THURSDAY, Mar. 26, 2009 - E Safran (Chinese porcelain with a pale green glaze / Shipping mainstay of the 1600s / 1899 gold rush locale)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Relative difficulty: Easy/Medium


A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown –
Who ponders this tremendous scene –
This whole Experiment of Green –
As if it were his own!

-Emily Dickinson

(20A: Start of a poem by Emily Dickinson that continues "But God be with the Clown, / Who ponders this tremendous scene")

Word of the Day: CELADON - n.
  1. A pale to very pale green.
  2. A type of pottery having a pale green glaze, originally produced in China.
Difficulty level today is hard for me to gauge, as I'm guessing it's going to be all over the map. I first thought "Aargh, I don't know this poem," but I have some familiarity with Dickinson's sound and style (my sister wrote her senior thesis on Dickinson), so the quotation ended up being remarkably easy for me to unravel. Thank god it rhymed I can easily imagine the poem slowing people down a bit, especially in that northern section, which I escaped with very little damage but which looks daunting in retrospect. I had no idea what was meant by the phrase "Shipping mainstay" in 5D: Shipping mainstay of the 1600s (galleon). Actually, it was just the "mainstay" part that was confusing me. "Mainstay" is a nautical term, so I had no idea if it was being used metaphorically or literally. And I think I thought GALLEON was a coin. I entertained GALLEYS for a while. But a GALLEY is just a part of a ship, right? No, man, it's got two meanings too - it's a kind of ship and a ship's kitchen. Again, I'm just glad I didn't get pulled under up there. Also glad that I was reading a comic called GOLEM (5A: Dimwit, in Yiddish slang) at the time I solved this puzzle. As for LLOYD and OSLER ... no.

Let's play "Did He or Didn't He Know It - 'Celebrity' Edition"

  • 4D: Funnyman Don (Knotts) - Yes he did
  • 6D: Physician William (Osler) - No he did not
  • 18A: David _____ George, British P.M., 1916-22 (Lloyd) - No he did not
  • 8D: Singer with the 2008 gold record "And Winter Came ..." (Enya) - Yes he did (though not as clued). I guess I'll have to listen to the song to find out what happened next. (Just kidding - I'd be bleeding from my ears inside of a minute)
  • 39A: Former Nebraska senator James (Exon) - No he didn't
  • 31D: 1985 Meg Tilly title role (Agnes) - Yes he did (movie title = "AGNES of God")
  • 58D: Warren who founded a rental car company (Avis) = Yes he did
  • 24A: Barker of the Cleveland Indians who pitched a perfect game in 1981 (Len) - Yes he Guessed and was Right (I must have had his baseball card at some point, otherwise I don't know how I know him)
While the north should have slowed me down but didn't, there were two places where I fumbled around. I have probably seen CELADON before (46A: Chinese porcelain with a pale green glaze), but it did not come back to me at all today. Sounds like an island or a sea monster or something impressive and possibly nautical. Hey, CELADON KNOTTS. There's a puzzle theme there somewhere. The other part where I struggled a bit was in the far south, where the "V" was the last letter I put in the puzzle. I had ADAPT for RIVET at one point (62A: Fix), and I kept expecting it to fall into place with every new letter I fixed - and yet I ended up needing every letter to see it. TROVE (50D: Antique dealer's happy discovery) seems weirdly clued to me. A TROVE of what? Letters from George Washington to a brassy young dominatrix? (That would be good.) Or is a TROVE some valuable piece of antique furniture?

Bullet me:

  • 10A: International company with the slogan "Home away from home" (El Al) - I've seen this exact clue before and it still took me several crosses to get
  • 14A: North African city captured by the Allies in 1942 (Oran) - also the setting of Camus's "The Plague"
  • 28A: Refuge for David, in the Bible (Dead Sea) - almost 1400 ft below sea level.
  • 38A: Radio geek (ham) - reclued, this answer could have been paired with EMOTE (59A: Chew the scenery)
  • 21D: South American monkey (Titi) - TATI, TATA, DATA, DANA, DANE, DAVE etc. Sorry, got distracted there thinking of amusing ways to connect actor Jacques TATI and the TITI (in family-friendly fashion)
  • 25D: Monkeyshine (antic) - more monkey! In the ... singular? O ... K.

