnny Carson/Ed Ames clip never gets old. Johnny playing with the tomahawks and just milking the laughs. Priceless.

mac 2:27 PM  

This one felt like a Medium to me. For once I found the theme way before finishing the puzzle, which is why I filled in Berlin, Ohio and got completely stuck in that corner. I also had never heard of Lola Falana, of course, and forgot about Uriah... Funny to see Oral and his wife Anal again.

I've got to go back to my Simpson DVD's, wanted Apu at 61D. Also thought rout instead of romp.

What a sad explanation of that term dogie.

jeff in chicago 2:30 PM  

Wow...Do I know where I'm from? I was born and raised in NORTH Canton, Ohio. (Not a section of Canton, but a separate city.) How does a person make such a mistake? I need caffeine.

Ulrich 2:42 PM  

@bob kerkuffle: This is not intended as a nit to be picked, but as a piece of information you may be interested in: The pied piper (Rattenfänger--"ratcatcher"--in German) did his mischief in Hamelin (Hameln)

dk 2:58 PM  

@obertb, You are crusin for a brusin when you question Eastport's position as first to see the sun. Lubec makes a similar claim but....

For Y2K the Gov. of Maine came to Eastport (although he may have slipped out to Lubec to keep the peace).

Three and out

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Despite the catchy theme all the names of people (a real dead spot for me in general) drew some of the zest out of this puzzle for me. I mean I know Uriah – I just can’t remember who he is – I know that kinda makes no sense but still I don’t know who he is yet I know Uriah. It’s a WTF for me too.
Parapet is cool. I never want I hint when I get stumped: I want an idea. Raise a stink and rot? Meh.
REM cost me an extra semester or two in college - not to mention brain cells and hearing capability. Became a real groupie in the early ‘80s. Athens was a musical crucible back in the day – Love Tractor, Pylon, Indigo Girls, along with the B-52s and the other well knowns. I don’t follow the scene enough anymore to know what happens where anymore. Probably a good thing.

Chip Hilton 3:05 PM  

Having registered for the Westport tourney today, I took this one as a personal 20 minute challenge. Made it - barely - and happily, no errors, although RIME and the French words had me a bit concerned.

The Memorial tournament in DUBLINOHIO (also the residence of racer Bobby Rahal, I think) is a joy to behold. One of the most immaculately kept courses on tour. Kudos, Jack.

My main motivation for entering the Westport event is to rub elbows with fellow Rexers who've said they'll be there. I have few illusions about my ability to compete with more able puzzlers, but figure the experience will be a hoot. Also, I feel more comfortable going to Westport now that the great Paul Newman has passed away. It got so tiresome being mistaken for him in the past....

chefbea 3:10 PM  

@chip hilton. See you in westport. Cant wait to meet everyone. That'll be more fun than the puzzles

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

Not a fun one at all, for me. Surprised at the raves. Every theme answer had to be gotten purely through getting enough crosses to guess the city/state, since none of the clues was any help. And that mess in the North with URIAH and DUBLIN being crossed with ORU, FALANA, and SHILOH! Give me a break!
Rating puzzles like this for difficulty is really kind of arbitrary it seems to me - either easy if you know enough of the obscure references or impossible if you don't.

Anonymous 3:29 PM  

David from CA, I agree on the difficulty level being arbitrary. I've done a lot of puzzles and this one was certainly harder than most Wednesdays for me. Rex rates it "easy", well...because he's already done it before! Duh. I try not to put too much value in his ratings.

mac 3:32 PM  

@Chip Hilton: great that you are coming too. Do you read your blog?

SethG 3:33 PM  

Great, fun theme. (One I actually proposed to a friend of mine the other day...back to the drawing board!) The rest? Meh.

Theme: Encyclopedia Brown once solved a case by recognizing that several major world cities shared their names with Texas towns.

Norway _is_ near Paris, ME. As are Denmark, Sweden, and Poland. And the town where I spent a summer teaching tennis, Naples, Maine. And I've spent lots of time at a chicken festival in Versailles, OH. Which is not far from Troy or Lima, while Berlin, OH is not far from Dublin but closer to Rome.

Would the theme have been helped if the towns were uniquer?