  • 29D: Philly hoopster (Sixer) - gigantic gimme. [Dr. J was one] might have been slightly tougher.
  • 30D: Extremely large, old-style (enorm) - this word shows up more often than you'd think, and is usually clued via its alleged "poetic" quality.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Jeffrey 7:54 AM  


Parshutr 8:04 AM  

Yes ez for all who knew the ode. Unremarkable, generally.
Waiting for a challenge tomorrow.

Anonymous 8:20 AM  

Due to attempting to look up a clue and having the puzzle tab open instead of a new tab, I lost the puzzle when it was about 80% complete. Having to recreate it, I got the feeling that super solvers must get - just filling in answer after answer with barely a hesitation. It will take me a long time to be able to solve this way the first time around, but it was nice to pretend for a day.

joho 8:30 AM  

I'm nobody, who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog.
To tell one's name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I like Emily Dickinson and I liked this puzzle. Probably a little easy for a Thursday, but fun.

CELADON is one of my favorite shades of green.

I also like the idea of A LITTLE MADNESS IN THE SPRING because I am experiencing it!

Orange 8:41 AM  

Dickinson? Too rhymey.

The only time I like a quote/quip puzzle is when it's got a killer punchline and everything else around it is good, with entertaining clues. This one didn't do it for me.

One of my blog commenters, Tuning Spork (my favorite utensil), noted that the same theme was used in the 4/3/97 NYT crossword. Some constructors complain when this happens—they have puzzles rejected for various reasons, and then they open the paper and discover that another constructor recycled (almost always inadvertently) a theme and got published anyway? "Grr," they say.

Rex Parker 8:57 AM  

Yeah, I once co-wrote a Paul Newman tribute puzzle that was rejected by, let's say, Publication X - rationale: Newman had been the subject of a puzzle in the not-too-distant past, and anyway, by the time the puzzle ran, it would be too late to be meaningful. And then early in 2009 that same publication ran a Paul Newman tribute puzzle with Exactly the same theme answers we had in ours.

It happens.

HudsonHawk 9:04 AM  

More of a medium-challenging for me, even though I finished in reasonably good time. I had all the corners completed and then the middle fell. I missed some obvious clues on first pass, so maybe I was just a bit off this morning (for example, I lived in Nebraska when EXON was elected, and I still had to think about it for a bit).

The poem is vaguely familiar now that it's in the grid, but it didn't grab me right away.

Kurt 9:12 AM  

Sounds like I'm back to my alternate universe again. I thought that this was a solid Thursday puzzle, although I'm with Orange on the quote/quip deals. But for me, this was hardly easy. Entertaining, yes. Doable, yes. But easy, no.

Too many tough answers ... GALLEON, OSLER, LLOYD, GOLEM, CELEDON, ENTENDRE, AMIS, EXON ... and some very creative cluing made it hard for me to crack to quote. But once things began to fall, they fell quickly. I guess that's the way it is with a quote/quip puzzle.

Sandy 9:15 AM  

I'm with Orange on the quip/quote/riddle puzzle theme. It takes a lot for me to love one. And when a quote is combined with poetry things don't look pretty in Sandyland.

I hesitated over GOLEM because I thought that was a creature brought to life by man.

Chews the scenery, while guessable, was an unknown phrase to me. Sounds like what our dog does.

Thank goodness for my father. He used to roam the house singing "Lloyd George knew my father, my father knew Lloyd George." So LLOYD was the first answer I put in.

Anonymous 9:18 AM  

I managed to fill in all of 88 squares, 15 of them incorrectly!

evil doug 9:21 AM  

Probably a good puzzle for Jew(i)s(h folks---how did that debate ever end up?): Golem, Dead Sea, yenta meddlers, El Al....

Oral contraceptive? Pretty bold for the ol' NYT. I commend Will for his tip of the hat to Quigleyesque word freedom.

If we must have themes, I like quotes or quips because of the lack of repetition. When they have a too-obvious pattern it's a simple sprint to fill in the long clues and typically easy fill that seems to necessarily follow. And given that we're in the middle of March Madness, basketball-style, the line seemed apropos.

And why do we have to have themes through Thursday anyway? Tradition? A tedious rule that has outweighed its usefulness, if it ever had any. As Ralph Waldo said: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds...."

Fewer themes=better fill

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I knew I wasn't going to do very well on this puzzle when I got to the clue "Funnyman Don" and thought, "OH YEAH, I know this one, TOTALLY!!" so I confidently started writing in "R-I-C-K-L-E-...FUUUUUUU...."

Rex Parker 9:34 AM  

I would buy multiple copies of a picture book entitled "Where's Ralph Waldo?"

If only I knew how to use Photoshop.


dk 9:35 AM  

HI kids! Miss me?

For being not Jewish or Dickinson literate I did well except for reset instead of RIVET.

I am a CELADON fan. There is some quote about being in a room with celadon walls but it eludes my little grey cells this am.

I do not mind the theme puzzles and I agree with Evil d that non-theme puzzles often have better fill. For me it is all WHOLESOME.

Lovely wife accuses me of being a relativist... what does she know.

Made fish tacos from the recipe in Sundays NYT mag. Not bad too much onion in the relish.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Had RIGHT for RIVET, so that section was a loss.

dk 9:40 AM  

Rex, Where's Ralph Waldo coming up.

ileen, your time must have really sucked.

joho, how about "to an admiring blog"

ok back to work.

Glitch 9:57 AM  

@Evil D

If we didn't have rules, how would we know they've been broken?

(other than the comments would go down by a third)?



chefbea 9:57 AM  

Difficult puzzle today. Had to google and still couldnt finnish. This is suppose to be a tribute to march madness??

SethG 9:57 AM  

I agree with Sandy, up to the point of thanking my father. I like him and all, he just never sang to me about Lloyd George and my Zayde.

And I also find Enya boring and insipid.

This took me much longer than an average Thursday. Thor!

Ulrich 10:12 AM  

@dk: I had the very same thought about those fish tacos, but haven't gotten around to them yet.

Speaking of the madness of kings: We saw last Sunday Ionesco's Exit the King on Broadway in preview, and I recommend it highly to anyone ready for a meditation on death and dying that runs the gamut from farce to moments of profound sadness. Geoffrey Rush delivers a bravura performance in the title role and has an unusually good cast around him (with one notable exception).

Moving on to spring poems: The great spring weather we are having here in the Nutmeg State inspired me to put up one of my favorite German poems, Early Spring, by Hugo von Hofmannthal, best known outside German-speaking countries probably as the librettist of Der Rosenkavalier. I certainly like it better than the clip we have in today's puzzle.

This is my last puzzle day for a while: I'm off to PAPEETE on TAHITI and BORA BORA to greet the descendants of French painter Paul Watzisname and the mutineers of the Whatzhername. TATA!

joho 10:23 AM  

@Ulrich ... bon voyage!

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

I found most of this pretty easy but then could not get the STERE, RIVET, TROVE section.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

"A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even fortmaking"

Sounded plausible to me. Sigh.

Not much familiar with Dickinson, and couldn't sound out MACHETE.

MACMETE sounded to me like the believable brand name of a newfangled clear-cutting device. I just got through reading a "Concrete" graphic novel that was all about forestry and environmentalism, so I had visions of large tree-felling machinery dancing in my head.


Two Ponies 10:37 AM  

A slow start but successful in the end. The O of golem was the last letter for me. I don't know Yiddish so that square could have been any vowel.
Not just the theme poem but two answers from a Xmas poem as well.
Trove was a little odd. I have really only heard it used as the phrase "treasure trove."
Have a great trip Ulrich. What a cool destination.
Thanks for the Zappa clip Rex. Anything that guy does makes me smile. Before his untimely departure he was on my list of people I'd like to meet before I take my own leave.

DJG 10:42 AM  

I'm with Orange and others on the quip/quote puzzles.

I was glad to see CELADON, because it's a perfect example of how Scrabble words help in crossword puzzles. I had no clue to it's definition, but I knew it was a word, and so I had some confidence in filling it in. Actually, this happens fairly frequently in later-in-week puzzles.

ArtLvr 10:44 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ArtLvr 10:49 AM  

Rather amusing, the puzzle and Rex's take and the comments! It's a nice picture of a CELADON vase and its characteristic color, for example, but some of the other fill struck me as more interesting...

GOLEM clued in one meaning of Yiddish slang was really odd, given the long history of the term in many cultures right up to the present: earlier and modern literature alike have used it as a kind of Frankenstein's Monster. Worth checking in Wiki!

Treasure-TROVE is a legal term, trove deriving from the French "to find", and means any valuable discovery with unknown owner.

Sandy's dad's ditty about Lloyd George is sung to the tune of "Onward, Christian Soldiers" -- familiar nonsense from childhood, but I don't know its origin...