Rest: You can do whatever you want with les aristocrates, but if you à bas them I reserve the right to complain _again_ about Freedom phrases. I'd actually prefer if they were in Mongolian or something so that everyone else was just as frustrated as I am.

Worse, it combined here with other blah cluing to make the whole NE ugh-ley. RMS could have been lots of stuff, AHH or OOH also work for AAH, ION or IVE or ING or more could work for ILE, and you cross all that with ANIMALIA? I actually had to rely on DANL and ENID to have a hope up there, and that's _not_ a good sign.

And if I'm ever stumped and want help, you can be sure I'd want a HINT and to go from there rather than for you to give me HINTS right away.

John Parr's recently toured with Journey and with Bryan Adams, and Neil Diamond sang Shiloh. ISS.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

I'm with you, write up surprised me a bit...tho it's nice to still be surprised just when I think I understand Rex!

All your mistakes, plus I had GLAHAM till I came here!
("White coat" I decided was LIME...oops! Does that even make sense? I knew something was wrong, but couldn't figure out what!)

@Hudson Hawk
Usually I'm the last person to ask about construction as I use old grids and then adapt them...
I am so sorry! I couldn't even understand what you asked me!
OH! Just reread and looked at grid, you are EXACTLY right!!!!
That was exactly the deal with my MEAT/MEET/METE grid!
He could have had EGGY-ROMP be one nine letter word, as will as DELT-CAHN
("Delta Cahn, what's that flower you've got on...?" Is it a GLAD?)

Well, it might have been super hard to fit words there, bec the C of MosCow and the H of AtHens HAVE to be there.
That's why they call them cheater squares!

Saw Dame Edna last week and she has people wave their GLADS high in the air...

Count me in for having BERlin once I saw it was European cities...
Is there a BERLIN, Ohio? Isn't it cool that BERlin and DUBlin can be mistaken linguistically?!

Thanks for the explanation about ANIMALIA, it makes it sound slightly less creepy to me... it reminded me of some sort of bestiality...
I was envisioning animal + pedophilia = animalia. Ick.

Bob Kerfuffle 3:50 PM  

@ Ulrich - Thanks for the correction. I really did know that somewhere in the back of my mind, but I was hung up on Lincoln as I was typing. I'm glad my goof came in the same post as my protestation of confusion!

For others, an occasion for schadenfreude (and I hope I spelled that right!)

chefwen 4:01 PM  

Had gra for 1D so of course I put in grainy. Deles instead of doffs and lies for fibs. Moved the the bottom and started working up and found and corrected all my goofs. After that it was clear sailing and I very much enjoyed the puzzle.

hazel 4:27 PM  

@ DocJohn &
@ Rafaelthatmf - were you 2 in Athens late 70s early 80s?? Are you fellow UGA alums? I too caught lots of Love Tractor, Pylon, REM and later Widespread Panic and Vic Chesnutt - B52s had made it by the time I got there, and were for the most part living in NYC. I live near Athens now and it still has thriving music scene.

Regarding the puzzle, I thought it was a great debut for the constructor. Lots of eclectic fill. Fun to solve.

Anonymous 4:51 PM  

Young SethG
ABAS = lower, ie "down with!"
See how much fun French is? It's really just English with a well tied scarf!
Mongolian, indeed! I'm going to chip in and send you to Paris.
HEY what about Franken!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pythia 4:59 PM  

I liked this a lot once I stopped being bugged by the trivia contest and understood the theme concept. Very nice to have five long theme answers and 55 theme squares. A puzzle like this was done a few years ago by a different publication using only four theme entries, including two of the same as here.

@Hudson Hawk
I thought the grid was nice for a midweek puzzle. It has 76 words and 38 black squares. In addition to 15x1, 11x2, and 10x2 theme answers, there are pairs of 8x2 and 7x1 stacks in two corners and pairs of 6x3 in the other corners. I didn't thing the black squares you mentioned were cheaters. Without them, even if a decent fill were possible given the need to cross two theme answers, there would have been a nine next to the 6x3 and very wide-open corners for a themed puzzle like this. It may have been possible to lose the black square below the first O in OHIO and above the I in PARIS, which would have added two more eights with no grid weirdness.