As to the puzzle itself, I got it all with lots of pondering and crosses, not knowing the poem. The GALLEON was easy because I had the -EO- from TITI, TIERS and ADDS TO. The X in SIXER and EXON was a good guess. I had KNOTTS early, but that NW corner was the last to fall -- I had to guess at the Spanish MANO and change Aden to ORAN before I saw COMA, ORAL, and CORK. RANI is still a ???

@ Ulrich -- I'm bright green with NV! Have a great trip.


retired_chemist 10:50 AM  

I only knew David LLOYD George from the kids' song:

Lloyd George knew my father
Father knew Lloyd George
(repeat until you get tired of it)

Sing to the tune of "Onward Christian Soldiers." It may, however, stay in your head for WEEKS. Like a house guest you can't get to leave.

Started with OSLEN for 6D, which made 23A EVENS, which ruled out KNOTTS for 4D, which was ruled out anyway by having TRUK for 14D. Turns out Truk just sounds African, like Tobruk. It is an island in the Pacific, so I was in the wrong theater of war. With 17A beginning life as CASA, it was a right mess to sort out the NW. For want of a nail...

retired_chemist 10:53 AM  

@ Ulrich - I echo have a nice trip. We expect pictures on your blog....

Shamik 11:00 AM  

Off my game this morning. Found this one to be doable but challenging and I see I'm in the minority. That's cool.

DRESDEN (which I knew was wrong, but put in anyway) for CELADON
FLIER/FLYER for SIXER (got my Philly sports mixed up)

My day will improve.

chefbea 11:05 AM  

@ulrich Have a great trip. we'll miss you. Give Paul my best.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

@6D: William Osler (1849-1919) was a very famous physician who was very important in setting up the medical educational system in this country. He insisted that medical students and physicians spend the bulk of their time talking to and examining patients (as opposed to going to lectures and studying texts.) Whenever someone writes an article about how present day medicine is duhumanized ( physicians dont spend enough time with their patients, rely too much on tests etc) the article will invariably offer some refernce to Osler as the shining example of how things should be.

Anonymous 11:31 AM  

William OSLER is actually fairly common crosswordese. He shows up about once a year or so.

RANI is the wife ("queen") of a RAJA ("king") in India ("Bollywood").

I did not like the "Dimwit, in Yiddish slang". Since the Yiddish language has about a hundred terms for dimwit, the clue to me was like asking for a random year of some random pope.

Of course, English also has about a hundred terms for dimwit, but in Yiddish there's an exquisite fine tuning. In Yiddish, the song "What kind of fool was I ..." would get a precision answer.

The best YENTA ever was in Get Smart, The Man From Y.E.N.T.A. episode.

George NYC 11:39 AM  

Whoa! The NYT puzzle has been hijacked by an antiquated internationalist!
Two clues about Norway (one abbreviated! The other ancient!) A British writer (from the ‘50s) and a British P.M. (from the turn of the last century!) Chinese porcelain, Korean carmakers, Bollywood queens, Irish songstresses, Spanish abbreviations (!) International company sloganeers, North African cities circa WWII, Biblical seas (dead), obscure South American monkeys. The mind boggles. I love Yiddish, but do we need two, and crossing to boot? And when cluing Yiddish, does it make sense to add “in slang”? Please advise.

Liked “Divine water”=dowse, “Shipping mainstay of the 1600s”=galleon.

Not a fan of quotation themes; either you know it, which makes it no fun, or you don’t, which makes it no fun.

mccoll 11:45 AM  

This was quite fun. I didn't know the poem but the crosses came to the rescue. Pretty fast for me on a Thursday, but no help was need and no errors were made. Galleons was a mystery because I had RAZES for TIERS until Don Knotts came to the rescue. I've not heard of Celadon. I think it is a pottery glaze and I'm a watercolour painter. Overall, an easy puzzle.
@Rex Ralph Waldo is visiting Henry David On Waldon Pond. I love Where's Waldo.
Didn't things get a little testy yesterday?

fikink 11:57 AM  

I agree with Kurt: not easy if you didn't know the poem, but doable and entertaining.
My chuckle here in Iowa was the confluence of Spring fever in the fields outside my window and the error of having ROAMERS for LOAFERS, at first, which made the king WHORESOME! (Emily wouldn't write that!)

mac 12:06 PM  

Easy-Medium for me, too. Not a very interesting set of lines from that poem. My biggest (longest) rewrite was 10D: Jeopardy instead of entendre. I surprised myself wit "mano" for 17A, never heard it but it just made sense. The X in Sixers was my last letter....

I love celadon, have quite a few pieces. It's not just Chinese, Simon Pierce makes beautiful bowls in this tone.

My husband introduced me to Lloyd George, singing that song whenever we are in the car for any length of time. I guess it's because he doesn't have to remember a lot of words.

@Ulrich: Glueckliche Reise! Don't stay there like Paul.

@william e. emba: you are right, the Dutch use a lot of yiddish words for dimwit (plus plenty in their own language), but not golem.

@dk: those fish tacos looked awfully good! Maybe you should let the onions cook a little longer, really caramelize them. Now I'm hungry, ready for lunch.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Emily Dickinson's charms are lost on me. Too many of her poems sound like stuff little girls sing when they're skipping rope.

Bob Dylan is now my Facebook friend. That would be a non sequitir, except that Bob Dylan is always germane.

fikink 12:24 PM  

Buck, and that is why she would never write "whoresome."

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Know Dickinson, took a history class a few years ago in her house (a really excellent class), but still stared stupidly at this for a long time. According to the applet, I was 5 hours stupid, but school started and I had to put away the puzzle for awhile.

My other complaint over quotes/poems is I like them to be timely. I realize this isn't Friday tough, but a spring puzzle should have come out on the first day of spring.

Anonymous 12:38 PM  

@E.Doug: I'd rather have themed Fridays and Saturdays than themeless Thursdays. Themeless puzzles don't necessarily have better fill: the constructor is usually expected to put in enough long entries to constrain the grid as much as a theme does. The theme gives the solver a reward beyond just a grid completed with correctly intersecting words. Today I found the puzzle on the hard side for a Thursday -- and mostly the unwelcome kind of difficulty (random unfamiliar trivia[lities] rather than known answers clued to require extra thought) -- but the Dickinson poem made it worth finishing.


jae 12:57 PM  

I'm with Orange et. al. on quote puzzles, and this one did nothing to change my view. Easy-medium works for me with the quote being the medium part. I too had RIGHT for RIVET at first.

@Ulrich -- We did the Tahiti trip last fall on a cruise. Swam with sharks. A beautiful tranquil place. Enjoy!

Anyone catch Christina Applegate on Letterman last night talking about crosswords? I'd say she was hooked (which is a good thing).

Ulrich 1:14 PM  

Thanks for all the (multi-lingual) farewells!

@jae: I'll be taking the 4-mast barkentine Star Flyer--same as you did?

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Did you all see Christina Applegate on Letterman last night, talking about her love for the NYT crossword puzzles? Was waiting for her to mention Rex.

- - Early

Anonymous 1:21 PM  

Pretty much the same yes/no for me as for Rex with the exception that he worked his way out of the north central region, whereas I did not. My Yiddish slang is poor, poor to the extent that I didn't know if Yentas MEDDLE or NEEDLE (oh hell, they probably do both), which along with not seeing GALLEON made that portion impenetrable.

Was the 1954 added to "Lucky Jim" novelist clue necessary? Helpful? Did anyone say "Oh, that Lucky Jim!"?

CA impressed me last evening on Letterman, a young lady of grace and poise.

xyz 1:24 PM  

Yuck, extremely hard for me - with a lot of religion+Yiddish, literature, stuff I don't know cold and cutesy cluing spelled disaster for me. I suspect that the rhyming was likely helpful to many. I had way too many wrong fills to the point it was laughable trying to get crosses.

UNCLE, I guess. :-)

Bob Kerfuffle 1:30 PM  

I'm in the "challenging but doable" camp, tho the first time I looked at most of the clues it was more of "WTF?"

Ultimately only one write-over, at 10 D, Double _____. Started putting in INDEMNITY - until I ran short of space. Finally got DOUBLE ENTENDRE, but really, do we want double entendre in the Times puzzle? Shouldn't we leave that to BEQ? At least when he's not engaged in single entendre?

archaeoprof 1:31 PM  

Oy vey, what a puzzle today.

Didn't Tommy Smothers used to sing that Lloyd George song?

@Rex: love your celebrity recognition quiz.

@Ulrich: gute Reise, viel Spass. Bis bald.

Chip Hilton 1:32 PM  

I love Thursday puzzles and today's was no exception. Challenging, but reasonable.