Andy 5:02 PM  

I enjoyed most of the puzzle but can't agree with the EASY rating because of the NE corner. A BAS, BAHRAINI and ANIMALIA. That should at least warrant and EASY-MEDIUM.

Then again, I'm a novice.

joho 5:15 PM  

@andrea carla michaels: "It's really just English with a well tied scarf!" I love it!

I'm so bummed. My brother lives in Fairfield, so close to the tournament. But I have to be in New Orleans on business. Would have loved to have met you all.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

The NE was brutal, for reasons @SethG already explained.

But it started great -- Athens, Georgia was first thing in grid. I was off to the races and so I confidently wrote in 20A: GIMME.

[sigh] Oh well.

------> Joe in NYC

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

It is way cool that everyone is meeting in a real way. Maybe that's why they call it Connect-icut!

I'll be "stuck" here that same weekend at our own local tournament in Morgan Hill! Theoretically/ironically I'm giving a free workshop on how to construct Mon/Tues (Byron is doing late week duty and Tyler will be milling around as guest-of-honor!)

Bravo to Will by the way for providing the puzzles (a week early and for free!) to all these little tournaments that are blossoming.

@jane doh
I may need you for back up! That was a much clearer explanation of what was going on!

archaeoprof 5:41 PM  

Good Wednesday, took me longer than usual, esp. in the NE. SLOSHED and ANIMALIA just didn't want to give in.

Great to see all the new voices joining our conversation!

jubjub 5:49 PM  

This one was hard for me -- there are a bunch of answers I don't/didn't understand. I ended up with LaBIDO/RaME and Berlin, Ohio instead of Dublin. I figured out GLAD & RIME by looking them up in the dictionary. Could someone explain how "Rough position" = LIE? Thanks!

JannieB 5:55 PM  

@jubjub - think golf. The rough is the area bordering the fairway - and the "lie" is the position/location of the ball.

Nice puzzle - good theme. Really good time for me on a Wednesday -

Soul Solver 5:59 PM  

New Year's Resolution #3: Start posting in Crossworld.

Yes.. I put PARIS TEXAS in the Texas part of the grid which gave me the somewhat appealing possibilities of AXLE and ABU for the downs near there. But I knew NED from the Simpsons was a better answer, and that led me to MAINE.

The movie PARIS, TEXAS has a nice soundtrack, by the way.

On work trips to Pullman, WA., I eat in the Appleby's in MOSCOW, IDAHO. Whenever the Idaho Vandals win, they light up a big V for everyone in the surrounding wheat lands to see. Vandal Victory. It's pretty cool.

Love this blog.

Amy Reynaldo 6:22 PM  

@Soul Solver: Omigod, you're not kidding about that soundtrack. Between Ry Cooder's mournful and evocative guitar compositions and Harry Dean Stanton's soulful rheumy eyes, Paris, Texas has stuck with me since '84.

joaniejaya 6:49 PM  

GRAHAM flour is a term for whole wheat flour that I have only seen in Britain (and British cookbooks).

fergus 7:48 PM  

Am I the only knucklehead to write in DAVID for Bathsheeba's husband? She also shows up in a Thomas Hardy novel (Far from the Madding Crowd ??) but there's no way I'm remembering her husband's name, but it certainly wasn't URIAH.

PurpleGuy 7:50 PM  

@AndreaCarlaMichaels- I had "lime" also. Made sense to me,thinking of Tom Sawyer's whitewash paint. Don't they also use lime to mark sports fields ?
That made me wonder what"Glaham" was,too.
Love your idea of French words.
Must remember my scarf!

Overall,an enjoyable puzzle experience.

Thanks to all for being able to join in the banter.
Love coming here to read Rex, then to enjoy the comments from "friends."

Unknown 7:51 PM  

Indeed, Welcome to Soul Saver, joaniejaya, Andy, chefwen, David from CA, Sam Hall, Newgrandma, bookmark, Laurene, PIX, Paul, and the various anonymouses. Oh, and that Amy Reynaldo woman, who writes so much like Orange.

I have my reservations for Brooklyn.