CELADON sounds so not Chinese to me.....threw me off for a bit.

@Ulrich: Wow...some itinerary! Have a wonderful voyage.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

TITI - me like!

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

My favorite Monkey Antic

Glitch 1:50 PM  

My knowledge of Yiddish mostly comes from crosswords and a "relationship" with an old flame (actually the flame part is old, but now that I think of it, so is she, now).

My "knowledge" of Golem comes from the novel "Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett [recommended to those who appreciate Tuesday Next] --- not a Dimwit, but a very patient, tenacious, "creature", singular in it's assigned task, but hardly "dimwit". But then, many discussions hinge on definitions down the list on commmentor's fav websites. (Steve I said, r u there?)


I believe "Ballyhood" refers to [only] the film industry in India, thus take exception to the clue/answer.

Thus the "Queen of Ballywood" should be the Indian equivalent of someone like Ru Paul.

I'm going to miss your posts.
Safe trip.


Anonymous 1:53 PM  

@joho Thanks for quoting "I'm nobody..." that's the poem that grabbed me when I was a teenager (many, many years ago) and I went on to become an Emily Dickinson fan, and still am.

Glitch 1:54 PM  

... or is that "Bollywood"?


JoefromMtVernon 1:58 PM  

Sorry, not familiar with Yiddish, but thought golem was a creature created by Rabbi Loew of Prague as a sort of "clay man come to life." Maybe, not being human, he named them dimwits?

edith b 2:11 PM  

I know a little Dickenson and I knew this couplet and it ruined/made the puzzle. Having so much of the puzzle being neons I was able to zip through this one. The only real problem was GALLEON which I got from the couplet.

That's what I meant by ruined/made.

joho 2:15 PM  

@anon 1:53 ... glad you liked it. I, too, was struck by this poem at a tender age.

@Ulrich ... no, don't swim with the sharks!

Orange 2:16 PM  

I want to remember George NYC's description of quote themes: "Either you know it, which makes it no fun, or you don’t, which makes it no fun." Exactly!

Evil Doug, you keep talking about a preference for themeless puzzles and you might see your Evil quotient drop dramatically. Seven days a week of Saturday puzzles would suit me fine. Or maybe six days of themeless puzzles, one day of truly exceptional themed/gimmick puzzles.

Rex Parker 2:25 PM  

I will have to go looking for a clip of CA on Letterman. I'm glad I didn't know she was on, though, because once she started in on xwords, I would have gotten stupidly excited with delusional hope that my blog name might come up. And then I would have been disappointed. Am I saying this out loud?

Anyway, crosswords or not, I think she's fantastic.


miriam b 2:28 PM  

Ulrich, add me to the list of well-wishers (and green-with-enviers). I wish you a Счастливого пути (Shchaslivava puti).

Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@glitch--I certainly am here. I don't always contribute when I don't have a specific point. Since you asked, GOLEM clued that way, I think, is tough but fair (crosses made for process of elimination) for a late-week entry. Good example of how a hard clue leads to a well-known answer. The clay man clue would have been better, but then some people might have tried to put AIKEN.

janie 2:47 PM  

i've posted this elsewhere, but thought some here might find it useful/interesting as well:

from rosten's the joys of yiddish:
golem -- from hebrew: "matter without shape," "a yet-unformed thing." (psalms, 139:16)

1. a robot; a lifeless figure
2. a simpleton, a fool
3. a clumsy man or woman; a clod; someone who is all thumbs, poorly coordinated
4. a slow-moving man or woman
5. a graceless, tactless type
6. someone who is subnormal

a golem can be virtuous, but his intellectual capacities are arrested.

the most famous of these imaginary creatures was the golem of prague. in the 17th c., a legend grew around rabbi judah lowe, a renowned scholar who was supposed to have created a golem to help protect the jews from many calamities the anti-semites attempted... rabbi lowe, the story went, removed all life from the golem every friday night, for he would not allow the creature any mobility that might desecrate the sabbath...

there's also a wonderful, contemporary golem story to be found in cynthia ozick's the puttermesser papers. this is a novel that is made up of several related short stories.


Anonymous 3:00 PM  

i'm with evil doug (!!!???) most top heavy (ZAFTIG?) Jewish puzzle EVER:
GOLEM ELAL yenta, DEADSEA all in the above section...

ANd I'm as Jewish as they come and I struggled over each and every answer.

Then again I had one of those days where I would read
" 58D Warren how founded a rental car company" and I would think
"hmmmm I wonder what the guy who founded Avis's name was?"

SO many smacks on thehead later and one messy puzzle, I'm through.

Not a quote fan BUT I liked the poem bec it's so so cool that you can take a female poetess and apply her lines to a total sports thing going on, that's gotta be neat and on a Thurs when March Madness happens right?

(I only know bec they switched up my "Survivor" to Wed which has thrown me for a loop)
(TO add to my sports ignorance,I also guessed LEX Barker whom I think is an actor, for X seemed more crossword-y)

Bon are a very exciting man! I am off to my own mini-trip to Seattle (my own Papeete) for a change of scene and get rained on a bit...
(Hope to see Karmasartre and one of Rex's fellow blogging panelists).

Oh! And I didn't know one point I thought ATTIC? Can ARCTIC be spelled ARTIC like it sounds?

And is DOWSE related to DOUSE or is that just a coincidence?

Also YUMA for NOME and LAP for LEG screwed me up big time.

I think a semi- obscure Martin Amis (whom I love!)book would have been a better clue than an obvious Kingsley one, for a Thursday, no?

"I'd be bleeding from my ears inside a minute"!!!!!!
Thank you for that image...I will laugh the whole plane ride.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Rex, where do your puzzles get published? Is there a compilation book somewhere I can buy at Amazon or something? Are you allowed to post Across Light versions on your site, or is that not legal once you give up your rights to the newspaper who publishes you? I bet everyone here would love to try your puzzles. Or am I the only one who doesn'tknow how to get them?


Doc John 3:05 PM  

There used to be a great Thai restaurant here in San Diego called CELADON. So when I had CELA--- I figured, what the heck, and put in the last three letters. I wonder if the Thai people who ran the restaurant knew that its name actually referred to something Chinese?

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

@Andrea - as opposed to all those NYT Best Selling Martin Amis books?

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

And before anyone gets upset, ACME and I have had off-blog discussions about how we each prefer Martin to Kingsley.

Rex Parker 3:29 PM  

@karen, my puzzles have yet to see the light of day outside of this site (one is available via sidebar - the VP-debate-themed puzzle). There are some in the pipeline. I'm hoarding some for a future project. I don't think I'll ever be able / inclined to make more than a few a year. Maybe if I stopped blogging...

Thanks for asking

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

Celadon- Put a Mafia Kingpin up for bids?

PlantieBea 4:19 PM  

Maybe I'm having an off day, but I thought this puzzle was tricky and difficult for a Thursday. I have many write-overs. I thought for sure the third line was "IS WHERE SOME..." rather than Is WHOLESOME. Also fell into the ROAMERS instead of LOAFERS pit. I had some lucky guesses with GOLEM (sounds like the title character in a book my son read, STERE (don't know this word), RIVET, LLOYD, TROVE, and so on. Oh, and I entered APNEAS for the sleep interupters which left me puzzling a while over the Philly team. Ugh. Most was fixable, but my puzzle is ugly.

I liked the puzzle, thought it was fun, but I'm ready to move on.

HudsonHawk 4:29 PM  

Here's the YouTube clip from the first part of Christina's interview on Letterman last night. Yep, she's awesome. The NYT crossword story is priceless.

Applegate on Letterman

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

This was an odd one for me as there were lots of words I did not know and I did not know the poem, but it came together slowly but surely as do most Thursdays. I also ended up doing it late in the day and I'm feeling frazzled.

I loved your writeup, @GeorgeNYC,
and @Ulrich, have a safe and happy trip.

evil doug 5:02 PM  

What I heard Christina say:

"I don't want any help, I don't want any suggestions---get your own."

"The Tuesday puzzle is for idiots. A child could do it." I think I'm in love.

Great seeing how well she made it through her medical ordeal.


Orange 5:28 PM  

The YouTube clip of CA on Letterman has vanished, but here's a paraphrased transcript.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

The correct Spanish expression is A MANO, and not A LA MANO.

As usual, the puzzle doesn't make an effort to get the Spanish clues/answers right. The only thing worse is when we get the answer ANO, clued as "year in Spanish".

Ladies and gentlemen, once and for all: Spanish for YEAR is AÑO. ANO means something entirely different. You can probably guess what it means. One clue: the NY puzzle would never include its English translation.