PlantieBea 8:08 PM  

I solved this puzzle thinking that it was a Tuesday puzzle (printed it off last night). I kept thinking it was a toughie for a Tuesday. Alas, I went to get today's puzzle and found I had already solved it. So for a Wednesday puzzle I found it to be a
Medium--easy in spots and tough in others. I got the theme right away, but like others didn't know the states. Had trouble with DOFFS, FALANA and URIAH.

I did like GLAD, the back forty units (ACRES), but have not heard DOFFS or pie-eyed.

So, I need to go back and do Tuesday now.

PurpleGuy 8:18 PM  

@fergus- count me as a knucklehead, too.
Wanted David as Bathsheeba's husband.
OMG, then you mention Thomas Hardy. One of my favorite authors. The character was Bathsheeba Everdeen. Julie Christie was great in the movie,BTW.
My favorite Hardy novel is Return Of The Native.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

Want to hear something sad?
Lying on my couch reading the paper. Today's Garfield cartoon:

John: Am I wasting my life?
Garfield: Yes
John: I withdraw the question
Garfield: You're talking to a cat

It gets worse...
I actually CUT OUT the cartoon and read it to my cat, Black Jack, who happened to be sitting on my chest at the time...

jeff in chicago 8:35 PM  

Glaham Kerr...used to love his cooking show! --- Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week. Tip your waitress....

mac 9:03 PM  

@Andrea: sorry you can't be in Connecticut.... About that pronunciation: that's how I did it when I first arrived (not off the boat!). You can imagine what I did to Arkansas.

About that scarf: you are right, they are good with them. I have a sneaking suspicion it helps a lot when the hem is turned outward (Hermes)...

@fergus: we've just started watching another version of Tess on CPTV last Sunday. Very good, I think better than Nastaschia Kinsky's version.

@philly: Looking forward to seeing you in Brooklyn. By the way, we call these people Anonymice.

@Jeff in Chicago: I remember Graham Kerr's cookbook, which my husband BROUGHT INTO THE MARRIGE, and I liked some of it until I read a recipe for DEEP FRIED STRAWBERRIES! Yuck. Then years later he had a show in England where he talked about extremely healthy food, since his wife had had a stroke.

@PlantieBea: how about "Doff your hat".

SethG 9:43 PM  

Andrea, naiz okhin, happy lkhagva! I've been wearing a Steelers scarf this week, and I'll admit it's tied messily, if at all.

I can see that 'ABAS = lower, ie "down with!"' once I've filled it in, but how is one to posit that form?

Could have been a French version of avast, abase, abate, abort, arrest, a form of arret... And that's assuming I already have the 'a' in place.

I should spend more time in Montreal.

foodie 9:56 PM  

Rex, I'm not sure how many others have commented on this (so much work coming back for the term, my brain is already fried!) but I did want to say that I love the WORD OF THE DAY feature. I started to do something like that for myself a while back, but I have no stick-to-itiveness.

@amy, while I miss the companionship of the other fruit, I love your avatar. Is that you as a child?

Re the puzzle-- the only thing I wanted to add is that once again I feel that mid-length answers, 8-mers and 9-mers, add something special to the puzzle. I have not done a systematic analysis, but they seem rare to me. My sense is that most puzzles have short fill (3-6) and then some long answers. These intermediate size answers tend to be notable--e.g. ANIMALIA, BAHRAINI today, and HOPSCOTCH and DIXIECRAT in Andrea's puzzle. They give a special texture.

liquid el lay 10:43 PM  

I thought I had some problems with the clueing, but on second look I don't. What I like about puzzles is that they make you look at again again and again, until you find the angle that you didn't know was there. I resisted at "graham" for a long time- it's a man's name, and it's never used as an abreviation for "graham cracker" but, you can have a pie crust that is of a certain type, is a "graham" crust...

likewise with "libido", "amends"... I'm OK with all that now..


"Glad" is ugly, no matter how you cut it.

"Dan'l" is the opposite of ugly, and my favorite answer.

Doc John 11:07 PM  

@ hazel- UCSD grad here. Was only in Athens once to visit said friend at UGA.

santafefran 11:22 PM  

@ Andrea

Doesn't everyone talk to cats? They are better listeners than most people. A shout out to Black Jack!

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

@ SethG - it's 2 words, á bas, as in "Á bas le roi," or "Down with the King," for French revolution buffs.

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