Rex Parker 5:30 PM  

youtube clip is there. I'm watching it now. IF it's still up tomorrow, I'll definitely post it. She has never been hotter to me than when she starts talking about crosswords. She's not #@!#ing around. Awesome.


Anonymous 5:38 PM  

@Anonymous 5:29--A MANO means "by hand." A LA MANO means "close at hand." See and look at definition 7.

PlantieBea 5:40 PM  

Thanks HudsonHawk for posting the CA link. Part of my brain fog today was a result of nervously waiting for my own biopsy results (negative,TG). The NYT puzzle at least let me think about something else during the wait. GLAD it was a Thursday puzzle and not a Tuesday. Anyway, it was fantastic to see how well CA handled the interview and great to know that puzzle passion can be sustaining at such low times.

fikink 6:22 PM  

@PlantieBea, very good news, indeed! Good wishes to you.
I know what you mean about the puzzle (and this blog) seeing you through anxious times.
Thanks to all of you and Bon Voyage, Ulrich!

jae 7:56 PM  

@ulrich -- Unfortunately no 4-masted barkentine. Just your run of the mill Holland-America cruise ship. It was, however, a great 30 day trip.

@doc john -- CELADON is still around, they've just relocated to somewhere on 5th near University. BTW that's how I got the answer also.

fergus 8:20 PM  

This seemed hard for me today, but that's because I did it while drinking Red Tail Ale, nursing wounds after failing to do very well on a Calculus exam.

Amazing how just a little bit of alcohol completely rends asunder one's ability to solve a crossword of even moderate complexity.

The DEAD SEA is now a place where I'd like to seek some refuge ...

joho 9:08 PM  

@Plantie Bea: fantastic news! I went through that wait once and know how harrying it can be. TG!

retired_chemist 9:33 PM  

@ fergus: try red wine. I think that helps. A calculus exam probably is, in the sense of solving other puzzles, counterproductive. You had USED your 50g of daily cerebral glucose already!

Anonymous 10:03 PM  

I found this very easy, even if I don't much like (and usually don't do too will with) quote themes.

mac 10:10 PM  

@fergus: red wine works. Even at the tournament.
@PlantieBea: great news. Congratulations!
@HudsonHawk: thanks so much for the link - she is great in many ways.

fergus 10:49 PM  

Red wine, really? Should have had one of those Basque shoulder bags.

The confluence of lines in two-dimensional space is all I'll deal with tomorrow so I don't feel the need to tap in there.

Some of our youngsters are still getting challenged by math exams.

Anonymous 12:07 AM  

It's good to be an Emily geek, so this was butter, smooth.
No glitches or monkeyshines.
@joho loved the poem; "how public like a frog" reminds me of reality t.v.
Ashwara Rai IS the Queen of Bollywood. Forgive spelling, please, I think there's a "y" in Ashwara.

fergus 12:55 AM  

is Emily really worthy?

(I'd say Yes)

The Cunctator 7:46 AM  

Definitely medium/difficult. Too much trivia and ambiguous cluing ("Fix," "Articulate," "Double ___") to knock out as easy.

I enjoyed the puzzle.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

I didn't know this site existed until I "cheated" by looking up Bertha's composer. I'm addicted to the NYT puzzles and can't start my day until I solve it! YOU R TOTALLY AWESOME!!!

Patrick 5:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick 5:28 PM  

I had the strangest experience working on this puzzle. On Saturday night I was working on Thursday’s crossword and listening to the broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. I was struggling with the quote from Emily Dickenson and I had about a third of the letters filled in. I thought to myself that it might start off as “A little madness”. Just at that moment Garrison Keillor was signing a song, and he basically sang the words to the poem as I was working on it. He did the entire poem, and since the answer was clued with the second line from the poem, I knew he was reciting the poem I was working on. A very bizarre coincidence.

Tree 8:37 PM  

I wanted TRASH for TROVE, I don't get what "antique dealer" has to do with anything.

shrub5 1:28 AM  

Re 6D: Physician William OSLER, I knew this name from Osler's nodes -- painful lesions on the fingers sometimes seen with infective endocarditis. When checking this on wikipedia, I ran across this: "An inveterate prankster, he (Osler) wrote several humorous pieces under the pseudonym Egerton Yorrick Davis, even fooling the editors of the Philadelphia Medical News with a report on the supposed phenomenon of 'penis captivus'."
Look it up.

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